Posted in Prayer, Spiritual Life

I am the clay

 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV

 

870abcf8-f48d-44af-85b3-6559fd7ab100

 

I am the clay.

Endless potential, but not in my own hands.

Only in His.

He is the Potter.

The One who will shape me.

The Potter is making me into something He can use.

When I resist, I am hard and rocky, rough-edged – not useful for anything.

If left on my own, my boundaries would be shaped by my way, my plan, my ambition.

If I decide to be a bowl, giving no thought to the Potter, I will twist and warp myself into a very sorry, misshapen bowl, formed by my own ideas, worth nothing.

I do not have the hands of the Potter, the unlimited design skills and intricate plans He alone possesses.

Only when I offer to Him the clay that I am, can He knead and bend and shape me into a vessel He can use.

Everything that happens to me in this life is part of His molding process.

Sometimes He’s deeply kneading me and then decisively throwing me on the potter’s wheel to get rid of my cold, hard, sharp places.

But sometimes His touch is gentle, soulful, as He carefully smooths out my rough spots, while protectively guarding the unique shape He’s forming.

Both the tough and the tender are necessary, if I want to be a useable vessel of worth.

For this is His best.

This, the only way.

Because He is the Potter.

And I am the clay.

 

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~ Eph. 2:10 NIV

 

Today is a GOOD day!

Natalie

This post was originally emailed as A Simple Note. If you’d like to receive my weekly email note of encouragement, you can sign up on the side bar or  HERE. Blessings!

Posted in Life, Spiritual Life

The 1-2-3-4 Cake

IMG_1587
***

 

A couple of Saturdays ago, I got up early for a day of baking. On the menu: my grandmother’s 1-2-3-4 cake.

She’d make this recipe for the layers of my birthday cake – layers slathered with a rich, sticky lemon curd and topped with freshly grated coconut. I can taste it now…

On this particular day, I went to my trusted (and overstuffed) recipe card file to find the instructions. But the recipe was nowhere to be found. I took all of the cards out – at least 937 recipes – but couldn’t find it. I began to panic, looking in every other conceivable place.

And then I stopped. And cried.

The recipe was one of my most treasured family heirlooms. My grandmother had written it down for me on a sheet of lined note paper, just before our wedding.

The realization that it was gone broke my heart. The realization that I couldn’t call my mother, who passed away just over a year ago, to get it from her overwhelmed me.

Thankfully, my optimistic husband insisted on calling our daughter, who, of course, remembered exactly what we’d done with it after our recent baking day together – to protect it from being lost, no less. It was found and the remainder of my day restored.

Why is a recipe, a Valentine’s card, a crocheted baby blanket, a photograph so important? Its significance is not in the thing itself – it’s the memory attached to it. It’s a song from long ago that we pull out and play every so often to remind us.

God has given us the good gift of family, the treasure of friendship, the power of love.

And it is this lasting love that compels us to, on occasion, look back with gratitude. I do that every so often with the 1-2-3-4 cake. And then I look forward with hope.

God has given us memories as a tool to strengthen our faith. When we look back on the things He’s done in past generations, our confidence in His love and care strengthens.

When we think about how He’s walked with us through every joy and challenge we’ve ever faced, we trust Him to always be our Good Shepherd.

And when we pass along to the next generation all that we know to be true about Him, we are investing in a legacy of faith for future believers.

“But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.”
~ Deuteronomy 4:9 NLT
***
Memories are being made right this very moment. One day it will be my recipe or painting or very small lap quilt that will be cherished by those I leave behind. And I want my daughter, while holding that small lap quilt that took me nine years to complete, to think of how we laughed about me beginning it when she was 4 and finishing it just before she went into high school.

But even more, I want my children to have memories of our family recounting God’s goodness to us. I want them to feel God’s presence in their own lives day by day. I want them to be able to leave a legacy of faith to their children.

The things happening in our world right now, including COVID, will become a part of the next generation’s bank of memories.

So today, whether you are 18 or 88, be sure to make good memories with your loved ones.

Next on my grandmother’s list to bake and enjoy together?  An Old-Fashioned Pound Cake.

It was my mother’s favorite.


 Verse to Live By
Work willingly at whatever you do,
as though you were working for the Lord
rather than for people.
~ Col. 3:23 NLT

Make a good memory with those you love –
today is a good day!

~ Natalie

Posted in Life, Prayer, Spiritual Life

All the things that matter…

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
~ Matt. 6:19-21 NIV

One lesson I’m learning through this quarantine: there is always room for the things that really matter.

During these months I’ve not been frantically busy, rushing to meetings, running out to lunch and quickly ducking in the store. Instead, I’ve found quiet. I’ve lingered over my morning time with the Father. I’ve emailed and texted and talked on the phone without interruptions pushing in on me.

In these moments, for you and for me, we are reminded of how much people matter.

Conversations with those around us are less hurried. Family movie night is relaxed. Easy dinners are enjoyed outside.

