Category Archives: The Pieces Fit

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn…

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“Love….wants to be asked for what it longs to give.” (Richard Foster)  I read this today in last week’s weekly post from Renovare’ which I receive by email.  It was referring to God and prayer, but I also find it applicable to any relationship.

Reciprocation is at the heart of any true and lasting relationship, be it a husband/wife, family, friendships, as well as our relationship with God.  Love that is one-sided simply ends up hurting us as the individual who is actually loving the other. I would say that it even causes us to morph into different versions of our truest selves, as we attempt to please the other and “get them to reciprocate” in like fashion as we are giving in the relationship.

I’ve had various relationships of this nature over the course of my life.  Some I’ve chosen to continue to pour into, as I’m able, simply because of the foundation of the original relationship or out of legitimate love and concern for the other.  There have been times I’ve simply had to back off and re-define the boundaries of the relationship so that I could remain healthy but not completely break a bond or sever a tie to someone who hadn’t done me any harm beyond simply being a “taker” and not returning to the relationship reciprocally.  Yet, there have been some with whom I’ve broken all connections, seeing their true nature and accepting that no matter what I did there would be nothing to change their hearts towards true reciprocity in friendship with me.

When I read the quote today, about love wanting to be asked for what it longs to give, I thought of how I sometimes will offer someone an open invitation to come and visit, fully hoping they will do so someday, or I’ve told friends I’m always available to them if they will just call or text, and I truly have meant that.  Yet, it’s seldom that someone does reach out and ask, rare that someone admits their need and becomes vulnerable enough to “phone a friend”.  I admit that there have been times in my life that I held back as well, keeping my problems or needs to myself so as not to overwhelm others.

However, my closest friends will tell you that I’ve learned to reach out to them in my hour of need, if for nothing else than to ask for prayer support.  Sometimes, it’s to ask for more, a chance to visit or have a meal together, etc.  I will admit though that I have never looked at asking for help quite the same as I am considering it now that I read that quote from Richard Foster.  I think I’ve held back in asking from those who love me the most, sometimes thinking that they should know without me asking…. I’m feeling I’ve been wrong in that, and I need to let the Spirit do some work in me to change me.

This goes right along with one of my favorite movie quotes, from Moulin Rouge, which is actually from a song by Nat King Cole, written by Eden Ahbez, call “Nature Boy”.  The line says, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”  Doesn’t this just fit?  It applies to all relationships, and really to all people we may encounter.

Love in this life is imperfect and flawed, but still, it’s love, and that’s why God created all of us, out of His great love, springing from the love between the Father, Son, and Spirit.  We’re made to love Him and to love each other, in give and take relationships, to know and be known, to love and be loved in return…   Just love each other, and leave the rest to God.

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The best days of our lives…

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A week ago we were basking in the glow from my middle child’s wedding where many of the most significant friends and family gathered who have impacted the mosaic puzzle of my life. Some couldn’t be there because of their own life schedules and some weren’t invited since they are part of my story but not my son’s. Yet here we were that Saturday with this great majority of these people who have not only been a part of the pieces of my life but also a part of my son’s life. I can honestly say it was one of the best days of my life.

I had a friend ask me about it this week, and he said his wedding day was the best day of his life. I can agree that my wedding day (soon to be 30 years ago) was one of my best days, however, there have been so many others in each season of my life. There doesn’t seem to be a way to clearly say there has been one best day.

I’ve had best days based on events like my son’s wedding, which would include the births of each of my three kids, my wedding day, as well as the weddings of some very special people in my life. Yet, many of my best days have been more ordinary, even mundane, like a day I was teaching and suddenly was washed over with a sense of realization that this was exactly where I belonged and I was doing what I was created to do. Then, there have been best days when it was just me and God, in the ocean, on a mountain path, or driving on a trip, me singing at the top of my lungs.

One important aspect about all of my best days is that they have all had to do with relationships, with God, others, and even with myself. The mosaic puzzle of my life is colored most brilliantly on those pieces involving relationships. Those have been the best days.

It seems that the best days only get better the older I become. I believe this is because I’m becoming more and more of my true self, aware of who I am and whose I am, embracing all of my pieces as a part of the whole, cherishing each person who has been a part of my mosaic and some who will always be.

My toast at my son’s reception was intended to focus on all of this, on the relationships throughout the seasons of our lives and how they have shaped each of us, including the impact on my son’s life, either directly or indirectly. We are richly blessed with these relationships and my prayer for my son and his wife is that they would recognize this in their lives, as well, and that they would measure all their successes and failures in light of their relationships – with friends , with family, with strangers, with each other, and with God.

Here’s to all the best days yet to come..🥂 ❣️

Keeping Easter…

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My Lenten experience did actually prepare me for Easter this year. Though I did not fulfill my fast in the way I intended, in many respects, the way it ended up was more real and I sensed a greater awareness of God, and of Christ’s journey, while walking in my weakness.

