Pansy Petulance

late-septenber-2016-001Cooler weather, light rain and a long summer behind them, my patio flowers needed pulling this week. I replaced them with the cheery, happy faces of fall pansies.

My son, when he was little, thought pansies his favorite flower because they are always smiling. Something about their bearded petals and wrinkled lines that all converge in the center make them resemble the faces of jolly garden elves. No matter what might be bugging them or how dry the soil around their roots, pansies carry a perpetual grin.

Like these flowers, people often hide behind their smiles. Telling someone how they really feel is uncomfortable. They don’t want to appear weak, or whiny, or out of control. They paste on a smile and glibly say they’re fine when someone asks how they are.

Sooner or later that pent-up unhappiness can turn to anger, bitterness, or depression. As we so often see in our culture these days, people pushed to the edge will act out their inner turmoil, unleashing their fury on others innocent of any crime.

God, in his wisdom, offers solace to the hurting heart. In his word, Matthew 11:28 tells us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

He knew the world was full of trouble, anxiety, and adversity. He saw us as a people capable of sin and wrong doing. He sent his son, Jesus, to die for that sin by shedding his blood on a cross. He who believes in the risen Christ will not face eternity without God and will be comforted by the Holy Spirit here on earth.

In Psalm 55:22 we read: “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

What wonderful promises! To know we can take every problem to him and he hears us, will answer us, and offer comfort to our aching hearts.

Don’t be like the pansy—hiding your troubles behind a perpetual smile. Lift your worries and fears to the great God of the universe. Quiet your mind in stillness before him. Let his presence speak to your heart.

 

 

 

 

Poolside Prowlers

1417986243ky52h

Discouraged by raccoons and other varmints damaging the self-rising pools we provided our children when they were young, we needed a solution. The cycle was endless. Within days of erecting the water attraction, we’d discover claw pokes in the air ring which deflated the pool like a slow-leaking balloon. Duct tape patched most holes, if you could find them, but soon the holes were too great to seal and the air escaped faster than the tire pump could fill the ring.

We visited a local farm store and discovered an eight-foot, hard-plastic stock watering tank. My husband said he could drill drain holes at the bottom and fit the openings with plumbing pipes and faucets. Perfect for our needs, we just had to bring our trailer and haul the giant circle home. A slight oversight on our part.

The ring would fit inside the trailer if stood on its side. But that left a giant blue orb to keep upright as it traveled. Not a problem, my husband said. With bungee cords and tie-downs, he could secure the pool for the short journey down side streets.

Like a parade we headed down the road. Bystanders stopped and stared at the strange procession. I followed at a safe distance, keeping a wary eye on the wobbling cargo ahead of me. At every corner the pool tipped precariously and I held my breath, waiting for all of it to hit the street. Miraculously, it didn’t. We arrived at our driveway intact.

Now another set of problems beset us. The tank, carried flat, wouldn’t go through any doors. On its side, it was too tall to roll through the gated entrance and wouldn’t clear the garage door. I didn’t want it to be a permanent fixture in our driveway. The verse in Luke 14:28 about the man planning to build a house without first considering the cost came to me. What were we thinking?

Frustrated, my husband pruned some bushes on the far side of the house and squeezed the pool through. We rolled it to the backyard and after fitting it with hardware, filled the enormous tub full. My husband gritted his teeth. “Hope you like it. It’s here to stay.”

Today we put the pool away for the winter. Our children are grown, but the oversized problem in the backyard still gets regular use. My husband was right. The pool is here to stay.

 

Another Wall, Different Border

On-This-Foundation-Lynn-Austin-1170x1812Shocked and brokenhearted when he learns of the condition of his homeland, Nehemiah is driven to his knees to pray for his native Judah. Jerusalem’s wall is in ruins. Drought has destroyed the crops. People can’t work and are starving.

On This Foundation, the third book in Lynn Austin’s newest series, The Restoration Chronicles, is the artful tale of Nehemiah’s life during a period in biblical history that seems painstakingly familiar. Within the pages readers will find a political tale that bears truths for today.

Having lived a life of luxury, Nehemiah finds favor with King Artaxerxes of Persia when the source of his sorrow is made known. To his surprise, the king appoints him the new interim governor of his homeland. A political outsider with only business success on his resume, Nehemiah travels to Jerusalem to try and save his beloved country. Taxes are exorbitant. Crime is rampant. Deceit colors the truth. He has managed the affairs of a palace, can he steady the reins of a nation in trouble?

Brash and outspoken, Nehemiah’s ideas seem radical. He is besieged by skepticism and lack of trust. Foreign leaders don’t like his intrusion for they have skillfully manipulated internal trade deals for profit. The wealthy Jewish landowners have disregarded the teachings of the Torah and are using their fellow Jews for gain. Threats are made on Nehemiah’s life and plots to undermine his efforts are planned in secret. Adversaries lurk everywhere.

With his heart lifted to God and his resolve firmly in place, Nehemiah presses on and finishes the Jerusalem wall in record time. He rallies the masses and restores the country’s ability to thrive. God uses an unlikely hero with a faithful heart to change the course of a nation.

Well-written, with careful attention to detail, On This Foundation is a story which will challenge every reader’s thinking. The Restoration Chronicles series is available at your local bookstore, Amazon books, and at Christian Book Distributors.ReturntoMe_mck.inddKeepers-of-the-Covenant-Lynn-Austin-1170x1809

 

 

 

Reaping Eternal Warranties

dish wshMy dishwasher is trying to die. As I grumble my way to the file where we keep records on our purchases, I wonder how young this appliance is. Didn’t we just buy this thing?

Experience tells me the warranty has long since passed and like the scrapper cat on its eight life, the machine is about to expire. I didn’t buy any extensions.

Everything has a timeline. No matter what you purchase, the guarantee offers satisfaction for a certain amount of time. The pull date is posted and after that, you’re on your own.

Our lives also come with a predetermined end. The Bible is clear that each of us has been given a certain number of days to live. In Job 14:5 we are told “a person’s days are determined; you (God) have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.”

Yet we presume to know what each day will bring, when in fact only God knows the future. In James 4:14 we read: “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow! What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that. . .”

But what the Bible also makes clear is that those who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, will live in eternityan extended service contract God makes available to all. John 3:36 promises us this: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” Like an appliance’s extended pledge we who have placed our faith and our hope in the Son of God, have been promised an eternal future in heaven with him.

What’s even better is this assurance has been paid for me when Jesus went to the cross and shed his blood. I didn’t deserve his sacrifice, but he paid it anyway. That’s an agreement I can believe in.