Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Remove My Stony Heart

For a long time I have been praying Ezekiel 36:26, praying that God would remove my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh. My heart had turned to stone after the sexual abuse as a young child and I was desperate to feel again and love again. Praise the Lord, this spring I can say that because of God's grace this prayer has been answered. Here is my paraphrase of Ezekiel 36:24-29:

God has gathered me up and brought me back to my true identity in Christ. As I keep my gaze off myself and on Jesus' beauty and purity, I am cleansed. God gave me a new heart and showed me that His Holy Spirit lives in me. God has removed my heart of stone and given me a tender, responsive heart.

God has put His Holy Spirit in me and because of His love and grace I am moved to live in a way that pleases and glorifies Him. I am His child and He is my God, my Father, "Daddy", "Abba". God has saved me from my self-condemnation. He is giving me an abundant life where famine has been. He is opening my storehouse of fruitfulness where guilt and shame had taken up residence. All praise goes to Jesus Christ, my Savior.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Seized by the Power

It was hard to go the the gravesites weekend before last and see the new markers for my mom and dad who both passed away last summer, leaving me as an only child feeling all alone. And it was hard to say goodbye to my little grandaughter last weekend when we took her back to my daughter in Oklahoma. She had filled our house with laughter and joy for a week. It's awfully lonely without that little redhead with the big smile.

The old me would have succumbed to depression and wallowed in it for months, hating it and yet strangely comfortable in its' brooding embrace. But this spring I have been "seized by the power of a great affection".
(A Baptist term coined by Gordon Cosby 20 years ago to describe a breakthrough into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ).

I have known Jesus Christ for a long time. I made a "profession of faith" (another Baptist term) when I was 9 years old. I remember lying in bed as a small child praying and praying that God would forgive me. I knew I had done something really bad, thinking the abuse was my fault, and desperate for God to forgive me. I let the guilt and shame drag me into a downward spiral, as a teenager, that would take me a lifetime to get over.

But this spring, as I was exposed to some teachings on radical grace, I have come to truly know Jesus:  as Grace personified, as my sin offering, as my burnt offering, as my Redeemer who died on the cross and by His shed blood declared me innocent forever. He has shown me I died with Him, was buried with Him, was raised with Him, and am now seated in heavenhly places with Him. He is showing me how to live in a different environment, one where I have an intimate relationship with Him, and with His Holy Spirit. Praise God! I have been "seized by the power of a great affection", and His name is Jesus!

"Yes, Adam's one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ's one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone", Romans 5:18. NLT

"For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus", Ephesians 2:6. NLT   

Friday, June 24, 2011


Lunch at the Food Court at the Mall-$15.00
New socks & sundress at JC Penneys-$27.54
Frozen yogurt at CherryBerries-$7.25
Pretend food cupcake set at Bella's Gifts-$19.95
Dinner & games at Chucky Cheese-$35.00+
Hair & bangs trim at SuperCuts-$14.95
Fishing trip to the White River in Bull Shoals-$200.00

My six year old granddaughter who lives in Oklahoma spending a week with us-PRICELESS!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Love Story

There were two things in this world my dad loved, my mother and his service in the Navy in World War II. He loved both of them from the time he was a fresh faced 18 year old eager to serve his country until his death last September 21 at the age of 85, broken-hearted and confused, suffering the effects of losing his beloved wife and of Alzheimer's Disease.

My mom and dad got married after he got home from boot camp back in 1944. They had four days together before he was shipped out, and didn't see each other again for two years. Mother moved in with his father and two brothers and taught school in a rural one room school house; and dad was at Iwo Jima when the war ended. It's amazing to me that their love lasted not only through the two years they were apart but through their 66 years of togetherness.

My family has been uncommonly blessed by the sweet legacy of their love story. They did everything together: sharing a car ride to work, vacations on the beach, appointments with doctors, sitting side by side in Sunday School, traveling all over the country in a van in their retirement years. Always affectionate, always hand in hand, always laughing and finding joy in the simple moments, and in each other, and in the God they shared.

