Lasting Fruit

bookbagsI told them to keep working . . . that I needed to take some pictures and not to pay any attention to me. After eight days of getting to know their new teacher, they are beginning to understand that I am a woman who lives for the moments.

Too many of these moments are slipping by without much fanfare – like the “on the fly” relay race I put together for our recess time yesterday. If only I’d had my camera then; if only I could have bottled the laughter readily present in that moment. I’m sure it would have been enough to at least (temporarily) put a smile on the ache of the world.

With each tick of the clock, I’m keenly aware that I will only have this baker’s dozen in my charge and keep for a short season. Eight days down; one hundred and seventy-two remaining. There is so much I want to tell them . . . give them. In most of our moments together, I feel wholly inadequate with the telling and the giving. In most of those moments, I want to sit down and cry because of the overwhelming responsibility that’s now filling up my thoughts day and night and every moment in between.

I am so very past tired. My body aches from head to toe. I crawl into bed each night with tears in my eyes because of the physical pain that is riddling my joints. But there is liquid joy in the pain, because I know that I have done something sacred with my day. I have planted good seed into God’s very good soil. Time will bear out the results. I may or may not be privy to them, but I can and am relinquishing the outcome to God.

The seeds are in my hands and issue forth from my heart. The fruit, however, belongs to God’s hands and his heart. His Spirit will break up the fallow ground beneath our feet and will superintend the harvest with holy watchfulness. God will grow what I cannot.

My job?

Releasing the seed . . . one lesson plan at a time. One conversation at a time. One correction at a time. One getting down on the floor to help a student find his/her homework at a time. One reminder to put a name on a paper at a time. One extra look up on the computer to find out more information about Leif Ericson at a time. One more phone call to a parent at a time. One more inch of me invested into this assignment from God until it is finished.

One more one more, because it’s been that clear to me from the beginning that this isn’t my doing but, rather, it is God’s:

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” –John 15:16

Lasting fruit.

That has a holy ring to it, and one day I will know the fullness of what is being planted in these days. Until then, I’ll keep walking the fields with Jesus and watering his garden with these tears of obedience.

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‘Tis a very sweet, sweet fellowship and privilege to journey alongside the King and to sow kingdom seed as we go and along the way. So . . .

Leave me, Lord Jesus, for as long as you will;
In this place of great trust – keep me quiet and still.
To wait for your timing, your words and your heart;
To give to your children the wealth that will start …

New beginnings in them that will push them along,
Forward in your kingdom – make them brave, make them strong.
Keep them safe, keep them tender, keep them willing to learn;
Keep me always at the ready, help my heart to discern.

What is best, what is right;
What is noble and true.
What is good, what is worthy;
What is holy from You.

Plant your rows, sow your seed;
Use my hands, take the lead.
One step at a time, one prayer from the heart;
This is grace, this is fruit,
This is faith, set apart.

Amen. (F. Elaine Olsen, 8-30-14. All rights reserved.)

Peace for the journey,

Faith-stepping

carriage wheel

My heart’s been moved again by the story of Philip and the Ethiopian as found in Acts 8:26-40. This encounter unfolds like a series of rapid succession snapshots, sort of like living a narrative through the lens of a view-finder. Remember those? Philip’s story is a faith-stepping one; it has a lot to teach us about the seasonal work of faith in our lives. Imagine with me for a few moments. Perhaps, like me, you’ll find yourself somewhere in the script.

Philip steps forward. “Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. So he started out, …”. (vs. 26-27)

A life of faith is initiated and directed by the hand of God. A saint steps forward (even to a desert road) when God shouts “Go!”.

Philip steps near. “The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’ Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked.” (vs. 29-30)

A life of faith is often lived out alongside the questioning soul. A saint steps near the questions and isn’t intimidated by the pace of the chariot.

Philip steps up. “‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” (vs. 31)

A life of faith rises to the occasion. A saint steps up into the chariot to tell the truth . . . to give a reason for the hope residing within.

Philip steps down. “As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?’ And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.” (vs. 26-38)

A life of faith understands that life truly begins in the baptismal waters of grace. A saint steps down into the river to pour life into others, even it means getting wet in the process. With God, a little wetness is all the more and then some. How long has it been since you’ve stepped down into those waters of grace?

