Reflections at the Foot of the Cross

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” -- Luke 23:34a  At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away, It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day!” ― Isaac Watts I will never forget the day I gave my life to Christ.  It was a sweltering Sunday morning in June -- Children’s Day -- and our little Baptist church was packed.  I sat fidgeting on the front pew next to my father. I was eight years old and I had made up my mind. This was the day. And so when Pastor Lewis offered the invitation to discipleship as he had so many other Sundays before, I leaned over and whispered in Daddy’s ear, “I want to be saved.”  He smiled and nodded, and I nervously stepped forward. Pastor Lewis knelt down, cradled me in his arms and, after a series of questions, welcomed me into the family of God. I was saved! That was the first of many “salvation” moments.  My seeming inability to get it right made me think that perhaps it hadn’t "taken" the first time.   And over the years I’d rededicate my life to Christ and then rededicate my rededication. (I attended college in the 70s. Need I say more?) I spent time these days leading up to Resurrection Sunday reflecting on the greatest event in all…

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Go For It

"... I have come with the sole purpose for you to have life in its most complete form."  John 10:10b  (The Mirror Bible) “Go for it, Deb” the text message read. Go for it?  Seriously?   I’d only been  joking when I suggested I limber up my fingers so I could play the piano for our worship team at my friend's mother's homegoing celebration. Go for it?  I think not. You see, I don’t play. Well, I do play.  I play when I need to work out harmonies for our church’s worship team. I play when notes and lyrics keep bouncing around in my head, pleading to be set free.  I play in my yellow-walled writing/prayer room to enjoy intimate times of worship,  when I need to feel God’s presence and hear His voice singing over me. I play in the privacy of my home (and some times at the church. . . when no one else is in the building). I don’t play publicly. I used to play publicly (and actually was paid to do it. Go figure).  But, I haven’t played publicly for a long time – a very, very long time. I haven’t needed to.  I am surrounded by incredible musicians whose skill levels supersede mine to the nth degree. And I am very happy to let them do what they do.  That’s not false humility; it is simple wisdom.  I know what I can do well and gladly do it. But when there are those around…

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In the Reset

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18  The smells of Thanksgiving  Day dinner wafted throughout my house, and I sat, waiting for nieces, nephews, and puppy to descend on my home for the festivities.  As I waited, I  reflected on the faithfulness of God and the myriad of ways He demonstrates His love to me.  My heart  swells whenever I think of all I have to be grateful for -- not just what He's done for me, but what He continues to do in me.   "Thank You" cascaded from my lips like a waterfall. I’m grateful for His mercy extended when I was at my craziest, living my life to the beat of the Isley Brothers -- “It’s your thing; do what you wanna do!” I am learning to be merciful because of His great mercy towards me. I’m grateful for His grace that enables and empowers me to discover and then become the unique individual He has always known me to be.  It’s because of His great grace that I am learning  to give grace to others, no matter where they may be in the process of discovery and becoming. I am grateful for His patience towards me in this process. I’ve not always cooperated with Him. But the Lord has always patiently waited, letting me know that long before  I  chose to trust Him, He’d chosen me. Letting me know that long before I fell…

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Into the Deep

“When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”  Luke 5:4 NKJV Simon sat beside his fishing boat on the shore of the Lake of Gennesaret, the sun glinting off its calm waters. It had been calm the night before; the conditions had seemed perfect for a large  catch.  Yet, as the sun came up, they relented,  pulled in their nets and headed back to shore with nothing to show for the night’s labor. Nothing but fatigue. Nothing but more cuts and scrapes on already rough, calloused hands.   Nothing but frustration. They’d needed a large catch. But fish are elusive creatures  at times. Such is our profession, Simon thought, trying to mask his disappointment.As he meticulously inspected his nets for tears, he noticed a throng approaching the shore.  They were pressing into a man – a rabbi –and listening intently to His every word. The Man drew closer, glanced at Simon, and stepped into his boat.  “Will you launch out just a bit?” Jesus asked.  Simon rowed out as he'd been asked.  Jesus sat and began to teach the crowd.  When He had finished His discourse, He turned attention back to Simon.“Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch,” He enjoined.I can only imagine what Simon Peter was thinking. After all, fishing was his livelihood, his area of expertise, and he knew his profession well -- the fish, their habits, the waters.…

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Working Toward, Striving For, Or Living From?

". . . He said to me, “My grace elevates you to be fully content.” And now, instead of being overwhelmed with a sense of my own weakness, he overwhelms me with an awareness of his strength!  O what bliss to rejoice in the fact that in the midst of my frailties I encounter the dynamic of the grace of God to be my habitation."   2 Corinthians 12:9 The MIRROR Hello.  My name is Deborah, and I am a recovering perfectionist. Seems most of my life I have found myself striving to be perfect -- not Wonder Woman perfect and definitely not Stepford Wives perfect.  More like Mary Poppins.  You know . . . “practically perfect in every way” (because  everyone knows that practically perfect is more attainable than perfectly perfect). And while I recognize in the sane, rational part of my mind that perfection is an illusion, that it is, as Anne Lamott writes, ". . . the voice of the oppressor,” that it imprisons us, I still found myself striving for, at best, the illusion. Strived to be the perfect daughter, the perfect sister, the perfect friend.  Worked hard to be the perfect student, the perfect teacher, perfect Christian.   It mattered to me how I measured up in the eyes of my parents, in the eyes of my friends, in the eyes of my teachers, in the eyes of God!   Color within the lines.  Follow the rules. Get the A’s.  Do it flawlessly. Be the…

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Lessons My Father Taught Me

  William Elder Gaston was born in Sheffield, Alabama on May 7, 1913, the youngest son of William Henry and Lena Gaston. To some he was Brother, to some Uncle Brother. To others he was Deacon Gaston and yet others called him “Professor.”  A very few called him Bill.   My mother called him “Babe.”  To me he was simply . . . Daddy.   Daddy  was all of 5’8, a  man with a gentle and quiet spirit, unassuming.  Some may say he was reserved.  I remember a man full of jokes (he was the King of Corny), and when he got tickled (usually by his own corny jokes), his whole body vibrated with laughter. I remember a man of prayer, a man who cherished family.   I remember a giving man.  A man who trusted God. I remember a man full of wisdom.  I remember a man full of love. I admit I was a “Daddy’s girl.”  My father couldn’t leave the house without me tagging along. It didn’t matter where he was going – the hardware store, the post office, the gas station – I was right by his side.  To this day, hardware store smells stir memories of Daddy and me shopping for hammers, nails, paint and sundry DIY items. It was on many of those excursions that I learned the most from Daddy – invaluable lessons that are indelibly etched in my soul.  It wasn’t always by what he said to me, but by what I observed…

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