Open your eyes to the wonder God has waiting for you.
In the midst of our busy schedules and the constant distractions our culture offers us, it can be difficult to feel God and see the way he’s working in our lives. He is the creator of the universe, the author of salvation, the beginning and end of everything that isbut that doesn’t mean he’s far away.
The truth is, God is revealing himself to us all the time, in even the littlest details of our everyday. If we can only slow down and open our eyes to see it, we can begin to catch glimpses of him wherever we are and whatever our circumstances may be. In A Minute of Presence for Women, spend a year retreating with Godand awaken your heart to his wonder all around you.
|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)|
Read an Excerpt
I've tried going paperless. I have. I have all sorts of convenient tools and apps that stand ready to keep me on track, on time, and on task. But I love my plain, banded folio and its simple, worn pages. Scratched notes fill the columns of each week, reminding me where I've been and where I need to go. Scribbled names record who I've spoken with and perhaps what we've talked about.
Great and small blocks of time attest to what sort of work I've done and what is yet to do. Stray words and phrases are buried throughout the whole stew that might someday bubble into something more substantial ... or not. My own handwriting on my planner's not-virtual pages grounds me in a way that ether notes cannot. I am, unapologetically, a calendar girl.
Each January I procure a new planner with crisp, white, empty pages. I have no idea what assignments or stories it will catalog. I hope, of course, that its pages will record good work, thoughtfully done. Old friendships maintained. New ones serendipitously explored. Heart-hammering trials endured. Good books read and pondered. Inviting creative challenges met. I cannot possibly predict what will appear on any one page, but I can attest with certainty who will be present behind, before, and on every page: my heavenly Father.
How do I know? Because he was there in the pages of last year's calendar ... and in all the ones that came before it. He was there when the pages bore notes like "fire" and "move" and "myeloma" and "Memphis." He was there on a beachside balcony in Orlando and in Marcy's guest room in May. He was there in my mother's hospice room and beside me on a bluff high above the Frio River. He will be for me what he has always been: present and the same yesterday, today, and forever.
The pages may be new. The year may be different. But there is no reason to fear the coming contents of this empty planner. The unseen Author of every line is unchanging, good, and true. He is faithful. He can be nothing less. I am a calendar girl, and he is the God of the ages.
God's way is perfect. All the Lord's promises prove true. 2 SAMUEL 22:31
A New Thing
Every day in my city I notice an unending barrage of new things. A new drugstore has sprung up on a street I haven't driven down in weeks. A new restaurant or a splash of flowers or a herd of SUV hybrids catches my eye. New billboards proliferate like viruses along each block, advertising new destinations for not-so-new airlines, or new offers for things I've never before thought I needed.
At the grocery store I frequent, another face-lift is underway, and the greeting cards are now where the coffee was. Just this week a new mail carrier assumed my neighborhood route, meaning I've delivered misplaced mail twice in only a few days' time.
In all this newness, I've discovered something new about myself: the thing I like most about new things is that eventually they become old. The newness wears off, and a sweet familiarity settles in. Then I know what to expect. Then I'm not breaking anything in or trying anything out. God, however, is not constrained by my preference for the predictably tried and true. Just when I think I've got him figured out, he challenges my cozy assumptions that he'll do the same thing in the same way that he did the day before.
I know him, yes: I know that Jesus Christ is, as the writer of Hebrews says, the same yesterday, today, and forever (see Hebrews 13:8).
Oh, yes! That's good! I count on that.
But his ways and the Father's ways and the Spirit's ways are not set in stone. He is forever doing something new. No two sunrises or sunsets paint the same pattern in the sky, and no two days ring with identical echoes of his grace. Just this week a flaming red cardinal flew so close to me that I think I might have touched him if I'd been quick enough — and that's never happened before. Ever.
His mercies are new every morning. So who knows what new thing he will surprise me with today?
I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I'm not sure when the last leaves fell from the tall trees in the yard; Houston winters aren't harsh enough to pinpoint a single killing frost. The leaves simply seemed to let go. Now I'm seeing birds I never noticed before: ten, twenty, thirty at a time, perched in branches listing in the breeze. They'd been there all along, but because I was focused on something else, they were invisible to me.
