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Happy Summer!

 

Hello friends!

I am on my 10th week of furlough.  Summer is here.  And I’m taking some time to be thankful for lots of little things! While I find myself not always with enough to do (productively at least), I’m finding myself enjoying the slow pace of living and the ability to rest.  Today I’m listening to birds sing outside.  I’m mowing the yard. And I’m watering flowers.  Ahh — summer!  I love it! (Although I admit I like the look of a freshly mowed yard — the actual work of mowing is hard!  My husband normally does this task, and I’m grateful he does!)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! (Ps. 34:8)  Yesterday my mom and I shared flower pictures. It’s fun to watch our plantings fill in and grow.  It’s fun to see perennials come up year after year, just because that is how God made them!  We mentioned that they make our yards look pretty, and bring joy!  Oh, see that the Lord is good!  Look around at the beauty of creation!  My husband and I have taken several walks along a lake in the last couple of weeks.  We sometimes just stop and sit and watch out the on water for awhile.  It’s refreshing!  Look at the gift of colors and variety as seen in flowers!

 

 

 

 

 

Oh taste that the Lord is good!  As a kid we had several rhubarb plants.  As a kid I didn’t appreciate rhubarb to the full extent!  Now, I miss rhubarb!  I have been craving it this season, as it seems to be a seasonal treat for the most part.  The other week my husband and I were going to make a run to Bakers Square, just to satisfy my craving of rhubarb — a piece of their pie should do!  However, due to the riots in our city they were closing extra early, and when I called to ask about picking up some pie they let me know their modified hours for the day, and we couldn’t make it there in time.  Oh well!  I did not want to buy rhubarb (why is it so expensive for something most growers give away with abandon!), and mom is too far away (I think she still has a plant!).  But then later when I was at my sister-in-law’s she had some to share!  I came home and the following day went to pick up some juicy strawberries, and the next day –pie!  Isn’t God gracious and good to give taste-buds and flavors in so many varieties!  Since my husband is not a fan of rhubarb, and since I do not want to tempt my lack of self control with a whole pie, I cut the recipe and used these cute little pie plates we got for our wedding! (Please don’t feel bad my husband won’t get any!  I already am planning another dessert that he does like! Plus, I’m the one who craves baked goods.  He doesn’t tend to!)  I heard a lady say the other day, “I don’t know why but it gives me great joy that it is cute!”  I agree!  For some reason I really like these cute pie plates!  It is just another gift from a good God — little cute things that bring enjoyment!

Oh ladies, God is so good to us!  Little blessings abound!  Color, taste, pleasures, and so many more!  May you take some time to delight in little gifts — in the normal mundane of each day where we take so much for granted.  Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.  Praise the Lord! (Ps. 150:6)  (And if you want this classic summer pie recipe – here it is from one of my favorite cooking blogs!)

 

“Then they will know that I am the Lord”

Hello friends and fellow women of God!

What strange times we find ourselves in!  No one will forget the year of 2020 as it is the year of the coronavirus pandemic.  So far, with all things happening in our nation and world, it is a year when fear, anxiety, stress, living on less, questions of what is next or what God is doing, and so many other thoughts vie for our attention.  Words with new meanings have become normal to us: social distancing, quarantined, unemployment, masks, temporarily closed, and out of stock.  It is a year so far when we as Christians can not worship God together in our churches, and not due to government restrictions based on persecuting Christians, but because of health restrictions.  It is therefore a year when we as Christians have battled with the thoughts of “if God protects, why not gather,” and yet the wisdom He calls us to employ of submitting to our proper authorities (presidents, governors and health officials) and of not being foolish with the known health risks, have competed within us and caused church leaders likely much prayer and conversations.  It is a year of drive-by parades to celebrate birthdays and graduations.  It is a year where Zoom becomes a way of interacting with people and celebrating weddings, when we’d rather sit across the table from friends and share a cake or a game board.

And it has effected every single person on the planet in some way or another.

God has led me to study through the Old Testament these last couple of years.  It is a slow process for me, and at times I find myself eating up God’s Word as my favorite chocolate cake — more please, and a larger slice tomorrow!  At other times I find myself chewing and swallowing out of sheer willpower – such as the time I ate goat at a friend’s house!  I’m sorry to any of you who regularly eat and like goat.  I found it chewy and hard to get down!

Now, I love the whole Word of God.  But I admit when I hit Isaiah I found a bit of “here we go” coming into my brain.  The major prophets of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are long books!  I persevered through Isaiah and Jeremiah and ordered my next study of Ezekiel.  It happened to be the beginning of March.  Throughout March and April I found myself forcing myself to read, and sometimes rereading and redoing my lesson because I just couldn’t get through the chapters.  I’ve discovered the more you read God’s Word, the more engaging it becomes, and the more you want to be in it.  It’s because it is living and active!  And Ezekiel is no different, it is easier to understand and digest as I keep going, it just is a slow go!  That’s ok!  God is speaking, and His Word can not return void!

