Loved from Eternity

 



It has taken decades for me to internalize the depth of God’s love . . . I’m sure that I still haven’t fully comprehended it. Frequently, in a fresh, new way, God reveals his love to my heart. And I respond with a fresh, new poem.  You may not be a poet, but God wants you to understand the depth of his love. 

If you can identify with the words of the following poem, I invite you to make them your own.


Loved from Eternity

I was worn out with fear and doubt,
But I could not figure out
How to escape the thing in me
That kept my mind in slavery.

It was not a chain put upon
Me—by someone else, just my song;
It was my own song of unbelief
That kept me in a state of grief.

Then one day, Jesus came!
He set me free, broke my chain!
This is the truth he spoke to me:
“I’ve loved you from eternity.”

Now at last I understand
I was wanted! I was planned!
Jesus healed me, made me whole.
I have a purpose and a goal.

Free from fear, guilt, and shame,
I serve my Lord and for him, claim—
Through prayer, the things he speaks to me;
Things which only faith can see;

Not toys of silver or of gold,
Which tarnish and collect green mold,
But gifts incorruptible,
Rewards indestructible.

I was worn out with fear and doubt;
Jesus knew what it was about.
This is the truth he spoke to me:
“I’ve loved you from eternity.”

10/8/2017 Jane Ault


The choice to receive God’s love opens the doorway to emotional freedom. He, then,  empowers us to overcome destructive anger, resentment, and revenge. Buy here.

 

 

 

 

   


 

This entry was posted on October 13, 2017. 2 Comments

Enter: GRACE . . .

 



On some mornings when I wake up, I would like to turn over and go back to sleep. On one such morning this week, this little rhyme popped up in my head:

When morning arrives and the sun is in sight,
I could reflect on the distress of the night.

How would rehearsing my miseries and failures
Affect my feelings, my thoughts, my behaviors?

Would this help me gain confidence, grow in faith?
Would it help me avoid my usual mistake?

For me the usual mistake would have been to roll over and go back to sleep, focusing on my stiff and sore muscles. Instead, I promptly got up.  During breakfast, I chose not to complain about the “distress of the night” (which did not actually amount to much) but to share my little poem.  It made for a happy and relaxed breakfast time.  

Being senior citizens, we could both find ways to complain about the adjustments that we need to make in everyday life. Would focusing on our present puny miseries and past failures help us to finish this life well? Of course not! We want to finish well. Don’t you?


To finish well I must not dwell
On how I failed “to make the grade”,

Instead, remember who it is
That forgives and gives me aid.

To finish well, I must change my pace
To myself and others, “Enter: Grace”!


Enter: GRACE

It’s not lost to you, God—
All that data of mine;
My hard drive crashed,
But your memory is just fine.

Every word from my mouth,
Every thought in my head,
Every action I have taken,
With your scanner, you have read.

And you’ve stored everything
On your disc in the sky;
But my sins you’ve deleted,
For that, I gratefully sigh.

If you made hard copies
Of every foolish error
And gave them out to friends of mine
I truly would despair.

God, please look over
The spreadsheets in my mind;
Edit them with truthfulness.
Show me where I’m blind.

And in my daily computing
Teach me to enter: Grace;
So when others sin against me,
I, like you, their sins erase.

Jane Ault
This entry was posted on October 6, 2017. 8 Comments

The Messy Process of Being Made Perfect

 


In order to make repairs on the dam at one end of the lake on which I live, engineers lowered the water level to twelve feet below the normal height.

In a few days, the beautiful and serene pond turned into an almost completely drained mud hole; to my eyes, it resembled pictures of a moonscape.

Jagged-edges of rotted tree stumps pierced the surface of the water that remained in the lake.


I felt shocked to see how shallow the lake actually was and to discover what lay at the bottom of it. Not a pretty or fragrant sight! The odor of decaying material that had been uncovered caused me to move a bit faster on my walk back home.

