Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mirror, Mirror!

 I remember reading the fairy tale "Snow White" when I was around eight or nine. As I read the story, the words "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?" became a chant that was a part of my play time for years to come. Whether Barbies or dress up, my friends and I would prance in front of a mirror and giggle as we recited it.

As I got older, the mirrors grew up too. They became my classmates around me who I would check with often to make sure I was "cool" enough. The mirrors became the boys I dated to make sure they thought I was pretty enough. They became the bosses at my jobs to measure if I was good enough. They became the magazine models to make sure I was skinny enough. The teachers to tell me if I was smart enough.

As an artist, I used mirrors all the time to check drawings, especially portraits. I would begin a sketch, get it roughed out and then hold it up to the mirror. Amazingly enough, it would show me where my proportions were off and I would then be able to correct it. I know the value of using a mirror to readjust and correct. The problem is I have been looking in the wrong mirrors.

 I woke up the other morning with this verse on my mind:
22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25
I meditated on it yesterday and woke this morning with revelation. I have been looking in the wrong mirrors to make corrections in my life. I have been looking to:
My husband -  who is a very good man but not a good mirror to judge who I am.
My children - also awesome people who God loves very much, but they make a  horrible mirror.
My job - thankful for the resources and income it provides but it does not define me.
The list goes on and on. It could include any ministry I am a part of, friends in my life, accomplishments. Do you see, the list truly does go on and on. I have used all of these things to look into and get a glimpse of who I thought I was. The problem is, they are bad mirrors that are broken and in need of correction and fixing.

Let's look at that solution verse in Jame 1:25, but this time using The Message Bible.
. 25But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action. James 1:25
 Only the Word of God can tell me in TRUTH who I am in Christ. Other things may give me momentary glimpses that are fact, but they are based upon the needs of the person I am looking at or my own emotional responses to their needs. Only the Word of God that is submitted to and activated by walking it out will be a true reflection of who I am.

So, who am I in Christ? I am chosen, loved, redeemed by the Blood. I am forgiven and a co-heir. I am a daughter of the Most High God. I am so much more than what I have been looking at and seeing through the eyes and hearts of others.

Here is the bottom line - I have old habits in my life that need validation to say "I'm Okay" or "I am right." Through revelation, I now know which mirror to look in and someday I will reflect and show the love of God who is even now filling me.

Praise Be to God from Whom ALL blessings come!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A long way off

I was reading in Luke 15:11-32 this morning and something really made me read this passage several times. You know the story, the Prodigal Son. Son wants what's his, asks his dad for an early inheritance, squanders it, nearly starves and then wakes up with the realization of what his bad decisions have done and goes home.

I know the story, we all do; but it was this one little bit in the midst of this story:  "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.(Luke 11:20b)

Did you see it? Did you get it? The son did not have to do anything for the father to be filled with compassion and run to him, the son. The son had not even yet opened his mouth to say, "I'm sorry, dad. I was wrong."

I know that I often put all of the pressure on me and hope for a "right" response from God. From this passage, all He wants is to see me come around the corner towards Him and He will meet me not just halfway, but all the way.

Turning around....again.

Friday, August 20, 2010

First Days

As the weekend before the first day of school looms large, I sigh. It has been many years since our last child graduated from school and moved into the workforce. This year, even though we do not have any kids to shop for any more, I could not resist the urge to buy and put away some supplies for "just in case".

I remember with a heart smile each of my kids first day of kindergarten, of junior high, of high school and then of college. I remember the day before and after my first child said "I do" to their wonderful wife. I now am adding the memory of my first grandchild getting ready to go to her own first day of school.

I am completely in awe of the ways God wove His way in our lives. There have been good times and heart aches. Memorable moments and regrets. There have been the times that still bring laughter quickly to our lips and times that we hope will eventually fade away.

No matter what, however, all is with a grateful heart.

At this stage in life there are not any "do overs" but there is a sense of being connected into something bigger than what one person can comprehend.

So, no matter where you are in the process, don't rush through the hectic schedules that you are and will be encountering. Say yes to the pony folder or the Spiderman pencil. That tshirt with the funny saying is okay. Sign up for PTO even though you don't know how you will fit one more thing in your schedule. Agree to volunteer with the band boosters or athletic boosters. Make sure your camera has new batteries and an empty memory (or film if you still use it).

This is a first day - for you and your child. Hold it close. Cherish it. You will need it in the future.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Things On the Left and the Right

Okay, an exercise. Whether in futility or not is yet to be seen - maybe a scrapbook page, maybe just something to read for later. Who knows?

Things I like:
  • Walks on the beach in the fall or at midnight (empty beach/cool weather)
  • baby yawns and baby feet
  • smell of baby powder
  • smell of baking bread
  • thunderstorms
  • holding my husband's hand
  • smell of a clean house
  • cuddling a puppy
  • sound of the waves hitting rocks
  • color of waves on the Pacific Coast near Big Sur
  • view of the ocean from Hwy 1
  • Watching the sunset over a body of water
  • tulips
  • getting a bouquet of tulips
  • watching tulips grow and bloom
  • walking in the snow
  • reading a good book during a rain storm
  • laughing with friends
  • singing in church
  • making up a song and singing it into the wind
  • watching a baby sleep and seeing them smile
  • hearing the voice of one of my granddaughters say my name
  • riding roller coasters - especially smooth ones that take your breath away
  • cooking for friends
  • surprising someone with something they wanted and getting to see their face
  • looking down into Yosemite Vally and being totally in awe of God's creation.
Things I don't like:
  • sub woofers in a car 3 cars behind me
  • sad endings in movies or books
  • small talk
  • liver
  • cauliflower
  • being ignored
  • being yelled at
  • being a passenger in a fast car
  • washing dishes
  • crying
  • feeling powerless

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fishing

I remember fishing as a kid. My brother and I would go get our bait - either worms from the garden, minnows from the pond, grasshoppers from the field, or cheese from mom's fridge. We would get our rods and reels ready, make sure our little tackle boxes were ready to go, pack a snack and a jar of water, and walk across the field to the pond behind our house we lived in. I was in second grade and my brother was in first.

The getting ready was only half the fun. Laying the line out just perfect in the middle of the pond and hope that the last storm had not moved the underwater log. The leisure of sitting in the shade on the side of a pond just waiting for a fish to take an interest in my hook. Watching every bob of the bobber, playing the line ever so carefully to invite nibbles that lead to bites, patiently waiting for the pull of a "bite" that you could feel with your hand on the line. Jerking back your rod to sink the hook and then the "fight" of pulling in a fish that you knew would be dinner tonight. Nodding my head at my brother - the competition now on to see who could bag the most and get the honor of bragging rights for the best that day.

Then, after several fish are on the line, snack time. If the wild plums or grapes were ripe  - on the walk to the pond we would pick some to go with the bologna sandwich in the bag. Some swallows of water and it was back to fishing. Need to wash our hands...no worries: the back of our pants was sure to have a clean spot.