So, today in my lesson I hit, “The more you read Ezekiel, linger in its message, and meditate on its precepts, the better you will understand your God and His purpose for placing you in this book at this time in your life.”  Hmm.  I pondered this.  I reread this sentence several more times. Hmm.

March and April 2020.  Covid 19.  Furlough.  My husband getting a night job because we don’t know what’s next and therefore he sleeps when I’m awake and vice versa — I miss him.  Combine that with no work of my own, staying at home, and all else that is going on.  Hmm.

So as I’m going through Ezekiel there is one phrase on repeat.  Whether God is talking to or about Israel (His people), or to and about the nations (those who don’t believe in God), God repeats this phrase: then they will know that I am the Lord (their) God.  His purpose in warnings, in dealing with sin, and even in rest and redemption is so that God’s people and those watching might know that He is the Lord.

Hmm.  Why am I reading Ezekiel right now?  Why indeed?  I believe that during this pandemic God is speaking to both believers and nonbelievers all over the world.  Some will come to know God, others will turn back to God, and some will go on as before not knowing God.  God knows all this.  God allows and controls all things — even calamities.  And His purpose is always His renown.  He will one day send Jesus back to earth — will we be ready?  This season might be a season of God speaking, slowing us down from our normal busyness and distractions, while reminding us of our need for His peace and deliverance.  Maybe.  Please Dear Sisters — listen!  He is the Lord God, and in this season He is speaking to you, to me, to believers, to non-believers, and to the world.  His purpose is this: I am the Lord God.  Oh may we rest in Him as Lord!  And He is good, He is Sovereign, He is our Prince of Peace, and He is our Deliverer! Press on precious ladies to know God and make Him known, even during a pandemic!

 

Is Jesus Enough This 2020 Easter?

Sweet sixteen and never been kissed. Sweet sixteen my heart full of dreams.

I had a plan for my life. I thought I wanted to be a marriage and family counselor.  I headed to college with this goal and a dream.  A dream to meet a guy, get married, have kids.  I wanted five boys! My prideful heart wanted to raise young men who were fun, gentlemen, and knew how to treat a girl – I didn’t always find this in the college boys I knew! I flirted with babies and cuddled them.  A stranger in an airport once commented that I must love children as I made friends with a baby across the aisle.  I nodded – of course!

I was 25 when I had my first date.  I was shy of 31 by two months when I had my first “real boyfriend” – I’d only gone on a handful of dates with a handful of men before that.  I married “my first real boyfriend” two years later on my 33rd birthday.  This man is nine years older.  God gave me cysts on my ovaries while in college, putting me on hormones for 13 years before I ever got married, causing doctors to not know what that would mean for having children later.  God gave me an older husband, and a wedding long after I thought He would. God allowed things that would make conceiving difficult.  And He took my desire for kids of my own and gave me peace even if I had none.  Complete peace.  No longings, no yearnings, no jealousy of others.  He gave me nieces and a nephew, and great nieces and nephews on my husband’s side.  He told me to love them, pray for them, and for their parents.  He took my baby flirting too… and now I can hold and cuddle them, but the desire within me to have my own is gone. I pass them back with utter peace. How strange! How different than my teenage plan!

I had thought long ago that I knew what I wanted.  Now I find myself unsure what I want.  College and grad school to become a counselor came and went. That didn’t seem right, and a counselor I’m not.  When dating my husband, we discussed children and thought we’d be fine either way. We discussed adoption and infertility before even getting married, and made choices against, regardless of whatever came.  I struggled with feeling like I “should” consider these options, until my pastor said that if that’s not what God has put on our hearts, that’s not His plan for us.

It is now four years later.  I’m not living the dream I had so long ago.  What am I living I sometimes ask?  Why am I in social services, I never thought I’d be doing this!  What do I want? I muse over and over.  This life is good, and yet it’s not what either I or my husband thought we’d be, me this close to 40, and he to 50! We thought we’d have more, be more, do more.  Hmmm.

My husband, my friend.  Our lives now one.  We can’t make decisions alone anymore.  My goals and dreams now encompass another. Being one with him becomes the plan.  Yet we are individuals too.  What is God’s plan for us?  For him?  For me?  I question this now over and over and pray that he and I become all we were meant to be – which in God’s plan includes unity between us, and following His plans, not just my dreams.  Hmmm.  I ponder this life, my old dreams, and who I am now.

