Fall to Winter . . .


For everything there is an appointed time,
and an appropriate time for every activity on earth:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted;
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 NET

I returned, Tuesday, from a trip in which I celebrated a family wedding and, two days later during this same week, received the news of a family death. Joy followed by sorrow. In this life, laughter and tears pursue one another in unknown and unpredictable cycles.

Although the week’s October temperatures soared to mid-summer highs, I find courage and comfort in the still somewhat predictability of earth’s seasons, in the promises of Scripture, and in the presence of the Spirit of Jesus.

The following poem is my reflection about “Winter”.


 Fall to Winter,
 Winter to Spring,
 Spring to Summer,
 Summer to Fall—
 
 Fall to Winter;
 We, forever, recycle
 Until abruptly,
 Death ends our denial.
  
 Ashes to ashes,
 Dust to dust;
 Our spirit returns
 To God who is just.
  
 Fall to Winter,
 Winter to Spring,
 Spring to Summer,
 Summer to Fall--
  
 Fall to Winter;
 The cycle is ending
 For someone we love;
 We're still pretending
  
 Winter will come.
 Spring will soon follow.
 We hope for more time;
 Death’s hard to swallow.
  
 Fall to Winter,
 Winter to Spring,
 Spring to Summer,
 Summer to Fall--
 
 Fall to Winter;
 Too soon comes the call.
 We hear it with hope
 And still try to stall--
  
 Not wanting to leave,
 Not wanting to stay,
 There’s conflict within;
 We struggle and pray.
  
 Fall to Winter,
 Winter to Spring,
 Spring to Summer,
 Summer to Fall--
 
 Fall to Winter;
 The battle is over.
 Victory’s been won!
 We see composure--
  
 Peace on the face
 Of a loved one departed;
 The cycle goes on;
 Yet, death’s been outsmarted.
  
 Fall to Winter,
 Winter to Spring,
 Spring to Summer,
 Summer to Fall--
  
 Fall to Winter;
 Will I cycle once more?
 My question’s not answered;
 I cannot be sure.
  
 Grace upon grace
 Has been given to me;
 I wonder, sometimes,
 At the goodness received.
  
 Fall to Winter,
 Winter to Spring,
 Spring to Summer,
 Summer to Fall--
  
 Fall to Winter;
 In this moment of time,
 What will I do 
 With breath that is mine?
  
 I’ll not stay too long
 In my lament;
 I can never recover
 Time not well spent.
 
 Fall to Winter,
 Winter to Spring,
 Spring to Summer,
 Summer to Fall--
 
 Fall to Winter;
 I’m more peaceful this year.
 Though I may tremble
 And feel insecure,
  
 I know from experience,
 Grace will be sufficient. 
 In joy and in sorrow,
 God has been present.
  
 Fall to Winter,
 Winter to Spring,
 Spring to Summer,
 Summer to Fall-- 

 Fall to Winter . . .
 
 Jane Ault
 10/3/2019

This entry was posted on October 4, 2019. 9 Comments

Sometimes I want to pretend . . .


“Give justice to the poor and the orphan;
uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.
Psalm 82:3

Much of what is happening in the world brings me distress. I grieve over the lack of justice, the dishonesty, greed, and coverup of corruption in our government. Worse than that are the easy answers to complex issues, apparent blindness, or avoidance of issues which many fellow Christians seem to practice, along with the blindness we have to our own issues.

Sometimes, I want to close my eyes to it all. But I cannot. I’ve always been a questioner. I believe God likes us to ask questions. It’s a necessary part of growth. I never want to stop growing. These are some of my current questions.

What does it mean for me to live out my faith in today’s world? What is faith and what is not faith? How can faith become a solution, rather than a coverup of guilt? In what practical ways, does love overcome fear, giving me the power to reach out in compassion rather than hide? Where can I find hope strong enough to sustain us when I am misunderstood or attacked or abandoned?

These are challenging questions. I don’t presume to have all the answers. I’m attempting to address them in my current book. Because I need more time to focus on them, I am sending out blog posts less often. I hope you will pray for me, as I continue to work on this book.

God has given me the ability to process inner conflicts through journaling, writing poetry, and creating song lyrics. These are what I will most often post on my blog.


