Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Remember when I wrote about my realization that I wasn't really exercising my faith in Papa?  I was receiving, as the final word, what the doctors' and tests' evaluations were regarding my honey's recovery.  Upon that revelation I determined to deliberately place my trust and confidence in my Loving, Mighty God.

So I have been seeing Ray a little differently.  I have been determined to put no limits on my expectations of my God.  The world that surrounds us sends a different message.
Though I look to Papa I still need to be preparing for the possibility that Ray will be going on long-term disability.  Only by the grace of my God can I do the work without accepting it as inevitable.  My eyes and heart need to be fixed on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith!

A thought came to me this morning, which I noted in my journal.  "Love moves knowledge from the cerebral to the experiential."  You see, I know my God is All-Powerful, All-Knowing and thus is able to work in our lives, but it needs to move from just something I have read about. 
His Love makes all the difference.  As I reflect on the ultimate demonstration of His Love, which was on the Cross, and receive it, then I begin anew to experience Him in His Fullness.
At a seminar that I attended a couple of years ago the speaker, Graham Cooke, had two large arches constructed and placed in the front of the sanctuary.  He used them to illustrate this process.  He named the arches "Knowledge" and  "Experience."  Graham explained that when you go through one arch you must then continue on and enter the second one, or what God has for you isn't complete.
Think about it.  Knowledge alone isn't enough; neither is experience.  Knowledge confirms the experience and experience personalizes knowledge.

Well, I have had a few experiences this week that have made what I know about Papa very real and personal!
Early in the morning Ray usually gets out of bed and shuffles his way to our bathroom.  I had taken to not watching him do this, as he always appears so weak and broken to me.  His left arm just hangs like a piece of dead meat.  I do not want to see him that way.
A few days ago I did open my eyes as he walked by me and was struck by the thought that his arm looked different.  It looked more alive.
Two weeks ago I arranged a massage at our home for my honey.  The therapist had told me afterward that she thinks his arm and hand just need to be called back to life, so to speak, and that I should massage his hand as I sit with him.
I began to do just that.
Yesterday she returned to give him another massage and commented on how different his arm and hand appeared.
Cool, but wait!   We were getting ready to help Ray up onto the table when he said there was something he wanted to show us.  He had just discovered that he could rotate his hand while his arm was hanging loosely by his side!

There is a song that has been going through my head and its first line is, "We all fall down and lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus." 
I don't want to stop at a crown, but want to lay myself at His feet! 

As I get to know Him better, I am struck more deeply with how much He loves me.  His love defines me.  Who am I?  I am His beloved!
I read something by David Jeremiah this morning.  He said that "problems have a way of becoming pulpits."  God's glory is revealed in and through the ups and downs of our lives.  This revelation is not just for others to discover, but for we ourselves.
Oh, that I wouldn't miss one bit of Him and His glory, as He weaves Himself through all of my life!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


The past few days have been full..
Full of blessings!
Family and more family!!

Of course, there were the full -
Bellies-so many goodies to be sampled!
Smiles-so many good talks and laughs!
Hugs-so much love!
Hearts-to overflowing!!

Along with all of this there were heavy hearts.
My dear sister is finding the holidays too much to bear.  They were always a time to share with her daughter, but no more.  So she opted to stay home.  She has her fiancee` so she wasn't alone. 
I told her no apologies were necessary.
Another sister, who was very close to Sara, came with her family, but became so weighed down with sadness that she left early.  Again no apologies were necessary.

As I held my sister before she left, tears filled my eyes.
Tears more for my sisters than niece.  They have no Comforter.  How desolate they must feel.  How unnecessary. 
Mindy commented on how my faith makes such a difference in handling life's difficult times.
So true.

There is a promise made by Jesus in the fourteenth chapter of John that I experience regularly.

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."

There is no limit to who may claim this for themselves.  It is available from and through Jesus to everyone who comes to Him.  What an immeasureable gift!

One of the highlights of the weekend, thus far, has been learning that one of our nephews has begun a relationship with Papa!  We hadn't seen him in a number of years, but have prayed for him.  As we all have done, he had made some poor choices, yet in the midst of the consequences he met Jesus!
This news not only warmed my heart, but lifted the heaviness.  It was a reminder that Papa cares for each individual and is at work all the time. 
I picture a smile coming to His face when we ask Him for something that is close to His heart.  Others coming into relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, tops the list, I am sure!

Seeing the results of prayer and the work of the Grace of God fills my heart more than anything else does or could.  Add joy to the peace.   That is from Jesus too!  In the fifteenth chapter of John it is laid out for us.

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.  By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.  Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love.  These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full."

And when He makes it full, it is to overflowing!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving, Of Course!

Thanksgiving is upon us..
As I wrote those words the thought came to me that thanksgiving should be a way of life.  There is so much to be thankful for every day.
Yet, holidays are special..

I love the gathering of family.  Today I read an article in our local newspaper by Mitch Albion on the subject of Thanksgiving the holiday.  He loves this particular holiday because, more than any other, it is simply about families and close friends gathering together.  It is time for the extended visit, the long hug; a time when all the pressures of life take a break.  There is no concern over whether we have found the perfect gift or if we have overlooked anyone.  The day is a day to enjoy relationships with gratitude.