I look at my life now and long for the simplicity and innocence of that time. No place to be in a hurry, no prize in sight, patience a virtue, and needs were simple. Fears of germs non-existent, concern about sweat and grime not a problem, competition was honest and for a good cause.

I know the whole story behind that glimpse of the past. The fish were a Need - they truly were supper. My brother and I both had fears, they just were not at the pond or in any of the fields we hiked through. Home was filled with hurry and heart aches - the shade of the trees were a refuge from more than just the sun. We were two little ones who played a part in a much bigger drama that consumed our lives.

I look back now to get a glimpse of how did I deal with the pressure of that time? How did I have the patience to wait for the next fish? What can I learn now to deal with my hurried world that I live in today.

Maybe, it's time to go fishing again.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Walking Looking Up

As a kid, I used to love playing neighborhood hide-and-seek right before night fall. We would define where we could hide and what was out of limits and then 15-20 of us neighborhood kids would take off running to find the perfect spot. My favorite place to hide was way up in a butterfly bush, except of course in the summer when it was full of bees and not butterflies. From that vantage spot, I could watch everyone scurrying around as whoever was "It" would search in each bush and behind fences. I very seldom was "It" - I usually was not found.

Here lately, I feel like I have been tagged and am now "It". So many things have been brushing around the periphery of my life and I feel like the kids I watched from my vantage point - trying to catch the next "It" but brushing instead the air where they just were.

As many of my close friends know, I have been having some health challenges. For years, I have been having stomach problems and have worried over some symptoms - namely, bleeding. At Easter, I had a very bad "bunch" of symptoms that left me exhausted and mentally and emotionally reeling. Went to go see the Dr. and that brings us to here. Testing has begun to check and see what is going on. Old fears come creeping back in and are faced with every test.

Lately, I have not had any symptoms. Occasional rumbly tummy, but not any bleeding. I caught on to that and held the evidence of the lack of one symptom as proof of God's healing. The edges of fear would sometimes creep in, but as long as I "hid" from any questions or concerns, they were held at bay. Last night, I started bleeding again. I could feel faith starting to crumble as I faced fear once again.

This morning in church as I stood praising God, I came face to face with Him. My heart was achy. Beyond all else, I sang knowing this - He is good no matter what. An alter call to the front for healing and restoration came forth and I was out of my seat. The prayer was simply, "restore Terri, heal her mind so that she can hear from You."

As I went back to my seat, tears streaming down my cheeks, I once again raised my hands to God and thanked Him. As I stood, the memory of blood on white paper tore at my heart and I felt me moving away from the peace I had just held.

Then I remembered the story of the Israelite army facing an army bigger than what they could even survive and the admonition from God's prophet, Elisha - "Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." (2 Kings 6:16). The words, "do not walk by sight but by faith" resonated in my spirit. There is more going on than what I can see and I should not rely on my senses to discern God's work.

I was willing to let the evidence of one thing undermine what God is doing in my life. It is hard to walk by Faith. I am so used to living a "seeing is believing" lifestyle that it is hard to fathom anything else. I want to see the army of God camped around me, to see Jesus in the empty tomb, to hear God's whisper in the midst of the storm. The world we live in wants to tear at the fabric of faith and do something about it in our strength. That is not my calling.

This I know, God is good. Whether I have cancer (there, I said it), or some other ailment, God is good. He loves me. I know that worrying about results and test will not make me better faster or even ever. Saying, "me do it", will not make anything happen. My heavenly Father stands with open arms and says, "give it to me, keep your eyes on me, think on me and nothing else." Walk by Faith, not by sight.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sausage Ain't My Life


The other day I spotted a billboard on Interstate 10 near the TC Jester exit. The words on it were not shocking or hilarious or offensive. They were advertising sausage created by a former Houston Oilers football player. The advertisement simply said, "Sausage is my life!"

I shook my head as I contemplated a life surrounding sausage of all things. Can you imagine getting to the end of your days and saying, "I lived for sausage". What a narrow life in deed. I chuckled to myself as I patted me on the back at avoiding THAT kind of passion.

Then this question came into my mind, "What are some things you have placed in your life as first?" Conviction came on and now required a response.

I realized that at times in my life, I too had stated a passion for this or a life long pursuit of that. I have pursued a career, raising children, my husband. Sometimes, the very things I pursued got in the way of people I love, relationships with friends. All are good things but not the one item set before me as the BEST thing. Pursuing Jesus and the better life He has for me.

There are many verses that come to mind at this time I could illustrate quite vividly my wrong choices. The thing is I know what I am supposed to do and find myself so many times veering off in a direction opposite of where I needed to go and walking after my wants instead. I then come to a point and am convicted and redirect on a path pursuing my heavenly Father.

Thankfully there is grace, and abundant yet.

Proverbs 14:12 eloquently states the results of our choices: There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. The solution is found in Matthew 6:33: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

So the truth of the matter is this: pursuing God with a passion of loving Him beyond all else will put everything else into its proper place. Your spouse, your children, your career, your friends...maybe even a pursuit to create the perfect sausage (said with tongue in cheek).

Applying this to me. It is a DAILY pursuit. I keep having to remind myself of that and extend personal grace to me when I fail. Daily I choose to pursue my Savior my King. Daily I have to lay down the things that I have a tendency to want to lift up. Daily I have to realize that only through Jesus can I have the strength to do this.

My prayer is simply this, "Jesus You are King. Let my life be a reflection of You so that You get the glory." Amen

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Move Me!


I have had this thought running around in my head for the last couple of days - "When you are uncomfortable, MOVE!"

No, I am not considering moving across any state lines or even across the street. This has nothing to do with furniture placement, where my church membership is or even where I work or volunteer. It has to do with the way I think.

As I was chewing on this, a couple of examples came to mind. When I am hot, I move to get cool. When I am cold, I move to get warm. If my muscles ache, I move body positions. Very simple.

The question that then confronts me is when I am in a place spiritually that is uncomfortable, why is it so hard to move? I have been in situations before where conviction by the Holy Spirit was thumping away at my heart and I did nothing - hmmmm, let's call that one rebellion. I have been in other places where I know that healing was just a prayer away yet did nothing - lack of faith and fear?? Or when I know that God is calling me to step forward, not saying do this or that, just step forward and be counted and I hold back because I am afraid of what the cost will be.

With that very transparent look, I know that I can definitely identify with Jonah. He knew that God was calling him to go to the very people he could not stand; he chose to go on a cruise instead. God got the attention of everyone around him by causing a big storm to rock the boat while he napped. They, his shipmates, figured out he was the stinker and reason for their discomfort. Jonah, probably looking at their faces and considering his options, chose to step off the ship before port call and found another way back to shore in the belly of a fish. Since I really do not like the smell of fish I do not want his consequences. I also do not want those around me who are on this life journey with me to be found in the midst of a storm while I choose to sleep in disobedience.

So my response - "Move Me Lord!"

Move me past myself. Change me to be more like Christ. Let me step forward, with boldness and obediently run the race that has been placed before me on feet He has anointed and hands that have been set aside for His use.