Last August, my mother suffered a massive stroke and was unconscious for five days. My daughters and I sat at her bedside with tears streaming down our faces, as daddy held onto her hand and said over and over, "Sweetheart, you need to get better. We've got a lot of things we want to do and places we want to go. I love you, Sweetheart. You've got to get well."

She didn't get well. The stroke was too damaging, and she died on August 18. Daddy couldn't live without her, didn't know how, had never had to, and didn't want to. He gave up. As much as he enjoyed staying in bed in the mornings as the Alzheimer's took over, dreaming about his Naval adventures in the Pacific, nothing was left for him without his life long sweetheart. He died a month later of a broken heart. His simply couldn't keep beating without the echo of hers beside him.

This Saturday, we're having a Naval flag ceremony at dad's gravesite, to honor him and his service to our country. But mostly, what I'll be seeing is mom and dad holding hands and walking together forever through the valleys and across the hills of their beautiful heavenly home.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My New Best Friend

After I was sexually abused as a small child, I grew up feeling dead and empty inside. Something of my essence had been taken away and there was nothing to replace it. I became a Christian later and was told the Holy Spirit would come to live in me, as He did in all believers. I believed this because the Bible said it was so, but I never felt like the Holy Spirit lived in me. I wasn't even living in me, how could the Holy Spirit be?

This spring, as my heart has been opened up by teachings about God's grace, and as I've made a conscious effort to keep my eyes on Jesus, an incredible thing has happened. I've begun to develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit. For the first time in my life, I've talked to Him, I've felt His presence, I've prayed with Him, I've lovd Him. It's been nothing short of amazing.

Charles Spurgeon expresses it well: "Even so it is beyond all ordinary rules that I, a poor, helpless, undone sinner, should find grace to bear about in my soul the indwelling Spirit of the Lord Jesus. I, who once despaired, as well I might, for my nature was as dry, and withered, and barren, and accursed as a howling wilderness, even I have been made to bring forth fruit unto holiness. Well may my mouth be filled with joyous laughter, because of the singular surprising grace which I have received of the Lord."

"And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him or knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you", John 14-16. NIV

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Diamond Is Forever

 "Every which way you turn Jesus you will find that like a precious diamond there is brilliance, beauty, and perfection". (Joseph Prince, "Destined to Reign") Jesus is multi-faceted like a diamond. He is Son of God yet Son of man, Deity as well as human, Savior as well as friend, King of Kings who is of the humblest origins. Like the rarest of diamonds, He is pure, not contaminated by any sin at all.

Jesus disperses light like a diamond in the sun, and in fact, His "light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it", John 1:5. NLT. Most mined diamonds are used for the industrial purposes of cutting, drilling, grinding and polishing, which is what he does for believers as He transforms us into new creations.

When I look at myself, I see a "diamond in the rough", at best; lumpy, unformed, dark, dingy, imperfect. But there is hope. Because of Jesus, when God looks at me he sees the diamond I can become. By cutting, drilling, grinding and polishing, often under high pressure and high temperature conditions, Jesus transforms me into a thing of beauty.  He started this process on the cross, and it will go on for all eternity. "A Diamond Is Forever". (slogan by N.W. Ayers copywriter Frances Gerety for De Beers ad campaign in 1947)

"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun", II Corinthians 5:17, NLT.

"A diamond is a girl's best friend". And Jesus is mine. I just couldn't resist saying that:).

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Contemplate the Wonder

Summertime is a good time to contemplate the wonder of God. God has beeen trying to teach me for a long time to still my mind, to be in the moments, to joy in the wonder of life and of His creation. My mind tends to be in another place from where my body is; depressing rememberings of the past or fearful imaginings of the future; battling negative thoughts and cruel voices.

But now it's summer and I'm going to make a conscious effort to "stop and smell the roses". To delight in the pink, purple, and blue hyacinths in my backyard; to marvel at the bird's nest in the red geraniums on my balcony; to watch the butterflies dancing across my butterfly bush. In fact, I resolve to spend some time studying those butterflies.

