Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Real Love

...if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.  I John 4:12

We should confidently approach the throne of grace to pray not only for ourselves but also for others.  We should purposely pray to love others as God loves us.  Are you having a hard time loving a child, a spouse, a relative, or perhaps someone with whom you work?  If so, the Beloved God's arms are open wide.  Run into them and ask Him to give you His love for others, to give you eyes to see others as He does, to give you His heart with which to love them.  (Debbie Williams; Pray with Purpose.  Live with Passion.)

Fear comes on us so subtly that we do not recognize it.  We think we are being wise, but it is in our own strength.  We lock our doors and windows at night thinking this will keep us safe.  The truth is, if someone wants to badly enough, they can easily get inside by breaking a window or lock.  Locks and windows are a deterrent and tend to make most people think twice, but the determined one who thinks nothing of human life and believes there is no true right or wrong and each individual must do what they think best has no real deterrents.  If locked doors and window truly kept us safe, there would be a lot less thievery, rape and murder in the world.  We need to recognize that while it may be prudent in today's society to lock everything while sleeping or gone, this is not what truly keeps us and our belongings safe.  It is God's protection over us that does so.
Safety is a humongous issue in each person's life.  We don't want to feel pain of any kind.  Physical pain from injury, mental pain from being humiliated in some form or other, and spiritual pain from things not going the way we had personally planned make us flinch at the idea of witnessing, let alone truly ministering to the world.  We are willing to take a chance on brothers and sisters in Christ, as they have generally felt and experienced many of the things we have and so are accepting of us even when we make errors.  The world, however, may reject us, call us names, throw punches (physical and verbal), and even kill us, so we stay away.  But will stay away, but will this protect us?
Indeed no.  We instead will be called hypocrites, self-righteous, greedy, and many other things, but somehow this doesn't affect us so badly.  They are attacking the Christian kingdom as a whole, so that makes it all right.  What would the world be like if not even one Christian walked in fear?  What if every single one of us lived to serve others?  What if we took every opportunity to testify of God's love and greatness?  That would be truly walking in love, for love casts out all fear!!  (I John 4:18)
Lord, we are weak, but You are mighty.  You have told us in Your Word that we can do all things through Christ Who gives us strength to do so.  We ask that You continue teaching us, filling us and most of all, Lord, teach us to really walk in love.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Dwelling in Shadow

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  Psalm 91:1
God continually takes me back to marriage.  When I looked up the word for dwells (dwelleth) in the Hebrew/Chaldee dictionary I discovered the word is yashab and means to sit down (as judge specifically, in ambush, in quiet) by implication: to dwell or remain; causatively - to settle, to marry
While I know marriage is not a beautiful thing to all people, it was designed by God to be so.  We have manipulated, distorted, devalued and destroyed its beauty through giving in to lust, greed and redefining moral standards.  What is worse, even after making it almost more common to be divorced than married, we continue to push to keep changing the very fabric of moral society in every way possible. 
This verse has, just today, become one of my favorites.  If I marry (become one with) myself to God's Word and dwell in that secret place of intimacy through prayer with Him (But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. Matthew 6:6) I will abide in the protection of His shadow. 
When I think about my marriage, I begin to understand and rejoice in what God is telling me in this verse.  The more I get to know my husband, the more I begin to think and act like him.  When people see me, they automatically think of him and ask me how he is doing.  My life is so bound up in his that I am constantly in his shadow. 
The other day we were sitting in a fast food restaurant and someone we knew walked in.  I smiled and waved.  This person smiled slightly with a look of, "Do I know you?" until they saw my husband.  Then they smiled broadly and said, "Hey!  How ya doin'?"
I found this rather humorous, since I had known the family longer, but this morning I rejoiced in it.  My husband overshadowed me.
I dwell in his shadow of protection this way.  Everyone knows who he is, what he is like and that he will defend me tooth and nail, so in return, I am treated with respect.  If I walk into a room where people we know are speaking rather lewdly, the conversation stops, especially if he is with me.  I have to admit - it's a pretty sweet deal. 
When I put all of this into this verse, I realize God is crying out to me - to us - to dwell in intimacy with Him through the communication of prayer and we will remain in His shadow so that when people see us, they will automatically think of God and wonder about Him.  (Pray without ceasing 
I Thessalonians 5:17)  What a magnificent realization!
Lord, help us, Your children, become so one with You that when others see us, they see You!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O, my God, in You I trust....
Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I will wait all the day.
Psalm 25:1,4-5