We will have twenty-two people gathered around our table tomorrow.  There should have been more.  Our oldest and his family will not be in attendance.  We haven't shared a Thanksgiving together in over ten years.  This year was suppose to be different.  Unfortunately, life happens and changes our plans.
Our son called me this morning to let me know that they would not be making the trip from West Virginia after all.  As we ended our conversation I felt sadness filling my heart and tears filled my eyes.
I started to feel grumpy and decided to indulge the feeling for a while. 
Papa doesn't let me get too far with those kind of choices!  With one gentle, yet convicting, thought everything was put into perspective.  There is too much to be thankful for to be grouchy.

I am thankful...
that I am His and He is mine
that I have a loving and large family
                                  and we enjoy each other (!)
that Ray and I have each other
                                  and he is recovering (!)
that we are all healthy
that my God gladly allows me to be me
that He expresses Himself through me in a way that is unique to who I am
that everything that comes into my life (good and bad) are an opportunity to know Papa better
that I do not have to rely upon following a list of rules to be able to be called a Christian
that we have a home in which we can welcome others

Last year on the day before Thanksgiving Ray spotted a local man walking down the street.  He doesn't drive and walks to town every day.  (I have passed him with his thumb out many a time.)
Well, Ray got into his truck and gave him a ride to town.  During the drive Ray discovered that he had no where to go for Thanksgiving. 
The man is a bit excentric.  He lives in a house that is more a shack than anything and doesn't take very good care of himself.
That day he got an invite to our house and the following day, after being picked up by my honey, he joined us in celebrating Thanksgiving at our table.

Two days ago our son, Tim, gave this man a ride and again he received an invitation to join us.  Tim will be picking him up tomorrow so he can, once again, join us in our Thanksgving meal.
When Tim had learned who was joining us last year, he actually announced in on Facebook.  He couldn't believe it!  You see, most everyone in our town knows of this man.
So sad that it took us so many years to think to reach out to him!
The man was comfortable conversing with Ray and we were impressed by how eloquent he was.  What is that saying?  "Don't judge a book by its cover?"

Yes, there is so much to be thankful for and such an amazing God to thank.  As my family gathers tomorrow many emotions will be present.  This is our first holiday without Sara.  It will be bittersweet, but may the sweet win out.  I am certain that would be her wish.  She was always concerned for others.
Even more importantly, Papa would have us lift out eyes and hearts to Him and express thanksgiving for all He is and does. 
If our eyes and hearts are fixed on Him thanksgiving will be the mark of the day and our lives.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

He Got My Attention!

In the past few days I have been made aware afresh of Papa's love for me. 
The awareness was triggered by the fourth through seventh verses of the second chapter of Ephesians.
"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 with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

He loves us so deeply!
As I reflected on this wonder I thought of how His blessings keep coming day after day.  What He has done in me He enables me to keep a hold on; all of it! 
He does it all.  He supplies it all.
Whatever He asks of me - He supplies.  He never asks something of me that He expects me to do on my own.  It is all from and through His great riches that He has given to me!

Such love!  Such grace!
I walked into the church service this morning with these thoughts alive in my heart and mind.  Today we had a guest preacher and, at first, I was having a hard time paying close attention to what he was saying.  He led up to his main point; forgiveness.  It was the direction that he took from there that captured my attention.
The man asked what it took to really experience forgiveness.  I think he really was asking what it takes for us to really sense that we need to receive forgiveness. 
Don't we need to realize that what we did hurt another person?  If we did something and it didn't affect anyone would it need forgiving?
At times, it might appear that no one else is affected, but God always is.  Yet He is God and doesn't have the same feelings as us, does He?   So He can just move on, right?
No, the Living God has feelings, deep emotions.  All you have to do is read scripture and you will discover that to be true.  Our God is a passionate God!

The speaker spoke of how God calls Himself our Husband or Father.  These are very personal, intimate terms and certainly bring our relationship with Him into a different light.  As Husband or Father He pursues us because He loves us and desires true intimacy with us.  When we sin, we hurt Him.  Imagine, asked the preacher, how God feels as Husband or Father, when we do something to hurt Him!
Now if we only view God as God, as the High and Lifted-up One; the Holy One and do not factor in Who, from His perspective, He is for us, then we aren't really going to get how deeply we cause Him pain.

The Cross reflects how deeply He loves us and how painful our sin is for Him.  He, the Father, wants His rebellious children to come home.  He, the Husband, desires a faithful wife.  He is calling us in love to love Him back.
When we love someone we do not want to hurt them.  When we do, which is inevitable, and we see them in pain, we repent of what we have done and plead forgiveness.  When the one we wronged loves us they desire to forgive us and have the relationship restored.
We have all been hurt by others.  Take a minute and think about the pain.  Papa experiences that same pain.
Imagine that!  We are able to cause our God pain.  Only because He loves us so much!

