Archive | October 2012

*I want what I want when I want it!

The topic is cats, yet again. If you’re new, I’ll quickly bring you up to speed. We have three furry, four-legged, funny cats . . . with drama. “When can we eat?” starts every day as soon as the man of the house gets home from work. They outta know by now they don’t eat until 5 o’clock-ish, but since they can’t tell time (you’d think they can sometimes) the whining begins about 4 o’clock every day. There are attention-getters and I’ll list a few. You can probably add to the list:

  • Set in front of the TV being a “door” hair magnet. Prohibited by the establishment.
  • Climb all over the piano while whining. Also prohibited by the establishment.
  • Jump up on the PC desk, set one’s furry bulk squarely in front of the screen. Owner can’t do the blog thing. Prohibited!
  • Jump up on owner. Do the headbutt thing, head to nose. Whose idea was THAT!
  • Plant your feet into tender places on owner’s belly and stand there as if waiting for the bus. Ouch!
  • Look pathetic. Should be prohibited.
  • Look starved, which is impossible given the fact that they get 2 squares of (boring) dry + a tsp. of soft cat food/day . . . the reason for all the whining. They sleep and wait and sleep and wait all day for this tiny morsel of stinky food which is gone in 15 seconds, flat!

Are there spiritual lessons here?  My impatience? My assumption that it’s all about me? Does it help when I beg God? I must admit that the cats’ behavior with me reminds me of my behavior with God. They make me smile. Do you suppose we make God smile?

He has my attention. I am ready to listen. Unlike my furry feline friends.

And it shall be that before they call I will answer; and while they are yet speaking I will hear.  Isaiah 65:24

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This entry was posted on October 31, 2012. 3 Comments

The heartbreak of holidays

Those of us who have losses in our recent memory or even further back, feel mixed emotions begin to surface as the big holiday season rolls around. As soon as Halloween is past we flip a page on the calendar and thoughts turn to planning Thanksgiving and then there’s Christmas and New Year’s all in rapid succession with hardly time to breathe.

Perhaps you have a large family who is in the habit of getting together for each of these holidays. Maybe you live close and make the rounds from house to house. Maybe you have generations of blended families which can make for many meals leaving you stuffed to the gills. Many folks travel, spending hours at airports and in crowded flights ~ each making their way to some place called home.

Maybe you are the one expected to make all the special dishes craved and expected during the season of holidays. Year after year, we do it out of love. But after we lose a beloved someone who no longer comes through the door, drops a suitcase in favor of a huge hug saying, “Hi Mom. I’ve missed you.” Is it ever the same?

No. It is never the same . . . ever again.

I could stop here. Nothing left but to grab a tissue . . .

Somehow, life goes on and on without the ones we carry in our hearts. There are other smiling faces at the table and we love them too, but it is hard to not miss the one (s) who are absent. Holidays are special because it gives us a chance to catch up with the ones we love, especially if it is the only time we get to spend time with them. Time is precious and it goes by quickly when we have a holiday season filled with fragrant foods, laughter, sharing stories of past snowball fights and making more memories to add to our collection.

Perhaps I make it sound easy. But it is anything but. For moms especially, our hands are deep in flour while our hearts are heavy. The sounds of Christmas may fill the house, but your heart is not singing. I get it. I live it. I know the loneliness too. When the flurry of holidays start before Thanksgiving, it begins to drag by the time Christmas is here. Heavy hearts just want to get the dates behind us and face yet another year.

If I have not turned you off completely and you are still reading, let’s leave this post on a note of hope. We serve a risen Savior who came as a babe in a manger. He lived a life of service to His heavenly Dad and to show this tiny planet what the God of heaven is really like and to break the power of sin at the cross! We aren’t stuck on “spin cycle” forever. There will come a time, perhaps sooner than later, when we no longer have get-togethers during the holiday season, but we are basking in the wonders of heaven never to say “goodbye” again to those we love. And that includes the ones we miss so much. No more pain, sorrow, loneliness, or sin . . . EVER!

eat as much as you can

Let’s focus on Christ. He will put the holidays in perspective.

Now when these things begin to occur, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption(deliverance) is drawing near.  Luke 21:28

Spin cycle

Are you in the Guilt Cycle or the Grace Cycle?

