Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Really, Prayer Changes Things

I drove by a church sign this morning that said, "Prayer changes things." My immediate, cynical response was, "Really?" Then I heard, "Yes, it changes you." So true.

Now, as I write this in my journal, I realize how ungrateful my cynical side is--how blasphemous--how sinful. Lord, please forgive me.

The Lord has been so gracious to me. No, things have not turned out exactly like I had planned, but I am so blessed--not just materially, though I am incredibly blessed materially--not just relationally, though I am amazingly blessed with family and friends--not just physically, though I am very healthy--not just in my marriage, though I have a wonderful marriage to a strong, loving, kind man, in whom I've seen amazing transformation in the 35 years we've been married. I am amazingly blessed, and yet I am so ungrateful that my first response was, "really, prayer changes things?'

I am blessed beyond belief because Jesus loves me! Enough to give His life for me--and He was thankful for that privilege. If that was the only blessing I ever received, it would be more than enough!

So we have any clue how huge this is?! Do we have any idea whatsoever about what Christ has done for us?

We are blessed beyond belief, yet we continue walking around feeling discouraged, dejected, disheartened and depressed. How dare we! How dare I act like Jesus has not blessed me or heart my prayers! How dare I forget that He has wept with me when I wept--ached with me when I ached! How dare I forget that He has walked with me--carried me through some of the darkest, scariest days of my life?! How dare I throw that back in His face and say, "Really? Prayer changes things?"

Yes, really, prayer changes things. It changes me. It changes you.

Today I choose to be grateful. I choose to practice gratitude. I choose to fight agains the cynical ingrate in me who questions God's faithfulness to me. It is a choice and I'm making it mine today.

Monday, October 12, 2015

My Love of Light

Wow, my theme for the past week or so has been light. I've thought about it almost every day. I've noticed different sources of light, and pondered on why I love it so much.

In addition to my own obsession with light this week, other sources of light have come my way, including this song: A Light That Shines

Growing up in the country where there are no street lights, I remember what darkness looks like. I remember how frightened I was of it.

When I was little, we'd get home from Grandma's after dark. I would pretend I was asleep so my parents would carry me into the house from our detached garage. Once I got too big for them to carry me, I remember running as fast as I could, heart pounding, to get from the car to the house. I hated the dark.

One night, I woke up in the middle of the night, and the hallway nightlight had burned out. I was sure I had gone blind. I opened my eyes as wide as I could, but I could see nothing but pure blackness. I remember making my way to the door way of my bedroom, whimpering until my mom finally heard, turned on a light, and let me know that I wasn't blind. (I still have night lights all over my house.)

As I've read this week about God creating light, shining His light in our hearts so that we could see His glory in the face of Christ, I've thought about light. I replaced the burned out string of lights on my grapevine tree on my front porch. I love seeing those little lights through the cut glass of the side lights of our front door. I love that my husband leaves the light on for me when I need to come home after dark. There's something about it that lets me know there's someone in there who cares about me--who's waiting for me to get home--who'll be happy to see me.

I think that's what it will be like when we get to heaven. Once we pass through the pain of death, we'll be welcomed by the light of heaven. Someone is waiting for us--anxious for our arrival! But there won't be any need for porch lights, night lights, or even the sun or moon!


And there will be no night there--no need for lamps or sun--for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever. --Revelation 22:5
 And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. --Revelation 21:23

Pressing On Toward the Light

The other day, I went for a walk down the Trillium Valley Trail. It was beautiful. It followed a little creek, and sometimes I could hear the water trickle. I was enjoying my walk, but as I went deeper into the valley, it got darker. It was early in the day, so the sun was not yet high in the sky. I started to feel a little claustrophobic.  I began to focus more on the dead trees leaning this way and that across the creek. Some of the hillsides and tree trunks were looking a little creepy. I needed air. It felt like the valley walls were closing in on me.
 
Just about the time I was trying to decide whether to turn back or keep going, I came to a trail marker. I could go straight, which would lead me into Buckeye Valley--a nice flat, easy path--or turn left to go up hill to Wren Run.

Sometimes we choose the easy path, even though it's not exactly what we want. We continue in "more of the same" because it's what we're familiar with--we know what to expect. Even though we want something better, we continue to choose the path of least resistance. We stay stuck in darkness instead of putting out the energy it takes to make a change.

I looked to my left. The trail leading up to Wren Run was steep, and I new it would take more effort to go that way than to continue on to Buckeye Valley, but my desire to get higher, more out in the open sunlight, was enough to push me up that path to Wren Run.