What I find so amazing is that He longs for us to repent so He can offer us forgiveness.

Don't these truths cause you to go to your knees, first in repentance, then love, gratitude and awe?!
One day every knee will bow and every tongue proclaim Jesus is LORD!
By not waiting for that day to bend your knee to such a magnificent God, you get to enjoy Him, not only as your God and Savior, but your Papa; your intimate Friend!!

Yes, He certainly got my attention!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pride and Unbelief

This month finds me hanging out in the Old Testament book of Second Kings.  Pride in the lives of the people of God is evidenced over and over.  Forgetting one's past and who God is and what he has done begins the downward trek to the illusion of self-sufficiency; the attitude that my way is better.
In the case of the people of the northern kingdom the end result was to be removed from the Presence of God.  I cannot image anything worse!!

Good thing I'm not prideful!  Yeah - Right!!

What is it when....
I try to shoulder my burdens myself?
I get angry at those companies, etc. that are not cooperating with me?
I try to be superwoman?

When I was a very young girl I had this one fantasy that most nights I used to put myself to sleep.  I had super powers and I would rescue people.  Then everyone would love me.  I was valued in those fantasies.

Now I know that I am valued for myself by the One Who created me.  In Zephaniah I read that "He rejoices over me with singing!"
It is when I forget how valued I am and what He has done and is able to do that I head down that downward path.

It can get pretty ugly and very fast!  You see, we become like what we follow, what we worship.
I want my eyes to be fixed on Him, "the author and perfector of my faith!" 
I want others to meet Him when they meet me. 
This takes humility.  (No wonder I wander so easily!)
One place that humility is seen is in the acceptance of others just as they are.  That is what Jesus does.  He accepts us just as we are.
However, He doesn't intend to leave us the way He found us and He is able to do something about it!  Instead of trying to "fix" each other what we can do is bring one another to Him.  Prayer does just that!
Why would I neglect to bring others to Him?  Do I think that I can help in any better way?  Could it be unbelief?

Yesterday David Jeremiah's devotional addressed unbelief.  When Jesus walked this earth He did many miraculous things.  Not many in His hometown.  Scripture says that "He did not do many works there because of their unbelief."
One day a father brought his son to Jesus for healing.  The boy was demon-possessed.  The father said, "But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us!"  Jesus said to him, "'If You can!'  All things are possible to him who believes."
The father's response?  "I do believe; help my unbelief."

In response to this reading I echoed the father's response.  "Oh, Papa, I do believe; help my unbelief!"
In my last posting I listed a few blessings that I was grateful for.  My husband's healing was not on the list.  Oh I am sure that it is evident that I am grateful for how far Ray has come, however, it was revealed to me that I had been buying into the limits that the medical community had set on his future healing.
No more!

I have let go of the limits that I had set on what God will do.  Of course, He CAN do all things, but I think I just wasn't expecting Him to do that much more. 

In the thirteenth chapter of Second Kings we find the account of Joash the king of Israel coming to Elisha the prophet.  The prophet was dieing and the king was distaught.  Elisha told him to look to the future and believe what God will do.  As a demonstration of faith the king was told to strike the ground with his arrows.  He struck three times and no more.
Elisha told him that he should have struck more times.  It would have been a sign of confidence.
Joash limited his future by his unbelief.

If I had arrows in my hand right now I would strike the ground until my arm could no longer lift my hand!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blessings in Spite of all the (In)Conveniences

We live in a complicated world.  So many "conveniences" - too many!

I held out for a long time.  Sometimes I wish I never gave in.
Yet, how in the world does one function without the things?
I would be at a loss!

Cell phones.
This one I resisted too, but now I depend upon that thing too!

Then we have ipods.
I never even gave them a thought until my honey bought one for me, so I could have my music in Asia.  It was a blessing.

The problem with all these things is that I don't want to know how they work, I just want them to do what they suppose to do!
Until seven months ago I was all set.  My man would always come to the rescue.  Now he is even more confused than I am!

Even land lines (house phones) aren't simple anymore!
The day after Ray's accident our phones didn't work and continued to give us trouble for quite a few weeks. The repairman and I had become friends by the time it all got straightened out!
Ray's computer started displaying strange messages.  That didn't matter too much because I could not get beyond the desktop, as Ray had everything passcoded and I had no idea what the codes were!
Well, Papa sent help.  He, in deed, is my Redeemer on so many levels!

Let's fast forward to the present.  My go to friend for computer help is not in town these days...
My trusty laptop is showing signs of impending trouble.  Yikes!!
My cellphone decided to begin on the downward path to self-destruction.  Oh No!
Even my ipod is having trouble.  Well, the thing that it plugged into so I could use it in the car is kaput and that is where I used it.  Bummer!

I have no idea what I can do about the computer.
The cellphone has been replaced.  I am now trying to learn how to use the thing.  Why do they have to keep changing things??!!
And the ipod...I guess I'm back to my old cd's.

Complications seem to be the theme these days. 
The process that had to be worked through after the theft of Ray's wallet was not simple...
Phone calls.
Logging on to accounts that are on auto-pay..Now what was that password??

