Friday, March 27, 2015

Jigsaw Puzzle

A puzzle starts out a jumbled mess of pieces that don't make sense.You try the pieces one by one. Sometimes they fit together, but most of the choices in the beginning don't fit.You learn to work one section at a time. The picture unfolds slowly, painstakingly.

At least once a day you almost convince yourself this puzzle is simply too difficult to accomplish. If the puzzle goes back into the box and is returned to the shelf, a sense of failure and disappointment linger. You might decide to give up on puzzles altogether.

During winter my mother would dump a jigsaw puzzle on a card table. Every evening she worked on the puzzle.

In the beginning, she would put in lots of time on the puzzle, working long and diligently on it. As the picture began to unfold, she didn't have to work as hard. The pleasure grew and the puzzle became more fun, more rewarding.

Frequency increased her productivity. The more she'd get sidetracked and pulled away from the puzzle, the more times she had to begin again and refocus on the pile of pieces. It wasn't as fun. It wasn't as fruitful. But she stuck with it, and little bit by little bit the puzzle picture unfolded, each piece adding to what would be the completed work.

By the last pieces of the puzzle, she could see where she was going, see to the end of the challenge. She worked faster, joy building toward victory.

When the puzzle was almost finished, the last pieces were put in place by her children. I remember seeing her sitting there smiling, knowing it was almost finished as she watched us complete her work, sometimes guiding our hands so we would find success.

Frequency increases productivity. Consistency, diligence, will reap victory.

Consider that One Thing Resolution you're working to change in 2015. Did you decide it was too difficult and stick it back on the shelf? Did you become sidetracked and forget about the project until hope was gone and frustration with your same old problem took its place?

Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. Diligently, daily, show up to focus on your goal, to piece together, however painstakingly those changes that need to be made in your life.  Little bit by little bit you'll see a picture unfold that will bring you pleasure and victory at the end of your challenge. As momentum builds, you'll see results more quickly and joy will build.

You may feel like a jumbled mess of pieces that don't seem to make sense, don't seem to fit with purpose. Remember you are wondrously and lovingly made by God, the Author and Finisher of your faith.  Frequency increases productivity. Consistency will reap victory.

As the picture begins to unfold,  the pleasure for both you and your Creator will grow. Your life will become more fun, more rewarding as the picture of your life unfolds. The Father has already done the hard part of putting the pieces of your life together to make sense. Know that He sees the final picture and can guide your hands.

When the puzzle is almost finished, the last pieces are put in place by His child. Can't you see Him sitting there, smiling with pride and joy as the finished work is revealed?

Well done, Soldier-Princess. Well done.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

5 Things Soldier-Princesses Forget

Moving into action moves us into change. Rouse, then, Soldier-Princess. Remember who called you into battle.

Soldier Up.  We are ready to get up in the mornings if we have enough rest. Preparation for a new day begins the night before. Good decisions come from good rest. A soldier who has dressed for work and fueled her body for strength moves into action efficiently and quickly. She has a clear mind that will take every thought captive and make godly decisions. 

Power Up.  Meetings for the colonial Minutemen with their commanders was imperative.  So is our meeting with God.  Schedule time with Him as if your life depends on it.  It does. Choosing to neglect time with Him will deprive you of knowing changes in your marching orders. Strategy planning prepares you for unexpected battles in your day. Be tuned into His will so you are ready to act with a "minutes notice."

Regroup. The Minutemen knew their lives and honor depended on their comrades as well as themselves. The soldier-princesses who encourage you, mentor you and pray for you are your first line of defense. You must be transparent and honest with them about your struggles, failures and concerns. When you battle and when you train in the trenches, your life and honor depend on the soldier-princesses who know you intimately and stand the gap with you.

Reload.  Frequently through your day step back from earthly things to reset your focus on things above. Remind yourself of that Bible verse you're memorizing, say a prayer to reconnect with God, welcome an interruption to love someone.  Exchange a quick email or text with a comrade to encourage one another. Recharge your energy. Refocus your mind and heart so that you keep in step with the Spirit rather than running ahead of Him.

Refresh.  Life is hard. It's full of battles with people, circumstances, negativity and temptations. A soldier-princess knows her marching orders include time for the rest of God. Schedule time to relax, not to vacate your life, but to enjoy it and rest in green pastures by still waters. Joy comes when we take the time to seek peace so it can rule our hearts. God invites you to Sabbath rest, not because your work is done, but because His work is done.

You may also want to read:  The King Who Never Quits

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Child Adopted!

Our son sat wide-eyed, mesmerized by the mysterious legal proceedings. He was all of 6 years old, dressed in his first suit and tie, a toy soldier in one pocket and a Hot Wheels car in the other. Adoption Day.

"Hear ye! Hear Ye! All rise! This court is now in session. The honorable judge presiding."

Long before the earth's foundation was created, before the first day, the earth was formless and void. Darkness was over the deep and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

Even then, God had His people in mind.  He had settled on people as the focus of His love.  He would create them to be whole, blameless and holy before Him, a people of His own possession.

When people chose lives of sin rather than relationship with God, He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus. It is an open invitation to sinners, to everyone,. When we were still sinning, Jesus died for the ungodly.

A gavel sounded three times. The courtroom was silent. The judge smiled at my husband and me, then looked straight into the eyes of a child.

"You are now their child, their son, with all the rights and privileges thereof."

Hear ye! Hear ye! All rise."

Court was adjourned. It was finished.

According to the paperwork, a sealed legal document, the adoption was complete and final. His old life was over. His new life had begun. A new birth certificate was sealed and delivered as proof of identity. Hopes soared. And then there was rejoicing.

Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone. (The Message, Ephesians 1:11, 12)

 What pleasure a person takes in preparing the way for adoption! What celebration and lavish gift giving!

Hear ye! Hear ye! All rise!

All heaven is silent.  The King is coming! Angels watch, mesmerized by this mysterious legally binding contract; this mystery, grace; they long to understand.

One soul is redeemed, bought back from sin, adopted into the family of God. 

Where once a person stood alone, rejected, destined for grief, now stands a person who is in the family of God, forgiven, accepted, destined for joy. The Holy Spirit, the Life breath of God, is sealed and delivered as proof of identity, 

Amazing grace! I once was lost, but now am found! Redeemed. Redeemed. His child, and forever, I am!

I am the adopted child of the King of Kings. I am His princess.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Cake With Frosting

Creamy, sweet batter dripped from the beaters as my mother turned off the mixer and pushed the button to release them. Laying them aside on the counter, she poured the rich batter into the baking pan, then returned the beaters to the empty bowl. 

"Can I lick the bowl?" I asked my mother as she slid the cake into the oven.

I doubt that in all my childhood there was ever a cake made when some child didn't lick the bowl. Swirling the last sweet bites onto a finger and sliding it across your tongue is a treasured childhood memory for many of us.

"Can I have the biggest piece?" is often the request when a child looks wide-eyed at the freshly frosted cake waiting to be served.

The mother of James and John requested of Jesus special preference to be given to her sons in Heaven. Can one son sit on Your right and one sit on Your left? The other disciples murmured, appalled at such boldness. We all want to be "the disciple whom Jesus loved."

Like that wonderful frosted cake, there's enough grace and love for everyone. God passes out grace upon grace, and there is enough for everyone to be completely satisfied. One person may get more grace and love because he deserves more or needs more, but we all are satisfied.

Enough joy. Enough love. Enough grace. Enough.

As Mary Poppins says, "Enough is as good as a feast."
Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the  Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.
- Revelation 22:12-14
You may also want to read:  A Pie for Lynette, The Making of a Woman and The Happy Kitchen