New Seasons: “Our Story, Chapter 11”

The Stillness of the first Snow

ushers in the Pause,

The Pause of Advent,

When waiting hovers all around

And Mystery calls out to me.

And the Ancient Words

flutter down through time,

words we memorize as children

become so familiar

that we miss the meaning

lose the mystery.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.'”

Luke 2:8-11 NIV

I wonder how dark the night was as they watched their sheep. The darkness seems very deep around my soul, around the souls of many that I love right now. 

Who is keeping watch? 

Who is guarding the sheep this night? 

I have a feeling that no amount of training could have prepared them for the explosion of mystery that rang around them and brought them to their knees on THAT NIGHT. 

Who was watching the sheep then?

And where was BRAVE when the sky fell down around them?

My heart is heavy

for those who watch the sky falling

and find their faces on the ground.

My heart is heavy

From the overshadowing

glory falling all around

Answers to my desperate cries for mercy.

My heart now beats akin with shepherds

The angel’s first words make so much more sense to me now. Unless the sky has fallen around you, you cannot feel the weight of those words:

“Do not be afraid”

And unless you have felt the weight being lifted off your shoulders as the Mystery of God Coming to Earth envelops you, you cannot see the beauty:

Grace in a Shepherd, Mercy for the sheep.

(This poetry was edited from my earlier post in 2016.)

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:7, 9-10

As my husband trusted His Good Shepherd’s leading and took an early retirement last month, I too have heard my Great Shepherd’s asking for my bowing down. Here in this place of mystery, we both have heard His call yet again.

Throughout this past year as I’ve shared Our Story, I’ve seen the parallels between then and now. Coincidence? Hardly. Our Shepherd knows the need of His sheep so much better than we know ourselves.

Only He could have planned that at the time of sharing this last chapter of Our Story, He would be asking us to follow Him by laying it all down once more for the next chapter of His NEW Story.

My heart has been so blessed to walk with you my friends over these past 6 years of blogging. I cannot express the MERCY that I see, the miracle that this writing has been. For every post I’ve written, either here or at other sites where I have been blessed to share, I know that only God’s mercy has given me words.

I have seen Him begin to transform my heart that had wanted to minimize, that wanted to hurry to the next task, now to be slowed to pause and watch His wonder unfold. While change never came easily for me, I was also the one eager to just “get it finished” once it had begun.

But through the prompting of such a merciful Savior, and through the love of so many new friends here, God has uncovered a longing to see His beauty unfolding through the very trials that also brought pain. Thank you dear friends for being such gifts as you’ve encouraged and prayed for me.

At the end of this month’s final chapter, I would love to pray with you before I pause my writing. I will keep my site open, but I will not be adding any new posts unless specifically directed by the Lord. For now He is calling me to love and walk with my husband and family through this next uncharted territory.

Even as my #Oneword for this past year expressed, He is still calling me to Come with Him.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Revelation 22:17

Chapter 11. ~~2014 Onward~~

If you have missed any of the previous chapters in the book, Our Story, A Ministry of Abiding,  click here to catch up.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

John 15:5 NKJV

After walking those halls of forgiveness in 2014, it was only a few weeks later when the Lord actually led us out of that church. We thought we would find another church, but we didn’t realize that my chronic illness diagnosis was about to change everything.

It’s been over 7 years now, and my physical state has kept me mostly housebound. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Osteoporosis, and Sjogren’s Syndrome are just a few of the diseases I have been walking through. 

And then a year ago my husband was diagnosed with a terminal heart failure disease, Cardiac Amyloidosis. While a double Stent procedure, and a heart valve replacement improved his quality of life, it wasn’t easy to hear last year that patients with his disease do not live longer than 6 years.

And yet, we know that only God holds the number of our days. He has been and will continue to be so faithful in every place He has called us.

Not long after my diagnosis, I heard God speaking something very specific to me as I felt defeated in my prayers for ones that I dearly loved. “Come up here with me, above the fray. Watch me fight the battles now.”  For years, it seemed that I had been on the front lines, joining in the battle with the Lord. My intercessions were hidden, but I felt that I was in hand-to-hand combat, fighting the lies of the enemy for those that I loved. But God was bringing home to me the meaning of that verse I had prayed over for so long: HIS yoke is easy, when we allow Him to carry the heavy part.

When we recognize that the battle belongs to the Lord, there is a great wonder to know that we are joined with Him in the Heavenly places. We are filled with great delight as the Lord allows us to share HIS heart for those He loves. 

