Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cookies for Breakfast

"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days."  Psalm 90:14 (NIV)

A couple of weeks ago, all of my girls gathered for a traditional Christmas cookie baking day.  For hours we laughed, reminisced, quoted family favorite movies, measured, mixed, rolled, iced, sprinkled, dipped, and nibbled!  We filled canisters with white chocolate covered pretzels, Ritz bitz, and Oreos for each of our homes...and some to share.  We loaded one baking sheet after another with Toll House cookies...definitely unable to resist eating a few hot ones.  We iced sugar cookie stars, candy canes, gingerbread shaped boys and girls, in a rainbow of colors.  Mmmmm...sweet treats and sweet memories.

Ever since then, I think that I have had cookies for breakfast everyday...usually chocolate chip, occasionally sugar cookies.  They are just the perfect match for a good cup of coffee.  This is a little ironic, as I'm the mom and teacher that frequently quotes, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day."   Uh, yes, I feel a little convicted.

This morning as I ate my chocolate chip cookie, as He so often does, God whispered a little something in my spiritual ear.  I was challenged to ponder how much more important...even than a good proper nourishment from His Word to get my day off to the right start.  We surely need to satisfy that spiritual hunger to help us be the vessels He needs for us to be each day.  And believe it or not, that's way better than chocolate chip cookies...and way better for us!!!  Psalm 119:103 reminds us, "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth."  And Proverbs 24:14 informs us that not only does His Word bring us pleasure, but it has tangible benefits, as we "Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off."  Where does wisdom come from?  It comes from the Lord...revealed in His Word.

Proverbs 2:1-10 (NIV) offers great counsel!  We read "My [daughter] if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.  For the LORD gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding....For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul."

Oh, I want to get my day off to the right start...physically (mmmm, well after the cookies are finished up)...and definitely spiritually so that I'm equipped to handle whatever the day may bring.  Is your soul rumbling with hunger.  Fill it with pleasure and delight in His Word.

Lord, we yearn for satisfaction...for our hunger to be filled...physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Nourish us with Your Word...Your love...Your grace.  Help us to be mindful during this busy time of year to spend time with You...remembering that Your lavish love is the reason we celebrate.  Thank you for Jesus.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hope for the Hopeless

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)

It seems like every time I walk in a store, turn on the TV, or get in my car, the same song is playing…touting that “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…[that] everyone’s telling you be of good cheer….[and that] it’s the hap-happiest season of all.” Some years I have danced and twirled around my kitchen, as I baked Christmas goodies, singing right along. Other times I’ve questioned the sentiment.

I spent one Christmas battling flu and pneumonia, missing every Christmas program that my children were in, every special event at our church, and every party. That didn’t exactly feel “wonderful”. One year I found myself in a fierce battle with depression. Somehow everyone telling me to “be of good cheer” only threatened to push me deeper into the pit.

This year our family is experiencing grief. My Granddaddy passed away the week before Thanksgiving. He is spending his best Christmas ever…with Jesus. And we’re thankful that God was merciful and took Him Home, as he suffered so in the days before his death. We know that his hope was realized! But for those of us left here, there’s an empty chair at the table. There’s a little less laughter. We’re not being “patted” or getting smooshy, wet kisses on our foreheads. He left behind his “little sweetie” my Grandmother, who is feeble and has dementia…unable to process the fact that he’s not coming back. We have hope…but there are surely days that we don’t feel our hap-happiest.

As I looked through the obituaries during the days following his death, my heart broke for the many families that are walking through grief this holiday season…those that have lost mothers and daddies, sons and daughters…some far too soon in our eyes. Just this week, I saw on TV a memorial service for a large group of young marines that lost their lives on behalf of our country…leaving young wives and children and parents.

For others, their grief takes a different form. It might come from despair over wayward children, families shattered by divorce, loved ones fighting addictions. Cancer and serious illness fills hospitals around the world. Many are in dire straits because of financial difficulties. Some are homeless. Some are just alone.

But as the words to another Christmas tune ring, “Hope for the hopeless was born on that night…let there be light.” Yes, light in a world that can often be filled with darkness! There is hope for those who trust in the Savior! And opportunities for us to minister to those who don’t.

Something occurred to me as I pondered these things. Do you think that just for a brief moment…right before God sent Jesus on His way to earth…that He felt just an inkling of hopelessness? He knew ahead of time the odds that were stacked against His one and only…the hatred and rejection He would face…the human hurts that He would experience…the ultimate agony in death. Yet, He allowed it…because He loved us so much. He knew the hope to come! He sacrificed His only Son to bring hope to the hopeless. Let’s remember that prophecy fulfilled…“to us a child is born, to us a Son is given….And He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (NIV) He is our Emmanuel…God with us…our hope.

Everlasting Father, wrap us in your comfort this Christmas. Help us to see the hope that is in You. Cause Your Holy Spirit to fill us with that hope. Help us to see Your light in the darkness. Lord, help us to extend Your love to those around us that are in need. Help us to be Your arms and feet in a world in desperate need of a Savior…and a hope.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Must Have Smelled Pretty That Hedgehog!

"For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing."  2 Corinthians 2:15 (NIV)

The morning started off great in my transitional kindergarten class on Wednesday.  We were busy doing all kinds of Christmas-y things, carols playing in the background.  As I walked across the room, I happened to notice that one of our hedgehogs was awake and heading to his drinking unusual sighting, as they are nocturnal and we rarely get to see them engaging in any type of activity during the day.  I called the students over, and then decided, "Hmmm, it just might be a great time to wake them up and get them out for the children to observe...and carefully pet a little bit."  So I opened the cage and got Bubbles and Rolo out.  Bubbles is not very into being petted...puffing up in a prickly ball and making hissing noises, but Rolo is more friendly.  A few times we have been delighted when Rolo would extend his little sweet tongue out from under that adorable little nose to gently lick the fingers of the students or myself.  Well, Rolo was very adventurous (and apparently hungry) this particular morning, as he actually started to use those darling little paws to crawl right up in my hand.  We were all delighted.  We were all just so tickled to see him licking my wrist so lovingly.  We decided that he must really like my perfume.  And yes, it was much that quite out of the blue he chomped down!  Now this was not a gentle little nibble, it was a death grip!  You know how you hear that snapping turtles won't let go when they bite until there's lightning???  Well, I was just wishing for a thunderstorm!!!  Fortunately my faithful assistant (who doesn't particularly care for any animals...much less hedgehogs...and who had finally been brave enough to "pet" Rolo for the first time that day) smacked Rolo...and he let go.  It's really quite comical to think about it.  I wish we had it on video!  I'm sure we could win America's Funniest!!!  I'm okay.  Amazingly there was no blood...thankfully since the bite was right at the main vein in my wrist.  All is well...except for the soreness that is right where my wrist rests on the computer when I type.  Whew!  A teacher's life is never boring!

Okay, so I have to admit that I said to my assistant, "Now how am I going to fit this into a blog post with some spiritual correlation???"  Only a God like ours!!!  Here goes.

I have to start with another little story before I get to the point...the beauty of's mine and I can do whatever I want.  :)  On our way home from school each day, there is a homeless woman with a sign asking for help.  A couple of days when I went past I gave her a couple of dollars.  I wasn't sure that was best...not knowing what she would spend it on.  However, I really felt God leading me to do something.  And you know that He is "in the details."  I had just purchased the book Gideon's Gift by Karen Kingsbury for some Christmas reading.  It tells the story of a homeless man...a sick little girl...a pair of red gloves...and Christmas miracles.  That book prompted me to look to the practical.  I bought some red gloves, some socks, and a hat.  My daughter and I found such great delight in giving Patricia a gift a day.  Then I thought..what next??  I made some cookies one day and took them to her...warm.  As I rode in my car, the aroma was so delightful.  Aaaaaah, the smell of freshly baked cookies.  You know, you can buy that scent in candles...which I seem to be allergic to...but there's nothing like the real thing!  Plus, with the real thing, you also get to taste them!!!

Just like those candles, we can find some pleasure from "aromas" that the world has to offer.  But we won't find true satisfaction...true joy except in Jesus Christ.  Oh that we would "Taste and see that the LORD is good"!  (Psalm 34:8)  And once that we are satisfied in Him, we can share His love with others and be the aroma of Christ.

And friends, like my little hedgehog friend, after we take that bite, let's hold on!  Let's cling to the one who is our provider, our refuge, our strength, our help, our peace, our joy, our hope!  He is able to be all that we need!

Lord, thank you for hedgehogs and cookies and stories that teach us how to be better people.  Thank you for dwelling in us.  Help us to indeed have the aroma of Christ that others may be drawn to you!

