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.


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.