Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Unlikely Places?

In route to West Virginia I made two stops in Pennsylvania.
The first was to see the new abode of a wonderful couple that made the move from Connecticut  this past year.
Besides seeing their home, which is lovely (I don't know how it could be better!), it was so very good to see both of them up close and personal! 
It especially did my heart good to see the mister of this couple looking so well after the scare he gave all of us not that many months ago!

After one more hour's travel I arrived at the friend's house where I would be spending the night. 
It is much more pleasant to dot one's trip with friendly visits and less travel, so I now make the trip to my eldest son's home in two days instead of one.

My hostess has been a close friend for thirty-eight years.  In that time we have weathered much that life has to offer and have had many conversations as to how it all relates to Papa.  At times it seems that she is able to hear and understand more clearly than at others, but upon our next visit she will have reverted back to the mixed-bag of teachings she has carried for so many years.
That bag includes having been raised by a woman who was a psychic of sorts and then as an adult getting heavily involved in metaphysics herself.

In seeking to have a explanation that one can wrap our brains around, we often have to resort to shrinking God down to a manageable size.
That is what my friend has done.

Yet, as the years pass, she seems to want to hear more and more from me.  She is now eighty years old.

Last night she was sharing her struggles with depression and anxiety.  Her beliefs tell her that she should be able to take control of these feelings by herself.
The idea obviously brought her distress.
She was also lamenting over many concerns she has for herself, her family and the world.

Through our conversation I spoke of Papa and His promise of peace.  As I spoke light came to her face and joy came to my heart!

How we all need the Good News of God's great love and the sacrifice that was motivated by that love!

This morning after a lengthy breakfast I reluctantly said goodbye to my friend.  I wanted to stay to take part in bringing more light to her heart and life!
Once settled in my car and traveling down the road I turned on my radio and hit search hoping to find a worship station.  (Much easier in this neck of the woods!)
Shortly after settling upon an agreeable station a song began whose words caused my heart to rejoice.
It spoke of the joy of knowing and sharing the news of salvation.  Part of the chorus goes like this...
"That sweet, sweet story of salvation!"
Oh yes, such a sweet story!  One that first brought joy and peace to my own heart and continues to do so over and over.  The joy of sharing this sweet, sweet salvation stirs up the joy afresh every time!

On the first leg of my trip on Monday morning Papa and I had carried on a long conversation.
I have been tired and not feeling myself for quite a while.
Even though His joy and peace have been present, it has been muted.
I have not felt as animated, as I was my norm, these days.

We hashed out many details and covered many subjects until it seemed that we had exhausted every topic that needed our attention.
It felt good, but I still felt subdued.
After speaking with my friend and one very deep, sweet night's sleep I awoke feeling more refreshed than I had in a long time.
Then Papa and I had a sweet time together, which always bodes well for the rest of my day!

I carry my copy of World magazine with me and read an article or two whenever the opportunity arises.  an opportunity presented itself and I had enough time to read a commentary by Janie B Cheaney entitled The God without Pride.  The subject of the article was the role that pride plays in our lives versus how God lacks any pride, as He is not in need of it.
I highly recommend it and would encourage all to go to WORLDmag.com and look for the latest issue dated December thirty-first.
Ms. Cheaney explored what pride looks like in her life and how deceptive it is.
The thought came to me that the cloak of pride that I often wear is held on by the clasp of pride.

As I drove down the road these thoughts returned to me and I explored them move fully with my Papa.  Confessing the layers of pride He helped me to realize were, indeed, there seemed to stir a new vitality in my soul. 
As those layers fell at my feet, by His grace, I felt unbound and more alive once again!

With that another song began to play. 
One I had never heard before.
It was a song from Papa and one line that was repeated over and over was..
"You're my little girl."
Such sweet words to my ears!!

The Almighty One...
The Lover of my soul...
My Papa..
Is found in what might seem like unlikely places.

Driving along the highway...
In the home of a student of metaphysics...
Speaking through the pages of a magazine...

Heaven would seem an unlikely place to be able to confidently call home...
Home for eternity...
But the God who is willing to reveal Himself wherever we are..
To speak to our hearts in whatever condition they may be...
And then make Himself known through us..
Assures us that it is not only very likely, but a certainty that He wants us to make our home with Him for eternity.

Oh that my dear friend would truly receive that Good News for herself!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Never-Ending Story!

Here I sit in the midst of the story Papa is weaving of my life.
It is quiet, at the moment.

Our Christmas celebration is so different these days.
Everyone is an adult, which means they have other places to visit along with their momma's.
This means I must share them.

In about two hours the quiet will be invaded by three very masculine voices. 
Mindy and I will attempt to hold our own.

There will be much laughter.
These men of ours are very quick witted. 
So is the lovely Mindy.
The guys take after their father.

An unlikely scene keeps coming to mind over the past few days.
I would have shared it yesterday, but it refused to come back to the surface until now.

I am sitting in science class.
It is my high school freshman year.
The teacher has just thrown a topic of thought out and waits for our responses.

"What if you are simply the figment of some one's imagination?  What if you do not truly exist beyond the confines of their mind?  What if you really have no control over your life, but it is all dependent upon the whim of the one who has thought you up?"
My response was not expressed out loud, as I was extremely timid back then.

Even at that age, though life was not an easy thing for me, I knew in my heart that there was much more to life than the teacher's theoretical offering implied.

I guess this experience came to mind because I have been thinking about the topic of story and storytellers.

Life is not some tidy story.  It can be very messy, but also so very gloriously beautiful.

Take the birth of a child.
It is a messy affair, but very often so beautiful and so satisfying!
As a mother, I know that first cry causes one's heart to leap with joy!

I am sure that Mary's heart responded, as well, with joy when her Newborn gave His first lusty cry!

Were we to have heard that particular cry from that particular Babe, it is certain that our hearts would have involuntarily responded with joy, without even grasping the implications of that cry.

That cry not only confirmed the life of that Infant, but it signaled the life that Infant brought for all mankind. 

What a lovely story!
Not tidy, not easy, but vibrant.
One that does not have an ending...
For it is for eternity...
And it is free to all who would believe and receive!

No, Papa is not some puppeteer nor has He simply thought us up for His entertainment.  He is weaving an incredible story, but we choose whether we only have a bit part or jump in and embrace the role He designed just for us. 
Contrary to the one who would call all the shots, our God has given us the gift of freewill.
The wisest and best thing we can do with that gift is turn it over to Him.

No matter where this adventure takes us, when we trust in Him, we are secure.
I love Psalm One Hundred and Thirty-nine and would encourage everyone to read and meditate on it.  I will share the fifth and sixth verses,
"You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it."

It is too much to wrap my brain around, but little by little Papa does reveal more and more to me.  The story, His story unfolds one day at a time and it is lovely!

One of my boys and my favorite stories is The Never-ending Story.
It is a fantasy, which means it is not real.
The gist of the story is that we can recreate a story that is dieing so that it goes on and on.  It is a story that inspires hope.

The story that Papa is weaving is truly a never-ending one. 
The only of its kind!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Storyteller

On December twenty-sixth I will climb into my car and point it in the direction of West Virginia, as I have done for, at least, twelve years now.
Making this eight hour trip alone is made much more pleasant by the company of a book or two on compact disc.
Over the years I have listened to quite a few offerings.  The readers are generally good, if not excellent and their voices usually lend themselves to the stories.

Occasionally the reader is the author him or herself.
They definitely enrich the stories, as they are the weavers of the tales and have the greatest emotional investment in them and they know the characters intimately.

Whether a story is listened to or read it is important to listen for the writer's voice.

Writer Jill Carattini wrote the commentary for Slice of Infinity on Friday.  Her topic was Telling Stories.
She related the story of a woman, Mrs. Boreham, who had been given an unplanned tour of Canterbury Cathedral.  Her cousin, who was to meet her for the adventure of exploring the place, did not appear and as Mrs. Boreham was about to leave in disappointment a gentleman emerged with the offer of a personal tour.
"I am deeply attached to the place," the man said, "and happen to know something of its story."
She decided that for whatever it was worth, she would accept the offer.

Mrs. Boreham found that
"Concerning every pillar and arch, every cranny and crevice, my eloquent guide had some thrilling tale to tell." 
At the end of the tour and before parting she and the gentleman exchanged cards.  With his shoved into her pocket she headed home.  A bit later she pulled the card out and read the man's name.
Charles Dickens. 
A master storyteller!