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

John 15:5 NKJV

So what of those long years of ministry? In and out, back and forth–was there any value in it? Or are we forever marked by our “failed ministries” just as many of my Doctors have seemed to mark me by my host of “failed medications?” 

NO, most emphatically NO!  Our Lord is so involved in every surrender, every giving of our hearts, and every step of obedience to His call. He is weaving together the failures, the victories, the working and the resting, all to bring us deeper together with HIM and His own body.

These memories are not just stored in the past. No, they are the eternal prayers of a heart abiding in the Vine. Whenever we have lifted our hearts to Him, to offer the incense of our prayers before the Lord, our cries have become joined with the eternal. He sees every moment of sharing His love as such a joy.

We have found that true ministry is being the friend of the bridegroom as John the Baptist expressed. Yes, personally, we are the bride, and He is the bridegroom. But whenever we enter into the ministry He has planned for us, we become that friend who attends the bridegroom.

There is a place of abiding for those of us who join Him in the work that He is already doing, calling for His bride. And there is reserved for those who wait at the doorway, attending and listening for His instructions, a fullness of joy when we hear His voice loving His people.

The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete

John 3:29 NIV

May God bless these words given here, and may His Spirit bring about HIS harvest of true ministry into each soul who reads and listens.

The Children Dance

The children danced and the little ones sang

As the older ones looked on in joy

That’s my son up there! That’s my girl!

The Mama hearts beamed, the Papa hearts rang.

And I felt the joy of both, perched in between

A Mama myself, and the teacher too

Those are my babies up there! Those are my kids!

The teacher’s heart glowed, with a golden sheen.

But God called us out, away from that place

My Mama heart gathered, teacher’s heart cried

There go my babies! Here come my kids

A pain lodged deep while beginning the chase

Starting over, beginning again, cycle repeating

The children danced and the little ones sang

There go the babies! Here come my kids

A shift and a wall were so slightly beginning.

Better hold onto my heart, keep it apart

Never know when the leaving might come

Never know how the serving may end

Never know if the hurting might hit my heart.

The children danced, and the little ones sang

But the joining and caring became surrender

The pouring of my heart felt like bleeding

I knew what was coming, the bell always rang.

Over and over my fault or theirs, we never knew

Because God called us out, pulled up the stakes

Sent our hearts reeling, longing for home

Pausing for just a glimpse of sweet dew

Until the song changed and the dancing was stilled.

The aches were brought forward, one by one

When the finger of God lifted the veil

Come up here with me, His song my soul filled.

He touched the wound around my heart’s rim

The places I longed for those souls I still loved

Where I thought I had kept myself held apart

The bleeding had only joined me with HIM.

The children dance, and the little ones sing

And the Father who loves each one as His own

That’s my son up there! There goes my girl!

He waits for the day when the trumpet will ring

All bleeding finished, all aching done

When the Father’s longings are all fulfilled

For all of the praying and searching and serving

Finally captured all love will be won.

–bg

Dear Lord Jesus,

We are so grateful for the blessing  of hearing Your voice as You have called us to come. Your voice has gone out into the whole world, because You have such love for each one. Oh may You show us the joy of Abiding in You, of listening at the doorway as You call more sons and daughters home.

Thank You for the mercy You have showered over me as You’ve asked me to open my heart, to stop minimizing, and to let You transform my stubborn heart. I am overwhelmed at the grace that has rained down over me in this place of writing and listening. Will You bless each one who has blessed me over all these years? Will You allow us to taste the fruit of this Abiding together in YOU?

Oh Lord, I ask You to open our eyes to the wonder of Your coming, to the mystery of Your Advent, and to the beauty of Your presence among us. And I pray that we all will lift our hearts to You in the eagerness of waiting for Your Second Coming, as we love You and praise You together. Even so, Lord Jesus come.

In Your precious name we pray,

Amen

22 thoughts on “New Seasons: “Our Story, Chapter 11”

  1. Oh gosh. I will miss your writing when you lay it down but I’m glad the site will still be up. I’m hoping you have put some of your writing in book form that can be purchased in paperback. It is a book that a person needs to have in their hands so they can underline the many profound thoughts you share.

