Tag Archives: blessings

Hope of Blessing

20 But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi [pleasant]; call me Mara [bitter], for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” 22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest” (Ruth 1:20-22).

 

Naomi has every reason to be discouraged, depressed, and downtrodden.

 

She is far from her home and her family (siblings, parents, cousins, etc.). She has been brought by her husband to live in a foreign land full of pagan gods – because he was fearful of a famine. She has managed to settle down and create a new life, probably still missing her home but making the best of her circumstances.

 

Then her husband dies, and if they had been childless, she would have been desperate. But she has the consolation – and support – of her two sons to make sure she is cared for. So, she again readjusts her expectations and makes the best of things.

 

And then her sons also die. And she is left alone with two unrelated women, her daughters-in-law. They have learned to live together and love each other, evidenced by Naomi’s affection in calling them “my daughters” several times.

 

And when Naomi has to decide how she is going to take care of herself, she realizes her only option is to return home, to her family. Someone there will surely have pity on her and allow her to live out her days with them.

 

Naomi becomes consumed with her grief. Overcome by her anger. Distant in her faith.

Hope of Blessing

And when she finally arrives back in Bethlehem, people attempt to welcome her back. But she rebuffs their consolation because she is so focused on what God has stolen from her. She has allowed herself to be consumed by the bitterness she has allowed to grow within her, allowing it so much power over her that she wants to be called by its name – “Do not call me Naomi [pleasant]; call me Mara [bitter].

 

Call me bitter.

Because God has taken everything I cared about.

Because God has left me to die alone and forgotten.

Because God has turned my life into fear of tomorrow.

Because God has “afflicted” me with pain and sorrow too hard to bear.

Because God has emptied my life of blessing and beauty.

 

But did He really?

 

Because if you read the same verses I did and see the same truths, you probably come to the same conclusion I did.

 

So Naomi returned [from Moab].

Naomi was not harmed in any way after her husband died and then her sons died.

Naomi was not harmed in any way on her journey home from Moab to Bethlehem.

Naomi was not harmed in any way when she returned to Bethlehem.

 

What Naomi should have focused on was that God had been protecting her.

God protected Naomi while she lived in the foreign land among foreign (pagan) culture.

God protected Naomi while she buried her husband and then her sons.

God protected Naomi while she traveled and stayed along possibly treacherous roads.

 

God was with Naomi and keeping her safe from all the adversaries and enemies around her. How vulnerable a childless widow would be! Yet, Naomi was not drawn into the pagan culture surrounding her. Naomi was not taken advantage of or even kidnapped as an unprotected widow. Naomi was not a victim of violence on her journey back home.

 

God made sure Naomi stayed safe so she could return home and find her destiny.

 

Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her.

Naomi knew three people when she arrived in Moab – her husband and her two sons. Sure, she probably met plenty of other people and made new friends. And she gained two daughters-in-law who seem to have more of a mother-daughter than in-law relationship with her.

 

What Naomi should have focused on was that she was not alone.

She didn’t have to bury her family alone.

She didn’t have to grieve alone.

She didn’t have to travel alone.

 

God made sure Naomi had good support around her to deal with the circumstances she was living in. God gave Naomi two precious people who embraced her as family and probably looked to her as a role model. Naomi had support to lean on. Naomi had empathy of people experiencing the same pain. Naomi had companionship of wives who also lost their husbands.

 

And when Naomi needed it most, she had Ruth.

Who insisted on staying with her.

Who insisted on taking care of her.

Who insisted on loving her unconditionally.

Who insisted on being her family.

Who insisted on being her sister in her faith.

 

Now they came to Bethlehem.

Naomi found her way back home after over ten years away.

 

And when she arrived …

Naomi found people waiting to welcome her and embrace back into the community.

Naomi found support waiting to help her adjust to yet another life change.

Naomi found a life waiting to be redefined with God’s grace.

 

What Naomi should have focused on was possibility.

Because Naomi had just journeyed from Moab to Bethlehem.

And she arrived with her health and her possessions.

God had guided her safely and securely back home into a warm welcome.

 

And the possibilities for a woman who had already triumphed over so much should have seemed endless. She should have looked back and seen how far she had already come … and she might have realized just how strong, how amazing, and how courageous she truly was. I think that is part of what drew Ruth to her. Ruth wanted the possibility of what Naomi had – determination of spirit and security of faith.