PS  Keep reading!  I did 2 posts today and I don't want you to miss the first!!  :)

Blessings of Obedience

"If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all His commands...All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you...." Deuteronomy 28:1-2

Right off the bat, I must confess that I have been disobedient...even in this post.  It was supposed to be up in November...National Adoption Month.  I have a "junky jotting journal" where I write all of the ideas and promptings that God gives me...usually in the the shower...while putting on my makeup and getting ready for work...but sometimes in the car...or at my daughter's piano or violin lessons...or wherever.  I jot those things down, knowing that I would forget them if I didn't.  I fully intend to get back to them when I'm at my computer and have the time.  Sometimes the time just isn't there...sometimes I just lack self-discipline...and sometimes I can't remember all that went along with the "jot."  Confession done.  Let's move on!

Every morning...and afternoon...and evening...and in between, my house is filled with the music of our nine year old daughter's choosing...either on the violin or piano.  (I have to marvel at this, as my nest could be empty now.  Our three biological children are grown and gone to build lives of their own, in another city, hours away.)  Sweet notes from the precious fingers of a child given the name "Beautiful Song" as an infant, by caregivers in a cold, damp orphanage in rural China.  How could they have known the gift of music that was such a part of her being...a gift that would be such a blessing to so many in a place so far away?

Her very being is a song...lived out before us...melodic notes of joy and beauty.  She is the blessing of obedience.

You see, at a time when we were past thoughts of a baby in our home...done with sleepless nights, baby food, safety hooks on our cabinets and potty training...when we were at such a comfortable place with our three daughters, all in or nearing middle school age, God impressed upon us His desire to fill that empty chair at our table.  It was a thought that could have easily been impractical, too difficult, or financially unreasonable.  But it was more than a passing thought.  It was a command from that He made clear to us over and over again.  We chose to walk in obedience...and the blessing of that obedience is beyond measure!

What is God calling you to do?  Minister to someone?  Forgive someone?  Accept His love that knows no bounds?  Change your lifestyle?  Change your job?  Be a witness?  Write for Him?  Adopt a child that needs a home?  Obey Him...whatever He calls you to do.  He promises His blessing.

"Look at the nations and watch-and be utterly amazed.  For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told."  Habakkuk 1:5  Oh yes, do it Lord!!!

Lord, thank you for your love.  Thank you for the potential that you see in our much that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" ! (Romans 5:8)  Thank you for seeing fit to use us to accomplish your purposes.  Help us, Lord, to hear Your listen...and to obey.  We look to You with excitement and expectation to see Your plans for our blessing! 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Great Gifts!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the Word of Truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created."  James 1:17 (NIV)

I think that my shopping is almost done!  I'm sure that my husband hopes so!  I've "saved" him a lot of money!  Every year I say that I'm going to "cut back."  And I do try.  It's just that I want to give so much to my children!  I want to bless them with every outfit that looks so cute on them...each DVD that is the "best movie ever"...and for my youngest daughter, anything that has to do with puppies!!!  This morning as I looked at the little mountain of bags (all yet to be wrapped), I felt the glee of knowing the joy each gift will bring.

As I pondered my own satisfaction, God brought a verse to mind.  Matthew 7:11 says, "If you, then...know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him."  It brings Him joy to give us "gifts."  He feels satisfaction in granting our hearts' desires.  Oh, may we recognize each gift...large and small...from the gift of life to the gift of the parking space at the mall...from the roof over our heads to the pillow under our heads.  Just like the old hymn says, "Count your blessings, name them one by one.  Count your blessings, see what God has done."   And then thank Him.  He is great...and greatly to be praised!

Interestingly, Luke 11:13 begins like the Matthew passage...but sheds light on an even greater gift than we can imagine!  Look at this!  "If you, then...know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him." (Italics mine)  Wow!  Now that packs a punch!!!!  That's what I want...and what came about through a tiny baby born in a humble stable...the greatest Christmas gift of all time.  Oh, how He loves us.  Oh, how He showed that love.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love.  Thank you for sending Your Son...the ultimate gift...the ultimate sacrifice...for us.  Thank you for the provision of the Holy Spirit to live in be our Emmanuel...God with us.  Thank you for Your Word...for the promises, the power.  Help us to understand the fullness of the birth...the new life that You have given us through Your Word of Truth.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Arising and Calling My Mama Blessed!

"Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her." Proverbs 31:28 (NIV)

It's long overdue...sharing the blessing of my sweet Mama! Here are just a few verses from Proverbs 31 and thoughts of one who deserves the praise.

My Mama is a "wife of noble character." "She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her....She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life." Mama has set a wonderful example of being a Godly wife. She submits, supports, and loves boundlessly. She encourages, strengthens, and helps in whatever way is needed. My Daddy is a retired pastor. Her role as pastor's wife was walked in an exemplary manner. She was surely worthy of that calling. Her graciousness and selflessness abounded. Many lives have been blessed through her. Many have been ministered to through her loving care. Ah, yes, noble character.

She "works with eager hands....She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family....She sets about her work vigorously, her arms are strong for her tasks....Her lamp does not go out at night." My Mama gives of herself...with or without sleep. She cooks. She is one of the most hospitable people I know. She entertains. She does all of the "behind the scenes" things that make every gathering perfect for all who attend. She makes each person's favorite food...bakes the most yummy (even if not always perfectly beautiful *smile*) cakes...laboring hours on end. She welcomes one and all.

"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." Mama is one of the strongest people that I know. We've walked some difficult roads...Daddy's health issues, my brother's cancer & divorce, my health concerns and bout with depression, and days in ministry that stretched us to our limits. She clings to The Rock...and resembles Him in her own steadfastness. My Mama may worry, but ultimately, she "knows Who holds the future" and trusts completely in Him. When we stumble or get discouraged, she is our guide to The Truth.

"She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue." Mama is one of the wisest people I know. She guides us all...loving us no matter what...children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews. It is wisdom that comes from the Lord.

"She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." She manages the finances and takes care of the tiniest details in service to her family and to God. Not only does she watch over her own household, but that of her her Daddy is in the final stages of cancer and her own Mama battles dementia. She loves. She gives. She walks in the power of the Lord.

"Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her."

Mama, "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all!"

Thank you, Lord, for my Mama. Thank you for her heart, her love, her selflessness, and most of all for Her relationship with You. Thank you for being her strength and her song! Thank you for meeting her she takes care of so many being her portion and her deliverer! Bless her richly, please.

Friday, October 30, 2009

All in a Morning's Walk

"Yes, LORD, walking in the ways of Your laws, we wait for You; Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts." Isaiah 26:8 (NIV)

I feel that I need to start this off with a true confession. Here goes. I've gotten out of the habit of exercise. And it shows. I hit 50 and bottomed out...pun intended! I asked my hubby to help remind encourage me. I prayed for God to help give me the time...or help me see that I really do have the time.

God answered through my 10 year old. Last night, she said, "Please, Mom, can we take a walk??" Well, I was already feeling bad because we were not participating in the school "Corn Maze outing" and that we probably won't do any trick or treating (Is that a downside of having a 50 year old mother?) I put on my walking shoes and said, "Let's go!" We had a nice walking, her zipping past me on her scooter. We chatted with each other whenever she was beside me. We stopped and chatted with neighbors. It was a nice time. So much so, that I thought this morning, "Hmmm, we need to do that again." We did.

We followed our usual path...well, it's usual when I'm disciplined enough to do it. I decided that I'd rather conquer the big hill right off. Man, that's tough. My legs ached. My heart pounded. But I endured. That's when God spoke the first words to me. He said (inaudibly), "The more you do it, the easier it gets." Funny, I had said those very words to Melea this morning as she practiced a difficult piano piece. Yes, those words ring true...for walking, for piano practice, for praying, for studying God's Word, for obeying God, for trusting Him. And I just have to add, for my writer friends out there, that it applies to writing too! (Children's writers, please click on the Write2Ignite icon in the top right hand corner and sign up for our conference!!!)

God also reminded me that we shouldn't give up if we've "fallen off the wagon" with our exercise plan, or our time in His Word, or our prayer life. See, I had started justifying the idea that I had already gotten out of the habit of walking, and that when cold weather gets here that I'm not going to want to continue...just like every year. But...I do have a treadmill...gathering dust upstairs. Okay, so I'm jumping back on the wagon...and hoping to stay...the neighborhood on nice days...treadmill when winter brings blustery ones! Spiritual application: So ladies, if you've fallen behind in your Bible study, don't give up! Don't just quit going. Don't feel like it's hopeless. Get back on the wagon!!!

The next point was that walking is essential...physically and spiritually. It's the only way to stay healthy...and joyful...and feeling good about myself. Just like exercise combats the destruction of osteoporosis, walking in His Word prevents the deterioration the enemy would like to see in our spirits. In the same way that being physically fit will improve my feelings about myself, time in His Word will remind me of the truth of how He sees me...and who I am in Him! As that hill in my neighborhood becomes easier to climb in time, so will my perseverance in the struggles that I face in I remember His strength...and the victories He's accomplished...and the promises He has given.

