The Certainty of Change

???????????????????????????????

One thing that we can always be certain of, in an uncertain world, is that life changes.  Sometimes it changes swiftly, sometimes slowly but it is always changing.

I’m looking out my window and see change.  The once green reeds blowing in the wind on our hillside are turning yellow.  I see Goldenrod between the fronds from the tall grasses that edge the side of my house.  There are pops of color especially red sparkling in the sunshine on tree branches.   The hues in the foliage dotting the landscape are turning different shades of gold, my summer flowers are fading and my mums are starting to bud.

goldenrod bee wdp - Copy sml

goldenrod wdp - Copy sml

tipped in red wdp - Copy sml

I’m writing today but haven’t been doing much of that lately, because I’ve had migraines.  They often intensify while sitting in front of my computer screen so I’ve had to put the screen down on my laptop.  I tried to string sentences together in my mind, write them out with pen and journal but I needed rest more than I needed to write.

This is a change.  I’ve never had migraines.

A friend of mine asked how she could pray for me today.  Before I could share about how I’d like her to pray for Bob, she said “For YOU!  How can I pray for YOU?”

Bob has been at the top of my prayer list and he has been in many of your prayers too.  He is handling his chemo medication well and the markers for the leukemia are decreasing in his blood.  God is answering our prayers.

Bob’s illness was a big change.  We’ve had to make adjustments in our life, we’ve learned a new medical language with our visits to his Hematologist/Oncologist and this will be on-going for the rest of his life.

So when I’m asked how someone can pray for me, I immediately ask for continued prayers for Bob.

Getting back to my friend’s question…I finally shared with her that I’ve experienced migraines lately and haven’t been able to write much.

Relief has come and I’m able to write again.  I’m thankful for my friend, Sherry, for asking about me and for her prayers.

Yes, things change.

I see it when I visit my parents.  It seems like yesterday that they were young, raising 6 children and we were all a big lively family doing life together.  Now they are in their mid and late 80’s and all their children have children and some of us have grandchildren and great-grandchildren of our own.

A year and a half ago my 57-year-old brother passed away, unexpectedly, in my parents’ home.  That was a big change and an adjustment for his family and especially his children.  I know my parents have felt the intense pain of it at a different level from most of us.  Yet they are strong in their faith, know he is with God and when they have a hard day they hold fast to that truth.  The God who is taking care of my brother is taking care of them too.

Friends have moved to other cities, new friends have come into our lives, Family and friends have gotten ill–some seriously and some have gone home to be with the Lord.

Time marches on and change is inevitable.

leaves wdp - Copy sml

I glance at my reflection in the window as I gaze out at the ever-changing landscape.  What happened to the young woman I once was?  What happened to that young woman raising kids, going to their sporting events, parent teacher conferences, and making dinner for more than two people everyday?  Where have the years gone?

My husband and I have a quiet home.  It’s just the two of us.  It’s a different time, a different phase of life.

As the season is changing out my window, our lives have seasons too.  Change is hard.  Maybe it’s from wisdom that comes with age, but change isn’t as scary as it was when I was younger.  Or maybe it’s because of God’s grace.  Looking back at how he’s seen me through so many changes already gives me confidence that he’ll be there through whatever lies ahead.

In this season of my life, instead of thinking that life is passing me by, I lean into each new day and grab hold of it right where I am.  I grab hold of it knowing that tomorrow may never come.  Someday I will close my eyes here on earth one last time and open them in the holy presence of the Lord in Heaven.

Leaning into each new day and grabbing hold of it doesn’t mean that I find some new adventure or experience to wrap my life up in.  To me it’s as simple as finding something to give thanks to God for everyday.

It’s harvest time and the new apple crop is in.  I think I’ll lean into it and make an apple crisp soon.  Thinking about filling my home with the scents of fall…apples baking, cinnamon, pumpkin pie, harvest spiced candles is a comforting thought.  There’s always some element of joy in the midst of every season.  I want to see everything through kingdom eyes, lean into it, grab a hold of it and find joy.

apples wdp - Copy

bowl of applesx wdp - Copy

Seasons have come, seasons have gone, change will come slowly or swiftly but change will come.  We can be certain of that.

But there’s also one more thing that we can always be certain about.  God never changes.  In the middle of our uncertain world and a life of constant change, he is immovable.  He is a solid rock and a firm foundation and he’s never surprised by change…whether it comes slowly or swiftly, it never surprises him.  It’s under his control and he has everything in control.

Before I can fully lean into each new day, find joy, and be thankful in it, I need to make sure I’m leaning in God’s direction first.  As I lean into and on him, he keeps me steady so I’m not tossed about by the ever-changing circumstances of life.

