Joan Reynolds

Real Faith, Real Life & Real Joy
Browsing Christian Faith

Angels In Our Midst!

May28

My pastor wrote in his blog several weeks ago about his encounter with angels 25 years ago and it reminded me of a similar situation that happened at about the same time to me and my sons, then living in Florida.

We had recently moved from upstate New York to Jacksonville, and were fascinated by the beaches all around us. One sunny day in early November we drove  our Ford Aerostar van down to the beaches of St. Augustine, where we had heard they allow cars to drive on the sand, to check it out. The beach was totally deserted that day, even though it was beautiful; Floridians typically do have a season where they frequent the beach, and that had already passed.

This was my first time driving on the beach, there was no one to instruct me, and the boys were very excited that we had a roadway between the dunes and the water of about 300 yards so we hit the sand running……until we realized we were no longer moving forward. Our wheels were still spinning but we weren’t going anywhere, except deeper into the soft sand into which I had driven (funny, I thought I would be safer farther away from the waters edge, but the sand was actually easier to drive on the closer one got to the water, not the other way around). Our laughter and excitement quickly turned to fear, as we realized we were on a desolate beach with no idea how to get our heavy car out of the sand. And while the sky was beautiful, the sun was beginning to go down. We also were in a pre-cell-phone era and houses, stores and people were nowhere to be seen.

My sons were then aged ten and four. My older one, a type A firstborn, hopped out of the vehicle and began digging furiously behind the back wheels with his bare hands, determined to dig us out by himself. My youngest, a more laid back dude with much more patience, decided to go up on the nearby hill and play in the sand dunes. As he did, I could hear him talking to God. While his hands were forming sand castles, he was saying “Lord, my Mom needs your help right now. Her car is really stuck in the sand.” That was it, and he continued playing.

Not two minutes later there was a woman at the side of my car, motioning for me to get out. A man…her husband, I assumed, was behind the car, getting ready to push it. She climbed into my seat and within a matter of minutes the car was on hard packed sand again, and I was back in the driver’s seat, calling my sons to get back in the car. I turned to point out the couple who had helped me and they were nowhere to be seen. There wasn’t another car or person on the beach and I had no idea how they could have disappeared from sight so rapidly.

I haven’t asked the boys about this in any recent time and they may well not remember. As for me, I will always believe God sent angels to help me out of that predicament and that they appeared and disappeared without so much as a word. Except for the words and faith of one very small boy, who totally believed God would help out his Mom.

Although both those encounters took place 25 years ago, I am believing there are angel sightings every day, though sometimes we may discount them because we cannot prove it, even to others who may also have been there at the time. Faith, belief, and the eyes to see; let them see. This story also reminds me that I am safer on the hard sand, closer to God’s living water, than I am walking on the softer sand nearby. The softer sand is a really good place to stop, lie down and rest awhile, but if I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, I will get much more traction on that well-packed, wetter sand… closest to Him.

Abortion….The Silent War Women Fight Alone

May25

I came very close to having an abortion, in fact as close as fifteen hours away from one that was scheduled for the tiny life within me.

In the Christian communities I have been a part of over thirty some years, that information alone could be enough to change people’s opinion of me and, depending on their experience and position on the issue, that might be positively or negatively.

In some of their eyes I would be celebrated for having made ‘the right choice’. That seems nice enough, in that I get to tell my story openly most times, without the fear of the judgement that will definitely accompany someone sharing that she made a different choice. To others I committed a sin being pregnant outside of marriage, something they know they would never have done, so they may step back a few inches as though my sin might be catching. For most churches in that time, I was a single parent they didn’t quite know what to do with or for, as my children and I were outside the realm of most their ministries.

Sometimes people don’t really think about the fact that of the three choices available to a woman in that place,  none of them seem ‘right’ to her, even by Webster’s definition: morally or socially correct or acceptable. Whichever one we choose will be accompanied by a shame that we will have to work through, perhaps for a lifetime. The church can be a loving place to heal, or it can be a continual judge and jury. Each one can only be seen on its own merits, but it is a tough risk when your silence offers you much more more reliable protection.