 Sometimes I want to pretend 
 That no one ever dies,
 That life is like a fairy tale 
 That ends with happy smiles—
  
 If trouble comes it will not last 
 More than a day or two,
 If I just have faith enough,
 That trouble soon will go—

 This doesn’t often work for me.
 Does that mean I lack faith?
 Or could it simply be the fact
 It’s impossible to escape—
  
 To flee from the realities
 Of injustice, hardship, pain?
 It’s true I can deny these things,
 But I child, I will remain.
  
 Wrestling with uncertainty,
 With questions long unanswered,
 Seeing desire, again, unmet
 While injustice has prospered—
  
 These are some issues I must face
 If I want to mature.
 Am I willing to take a risk,
 Or must I always feel secure?
  
 Sometimes I want to pretend 
 That no one ever dies,
 That life is like a fairy tale 
 That ends with happy smiles.

 A faith that can’t stand challenges
 Is not what faith’s about.
 The God I know and serve, today
 Handles my fear and doubt,
  
 Hears my ranting, sees my tears,
 And always stays engaged,
 Does not always tell me “why”
 Yet my sorrow is assuaged—
  
 Not by simplistic platitudes
 Or an un-thought rebuttal
 Spoken by some scribe of his
 Who sees me very little—
  
 Not by quick assurances
 That things will be “okay”,
 But by the presence of the Spirit
 Who never goes away—
  
 He is un-describable,
 Mysterious in his ways,
 No words can describe him,
 I can only give him praise.

 Jane Ault 
 9/19/2019
   

This entry was posted on September 20, 2019. 8 Comments

The Joyful Rest of GRACE

Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have peace with God. This happened through our Lord Jesus Christ, who through our faith has brought us into that blessing of God’s grace that we now enjoy.
Romans 5:1-2 NCV)

As a Christian, I’ve struggled for many years to overcome a tendency to live according to law instead of grace. Early in my life, I imagined it was possible for me to live according to God’s commandment to love him with all my heart, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. If I worked hard enough, I could do it with perfection.

Gradually I realized that I neither understood the meaning of that commandment nor the difficulty I would have in following it.

Today’s poem reflects my struggle, the understanding I’ve gained, and the joy I’ve found. It’s an ongoing adventure.


 I read in God’s word what he expected of me
 In my pride, I imagined I could do it.
  
 But the virus of sin took control of my flesh
 So when temptation came, I failed the test
  
 Every day, I fell short.
 In numerous ways, I blew it.
  
 I despaired until I learned this:
 I can rest in Jesus’ merit.
  
 Every day, I compose
 New songs of joy and victory!
  
 What was impossible for me to do, he accomplished
 To recognize this truth brings me freedom—
  
 As, with joy, I put aside prideful independence
 And align my heart with his word and his Spirit.
  
 Then, I can do what pleases God.
 It, also, pleases me.
  
 Every day, I compose
 New songs of joy and victory!
  
 I read in God’s word what he expects of me.
 And in the power of the Spirit, I do it.
  
 Not yet with perfection, yet sufficiently;
 I’m a child of grace and will keep growing.
  
 By his Spirit, God will bring me to maturity.
 This is the promise he’s given me.
  
 Every day, I compose
 New songs of joy and victory!
  
 9/5/2019
 Jane Ault 
This entry was posted on September 6, 2019. 6 Comments

How to Find Peace in This Troubled World


But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith
and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as
you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
(Jude 1:20-21 NIV)

At my church last Sunday, we had a special speaker who travels to many developing nations and has lived in one of them. He knows what life is like for 2/3 of the people in the world who live on an income of less than $10.00 a day. Speaking from the New Testament book of James, he encouraged us to remember that we are a global family and live in the light of Jesus’s return.

What does that mean? Very simply, this:

  • Instead of hoarding our wealth, we share it.
  • Instead of grumbling, we are thankful
  • Instead of self-protection, we rely on Jesus

As we, directed by the Spirit Jesus has given us, do these things, we will have peace of mind, no matter what is happening around us.