Oh, and just another thought...whether it's walking or worship or Bible study (or writing!), it helps to have someone to keep us accountable. I know I need that! And the fellowship and encouragement that those who join us brings is just icing on the cake! no icing and no cake...let's just say tremendous blessing!

Father, thank You for Your love for us! Thank You for Your Word to us. Thank You for the many ways that you speak to our hearts! You are amazing! Help us to walk closely by Your side all the days of our lives.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Borrowed Words

"Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name." Psalm 103:1 (NIV)

Yesterday morning as I walked outside, the beauty before me almost took my breath away. I couldn't help but raise my hands in praise to the Creator of that glorious sight. My mind flooded with the words from the great hymn, "Praise to the LORD, the Almighty, the King of Creation!" As I drove my daughter to school, we worshipped together as we joined with Travis Cottrell on his Alive Forever CD! Friend, ponder these words anew. Read them, meditate on them, sing them as a praise offering to our great King!

"Praise to the Lord, the Almighty"
(German hymn by Joachim Neander, 1680)

"Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, Now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen How all thy longings have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him."

Oh, I do want all that is in me to adore Him...and praise Him, for He is great and greatly to be praised! Won't you join me??? Go to Psalm 103:1-6 and Psalm 150, and be lead to the throne in praise.

LORD, we praise You with all that is in us..gladly...for aye we adore You!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ever Thought of Running Away?

"God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." James 1:12 (NLT)

So, have you ever thought of running away? When things didn't go as you planned? When the going got your your life???? In times of desperation, failure, overwhelming circumstances many people consider it. It's surely not a new concept. Running away has been considered...and multitudes who've travelled this journey before us. Individuals have run away. Remember Jonah? He didn't just run away from home....He ran from God! Whole armies have run away. That kind of amuses me...musclebound men (in skirts) with weapons running as fast as their hairy legs will carry them.

From the Old Testament to the New, countless people have encouraged others to endure! Great men have felt like running or giving up...even Moses! But Moses' father-in-law, Jethro, gave counsel to Moses and said, "If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures...." (Exodus 18 NLT) We need to seek guidance from God's Word...from Paul and other Heroes of the Faith who remind us that "since we have been justified through faith, we have peace...and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." (Romans 5:1-5 NIV) Peter says, "So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while." (1 Peter 1:6)

Let's join with the One who understands endurance! "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross...." (Hebrews 12:2 NIV) because of His amazing love for us...a "love that endures forever." (Psalm 106:1 NIV)

So, if you feel like running, don't run away. Run to Jesus.

Our precious heavenly Father, thank You for Your love that endures forever. Thank You for the hope, peace, and joy that we have because of Your unfathomable love! Lord, give us strength to endure, patience to persevere, "love that never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." (1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT)

Friday, October 9, 2009

What Are You Looking At???

"...I focus on this one thing...looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Jesus Christ, is calling us." Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)

I am loving Fall, aren't you?? Aaahhh, the cool breezes, the change in the angle of the sun...and the hues that produces, the crackle of leaves underfoot...and the incredible colors in the trees, the rustle and chattering of squirrels gathering acorns, and that smell...that Fall smell. Aaahh.

I was out for a walk this week, around the lake of Meredith College, enjoying an amazing Autumn day...and getting some much needed exercise. I hadn't been walking long when I realized that my focus was all downward. I was having to concentrate on the ground to avoid the goose poopy. There I was in an amazing setting on a beautiful day, and missing it because of the poopy.

I stopped and just looked around me. Then I looked up. I could almost hear God speaking and saying, "You do that sometimes." I said, "What?" He said, "Get bogged down in your circumstances and forget to look up. You miss the beauty....the glory. You lose the vision of the hope to which I have called the glorious inheritance awaiting you." I said, "Do you see all this poopy around me? How can I keep looking up?" He said, "Trust me....'walk by faith, not by sight.'" 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NASB) I said, "Sometimes I can't." He responded, "I know, but I can. I am 'the lifter of [your] head.'" Psalm 3:3 (KJV)

Yes, I continued to "watch my step" until I got out of the "poopy zone," slowing my pace so that I could also look up to the magnolia and sycamore trees and the deep blue sky, refusing to let what surrounded my feet be my focus.

Do you find yourself buried deep in the circumstances of life and forget to "look up" at the goodness of God? Do you find yourself saying, "I can't?" If you know the great I AM, you can!

Oh Lord, the author, perfecter, and finisher of our faith, lift our heads and our eyes to see Your power, Your presence, and Your glory among us. Help us to "trust Your heart even when we can't see Your hand." Thank You for Your love that knows no bounds, and Your faithfulness to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9), including our very own. You are great and greatly to be praised!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Legacy of Love

"Well done good and faithful (one)..." Matthew 25:21 (NIV)

For those of you that read my last post...the clock ticks on. My Granddaddy is fighting the good fight. There must still be lives he needs to touch. He was able to return home from the rehab facility. He sure left an impression there. Everyone was sad to see him leave. Many tears were shed. They said that he was such a wonderful patient. They were right. He was obedient. He tried hard in his rehab. He wasn't demanding. In fact, we had to keep telling him that if he needed something...or wanted something (like chocolate ice cream)...that he should just ask. He didn't want to be a bother. He just wanted to encourage love them. He would tell the nurses how pretty they were...or what a great job they did. He would pat them on the back or kiss them on the hand. He showed interest in them. He asked them about their families. He told them about the blessings of his own...his "sweetheart," his beautiful daughter and his son (that awaits him in heaven), a preacher son-in-law and grandson-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He loves.

The song, "Legacy" by Nicole Nordeman keeps playing in my mind as I think of him.
She writes:
"I want to leave a legacy. How will they remember me? Did I choose to love?"

My Granddaddy chooses to matter what...a wife with dementia...people who don't return the love...those who've failed matter what.

He walks the message of "the Love chapter," 1 Corinthians 13.

It says, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophesy, and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing."

In "Legacy", there is a line that says, "Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred, Just want to hear instead, 'Well done, good and faithful one.'" That's my granddaddy.

1 Corinthians goes on to say, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." That's my granddaddy. Well, I do have to laugh a little...about that rejoicing with the "truth." He sometimes tells the truth like a fisherman! Do you get my drift?

Aaaah, a legacy of love. That's what I want to leave. That's what I want to be remembered for. Thanks for setting the example, Grandy, for showing the way.

Lord, thank you for Your amazing, unfailing, unending, sacrificial love. Thank you for your mercy and your kindness. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for walking the path of love for us, for setting the example for us to follow. Lord, help us to remember that "the greatest of these is love." (1 Cor. 13:13)

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Clock is Ticking

"Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath." Psalm 39:4-5 (NIV)

Tick…tick…tick…as I lay in the still of night, that was the only sound I could hear. It was quite poignant…and ironic. The last few days had been spent at the side of either my 92 year old granddaddy in the hospital or with my 89 year old grandmother at their home. Grandy, as we call him, fell and broke his pelvis and badly bruised his ribs. Tests revealed even greater troubles…a rampantly increasing PSA count (blood test for prostate cancer) and lesions on his lungs, as well as infection. The blue DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) band around his wrist blared as a constant reminder that the end of his earthly life could be near. He’s a “fighter” and pushed through the pain and hacking cough. He made the move to the rehab unit of a local nursing home, in a wheelchair and on oxygen. Our Nana, needing constant watch care because of her Alzheimers, remained at home…confused at where her husband of 70 years and her primary caregiver had gone. As we took her for visits, she grasped for understanding of what was about to unfold.

We have surely been blessed. Our daughters have enjoyed the rare privilege of not only having all four of their grandparents living, but also their great grandparents. Trips to Nana & Grandy’s were famous for excursions “across the creek” to throw rocks and skip stones, wearing Grandy’s hats, and riding in the back of the pickup truck on the gravel roads. There was always “work” to be done, either out in the yard with him, or in the kitchen with Nana, helping to roll out her infamous “stickies.” And there was always laughter, and lots of it…and stories, told and retold, to everyone’s delight. Aaaah, the sweetness of memories.

But endings are inevitable, this side of heaven. We all must face the fact that our time here on this earth will cease…as will that of our loved ones. And the clock ticks on.

As I left the nursing home, Grandy said, “Make every day count.” I thought of the ticking clock. I want to do that…make it all count. I want to imitate him and love unselfishly…be kind and do nice things for others…forgive (even if it’s over and over)…hug… and kiss…and laugh…and keep telling the stories that keep memories alive and people smiling.

