Thursday, December 29, 2011

To Honor Sophie

We had to put my beloved 14 year old Bichon, Sophie, to sleep yesterday. She was the best dog I ever had. She was an angel in her time on earth and now she's an angel in heaven. I miss her so much. I love dogs. They teach us so many life lessons:
*When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
*Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
*Experience fresh air and the wind in your face as pure ecstasy.
*Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
*Take frequent naps.
*Stretch before rising.
*Play every day.
*Thrive on attention and the touch of others.
*Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
*On warm days, lie on your back in the grass.
*On hot days, drink lots of water and sit in the shade.
*When you're happy, dance around and wag your body.
*If you're scolded, run back and make friends.
*Delight in the joy of a long walk.
*Eat with gusto and stop when you've had enough.
*Be loyal.
*Never pretend to be something you're not.
*If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
*When someone is having a bad day, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
You were a great dog, Sophie. Rest well. I love you.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Christmas Light

The Light

That was Christmas

Shined on the shepherds

Until the impossible

Was seen,

Traveled through

The years,

Shines on in

Love to a

Damaged world

That's lost

 its' way,

And fills up

Hearts

That still seek

His peace.

Wishing for all of you a merry and blessed Christmas, making memories with your loved ones.
Love, Peggy

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

There's Still Joy

I came home a week ago to find this inflatable Santa in my yard. My grandchildren put it there. My husband had been threatening to get an inflatable for several years and I always said "Over my dead body". But I guess when your grandkids give you a Santa surprise you just smile and thank them.

Actually, that's been about the last bit of joy we've had in our house lately. My husband's precious 97 year old mother has been in the hospital the past week dying of encephalitis of the brain. I think the worse thing in the world is sitting in a hospital room all day, day after day, watching someone die who is not even conscious you are there. It brings back too many memories of when my mom died one year ago after a massive stroke and 5 days of unconsciousness.

Her funeral is Friday. After traveling back from there I'm going to try real hard to get back in a Christmas mood. After all, Jesus came to give us hope amid our feelings of hopelessness, to give us joy to replace our sorrow, to give us peace when our hearts are troubled. Because the Light of the World came down and shined into our darkness those 2000 years ago, there's always the possibllity of joy. I'm going to grab mine soon.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Light of the World

"Because of God's tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace", Luke 1:78-79. NLT

I ran across this verse in my Bible this morning. I've always loved the picture of Jesus as being the light that came to shine in the darkness of the world. I guess because I've struggled with darkness so much in my battle with depression.

I pray His light shines in the darkness inside me this winter, bathing me in its' glow and keeping the depression away. May His light shine in my grandkids faces at Christmas as they unwrap the presents lovingly chosen for them.

 His light is shining in the thousands of lights in our downtown square and in the smiles of families celebrating Christmas togetherness. His light is shining in the lights of my Christmas tree as I eagerly anticipate my family coming home to be wrapped in my loving embrace.

I pray that Jesus' light shines into all the dark corners of our world and leads us into an unparallelled season of peace and hope. I pray that His light shines brightly on your Christmas celebration this year, chasing away all darkness, and that you have the best Christmas ever.

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it", John 1:5. NLT

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Relishing the Joy

My family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It was great to have the house filled with the giggles and squeals and laughter of children. My house is awfully quiet now and the Christmas sprint has started. Actually, going Christmas shopping with my husband is more like speed skating.

 There is a lot to do before Christmas and I'm starting to feel the familiar stress and pressure. But I'm resolved to keep my mind focused on Jesus and not get overwhelmed. To take it easy and enjoy the simple delights of the season, the lights and music and memories. To do what I can and not worry about what I can't. To remember the reason for the season is to celebrate the birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will
be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace", Isaiah 9:6. NLT

I'm hoping and praying that the Prince of Peace will bless every aspect of your Christmas season this year. Stop and smell the spruce. Stop and see the sparkle of the Christmas lights. Stop and feel the velvet smoothness of the ribbon lovingly tied on the packages. Stop and hear the beautiful words of the old carols.
Stop and taste the sweetness of the cookies and the tartness of the apple cider. And above all, keep Jesus Christ in the center of your heart all season.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Seasons of Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for God's goodness to me in all the seasons of my life.

*God's Care-Even before my body was abused and my little girl's heart tilted, askew, needing to be righted, my loving parents had taken me to church where I could hear of the love and forgiveness of Jesus, that love that would settle my heart aright one day.
*God's Protection-During the years when I didn't care about myself, God cared enough for both of us, and His protection kept me from falling into the darkness that sat ready to fold me in.
*God's Blessing-God blessed me with a wonderful husband and children, and gave me enough love for them that even my dysfunctional thinking and habits couldn't mess it all up.
*God's Healing-In my middle years, God unraveled layer after layer of pain, guilt, loss, and shame and then broke through the barrier of unbelief deep in my core and showed me that He loved me enough that He would have died on the cross for me if I had been the only one.
*God's Grace-God has saved His best for my latter years and has opened my eyes to see how amazing His grace is. As I grow tired and my body begins to break down, I can rest in His grace and bask in His unfaiuling love, knowing that the time when I see Him face to face is growing nearer.

As I look back over the years, His goodness and love have never failed me, and He has never been more than a prayer away.

Much love and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! Peggy

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Opening Up

Opening Up

Like a rosebud
Curls downward into itself
Tight, rigid, closed
Unwilling to open out
Until the sunshine and warmth
Of  the balmiest day
Melts away its' final defenses

So the grace of Jesus
Prods open my locked up heart
Fills it up fully
Saturates it with ardor and affection
Waters it with mercy
Opens it up, pardoned, nurtured
Smiling upon my days as a blessing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mirror Image

I've struggled with self-image all my life. After I was sexually abused as a little girl, when I looked in the mirror I saw someone who was different from other girls, someone who was damaged, someone who didn't measure up, someone who felt all alone.

When I began my descent, as a teenager, into all things that could numb the pain, I looked in the mirror and saw someone who had no value except for being desired by boys. And so began the downward spiral that masqueraded as my life for quite some time.

Later, after I married and had chidlren, I didn't take the time to look at myself in the mirror much at all. Preferring instead to lift my children to the mirror and find my value in them.

In middle age, when God led me step by step through healing from the abuse, He unraveled layer after layer of blame, shame, guilt, loss, anger, and grief. When He got down to that final core of unbelief that I could be loved by Him and showed me He did love me-enough to die for me, out popped a new me. For the first time in my life, I could look in the mirror and see someone I liked.

Now, when I look in the mirror, I see someone who is growing old, someone not valued by our society, someone who is wearing out. But if I look through Jesus' eyes, I can also see someone who is looking a little bit more like Him, someone who sees perseverance in those grey hairs and wisdom in those wrinkles, someone who values a gentle and peaceful spirit more than a whistle from the guy on the corner. And I'm looking forward to that glorious day when I will be made an immortal body like His.

"So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord-who is the Spirit-makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image", 2 Corinthians 3:18, NLT.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Resolved to Enjoy the Ordinary

This past week has been difficult. There have been thunderstorms, tornado warnings, and earthquake shakings, sometimes all at once. To top it all off, one of my dearest friends buried her husband. And today my granddaughter is sharing at school a picture of my dad, who passed away a year ago, in his Navy uniform for Veteran's Day. It has me thinking about the fleetingness of life. Really, we get to thinking we have all the time in the world, when in fact it is over in the blink of an eye.