But really, isn’t that what we’re told, that His strength will be made perfect in our weakness? (Hebrews 2:9-10) …and how much greater still is God’s strength made perfect through Jesus’ weakness…? That is then part of the Truth of Easter.

Which leads me to the idea of keeping Easter…

…keeping it in our hearts, our lives, our day to day relating to each other, our experiences in nature …and on and on…

How do we walk in each day with an awareness of our weakness and God’s strength, inviting Him into the depths of our depravity, trusting Him there and allowing Him to love us there…then believing in that love so much that we allow it to transform us so that we walk in all the realities that are ours because we are loved by the King, the Creator, and He WANTS to be in relationship with us, in the midst of all our messiness…allowing Him to be the Strong One so that we recognize our need of Him but also allow ourselves to feel the relief and freedom found in the fact that Someone else has made the way for us to be victorious in this life as well as the next.

This Truth spurs me on to make the choices in my day to day life that will foster an atmosphere in my heart and mind that allows the Spirit’s work to change me from the inside out. These daily choices become habits which eventually become second nature in me and ultimately develop into the character of who I am.

Some call these choices disciplines, others simply say good habits, while someone else may consider them rituals. It doesn’t matter what you call them, just that you intentionally choose to pursue whatever it is that brings you and God closer and that allows Him to turn weaknesses into strengths, despair into peace, ashes into beauty, chaos into order….

For me, those daily disciplines/habits/ choices have changed over time as I’ve grown older and as God and I have become closer. A large aspect of this has been my looking back at all that has formed who I am and allowing God to pull all the pieces together to form what is becoming a whole picture, fitting all my pieces together to make something beautiful of my life.

My walk through Lent this year was only a small fraction of that piecing together in my life. In the posts to come, I’ll share more of the specifics of what I’ve just been learning these last 6 weeks or so, but beyond that, I want to share more of my the complete journey I’ve been through since I was young and first began my pursuit of trying to understand my life holistically and why I’ve wanted to allow this work of the Spirit in my life to bring order from the chaos.

Entering the last week of Lent…

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img_0921As this 6 week focus has progressed, I’ve had my successes and failures with following what I set out to do.  My experience with God, however, has proven true and real.  I’ve drawn closer and invited Him to enter further into my deepest struggles.

I’ve sensed Him reminding me that even though “man does not live by bread alone,” there is an inference given to the statement which I have come to recognize and embrace…bread is not a bad thing and sometimes a man, or woman, needs to eat bread, and sometimes it needs to be eaten simply because we are breaking it with someone else.  Food is okay to enjoy and sharing a meal with someone is a rich and necessary part of living in human relationship with others.

In this, God’s Spirit has spoken to me more intently on the goodness of all things in moderation, the call t

o living balanced in holistic wellness.  I feel I have a better way to move forward now, a greater sense of what I need, what I should limit, and what I must do in order to be healthy as a whole person.  While caught up in this Lenten introspection embodied by my literal actions, the journey and sacrifices of Jesus have impacted me in new ways.

My desire is that this last week of Lent will provide a few more moments of an awareness of the fullness of God’s presence in the midst of my own sensations of physical emptiness.  I’m praying this for me now, and for you, whomever you may be that happens to read this….

I’ll share more details of my journey forward next weekend when we await the sunrise of Easter morning….

Order from chaos….

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Bouncing forward from those high school days and my first psychology class, I took on the psychology minor in my undergraduate studies. My major was Christian Education. I feel it was the true beginning of discovering all that had shaped me into who I was and learning how to grow and become who God intended me to be from the start.

One of my close girl friends was a psychology major. For one of her courses, she had to determine her worldview (a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world). I didn’t have that course, but I decided to think through what my thoughts were on my view of the world. I came to embrace my primary worldview as being God creates order from chaos.

Over the years, I’ve thought through my view numerous times, to see if it still made sense and rang true for me…and it has. This view of life has helped to keep me grounded and to see the big picture beyond the details of day to day challenges, suffering, and uncertainty. The idea that God creates order from chaos laid the foundation for seeing life as a puzzle or mosaic, observing how all the pieces can come together to create a beautiful whole.

It reminds me of an Impressionist painting like Water Lillies by Monet. When I’ve had the chance to see it, or other Monet paintings, in person, I’ve compared the difference in viewing the painting up close versus across a room.

If you stand very close, you can see all the individual brush strokes, and though you can see beauty, artistry, and talent in all the details, you can’t see the true image. You have to stand back from it to capture the full magnificence of the entire work of art, to see the order in the chaos, how all the pieces fit…

An old post, revisited…

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Back in September 2013, I wrote the following as a beginning of this website and to help give a little explanation of the title of my page, “fitting the pieces together”.  I’m re-posting it at this time as a new beginning of some thoughts that have been reawakened in me.  I’ll continue the story as often as I can in the days to come, interspersed with my Lenten updates for the next few weeks until Easter.  After Easter, the theme of fitting the pieces together will continue in full force until I say all I feel the Spirit moving me to say…for now, here are my thoughts on PIECES….