And when a need arises, we’re available to fill it. Our whole schedule doesn’t need to be reorganized because we’re free to jump in and help.

Here’s the big question:

How can we take this with us when quarantine ends; these lessons in priority and availability – the things that really matter?

Maybe we could lessen our frantic busyness. Shopping could be done only once a week. Pizza and a movie night or date night take-out could become a weekly occurrence. We could send more cards, keep in touch, linger over conversations, celebrate the little things in life.

When all of this social distancing and shelter-in-place ends, I believe we’ll be different people, and in a good way.

Maybe we’ll have learned that there’s always room for the things that really matter.

Lord Jesus, we are weary from this virus. We admit that it scares us and sometimes it seems to shake our faith. We are burdened by what we see on TV, what we hear from government leaders, what we feel as people die in mass numbers, yet all alone. And with the loosening of restrictions, we are anxious in a new way. We need the kind of rest that only You can give us, peaceful rest for our minds and our hearts in this time and space. We so want to trade our yoke for Yours, that You would lead us; that we could learn to be more like You. Guide us to gentleness and humility during days when we feel vulnerable and frantic and fear-filled. Show us how to carry the burdens of others by the strength that comes from You. We need You – oh, we need you. Every day, every hour, every minute, we need You. Thank you, Jesus, for answering our prayers. Amen.


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
~ Matt. 11:28-30 NIV

Enjoy all the things that matter –
today is a good day!

~ Natalie

 

Posted in Prayer, Spiritual Life

A Holy Week Prayer

Oh Jesus,

so much of me
seeks just
a bit of You,
to tentatively touch
the outer hem of Your garment,
to be
somehow filled
with Your never-ending love
and mercy
and grace.

But today I cannot see even Your hem.

All around me instead are
images of an indifferent disease
that is making us
a scared and sick
and dying people.

I feel helpless.
So disabled
and weak.

I know that, apart from You,
I am nothing.

In my despair, I turn away
when Your open arms
beckon me,

Come.

I am afraid.

How I long to fall
into the protection You offer!
I would willingly drown
in the peace
of all that is You.

Come. Come. Come.

You
who endured the cross
meant for me.

You
who embraced the disgrace
that was mine.

You
who bore the beating
and the ridicule
and the humiliation.

You
who once and forever
triumphed over
every ailment and disease,
and the death
of this world.

Come.

Do You earnestly invite me?

To the foot of Your cross?

To Your grave that lies open and empty?

Then I will not settle
for the slight touch of your hem,
for I can no longer be satisfied
with only
the tiniest bit of You.

I will lay down all of myself
at the foot of Your cross.
I will search with everything I have
until I find Your empty tomb.

And then,
oh then…
I will run with abandon
into Your flung-wide arms.

All

of

me

running

to

all

of

You.

My Savior and my God.

Amen and Amen.

IMG_1058

I am the resurrection and the life. 
He who believes in Me,
though he may die, he shall live.
And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.
~ John 11:25-26 NKJV

We live by faith, not by sight.

~ 2 Corinthians 5:7

Though our celebration of Easter this year will look different, feel different, be different, our God is NEVER DIFFERENT. And Jesus’s death on the cross, His resurrection and our salvation do not change. May our praise to God this Easter be more earnest, more heart-felt, more passionate than ever before because we know this…

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!


Live by faith in the One who does not change –
today is a good day!

~ Natalie

Posted in Prayer, Spiritual Life

I am the clay

 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV

 

870abcf8-f48d-44af-85b3-6559fd7ab100

 

I am the clay.

Endless potential, but not in my own hands.

Only in His.

He is the Potter.

The One who will shape me.

The Potter is making me into something He can use.

When I resist, I am hard and rocky, rough-edged – not useful for anything.

If left on my own, my boundaries would be shaped by my way, my plan, my ambition.

If I decide to be a bowl, giving no thought to the Potter, I will twist and warp myself into a very sorry, misshapen bowl, formed by my own ideas, worth nothing.

I do not have the hands of the Potter, the unlimited design skills and intricate plans He alone possesses.

Only when I offer to Him the clay that I am, can He knead and bend and shape me into a vessel He can use.

Everything that happens to me in this life is part of His molding process.

Sometimes He’s deeply kneading me and then decisively throwing me on the potter’s wheel to get rid of my cold, hard, sharp places.

But sometimes His touch is gentle, soulful, as He carefully smooths out my rough spots, while protectively guarding the unique shape He’s forming.

Both the tough and the tender are necessary, if I want to be a useable vessel of worth.

For this is His best.

This, the only way.

Because He is the Potter.

And I am the clay.

 

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~ Eph. 2:10 NIV

 

Today is a GOOD day!

Natalie

This post was originally emailed as A Simple Note. If you’d like to receive my weekly email note of encouragement, you can sign up on the side bar or  HERE. Blessings!