Wednesday, August 31, 2011

He Speaks

I just got back from vacation and I must say it was truly wonderful. We went to the beach.

I absolutely, positively love the beach and everything about it. The warmth of the sunshine on my body, the feel of my toes wiggling in the sand, the ocean with it's mighty waves to frolic in; all of it is a little piece of bliss to me. All of creation speaks to us of God, but at the beach it shouted to me.

I definitely can see the mightiness of God in all of it. Do you know the power of the ocean? It is greater than I. It knocked me on my butt a few times! The sunrises, oh my goodness I don't posses the vocabulary to do it justice. The colors, the creatures, the sounds and smells, I could go on and on. Open your eyes...

I really don't see how one could sit on the shore looking out at the depths of the ocean, the power of the waves, the myriad of colors and not know that there is a God that created it. His beauty, it is inspiring.

I went para-sailing for the first time ever. It was awesome! From that height, looking at the vastness of all God has created...we really are so very small. We are so very small, yet God created all of this beauty to speak to us, to point us to Him, to show us how much He cares. It is not just at the beach either, he is everywhere. Just look...

I've only seen a small sampling of His wonderful creation and I am amazed. Take a look around you.

We can see Him day in and day out around us if we will just open our heart and look.

Are you willing?

We have to put aside the troubles of this workd and focus on Him.

He loves us so is written all around you.

This song by Josh Wilson kind of sums it up for me. It is called "Behind the Beauty", enjoy...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beautiful Flaws

Isn't it nice to know that even with our flaws, the Lord can mold us into a useful vessel? When I keep my eyes on the Lord I am unstoppable. I realize I am uniquely created by Him for a purpose. It's when I get caught up in the world that I loose my focus. I start comparing myself to others and forget that I am special in my own right.

As are you!

Keeping that focus is important in order to accomplish what we were made to accomplish. The world is ready and willing to show us just how flawed we are, how we don't measure up, and the areas where we lack in comparison to it's standard. You probably have a list of areas that you feel are inadequate, flawed, different from others. We don't need help on that end!

I have always known I was flawed, different...broken. You find out after awhile when you are born with a chronic illness that your "norm" isn't the norm for everyone else. I tried for years to out run the label of the "sick" child. One day a classmate asked me if I could, would I change my experience of growing up with a chronic illness. It stopped me short. In my own head "sick" had taken on a label of imperfect. I had forgotten I was uniquely created by a loving Father for a purpose. Investing my time trying to outrun the world's label had allowed me to loose my focus.

As I pondered the question, I can honestly say no I would not change my experience. Everything I have been through, the experiences I have had are what shaped, or molded, me into who I am today. If I trust what the word says then I know that who I am is no accident. Isaiah 64:8 tells us that "you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter, we are all the work of Your hand." I don't have all the answers to the tough questions like why children suffer. I do, however, know that the Lord has a plan for every vessel, even the ones the world calls flawed, imperfect, or misshapen.

For reasons known only unto the Lord, He allowed the chronic illness of kidney failure to touch my life. In Jeremiah 18:1-4  it says "This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 'Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message.' So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him." So the Lord knows the plan He has for us and as such He shapes us into the "perfect" vessel for that purpose. Beautiful!

I still struggle at times. I think, we all do. I also think that is why we need a community of believers to stand with us and remind us...oh friends we fall short. It has been my experience that we have been just as bad as the world at pointing, picking and tearing each other down. Let's commit to do better.

I think sometimes life is so painful because we struggle and fight the intended purpose of our particular vessel. I mean, maybe you are a serving dish but you want to be a flower vase. In your mind that is more glamorous. You want to be out at the center of the table. You are not going to feel comfortable or be successful at your work if you fight your intended purpose. You may think you know better at what you need to be doing, but friend you are wrong. If we would just seek the Lord, we would be a great success and most comfortable as we are doing what were created to do. we woudl eb in the center, of His will. When a vessel is working in it's intended capacity, beauty happens!

The Creator is pleased!

Tthe creation is happy!

Those that are there to see the work or are directly affected by it are blessed!

Find beauty in your flaws.

