Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mailbox Sheltering: The Final

Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

The sealing ministry of God the Holy Spirit is God’s final stamp of approval which guarantees that you will be in heaven forever. ~John Farley

Did you ever get a letter with the letters SWAK on the back flap?  If so, I don't need to tell you the letters stand for "Sealed with a kiss."  Most of us who received love letters saw this acronym on our envelopes -- and wrote it a few times ourselves.  However, it was actually begun during WWII when soldier boys were writing their sweethearts back home.  Only they used SWALK -- sealed with a loving kiss.

Hundreds of years before the gummed envelopes were sealed with a kiss, envelopes were sealed with wax.  (I wish I still had my seal from childhood days.  It added a specialness to personal mail -- ah, the nostalgic thought -- the burgundy puddle of wax, the press of the seal, the permanent embossing left on wax.)

A seal on an envelope was an indisputable seal of authenticity.  While reading this bit of trivia, a verse in 2 Corinthians came to mind -- [God] set his seal of ownership on us.

My mother at her writing desk
God has sealed us, signifying our redemption through His Son.  It's a seal of grace.  Undeserved, unmerited and amazing.  We are His.  I believe if we are wearing God's seal, the imprint of His Son, Jesus, will be evident in our life.

Sealing wax came in different colors: black for mourning, red for business, green for surgeons, white for religious orders and yellow or brown for ordinary people.  I want God's sealing wax on my life to be red -- red for the blood that cleanses me from sin.

Just as we heat the wax in order to apply it to our envelope flap, so we, too, are sometimes burned by the fire of life.  It is then our choice which seal of approval we will accept.  Beeswax was used for seals of long ago.  But because of the neutral and varying shades it was found that people could open the letter and reseal it with new wax; thus the need for a personal seal.

I refuse to allow Satan a chance to reseal my justification and sanctification, creating in me a mere imitation of who I am in Christ.  I want others to see Authentic Child of God written on my life.  I want His seal of approval.  I want the imprint of Jesus to be evident -- my heart sealed by God Himself.

O to grace how great a debtor?
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee...
Here's my heart Lord take and seal it --
Seal it for Thy courts above.

As we close this series of Mailbox Sheltering, I want to thank you for all your beautiful comments.  It's been obvious to me that many of you treasure the letter writing process.  You have pledged to put mail in someone's box.  I find joy in your friendships.  In many of you I see God's seal -- I hear Him say, "This is my seal. She is mine.  Learn of me through her."  With your seal from God, you shelter. You shelter your family, your church family and your "world-wide" family.  God sees and is pleased.  I feel and am blessed.  

When our sheltering on earth is over, those of us sealed by God will rise to meet Him.  I can't wait to meet Rebecca, Miss Kathy, Jen, Charlotte and Ginger, Glenda, Debbie and all of you who shelter me with your words.  I see God's red seal of redemption shining through you and one day I'll meet you around the throne. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

500 Follower Giveaway

I planned to do a giveaway to celebrate reaching 500 followers, but I was visiting in Pennsylvania and things like hitting a deer and totaling our van kept my mind occupied elsewhere.

I'm amazed that so many of you want to read my writings. And I'm thankful for each of you -- both for reading my blog and, for most of you, the way you challenge and inspire me while reading your blogs, too.

So here's the deal. I'm giving away a $25.00 Amazon gift certificate to one of you. I've tried to make the "rules" interesting and fun. There are 4 possible entries.

Become a follower or tell me you already are following

Vote for the book question on the right

Blog about the giveaway
Tweet about the giveaway

Don't forget to leave a separate comment for each entry. I sure wish I could give a certificate to each of you!
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Mailbox Sheltering - Part 4

There must be hundreds of people all over the world who never get a love letter...I could be the leader of them. ~Charlie Brown

In a love letter to her husband William, Mary Wordsworth wrote,

Oh My William! it is not in my power to tell thee how I have been affected by this dearest of all letters... it was so unexpected... so new a thing to see the breathing of thy inmost heart upon paper that I was quite overpowered, & now that I sit down to answer thee in the loneliness & depth of that love which unites us & which cannot be felt but by ourselves, I am so agitated & my eyes are so bedimmed that I scarcely know how to proceed...

I love to think of the poet, William Wordsworth, letter in his pocket, walking out to an old shade tree to read the letter from his beloved wife.  Wouldn't you love to know what he said to Mary in his?  It must have been quite the romantic epistle to have elicited such a response.

When I was fifteen my RB wrote me a letter declaring his interest.  Emily was reading that letter Saturday and had such a fun time with it.  First of all he mentioned -- in his letter -- how he didn't want to waste any time... Funny how he's been urging her to slow down because she has at least four years of college yet.  He tried to tell her he was older, but she figured out very quickly that if I was fifteen he would have been seventeen while she is eighteen and her Jonathan is nineteen.  I'm not sure they resolved anything more than laughing together.

Well, from that first letter from my romantic, musical and artistic word man until now, many letters have been written.  In college, he wrote nearly every day -- this was well before the advent of cell phones and I was lucky to hear his voice (via the pay phone in the Student Center) more than once a week.  But I heard his voice on paper and treasured each written conversation.

Robert Barrett Browning wrote 600 letters throughout the twenty months he courted his dear Elizabeth. Among the poems she wrote for her husband was, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways" -- the poem that RB quoted to me in our wedding ceremony.

Now, 36 years from our wedding (and 39 years from my first letter), I'm still receiving the words of love.  RB has found that I'd much rather receive a letter than a card for any occasion.  So my "still romantic, musical and artistic word man" may be a bit older, grayer and busier, but he still writes me letters in his artistic script.

When Melanie was planning her wedding, she knew she wanted to surprise Shawn with a song.  A close family friend agreed to write a song just for them.  Janene wrote,

You're an answer to my prayer
     Whispered from my heart,
And a God-sent love --
     And I have a heart-felt gift to give,
That I penned from deep within --
     I give you the deepest part of me --

From a love letter from me to you, on this day,
     We say, "I do,"
And it's from my heart, this love letter,
     As we start our life together...

Melanie read a letter to Shawn -- you may be able to read it if you click the picture -- finishing with,

And it's from my heart, this love letter,
     As we start our life together.
P.S. I'll love you always!

Janene was with me a few weeks ago.  After she had written a card to her husband she jumped up and ran out of the room.  Pretty soon she was back, her card showered in her perfume before she put it in the envelope.  "I used to do that when we dated," she told me.  "Mark will love it."  Another couple, living life with five children and a large heart for God.  (Check out Janene's personal blog and their Family MJ Dubbeld Family Music Website).  They are keeping their love alive and offering it back to the One who created them as individuals and entwined their hearts in love.

A sweet lady of our church came to following a recent service.  After sharing, with tear-filled eyes, some personal heartache she said, "I am so blessed when I see the connection you and RB have and your love for each other."  We don't know who is watching our love story.  I want the words of my life's love letter that the world reads to be pure and simple, one that shows not only my love for RB, but also draws others to the love of my Lord.

Let's take a few minutes this week to write a love letter to the husband or wife God gave us. Then during our quiet time this week, pen a love prayer to Jesus, the lover of our soul.

            Jesus, Lover of My Soul
                ~Charles Wesley~

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.

Wilt Thou not regard my call? Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?
Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall—Lo! on Thee I cast my care;
Reach me out Thy gracious hand! While I of Thy strength receive,
Hoping against hope I stand, dying, and behold, I live.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy Name, I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.