I know that circumstances are going to change around me. I know that there are storms ahead and there are victories ahead - God is with me in both.

My hand is raised up and I am saying, "Lord, I want to be counted as faithful. Here I am - use me. I am ready"

Monday, May 17, 2010

When We Don't All Roll


Yesterday one of the young moms in our church came in pushing her baby stroller. I could tell she was having a hard time so held the door open so she could get it in. Exasperated, she exclaimed she could not get the thing to roll right. I looked at the front two wheels to see if either of them were locked. She examined the back two and found that one was locked tight. She reached down, unlocked it and the stroller was instantly fixed.

As we were leaving the room, the example of this incident brought up a spiritual truth:

If even one person in a married couple has their "brakes on", neither of them are going to move anywhere easily.

I'm still letting that stew around and the revelations and awareness of God's work in mine and my husband's lives and the impact of a life with brakes on is convicting. I know God is working in us and now both of us are making sure that our brakes are open and ready to roll.

Lord, let Doug and I walk together with You. I know at times past we have tried to stand still when that was not Your will. I know that at times I have tried to speed faster that You would have us walk and that also is not Your will. Show us together how to walk together, completely instep with You. Amen

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Just Saying...


Today as I walked into an office, I overheard a conversation where one person mentioned, "God is good!" and the reply, automatically droned, was "All the time." Tonight, as I was speaking to a man, I said, "God is so good" and without missing a beat he said, "All the time."

My point is not that people over use this expression - my concern is that we have stopped thinking about what it means. I wonder how many times we respond automatically to words just because we know the response. Let's experiment:

"God is good..."

"I am blessed..."

"He is risen..."

There is nothing wrong with the words - what is wrong is the disconnect that we have in our hearts when we just respond without thinking of what it is we are saying.

Many years ago I was riding with a friend. She had her car radio tuned to a local station that played the newest pop sensations. As we were driving along, a tune I heard played quite often came on and we started singing. I stopped when I realized what the song was actually about. I sat there stunned as I realized that the words of the song were describing what I would never watch on TV. My friend noticed I had stopped and asked me what was up. I looked at her and said, "I just listened to the words...I cannot sing that song ever again." She turned up the radio and started listening. She reached over and turned the radio off.

These two things are completely opposite of one another but really pin point something we need to be aware of - if there is a disconnect between your mouth and your brain and your heart, be careful with the auto-responses. Do you hear me on that?

I know that God is working on me and I really do want to whole heartedly mean, "All the time!" when I respond. The same way with my walk and prayer life - I don't want to be on auto pilot and miss out on an awesome, ever growing, relationship with the ONE who deserves my full attention.

Ok Lord, Here I am. I will be connected to the life giving words You give me to share with others. No more auto-responses.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The True View


I was taking my son Daniel to work the other morning. Our normal route is to drive east on Interstate 10 and we are usually on the road around 7 am. Now if you are familiar with Houston roads and especially east bound roads, the view of the sun rise is phenomenal...until the sun comes and "sits" on the road, then it is absolutely blinding.

This particular morning, God revealed something to me.

As I am trying to adjust my visor to strategically block the sun's rays without blocking my view - I noticed something. As the sun shined brightly through our windshield, the windshield that I thought was clean was actually filthy. There were water spots from our sprinklers, smudges from fingerprints, streaks from our attempts to clean the inside of the windshield, and chips and dings from the rocks that had hit our windshield in our travels. The bright sunshine showed me all the flaws in what I thought was good.

God's Son, Jesus, does the same thing in our lives. He is the Sonshine - the light - that shines and shows all of our imperfections. When His light shines in our lives we see the filth and dirt from our sin choices, the scars from our travels through life, the smudges of other peoples touches on our hearts and minds, the streaks that we create when we try to do things ourselves and instead make it worse. Unlike the sun who can do nothing about the condition of our windshield, the SON says in regards to our life, ""I am willing," he said. "Be clean!"

Going home and heading west, I thought I would be free of the glare on my windshield. Instead, the brightness of the new morning sun shined through my rear window and reflected off my rear view mirror. As I adjusted the mirror, I noticed once again that the sun had shown me all the imperfections on my rear windows.

I know that there have been times that when the Holy Spirit convicted me of things that needed correcting right now I have responded by running the other direction. No matter which way I am facing, His light will always show me those things in my life which are not like Him and that need to be cleansed with His love and forgiveness.

I am learning to not flinch when God shows me things that need to be corrected in me: attitudes, unforgiveness, fear, untruth, rebellion...all of these things can very quickly pop up and grow if I am not sensitive to His leading.

Recently, I found myself angry at a particular person (no, it was not you...). As I drove down the road, conversations with this person would start in my head. They would just creep in and the next thing I knew, I am mad. The Holy Spirit would come and convict me of having "vain" imaginations and out would start the scripture on my lips, praying for this person and crying out to God. Twenty miles would go by and a random thought would start me all over again. By the time home was within sight, I was exhausted but victorious. God's light had shown me what was not good and then showed me how to clean it up - over and over again.

Be encouraged. The next time the Son shines in your life, let Him show you what needs to be cleaned and then let Him do it. Victory is yours.

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! Hebrews 9:14

Jesus, thank You that you did not come to condemn but to set us free. Thank You that you are so patient and love us even when we turn and run. Help me to respond quicker to You that I may proclaim Victory in Your name. amen

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Choose this day...


I was going to wait and post this in a couple of days but after reading where some other friends are being lead, today is the right day.

I had a conversation the other day about how tired I was...that I felt "all used up".

When I said that, I got the picture in my mind of a woman with slumped shoulders, hard lines on her face, lipstick bleeding into the smoke lines around her mouth and eyes that wearily looked out at everyone. This word came to my mind, "Used by the world". I then got a picture of the same woman with no lines on her face, strong shoulders, eyes filled with peace and an expression of joy that wanted to burst forth from beautiful lips. The word that came with this was "used by God".

Immediately my heart jumped as this question was placed - "who will you choose this day to serve?"

I pondered on that and realized that I do daily have to choose. Do I serve God today or do I serve the world? There is no autopilot answer that you can do day after day - it is a matter of the will to truly choose to serve God...and even if I am "working" for God, if I do not choose to serve God, it will be a self serving response in futility that will exhaust me at the end of the day.

As I looked for scripture, I remembered what Jesus said, "Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross DAILY and follow me." (Matt 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23.) Did you get that...DAILY we must pick up HIS cross and follow Him. I am smiling as I type this...but wouldn't it be easier to see and acknowledge each other of WHO we are serving this day by the Cross we carry on our shoulder...hmmmm!

The scripture verses that I used first are from Joshua and it is interesting that he does mention other gods. The last part of the verse will be familiar.
Joshua said, ""Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:14-16)


We do have to choose to throw away anything else in our life we are serving and choose God...daily...everyday.

This is not meant to be a recipe for religion and additional steps to peace with God. There is one way and only one way to peace with God and that is through Jesus. Without Him you are truly lost and there is no hope. Unless you have acknowledged Jesus as your Lord and Savior and repented this will be meaningless to you. If you have walked away from God in the past and are not with Him now just turn back now.