I just want to kick myself, or worse flog myself, when I think about all the moments I've wasted complaining, thinking negative thoughts, and being discontent and ungrateful. God's grace has blessed me in so many ways they cannot be measured. Life is precious, every day, every hour, every second of it. I am resolved to start being thankful for every moment God gives me. I am determined to thank God for every ordinary day of life. I am committed to "being in" the plain-Jane moments of life and to enjoying the simple pleasures each day brings. Help me, Lord!

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things", Phillipians 4:8. NIV

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cultivating Thankfulness

A pastor in my area, Jonathan Watson, had a column in the newspaper yesterday that got me to thinking about being thankful. He gave a good illustration of ingratitude that I want to share with you:

"Carol decided to do something nice for her neighbor, Mrs. Gentry, so she baked a pie and carried it next door. When Mrs. Gentry opened the door, she said, "For Me? Thank you so much! You are so thoughtful for doing this." Because Mrs. Gentry liked the pie so much, Carol decided to bake her one the next week. Mrs. Gentry opened the door and said, "Thank you so much. You are so kind."

The next week when Carol took the pie over, Mrs. Gentry took it and said, "Thanks." The next week, she opened the door and greeted Carol with these words, "Your're a day late with that pie." The following week, Carol baked another pie. This time, her neighbor said, "Try using a little more sugar, and don't bake it quite as long. The crust has been a little hard lately. And, I'd like cherry or coconut instead of apple."

I could really see myself in that illustration and how I am with God. God has so richly blessed me and sometimes I feel so grateful. But when things are humming along and everything is going pretty well, then I tend to forget, then I tend to complain. "But, God, I wanted that prayer answered today. But, God, I wanted that prayer answered in a different way. But, God, if you would just give me that one thing more then I would be happy."

I don't want to be ungrateful to God. God has given me everything and much more. I couldn't make it without His love and grace and mercy. He alone is worthy of all my praise and I am so thankful that He is making something good out of the mess that was my life.

In these days leading up to Thanksgiving, I'm going to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness. I'm going to keep my wandering mind focused on the big things God has given me, like salvation and eternal life. And I'm going to keep my fickle mind focused on the little things God has given me, like eyes to see the tiny red rosebud that I picked and placed in my kitchen window last week open up and smile at me.

"Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord? Who can ever praise Him enough?", Psalm 106:1-2. NLT

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Grace Takes Root

I've been sick with a cruddy virus for two weeks. It seems like I'm never going to feel good again. On top of that a stormy cold wave has hit our area and knocked the sunshine out. The icy fingers of depression are grabbing at me and threatening to crumple me like the frigid temperatures are crumpling the last of the autumn leaves.

But grace has taken root in my heart this past year and grace is greater, grace is stronger, grace will persevere.

Grace enables the sunshine of Jesus to brighten my darkest days.

Grace enables me to look out my front window and know that flowers will bloom there again.

Grace enables me to hold my beautiful grandchildren deep in my grateful heart.

Grace enables me to believe that my chidlren will be able to handle what life throws at them becasue of the grace that resides in them.

Grace enables me to take my eyes off of my imperfect self and keep them focused on the incomparable perfection of Jesus.

Grace never gave up on a sick, messed up, dysfunctional little girl but continues to love her and heal her still.

Grace is given to me in abundance every day, just what I need so that I have all I need to make it through every day.

Grace is undeserved, unmerited, unconditional, wonderful, amazing, and a free gift.

"For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and His gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death throught this one man, Jesus Christ", Romans 5:17. NLT

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daily Prayer

I feel miserable today. I just got back from the doctor where he put me on a round of anti-biotics. I hope I feel better before I go to Oklahoma Saturday to see my little granddaughters. I'm going to share a prayer that has helped me get through a lot of difficult days:

"Good Morning, Father! Good Morning, Jesus! Good Moning, Holy Spirit!

Heavenly Father, according to your Word, I present my body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable in Thy sight. (Romans 12:1) Now, Father, I gird my loins about with truth. I put on the breastplate of righteousness, I shod my feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, I take the shield of faith wherewith I shall be able to stop all the fiery darts of the wicked. And I take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:14-17)

And, according to your Word, the glory of the Lord is my rear guard. (Isaiah 58:8) Now, Heavenly Father, I praise you and I thank you for the armor you have provided for me to dress in this day. I am completely covered now, in the name of Jesus according to your Word, Father. Upon Jesus I have built my life, my home and my marriage, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

You are my shepherd. I shalll not want. For you have supplied all my needs according to your riches in glory, and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Psalm 23:1; Phillipians 4:19, 13)

I cast down all imaginations and bring into captivity every evil thought and I cast all my care upon you, for you care for me. (2 Corinthians 10:5; 1 Peter 5:7)

I praise you for walking in divine health, for you are my God who heals all my diseases, and by your stripes I am healed. I just praise you and thank you for my prosperity and good health, even as my soul prospers. (Psalm 103:3; Isaiah 53:5) For the joy of the Lord is my strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

Father, I have prayed according to your Word, and you have said you would watch over your Word to perform it. (Jeremiah 1:12) Father, just rise up and live big within me today, for I am yours, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Jesus Is My Personal Assistant

My cell phone plan was up in October, so I succumbed to all the hype from Apple and pre-ordered my new iphone4s. I picked it up a week later, excited about all it could do. I was especially intrigued by the new voice recognition system, touted as my new personal assistant, Siri.

I've found that Siri is not all she is advertised to be. Sometimes she works great, but sometimes she doesn't understand what I'm saying. Sometimes she just opts out by saying "I'm having trouble getting a connection". I've learned when she's in that mood you might as well forget it.

I admit the idea of her is fascinating, and how she works is way above my head. When she's working right, what she does is mind-boggling. I often say to my husband, "How does she do that?!"

But she's like everything else that the world offers us: a quick fix, a temporary pleasure, a few minutes of escape. I've wasted a lot of time in my life seeking those quick fixes. Now I'm older and I hope, wiser. I know that the world provides nothing of eternal value, nothing that is lasting, just numbing for brief periods of time.

Siri, at her best, is no match for the real thing. I'd rather have Jesus as my personal assistant any day. He never says He doesn't understand me. He is never too busy, too distracted, or too moody to be there for me. He has never lost His connection to me. He has never let me down, never offered me a quick fix. What He offers is real, and lasting, and fully satisfying.

"Don't love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never abandon you." So we can say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?", Hebrews 13:5-6, NLT.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Zinnias Gone Wild

The first hard freeze is expected tonight where I live. Yesterday we pulled out the gorgeous zinnias growing across the front of our house. It broke my heart to do it. Those zinnias had grown taller than me, and were the talk of the neighborhood. All the neighbors picked some. The more we picked, the more they'd grow.

They bloomed in a wondrous riot of every color: pink, purple, fuschia, red, orange, gold, yellow, white, and every shade in between. It didn't matter to them whether our weather was hot and dry or cold and wet; they just kept growing and growing, gone wild in a glorious way.

Every time I looked at them out the front windows of my house, they lifted my spirits. I wanted to be like them. I want to bloom profusely with the glory of God. I want to keep growing amidst the circumstances of life. I want to live with freedom and abandon, my joyful existence a witness of the glory of God.