I was reminded of those "invisible" birds and bare branches during dinner with a dear friend — the kind of friend whose presence makes you breathe easier. A friend whose voice is a comfort, and whose heart has long been open to mine. She is a widow now. Parts of her world that were once lush and full are now emptier, more bare. She is a teacher of the Word — one of my favorites. One whose love and wisdom I've striven to emulate. (She smiles sometimes and says her student has surpassed her, but I don't believe I ever will.)
"How has what you've been through recently changed your teaching?" she asked me as we nibbled plates of Middle Eastern food and caught up with one another's struggles.
I didn't answer right away. I wanted to find the right words. But I knew the truth almost instantly. "Everything is closer to the surface," I told her. "Everything is more intense and real."
"Anything else?" she wanted to know.
"Yes," I said. "I love the people I teach more. Sometimes so much it hurts." Then I asked her the same question.
"I cry a lot more," she admitted. "And I see their hurts. Even the invisible ones.
But I want to tell them the truth, even when it's hard. There's no room for platitudes anymore."
Bare branches show us things we never noticed before. Bare branches bring things into clearer focus — sometimes with an awful heart pang, but always with surprising clarity. And bare branches have a beauty all their own.
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. ... Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
HEBREWS 4:14,16, NASB
Do you make New Year's resolutions? I normally don't, but this year I am keenly focused on more. Not more stuff or more money, not more power or control. This year I want to love more, give more, and sit more often at God's feet with no agenda in mind but to experience his presence.
Loving God and loving others are precious things. And imagining ways to grow in them is a challenge. But I aim to try.
Loving more will no doubt mean extending myself beyond my safe, trusted circles of family and friends. That's a scary prospect. What will happen, I wonder, if I make it a point each day to tell or show one other person that I love them — and to at least hint that God loves them more?
How can a person with finite resources give more and more? I can start by sharing what I have, giving what I no longer use or need, and shifting funds from one budget category to repurpose in another. And I can offer up the most precious commodity of all: my time. I confess I often hoard it. Time is the one thing I struggle to relinquish on any terms but my own. I need it, I convince myself. It's mine. Already in this barely begun year I've been asked to part with more of it for causes that are undoubtedly good. How will I know the best way to respond?
I will know by spending time with God. Understanding is a good side effect of a relationship with him. Through uninterrupted, content-to-sit-in-his-presence time — by listening, praising, dreaming big, and feeling small, I will learn to better love and give. I'm convinced this one thing is the key to my year of more. If I fail at this, I'll succeed at nothing.
More. I want more. It sounds selfish, doesn't it? But it needn't be. Open my heart and my hands, Father, and give me more of you! I promise — out of love for you — to keep the giving going in your name.
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; and You give them to drink of the river of Your delights. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.
PSALM 36:7-9, NASB
Fridays at Avalon
The clock over the long serving counter at Avalon Diner says it's 7:30 a.m. Booths and tables have already filled just an hour after the diner doors opened. Cups clink and conversation hums. With her smile and hairnet in place, Patsy stands at the grill, scrambling the lightest, fluffiest eggs you've ever eaten in your life. Cassie, Sarah, Brenda, and Ronnie deliver breakfast orders amid the cheerful chaos, their moves as smooth as syrup flowing over a hot short stack.
For twenty-five-plus years, my dad and I have met in this midtown diner on Friday mornings and shared what we've come to think of as our table — the fourth booth on the right, nearest the kitchen. The space between us — two feet of scarred and slightly greasy Formica — has been filled with conversation, easy silence, tears, and laughter. The distance between Dad's face and mine is measurable. The height and depth and breadth of our shared connection forged over time is not.