In truth, it is much more complicated than even the choice itself, and only someone who has been faced with that dilemma in their own life may ever experience the compassion I feel for the women who have had abortions, especially those who truly regret it. I feel for the woman who gave up the only child she might possibly ever bear for adoption,  who may also be told she did the right thing, but that can ring hollow in a childless life.  For the one who experienced an abortion and yet keeps it secret as most do, being handed a rose at their church on Mother’s Day can be so devastating they may purposely avoid church on that day.

My Dad was a veteran of WWII. He was barely 25 when he Captained  a battalion of men through horrible circumstances in the Battle of the Bulge and  then awful experiences in Belgium and Germany. Though he came home seemingly in one piece, with a British Medal of Honor, a Silver Star and a Purple Heart, he never mentioned the war once during my lifetime of knowing  him. I was born the year after he returned and he died when I was fifty-eight. It was something he just couldn’t talk about. He couldn’t sort out all his emotions, so he just put them in a box he never re-opened.

Though he went on to raise a family, be a successful businessman and a great father to four children, to this day I don’t know much about his war experiences or his wounds. I know he could be super critical and hard on his kids, but he wanted us to grow up strong, at least emotionally stronger than perhaps he had been. My emotions were often crushed as he seemingly did not want to acknowledge them. It was only when I thought about my own brush with abortion that I had even a clue as to why he was emotionally distant sometimes, angry and frustrated at other times, for seemingly no related reason. He had experienced a time as a very young man when he couldn’t  allow his emotions to cloud his mind while he did what he had to do, which was often not something he wanted to do, in order to follow orders and protect all the others in his care. I am sure it was this thinking that came to the surface for my Dad when I became pregnant out of wedlock ; I was already a single mom to a five yr old, four years after my husband divorced me to be with my best friend. I am sure my Dad worried my life would be terribly hard, though he and I never spoke about how difficult it would have been for me  had I made any other choice.

Although Dad came home after the war to start a new life and family, his wounds never totally healed. Many of them were buried, deep in his heart, alongside the friends he lost during the war. He had killed people, and seen friends be killed, his best friend hit by mortar  just feet from his side. There is no healing balm for that, save the Oil of Gilead, straight from the heart of God himself, and I pray that my Dad finally found that healing and peace when he came face to face with his maker. He deserved it, having silently carried those hurts for a lifetime, all the while providing for his family and walking out a good christian life here on earth, always mindful of the ones who never made it home.

Perhaps that is why, when I first met the women of the crisis pregnancy center where I was to volunteer, I broke down in tears when I got back to my car. I knew that I was among women who had fought in the same war into which I had also been drafted, for no one knowingly signs up for this one. So many of us have had sex before marriage, but if we didn’t get pregnant, we could pretend that we hadn’t. Abortion took away much of the reason for shotgun marriages, but it left the decision heavily on the heart of the woman involved, who like my Dad in the war, had very little emotional preparation for such a life and death decision.

All the women at the center were touched in some way by the legacy of abortion; some spoke about it, many did not, but there was a silent camaraderie, no, that is not the correct word, it was more that we shared a sacred silent compassion in that room. I felt a sense of home, but also of purpose, that made me weep and thank God in gratefulness for all these women and for so many more.

There is hope for the victims of this war. Many people think only of the baby when they think of the victims, but they would be very wrong. There are parents and grandparents who may never be. There are uncles and aunts who may only be sisters and brothers. Mostly a mom and a dad, and possibly a brother or a sister, of one very special and particular child, who will never meet them this side of heaven.

There is accurate and factual information that can help a woman  prepare for the decision only she can make. One of the deepest regrets of many is being told it was nothing but a blob of tissue, only to find out five or  ten years later it was already a life with a heartbeat that could be seen on ultrasound only four weeks from conception. Resentment from not having been told the truth, prior to making this decision, is one of the worst things to get over and a hard thing to release. The woman is victimized all over again every time she relives that decision, as she will often over her childbearing years, perhaps her lifetime. God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness is both extremely necessary and also lavishly  provided, when asked for personally by women in these tough situations.