The Potter's Hand, hope you enjoy this song. It is one of my favorites.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wonderful Names

I did this Bible study by Kay Arthur called "Lord I Want to Know You". It was an amazing study. I would love to do it again in a group setting for differing perspectives and insights. I was supposed to do this one with some peeps but I got ditched. That is neither here nor there so I digress, let's move on.

It was a wonderful study on the names of God. Unlike our culture today, where people take names for their children from TV shows, books, or songs they love (nothing wrong with this I am just making a point), names held true significance in Bible times. Names were meaningful. They were descriptive and you could learn something about the person from their name. For example; it identified them, their family of origin, and/or a specific characteristic.

Our heavenly Father has many names. I find them beautiful and can't say I pronounce them well but I do try. At it says the names of God are like "miniature portraits and promises'. I love that! It goes on to talk about how God reveals His names to His people, that we don't name him. This is.a very important point to remember. We don't get to define God; who He is, His character, or what He does. Also God often changed the name of his people: Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Peter to the rock are a few examples.

God has so many beautiful names I wish I could list them all for you. I would suggest if you are going through something then look for His specific name that addresses your issue/problem. I just know that meant something special to me. For example, in my sickness I pray to him as Jehovah Raphe which means the Lord who Heals. His name holds power.

I was inspired so I penned the following about the names of Jesus:

Awesome Creator, who knit me in the womb
I cannot fathom your power.
Yeshua God, whom shall I fear
I take refuge in your strong tower.

El Shaddai, Emanuel,
I desire to boast in your name.
You know time from beginning to end
and yet for me you still came.

Adonai, my master and Lord
the God who sees, El Roi.
Do I, your creation, who often stumbles
do I bring you pleasure and joy?

Your names are beautiful, descriptive and true
each is special to me.
My favorite part is that I am blessed
to call you my Abba Daddy.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Look Through The Right Mirror

I was in line at the grocery store the other day when I overheard some ladies talking. What caught my attention was their topic of conversation. They were discussing scars. Actually, they were downing some lady who dared to exit her home without making sure her scars were well concealed. In this day and age of beauty products that exist to hide those unsightly things, I mean really how could she.

I do hope you get my SARCASM...I was livid. it just hit me wrong.

I wonder if these ladies can even begin to fathom the story behind this lady's scars. Her struggles. Her pain. Her battles won.

They could, very well, have been talking about me.

I know about scars. I am a virtual road map of zig-zaggady lines that form a hodge-podge quilt of sorts across my entire body. Having had 20+ surgeries over my lifetime thus far, (not to mention all the tests and procedures) well there is not an inch of me where a story is not imbedded. A story of victory. A story of survival. A story of God's grace and healing.

Those of you who sit back with your perfectly manicured nails, sculpted bodies (that, by the way, have never had the likes of a knife slicing through it) and not a hair out of place - shame on you.

Shame on you for being critical of her. Do you know her struggle? Scars are proof of battles hard fought. Of strength and survival. If you only knew her story, my story. If you only cared enough to get to know the woman behind the scar, I guarantee you she has a story. It's definitely worth hearing too. She is a survivor!

I use to try and hide my scars. I've felt embarrassed. I am still self-conscious at times. I have seen people stare. I've tried so many scar removal remedies; lotions and creams, it's ridiculous. By the way, they are are a rip-off. Yes, I tried them. Cause I bought into the worldly lie of what beauty is supposed to look like. Of what my standard of beauty should be. That my scars are unsightly. I still do at times, if I'm not careful. The desire to be just the right size, a more flattering shape, thicker hair, longer lashes, fewer wrinkles, a clear complextion, straighter nose, flatter belly, smaller ears, just a wee bit taller, the list goes on and on...and on. I guarantee, every lady that is reading this is also doing a mental check-off of her own list of identified imperfections.

We are critical of ourselves and of each other as we base our judgement on what the world tells us is beautiful, lovely, attractive, wonderful. And guess what? we pass it on to our kids as they start obsessing about being thin, cute, accepted...

My anger turns to sadness.

I remember...the Lord's standard. Luke 12:7 says that the very hairs of my head are numbered, that we are not to be afraid as we are worth more than sparrows. I'd say that's pretty important. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Elohim means Creator. He is our Creator. What He creates is beautiful.

Psalm 139:13-17 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. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!"

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Are you a bit in awe right now, I am.