  Up and up I climbed, breathing heavily, (yes, I'm more than a little out of shape!) but so thankful for more light. Everything started looking more yellow and bright. The added brightness was enough to spur me on. I even met a little toad on the way up. He startled me at first, but then he hesitated so I could take his picture. I finally made it to the top and caught my breath. 
Light and fresh air have always been really important to me. Maybe it's because I grew up in the country with lots of wide open space. Our farm house was huge and was surrounded by corn fields and pastures. Yes, I need my space and lots of light, but I've had my share of dark valleys too.
Grieving the loss of a child was one of them. Continuing to pray and believe for one so dear, who is trapped in a darkness of his own, is another. But God is faithful, and my intense need for light pushes me forward and upward. I can't stay in the darkness for long. I'm so thankful for the light of Christ that gives me hope... that keeps me plodding along.


Can you see my shadow in this picture? It's right in the middle. I'm standing on a bridge over the Trillium Valley with the sun at my back. Valleys are a necessary part of our existence, but we can't stay there forever. We've got to make the decision to hike up the steep trail, even though it takes more effort and maybe even a little pain. But it's worth it to be out in the light, up on that bridge! Keep pressing on, my friend, keep pressing on!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Let There Be Light in the Darkness


Lord, you spoke the world into existence. By the very words of your mouth, all nature came into existence. If just one thing was left out or miscalculated, it would not have worked. If the earth's axis was tilted just a hair too far or not far enough... If the moon was just a little too big or too small... If the orbit of one of the planets was off just a little, it would have all come crashing down.

But you hung each planet, each star, each satellite in the perfect place. You set it all in motion, timed the orbits perfectly, and here we are. How? Why?

Because you wanted to. We may never know how, and that's okay. It doesn't matter. What matters is that you did, and here we are.

So, if you can do all that just by your word, you can speak life into a man's heart.

You hovered over that formless, empty darkness of the not-yet-created. And you hover over that dark, empty heart:
   A heart that yearns for you, but doesn't know it.
     A heart desperate for light and life.
        A heart that is searching--that has just about given up the search.
          A heart that thinks things will never change--that this is all there is.
            A heart that used to feel so deeply, but now is numbed by drugs and alcohol--hopeless & void

God, you took a formless, empty darkness and created a magnificent universe. You can take a dark and empty heart--one that is void of any hope--You can shine your light, your life in that heart! And darkness will not overcome it. --John 1:5

Hallelujah, praise the Lord... for you commanded, and the heavens were created. You set them in position for ever and ever; You gave an order that will never pass away. --Psalm 148:1-6

You said, "Let there be light in the darkness." And there was... now let your light shine in that heart so that he can know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Christ. --2 Corinthians 4:6-7

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A World to be Lived In


There seems to be so much chaos in this world... so much meaningless violence, suffering, abuse, even death. People are killing cops. Copes are killing people. Christians are being brutalized, even beheaded. People are being chased from their homes simply because of their ethnic heritage. Children from loving families are going astray, becoming entangled in drugs, alcohol and human trafficking. Many are even committing suicide. Parents are aborting babies, organizations are harvesting and selling body parts. People are shooting up movie theaters and college campuses. There's more, but I can't go on.

But the Word of God give me hope. According to the prophet Isaiah, "He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos" Isiah 45:18 (NLT)

God created the world to be a place of life, not chaos.

He is the Lord and there is no other. He publicly proclaims bold promises. He would not have told us to seek Him if He could not be found.

Lord, gather your people who pray only to You... who seek You... who cry out to You...
Gather the cops
  The thugs
    The Christians
Gather those whose ethnicity makes them targets
Gather the parents
  and the children
Speak tenderly to the babies

Lord, we seek You, we stand on your bold promises, we trust you to bring life in the midst of chaos. And You have.

We've seen videos of cops going above and beyond when helping stranded motorists, speaking tenderly to children in the midst of tragedy. We see traffic violators honoring cops, owning their mistakes and taking their tickets with respect.

We see Samaritan's Purse and other organizations reaching out to those suffering from ethnic cleansing and religious persecution.

We see young Americans taking down a gunman on a train in France, and humbly receiving awards for just doing the right thing.

We see Mercy Ministries, WAR, Int'l, and Grace Haven rescuing girls and women from the dispicable practice of sex trafficking.

We see Hope over Heroin, Dream Centers and others offering hope and rehabilitation to homeless drug addicts.

We see soup kitchens, pregnancy centers, foster and adoptive parents stepping up and serving those who desperately what they have to offer.

There is life on planet earth
  There is hope on planet earth
    There is a God who created this earth with His power and preserves the world with His wisdom.
      And that same God will come again and bring us into eternal hope created by His understanding.
We'll see it all then, see it as clearly as God sees us, knowing Him directly just as He knows us. But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do that lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.  --1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (MSG)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Let There Be Light


Last night was the lunar eclipse. It was a beautiful night to sit outside and watch the amazing display. This morning I read the following scriptures: Genesis 1:1-2, John 1:1-5, and Psalm 148:1-6. So my mind is swirling around the greatness of our Creator God and His power.

Lord, you spoke the world into being. By the very words from your mouth, all nature came into existence. If just one thing was left out or miscalculated, it would not have worked.

If the earth's axis was tilted just a hair too far or not far enough...
If the moon was just a little too big or too small...
If the orbit of one of the planets was off just a tad...
It would have all come crashing down.