 In this world where sin abounds
 And devil’s work great harm
 There is a place of perfect peace
 It’s found in Jesus’ arm
  
 There is no pain he has not felt
 No trouble he’s not known
 He intercedes effectively
 Before our Father’s throne
  
 So let us work with confidence
 Give thanks and not complain
 All may change around us
 But Jesus stays the same
  
 He renews our energy
 He defeats our foes
 When we submit our hearts to him
 The Spirit’s power flows 
  
 We find that we are patient
 Slow to anger when stressed
 And if we suffer loss or pain
 We do not get depressed

 We find we are generous
 Money is not our treasure
 We release our goods to God
 And have joy beyond measure
  
 In this world where sin abounds
 And devil’s work great harm
 There is a place of perfect peace
 It’s found in Jesus’ arm
  
 Jane Ault
 August 2019 
This entry was posted on August 23, 2019. 8 Comments

HOPE for Abused Children


Forget-Me-Nots remind me of God’s love for his children.
This is how he describes his love in for them the book of Isaiah:
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you! “
(Isaiah 49:15)

When I read stories of how children are abused in such destructive ways, I feel deeply saddened. Many of them believe they’ve been abandoned by God. Jesus assures us that this is not so. He loved the children. To him, they are precious lambs. When his followers pushed them away, Jesus rebuked them and told them they, themselves, needed to become like children–humble, trusting, and truthful.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, rescues lambs. He carries them in his arms and protects them from the “wolves” who would deceive and destroy them. He said, ” My Father gave my sheep to me. He is greater than all, and no person can steal my sheep out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:29).

He calls those of us who are sheep in his church to come beside him in his mission to rescue the lambs who’ve been deceived and are temporarily held captive. He calls us to bring hope and healing to abused children.

The following poem reflects how a precious lamb might feel when rescued by Jesus. I hope it will encourage you to get ask him how he would want you to get involved in reaching out to captive lambs.


 When you rescued me, Lord!
 it was all because
 Of the love the Father
 Reigning above
  
 I am His child.
 He will never forget!
 His Spirit within me
 Assures me of that
  
 I'm no longer ashamed
 I'm no longer afraid.
 The lies of abusers
 I see and resist.
  
 Your power and love
 Fill my heart every day;
 So no one can ever
 Lure me away.
  
 Someday, you’ll return
 With a triumphant shout
 And my soul will be free
 No more tempted to doubt
  
 Never harassed
 And never in pain
 Lord Jesus, I long
 For that glorious day
  
 Jane Ault
 8/5/2019 

This entry was posted on August 9, 2019. 4 Comments

Whose Approval Rating Matters?


Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval.
Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed
and who correctly explains the word of truth.
(2 Timothy 2:15 NLT)

For my entire life, I’ve wanted and longed for approval. I wanted to please my parents. I wanted to please my grandparents. (And I had eleven of them to please!) I wanted to please my teachers. I wanted to please my employer. I wanted to please my husband. I wanted to please my children. I wanted to please my grandchildren. Most of all, I wanted to please God.

At least I thought I did. For quite a while, I convinced myself that all of this was true. Especially the pleasing-God part. In his kindness and mercy, God did not immediately confront me with the truth he saw in my heart: I wanted to please others so that they would be pleased with me. I was searching for the worth that perfect performance would bring.

I mistakenly thought that pleasing others meant “making them happy.” I did not want anyone to feel disappointed or sad. And if someone was not happy I thought it was my job to cheer them up. Being a person with high emotional sensitivity, I quickly noticed the emotional climate around me. When I sensed any sign of anxiety, sadness, or anger, my mind started designing a plan to fix the situation.

I discovered some surprising things:

  • Some people feel happy no matter what I do.
  • Some people feel unhappy no matter what I do.
  • I can only make one person happy. That person is me.

Instead of making others happy, something impossible for me to accomplish, I want to serve others in a way that benefits them and does not damage me.

I realize that it’s not my job to make God happy either.


 Whose acceptance do I value?            
 Whose approval do I seek?
 The world sees only outward beauty;
 God sees quality beneath.
  
 Whose acceptance do I value?
 Whose approval do I seek?
 The world rejects the ones who stumble;
 God restores his fallen sheep.
  
 Whose acceptance do I value?
 Whose approval do I seek?
 The world discards the old and feeble;
 God upholds those small and meek.
  