I don't say that sister friend, God does. He made me. He knew the path my life would take. He calls me beautifully made. Who am I or who are you to say differently!

We need to remind each other of our beauty. We need to build each other up. Isn't there enough negative messages in the world today?

Scars tell a story.

Jesus has scars. He also has a story of victory. He bore those scars for you and for me. I can't wait to see him one day face to face. To hold the precious hand that bore a nail for me. To see the brow that once bore a crown of thorns replaced with a crown of glory. To look into the eyes of the one who truly knows, who is the definition of  unconditional love. To hear the story of His scars straight from his own lips. See I think Jesus loves us in our scars. He knows each one. He was there with us, holding us through each painful piercing cut that formed the scar. Let Him heal your scars. Let Him heal your view of yourself.

We need to re-define our view of ourselves and look in the mirror through the eyes of Jesus.

I'm going to wear my scars proud...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Poison Darts

What we say matters. The little ditty we learn as kids that says "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" is a lie straight from the pits of hell. Words cut deep. Words once spoken, cannot be taken back. They leave invisible scars. Scars that can be re-opened unintentionally, carelessly, at the whim of a mean-spirited person. They last forever, running over and over in our brains until we begin to believe the awful words that were spoken.

As a counselor I've worked with people that have been abused. Horrible cases of severe beatings, emotional torment and sexual assault. Would it surprise you that I've also heard from these same people that they would rather take a physical beating than the emotional/verbal abuse any day.

Shocking huh?

Think about can see the results of a physical assault. Bruises, cuts, wounds that ooze and fester. We go to the doctor, get medicine and put bandages on those. You see that hurt and you feel for the person, perhaps you even want to comfort them. You can continue to treat the wound and watch the process of healing. In a verbal assault, the emotional trauma is internal.

You cannot see the scars of the verbal dart to the soul. The bleeding, oozing, festering is deep and it grows deeper and redder with each swift slice of the tongue. Psalm 64:3 says "they sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows." It goes on in Proverbs 12:18 to say the "words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." Wounds left by our own words can be re-opened and no one is the wiser while the victim is left writhing in pain and completely broken.

You may not think of yourself as an abuser, but if you've ever landed a punch to the gut with a string of sarcastic prattle, then my friend join the club. You committed verbal abuse. We are all guilty. 

Our words, yours and mine, can be a poisonous venom that works its way throughout a person's system until they are completely and utterly destroyed OR our words can be a blessed note of praise that works its way throughout the person's system adding a note to the melody of their life song. Psalm 19:14 says "let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer".

So remember your words matter. Guard your tongue. Think before you speak. Psalm 141:3 says "set a guard over my mouth, Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips." Also Proverbs 21:23 says "those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity." 

The spoken word is powerful. James 3:5 & 6 says "likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one's life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." In 1 Peter 3:10 it says "for, whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech." 

A harsh word spoken in anger. A frustrated insult. A sarcastic comment. Colossians 3:8 says "but now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these; anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips."

Parents your words can be a huge boost to your child's self esteem. Proverbs 15:4 says "the soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit." 

Husbands/wives your words can help your spouse feel valued. Colossians 4:6 says "let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone."

Employee your kind words can diffuse an irate customer. Proverbs 15:1 & 2 says that "a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. the tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly."  

Teacher your words can be an encouragement to inspire a generation. Ephesians 4:29 says to "not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen."

You can go through life shooting poison darts and spreading venom or you can add notes to the symphony of someone's life song. I don't know about you but I want to make music!

This is one of my favorite songs by Aaron Shust. I thought it was appropriate.  

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Proof is Continuous

I'm reading the book "Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo. I wasn't going to read it, but recently I've been bombarded with this book. I heard about it on the radio, overheard some lady talking about it, and I think it's on the best seller list. I actually forget who all mentioned it, as I was in ignore-mode.

I was house and doggy sitting for my brother when my nephew brought up "the book" again. I listened intently as he raved about it with great enthusiasm. He brought it to me, so I decided I would check it out. If anything, it will give me a good topic of discussion for my next lunch with him. I can connect so easily with my nieces but with my nephews it can be a challenge. Anyway, he'd just finished the book and gave me his copy.