Even more than I want to imitate Grandy, I desire to be like Jesus and follow His guidance. Check out these Scriptures that correspond so perfectly: Matt. 22:37-38, Matt. 25:40, Matt. 18:21-22, 2 Cor. 13:11-12, Psalm 126:2-3, Isaiah 38:19.

The prayer of Psalm 90 is far greater than any I could offer.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Better Than Full Inboxes and Mailboxes!

"Come, all you who are thirsty....Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live." Isaiah 55:1-3a (NIV)

Melea loves to check the mail at our house. You should see her face light up when she opens it to find something addressed to her! She skips and smiles all the way to the house...even if it's just a bank statement on her savings account! If she doesn't get a letter of her own, often she will ask if she can open one of mine or her Daddy's. When there's one addressed to the family, she immediately claims it.

I love to receive a letter or card in the mail too, but that's just not as likely these days, as we've moved on to more "instant gratification" through email. (Hmmm... an interesting sidenote...We spent a good part of our relaxing weekend watching hours of Little House on the Prairie. It speaks volumes for our generation that we call it "snail mail" if it takes a couple of days for a letter to get from one place to another. That's kind of sad.)

I enjoy getting email too...and you can check it multiple times a day, unlike the mailbox on our street. Just like Melea, I get that "awwww" feeling when there's nothing one out there thinking of me...or needing to say something through cyberspace. Empty inboxes can be sad.

You know, it's just like I told Melea about getting mail. To get mail, you have to write mail. You have to make the effort.

Of course, I heard God's voice whispering in my ear, "You know, I've written you a letter...a long letter of my love for you. You can open it anytime you want...without the mailbox delivery time or waiting for an email to travel across the cyberwaves. And it will speak new and fresh words to fulfill your longings. Are you making the effort to reach out to me?"

Desiring to be obedient...and "check His mail", I picked up Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest. Because the bookmark was there, Saturday's devotion caught my eye. The Scripture passage for the day was from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:3-10. I turned there in my tattered and marked Women's Devotional Bible. I had a star by verse 6, "Blessed (and that word was underlined) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." God led me from that to the verse in the Isaiah 55 passage, where we are told, (and I love this in The Message translation) "Hey there! All you who are thirsty, come to the water!...Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest. Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words."

You know, sometimes I can get a little legalistic about going to His Word before I open my emails...and I hope I'll become even more so. With Him, my "inbox" is always full...with His words and love that really satisfy...and never even a hint of junkmail!

And after I've spent time reading His Word, then of course, I'll always enjoy a letter or an email from a friend...those, too, are gifts from God! He's so good!

Dear God, the lover of my soul, thank You for Your Word to me. Thank You for life-giving, life-nourishing words that truly satisfy. Thank You for Your love and covenant for a thousand generations. You are great and greatly to be praised! Help us to remember to go to You first (Matt. 6:33) and be filled up to overflowing with You!

Monday, July 13, 2009


"The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus." 1 Timothy 1:14 (NIV)

I guess the title of this post is a result of the inundation of the reminiscences of the hits of Michael Jackson over the last couple of weeks. Although, if my memory serves me correctly, in the song "BAD", I think that bad was supposed to be good. (And I apologize if now that song is clunking around in your brain...especially when my point is spiritual, and about bad that is really bad...not good.)

Twice in the last week, I've seen Melea head to the disposal and toss something in while she was eating her Froot Loop breakfast. I had to ask, "What are you throwing in there?" She said, "There was a bad Froot Loop." Hmmmm. I wonder just what constitutes a bad Froot Loop. (Well, in my opinion, they smell and taste like Lemon Pledge to me...but that's not the point.)

The Froot Loop incident took me back to our beach trip a few weeks ago. We were having some amazing fortune in finding great shells. (Wow! What a testimony to the intricacies of God's creation! I still am awed just thinking about it!) We would find the most minute conch very tiny, yet the patterns and swirls so finely detailed...fashioned by His hands. As we searched
through the mixture of shells and shell pieces washed up on the shore, I would often pick up a shell and give it to Melea. If it had the slightest flaw, she would disregard it and throw it back into the debris. It struck me as a little sad...something of great beauty, yet bearing a sign of imperfection...just tossed away.

I couldn't help but turn those thoughts inward...and look at myself...with all my flaws...with all my sin...and just be brought to tears at the reality of God's amazing grace. I'm so thankful that He has never turned His back on me...given up on me...or tossed me away because of my sin. I'm amazed at the height and depth of His unconditional, unending, unfailing love and the price He paid for me.

I've been listening to the CD "It Must Be Grace" and the first verse and chorus of the title track (written by Brian White, Chris Eaton and Don Poythress) feel as they could be my own words.

How could one, one such as You, be longing for me?
What would I have to give that you'd ever need?
Why? No matter how far I've run, do You pursue me?
Why? When I fall time after time, do You still love me?
What could make You love me?

I don't understand. What is it You see in the heart of someone like me?
When I let You down, but You still believe...
and prove Your love time and again...and again.
All I can say is it must be grace.

Oh, how He loves me. Oh, how He loves you. What a wonder...a gift...a privilege that "by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace!" (2 Timothy 1:9) Oh...He is Good!

Thank you, Father, for Your grace...for Your willingness to die and suffer in my place. Thank you that You hold the future in Your hands. Thank You for the plan that You have...even for me. Thank You for the grace that You "lavished on us", for the "hope in Christ," and that we "might be [used] for the praise of [Your] glory"! Enlighten the eyes of our hearts that we may know the hope to which You have called us, the glorious inheritance, and the "incomparably great power for us who believe!" (Ephesians 1)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tell-Tale Signs

"So you will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the LORD." Ezekiel 24:27b

Okay, I hope I can safely say that this will be my last blog post about Special K Chocolatey Delight! I just keep "tasting and seeing" that the Lord is good...and that He speaks to our hearts...and in our language. This "message" from the Lord is a little quirky...but here goes!

Yes, so I had finished my snack of Special K Chocolatey Delight. Oh, so yummy. A little bit later I went to brush my teeth before bed. I happened to examine my teeth in the mirror before I began. I just had to laugh! I had little chocolate "leftovers" in between several of my teeth. That was a lovely sight! (I don't think I'll be eating those in front of guests!) I have to wonder, did John and Melea see that and just not say anything????

Yeah, there was a tell-tale sign of what I had been eating. It showed!

In Psalm 119:97-103, we read, "Oh, how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on Your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey Your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey Your Word. I have not departed from Your laws, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"

I pray that there are visible signs that I have been savoring His Word. I pray that there is evidence of the fruit of His Spirit within, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22,23 I pray that "My lips overflow with praise...and my tongue sings of [His] Word." Psalm 119:171-172

Lord, increase my hunger and thirst for You. Fill me with Your Word...the only true means of satisfaction. Help me to bear evidence of Your presence within me. Help others to be able to SEE Your love shining through me. Thank You for Your Word...for Your whisperings in our hearts and minds...for the little lessons that You want us to learn and remember...even through silly "signs."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Still Enjoying the GOOD land...and Had My Manna for the Day!

"...He rained down manna for the people to eat, He gave them the grain of heaven." Psalm 78:24 (NIV)

Mmmm, I feel like I've tasted the grain of heaven this morning...and not just my Special K Chocolatey Delight! It was wonderful...and I'm really thankful that I didn't have to gather it off the ground as did the Israelites with the manna...however, how cool would that be to step back in time and physically observe that miracle of daily provision and partake of the "food of the angels"!

Even more than the Special K Chocolatey Delight that I enjoyed for breakfast, I'm talking about savoring the "manna" of His Word. Psalm 90:14 says, "Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." It would not be good for me...or my overeat even Special K (a healthy choice...with chocolate!!). However, I can indulge in His Word..."Taste and see that the LORD is good." (Psalm 34:8) for hours, and rather than gaining pounds, grow in peace, knowledge, wisdom, grace, love...and find true satisfaction.

Oh, I want to stay hungry and thirsty for Him! And I want to be obedient and do my part in gathering the manna...daily...that He has laid before me!

Lord, whet my appetite for Your Word! Let me find the satisfaction that only You can give! And Lord, let me live in a way that satisfies You. I love you dearly! Help me to walk...every step of the Your power and love.

I keep thinking of the old hymn by B.B. McKinney (who wrote so many great hymns!)

Satisfied With Jesus
I am satisfied with Jesus, He has done so much for me:
He has suffered to redeem me, He has died to set me free.
He is with me in my trials, Best of friends of all is He;
I can always count on Jesus, Can He always count on me?
I can hear the voice of Jesus, Calling out so pleadingly,
"Go, and win the lost and straying," Is He satisfied with me?
When my work on earth is ended, And I cross the mystic sea,
Oh, that I could hear Him saying, "I am satisfied with thee."
I am satisfied, I am satisfied, I am satisfied with Jesus,
But the question comes to me, As I think of Calvary,
Is my Master satisfied with me?


