All creation, come praise the name of the Lord. Psalm 148:13

 

One afternoon the boys and I were hanging around the house when we heard a knock on the door. Our neighbors’ son and daughter dropped by to bring us an Orchid root – complete with bloom. We had a nice visit and when everyone was gone I looked at that plant and thought, “what in the world am I going to do with this, I can’t keep violets alive?” I did not know what type of planter to use and just put it out of mind for a few days until I figured out how to care for it. By the third day little plant was in an emergency state and I felt terrible so I gathered the family and we all did triage – one grabbing rocks for drainage, one grabbing water and one emptying out the yucky frozen planter stored in the garage.

Orchids can be fickle but they are well worth the effort.  They require special care. The instructions say the two top things that will kill them are number 1 – not enough light and number 2 – too much light. Alrighty then, that clears everything up! I researched with the family and then located everything we could find while snuggled inside our warm house during a snowstorm. We needed tree bark, a special planter, special fertilizer and soil. We had none of those things and could not get out to get them. “Yes kids, prayer works for everything.” We dug, patted, watered and then asked for some divine intervention. You tube videos on the following days confirmed our fears – indeed we had done basically everything wrong.

It seemed strange to replant this orchid while taking down Christmas decorations. Pine cones scattered my floor, tree remains and glittery pieces of who knows what still littered the floor. The little orchid looked so tiny, fuchsia and unique in comparison.

Why would anyone involve themselves in such a delicate, fragile flower? I’ve seen them in Chinese restaurants and nail salons. I’ve never seen them at a McDonalds. They are feminine and delicate, adding beauty and fragrance to any room. Why bother? I told the three guys in my house that I really liked this flower but really we are probably more “dandelion growers” than anything. We do pretty well with mint and poison ivy but nothing else has really grown around here that we can lay any claim to.

Did you know that orchids do best when they “dry out” and get saturated with water only once a week? Soak, expend. Soak, expend. Hmm. I recognize that from somewhere. They also do not need a planter to thrive but love to grow outside wherever they can extend. Unique. Rare. What a beautiful reminder of God’s grace and call to us to rest and go, rest and go. It brings to mind the song, “I give myself away, so You can use me” by William McDowell.  *

At the same time this was all taking place I was studying the passage, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12.

The part that stuck out to me this week  was, “let us run (with patience/endurance) the race that is
SET before US…

This is not just “get with the program we all have a part to play” language. It specifically means: to run what is placed before you or in front of you. That which has been appointed or destined for your life, what is present and at hand.

 Not what others think you could or should do.

It does not say to run others races in their lane for them. It is not a “one size fits all” pajama pant arrangement but a call to run the path God has specifically ordained and created for you – the track He has laid out for YOU to run on.

Yes! If there is a track, there is a runner. The word “set” is the Greek word prokeimai which is a passive deponent. It means we don’t forge out our plan but …

 

we get on the moving walkway of His will – much easier.

 

He acts, we passively ride on His plan. Good set up.  You are necessary and needed and God has specifically set that path in front of us so we can get to where He wants and needs us to go. Specific, unique, special. We can’t make others run on our track, or insist they follow our time, distance or speed. We line ourselves up with the Kingdom pathway.

A few days passed… and a little  bloom was lifted above the green leaves, perky and strong. We named her Gloria (our persevering little orchid) and in George Washington Carver fashion we greet her every morning and thank God that He kept her alive in spite of our makeshift efforts of care.  Her needs and what will make her grow are specific to HER. We will do our best but have to remain aware that all plants are not the same, some need different environments than other plants. God can make anything flourish and grow – if it is HIS will.

The boys only let me name one of our fourteen fish in the tank, so this new addition brought me great joy. It will be the first feminine named thing in our home – pink power!  We were thrilled that the little plant survived. She’s dainty, beautiful and pink. I wondered throughout this process, what is the race set before us? How do we make a loving, environment for those “unlike” us or what we are used to? 

Lord, thank you for Your beauty and the beauty of everything you create. Thank you for my beautiful neighbor who gave us this plant. Thank you for the guys  in this home who co-labor with me and who helped me repot this orchid, even though it looked hopeless and took  some time. Thank you for just the right amount of light to make Gloria grow. Thank you for the journey set before us that is unique, special and designed by You with us specifically in mind.