I had made a determination I wasn't really interested after I heard a person comment "oh my goodness, it makes you believe there is a heaven." This kind of comment always throws me for a loop. I reverted back to a thought when, years ago, my friend was bound and determined that I needed to "watch this video cause it proves the flood really happened".

Let me just impart right here, my friend meant well and I am not downing the book. I actually like the book. It's really well written and a good read. I'm just flabbergasted when someone uses a book, film, or other means to "convince and/or prove" to people there is a God or something from the Bible really happened.

All the proof we ever need exists around us in a continuous cycle of life, if we would stop to look.

I know the Lord can use whatever means necessary to 'show' himself. But doesn't He already? Don't you see Him in His creation? In the quiet stillness of the morning sunrise, He is there. In the beautiful colors of blooming spring, He is there. In the rush of the ocean tides, He is there. In the awesomeness of creation, He is there! If you do not see Him in the world around you, if it does not draw you to seek after Him in His Word; how in the world is a book or film written or made by mere humans going to convince you?

He has left His footprints for us to follow if we would but open our eyes.

Did you know, the earth hangs 93 billion miles from the blistering surface of the sun? A few degrees closer and we'd disintegrate, a few degrees farther and we'd freeze. The axis of the earth is tilted at a perfect 23 degree angle. This allows for the perfect amount of sunshine to be distributed in order for the food chain to exist. Did you know, the moon controls the tides? Did you know, the stars rotate with such precision that the atomic clock is set, with an error factor of less than 3 seconds per millennium, by the way they move? Did you know earth has the exact perfect combination of nitrogen and oxygen so we can breath. That is no mistake or happenstance, I'd call it precision.

The Bible says in Romans 1:20 "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--His eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." The Bible also says "the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands" Psalm 19:1

What more proof do you need?

Some of the above was taken from a song by Carmen's "There is a God". Here it is:

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pity-Party Humbled

As I sit today contemplating a recent contact from someone I really do truly love, I have to be honest. I'm mad and a bit put out. Yes, a little on the angry side, for sure pouting, but mostly it's hurt I'm feeling. It seems to me there are an awful lot of people, friends, and even family that only contact you when they need something. It's a quick "hello" with a "how do you do" so they can jump into the importance of themselves; their needs, hurts, wants, and desires.

That is about as far as I got in my little pity-party before the Lord, as he so often does, kicked my butt with a gentle thought..."and isn't that how you so often come to me?" Ouch! Yes, Lord, yes it is.

I'm often running through my day trying to keep up with the hustle and bustle of daily life and just throwing up quick prayers. I come to the Lord with a quick "Dear Father, I love You...please remember I need patience for so-and-so as he's getting on my nerves, I want to love for my clients truly I do so help me out here cause they're just plain crazy, please calm this weather down it's been so nasty as I'll be out and about today for meetings, keep me safe and could you throw in a good parking place at the court house cause it's always a pain to find parking!

I make fun, but seriously don't you do the very same thing? I know I do. I run to the Lord with my laundry list of needs, hurts, wants, and desires and throw in an "I love you:" and "thanks" as a side note. How backwards is that? How must my Savior feel? Probably, I would guess, ever deeply more than I do this morning. I mean He gave so much for you and me. I can tell you I've never done anything unconditional or heroic for my friends. I love them, but I didn't lay down my life for them like Christ did for me.

So when is the last time you called on your Savior just to say "I love you Lord", to sing to Him in open worship all by yourself, to read His word back to Him in praise, or to give thanks in quiet contemplation on all He did and still does for you. My thoughts turn a bit humbling and I feel the need to wrap it up. I love to write, but right now I have a need to worship my Lord in the quiet stillness of this calm morning.

Oh and by the way, call a friend just cause you love them!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

To Know Love

Today is Easter and I have to say I have experienced a lot of firsts this Easter. A very good, much needed thing as it has helped me to remember the cross not as the story I know because I hear it told year after year but as the scandalous, beautiful, expression of love that is the foundation of our faith. It was my first Easter Pageant Celebration, my first Holy week services, my first Lord's supper that we dipped from the same cup, my first Friday night service leaving in darkness (so profound), and a beautiful sunrise service. It has all been most awesome and thought provoking.