Jill continued her comments about the influence of story in our lives.  She mentioned that there is, of course, a storyteller behind each story.

We are in the midst of a story ourselves and our stories influence one another, but there is One who is weaving His grand story, picking up the threads of each one's life to make it part of His beautiful plan.

Yes, that Storyteller is in our midst.
We need to pause and listen for His voice.
When we hear His voice...
When He speaks to us...
It is to draw us in and make His story our own.

Having had the privilege of studying the Bible for over thirty years I have learned to recognize the threads of His story that is woven through its pages.
There is one that is referred to by the Open Bible edition as the Scarlet Thread of Redemption.

This thread begins in Genesis with the promise of One who would crush Satan's head.  It  follows through with verses and passages that point to the promised Messiah (Savior).
He will be born in Bethlehem, according to Micah.
Daniel tells us the when of His birth.
Isaiah's prophetic words promise He will be born of a virgin.
There are descriptions of events such as His flight as a child to Egypt (Hosea) and the coming of the forerunner, John the Baptist (Isaiah).

That is just a taste of what the Old Testament holds and doesn't even touch on all the prophecies of the Savior's life on the earth and His death and His coming reign.

Imagine! this Master Storyteller is the Creator God, the Almighty One and He has invited each one of us to take part in His story.  He invites us into His confidence and to join Him in His glorious plan!

I am certain that I am not alone when I say that there are many hurting, struggling people that I cross paths with each day.
Sometimes I just have to look in the mirror.

As I address that reflection or the precious ones around me, I do so with great confidence.

He is weaving the story and it has a happy ending.
He is always at work whether we see His Hand or not.  I, for one, have seen the evidence too many times to doubt.

This morning I read the third verse of the Third chapter of Colossians,
"For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God."
The words gave me such a sense of comfort.
Hidden with Christ.
Just like a treasure is hidden to be kept safe.

Yes, I have died..
To self...
To trying to make it all right myself..
To trying to be in control...
To all the lies that I believed for so many years...
Sometimes I just need a reminder.

This is my Christmas gift to each one of you dear readers.

If you know Jesus, as Savior, then savor the security.
Rejoice in the gift.

If you are on the outside looking in...
My precious one-
Join us!

On that Holy night when the angels came to announce the Good News to those regular guys tending those ordinary sheep, they came to proclaim
"Peace on earth, good will to all men."
That peace and good will is from God to us.
He gave the ultimate gift so we could have peace and good will with Him.

Do not let the temporary stuff deceive you.
If we learn His story we will then learn to recognize His story being woven through our very lives.

Let me close by joining Mary, Jesus' mother, as the realization sank in that God was drawing her into His story.
"My soul exalts the LORD, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


It feels like ages since I have had the time to sit down and compose my thoughts here.
I was surprised to see that only three days had passed since my last posting.

Yes, only three days, but three days packed full enough for twice that number!
What filled much of those days involved preparing for last night....

My precious friends from the rehab came to my church for dinner!
Papa intended it to be extra-special and that each one of our guests would receive the message of how valued they are to Him and His family.

I was not the only one who realized His heart for these dear people...

Many were preparing for this evening...
Ovens were turned on...
Cookies were baked..
As well as all the veggies that would accompany the roast beef...
Roast beef, as per Papa, which my butcher roasted, sliced and set nicely in trays with gravy, all at cost!
Gifts were wrapped..
Paper goods and all the other miscellaneous items were purchased...
Instruments were tuned...
A short message was prayerfully written...
Drivers got ready to help shuttle my friends to and from the dinner...

Earlier in the day two dear friends joined me in setting up for the party.  Thankfully much was already in place from previous events.  Thank You, Papa!!

When I arrived in the late afternoon to get ovens going and the like I found that others had beat me there!
For the next hour and a half one-by-one the ranks filled.
Men in white shirts and black pants, donning red bow ties, joined by a few women to serve our guests...
Ladies in aprons scurring around the kitchen, making certain that nothing ran low and all was served warm food...
Faithful photographer, Rob with camera in hand capturing the memories in the making...
Dennis sharing from his heart, which Papa used to touch many hearts...
A live band that rounded out the evening...
Way to go Redeemed!!
And later that night, my pastor with his sleeves rolled up at the sink, washing pans!

The precious ones whom we were serving were amazed by everything.
Many asked,
"You all did this just for us?"
"Yes, just for each one of you!"
Oh that they would realize that Jesus did so much more for each one of them!  He went to the Cross with them in mind.  As it has been said, He would have done this if there was just one of us.
Such love.
It is my hope and prayer that His love is what they experienced!

One day last week I read sometthing that got my attention and I made a note in my journal.
I usually jot down the source of my inspiration, but not this time. 
Thus I cannot give credit to the deserving soul.
What I wrote was,
"God declares mine!"
I do remember that the thought behind it is that the Almighty, Creator God looks upon all His creation and declares that it is His.  Papa expanded the thought for me from there.

He looks at each one of us and claims ownership.
Not as a possession, but as one created with love in His image by His own hand. 
Someone He treasures and with whom He desires a relationship.

As I was preparing for last night, this thought kept coming to mind.  I pictured Papa looking with great fondness on every individual.

All that were in attendance, both the servers and the recipients are viewed with immense love by Papa.
There wasn't one person that He disregarded or overlooked.
Not one who He deemed unloveable.
No matter what they had done or would do.

Dennis' message touched on that last night.
Praise God!

The verse that spoke to my hurting heart so many years ago and caused me to see my Savior comes to mind now.
"Come to me, all who are weary and heavyladen and I will give you rest."
He longs to take each one in His arms.

Isn't amazing that the One who made all that exists anywhere, is particularly interested in us?
May each one of us realize what Brennan Manning's elderly uncle knew,
"Papa is especially fond of me!"
After all we are His!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tidy no more

My sanctuary has been commandered by the season!
The glow that held such a sweet, serene invitation has now been cast over a chaotic scene.  Bags and boxes with ribbons scattered amongst them have been residing in piles throughout the room. 
Not very appealing.

The treasured, formerly tidy, desk was lost amidst receipts and scrapes of paper.
Lists upon lists.
Even my laptop's desktop has its version of sticky notes in great number.


I have spent the past couple of hours trying to regain some modicum of order.

All the gifts for my rehab friends are now in their gift bags.
Receipts have been duly noted in the appropriate Excel program.
Next will be to sort through all the miscellaneous papers, as well as finalizing the list for what needs to be accomplished on Monday.

The dinner for my friends is shaping up. 
By God's grace.
He knows that I am not a detail person, so He makes certain that the necessary reminders come my way.  Sometimes they are not so much reminders, but informers.  Informing me of what hadn't even occurred to me!

Papa has also surrounded me with wonderful people who willingly step up to fill the many roles that need filling.

This is one of the great blessings of being about His business, in His time and in His way.

The dinner is not something that we thought up just to be nice.
No, it is a God thing.  It is His idea and when something is His idea you know that He will make sure that it is accomplished.
I believe all of Heaven is lending itself to making sure this dinner is a great blessing for each and every guest.
And not only the guests, but all who take part in anyway.

Yes, I know that the blessings of joining Papa in whatever He is doing far outweigh anything anyone could put into serving Him.

Doing anything for Him, as if it were directly to Him, gives great blessing in itself.
In Matthew Twenty-Five Jesus said that what we do to even the least, we are, in essence, doing to Him.
Isn't that wonderful?!

It is my hope that one day, when I see Him face-to-face, I will hear Him say:
"Well done, good and faithful servant....enter into the joy of your master."
For that I will live with the clutter and chaos a little longer!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Divine Intimacy

The pictures that Papa draws for me are captivating.  They often translate into a posting to this blog.

On Wednesday mornings a number of us gather to pray for the ministry of ACTS4.
Our thoughts this morning were exploring the depths of Papa's love for us, which translated into praise.
The words were flowing out of hearts of gratitude.

While we were lost in the wonder of His Loving Presence it was as if He unfurled a banner that filled my mind and quickly enveloped my heart and senses.