I keep thinking that I will be able to set up a schedule where I can just sit and start to write the book that is in my head.
Now Papa?  Not yet.

In the middle of all that this adventure brings my way Papa has a re-occuring message for me.
Be In The Moment.
Do Not Miss The Blessing I Have For You Right Now.
Wait And Watch.
You Will See What I Am Doing And Rejoice!!

Though our God is beyond comprehension; He is not complicated.  His way is not complicated.
And He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  He never has and never will change.
As we seek Him, we can be sure of Who we will find.  Though His ways are far above our ways, they are good, as He is good.

Today I was speaking with a precious friend and I told her that I have come to the conclusion that to follow Him is hard.  The path is not lined with primroses.  Often there are many thorns, many challenges. 
Actually life is not easy.  We have times or moments that are not so challenging, but something else will arise to give us a run for our money.  This will be the case whether we follow Him or not.
The difference is that with Him we know that the final result will be worth it all!

The verse that Papa gave me the night of Ray's accident says it all.
"I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.  Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD."
Psalm twenty-seven, verses thirtheen and fourteen.

Yes, I will wait for the LORD!  And as I wait and watch I do see blessings. 

Dear friends; such treasures!  
A growing friendship with my daughter-in-law!
Precious faithful sons who love their parents!
Our every need met so beautifully..
The opportunity to learn to rest in Him and possibly learn to be a little more patient..
I am so glad that He is patient with me!  Ah...  Another blessing!

What better time to count our blessings and name them one by one?

Monday, November 15, 2010


While drifting off to sleep last night thoughts came and went without much notice.  That is until one arrived and decided to settle in for a little while.  I do believe it was something from Papa and as it and I visited I became certain that it was the next entry for this blog.

Twenty-three years ago this past August Ray and I, along with three sons, plus the beginnings of our Tim, (He was born the following May) moved to Connecticut.  The neighbors next door were very friendly and welcoming, so it wasn't long before we were sharing tea in each other's home.
The family was made up of a couple with one son, who was elementary age.
Yes, there was three of them, however, we rarely saw the father.  You see he had Parkinson's and that really made his wife angry.  Of course, we didn't know any of this right away.
The man's nickname was "Shine."  The name came from how bright a smile he had and what a very friendly sort he was. 
Could have fooled us.
Until he happen to venture outside a few times while his wife was out doing errands! 
The poor man was berated by his wife all day long.  We could hear her screaming at him.  When anyone came to visit, she would send him to another room, because "he wouldn't understand anyway."
He had a disease, for heavens sake!  One way the disease manifested itself in Shine was by taking away his ability to make any facial expressions.  He kept his head down, but when you addressed him he would slowly look up and his eyes expressed what his face failed to.  Of course, he understood and loved to be with people and take in all that was said.  Unfortunately, he didn't get much opportunity to do so.
One of the joys for me was that I had opportunity to speak to him of Jesus and before he died Shine had begun a relationship with his Savior!

Why did I share this story?  Well, because of what I believe Papa helped me understand about Shine's wife.  You see, Shine had been a strong, lively man until the disease took over.  His wife missed that man; she was angry that he had been taken from her.  Now she had to handle everything on her own.  Their son barely remembered what his father had been like before becoming ill.  All of this weighed heavily upon her and she had no where to take these burdens.

I miss my strong, lively husband.  Much weighs heavily upon me, at times.  The difference is that I have somewhere to take all the burdens.  Not just somewhere, but to Someone!

Today was another opportunity to bring a burden or two to Him.

Last Wednesday Ray lost his wallet.  We didn't really worry because he only had gone to Gaylord and back, so we figured it would turn up.
It did...Sort of...
Turns out that someone must have stolen it while he was swimming in the pool at Gaylord.  Today a credit card company called to say that there had been some unusual activity on our card; all of it in Connecticut.
It makes me sad that people would do such a thing.

Okay, so now we know.  All I had to do was cancel whatever other cards were in that wallet.  Ah..that is where the fun began.
I had no idea what was in Ray's wallet.  I had no idea what credit cards he had.  He had a very creative way of handling things.  Yes, I called it creative financing.  The women at our credit union called it "Ray's flim-flam."  He didn't do anything wrong, but his way of accounting and keeping track of information did not follow a logical sequence at all.
Hopefully, after searching files and making numerous phone calls, I think it is all straightened out.

I had a brief time of being mad at my "previous" husband...the old Ray.  Why did he have to do things this way??  I use to tell him that if he went first I was going to donate his brain to science and see if they could figure it out!  

Last night I had watched him get out of bed on his own, which I encourage him to do, and walk across the room very slowly.. with his left arm just hanging as he moved.  He looked so weak and broken; so much less than he use to be.
Is that true?  Is he less?  No!  He is still as valuable as ever.
I am confident that our God has a good plan.
Today as I reflected on the latest challenge I shook my head.  Wasn't his accident enough?  When does it come to an end?
A conviction surfaced and grew stronger.  There is a purpose to all of this, down to every single detail.  I will trust Him.
I wouldn't mind receiving the nickname "Shine" because Jesus' smile shines through me.  So I will not only hang in there, but I will hang onto the One who is faithful and all-knowing!