Written by:  Nancy Janiga ©2014

The Kingdom Comes Through Us

bud wdp - Copy

Have you ever been comforted, known peace, joy, love, faithfulness, goodness, or been sustained in other ways through the Spirit of God?  Have you been touched or helped by God through another person?  God’s grace is manifested in so many unique and surprising ways.

When we are blessed, it’s not to hoard the blessings, or to use them solely for our own comfort or to judge others outside of the faith.  We are blessed to be a blessing, to use the blessings–to become ‘kingdom come’ people.

We can spread the kingdom through a smile, a touch, a meal, friendship, a listening ear, a prayer–it’s meeting the needs of others and showing up when others may have turned away.  It’s being present; being the gift.

Jesus talked about seeing the signs of the kingdom displayed through us and he rarely pointed to big things.  It was more about washing each other’s feet.   (John 13:14).

Through his parables we see that the little things are the ways through which the kingdom is often spread: the yeast in the dough, the mustard seed, etc.  (Matthew 13:31-33).

The kingdom comes to earth through us in little ways and little events.  It’s like offering a cup of cold water to someone who is thirsty.  It’s simple, easy, loving ministry.  (Matthew 10:42)

When we are available as a kingdom come person, opportunities will open right in front of us.  The question then becomes, will we take the challenge or walk away?  Will we be the person to offer that cup of cold water to a thirsty person?

ice water 2 - Copy

I’m always amazed at the situations that my husband, Bob, and I find ourselves in.  Even when far from home and traveling God goes ahead of us and with us to set up divine appointments.  God’s divine appointments certainly reach further than our own neighborhoods.

Last year while walking down a street in Sarasota, FL, we had one of those encounters.

This story is more about the willingness of my husband to be a kingdom come person than it is about me.  I just tagged along.

Our path intersected with a man.  Someone whose hands were bigger than my forearm and whose height towered over both my husband and me.  He shook our hands and introduced himself.  His name was Roy.  He walked beside us and talked and the more he talked the more we came to realize that he was homeless.

I wanted to turn, say goodbye, and move on.  I convinced myself that just praying for him would be enough.  I kept thinking, what if I was walking down this street alone?   But I wasn’t alone, I was there with Bob and something prevented Bob from turning away.  So we walked side by side with Roy.

We heard his whole heartbreaking story as we strolled down a neighborhood street.  He told us about his mother’s death, alone in the world, no direction, no coping skills, no help, no one, nobody, just this big guy up against the big world.  Alone.

As his story thickened, we learned about his prison stint.  Attempted murder he said but assured us it was just a fight with another man and that he was wrongly charged.  “You know, African-American men get raw deals sometimes,” he said.  When he got out of prison he was homeless and alcohol became a remedy for his pain.

I was thinking that would have been a great time to part ways but Bob asked him if he was hungry.  Roy said yes.

dirty hand 2x - Copy

We walked to a nearby restaurant and offered him a seat on their outside patio.

I talked more with Roy as Bob went inside to find a waiter and all along I kept wondering if those working in the restaurant would even agree to serve this homeless soul.

I asked Roy if he knew anyone else in the area that could help him.  He pointed to a Christian church a few blocks away and said that he had been there before, the pastor was kind to him and that maybe they could help.  I encouraged him to go talk to the pastor again.  He said that he would.

Bob gave the waiter some money and pointed to Roy and said, “Give him something to eat.”   The waiter’s eyes grew wide and said, “But I don’t know what he wants.”   Bob explained that Roy was homeless, hungry and that he’d probably eat anything but the waiter insisted on bringing him a menu.

dinner for one x - Copy

A pure expression of surprise came over Roy’s face when the waiter approached the table to serve him.  He placed the menu in front of Roy and said, “What can I get for you sir?”  Roy picked a pizza and water.

The waiter told Bob that most people would not have done what he did for Roy and called Bob a good man.  Bob explained that he was only doing what needed to be done and thanked the waiter for serving Roy.

As I watched the waiter bring Roy the menu, treat him with dignity at the linen covered table and prepare to serve him, I realized that God showed up through two willing men that afternoon–my husband and the waiter.

When we said our goodbyes, Bob told Roy that God loved him and would take care of him.  He said, “I know.”

Roy was ‘the least of these’ and the kingdom came to him that day in a tangible way through my husband and the waiter who didn’t refuse to serve Roy.

It reminds me of Matthew 25 and especially Matthew 25:40:  “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

By being kingdom come people, we not only serve others but we are serving Jesus too.

Written by:  Nancy Janiga©2014