Growing up, I highly disliked working puzzles.  My sister would always have one of those 5000 piece puzzles sitting out on a table, the entire winter, working on it as she had time.  Holiday time, when the entire family was around, puzzles would be brought out for everyone to work at putting them together.  I would stop and attempt to put in a few pieces, but I would quickly give up on it.  I couldn’t figure out a strategy.  It all seemed so random to me.

It’s only been in the last few years I’ve finally found some secrets to working puzzles.  Now, I can sit down and confidently work on one, knowing I can at least get the edges done and find some of the inner pieces, until it gets to the part where all the colors are the same.  I can’t say that I ever actually choose to work a puzzle, but at least I feel competent to associate with the puzzle-working crowd.

On the flipside, fitting the pieces of my life-puzzle together has interested me for a very long time, since I took my first psychology class in high school.  That class started me to wondering about what had shaped me into who I was and what was forming me into who I was becoming.  I began to question why I did the things I did.

I had a crush on the son of my high school Sunday School teacher.  He and I would often sing together in church, and we would spend many Sunday afternoons practicing songs, just for the fun of it.  I admired his Mom and looked to her for wisdom.  The two of them sang one particular song, regularly, and I never forgot the chorus to it.

The song was called “Pieces”, and the words I remember were….

“He said pieces, pieces, so many pieces to your life…

scattered all around, and some of them are gone.

I can put them all together, and there will never be

another one who can.”

I was moved by those words, especially because of what it meant in the lives of that Sunday School teacher and her son.  They had come through a lot of rough places in life, and I knew what it took for them to trust that God could put the pieces of their lives together again.

That gave me courage and hope for my own life.  It spurred me on to begin the dangerous journey of searching for all the pieces to the puzzle of my life and allowing God to put them together to show me the big picture of how my life had come to that point, where it was going, and what He wanted to do to transform it so that the puzzle could be the picture He intended it to be from the start.

The longer I live, the more I realize that everyone has puzzle pieces of their lives that are scattered and jumbled, that don’t make a lot of sense.  How easy it is for us to just let the pieces fall where they may and not try to put them together to find understanding and meaning in them.  It is a daunting task to allow God to take those pieces into His hands, to let Him reveal their meaning to us, and then to give Him the freedom to put the pieces together His way, so that the picture of our lives turns out as He desires it.

He is the Master Puzzle Maker, though, and no matter how we might try, we can never put together a life puzzle that will fit perfectly and become a breathtaking work of art.  When we give the pieces to Him, the life He forms from that puzzle, becomes a picture that makes sense; it takes it’s true and intended form, and ultimately, it radiates His glory for all to see.

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The best laid plans…

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As I make my journey through this time of Lent, I am reminded of many days and years of my life that have been walked to this point. I’ve journeyed with God as far back as my memory goes, though my “official” traverse commenced at age 11 when I knelt at an altar to formally ask Jesus to “save” me.

The longer I walk with God, the more I have learned that plans are not always for the long term. Not to say there isn’t an end goal, because there is…which is to become all God intended me to be from the start. But, what I mean is that the getting there isn’t always clear until I’m in a certain moment and that moment’s choice becomes clear, while the next moment’s choice may not be, yet …

Ergo, “the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray…” , and I would say this may be even more true for Christ followers. I could write much more on that thought, and probably should, but for now, I simply want to say that it has become ever clearer for me that being present and living in each moment is a critical aspect of our lives when we choose to follow Jesus.

Currently, my plans for my Lenten challenge have morphed. What started nearly 3 weeks ago as a cleansing, restrictive time, has turned into my fasting from bread and bread products and wrestling with all the ways this impacts me, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Then, today, after a routine medical procedure, realizing I also need to do better about fasting from chocolate and candy (which I’ve been giving into having as a reward, or crutch , for not eating bread).

So, I have a better plan for the next 3 1/2 weeks of Lent as I continue to fast from bread. I know I need to add fruit, figs, and some veggies back into my diet while I eliminate the sugar “crutches”. Long term, beyond Lent, my health will be better going this route, anyway. Also, for the long term, I think I’m seeing that my health needs actually might still require me to have some healthy bread choices (emphasizing healthy…i.e., my whole wheat toast but not cookies, cakes, crackers, pretzels…).

Yet, for the rest of Lent, the bread fast will continue. I can hear the Spirit speaking to me in the moments I’m grappling with longings for bread and I don’t want to give in to have the bread and miss what God is trying to say in His still small voice in my soul….