As a child my parents were always saying how patient I was.  I would sit for as long as it took to get a necklace untangled, a math problem (logarithms especially as we had to do them without a calculator) completely solved, a paper written, etc.  However, they could only see on the outside.  Many times I truly was patient inwardly as well as outwardly, but there were times when I would want to scream, throw that necklace, or simply give up, but I would push down those feelings and continue until finished.  I don't consider that patience, but sheer strong-willed determination.
Most people do not consider me strong-willed.  They say I have a strong sense of right and wrong, or that I am dedicated to tasks, etc., but the truth is, if I had my own way, I would quit most of the things I start, but my will overcomes my wants.  I don't consider being strong-willed a bad thing, simply something that needs to learn discipline.   I want to eat a quart of ice cream a day, but my will overcomes that urge (most of the time).  I want to read a book from start to finish in a day, but my will says to straighten the house, prepare meals, write lesson plans, etc.  As a child I never wanted to meet anyone new, go borrow a cup of sugar, or go anywhere unless someone close to me was going with me.  My will forced my hand to get over the fears and do what was necessary to be a working part of this world.  I am like every other human being on the face of the earth - I want my own way. However, my will advises me that since I don't even always really know what I want, but only think I do, it is better to get counseling advice through prayer, friends and family than to jump into any given decision of import.  Yes, my will is strong, stronger than I sometimes want to give it credit.
As a child I learned from watching others, my parents in particular.  I had one who reasoned everything out before making a final decision and the other who wanted to jump in feet first and see what happened.  I also had two older siblings that I watched even more diligently than I did my parents, as they were (as was I) ruled by those parents.  I watched the eldest sass and throw temper fits trying to get what was wanted.  It didn't work.  I watched the second oldest try manipulative tears to get an advantage.  Those didn't work either.  I decided at a very young age that patience, no matter how hard it was to attain, was the best resource.  If there was something I needed, or at least felt I did, I waited until at least one of my parents was in either an unusually good mood, or at least in a calm enough state to listen as I explained myself.  My system was not perfect, but I didn't get in trouble for seeking them out on any particular issue.
It wasn't that I was any better than my older siblings.  I simply had the advantage of observation where they did not. 
We need to observe during our prayer times.  The tendency is to jump in with our problems, needs, desires, etc. and walk away hoping for the best.  If we don't get what we want, we go back to God in anger and or tears.  If instead we observe patience and wait, not until God is calm and ready to listen, because He always is, but until we are calm and ready to listen to Him, we will receive the answers we need much faster. 
I admit that I have not mastered this by a long shot.  The lives we lead  in today's world scream at us to move, move, move!!!  Fast-food; computers rather than pencil, paper and books; drive through banking; ordering online rather than having to actually get in a car or even walk and so much more!
It is difficult to train ourselves to relax and wait.  But I am strong-willed or better phrased - I am free to will myself to do all that is necessary to grow in my walk with my Father.  I desire to know Him more fully.  In order to do so I need to learn to wait, speak and listen every time I go to Him.  Since I know I have a long way to grow, I will begin where I am now.  I will ask Him to continue speaking to my heart daily, helping me learn to recognize when I am not ready to listen and confess it to Him, and grow to the place where I understand and obey His voice every time.  It won't be immediate, because I am human, but if I continue to practice patience, I will begin to see results.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

According to His Will

"Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon possessed."  Here Jesus responds that He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  "Lord, help me!" is the Canaanite woman's cry.  Jesus then responds with, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." 
Israelites are sheep and Canaanites are dogs.  We tend to look at this as a put down, but it was a simple differentiation.  The woman was a foreigner and wouldn't understand everything Jesus was here to do.  At least the Israelites would think so.  Of course, they didn't really understand what He was doing either, they just thought they did.  Jesus had actually come for the entire world, but Israel tended to think the Messiah was for them alone.  Here Jesus took an opportunity, as always, to teach His real purpose, to save the world. 
"Yes, Lord, but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their master's table."
Her request is granted willingly, "Your faith is great," she is told by Jesus.  Rather than take offense at anything Jesus said, she agreed with Him.  Jesus says, "You're just a dog."  She says, in essence, "Yes, I am.  Even so, I need You."
This is what Jesus wants of us.  He wants us to agree with Him so we can be in a receptive place.  Before salvation He says to us, You are but a sinner."  Our response hopefully goes something like this; "Yes, Lord.  Even so, I need You."  It is in recognizing our sinful state that we are able to receive forgiveness.
The same thing occurs in a Christian's prayer life.  God tells us in His word what we need:  Then He says, 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.  I John 5
There are no shortcuts to knowing God's will.  If we really want to know it, we have to get to know Him.  It's as simple and as difficult as that.  Simple, because if we really want to know Him, He will let us.  Difficult because the better we know Him, the more we recognize the things wrong in our lives.   The time equation makes things difficult for most too.  We live in such a fast paced, shortcut world that spending time alone with God seems a monumental task. 
Rather than allowing this to discourage us, we should use it to grow in our walk of faith.
The more I learn of God, the more I learn about myself.  I have discovered that I am many things that are dishonorable at times. I have been called prideful, arrogant, gossip, fearful, haughty, boastful and many other things by my heavenly Father.  He speaks to me as Jesus did to the Canaanite woman, gently and out of love, but each time I have had to agree with the assigned name in order to be set free of it in the given circumstance.  Do I still have problems with any of them?  Yes - all of them at one time or another, but I have learned that the faster I agree with the Father when He speaks to my heart regarding it, the faster I am freed, able to forgive and filled with joy once again.   
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  Romans 5

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Confession is good for the Soul - Mine Anyway