Gloria a Dios

*Also check out Give Us Your Heart by William McDowell. They are both great prayer songs.

RenaeRoche 2018 

The boys and I spent an evening in the emergency room this week. There were many people there with various ailments, some coughing, some bloody and some asleep from the wait. The hospital was doing a great job accommodating everyone but the severity of the conditions and amount of people were a bit overwhelming as we waited our turn.

There was a middle aged woman pacing the floor. She was dressed casually and fashionable.  She looked anxious but not ill.  The look on her face told me this wasn’t her first rodeo. There is a suffering that comes that teaches things you cannot get in a book. Those words were written on her face although I can’t exactly explain how I knew that. The fellowship of suffering is a real and tangible thing and once you’ve been to that place you recognize it in others.

Later on I was able to hear the woman’s story and since I do not have permission to share it, I will keep the details private. It was a brief encounter. Her son was there with a serious problem. Her other son was there comforting him. The worry on her face looked how my heart felt in that moment. You could tell that her older son knew how to comfort his younger brother. You could see that this woman loved them both and had invested a lot in her family. In spite of real, deep pain and agony their love for one another was beautiful to behold. It was sacred and told a story words could not express.

I offered water and prayer but nothing but getting in to see a doctor would alleviate their concern. I let her know we would be praying and I sincerely ask anyone reading this to pray for that family because they need a miracle for life to continue in any normal way.

This is what gripped me that evening. She was scanning the room, looking for solutions, wondering about the outcome, wondering if things would turn out alright. I was a total stranger and so desperately wished I could fix their pain. Her searching eyes and focus on helping her son stirred me to pray. Her love and concern still linger in my mind as I remember her desperation. The need is so great that only God can help them.

Jesus is merciful. Eleos (Greek word for mercy) means He stands waiting to help, waiting to be compassionate and kind, ready to assist and show love. He not only sees our struggle but WANTS to help. That is not just for the righteous or those who have daily devotions. It’s not for those who are members of churches or sing certain hymns. It is who He is at His core.

That mom would have done ANYTHING in the world at that time to help her son. Yes, you reason, but that’s a mom’s natural love for a child she has birthed and raised up in this world. That’s much different than a holy God who reigns the universe.

Consider this verse: 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  Romans 8:15 ESV

Could that same God welcome you? Me? He’s pretty far up there in rank and authority. He sees all of our sins and failures. He knows all of our flaws. Sometimes I feel like I can’t reach Him. Sometimes I question if He cares about a little worm such as myself. Sometimes I feel very carnal and small. But when I lose my way, when my vision grows dim I can look at Jesus and see what He was like on this earth. Reading God’s word reminds us that our fears are about us and not how God feels at all. Matthew 14 reminds us Jesus helped Peter walk on the sea; people touched just the fringe of his garment and were healed. He didn’t just sit in the synagogue and yell “next” when people came to Him. He continually demonstrated His fathers’ compassion and care so we would know His character, His heart.

If we have come to Christ, He does not stand aloof, just begging us to go to church. He stands postured to extend the mercy of the Father, He stands with open arms wanting to help, wanting to hear, wanting to bless. Not just because He’s merciful, not just because we are pitiful, but because we are SONS – adopted heirs. He loved us so much He died on a cross to provide real answers and solutions to our real needs.

One prayer request I’ve waited for over eight years for an answer, without any response. Another one, four years. When God is silent we are tempted to think He is aloof, uninterested or even possibly rejecting us along with our need. But that is contrary, opposite of His nature. Time erodes our faith, circumstances cloud our hope. The Life of Jesus, His character, grace and actions SCREAM the opposite of what the world or our fears tell us, if we will only pause long enough to hear. He is not only true, He is merciful. He is not only alive, He sees and hears and wants to help.

I’m asking God to intervene for that worried mama in the ER. I’m asking God to reveal himself to the young man encouraging his little brother. I’m asking God to continue to show me how deep and wide and strong is His love for me. I’m not a passing stranger He wants to impress, I am His adopted SON (same title for daughters) and He stands waiting to help, assist, offer compassion, love and kindness.

Thank you Jesus. Though I do not always see it, though I take it for granted, you want to support, bless and guide. Help us see who you really are today and who we are as adopted sons. Thank you for letting me encounter compassion in the midst of pain.