But, alas, I'm more like the little holly bush growing in the corner of my yard. It is not big, not showy, not spectacular, barely noticeable. It doesn't grow much, but it does persevere through the most frigid of winters. It isn't showy, but in it's own way it is a witness to the steadfastness of God. It survived the record-breaking two feet of snow we had last winter, testifying to the faithfulness of God. In His wisdom and grace, God knows we can't all be zinnias gone wild, but there is value in every one of us.

"How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in Him should ponder them. Everything He does reveals His glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails. He causes us to remember His wonderful works. How gracious and merciful is our God!", Psalm 111:2-3. NLT

Monday, October 17, 2011

He Gathers the Lambs

I just got home from a wonderful 40th wedding anniversary celebration weekend at Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, Missouri. The weather was picture perfect for this early autumn season with glorious color beginning to display in the trees. My mind is still there enjoying all the beauty so I'm going to let Charles Spurgeon speak for my blog this morning from his "Morning and Evening" devotional.

"He shall gather the lambs with His arm", Isaiah 40:11

"All the little ones He gathers, for it is not the will of our heavenly Father that one of them should perish. What a quick eye He must have to see them all! What a tender heart to care for them all! What a far-reaching and potent arm to gather them all!

In His lifetime on earth He was a great gatherer of the weaker sort, and now that He dwells in heaven, His loving heart yearns toward the meek and contrite, the timid and feeble, the fearful and fainting here below.

How gently did He gather me to Himself, to His truth, to His blood, to His love, to His church! With what effectual grace did He compel me to come to Himself! Since my first conversion, how frequently has He restored me from my wanderings, and once again folded me within the circle of His everlasting arm!

How shall I love Him enough or serve Him worthily? I would fain make His name great unto the ends of the earth, but what can my feebleness do for Him? Great Shepherd, add to Thy mercies this one other, a heart to love Thee more truly as I ought".

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Divine Exchange

My pastor, Steve Dixon, preached on "the divine exchange" last Sunday. This was the exchange that took place when Jesus Christ took my sins in His body on the cross and in exchange gave me His innocence. Anyone can see that's not a very equal exchange but that's how God is. God is not about giving what is deserved. God is about mercy and grace. His mercy doesn't give us what we deserve and His grace gives us much more than what we deserve.

Pastor Dixon gave in his sermon some other exchanges that took place on that cross 2000 years ago:
*Jesus took our despair away and filled us up with His joy.
*Jesus removed all of our guilt and shame and clothed us with His glory.
*Jesus suffered all the pains of hell so that we could enjoy the bliss of eternal life in heaven.
*Jesus removed the anxiety of living in a sin-filled world and replaced it with the assurance that there is a good God in control of all things.
*Jesus showed us that what was impossible could be made possible by His shed blood on the cross.

And what does this mean in my life? It means that Jesus took that sick, messed up, shame-ridden little girl that I was, bathed me in His grace, and transformed me into a new creation, shiny and clean. It means that I
no longer have to go through life wanting to be invisible, wishing I was dead;  I can now hold my head up high because I know that my true identity is in Jesus. It means that I know that I can never be good enough;  but I know that my sacrifice, Jesus Christ, was perfectly good and blameless in every way, and because of Him, that is how God sees me. Now that's a divine exchange!!!

"But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's path to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all", Isaiah 53:5-6. NLT

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Picture of God's Grace

My husband and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary yesterday. I can't help but think what a picture of god's grace our marriage has been. We had only dated two months when we got married and didn't even know each other. We married for all the wrong reasons and none of the right ones. We are the most unlikely pair to ever get together, being total polar opposites in every way.

We have been through good times and our share of bad times, but by God's grace we've stuck it out. And not just stuck it out but we love each other still; we're still each other's best friend; and we still enjoy doing things together. We made a commitment early on that we would stay married and not leave each other for any reason. There were times that it would have been so much easier to just walk away. The hardest thing is to stay in a marriage when things are not going well. But God gave us the strength to stay the course.

There is great reward in being in a long and loving marriage with someone who knows you so well and loves you still.  See what I mean about our marriage being a picture of God's grace. It is highly unlikely that Jesus would have given his life for a great sinner like me. But He did. Jesus has been with me through the ups and downs, through the doubts and unbelief, through the worldliness and selfishness, through the self-hatred and sef-destruction . He has never left me or abandoned me. He knows every ugly thing about me but He loves me still. Amazing Grace!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

One More Miracle

While I'm writing about my "miracle" grandchildren, I have one more story to tell of God's goodness. My oldest daughter is single. She had her share of problems growing up but, by God's grace, has turned into an accomplished, successful, professional woman.

Her life was humming along very well a few years ago when she began to talk about adopting a child. At first I thought she was crazy but when I began to see how strongly she felt about it I knew it was the right thing for her to do. She said that she had never felt so strongly that it was God's will for her to do something, right down to the very marrow of her bones.

She took some parenting classes, required for foster and adoptive parents, through the Department of Human Services. She thought it would be years before she had a placement, being that she was a single woman. But at the last class, the social worker showed her a picture of a thirteen year old girl and said "I keep thinking this child would be perfect for you". Within a week she had moved in and my daughter's life was forever changed.

Psalm 68:6 says "God places the lonely in families; He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy".
I've seen this firsthand in this situation. After a bit of a rocky start, with two females who were essentially strangers adjusting to living together, she was adopted into our family. She is fifteen now, a beautiful young lady, talented in dance and drama. She has been a blessing and a constant reminder of the grace and mercy of God.

I've been sharing this week about my "miracle" grandchildren. I have two more who came along healthy and relatively problem free. But really, aren't all grandchildren miracles of God? For that matter, aren't all children miracles of God? In fact, aren't we, each one of us, miracles of a good God?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Another Little Miracle

I have another grandchild who is a miracle. She is nine months old. Mt daughter didn't think she could get pregnant because she had endometriosis really bad. When she told me she was pregnant I rolled my eyes and thought "You couldn't have picked a worse time to get pregnant". I thought my daughter and her husband needed to get on their feet financially before they had another child.

But God knew best. Several months later both my parents died unexpectedly one month apart. That left a huge and painful void in our family. I was so thankful my daughter was pregnant because my family desperately needed a new life after our double losses. I told my daughter "This is the best possible time for your to be pregnant".

She developed serious complications in her pregnancy and I was terrified something would happen to the baby. But God worked a miracle and the baby was induced ten days early and she was perfectly normal and healthy. And everytime I hug that little head or kiss that little face, I feel like I'm hugging and kissing my mom.
Mom, This one's for you!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Walking Miracles

Every now and then in life we come face to face with a walking miracle. In my case, there's two. My first grandchildren were born twins. They have been so much fun, especially when they were babies. My husband and I each had one to hold. We kept them every Saturday night for 6 years to give their parents a break.

They are 15 years old today and I praise God for the miracle of their lives. They came into this world 4 weeks premature, weighing 3.13 and 3.14 pounds. It was touch and go for them at first. They spent their first 6 weeks in the hospital, hooked up to all sorts of wires and apparatus, so that they barely resembled babies.
And for their first year of life they were hooked up to heart monitors and couldn't go anywhere without them.

But, praise God, they survived and thrived, and today you could never tell they got off to such a difficult and scary start. It's by the grace of God that every now and then we come face to face with a walking miracle and I'm eternally grateful to Him for my two.

