Sandwich Flair

I have learned with great delight that the toasted pimento cheese BLT stands as one of my favorite Southern Sandwiches. Gooey, crispy, joyful.

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When It’s Enough that Jesus Died for You: The Story of Lidie Edmunds

I’m sitting in a small church in the country–the kind with an entryway large enough for four people, the kind with a congregation of thirty faithful souls, the kind that stands by the side of the road that makes you wonder what goes on in that beautiful little place. It’s the kind of place where you want to sit and listen to the stories of all who come in the doors. How did they come to this church? Why do they stay? What is life like here in this small town? Can we be friends? You in this town and me from my town?

It’s time to sing the final hymn. We all turn to the page, although most people, I imagine, know the words by heart.

I find myself so curious about what kind of person could write, “I need no other argument, I need no other plea. It is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me.”

I discover something precious about the life that penned these words that Jesus was enough. 

Lidie Edmunds, also known as E.E. Hewitt, wrote many poems and hymns about Jesus in the midst of great personal pain, loss, and disappointment. Her vibrant life suddenly changed when she endured a spinal injury that kept her bedridden just as her wonderful teaching career started.

Instead of bitterness and sadness, Lidie studied literature and wrote beautiful hymns to the Lord. She wanted to make a difference in the lives of others even from her bed of pain. I think of her life in Philadelphia in the mid-1800’s and how different her future became from the one she must have imagined when she graduated as valedictorian of her high school.

But her injury taught her what we all will indeed come to know at some point: it is enough that Jesus died. Her hymn to the Lord fortifies me against an unknown future where I’m uncertain of what kind of pain, loss, or disappointment awaits. I know God holds my life in His hands, and I’m beginning to finally learn that this is enough.

My faith has found a resting place, not in device nor creed;
I trust the ever-living One, his wounds for me shall plead.
I need no other argument, I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died, and that he died for me.
— Lidie H. Edmunds, c. 1891

 

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Asking to Experience God’s Presence

I understand that we might endure any trial if we know God is with us. When I think of Jesus as Emmanuel–the Lord with us–I remember that my primary goal as a human is to experience this Emmanuel presence in deep friendship with a living Christ.

 

 

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Morning Pep Talk: Something Just Might Happen

This morning I remember the wonderful transformation in my heart and mind when I began blogging daily at Live with Flair. After a few weeks, I noticed something astonishing:

I woke up joyful and hopeful.

I woke up waiting for something to happen. 

Instead of the depressed, bored, anxious, and half-alive person I was becoming, I morphed into someone trained in the fine art of hope. I can promise you that if you begin to believe that each day holds a gift to unwrap, a wonder to behold, a moment of mystery, and something to help you know God more, the day will shimmer.

Here’s the Morning Pep Talk for you and the children in your life:

Good morning! Welcome to today! On this very day, something just might happen to you. I don’t know when it’s coming, or how it will arrive, but it’s coming. A blessing might come disguised as something else–something not so lovely or interesting–but I know you: you’re the type of person who can see beneath the surface of things. You’re the type of person who can look for evidence of God’s love for you.

You might be bored today or sick or mad or lonely or depressed or anxious. That’s OK. But if you spark a tiny bit of curiosity and expectation that something just might happen today, maybe you’ll begin to feel a little better. And, if you’re feeling particularly excited for this new training in hope, you can start your own Live with Flair blog, either online or in a new journal, to record your moments of wonder, whimsy, and wishes-come-true. It’s so fun to share your discoveries with other people. You can even write to me if you like. (Helpful hint: Remember to look into nature if you don’t know what else to do first. Find something and ask how? why? what? when? You might just find yourself amazed at raspberries, robins, and radishes of all things.) 

So today is a treasure hunt. 

And don’t forget this marvelous truth: You might be the moment of joy for someone else’s hunt. You might be someone’s answer to prayer! 

And, a few days into this project, you’ll find it doesn’t matter where you are or what’s happening. You live in expectation of joyful things. 

 

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Coming from His Hand

When I find myself in situations where I don’t feel the best, or on days when nothing seems to go well, I continue to learn to rest in God’s active work in my circumstances. When I see all things as coming from His hand, as ordained by Him, allowed by Him, and governed by Him, I settle down into the faith that proclaims all things are working for good here.

A mysterious divine law works here, even if I can’t tap into the meaning yet. But here, God works precisely in this tender place of faith and hope. Here, God holds me in His hand.

Right here! I’m here in this situation on purpose! And the law of God’s everlasting and all-consuming love never fails to operate over my life, no matter what’s happening.

If it’s a painful or confusing time, I think about what God allows to build our character, perseverance, and faith. We keep pressing into truth, over and over again, day after day. I think of 1 Peter 4:12 and living without surprise that these strange things happen to us. I think of James 1:2-4 and the joy we feel in trial because we know it’s developing the kind of perseverance that makes us “mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Can you imagine? Mature and complete, not lacking anything! Yes, I’ll take the trial if it’s accomplishing this in me!

This morning I read Hannah Whitall Smith’s words of wisdom about days when you can’t believe certain bad things happen to you. She writes:

But the subtle forms of self-life that would ruin us if left undiscovered and unchecked are often most vigorous in those whose outward walk is all that could be desired, and it sometimes takes sharp discipline to uproot them. In this fact lies hidden the secret of much that is mysterious in the dealings of the Lord with the souls of His servants. He loves us too much to permit any evil to linger undiscovered and uncured in our natures, and He will probe us sharply before He will allow our hurt to be healed. This is not severity but mercy.

I welcome the sharp probing of His love. I rest in mystery, in faith, and in the goodness of God.

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Refreshment Part Two

I woke up this morning with this verse on my mind: “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25). I love reading Proverbs to learn this counterintuitive way of living.

Who can I refresh today? To whom might I show generosity?

 

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Recharging, But Not Too Much

Today I learn two fascinating concepts about refreshing oneself.

When you think of the concept of refreshing, or what some call recharging–like rechargeable batteries for example–you’ll quickly note that the process requires an outside energy source. You cannot recharge yourself. It’s a small and obvious thing to note, but the fact draws me nearer to God.

It’s a king of plugging in, an abandoning myself at 0% to the source. I bring nothing to this situation. I need an energy that’s not my own.

Most people think of recharging as doing restful things, but in reality, these activities often leave me more drained because I haven’t connected to God, that main source. I imagine that this environment or that vacation or that soothing experience will do the trick. Just put me there, and I’ll recharge.

But it doesn’t really work.

I suppose it’s like telling your iPhone or laptop to just rest and it will get all the charge it needs. Or it’s like putting the iPhone in a new environment–like placing the dead phone on a bed or on a mountaintop or in the spa to gain that energy. Maybe you’ve been in that situation where your dream vacation or that fortune you spend on spa treatments or even that afternoon you thought would restore your soul didn’t work like you thought it would. It was nice, but it didn’t recharge you in that deep way you needed. Why didn’t it work?

I’m learning that it’s a fundamental misunderstanding of where the refreshment comes from. I think of Acts 3:19 and how “times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord.” I think of Psalm 119:7 and how God’s word “refreshes the soul” or the beautiful promise of Psalm 23:3 and how God “refreshes my soul.”

Secondly, I learn that you can actually overcharge some kinds of batteries. This overcharging ironically diminishes capacity and performance. At some point, one needs to take what’s already filled up in her and go serve others.

I take note: to recharge a battery, like refreshing a worn-out soul, requires that source that’s not me, and at some point, when I’ve recharged enough, I go out and bless.

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