The picture was of the Father and Son interacting.
One glance between them spoke volumes.
There was a sense of how deeply and fully they understood one another; of how completely they loved one another.
Their relationship is one of total intimacy and love.
The Spirit wove their hearts together.

They filled my vision.
My heart was full.
The fragrance of their love filled the air.
Joy inhabited the silence.
I had a sense of connection, as if I could touch them.

In an instance I saw how Jesus could willingly leave the glory of Heaven to do His Father's bidding here on earth.  It was both the Father's and the Son's desire that flowed through the Spirit from their intimate union.

The scene stirred up a great desire to enjoy such a relationship with my God and Savior.
That is His desire too.
It is why He came.  To bridge the gap and make the way for us back to our God.  In Romans chapter Five, Paul puts it this way,
"For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  And not only this, but we also exult in God through our LORD Jesus Christ, through whom we have now receive the reconciliation."
In the Seventeenth chapter of John we read Jesus words, as He prayed to the Father,
"And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."
The Almighty God wants us to know Him.  Really know Him.  Intimately.

This evening my friend, Laura called to tell me to turn on my radio.  A woman author was speaking and my friend thought I would benefit from her words.

I did not learn the woman's name nor the exact title of her book, but her words were for me.
They were the follow-up for what Papa revealed to me earlier today.

How easy it is to be moved and then the world comes rushing in, pushing aside that which is of infinitely greater value!

Someone had challenged the writer to make a list of a thousand things she could be grateful for instead of focusing on the long list of all that she needed to do for the holidays.
She did and as the list grew she realized how greatly she was blessed.

A comment she made during the radio interview spoke to me.  Actually it was Papa telling me to pay attention and follow through on what He stirred up this morning.

The speaker said that all that comes our way, creation, relationships, struggles, blessings, they are all intended to enhance our relationship with Papa.  In other words, deepen the intimacy of our relationship.
He desires us to be satisfied in Him alone.
Yet we, like the couple in the garden of Eden, seek something else to satisfy us.
Nothing ever does. 
Not really.
Certainly not for long.

I get brief glimpses of this divine intimacy.
It is not Papa who holds back, but it is me who flits off in pursuit of something that will never satisfy.
Only He can fill that longing to know and be known.

Oh Papa to know You so well that there would be no hesitation to do your bidding, but an eager obedience out of a desire to please my Beloved.

I long to join my voice and heart with the Shulamite in Song of Songs....
"I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


A couple of years ago Papa gave me a message to share on the topic of joy.
More specifically it had to do with the joy we are suppose to experience at this time of year.

Papa has been bringing up the subject again.

This year the season seems to be such a jumble for me.
My usual routine is nowhere to be found.

It had been my practice, for many a year, to have finished the majority of my Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving.
Not this year.
The list is smaller these days, but somehow not as easy to get through...

By now I should be baking a few cookies with Christmas music playing in the background....

Instead change is in the air....

Matt and Mindy are moving which means that Ray and I will officially be empty-nesters.
The thought leaves me unsettled.
Don't get me wrong, I do believe it is time for the two couples to live independently, but change can be unsettling, even when you know it is the right thing.

I have been working on the two of us being independent, but it only works so far.
We will just have to take things as they come.
And we will have two of our sons nearby to lend a hand.

So back to the subject of joy.

It cannot be dependent upon externals.
Papa designed it to be a constant, no matter the circumstances.

I think to get it we must first understand what joy is and what it isn't.

My thesaurus offers these words for joy:
Delight, happiness, pleasure, enjoyment, bliss, ecstasy, elation, joyfulness, thrill and wonder.

Some of the feelings described are transient at best on the human level.

I have been experiencing sleeplessness for a number of days.  Sleep deprivation makes it difficult to delight (or any of those other words) in much of anything.  It really casts a dark shadow over most things.

Let's see what Papa has to say about the subject.
Joy is described as a result of knowing Him and of being in His Presence. 
" O come let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms."
It is a mark of those who are His.

We are encouraged by Jesus example who was motivated by joy to endure the cross according to Hebrews.
The joy of redeeming us.

Joy is not something that is manufactured.
No, it is the outflow of knowing the truth.

No matter the ups and downs of this life, I know that they are all temporary.
A day is coming when nothing will be a jumble, nor unsettling.

I think it is all summed up in Isaiah Fifty-One, verse eleven.
"So the ransomed of the LORD will return, and come with joyful shouting to Zion; and everlasting joy will be on their heads.  They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."
That is enough to stir joy in my heart right now!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Need for Rest

At some point in time I heard or read a comment made by someone that I respected.  I have no idea who it was anymore, but their words have resurfaced.

The past few days have been packed-full.
The social scene has been a busy place for this lady.

I am sure that I have shared the fact here that I do not wear well.
Generally, I try to space out all the socializing, but it is that time of year.

Certainly, I couldn't miss the book club's Christmas celebration, nor my church's ladies' Christmas tea.
Unfortunately they were back to back with our annual Christmas party on their heels.

Needless to say, I am spent.

I tried to sleep in yesterday morning, but to no avail. 
Each morning my brain drifts into consciousness about the same time, sans an alarm clock.
My body is accustomed to rising at that point.
No matter what day of the week it is; no matter how much more sleep I could use.

This morning was the day that found all of me succumbing to the need for more sleep.
Thus I slept in today.

I had planned to take it easy this morning and stay home from church.
Good thing because it would have been a mad dash to make it for even part of the service!

As I thought about this, the quote came to mind.
"Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is sleep."
Scripture has many references to rest and sleep and encourages us to rest in the LORD.
One that seems to back up the above quote is found in Psalm One Hundred Twenty-Seven, the second verse:
"It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep."
The second half of that verse is so very sweet.  How lovely a picture it draws of our Papa tending to us while we sleep!
This reminds me of a parent lovingly looking in on their sleeping child.
Every caring parent desires their children to get proper rest.
Every child who knows they are loved can rest in that love.

For me true rest flows from time with Him, knowing Him and confident in the One I know in part, but Who knows me in full.

My Bible study group is still in the midst of the study on prayer.
Papa has been augmenting the material for me with a few extras.

David Jeremiah's devotional thoughts, a few days ago, revolved around James One, verses nineteen and twenty.  He focused on the part that says,
"Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak...."
His thoughts were on the importance of really listening to others.
In my journal I wrote,
"Listen with intention."
To not only each other, but to our God.

He pays attention to our words and understands their meaning.
Papa desires for us to listen closely to what He has to say to us too.
When we really listen, we please Him and bless His Heart.
And it will bless us too!

Today I spent some time in the First book of Kings, the Eighth chapter, verses twenty-two through fifty-three.  Solomon had finished building the Temple and this passage is his prayer of dedication to the LORD.

Throughout the prayer words such as; pray, call, supplication, heed, and cry are found.
Papa caused me to reflect on the intent of those words.

They are deliberate actions; they reflect hearts that are focused on God.
Not only speaking and crying out to Him, but eagerly listening for His voice and watching for His Hand.

When we make this our practice, then we can rest in confidence that He is with us and watching over us with care.
Whether we are sleeping or not.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tis the Season...

...to be in a time crunch.

How many times have I reached this time of year and felt this way??
More than I care to count.

The list is a mere shadow of its former self.
Gift giving is much more manageable now.
I have learned to keep it much simpler.

So what is with the crunch?

I have been wondering that myself.
I could say I'm not as young as I use to be, which is true, but not really the cause of this malaise I find myself experiencing.

As I explore below the surface I realize it must relate to more externals than anything within me.

There are too many good things to do.

A few of the offerings from this past weekend:

The Advent Breakfast that has become an annual event for Mindy and me.   A good friend who hasn't fell in love with Jesus yet also looks forward to joining me for this Season kickoff.
That is one morning that is no longer optional for me.

A worship experience on Saturday night.
My heart said yes, my body laid down.

Two friends were in a concert on Sunday.
I would have loved to attend, but I don't wear well. 
After a lovely, moving church service I was ready to put my feet up and do the crossword puzzle.

Throw a few things that needed doing around the house.
Saturday afternoon was slated for the second coat of paint of the kitchen trim.  It had to be done.
The party is next week.

Each year Ray and I throw a Christmas party.
We look forward to having many of our dear friends under our roof at the same time.
It is a grand time without too much effort on our part.