Unconfessed sin runs rampant throughout the Christian church.  There are several reasons for this: We don't pray regularly; we tend to focus on problems rather than Jesus, therefore we do not praise regularly; we are stubborn and refuse to admit we are just as guilty as the next guy and one more that I think is often overlooked - we want people to think well of us, including God.
Each of these contains a lie that the evil one loves when we swallow it. 
Lie number one - we don't pray regularly because we don't have time.  Truth - if we prayed regularly, we would find we don't have time NOT to do so.  I know from first hand experience just how true this is.  When I spend time with Father God in Bible study and prayer, I am able to accomplish much more than when i do not.  My mind is more focused.  I have more energy.  I am happier.  When I don't, everything seems a burden.  I am tired, hazy and the simplest interruption seems phenomenal.  That may sound like an exaggeration, but it is not.  I recently found myself answering the door to a very sweet faced young woman, who smiled cheerfully and said she was just visiting everyone in the neighborhood because she grew up here.  While I didn't bite her head off, I only gave a half smile as I explained she was interrupting preschool with the kids and that I needed to get back.  As soon as I closed the door, these words went through my mind: "You just missed out on a blessing."  I knew immediately that I had sinned and went to God in prayer asking forgiveness for being inhospitable and unloving. 
Lie number two - You need to get through this problem so you can spend more time with God.  Truth - You need to spend more time with God so you can get through this problem.  I am learning just how vital this truth really is.  Not long ago I accidentally overheard a conversation where one of my children told another that they couldn't find one of my grandchildren.  I immediately felt as if I would throw up and knew that if I didn't get on my knees in prayer I would begin to imagine worse case scenarios and become depressed until I received word the child was found.  I went in and confessed my fears to God, told Him how I felt I couldn't bear the loss of a grandchild, but wanted His perfect will in my life and the lives of my children. I told Him that I would serve Him no matter what, and I meant it, though it grieved me to think about what I was really saying.  Just a moment or two after I prayed, the phone rang to inform me the little one had been found with a group of friends.  Relief and gratitude flooded my being and I praised God once again.
Lie number three - I am better than others, because I do not murder, rape, tell devious lies, gossip viciously, etc.  Truth - One sin, and we all have many more than that, makes us sinners.  Not only that, if it were us having to live their life, how do we know we wouldn't do exactly as they have done?  Life is confusing enough for the Christian.  Imagine how confusing it is to those who have no real hope.  We may have better circumstances than they, but we do not really know what we would be like otherwise.
Lie number 4 - I have to keep up a good front in order to win people over to Christianity.  Truth - I need to be open and honest in order to win people to Christ Jesus.  When we try to pretend we are perfect, the world sees right through us and calls us hypocrites.  When we let them see that, even though we sin, God loves us and wants us just as He wants them, then they start wondering if this could possibly be true and they watch.  If we live our lives open and honestly they start wanting what we have - hope in Jesus.  Everyone wants to be accepted for who they are, including all the rough spots.  Pretending to be perfect makes them think they have to be perfect first.  Being real helps them realize they can be accepted just as they are.
Lord, forgive us.  We are just ignorant children in many ways, trying to prove our worthiness.  Forgive us.  Help us admit that we are not and cannot be worthy without Jesus.  May we live our lives openly and honestly that others may see and understand that they too can be counted worthy if they accept Your free gift of salvation through Jesus.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boastful Praise

Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.  Psalm 106:1
Praise  - from the root Hebrew word halal - a verb - shine, to flash forth light, boast 
This is the most common word for praise used in Scripture (used 122 times in the Old Testament).
I wondered for a brief moment after reading this, why would God want us to boast about Him?
After all, love is not boastful or proud - I Corinthians 13:4
As I briefly pondered this, it registered in my brain that He desires our praise not for His own need to feel lifted up, but because we need to remember Who He is, what He has done for us and all that he is going to do for us. 

I had to admit to myself that I have not been very consistent in this.  Consistent?  I didn't even realize the true need for it until today. I simply thought praise was something we should do in gratitude and love. Today I see things differently and a little more clearly.  I should praise out of love and gratitude, but also to remind myself that no matter how grim things seem, God is busy and will work all things together for good if I trust Him.  Praise helps me remember to trust.  "God is all loving, all powerful, all knowing and is with me wherever I go.  Why should I feel dismay?  He is Healer, Deliverer, Great Shepherd, King of Kings and so much more, so lift up, O head of mine, and see the glory of His salvation!!"
I absolutely love to sing and play His praises.  It lifts my spirit more than I can tell, but now I understand the real reason why.  It isn't that my praise to Him causes Him to want to manifest Himself any more than ever before, but that I am reminding myself of how wonderful He is by boasting about Him to myself.  As I remember, I rejoice.  As I rejoice, I open my spirit to receive more of Him - I become vulnerable before Him, allowing Him complete access to my soul.  The walls of fear and pride come tumbling down and He enters to release the captives of love, joy, peace, patience....all the fruit of the Spirit!  At that moment in time I am truly free and my spirit soars!!

