Tuesday, December 19, 2017

What a Year

Our ministry has two churches in one building: English and Spanish. Pastor David Anaya is the pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista (First Baptist Spanish Church), and I passed him in the foyer the other day. He asked the general question that we all commonly repeat: "How are you?"

The only difference is that he asked me in Spanish, because he knows I'll answer in Spanish (my second language). 

"Hola Hermana Taylor ¿Como  estas?"

Pregnant pause...

At this point, Pastor Anaya, who is also bilingual, switched to English and said, "Oh oh. You took longer than six seconds to answer that..."

My mind was fishing for the Spanish word. I hate when I draw blanks, but a lack of practice causes me to forget words that I would easily know if I would just speak Spanish more often. Fishing...fishing...

"Estoy aprendiendo."

Probably not a perfect sentence (a fragment), but in English it means "I am learning."

Pastor accepted my reply with comprehension and didn't ask any questions. I like it when people don't probe too deeply. In an effort to "say something," it's so easy to say too much. And besides, even if asked, there are some things that I will never share with anyone but God. People can't handle the God-sized burdens anyway. We weren't meant to carry God's cargo.

What a year!

I have learned and am learning, and will continue to learn. And it's not all gloomy, even though some may think that all I can talk about is grieving. Three months into this transition, here are some things I've learned:

1. I have learned that people want to see me smile again. So, I smile for the benefit of others. The "merry heart" mentioned in Scripture is not solely for us. It's medicine for others. "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22) But there are times when the Lord brings a smile to my face that doesn't need prompting. Like the time I looked outside and the snow was falling in those huge flakes that are the size of quarters. That makes my high-beam smile turn on automatically as I stand at the window, delighted like a child.

Tranquil beauty
2. I have learned that there is still beauty in this world. When I was in Israel with our church group in October (a very brave adventure for a new widow), I often saw things that made me stop in my tracks to capture the scene with my camera. And then I would think to myself, "God wanted me to see that," inspiring a spirit of worship. "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness." (Psalm 29:2)

3. I have learned that death pays no attention to the calendar. A friend's Mom recently passed away and I had this thought: "This is too close to Christmas." But God numbers our days, and He decides when our time on Earth is complete. The fact that houses have lights dripping from them and Christmas music is blaring in every store means nothing to the calendar of God. We see things differently than God sees, and that will always be so. "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." (Psalm 90:12)

Be still
4. I have learned that solitude is highly underrated. For the first time in my adult life, I am leaving white space generously on my schedule. There are some days when the Lord wants me to just be still and know that He is God. "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalm 46:10) Do we understand what that means? The Strong's concordance has a list of meanings for the phrase "be still," and here is just a portion: "to sink down, relax, withdraw..." When I "sink down"  and allow myself to "relax and withdraw" for just a season, I can be still in my soul to perceive and acknowledge the presence of God. It's not just a matter of being still in our physical bodies. Our souls need a stillness or we'll wear ourselves out. God knows this, but we have to learn it.

5. I have learned that fear is like boxing with a shadow. My new habit when my soul gets rackety is to stop and ask myself, "What is bothering you?" If I don't address the issue, it brings a floating sense of fear, draining valuable energy. When we don't have time to think, we'll have to make time to fret. Trusting God with our "what ifs" beats fretting any day. "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee." (Psalm 56:3)

No words
What a year. If you had asked me in December 2016 to "predict" the outcome of 2017, I would never have come up with this ending. But this chapter of the story was written by God in advance, so He knew. And He knows what's next.

The blog will be on break while we do some remodeling of Keep the Heart. Thank you for following this blog for the past five years. I know that many of you will pray with me as I ask the Lord to "establish my thoughts" for the coming days. God bless your Christmas and your New Year with grace and peace.

"Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love." (2 John 1:3)

Francie Taylor, Founder of Keep the Heart 


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