Plan or purpose...

When the question of Mary or Martha comes up, my "lack of official list-making and list-completing" lands me, by default, in the Mary camp.

Since organization challenges me, when the question is posed, which is more important - plan or purpose?  Purpose often defeats plan - based solely on my own inadequacies.

For several months this past spring, the question of future seemed to permeate numerous conversations.  Mollie was graduating from college, then two weeks later, Clay was graduating from high school.  Where will you get a job?  Where have you applied for a job?  Where will you live?  What will you do if you don't get a job?  Where do you want to go to college?  What do you want to do with the rest of your life, or at least, what do you want to major in?

Mary, Martha, purpose or plan, the rest of Clay's and Mollie's lives... what's the connection?  Well let's add one more Biblical component:

Let's travel  to the Old Testament ... In the first chapter of Joshua, Moses had died; God commissions Joshua as the new leader for the people.    Joshua 1:6-7 offer specific intention:

 Be strong and courageous, 
for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 
Only be strong and very courageous...

...  So Joshua's purpose is clear... lead the Israelites into the land that God had promised to them, had planned for them and had purposed in them - God's redemption.  Keep in mind these descendants of Abraham had been enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. 

So what was the plan?   First order of business was to cross the Jordan River - which just happened to be at flood stage, then there was that seemingly impassable wall around Jericho, followed by numerous battles with God's miraculous intervention at every turn.  The plan continued to unfold as the purpose guided.

The purpose clearly dictated the plan.  Back in Joshua chapter 1, God's plan for Joshua was clear, 
I will be with you. 
I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid.
Do not be discouraged,
I, the Lord, will be with you wherever you go. 

Joshua's purpose, our purpose, is simply obey God without fear, without discouragement, WITH assurance that He will be with us, He will never leave us.

Clay now attends the University of Louisville.   Mollie has a job at the school she loves.  But for the two of them, and all the rest of us, the "what" is much less important than the "why" or maybe even the "Who".  

Interestingly... Frank and I have challenged each other a few weeks ago to revisit/reread Rick Warren's, The Purpose Driven Life.  The first line of the first chapter reads, "It's not about you." 

God's purpose will not be thwarted - we are reminded in Job 42.  (Don't you just appreciate the word, thwarted!?)

I just love the book of Philippians in the New Testament.  Paul's words are both powerful and challenging.  For me, Philippians chapter 2 gives us the clearest picture of our purpose.... to look to Christ as our perfect model, and follow his perfect example... ultimately ALL for and to the glory of God... how we act, how we talk, how we treat others... how we live every day.

Verse 13 ... "for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose."

So, then comes the plan.  For today... I so appreciate the simplicity of verse 14 that follows...

Do everything without grumbling or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.

Just like Joshua, our plan will unfold: sometimes with absolutely clarity.  More often, the plan comes as we take the first, then the second step in the direction that the PURPOSE directs.

I wish it all were a simple dot to dot or A, B, C - 1, 2, 3 -- but I am learning purpose trumps plan every time... and the LIGHT of the world will illuminate the path as I choose to obediently follow.

And friends, let's walk without grumbling... even when we don't understand the direction...

... that's just Grandma

Many of you know how very thankful I am that 3 special boys call me MiMi.  This past week I was thankful to attend a time at each of their schools honoring grandparents.  So appreciative of two of those events in "my" honor that occurred at 7:15 AM... :) yes, that is early morning!   We enjoyed a yummy breakfast and a time to see each boy's classroom.  Corey, our youngest grandson, was to participate in his grandparents' time of honor in the afternoon with delicious donuts and a time to be introduced to all the purposeful play that he enjoys each day.  Not 100% sure I would be coming that afternoon, Corey rounded the corner where all the waiting grandparents anxiously anticipated the arrival of their precious one.  He surveyed the giddy crowd without recognizing a face for a moment - I waited quietly with anticipation as he glanced my direction - no double take needed... he  dropped the hand of his escort and sprinted with absolute certainty toward me.  There is no better greeting on this earth!