 

At the beginning of barley harvest.

God knew Naomi and Ruth would need provision to sustain them. He had already planned they would return during the early spring, when reapers went out into the fields to chop down the barley for threshing. The pieces that fell from the arms of the gatherers and the baskets of the reapers were left for “the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow” (Deuteronomy 24:19) to collect, per God’s law.

 

What Naomi should have focused on was provision. God put Naomi back in Bethlehem at the right time to participate in the harvest. And just as Ruth promised, she took care of Naomi by going out every day to gather whatever fallen barley pieces she could, bringing home provision to get them by.

 

God provided for Naomi’s physical needs. But He also provided for her emotional and mental needs by giving her a companion who fully embraced her faith and supported her as only family would.

 

Looking at the evidence, isn’t it easy to see that Naomi’s life was full of blessings? God gave her so much goodness. How did she miss it?

 

The same way we do.

 

Naomi had the same choice we all do – look at her life through the lens of loss and hopelessness, or look at her life as a product of God’s grace at work.

 

Naomi chose to be bitter, even though there was so much good, so much grace, and so much hope in her life. All right in front of her. But she chose to look at her loss as the end of her life. And she allowed herself to be mad at her husband, her sons, the world around her, and even God.

 

If she had taken a minute, an hour, a day, or even a week to consider and count her blessings, she would have come up full of the pleasant things in her life. And her bitterness would never have had a chance to blossom into her identity.

 

I pray we learn that we don’t have to be bitter. We don’t have to focus on the negative, the bad, the painful, and the shameful. We don’t have to misinterpret the grace of God working to make us stronger as God punishing us for not being good enough. We don’t have to ignore the support God is sending our way to encourage us.

 

I pray we use Naomi as the pivot point that helps us remember to count our blessings. To focus on the good things. To appreciate the people supporting us.

 

And to remember that no matter how badly things seem, God is always for us. God is always with us. And God is always working around us.

 

Just ask Naomi, the once bitter woman who finally allows God to rewrite her story and who becomes the great-grandmother of King David (Ruth 4:13-17).

 

Marie Fremin.  1/11/20.

From Disaster to Divine Appointment

Isn’t it so much fun when crazy things happen to us?  NOT!

 

I was definitely not feeling “happy” Tuesday night when I busted a tire and had to pull over.  And then sit and wait for help to come.  And then scramble to find a tool that was not in the car.  And then having to call for different help – and to be told I would have to sit for about 2 hours, waiting.  In the middle of an empty parking lot.  As the time crept past 10:00pm and kept going closer to midnight.  Trying to keep my very tired eyes open and my very active thoughts somewhat calm.

 

And I could have panicked.  I could have verbally berated myself for causing the problem.  I could have sat and cried from the combination of frustration and exhaustion.

 

But instead I sat and waited.  Praying for people who came to mind.  Praying for my peace of mind.  Planning out my day the next morning.

 

Of course I knew why I was sitting there, unable to go home.  But I wondered about the purpose – what divine lesson was playing out?  And would I ever get the blessing of finding out what it was?

 

Well, to my extreme delight and complete surprise, I did find out.  Only 9 hours later.  And it was the biggest blessing of all that happened in that 24 hour period.

 

See, I had been safe and never once worried about my safety.  Everyone I spoke with made sure I was well taken care of and in no immediate danger.  The roadside assistance people kept me in the loop about when help should arrive and what I could approximately expect to pay.  The dispatcher for the tow truck told me to go home and rest because of the lateness of the hour – after I spent an hour waiting and would have spent another 2 more before it arrived.  I made it home safely and got the bonus of having a nice conversation with the Uber driver on my way home.  I got to sleep in my own bed.  My car was delivered to Firestone without issue, and they texted me with pictures to confirm.  Firestone made me their first priority the next morning, and everything was fixed within two hours of opening – and at minimal cost (thank you tire protection).

 

All blessings, when I think about what could have happened.  But all of these combined don’t add up to anything compared to the biggest blessing of them all.  The real reason for all my woes.  Her name is Miss Bea.

