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not a clue, as usual


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Happy birthday to me!!!

happy-birthday-girl-6

Today is my birthday – a milestone birthday. One of those birthdays that you are both excited about and dread it’s coming at the same time. This is the big 6-0 birthday and I find myself both looking forward and becoming retrospective.

On the plus side, many grocery stores offer a senior discount on Tuesdays and the local craft store often has 60 and over coupons that I can finally use. I no longer have to worry about forgetting people’s names because as a member of the grey brigade, I am allowed to forget and no one gets too uptight about it. People will make excuses for you and finally start to accept you as you are. You’ll hear yourself described as “colorful” or “she’s led such an interesting life”, for the same things that made you an irresponsible dreamer forty years ago. Funny how things balance out.

On the other hand, there are those gray hairs and wrinkles and when the doctor asks me where does it hurt, I have to write out a list to read so I don’t forget all the bizarre places that are aching.

20191026_111930I don’t remember where I read it (I’m old, you know, deal with it), but someone wrote about loving the colors of fall because the leaves age so beautifully. I really need to hear that because in today’s society, it’s so easy to get caught up in a youth culture that fears aging.

While I may not find the grays, the wrinkles and the extra pounds physically beautiful, I’m realizing that the lessons I am learning have a different beauty all their own. A beauty that is spiritual. A beauty that stands outside of time.

I have learned, and am still learning, patience. I have found many things that are worth waiting for – like taking time to develop relationships,72042305_10220759514636919_8985923704743526400_o

making time for long walks,

or waking up in time to see a sunrise and still slowing down enough to enjoy the sunset of the same day.

I am developing an empathy and compassion that is much wider than that of my self-centered youth and springs from patience.

I am walking with a faith that has become a quiet bedrock to base my life upon, but also, a springboard for action when needed.

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A birthday prayer – Thank you Lord, for calling me to yourself. I would not have chosen the paths that you laid for me, but looking back, I can see that your hand of guidance was always with me. So, Lord, let me live my senior years with the vividness of fall leaves on a crisp autumn day. Let me enjoy the gentle breezes as much as the strong gusts of winds and not question where they send me. Let me live with a vibrancy and beauty that is deeper than the rich green of my early spring ever was.

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The Parable of the Butterfly

My Facebook page has been flooded with pictures from my gardening friends as they watch for newly hatched butterflies. Especially prized are the beautiful monarchs as they fuel up for their long migration south. They are amazing creatures with the ability to transform themselves from a lowly caterpillar to a lovely, graceful butterfly.

butterfly 7

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old is gone, the new has come!

2 Corinthians 5:17

butterfly 1

If you have spent any time in a Sunday School classroom, whether child or adult class, you will at some point come across this verse and its companion butterfly object lesson. It is a perfect analogy for Christian living. As we begin to place more and more trust in Jesus, He will change us into what He has planned all along. You may not even notice the changes at first. They will not be as dramatic as a butterfly wiggling out of its cocoon and unfurling its wings for the first time, but there are changes in how we think, how we approach the world and how we handle problems.

But I have to wonder…

Do you think that the caterpillar has any idea of what he is doing as he begins to spin butterfly 6that cocoon around himself? Is he surprised when he finds himself unable to move yet can feel something happening? As he finally, shakes off the last of the cocoon and sits in the sunlight to dry, does he wonder what those strange appendages on his back are all about? And as those wings dry, how does he know that they will lift him up into the air and he will no longer crawl among the leaves for food but flit among flowers whose colors as dazzling as his own?

butterfly 4Yes, I know the straight answer – it’s instinct. The same thing that causes a bird to build a nest in spring or a frog to sink into the mud in fall. Natural triggers such as the temperature of the air or the amount of sunlight cause these behaviors that God has programmed into them. What I am asking is this: do they have an awareness that something glorious will come out of it? I wonder if they do. They are, after all, just following the strong basic instincts year after year that ensure the survival of thier species.

When we apply 2 Corinthians 5:17 to our lives, it can be scary. We are able to think IMG_1959through consequences and possible results. I recently have had such a time in my life. The job that I loved had ended but I stayed on through some major changes in which I was able to help. After two years, I could see the time had come to leave but it would cause some major shifts in my personal life. My prayer throughout those two years were, “Lord, let me follow where ever you lead me. I don’t need to know the destination, just keep me on the path that you have already laid out for me.” I can tell you from experience, that this is one of the scariest prayers you will ever pray! A lot of things that were happening didn’t make sense to me, but I followed. My job was becoming more and more uncomfortable and the stress was having it’s affect on me. Still, I waited on God’s timing for whatever would happen. And when God did move – it was big!