So I will boast of my Lord and Savior to any who will listen in hope that their spirits too will be made free in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  Luke 22:36-39
God the Father said no to the Son, Jesus.  So why am I discouraged when He says no to me?
For some reason it has always been simply acceptable to me that God sometimes tells me no about some things.  I knew that His yeses were always much greater in number than the nos, so a no now and then was all right.  But to actually grasp that God said no to Jesus puts things in a different perspective indeed.  I deserve nos.  Jesus did not.  I ask for things out of selfish ambition, self-preoccupation, self-glorification, etc., but all involving self when I am told no.  It is a wonder that I am not told no more often than I am.  But Jesus?.....and even more amazingly, He accepted the no with a gracious attitude.   
The phrasing of His question is even gracious.  He doesn't demand anything.  He humbly asks that if there is any other possible way to redeem mankind and all creation and if so, could They use it?  Jesus knows the answer before the question is asked, I believe, but the horror of being beaten, spat on, cursed at, whipped with a flesh tearing cat-o-nine-tails, robbed of His clothing and thus being shamed through being made bare in front of His family and friends, having sin dumped on Him when He had never even thought a sinful thought and knowing His Father would not be there to alleviate any of it or complete redemption could not take place was  more than His flesh could bear without crying out in agony.  And so He did, sweating drops of blood His agony was so great.  And His Father cried with Him.  The Scriptures don't literally say the Father cried, but I have no doubt He did, and then He sent angels to comfort Jesus.  Why send angels instead of coming Himself?  I can only answer why from my perspective.  If it were me and I knew all God knows, I could not come down myself or I would decide to forget mankind and take my Son, who had never done anything ever to displease me, home! 
How could a loving God......is a question that is constantly being thrown at the Christian.  The answer is, "How could He not?"
Only He knows why things must happen the way they must.  If I must suffer and die so that 5 people can come to know Christ and live eternally with Him, then I must.  Our problem is not with God's lack of love.  It is with our own lack thereof. 
Father, teach us to love as You do. It is ever so difficult for us to understand how great your love really is, but we desire to try.  Begin a great work in Your children and make us of one accord in Your love.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Love Trumps All

I was recently asked if my relationship with God came out of a lot of suffering.  Maybe, but I don't look back on my life and see a lot in comparison to others lives.

I have suffered illness, many fears that have had to be overcome, miscarriage, some other things that would be divulging confidences, deaths of loved ones, and pain, but love conquers all of that.
As a child I did not fear dying.  My parents' love for me made me confident that all would be well, even though they evidently feared for my life many times over. 
When I reached the age where I realized death meant hell for some and heaven for others, then I started fearing death as I knew I was headed for hell.  I didn't know what to do about it. It took some time, but suffice it to say, I was truly saved at 16 and my life has never been the same.
I really think that a lot of my faith has to do with my relationship with my daddy.  He was my example of the Father's love and did an awesome job.  I always felt safe, secure and loved, even though I only had hand-me-down clothes that were usually too big (except on rare occasion), lived in a cramped 4 room house with 7 people and 1 small bathroom and was made fun of most of my growing up years.  Daddy always made me feel pretty and smart where others made me feel homely, dense and inadequate.  I always knew I could run to Daddy.  That's why his passing into eternity was so difficult for all his children.  The only thing that made it bearable was knowing he is with Jesus, so we will get to be with him for eternity.
Because of this wonderful example, I have known from the moment of my salvation that I have a Father in God that I can run to in every situation, whether good or bad and feel loved. 
Was it suffering?  Somewhat perhaps, but my daddy's love exhibiting my heavenly Father's love was, I think, the most influential.  No matter how much suffering I go through (and I pray I always remember this) I know Jesus suffered greater and understands how I feel, so I can tell Him anything and everything I feel and think and He will comfort me, teach me and guide me through it.
Actually, I think I am more blessed than anything else.  Suffering lasts a moment, but my Father and my life with Him is eternal!!

Monday, April 15, 2013


Thoughts swirl in my mind like a whirlpool of delicacies.
My head literally aches from their rapid movement.
I cry out for the ability to grasp just one of them and hold it steady.
I grab hold and watch as it slips through the fingers of my mind.
That one instant of clarity is enough to make me smile.
A small detail that causes all the rest to dim in comparison.
For one moment in time I am refreshed by a new insight into my Father's heart.
It is enough to last......How long?  I dare not guess, but He knows.
Another time will come when I will be ready to move ahead with Him.
Until then I will rest in His embrace, comforted to know He is in complete and utter control.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Broken Water Pipes