There are days on my journey toward emotional and spiritual maturity that I want to avoid “smelling” my below-the-surface emotions. I know that something’s rotting there, but I’d rather walk a bit faster—keep busy and ignore the simmering anger or hidden resentment.

Because I’ve been a follower of Jesus for many years, I think that I should no longer struggle with these things. I feel embarrassed but he is not. 

He sees below my surface smile but does not shun me; still, in his kindness, he does not ignore my messy inner self. Without condemnation, he shows me what I need to correct. With grace, he takes me by the hand and helps me climb out of my muddy hiding place. 

Instead of using the power of fear to make me forcibly submit, Jesus uses the strength of compassion to lift me out of my stuck place. Then, with joy and gratitude, I place my feet back on the pathway of life–receiving and following the personalized instruction that the Holy Spirit gives to me through Scripture. 

Among the Scripture verses that I cling to , this is a favorite :”For indeed he who makes holy and those being made holy all have the same origin, and so he is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters” (Hebrews 2:11 NET).

Why do I like this Scripture so much? It tells me that being made holy (perfect, complete, whole) is a process–a lifelong journey. On this journey, I often need some inner repair. All of us Christians, do. Pretended perfection is as smelly as the rotting material at the bottom of a lake.


The following poem, which I wrote quite a few years ago, reminds me of Jesus’ amazing attitude of grace toward those of us who are being made perfect. He says to us:

There’s Victory for the Weakest Saint

Don’t run away in fear and hide
when you are hurting so, inside.

Don’t cover up your sin so dark
for shame and guilt make worse the mark.

Your debt’s completely paid by me;
I bore it all upon that tree.

And you can trust I’ll meet your need–
my cleansing grace for every deed.

When you are at temptation’s door-
remember I’ve been there before

You. I know the way to win
unceasing battles over sin.

So, do not run or fear defeat
but with my Word the Tempter meet.

There’s victory for the weakest saint.
Be strong in faith and do not faint!

Jane Ault

This entry was posted on September 29, 2017. 8 Comments

Guest Blog: I Celebrate Gray Hair


INTRODUCTION:

Sandy has been following Jesus since she was 8 years old.  She studied at SUNY Potsdam and attended Koinonia Church (now New Hope Community Church) way back in the 1980’s.

She and her husband, Kevin, live in the Rochester area and are parents to three grown children.

Sandy serves in Children’s ministry and works at the public library in her town.

God has been gracious to bring many people in her life to encourage her and help her grow in her faith.  Jane has been one of those people! 


Guest blog: I Celebrate Gray Hair

The last few years, I have been thinking about what it means to grow older.  Perhaps it is because my last child has graduated from high school, or because when I look in the mirror, I see a few more wrinkles and gray hair.  Growing older brings about change.  

A few years ago, I was helping a friend out.  She was in beauty school, so I allowed her to color my hair as part of her training.  It turned out very nice. I got many compliments on it.  So a few months later, I felt an obligation to keep coloring my hair.  It was either going to cost me a nice bundle at the beauty shop or some time wrestling with a box of smelly, messy chemicals.  I wrestled with the box, several times.

Why was I doing this?  Was this something I really enjoyed?  As I thought about it, I started feeling rebellious.  Why should I cover up the fact that I have some gray hair?  Why should I care if I have a few wrinkles?  I didn’t like the societal pressure I perceived.  It felt sexist.  Many women color their hair, but the vast majority of men don’t.

Men, too, are bombarded with advertisements these days from hair replacement systems to workouts that will give one a six-pack and everything in between.  I felt angry that our culture worships youth – that I struggle with worshipping my youth.  Why is youth so valuable and old age irrelevant?  I really believe this is a lie from the enemy to distract us from focusing on what is true and good.