Okay, I have to come up with some game ideas.
I do not know how I will top last year's "Santa and his eight (not so) tiny reindeer."  The sight of our friends singing Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer while wearing on their head pantyhose whose legs were stuffed with balloons still makes me chuckle!

Yes, there is a bit of set up....
Maybe a little shopping for a few goodies and prizes for those games I am working on.

I do have the gifts for the grab bag.
True to form, I will be wrapping them shortly before the guests arrive!  

I do need to get the men motivated on winterizing that porch...
We need it for the party!

Meanwhile the invitations come in for other parties...
One I will be attending is held by the rehab where I volunteer.
That is a must.

Speaking of the rehab....
Every year I gather gifts for my friends to select from, which they can give to their loved ones.
Where do I gather them from?
Friends who Papa leads to give.

Last year one of the men sat wrapping a gift for his little girl.  He looked up, with tears in his eyes and told me that he didn't think that he was going to have anything to give her for Christmas.  He was very grateful.
That is makes all the effort worthwhile.

This year we are putting together a Christmas party for all the residents of the rehab. 
A first!
It will be held at my church.
Papa has put together the menu.
Roast beef and all that goes with it!

Each year we also fill a gift bag for each one of these precious people. 
They will receive it at the dinner.

Needless to say there are a few details involved to pull this event off.
I thank Papa for those who have stepped up to help!

One dear lady is preparing the mashed potatoes for fifty people.
Others are providing the green beans and salad.
Many are baking cookies for dessert.
The kitchen will be staffed by precious volunteers.
A wonderful man, who happens to be a talented photographer, is going to be documenting our evening and making available photos for them to take with them that night.
Our local butcher is supplying the meat at cost, cooking it, slicing it and placing it on trays, at no extra cost!
The men of our church will be serving with their red bow ties in place.
There will be live music!
Of course there is a speaker.  Just a brief sharing by a man who loves Papa.

Now that I thing about it, I am not tired, I am excited!!

So now the picture is more complete.
You may think to yourself, "No wonder she is in a crunch!"

No, no, no....
I wouldn't change it...
Well, maybe we could spread some of the stuff out into maybe January or some other month that isn't so full...
But not our party!
And, of course, not anything that is happening for my rehab friends!!!

Everyone else can change their plans..
Yes, that sounds wonderful..
Then I won't have to miss any of the festivities!!

What do you think?  Shall we extend the season??

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Delight of Giving

Relationships take time and attention.
To count someone as a close friend or better yet a best friend means you know them pretty well.

I have a couple of very dear, close friends.
Through sharing life together we have learned how one another thinks.  That means we understand what stirs our hearts and what, conversely, leaves us cold.
Gifting takes on special meaning in such relationships.

Shopping is not my thing and this time of year just reinforces my disinterest in the activity.
Finding bargains falls under a different class, at least for me.
That is worthwhile shopping for me.

Once in a while I come across something that has a special some one's name all over it.  Quite often it is at a tag sale, consignment shop or the likes.  A perfect gift at a good price-that is when I am delighted to be shopping.

Even more delightful is the anticipation of being able to surprise someone I love with something that I know they will enjoy.
It's a good feeling.

That is my kind of giving. 
Not under obligation, no expectations, just a gift given because it is the perfect thing to do.

That is the kind of giving that makes Papa smile.

My God set the example of gift giving by giving His Son, Jesus.
Truly the greatest Gift ever given!

Yet, many do not receive the Gift, but ignore it as if it had no value.
They do not realize all that is wrapped up in this priceless Gift.

As the church gathered this morning, we celebrated the LORD'S Supper and one of our elders, Mike,  shared a short meditation with us. 
Since this celebration is a time to reflect on Jesus' great sacrifice, it was appropriate for his thoughts to be about sacrifice.

In the Old Testament the LORD God had instituted sacrifices as a means of atoning for sin.  Something that had to be done over and over, as, unfortunately, sin is not a one time thing in any one's life.
Mike reminded us that Hebrews 9:22 tells us,
"...without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness."
That is how it works, whether we like it or not.  God is God and He sets the rules.
And He adheres to them Himself.

Because He loves us so much He wanted to give us the perfect gift; the Gift of salvation. 
He wanted to open the way for us to have an ongoing intimate relationship with Him by making atonement for our sins, once for all.
He wanted to be our Best Friend.

Jesus is my best friend and as such I seek to give Him the gift that most delights His heart.
The sacrifice of worship.

A sacrifice because we must give our time and attention wholeheartedly to make it true worship.

As I was reading in Exodus this morning, my attention was caught up by Moses' encounter in with God at Mount Horeb.
It involved a burning bush that was not being consumed by the flames.
That is because it was a Holy fire.

God instructed Moses to take his sandals off, as the ground was holy ground.
Holy because God was present.

It got me thinking.

God is omni-present, which means He is everywhere at all times.
So what was this encounter that Moses had?  What made it different?

This was the Manifest Presence of God.
Manifest means to reveal, to make evident.

God is present everywhere, but at times He reveals His Presence.
In Psalm Twenty-Two we learn that God inhabits the praises of His people.

Papa often allows us to sense His Presence in a more tangible way when we give ourselves to worship.

Our gift results in us receiving a gift!

What a joy to read in Zephaniah 3:17
"The LORD your God in the midst of you is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over you with singing."

Our God's gift just keep giving!
He does not stop at salvation, which would be more than enough, but continues to bless us with His Loving Presence.

Papa help me never to overlook the Gift of You!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


The codependency group met here last night.
Our topic was peace.

One of the key verses that we looked at is found in Isaiah's Twenty-sixth chapter, the third verse.
I discovered this verse early in my walk with Jesus and have meditated many a time on it.

Years ago I had found it on a plague at a tag sale; it hung on my kitchen wall until recently.
It may not be on my wall anymore, but it is still on my heart.

It is most familiar to me in the King James translation, in which I first learned it.
"Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee."
Papa doesn't say He might give peace to those who trust Him, no it is a sure thing.
Please note that it is perfect peace.
It is intended to be a constant peace.

Now what does that trust, which is rewarded with peace, look like?

It isn't trusting that He will work things out the way we desire.

It is a trust in His character.
Knowing Who He is gives us confidence that He meant what He said in the Twenty-ninth chapter of  Jeremiah.
"I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."
Once we begin a personal relationship with Jesus it does not mean that it will be smooth sailing from then on. 
It does not mean that if we have trials that the reason is a weak faith.
It does mean that we get to experience God's faithfulness.

This flies in the face of the "Prosperity Gospel" that is being preached in many places.

With Jesus by our side we can be certain that He will supply the strength and wisdom needed for every twist and turn of life.
That gives great peace.

With time we then have our experiences of His faithfulness to add encouragement in the difficult times.

There are quite a number of scripture verses where our God promises to give us peace.
Jesus said He was giving us peace and leaving it with us.

There are also many verses that instruct us to claim that peace.
A gift does us no good unless we claim it as our own.

Last night we encouraged one another to remember His promises and lay hold of them.

This morning I read a portion of Genesis Two.  The devotional "Today in the Word" which is published by Moody Bible made a comment on the passage.
They asserted that though Adam lived in Paradise and had the pleasure of God's company, it was somehow not sufficient.  God recognized what it was.
"It was not good for man to be alone."
The commentary stated that God's intent, from the very beginning, was for humanity to worship and serve Him within the context of community.

I would add that community is also for our own encouragement.

As our group shared last night, our hearts were uplifted.
We need each other.
That is how God designed us.

For those who are wondering how this subject ties into codependency I will tie it in.

Codependency causes our lives to become unmanageable. 
We expend a whole lot of energy trying to control people and situations.
Our minds are always searching for solutions, which we feel compelled to implement.

The more we study the problem, the bigger it gets and the crazier we become!

There is a chorus that I love and often quote.
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."
It is so true.
Whatever we focus on ends up consuming us.
We dare not allow anything and anyone, apart from Jesus, to have our full attention.

The only source of peace is Jesus.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Sovereign

A few of you have inquired about my friend, the bottle man and wonder if there has been any resolution to my self-imposed dilemma.

For a couple of days I had felt out of sorts and I know it was because I was feeling so unsettled over the situation.
I sought Papa's forgiveness and direction.

The forgiveness was given and a decision was made....

Go knocking at his door bearing a gift.
I did, but, no surprise, he did not answer the door.
He never does.