"When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land He has given you." Deut. 8:10 (NIV)

I'm up...way past my bedtime...and I feel the need to confess something before I hit those freshly washed sheets. I have an addiction. Yes, it's true. I don't know that I've ever felt this way before. I'm up this late because I had to wait for my "fix." My hubby (who loves to grocery shop...and typically late at night) is enabling me...Yes, that's true too!...although messing with my sleep schedule!

It was pretty much all I could think about while he was gone. Finally he arrived home with the goods! (And he got them at a great price!!! They were 2 for $5 and he had $1 off coupon!!) Uh-huh, my man loves me...and a good deal! He bought not just one, but four boxes of Special K Chocolatey Delight...and Mmmmm, it is truly a delight!!! (They should hire me as their spokesperson!) The flakes are oh so crunchy...just the right amount of sweetness...and then the chocolate pieces...I even drink every drop of the milk that is left in the bowl. Yum-O!!

Now, I know I am taking the above verse out of context...and not making some great spiritual point...but I hope to tomorrow!

Thank you Lord that I have eaten and am satisfied. And thank you for the GOOD land that you have given me...a summer wide open for time with You, a screened in porch with comfy furniture to enjoy cool breezes and bird song, Your Word to inspire and guide me, family, friends, a faithful dog...and more Special K Chocolately Delight in the morning!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Words of WARNING!

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

Disclaimer: I love God's creatures. I even love squirrels...cousins to groundhogs, which I collect...not the taxidermy kind, but little "plush" stuffed animals. I just don't like squirrels eating the food that I buy for the birds...which I really, really love! I don't want to kill the squirrels...just scare them off. As Melea says, "What would we do with a backyard full of dead squirrels?" I am not in favor of guns! In fact my grown children are shocked and appalled that I am a gun owner. Life takes funny turns. I am careful with my BB gun.

Okay, I confess. I'm armed...but not too dangerous. Smile. For Mother's Day, I got a BB gun. Smile again. My husband now calls me "Annie Oakley". Melea and I even checked out a book about her from the public library....teachable moments. Smile.

Well, yesterday a squirrel dared to come to my bird feeder. My hubby grabbed the gun (Yes, we keep the "safety" on, and have discussed gun rules with Melea.) and quietly headed outside. With one shot, he hit that bird food thief right in the rear end! It was like something from a cartoon to watch that squirrel run like lightning through the trees!

This morning, when I got up, once again we had unwanted guests at the birdfeeder. I grabbed my Red Rider, released the safety, cocked that baby, took aim...and shot! I'm not sure if I hit the squirrel (I know I came close!), but he took off!

So, I've been wondering if they go and warn the others. I heard some chattering back and forth as I sat on my porch this morning. One of them sounded as if he might have been in pain. I felt a little bad.

Then I thought, do we spread the word when a cry of warning is needed??? If God has "shot" us a jolt of reprimand or conviction...and we "learned the lesson," don't we have the responsibility to alert those around us of the danger?

Lesson of the Day
Is there something that we are partaking of...indulging in...that doesn't "belong" to us as children of a Holy Father? I'm not talking about actual food, but the "food" of our thought life. What are we filling our minds with? Is it Truth...not just God's Truth, in His Word, but just regular truth. Do we listen to the enemy's lies? The world's lies? As Christians we have the power to be overcomers in our thought life! We have been given "the mind of Christ"! (1 Cor. 2:16) We need to pray to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Cor. 10:5)

Our thought lives must be carefully managed. Our thoughts determine our "heart." And "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart....For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." Oh what power we have in our mouths. Just read through the book of James! In fact in James 3:10, we are reminded, "Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My [sisters] this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?"

Paul told us in Ephesians 4:29, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up...." Unwholesome talk doesn't just mean curse words, but any words that flow from a critical spirit...critical thoughts...a critical heart.

Oh, Jesus Christ, please take our every thought captive to Your Truth! Please renew our minds...and help our bodies...our mouths to be sacrifices spilled out in a way that honors You and furthers Your kingdom. Thank you for your mercy and your grace. Thank you for teaching us, for correcting us, for trusting us as temples of Your Spirit. Please make us worthy.

Thanks to those of you who have written to encourage me out of my blog delinquency! Thanks for missing me! Summer is here! I'm back!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hang On...and Keep Looking Up!

"God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1 (NIV)
Okay, so if you've read my past posts, you know I've often pondered buying a BB Gun to battle our backyard enemy...the squirrel...who just loves our bird food. However, today I just had to share a few words of following the example of that bushy-tailed sunflower seed eater!
At one time or another we've received the same basic cry for help from each of our girls...and I mean "cry" in the literal sense. It may have been at exam time, near the due date for some huge report, in a relationship crisis, or some other stressor, that we hear sobs and the words, "I can't do this!"
I believe that each of us have probably uttered those exact words. I know I have...more than the span of my (almost) 50 years. Our circumstances can often overwhelm and defeat us. We can be blindsided by curves that life can throw. But we must not give up! Nevah, nevah! (Winston Churchill)
We have got to hold on...even if with our very toenails! (Look back at the squirrel.) What do we hold onto? Truth! God's Word. We have got to be tenacious in seeking guidance, strength, comfort, and peace that only God can give us. He is our Rock, our Fortress, and our Deliverer! (Psalm 18:2)
No matter how heavy the burden, no matter how tough the fight, we've got to keep "looking up." (If a squirrel can do it, surely we can!) We must keep our eyes on Him...the perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8
Our Heavenly Father, thank You for Your presence...for Your Holy Spirit that lives in us. Lord, help us to cling to you. Help us to seek You first (Matt. 5:33) and keep pressing by day...hour by hour...minute by minute... through the help of Your Word. And when we aren't inclined to look up, please be the lifter of our heads. Thank you for your great love and compassion.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Word from "Dirt"

"Oh Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this Your servant and to the prayer of Your servants who delight in revering Your Name. Give Your servant success today by granting him favor...." Nehemiah 1:11a (NIV)

The words from the heading of Beth Moore's devotional on April 17 (In Praying God's Word-Day*By*Day...fabulous book) said, "Without the Potter, clay is just dirt." Those words struck a chord with me...and have stuck with me. Oh, let me just say...from one who is purely dirt...that I am so thankful to have The Potter living in me!

God really "granted me some favor" this week as He heard and answered my feeble prayer for help! My class (of adorable kindergarteners) had gone outside to play. I glanced at my lesson plans to see what I needed to accomplish in the remainder of the day. I still had the Bible lesson to teach. That is one of my favorite things to do! Seeing those little 5 (& 6) year old faces respond to the truths in God's Word...eyes wide open...and sometimes their they drink in every detail. (Oh, that we could be that way!) Most of the subjects that we focus on are stories that we tend to know by heart...Adam & Eve, Noah, Joseph, Moses, and so on. I have lots of picture books and other resources to share with the students.

However, as I saw in my plans that day, the lesson was on Nehemiah. I thought, "Hmmm, now what do I know about Nehemiah? There was that building the wall thing. Just what did happen to that wall anyway?" I went to my shelf of resources...nothing. I glanced back at my lesson plans. The only thing written there was, "Include Nehemiah's prayer." Okay, that was a start. I got my Bible and turned to the book of Nehemiah. Fortunately Nehemiah's prayer was right there at the beginning of the first chapter.

"O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with those who love him and obey His commands, let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer Your servant is praying before You day and night for Your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father's house, have committed against You. We have acted very wickedly toward You. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws You gave Your servant Moses."
"Remember the instruction You gave Your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.'"
"They are Your servants and Your people, whom You redeemed by Your great strength and Your mighty hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this Your servant and to the prayer of Your servants who delight in revering Your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man."

I quickly lifted my own version of that prayer up to the Lord. I asked Him to grant me favor...although I didn't deserve it...and help me to share the truths of His Word. Would you believe that He gave me a three point "sermon" and a great story at the end? (You must understand that my Daddy and my husband are among the greatest preachers out there!! I've had the privilege of "sitting under" the best teaching around!!!)

Here are His highlights!
1. Nehemiah started his prayer with the recognition of who God is..."great and awesome!"
2. Nehemiah confessed his sin...and that of the Israelites.
3. Nehemiah reminded God of His promises...His covenant of love with those who love Him and obey His commands. (Did God need the reminder? No, but we need to recount those promises for ourselves.) He asked God to grant him success on acting on behalf of those people and show him favor as he went to the king.

God just blessed me with His Word...and equipped me to share it with His children. Precious.

Oh! And for the great story at the was fun to share about the Nehemiah's "cupbearer" to the king...a yummy job...but one with huge risk!

As I was wrapping up, I glanced to the end of chapter 2 and saw the words, "The God of heaven will give us success." (v. 20) I breathed a prayer of thanks...for His faithfulness. He took this "dirt" and shaped a lesson for little hearts (and that includes my own).