God values all life.  In particular, He values His saints in old age.  Proverbs 16:31 says, “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.”  Our lives lived for God allow us to speak of His faithfulness to our youth. Psalm 71:18 says, “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim Your might to another generation, Your power to all those who come.”  It is not wrong to use hair color or to make ourselves look nice or to take care of our bodies.  It is not wrong unless we have made those things more important than serving and loving God and investing the things He has taught us in other people’s lives.  

Why fear and deny growing older? God is with us.  “Even to old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you.  I have made, and I will bear: I will carry and will save.”  Isaiah 46:4.  He is not afraid of the death of our earthly bodies. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalm 115:15.

My prayer is that we desire wisdom more than youthful looks and a relationship with our Lord more than a long life. “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12.

May we use the days He has given us wisely and let’s celebrate if we are lucky enough to get some gray hairs and wrinkles!

 

This entry was posted on September 22, 2017. 4 Comments

I Will Choose to Look Up . . .


After reading and listening to news reports about Irma’s path of destruction in the Caribbean and Florida all day Sunday, I could not get to sleep. My mind would not rest. I got out of bed,  sat down in my recliner, and picked up  All My Days, a beautiful book written by my friend, Ellen Mainville.  

Ellen is a wise and gentle woman who truly walks with God. He is in her book. I highly recommend it. When I read it, his Spirit comforts me, encourages me, and gently corrects me.

On Sunday night, I read Ellen’s poetic meditation “Love is Hard.” It resonated with me. Yes, love is hard. Sometimes it feels too hard. Love is also a choice.

Sometimes I don’t want to make that choice.  Sunday night, I renewed my desire to make the hard choices that love requires; I expressed that desire in the following poem of my own.


I Will Choose to Look Up

I will choose to look up
When I’m feeling down
I will choose to smile
When I want to frown

I will choose to be kind
When I’m feeling cross
I will choose to forgive
When I’ve suffered loss

I will choose to give
When I want to keep
I will choose to climb
When the road is steep

I will choose to pray
When my faith is small
I will choose to hope
When I feel none at all

I will choose to trust
When I know not why
I will choose to sing
When I want to cry

I will choose to stay
When I want to split
I will choose to rest
When I don’t want to quit

I will choose to follow
When I want to direct
I will choose to honor
When I’ve received no respect

I will choose to obey
When I want to rebel
I will choose to be silent
When I want to tell

I will choose to protect
When I want to expose
I will choose to be silent
When I want to disclose

I will choose to give thanks
When I want to complain
I will choose to learn more
When I want to stay the same

I will choose to resist
When I want to give in
I will choose to love
When I feel nothing within

I will choose not to remain
In the swamp of regret
I will choose to persist
When my strength is spent

I will choose to write
When I’m struggling with doubt
A flickering light
I will not put out

I will focus my eyes
On the heavenly scene
And choose as my treasure
That which can’t be seen

9/10/17 Jane Ault

These verses depict the choices I want always to make. Do I always make them? Not even for one day. My will power is insufficient; about an hour after I wake up, it becomes nonfunctional. For example, I might get irritated at my husband or complain about my dietary restrictions.  Because God is gracious, I receive forgiveness and move on. In a cooperative relationship with the Spirit, which I call ” the dynamic  dance of choosing grace”, the Holy Spirit gives me the ability and to make the choices that I , apart from him, cannot do. 

This entry was posted on September 15, 2017. 12 Comments

Learning to Love Recess



My mother was a very loving and generous Christian woman. She was also a very hard worker. To me it seemed like she worked all of the time. I remember asking her on various occasions, “Mother, don’t you think you need to rest?” Her usual reply was, “I will rest when I get to heaven!”  

That seemed to be my mother’s motto; however, she did take time to relax and do things that she enjoyed—quilting, crocheting, and scrap-booking.  Nevertheless, I internalized her “I will rest when I get to heaven!”  motto, exceeded her in sticking to it, and became a dedicated workaholic.

Isn’t that what the Christian life is all about? For many years, I thought so. Some days, I still live according to that unwise motto. Unless my work is done, I feel guilty about relaxing.  I resist naps; yet, the more I resist rest, the less efficient I become in doing my work. I need recesses in my day, but understanding what that means challenges me.