But you hung each planet, each star, each satellite in the perfect place. You set it all in motion, timed the orbits perfectly, and here we are. How? Why?

Because you wanted to. We may never know how, and that's okay. It doesn't matter. What matters is that you did, and here we are.

So, if you can do all that just by your word, you can speak life into a man's heart.

You hovered over that formless, empty, darkness of the not-yet-created. And you hover over that dark, empty heart.

A heart that yearns for you, but doesn't know it...
A heart desperate for light and life, which is in you...
A heart that is searching...
But has just about given up the search...
That thinks things will never change...
That thinks this is all there is...
A heart that used to feel so deeply...
But now is numbed by drugs and alcohol...
Hopeless and void.

God, you took a formless, empty darkness and created a magnificent universe! You can take a dark and empty heart--one that is void of any hope--You can shine your light, your life in that heart! And darkness will NOT overcome it.

Hallelujah, Praise the Lord. For you commanded, and the heavens were created. You set them in position for ever and ever; You gave an order that will never pass away.

You said, let there be light in the darkness and there was. Now let your light shine in that heart so that he can now the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

Friday, September 25, 2015

Made Holy by Truth

15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.  John 17:15-19 (NLT)

Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice. He sacrificed himself so that we could be holy, set apart by the Word.

God doesn't remove us from the world. He doesn't negate the consequences of a fallen world in our lives. We deal with the same things that non-Christians deal with--sickness, death, financial loss, suffering, evil--while God doesn't completely shield us from those things, He walks with us through them. He empowers us to triumph in them... to thrive when we should not even be surviving by the world's standards... to have joy in the midst of our sorrow... to have hope when all looks hopeless.

We are truly in this world. We are all in. He has not removed us from suffering and pain because that's part of living in this world. But even as we must actively participate in what the world gives, it is not all in vain. We are immersed in all that this world has to offer. And yet we are not consumed by it. We are not set apart from the world. We are set apart in the world. We are right there with our fellow-sufferers... Christians and non-Christians alike.

And yet, unlike non-Christians, we have hope. We have something burning deep down inside that sets us apart--makes us special, different, holy. Because we know the truth. That's why we need a daily dose of the Word. We need to read it, study it, hear it, apply it. The Word is what sets us apart. The Word is what makes us different even as we face the same forces that unbelievers face.

How can we not share that?! How can we walk along beside someone who suffers as we have suffered, who faces the same difficulties that we have faced... and not offer the hope that has carried us through.

It's the Word... the truth that sets us apart--makes us different even when our circumstances are much the same. We can't neglect the Word--the Truth. I can't neglect it. It's what sets me apart, makes me holy, allows me to respond differently. Only the Word.

Privileged to Serve



I served in our local soup kitchen yesterday. It was my third time. It's all pretty practical mundane stuff. You put food on plates, greet people, then clean up.

That's what I thought the first time I served... kinda boring... not the flashy, creative kind of thing I normally like doing.

But the last two times I served, I was deeply moved. These people we serve... in a "previous life," I would have either severely judged or pitied them. But I would not have desired a relationship with them. (This is a confession, don't judge me. God has forgiven me.) Now though, they touch my soul, and I truly want to know them. (I thank my precious loved one for this gift.)

As I wipe down tables and chairs after they've gone, I pray. I worship. And it sometimes takes my breath away. Little sobs try to make their way from my heart to my lips.

I am unworthy. I am unworthy to serve these precious ones.

 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:40

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Hour Has Come


For weeks now, since John 2:4 I've been reading about how Jesus' time had not yet come. His time had not yet come in John 7:6, 7:8, 7:30 or 8:20.

But, in John 12:23, he said, "Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory." And again in John 17:1, "Father, the hour has come. Glorify your son so he can give glory back to you."

The hour has come... the moment Jesus has been preparing for since John 2. It has now come. It is here. But it looks very different than I would expect. And it looked very different than the disciples, ever his mother Mary, expected.

He was not glorified in changing water to wine.
He was not glorified by his amazing wisdom and supernatural teaching.
He was not glorified by walking on water or calming storms.
He was not glorified by casting out demons or raising the dead.
He was not glorified by healing the sick, blind, deaf or lame.

He was glorified in humility--riding on the back of a donkey.
He as glorified in his submission to his Father's will.
He was glorified in suffering and humiliation.
He was glorified in death.

This is not how I picture glorification! I picture glorification in miracles. I picture glorification in healings. I picture glorification in the RESURRECTION...

But how can you have resurrection without first experiencing DEATH? And not just physical death, but also spiritual death. What a savior we have who submitted to this glorification process that looks so opposite from what we would think. He did it for us.


Monday, September 14, 2015

The Only Work God Wants from You

But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.” They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
John 6:27-29 NLT
http://bible.us/116/jhn.6.27-29.nlt

I want so much to serve the Lord. I want so much to have an impact. 