I want to close with two thoughts from my time with Papa this morning. 
"Spending time in His Word and in His Presence is getting a transfusion of heavenly culture."  (A combo of David Jeremiah's words and mine.)
"God does not do the proclaiming in nature, nature does."  (thank you, Brennan Manning)
Psalm nineteen says, "The Heavens declare the glory of God." 
How does nature proclaim Him?  By its beauty, power and intricacies.  Every detail of life reflects Him, if we but watch and listen!
I want to watch and listen for such proclamations and join in.  Can I do less?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Accepted in the Beloved

Walking into a room and receiving a warm welcome is always a wonderful experience.  Often, for me, it comes as a surprise.  A pleasant one to be certain.  I guess I am never looking for it.  Or maybe it is a left over from my "old tapes" where the message for me was that I wasn't anything special or desirable.  I know I was told that quite often in my early years.
Belonging to Papa's family ensures that such welcoming experiences will happen and not infrequently! 
For many months my contacts have been more one-on-one or with just a small group of "regulars."  It has been very comforting and encouraging.  Yet, being reminded that I am part of something much bigger is very necessary too.  I find it so refreshing!  I think in today's experience my honey did too!

Today Ray and I ventured out for our church's centennial celebration.  One hundred years!  Such a testimony of God's faithfulness! 
As a couple, we had not been with everyone in seven months.  As we headed to the gathering there was a sense of trepidation.  There was no doubt of being overlooked, even on such a day.  But - would it be overwhelming?   Would we be really welcomed after so much time or would it be more perfunctory?

We were enveloped in love! Yes, we were loved; gently and warmly.  This particular segment of Papa's family is so accepting and caring.  They truly know how to love unconditionally.
I am certain that our God enjoyed all of it with us.  He loves when His Truth is lived out.  And the Truth tells us that we "are accepted in the Beloved!"  It is a true joy to be helped to remember this and to experience it afresh!

Belonging to God is a very personal experience.  After all it is a personal, intimate relationship with Him. As with all relationships it needs to be invested in.  That means time and attention.  It pays immensely in blessings.
Yet, the bond that we have with others in the family is almost as essential.  Actually, developing such relationships is essential!

I read a story a long time ago of how a man had removed himself from the fellowship of other believers.  A good friend came to visit him one night and they sat together before a fire in the fireplace.  After a bit the friend took the poker and moved one of the coals off to the side, away from the rest.  Slowly its light began to wane and in time its fire's smoldering stopped.
His friend got his point across.  Without one another we lose our fire.  We are part of a body - the body of Christ.  To separate oneself is to cheat yourself of the life of the body and maim the body itself.  Any part of the whole is dependent upon the rest.  It cannot function effectively alone.  It is also very lonely.

Ah, it is so amazing to be His.  Every experience is an opportunity to catch a glimpse of Papa.
Yesterday a precious friend passed me an article from "Discipleship Journal."  It was entitled "Whatever Happened to the Abundant Life" and its author is Jeff Imbach.  In it he discussed how we think we have missed out on the abundant life that Jesus promised because we are not achieving a particular result or certain behaviors and then we give up.  He argues that God is in all of it and it is we who are not recognizing Him.  Not, as we might suppose, that He is absent.
Mr. Imbach declares that this illusive life is found in experiencing whatever God has brought our way.  Savour the longing for more, be in the moment and know He is there calling you deeper.
How often I fight the experience of the moment instead of embracing it in faith that He has something good for me!
Today was easy to embrace.  Tomorrow may not be so attractive.  That is why, even when the way is pleasant, I dare not forget for a moment that He is faithful and I can depend upon Him.  I am dependent upon Him.
So as I continue to enjoy the sense of being in a cocoon of love may I remember that the love is real because the Source is truly real, more real than anything I could ever experience!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Yes, Papa I am thankful..
For You, Dearest LORD!
Your love is so evident, so tender, so consistent..

Ray and I celebrated thirty-two years of marriage today.  They have been thirty-two packed-full years!
Those of you that have been with us through all the years are nodding in agreement.
When we look back we find evidence in abundance of His Hand upon us, His intervention, His guidance, His grace.
In Psalm eighteen the psalmist exclaims that the LORD has brought him into a broad place.  We can say the same.

Yes, this place we find ourselves in, at the moment, may not appear broad, yet, if we look at it with a wide angle lens we cannot deny it.  The Living God has done much in our lives.  He has answered many prayers and brought abundant healing to us.
This fact brings a whole lot of encouragement to our hearts.  A phrase from a song I heard many years ago comes to mind.  "He hasn't brought me this far to leave me now!"