And then, COVID 19.  Things we love stripped from us: socializing, hugging, connecting, church fellowshipping.  Easter weekend is here.  No church!  No family gathering! No Easter baskets or hunts!  (Which by the way, I’ve decided children really do promote some of the “fun” of holidays.)  No shopping just for fun. No eating out.  No going for a lazy drive just because – at least while we are under stay at home orders.  No friends in our home. Travel reduced.  Work cut off.  Finances less. Life in general right now.

I ponder all this.  I ask myself: Is Jesus enough?  Really enough?  Enough to be my everything, when everything around is different than the dream, or even the norm?  Enough when there is no other?  He says He is.  I say He is Lord over me.  But here I find myself wanting things this world gives or wanting my dreams to become reality! (Which dreams aren’t bad! But all thing are to be under the authority of Christ over me, even dreams and life as I know it.)

It’s Easter tomorrow.  Jesus died and rose again for my sin and yours.  He bought my life and the right to each day as He chooses to give it. He made a way for a relationship with Him both now and through eternity.  He is enough!  But praise be to God who gives so generously! He gives a world full of beauty and color and emotion and relationships and delight!  He gives work and meaning and purpose.  He gives blessing after blessing.  He allows us to choose.  And sadly, so many of us choose other loves over Him first and foremost.

Perhaps this strange Easter season, this season of social distancing, and quarantine, and a pandemic –new words to our ears — perhaps this is all to remind us that Jesus is enough, and to show us just how much hold all these other things have over us.  Perhaps?  Oh precious sisters in God — press on to know Him.  He promises to be more than enough for all we need, and to give us all we need for life and godliness!  Press on, and Happy Easter!

Coronavirus – A Shaken World

Good Morning precious sisters in God!

He has the whole world in His hands!  Praise God for who He is! He is Creator, Sustainer, and our Rock.

Here is a wonderful song that my husband has introduced me to.  I have been singing the chorus a lot lately.

Covid 19 has rocked the world.  It has shaken that which we felt stable.  It shows us how much for granted we take normal interaction, gathering at church, or going out to eat.  March 5th I was watching the news and it was talking of Japan and things closing down there due to the spread of the novel coronavirus originating out of China. I paid little attention — it was a “problem over there.”  But I thought of a former exchange student who lives in Japan.  So I emailed her asking her how she was and saying I had heard of the coronavirus.  She wrote back that she’d been sent home from college, had no idea when graduation would be, or what was next, and she was just sitting at home.  She then said she hoped I and my family were well also as she heard “it” was in the U.S. too.  Well maybe in a very minor way, I thought.

At staff meeting later that week, a co-worker came in with hand sanitizer and wouldn’t sit by anyone, and seemed overly anxious about the coronavirus and Italy’s death rate.  I had not paid a lot of attention to the news.  I knew enough, but not enough.  I leaned to the other extreme of indifference.  Neither were good.  That weekend my parents came, and it was just starting to become a problem.  Mom and I had a women’s retreat that was still going on, though other things were closing. We went. We were blessed.  Sunday came and Sunday school was cancelled but the service was still on, and people over 70 were asked to stay home. My 70ish parents who were in town for the weekend came to church, just as always.  A man at our church spoke of some statistics.  Fear begin to overwhelmingly fill me.  I had moved slowly from indifference to acceptance with peace.  But for some reason while he spoke dread filled me.  Filled me.  I teared up, I snuggled into Brad just as the man was saying how serious he was that if you could touch someone you were way too close.  Thankfully after he spoke another woman immediately spoke the words of Psalm 23 – “Yay though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil!”  I struggled all morning through that service with fighting fear, and speaking the Truth of Scripture over in my mind. I didn’t pay attention to much else of the sermon.

That was the 15th.  Since then many of the people I support have been temporarily laid  off, I’ve been asked to do more work remotely, businesses and schools have closed, I’ve struggled to get enough hours at work, and finally yesterday I was told that I too would be sent on furlough.  The last two and a half weeks, I’ve been more intentional than ever to not look at the news much.  I’ve purposely found out the facts of what is happening via sources like the CDC – only when I wanted to look. I’ve worked the stats to discover that while the death toll sounds like astronomical amounts that it is roughly 5% that die from getting this.  That sounds easier to digest than the actual death toll numbers.  I’ve faced the rising fear that has reared it’s head when I see too much news.  But through it all, I’ve also found Psalm 46, and this podcast series on this Psalm to be sources of great peace and solace.

My quiet time lately has me journeying through Jeremiah.  Jeremiah warned of coming destruction and spoke of God wanting His people to turn back, to follow Him, to repent of their ways.  Throughout the book though, the phrase comes, “Yet they would not listen.”