 

I open my eyes to a new day and a long list of to-do’s. Before I’m even out of bed, I notice a cobweb in the corner. Guilt creeps under the covers with me. I think of other women with cobweb-free corners (in their homes and hearts). I vow that today I’ll try harder…

Can you relate to that pattern? If so, you’re familiar with what I like to call the Guilt Cycle. It’s like a little hamster wheel in our hearts that we run around again and again. It looks like this:

Guilt Cycle

Another day I wake up and take a deep breath of grace. I’m loved and known and whatever happens today I will be okay. I slip into the kitchen with a smile for my first cup of coffee. I sit at the table with my to-do list and ask God for His perspective on it. It seems like I can feel Him with me as I check off the first item…

Can you relate to that pattern? If so, you’re familiar with what I like to call the Grace Cycle. Instead of a hamster wheel, it’s a safe space for our hearts to rest and thrive.

Grace Cycle

 

If you’re like me, the Guilt Cycle is one of my biggest struggles. I go into it without even realizing it until the end of the day when I’m exhausted. I’m asking God to teach me to live differently. To trade guilt for grace. How does that happen? Here’s a start…

Getting from the Guilt Cycle to the Grace Cycle…

First, pause and identify which cycle you’re in.

If it’s the Guilt Cycle, listen for the lie. What are you telling yourself that isn’t true? For example, “I’m not doing enough.”

Then replace that lie with grace-filled truth. For example, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. But He never asks me to do it all!”

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]. Phil. 4:13, Amp.

Ask for help. Whisper a prayer saying, “Jesus, I’m on the hamster wheel of the Guilt Cycle again. I want to step off of it and back into grace. Please forgive me and help me receive what I need to from You right now.”

Then do it again tomorrow.

~Courtesy of Holley Gerth

*”Better to die a hero than to live a coward”

English: President Barack Obama speaks from th...

President Barack Obama speaks on the U.S. military action in Libya.

The sad story is still unfolding as I type. Four men died bravely on September 11, 2012 and have now been laid to rest. Time stands still for those who grieve their shocking losses and they have begun a grief journey forced upon them. We watch the facts still surfacing  and so must the families. How my heart aches for them. They must wonder if the deaths of their loved ones could have been prevented. Did we fail them? Did the USA fail its team on the ground in Libya? Does anyone know the answer to that question? Will truth be admitted over and above politics?

I picture the last comrade  determined to “stand down” as commanded. He had placed calls for help and help would come. Help always came. We never leave one of our own on enemy soil without overturning heaven and earth get them free . History is full of the gallantry of our men and women in armed forces who have served in harms way to keep our country free. So help would come. He had done all to stand and now he would stand (Ephesians 6:13).

But help would not come. I can imagine he crouched in his hiding place, never giving up hope, until the fire bombs exploded all around sending suffocating smoke in which overpowered Chris Stevens ,who was later found in the rubble. These four men who gave their lives never expected to be left alone in their time of need. They never expected to be so dishonored, so they would do what they were sent to do. And they would follow orders. Help would surely come. If not, why not?

Can we be honest with their families? Can we look them in the eye and tell the truth? One of the fathers said the words in the title of this piece. He holds no anger. He would just like the President of the United States to look him in the eye and tell him the truth. Is this about incompetence or a cover up?

There is a Bible story that most of us know. It involves three young Hebrew men who refused to dishonor God by bowing down to an image that resembled King Nebuchadnezzar. Punishment was meted out. They were bound with rope and tossed into a very hot furnace which instantly killed the soldiers who threw them in.  The king was astonished. “But look!” he said. “I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!” Daniel 3:25, The Message.

The three Hebrew men in the fiery furnace were not left alone. God honored their obedience to Him and showed up in the fire with them. None of them died or even smelled like smoke. Indeed they were blessed with a miracle when they stood for the right.

In your mind, there may not seem to be any relationship between these two very different stories and their outcomes. Both were ordered to stand. Both obeyed. Both believed help would come. It came for the Hebrews in Babylon. It did not come for the four soldiers in Libya.

Something Up His Sleeve

Broken heart symbol

Broken heart

Dear Readers,

This quote by John Eldridge compliments our theme of shattered hearts.

“Rescuing the human heart is the hardest mission in the world.