Papa knows that being able to look back and remember what He has done is good for our hearts and souls.  In the Old Testament He had His people erect little pillars in places where He met them.  Every crisis, every turning point, He met their need.
In a study that I was doing by Henry Blackaby, there was an exercise that called for us to look back and identify the places that we would have been erecting our pillars.  There were many.  In reflection I could see a pattern and how Papa has worked everything together to shape the path I was to take.
Imagine that we are so precious, so important to the Creator God that He is concerned about all the details of our lives!  He not only meets us in the big things, but is concerned for every detail so we become all He has intended.  After all, He is our Papa and what papa doesn't want the best for his children?
When Jesus was teaching His disciples to pray He told them to address God as Papa or Daddy.  According to David Jeremiah, in the Bible account of this we find the word "Father", but if we examine the original text we find that Papa or Daddy is more accurate.
It is hard to wrap our minds around.  However, if we seek Him as our Papa.  If we cry to Him with such a mindset, we find that is Who answers our cry-Papa!

My Papa gave my honey the energy to go out to dinner with me this evening!  He even provided a twenty percent coupon to our favorite restaurant!!
My Papa moved among the disability-insurance people, who then gave an extension of benefits until December sixteenth.  (They are hoping he can go back to work then!  Wouldn't that be lovely?!)
My Papa has shown me that I need to be more proactive now to ensure no last minute snafus in the future.

So just as He has answered my cries over the years and transformed Ray and I and our marriage; just as He has worked in and then through one son after another; just as He has equipped and empowered and given wonderful opportunities to touch lives, He will continue to do so and even more so!

Yes, Great is His Faithfulness!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Breathing Deeply

Making the choice to attend that Bible study last night was a very good one.  I got my perspective tweaked.  You see I was reminded of Who my God is and that is always a blessing!

We spent our time digging into the first twelve verses of the first chapter of the gospel of John.  John loves Jesus and his writing's aim is to "draw us into the quiet cathedral, where we are called upon to meditate upon the deep things of the Eternal Son of God-the Word made flesh (!)", to quote the introduction to the book found in the "Open Bible".
And draw us in, it did!

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."

My God is the Creator God!  The Pre-existent One! 

"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men."

My God is Life and Light for me!

In the next verses we learn that many did not receive Him.  Even when John the Baptist testified of Him, many chose to reject Him.
Then came a wonderful word - the word "but".
"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His Name."
God pays attention.  He is seeking those who seek Him.  He is eager to bless with the greatest blessing - adoption into His eternal family!

Papa drew my attention to the phrase "believe in His Name."  A friend at the study had made a comment about the importance of believing.  Another commented on God's numerous "Names."  Papa tied these thoughts together for me.
The Name of God is not singular just like God Himself is not singular, but a trinity.  The phrase "the Name of God" is heavy; it is full and rich; it encompasses all He is.  More than we can know.

In scripture we read encouragements to grow in our faith, to believe more deeply.  I received this thought-picture- When I met Jesus, I fell in love with Him, but I didn't know Him fully.  I just had a small slice of the full picture of Who He is.  Over the past thirty-odd years I have grown in my faith, I have believed more deeply.  Why?  Because I have learned more of His Name(s).
I have experienced Him as:

Holy One
To name a few....

Now He has called me to experience all of these and more in a deeper way.
I realize that I have been feeling undone.  He is teaching me to trust Him more fully, to know Him more intimately.  This will reveal His Name more clearly to me and thus enlarge my belief in Him.
The Pharisee in me wanted to believe I had arrived that I could sit in the role of teacher without having to learn any more lessons.  God in His grace will not allow this disception.  He loves me too much.
"I am glad," she said reluctantly.
Yes, I am glad!

This morning I continued in the sixth and on into the seventh chapter of the second book of Kings and was encouraged that "it is not over until it is over. God is at work no matter how it looks!"  (To quote from my journal.)  The Samaritans were seemingly trapped in their city with no food, simply waiting to die.  The enemy was encamped outside with no route of escape available.  The situation appeared hopeless, but only because they had left God out of the equation!  He intervened and replaced their emptiness with plenty from the enemies stores.

I do not know what the outcome of this disability saga will be or any other part of this path I find myself on.  What I do know is that my Heavenly Father, Who is with me (!) is at work. 
In Him I chose to believe and find rest and peace.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Some people thrive on the emotion of anger.  Not me.  I do not like the feeling at all and find it very exhausting.
I am exhausted right now because I am very angry!  I could spit nails, I am so angry!!!
Disorder is very irritating, disregard for others and their needs even more so. 

The disability saga continues. 
More phone calls.
More voice mails.
Tomorrow is the deadline.
I think there is a knot growng in my stomach.

I sat on the floor and cried to Papa.  Then I felt prompted to try calling Gaylord to reach the doctor's office again.  Somehow I ended up being picked up by the wrong department.  The knot did a little twist.  However, it was a God thing!  The person who answered told me she would transfer me to the doctor's secretary's direct line, but first she gave me the number for the future!
A glimmer of light!