Father, You are truly "great and awesome"...and so gracious and merciful! Lord, forgive us for forgetting just how faithful You are. Forgive me for the depths of my sin. And, Lord, thank You for washing it away...and keeping Your covenant of love. Thank you for Your Spirit that indwells us and equips us to be the vessels You intended. Please continue to show us Your favor as we seek to do Your will.

Friday, April 17, 2009

"Is She Here Yet?"

"We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord." 2 Corinthians 5:8

"Is she here yet?" Melea kept asking. Her big sister, Carrie (and her husband, Todd), were coming home for the weekend. Carrie had called to say that they were about 10 minutes away...however the rush hour traffic would prove her wrong. So, Melea kept asking, "Is she here yet?" And I kept getting up and walking over to the windows to see. The "10 minutes" became an hour. We watched...and we waited for a long time. Melea never tired of asking, "Is she here yet?"

While we were waiting, I was struck with the sweetest thought.

Our dear friend and relative, Mrs. Annabelle Smith, went home to be with the Lord on Good Friday. Her body had held the most beautiful spirit for over 92 years, and it was time for that "earthly tent" to be laid to rest and her spirit to move on to a new home...a heavenly one. Miss Annabelle was the most joyful person I've ever known. She loved freely and fully...her family, her friends, and our Lord. No matter what her circumstance, no matter how feeble her body became...or how many blood transfusions she needed...she fought valiantly, no matter what fiery trial she faced, she walked victoriously and she maintained an attitude of thankfulness and praise. She loved being on this earth, but I believe that in those last days she was "longing to be clothed with [her] heavenly dwelling." (2 Cor. 5:2)

As we waited for Carrie, I had the most precious vision. I could almost see those who had "gone before" Mrs. Annabelle, along with all the angels, and Jesus, her Lord, whispering to each other, "Is she here yet?" I chuckled to think of the question being asked over and over...and all of them watching and waiting...on the "big front porch" of heaven. (Remember the hymn "Softly and Tenderly Jesus is calling, Calling for you and for me; See on the portals"...sounds like a big white columned front porch to me!... "He's waiting and watching, watching for you and for me. Come home, come home, Ye who are weary come home.") Yes, I believe that they kept asking...and watching...and waiting...until that sweet face with that wonderful smile and her twinkling eyes finally appeared. I know there was a grand celebration upon her arrival...and lots of shouting, "She's here!!"

We miss her here. But I know that she is surely preferring being "at home" with her Lord. And I think that she'll be one of the best watchers, waiters, and whisperers asking, "Is she here yet?" when it's our turn! Oh, we love you, Mrs. Annabelle!

Our heavenly Father, you must surely enjoy having Mrs. Annabelle with you! Hug her for us! We thank you that we have been "given...the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come" (2 Cor. 5:5) for us who believe...that we know that we'll see her again...and that we, too, will rejoice in Your presence! Thank you for waiting, for watching, and for calling us to come home.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Glimpse at Shared Suffering...Just a Glimpse

"I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." Philippians 3:10-11 (NIV)

The Holy Week is different for me this year. I feel a heaviness...a sense of sharing in the sadness that Jesus felt as he rode into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday. Dr. Luke gives us added insight in his account in chapter 19, verses 37 and following:

"When He came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"...
As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it...." Luke 19:41a (NIV)

Do you note the contrast in emotions of the disciples and that of Jesus? They are singing and praising and honoring Him. But Jesus sees past the praise. He sees the heart...and He weeps.

Jesus could see the hearts of those who loved best they could...with their limited understanding of the depths of His love...of what He would soon suffer on their behalf. He could see the hearts of the Pharisees...religious leaders...those who in their pompous ignorance were out to take His life. He could see the hearts of those who "didn't have a clue"...who were swayed toward acceptance or rejection without understanding or conviction of their own, just following the crowd. He looked over the city...the masses, the throngs...and wept.

I wonder if He has relived any of that sadness this He looks over our "city" and sees our feeble attempts at we go through the motions...or focus on the production. How does He feel about self-serving attitudes of Christians...even those in leadership...arguing over doctrine and denomination and style of worship. And how His heart must break at the multitude of those who are so easily led astray...because of their own choosing...or because they just don't know better...some who have never even heard that there is a Savior.

Can you imagine the sorrow when the president of the USA declares that "We are not a Christian nation."

A couple of lines from songs came to mind this morning:
From the hymn, "Come Thou Fount," the reminder, "Oh, to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be." Oh, what a debt I owe. And His blood was shed to cover the cost.

I long to praise Him properly and whole-heartedly, as "I'm coming back to the heart of worship and it's all about You, It's all about You, Jesus. I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it, when it's all about You, it's all about You, Jesus." (Michael W. Smith)

I want my heart to be right. I long for Him to look at it and smile...not weep. I want to worship Him and Him alone. I want Him to take my heart "and seal it...seal it for [His] courts above."

I want to be ready to rejoice! Because...He rose! He conquered! He reigns!

Jesus, forgive us. May our hearts overflow with thanks for Your love, Your sacrifice, Your desire to draw us close to You. Help us, Lord to make Your heart glad!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Coffee Cups and other Prayer Prompters

" day and night I constantly remember you in my prayers." 2 Timothy 1:3b

I normally fight the temptation to check my email before I get in the Word in the mornings...I can be a little legalistic about it sometimes...but this morning I felt prompted to do so. It was clearly God's leading. There was something there I needed to email from a dear friend. Her words were desperate. She was weeping. She needed prayer. She didn't call because it was 6:30 on a Saturday morning. She didn't want to wake me.

Before I even got out of bed, she was on my mind. She had asked me to pray for her as she had a speaking engagement today. After I saw the email, I got on my knees and, again, approached the throne on her behalf.

I try hard to be faithful when a friend asks me to pray. But I know that there have been many times that I've forgotten...and failed. In these mid-life years, when my memory just isn't what it used to be, God has shown me a little system of prayer prompters...visual reminders that help so much!

First, there are the coffee cups. The cabinet that holds them reminds me of a box of assorted chocolates. They come in all shapes and sizes...and will contain something delicious and delightful! I love a good cup...or three...of morning coffee. One of my favorites is a cup from Sonny's Grill in Blowing Rock, NC. My dear friend, Joyce, gave it to of the most thoughtful gifts of all time! We shared fun memories there. One is a red cup with the word love on it. It's from my sweet friend, Marsha. Another is from our loving friend, Cindy. It has grapes on it. We both have our kitchens decorated with grapes. A couple are from conferences that my wonderful husband has attended...not always the most beautiful mugs, but still hold that yummy goodness perfectly.

Whenever I look into the cabinet to choose, I think of each of these friends (and my hubby)...and pray for them. I even ask the Lord to guide me as I pick the one that really needs a little extra boost for that day. I pray for them again when I load them in the dishwasher or put them back in the cabinet when they are clean. I love those reminders!

A funny prayer prompter is the concealer that I use to cover my red nose. I have a dear "sister" that shares the same nonconformity. (I'll not mention any names....You know who you are! Just know you're prayed for...each time I cover my nose!!)

Another of my prompters are Sebring convertibles. My brother has one. Anytime I see one...or almost any convertible for that matter...I pray for him and for his family. God has even been so good to cause there to be one that I see almost every morning on my way to work, and to keep one parked on the street that's perpendicular to ours so that I see it, and pray, each time I take our dog out.

I also have a business card from another Cindy friend. I keep it tucked under my garage door opener in my car. Anytime I open or close my garage door, I say a prayer for her.

Ever since last May 21, the day that Maria Chapman, daughter of Steven Curtis and MaryBeth Chapman, died tragically, I pray for the Chapman family everytime I put my car in reverse. I keep a check on them through their blog...and SEE that they survive the pain because of the faithfulness of God, and those that keep them lifted to His throne.

There are other prompters in and around my home. I think you've got the point. In a time when our lives are filled with so many distractions, it just helps to be reminded to be "faithful in prayer." (Romans 12:12)

What can God use to remind you to pray?

We need to remember to "pray for each other....The prayer of a righteous man [or woman] is powerful and effective." (James 5:13-16)

Our loving Father, the One who calls us by name, who loves each of us...Your children... unfailingly, help us to be faithful in our intercession. Help us to remember to pray on behalf of those You've placed in our lives. Use those utterings to bring others closer to You, to experience Your great love, comfort, healing, mercy, grace, and strength.

Here's a great resource for strengthening your prayer life...check out My friend, Tara, is a treasure!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Considering "Packin' Some Heat"!