Yet, a weight lifted even though I didn't get to see him.
I had done what I could to please Papa.

So is that it?
No, of course not.

It is pretty certain that my friend saw me, but it is his policy not to answer the door for anyone.
If he expects you, he will wait outside for you.

I am also certain to see him by the side of the road, with his thumb out, hitching a ride, in the very near future.
At that point I will pull over and seek to make amends.

Meanwhile I will wait patiently.

James speaks about patience in the Fifth Chapter of his letter.
"You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the LORD is at hand."
There are two points to be taken and applied from that verse and the ones surrounding it.

First, patience is rewarded.
James uses the farmer for his example.
The farmer knows he cannot hurry the sun, rains, nor growth of the plant.  He does know that it all takes time and that it he will be reaping his harvest in time.
All God's promises take time too, but they are certain...In God's time.
One day all of them will be fulfilled and we will rejoice in seeing it!

Second, patience must extend, not just to circumstances, but to the people in those situations. 
When the LORD does return He will take the role of Judge.  Until then we are not to act as judge of one another.

How does this apply to me and my friend, the bottle man?
I must wait for God's timing, which is perfect.  I can be confident that Papa will orchestrate everything in His grace and wisdom.
I also, dare not look upon this man in judgment.  Many do.  It is very easy to reject one who does not conform to what society deems acceptable.
He has done nothing wrong in this situation, but the flesh would have no trouble judging him and making excuses for oneself.  Someone actually made the suggestion that it really was on him to get to my home and how rude not to answer his door!

I am not going down that path.

Every one of us has baggage.  Stuff that has helped shape us, that has burdened us and colored our thinking.
The way I look at it is that you don't know what I am lugging around anymore that I know yours, so let's give each other a break!

Only One knows about all of it and He wants to lift it all from us and set us free.

That is the message I want to share with my reclusive friend....
That is the message I want to share with each one that crosses my path...
and that is the message I so long to get across, right now, to one young man....

At least six years ago Ray and I attended a party at a friend's home.   This man is very involved in reaching out to those who struggle with addictions.  One of the people at the gathering was a teenage boy.
As soon as I set eyes on this fellow I knew that he was to be added to my prayer list.

The boy looked close to death.  He was hollow-eyed and haggard.
Over the years that have past since that day I have heard reports of him being in and out of jails, rehabs, different states, and hospitals.
So very sad.

Fast forward to a few months ago....
He appeared at the rehab that I volunteer at and to all appearances seemed to be determined to change the course of his life.
During a number of our conversations we talked about how this was to be his turning point and that he dare not let go.

Every once in a while I would catch a glimpse of something under the surface, but chalked it up to the struggle with recovery.

It is a struggle.
Years of wrong thinking, of believing lies and of giving into the self-destruction of addiction does not let go without a struggle.  A major struggle.

This precious guy is no longer in the rehab.  It seems he has been giving into the lies again and refuses to admit it.

I am sitting here looking at a beautiful piece of artwork that graces the wall of my little sanctuary.

A couple of months ago our youngest move into his own apartment and I took over his old room.

It is Papa's and my special place.
Papa has been decorating it....

A chair and a quilt found at a tag sale...
A table forgotten in the attic...
A lovely lamp at another tag sale...

I knew He had special plans for what went on the walls.

I returned from Ray's and my trip to Florida to find a package waiting for me. 
My dear friend had sent it to me from China.

Everything about it lent itself to this special place.

The color of the frame and flowers and especially the Scripture that is its centerpiece.

Habakkuk Three, verse Nineteen is written in both English and Chinese.
The English reads,
"The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights."
My God is my Strength and I know that He wants to be that Strength for this dear young man and for every single person, wherever they are, whatever they face.

The Strength that is ours in Him enables us to climb to the heights...
where the air is clear...
where we can breath deeply...
where we can think clearly...

In His Strength we are set free.
The lies are wiped out by the Truth.
Wrong desires are replaced with the desire of our hearts-Him.

Oh Papa remind my dear young friend of these truths. 
I know he has heard them, but now may he believe with his heart and receive your strength to be set free!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Portrait of Humilty

Continuing to work my way through the New Testament Book of James the topic of humility keeps finding its way into my journal notes.
Here's the profile of humility that has been forming.

Can come as the result of trials
Helps us learn to seek God's wisdom
And to discover our true treasure - Jesus
Aids in giving us proper perspective
Encourages us to examine ourselves honestly
Creates a sincere heart
Keeps us in step with true religion
Sees others through Jesus' eyes and accepts them equally
Allows mercy to take root over judgment
Results in pure motives
Causes us to be careful of our words
Makes no room for jealousy
Receives God's wisdom which is....
                    Pure....peaceable...gentle...willing to yield...full of mercy...
bears good fruits...unwavering...without hypocrisy
Submits to God
Resists the enemy
Draws near to Papa
Is lifted up
Is the mark of a friend of God.

What a picture that draws!
Not just the outline of a life filled with shadows, but one bursting with color, a vibrant life.

This brings to mind the Second Chapter of Philippians which describes the attitude of Jesus, which we are to adopt as our own.
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
I intended to copy about half of that text, but Papa reminded me that the most important part to share is Jesus great sacrifice.
In face of such an example and of such great love, how can we (I) do less than yield everything to Him?!

Oh what a privilege to follow my Savior!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Spiritual Mathematics

Something John the Baptist said in reference to Jesus has been buzzing around in heart and mind...

"He must increase, but I must decrease."

Often the words increase or decrease bring to mind the mathematical symbols for them.  < and >.

They actually mean great than or lesser than.

They way I learned to read them is to picture the wider side being a mouth opening to consume what is alongside it.

If I were going to use it to create a spiritual equation I would have Jesus on the side which denotes greater and me on the side that signifies the lesser. 



That is where I want to be at all times. 

Truthfully, He is always greater.

Greater than all that exists or ever exists.

In reality puny me seems to forget that equation and thus puts too much store in self.

The past few days I have been in superwoman mode.

If you had been watching, you might have caught a glimpse of me as I zipped through stores, created a sumptuous dessert, decorated, set the table, prepared nearly every item that graced our table; cleaning up as I went (of course), got myself put together in time to greet guests and then engage in conversation while putting finishing touches on the meal.

That recitation of accomplishments did not, of course, include the usual tasks that are involved in running a home and managing the needs of my handicapped husband.

Now aren't you impressed?

Don't be.

I burnt myself out.

Honestly, I feel like I was hit by a truck!

I was so busy that I neglected to have my son pick up the bottle man, who might have been waiting for the ride.

The bottle man is the nickname the local kids gave him years ago.  He was known to throw bottles at their cars.  I do believe it was after being provoked by said kids.

He lives in a rough house by himself and walks everywhere he goes.

Actually, he walks in the middle of the road and attempts to hitch rides by getting in a car's way.

Since getting to know him I pick him up.

He is not a threat.

When he gets in the car I do ask Papa to make sure that all creatures leave with him that have arrived with him.  I don't think he has washed in years.  He definitely has not washed his clothing for a very long time.

He has been joining us for holiday meals pretty regularly over the past few years.

Until I forgot to have him picked up.

As I lay in bed last night, I experienced a sense of sadness and disappointment.

I think it was a taste of what our friend felt, as he waited for his ride to a holiday meal.

Many of us have had that sinking feeling at some point in our lives.

We had been forgotten.

I really hate that I was responsible for causing someone to feel that way.

Isn't sad to think that I was so focused on the externals that I forgot a person?

What is also sad is that it is so easy for us mere mortals to do.

We lose our focus.

I had lost my focus.

If Jesus had been running the show without interference from me, the man would have definitely not been forgotten.  However, I was too busy with the entertaining part to remember all whom I was to host.

Many years ago I read a book by Karen Burton Maines, "Open Heart, Open Home."

It spoke to me and I made its message my mantra when it came to receiving people into our home.

It taught me the difference between entertaining and hospitality.

Entertaining is putting on a show that ends up wearing you out.

Hospitality is giving your guest the message 'pull up a chair and join my life.'

My mantra slipped a little yesterday, if a mantra can do such a thing.

The bottom line is really that I forgot to look to my LORD and let Him direct the process.  Maybe I would have still done much of the work, but, just maybe, He would have helped me to approach it in a way that wouldn't have left me limp!  I know He definitely would have enabled me to remember all my guests!