My husband is out repairing a water main at the moment.  He left at ten o'clock last evening and is still working.  He always prepares me for how long he will be gone, because he knows I will not sleep well unless I have the information.  He said they would be all night and he was right.  Translation: I am going to come home exhausted, sore from head to foot, will want to sleep but most likely will be too tired at first, will be hungry but unable to eat a lot and will probably develop charlie horses as my muscles try to go back in place after being stretched out all night. He never complains though.  He looks at repairing water mains as a means of service and is happy to be able to do so. 
The first thing that has to be accomplished to repair a main is to valve down the water flow in the pipe that is broken.  This particular pipe may feed many homes or only a few, but it must be repaired or dirt and germ carrying bacteria can get into the lines.  After this they must wait.  All the other utilities must come out and mark the area for any possible cables, sewer lines, etc in the area so they know just how careful they must be.  Hit an active power line and you could be dead.  Hit a phone line and you owe, owe, owe.  Hit a sewer line and you can imagine the implications.  So patience is a necessary commodity when those things are close by or sometimes on top of the main.
If a main is buried deep from years of erosion, road build up, etc, you must be cautious about cave ins of the wall.  This has actually happened while he was in the hole, but God has always protected him. 
If the break in the main is under a driveway, road or highway there is jack-hammering involved.  I could go on, but suffice it to say, he comes home exhausted for very good reason.
You would think that people would see them working and be compassionate and happy they are there.  Many are.  In fact some bring them water in summer and coffee in winter. But there are some who look at them as an invasion.  They become angry that their yard is being dug in, driveway torn up, (even thought the water company always repairs these things) life interrupted by no water and if they are getting ready for work, look out!!  They come out angry and want to know how much longer it is going to take.  If they don't get the answer they want, they feel the need to go into an explanation as to why they need water now.  I wonder if they think it could be turned on just for them for a moment and then back off again. 
This sounds all too familiar to me.  How many times in my life have I gone to God in anger and frustration regarding a situation rather than joy that He is in control?  I am being convinced (spiritually I am convinced, but my flesh still struggles) that when things seem unfair to me it is God repairing a problem in my life, the life of a family member or friend or some other situation that is out of my range of vision for the time being.
This morning I was reading the last two chapters of the book of Ruth.  Boaz is asked to redeem Naomi's property and family, because he is such a close relative.  There is one closer relative he must go through first.  This relative would do so, but he doesn't want the responsibility of marrying the daughter-in-law Ruth.  If he does so, any children she has will take part of his current childrens' inheritance and it will then belong to Naomi's family line.  He takes off his sandal and gives it to Boaz.  Each time I have read this I have been intrigued by this action.  Why in the world did he give him his sandal? 
When God took Abraham out of Ur to the land of promise, He told him that wherever his foot trod would be his and his descendants.  When Moses was standing before the burning bush, God told him to remove his sandals, because the ground was holy.  Perhaps (and this is just a thought) this is because we cannot own God.  He owns us.  When the relative gave Boaz his sandal, perhaps it was a means of saying, "I have not walked this way and do not wish to.  You do it for me and all shall be yours."
When we have not walked in another persons shoes and have no desire to, we need to simply "take off our shoes" and concede the fact rather than jump on them for not doing things our way.  Those who become angry with the water company workers do not understand what is involved, nor do they understand that their personal safety is involved.  If the water supply becomes contaminated, what good is it?  Just as they need to admit they have no clue as to what is necessary, we need to admit to God that we have never and will never be in His shoes (so to speak) so do not understand why he does what he does.  We need to remember that He sees the entire picture and trust Him to make it turn out more beautiful than we can envision.
"The future will fully vindicate God's righteous integrity and the wisdom of His plan." (Randy Alcorn)
My heart desire is for each of us to understand this fully and that we all stand in awe together at the time of His return, rejoicing in the King and His great love for each of us.  Come Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

This too soon shall pass....

"We should view our God-permitted suffering as his specific calling to us, and not resent it if he calls others to suffer less." Randy Alcorn

The wonderful thing about being a child is the ability to go through problems and remember only the good times.  I know that as a child I was sick a lot, but I don't really remember that part so much as the comfort I felt lying with my eyes closed and listening to my family talk with each other.  
When I say a lot, I don't mean I had some persistent disease, but I had chronic strep throat that would have me throwing up and extremely weak about a week every few months at first, and then once a month by the time I turned twelve.  It was then that the doctor said I needed my tonsils out if I was ever to get past it.  They got most of the tonsils, but left little tags that grew back over the years.  At 28 I was back in the hospital having them removed a second time as the chronic strep returned with them. 
I know I went through all this and even remember one of them.  Momma always took me to Nana's when I'd get sick.  She knew that somehow it made me feel better.  That particular day she asked if I wanted to go.  I said yes, but when we got in the car and it started moving, I wished I'd said no, but wasn't going to tell Momma.  She wanted to help, so I was going to let her.  It was this time that my uncle came in to me, as he always did, and asked, "How you doing kiddo?"  I couldn't even answer because my throat was so swollen and I might throw up.  I just looked at him with that face kids make when they want to answer but can't.  He got down eye level with me and said, "Don't worry.  This too soon shall pass."  Then he smiled, patted me and went back to whatever he needed to be doing.
Those words have stayed with me all my life.  I doubt my uncle knew how extremely important it was for him to say those words at that moment in time, but I am glad he didn't shrug them off as being insignificant and let them go unsaid.  Every time I have faced a crisis, pain, anger, hurt, frustration, fear, etc., those words have come back to me. 
Labor in childbirth has taught me a valuable lesson.  Suffering brings reward - eventually. 
Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  Romans 5 I realize that suffering sometimes lingers a lifetime and so the words Uncle Danny spoke that have been so meaningful in my life may not have the same effect on someone else who has struggled a lifetime.  However, perhaps they can help a little if we simply remember that compared to eternity, this life is but a breath. 

