A Handful of Quietness


 

Today I picked up a little giggle. I held it for a moment and then tossed it to my 6-year-old granddaughter. She looked at it for a little while and then tossed it high into the air. It grew into a laugh. We tossed it around and around the room, its sweet sound echoing off the walls. It became a big belly laugh, and it was too big to toss. We plopped down onto the floor and let it settle down on us. We laughed and laughed and laughed until we were too tired to laugh any more. The laugh turned back into a giggle and lay softly beside us. After a few moments, the giggle became a smile. I had one and my granddaughter had one, so we shared.

The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the swing set was calling our names.  We went outside and took our smiles with us.  It wasn’t long before our smiles became giggles! They even morphed into belly laughs at times, so we had to hold on tight to our swings.  Our laughter sat on the bare tree branches, it floated on the gentle breeze, and bounced off the sunbeams.  It filled our hearts with joy.

After she went home, I was tired.  I sat down and put my feet up, and I noticed a handful of quietness beside me.  I picked it up.  It was soft like a dandelion puff, and it had the sweet aroma of lavender.  I wanted to share my quietness, so I got down on my knees and gave it to God.

Psalm 46:10  “Be still and know that I am God…”  I closed my eyes and held my little puff of quietness.  I felt the sweet spirit of God settle over me.  His gentle spirit calmed the rivers of my life so that no ripples remained.  I felt complete in His presence for I am His and He is mine.  Forever.

Matthew 28:11 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Here is a link to a beautiful song by Kari Jobe.  I pray it will give you rest.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35WOSrfT7Cw

Hidden Scars


My husband is redoing our bedroom. After 38 years, the sheetrock has some cracks and some of the nails have popped. He is removing a few sheets completely; simply patching others. When the sheets are removed, much is revealed! There are numbers written on the studs, dimensions so that my husband knew how long to cut a board, etc. There are also delightful things written by our kids, who were 4 and 7 at the time. They both wrote their names. On one stud, our son simply wanted to state that he was here, and our daughter wrote something about a boy at school. I enjoyed showing my 6-year-old granddaughter things her daddy had written when he was a boy, younger than she is now. In a few weeks, new sheetrock will cover the walls and paint will make the room look fresh and new. All those things beneath will be covered over and forgotten.

Our lives are much like the walls in a house. We have words and events recorded on the studs of our lives. Some are pleasant like the things our children wrote when they were young. But some of us have hurtful things inside, gouges in our framework. We have managed to cover them up, but we know they are there. Daily we have to make sure they are still covered because we’ve been told they are our fault and no one will love us if we tell.

I’m speaking today about physical and sexual abuse. This week I read about a woman whose father had abused her. It started with physical abuse and escalated to sexual abuse. She had borne the scars for 30 years. After her mother died, she confronted her father and he was sentenced to prison. When asked why he did it, he said, “I didn’t have money to pay a prostitute.” Hard words to hear. Impossible words to comprehend. The lady is healing now because she had the courage to face her abuser, confront him with the things he had done to her as a child, and seek punishment for his deeds. It is a start.

If you are reading this today and have scars from your past, I urge you to deal with them. Grab a pry bar and remove one piece of trim from the doorpost of your heart. When you are ready, use that same tool to remove some sheetrock. Maybe it is just a small piece. That’s fine. Look at the board underneath; touch it; examine it. When you are ready, remove another piece of sheetrock. I think you will find it easier as you go along, but take your time.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” God is with you as you remove the sheetrock. He is with you as you examine the scars underneath. He is with you if you take the bold step to tell someone.

As parents, we usually describe abusers as monsters hiding in the bushes or in dark places. Truthfully, though, they are too often trusted adults. It is hard for a child to see “Pastor Tom”, “Coach Michael”, “Uncle George” or even daddy as the boogie man hiding in the bushes. To complicate matters further for the victim, the abuser usually threatens them and says horrible things will happen if they tell. They are also made to feel it is their fault. Deep scars are left on the framework of their hearts.

Ephesians 4:32 “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” It is one thing to expose the hurt, even more difficult to talk about it, but forgiveness seems impossible. And yet, we are told to forgive those who hurt us, just as Christ forgave us. I know from personal experience that forgiveness is necessary in order to heal. I have never been the victim of physical or sexual abuse, but I have had hatred in my heart because of a wrong. It wasn’t until I forgave that person that I was able to move on with my life.

If you are the victim of abuse, I urge you to seek help. You are not alone. You are worthy. You are loved. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God loves you. He sent His Son to save you. Let Him hold you, comfort you until you are strong enough to stand and look at your hidden scars.

All That Thrills My Soul is Jesus


Scripture for the day: 1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'”

I have always cared about my physical appearance. My hair, my nails, my body were always important to me. I fell for all the ads about using certain products to make my hair shine, my nails grow, my body look great. It was an obsession when I was a teenager, and it consumed a lot of my time. I even remember “needing” a certain lipstick so badly that I charged a tube at the drug store where my parents had an account. I felt certain my tiny little charge would go unnoticed when my dad paid the bill at the end of the month. Wrong. I was in big trouble, and I learned a lesson. I never liked that lipstick and felt duped by the advertising. It was a first in a long line of lessons about wants vs needs.