To me, nothing in all creation more demonstrates the wonder of God than the butterfly. They are beautiful, delicate creatures that display God's handiwork in the intricate paintings of their wings. Their colors and patterns are a masterpiece, every one of them. I've never seen a butterfly that didn't take my breath away with its beauty. To think that they started out as the odd and lowly caterpillar, meandering along on the lowest places of the earth. What an amazing marvel of God's ingenuity! In one of the most mind-boggling acts of nature, that unfortunate little caterpillar disappears for awhile, tunneling itself into a dark cocoon, emerging only after much struggle and work, transformed into a glorious butterfly.

Ah, the wonder of God! Brennan Manning in his book "The Ragamuffin Gospel" says "By and large, our world has lost its sense of wonder. We have grown up. We no longer catch our breath at the sight of a rainbow or the scent of a rose, as we once did. We have grown bigger and everything else smaller, less impressive. We get blase' and worldly-wise and sophisticated. We no longer run our fingers through the water, no longer shout at the stars or make faces at the moon". Maybe we should just spend some time this summer contemplating the butterfly if we want to experience the wonder of God. 

Monday, June 6, 2011


Summertime! I love it! Imagine yourself laying down on a soft, comfy hammock in the shade of a palm tree. Your head is nestled on the feathers of a down pillow, your arms are laying loose at your sides, your foot is dangling off the edge, and the wind is gently rocking you back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.  You have a week off from work, no deadlines are looming, no cell phones are beeping, nothing to do but close your eyes and sigh, "Aaaahhhhh".

Grace is like that. You don't have to do anything. Jesus has done it all."It is finished". All the work has been done. You've been given a free gift, a gift of freedom. Accept it, enjoy it, bask in it, delight in it, be thankful for it. Just let go-of those worries, that striving, those negative thoughts, that self-condemnation, that desire to control. Surrender it all to Jesus. Lay your head on His chest, feel His strong arms around you, relax in His unconditional love. "Aaaahhhhh".

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us in the heavenly places with Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast", Ephesians 2:4-8. NASB

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Romans 12:2, NIV: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

Romans 12:2, NLT: "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."

Romans 12:1-2, The Message: "So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life-and place it before God as a offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dependence, Not Desolation

I think one of the saddest stories in the Bible is found in II Samuel 13. It's about the rape of Tamar. Tamar was King David's daughter and Absalom's sister, and Amnon's half sister. She was very beautiful and she wore a long beautiful robe to signify that she was the virgin daughter of the king. Amnon lusted after her and thought he loved her. He tricked her into coming to his bedroom on the pretense of feeding him because he was ill. When she refused to go to bed with him, he raped her.

Nothing in this was Tamar's fault. She was totally innocent, but it changed her life dramatically. There are some lessons we can learn from Tamar's story:

*Talk honestly with God-and safe people-about what happened. Absalom didn't want Tamar to talk about what happened to her. "Her brother Absalom saw her and asked "Is it true that Amnon has been with you? Well, my sister, keep quiet for now, since he's your brother. Don't you worry about it". So Tamar lived as a desolate woman in her brother Absalom's house", II Samuel 13:20. NLT. Buried feelings will become poisonous. Extract them and let God shine His light on them because His light is healing.

Refuse to listen to Satan's lies. II Samuel 13:19 says "But now Tamar tore her robe and put ashes on her head. And then, with her face in her hands, she went away crying". Tamar was still a princess, a daughter of the king. But Tamar believed she could never be restored. Don't believe it! You are not damaged, desolate, or disgraced. Believe what God's Word says, that "You are a new creation if you are in Christ", II Corinthians 5:17, and "a child of God", John 1:12. NIV.

Depend on Jesus to change your life. "To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair", Isaiah 61:3. NLT. Jesus wants to tenderly brush those ashes off your head and set on you a crown of beauty. Let Him do it by surrendering your life to Him. Live surrounded by His blessing and joy, not desolation.