I received an offer for a part time position in a field that I had really wanted to get into but couldn’t because of a lack of experience. At the same time, my son – a recent college graduate with the same issue – was offered an entry level position with a law firm. It was exactly what he had been looking for. It had been many months of job searching for both of us, we were very discouraged. And then, wonderful opportunities for each of us literally fell into our laps!

IMG_1958So last night I found myself at dinner with some old and dear friends, listening to them talk about their retirement plans which would begin in less than a year. When the conversation turned to me, I told them that I was starting a new chapter with a whole new career. I have even signed up at the local community college for a course on Saturday mornings that will sharpen my computer skills to help me ease into my new job. Here I am with retirement in sight, and God is leading me in a totally new direction! I feel as though I have been cocooned for the past year and am now shaking off the old and stepping out with new wings that I didn’t even realize God was growing for me. Stepping out in a new direction is all about trusting God and letting go of your own plans. The really cool thing about God is that He doesn’t have just one miraculous change planned for you. As you lean more and more into Him, He will continue to bring in new challenges and opportunities, unfurling more and more of the path ahead of you. It’s an ongoing process that continues throughout your earthly life but only as you continue to hold His hand and follow His direction. I’m experiencing true growth as I reach each milestone that He has laid for me.

butterfly 7

Scary…yes.

Unsure of what’s next…that’s the whole point.

Confident in His leadership…..to be honest, I’m not always, but am learning to trust more each day.

 


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Jersey Girl

Each year I write something in memory of the sweet little boy who left this earth 23 summers ago this week. But this year I felt something a bit different was called for. Love you, my Troy-Boy! One day we will all be together again.

 

“‘Cause down the shore everything’s alright20180729_203126

You and your baby on a Saturday night

Nothing matters in this whole wide world

When you’re in love with a Jersey Girl.”

Bruce Springsteen

 

It’s more of an attitude than a description. A title, rather than a geographical marker. A Jersey Girl is strong and resilient. She has a toughness that gets her by without sacrificing compassion. Then “The Boss” wrote these words in his song “Jersey Girl” and it became a call to arms. If you were from South Jersey, you claimed the title as your own. If you were from North Jersey but spent many a summer day “down the shore” and summer nights “on the boards”, you earned the title as well, (though purists may argue with that!)

All my life, I have spent some time over July and August down the shore. Even if it was 20180801_201446just a day trip. I’ve always needed to plug into the waves and surf, the smell of suntan lotion and the cry of gulls. Only then can I turn my attention to the cooler nights and frosty mornings that lie ahead. Summer has to include salt air, sea shells and sandy feet to feel complete.

But, as time has marched onward, my body has conspired against me in some strange ways. Nerve issues in both feet have forced me to give up flip flops. I’m not sure I can still call myself an authentic Jersey Girl if I am not wearing flip flops on a boardwalk. But now, the final blow – a condition called poly-morphous light eruption (PLME). Sounds scary, right? All it means is that I have developed an allergic reaction of hives on my legs, feet and arms after only a few hours of exposure to sunlight. Even with SPF 100 suntan lotion, towels over my legs and under an umbrella with a hat and sunglasses, the hives start to appear in the first few days of a beach vacation. I’m not sure I feel like a Jersey Girl anymore. The title must be handed off to others who appreciate the uniqueness of a Jersey shore town. Where I used to belong, I now feel like an outsider and nothing fits anymore.

My life is going through many changes recently, but Jersey Girl Strong, I have coasted along. I have endured and grown from adversity on many fronts and like to think that I am ready for this next chapter already being written. My husband and I have just returned from a week down the shore and this year, although my feet felt better (no flip flops, but lightweight sneakers worked) the hives from PMLE were worse than ever. I came home feeling stressed and tired rather than renewed. This point in the summer is always a difficult time for me because I had to say goodbye to my mother 44 years ago and my first-born infant son 23 years ago at the close of those long-ago summers. Both had endured chronic heart conditions that didn’t allow them much time on this earth. You wouldn’t think that it could still have such an effect on me, but it does. When I see either date on the calendar, I catch my breath and pull my heart back together. I remember what was and think of what might have been. I live with a strange sensation of having one foot in this world and the other on the opposite shore of the Jordan. At least the title of Jersey Girl had always helped me to find my center where I belonged. But now, I have to ask myself- just where do I belong?