The Easter pageant celebration was our choir's celebration of Jesus' life from birth through resurrection. We dressed in Jewish garb, sang songs and there were acting parts of strategic highlights from Jesus' life that brought the story to life. It was a powerful production and if I had really let myself think about it I would not have been able to get through it dry eyed.

We had to play all parts, meaning following Jesus as wide-eyed worshipers in one scene and then yelling as the angry mob when we did not get the king we wanted. I was caught off guard when our director, Dave, said to shout things like "crucify him", "blasphemer", "guilty'. It was difficult. Many said "I can't say that". I was not immune as I thought to myself I can't say that, that is horrible. It was too. When you think on what Jesus endured, His death, it was as our pastor says "scandalous".

Make no mistake though. He endured ridicule, beating, mocking, whipping, and being nailed to a cross for me and for you. In essence we have all said "crucify Him". We were enemies of Jesus in our sin. You still are if you have never accepted Him as Savior. It was our sin that held Him there. He choose to endure all of it because He knew us (the Bible says, before He formed you in your mother's womb, He knew you. Jeremiah 1:5), He loved us (the Bible says, for God so loved the world that He gave his only Son. John 3:16), and He desires for us to be with Him in eternity (the bible says, God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:3 & 4). Yes, Jesus did this for us. It was intentional. It is why He came...and we think we know love. If you know not Jesus, you know not love. 

There is a song that comes to mind by Nichole Nordeman called 'How Deep the Father's Love For Us" that sums it up. I'll leave you with her words for in His gift, I have life, hallelujah!! 

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Thank you Jesus!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Change in Attitude

About 3 weeks ago our pastor, Wyman Richardson, preached on Romans 9:1-3. I'll probably butcher it bit, but I'll try my best to present it as well as he did. Hopefully, I can adequately verbalize the main point. The basis is that Paul's heart is breaking over the Jews lostness. This was just the introduction to the battle that would rage within my heart over the nest week. I could blame Wyman for my discomfort, but I know well it was the Lord's conviction that left my heart hurting. So here goes...

"I am telling the truth in Christ. I am not lying, my conscious bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsman according to the flesh". Did you catch that? Yeah, me either. I've read the Bible through a couple of times and never caught it. However, as presented this particular Sunday it came barreling through my consciousness like a ton of bricks.

Paul is so concerned for his "kinsman" he says he wishes he could trade places. He states if he could be "accursed" and give up heaven, take their place in hell for their sake, he would. I have to admit when Pastor Wyman asked "can you say that?" My immediate thought was an emphatic NO WAY!!! For a person that has never had the experience of a healthy body, I'm kind of looking forward with great anticipation the new, glorified one I will be receiving. I have imagined myself on occasion skipping along on the streets of gold chatting with Mary and Martha, looking to Jesus and praising him in person.

First of all, it is hard to imagine something that isn't possible. We know that once you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you can't trade heaven. You are sealed once for all, Praise the Lord!! So imagining that scenario is difficult given the fact that it isn't a possibility. However, the truth behind the point is profound and left me in conflict. Wyman stated (as I sent him a text later. I am a slow processor and this would not leave my mind until I had it settled in my heart). This is the heart of Christ and we should be, need to be willing. Willing to have such concern over our "kinsman" that we would do whatever it takes to point them to the cross.

I can't say I am there. In my flesh I still wrestle with thoughts. I do believe wholeheartedly though that the Lord brought out a point directly to me in my current life situation. Those that know me well know there is a particular situation and two particular individuals that I struggle with on a consistent basis. I have to confess, they are not the problem. I am. This was part of my lesson.

The sermon brought so pointedly by our pastor was the Lord's way to get my attention. I'd let my circumstances dictate my happiness. It became about me. My attitude stunk. I wallowed in self pity. I wrestled with this message. I told the Lord, he couldn't be serious. As He began to soften my heart, I realized I am in this particular time and place for a reason. Honestly, I do not wish hell on these people. Really I just wanted out! I wanted rid of them, move me, move them I didn't care I just did not want to have to deal with them anymore. I asked the Lord, why me? It was like he pressed my heart and said "why not you?"

