Lemon Drop Memories

Another road trip to the new house, another stop at Kwik Trip for more coffee. And there I saw them, a bag of lemon drops. I pulled the bag off the metal piece it hung from and immediately tears stung my eyes. Lemon drop memories. It’s funny how little things can cause liquid grief to flow as the memories pull on your heartstrings.

Dad loved lemon drops, I thought as I held the bag in my hand. And the missing feelings overwhelmed me. Dad went home to be with the Lord a little over five years ago. I think about him nearly every day. He was full of fun and loved to joke around. He could always bring a smile to my face. My tears surprised me.

Pushing the painful away use to be the way I chose to live. I use to hate fragility, and neediness. I would do anything to avoid tears. I would even try to keep others from crying so I didn’t have to deal with their sadness, or feel my own. I still do sometimes. But I am finding that when I allow myself to be touched by the pain of loss, healing begins. It is okay to miss the ones we love and allow tender memories to move us.

Burying my feelings use to make me feel strong. It helped me believe the lie that nothing could hurt me. But believing lies and building walls left me alone in the pain I was afraid to feel. I locked others out.

Sometimes it feels like our pain and tears can annihilate us. They feel too big, too overwhelming. And it seems that if we allow the tears to start they will never stop. It feels like we will crumple under the heaviness of our deep feelings. But that too is a lie. When we can open up about our feelings, and be held in them, the load is lightened.

Slowly I learn these truths, and release the lies. More lessons on my path of recalibrating life. But actually these lessons are ones I have been struggling through for a long time.

My fear of allowing the pain to touch me is still a very real part of me. But on that drive, sucking on one of those lemon drops, I told my husband about the sadness I felt, the missing dad feelings and the need to hold him near in my memories. I shared my grief, and it was okay. When you are willing to share the tears and talk about the hurt, you often find community and compassion.

Satan wants us to remain in the bondage that his lies create. He wants us stuck in the fear, debilitated by the grief. He wants us to feel like we need to hide. He wants us alone and walled off. Because in our alone, he can destroy our faith, he can shred our hope, and he can leave us for dead.

But Psalm 56:8 reminds me that the Lord collects my tears in a bottle. My tears are precious to the Lord. And He meets us in the grief we feel. He comforts our hurting hearts with His love, and gives us the hope of seeing our believing loved ones again. He brings restoration and healing to our brokenness and grief.

Our souls are refreshed once again in knowing His loving-presence. And we truly are not alone. He knows our fragility, and when we are weak He is strong. His grace truly is sufficient (2 Corinthian’s 12:9) for whatever life brings, for whenever memories roll over us like a tsunami. He will collect our tears as if they are precious diamonds, because He loves us that much. He will strengthen and uphold us through it all.

The bag of lemon drops is still in my car. As I am driving, I often pull one out of the bag, and the bittersweetness of the candy reminds me of the tears and my lemon drop memories. Life is bittersweet like those lemon drops. We taste the bitter and the sweet in life. Sweet memories can bring tears. I am learning to realize the preciousness of both.

What about you? Have you had “lemon drop memory” experiences? How do you deal with your grief and pain? Do you wall it off so it doesn’t touch you? Have you found the Lord’s comfort in the midst of it all?

May the Lord refresh your soul today with His loving-presence no matter what life brings your way.

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What Really Matters

What really matters? The Lord has been showing me where my focus lies. And, in doing so, He is helping me to see what really matters to Him.

It really matters to Him that I walk closely with Him. In order to do that I need to be intentional about looking for Him in the daily. I need to be mindful of Him, seeking to know His presence.

When you walk with someone you stay near, often your steps are in cadence with one another. You share in the moments you walk. You check-in with the other and discuss the route you want to take. If one turns, the other follows after, because you desire to be together.

While walking there is often conversation involved. You share about life, you listen, and you reflect. On the route, you take notice of the things around you. You are present, looking and listening, you are aware of your surroundings.