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As a child of God, I should feel discomfort here and long for Heaven. Not because my family waits for me there, but because my Savior has created a space for me there. A place that He made just for me. The carpenter’s house has many rooms and one has been decorated with just me in mind. And I will belong there as I have never belonged here on earth.

Yet, while I am still here, I’ll hit the shore in the off-season to avoid the sun and bop IMG_1858down the boardwalk holding hands with my hubby. I remain a Jersey Girl in my heart. I can still protect my pizza from the gulls and collect shells on the beach. I can enjoy saltwater taffy and not worry about what the salt air is doing to my hair. This broken heart is somehow full because of my children who are with me. Seeing them walk thru the door or just hearing their voices on the phone lifts me out of any depression that I might be struggling with.

And all the time, I know that my identity rests in eternity with Christ rather than the temporary earthly titles that we give ourselves.

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Jersey Girl – Jesus’ Beloved – God’s Eternally

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me, that you also may be where I am.”

John 13: 1-3

 

 


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Clinging to the Hem of His Robe

Starry night

It’s late at night and the words just won’t come. I’m not even sure what to pray for anymore. It’s been the same prayers for several years now and I’m starting to wonder if I’m doing it right. Maybe I need better words, a more sincere heart…I don’t know…

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

Romans 8:26

Still, things are not moving as quickly as I would like and my thoughts, like an impatient child, start to take off on little road trips of their own. I wish they would stick to the path that You have put before me but they wander and allow circumstantial winds to blow them this way and that like so many scraps of paper.

And I find myself clinging to the hem of His robe (Luke 8:44-46)

Standing by the side of the well – utterly confused (John 4: 1-16)

Watching Him writing in the sand as my life hangs in the balance

And I wonder if He is even listening (John 8:1-11)

So here I am again, Lord, hanging on, confused, waiting for you to stand up and move mountains. I know you can. I know I cannot. I know that you have heard this all before and yet I dare to ask that You would listen one more time.

I’m Martha wondering why you didn’t come right away. (John 11:21)

I’m Gideon asking for more proof. (Judges6:17-18, 37)

I’m Moses making excuses even in the midst of Your Glory. (Exodus 4)

I call out without even knowing the words. I am down to a stripped-down prayer of “Lord, I will follow You.” Maybe that’s where you want me.  My obedience meets His Grace at a rock bottom level.

He lifted me up out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;

he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Psalm 40:2

And then when He knows that He finally has my attention, He lifts me up above my doubts and fears, all those questions that do nothing more than distract me from Him.

 

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

Habbakuk 3:19

“Lord, I’ll follow You”, I whisper, as I cling to the hem of His robe. I remember the times that You have lifted me up before and know that you are already holding out your hands to me just waiting for me to have the courage to look up.

When you’ve played out
Your last chance
And your directions
Have all been lost
When the roads that you look down
Are all dead ends
Look up
You could see if you’d just look up

You’re on the verge of a miracle
Standing there

You’re on the verge of a miracle
Just waiting to be believed in
Open your eyes and see
You’re on the verge of a miracle

Verge of a Miracle by Rich Mullins

 

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

They will run and not grow weary,

They will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31

Isaiah 40.31


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Freedom

Happy 4th of July

enelsonblog

Freedom – it can mean so many things to different people.

Child-running-in-field

When I think of freedom, I am transported back to the woods by my childhood home where my friends and I would play for hours on end. During the school year, we would cut through the woods to get to school. We weren’t supposed to but we felt free to do so anyway. There was a path that cut through the trees but there was another area with an open meadow on a gentle slope. I loved to run down that slope coming home from school on a spring day -arms spread wide, long hair getting hopelessly tangled in the wind, just running down the hill in a moment of complete freedom!

You don’t get that many “twirling in the sunshine in a grassy meadow” moments of care free freedom as an adult. Life isn’t a movie set and…

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I Wanted To Be With You

 

crossI wanted to be with You

as You fell down to pray

but there were so many things

that kept me very far away.

Things like pride and anger,

things like plain old fear.

But I am so glad to know

that You were praying for me there.