The dilemma of the story is this: we don’t know if we want to be rescued. We are so enamored with our small stories and our false gods, we are so bound up in our addictions and our self-centeredness and take-it-for-granted unbelief that we don’t even know how to cry out for help. And the evil one has no intention of letting his captives walk away scot-free. He seduces us, deceives us, assaults us – whatever it takes to keep us in darkness.

Like a woman bound to an affair from which she cannot get free, like a man so corrupted he no longer knows his own name, the human race is captive in the worst way possible – we are captives of the heart.

Their hearts are always going astray. (Hebrews 3:10)

God is filled with the jealousy of a wounded lover. He has been betrayed time and again.

The challenge God faces is rescuing a people who have no idea how captive they are; no real idea how desperate they are. We know we long for Eden, but we hesitate to give ourselves back to God in abandoned trust. We are captivated by the lies of our enemy.

But God has something up His sleeve.”

from Epic by John Eldridge

Liar, liar, pants [will be] on fire

You will not surely die, the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.   Genesis 3:4-5

 

The devil will promise you one thing, but always deliver something opposite. Take the promise he gave Eve that her eyes would be opened. Inferring that she was somehow blind to really great spiritual things, the devil promised he could open her eyes. He promised she would become spiritually wise, knowing the secrets of heaven, and even the loftiest thoughts of God himself. That was the promise. But it was a lie.

The exact opposite happened when Eve believed the devil. Second Corinthians 4:4-5 says,“The god of this age has blinded

mondays can be evil sometimes...

The snake in the Garden of Eden was as deadly as he was beautiful

 the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”  People who do not know Christ cannot see His light. The adversary has blinded them.

God is the only one who can spiritually open our eyes. Acts 9:17-18 records the amazing story of Saul’s spiritual eye surgery: “…Placing his hands on Saul, [Ananias] said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again.”

What promise has the devil whispered to you? How has he enticed you to compromise what you believe about God? What command from the Bible has the adversary told you is not necessary? Don’t listen to him. “I pray … that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…” (Ephesians 1:18-19).

Lord God, I choose to listen to you, not the devil. The devil is a liar, but your promises are true. Thank you that Jesus is “the Truth and the Life.”

~shared from Joni & Friends 

Keep Trusting In Jesus

 

He was a good friend of mine who passed away a few months ago. Something he wrote appeared inside his memorial bulletin. I want to share it in his honor. He was a soldier for the Lord all his life and I expect to see him in heaven.

 

Let’s keep trusting in Jesus, come what may.

He gives us the strength to live day by day.

May He give us courage, He gives His love.

Let’s keep our minds focused on the One up above.

He knows all our problems, He knows all about pain.

He bids us look upward, for He’s coming again.

Let’s not be discouraged, nor ever give up.

May we always remember He drank the Cup.

So keep looking to Jesus, our Savior and Friend.

He knows all about us, He loves ’till the end.

May your love be strong for Jesus, whatever you do.

He’ll help us and guide us,

He loves me and you!

~Pastor B, August 12, 1995

 

 

This entry was posted on October 25, 2012. 1 Comment

*If I could fly . . .

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Grand Canyon is an awesome place. We visited it for the first time just a couple of months ago. It’s hard to describe the feeling when I got my first glance at that gigantic “ditch”. It is absolutely breath taking. We had perfect weather with blue skies dotted with fluffy clouds. My eyes could not do the view justice. I couldn’t see as far and as deep as I wanted to. Instead of staying safely back from the cliff edge, I wanted to spread my arms, flap them to gather momentum and leap into the sky to soar with the eagles.

But alas, I don’t have wings. The soaring and dipping and swirling the giant birds get to do is only theirs to enjoy. Do you suppose they know how lucky they are? This is their habitat. This is where they raise their young in the cracks and crevices out of harms way. How good of God to create such an awesome place for His creatures. On the bus ride, we heard all about the billions of years it took to create this wonder.Our little minds have to conceive a plausible theory in order to explain the existence of such a mammoth canyon.

Grand Canyon 5

Grand Canyon

It’s more than our finite minds can understand. God did it. And I accept it by faith and drink in the beauty.

But someday I will fly. The Bible says so. I will fly up in the air to meet Jesus and see my son again! This is our hope; our only hope and Jesus keeps His Word, so you may hope along with me. Plan to see your loved one again. Here’s the proof!