 Whose acceptance do I value?
 Whose approval do I seek?
 The world's applause is for a moment;
 God's honor is for eternity.
   


This entry was posted on August 2, 2019. 6 Comments

Satisfying My Thirst for Approval


Jesus said in  “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  If anyone believes in me, rivers of living water will flow out from that person’s heart.”
The Gospel of John, chapter 7, verses 37-38

Frequently, I thirst for approval. It’s a human desire and a human need. God promises to fulfill this thirst, and he does so when I turn to him. Sadly, he’s not always the first one I look to.

In her book, Free of Me: Why Life is Better When It’s Not about You, Sharon Hodde Miller describes seven mirrors we commonly look into in our search for approval. As I read her book this week, God gave me insights which I recorded in the following poem.


 
 Sometimes I seek approval
 From family or friends;
 My vision is distorted
 When looking through that lens.
  
 I lose sight of Jesus.
 My love for him grows dim
 In his grace and goodness,
 He calls me back to him.
  
 I focus on forgiveness
 Instead of on my sin;
 I regain hope and courage
 And, in strength, rise again.
  
 I rise again to worship
 My Savior and my God;
 Then, gratefully, I work
 For his accepting nod—
  
 I know I have acceptance.
 Approval’s something more.
 It takes my faithful effort;
 Obedience is its core.
  
 Obedience flows from love—
 Love that I’ve been given.
 Oh what joy it is to be
 A friend of God in heaven!
  
 That friendship costs me everything
 It must be my one desire.
 I cannot cling to other loves
 And retain the Spirit’s fire.
  
 An all-consuming love for Christ
 Transforms my soul and spirit
 So that from sources outside of him
 I no longer search for merit. 
  
 Jane Ault 
 7/18/19
   

WHAT MAKE AMERICA GREAT?



 What makes America great?
 Is it the money we make or how we relate?
  
 How do we relate those at our gate?
 Who gets to come in and who has to wait? 
  
 Whom do we love and whom do we hate?
 Must we all agree or can we debate?
  
 What makes America great?
 Is it due to the way our government runs?
  
 Is it the size of our militia and high-powered guns?
 Can greatness be measured in stocks and bonds?
  
 Does it matter how we acquire and spend our funds?
 Do we see our skyscrapers but not our slums?
  
 What makes America great?
 Does everyone have a steak on their plate?
  
 How do we treat a prison inmate?
 Do we believe an addict can become straight?
  
 Whom do we favor and educate?
 Whom do we choose to isolate?
 
 What makes America great?
 Is it simply a matter of fate?
  
 Or is it due to the choices we make?
 Who should we congratulate?
  
 According to God, how do we rate?
 Are we humble enough to admit a mistake? 

 What makes America great?
 For what do we live? For whom would we die?
  
 What makes us laugh and what makes us cry?
 Is what we’re pursuing truth or a lie?
  
 Do we have the courage to not comply?
 By saying nothing, what do we imply?  

 What makes America great?
 Is it the flag we fly on this Fourth-of-July?
  
 Is it a celebration of days-gone-by?
 On victories past, can we rely?
  
 What do we see and what do we deny?
 What will have changed by next Fourth-of-July?
  
 7/4/2019
 Jane Ault 
This entry was posted on July 4, 2019. 4 Comments

Goodbye to People-Pleasing


 

When someone you care about such as your child, friend or spouse fails in some way, who do you hold responsible? Do you help them realize that they are accountable for their action or lack of it? Or do you blame yourself for their failure and then clean up their mess?

God does not clean up our messes. He gave Adam and Eve specific responsibilities and clear instructions. He told them what would be healthy and what would be destructive. When they disregarded their responsibilities and disobeyed his instructions, he did not blame himself. He did not say, “Oh, I’m a bad parent; I must have done something wrong”. He did not say, “Oh, I’m a poor gardener; I must have made a mistake”.

He held Adam and Eve accountable for their decisions and actions. Unlike God, some of us get confused about responsibility. Instead of holding others responsible for their destructive actions, we blame ourselves. We are overly dependent on their opinions, think we can’t survive if they don’t like us, and become so busy making them happy that we neglect our own responsibilities and growth. In doing so, we harm both ourselves and others.

