Psalm 92, on Flourishing

Psalm 92 – Praise for the Lord’s Goodness.

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath day.  (Amplified Bible)

“It is a good and delightful thing to give thanks to the Lord,
To sing praises to Your name, O Most High,

To declare Your loving kindness in the morning
And Your faithfulness by night,

With an instrument of ten strings and with the harp,
With a solemn sound on the lyre.

For You, O Lord, have made me glad by Your works;
At the works of Your hands I joyfully sing.

How great are Your works, O Lord!
Your thoughts are very deep [beyond man’s understanding].

A senseless man [in his crude and uncultivated state] knows nothing,
Nor does a [self-righteous] fool understand this:

That though the wicked sprout up like grass
And all evildoers flourish,
They will be destroyed forever.

But You, Lord, are on high forever.

For behold, Your enemies, O Lord,

For behold, Your enemies will perish;
All who do evil will be scattered.

But my horn [my emblem of strength and power] You have exalted like that of a wild ox;
I am anointed with fresh oil [for Your service].

My eye has looked on my foes;
My ears hear of the evildoers who rise up against me.

The righteous will flourish like the date palm [long-lived, upright and useful];
They will grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic and stable].

Planted in the house of the Lord,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.

[Growing in grace] they will still thrive and bear fruit and prosper in old age;
They will flourish and be [a]vital and fresh [rich in trust and love and contentment];

[They are living memorials] to declare that the Lord is upright and faithful [to His promises];
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”

 

This reads just as much a story of redemption and restoration as it does a promise that the oppressed WILL flourish!  What a promise!

While the word FLOURISH turned out to be my “word of the year” I am finding myself more in a period of restoration in 2016.  And restoration is some hard work.

I have some experience in refinishing and restoring older pieces of furniture.  And in that is a beautiful analogy!  There were times when I looked at an older piece and I could immediately see the beauty hidden by the chipped paint, gouged out wood, scratched surfaces and all.  There were very few times I would look at a piece and think “oh – that’s just too far gone.”  Looking at enough pieces and doing the hard work, I’m here to tell you:

Beauty can rise from the ashes of EVERY thing…. every broken thing, every used up thing, every heartbreak, every story, every life…

It takes some work, dedication, and a vision to see the possibilities.  But I promise you – when we commit to the hard work and have determination we can do anything!  Peel off one layer at a time… just one layer at a time.  Look at the possibilities from different angles and address the mess.  I promise you – it will be worth the work!

I shouldn’t be surprised that as I continue to study and learn and dig deep into the “WHY” of the purpose of the word “FLOURISH” as my focus for the year I am being continually reminded to lean on HIM for wisdom and insight.  He is asking me to open my heart and mind and listen to all He has for me, even beyond “flourish” messages.  And what’s happening?  As I continue to study and then stumble across scriptures like this that talk on both “restoration” AND “flourishing” I am reminded that He knows my heart, He knows my needs, He knows my desires, He knows ME!

He knows exactly what I need and when I need it and how to deliver it to my broken & tattered, scared & scarred, bruised & battered, and partially healed heart.

He always knows exactly what I need and more importantly WHEN I need it.  He is faithful when I am planted and remain in Him.

On that promise I will rest… I will sit back in my restored rocking chair and rest in His perfect timing.  Our Lord is good!

“Press and Stressure”, as my Dad likes to say

I inherited my Dad’s inclination to mix up words.  During a sermon one Sunday morning he MEANT to say “stress and pressure” – instead he kept saying “Press and Stressure” without realizing it.

How ironic.  We often get things all mixed up when we’re stressed.  Don’t we?

 

Last month it occurred to me that we’ve been through quite a lot of stressful and pressure-filled life events in the last 12 months.  And it was a timely reminder for us to give ourselves the space we need to adjust to some MAJOR life changes.  And I mean, major.

In the past twelve months we’ve gone through the following stress-filled life events:

  • Sold our first home (I bought the home in 1999 well before Lee and I married.)
  • Packed up our belongings, moved 75% of them into a storage unit and moved into an apartment.
  • Acquainted ourselves with a new neighborhood.
  • Left my 20+ year career in the investment industry.
  • Moved again, this time out-of-state.   And at Christmas time.
  • Moved into a house with a month-to-month rent because of so many unknown factors.
  • Left my home church, which meant I was also stepping down from several ministry involvements, etc.
  • Moved away from our closest of friends… friends that were more like family.
  • Moving also meant my husband was to give up a career he was really enjoying.

 

But one thing rings true – we are where we are supposed to be.

 

Maybe I am writing this again to convince MYSELF of this truth – God was literally pushing us out of California.