"You armed me with strength for battle...." Psalm 18:39

Our neighbors are probably having the time of their lives watching us! It's really quite comical. As I mentioned in a prior post, my sweet man bought me an amazing bird feeder for Valentine's day. We all thoroughly enjoy the great variety of birds that visit. We keep our bird guide and binoculars handy. At first, I was not really bothered by the squirrels that quickly devised a way to indulge in the smorgasbord (that was not intended for them.) I even heckled John for discriminating against the poor creatures, saying that they needed to eat too....That was until, in Disney-like fashion, they seem to have summoned all of their friends to come to the Butler Backyard Buffet!!! It didn't take long for me to join him in crazy antics (that would surely be grand prize winners on America's Funniest Home Videos!!) to chase those varmints away! Melea has even joined the brigade...wielding a banana in one hand and a stick in the other!! It's really quite hilarious!

In spite of the hilarity, I've decided that it might just be time for us to take some real action! I'm thinking about heading to the WalMart and buying a BB Gun! That bird food is just too expensive for the squirrel's greediness and voracious appetites. I've always been a little intrigued by BB Guns. (I tried shooting one before, and must admit that there was some satisfaction that came from hitting the tin can that was out in the field.)

We've had some interesting discussions. Melea said, "Mom, just what is a BB?...Will it kill the squirrels?" I said, "No, I don't think so. It would just scare them off." She said, "Good. I don't think we want a backyard full of dead squirrels." I'll let you know what we decide.

You see, I realize that while we are at home we might be attentive to the plunder that is going on and be able to take action. However, when we are away, I feel pretty sure they will come right back. I believe it. I've watched their little squirrely eyes...observed their sneaky little moves...seen them sizing up the situation.

We, as Christ followers, have an enemy...much more serious than a rodent. God's Word tells us that we have to "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1Peter 5:8) He is out to gorge himself on the fruit of our lives. He wants to steal all of our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal.5:22-23b) He watches for any moment that he can catch us off-guard...any opportunity to subtly control our thoughts and actions. We have to realize that we must keep our own defenses strong...put on our full armor (Read Ephesians 6.)

We also must remember that we have a God that never sleeps...that never takes His eyes off of us. In Isaiah 27, as God spoke on behalf of His chosen people (which applies to us), He says, "I, the LORD, watch over [you]....I guard [you] day and night...." He is our constant shield, our defender, the One who is victorious over the enemy!

LORD, we are so thankful that You are our "ever present" help. (Psalm 46:1) Thank you for your watch care day and night. Please guard us and protect us from the one who seeks to destroy our testimony and our passion...the one who wants to leave us empty and hungry. We know that our hope is in You and You alone!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wantin' to Hear From My Babies!

"May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice." Psalm 141:2 (NIV)

Three of our four "babies" have left the nest. Oh, how I miss having them here with me. And, oh, how I love to hear from them. I love the phone calls and the emails. I just love to talk to them! I want to hear the great things that are happening in their lives. I want to hear their struggles, too, so that I can pray for them and encourage them. Sometimes it requires tremendous self-control in refraining from calling them constantly...wanting to know all the details!!

Like this morning, I watched the clock waiting for the hour that I thought my daughter, Evie, would be awake. I knew that she had a "coffee date" last night with a really handsome, really tall, really nice young man. I just couldn't wait to hear all about it!!! I wanted details!!!!!!!!!! (I really wanted for her to be here, so that we could snuggle up in my bed and giggle like schoolgirls!)

As I "whiled away the hours," I could almost hear God whispering, "You know, I feel the same way about you." And He does! How could He help but feel that way!?! In Ephesians 1:4-5 the Word says, "For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world....In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons [and daughters] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will."

We are so blessed to have an adopted daughter! And you know what? We love her every bit as much as we love our biological children!!! That speaks volumes to me about God's feelings toward us. He adopted us! We are "co-heirs" with Christ! (Romans 8) He loves us as His own!! He loves us so much that He even let Jesus die for us!!! We are His children...His sons and daughters!! He wants us to pour out our hearts to allow Him to share in our joys and our that He can, in return, "lavish on us" His love...and "all wisdom and understanding." (Eph 1:8)

He wants to hear from us. He waits. I know He doesn't have a clock, but if He did, I know He'd be watching it...wondering when we're going to "call," to talk to Him. A very familiar verse, Jeremiah 29:11 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 hope and a future." But I love the verse that comes next!!! "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." (Jer. 29:12) He wants to listen to us!! He wants to answer. Let's don't make Him wait in vain.

Let us "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer"!! (Romans 12:12 NIV)

Lord, so often I think we forget what prayer really is...communing with you. Help us not to get so caught up with a "formula for prayer" or with lists for intercession, but to really talk with you, our Abba Father...our Creator...the One who loves us beyond measure...Who cares about every detail...Who has the plan for our lives and all of the answers we need along the way. Thank you, Abba, for listening...and for the many ways that You speak back. We love you!

PS The "coffee date" went very nicely! :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Shrinking Sweater Vests and Sin

"We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (NIV)

I was trying to do the right thing. My intentions were so good. My sweet hubby was preparing to go on a trip. I wanted to make sure that he had everything that he needed...that all his laundry was clean. I noticed that the sweater vest he had on had a little spot on, my man loves his sweater vests...and this was one of his nicest. I threw it in the wash and went about my other "busy-ness." It was bedtime when I headed to put the load in the dryer. I didn't even think about checking to see if any needed to be hung up to dry. I fluffed the clothes this morning...wanting to put them on his suitcase so he didn't forget them. I got them out to fold them. The first item I picked up was the vest. It was pretty small. :( Now, my man has lost a lot of weight, but I don't think he's lost any height. I am grieving over that sweater vest. I dread telling him. But, you know what? He'll hug me. He'll forgive me. I know that I'm much more important to him than an item of clothing.

As I agonized over my carelessness...even to the point of feeling a little sick in my tummy, I was convicted of something. How often do I grieve over my mistakes in my Christian carelessness with my responsibilities as "Christ's ambassador"? How often do I pray, "Forgive me for my sins" without regard to the pain that sin caused my Savior?

I want to do the right honor Christ, to serve Him, to obey. My intentions are good...but I often fail. It may be outright sin (sins of commission)...gossip, wrong thinking, jealousy, unforgiveness, selfishness...or less easily observed sin (sins of omission)...times that I just don't obey and do something that God has clearly called me to do. I need to be more cognizant of the price that was paid...and be more intentional in my confession. What Amazing Grace has been shown...grace that "saved a wretch like me."

And what freedom is found in the realization that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 (NIV) Yes, our Abba, Father will wrap His arms around us. He has already proved the depth of His love for us.

It is my prayer to forego the grief...on my part and His...and to "not let [His] Book of the Law depart from [my] mouth; [to] meditate on it day and night, so that [I] may be careful to do everything written in it. Then [I] will be prosperous and successful." Joshua 1:8 (NIV) And that prosperity and success are not in regard to money or fame...but as His ambassador...His chosen one. He is the one who "bestow[s]...a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." I want to "be called [an] oak of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor." Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)

Lord, thank you for grace that is greater than all my sin! Lord, stop me in my tracks when I disobey! Convict me and draw me to Your throne for forgiveness. Don't let me be complacent in regard to my sin. Help me to keep Your Word on my my mind...on my heart. Help me to be careful in my obedience to you. Thank you for Your love that never fails...even when I do.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Little Crazy & Quirky...A Lot Loved & Inspired!

"My [daughter], if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding." Proverbs 2:1-6 (NIV)

Well, as they say, "All good things must come to an end." We loved every minute of the amazing weather in the mountains and didn't see a single bear! We rested. We played. We explored. (Melea even built a little dam in a mountain stream!) We hiked. (Okay, to be honest, I don't really know that you can call the walking I did hiking...but it sounds more adventurous!) We watched movies. We ate...a lot! We enjoyed breathtaking sunsets over the mountains. We window-shopped. We read. We laughed...a lot! What precious memories were made! There was just one thing missing for me.

I couldn't believe that we were in the mountains, the weather was nice and warm, we're nearing the official start of spring...and I hadn't seen a groundhog. Here's where my craziness and quirkiness comes in. I have a little of an obsession with groundhogs. What's really crazy is that if you "Google" the word marmotophile (one who loves groundhogs), I'm the second & third search "results" on the from a comment on my friend Tracie Miles blog, and the other from my "About Me" section here on my blog. Kind of scary, huh? I bet Tracie's pretty frightened that you can find her there! Sorry, Tracie!

Well, we were about to head back home. My oldest daughter offered to drive. I'm a little ashamed to admit that one of my first thoughts was, "Now I won't have to concentrate on the driving, I can look for groundhogs!" I didn't mention it to my girls...even though they humor me greatly in my affections for the little critters. We had ridden about 45 minutes or so and I shouted, "Look!! Two groundhogs!!!" Carrie said, "Yiiiiiiii! Mom, you nearly scared me to death!" They were all a little startled. Evie said, "Mom, you're crazy...but I love you." I said, "God loves me. I knew He would show me. Now I just know that I'll see one more. God always shows me signs of His love in threes!" Sure enough, miles down the road, there was one more bushy groundhog nibbling grasses along the roadside. Ain't God good?