He has called me to follow, to look to Him for direction.

In The Message, Eugene Peterson interprets John's words this way:

"This is the assigned moment for Him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines."

John the Baptist had been to main event for a while.  People were flocking to him.

Until Jesus came on the scene.

John's disciples were concerned that their leader would be outshone.

John knew that was appropriate and inevitable.

He knew Jesus was greater than him and worthy to centerstage.

I want Jesus to take center stage in my life.


The sidelines work for me.

I think I have mentioned that I visit a drug/alcohol rehab on Friday afternoons.

Each visit Papa confirms afresh that it is where He wants me.

It is a joy.

However, last Friday was a challenge.

Last week I met with opposition from the enemy. There was a spirit of dis-ease in the place; tensions were high. Two men almost resorted to blows!

Most of the residents could not settle down and they were roaming around from room to room.

Meanwhile, I was drawn into what I thought, at first, was a conversation about the Living God. In reality it was a young Muslim man’s attempt to bait me and expose the error of my ways!

He was not open to discussion, but spoke over my words. This young man became more and more unsettled. I found it unsettling!

Each week I have the opportunity to present the Good News to my friends. This time I had brought a DVD from Jim Cybala’s Bible study on Prayer. One of the segments was the testimony of a heroin addict, who was literally prayed into the kingdom.

Amazingly, all came into the room just as the story began.

Many were moved.

My Muslim friend sat in a thinly veiled posture. I thought he might leap up at any moment.

Before I left for the day I thanked him for talking with me. He seemed surprised.

Fast forward to today.

I told Papa that I was totally wiped out and it was all up to Him; I had to decrease, He had to take center stage.

He smiled.

He had me bring a copy of the Gospel of John for my antagonistic friend.

He also had a message for one of the men who had given me a few requests for prayer.

The air was electrified.

Oh my, the energy was coming from me!

But there was also a receptivity in the air!

When I had arrived my Muslim friend was one of the first people I saw.  He seemed restless.

I asked him how his week had been and he told me that he could not settle down all week. 

Praise God!

He was surprised when I told him that I had something for him.

Later on he received the Gospel willingly and then we had an amazing conversation.

He was so much more open to listen and receive what I had to say.

Papa lead my thoughts and we spoke about sacrifice and atonement.

Before we had conversed today he had a few chores to tend to, but he kept his eye on me while he tended his responsibilities.

Papa is at work.

As I shared the message that Jesus had for all my friends today and then prayed over all of them, I sensed the Presence and Power of God.

Oh yes, He definitely must increase, while I decrease!

Now Papa how do I reach out to the bottle man??

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

What stirs us to be thankful?
To begin with we need to recognize all we have.
It is too easy to take a whole lot of what we have for granted.
Especially if you live in the same country as I do.
The Land of Plenty.

Life is so full and can fill our thoughts and cloud our vision to such an extent that we miss seeing the simple gifts that should be evident every day.

Once we do see them, I believe that we need to realize that we did not gain all of them under our own power.

To be thankful means that there is someone to thank.
Someone cared enough to share....

Their time and energy.
Their resources and abilities.

I have much for which to be thankful and many to thank.
The list is long.

I try to make it a practice of expressing thanks every day and not just once a year.  However, I am certain that I miss the opportunity more than I can to think!

Of course, there is One who really deserves all the thanks for every detail.
The purpose of the very first Thanksgiving Day was for the purpose of setting aside a time to thank Him and to celebrate His blessings.

It is because of Him that anyone anywhere is moved to be kind and caring.
It is because of Him that we have the strength and ability to do anything for ourselves or others.
Hey, we cannot even take another breath apart from Him.

Many will celebrate this day, but I wonder how many will turn their eyes and hearts in gratitude to the One Who makes it all possible.

Psalm One Hundred is known as a Psalm of Thanksgiving.  The words are a fitting close to this posting.

"Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.  Serve the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing.  Know that the LORD Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him; bless His Name.  For the LORD is good; His loving kindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness to all generations."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Being Watched Over

On the rare occasion I tune into a Christian radio station while driving from one errand to another.
Today was one of those times.
Just in time to hear a comment that got me thinking.....

"Don't we all want to know that we are being watched over?"
The speaker, R C Sproul made the distinction between being watched by someone like Big Brother and someone who cares watching over us.

My mind explored this further.

This kind of caring concern implies a close relationship rather than an impersonal acquaintance.  It also implies that we are never alone, nor forgotten.
I get the picture of a caring parent watching over their little one.

That is what this blog's previous posting was about.  Being seen, really seen.

We can all tell when someone is really seeing us.
They listen.
You have their attention.
They are listening with their heart.

Papa sees us and listens with His Heart.

This kind of listening communicates love.

On a number of occasions I have witnessed a person's response when they realize that they are being seen and heard and that it is with love.
They soften.
I love it!

Earlier today I read an article in my favorite magazine, World.
Mindy Belz wrote this one page article on William Levi, a Sudanese man.  The man had escaped from captivity by Sudan's Islamic army.
He did not grow bitter.

William knew that he was loved, first by his God and secondly by his family.
His family bid him farewell with their blessing and the assurance that their prayers would follow him wherever he went.
He knew he was seen and heard even in the midst of devastating circumstances.

William Levi made it to the United States over time, gained an education and career and then launched Operation Nehemiah.
He did not forget those that were left behind.
The ministry seeks to rebuild walls-the walls of family and community.
So people can know they are seen and heard.

First Peter, Chapter Five, verse seven says,
"Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you."
His caring is to show concern according to the Greek, which is the language the Old Testament was originally written.

What a gift to know that our God not only sees us, but is concerned for us.
He watches over us and listens to our hearts.
After all, He is our Papa!

Once we experience this truth, it is then time to extend such a gift to others!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

To See and Be Seen

Ray and I took a trip to Home Depot this evening.  It was my third visit to the place this past week.
As they say the third time's the charm, thanks to a very helpful woman in the window treatment department.
I learned my new thing for the day, thanks to her.  I never knew there was so much involved in choosing a set of blinds for one's window!

Having said the above I need to say that this posting doesn't concern the helpful woman, nor her employer. And it is a bit of a stretch to say the blinds tie in, but I am going to attempt it!

We needed blinds so neighbors and passing cars do not have the option of viewing what goes on in our kitchen once it is dark. The window is a bow so it would be a full view and I'm afraid they might find it so entertaining that they would make a regular habit of watching!
Well, maybe not, but I do prefer no one being able to see me, if I can't see them. 
I want their vision blocked.
There I made it fit!

It was our trip to the store and then back home that got me thinking about seeing.

Recently I have noticed that I do not see that well when driving at night.  Tonight was no exception. 
The rain amplified my problem.

I started to consider what this would mean for Ray and I, if there isn't a remedy for my vision problem.
We would be home bound once the sun goes down.  Yikes!

A number of years ago I had the same problem and a dear friend, who is a doctor, recommended flaxseed oil.  After a few weeks of taking the stuff I realized that my night-vision was much improved.
A while ago I stopped buying the product thinking I could save a little money.  Bad move.
Guess what I am buying tomorrow?

My musings about seeing did not stop there.....

There is a convalescent home a couple miles from our home.  I am not certain what the criteria is to be accepted as a resident, but I have my ideas.
Quite often I see older men walking to town from the facility. 
They walk alone with their head down.
There is always a brown bag in their hands for the return trip.  The bag gives all appearance of being from the local liquor store.

How lonely they seem to me.


That's what their body language says to me.

I am wondering if Papa wants me to visit that place to let them know that they do not go unnoticed?

We'll see, but really how different are these men from so many in this world?

I study people.  How they hold themselves tells a lot. 
Their mouths alone say much without uttering one word.
Down turned and grim. 
Lips pressed together.
There are many more of those than ones that reveal smile lines and an openness to their world.
Not many are comfortable with themselves.

I know.
I was one of them.

Afraid to allow anyone to really see you.
Surely they would reject you, if they could see who you really were.

Self-protection is the watch word.
The lies had done their job and now you need to hide so no one will see.
What is doubly sad is that you dare not allow anyone in and thus none of your relationships run very deep.

I would still be hiding out if I hadn't been startled by the Extravagant Love of my Savior.