13 Brothers and sisters, we don’t want you to be ignorant about those who have died. We don’t want you to grieve like other people who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and came back to life. We also believe that, through Jesus, God will bring back those who have died. They will come back with Jesus.15 We are telling you what the Lord taught. We who are still alive when the Lord comes will not go into his kingdom ahead of those who have already died.16 The Lord will come from heaven with a command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the dead who believed in Christ will come back to life.17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive will be taken in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. In this way we will always be with the Lord. 18 So then, comfort each other with these words!   1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, GW

Soaring Over The Canyon

Soaring Over The Canyon

Embracing True Faith

But I can promise you this. If you had faith no longer than a mustard seed, you could tell this mountain to move from here to there, and it would. Everything would be possible for you.  Matthew 17:20

Dear God,

When the enemy killed our son, be belief in You took a nose dive ~ and I blamed You for his death. But You and I have discussed this and I no longer feel that way ~ and thank You again for forgiving me. But growth upward is slow. I feel like my faith is the size of a tiny grain of mustard seed, so how could it ever become the size of a tree; a tree large enough to provide shelter for nesting birds?

I know the enemy is angrily pacing about, trying to erect walls to keep my trust in You from growing. Perhaps he brings me alongside believers who give false information ~ but they are Your worshipers too, Lord. They are Your children! How can I sort out the true faithful from the counterfeit faithful?

My Dear Child,

The whole point of what I’m urging is simply Love ~ Love uncontaminated by self interest and counterfeit faith; a life open to Me. Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into a cul-de-sac of gossip. They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven’t the remotest idea of what they’re holding forth with such imposing eloquence.

You have been anointed by Me from the very beginning and that is all that matters. I will carry you moment by moment as you lean on Me and trust in My anointing, which is real and not counterfeit. I have taught you the Truth in everything you need to know about yourself and Me. It is uncontaminated by the lies of so-called believers, so live deeply in what I have taught you.

Let it sink into your life as you follow both Me and Dad and your faith will grow. It will lead to what I promised you; real life, eternal life!        1 Timothy 1:4-6; 1 John 2:24, 25, 27, MSG, paraphrased

~from Shattered by Suicide

Seventh year miracle

The LORD’S words are true and pure, like silver purified by fire, like silver melted seven times to make it perfectly pure.  Psalm 12:6

I had to quit my career long before I was ready. I fought to stay working, but illness made it impossible. When our income suddenly dropped to half, it felt like we were tumbling off a cliff into sheer financial disaster. We still had a child to help through college. Monthly checks did not stretch very far. There were times when we lived on beans and rice and if money wouldn’t stretch past bills, then we didn’t buy groceries until the next payday.

Recalling this memory gives me a shiver. I did not appreciate that time period very much and I will confess I wondered where God was in the midst of our struggle. We kept going one day at a time; from paycheck to paycheck. My husband had his job and we were grateful. And I made several attempts to get disability to no avail. We assumed that it was not meant to be. This was our testing time about trust.

God must like the number 7; at least He uses it a lot. There are hundreds of times it is found in the Bible. I thought I’d go hunting and randomly pick out a few to share to prove that God must really like the number 7 🙂

  • Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out and set up her seven [perfect number of] pillars. Proverbs 9:1
  • By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Genesis 2:2
  • Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2:3
  • On the fifteenth day of this month there is to be a festival; for seven days eat bread made without yeast. Numbers 28:17
  • You are sent by the king and his seven advisers to inquire about Judah and Jerusalem with regard to the Law of your God, which is in your hand. Ezra 7:14
  • And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” Romans 11:4
  • For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” Hebrews 4:4
  • From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne,seven lamps were blazing. Revelation 4:5
  • And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. Revelation 8:2

Now back to my story. It must have been about 6 years later – after I had quit work and had also been turned down for disability (for the 3rd time) that I received a letter from the insurance company asking if I would be interested in taking part in a claim to have my case reexamined, along with a host of others, for the possibility of insurance fraud. No cost. Just forms, and lots of them I was to find out. But long story short, I was eventually awarded disability and it came ~ 7 years later.

The light bulb didn’t come on instantly. We were so caught off guard and thrilled to have extra money that we did not really think it through. In time, God put the puzzle pieces together in my mind and the number 7 popped up. This was no accident. This was God doing what He does best and timing it according to His plan. Perfectly executed. Always.