 

From Disaster to Divine Appointment

 

Miss Bea is the part-time Uber driver who picked me up Wednesday morning to take me to my repaired car.  God purposely put me in her path.  Because she was driving before one of her part time jobs to make money to support herself, her daughter, and her granddaughter.  I asked her about her beautiful accent and found out she is originally from Nigeria and has been here for 23 years.  God recently moved her to Woodstock.  And Miss Bea is looking for a church home in this new area of town.  I happen to love talking about my church, so I told her about the church and the pastor – and how friendly everyone is and how God makes all people feel welcome there.  Then I find out she has been curious about this church for a while, because one of her jobs is across the street at the new Costco!  So she has seen the church each time she goes to this job, and she has been wondering if she should attend.

 

And we both realized very quickly how God was working.

 

Because Miss Bea wants to get connected in the area so she can get closer to God in corporate worship.  And she has been praying – for her future jobs (hoping to condense from 3-4 to 2), her family (she is taking care of her daughter and granddaughter), her finances, and her faith.

 

So God had me tear up my tire Tuesday night so I would need a ride Wednesday morning.  And He sent Miss Bea, who was an Uber driver in the area driving before work, to pick me up.  How would we have met otherwise?  How would I have told her about the church she has been wanting to visit?  How would I have given her my phone number to call me?  How would she know who I was when she excitedly said she would be there Sunday?

 

I am hoping to hear from her, confirming that she will in fact be there Sunday.  I hope she finds herself right where God wants her to be and can get planted – with her family.

 

No matter what, I pray that God meets her right at her greatest needs.  That He provides a more stable and better paying employment opportunity for her.  That He continues to bless her with great Uber riders who tip well.  That He helps her settle into her new life and eventually into a new home.  That He surrounds her with grace to lead her family well.  That He continues to show her the beauty and benefits of holding onto hope and faith.

 

So what I thought was a careless and inconvenient accident turned into an amazing divine appointment.  And I am still sitting in complete amazement that God orchestrated everything so I could part of His plans.

 

And I hope I am always available to His purposes in the future.

 

Loving Father,

Thank You for loving me no matter how crazy I speak, think, and act.  Thank You for keeping me safe during times of trouble.  Help me to calm and quiet any crazy thoughts and out of control words – so I can focus on You and the plans You are bringing to pass.  Help me remember the blessing of Miss Bea – and how there is a blessing at the end of each trial.  In Jesus’ all-mighty name.  AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin.  9/20/18

 

Resentment Be Gone

I am going to tell on myself – my mind is a mess recently.  I have had thoughts so far from grace and truth that I could have easily lost myself in the mess.  They always came at work – and feeling unappreciated.  Watching other people get praised.  Seeing other people get raises.  Feeling overlooked and overwhelmed.

Resentment Be Gone

The thoughts would come, unexpected.  They tried to take root, wanting to undo any goodness that actually existed.  And as soon as I realized what was going on, I shook the thoughts out, laughed, and prayed for protection.

 

Because resentment wanted to become my master, the mistress of my heart.  And she is a harsh mistress.  She won’t go quietly away.  Once she has a hold on you, it can become a death grip.  She wants everything you have, and she will come for you until she has it.

 

She wants your relationships.  She wants to separate you from people who can encourage you and help you grow.  She wants to connect you with people who make you question God’s goodness and who steal God’s peace.  She wants to isolate you from His light and integrate you into the darkness of the world.

 

She wants your mind.  She wants to steer your thinking in a direction away from God’s truth and love.  She wants to convince you that people think badly of you … and for good reasons.  She wants you to think about everything you aren’t – and how God stays away from such things.

 

She wants your affection.  She wants to take compassion and stomp it out with carelessness and caustic feelings.  She wants to suffocate goodness out of the picture completely.  She chooses anger, animosity, and anguish over acceptance, hospitality, and forgiveness.

 

She wants your words.  She wants you to speak rashly and quickly, without pause or consideration.  She wants knee-jerk reactions and thoughtless comebacks.  She wants harsh retorts and hard remarks without care or grace.

 

She wants your focus.  She wants to be the center of your attention.  She wants to be the “comfort” you turn to when circumstances are rough and unfair.  She wants you to turn to her first to revel in all the wrongs in your life.