When Jesus fed the 5,000, they were so impressed, they wanted to be able to do those kinds of miracles too. But why? What was their motivation? What is my motivation?

When I see my friends making an impact on the lives around them, I have to admit, I'm jealous. I'm not making the kinds of impacts that they are.

But Jesus says the same thing to me that he said to his followers, "This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the One he has sent."

This hints at the fact that, at least part of the time, it's hard work to believe in Jesus. It's hard work to "be still and know that I am God." But if we put in the effort to keep believing...

Despite our feelings
Despite our negative self-talk
Despite what others think
Despite how our lives compare to others (we're not supposed to compare anyway because it happens one of two ways... Either we compare our worst with their best and feel like failures, or, when we feel the need to be justified, we compare our best with their worst. It's never a balanced comparison, so just quit it, Cindy!)

Quit the comparisons...
Quit listening to the naysayers and the flatterers...
Quit the negative self talk...
Quit being ruled by emotions...

...and just work at believing in the One he has sent!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Letting Go of Regrets


Two days ago, I wrote in my journal about some regrets I have... Most of the time I can put them on the back burner and continue to enjoy life, entrusting those regrets to the Lord. But lately I feel them weighing me down. I've been having dreams at night that make those regrets feel even more acute.

Then today, I read a devotional that I get a couple of times a week called "The Loop." It often strikes a nerve, and it certainly did today:

You want to know what it looks like to pray to Me? To be with Me? To listen to Me? You are full of questions . . .when you pause. . . when you ponder your heart. Questions about Me, about how to live this day, about how to have more joy and freedom  . . .

Don’t feel guilty about the hard days, the long days, the stumbles, even the falls. You could look back on them, analyzing them, thinking about how you could have done things differently and how tomorrow, no matter what (oh, you are resolute!) you will not repeat what you did before. .  . Except, you fear you will.

You fear time passing so quickly—so quickly—and not being able to hold on tightly enough to time. A moment isn’t holy in-and-of itself. It is Me, inhabiting the moment, which makes time holy. So how could you mess it up? How could you make a moment less holy?

Don’t regret, child.

The only purpose in looking back on time—in endeavoring to appreciate it—is looking forward, looking to where I was, in the moment, then. Look back, if you must, but only so you may see Me in the moment.

Wow, did I need to hear that! I need to know that He was there... in those moments I regret. I need to know that He can make those moments holy. I need to know that He can redeem them.

I need your touch, Lord. I so need your presence in my life. I need to hear from you. I need your direction, your joy, your peace. I find my strength in you.

Give me grace in place of judgment
Give me love in place of comparison
Give me generosity in place of envy
Give me joy in my position--my God-given position
Let me be who you want me to be
Let me do what you want me to do
Let me love whom you want me to love
Give me what you want me to give--not just materially, but gifts of empowerment, support, encouragement, beauty, creativity

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Show, Don't Tell



Mark 1:34, 44, 3:12

"Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.” Mark 1:44

I have always wondered why Jesus didn't want those who were healed to tell anyone--and why was it bad when evil spirits knew who he was and tried shouting it out? It was true, so why not let them spill the beans?!

If it were me (and we can all be thankful that it's not!!!) I'd be letting everyone and anyone tell people who I was and what I'd done for them. I don't like this about myself and I'm constantly asking God to help me. But seriously, why wouldn't Jesus want people to know who he was and what he was doing for those who had been suffering for so long? I think I may be beginning to understand it...

My husband is a great storyteller. He is very patient, slow and methodical. All the things I am not! But I believe those things make him a great story teller. We've been married for over 35 years, and he still gets me sometimes when he tells jokes, because he doesn't crack a smile, doesn't let on that it's not true. He patiently weaves his stories with twists and turns and keeps me hanging on every word. Finally, he drops the punchline on me and I end up ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing, for you non-texters). I, on the other hand, can't wait to get to the punchline! I can't tell jokes, because I often get them backwards and give the punchline first! I can't play practical jokes because I just can't hold it in. It's hard to look "innocent" when you're jumping up and down, bubbling over with excitement at the thought of what's about to happen!

Jesus was also a good storyteller. He was patient. He was never in a hurry to boast about himself and who he was. He was also methodical. He had a plan about how he would reveal himself and to whom. Timing is everything. Communicating the right thing at the wrong time or in the wrong way can ruin the message.

I did that just the other day. I was in a meeting, and I was so excited to share something God laid on my heart that I blurted it all out at once. Most of the members of the team looked at me like deer in headlights! It was too much too fast. They didn't get it. Not a good way to share a vision and get people on board with it.

Jesus understood that. Maybe I will get it someday too... only by the grace of God.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Law, The Lord, and Grace


Ephesians 6:1-4

Any righteousness that is in me comes from my relationship with the Lord... all the way down to how I treat my parents and children... how I act when I'm with family.

That's scary because it is often with the people I love most that I my behavior is at its worst! What does that say about my relationship with the Lord?