At a crisis pregnancy center, there are other soldiers who can come alongside her, whatever her choice has been or will be, to help her with what is ahead. There are women who are themselves one or who have been close to one of these veterans, people who understand what she has been through and what she is feeling.

As for me, I am ever grateful God is allowing me to use all that He has shown and taught me to be aware of, so that I may encourage  and uplift  those very courageous souls who have sidelined their own lives, often against the will of those closest to them, to do the very difficult work of being mother, father, head of household and spiritual leader of the child they decided to have and to raise, with no guarantee of any help. To be there for the woman and families of the one who gave a child life, and yet surrendered it for adoption, in order to give it a better chance than the one she might be able to provide for it,  to make sure she is encouraged and celebrated for her choice as well. And for the one who chose abortion, to surround her with the love of God and mercy of imperfect but loving others who welcome her to the ranks of other wounded warriors whom she may never before have met,  and yet may sit next to her in church,  and  to share God’s amazing healing and His promises for her life and her future.

Different times and places, different ranks and titles, but as with all vets when they get together, a common bond that needs not even be spoken. You know what I know. You have seen the enemy face to face. And there, but for the grace of God, go all of us. Like my Dad, I live my life ever mindful of the ones who didn’t make it out as easily as I did, and the ones who didn’t make it out at all. If it were in my power, I would proudly present each woman who has been in this war with a Purple Heart, for we have all fought hard on the front lines of this battlefield, and we have all been wounded, in a place that may be impossible for most to see.  I am so grateful that God’s own medal of honor, His son Jesus Christ, is always ready and waiting to heal all of our wounds, even and especially this one, once and forever when we ask Him to come into our broken heart.

Because unfortunately, this war is far from over.

 

Handicapped ….For His Glory!

April23

I have struggled, over my lifetime, to find an answer to the recurring question of why I seemed so different; more emotional than others, more inclined to seek the truth, more concerned with people’s feelings than their bank accounts (or my own).
I have met so many people who seemed to find the right partner, the right job, to enjoy the pleasures of life so much more easily than I did.
For some odd reason, I often found my inner comfort zone to be right  where others saw discomfort. I was secure where they would feel lost. I was at ease where they were acutely distressed.
I am beginning to understand that while I appeared to have every basic body part and brain function in tact, I have apparently always been handicapped. In the same way that a blind person has extra perception when it comes to hearing than many of his sighted friends, I always seemed to pick up on heart waves that no one else noticed, or if they did, they could not describe them as easily as I seemed to be able to.
I know now that all those times that I had such a different experience than what appeared to be the normal response of those around me was precisely because I was indeed handicapped, with a sensitivity to the spirit God put in me at birth, made only more profound after I asked Jesus into my life at age 37.
As so many people with severe handicaps will testify, I appreciate things in life that others just don’t even seem to notice. I am aware of the kindness of people and the workings of God in ways that others can’t begin to comprehend, especially when they consider experiencing my circumstances. And in the end, those handicapped individuals almost always say they wouldn’t change a thing about their lives, because their experience of it has been so rich and so filled with awe and wonder. I have to say that from my vantage point, I would totally agree.

An Update On That Dating Thing!

March28

Just wanted to bring this blog and anyone who follows it up to date on the outcome of my excursion into the Christian dating scene. The past few months have been really exciting, but more because of the way God has brought me closer to Himself than for anyone I met while making myself approachable online.

What happened was that several men I met, spoke with or corresponded with all asked me the same question: You have an amazing testimony. What are you doing with it?

Hmmmm. That was a tough one, but it had an easy answer. Nothing.

I had stopped blogging, I was not volunteering in any capacity except hospitality at church, and although I regularly attended and shared at my bible study group, I wasn’t doing anything with the story of my adventures with the Lord.