You see I can't trade heaven for you or anyone else for that matter. Only Christ in His perfection can do that (and did)! However, I can be in a place, situation, class, be a light and to point people toward the Savior. So what if they are mean to me. So what if it is uncomfortable. So what if it is challenging. Oh my goodness, look what Christ endured for me and for you. I have no right. I had quit caring for lost people. Seriously, what can I expect from people who do not know Christ as their Lord and Savior. Exactly what I was getting.

The word says it is easy to love those that love you but the challenge is to love those that are unlovable. Luke 6:32 & 35 "If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the most high. For He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." I know the challenging people in my life to not know Christ. So why was I expecting them to behave as if they did? I had quit praying for them. I had begun to despise them. Ouch! That is purely and simply, sin.

I can tell you as I began to pray and repent and tell the Lord I didn't like it but I would be obedient, He was faithful (and I am still a work in progress). They still pull punches and throw low blows, but the Lord is giving me strength. It's certainly not me! I often joke that the Lord made me small for a reason. In my flesh, I can be a little terror. I have a temper! I can say though that I certainly ask Him now on a daily basis to change my attitude and help me be willing to be His vessel. Oh, I still struggle, but the desire to get there is real. I truly want to be willing to say I'll do anything Lord. For now, for me that means sticking it out in this situation. I can do all things in Christ who gives me strength.

So where are you today? To whom is Christ asking you to be "His vessel"? What situation has you so beaten down that you are willing to throw in the towel? I challenge you, don't ask God to move you ask Him to sustain you and work through you. This last week, though busy, has been a breath of fresh air compared to the last couple of months for me. i have to give God the glory cause it is not me.They have not changed, but my attitude toward them has. I ask that you continue to pray for my attitude. Ask me about how it is going. i want to be His light while I am here!  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

That's Not Really What I Had in Mind

Ever get frustrated because you feel you aren't hearing from the Lord? You pray about an issue, fret about it, and pray about it some more. You share with your trusted "prayer warriors" because you just aren't hearing from the Lord. You ask for help and ask the Lord why He is so silent on the issue. Someone says something to you about it and you get a little defensive, after all you are praying about it, right?

Yeah well, praying, maybe but for who's will?

This reminds me of the story of a man in his home as flood waters approach. He prays for the Lord to save him from certain death. A car comes by and the people offer him a ride. Nope, he replies. I'm waiting on the Lord to save me. He moves indoors to the 2nd floor as the waters reach his home. A boat comes by and the people implore him to get in. Again he says no, as he is waiting on the Lord. The flood overtakes his home and he gets on the roof. As a helicopter hovers above he refuses the rescue as, yeah you get it, he is waiting on the Lord to save him. Then he dies and goes to heaven. He asks the Lord, why did you not save me, to which the Lord replies, I sent you a car, a boat and a helicopter for you what more did you want?

That's the same way it was when Jesus came. The Jews wanted a warrior, a King who would come charging in and save them and give them peace. Peace on earth for a time. A nice idea, but not what the Lord had in mind. He saw the big picture. He was sent to save the world "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son. that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him." John 3:16-17.

The Jews prayed and awaited their King, but they missed Him. They missed Him because He didn't come how they wanted Him too. It wasn't their way. It didn't make any sense. He answered their prayer but according to His perfect will not theirs. He came in the way that would give ALL peace, eternal peace.

I can tell myself they were stupid for missing the most important facet of life ever. Yet I am just like them. When I pray for something, it is with a preconceived idea of how I think it should be. How I want it to be. The Lord answers, but I don't like the answer so I keep at it. Like the child who asks one parent for something and not getting the answer he/she desires goes to the other parent.

Ever thought about it that way? I think I am on the right path but I find myself telling my Creator, "Yeah, really not what I had in mind Lord. I don't like where You're going with this so I'll just take it from here." I want my will really not yours. So what was I praying about? Wow, if I say I trust Him, this is certainly not living like I do.

There are many versus in the Bible that speak about prayer. "Pray without ceasing" 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Versus that speak about the Lord hearing us and answering our prayer. He will show us things as Jeremiah 33:3 says "call unto Me and I will answer you, and show you great and hidden things that you have not known". However, we must truly be seeking His will and not ours. We need to listen for Him. To listen, we must be in His presence seeking Him. He tells us in Jeremiah if we seek Him, He will be found. Psalm 46:10 says "be still and know that I am God". I need to be still. I need to listen. I need to seek. I need to obey...even when it isn't the way I wanted.