I have very effective work habits, but I don’t yet have very effective play habits. What is the difference?

A work habit is mostly about “doing”;
A play habit is mostly about “being”.

A work habit helps me produce things;
A play habit helps me enjoy things.

A work habit is mainly about structure;
A play habit is mainly about spontaneity.

Of course, creative work includes elements of spontaneity, and refreshing play can contain elements of structure. Finding the balance makes our entire lives enjoyable.

Structured work and unstructured play make, for me, a happy day.

As a child, I loved doing my schoolwork more than I loved recess. In fact, I hated recess. Why? During recess, my classmates argued about who had to have me on their softball team and teased me about my clothing and weight. I had no place to escape and eagerly waited for recess to end.

It was through academic success that I gained approval and acceptance—at least with my teachers. Being the best speller and the fastest reader did not make me very popular among the others students.

As I grew up, I thought that God was like my school teachers. To please him, gain his acceptance and approval, I must keep busy and excel in my work. Recess did not become part of my spiritual-life picture.

To earn God’s acceptance and approval through unflawed performance became my goal. This was very hard work. It required my full attention. There was no time in my day for a recess. Discovering that God’s acceptance and approval are gifts of grace gave me the freedom to take a work break; yet, for me, that was not simple and easy to do. 

Being a lifelong learner means learning to love recess as much as I love work.

This week I’ve been placing recesses in my days. Yes, more than one! I’ve already noticed a positive shift in my energy level, as well as in my joy level.


“Hallelujah!Thanks to God.
It is recess time!

I will sing a happy song,
Or write silly rhyme.

God does not command me
To work without a break.

To ignore my need for play
Would be a grave mistake.

I will go for walk–
Take a little stroll;

It makes my body happy
And cheers up my soul.

I’ll take nothing in my
pocket–not even a phone.

If I really want to,
I will write a poem.

It doesn’t have to rhyme
Or fit an accepted form;

I will sniff the fresh air
And stop just to stare

At the clouds in the sky–
Watch the way they roll;

Feel the rhythm of my heart,
As I create a dance.

I want to stay forever here.
May this moment never end.

At last, I’m learning what it
Means to love “recess time.”

This entry was posted on September 8, 2017. 10 Comments

The Joy of Being a Lifelong Learner



It’s September and I feel excited. Ever since first grade, I’ve looked forward to September because that meant I could go back to school and learn something new. I’m a lifelong learner; the opportunity to learn something new still brings me joy. To find out this summer that one of my young grandchildren’s motivation for going back to school is (in his own words) “just for the joy of learning” delighted me greatly.

Not every child shares that joy, and not every adult has joyful memories of “going back to school.” In a conversation with my husband, I was reminded of that fact. When I said to him, “I always looked forward to the first day of school,” he said, “I always looked forward to the last day of school!”

Wherever you are on the spectrum of loving school to hating school, I hope that you will listen to my perspective and get excited about being a lifelong learner.

The opportunity to learn is not limited to going to school. I’m thankful for the teachers I’ve had and the degrees I’ve been able to earn; yet, I’ve learned many important lessons outside the walls of a school building. And I’ve learned many valuable things from people who have fewer degrees than I do.

What I’m really referring to when I speak about the joy of lifelong learning is the joy of obtaining wisdom. Wisdom is related to knowledge, yet, it’s not the same as knowledge. We need both knowledge and wisdom but knowledge without wisdom is useless.

  • Knowledge refers to facts; wisdom refers to what we do with those facts.

If I know that the class I’m taking starts at 9 a. m. and along with that fact, I know that the driving time I need to get there is 45 minutes, but I get in my car at 8:45, what good to me are my facts?

  • Knowledge is about our aptitudes; wisdom is about our attitudes.

If I have a genetic aptitude for mathematical and logical intelligence, making it easy for me to learn problem-solving skills but I refuse to put in the work that it takes to develop those skills, what good to me is my aptitude?