Dr. Youseff, a pastor who I believe preaches solid Biblical wisdom, spoke of things that are global problems, like COVID 19, and how this might be something God wants to use to get the attention of the world.  I think I agree with this, as in Jeremiah disease, famine, and sword were things that God warned were coming on the people because they were insisting on turning their backs on God.

Dear sisters, I do believe that God is reminding believers that He is God alone.  We, even believers, put our hope and trust in so many things that are not God.  This is a world wide problem, but what about the little things that are happening in your life?  About a month ago I wrote in my journal, “Would I really ‘rather have Jesus than silver or gold, than riches untold, than anything this world affords today’?”  And the thing is, sometimes I want what the world offers.  I was writing that in my journal because of a small problem in my personal life. I had to ask myself if Jesus is enough.  Oh, I say He is. But do I live that way?  It made me think.

How about you?  Would you rather have Jesus?  God is giving us all a chance to think of His power and of dependence on Him alone.  We can’t depend on wealth, material things, government, work, or any other temporary thing.  Praise God for His mercy.  One day Jesus will return.  One day God will bring judgment on the world.  Things like the coronavirus are just foreshadows of that final day of destruction, when all who have rejected Jesus as Christ will perish. Oh precious sisters – press on to know God and make Him known. He alone can not be shaken.  He alone holds the world in His hand. He alone can speak one little word “Enough” to stop this pandemic in it’s path.  And if He doesn’t, and chooses to let it continue to run its course — He must have a  reason!  He is Sovereign and trustworthy!  Press on — even during this pandemic!

 

Valentines Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!   I like romance and flowers and pretty things too. I do. It’s true!  (And cheesy rhymes are good today – right?!)   And yet, lately I’ve been thinking of love and of how warped the world’s view of love is.  I’ve seen afresh just how easily my own heart and feelings have been shaped by the world’s concepts, rather than God’s concepts.  Some of this is because I’m now married, and I’ve learned quickly that dating and romance are not the same as marriage and love. Lust and love are different.

 

True love is God’s love – agape love at it’s finest: selfless, pure, giving, sacrificing, a choice.  And it’s hard.  And it takes God’s love in me to be able to give it freely. It is costly.  It is constantly being shaped and refined in me.  It can not be demanded from anyone, least of all my spouse.  So it starts in my own heart, and it lets go of expectations from another.

For instance yesterday morning was Valentines Day.  I’d already discussed it earlier in the week with my husband.  We decided to go out to eat on the weekend, not Valentines Day.  He’d already said clearly that he didn’t need or want anything (even a card).  This stuff doesn’t matter to him.  I’d said I like something, something little.  Something.  This stuff matters much more to me. So yesterday morning he smiled at me and called me his Valentine and hugged me tight.  My heart swelled with feelings of being loved.  Then he said, “Is it ok then if I don’t get you flowers today, but wait until next week?”  My heart’s warm bubble burst in a second.  “Why?” I asked.  He looked at me and said slowly, “Well, to save a few bucks.”  I had an instant choice.  Love him, or demand from him.  If you know my husband, you’d know he loves me. He is generous to me, and good to me.  He also knows I like flowers, and wanted to give me some.  However, we are in a season where our income is lower than it was.  He used to carry $100 in his pocket each week for spending.  He once insisted on buying me a dress at full price, simply because I liked it.  Now he tries to limit unnecessary spending as our income has dropped, and in many ways it is him who has sacrificed the most in this area.  In an instant I decided to love him.  You see, Brad feels most loved when he feels my understanding and kindness to him.  My husband is always honest with me, and I know that Valentines day flowers are more expensive then any other day.  I know this. So I chose to respond in love.  And you know what– my heart swelled afresh with feelings of love and his heart did too! And I was fine, really fine, with just getting a sweet card from him later in the day.  I told him, “You know, if you bring me flowers, any flowers not just roses, as a surprise some day, that means more to me than 100 Valentine flowers.”  So we’ll see if some flowers are bought next week, or if they get forgotten in the manner of life.  But I’ve already determined that I love Brad regardless of if he remembers next week or not, and I’ve already determined to let it go if he forgets.

True love. God’s love.  That is what each day is for. Valentines Day is a fun day.  It’s good to remember to say we love those in our lives, and maybe give them an extra gift, or offer some exciting romance.  But it is not what makes for true love.  And when I was a single, I wanted the romance and the extra attention.  I know Valentines Day can be hard on singles, widows, those whose marriage is not good, or even those whose marriage is good and they want the extra attention but don’t get it.  Regardless, God’s love is true and was given on a cross freely.  His love can make any day, even Valentine’s Day, full of love.  But it will cost you — it will cost you the will to choose this, and that can be hard!  It helps if we are already developing the practice of being loved first by God, and giving His love away — without any demands from any other person.  Precious sisters, you are loved by God so much.  May you press on to learn to give love away everyday.