Now if one of us sits down at our table without the other, we're quickly asked, "Where's Mac?" or "Where's Leigh?" My oldest niece began to join us when she attended college nearby, and to our friends at Avalon she is "Baby Girl." When she married and had a baby girl of her own, my grandniece made delightful guest appearances. Once, a gentleman dining alone in the booth opposite ours took off his glasses, folded his paper, smiled at our intergenerational gathering, and said, "I'm just enjoying your breakfast." It never occurred to me before that what we were doing was anything but ordinary.
My connection with my heavenly Father is meant to be just as real and intimate and life giving as any ordinary Friday at Avalon. Every day, God lays a meal before his children, and his winsome hospitality beckons us to come and eat and enjoy his presence and love. I know that I belong at that table. I am expected and wanted there, just as I am each Friday in the fourth booth on the right, the one nearest the kitchen, where my earthly father waits for me.
I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.
This Old House
The first house I can remember living in was a low-slung, pinkish-brick ranch with a long, long driveway in Refugio, Texas. I had not seen it for decades until a visit to a nearby coastal town made me curious. Was it still standing? Could I find it? Thanks to the magic of GPS (and a little help from reliable, ever-chirpy Siri), I located it with very little trouble and recognized it with even less.
Maybe I sat a bit too long in the car in front of the house, but I couldn't stop staring ... and remembering. A woman came out into the yard and began to putter around, checking me out but pretending not to. I opened the car door and walked over to explain, but I got out only a few words before I began to weep. "My parents built this house in 1963 ..."
The woman put her arm around me as if I were a cousin or an old friend she hadn't seen in years, then invited me inside. She led me up to the porch where I'd practiced dancing in my tap shoes (because my mother insisted indoor tapping would scar the linoleum), where I'd cried when our first dog died, begging to go visit him in heaven.
The house Mother had kept bright and squeaky clean was dark and full of clutter, and the owner was apologetic, but I was seeing what she couldn't: a little girl on the kitchen floor, playing with pots and pans; two footie-pajama-ed sisters watching Captain Kangaroo in the living room; the bedroom where we said our God-blesses each night before falling into innocent sleep.
At some point in the tour a paper towel was pressed into my hands — I hadn't realized how hard I was crying. I didn't want to go back there, to that time and place, so much as I wanted all that I'd experienced there to be made new. Memory is eschatological, it has been said. And it is. It makes us long not only for all that was but for all that will be — and for the one who says, "Behold, I am making all things new" (Revelation 21:5, NASB).
Compared to what's coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack. ... The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what's ahead.
2 CORINTHIANS 5:2, 5, MSG
Waiting on a Miracle
I don't often spend time on golf courses. Nevertheless, a certain Monday found me on a local course late in the afternoon, waiting near the green on the seventeenth hole as a witness to a potential hole in one. In other words, waiting for a miracle.
If the miracle should happen, it had to be verified, of course, so I waited to see if someone might actually finish the par-three hole with a single shot. If they did, the payoff was quite nice: a trip to Pebble Beach with lots of extras (including more golf). So a friend and I parked our cart and chatted while we waited for the teams to approach — and then watched balls fly through the air and drop in the general vicinity of the flag.
The golfers made their way toward us slowly, but approaching much faster was a dark, thick cloud. The wind was blowing hard, and I could actually smell the rain in the air. We were waiting for a golfing miracle, but a storm was threatening to shut us down. So my friend faced the cloud and silently prayed while I kept watching for a one-in-a-million hole in one. In a few minutes, the menacing cloud that had been heading straight for us literally broke in half and went around us on either side.
And I kept my eyes fixed on hole seventeen, watching and waiting to witness a miracle.
Sometimes our eyes are so focused on the miracle we have in mind that we don't see the miracle at hand. God held a storm back, but he didn't let us witness a once-in-a-lifetime golf shot. He gave us a miracle all right, but it wasn't anything like the one we were there looking for.
God's nearness and his intervention can be as plain as the nose on my face, and I may still miss it. But the miracle that comes unannounced is no less mine, and no less divine. It just may take me a while to see it for what it is.
The Lord said to Moses, "How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?"
NUMBERS 14:11, NASB
Excerpted from "A Minute of Presence for Women"
Copyright © 2018 Leigh McLeroy.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
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