Could it be that what I got out of the dating site was a direct road back to the love of my life? Actually that is exactly what happened.

I asked God to go with me and indeed He did, and facing my past head-on where men were concerned, helped me to find a few places that still needed forgiveness and God’s healing touch. Had I not gone there, I may never have known there was still some crusty residue in the heart of this vessel. As the months progressed, I felt as though I was finally willing to let go of all hurts where men from my past were concerned and come back into God’s loving arms with a clearer love and yearning to know Him than I had ever had the previous thirty years.

I was able to choose Him completely, knowing He had already chosen me, no matter which way my head had turned toward gentlemen at any given point in time. I have to say, this journey did start out with me wondering if I had yet found the love of my life and ended with me knowing for certain that yes, I had already found Him, and He was going to remain with me into the eternity He has promised. There is nothing safer and more certain, nothing more exciting than that! Nothing.

God is Not a Proofreader!

December2

I  received a special gift this weekend, along with a book that Billy Graham has just written, The Reason For My Hope. It is probably the last one from this incredible man of God, and I am stuck by how each paragraph, each sentence contains so much truth , insight and yes, hope for all of mankind, in spite of everything we see going on in the world today. To me it would seem as though he would be discouraged at what he has seen over his lifetime, but because his hope is in our eternal salvation, in God not in man, he is every bit as passionate near the end of his life as he was in the beginning of his ministry. He is an amazing blessing to the decades of people whose lives he has touched and to the generations that will follow.

The part that struck me this morning even as I was being uplifted by his words, was that I hadn’t read thirty pages when I had noticed two mistakes. Not in his message, not in his work, but typos! Typos, can you believe it? He has a great publisher, probably hundreds of people who have read this before the publisher took it to print, and yet here are these common errors seemingly obvious to me, that no one caught.

At first I thought, should I call someone, write them that these were there so that future printings would be perfect? Then I realized God was just showing me, once again, how I struggle with the fact that regardless of being saved, in spite of spending thirty years safe in His protection and love, I still struggle with imperfection. And I always will. I am imperfect. We all are. Save one, Jesus Christ, who came so that we might have eternal life and be accepted, with all our imperfections, into His Kingdom when we leave this earthly body and return home.

I always thought it was a good thing to be a natural proofreader, but sometimes it isn’t,  unless it is your job. It makes me search words for the meaning that might be lost between the lines, a hanging participle that might cause someone to read something in a way other than what the author intended. Yet often this is just how God speaks to me in deeper ways, calling attention to the flaws I have asked Him to reveal in me that I might possibly improve on with some effort on my part and grace on His. I don’t want someone to read me wrong, so to speak. Or is it that I don’t want them to see my imperfections?

Today He has shown me that He doesn’t see my imperfections in the way I see them. He sees my heart. He sees the soul He gave me at birth and the life that I have lived trying to be true to Him and to myself. He does not proofread every moment of every day, every misstep that I have made, every wrong word that I have written or said. I sometimes can be so disheartened by getting something wrong that I miss His bigger picture for me. His love and compassion are always the meaning between the lines. His care for me goes far beyond my getting everything perfect. His joy in me is never undone by one wrong thought.

I thought I was not a perfectionist. I try to look for the good in people and in situations without judging the small mistakes, but I was wrong; being a proofreader is looking for perfection. I attributed this to a characteristic of God, but I was incorrect, as I so often am. We are made in His image, not He in ours. Nothing in His word says He is a proofreader, in fact much the opposite. We are flawed, imperfect, and we need Him to get through this life. He sent His perfect son to die on the cross for the mistakes we have made and will continue to make, just so that we can experience His love while we struggle through life on this earth and so we may one day join Him in eternity. End of story. I do not need to tell Billy Graham’s publisher there are flaws. If anyone knows that, it is Billy Graham. Perhaps God allowed those  just for me to see. He’s like that, you know.

 

 

Taking God On A Date!