 

 

Christmas Has It’s Cradle

Merry Christmas!  We are three days away from December 25th and the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

I’ve struggled a bit with holidays lately.  Marriage brings differences between individual’s ideas of a holiday, family traditions, and the challenge of making new traditions and blending old, or even doing away with some things!  I didn’t realize how much I liked the traditions of my childhood and family, until they were no longer constant in my life. And this challenge for me didn’t happen until I married.  I was the last of three children to marry, and when my siblings married, they were not always home, but it didn’t bother me as much because I could still go home and be with my parents and the familiar.  When I married and there became two families to visit and divide time between, and travel included more than me and my schedule, and gift giving and budgets became involved in more than just me and my way of doing things, I had to learn to be a part of new traditions and change expectations.  And it was hard!

I finally understood this year (after 4 years of marriage) that this is probably hard on my parents too!  All this change and kids spread out! (Sorry Mom and Dad! Thanks for going through the adjusting process too!)

I haven’t done as much baking as I used to. I made a total of 46 cookies this year! That is 30 of those pretzel rolo bites, and 16 pecan goody cups.  Not a lot of baking, and not very time consuming!  But it was fun to do, and fun to do while listening to Christmas music! And I needed something to make it “feel” Christmasy!

Today I was thinking of our upcoming Bible Study, which is going to be studying the death and resurrection of Jesus.  I begin to think of a song we used to sing at church that talked about the cross and the cradle and how Christmas has a cradle but the cradle points to the cross.  I decided to look it up. Sort of like O Come O Come Emmanuel this hymn is somber and rich with meaning.  The following are the words:

It is called Christmas Has It’s Cradle and it was written by Rae E. Whitney.

Christmas has its cradle
Where a Baby cried.
Did the lantern’s shadow
Show Him crucified?
Did He foresee darkly
His life’s willing loss?
Christmas has its cradle
And Easter has its cross.

Christmas has its cradle
Shepherds came to see
Little Son of Mary
Lamb of God to be.
Had His Father warned Him
None would grant Him room?
Save in the Christmas cradle
And in the Easter tomb.

Christmas has its cradle
Wise men came to bring
Myrrh and gold and incense
Off’rings for a King.
Myrrh alone stayed with Him
Death’s balm for this Boy
From the Christmas cradle
And to His Easter joy.

Christmas has its cradle
Where that Baby cried.
In the Easter garden
Christ lay crucified.
When death’s pow’r was conquered
God’s life through Him poured.
Christmas has its cradle
And Easter has its Lord.

 

I’m excited to start studying the death and resurrection of Jesus directly as the new year approaches, and as the Christmas season fades.  Each Christian needs a fresh reminder of Jesus’ death and resurrection at this season when, “For unto you this day is born, in the city of David, a Savior. He is Christ the Lord” is read and reread.  Why?  Because we are celebrating the birthday of Jesus.  Jesus, the Savior.  How does Jesus save us?  Well, He was born of a virgin.  The inherent sin of man wasn’t in Him for He was not of man’s seed.  He was the Son of God.  He took on flesh and dwelt among us.  Thirty some years later, He was crucified on a cross because of blaspheme – claiming to be God’s Son.  When He was crucified He took on the sins of all mankind.  He traded His sinlessness for humanity’s sin.  Because He, the sinless Son of God, was crucified all humanity can accept this gift freely given, and trade their sin for the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  But it only is good because of the resurrection of Jesus.  All religious leaders have been born of man.  Only Jesus is God’s Son.  All religious leaders have died.  “Dead, Dead, Dead!” Dr Youseff says. Only Jesus was raised to life.  For He had accomplished taking humanity’s place and bearing the wrath of God over human sin.  He took it, He faced the punishment.  He rose to life.  And those who accept Jesus as Savior and ask Him to take their sin, are acknowledging that Jesus came to earth, died on a cross for the remission of sin, and rose again and will come again in victory one day soon!

Oh precious sisters – Merry Christmas! “For unto you this day is born, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!”

God Is:

 

I  have a husband who loves hymns!  He listens to them and hums them a lot!  This summer I happened to hear one that he was listening to, that I’d never heard before, and it was super catchy.  I found myself singing the one line I had heard over and over and over. We went on a little weekend trip, and Brad started humming that song.  I asked him to teach it to me.  He said it is just a chorus that his church used to use to tie hymns together, and it goes like this:

 

 

Let’s talk about Jesus–

The King of kings is He,

The Lord of lords supreme–

Through all eternity.