"From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another", John 1:16. NIV

Friday, September 30, 2011

Storing Sunshine

We are going through a series of gorgeous early fall days where I live. The kind of days that just make you feel glad to be alive. The kind of days where the sky is popsicle blue and there are no clouds except for a few wisps here and there serving to accentuate the blue of the sky.

The kind of days where the sun is hot and bright and you just want to sit and bask in the warm glow of it. The kind of days where you wish all you had to do was count the butterflies on the zinnias and marvel at the intricacies of their God-painted patterns.

I find myself wanting to store up all these days that I can. I am like the squirrels who are busy in the fall stashing acorns in the hollows of trees for their winter supply. I want to store up the memory of these days, stacking them in my heart until there's no more room, hoarding them until there's no room for the barren winter.

My struggle with depression and negative thinking is a daily battle. My sensitive personality tends to the melancholy and my moods go up and down with the sunlight. On days like today I'm reminded that Jesus is my "Son-light" and that He is always with me. If I keep my eyes focused on Him I can make it through the dark days and the coming winter, and can win the victory over discontent and coldness of soul.

"I can never escape from Your Spirit! I can never get away from Your presence! If I go up to heaven you are there, if I go down to the grave, You are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there Your hand will guide me, and Your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night-but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To You the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to You", Psalm 139:7-12. NLT 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Equations That Equal Liberty

I'm going to a Beth Moore Bible Study, "Breaking Free", at my church. In the video yesterday, she gave the following equations that are definitely worth repeating:

My Environment + My Experiences = My Truth
My Truth + 0 = Incomplete
My Truth + Satan's Lies = Captivity
God's Truth > My Truth
My Truth + God's Truth = Freedom

I have seen these equations play out true in my life. My truth is that I was sexually abused as a small child and never told anyone. I grew up damaged to the core from the guilt and shame. My thinking and acting became skewed and dysfunctional as I tried to cope by myself; and I fell into a downward spiral of self-destructive behavior to try to numb the pain. I listened to Satan's lies that I was "damaged  and different", that I didn't "measure up or fit in", and that "God couldn't possibly love someone as bad as me".

But my truth was not the complete picture because it didn't factor in God's life-changing power. God's truth is that he reached down and picked me up and pulled me out of the depths I had fallen into. He healed me from the pain and the loss; He freed me from the anger and the unforgiveness. He showed me that His love and acceptance were stronger than the chains that had bound me. He taught me that because of His grace in sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to the cross as a sacrifice for my sins 2000 years ago that I have been declared innocent forever. Amazing Grace! Because of Him I am free!

"He reached down from heaven and rescued me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the Lord supported me. He led me to a place of safety; He rescued me bcause He delights in me", Psalm 18:16-19. NLT  

Monday, September 26, 2011

Finishing the Race

A Bible prophesy scholar, Kemp Holden, spoke at my church last week on the end times. It was very interesting and eye-opening. He said a lot of Bible prophesy is unfolding before our very eyes almost daily, in a way that it never has before in history. He thinks that Jesus will come back in his lifetime and he'll go to heaven "with his socks on" (raptured up).

I agree that the events in the news seem to be setting up the return of Jesus before long; but I believe the Bible says that no one knows the day or hour of His return. Regardless of whether or not Jesus comes in my lifetime, I know that, in my 63rd year of life, I have less years to live than what I have lived in the past. All of this is rather sobering. What is one to do?

The Bible says we are to "strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up, And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us", Hebrews 12:1, NLT. And how are we to do this? "We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith", Hebrews 12:2.

I'm ready. I'm ready to break those chains that held me captive for so many years. I'm ready to cast aside those strongholds that weighted me down forever. I'm ready to pull my hair back in a ponytail, lace up my tennis shoes, and set my sights on finishing the race. I'm ready to really live for whatever time I have left, because I believe it glorifies God when I live fully alive.

As Charles Spurgeon said in his devotional this morning "May we all prepare for the tribunal of the great King with a care which shall be rewarded with the gracious commendation, "Well done, good and faithful servant".

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Doubly Blessed

Gregory Dickow, in his book "Power To Change Today", says there are 100 references in the Bible to "pain" and 200 references in the Bible to "be healed".

He goes on to say "for every pain there are two healings; for every negative there are two positives; for every sickness there are two remedies; for every mystery there are two answers; for every puzzle there are two solutions; for every sorrow there are two joys; and for every dark hour there are two light hours".

I don't know if all that is true, but it's a good thought to think on this dreary, rainy Thursday. I do believe God blesses us out of abundance and not out of lack. I know after the double grief of losing both my parents a month apart one year ago, God doubly blessed me with my forth beautiful granddaughter.

There are so many ways God has blessed me with His abundance. From two months of dating, my marriage has exploded into 40 years of love and friendship. I've been twice blessed with two daughters and two stepsons; and my first grandchildren came as a double pair (twins). I have a circle of four girlfriends and our
love and support for one another has multiplied over 20 years. I could go on and on but the Word says it best:

"From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another", John 1:16. NIV 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

To Honor My Dad

Today is the one year anniversary of my dad's death. He passed away from a broken heart one month after my mother died of a massive stroke. The sweet legacy they left my family was of a beautiful love story of 66 years. I believe they are in heaven today walking hand in hand. In their honor I'm going to post a poem my mother wrote my dad on their 50th Wedding Annniversary.

TO CHARLIE

I have spent 50 wonderful years with you,

It hasn't all been easy but we have seen it through.

I would say we have had a very good life

And I am glad that I am your wife.

I am looking forward to many more years,

There will be laughter and probably some tears.

By letting the Lord always be our guide,

With family and good friends by our side,

We can face anything that comes our way,

As we live fully each and every day.

Our love has grown since way back in 1944,

So many memories and we are making more.

I love you, honey, and I always will.

Thanks for 50 great years and for loving me still.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Best Medicine

My two precious granddaughters, 9 months and 6 years, are coming this afternoon for a weekend visit. I can't tell you how much this tired, achy old body needs a dose of the aliveness they bring with them. The oldest one is so funny and cracks me up with all the things her six going on sixteen brain comes up with. I resolve to enjoy every minute and think nary a bad thought.

I know Jesus is The Great Physician and has the only lasting relief and remedy for all my ills. But these little gals are the next best thing. Sometimes I just need to feel joy in the palm of my hands; sometimes I just need to wrap my arms around solid delight; sometimes I just need to kiss the cheeks of exuberance and cuddle up
surrounded with pleasure, so that some of it will rub off on me. I praise God for these priceless gifts God has blessed me with.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Safe Harbor

I've been tossed to and fro a little lately, really, the whole summer. Health problems and disappointments have kept me unsettled, off my moorings. It's not "The Perfect Storm" but just enough dark clouds and high winds to keep me from feeling safe and at peace. And that's when my old tempest, depression, threatens to shipwreck me once again.
But I have a Lighthouse and His name is Jesus. His light never goes out. He remains steadfast, sure, certain, a beacon of hope amidst the storms and uncertainties of life. He is ever faithful, ever unchanging, ever just a prayer away. He is my North Star. As I keep my eyes on Him and steer in His direction, He will lead me to a safe harbor. Every time. He has never failed me.

"Some went off to sea in ships, plying the trade routes of the world. They, too, observed the Lord's power in action, His impressive words on the deepest seas. He spoke, and the winds rose, stirring up the waves. Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths; the sailors cringed in terror. They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits' end. "Lord, help!" they cried in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as He brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them", Psalm 107:23-31. NLT

Monday, September 12, 2011

Amazing Grace

Grace, Amazing Grace; God giving us more than we deserve; God's Riches At Christ's expense; God's unmerited, unearned, undeserved favor. However you define it:

*Grace is what pulled me out of bed this morning when I wanted to slide back under the covers.