  • Knowledge is something we acquire through such activities as going to school, reading books, and taking online courses; wisdom is free; it’s a gift from God.

If I spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars gaining knowledge but no time asking for the wisdom which God freely gives to all who desire it, how valuable is my education?

Becoming a lifelong learner is about humility and honesty—we must have a willingness to admit that we “don’t know” and a willingness to ask a “dumb” question. (In my opinion, there are no dumb questions.) God invites us to ask questions. “Call to me [he says] and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” (Jeremiah 33:3 in the MSG)

Being a lifelong learner is about admitting to and learning from mistakes and doing so without embarrassment. Embarrassment about not knowing something is a form of unnecessary and unhelpful shame. To become emotionally and spiritually mature, we must learn to not accept it from others and to not give it to ourselves.

God never shames us for not knowing something. This promise is given to us:”If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it” (James 1:5 MSG). 

In some ways, being a lifelong learner is about never growing up. It’s about retaining a childlike curiosity and finding delight in the discovery of simple things. It’s about seeing something familiar in a new way.

For what things do you want knowledge and wisdom this September? This is God’s promise to you: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7 )

This entry was posted on August 31, 2017. 6 Comments

Sometimes, I Must Stop . . .



 

Sometimes, I must stop
Or I won’t win the race;

When I’m exhausted
I must give myself grace—

Move away from my work,
Sit down in my chair,

Look up at the sky,
And breathe some fresh air.

I can not continually work!
God doesn’t call me to that.

There were times in his life
When Jesus just sat.

He slept in a boat.
He sat down by a well.

He knew how to work,
And he knew how to be still.

He was flesh and blood,
Not concrete and steel.

He had muscles that ached
And nerves that could feel;

When he was tired,
He did not resist rest.

I’ve been resisting
The thing that I need—

Today, I’m changing;
This I decree:

I’ve published my blog
for ninety-seven weeks;

And now for a month,
I am taking a break!

But not forever;
I’ll be back in September–

On the very first Friday,
I hope you remember.

Balancing Structure and Spontaneity



So far, this summer, we’ve had mostly rainy weather. I’m not complaining, though, because winter lasts a long time in the North Country. My husband jokes that we have two seasons–winter and the 4th of July.  I prefer rain to sleet and snow. We had sunshine on July 4th and for most of the following week. 

This week, the amount of rain that we’ve  had, so far, is much less than the predicted amount. Likewise, the amount of work that I got done has been much less than my predicted (and expected) amount. Balancing work and play, structure and spontaneity, rule-keeping and creativity challenges me. 

 I tend to focus more on work, structure, and rule-keeping than on play, spontaneity, and creativity.Which set of words appeals more to you? 

Are these two sets of words and ways of living incompatible with one another? Or can they co-exist? Would it be possible to playfully work or strategically play? Could rule-keeping and creativity be combined? I don’t know all of the answers to these questions. I’m seeking more understanding and trying to find a balance in my life. 

As usual,  a poem, or two, brings me increased clarity.


Balancing Structure and Spontaneity

You can do the same thing in a different way;
But, if they assist you, do not stray

From the routines you’ve designed;
Just make sure they help, instead of bind.

Structure can be a helpful thing—
If it’s a “servant” not a king;

Timer’s set me free to write
Poems and songs (That’s my delight.),

While in the kitchen, dinner cooks.
I could get lost in one of my books;

So, I need to keep my timer going—
Reset the dial, or I’ll be blowing-

Off too many minutes;
For everything, I need limits.

Sometimes I limit what I need to expand;
“Serious-me” gets out of hand.

When to “playful me” I give no time,
She feels mad and will not rhyme.

How can I balance work and play?
I have someone who shows the way—

My Teacher, Comforter, and Friend;
On his wisdom, I depend.

With God’s direction, I can balance
Work and play—win the challenge.