The Great I Am, the Way,

The Truth, The Life, The Door.

Let’s talk about Jesus more and more!

Love it!  I find myself singing it often lately.  Another line of a song I’ve come to learn through my husband is, “In times like these, you need an anchor.  Be very sure your anchor holds and grips the solid Rock.”

I was listening to a podcast the other day, and the speaker said in trials of life we need two anchors.  She said boats in a stormy sea actually need two anchors so to tether the boat so it doesn’t pull against one anchor and eventually snap the anchor with all it’s thrashing.  She noted that in stormy seasons of life the two anchors that have tethered her are: God is good and God is Sovereign.

I find that lately I have been repeating some lists of names of God I’ve noted in my recent quiet times.  When life is stormy, uncertain and we don’t see the goodness around us –rather we see the evil, the trials, and the hardships — these are the times we need an anchor.  His name is Jesus.  Jesus says He is the exact representation of God.  God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the three aspects of our Triune God.  Our God that is an amazing God!  The more I dwell on who God is, and what He does, the more peace floods my soul.  Peace that the world –and my life- is in God’s control.

Do you need an anchor today?  Here is a list for you.  As I read through Isaiah recently I made a list of the names of God listed just in this book.  I challenge you to say out loud  — God is:

  • The Holy One
  • The High and Exalted One
  • The Almighty One
  • The Maker and Creator
  • The Righteous One
  • The Majestic One
  • The Upright One
  • The God of  Truth
  • The King
  • The Lawgiver and Judge
  • The Defense for the helpless, needy, and distressed
  • The Teacher
  • The Potter
  • The Father
  • The Lord God of Hosts
  • The Refuge
  • The Rock
  • The Savior
  • The Lord God
  • Jesus: The Everlasting Father, The Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace

Dear sisters — let’s talk about Jesus more and more!  Our God is our anchor in every day life.  He is good.  He is Sovereign.  He is our Counselor, our Defense and Refuge when we are needy and helpless.  He is the Lord God of Hosts, and everything is in His control!  Praise God!  May you press into all He is today, in whatever season you are facing.  He loves you so much!

 

A Poem (an honest look at my heart)

 

Lord,

Teach me to pray, I plead.

He gives me a man,

Who according to plan,

Is different than me,

Submit to he.

 

He gives me a season

And tells me no reason.

Backwards I feel,

and sometimes cheated!

Life was a blast, but that is past.

I was growing and thriving,

But now I feel dying.

Lord! Who am I? Where are You?

What are You doing? I cry!

 

He asks me to trust

His plan is the best.

He changes my ways

By giving me trials.

He changes my habits

By revealing my madness.

 

Madness?

Yes, madness:

The things down inside

I try so to hide.

Things like pride,

And my selfish side.

 

Don’t get me started

On how life has parted

From child-like simplicity

To adult complexity.

Do I even like the me I see?

 

Sin in me.

God’s grace to me.

He reveals and prods,

My heart He pokes.

I don’t like it! I angrily balk!

 

Then talk! Responds He to me.

Tell Me your dreams and worries.

Tell Me your fears and joys.

Tell Me your sorrows

And whisper your secrets.

Confess your sins and ask My advice.

Ask Me about My promises,

And verbalize your praise.

 

Then read My Word,

Let Me tell you:

My plans not yours,

My will not yours,

My life for yours.

Your surrender a must

So therefore trust.

 

Teach me to pray, you say?

My Child,

This season is reason

To pull from your heart

The madness and confusion —

To set you apart

To make you who I want.

 

Trust Me, dear child,

I know what I’m doing.

A man, you his wife,

This season, your life,

Are but tools I use

To teach you to pray.

Look Into Your Father’s Eyes

When I met my husband five and a half years ago, I delighted in meeting his friends and those who knew him well.  I wanted to watch him interact with people whom he was comfortable with, people who knew when he was being real or putting on a show for the new girlfriend!  I need not have worried, for my husband is real.  What you see is what you get.  Anyway, the second couple he introduced me to were Holly and Joe.  The first time I met this couple, my now husband warned me that the wife was in a wheelchair.  He knew I had no problem with that, he just wanted to prepare me.  Before the end of that first meeting, this woman enthusiastically informed me she wanted a picture of me because other friends were curious as to this new girl in Brad’s life!  She had a warm heart, and a nice smile.  I immediately liked her.