 

Again, she wants all you are and all you have.  And she will dig her fingernails in inch by painful inch into whatever area of flesh you give her.

 

So how do we combat her and her deadly influence?  It starts by recognizing her when she creeps in.  Hear her evil whisper.  See her harsh influence.  Realize she lurks to wage war against truth.

 

Then fight the good fight by being grateful.  Look at your blessings and count them.  Be thankful for how God has His hand on your life and is taking care of you.  Be content with the life, the gifts, and the blessings you have.

 

There is plenty of direction to help us:

  • Hebrews 13:5 – “Let yourconduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”
  • Luke 3:14 – “Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, ‘Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be contentwith your wages.’
  • Philippians 4:11 – “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be 
  • 1 Timothy 6:6-8 – “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
  • Jeremiah 31:14 – “I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance, And My people shall be satisfiedwith My goodness, says the Lord.
  • Jeremiah 31:25 – “For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.
  • Psalm 128:2 – “When you eat the labor of your hands, You shall be happy, and it shall bewell with you.
  • Proverbs 14:14 – “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, But a good man will be satisfiedfrom above.

 

So how did I handle it?  As I sat at my desk and heard the words scroll through my brain, I began to recite the history of God’s goodness and the litany of God’s blessings in my life.  How can I be resentful when I think about how blessed I am?  I can’t.

 

So maybe today we can encourage each other to appreciate what we have and stop worrying about everything else.

 

Loving Father, thank You for everything You have given me.  Thank You for every blessing – those I see and those I have yet to see.  When I take my eyes off You and allow resentment to creep in, please help me to recognize it immediately and stop it!  I want to be content at all times and in all circumstances.  So help me to tune out every whisper that isn’t from You.  Help me to not be influenced away from Your goodness, Your grace, and Your generosity.  Help me to stand firm in my faith that what I have is more than enough.  In Jesus’ all-mighty name.  AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin.  5/1/18 and 5/4/18.

Birthday Reflections

Am I the only one who starts reflecting about life on her birthday?  Especially the milestone ones?

Birthday Reflections 2016

I keep telling people that life is simply a series of choices.  And our choices decide how we see life.

 

So I decided this year to celebrate I should come up with a list of blessings to correspond with my number of years on this earth.

 