I know I am extremely imperfect, but I pray that no matter what comes my way I will not only remember these words, but those of the poem that ends this chapter:
This cardboard box Lord.  See it says, "Bursting Limit 100 lbs. per square inch.
The box maker knew how much strain the box would take, what weight would crush it.
You are wiser than the box maker maker of my spirit, my mind, my body. 
Does the box know when pressure increases close to the limit?  No.
It knows nothing.  But I know when my breaking point is near.
And so I pray, Maker of my soul, Determiner of the pressure within upon me,
Stop it lest I be broken or else change the pressure rating of this fragile container
of Your grace so that I may bear more.
Joseph Bayly

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


My husband and I love to watch "Love It, Or List It."  It is a program about people who have decided their houses no longer work for them.  One of them usually wants to move and the other wants to revamp.  A realtor and an interior designer compete to see who can sway them their way.  The realtor looks for a house meeting their standards within their price range and the designer is given a budget to bring their house up to what the owners feel the need.
Our reasons for watching are simply to see the finished product of the designer.  It always amazes us that one person can take a house and turn it into a show place.  It never looks like the same house when she is finished, even if she finds problems unknown before and cannot give them all they want.
Yet the more I watch the more I think about how spoiled we are as a people in general.  Owners will tell the realtor they want a house in a specific area at a specific price with a specific list of "must haves."  Of course there really are some necessary things like a place to sleep for the family members, a bathroom, and a place to cook, but a swimming pool, an eat in kitchen and dining room, a bathroom for each family member, a bedroom for each family member with plenty of windows in each but not street lights near them, and so on, and so on is simply astounding.
Last evening we watched a couple with two small children living in a 4000 square foot home with and indoor swimming pool that just wasn't working for them anymore.  They'd lived there a year.  I couldn't help thinking, "and in another year you would hate your new home as well."  It turned out a good thing they had renovations done, because a mouse  infestation was discovered.  They had to get an exterminator and replace wiring throughout the house.
I think this is what we all need at times, an exterminator and rewiring within ourselves.  We have all these so-called needs that are no more than wants, but we feel we cannot live without them.  An exterminator would cleanse our thought processes and rewiring would help us realize we can live without them and will probably be better off for it.
Most people know that when I was a child I grew up in an approximately 800-900 square foot home with a mom, dad, 5 children and a dog.
We had one bathroom for all of us to share and we were happy. 
I am not going to lie and say we weren't cramped.  Five kids in such a small bedroom was crowded, but we had fun!  We giggled together, tormented each other (my oldest sister was brilliant at this - she has a very vivid imagination and can be very convincing) and became very close and still are. 
When I was 15, we moved to a house twice (or more) the size of the one mentioned, but were no happier.  As a matter of fact, I don't think we were as happy. 
We tend to get it into our heads that things will make us happy, when it is actually love that does so.  Without love we are lost.  Living in that tiny, cramped house that was full of love and laughter is a treasure I will always have with me.  It was there that we had the family get-togethers, where our aunts and uncles and cousins would come over and we would have a fish-fry with fresh bluegill from the small lake we lived by.  We would all sit in the yard, eat, play games and sing!!  I remember the singing - love songs and gospel.  What a wonderful and uplifting time we had together!  There was still only one bathroom with about 30 people running around using it, but we made do with knocking on the door to remind people there were others in need.
As an adult I tend to find myself falling away from needs into wants way too many times.  A bigger house with more or bigger bathrooms, a finished basement, a flat yard, etc. etc, etc. tend to sometimes press on me.  If only we had.....swarms my thought processes.  I need to remember my roots.  It has never been things that brought me joy and laughter, but the wonderful love of family and friends and most of all, the love of my heavenly Father who pursued me until I finally turned and ran into His loving arms.  He has never let me go and I am thrilled!! 
I am tremendously blessed.  I have a lovely home, a wonderful family and extended family, many friends whom I love dearly, enough to eat and drink, work to do, and a more than wonderful husband who makes it his goal in life to bring joy to me and those around him.  
All this translates into this - I have a God who truly loves me.  He is all I will ever really need, though my flesh cries out for more.  That doesn't stop Him from pouring out the blessings anyway, and I am ever grateful for his generosity to me.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. I John chapter 4
I pray we all realize just how blessed we really are and begin to hang on to those intangibles that truly make life worth living and a joy.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary,
Pure and holy, tried and true.
With thanksgiving I'll be a living
Sanctuary for You.
A very simple song with more meaning than we may want to think about while singing it.  Sanctuary defined is a place of holiness and refuge.  Holiness is to be separate and different from the world in a most positive manner, though it may not always feel positive. 
It is difficult, to say the least, to be different than others.  We all want to fit in somewhere - anywhere.  Some try to deliberately make themselves different than everyone else so that all the people as different as they will accept them.
Christians, those who have truly accepted God's free gift of salvation through Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection from the dead and truly love Him - (If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you WILL be saved.  Romans 10:9) - are to be a sanctuary to the world.