I wanted to be with You

when your friend, he did betray,

 But I saw the soldier standing there,

jesus-christ-crown-thorns-827201-wallpaper I just couldn’t be brave that day.

I was held back by pride and anger

and just plain old fear.

But when you faced Judas’ kiss

I saw compassion shine so clear.

(how did I miss this?)

I wanted to be with You

to defend You at that trial,

making waves and speaking out

but you know that’s not my style.

I cowered in pride and anger

and just plain old fear

I was no help to You

Had my own burden to bear.

I wanted to be with Youcross - Copy

as they led You up that road.

that cross that You carried

should have been my heavy load.

But I couldn’t bear the suffering

and tortured agony

yet, You walked the walk I couldn’t walk,

each step you took for me.

I wanted to be with You

but I’m not good enough, I guess.

Still You carried on alone

even when I had to rest.

You took all my failures

that had stopped me in my tracks

as you walked up to Golgotha, my weight across your back.

videoblocks-jesus-on-the-cross-under-a-storm-and-a-roman-soldier-on-a-horse_hjjqdeiwb_thumbnail-full02You took all these things that held me down,

my pride and anger and fear

You took them with You on that cross

and I’m so sorry that You were there,

so sorry that I couldn’t share,

so sorry.

And yet, somehow glad that You were there

so glad that You truly care

for me.

I wanted to be with You

yet all the time

 You’ve been here with me.

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Grace Comes First

grace and rocks

Ever since I was a child, each Easter I have watched the classic movie “The Ten Commandments” by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Charlton Heston. My parents loved this the ten commandments 1956-largemovie and the tradition has carried down to the next generation. It’s one of those epic stories of an underdog who rises to be a hero and a God who saves His suffering people. It’s only as an adult and reading the story in its original form in the biblical book of Exodus that I am starting to pick up on all the nuances of this incredible event that will form the bedrock of Hebrew society and later Christianity.

I am learning that the real theme in Exodus is the grace that came before the rescue.

Grace is a word that has fallen out of favor today. We talk about loving one another. We talk about justice for those who are hurting. But we don’t talk about grace. We don’t mention that sacrificial thing that will cost us much more than we will ever receive in return. Yet, grace is the very center of God’s heart.in God's heartGod’s original covenant with Abram was that He would make a great nation out of Abrams’ family. God promised land and blessings to this nation/family that would, in turn, bless the world. And then God set about creating relationship between Himself and the people of Israel. All He asked in return was their obedience.

I guess, this is why I always saw the Ten Commandments as a moral list of do’s and don’t that would serve a guidance for Israel and all the world. Don’t murder, don’t steal – no one can argue with that.

 

 

While this is true, the commandments are also one of those places in the Bible that highlight the fact that grace has always come first.

Grace was extended in the Garden of Eden and all the way up to the time of the Exodus. Obedience was spotty but God’s grace was consistent. Just before the Commandments were given on Mount Sinai, we read in Exodus 15-18 of a three- month span between the parting of the Red Sea and Israel’s arrival at the foot of Mount Sinai. In those three months, the people find themselves without food or water and being attacked by a vicious enemy. Each time the people threaten to return to Egypt. Each time, Moses cries out to God who responds to the people’s disobedience with grace. Water flows from rock, manna appears with the morning dew and protection from enemies is granted. All this is done despite the people’s behavior. Thus, the pattern is set and will continue through the Bible and into our world today.

 

 

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Our obedience – not so much

God’s grace – always present

In my own life, I have seen this pattern played out. I have turned my back on God, yet He has always responded with grace. Even though I must deal with the consequences of my choices, God graciously carries me through.

Christian singer-songwriter Mitch McVicker likes to tell his audiences that whenever he is asked to sing at a church, they will ask him to explain his statement of faith to them first. His answer is to say that he does not have a statement of faith. In fact, his faith is nothing to write home about. What he has is a statement of grace. It’s all about God extending grace to him and allowing him to continue his ministry and continue to serve in the ways that God has provided.

Can you relate? If the strength of my faith or the consistency of my obedience is my ticket into Heaven – I’m in big trouble. I think we all are in trouble. But God is willing to lift me above my disobedience and that is the core of grace.

Grace thru Jesus

Despite my nonsense, despite my foolish choices, despite my weakness –

God’s grace comes first.

Romans 5.8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8