But it all comes down to this...

No matter what anyone else chooses or does, I choose to serve God. Today. Tomorrow I will declare it anew.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Walking it Out


The last week or so, but especially the last couple of days, has been somewhat of a challenge. I have come face to face with things that I thought were gone and dealt with. I have been offended, had a panic attack, and felt down.

Now, this is in no way a cry to have anyone pat me on the back and say, "it's going to be alright." On the contrary, I am just slightly miffed at me and at the same time relieved. Miffed because they are old lessons still unlearned and relieved because it is an opportunity to have victory and give God the glory.

You see, as long as I live here in Houston, or rather this earth of ours, there will be things that will be faced. Right now, this means learning to renew my mind. I am reading scripture, learning to memorize it, and replacing wrong thoughts with scriptures. In essence, I am putting "feet" to my faith and leaning on God by realizing that He has ALL the answers.

So what were the answers for the things I am walking through. Here is what I found:

Fear I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

Great peace have they who love your law,and nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119:165

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
Isaiah 26:3

Offense A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." Mark 11:25

Depression But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Psalm 5:11

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. Psalm 28:7

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
Psalm 30:11


God is more than able to walk me through anything I face. I am so thankful for His strength and His peace that surrounds me. This time, my path is straight because His map is my guide.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Three Questions


Very simply...just three questions...

1. Who do you believe in?

2. What do you believe about who you believe in?

3. What are you doing about your beliefs?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Happily Ever After...


I grew up reading all the fairy tales...you know the ones - the princess/beautiful girl finds herself in peril and the prince/handsome man comes and saves her. Didn't matter which story it was, they ended with , "and they all lived happily ever after".

As I got older, I graduated to Harlequin Romance books (embarrassingly admitted). In these, it was the beautiful damsel in distress tormented by the evil and dastardly villain and then rescued by the dashing duke (hows that for a run-on?). They ride off into the sunset in his horse drawn carriage and "live happily ever after".

I know that for guys, it may have not been the books but the sports pages that gave them hope. Talented young man living in total despair in the backwoods of Mississippi who is discovered by a brilliantly lucky sports agent from any of the sports associations with initials and is rescued from obscurity and raised immediately to the level of professional right out of high school...and he lives happily ever after until the next draft.

In high school, I read the poem The Road Less Traveled. I remember making up my mind that given the same choice, I also would choose the road less traveled. Somehow in my mind it was very romantic to see and do things that most people don't see and do. I did not take into account how hard it would be.

As a Christian, I have come face to face with my own "happily ever after" mindset. If I do the right things, good things will happen to me. When troubles have come in times past, I vainly stood with fist raised heavenward and asking, "Why! I have tithed, I have sang for You, I have chosen not to drink or yell at my kids too much!"

I have walked the way that leads to disappointment in God when things do not work out the way I wanted them to. In times past I ran down the path of my choosing hoping that God was with me and not once considering if I was with God. I have been in the places where I find myself wondering and wandering.

I now know that no matter what I face, God is good. He never promised me a "happily ever after" here on earth. He did promise His peace and strength and provision enough for each day. He did promise an abundant life.

I know He is big enough to love me despite my being dismayed by His silence and loving enough to love me through when I have been angry with Him. God is Good. I mean, He is really GOOD!

The realization that no matter what - "He is for me" - frees me. His word promises it - the very essence of His character guarantees it - Jesus' blood paid for it. I am learning to walk much slower and with my ears tuned carefully to what my Master says. I know that the walk ahead will not always be easy but I also know that He will give me strength to endure, hope to continue, and faith to be heartened. It also means that I do not choose the path - He does.

I could grieve for times that have been vainly wasted, but I know that during those times I have learned much. He has been with me in every place to bring me forward to this day. I am grateful for that. I am changed and am so glad.

Be encouraged! God is Good! He is for you.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Coupon Wisdom


I was going through my purse the other day and came across several old coupons. They were wrinkled and wadded up. One was for $2.00 off a product, one was .50 and could have been doubled and the other was a .10 one that could have been tripled. I say could have because unfortunately all of them were expired.

I got to thinking about the words "value" and "redeem" and "worth" and "potential".

A coupon has a posted value printed on it's face. This value is a potential one that is not realized until it is redeemed and then it's full worth is realized in savings to the user.

Then it hit me, we are much like coupons...let me explain.

In God's eyes, He knows our value. He has identified our potential in His kingdom and has provided a way for every person to be redeemed. Our worth is realized when we realize our need for a Savior, are redeemed from the world, and the costs have been counted.

Let me break it down...

Valuable - "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:25-27"

Worth - God's word says, "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:5-7".

Potential The Word says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14".

Redeemed - "My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you— I, whom you have redeemed. Psalm 71:23" and "1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say this— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, Psalm 107:1-2"

So with the Word saying it - why do we have so much problem accepting how valuable we are to Him. Yes, some of us are a bit worse for the ware, frayed around the edges and run over by life. Some of us have old ads written on our backside that keeps showing through. However, as long as we are redeemed by our Creator before our expiration date, our value is realized for the glory of God.

That brings up the last point, we do have an expiration date. Unlike coupons, we do not know when that day is. Once it is past, you can not be redeemed and are forever away from the presence of God. Your value and potential for God's purpose in you is never achieved.

God has a greater purpose for each of us. There is no purpose too small that brings Glory to Him who created us. Everything we do points toward the event that all of time has been waiting for. Redeemed and unredeemed both will kneel and confess that He is Lord.

If you are redeemed and can say so - give a shout and say amen. If all of this is foreign and unknown, be encouraged. Because you are reading this, it is not too late. Simply pray, "Lord Jesus, I need You. I acknowledge I am sinner and that I need your forgiveness. Please save me. From this day forward I serve You as my Lord and King. Amen." If you prayed that prayer, call someone and let them know.

Be encouraged - God is good. His purpose and plans for us is good no matter what.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Chinese Parable


A Parable:
Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been seen before – such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.

People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. “This horse is not a horse to me,” he would tell them. “It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?” The man as poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.

One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to see him. “You old fool,” they scoffed. “We told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. Your are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”

The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you judge?” The people contested, “Don’t make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse.” The old man spoke again. “All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I do not know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?”

The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought that he was a fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man and still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was indeed, a fool.

After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away in the forest. Not only had he returned, he brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. “Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.” The old man responded, “Once again you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge. You read only a page of a book. Can you judge the whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire phrase?” “Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a fragment! Don’t say this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”

“Maybe the old man is right,” they said to one another. So they said little. But
down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild
horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.

The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments. “You were right,” they said. “You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever.”

The old man spoke again. “You people are obsessed with judging. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who know if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments.”

It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.

“You were right, old man,” they wept. “God knows you were right. This proves it. Your son’s accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.”

The old man spoke again. “It is impossible to talk to you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this. Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows.”