Philip steps out. “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on rejoicing.” (vs. 39)

A life of faith is characterized by seasons. A saint steps out of the scene when God shouts, “Go!”. Some faith-assignments are lengthier than others, but most always they are limited to a time-period. Wise are those who know when to linger and when to step out of the scene.

Philip steps on. “Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.” (vs. 40)

A life of faith keeps moving forward beyond the “stretches and strengthenings” of the soul. A saint steps on to walk the path and do the work of kingdom building. Faith doesn’t end where the last baptism took place. Faith journeys forward to new waters and new chariots in order to dispense the familiar grace from an old, rugged cross.

Thus, faith . . .

  • Steps forward.
  • Steps near.
  • Steps up.
  • Steps down.
  • Steps out.
  • Steps on.

Where are you stepping today, friends?

Step always in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. This road is coming to an end and one day soon, our faith will be our eyes. Until then, keep stepping. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

words rightly written . . .

love ruby lavender

My mind is full. Really full. The kind of full that’s difficult to sort out. The kind of full that just sits there, weighing down on a heart and refusing to budge. Accordingly, it’s been hard to move forward – even toward one little thing that needs doing. So instead of doing all the little things that need doing (which invariably includes a few big things that need doing), I’ve been doing some reading. Not for myself (not really) but, instead, for them—the 4th grade students that will soon sit beneath my tutelage.

It’s been a long time since I’ve orally disseminated the contents of a chapter book to a captive audience. To be certain, Frindle has made the cut, as well as Where the Red Fern Grows and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. But I’ve felt the need for some fresh words to share; hence, my recent search-and-retrieval mission for some new titles (at least ones new to me). And today, I found a gem waiting for me at my front door when I returned home from a road trip to visit my folks.

Love, Ruby Lavender. A few chapters in and I knew it would make the “after-lunch-read-to-the-class” list. I like the main character, Ruby, as well as her grandmother, Eula (she reminds me so much of my Judith-friend). The story is funny, poignant, and right in the middle of a 4th grade life. Deborah Wiles’s debut novel from 2001 will strike a chord with my students. How do I know?

Well, sometimes a heart just knows about words rightly written . . . words rightly released in the right season. Sometimes words just show up, freeing a mind from unnecessary cluttering and helping a heart breathe a little easier . . . think a little clearer.

And so, what began as a way for me to move out from beneath a burgeoning load of little “need doings” has now become the venue God has used to lighten my load. Fitting that he would employ a few good words to move me to a place of rest.

I love a few good words, don’t you? Whether a nursery rhyme for toddlers, a novel written for ten-year-olds, or a history book for advanced readers, words have a way of transporting a soul to a more spacious place—an expanse that allows us to absorb and to breathe and to find perspective for the little doings that need doing. For whatever reason, I think I can better tackle them now.

How about you? What good words are you reading in this season of your life? I’d love to know what’s on your bookshelf. Keep lending your heart, mind, and soul to good words, friends. They’ll enable your moving forward by expanding the horizon in front of you. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

PS: The winner of a set of Melanie’s note cards is Tara Nelson. Tara, please be in touch with your choices of 5 cards and your mailing address via the contact page.

“Oh, Hey Girl!” Happy Monday

hey girl

She’s enormously gifted, my friend Melanie Dorsey. She’s a creative in all that she does. Whether lending her heart to words, painting, sewing, cooking, re-purposing furniture and beyond, Melanie pours her all into the project at hand. I don’t think she can help herself. She’s so much like her heavenly Father . . . creatively creating. Indeed, Melanie is helping to solve the problem of pain in this world through her artistic fashioning.

Most recently, Melanie has been working with watercolors. I adore these little portraits of grace she’s been creating. You can see more of them by clicking here. To honor her work, I’m giving away a set of five note cards to one of you (your choice of cards)! Take some time to peruse Melanie’s designs and let me know your favorites in the comments below. I’ll pick a winner with my next post.

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In the meantime, I pray your week off to a very good, God-start. May the day ahead of you be filled with a rich awareness of God’s presence and his love for you. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

A Wedding Dance with Redemption . . .

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I’m joining Lisa Shaw over at her blog today. Won’t you join me there?

Peace for the journey,