I learned that no forms have arrived for the doctor to fill out.  They had hoped to receive something last week, as the doctor is out today.  They expect her, hopefully, tomorrow.
Another call to the disability people was less hopeful.  The operator tried a whole list of people and each one went directly to voice mail!  The "specialist" who normally handles our case has her "out of the office" message on.
This, I am sure, is the cause of the problem.  Others are simply filling in for her and nothing is being done in a timely fashion. 
I left a message for one of the supervisors and asked that they call my cell, if they did not reach me at home.  They never do try the second number, so I asked Ray to answer the phone and tell them to call me, as I had to take care of a few errands.  The supervisor called and told Ray that they had faxed the paper and there was no need to speak with me.  He called to inform me of this.
I got into my care, onto the highway and in the privacy of my car screamed!  Yes, calm Debbie screamed!

I do not want to be in charge anymore!!  As a matter of fact, I do not want to be grown-up anymore either!  Where do I resign?!
Realizing that I was losing it I sent out a text for prayer.  I needed it!

So did God take a vacation?  Has He vacated His Throne??  No. 
So what's my problem?  I guess my humanity is showing...

Just this morning I was reading in the second book of Kings in the Old Testament and do you know what I wrote in my journal?
"My God cares about every detail of my life - even a loaned axehead!"  In the sixth chapter we read that Elisha was with some of the other prophets while they were building homes for themselves.  The head of one of the axes flew off and landing in a body of water that was nearby where it promptly sank to the bottom.  The man cried to Elisha that it was on loan.  Elisha, obviously under Papa's direction, threw a piece of wood into the water which actually caused the axehead to float!  A miracle!

I know He cares for me and that I can cast all of my cares on Him.  I guess I forgot.

Something else that I wrote in my journal: "Grace causes humility to surface."  This was in reference to something else I had read.  Our God is so gracious.  When I had my fit today, He didn't abandon me.  When I was frustrated with phone calls, He took care of it before I changed my attitude.
In light of His grace which He extends to me continually, I bend my knees and heart to Him.  All glory to my Gracious God!  He is God.  He is LORD.  And this God extends His tender care to me!  Yes, praise Him!!

He will take care of this disability thing.  Maybe not the way I want Him to, but He will handle it.  There are probably a few more lessons I need to learn through all of this.  (You think?)
I just pray that I am a quick learner!!

Regarding the errands I had to do.  One was to buy a new cell phone, as my is dieing.  After a few minutes with the salesman I left.  He was not interested in helping me decide what was best for my needs and in my mood I thought it wise to depart the store!  It seems to me that all the conveniences we have today are making our lives more complicated!

On a different note, let me share how lovely the potluck was last night!  Ray was much more relaxed and didn't seem to tire so quickly as last time.  We had friends from near and far, a new friend and even someone we met for the first time last night!  Two young girls came with their mothers and now each have a new friend!
Everything was delicious!  Our son, Tim was in attendance.  He loves to eat and kept exclaiming over each dish as it arrived.  Oh, he did hug the bearers also!

There is a Bible study tonight and I think it would be a very good place for me to be.  This means I need to stop writing and take care of a few details, such as Ray's therapy, so I can actually go!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Old Tapes

Ever have a reaction to someone or something that surprises you?   If I take time to examine it, I realize it triggered some memory from my past.  I think we have been recording all the messages and impressions we have received over the years.  Some are lovely, some definitely are not!  Many are lies. 
The only way to deal with these is to replace them.  There is no erasing them.
Some, I think, are really imbedded!  So even when I have embraced truth upon which to live, the old junk can still show up now and again.  Yuck!

Monday I took Ray for his checkup with the doctor at Gaylord.  We had a sub, as the regular doctor was away.  He was a nice man and it was evident that he wanted to encourage my husband.  Very kind.
At one point he told Ray that it was obvious to him that my honey was fine cognitively.  In many ways that is true.  In just as many ways, it is not.

I cannot tell you how sad and frustrated I suddenly felt!  Why? 
Well, upon reflection I realized that it triggered an old, old memory from my childhood.  You see back then denial was the motus operandi.  Deny your feelings, deny your observations.  They are all wrong!
Was the doctor giving me that message?  No, of course not, but that is how my little brain interpreted it!
The doctor did not know Ray before the accident, so he cannot know the difference in how he responds now.
Once I examined it I could let it go.  Obviously, it is critical to take the time to do just that.

What a joy to have a God who embraces and redeems.  I can look to Him and know that He accepts me just as I am.  He not only accepts me and loves me right where I am, but is making me new!
The commentary today from Slice of Infinity spoke of the gospel writer Mark.  He did not start out as one you could count on.  He ran in fear when Jesus was headed to the cross, he let Paul down on some missionary trip, and yet later God had him write the gospel account and Paul asked for him, as he was "useful to him."
If we rely upon ourselves to straighten things or us out, we limit ourselves and rule out the power of God to work in and through us!

He is the beautiful One, the only One my heart desires.  May I meditate upon His beauty constantly.  There is no other place that compares to being in His Presence!

"One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to meditate in His temple."  Psalm twenty-seven, verse four.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vacuums & Time

This blogger has been silent for a few days, not out of lack of anything to say, but because life has been too full.  It seems that every day has become a vacuum that cries to be filled and without any help from me it is obliged!
I am amazed that nothing is accomplished quickly anymore.  Or so it seems.
Going from point A to point B?  Sounds easy, but it isn't.

