Friday, April 29, 2011


Sometimes I wonder if I don't have a touch of ADD.  I find myself with may thoughts and ideas running around in my mind; attempting to accomplish much all at once.  Of course, a number of those thoughts and impulses are accounted for by the number of books I am engaged with at any given time!

I thought I'd share a few snippets from the current books and the related impressions.

I am part of a book club which met last night.  The book we discussed was "Left To Tell," an autobiography by Immaculee Illibagiza.  It is the story of her discovery of God in the midst of the Rawanda genocide which resulted in the destruction of many of her people.   She and eight other women were hidden away for ninety-one days in a bathroom the size of a small closet! Over and over men searched the building looking for her, in particular, with machetes in hand.
In spite of and maybe because of the topic it was a very uplifting, inspiring book.  How is that possible?  Immaculee's faith in the midst of her situation stirs the reader's heart.  God honored and nurtured that faith.
In that bathroom Immaculee was engaged in an intense spiritual battle.  She and the other women would hear the voices of those seeking to kill her or the voices of others outside the window speaking of the atrocities they had and would commit.  The sounds of innocents dying were heard too; an elderly lady that was hacked to death; a baby, whose mother had been cut down, left to die by the side of the road.   
She naturally hated those murderer and would ask God to kill them. However, as she would pray and ask God's protection, the enemy would point out her hypocrisy. How could she ask for God's protection when she harbored such hate in her own heart?
In time she released all she held in her heart to Papa.  She would need to do that again.
Hers and Papa's relationship deepened and became more and more precious to her.  Once released and out in the world, participating in life again, she would long for the solitude and intimacy of what she shared with Papa in that bathroom.  Immaculee recognized the broader struggle that faces us in our desire to stay intimately connected with Papa while living in this world.  She made the decision to seek God above all else and to keep her trust in Him alone.  A decision that each one of us needs to make for ourselves.  A decision that both Immaculee and we will need to make again and again.

I could write more, but want to leave the details for you to discover for yourself, should you decide to get this book.

Book number two is on CD, fourteen discs to be exact.  It is "Great Expectations," by Charles Dickens.  I love Dickens!  Last year I picked up "A Tale of Two Cities" for a road trip.  I couldn't believe that this was the book that had bored me in high school.  Of course,  "The Beatles" might have had something to do with it.....

Well, I am thoroughly enjoying the adventures of Pip!  I love how Dickens turns a phrase.  One grabbed a hold of me yesterday.  Pip's new found friend, Herbert, was commenting upon Pip's Christian name of Philip.  He decided he didn't like it, as it brought to mind the sort of person that he would not like as a friend.  One of his comments was that he imagined that he would be the type of fellow that was
"so avaricious that he locked up his cake until the mice ate it."
I have this thing about setting things aside to use for "special occasions."  Who knows if we will ever have the opportunity to enjoy those particular occasions.  To me it is a waste of the item!
I enjoy wearing rings.  Much to the chagrin of a dear friend, who is also my jeweler, I wear everyone of them all the time.  If the thing is too delicate to be worn every day, don't even think of giving it to me.  It won't last.  I will wear it out!
Years ago a man, who ministered in the remote area of Irian Jaya, Indonesian spoke at a conference I attended.  He shared how he and his family had a lovely tea set, which they kept for special occasions. They kept it up on a high shelf to protect it.  One day they were informed that they needed to get ready to be evacuated, as the political climate was worsening.  They would be helicoptered out and could not take but one small bag each.  They realized that they would have to leave their precious tea set.  In the end they did not have to leave.  Settling back in,the decision was made that they would bring that tea set down and use it in celebration to Jesus every day.  I remember him raising the cup in his hand and saying "Here's to Jesus!"
That story resonated with me.

(I need to share something here).  Matt and Mindy got a new kitten last night and I had kept her with me while I read and prayed, but have now entrusted her to Ray, as she was fascinated by the keyboard and was trying to add her own thoughts.  Of course, they were in kitty language and totally indecipherable!

Okay, back to Dickens.  I love how he not only develops his characters, but has no trouble allowing them to be perfectly flawed human beings.  Not a one is left to appear above reproach.  Even when the character is of a noble and pure heart we are still able to recognize their struggles and imperfections.  I guess what I am saying is that Dickens truly and fully develops his characters.  He is a master writer!

On to book number three!  This one is by Beth Moore.  I do believe I have mentioned it before, "Get out of that Pit."  I had bought this book, along with several others when YWAM was having a fabulous book sale.  I chose it because I have found that Beth always has something worthwhile to say, not because I felt any particular draw to the topic.  However, it has become a great resource for my co-dependency group!  Isn't Papa so wise and faithful?!
This book is chocked full of good insights.  The bottom line of the message is do not let anything get  in between you and God; when you are in close connection with Him, you will be free indeed!  Before I can share anything it must first speak to me.  We cannot impart truth which does not ring true in our own hearts.
Many pages are highlighted with all kinds of particulars, but that is for sharing with my group!