(From: “In The Eye of the Storm” by Max Lucado)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

There is Still Hope



Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, "We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Ezra 10:2

I read this verse this morning before leaving for work and the last part of it really touched my heart - but in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. There is still hope for me is what I read.

Things will happen, jobs will come and go, friends will move on, but God is ALWAYS.

I know that no matter what, I am never to lose hope. Despite my sinful nature, despite past choices, despite success, despite me - there IS still Hope!

God is good. That is without a doubt. He is good.

I do not always like the view I have, I may not like the weather, but I am always thankful for the journey I am on with my Lord and Savior.

Father, thank you that hope does not have an expiration date. Thank you that despite the circumstances, I can accept that there is hope. Your Word promises that you do have a plan for me. You did not promise an easy road, or even one that I would always like, but You have promised that You will always be beside me. Thank You. I love You. Amen

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chocolate Milk Fear


Have you ever had a fear that you would consider unreasonable? You know the kind I'm talking about - spiders, snakes, heights - that kind of fear. The kind that petrifies you when you are faced with it; the spider crawling across the floor, a snake in a pet store - you know what I mean.

I know that for many people, this kind of fear is irritating at the least and life interrupting at the most. I have never had to face the terror of snakes or spiders or heights - they just do not do anything to me. I have four brothers and a daredevil personality. Nothing...nada! I am A-OK with these things.

What I did have was a living fear. When I say that, it does not mean that I was afraid of life. Actually, it was the exact opposite. I was afraid of death, and more specifically, afraid of dying of colon cancer. And the living fear part - it just means that I had accepted this fear as a normal part of living...that this niggling feeling with thoughts and emotions attached...was normal. As normal as having chocolate milk in the fridge.

I never addressed it, or went forward for prayer for it or even talked about it with my husband. It was just one of those private things that popped in and out of my head and would sometimes keep me awake at night with a little bit of worry but not enough to ask for help - or so I thought.

Last night, I clearly felt God nudge me with this question, "What are you going to do about this fear of colon cancer?" My first response of course was, "What fear? I'm not afraid!" ...and then I realized that yes I was, and not only that, but I was terrified of getting colon cancer and dying. I realized that I was constantly watching for "signs" and dreading finding out the truth (I have canceled 2 colonoscopy appointments).

The hows and whys of this are not important. The important thing is that God, the Creator of the universe, loves me enough to stop me and point out something in me that He can take care of. I went to my husband and talked to him about this fear and he prayed for me. God took the fear away. Amazing, wonderful, freedom.

God wants and promises that we can have an abundant life - and fear robs us of that. If there is something that you fear but you figure is as normal to have as "chocolate milk in the fridge", maybe it isn't normal. Just maybe, God has a different plan for you.

As for me, now that I have acknowledged this fear to God, I know it will be gone for good. I also know that with my husband knowing, he will hold me accountable and pray for me. Praise God for His faithfulness.

Father, thank You that Your plans for our life are so much more than we can even imagine, and that those plans include having a life apart from fear. Thank you for removing the fear I had and instead replacing it with peace. In Jesus name, Amen!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Truth


This is my shake can.

This is my testimony of the Power of God in my life.

I am a born again believer. I became a born again believer on November 16, 1988 when I acknowledged my sinfulness and realized my need for Jesus - the One Who died for me and arose from the grave 3 days later and is alive yet today. That event of salvation marked the beginning of my walk in sanctification - a daily walk growing closer to the One Who saved me. He saves!

I am a Spirit filled believer. On the day I was born again, I did receive the Holy Spirit - the same as every person born again. It wasn't until 14 years later that I obeyed God's stirring in me, a longing for more of Him, a need to reach out and receive more of Him. I asked and received an amazing gift of the overflow of the Holy Spirit in my life. I speak in tongues. He still fills us up today. Just ask and receive. 

I have seen God's miracles. I am a witness to the truth that He still does miracles today.

I have known a man who had so many tumors in his brain that the Dr.s gave his family no hope...yet when they did one more scan before surgery, there was not even one tumor. God still heals.

I have a friend who on a Friday had stage 2 colon cancer. She went to the healing rooms of a church to be prayed for over the weekend. On Monday, she returned to her Dr. to start her new treatment. The Dr. tested her one last time before her new series and there was no cancer. God still heals.

I have shared the Gospel with a family of seven...and everyone of them accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior... yet only three of them spoke English and I did not speak their language...yet we fully conversed. They heard me in Tagalog and I heard them in English. God still sends the Holy Spirit to give utterances in each person's own language.

I have known a man who had one leg 2" shorter than the other and who lived in constant pain. One night in response to an alter call for healing, he came forward. I saw with my own eyes his leg grow. He no longer walks with a limp or is in pain. God still heals.

I have seen a demon flee at the name of Jesus and watched as God delivered people who were tormented be set free. God still delivers and sets the captives free.

I have woken up with the Word of God on my lips and watched as not only that day, but the next year be walked out with encouragement that God was in control. He still calms the sea.

I have seen so much more as God heals the ill and broken hearted, delivers the oppressed, and manifests Himself still. The miracles of the Gospels and book of Acts are still happening today in America and around the world. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

If you are a believer who has wondered about being filled with the Holy Spirit to overflowing...it is very simple. You do not need hype and drama - in the quiet of your living room talk to God. Out loud, tell Him how much you love Him. Praise and Worship Him. Don't think about anything else, don't wonder when "it" will happen, just think about God. At some point you will "feel" (no better word) a stirring in you - press on through - do not examine it or think about it. When your words that you are speaking "feel full" in your mouth, just keep speaking. You will speak in words you do not understand. You can stop when you want and you can start up again when you want. Speaking in tongues is not an out of control thing that takes over - you are fully able to speak when you want. This is God's gift to you and is amazing.

If you are to this point and realize that you have never spoken with Jesus, that you have never met Him and are lost without Him. Very simply - acknowledge and confess that you are a sinner and that you need God's forgiveness. Just call out to Him and believe that He died on the cross for your sins and was raised from the dead and is alive today and confess, receive, that He is your Lord and Savior. Pray this simple prayer, "Lord Jesus, I confess that I have lived a life without You, doing my own thing and I need You. I ask for your forgiveness. I believe that You died for me on the Cross and want to ask You to be my Lord and Savior. Thank You for saving me and loving me.  Amen

This is the testimony of the Power of God in my life.

Is this your shake can today? If it is, testify! Share what Jesus has done for you. It's always a good day for a new testimony. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

First Olympian


I have been watching the Olympics for a long time. I can remember as a kid watching them on the large black and white TV we had - bad reception that included rolling screens, snowy views and total loss of the picture.

One of the things I remember was some of the things that the commentators would say as the athletes would get up to compete. I remember hearing them talk about seeing the 4 minute mile record achieved and how today (1960's), new records were being set. I saw feats accomplished in gymnastics, figure skating, track and field, skiing - you name it. The amazing thing that makes me smile is that once someone does something that no one thought could ever be achieved by any human, it opens up the field of opportunity for the same feat to be repeated over and over by other athletes. This year the feat in ice skating is the quadruple; in snowboarding is the 1260 Double McTwist; and the list goes on.