*Grace is what forgave me when I was beating myself up for binging on bad food before bed last night.

*Grace is what brought my husband and I, polar opposites and the most unlikely pair, together.

*Grace is why my husabnd and I have withstood the storms and still stand side by side 40 years later.

*Grace is my two little granddaughters coming this weekend, bringing hugs and kisses and sheer delight.

*Grace is what enabled this only child to survive the loss of both my parents this time last year.

*Grace is bringing cooler weather and gentle breezes to this parched and heat weary area where I live.

*Grace is creator of autumn, the season of change and color that heralds new beginnings.

*Grace took this damaged child, healed her wounds, forgave her sins, drenched her in unmerited favor.

Whatever else grace is, grace is primarily personified in Jesus Christ, my Savior and Redeemer.

"From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given by Moses, but God's unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ", John 1:17. NLT

Friday, September 9, 2011

In The Silence

It was in the silence;

I found Jesus there.

Basking in the stillness,

Learning of His care.

Resting in the quiet,

Soaking up His gentle ways,

Leaning into His arms,

Giving Him my days.

Others told me of this secret,

How peace had come to them,

But I never had time to heed,

Never that much time for Him.

Until the year He took away

Things that kept me busy bound.

The year He said to me quite clearly,

"All your wants in me be found".

As deep called to deep

On those unstructured days

A peace settled over me

Like a cloak of soft and haze.

I discovered that the silence

Was not a void at all,

But filled with the satisfying presence

of my King, the Lord of All.

The best part of every day

Is when I first come home,

When I sit in patient stillness,

When I sit with Him alone.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The I Words

My beloved mother's name was Irene and my precious granddaughter's name is Isabella, so I'm partial to I words. Not to mention my Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the great I Am. I Am has the fulfillment to every need
and the remedy to every problem I have.

In his DVD "Resurrected Life", Alan Platt identifies three more I words. He says we need to discover:

*Identity-Our true identity is in Jesus Christ. We are never going to find peace or rest unless we find our true identity in Jesus. Humanity is broken because we've strayed so far from our true identity as dearly loved children of God. When we find our true identity we live in a different environment where we view life from a different perspective, Jesus' perspective.

*Innocence-Because of Jesus' shed blood on the cross I am declared innocent. No matter what sins I have committed, because of Jesus' finished work on the cross 2000 years ago, I am declared inncoent. I no longer have to wallow around in condemnation and shame, because grace has declared me innocent. Amazing grace! A G word I'm crazy about!

*Intimacy-Because of grace, we are able to live in intimacy with God. Because of grace, the veil was torn apart that kept me from being close to God. Because of grace, I can have a relationship that is closer than any earthly relationship. Beacuse of grace, Jesus is my best friend, my bridegroom, my husband; always faithful and always with me.

"I Am the light of the world", John 9:5; "I Am the good shepherd", John 10:11; "I Am the resurrection and the life", John 11:25; "I AM the way, the truth, and the life", John 14:6; "Yes, I Am the bread of life", John 6:48. NLT

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Obedience in the Same Direction

I bought Eugene Peterson's book "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction" a few years ago for the title. It's a good book and I love the title.

I haven't always lived the Christian life the way it should be lived. The one thing I have been able to do (with Jesus' help) is persevere. I have continued to travel forward in the direction of heaven, with a few flat tires, empty gas tanks, and a few veers off here and there, for quite a while now.

Some days, by the grace of God, it's been just getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other. Some days that's hard enough. But really, isn't that all we're expected to do? Jesus will take it from there.

Something my pastor, Steve Dixon, said in his sermon yesterday reminded me of this. He said "Don't worry about doing the will of God, just walk in daily obedience in the same direction". Frances Chan also talks about that in his book "Forgotten God". He said instead of seeking the will of God for your life, just ask what He wants you to do in the next ten minutes.

We ask God to show us His will so that we can figure out how we are going to do that great thing He's calling us to do. But most of the time He just wants us to get up and go through our ordinary day and keep our focus on Him and not miss the opportunities He gives us to praise Him and love others.

"Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion", Psalm 84:5-7. NIV

Friday, September 2, 2011

Waiting Patiently

"I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire, He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God", Psalm 40:1-3. NLT

At the end of summer the time seems endless.The days are long and slow and the hours are filled with heat. It seems that cool, fall weather will never come. It seems I'll never get unstuck from this place I'm in.

I feel like I'm in a slow motion dance, frozen in time, going nowhere. I feel like I'm in an airplane in a holding pattern, circling round and round but never getting to my destination.

I know God is changing me, but oh so slowly. I pray everyday that He will transform me in such a way that other people will know it had to be God who did it. And He is, it just takes time. After all, I had slipped pretty far from how he had made me, far from grace and all that's good. I've tried so hard to make myself better and that never works. Total dependance on Him is the only way.

I know He is faithful and He has everything I need and He will never give up on me. All my hope remains on the One "who creates new things out of nothing"

"This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing", Romans 4:17, NLT.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Stilled Soul

Psalm 131 is my favorite chapter in the Bible. It's a short one but it packs a punch. A few years ago God knocked me to my knees in tears as I read this and realized that God had indeed stilled and quieted my soul-finally. "My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, both now and forevermore", Psalm 131, NIV. What these words say to me is that I no longer need great things in my life nor do I need God to give me anything. I am content to just rest in His presence.

That little child inside of me

Had always felt alone,

Forced by life to carry a weight

Too burdensome for a tot.

Never allowed the carefree play

That youngsters ought to have,

The secret I resolved to keep

Hung heavy in my center.

Until the day that Jesus' strength

Came down and hugged me tight.

He rocked me back and forth that day

And loved my tears away.

He stilled and quieted my soul within

As I gazed upon His face.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Feeling Droopy

After the hot endless summer we've had I long for cooler weather but it's slow in coming. I feel like the flowers in my garden that are drying, parched, and spindly, ready for a change. Having weathered a difficult time, they are looking with longing to a new phase of rest and renewal. I can relate to these words of Charles Spurgeon:

"Though we have brought forth some fruit unto Christ, and have a joyful hope that we are "plants of His own right hand planting", yet there are times when we feel very barren. Prayer is lifeless, love is cold, faith is weak, each grace in the garden of our heart languishes and droops. We are like flowers in the hot sun, requiring the refreshing shower."

What does Spurgeon say is the remedy for feeling like this? "Sing, believer, for it will cheer thine own heart, and the hearts of other desolate ones. Sing on, for now that thou art really ashamed of being barren, thou will be fruitful soon; now that God makes thee loath to be without fruit He will soon cover thee with clusters. The experience of barrenness is painful, but the Lord's visitations are delightful. A sense of our own poverty drives us to Christ, and that is where we need to be, for in Him is our fruit found."

That's what I need to remember. In Jesus is my fruit found. My times of abundance, my times of blessing, my times of refreshment, my times of harvest are found in Him. Just as surely as the appointed time for autumn comes faithfully each year, so my times of renewal follow my times of barrenness. I just need to look to Him with hope and expectation and He will never disappoint.

"Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you", Isaiah 12:1-6. NIV

Friday, August 26, 2011

Butterfly Dance

I painted this when God took me through the healing process to overcome the childhood sexual abuse. He showed me that I had given up over the years all the things I had loved to do-paint, write poetry, dance, etc. I had spent all my time and energy taking care of the people in my life until there was nothing left of me. I think it is so important, essential even, to take care of yourself and continue to do the things that make you smile inside. Letting God's creativity flow through you is immensely healing. It helped me when I began taking a dance class, painting, and writing again. Sometimes the women looked like butterflies when they flapped their arms as they danced.

Lovely butterflies dance
Pretty butterflies prance
When they all get together
For the Butterfly Dance.

Heavy loads thrown away
Sad tears run down
Only lightness left
All else dropped to the ground.

Their spirits soar
Like the birds up above
Colored wings flapping brightly
Painted by God's love.

They've spent much time
In their gloomy cocoon
Preparing themselves to shine
In darkness like the moon.

They worked very hard
Determined to break out
It is their destiny
None of them doubt.

Free now, they get together
To rejoice and to play
In praise of The One
Who made them this way.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Spreading Her Wings

She was so young and trusting
that year the boys
led her to the attic room
and took her innocence.
After that her heart
ceased to live
and a thick hard shell
covered up her secret.

For a lifetime she labored,
spinning herself quietly
into a tight cocoon,
fearful of the light.
Until Truth beckoned so brightly
He couldn't be ignored,
cracking the darkness,
uncovering her shame.

It wasn't her fault. This
settled her soul
and she began to believe
and determined to fly.
As Jesus unraveled the layers,
she stepped hesitantly out
before spreading her wings,
soaring toward the sun.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Born to Fly

The area where I live has gone through a summer of historical heat and drought. Everything in my yard has died except for my zinnias. They seem to love this heat. And they are attracting some of the biggest, most beautiful butterflies.

I have a fascination with butterflies. In my opinion, they stand out as the most amazing of all the amazing creatures that God has displayed in His wondrous natural world. All of my paintings have a butterfly in them somewhere and I have a small butterfly tattoo on my right ankle. That's how much I love them!

It makes me happy to see them on my zinnias, basking in the sun. Their coloring and design are awesome, intricate, and indescribable; every one is a masterpiece. Their story is equally amazing. You know it. They start out as lowly caterpillars, then tunnel into dark cocoons, breaking out as gorgeous butterflies, soaring through the breezes, born to fly.

I relate to them so strongly because they remind me of my life story. I lived much of my life in a cocoon of my own making, convinced the abuse was my fault and I was unworthy of forgiveness. I settled into the darkness the same way I settled into a life not really lived. After awhile the darkness was so comfortable that I didn't have the motivation, or nerve, to break out.

Until I had an encounter with the One who created us all. He was not willing to let me stay hidden in that dark cocoon. He wanted more out of life for me. Over the years as he has transformed my heart, He has indeed made me into a new creation, one that is born to fly. Praise God!

"Praise the Lord, my soul, all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits-who forgives all your sins, and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's, Psalm 103:1-5. NIV

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Remembering My Mother

This is in memory of my mother, Rosemary Irene Smith, who passed away a year ago today after a massive stroke. After the initial stroke she slipped into a coma for five days before passing away. She was a beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend. Not a day goes by that I don't miss her terribly. I loved her so much. Everyone who knew her loved her. She liked to write poetry and here is a poem she wrote in November, 1990.

Four Seasons

Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall
God gave these seasons to us all
To enjoy the beauty that you can see
Just get out and go---it is all free.

Spring when everything turns shades of green
Flowers' bright blooms can be seen
Birds, squirrels and blue, blue sky
Dogs and lots of people walking by.

Summer vacations-places to go
Mountains, lakes and boats to row
Big cities or lazy countrysides
Hot sun, drying grasses and ocean tides.

Fall is a gorgeous sight to behold
Orange, yellow, red and gold
Trees turning and leaves falling to the ground
Warm days to get out and walk around.

Winter with yards and trees so bare
A blanket of snow covers them with care
Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter-4 seasons
All so beautiful for different reasons.

Thank you God for all of this
There is none I would like to miss
Each season is lovely in its' own way
I look forward to each and every day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You Are Important

I'm going to write about something else that was in "The Help". That's the movie I saw last weekend about colored housemaids and the white women they worked for in Mississippi back in the 1960s. There are so many good lessons in that movie about love and the messages are still going around in my mind.

The colored maids raised the little white children because their mothers couldn't be bothered. They were the only real mothers the kids had known, and they loved them and raised them as if they were their own.There was one little white girl about 2 or 3 that was a bit pudgy but precious. Her mother had nothing to do with her and the maid was afraid she never would because "she aint gonna win no beauty pageants".

Every day the maid would tell the little girl "You is kind. You is smart. You is important". Every day. At the end of the movie when the maid was fired she asked the little girl if she remembered what she had told her and the little girl said "You is kind. You is 'mart. You is 'portant".

Anyway, my point is, don't we all need to hear those words every day? Sometimes every second of every day. I wish I'd said that every day to my daughters when they were growing up. I wish my mother had said that to me every day. I tell my granddaughters how lovely and loved they are every chance I get.

We are all special and unique because God made us that way. He fashioned us out of love and wove us into His own image. But our culture begs to differ and convinces us we are not enough or we are too much or we are insignificant (Satan does this also). We rarely feel good about ourselves. We see ourselves as we think the world sees us and not how God sees us.

God sees us as His beloved children and important enough to give His own son to die on the cross for us. Let's start seeing ourselves through God's eyes and let's tell the people we love every day how important they are.

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body, and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of the sand! And when I wake up, You are still with me!", Psalms 139:13-18. NLT 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Love Like Jesus

God has been impressing on me the need to love other people more. I want to do that but it's always been hard for me. After the trauma of childhood sexual abuse, I grew up self-absorbed. I constantly focused on myself, trying to figure out what I could do to feel better, what I could do to get rid of the pain; always battling the negative voices and thoughts that took up residence in my head.

And I still struggle with self-absorption. Self is a hard thing to get rid of because it's always with you. But so is Jesus. Jesus is always with me. I'm determined, with God's help, to become Jesus-focused and not self-focused, Jesus-conscious and not self-conscious. Several things this weekend reminded and challenged me anew to ask God for more love for others.

First was the movie "The Help". It tells the story of colored women who served as housemaids for socialite white women in the 60s in Mississippi. The white women looked down on the colored women as being less than them, heck, as being less than human; not letting them share their toilets, their silverware, or the food they had so generously prepared.

But, and this is the real kicker, they turned the total care of their babies over to these colored maids, because the white women were too busy with themselves to even acknowledge their little children existed. And the colored women loved these little ones as if they were their own; causing one tiny girl to hug her housemaid and exclaim "You are my real mommy".

Second was my pastor's sermon yesterday. He had just returned from a mission trip to Indonesia and was telling us about the miraculous things going on in that part of the world to bring people to Christ. He said God had brought three things to his mind on the trip home, "Love them, Serve them, Lead them". He said he loved Muslims, he loved Hindus, he loved Buddhists, he even loved Baptists:). He said if we want to halt the spread of the Muslim religion in our country then the best thing to do is make a friend of a Muslim and love them to Jesus.

Isn't that really what Christianity is all about? Loving people to Jesus, no matter what their skin color, nationality, religion or bank account is.

"Jesus replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself".