When deciding who to ask to stand up with him at our wedding, my husband picked Joe.  Over the next years we hung out occasionally.  Two weeks ago, I was shocked to hear that Holly had died.  As I mentioned, Holly lived her life from a wheelchair.  But it wasn’t always so.  She developed Muscular Dystrophy in her teens.  The cause of death was not directly related to muscular dystrophy, rather the muscular dystrophy perhaps caused her body to not be able to fight as well.  I learned she coughed and choked, and this led to cardiac arrest, which turned in to her being hooked up to life support.  That was a very hard day for many people.

At her funeral many wonderful tributes were read.  Much of what was said impacted me.  One story keeps replaying in my brain.  Her father told of the time after she had been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.  There are multiple forms of the disease, so doctors needed a muscle sample to determine which form she was facing.  As any type of anesthesia would keep them from reading the results accurately, they needed to take a sample from her arm with out the use of a pain numbing aid.  There were very few dry eyes in the room (from those easily given to tears that is), as her dad relayed how she had determinedly locked her eyes onto his and squeezed his hand, tears streaming down her face, and the barest amount of sound being aloud to escape from her mouth.  No complaint.  Just determination, locked eyes with her dad, and a tight grip on his hand.

That story moves me.  That story caused her dad to tear up as he relayed it.  I’m sure his mind and emotions were grappling with not only the story, but the memory of that day.  Memories have a way of becoming real to us, sometimes.  I bet that memory was very real to her dad as he retold it again at her funeral.  I’m sure he saw her eyes, felt her hand squeezing his, and felt afresh the emotion of watching his child in pain with nothing he could do.

It’s been making me think of our own trials.  It’s been making me think of how most of us walk through painful experiences.  And this life, as Jesus once told us it would be, is filled with troubles (John 16:33).  We are told to rejoice in trials, for the testing of our faith ultimately produces character and maturity in us (James 1: 2-4).  Now, most of us do not rejoice in trials.  We complain.  We hide.  We run.  We minimize.  We fear.  We seek an out at all costs.  This, I’m convinced, is a growing process to learn to rejoice in trials.  However, as I think of this story, I’m also convinced that the only way to face any trouble, pain, or trial is to lock our eyes onto Jesus, who faced extreme suffering for us.  We must hold his hand and squeeze it for all we are worth.  How do we do that?  Whatever our circumstance, we pray and cry to Jesus.  We ask that we suffer well.  We tell ourselves over and over the goodness of His character.  We cling to all we know of Him.  We determine to trust His plan, even when it seems like our world is crumbling.  We hold tightly to God.  We offer a sacrifice of praise — verbally and internally choosing praise.  We confess our distrust of God and His character.  We confess our fears.  We confess our complaining spirit.  I believe all these things are the ways we lock our eyes onto Christ and grip His hand through our troubles.

Christ Jesus knows suffering.  He is the Man of Sorrows.  Isaiah tells us that Jesus, “was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.”  (Isaiah 53).  Oh precious sisters in Christ!  What a blessing it is to have Christ Jesus on our team whenever we suffer, walk through painful trials and seasons, or are in a time of trouble!  Press on dear child of God, for Jesus is the Man of Sorrow whose hands have known the piercing of a nail as He was hung on a cross.  His pain became unimaginable as His physical pain was overcome by the emotional pain of God the Father turning His face away.  Jesus hung on that cross, crying out to God asking why He was being forsaken.  The amazing truth is that God had to turn from the sin that Christ took on Himself for you and for me.  But praise be to God — because Jesus Christ took our sin on Himself, you and I will never experience what it is to have God himself forsake us!  He states, “never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” (Joshuah 1:5).

Oh dear sisters, in whatever season of trial you find yourself in, may you lock your eyes on Jesus, cling to His hand, and triumph over the enemy of your soul.  Satan wants you to drown in pain and defeat.  Christ Jesus became the Man of Sorrow so you would be able to overcome.  Oh, let my friend Holly’s story be a vivid reminder of how precious is the hand and face of your Father in whatever you are facing!

Oh Be Careful Little Ears What You Hear

There are so many voices in my head.  Of course there are my own thoughts, but then in the culture we live in we are also exposed to so many other people’s thoughts and opinions.  We have tv and radio.  But we also have oodles of books easily available at the library or bookstore. We even have books available for download immediately. We have tweets and social media posts.  We have blogs and online access to a world wide database.  We have podcasts. We have magazines.  Need I continue?  I doubt anyone disagrees over the vast wealth of resources available to us, vast amount of noise we hear each day, and the vastness of the messages entering our minds.