Isn't there something spiritual that happens when we get saved that changes us? The Word says we are a new creation... old things have gone, new things have come! I want more of the new and less of the old, but it sure seems that operate in the old an awful lot.

So, if a child has not truly accepted the Lord, can he be expected to honor his parents? And once a child has committed her life to the Lord, does it make her more capable of honoring them?

And will parents who have given their lives to the Lord automatically become better parents? Are these just more rules to follow in Ephesians 6? Because I seem to have a hard time following all the rules!

Maybe they're not so much rules to follow, but guidelines to show us wrong from right. Because if we're not believers, followers of the Lord, we might not know how important it is to honor our parents or discipline our children. It is a commandment, yes, but that's what the law is for--to show us right and wrong. So the law tells us what to do, but the Spirit enables us to do it, right? We need both. We can't obey the law without the Spirit.

But wait, some people are good who aren't necessarily Christians. Maybe that's because right and wrong have been obvious in a Christian nation. But the lines between right and wrong are becoming more blurred. So we need the law. We can't depend on the idea that accepted practices and behaviors will guide us in the right direction.

Yes, we need the law, and we need the Spirit--the regeneration that happens when we commit ourselves to God. Yet even with the Spirit, we still fail! Why?

Maybe it's because we need even more than the Law and the Spirit. We need grace! Maybe our constant failure has a purpose--to show us how desperate we are for grace. Even though the law lets us know what's right and wrong, and the Spirit gives us to power to do what's right, we still fail. And we fall on our faces before God as He pours His grace on us again and again. And we get back up and try again... and maybe we do a little better this time.

Maybe this is the process of sanctification. We are becoming holy, more like God through this process. But it IS a process. I want it to happen all at once--at the point of salvation--but that's not how it works. At the point of salvation, we receive the Law, the Spirit, and Grace. And those three things work in us, as much as we'll let them, to sanctify us, purify us, and make us Holy as the Lord is Holy.

So I continue walking this process... learning the law, seeing how I've failed, being empowered by the Spirit to succeed, failing again, allowing grace to wash over me, then trying again. And each time, I'm just a little purer... a little shinier... a tiny bit more reflective... until one day, the Almighty Refiner will look at me and see His own reflection... Oh, what a glorious day that will be!

People of This Kind

Overlooking the neighborhood surrounding the Dream Center in Los Angeles, facing my lack of compassion and love for the "people of this kind."
Mark 2:15-17

Jesus went to Levi's house and ate with many other tax collectors and other "disreputable sinners." What follows those words in parentheses in the NLT is what got my attention, "(There were many people of this kind among Jesus' followers.)"

I have spent my entire life trying so hard not to be a disreputable sinner. I have relished the fact that I "am a staff member of a church," (said very piously.) I have judged others who didn't behave as I thought a good Christian should. I took pride in my religious status. I have felt "above" others like those mentioned in this scripture. Oh, the stench of my self righteousness!

I think Jesus has a special place in his heart for disreputable sinners. I need to allow Him to give me the same heart. God has used loved ones in my life to help me see this utter stench of my self-righteous attitude. But I'm still not sure how someone like me can reach them. I'm not sure of my next step in this.

So I press in to Jesus--I press in to this special place in his heart for "disreputable sinners," and ask Him to make my heart more like his.

Monday, August 17, 2015

My Little Girl Got Baptised Yesterday



My little girl got baptized yesterday. I am praying that her decision to do that will be one that will influence her life for the rest of her days on earth and into eternity.

I'm so grateful for those who have influenced her little life for Jesus--family, friends, church servants, camp counselors.

Oh, how I prayed for her when I realized she was coming. I was so afraid for her. I never intended on being her mom--I was excited to be her grandma!

Then if became evident that we or someone else would need to raise her. I fearfully held her in my open hands to the Lord. I knew it would mean a completely different life for us than we had planned, but I couldn't bear the thought of not having her with us.

Oh, how I need your light, Lord. I want to live a people of the light. I denounce the anger and rage, the passive aggressive way I often react. Please forgive me, Lord.

Raise this little girl up into the person you dreamed of when you created her. Work in her life and in her heart. Fill the holes there where people are missing. Heal her little abandoned heart. Amen.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Master in Heaven Has No Favorites!



Ephesians 6:5-9

I have a bad habit (actually I have a lot of bad habits, but this one came to mind this morning.) Maybe you have it too. I hope not, and I wish I didn't either. I pray that, as I continue this sanctification process, I'll be delivered from this habit!

When I meet new people, or just see them in the grocery store, restaurant, or church, I tend to categorize them. Are they like me? Are they someone I'd like to hang out with? Or are they in one of the categories of people who make me uncomfortable, or who I don't feel I have time for? Ouch! I'm being brutally honest and transparent here. Don't judge me!

So, there are the people who are like me--or at least like I wish I could be! They're funny, smart, outgoing, personable. Then there are those who make me uncomfortable--the introverts. They can also be funny, smart and personable, but they intimidate me. I feel like they can see right into my soul. I can't hide behind my loudness and laughter with them. They don't say much, so they have time to be more discerning, and they can see right through my fake smile.