[sangk-choo-er-ee] Show IPA
noun, plural sanc·tu·ar·ies.
1. a sacred or holy place.
2. Judaism.
a. the Biblical tabernacle or the Temple in Jerusalem.
b. the holy of holies of these places of worship.
3. an especially holy place in a temple or church.
4. the part of a church around the altar; the chancel.
5. a church or other sacred place where fugitives were formerly entitled to immunity from arrest.
Notice numbers three through five of the definition.  A building is not the church - it is simply a building that houses the church - the Christian is to be a holy place of refuge for the world to be allowed to run to to escape judgment.  Are we truly that people?  Are people drawn to us?  Do they want to hear what we have to say, experience our life experiences through our message of hope, or do they look at us with nothing but disdain, because we say one thing, but live otherwise?
I have recently learned a lot about my personal prayer life.  I think the most important thing learned is that life is not certain, nor are we promised that it will be perfect and lovely until after Jesus' return.
Therefore, if I truly want to be a sanctuary, as I am commanded to be, then I need to pray about my response to life and its affect on me.
As I lay in my bed thinking on this, the faces of my birth mom and the woman who became my mom through marriage popped into my head.  I thought of how they had faithfully served the Lord, yet their bodies are laden with arthritis, heart problems, fibromyalgia, diabetes, skin disease and more.  They continue serving Him anyway, the best they are able.
I closed my eyes, sighed, and prayed, "Lord, I do not know what the future holds for this body.  I could end up in a wheelchair, or worse - unable to get out of bed and have to be completely taken care of by someone else.  I could end up unable to talk, or even to express myself.  I could lose the ability to think clearly.  But Lord, whatever and however You choose to use me while in this body, I want to be pleasing in Your sight.  May all that happens to me honor and glorify You. May I honor and glorify You in all things."
May we all become as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo when they answered Nebuchadnezzar's threat of throwing them in the fiery furnace - "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."  Daniel 3:16-18

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Have No Fear

Fear is an amazing creature.  Just one small impression from it can keep us from experiencing miraculous events in life. 
I love to ride roller coasters, as you well know.  They get my heart beating just a little faster and help me feel the wind a bit stronger which makes me feel more alive.  They are called thrill rides for a reason.  They bring a thrill to my spirit. 
I have learned through experience that many women and a few men are terrified of them, so much so that no matter what is said to them or how many times it is demonstrated that they are safe, they absolutely refuse to get on them.  I once ran in to two ladies who were considering getting on Wildfire.  For those of you who've never seen or ridden it, it has three loops and one fairly long and swift drop.  One of the ladies was ready to ride after a little encouragement from me, but the other set her jaw and absolutely refused, even after I reminded her that millions of people have ridden it and not one of them has been injured.  (I left out that some had thrown up from the experience.  But that's not fear.  It's motion sickness.)  I don't know if her friend ever actually rode or not, but I have no doubt that she did not.  It saddens me, because it truly is an adventure of a lifetime.
Reading this sentence: 'God doesn't only promise to replace our grief with joy, but to turn it into joy,' made me think about roller coasters again and how they can be compared to life experiences. 
My favorite part of every coaster I've ever ridden is the big drops.
The thrill of falling without worry is awesome.  I have no fear, because I know that when I reach the bottom, I will not hit, but be scooped back up into a new climb.  All is well.  I need to remember this when trials and suffering come my way.  As a child of God, I can never hit rock bottom, because he will always be there before me to scoop me up in His hands and head me back up into a new climb.  So, perhaps rather than holding tightly to the rails as we soar through life, we should instead throw our hands in the air in expectation of His catch, much like when my husband would set one of our little ones on top of the refrigerator and tell them to jump.  They always did, without hesitation, because they knew Daddy would catch them and the thrill it brought caused them to want to do it over and over and over again.
I am not saying that we should never grieve.  Jesus grieved over Jerusalem crying out,  "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing."  Matthew 23:37 
He also wept as He stood in front of Lazarus' tomb - John 11:35 
When I was told my precious daddy had  passed on into heaven last year on the day of my oldest son's wedding, everything seemed surreal.  I was able to make it to the wedding after having a long talk with God about how I felt, but when I walked into the reception hall after the wedding, I saw people, but it didn't register who they were, even though I knew most of them well.  The room started to spin a bit, so I figured I needed to find my husband.  Instead, God led me to one of his brothers who gave me a card.  I opened it and read (I don't remember the exact words, but still have the card and will keep it as long as I can) something like this - Know what this card is for?  When you opened it it read - Me neither.  Then he had written simple words of love and encouragement that made it possible for me to really see the people around me again.  I not only made it through the evening, but God did turn that day into joy.  I now have a wonderful new daughter-in-law that loves my son unconditionally and loves the Lord.  I know where my daddy is and that I will see him again as well.  On that day my grief will be completely turned to joy.  Until then, He has already started the process and that peace that passes all understanding floods my soul.
Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn  while the world rejoices.  You will grieve, but your grief will turn into joy......Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy."  John 16:20-22

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Nipped Heels

"Through suffering we become powerless so that we might reach the powerless.  We like to serve from the power position.  We'd rather be healthy, wealthy and wise as we minister to the sick, poor and ignorant.  When those preaching God's Word have little familiarity with suffering, the credibility gap makes it difficult for them to speak into others' lives.  But our suffering levels the playing field." pg. 436 If God Is Good....Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil."