November6

It occurred to me over the past month or so that I know so many wonderful single women in their 50’s to 70’s,many of whom are devoted Christians, all of whom have never met a man with whom they have found that second chance at a good and solid relationship that suits this stage of their lives. I am one of them.

As is often the case for me, it was looking at their situations and how I could encourage them, that led me to realize none of us had really made any kind of commitment to looking for that special man. Nor had we thought very much about what he would be like, so that we would be sure to recognize him when we met him.

I came to see that ten years had pretty much gone by as all of us got more and more comfortable with our single state, and more and more isolated from anything that might  bring a single man into our path. We were content, yet still had a nagging little part of our souls that yearned for someone we could be sharing our lives with right now. Our kids are grown, many of us have grandchildren, but still there is that flicker of hope for a romantic love that most of us still haven’t really given up hope for, even as we approach the last quarter of our time here on earth.

Pushing through my own fears and uncomfortableness, I decided to go onto a christian website and see if the man I was looking for was there somewhere, just waiting for me to show up.

As I had done this experiment several times unsuccessfully in the past, I also looked at the reasons I gave up so easily before. First, I made no game plan. I didn’t really think about the qualities I wanted in the man I wanted to meet. I didn’t think about my deal breakers, so I would know how to recognize them when they appeared in writing or in person.  I realized that I was also finally ready to accept the fact that all the men my age and older were likely to remind me of my father or my grandfather at that age. Truthfully, it meant I had to realize I would be reminding them of their mother, more than the hot young gal they imagined they might still meet. I also thought about the men most of my friends were married to, who now looked very different from the man they had married. I decided to put looks, if not last, at least not first in my priorities, as it really was not the most important thing. Second, I had previously made no commitment; I went on, threw together a profile, and ran off the site after the first disastrous date that didn’t measure up to the picture I had allowed to creep into my head. This time I signed up for a year, making a commitment to a process rather than a person. I figured I had put more effort than that into finding a job many times, and yet never into something where the net result of my efforts might be life changing! Third, I had never before prayed about it. This time I am bringing God into every aspect of it, and trying to follow His clues.

I have no idea if this will be different than before in terms of the final outcome. But I do see major growth on my part as I take it one day at a time, one step at a time, and look to see what lessons God has for me to learn in the process.

A friend of mine at church was praying with me the other day and as I shared a bit of this with her, I realized I felt a kind of sadness that I didn’t understand. I think on some level I felt like I was somehow saying God was not all sufficient for my needs and that made me feel like I was being ungrateful in some way.  He and I have shared a 30 year relationship more intimate than any I have known with any man. He has filled in all the empty spaces where loneliness might have found a home. He has covered me and provided for me in ways no man might ever have thought to, in ways I could never even have expressed a need. To actively search for a partner seemed in some way like seeking a replacement, which is not the case at all, but it made me sad enough to cry at even the thought of it. The difference is that I have never before sought a man who also knew God in the way that I do, and so this would be a very different kind of relationship; a man not knowing Him intimately would be a deal breaker, and not one I would consider even for a second date.

In much the same way as God steps into the empty or hurt places when we have lost someone special, I believe He can also step in to help us find a counterpart who can cherish and care for  us as much as is humanly possible. For those who have lost, and for those of us who have yet to find, that person who feels to us “like God with skin on”, I believe He is right there with us and will be the first to shout for joy when our paths cross and we recognize it is He who brought us together. I have seen Him do this countless times in my life in other ‘chance’ meetings with people, I just never thought to ask Him to go on a date with me before!

So I begin yet another journey to see where He is leading. I am content to stay right where I am, and yet I feel as though I may need to step out in order for Him to lead me, so that perhaps I can be a light and a hope in the future to others. I know if it is a journey He is on with me, it can only be exciting and it can only lead me closer to home.

 

 

A Fun-eral….What A Great Idea!

July3

My previous post reminded me of a memory that floated back into my consciousness this weekend, as I was again telling life stories with family.My youngest son noticed, at the ripe age of eight or nine, that while our extended family was seemingly never able to plan re-unions, as other families he knew had, ours did make time to get to funerals.