07/2017 Jane Ault


Structure and beauty when skillfully combined

Structure and beauty when skillfully combined
Bring peace and comfort to a troubled mind.

Structure without reflects beauty within;
To follow this rule is always a win.

The artist inside must learn to convey
To her engineer partner where treasures lay—

Life is factual but not without fiction.
Insight comes through silent reflection.

In quilts, in paintings, in photos or songs,
We find life’s stories—the “rights” and the” wrongs”.

In this way, memories are never demolished.
Sorrow is transformed to jewels finely polished.

Structure and beauty thus skillfully combined
Bring peace and comfort to a troubled mind.

2017 Jane Ault

 

Freedom From the Fear of Aging


A friend, whom I’d known since my teen-age years, recently died. The fact that she was so close to my age made me face that the fact that my mortal body is aging. To be honest, I avoid looking at pictures which show the effects of aging. These pictures stir up fear. I prefer to think that I will never get old. For quite a few years, I denied the fact that my hair was gray. When a photos of myself revealed the truth, I denied it, saying  to myself, “there’s something wrong with this photo; my hair isn’t gray; it must have been the lighting.”

It’s true that my hearing and my eyesight are not as sharp as they used to be, and my memory is not as quick. But my imagination is as active as it always has been! Therefore, faced with the death of my friend, I began to imagine the worst possible scenario and feel panicky. Then, I read these words:

 O Lord, you alone are my hope.
    I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.
 Yes, you have been with me from birth;
    from my mother’s womb you have cared for me.
    No wonder I am always praising you!

My life is an example to many,
    because you have been my strength and protection.
 That is why I can never stop praising you;
    I declare your glory all day long” (Psalm 71:4-6 NLT).

Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;

Even I will carry, and will deliver you” (Isaiah 46:4 NKJV).

“Yes, this is true,” I said to God. “You have been with me for my entire life; you’ve protected me; you’ve given me the knowledge and wisdom that I’ve asked for; you’ve forgiven me when I’ve wandered away from you; though I could not see you at the time, you were with me in every dark and painful valley; you’ve showered me with good things; you will not desert me when I get old; even though my hair has turned gray, you will take care of me.” (Isaiah 46:4)

After praying this, I determined, afresh, to place my trust and hope in God—to rely on him no matter what happens to my physical body. Losing my ability to function would be sad, but not nearly as sad as the losing my connection with him. 

The other change I determined to make is to focus on wellness instead of illness. Focusing on wellness means, among other things, that I will trust God to remain with me  and give me strength all the days of my life, and I will use my imagination to picture a healthy and strong self instead of a sick and weak self. 

When the day arrives for me to leave this earth, I want to have the same wonderful testimony that my friend who died had.  The last words that she spoke her family were, “boast in the Lord.” In life and in death, she honored him. I want to live as healthy as possible, for as long as possible, so that like my friend, I can boast greatly in God’s goodness.

I’ve determined, afresh, that like the Psalmist, my mouth shall tell of God’s limitless righteousness and salvation. I will sing about (and live in) the strength that he provides. It has always been sufficient. (Psalm 71:15-18)


I Will Live by the Strength which the Spirit Gives

CHORUS
I will live by the strength which the Spirit gives–
Which the Spirit gives,
Which the Holy Spirit gives–
I will live by the strength which the Spirit gives;
I will live by the strength of the Lord.

VERSE ONE
Giving thanks every day;
Finding something kind to say;
Reaching out in love to those I see;
Learning not to complain;
Replacing worry with a song.

VERSE TWO
Meditating on Truth;
Listening for God’s wise command;
Saying “Yes, Lord, I will go your way”;
Choosing, then, to obey,
Knowing he will be there;
Rejoicing in his love for me.

VERSE THREE
Fearing not curse or threat
Which the evil one blurts out;
Finding victory through interceding prayer;
Growing stronger each day,
As I speak words of truth,
Relying more and more on him.

Jane Ault