It has taken at least three calls, so far, to both Ray's doctor and the disability case worker so that all necessary information is received to extend disability beyond this coming Tuesday.  Most of this has been done via answering machines.  Is everyone so busy that they cannot answer their phone?  I am still unsure where it all stands!
Speaking of calls, my cell phone is an essential part of being organized for me.  I keep all our appointments in it.  This morning the calendar disappeared!  A visit to the vendor confirmed what I feared - it is not returning!  Thank the LORD that I have it backed up on my computer.  Otherwise I would be making many more phone calls!
Now I have another decision to make; what phone should I replace it with?
For years I have been saying that I would like to have a little person in my pocket who I could bring out to make a choice for me.  Usually it was something very pedestrian such as which item to choose off the menu, but now the stakes are higher.

Upon arriving at my appointment to pick up my new reading glasses I was informed that one lens has a slight crack, which is going to be replaced.  I can use them for now, but will need to come back when the replacement arrives.  I could have waited!
Everyone wants a piece of my time and I am starting to feel very stingy with it!

All I want to do is study and write, but Papa has other plans for me.  A little stretching, a few opportunities to learn a bit more patience.  I feel like a child who whines, "WHY?"  "I don't wanna!"

A wise young woman gave me a piece of advice the other night.  She suggested that every time a challenge comes along or an emotion arises I should simply ask Papa what He is attempting to teach me.  What does He want me to see?
Today I purposed to do just that.  I want to please and honor Him and I know lately my impatient restlessness falls short of that goal.
It has been similar to what I imagine it is like to tame a wild horse.  You calm them down slowly and then even when they are quiet... you sense energy under the surface that is barely under control.
The difference is that for me it was satisfying to be choosing His way and I sensed Him smiling.

With patience comes courtesy.  Courtesy is evidence of love and respect.  Papa would have us treat each other with this courtesy.  It is a joy to bless others and the blessing returns to you!
During one of my phone calls today, when I actually spoke with a person, I determined to be gracious in spite of how challenging the whole process had become.  The operator at the disability office and I began a conversation about Papa.  We shared with one another our love for Him and how faithful He has been to us both. 
That certainly was one phone call that left me feeling uplifted!

A verse in Psalm thirty-seven tells us to "rest in the LORD and to wait patiently for Him."  That word 'patiently' means to wait longingly for Him; desire Him, look for Him.  When I rest in Him, I am putting my confidence in Him and trusting that He will work out all the details.
It isn't up to me to work it all out, yet I forget that.  In part I think it is because so many vie for my attention.  There are so many details to see to and it is easy to get drawn away from having my focus on Him.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said that to be 'poor in spirit' is to be blessed.  That simply means that I know I am not the 'be all-end all' and have a lot, yet, to learn.   When we admit that we still have much to learn, we are being teachable.  That is what the Living God is watching for, a teachable spirit.

Recognizing that I have not 'arrived' helps me to be transparent.  I want to be just that and admit that I am broken, as we all are.  Admitting that fact is essential.  It combats self-righteousness.  You know - the "I am better than you" attitude.

In the past few days the subject of prayer keeps arising.  Papa has been reminding me of its power.  While reading in the third chapter of Second Kings I see that those who do not look to Him find favor and mercy from Him because His children have interceded for them.
Belonging to Him brings favor and when I totally give it over to Him I have an even greater opportunity to experience that privileged favor.  He loves to "do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us!"

Yes, belonging to Him is such an amazing place to be.  Papa is always blessing me (us).  I am humbled by His love and grace.
He loves to surprise His children and on Tuesday He did just that!
It was to be a full day.  I was anticipating a few of my precious young friends gathering here in the evening for some sharing and caring.  A dessert was in order, but when would I have time to make what??
Well, a lovely lady, who represents "Joni and Friends", which is a ministry to the disabled, was scheduled to stop by in the morning.  Just one more thing to fit into my busy day, yet, it turned out to be a blessing in many ways.
Her visit was sweet and encouraging.  The fun part was that she came bearing a ready-to-bake homemade apple pie!  Are you smiling with me??  Isn't Papa something?!
This just reminded me, once again, that He has it all in hand and if it is something that really needs to happen, well... it will!!

Since I am His I know that He is always with me and knows my heart and mind at all times.  To me, every thought is a prayer of sorts.  Some of those times He doesn't wait for me to ask.  At other times He knows it is important for me to stop and bring it before Him in a more deliberate way.  I rely upon His Spirit to help me know the difference.

Before I close for now I want to share what writing in this blog means to me.  As I have sat here putting my thoughts down for you to read I have experienced joy.  Yes, joy.  I believe this is what Papa has called me to at the moment.  How true it is that when we are where He would have us be, doing what He leads us to do, we are the most content and find joy.
Whether what I share is an encouragement and, at times, a challenge to you or not, though I do hope so (!) I must say, for me, it is a great release.
Thank you for joining me on this amazing journey as I (we) learn to let Him fill our vacuums and teach us how to use our time well!