I'm so thankful that my kids have grown up not only knowing their grandparents but having the joy of their involvement in our lives.  My parents live several hours away, but every awards presentation, every ball schedule, every dance recital date and all other important events marked their calendar in the kitchen, and they attended many of those ongoing events.  Frank's parents lived in Louisville for several years when our children were young, offering to help out any way we needed.  One such day, I had an appointment that I had forgotten.  My mother-in-law agreed to pick Clay up at preschool - I would simply call his school and let them know she would be there to get him.  There she was, standing at the door, exactly where she supposed to be.  His teacher turned to Clay and said, "Oh, Clay, do you know who this is - is she your grandmother?"  Clay took a quick glance and returned to his block tower, then replied, "No... (teacher gasped with uncertainty)... she's not my grandmother, that's just Grandma.  I'll be ready in a minute - she won't mind to wait." :)

And I can tell you, I wouldn't mind a bit to wait as one of my grandboys finished his block tower either.

I have been reminded again this week of the patience that our Heavenly Father offers us... I wonder how many times just this week, I have asked... can you wait just a minute... I'll get right to you... only to become distracted again with the many block towers I felt I needed to build.

As I listened and sang along in worship this morning, I was overwhelmed with the thought and decision... I do so want to trust it all  - for all my days...  to God - to His plan.  That I really mean my life is in His hands.. my dreams and all my plans... every block tower I want to build..  all to His glory.

Oh Father, may my anticipation of all my tower building be preceded by my sprinting to You with absolute certainty that You will guide every placement of each block as I seek You first...

 But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.  Matthew 6:33 (Amplified Bible)

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.  Proverbs 16:9 (ESV) 

It's just pain

From the post I wrote on September 25, 2015...

"This is THAT post... the one I so would wish that you were at my kitchen table with Frank, me, and a full pot of coffee, so that you could just hear our hearts.  Would you just pause for a moment and ask the Lord to speak clearly to you through my words.  To the glory of God!

God IS good; God WAS good; God ALWAYS WILL be good.  In fact, we know and say God IS great; God WAS great; God ALWAYS WILL be great!

So here's what Frank would say to you:
My back doesn't hurt today.  It hasn't hurt for more than 3 weeks.  Praise the Lord!"

So, here we are today, September 4, 2016, almost a year has passed.  Today Frank would gently say to you... "My back hurts today.  It has been hurting for more than 3 months.  Praise the Lord!  Not because my back hurts again, but because HE is GOD, and He promised never to leave or forsake me, and HE never has and never will.
Again, I wish you were at my kitchen table today."

  We visited with some dear friends this week, and the question came to Frank about how he felt.  His response was quiet... "It's just pain..." and I know he means that.  As I write that, tears flow freely - tender.  I don't want Frank to hurt.  That's the way it should be, right - I so love him!  We are human, and we would like to be without pain, without sadness, without tears, without cancer, without heartache, without death, without ...

This a journey we have walked before - we can walk again - not on our own, but with our God.  Frank was 42 when we began the journey with pain - he's 55 now.  God has graciously walked with us 13 years in this "bend" in the river of our lives.  Pain doesn't and will not be allowed to define us - God tenderly defines us simply, as His children.  

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, 
that we should be called children of God.  And that is what we are. 1 John 3:1

Ephesians 5 gives us clearer definition... we are dearly loved children... His holy people. Thankfully, I know the family of God celebrates joys together and weeps in sorrows together.  We are overwhelmingly thankful to be in HIS family.

Will you just continue to pray with us - for each other... that God's purpose in our lives will be clear... that we will, in all circumstances, praise the Lord for His great gift of salvation and grace.

Frank will be healed - he will be pain-free... for eternity, just not today.

God gives, God takes,
God's name be every blessed.
Job 1:20 (The Message)

Eternity is forever... we are even more convinced that we want to and are commanded to share this good news with all - God made a way for ALL to live with Him forever.  Jesus is the answer - His sacrifice, His crucifixion, His resurrection - He is the way, the truth and the life.  We know it; we believe it, we strive to live according to it.

And ultimately, friends... we know...

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  Revelation 21:4