A Was And Will Be

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Why is it momentous that on this very day in 1977, I marched across the platform as a seventeen year old high school graduate? It means it’s time for my forty-year reunion!! How in the world did that happen? I remember laughing with my classmates as we looked ahead and joked about our twenty- and thirty-year reunions. Forty years wasn’t even on the radar at that point.

Though small, our class covered a broad spectrum of personalities. Thanks to Facebook, I’ve reconnected with some of them. Seeing one another’s profile pictures should somewhat ease the surprise of what time has delivered to each of us when we meet at the reunion. Amazingly, our differences are much fewer now than many years ago. Our experiences have rearranged our priorities and mellowed and matured us.

I cannot help but reminisce a bit about those days long past. Just this week, several of us chatted about our old choir dresses.  Those “uniforms” certainly ran the fashion gamut! I could not be cajoled into wearing any of them now, even if I could fit into them.

In high school, I was a first soprano, but since I could read music, my choir director often asked me to sing alto, and sometimes even tenor. I enjoyed the variety. My senior year, I accepted a dare and timidly tried out for a part in the operetta “The Mikado.”  My horror at being chosen almost warped me for life, but it was a fulfilling experience.

Gymnastics in junior high school, and cheerleading through high school and college highlighted my school years. My summer was spent playing neighborhood games of freeze tag, hide-and-seek, and kick the can each evening until the porch lights came on.

In sixth grade, I took baton lessons in hopes of achieving the same success my Aunt Karen did as a majorette. I felt pretty cool, and I loved the sparkling, red-sequined outfits. I still remember parts of some routines, but I’m no longer twirling. (Stop laughing, dear Reader! It was good while it lasted.)

In elementary school, I dominated the pogo stick. My small frame allowed me great endurance, allowing hundreds of jumps at a time. I remember having a big grin on my face with each “boing.” Traditional jump-roping, Chinese jump-rope, four square, and an occasional kickball game occupied my recesses.

I earned all possible badges in Pioneer Girls Club. I was a champion reader in my fourth grade “Reading-Bowling” contest. I won a few spelling bees. In third grade, Mrs  O’Brien encouraged me to be a writer when I grew up. (Obviously, I’m still working on that.)

My earliest memories are of being allowed to walk down the street by myself to the neighborhood mailbox and of winning the “Button, Button! Who’s got the button?” game in nursery school.

But in 1977, I put those achievements behind me and embraced young adulthood. Many of the “action verbs” that had previously comprised my life waned and some disappeared altogether. I soon became a college graduate, a novice teacher, a glowing bride, a grad school graduate, and young mother of three.

Now, (insert drumroll), I am a semi-retired school teacher, a middle-aged pastor’s wife, an ambitious author, and Mimi to five precious grandchildren.

Some day in the future, I hope to be an accomplished author and perhaps a great-grandma! I also yearn for a spectacular view of the Aurora Borealis (Great Northern Lights) some day.

That’s my life: what it was, what it is, and what it may be in the future.

Most of my musings require past tense verbs. It’s what I used to be. It’s past.

Only few sentences refer to my current opportunities and abilities, although I find plenty to keep me busy.

A mere two sentences are required to extrapolate my future.

The point of my musings? I am a finite being. My life consists of stages – the past, the present, and the future. I was; I am; I will be.  I must use my abilities and opportunities while they exist, knowing time changes them.

But God is different. He’s the great I AM! Everything is present tense for Him.

Oh, how I praise Him for His infinite capability! Everything God could do in the past, He can still do today, and He will be able to do equally well in the future. He never wearies or weakens. He will never change since He has no room for improvement. I can always depend upon Him to be able and accessible.

No one else can claim to be unchangeable. I’m so thankful I can count on my God!

“For I am the LORD, I change not.”                                            Malachi 3:6

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever!”          Hebrews 13:8

Note: I never won a trophy. 😉 Most of these awards belong to my children. The ibuprofen and Bengay are mine! 😳

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Glorifying Strength

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Do I consider myself strong?  Nope.  Not at all.  Wimp might more appropriately describe me.   My grip, for example, is quite lame.  I’ve learned the “bang the cap on the counter edge to loosen the seal” trick. That usually helps.  But it only works with metal caps.   Getting the plastic lid off a new container of apple juice poses a greater problem.  I’m not sure what the manufacturers are thinking when they cap those containers, but I’m fairly sure there are plenty of high-fives and cruel laughs that accompany each pallet.  And when a toddler wants apple juice,  he cannot understand why Mimi is so slow.   When Papa is home, I know how to remove the cap.  I give it to Papa.  He usually breaks the seal and loosens it before handing it back with a “here, I think you can get it now” challenge.  Each time he helps me lifts him higher in hero status to both me and the grandkids.  Papa is strong – at least a lot stronger than Mimi.

I admit that I have a bit more strength in my legs than in my arms.  In gymnastics, for example,  I never worried my legs would give out, but I was constantly concerned my arms might fail me.  Halfway through a stunt, the arms matter.  A lot!    But a good punch from the legs could assure a greater percentage of success – and fewer rough landings, face plants, and injuries!  (And for those of you who notice verb tense, there is a valid reason why the verbs referring to gymnastics are in past tense and the verbs referring to opening apple juice containers are in present tense.  Mimi leaves the handsprings to the grandchildren now.)

In my study of Psalm 96 today, a phrase gripped my attention.  The psalm describes the importance of praising God and shows ways I can do so.  According to verse seven, I am to praise Him with strength.  As I pondered this, I realized if it were only by physical prowess I could praise Him, He wouldn’t receive much from me.  But it is God Who has given me power in my body, whether it be great or limited.   And with what He has provided, I can praise Him.

I can praise Him while performing my daily responsibilities.   “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”  (I Corinthians 10:31)  A lazy effort, a sloppy performance, and a griping and mumbling attitude have no place in my spirit if I am doing all to honor Him. With the energy and strength He has provided me, I can work diligently to accomplish all He desires of me.  Since He created me, He knows what I can do.  He will never require more of me than I am able to perform with His help.  I find it necessary to ask His help each morning in order to achieve my fullest potential in the seemingly mundane chores of the day.  With His help, though, even mundane and trivial tasks performed with strength can glorify God.  Through Him, I can carry out my daily chores with enthusiasm and excellence.  In this way, I can glorify God with my strength.

I can also praise and honor Him with strength of character.  Strong character is demonstrated in numerous ways.  It is seen in doing what is right in God’s eyes regardless of the consequences.  It is seen in regarding the good of others higher in my priorities than my own desires.  When I set aside the concerns of the day, no matter how tight my schedule is, to read and study God’s Word and to faithfully attend church, I am showing strength and glorifying Him.  Sharing the good news of God’s unconditional love with all those around me demonstrates a strong and godly character.  Being kind to those who do me wrong shows a strength that only God can provide.  Keeping my mouth shut when I’m tempted to share the latest gossip is further evidence of strong character.  (And at times I believe it takes a whole host of angels to prevent me from telling what I know!)   No matter who is watching, whether it be in a crowd of observers or alone under the all-seeing eyes of God, I can honor Him with strength of character.

So can I praise God with strength?  Yes!  With the strength He provides me, I can honor Him.   Without that strength, I can do nothing.   Just as Papa provides physical help with a stubborn lid, and strong legs provide help with a stunt, I need God to help me daily.  When I acknowledge His help and strength in every area of my life, I glorify Him.

“He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might, He increase the strength.”

isaiah 40:29

Praise the Lord!