What a surprise it was to learn that not only was I seen, but in the seeing I was and am loved!
Such joy to have such a One lift your head and fill your heart!

This knowledge has improved my sight.
Maybe not physically, but how I see others and myself.

It is my prayer that everyone, everywhere would experience the joy of knowing they are seen with love by the Almighty God!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Pupil of His Eye

A few of us sat before the LORD on Saturday morning for an extended time of prayer.
We worshipped Him marvelling over His faithfulness and care of us.
At one point, I thanked Him for His watchful care; that we are never out of His sight.
With those words fresh from my lips, the Holy Spirit brought to mind a verse from The Seventeenth Psalm,
"Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings."
The apple of the eye is its pupil, which I knew, so it stirred an old, old memory.

When I was a very little girl, I was known to look deeply into my grandpa's eyes and exclaim,
"I see me in your eyes!"
What joy bubbled up in my heart over the realization that if I could physically look into the eyes of my God, I would see me!  That is how focused He is on me!!
That is how focused He is on you!!

Psalm One Hundred and Thirty-Nine tells us that..
"You are intimately acquainted with all my ways."
Nothing escapes His notice!

Out of love, His great love He watches over us intently, yet we read in Habakkuk One, Thirteen,
"You are too pure to look at evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor."
A dilemma, if you will, for our God!
A solution was set into motion...
A Sacrifice was made....

Enter Jesus!

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us."

Oswald Chambers said that the forgiveness of our sin came at a great cost to our God and to grasp that is to be constrained by the love of God....
Just where He wants us...
In His loving embrace!

So as you look to Him, look closely and maybe you will catch a glimpse of you in His eyes!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Truth in the midst of Turmoil

Most Friday's I hang out at a drug/alcohol rehab.
They call me "the craft lady", which makes Papa and I chuckle...

Crafts are not my thing.
Small motor control has never been one of my strong points.
However, my God loves to use the weak things to confound the strong..
So He has me there under the guise of supervising crafts.

The staff knows that my visits have little to do with such things, which causes them to smile too.

Out of the closet that bears the sign "Debbie's Closet" we do lug all the bins of craft items every week.
What is in the bins depends quite a lot upon what donations I have received lately.
(Right now a young woman is hoping that I acquire some yarn and a crochet needle.)

The most popular activity is that of jewelry making.
A couple of years ago I hit the jackpot at a tag sale.  I became so excited when I saw all the plastic containers of beads, that the owner gave them to me!  :)

After all the goodies are spread out and selected from I wander around with a sack of candy.  While each resident selects their two pieces I get to touch base with them.
It never fails that one or more need some focused attention.
This is what it is all about!

Last week, as soon as I walked in, Papa pointed out one young fellow to me that needed a word of encouragement, which He supplied.
What a joy to see the change in his countenance.  Papa knew exactly what he needed to hear and he received it with joy!

This week's visit was one of the more difficult ones.
I could sense the tension in the air.
No one could settle down.
There were a few harsh words among them.
At one point I thought two of the guys were going to come to blows!

Even once everything appeared to settle down there was a spirit of turmoil under the surface.

As I walked around touching base with the individuals, one of the young men called me to come sit and talk about God.

Sadly his motive was not to learn anything.  He was not open to one word from me.  This fellow was poised to argue every word that came out of my mouth.
I did not realize his intention at first.

He asked me who God was to me.
That was easy.  I answered, "Savior."
That is first and foremost.

After a few comments between us I learned that he does not believe we are born sinners, nor that we need a Savior.  We just have to choose to do right.  Some choose that and some choose to do wrong.  It is that simple.

I asked him whether he knew anyone that always made the right choices and he said yes.  My response was that then he did not really know them.
He was insistent.

I do not argue.

If you want a debate, you've got the wrong lady.
If you want to discuss and share thoughts, great!

I eased out of our conversation after encouraging him to read through all of scripture to gain the whole story.  Simply taking a few verses out of context never works.

A couple of my friends called to me asking what I would be sharing today.  Stacy shouted to them that my theories had holes in them, but no one paid him any attention.
They need hope and they know that is what I offer them!

Toward the end of each visit I always share some Words from Papa.  This week I came with a DVD that contained the testimony of a man whom God delivered from a very destructive way of life.
The enemy obviously did not think much of this and was causing as much trouble and distraction that he could.
Though the majority of the residents had been roaming around and moving in and out of the area, they now had all found their way back in the room with the television.  Thank You, Papa!
So contrary to the enemy's wishes, the DVD was viewed by them all!
Many were moved.
Stacy had nothing more to say.

Papa will continue to speak each heart, including Stacy's!

"Greater is He, Who is in you, than he who is in the world!"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Abundant Life

I was just sitting here reviewing a fund raising letter that was filled with words such as more and increasing.
Of course the words were referring to the needs that confront the ministry on a daily basis.
The needs of those that often do not even have the essentials of life.

The ministry is ACTS4, which is a local outreach that seeks to meet those essential needs.
The greatest need for most is for Jesus.
He's the One who is the motivating factor at ACTS4.
Jesus desires to touch each life that comes their way and those involved are moved by His love.

On a regular basis whole families are clothed and homes are furnished.
However, they don't stop there!
Clothing and furniture wear out and they never satisfy the longing of one's heart and soul.
The staff and volunteers of ACTS4 share the wonderful news of the Savior, The Son of God through whom our greatest need can be met.

As I thought about this I thought of Jesus' Words found in the Tenth chapter of John, the tenth verse,
"The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly."
What does He mean?  What does that abundant life look like?

It is a life full of God... 
A life lived with the knowledge that God is with you, loves you and will never desert you...

It is a life where Papa gives you all the things that others failed to give and so much more...
Unconditional love...
The privilege of being able to love Him back...
An intimate relationship with Him...
The ability to become all He intended you to be...
Eternal life...

It is a life where God is always speaking to you..teaching you...blessing you...
It is my prayer that I always look closely at His Words and hold them closely to my heart,

It is a life where you can have a pure religion that is reflected in our lives...

It is a life where obedience brings great blessing...
What a joy to sense His pleasure!

It is a life where even the mundane, ordinary things gain significance as we see them through His eyes and perform them to His glory...

It is a life where you experience the truth that you cannot out give God. And when you get that you are eager to walk in it!

"Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."
That is what I would tell those who can help support the ministry of ACTS4.
That is what I love to tell those who seek support from the ministry of ACTS4.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Divine Designs

Papa has given me a few things to chew on this week through the words of Oswald Chambers.

"It requires the culture of spiritual discipline to see God in every detail."
"Be ready to discover the divine designs everywhere!"
"There is something amazingly humbling, particularly to our religious conceit, in being loyal to God."
What a gift to be able to recognize the Hand of our God in all the moments of our life.
We need to know what that Hand looks like to be able to recognize it.
To cultivate that does take discipline.

Get to know Him.
More and more.
It takes time and focus.
As our relationship deepens, so will our eyesight.

Not only will we notice His Hand, but we will begin to connect the dots and see that there is a design to all of it.
He is the Master Designer!

Ah yes, religious conceit...

Oh, I am so spiritual...

I read my Bible and am well versed.
I pray.  My prayers cover many people and situations.
I attend church regularly!  Besides that I am on committees and am involved in ministry!
And do you know how long I have been a Christian??

Yet, in all that we can be disloyal to Him.

In Matthew Sixteen, verse twenty-four we read,
"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'"
Following Him gets messy.
It takes you beyond the church walls.
It requires you to live what you have read in the Scriptures.
And your prayers get taken over by His Spirit, which means praying will never be the same!
Life will never be the same.

To which I say Hallelujah and Glory!!

So does Jim Cymbala.
My bible study group has been using his study entitled "When God's People Pray."
The man is anointed and Papa has been using this study to speak to our hearts.

I am so amazed by my wonderful Savior.   When He wants to make a point, He pulls all the stops out!
The study on prayer has simply underscored everything else He has been saying to me.

He threw some music into the mix too.

At the retreat that I attended recently someone brought in a CD by David Kauffman.  It's title is "Surrender."

I borrowed the CD and cannot get enough. 
Each and every song ministers to my heart.

You see, as we open up our hearts and lives to this Amazing God, He ministers to us in love.
Wrapped up in all that divine love how can you do anything but be a loyal follower.