Then I got to thinking about how much time I had spent scouting the roadside, searching for those goofy little "signs of God's love." Immediately God brought to my mind the Scripture from Proverbs 2 (written above) that speaks so richly of searching for "treasures"... and finding ones that we should all be seeking...wisdom, insight, knowledge, and understanding of God, Himself, of His Word, and of His unfathomable love for us. We must spend time. We must look and search...and He will keep His promise. Deuteronomy 4:29 (NIV) says that " seek the LORD your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul."

Lord, I pray that my life will show evidence of my search for true treasure...knowledge of You and Your Word. Help me to use my time to seek you with all of my heart and all of my soul! Thank You for Your great love...a love so personal... that brings even silly little delights. Thank You for Your creation and for the boundless joy that we receive because of it. Thank You for mountains and sunsets and spring blossoms and songbirds...and yes, even groundhogs. Thank You for family and laughter and love. Fill us to overflowing with Your love that it may be shared with those You place in our that they may be drawn to the Treasure of You.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Oh Me of Little Faith

"And He wondered at their unbelief." Mark 6:6 (NAS)

It saddens me to think of how often Jesus "wonders" or is "amazed" (Mark 6:6 NIV) at my big things and in small things.

I'm in the middle of one of those "small things" right now. We're in the mountains...up closer to God!! Surely we must be! His majesty and beauty surround us! We are enjoying a family getaway, with all of our children and acquired children (sons-in-laws)! In the days of anticipation of the trip, I prayed so many times for good weather...just so that we would be able to enjoy being "out and about." I wanted everyone to be able to travel safely without fear of snow or ice...even rain. I didn't pray "big," in fact very minimally. But it is so like our God "to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine"! (Eph. 3:20 NIV) We are enjoying the most spectacular weather!!! It is sunny and in the mid-70's, and has been everyday of the trip!!!

Now for the sad proof of my weak faith...I only brought one short-sleeved shirt. I had been watching the weather reports. They spoke of weather in the 70's, but I kept thinking, "That's just too good. It won't be that warm in the mountains."

I'm a list maker. So, in typical "Mommy" fashion, I sent out a packing list to my girls. I told them to plan for dressing in "layers." I told them that the weatherman was calling for warm weather, but to be prepared for less than that...sad to think, I was even sharing my lack of faith! (Now,I don't consider myself to be a pessimist...rather, a realist.) Well, our God showed me His reality!!!

Fortunately, Carrie and Evie packed enough short-sleeved shirts for everyone! Rachel wore Evie's and I've been sporting the same green shirt (Carrie's) for a couple of days! My brown shirt will carry me through till we go home. We had to make a WalMart run to get something for Melea (Yes, I packed her clothes!) and shorts for the big girls to play volleyball in. Oh well, girls always love a little something new!!

You know, it does give me a little comfort to be reminded that Jesus' very own disciples had times that their faith wasn't exactly stellar...and even in the case of weather. In Luke 8:25, after Jesus calmed the storm, He asked, "Where is your faith?" I feel that He has looked at me with that same exasperation...and I just have to join with the apostles and say, "Increase [my] faith!" (Luke 17:5 NIV)

Father, thank you for not being limited by my lack of faith and my minimalism! Thank you for the grace you bestow! And as Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus, "I pray that..Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith. And I pray that [we], being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that [we] may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."( Eph. 3:16-19 NIV) Thank you for your great love. Thank you for your many acts of blessing...amazing weather included!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

No Bears Invited!!!

"But now, this is what the LORD says...'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; You are mine.'" Isaiah 43:1

We heard slamming and banging outside the little mountain house where we were staying. We thought it was car doors and trunks closing as guests arrived for our daughter's wedding. We went to open the door and were shocked as we discovered guests that definitely had not been invited!!

Now, those two cubs (actually there were three) were really cute. However, their Mama was very large, very protective, very hungry and very determined to find food for herself and her cubs. The noise had come from Mama bear lifting and rolling and jumping on and clawing at the big plastic trash container in the parking area. The lid had been secured (at least for the time being) by sturdy bands fastened on each side. We banged some pots and pans together, pressed the car alarm buttons on our remotes, and scared the bears least until dark. We awoke the next morning to trash covering the whole parking lot!
We are headed back to the mountains this weekend...and all of us are wondering if the bears have come out of hibernation yet! They are not invited to this family get together!!! (Of course, they weren't invited to the wedding either!)
This morning as I was thinking about the bear digging through and pulling out all that trash, something just struck me. You know, that's just what the enemy does with us. He is in relentless pursuit of our very lives. We are told in 1 Peter 5:8 to "...Be alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion (even worse than a bear) looking for someone to devour." And he will dig up all the "trash" he can in an attempt to keep us discouraged, defeated, or distracted from doing what God wants us to do and living the life He wants us to live. The enemy will resurrect thoughts of past failures or sins committed in an attempt to cripple us with shame and insecurity.
However!!! We belong to the Victor over the enemy! He has "summoned [us] by name"! We are His!!! He has forgiven us our failures and washed away our sin. "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:12) Listen! "...This is what the Lord says...'You are precious and honored in my sight'...'I love you'....'Do not be afraid, for I am with you.'...'You are my witnesses,' declares the LORD, 'and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know me and believe me and understand that I am He.'...'No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?'...'Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.'" (Isaiah 43)
Let's cling to the Word of Truth and refuse to even hear whispers from the father of lies. We are redeemed...summoned by name....We belong to the One who made us and forgave us. We are His!!!
Heavenly Father, wrap us in Your Truth. We pray that Your voice is the only One we hear. We thank You for Your forgiveness, Your grace, Your mercy. Your love is amazing!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Heed the Warning! (edited version)

"Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD." Psalm 107:43 (NIV)

On the back of my heating pad it says:

Burns will result from improper use. To reduce the risk of burns, electric shock, and fire, this product must be used in accordance with the following instructions. Do not use while sleeping. Burns may occur regardless of control setting...blah, blah, blah....This pad is not to be used by or on an invalid, a sleeping or unconscious person, or a person with poor blood circulation....blah, blah, blah...Place pad on top of and not under the part of the body needing heat...and on and on.

I've read the instructions several times over the years...but really didn't heed the warning. I have a nice blister to attest to that fact.

I have gotten into the habit of putting the heating pad in the bed before I get in to warm it up. (John even moves it around from one area to another to spread the warmth. He really spoils me! And yes, we have thought of getting an electric blanket.) One of the main reasons that I do this is that I have Raynaud's (hmmm, has something to do with poor blood circulation) and my feet (and hands) exude COLD. You know how some people radiate heat from their bodies? I radiate...or rather refridger-ate...cold! Well, the other night I was having some hip pain, so after I warmed up the foot zone, I moved the heating pad up to my hip. I laid on top of the heating pad to ease the pain...and fell asleep. Now the heating pad was on the lowest setting...but if you'll just review the instructions above, you'll note that it doesn't matter. I think I broke 3 or 4 rules!! And I suffered the consequences.

So what does this have to do with God? Well, He set forth some rules and some warnings...for our own good...and safety, for His glory, and because of His great love for us. In Deuteronomy 30:16, Moses says, "For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you...." We are told in Deuteronomy 11 of the blessing that comes with obedience and the cursing (or consequences) of disobedience. I encourage you to read Deuteronomy 6 and 11. Here's a little snippet. Moses says, "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts." (Deuteronomy 6:5-6) He wants us to be intentional in our thoughts of Him, to love Him above all else, to hide His Word in our hearts (Yes, that means delving into His Word and memorizing Scripture!), and to obey Him...wherever He leads, whatever He says.

The passage goes on to say, "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deut. 6:7 He wants us to be diligent in sharing His plans, His love, His Word, and the importance of obedience (to Him, to parents...Eph. 6:1...and to those in authority...Heb. 13:17) with our children. No matter what their age, they need to know that they belong to God. He has a plan for their lives...which requires obedience. He created them and has gifted them in unique ways to serve Him, be blessed by Him, and be a blessing to others. We must model obedience and guide them toward their own.

Proverbs 16:20 tells us, "Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD." Let's do it!

Lord, we thank You that You have chosen us as Your "treasured possession" (Deut. 7:6b). We thank You for Your great love for us...a love that provides boundaries...and guidance. We thank You for Your mercies that are new each morning...and for Your amazing grace. Help us , Lord, as we seek to obey. Help us as we teach your commands to our children and show them the way. We want Your blessing in our lives...and in our families for generations to come!