Since he also noticed that during the three or four days we were together we had a great time, sharing stories and crying and laughing together;  all the emotions he knew were sacred to his Mom and made her feel most a part of things….connection really, deep sharing, truth telling.  As he would later play a similar role in his own circle of friends, he was able to get right to the heart of the matter:

“Mom, when you get old and are about to die, I am going to call all your family and friends and tell them you died. Then they will all come for your funeral and we will have a big party and you will be there to hear all the nice things they say about you!”  That was one of the most poignant remarks he has ever made to me, and he has made many. There was a ton of insight into not just what matters to me, but I also believe what matters to God.

I struggled for years with feelings of abandonment, unworthiness, and sheer black-sheep-itis, as I seemed to be such a round peg in a square hole where my immediate family was concerned. This was probably because I took everything personally, what they called overly sensitive, and often it wasn’t meant to be taken that way; the same ability that is often helpful when being sensitive to the needs of children or wounded adults I may not even know very well. God made me this way for a reason, and I think it helps me to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and it has taken me thirty years of God’s grace to let my own family off the hook and appreciate all they did, and tried to do, to assist me on my journey in this life.

So having a Fun-eral, a time where I got to receive all the gifts of acceptance, love, and I am sure, to notice their  gratefulness that my peculiar talents were not taken from the family mix just yet, that there was still time for them to enjoy my peculiar uniqueness for a little bit longer, sounded like a great idea! That sounded like something that would bring joy to my heart and, as my son noted, ‘you would have so much fun, Mom’!

I just noticed that if you take the word ‘funeral’ and merely move the r back a space and change the order of the two words formed you have Real Fun. And that is exactly how life seems to me when we affirm each other while we are still here living it!

I guess ever since then I have been trying to bring the fun in funeral to people’s everyday lives, by acknowledging, in the present, what they really bring to this party called life. I suggest that you tell your loved ones and friends now, while they can still hear what you are saying,  the things you want them to know and then it won’t be stuck inside you after they are gone. It will be a gift to them and a gift to you, but even more than that, an offering that I believe  is also a precious gift to God.

You Say What Others Are Thinking….

July1

I had a conversation with a beloved spiritual mentor after church today, bringing her up-to-date  on the things God has been doing in my life in the past two weeks. I am blessed to have a number of friends who get as excited as I do to hear what God is doing in each others lives. When I wondered aloud why I seem to talk about those things, she said “You say what others are thinking, but often don’t say.” Sometimes I think most people are only comfortable saying the good stuff about someone after they have lost someone close to them. It seems a shame we don’t tell them the little ways we see good (and God) in their lives more often while they are still with us.

I guess what I do could be the flip side of  gossiping. I was never fond of a gossip… someone who circulated tidbits of information into the consciousness of friends and family, seemingly only to see where it all ended up…. it always had such a negative connotation to me.  I seem compelled, however, to tell  the positive things, the little nuggets that most people might never say, except perhaps at someone’s  funeral. As another friend said to me this weekend, “you look for meaning in the little things” and usually I do and seem to find big meaning there.

I also feel compelled to write the note, send the email, make the phone call, just to tell someone how magical their words or actions were, either in a particular situation, or in general. I notice the little stuff that makes up the whole, but is  not often mentioned. To me the gift is in seeing the giver and the real gift they brought. It was not the gold, myrrh and frankincense that I remembered about Christ’s birth, but the incredibly long journey the three kings made to be present.

Sometimes the other side of this coin means I say something spontaneously that might sound off point, though hopefully not offensive; I notice this mostly around my sons (a subtle rolling of the eyes perhaps), who have had to hear me talk far too much over their lifetimes, while I struggled to make verbal sense of all going on around me. I have also embarrassed them by sharing things which included them without first getting their permission. My oldest started this blog for me four years ago and told me to practice writing these things down. He knew I had to get them out, and perhaps this keeps me more focused, as well as keeping me from telling my tale to someone who may not need to hear.

