Have you ever been struck by something—that seems so simple to those around you—but truly awakens something deep within your core? This has been the case for me over the past few months. We have had one trial and/or trying circumstance after another over the past year and a half of living overseas. We had prayed about where to accept work next, and this was it. Thus, as each trial and hardship hit, as a family we tried to hold fast to the truth that we were brought here for a purpose—and we could breathe easy knowing that God would bring us through—even though we had no clue of the details. That is, until these past few months.
For anyone who has lived abroad, be it for school or work, you know that there are times when being “away on an adventure” cannot replace the fact that major milestones of life are being missed with those you love back in your homeland. For me, this happened when my sister and her husband welcomed their first baby into the world. We were overjoyed for them, but unable to share in the celebration first hand. I was nearly beside myself. I only have one sister. So, to be so far away from her as she transitioned into motherhood was brutal for me. What was I to do in response to the growing feelings of sadness that were welling up inside of me? One word; lemonade.
“16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)
Although I could not physically be there to celebrate the birth of my new niece, we were determined to mark this day with something special and fun—from the heart of the Middle East. With decided joy and determined gratefulness for where the Lord had placed us at this time in our family’s journey, my children and I began to squeeze lemon after lemon into a large bowl at our kitchen table. We were going to bring the celebration of new life to the unsuspecting gardeners of our neighborhood—and they were blown away! With our mason jar filled with homemade lemonade, both Ruth (3 ½ yrs) and Daniel (2 yrs), hopped into the wagon. It was go time! With lavender cups and a dipper for the sweet and sour beverage, we rolled up to gardener after unsuspecting gardener—as a way to thank the Lord for the new life He had blessed our family with. They were thrilled and grateful for the cool drink on that hot day. Not only did the men enjoy a surprise in their day, but the kids and I had a ball delivering it!
I began to think of how this related to our command to thank the Lord in all things. As we are willing to walk out what we know to be true (e.g. praising God even when it doesn’t make logical sense), we honor God (2 Corinthians 5:7). When we choose obedience over selfish motives, we honor God (Hebrews 11:1). And when we choose to walk in the victory of His plan of hope and purpose for our lives, we choose to hush the voices and influences that try to bring our attention off of God (2 Corinthians 4:18).
“Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, “Let God be magnified.” Psalm 70:4 (NASB)
In a similar way, as I was making sugar cookies over this past week, I had to smile as I recalled a beautiful family memory. I still remember as a young girl, arriving to my great grandma’s house to the smell of freshly baked sugar cookies inviting us through the living room and directly into the kitchen. There, atop a glass platter and crocheted tablecloth, you would find a warm plate of hospitality waiting. I don’t recall much about my great grandma, but I do recall her genuine smile, her love for the Lord, her devotion to family and her ability to make all feel welcome and valued.
Ladies, whether we realize it or not, each of us has the ability to leave a lasting impression on those around us, too. What will people remember you for? What one word would describe you in the eyes of others? For me, I would say that my great grandma was a woman marked by Biblical contentment. She had made the willful decision to be joyful in all things and serve the Lord with a happy heart. She has long since been with the Lord, but I still think of her to this day and smile as I make sugar cookies.
How awesome to remind ourselves that a simple interaction (e.g. a smile, a sincere greeting, a shared treat, etc.) with another can be used by God to advance His work of redeeming this world—through our daily acts of obedience to the teachings of the Holy Bible (Galatians 6:9 & 2 Thessalonians 3:13).
“Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let those who love Your salvation say continually, “The LORD be magnified!” Psalm 40:16 (NASB)
Whatever your circumstance, God sees you and is ready to rescue you! You are not forgotten. God allows things to happen in our lives that are used to draw us closer to Himself (Psalm 121:1-2). If we are willing to focus on the lavish love of our Lord towards us, rather than our let downs, we will discover a joy that truly surpasses all understanding (Psalm 30:5 & Psalm 126:5). Regardless of the difficulties that you may be juggling at present, take heart. God is not done with your story! Pray for His perspective in the situation and the ability to faithfully walk out Biblical obedience to His teachings. The next time you need a “pick me up” in perspective, grab your Bible, a glass of lemonade and a sugar cookie. Remember that the Lord uses all things, even lemons; to bring about His perfect will in our lives. Ladies, dig deep into the truths of the Holy Bible—they are beautiful truths to encourage us through each and every season of our lives. And for this, I raise my glass of lemonade and offer a toast to the reality that, with God, all things will indeed get better in His perfect time (John 16:33). Cheers.