Why do we do this? in his book, When Pleasing You Is Killing Me, Dr. Les Carter identifies unhealthy pride as the root cause of such behavior. He says that failing to confront others is a common practice of people pleasers. I’ve been reading his book during the last few weeks, and I’ve found myself in its pages. Recognizing and admitting to that root of pride brought me relief. It’s the bit of knowledge I needed to have in order to say a firmer goodbye to people-pleasing.

God has been giving me an increased understanding of what responsibility means over the years. This is an early poem.

 RESPONSIBILITY
  
 I hated them without a cause 
 Because they chose to be;
 I hid behind a mask of fear
 And told myself I could not be.
  
 Someone-out-there made me freeze in fear
 And kept me from moving ahead
 Someone-out-there spoke the words 
 I heard inside my head. 
  
 And all the time it was really me
 Intimidating myself;
 I chose to suffer and to lose—
 To hide my wealth and ruin my health;
  
 I chose to think that I was bad,
 That I did not belong;
 I chose rejection, fear, and pain
 I chose to sing it as my song.
  
 I chose it even when I learned
 God forgives our sin.
 I chose to fear what “they” would think
 Instead of trusting him;
  
 But I Could Choose Again.
  
 I could decide to live in faith,
 I could decide to grow
 To give up fear and suffering
 I could decide, I know.
  
 What will I choose? Where will I go?
 Where will my thoughts abide?
 I want to love; I want to risk.
 Shall I, again, run and hide?
  
 Now fear thrives in the dark,
 It cannot handle light.
 If I remain close to the SON 
 I’ll have good judgment and more might
  
 More courage and more confidence,
 Some hope to balance doubt
 Great joy will come to me 
 As I, in faith, step out. 
  
 Responsibility That's What My Life's About.
  
  Jane Ault 
 
This entry was posted on June 28, 2019. 8 Comments

A Life-Giving Practice


The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies announce what his hands have made. Day after day they tell the story; night after night they tell it again.
(Psalm 19:1-2 NCV)

Almost every morning since the first of January this year, I’ve spent the first forty-five minutes to an hour studying and meditating on Scripture. As I converse with Jesus about his words, he frequently gives me a poem or song lyrics. This is the best part of my day.

When my husband hears me singing, he knows I’m ready for breakfast. As we are eating, I share my new song or poem with him and welcome his insights. After hearing and discussing his viewpoint, I often write additional verses or improve what I’ve written.

It’s a challenge to do so, yet my desire is to continue the Jesus-and-me dialog throughout the day. This is how I find strength and courage. This how I gain and regain clarity about my purpose in life and how I receive direction for the day. This is what keeps me from taking pleasurable but distracting side trips.

As I silently or openly include Jesus in my conversations with others, he gives me insight and wisdom in my responses. God said to Isaiah, ” my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55: 8-9). God’s thoughts are definitely more profound than mine.

If I want to write or speak words which reflect the heart and mind of God, I must listen to the Spirit of Jesus. If I want to say things which have true worth, I must dialog with him. Amazingly, he then can then display his love and power through me.

The following poem flows out of my meditation on Ephesians 3:16 and 1 Timothy 1:17.


Jesus is Worthy of All Praise

 Jesus Christ is worthy of all praise.
 In him, all perfection is displayed.
 He shows those with faith-enlightened eyes
 The glory and power of God on high;
  
 We are strengthened in our inner selves
 By the love of Christ. He is our help.
 When facing hardship, our choice is firm;
 Held in his arms, we suffer no harm.
  
 Though on this earth, we experience loss,
 We rejoice, knowing it’s worth the cost.
 God comes through with his abundant grace;
 How immeasurably good are all his ways!
  
 Immeasurably wise are all his words.
 How blessed we are when we have heard
 And closely followed the Spirit’s voice;
 God gives to us unimagined joys.
  
 Jesus Christ is worthy of all praise.
 In him, all perfection is displayed.
 Through those who have faith-enlightened eyes,
 He displays the love and power of God on high. 

 Jane Ault
 6/17/19
This entry was posted on June 21, 2019. 6 Comments