The Hand of the Almighty God continues to fashion unique designs for those who loyally follow to discover.

What treasures await us!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Cause for Worship

"Worship is when you're aware that what you've been given is far greater than what you can give.  Worship is the awareness that were it not for His touch, you'd still be hobbling and hurting, bitter and broken.  Worship is the half-glazed expression on the parched face of a desert pilgrim as he discovers that the oasis is not a mirage."
Thank you Max Lucado.

Here's the rub....
We have to stop and reflect on what we have been given.
We need to remember where we came from; who we were.
We must seek the refreshment that the Oasis offers.

If we don't, we cheat ourselves out of so much that is ours in Jesus Christ.

Papa brought my attention to a couple of specifics this morning, as I reflected on what is mine because of His Son.

I am being made whole, complete, brand new.  Our God makes all things new.  He doesn't patch us up, but begins a new work in us.
Paul closed his first letter to the Thessalonians with a blessing.
"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ."
Is that something I can do for myself?  Of course not.
Paul followed with this reminder:
"Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass."
That's one of my life verses.  It is such an encouragement to me.
He called me to Himself and He has called me to be holy and whole.  He will see to it!

So I can say as Paul did in Galatians Two, verse twenty:
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me."
Right there I read of my new life, in Christ!  This means Jesus will be seen in and through me! 
That is my fervent desire!!

There is so much more, but here is just one more....

He has given His Word to set me free.

This morning my pastor spoke from Leviticus Twenty-six.
He tied it into a number of verses including John Chapter Eight where Jesus told some of those who believed in Him that knowing the truth sets you free.

Our God, the One who is Holy and Almighty loves us so much that He desires for us to be free.
Free to
enjoy Him
and life
and one another.
He doesn't desire to restrict us to make us miserable, but gives us His law so we will be free from all that would drag us down and cause us to mistake the Oasis for a mirage.

I, for one, do not want to miss out on anything my God has for me.
And I definitely do not want to be hobbled.....
Cause I like dancing for and with Him too much!

The old hymn by Charles Wesley is playing in my mind:
"And can it be that I should gain

An interest in the Savior’s blood?

Died He for me, who caused His pain—

For me, who Him to death pursued?

Amazing love! How can it be,

That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Amazing love! How can it be,

That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:

Who can explore His strange design?

In vain the firstborn seraph tries

To sound the depths of love divine.

’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,

Let angel minds inquire no more.

’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;

Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above

So free, so infinite His grace—

Emptied Himself of all but love,

And bled for Adam’s helpless race:

’Tis mercy all, immense and free,

For O my God, it found out me!

’Tis mercy all, immense and free,

For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—

I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,

That whispers all my sins forgiven;

Still the atoning blood is near,

That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.

I feel the life His wounds impart;

I feel the Savior in my heart.

I feel the life His wounds impart;

I feel the Savior in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;

Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;

Alive in Him, my living Head,

And clothed in righteousness divine,

Bold I approach th’eternal throne,

And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Bold I approach th’eternal throne,

And claim the crown, through Christ my own."

As King David would say...

"Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!"


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fancier Footwork

This morning Papa showed up in His dancing shoes and swept me right off my feet!

He makes me giddy! The joy of my salvation is on overdrive…

There are times, when I open His Word and it touches the very depths of my heart and soul. This is one of those times.

At the beginning of every year my LORD and I spend time conferring over what scripture I should be claiming and then praying for each of the Reynolds’ clan. He neither waited for the end of the year nor for me to ask this time.

It all started earlier this week.

Each day of the week I , of course, pray for all the family, but with a bit more focus on one person or another. This week the Holy Spirit kept redirecting my prayers to new perspectives, which came from fresh scripture.

So encouraging! A reminder of His love for all my dear family.

Saturday is the day He and I focus on me.

True to how He has been leading these past few days, Papa revealed the emphasis that I am to have regarding what He desires for His girl.

"Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.”

That is Romans Twelve, verse twelve.

As I read this verse, I thought to myself that I do seek to practice these things.

-He has always kept the hope He gives fresh in my heart.

-He also always encourages and comforts me to keep handing on.

-And I know He has called me to pray.

However, at this time, Papa has taken these three and implanted them more deeply into my spirit.

As I received this gift from Him, the joy was more than I could contain!

I have asked Him to write them on my heart….


It may be painful at times, but the pain will be wrapped in grace and infused with joy!

I hope it is a fitting epitaph for me when my life on earth is over.

The dance steps get more intricate, but my Papa always takes the lead!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Part of the Equation

This day marks Ray’s and my thirty-third wedding anniversary. 

They have been full years.  There have been many challenges and blessings; many opportunities to draw nearer to Papa.

In C S Lewis' final book of his Narnia series, “The Final Battle” Aslan (a Christ figure) calls out to his followers to…

“….come further up, come further in.”

That call has been a constant in my life.  Jesus has used all that has filled our life to call to me, over and over.

I praise His Holy Name!

Many watching from the sidelines of our life together were certain that our marriage couldn’t last or definitely would not be anything of substance.

They neglected to factor God into the equation!  Nothing is impossible with God!  Even when He has to work with two, very rough around the edges, individuals!

Papa tells us through Isaiah, in the fifty-fifth chapter, the ninth verse,

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways.”

I have sought to pray as David prayed in Psalm twenty-five ,

“Make me know Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.”

Something I am learning is that everything that comes into our life is intended to become a blessing.

We are called to respond by blessing our God, but as David, as king, prayed in First Chronicles, all that we have comes from Him.  All we can offer Him is what He has given us.

Once anything is in our hands it seems to become marred.  However, if we offer it back to Him, He restores it, making it new and beautiful.

The gift of faith enables us to see the beauty before and as it is being formed.

Being His child, being able to address Him as Papa, Daddy, reflects the kind of relationship the blood of Jesus has brought me into. 

A relationship of intimacy, tenderness, dependence and complete lack of fear or anxiety.

So as He is  tending to our transformation  individually and as a couple, we can rest in Him!

Whatever the next thirty-three years holds, I know Who will be part of the equation!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Assaulted or Refreshing?

“LORD, teach me to listen.  The times are noisy and my ears are weary with the thousand raucous sounds which continuously assault them.  Give me the spirit of the boy Samuel when he said to Thee, ‘Speak , for Thy servant heareth.’”
That is from a little calendar that offers excerpts from A. W. Tozer’s  “The Pursuit of God.”
The man died in the year nineteen hundred and sixty-three. Imagine what he would say if he was living now?
His words resonate with me.  My ears are under assault too.  So are my eyes and it makes my brain overload!
I made the mistake of setting my cell phone up so that status updates from Face Book are directed to it.
Big Mistake!!   In no time at all I have dozens of the updates in my message folder.  My phone flashes until I clear them.  One at a time…
I cannot figure out, as yet, how to stop this assault, but I will!
My email box is a little easier to manage….I just hit that nice little “x” at the top of the page.  I dare not read everything that comes my way!
As for the Internet itself, it could swallow you whole!
One thing I am learning is that I cannot let all this technology consume me.  I do not want to be a slave to any of it. 
I already have a Master.
And I want to be free to hear HIs Voice.
Discipline and balance.  They are the key.
I am determined to use all the technology as handy tools, not as consuming passions.
I have a consuming passion.  His Name is Jesus.
This week I am hanging out in Philemon.  It is a little epistle of Paul’s.  Just twenty-five verses in all, but they are overflowing with examples to follow.  Examples to adopt for one’s own life.
I have been chewing on verse seven.
“For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.”
Oh, how I want to be one who refreshes the hearts of the saints! 
Not only do I desire to refresh my fellow believers, but everyone who come across my path.
We learn from that verse that it is Philemon’s love that did the refreshing.  But where did he get such love? 
From Papa, of course.
When we receive Him, we receive His love.  As we draw nearer to Him and learn from Him, we will be filled to overflowing with His love.
Yes! Overflowing all over everybody in our lives!
It was that love that gave Paul such joy and comfort.  He know he could count on that love.
Not many know that kind of love. 
Those of us who do, must guard our hearts and minds.  We dare not allow the assault to continue. 
To sustain such love and to actually overflow we must hear from Him continually.  We must be able to hear Him.
So instead of surfing the web, I think I’ll surf my Bible and listen for His Voice!