Many times throughout my life I have wondered what my life would have been like had I been born elsewhere.  If I had been born in India, for instance, what would I be doing at this moment in time?  Would I know Jesus as my personal Savior and Lord?  Would I have even heard of Him?  Would anyone have cared enough to tell me and, if they did, would I have listened?  Would I worship all living creatures, thinking I would possibly one day become one of them?  As ridiculous as that sounds to the Christian, it just as easily could have been one of us.  We should know all too well that, "But for the grace of God, there go I."   Joking about something like this is easier than allowing the hurt of caring enough to go tell them the Gospel mess with our lives.
I am not saying that everyone is called to go to a foreign land to administer the Gospel, but I do wonder how many have been called, but turned their backs in fear or in the name of common sense.  Not only that, but how many other things has God laid on our hearts to do of which we have wheedled our way out?  On the other hand, how many things has He NOT wanted us to do that we have forced our way into in the name of duty, honor, and pride?  I shudder to think.
When I was a youth in the midst of my teen years, I was asked these questions: "What is your first thought in the morning when you waken most mornings?  Do you think about what you will wear, or eat, or where you will be going and doing?  Or do you wonder what God has in store for you and go to Him in prayer and Bible study?  Odds are, the first thing on your mind is the most important thing to you in life at that given moment."
Those questions have plagued me ever since.  When I wake up with a song of praise going through my mind, I offer a prayer of thanksgiving and go into Bible study.  There are days though when I am consumed with pressures I have allowed to get under my skin.  On those mornings I waken with an urgency to get moving and get things accomplished so I can get back to what is normal.  I contend that on those mornings I am being lied to.  Reason being, if I listen to the urgency, I go into the kitchen and start preparing for the day.  The still small voice I hear reminding me gently to pray and study is told that I will get to it in a little while.  Most of those times I end up scurrying to get in my Bible time when I go to bed that night, or I may even forget until the next morning. 
I am not called at this time in my life to go out into a foreign field, but I am called to minister where I am, and this is what every Christian, like it or not, is called to do.  We are not to allow fear, reasoning, self-pity, personal suffering, time constraints, or anything else of this world get in our way of ministering to those who have been assigned to us. 
This book (named in the first paragraph) has stepped on my toes time and again.  I will have to read it again and again to keep them sore as a reminder of Whose I am.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.  I Corinthians 6:19-20
God will not force me to do or be anything, but my love for Him should constrain me to be all that He desires.  So the next question that is set before me by me is this: How much do I love Him? 
I praise God that He is my Great Shepherd and keeps the sheep dog of His Word nipping at my heels to keep me safe and where I need to be in order to serve Him best.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Walking on Water

"We rejoice in suffering in the same way that Olympic athletes rejoice in their workouts - not because we find them easy, but because we know they will one day produce great reward."  {pg. 426 If God Is Good...Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil}
I love/hate to exercise.  Any doctor will tell you my body was not designed exactly for it by today's standards.  I do not put on muscle easily as most true athletes do.   I have asthma which causes me to wake up tired a lot of the time.  I have mitral valve prolapse which can also cause me to feel tired often.  I also have endometriosis.  (I thought that would go away with the surgery, but doc tells me it doesn't.  The endometrial cysts remain and can even grow.)   However, when I do exercise, all these things become moot.  My heart is strengthened.  My lungs are strengthened.  My back muscles are strengthened along with my stomach which reduces pain from the endo.  Knowing this doesn't make getting myself to exercise any easier.  I have to literally force myself to do so.  It helps that my husband asks me now and then if I have walked or done my trampoline yet.  However, if I focus on the results while exercising, somehow it gets easier. 
I have been lax this past winter and did not exercise nearly as often as I should.  I am more tired than ever in winter due to the fact that I am one of those people that needs sunlight to fully function, and this became a convenient excuse.  I am paying for it now.  I walked two miles outside for the first time in three months the other day.  My legs became quite sore from it.  That did not stop me today though.  I realized the error of my ways and made myself jog for 30 minutes on the trampoline.  Remembering that I won't have so much pain if I keep keeping on kept me going, though I didn't feel like it.
It is the same with suffering in this world.  If I focus on my suffering, it seems worse.  If I take the time to look around me, I can always find someone in worse shape, and that makes me realize how self-centered I am being.  If I then take the hint and start remembering that my time of suffering here is short compared to eternity and that in eternity I will be free of all suffering, then nothing seems quite so bad.  Thinking about how I can use this time of suffering to help and encourage others also makes it much easier to bear. 
Just like Peter walking on the water: When I take my eyes off Christ Jesus, I start to sink and drown in self pity, but as long as my focus remains upon Him and the glory to come, I am able to walk on the water even in the midst of the storm!!  (Matthew 13:22-33)