I do know at the dear age of 67, I find more people seem to be looking for that same type of meaning in their own lives, more people who are  appreciative of an affirmation of their best efforts and an acknowledgement of their time on this earth. That may be because we are getting closer to running out of it and we have all started losing friends and family whom we may have forgotten to tell how much we appreciated the amazing gifts they brought into our lives. Perhaps I am just pointing out the obvious, but I would rather err on that side, rather than assume they know what I’m thinking, or more to the point, what is in my heart.

 

Funnel Of Love!

November28

It has been noted in our church recently how uncomfortable some people are with lifting their hands in worship, even though so many of our wonderful worship songs mention lifting holy hands. We have had two different services addressing worship and basically allowing that enthusiasm is appropriate in church and not an emotion of which to be ashamed.

I remember being often particularly moved by sermons in church or by the worship preceding it. I never really drew any parallel to whether one preceded the other. It may well be true that it did.

One pastor noted how his granddaughter holds her hands up when she wants her papa to pick her up and hold her in the comfort and security of his arms. It is difficult to resist that gesture, indeed. I thought also of how, when I hold up my arms to the Lord in worship, I am in the first moment very sure that everyone is looking at me. In the next moment however, I am confident that the Lord is looking at me, and everyone else disappears, at least from my awareness.

I am at that moment creating a kind of funnel of love. I block out anyone on either side of me and focus completely on what, or who, is above me. I feel as though in that moment God does draw me closer to Himself and lift me up, as I seem to be requesting. It conveys something very personal between us and even though I have to overcome my own fear of looking stupid, I am never rejected when I ask to be held. It does open my heart to whatever comes next in the service, and while I know that this is not a condition of hearing what He has for me in the message, it certainly does make my ears more receptive. One is usually willing to hear even something difficult from someone  who loves them.

We Are A Fragrance!

October13

Everyday as I walk Gypsy to the ocean, both morning and evening, I pass a place where there is the most beautiful aroma. Where I notice it most is, oddly enough, right in front of a commercial garbage bin in front of some beautiful condos overlooking the Pacific.

I have walked down that same street twice a day for almost three months and never failed to detect the hint of it. I have brought a friend down who couldn’t smell it at all. I keep meaning to bring another friend, but actually, I really don’t care if anyone confirms it. I have gone to the nurseries in town and tried to locate a plant that gave off such a sweet fragrance (without my touching the leaves) but have come up short. No one knows of anything that would be sweet, not bitter, and yet give off the scent I am describing to them.

I merely thought it would be nice to plant under my bedroom window, where the smell of dog urine has occasionally wafted in unexpectedly during the night. I love that smell that I cannot replicate! Perhaps there is a good reason for that. It really encourages me to take that walk every day, and that is good for my health and my dog. It also inspires me to think deeper about the things of God.

He says in 2 Cor 14-16 that …”we are to God the aroma of Christ”….spreading everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. The fragrance of life. Can it be bottled and sold? No. Can I replicate that perfume I smell? Perhaps not.

Someone said it was probably a laundry sheet. Not at the times and days I pass by, it is too consistently the same. And it is a mix, smelling to the best of my ability to detect, rosemary, mint, and perhaps a third herb, but nothing bitter or too sweet. There is no sign of any of these plants growing anywhere on the street.

I have a new grandchild who, without any effort on her part,  summons up memories of my own children at the tender early stages of their lives. I remember the smell of them being so amazingly sweet. The back of their necks particularly held their fragrance as they got a little older. Not only did I love being in their presence, but I adored the aroma that was uniquely theirs.

I believe we are indeed a fragrance to God, and that He adores the aroma of us. Everyday I am reminded in the most uplifting way that where I expect to smell the scent of garbage, I am completely caught off guard by this wonderful scent. It is a lesson I hope that I do not forget, even if the aroma should disappear. Where else in my life might I be seeing garbage that may well be an amazing fragrance to God?

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