And then along came cancer. First it started consuming my body, stealing precious nutrients to grow tumors inside of me. The tumors grew and crowded out major organs of my body. The body that had served me so well was under siege, and it was losing. In order to save my life, a skilled surgeon removed the tumors and other damaged areas of my body. In a few weeks, my body started to recover from the assault. I started to feel like me again. Almost. Then chemo was tossed into the mix of things. The person I had been: the hair, the nails, the body were simply gone. I saw a pale, sick, depressed person in the mirror that I didn’t know. I didn’t care. I didn’t want to know her. But God saw His child. He loved me, and He had a plan.

I grieved for the person I had lost. I couldn’t see that God was making a new creature. He was taking the old me and creating someone new, someone more in His image. I remember returning to my church for the first time after chemo. I didn’t wear my wig, testing out the new “me” in a safe environment. A little girl whose mom had been a real prayer warrior for me asked “Who are you?” I thought it was a very good question, and I started trying to find the answer.

Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” All through my ordeal, God had protected me, guided me, guarded me. I realized how totally dependent on Him I was for everything. And He was all I needed.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I was so sick and overwhelmed by cancer and the treatment that I simply submitted. Totally. I didn’t have the energy to worry about tomorrow. I simply knew God was with me. He gave me the strength, the joy to face each new day.

God had to knock me flat to enable me see Him, trust Him for everything. And I am so glad He did.

The Conduit


Scripture for the day: 2 Corinthians 4:7 “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”

I love having electricity in my home. It warms me because it powers our furnace. It feeds me because my stove and refrigerator depend on it to work. It illumines my world enabling me to find my way in the dark, read, accomplish daily grooming chores, etc. I would hate to go back to the days when homes used wood for heating and cooking, kerosene for lamps, etc. Lucky for me, I was born too late for those delights, but I visited relatives who lived that way. I never envied them their existence.

The truth is, though, I have never seen electricity. It simply flows through wires into my home, and I see the result, reap the benefit. The wire simply conducts the electricity; it doesn’t produce it. The wire is necessary to get the current where it needs to go, but it is simply a conduit. The wire has no power in itself.

I am like that wire. Because I accepted Christ, I am wired for service in His Kingdom. His love, His grace, His spirit flow through me. My lights are always available, but I have to flip the switch. Sometimes I fail to flip the switch, and His power does not flow. It is there, always, but I have to activate it. Satan is always trying to short-circuit my life, disrupting the flow of God’s power. He does this with his lies and his deception. The power of God is still there, but Satan distracts me. I forget the Source of my power. I fail to flip the switch and sit in the darkness of defeat.

But not today! All the lights are on in my house. The sweet power of Jesus is flowing through me. I am alive! I tingle with the current of His love. God’s power is working through me. I can feel Him, and I am so humbled and grateful.

Immanuel, God with Us


We talked yesterday in church about being asked “Are you ready for Christmas?”  It seems to be the question of the day.  My thoughts usually go to shopping or cooking.  I’ve been buying gifts for a couple of weeks now, and they are wrapped.  Mostly.  The baking starts today, and I will cook for the next several days.  But am I ready for Christmas?

Isaiah 9:6 says “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  The truth is, we are getting ready to celebrate a birthday.  So perhaps the answer to the question “Are you ready for Christmas?” should be “Yes, I have Jesus in my heart.”  When you plan a birthday party, you invite people you know.  You don’t, as a rule, invite complete strangers.  So will I be invited to His birthday party?  Do I know Him?  The answer is YES.  I know Him.  I have a personal relationship with Him, and He is all those things to me.  Wonderful, counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, prince of peace.  But there is more.

Isaiah 7:14 says “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”  So, while Jesus is all those other things in my life, my favorite name for Him is Immanuel.  That is what I celebrate this Christmas.  God is with me.  He’s not just a baby in my nativity scene.  He’s not just a person I sing about in church.  He is real, and He lives inside my heart.

So I rejoice at Christmas about God’s perfect gift to us, His Son, Jesus,  Immanuel, for He is with me.  May you celebrate not only His birth this Christmas but the fact that He is with you.  As you exchange gifts with friends and family, remember that perfect gift given so long ago.  May His birth and life fill you with joy this Christmas, and may His resurrection fill you with hope and promise.

Merry Christmas.

Be You Bravely


Scripture for the day:  Isaiah 43:18-19 “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?  I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

I am a mentor mom for MOPS, and our theme this year is Be You Bravely.  This scripture from Isaiah is our Bible text.

Bravery is defined as courageous behavior or character.  Some synonyms are courage, valor, nerve, daring, audacity, heroism.  Fear is defined as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, pain, evil, whether real or imagined.  To me, it is the opposite of bravery.