Then there are the really intelligent, confident people who catch me when I try to use terminology (big words!) to look smart too. But sometimes I use the wrong words, and end up showing my ignorance.

There are more categories of people I avoid: people of a different economic status from me, perfect parents, super spiritual, non-spiritual, needy people, the list could go on and on. Wow, am I ever limiting myself as far as knowing God's people. I'm limiting my exposure to ideas, truth and knowledge.

I'm so glad God doesn't play favorites... Remember, we all "have the same Master in Heaven, and He has no favorites." Ephesians 6:9

So, I guess clamoring to the front of the line to get to God doesn't really work, does it? Stepping on people to try and get God to notice me or what I've done would not be a good thing.

Oh, my soul, He sees you. He notices you. He knows you. He knows the good things about you as well as the bad, and He loves you anyway. You don't need to clamor for His attention, you've already got it. This is no popularity contest. You don't need to be in the "IN" crowd. Just submit yourself to Him and you're IN! There are no categories, only the "Loved by God" category. That's all of us--even me!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Grateful



Ephesians 5:21-33

I'm so grateful for my husband, my head, my protector. I'm so grateful for my marriage. I'm thankful for a husband who loves me like Christ loves the church. He knows me like no one else in the world. We've been through things together that no couple should have to go through. We have survived things that many would not have survived--only by the grace of God.

I'm so thankful for the covering of my husband. He provides for us. He thinks of my daughter and me when he makes decisions. By providing for us, he provides for himself. We are a family unit--created by God. Imperfect but anointed. Fallible but filled with grace.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Little Violin

My daughter is learning to play the violin. In a month or so, when she starts school (3rd grade), she will be in the orchestra. The other day, when she didn't feel like practicing because "it's too hard and it doesn't sound good," I tried to encourage her. A day or so later, I read Ephesians 4:7-16, and I realized the lesson I was trying to teach her is also a lesson I need to learn myself.

It will be great when, one day, she can be a part of something much bigger than herself. There is something so rewarding about playing a small part in something really big.

Learning the violin is not easy. You start by plucking the strings--not even using the bow. When you do begin with the bow, you practice on a little block of rosin before you finally put the bow to the strings.

It's a little monotonous and, at this point, the sound is pretty excruciating. But this is the necessary beginning for my little violin player. One day, as she plays her little part, she will contribute to the violin section. And the violin section, along with the violas, cellos and bass, will form the string section, which will join with the woodwinds, brass and percussion to form a symphony orchestra, which will play magnificent works of art... something one little violin could never do alone.

And yet, the orchestra would not be complete without the little violin. She is a gift to the orchestra, as is every other instrument. The inspiration and message of each piece of music the orchestra plays would not be the same if any of the instruments were missing.

So, learn your instrument--even if you're still at the string plucking stage, or practicing with rosin, or learning to put the bow to the strings with lots of squeaks and painful noises. Keep playing, practicing, growing, because you are part of an intricate, multifaceted and mysterious plan that no human mind could conceive or facilitate. Never quit playing your part because you are a gift to the complex orchestra being directed by the Almighty, Eternal Conductor. Play your heart out for Him. Give your gift to Him. Be a gift to the orchestra, to the church, to the world. Play little violin, play!

Monday, August 3, 2015

God's Mysterious Plan



Ephesians 3:1-13

God's mysterious plan: Through Christ, everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike can come boldly into the presence of God.

Before, only the Jews had access to God, and that was only with much fear and trepidation. Only the designated priest, with bells on (so those waiting outside could tell if he was still moving), and a rope around his ankle could enter into the presence of God. Why the rope around his ankle? Because there was a very real chance that, by some hidden sin, some detail that was missed, something not done just right, that the priest could die in the presence of God. His presence is so glorious, so magnificent, that a mere human being could not just waltz in to say hello! If the priest did die in the presence of the Most Holy One, the rope around his ankle would be used to pull him out.

But at least the Jews had something! They had some access to God. The Gentiles had nothing! No access whatsoever!

But God... Oh God... and His mysterious plan! HE provided a way--He always provides a way! He provides a way out (of sin and temptation 1 Corinthians 10:13). And He provides a way in (to His presence). And not just a way in great fear and trepidation with bells on the hem of my garment and rope around my ankle! He provides a way for me to come into His presence with boldness and confidence! And He provides this way for anyone and everyone who chooses to accept it.

Jesus, through His death and resurrection is that Way. He is the mysterious plan. And that is my unswerving hope!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Light and Power



 Ephesians 1:15-23

Light. I love light. I love that darkness cannot remain in its presence. I love the thought of my heart being flooded with it (as the NLT says in Ephesians.) The flooding means that it washes into every crack and crevice. It washes into my brokenness. It runs like a river through my heart, washing away the darkness. It doesn't "fix" the cracks. They don't go away, but they're no longer dark, hidden, scary.