It's as the song goes, "trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey". There is no loophole here, no fine print that says you only have to do so when it makes sense or when everyone agrees with you it is the best plan of action. It won't necessarily all fall neatly into place in your head. So are you really praying for the Lord's will or your own?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

When Life Doesn't Quite Make Sense

I am toilet training my cat. When all your snickers, snide remarks, and sarcastic comments are out of the way and you have stopped laughing perhaps you can read on. It is a daunting task, no doubt, but I am determined to succeed. As we all know necessity is the mother of invention and this will solve a huge problem that is peaking over the horizon. (I have gotten enough looks of disbelief from the members of my household so you can keep your pessimism to yourself. A girl, and her cat, could use a little encouragement.) 

It all begins with the impending movement of another adult into our home. My dad's sister, Muff who turned 83 last Saturday, decided that living in Virginia was too hard in the winter and awfully lonely throughout the year. We have begged her to come. We hate the thought of her being alone and ever since Violet, the oldest of the three siblings, passed away in December of 2009 she has been. She has refused time after time, with one excuse after another so we gave up. I get it. She was born (literally) in that house and has lived there all her life. It would be hard for her to make that change, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Then last week she called and said she was ready.

It will be hard for her. However, we want her here. We can take care of her. Most of all we love her and want to see her happy and secure. We have a spare room and spare bathroom. It's just that right now the cat's litter box is neatly hidden away and out of sight in the spare bathroom tub. So therein lies why this weekend I plunged headlong into the unknown territory of toilet teaching my cat.

I got everything I needed and set about to teach him. He saw me remove his box and set this training contraption on the toilet seat. He watched me put litter in said contraption. He seemed uninterested even as I showed it to him. He sniffed it and stared at me. I sat him on it and, again, he looked at me wide eyed and mystified as if I had gone a little nuts. He jumped down. I coaxed him back up. We did this back and forth, up and down, look of confusion filling his little face as he tilts his head to the side and looks at me and at the training seat....and then, eureka, he got it! He used it one time! I gave him a treat! We were both pleased. One time down, whew! 

It will solve a problem in that Muff will have her own bathroom without a stinky litter box to deal with. It will be cleaner and nicer for her. It will cut down on cost as I won't have to buy litter anymore. More room, less mess, it has to work. It is a good idea. he, the cat, just needs to cooperate.

I know that it is wildly out of kilter for him. It is strange looking, feeling and quite out of the ordinary. He paced around yesterday morning, yowling at the top of his lungs as if to say "you idiot I have to go and you put my potty outside. Are you insane?" I was beginning to think I was as the little guy paced around and I thought he might explode. He has the #1 part down it was the other he is out of sorts about. Then once again, he tried it, success! Day #2, he has done it all in the right place and no accidents.

Zeke trusts me so he is trying it. He is not completely trained but we have had success for 2 days now. He keeps coming back to me like I will get a clue and put his box back in place. I, however, see the big picture and when it is all said and done, well it will be truly wonderful.

I need to be patient with him as he tests this new idea out. I need empathy as he does not understand why we suddenly changed tactics on his bathroom etiquette. I need a kind voice as yelling and a heavy hand won't accomplish anything but terrorize him. I will encourage and support but I won't allow him to give up. It is what is best. It got me to thinking, isn't that a lot like how we are with God?

I've been there. Arguing and asking questions. You want me to do what God? Are you sure God? That doesn't make a lot of sense God. It feels strange God. I'd like to do it my way God. That's uncomfortable God. Why me God?

When the one question I should be asking I trust God? The answer is most assuredly YES! "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 path straight" Proverbs 3:5 - 6. I don't see the big picture. God holds eternity, I can't remember what I did last week. I don't have to understand. I do have to obey. It's laughable really when I question the Creator of the universe. I am so thankful He is gracious and forgiving, patient and kind, firm and in control! Life is so truly wonderful when I sit back and listen to Him and let Him be my guide.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Haiku or Two

Colors smells abound
as life around me renews,
the beauty of spring
A caterpillar
falls down from the tree above,
rude awakening
The willowy cat
squeezes through a hole so small
after the robin
I am in the mood for spring and felt the need to express it in haiku! 
Haiku- a poem consisting of respectively 5, 7 and 5 syllables in three units. Typically with a seasonal theme, though it isn't always that obvious. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

In Anticipation of Spring

It was posed to me the other day about which season is my favorite. As this person rambled on about the grand qualities of spring, as that was their favorite, I pondered the question.