    God bless you, Bettie and I will be praying for you and your husband and family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much dear Lisa. Your encouragement and your prayers mean so much to me. ♥️ God has woven these times together in our lives in ways I could not have imagined. I pray that He blesses you and your family so much! And I will surely let you know if any more steps forward happen with the book! ♥️🙏🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I will be forever thankful to God for pressing you out into the blogging world 6 years ago and for these precious years of sharing off and online. Every time you’ve shared your heart and (growing) story here and offline (and today’s offering is no exception), my heart has leapt in the Holy Spirit’s weaving. And I have loved reading others’ comments and seeing that leaping in others’ hearts too. God is good. So very good. Love you xoxo PS I love Lisa’s idea of a physical book too

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes, I am hoping and praying for an “offline” meeting someday too, Anna! Wouldn’t that be such a gift? God has given us so many gifts over these times of sharing–I am overwhelmed by His graciousness. Just to think of how He led us to read each other’s blogging, when He knew He had such amazing Scriptures and thoughts to lead us together in. He truly does have such blessing in each step of obedience. Sending you much love and hugs dear friend. Xoxo

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  3. Bettie—your regularity will be missed out here! I love that you’re listening to the Good Shepherd, though! I pray your time focused on your husband and family will bless you and that you will be able to share these things with us either in the future or as the Lord compels you. God Bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Amy! I will miss all the beautiful connections I have made here, too. But I hope to be able to pop in at your sites and still be blessed by your thoughtful posts!! God bless you!

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  4. Oh Bettie, you have so often been the means of God encouraging me. Thank you. May this next chapter in your life to “be slowed to pause and watch His wonder unfold” be filled with His blessings of love, peace, and sufficient grace! For both you and your husband. You will remain in my heart and prayers, dear friend. Love and hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Trudy, you have also been such a gift of the Lord’s encouragement to me also. Thank you for helping me to continue in this writing space when blogging was so new and scary for me. I appreciate every prayer throughout the years, and I am so grateful for your sweet friendship. Blessings, love, and hugs to you my dear sister. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m selfishly sad to see your pen stop flowing here, Bettie. But I understand there is a season for everything. I enjoyed the seasons we had together, friend! You have such wisdom and grace. May God bless you richly in whatever comes next.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Lisa, I so enjoyed the season’s we shared here together too! Your encouragement and support have always blessed me so much. I pray great blessings over you and your family–especially those sweet Grandbabies! ♥️

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  6. I really admire your heart of obedience, including the times when the Spirit says “stop.” Often we think it’s about everything we need to do. But you have reminded us what it’s really about: abiding in Him. And yes, it is a thrill when we can link in to His deep and miraculous love for people.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear, precious Bettie! How I thank God that He joined our paths during our season of blogging! You have been such a dear blessing to me! It saddens my heart to read that you will no longer be blogging and sharing your Godly heart with us here! I profusely apologize that I have not been coming here as often lately. I hope you are able to continue participating in our online Bible studies together – I see that you haven’t yet joined in our new one and surely understand if you feel God calling you away from that, too. But if you do, you will be sorely missed! May He bless you richly in this new phase of life and hold you even closer to His heart.

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    1. Dear Cheryl, please don’t feel bad about not being able to always read my posts that have been here. You have been such a dear friend and supporter that I so treasure! I’m so grateful for the many months and years that the Lord allowed us to be fellow-bloggers! I have been so deeply blessed to share with you. Thank you for your prayers for us in this new season. I am praying for you so much with all that’s going on in your life too. Love you so much, dear sister.

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  8. Dear Bettie, your faith in Christ inspires me over and over. And in this very moment, I am more inspired than anything your pen could write. To listen to His call, to come away, to be filled with His love and Presence so that it can overflow into the lives of your husband and family, to await our bridegroom as a bride truly awaits her beloved. This is the most beautiful chapter of all. Nothing is more important. Your life choices have spoken a better word as Jesus’ mercy has spoken a better word over our sin. Thank you for leaving the site here. Part of God’s gift of writing is that the reader can find it at just the right moment, according to God’s timeline. The Holy Spirit will send the people who need to read you words, just when He knows is best. Thank you for sharing with candor, humbleness and devotion to the Lord, how to have faith despite unending physical pain. This is a testimony we all need to cling to at one point or another. Thank you for living it out and walking us through it. With your heart, your poems and God’s truth and grace. You are so beautiful. You have inspired me afresh to be ready, waiting, looking, yearning and singing for my Savior when he comes again. God bless you and your family, dearest Bettie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Melissa, your words have been like a sweet balm for me this week, as I’ve had a particularly hard stretch of illness the last few weeks. What you shared about leaving our words for God to keep and use the way He sees best, is exactly what He’s been speaking to me. Releasing it all up to Him, surrendering to His gift of mercy–these are His gifts to us. We don’t at first see it that way, though, at least it seems I have to re-learn it thru every surrender. But He is so gracious to help us! Even thru the comfort and prayers of a friend’s dear encouragement. Thank you for being that encouragement from the Lord for me today. Love and blessings to you, dear sister. May He be so near to you this year.

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