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Effortless Weeding

Where I live, we finally broke our three month drought and record setting heat wave. This week, we've had three days of rain and cooler temperatures. Praise the Lord! I've never been so glad to see that refreshing liquid falling from the sky.

The only downside is that I can no longer use the excuse "It's too hot" to get out of weeding my little flower garden in back of my house. Even with the mulch I put down and the months of no rain, those pesky weeds are trying to take over.

Much like in my life. Even with the new picture of grace God has given me this year, those persistent old sins and strongholds are trying to take over the good things that God is doing for me. Really, it's a never-ending battle. Satan keeps rearing his ugly head, especially when I'm growing in my Christian walk.

But God has promised "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness", II Corinthians 12:9, and that "the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world", I John 4:4. Because of Jesus' shed blood on the cross, I have already won the battle. "It is finished", John 19:30. All I have to do is rest in His grace. I wish getting rid of those weeds was as effortless.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not of works, so that no one can boast", Ephesians 2:8-9. NIV

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Part of Me

Seeing my children
Grow up and leave home
Is like
Watching my heart walk out the door
Living lives I'm not a part of
Raising children of their own.

Living with my husband
For forty years
Is like
Watching my identity dressed in men's clothes
Relaxed in sweats
Stiffened in starched shirts.

My grandchildren
Crawling into my affections
Is like
Watching my joy wrapped in softness
Cuddling sunshine
Hugging innocence.

When my parents passed away
I realized my own days are numbered.
Our times together much too short,
These people, my family, have carved a place
Way deep inside
And become a part of me.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

I went to Little Rock this weekend to celebrate my and my two daughter's birthdays, which are all in August; and to spend time with three of my beautiful grandaughters. The 15 year old was in a performance at the Rep Theatre called "The 80s Show". She's into dancing and drama and is quite good at it. The six year old adores her and wants to be just like her and in fact they are a lot alike, all girlie, girlie, and they both love to dance and perform.The seven month old is just starting to crawl and boy, is she fast. It didn't take her long to be into the other girls' stuff. We had a lot of fun. There's nothing I'd rather do than spend time with my grandaughters. That's all I have to say today, nothing profound or enlightening. Just "Thank heaven for little girls" and Praise the Lord for grandaughters!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The River-Maker

It is so hot in Arkansas this summer! We are undergoing a heat wave of historical proportions. In Fayetteville, where I live, we tied an all-time record of 110 yesterday that had previously been set in 1954. And this is in the northwest corner of Arkansas, in the Ozark Mountains, where it is usually cooler. Ft. Smith, an hour away, recorded a temperature of 115, their hottest since 1882.

65%  of the state is under drought conditions. The last time we had rain where I live was late May. Everything is drying up and all the beautiful summer flowers are dying. I normally love summertime and sunny days, but this is too extreme. All of the parched ground is desperately longing for a good, stisfying soaking of rain.

My soul is also thirsting for a good, satisfying drink-of Jesus' living water. I have been feeling a little parched and dry myself. In my class at church last night, the teacher Gary McLaughlin, paraphrased John Piper's 2/19/11 sermon "Out of your hearts willl flow living waters" and gave us these points"

*Jesus' gift of living water is free. All we need is to be thirsty and drink of it.

*The human soul has thirst. While our bodies are made to live on water, our soul is made to live on God.

*If our soul does not drink from the greatness and wisdom and power and goodness of God, it will wither of thirst.

*Jesus is what we drink. Jesus doen't just have what our soul needs, Jesus is what our soul needs.
*We were made for this-to come to Jesus and drink of His living water. Only His living water will satisfy all our needs and longings.

*When we come to Jesus to drink, we get more than a drink. We get a never-ending spring, a fountain, a well, we get Jesus. Rivers of water will flow because the River-Maker is in us.

I'm praying and hoping that refreshing waters will come soon upon our land and in our souls. "If anyone
thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, "Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water", John 7:37-38. ESV

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Solid Rock

"Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that rock, it won't collapse because it is built on bedrock", Matthew 7:24-25. NLT

A song I learned when I was a little girl keeps going around in my head: "A wise man built his house upon a rock, house upon a rock, house upon a rock. A wise man built his house upon a rock and the rains came tumbling down. The rains came down and the floods came up, the rains came down and the floods came up, the rains came down and the floods came up, but the house on the rock stood firm".

I guess because my pastor preached Sunday on how we need to have a firm foundation to stand on in these turbelent times. Now that I have an ipad and iphone, devices that give me instant access to news that's going on around the world, none of this news is good and I'm sorry I get it so quickly. If I let myself dwell on all the frightening things going on then I just want to crawl under my covers and stay there.

But I have hope. I have a solid foundation to stand on and that foundation is Jesus Christ. He is my security, my Savior, my steadfast hope in the storms of life. "And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed", Titus 2:12-13. NLT

Edward Mote said it well in the hymn he wrote back in 1834:

1.My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, and blood, support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.

Monday, August 1, 2011

MUCH MORE

"MUCH MORE then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him", Romans 5:9. KJV

"For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, MUCH MORE, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life", Romans 5:10. KJV

"For if through the offense of one many are dead, MUCH MORE the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many", Romans 5:15. KJV

"For if by one man's offense death reigned by one, MUCH MORE they who receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ", Romans 5:17. KJV

God has been impressing these verses in Romans on my heart lately, especially the MUCH MORE phrases. I think God wants me to live with MUCH MORE than I have been living with. But MUCH MORE what?

MUCH MORE grace, MUCH MORE of God's love, MUCH MORE peace of mind, MUCH MORE self acceptance, MUCH MORE love for others, MUCH MORE freedom from depression, MUCH MORE energy for life, MUCH MORE of an intinate relationship with Him, MUCH MORE of the Holy Spirit's power.

I want all this abundance in my life. I'm tired of living from lack. But how do I get MUCH MORE? I think the only way is by spending MUCH MORE time getting to know Jesus Christ and by loving Him MUCH MORE. And by accepting these free gifts He has already given me.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Get Your Kicks"

It was interesting on our trip to travel down old Route 66 and learn more about the history of "America's Main Street". From the hit song, "Get Your Kicks on Route 66", written by Bobby Troup and recorded by the Nat King Cole Trio in 1946, to the tlevision show "Route 66" playing in the 1960s, the iconic "Mother Road" has been a part of our country's popular culture and folklore for as long as I can remember.

Route 66 was established on November 11, 1926, and originally ran from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California. It served as a major path for people migrating west to seek a better life, immortalized in the John Steinbeck novel "The Grapes of Wrath". It was a popular highway, passing through the heartland of America, and numerous mom and pop establishments sprang up to cash in on its' popularity.

All sorts of unusual signs, shapes and buildings were erected to catch people's attention as they traveled. Isn't that just what the world does? Offers all kinds of quick and pop fixes to satisfy the longings of people. "Take this and it will make you happy"; Drink this and you will forget your problems"; Buy this and you will feel better"; Stop here and have a night you'll never forget".

I bought into all that for a long time in my life. I medicated, meditated, hibernated and anything else you could do to escape for a little while. But none of it worked. The world's quick fixes are just that-quick. They never last long and you're faced again with that gnawing emptiness inside.

I've heard and I believe that there's a hole inside each of us that nothing but God can fill. I know I searched desperately for years for something to fill it up, to no avail. Then I found that Jesus Christ fits perfectly inside that gaping hole, filling every crack and crevice with His amazing grace. He fills up the holes and quenches the thirsts so that you never need anything else.