But, I am realizing what really matters to me is more about selfish concerns. Do I have time for this? Do we have to go so slow? Is this the best route? Could we walk a little faster? My to-do list is only half done. Let’s not go that way, I don’t want to run into them and get tied up in a long conversation. Let’s not stop there now, I need to get somewhere. I need to get something done.

It’s as if I am telling the Lord, just follow me around and be there for me when I need you. After-all I have a schedule to keep, I have a lot to do. And He is showing me that what really matters to Him is the walking with, my being with Him. He wants me to really seek Him, to have my soul refreshed in the being together, and to learn from Him.

He doesn’t see that my completing the things on my to-do list as being the most important. But, all too often, I live as if they are, and everything else takes second place. In living with that mindset I focus on the doing and miss the being. And it is in the being, the being with, really being present, that is where the relationship takes place. And it is in the relationship we learn what really matters, we learn His unforced rhythms of grace for all of life. We can only learn that as we walk closely with Him and look how He is at work, what He is doing, and how we can join Him. We only learn that in the quiet times together, when we are ready to really listen.

The Lord knows us so much better than we know ourselves. He is showing me myself and in that, teaching me what really matters to Him. He is showing me where my focus is skewed and how my skewed focus leads me astray. He is showing me my selfishness. He is showing me how I focus on me and how everything affects me, and I miss so much else. The Lord wants me to focus fully on Him and trust Him to take care of me in the living of my life.

Actually, He is showing me some things I already know, but they are things that get lost in my day-to-day living as I fall back into old patterns. He makes His way clearer as I view my life through the lens of His Word, His promises, and His love.

The Lord calls us to come alongside, to find the cadence of His unforced rhythms of grace. The rhythms of grace are about His way, and when we go off-track, focusing on us, our own stuff, He calls us back. He calls us back repeatedly if necessary. It is in this calling back that we learn of His patient love.

As you look at your heart and life what do you see? Where is your focus? It isn’t always immediately apparent. Talk with Him about it. He will show you what He sees and He will show you what is important. He will show you what really matters.

God’s Word Refreshes, He Restores our Souls

Do you ever feel defeated? Everything is going wrong. No matter what you try it seems things just don’t work out. You feel frustrated and at the edge of despair. And you are just ready to give up. Can anything else go wrong?

In Psalm 143:3 AMPC David says,

For the enemy has pursued and persecuted my soul, he has crushed my life down to the ground; he has made me to dwell in dark places as those who have been long dead.

David was at that place. He felt “crushed down” by the enemy. The enemy of our soul, Satan, desires to crush us to the point of despair and even unto death.

1 Peter 5:8 AMPC tells us,

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion. [in fierce hunger], seeking  someone to seize upon and devour.” (my emphasis) 

He wants to steal and destroy (John 10:10).  He wants to steal our hope and joy. He wants to steal the victory we have in Christ.

Sometimes God’s Word is given and you don’t even realize how much you need it,  or how much you will need it. A few weeks ago I was studying 1 Chronicles and read this:

What a friend we have in Jesus! The words from this hymn by Joseph Scrivener have a special place in my heart. Read them and be encouraged.

  1. “What a friend we have in Jesus,
    All our sins and griefs to bear!
    What a privilege to carry
    Everything to God in prayer!
    Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
    Oh, what needless pain we bear,
    All because we do not carry
  2. Have we trials and temptations?
    Is there trouble anywhere?
    We should never be discouraged—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Can we find a friend so faithful,
    Who will all our sorrows share?
    Jesus knows our every weakness;
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
  3. Are we weak and heavy-laden,
    Cumbered with a load of care?
    Precious Savior, still our refuge—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
    Take it to the Lord in prayer!
    In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
    Thou wilt find a solace there.
  4. Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
    Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
    May we ever, Lord, be bringing
    All to Thee in earnest prayer.
    Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
    There will be no need for prayer—
    Rapture, praise, and endless worship
    Will be our sweet portion there.”

Our Ally, Our Friend, Our Hope for every moment of every day. He restores my soul. May you find refreshment and restoration in Him today! He is our Light in this very dark world.

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