Yet here I am writing on a blog.  Ironic.  Sometimes I wonder if I should stop writing.  After all, I’m just another voice.  In fact, I rarely read other blogs.  I don’t follow any.  I’ve even been working on giving up cooking blogs.  I find myself comparing how the author lives her life or if she cooks with organic or gluten free food, or if she is building her dream home.  I come out either lacking or winning.  I find myself engrossed in another person’s life, when all I really wanted was a recipe.  I’m heading back to cookbooks so I can work further on this.  Most people now want recipes on their phone or tablet.  I understand that I am an abnormality to want a book to hold! None of this stuff that I’ve just listed is bad.  Neither are the books, resources, and things we hear.  Some of it is helpful and great.  Some of it is wise.  And having access to sermons, Bible studies, and the like is wonderful!  Yet still, I’m wondering…

Wondering deep in the recesses of my being:  What is Truth?  What is it that I listen to and take in without even considering truth.  And I can find lots of contradictions and disagreements, even in the Christian realm.  I wonder if we have so much access to others ideas and opinions that we fail to be in the Word of God as we should, or in prayer as we need.  I’m not pointing fingers.  I’m right there with you.  I want to know God and His Word, I want to spend time praying, because I know I need it.  I know the voices from all over are easy and alluring, even the good stuff.  And the good stuff, is good.  It is helpful.

But what happens when I’m more confused than ever when other voices speak?  What happens when I don’t know what to think anymore?  I’m learning that I must be in God’s Word more and more.  I need my mind renewed with God’s mind.  He promises us everything we need for life and godliness. 2 Peter 1: 2-3 says, “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.  His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”  I love that, we can have peace, and everything we need for a godly life!  And it comes through the knowledge of God and of Jesus.  This is found in the Bible!

Oh precious sisters what are we listening to?  Today I read an article that I found myself mulling over.  The topic of the article: divorce.  This from a woman who experienced the trauma of divorce, the stigma, the years of praying that God would change her marriage, and now being out of her marriage and finding God loving her still.  I found myself wondering and thinking.  I have several people in my life in very hard marriages; some of them want out.  This article got me thinking.  She had read an article on sins that Christians overlook, one being divorce.  She responded in her article by stating that, “Divorce always involves sin, but divorce itself is not always a sin.”   I went back to my own thoughts on divorce and marriage.  I know a pastor who advocates that no one divorced should remarry.  I have several people in my life in happy second marriages, not just happy but seeking to honor God in their second marriage.   But the biggest take away I had was a deep desire to study marriage and divorce from God’s Word for myself, afresh. In fact a friend and I just decided to study this topic together, and I’m super excited!  But the warning is that context and the whole counsel of the whole Bible have to be considered.  It is far to easy to take one passage and twist it to my way of thinking.  Rather, I need to read God’s Word with His help.  I need to listen to the Holy Spirit teach me Truth.  Because here is the thing:  I didn’t read the original article on the sins Christians overlook that prompted the article I did read.  However, I know in our culture that divorce can be a sin.  I like that this author stated that divorce is not always a sin, but it always involves sin.  She went on to say, “divorce only requires one hardened heart to turn against God and against his/her vows.”  True, sin is involved whenever a heart is hard to God.  But all this to say, this article provoked my brain.  I thought and thought and thought.  This article became another voice that I needed to take in and process.

Oh be careful little ears what you hear… for the Father up above is looking down with love, so be careful little ears what you hear.  I know for certain my ears and mind are hearing things, and I’m also certain that I need to pursue God’s heart and truth with all that is within me.  I sadly feel that we’ve lost something in our society with all the instant news, opinions, blogs, and books available.  I feel that we (me included) have lost the ability to be still with God.  We read articles and hear sermons, and we fail to go back to God and His Word.  I am convinced that when we do go back to God and His Word and actually spend quality time listening to God, He will reveal His Truth, and His will for our certain situations. The Bereans searched the Scriptures to see if what they heard was true (Acts 17:11).  Oh precious sisters, let’s search out the Word of God this year!  Let’s pray and work on developing the practice of hearing God’s voice!  Now, I’m not saying we are not busy people.  And I’m not putting guilt on us when we are busy and have a hard time reading the Bible.  Trust me, I’ve been there!  What I am saying is that I want you and me to be women who desire to be in God’s Word, who speak with Him about ways we can be in His Word more, and who find ways to listen to God above all the other voices — even above good voices of pastors, sermons, and Christian authors.

Press on dear women!  God’s Truth and Word are available to tune our ears so that what we listen to is first and foremost from Him! Godly counselors can help us hear God, but here is truth:  The only thing we really need is God and His Spirit.  How I pray you and I ask God for more of His Truth and His Spirit in us to teach us how to listen and decipher all the voices.  For God is a God of love, and He loves you so much!