I too look forward to spring. The budding trees, fragrant flowers, and cool breeze with a touch of sunshine on my skin. I just adore the smell of the hyacinth in full bloom. Everything is coming alive. I think we get an extra "spring" in our step. Even the cat gets this crazy burst of energy to dash up a tree and jump into the bushes as if an unseen predator is hot on his tail. The birds are chirping their glorious song of thanksgiving as the cold temperatures dissipate into a fading memory. Oh, yes, I do love spring. However, I find my answer must be (if you would allow me to cheat just a tad) that I love the changing of the seasons best.
I quite often hear people say "I can't wait til spring", but then spring comes and you hear "I can't wait til summer". It too comes and in the midst of the AR heat wave that we all long for in mid-February we say "oh if fall would just hurry up and come". Fall comes and the trees erupt in bright splendor only to leave us the job of raking the lawn and we wish for winter weather to take it all away. The cold hits. The snow or ice falls and traffic comes to a halt, the grocery stores empty, our bones ache and again we wish for spring!

Isn't that how we do with the seasons of life? In the midst of planning a big event, we can't wait until the "big day". In the midst of pain and sorrow, we yearn for relief. When I get this promotion, then I'll spend more time with my family. On Thursday, we can't wait for Friday and on and on it goes. We wish and wish the days away until our seasons come up short and we find ourselves wondering where did all the time go.

I don't want to be a wisher- wishing my life away. I've been there, but I don't want to live there. I have always said there is joy in the journey. There is, I know it. I've experienced it even in hard times. My resolution today is to be present, to be aware, to be appreciative, to experience the joy in my journey!

I have so much to be grateful for, you have much to be grateful for. We take a lot for granted; people, transportation, health, food, things (wants not just needs), comfort, safety, freedom. We complain about the dirty mess the kids left behind, then they are off to college and we miss their smudgy little prints. We get impatient with our parent's stories and then they are gone and we desire those words of wisdom.

So, instead of being a wisher away kind of person. I want to be a constant observer of my blessings. There IS joy in the journey, every journey even the painful ones. You may just have to look a little harder, a little longer, a little deeper. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! Psalm 118:24

So what will you rejoice in today? 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hope is the key

Hope has always been my word. It is the theme of the verse the Lord gave me years ago, on numerous occasions. Found in Jeremiah 29:11 it says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope." Doesn't that give you peace? It does me. It is what I cling to when my world seems to be falling apart. It is a constant reminder that He holds me in the palm of His hand. Oh and therein lies the true key...the important part, where your hope lies. Psalm 39:7 says "And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you."

I recently had the great privilege of speaking about depression and chronic illness with a group of fellow transplant patients. A comment by an attendee got my attention; "we are faced with our mortality in a way others are not and that's frightening." I would by no means argue that point at all, but what if we look at it as a gift. A gift, as in, we look death in the face and say "I have absolutely no control here." We learn what that means, get it straight and move on to live the life planned for us.

The truth is none of us have control, we just think we do. We speed through life trying to achieve those all important goals we set for ourselves; money, career, family, etc...but in the end no amount of money can keep you young and healthy, no career can satisfy your needs, and no family or person can fill the void of love in you. So when that doctor comes in and says you have such and such disease and it's terminal, mortality hits you square in the eyes. You come face to face with the realization that your healthy eating, exercise, great gene pool, money for the best's all rubbish. If you don't reach out to the one that conquered mortality you will forever live in fear.

I always knew, even at age 8 when I was diagnosed there was nothing in the world my parents could do to save me, to heal me. I was, however, saved around the same time and that is when my heavenly Father placed a little bulb called hope inside me. He has watered it over the years through his word, faithful friends who have spoken truth and comfort, and a loving family that held my hand through the pain.

So yes, maybe I was faced with my mortality at the tender age of 8 years old. But so too will you come face to face with it. My question to you is, where does your hope lie?