You see – our home was not on the market.  It flat-out was NOT for sale.   We had known for a long time that it would take the right buyer … there were so many “interesting” things about that home that would require someone to fall in love it as much as we had over the years.  Plus, we weren’t in a place to paint, replace carpet, fix cosmetic issues, etc…. and we certainly hadn’t been budgeting for a realtor.

And on the very day the potential buyers came to look at the house the orange blossom smell had returned to the backyard.  The scent stopped me in my tracks.  Call it weird, call it prophetic – I don’t care.  Just don’t call it coincidence.  I had known for a long time that our home would sell in the spring (when it did sell) and that there would be a smell of orange blossom in the air.  (I am not kidding you!)  And there it was: I love that orange blossom scent…

It was a God-wink.  The scent of the orange blossoms carried an acknowledgement from God that spoke to my soul: “I see you and know you and want great things for you.  I am in even this.  Trust me.”  Yes, the orange blossom scent was full of wisdom on this beautiful spring day.

But, still there were a lot of questions.  No pressure.  (Sense the sarcasm there?)

Fast forward to our out-of-state move that evolved over a very quick 5 week time period.  Wow!  So much “press and stressure” in those weeks.  We’ve now been in our new home for almost 4 months.  We are slowly settling in.  We are meeting new people who are being added to our treasure chest of friends.  We are enjoying time with family again.  I am learning to rest… a lifelong struggle of mine.  We are working on us.  We are pursuing personal interests and dreaming some big dreams.  We are slowly finding our new groove.

 

But I won’t lie.  From time to time I’ll get in a funk and be a tad discouraged – what felt like a freight train pushing us out of California seems to have lost its steam and left us stranded just outside the city limits.

I won’t lie.  Some days are emotionally rough.  Some days are spiritually rough – some times there’s more questions of God than other days.

I won’t lie.  We don’t have it all figured out.

I won’t lie.  I want to feel more secure in our financial future – who doesn’t?!

I have submitted dozens and dozens (and dozens) of job applications.  And I’ve gone on a number of job interviews.   I won’t lie.  That’s getting old.

I won’t lie.  I hope and pray with all my heart that my “stay at home job” turns into my second chance career.  I truly feel everything I’ve learned up to this point was for the purposes of this business.  I feel I was created for this.  I hope and pray that God blesses our efforts and hard work and big dreams in this next chapter.

 

In the same exact moment that any of those worries or concerns start to creep in I also know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my Heavenly Father is going to be taking care of us and our needs.  It’s just that when the “press and stressure” of life creeps in we start mixing things up.  We start wanting to control the outcome… again.  And He tells us NOT to be worried about that.

 

I’ve put 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 in front of me…

Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.

 

And I know God has the right things for us IN HIS TIME and IN HIS WAY!  To the deepest core of my soul – I know these things.  He has NEVER failed His children.  Ever.  That doesn’t mean we won’t have struggles.  That doesn’t mean we won’t falter.  That doesn’t mean we won’t worry.  But we can do our best to leave it in His hands.  Forcing something to happen before God wants it to happen is not usually the right way to do it.

Holy Spirit… remind of us of His goodness.  Father – we leave the “press and stressure” of our future in your hands. We will continue to listen for your voice and go WHEN and WHERE you ask us to go.   We are at your service…

2016 Word of the Year: Flourish

Close up of cherry blossom in april

So here we are… the 2nd day of the year.  And it’s time to start exploring the 2016 word of the year: FLOURISH

 

For some background – there’s a story that comes along with the decision.  Let’s flash back to late 2014.  My process in picking a word for the year is to do some major contemplation.  There is some praying involved.  There is some soul-searching involved.  There are some word studies involved.  I read up on the various words that are coming to the surface and dig into the etymology.  And at the end of 2014 both “hope” and “flourish” were the two words my digging boiled down to.

Some of you know I went with “hope” in 2015.

Fast forward to late 2015.  And my annual process returned.  And I went back to “flourish” and read up on it again… and the process ensued.

As I was discussing this with a friend she brought up another word I might want to consider.  At the time, my husband and I were packing to move to Salem, Oregon.  And she pointed out that “salem” is also defined as “peace”.  So I started the process on the word peace as well.  Soul-searching… praying… studying…

Some time went by… and on December 30th I stumbled across an article about “flourish” that I had saved for future reference.   And can I just tell you how providential it was to find it when I did?!  This is sentence #2 of that article.

Flourishing means peace, or shalom, in every direction.

And so with that confirmation… the word of the year is “flourish”.  Makes total sense, doesn’t it?!  So, join me this year as I dig into it and learn about it and see what God has to show me through the study of this topic in 2016?