  1. A relationship with God. His drawing me to Himself with the right church at the right season of my life.  His revealing Himself to me to show me why I had a void in my life and then filling that void with Himself.  And in filling it, a continued expanding understanding of His love and grace.
  2. A loving family. They aren’t perfect.  They don’t understand my faith.  But they don’t make me choose between them and God.  They don’t reject me because I believe in God.
  3. A tribe. I have great people who have worked themselves into my life.  They have stuck around through a lot of craziness, and I appreciate them for their choice to love me through it all.
  4. We tend to take for granted that we live in a nation of freedom and individual expression.  I am not condemned, silenced, covered up, or limited in possibility because I am a woman.  I am not someone’s property or possession.  I am an individual with many rights and freedoms.  I can take my bible anywhere and read it openly without fear of persecution.
  5. I have had two great dogs.  They have taught me so much about God and His unfailing love.  I think dogs are a great demonstration of God’s love for us.  I hope one day to be a person who is as trusting and loving as a dog is.
  6. I have been through enough in my life to say – and believe – that God has a plan and God is working out that plan.  That God is ordering my steps.  That God has everything under control.  My faith is a gift I open each day as I trust God to be with me, for me, and in me.
  7. I know it is cliché, but I don’t care.  There is something soothing and comforting about chocolate.  So I choose to see it as a gift from a loving Father.
  8. Modern conveniences. How easy it is to take simple things like running water and electricity for granted.  I know we are blessed for having so many things at our fingertips.  And I never take a hot shower or running water for granted.
  9. One of my favorite things.  There is nothing like someone else working on your feet to get your toes into shape.  You can sit back and relax while someone massages your cares away.
  10. I am able to go out and do things that I enjoy.  Seeing a movie or a play.  Going to a concert.  Traveling to visit friends.
  11. Being able to stay connected with people via Facebook.  Being able to listen to sermons online from preachers all over the world.  Being able to research things of interest or importance to me with just a few keystrokes.
  12. Having music that moves you more readily accessible.  Being able to have any song on your playlist.  Learning the words to a song that moves you.  Singing a song that expresses how you feel but maybe cannot enunciate.  Dancing to a song that inspires your feet to move.
  13. A good piece of art will make you think, dream, and respond.  I love artwork of the sunrise or sunset, where God’s colors and imagination are on vibrant display.  I love to buy prints of things that make me smile.
  14. Ceiling fans. It is funny, I know.  But I take after my mother in being hot natured.  So in almost every season a fan gives me the needed temperature to be comfortable.  One in every room and one in my office at work.  I stay cool and can therefore think more clearly.
  15. The idea of people being together and staying together for a lifetime.  Of people being committed to loving each other through all of life’s challenges.  Of people choosing to stay together and support each other.
  16. Snail mail. There is nothing more special or uplifting than getting a card or letter in the mail.  For having someone think about you and express that thought with a stamped envelope.
  17. Being able to type my thoughts as they happen.  Then being able to read them and edit them in a quick fashion.  Easier than trying to write as fast as I think.
  18. I have family members that sew and crochet.  Because of this, I have special blankets that have been made just for me.  I have these mementos of love to enjoy.
  19. Mexican food. So much goodness in one burrito or enchilada.  It just soothes my soul and makes me smile.
  20. Cars were made to be driven, and not just at 35 miles an hour.  An open road usually means the ability to go a little faster.
  21. No matter how I screw up or how many mistakes I make, there is forgiveness.  There is a new opportunity.  There is still love.  Because grace wins (thanks Matthew West).
  22. Sunny days. There is nothing more uplifting than looking out a window and seeing the sun shine.
  23. “Joshua”. A great movie with a great reminder that God loves us and is still reaching out to us.  That He is with us in our everyday, ordinary lives.
  24. Flip flops. The world’s best footwear, outside of being barefoot.  Comfort for your feet.
  25. There is nothing like having a paperback book in your hands.  Once a reader, always a reader.  I have several shelves full of great stories.
  26. I can come to God anytime, anywhere, about any subject.  I can express myself honestly and openly about what I’m thinking and feeling.  I can ask for anything, no matter how outrageous.  Yet with the temperance of knowing His purpose will be done.
  27. I work with a great group of guys.  They get loud and obnoxious, but they are good guys with good hearts.  They care.
  28. Once I learned to embrace the gift that has been pointed out from a young age, life opened up to endless possibilities.  God speaks to me in radical and poignant ways when I write.  And being able to share it on my blog may bring peace and healing to someone.
  29. Chili cheeseburgers. Hamburgers, good.  Add chili and cheese?    Hard to pass up.
  30. I love the bright flower.  When they are plentious in summer, it is breathtaking to drive past fields of them.
  31. Starry skies. Coming home in the dark?  Take a minute and look up.  Look at the stars in the sky and be amazed at how carefully God orders and cares for the universe.
  32. North Point. Andy Stanley is an amazing communicator who makes me think about life and choices.
  33. Text messages. I like being able to have a conversation with someone in a middle of a workday without having a long, drawn out, or potentially awkward phone conversation.  We can respond as we are able.  We can think before responding.
  34. Keeping a record of each year with play programs, cards, and special notes.  Being able to look back and see what the year held.
  35. I have always been a giggler.  There is nothing like a good belly laugh that keeps going.  Laughter uplifts the soul.
  36. Cross stitch. Being able to make a unique baby gift or wedding present. Or just fun artwork.
  37. Being able to talk several times a week with my grandmother.  Staying connected and being a part of each other’s lives.  Sharing laughter and craziness.  Teasing her about not dusting – and giving her excuses not to.  Getting the annual birthday phone call.
  38. Bible studies. Being able to read the bible and have God reveal Himself.  Being able to write down what I learn in a study format and being able to share it with others.
  39. Half-length pants that give ventilation for the legs.  Allowing a little more airflow and therefore comfort on the hotter days.
  40. Being able to give to people and causes.  With a willing heart and an open hand.

 

So that is my list.  There are so many more things, but I think I have narrowed it down to my core.  What are you thankful for?

Birthday Reflections 2016-2

 

Marie Fremin, 4/2-4/3/16