Tonight, I was reminded of an even more amazing feat accomplished 2000 years ago - the One who conquered death so that every person who ever lives could benefit. One sacrifice given for all to have freedom, healing, forgiveness. One Life to pay for our penalties...my penalties.

He ran our race and gave us the prize.

I have realized that for far too long I have been trying to run a race that He has already won. I have nothing to prove to God - He knows me inside out - after all He created me. Just let Him direct me and not worry about the where or the when or even the why. The race is His and it has already been completed.

My job - I get to cheer Him on and give Him all praise. Hallelujah and Amen!

Monday, February 15, 2010

He Set the Captive Free


Now before I write this - a reminder...this is my shake can. I use it to work out things that I am walking through and facing or ideas that are just bumbling around in my head and need to be put to rest. You may not agree...you may not even like it...but this is not about or aimed at anyone else.

Okay - that being said...

I had a revelation last night during service - an uncomfortable one - but one I know is true.

I realized that so many of the major decisions in my life were made due to fear.
Fear of rejection...
Fear of poverty...
Fear of change...
Fear of people...
Fear of fear...

How many times have I postponed a decision and then hid in indecision? How many blessings have I missed by not stepping forward when I knew the Holy Spirit was prompting me?

Now - this is not about me planting the huge "finger V" on my forehead (for those going huh - Victim). But I have been. It has been easy to point to "generational curses", circumstances beyond my control, the economy, the weather, my birth order, my sex, my size, the style of my hair...you get the general idea. As a victim I have pointed my finger at everything there is so that I can safely hide in indecision because I was too afraid of making a decision.

ENOUGH!

I WANT CHANGE! I want God controlled, God ordained CHANGE. I am no longer content to passively wait for the elusive something to happen so that I can say, "Well, I tried> I guess I will just have to wait on God."

I look in His Word and I see where Jesus gave the command and the person who received the blessing had to choose obedience in order to receive it.
Come follow Me...
Get up and walk...
Your faith has saved you, go in peace...
Return to your own house and tell what great things God has done for you...
Little girl, arise...
Lazarus, come forth...

He has already called me and calls me his own. He has set me free from the penalty of my sin and helps me from being overpowered by my leanings to continue to sin. I know that someday I will be forever away from the presence of sin. That in itself is great. But He has also promised me an abundant life full of joy and peace. I have had and tasted glimpses of that... touched it in the midst of worship or when I step into pray for someone else...but has seemed to be elusive when it came to me. I now realize why.

I was afraid.

With Holy Spirit revelation and my acknowledgment comes freedom.

With Jesus, it is completed. I am set free.

Jesus, thank you that I am your child with the full privileges of one born in your house. Thank you for pointing out the dark places in my heart and soul that prevent me from fully partaking in all of your blessings. I know that that aside from You, I can do nothing, but that with You, all things are possible. Thank you for removing the fear that has gripped me for so long and release me to serve you fully and freely. Amen

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
Isaiah 61:1

Friday, February 12, 2010

Two Tales of Love


Two books of the Bible keep resonating in my heart. Now the odd thing is, that at first appearance they are complete opposites. They are Song of Songs and Hosea. One is about the wonderful love affair between a groom and his bride. The other is about a prophet who is told by God to marry a prostitute and love her.

You ask me, "Why??"

Because, both books are about God's pursuit of us.

In Song of Songs, He is the groom passionately pursuing His bride, the church who is passionately loving Him back. And as you know, we are the church - any believer who has been justified by the blood and is living a sanctified life. Please note: if you have been justified, you are sanctified no matter where you are in your walk - walking in wonder and Praise of your Lord and Savior or you may just be skipping down the wrong path at this moment.

If skipping is where you are, then this brings us to second book, Hosea. In this book, God is pursuing the unfaithful wife who is worshiping idols. In other words, anyone who has turned their backs on Him and doing their own thing. In the book of Hosea, God instructs Hosea to marry a common prostitute and have children with her. This woman knew nothing about love, but Hosea loves her. This story is a lived out parable of how God loves each of us, at our worst in the midst of the stink of our bad choices and lifestyles. How He takes us even in the midst of this and teaches us little by little how to really love.

In the society in which we live, we have cheapened the word LOVE. I hear people say (me included), "I love ...peanut butter, Chihuahuas, The Saints, The Colts, chocolate, my turtle, my car, my whatever - you get the point! We use it indiscriminately to describe a powerful LIKE for anything that makes us feel good. No wonder we have problems understanding when God says things like, "I have LOVED you with an everlasting Love. I have drawn you with loving-kindness."

I am not anti-Valentines Day. I really like (I almost said love) receiving candy and flowers and stuff when the budget will allow. I do like the way we have a reason, commercial that it may be, to bestow gifts on the people we love (appropriate here) and care about.

This Valentines Day, really look at what real Love is. A Love so amazing, so absolutely divine that He would sacrifice His life His all for everyone of us. He, God, Loves us. He loves you, He loves me, He loves us. Let that resonate in your heart and soul.

So, whether you are passionately pursing a love relationship with God as His bride or you are skipping down red light district doing your own thing - know this...God loves YOU! Where you are. He loves you!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

High Places


I woke up one morning and was sitting straight up in bed. I had tears running down my cheeks and these words were on my lips; "I lift my eyes up to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help come from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth." I knew two things the moment I opened my eyes and realized I was awake and not dreaming - one, God was with me and two, He was letting me know that He had everything planned out, that no matter what happened that day, He had it and me.

I called out to Doug and he and our daughter came into the room. Told them what had just happened and we all three prayed. I knew that what ever was coming was going to affect them as well and they needed to know that God is in control.

I won't tell you about that day right now, I am just not ready to put this into the printed word. Suffice it to know that it truly was a day that I needed God. He was with me the entire day. His peace surrounded me, His love overcame fear and overflowed and allowed me to minister to others. He opened doors and provision was given. He was with Doug and Elizabeth and gave them clear minds and hearts. And He provided peace for the long journey that was ahead of us.

One thing that comes to mind now is this: where does my help come from? The verse that was on my lips is Psalm 121. The very first words are, "I lift my eyes up to the mountains, where does my help come from?" I have had time to meditate on this and I know this; too often we look "up" to others to be our help. We look to our spouses, to our jobs, to our reputation. We look to our Pastors and teachers and mentors. We look to our friends and other family members. I know that before this day, I did all of that.

The Psalmist was not saying to look to the mountains because they remind us of God, but rather "I look to the high places, the old alters of my life and I know that my help is not going to come from those things. It is God, my Lord, the Creator of all things seen and unseen who will be my help." (my translation). In the time that this was written, idol worshipers built their alters on mountain tops, the high places. We still have high places in our lives today.

I have been discouraged lately. The job hunt has not been going well. God just reminded me this morning that I can not rely on what I know, all of my experience and expertise, the connections I have and my ability to network. My help will come from Him and Him alone. He may move a person to offer a job - but He is doing the moving and not me. I need to trust Him in this and to trust that He loves me and will provide.