I read last week that the Bible says “do not be afraid”, “fear not”, etc. 365 times.  I don’t have 365 scripture references to back that up, but I know there are many in the Bible.  I like the number 365 because that means there is one reference for every day of the year, and I need to be reminded daily.

The Bible says in Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  To me this is a good place to start.  This requires learning about God and having a reverential awe of Him.  Ultimately, we are to exchange our attitudes and will for His.

Fear can be a real hindrance to spiritual growth.  Sometimes we are fearful because of previous mistakes, and we get stuck in the past.  We become rooted in our failures and are unable or unwilling to move forward.  It takes bravery to stop looking in the rearview mirror and start moving ahead in God’s grace.

Sometimes we are literally paralyzed by fear.  I remember one such time in my life, and it is still very vivid to me.  I was in my teens and was watching TV with my grandfather.  Suddenly, I had the feeling that someone was watching us.  I got up and went to look out the front door.  As I did so, the figure of a man streaked across the porch.  At that moment, I was paralyzed by fear.  I couldn’t speak.  I couldn’t move.  I just stood there for a few seconds before I was able to alert my family to the potential danger.

Just recently, I went out in our garage early in the morning.  I was barefoot at the time and felt something under my foot as I stepped out of the house into the garage.  I looked down and realized I was standing on a snake!  I was not paralyzed by fear!  The next thing I knew I was up in the air between the car and a table, yelling to my husband!  Two scary situations.  Two very different reactions.  I did not exhibit bravery in either situation!  But my reactions were completely normal.

I can think of a couple of times in my life when I exhibited bravery.  In 1984 I was asked to be director of Vacation Bible School at my church.  I felt totally unqualified for the job, but I said yes anyway.  The main reason I was hesitant was because I would have to speak in front of everyone on parent’s night.  Public speaking almost kept me from accepting a job that brought me so much joy and pleasure.  God called me, and He equipped me every year.  I am so grateful that I didn’t let fear override my desire to serve.

In 2008 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  I was too sick to be fearful, and so I raised my fist in anger at the beast.  I looked cancer straight in the eye and said “bring it on”.  The fight was neither easy nor pleasant, but God was with me all the way.  Because it was His will, I survived.  I volunteer at a cancer support facility to give hope to those newly diagnosed.  I am alive.  I can smile.  I am the face of hope to those fearful beyond words.

So how can we be brave?  Scary situations, evil intentions and calamities are all around us.  For me, I embrace Isaiah 41:10-11 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing, and those who strive with you shall perish.”

Quite simply, God is with me.  He will uphold me, help me, strengthen me.  He will enable me to be brave.

Song for the day: “Fear Not for I Have Redeemed You”

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xn0m8z_christian-praise-worship-songs-lyrics-2011-fear-not-for-i-have-redeemed-you-isaiah-43_music

 

 

Heavenly Sonlight


Scripture for the day:  Proverbs 23:7  For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…”
My pastor gave an excellent sermon Sunday about our thought life.  It was very relevant for me.  Sometimes in my mind I am critical of something someone does or says, but I just smile and say nothing.  Sometimes those little thoughts take over my mind and multiply.  It’s pretty obvious they don’t come from God but from satan.  They are poisonous to me, but too often I don’t run from them.  I tolerate them.

They start innocently enough, small, seemingly harmless but quite deadly.  From that little thought comes a decision to act on the thought or not.  I usually don’t act on them, but the poison is there.  The problem is they can grow, become a habit.  Once they are habitual, they have a home.  I become comfortable with them, hardly notice them, and they settle in.

I spent some time in prayer and decided it was time to clean!  I took out my broom and dust pan and got busy .  I not only swept the main hallways of my heart, but I checked the nooks and crannies.  There were several nasty thoughts hidden there, and I caught them off guard.  I swept them into my dust pan and tossed them into the trash.

I took a look at the windows of my heart.  They were a little cloudy from negativity, so I started cleaning and polishing the windows.  Soon, they were clean and glistening, and the heavenly sunlight was flooding in.  In 2 Corinthians 4:6 it says “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Negative thoughts are sneaky little critters, though.  They’ll climb out of the trash and try to sneak back into my mind.  They will cover my windows with a gray film and block the light.  I’m armed now, though, standing on God’s Word.  Philippians 4:8-9 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.  The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”  I want God’s peace in my life, and I want to think on His things.  My cleaning today was good.  I will keep my Bible handy, though, just in case any of those negative critters try to make a comeback.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”  A stronghold is simply a devilish idea and I must attack it with the sword of the Spirit and fight. It is an ongoing battle, but I will be victorious in Him.

Proverbs 4:23 says “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”  I will win.  I will bring my mind, heart and soul under the control of God.  Those little dust bunnies can just stay in the trash.

Song for the day:  “Heavenly Sunlight”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzyQBkatt-c

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