And here's what it reveals: a confident hope, holiness, a rich and glorious inheritance. My holiness?! What? Really? Me... holy? YES! He has made me holy. He has made you holy if you are in Christ. We are a holy people. We have an inheritance in Him. But this isn't talking about our inheritance... it talks about His inheritance... US! WE are the inheritance. We are the treasure. We are His inheritance--His rich and glorious inheritance! What?! Me? Us? But we're such a mess! We bicker and fight. We compare and compete. We "friend" and "unfriend" one another at the drop of a hat.

Oh Lord, flood our hearts with Your light so that we can understand... so that we will have the confident hope that we are Your holy people--set apart by You--that we are Your inheritance--Your rich and glorious inheritance--Your treasure.

Maybe once we have that understanding, we'll quit bickering and fighting, comparing and competing, friending and unfriending. Flood our hearts, Lord.

And here's the key--we somehow think that this holiness thing is up to us--that we need to make ourselves holy. Goodness, if we could do that Jesus wouldn't have had to die! There is only one way we can become holy--by the power that raised Christ from the dead. Not only that, but it also seated Him the the place of honor at God's right hand. Now He reigns with authority! Sometimes it may not feel like it because He seems to allow things that I wouldn't allow if I were in charge. But I am not in charge, and we can all be thankful for that! I'd be more like Bruce Almighty and I'd make a mess of things.

So, instead of trying to be good, instead of trying to control everything and everyone, I'll seek that Light to flood my heart--to give me an understanding of the power that raised Christ from the dead--and maybe, just maybe, I'll start living more like the treasure--the inheritance that God's Word says I am!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Believe

Mark 16:9-14 

Three paragraphs--three cases of disbelief.

The disciples were in shock. All their hopes and dreams were crushed. Life didn't turn out like they had planned. They were mourning and weeping when Mary Magdalene burst into the room with the most wonderful news!

But, like the Shunamite woman, (2 Kings 4) they were emotionally too frail to entertain such a thought. It was too much of a risk to believe that, just maybe, he was alive. They had already been devastated--their hope for any kind of future--everything they had staked their lives on--was gone... dead. It was just too risky to believe.

May I never be too afraid to believe. Even if it means making myself vulnerable... at risk of being hurt... Lord, help me to believe.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Who Will Roll the Stone Away?

Mark 16:1-8 

"But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away."

So, I heard once, and just remembered, that the stone was not rolled away so that Jesus could get out--He later disappeared and reappeared in different places in the blink of an eye. No stone could keep Him in that grave.

The stone was rolled away so that the women and other disciples (anyone, the world really) could get IN... so that they (we) could see evidence of the resurrection. The stone was rolled away to reveal the resurrection of Jesus. The rolling away of the stone was a divine miracle.

Their savior was dead. Their only hope was buried in a tomb, sealed with a bolder, guarded by soldiers. Their future was bleak. They must have felt abandoned, deserted, cheated, defeated, lost and hopeless. They had staked their future on this man. They had washed his feet with their tears, they had given Him their lives. They had left everything for Him, sacrificed for Him, risked their lives by following Him. And now it was over... dead and buried. Though He was dead, their love for Him was not. They couldn't stay away.

That's what women do... they faced their pain, their fear. They took a risk. They bought the spices and went. Knowing the guards would be there didn't phase them. They didn't even mention them. Their only concern was the stone--How would they move the stone? Who would help them?

Peter? He wasn't with them. John? He too, was nowhere to be found. Where are all the big strong burly fishermen? Cowering in fear? Reeling in disappointment, confusion, hopelessness, grief?

Not the women. Not even in the midst of their confusion and hopelessness, they did what they knew needed to be done. They bought the spices and went. They didn't stop caring about this man who changed their lives. Even in His death, and the death of all they had hoped for, they continued caring. They went and bought spices to anoint his dead body, knowing that they would face temple guards and Roman soldiers and a ginormous stone--all in place to keep them from Jesus. But that didn't stop them. They spent their hard-earned money on spices anyway and began their journey. They fully intended to get to Jesus one way or another. Whey weren't sure how that would happen, they knew the stone was there and that they couldn't move it, but they went anyway. They bought the spices anyway. They knew the guards were there. They knew the stone was there--both great obstacles, but they went anyway. They went by faith and their obstacles were miraculously moved out the of their way.

What is keeping me from Jesus? What stands between me and the resurrection What is the stone in my life that can only be moved by an act of God? What step of faith am I to take? What is it that I need to do to show my love for Jesus?

What is keeping me from Jesus? Busyness? Addictions to facebook, email, food, pleasures, entertainment, hobbies, work, laziness, selfishness?

What are the spices I need to buy? Where do I need to go? What steps of faith do I need to take in order for these obstacles to be miraculously removed?

How do I need to show my love for Jesus--even when He disappoints me? Even when life doesn't go the way I believe it should? Even when I feel confused and hopeless? Even when my future looks dark and scary?