The end of the story above is victory. I know that without a doubt - it has been promised.

As for the rest of the Psalm, it is wonderful. May it give you the peace that it gives me.

Psalm 121
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;

4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;

8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.


Father, thank You for reminding me of who I am and who You are. I do so often get ahead of You. You are my Savior and King and I praise You. Forgive me for putting trust in other things. I pull down any idol in my life that I have trusted more than you. I submit every area of my work experience to You and say, have Your way. I love you. Amen

Monday, February 8, 2010

Even When I Fall


I was reminded last night of a sight that I saw years ago.

As my husband and I were leaving church one Sunday, we were walking behind a couple who was letting their little one practice his walking. I watched as he tottered and fell time and time again. Each time he would boost his little bottom up in the air and get up and go. His Mom and Dad were right beside him, encouraging him, hands hovering close behind but always letting him learn how to get up and go.

I was touched then and now by that scene. It gave me a picture of how my God walks with me. Encouraging me, allowing me to fall, but always just a heart beat beside me, always with me. Letting me learn how to walk, learn from mistakes, but right there.

It made me look a little closer at how often when we fall do we feel that God is far away? We ask questions and strike out from our hearts wondering why He didn't stop us from stumbling. Why didn't God keep me from getting hurt?

I have no easy answers. I can however look back at the places and times I have stumbled and fell and know that by the Grace of God, I was strengthened by them. I would love it if I did not EVER fall, did not ever sin... and there is a promise that someday I will be able to be forever away from the presence of sin, forever in the presence of the ONE who is worthy of all Praise and Adoration. Until that time, I, like that little one, am walking forward.

I am on a life walk with the one who is my King, my Lord, my All. Yes, there was a day that I did bow my head and bend my knee and say "YES" to Him. But just like I once said said "yes" to my husband many years ago, I did not stay at the marriage alter and wave as he moved on and aged. I am walking with Jesus, today, yesterday, and am promised forever. I also know that because I am still a sinner, I will stumble and fall, and Jesus will still be there. He calls me His own, His beloved. I, like that child, have full trust in the One who guides me, loves me and is always here.

If the LORD delights in a man's way,
he makes his steps firm;

though he stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
Psalm 37:23-24


Father, thank you for this wonderful journey that we are on together. I am ever filled with joy and love. Thank you that your forgiveness is complete and true, but that there is more than just that. I get to know You more and have Your peace surround me. Thank you...Amen

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dust in the Corners and Closets



This time of the year I start thinking about Spring cleaning. Winter is still going strong, but there is this want to be able to throw open the windows and let a fresh breeze sweep through my home and freshen it up. Not that my house smells (I don't think it does??), but it starts getting, you know, stuffy.

It is amazing how much stuff can collect when you are not intentionally throwing it out or putting it where it belongs. You know the stuff I'm talking about - junk mail, old projects, empty containers, worn out socks or ones with no mates, lots of dust "bunnies"...that kind of stuff. It feels soooo good when it is all put into order.

But I am not just speaking of the physical world - I'm talking about my Spiritual Spring cleaning and I know that I can do that anytime. You see, I know that spiritually speaking I do the following:
*Junk mail - stuff from outside home that I do not want - other people's feelings, fears and baggage that I pick up and carry around; old ideology and idolatry that keep coming back; the world's value system as it creeps into my life.
*Old projects - those things that God is working on in me that I am avoiding cause I am a bit sore and vulnerable; vows and promises I have made and are not keeping.
*Empty, broken containers - that's me when I do not fill up daily with the ONE who can do it. I am a broken container and can still be used by God.
*Worn out socks - holding onto old promises spoken into my life but not pursuing God to find His new ones for my life.
*Dust in the corners - old memories that dust up the corners of my mind and clutter up the closets of my heart. They need to go too.

See what I mean?? These things can get in and take up space. Time for a fresh wind.

So what does the Word say? Take a look at this;

Psalm 51:7 says
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.


Hebrews 10:22 says,
let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

You see, I do know that my "Spring breeze" comes not from what I do but what He does. The good news is that I can allow God to sweep out that old stuff right now.

So...

Father, You know me inside out. I need your Spirit to wash through me, to cleanse me from the inner most part of who I am. Forgive me for ignoring Your call to me to be filled - I truly have been foolish and acknowledge that as sin. I love You and praise You. Thank You for being ever loving and kind and good. Thank you. Amen.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Just Blood!


I do want to caution anyone who is squeamish - you may not want to read further.

I was reminded today of a friend, Linda. She was an unfortunate victim of a self inflicted injury. While closing the back sliding door to her van, she did not move her hand out of the way. The result was the door slammed on her hand and severed one of the joints on a finger on her left hand. Her immediate concern of course was the pain and then secondly her over whelming thought was "I want my finger whole - put that part on ice!!!"

Her family took her to the local small town emergency room. The doctor on call looked at her hand and assured her that he could stitch up the end and she would be just fine. When she explained that she wanted her whole finger - he shook his head and told her it was not possible - they just did not have the know how, the technology or the Dr. who could do that kind of surgery at that hospital. She looked at him and then asked, "Who can?".

She found out that there was a special hospital in downtown San Francisco that did this type of surgery. She and her husband took the ice chest with her severered digit and headed 2 hours out to San Francisco to the hospital.

She arrived there, was examined by a specialist. He did x-rays and scans on her hand. He evaluated her medical history, took some blood samples and then sat her and her husband down. He explained that yes, he would do their surgery. He also explained that there was less than a 95% chance that the surgery would take - that there would be some drastic measure done that would immobilize her for at least 2 weeks. She signed the waivers and was prepped for surgery.

A couple of days later I heard that she was in desperate need of blood donations for a transfusion. I called her not knowing if I would speak with her or a family member.

Linda picked up the phone. She was glad to hear from me. I asked her about the surgery and the need for blood and here is what she told me.

The digit had been sewn back on to her finger. The surgery had taken 10 hours due to the nature of nerves, tendons, muscles and very small vessels in her finger. She said that there was only one way that her finger could possibly heal. For two weeks, she had to hold her hand over the side of the bed. A hole had been drilled into the end of her finger so that blood could drain through it. The blood dripped through the hole in her finger and over and through the surgically reattached tip. It was the blood actively flowing through her finger that would allow it to heal. Her other arm had a catheter that gave her blood continuously - she received a new pint of blood every four hours.

I don't know about you, but when I heard about this blood treatment - it had some spiritual implications to me. You see, it is only when the Blood flows through us that we are healed, that we are attached to a body, that we have the possibility of reviving dead flesh and having new nerves and feelings begin in our lives.

The difference, Jesus had the surgery on our behalf. He allowed himself to be severed from the Father, had wounds pounded into His hands and feet that allowed His Blood to flow. His blood flowing is what heals us. He transfused His Blood into our dead lives.

You see, with Linda, there was a 95% chance that the surgery would not work. With Jesus, there is a 100% chance that His surgery will work. His Blood, my life, His way. Glorious!!