"Jesus replied, "Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give them will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling stream within them, giving them eternal life", John 4:13. NLT

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Devil's Elbow

On our nostalgic trip down Route 66 on our vacation, the most interesting place we went through was Devil's Elbow, Missouri. We had lunch at an old roadhouse dating back to the 1930s, called Elbow Inn Bar & BBQ. It is one of the oldest establishments on Route 66 that is still in the same business, in the same location, although it was originally the Munger Moss Sandwich Shop. It still serves the delicious barbeque it has been famous for throughout the past eighty years.

There's a lot of history in Devil's Elbow. An old steel truss bridge still crosses the Big Piney River, Shelden's Market and Grocery still hosts the Post Office, and time still moves along slowly or not at all. The name, Devil's Elbow, came from a bad curve in the Big Piney River where logs would always jam going downstream. Lumberjacks thought it was put there by the devil himself to cause them all kinds of grief.

I'm intrigued by that name, Devil's Elbow. In fact, I feel like I know it. There's been many a time that I felt the nudge of the devil's elbow right before he whispered a lie in my ear. I'm sad to say that for much of my life I believed Satan's lies to be truth. It was eye-opening when I realized a few years ago how much of my life had been ruled by Satan's lies and negative thinking.

It's still a daily struggle for me. But I'm gaining the victory with Jesus' help, winning one battle at a time. And the way I'm winning those battles is by keeping my eyes focused on God's grace and keeping my mind focused on God's Word. Because the "Spirit who lives in (me) is greater than the spirit who lives in the world", I John 4:4. NLT 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Road Weary

My husband and I just got back from vacation. We had a restful few days in the wine country of Missouri in a beautiful little town called Hermann. It is a German settlement from the 1800s with a lot of history, surrounded by lush countryside and lovely vineyards. We stayed in a delightful Bed and Breakfast, one of many in the area.

We had planned to stay a few days in St. Louis, but after being in Hermann, the heat and traffic in St. Louis was like a culture shock and we opted not to. We had always wanted to travel down old historic Route 66, so we decided to seize the opportunity and drive Route 66 from St. Louis to Joplin.

It took us three days to drive what would have taken four hours on the Interstate. We saw some interesting sites and can mark Route 66 off our "Bucket List", but I am road weary. Every inch of my body has been hurting, and my husband is worn out from driving that narrow, winding road.

For so much of my life I have been road weary. I have trudged up many a mountain when Jesus would have willingly carried me. I have ran into many a roadblock that I persisted in stubbornly crossing, when Jesus would have provided an easy detour. I have taken on many a task and worked so hard to gain God's acceptance when resting in Him was all I had to do.

It seems like I have traveled "three steps forward and two steps backward" and never made much progress. I hope I have learned something. This year, Jesus has captivated me with His grace, and is propelling me forward on a new journey of intimacy with Him. He has opened my eyes to see that all I have to do is lean back and relax, and let Him do the driving. I pray I won't be so road weary on the rest of my journey.

"Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in justice. And a man shall be like an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; like rivers of water in a dry place, like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. And the eyes of those who see shall not be dim, and the ears of those who hear shall hearken", Isaiah 32:1-3. AKJV

"For I have filled full the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul", Jeremiah 31:25. AKJV

"Then Jesus said,"Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light", Matthew 11:28-30. NLT

  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In The Garden

My husband and I are taking a much needed, and hopefully relaxing, vacation next week. Here's a little reminder to you, and to myself, to enjoy the simple pleasures of summertime.

In The Garden

My heart is lifted
when I sit in the garden.

I feel close to God
when I sit in the garden.

The warm breezes play
soft and gentle on my face.

It's the middle of July
and the flowers are praising.

They seem to say
"Don't strive. Rest in God".

Like He would say
if He spoke outloud.

The birds are singing
in a sweet melody

"God's grace covers all.
Your sins are forgiven".

The bees flirt with me
and the butterflies beckon.

As I bask in these
moments of simple joy

my heart is filled
with the wonder of God.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sandal Season

As hard as this summer of double digit temps has been, I still love summer. I hate the bone-chilling cold of winter. I longed for summer this winter and spring when it seemed like warm weather would never come. I couldn't wait to exchange my sweaters and coats for the cottons and linens of summer. I couldn't wait to exchange my boots for the open freedom of sandals. I get a pedicure for my toes every end of May and I'm good to go, my plum colored toes heralding the return of summer.

I got new insight about sandals this week while reading John Sheasby's book "The Son! Leaving the Servant's Quarters for the Intimacy of the Father's House".

"But as the father said to his servants, "Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry", Luke 15:22-24. NKJV

Sheasby says "The sandals are a symbol of the son's restored position. He had not been received back as a servant, but as an honored son. It was customary for slaves to go about their duties barefoot as a symbol of their position of servitude and subservience. The sandals given to the son were a mark of honor, a daily reminder that the father had not acquiesced to the son's desire to be hired as a servant".

Thank God that I'm in the sandal season of my life, regardless of the cool winds of circumstance. For so many years I lived as a servant, thinking I wasn't good enough to be accepted by God as I was, always striving to do enough. God is teaching me that I am His beloved child. He has given me sandals of honor, not because of anything I have done or haven't done, but because of His unconditional love and mercy. When Jesus shed His blood on the cross for my sins, all was forgiven because of God's wonderful grace. I praise the Lord for sandal season!

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Safe Place

The weather where I live has been extreme this year. I live in Northwest Arkansas where we are blessed to experience 4 distinct seasons. Normally I love it. But this year, every season has been "over the top". Right now we are sweltering in 100 degree temps. Back in February, we had 2 feet of snow. March through May were the worst with almost daily tornado warnings.

Because of the severe weather this spring, many people are looking to build "safe places" in their homes. There is so much fear in our world right now. I'm no stranger to fear. I grew up, after the abuse, afraid of people, afraid of circumstances, afraid of being punished, afraid of life.

I'm not as afraid as I used to be because I've found my security in God. Jesus has become my safe place. He is my refuge from the storms of life, my strong tower, my shield, my rescuer, my helper, and my Savior. "But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress", Psalm 59:16. NLT

"But let all who take refuge in you rejoice, let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy. For you bless the godly, O Lord, you surround them with your shield of love", Psalm 5:11-12. NLT

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Unleash the Power

For several years, I've been dissatisfied with my Christian walk. I've been hungry for more, desperate to see God do things that only God can do. I'm tired of going to churches that are mirrors of organizations in the outside world, with the same power struggles, the same cliques, the same ambitions. I know, I know, churches aren't perfect because the people in them aren't perfect and all that, and I shouldn't be critical.. But I want to see the power of God and not just more of what man can do. I don't want to live a mediocre Christian life. I want more.

Last night I started a class at my church on Francis Chan's book, "Forgotten God, Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit". In it Chan says "Without Him (Holy Spirit), people operate in their own strength and only accomplish human-size results. The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation. And the church is not empowered to live differently from any other gathering of people without the Holy Spirit. But when believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural, the church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice."

Amen! That's what I long for, to see God perform miracles, to see the supernatural, to see God answer prayers in a way that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. He's done some amazing things in my life lately and I can sense the beginning of a change.  Lets's unleash the power of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, in our homes, in our churches, and in our communities, and see what happens. I think we'll be amazed!