It takes time to hear from Jesus. It takes stillness, quiet and solitude. I need to put down the phone, the ipad, the laptop. Turn off the TV, close the refrigerator, put away the "stuff."

Friday, July 24, 2015

Just One More Sign

Mark 15:25-32 

"Just one more sign," they said. "We need just one more sign, then we'll believe."

He had walked among them, doing signs and miracles for years. Even His birth was a miracle. But they still needed an sign--just one more sign before they could believe.

Some had already believed--a ragamuffin group of smelly fishermen, crooked tax collectors, prostitutes--sinners--common people... divorcees, sickly people, the demon-possessed... They had believed.

But the leaders of the church--the pious ones--the "good," upstanding, pillars of the church... they  wanted one more sign. Just one more sign.

And what if Jesus had fulfilled their wish for that sign? What if He had come down off that cross? Would they have believed Him then? Would it have been enough?

What then? It wouldn't have mattered--none of the other signs would have mattered--nothing would have mattered.

Because if He had come down off that cross, we'd all be doomed to Hell--the religious leaders, the pillars of the church, the fishermen, the tax collectors, the thieves, the prostitutes and divorcees, the sickly ones and the demon-possessed--we'd all be going to Hell.

Jesus had to pay the price for us, or we'd all be doomed. If He hadn't finished His work, none of the prior signs and miracles would have mattered--it would have been all for naught.

Stop looking for a sign--it's already been done. It's all right in front of you. Only believe. It is finished.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Hungry


As I sit here in my quiet spot, listening to the rain falling softly outside my bedroom window, I hunger for more of Jesus. I struggle to stay focused on my Bible reading. My thoughts run astray on events of the past few days, concerns for the future. But I feel an intense desire for connection. I often try to quench that desire through Facebook, text messages, and TV. But what my heart really desires is a connection with the Lord.

Why am I so quick to seek connection everywhere except where it can truly be found? I think I'll just sit here and watch the curtains blow and listen to the rain. Feeling like the presence of the Lord is in the rain this morning.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Fair Trade Friday!

I got my Fair Trade Friday earrings today! I can't wait to read the story of Sabina, who made them! Heading to www.therefugeeproject.net now!


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Get the Connection?

Last year's salsa is almost all gone! Hence the planting of this year's salsa seeds: tomatoes, peppers, onions, cilantro. This is my first year for starting plants from seeds. I'm praying for God's miraculous power to make these seeds grow--because I really don't know what I'm doing. Trying to follow the seed packet instructions, but I'm sure I'm missing some important details!



Planting time!




Thursday, February 26, 2015

Who Am I?


I don't know about you, but I need to be reminded every now and then about who I am in Christ.

In the past 24 hours or so, I have ragged on myself. I have been so aggravated with myself for being absent-minded, ditzy, and even a failure at this Christian walk. But the Lord has led me to several articles (without my looking for them!) that continue to affirm that I am who God created me to be. Even when I stumble, even when I'm too timid to follow through with what God wants me to do, even when I doubt myself (therefore doubting God and His work in me) I am still His child, a light in the world, sealed by God, bought with a price, and on it goes. I found the text from this image at https://www.bereanbiblesociety.org/the-christ-bell/, and I wanted to do something with it that I would like to hang in my office to constantly remind me of who I am in Christ!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Still Got It!

Skating with my girl. What a blessing!

Country Living

I love loving in the country. Scenes like this never fail to grab my attention even if I see them every day.

Monday, February 2, 2015

What Is It? 41/365

So, I'm cleaning out my fridge today and found this very near that back. I have no idea what it might be! 

Cheer Hair 49/365

Who knew there was such a thing as "cheer hair?" Well there is, and I'm thankful for google images that showed us lots of great examples and for a wonderful sis-in-law who was able to pull this off! Beautiful!

New Cookie Sheet 39/365

It's often the little things... I got a new cookie sheet. It washed up so pretty compared to my old tarnished, blackened ones!

Girl Friends 38/365

I had the privilege of sitting through the movie, Frozen, with about 100 kids and family members on Friday night. What a joy to hear all those little voices singing at the tops of their lungs to their favorite songs from the movie.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Morning 37/365

Have I mentioned that I'm so very thankful for morning quiet times? This is absolutely the best!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Frosty Briars 36/365

What a beautiful frosty morning we had this morning. I had to stop on my way out the driveway and snap a few pictures. It was actually hard to choose which one I would post today.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Here I Am Again 35/365


I've been here before... Several times... And here I am again... Trying to learn that food is a hard task master... That I will never be completely satisfied or comforted by food...

About Me

My photo
I am a wife, a mother, a grandmother raising her granddaughter. I am blessed with incredible family and friends. I love working for my church and serving on our Women's Ministry Team. I especially want to reach the women who wear their "Everything's fine" smiles on Sunday, but go home to deal with tough real-life issues throughout the week.