So, the odds - 100% chance of death without Him - or 100% chance of life with Him. Pretty awesome odds.

As for Linda, the last time I heard, she was getting her nails done - all 10 of them.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain

Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain

This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain

Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain

Glory! Glory! This I sing—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
All my praise for this I bring—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Nothing to Say


I started and stopped and erased three different Blog topics. You see, I truly want this Blog to be more about what God wants me to say and not what I think. In a world where so many opinions are prevalent - I do not want to just be another opinion; useless words written to fill in space and waste your time and really do nothing to glorify God.

So with nothing to say, I will point to a different place that has plenty to say and promises yet to be claimed. These are the verses I have been meditating on lately and have been blessed greatly. Read and be blessed -

 24-28 "'For here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. I'll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I'll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I'll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that's God-willed, not self-willed. I'll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You'll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You'll be my people! I'll be your God! (Ezekiel 36:24, The Message)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

He Knows What We Need!


God reminded me recently of my first answered prayer. Now understand this - it was not the first, or the last time I prayed, but it was the first time that I KNEW that God had answered my desperate cry with the answer I needed...but not necessarily what I wanted. (I am smiling as I write this)

This was in the Spring of 1989.

I was a new Christian. I knew that there were changes in me and that something extraordinary had occurred the night I said yes to Jesus. I had no doubt that God was real and that Jesus had sacrificed Himself for me, a sinner. What I had doubts about was did He actually hear ME when I prayed? I just did not know.

Doug and I had two little ones in diapers, and another who was growing faster than we could afford new shoes and all 3 kids were sick with chicken pox. We had a car that had blown a head gasket and had bald tires, and bills that kept on coming in. In other words, life - complete with all of it's surprises and things that get thrown at you and are normal.

I did what any desperate wife low on finances and little common sense would do - I started entering "free" sweepstakes. You know the ones I'm talking about..."Send in the proof of purchase to enter for a vacation", "Write WINNER on a card and enter to win a new car", and of course everyone's favorite, "The Publisher Clearing House Sweepstakes". If these were the only ones, I would not be writing this; I entered 100's of these.

Okay, so I am being very transparent as to my desperation mindset. I know that no one else could ever have done anything as silly. Right?

After months of not hearing anything, I was pretty depressed. In fact so much so, my co-workers were really worried. I didn't smile, I cried all the time, and spoke to no one. I was low.

One day as I drove down the road, I yelled out to God (yes, yelled) and said, "God, if you can hear me, please, please let me win just one of these sweepstakes. I am desperate and nothing I am doing is working. If you let me win just ONE, I will never enter another sweepstakes again." (Gasp, yes, I made a deal with God.)

Days went by. Nothing. No answer for 3 days.

On the forth morning I came home from work and sitting on my doorstep was a large box from UPS. I dragged it into my foyer and sat down on the floor.

I looked at it and noticed that it was filled to the top with small boxes and that the very top box had my name and address. All the other boxes, 49 of them, had other peoples names and addresses. I opened the box addressed to me and dumped out the contents. Inside was a bag of Dum-Dum Lollipops and a letter. This is what I read:

Dear Mrs Milton:

Congratulations! You are a Third Place Winner in the Dum-Dum Lollipop Sweepstakes. We appreciate your entry and hope that you and your family enjoy this special bag with new flavors. Again, thank you for your entry and Congratulations.

Sincerely,

Sweepstakes Committee.


Now I don't know about you, but if I had not been sitting on the floor I would have fallen. I started laughing. Then I started snorting and laughing. I had tears rolling down my cheeks, I was holding my sides I was laughing so hard. I rolled around on the floor and laughed some more. Then I thought about what Doug would say if he could see me and I laughed even harder. I truly do not know how long I laughed, but once I stopped I noticed something. I didn't "hurt" inside anymore.

I realized in that moment that God had answered my desperate prayer and given me what I "Needed" - not what I "Wanted". I thanked Him for answering my prayer according to His wisdom. I knew that what I had needed more than anything else was laughter.

I learned that day how truly I am blessed despite my circumstances. Every once in a while when I get a bit focused on the storms around me, God reminds me of that Sweepstakes I once won. That's all I need.

As for the rest of the box, I did get them back to the UPS and they delivered them to everyone else who had won. I wonder if they giggled when they opened their boxes.

Oh, and I never have entered another sweepstakes.

P.S. The kids grew up, they always had shoes that fit on their feet, a wonderful person fixed our engine for just the cost of parts and someone else gave us tires. Bills still come and are payed. God provided then and now - He always does.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Balanced Life


As a reminder, this is my rattle can. The stuff I write in here is stuff rattling around in my head that God is dealing with me about. So with that in writing...

Doug and I have been married 24 years now and heading very quickly for 25 (it really is true that time moves faster as you get older). In all those years, I have always held my marriage vows and kept Doug as my only - in other words, I have been faithful to him in heart, in mind and in deed. I would love to be able to say that about my relationship with Jesus.

A little over twenty-one years ago I said "Yes" to Jesus. He had wooed me for years. I can think of seven people from high school, college and early adult life who all were faithful to share what He meant in their lives. I finally listened in 1988 on a cold November night.

Since that day that I committed to accept Him as Lord of my life and Savior of my soul, it would be wonderful to say that I immediately started serving Him and have continuously done so since. It was in fact almost 2 years later before we looked for a church - no one said that was the next step. Sure, I prayed a little more and there were absolute changes in me, but I did not know what to do.

I would love to say that through the years I have committed to a life where Jesus is number one. I have said He is. I have tried different times to make it so.

The truth is, I chose to live the majority of my life with Christ adhering to the "modern day" version of being a Christian - The Balanced Life. You know the one that I'm talking about...you have work and home and church and friends and sports and so many other things happening - and they are all compartmentalized in the proper place with minimal overlaps. Just one kicker - I have found that it is not biblical.

As I study the Word, it reveals what is needed. Jesus says, take up your cross, leave your family, turn your cheek, give your shirt, love your enemies, walk humbly, be submitted to authority, do no evil in kind and thank your Heavenly Father for everything. I looked through several concordances and the only balance I found was this - "Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself." Paul said in Galatians 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. If we are living a Balanced life according to the world's standard - who are we trying to please?

This blog today is not about condemnation or even to bring guilt on me or anyone else - it is about knowing truth and then walking it out. I know that the closer I get to Jesus and the more I get to know about Him and what He did for me, the more my own depraved and sinful nature is revealed. Thank God for Grace and Forgiveness - it is from this that I have redemption and can lift up my eyes to see where my help comes from. He is the Truth and He is all Loving. The Bible says "that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". The Just for the unjust that we might be brought into the very presence of God, reconciled with our Creator and King.

Do I have all of the answers figured out and am I walking out a true faith? Hardly. The truth is that I don't even know all the questions and am at times stumbling through my days. I do know however that God's Grace is perfect and extends to me even on those days.

Glory - that God loves me so much, He gave me balance in my sinful life by offering a sinless sacrifice in Jesus to pay the penalty for me and each and everyone of us. Amen and Amen.