Lastly, we come to book four, "Barabbas," by Par Lagerkvist.  It is a translation, as the original book was written in Swedish.  It was written the year I was born, which has no significance to me, but just to say that it is not a modern writing.  The author was an agnostic at one point in his life.  I would be interested to know whether he remained so.

I first came across this book in my ninth grade English class.  All I remember is that it had encouraged my faith.  For quite a few years I have been meaning to find it and finally did so this week.  It was in the Connecticut library system.
So far I have only read the first chapter, but would have gladly read more, if life had allowed.  Barabbas was the one that the crowd chose to be freed instead of Jesus.
In the opening of the book Barabbas is stunned and confused to find himself free.  After coming to himself he begins to follow "that man."  That man was Jesus, the One who took his place.  I find it interesting to view anything from a fresh perspective.  Barabbas will be a fresh one for me.

So four books, four different topics, and four different authors; yet God has had His Hand on each one.  I know He has something for me in each one; something to teach and shape me more into who He intends me to be.  After all, He is the Master Character-Developer of all time!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rising from the Ashes

Each month I receive a copy of "Our Daily Bread", a devotional from RBC Ministries.  Enclosed with the pamphlet is an article written by Mart DeHaan.  Many times he begins with "I've been thinking..."

Well, I've been thinking myself....

One the topics that I've been giving some thought to is the subject of denial.
It can permeate every and any area of our lives.
There is always a lie under the surface motivating this insidious destroyer.
A lie which we have accepted as truth.

The result is loss and disappointment. 

We buy into the lie and cheat ourselves out of the Truth that will set us free!

In the first chapter of Romans we are told that God has revealed Himself in and through nature.  Each one of us has had a revelation of and from God.  It is our choice whether we receive it and go deeper in knowing Him and receiving Him or settle for the lie that there is no God or, at best, a very distant one. 
We will be judged accordingly; we will either be declared free or imprisoned eternally.

Denial speaks the lie to our hearts that we must have power; we must be in control; we must dominate.
We dare not surrender.  We dare not change!  The belief that we have control is an illusion.

In the account of Jesus' death and burial in Matthew twenty-seven the final few verses speak of the religious leaders going to Pilate and asking that he make Jesus' tomb secure.  They referred to Jesus as 'the deceiver' and recalled His words that after three days He would rise again. 
Their response, at the time Jesus spoke those words, was as if they didn't know He was referring to His body, but spoke of the temple.
Is this denial?  Certainly.  Though they knew the truth they ignored it out of self-protection.  Their positions and way of life were in jeopardy!  Ignore, ignore, ignore or lose control!

We all want to live and live fully.  Yet, we hold back out of fear.  Denial specializes in fear, fear of failure, of losing control, of rejection. 

We need to hear the words the angels spoke to the women at the empty tomb, "Do not seek the living among the dead!"  We look for life among the dead things of our past and present, the dead things of this world.
I am learning to seek the Living One without having to shuffle through the debris of dead things.

His Spirit stirs my heart to true worship.  Praise and honor to our God results in a vision for the future beginning in my little world.  Life rises up from the ashes of the lies.
He is Risen!  And He has called us to join Him in that resurrection life!
Praise His Glorious Name!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Reflections

As I looked up from my readings and glanced out the window I saw a man jogging by on the road in front of our home.  I wondered if he realized what day this was and really grasped its significance.

The other evening we had dinner with a few friends.  At one point one of them shared an experience from their job which reflected the fact that Good Friday didn't truly have any significance for her.
It made me sad.

You see, this season is my favorite of all.  It was during this season that I met and fell in love with Jesus, my Savior.  It is during this season that I (we) receive an opportunity, once again, to reflect more deeply on what He has done for me (us) and Who it is that did so.

I have been quiet these past few days, I think, because I love to treasure the significance of this week, what it means for me and all those around me.

Thursday evening Ray and I attended our church's Maundy Thursday service.  It is a simple service; scripture reading, songs and communion.  It is an time to reflect on the Last Supper and what followed.

The first reading was from John, chapter thirteen.  It depicts that last Passover meal that Jesus shared with his twelve disciples.  One passage has always stood out for me, it is found in verses three and four:
"Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God, and was going back to God, rose from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself about."
He knew who He was, what He was about and where He belonged and was accepted.  A picture of a totally whole person.
This totally whole person, the Son of the Living God knew what awaited Him a very few hours from then, but His focus was on His disciples and what He wanted to impress upon them.  Jesus, the One all should serve, made Himself as one of the lowliest of servants and washed His disciples' feet.  He wanted them, and us, to realize and remember that in His Kingdom we are to put others first.  He is the example, as He set aside all His privileges for our sakes.

I had the privilege of reading another of  the portions of scripture.  It was from the nineteenth chapter of John, the first twenty-two verses.  As I read, I believe I felt the emotions of my God, the emotions that accompanied having to watch His Son mistreated, mocked and then crucified.

Good Friday is a solemn day and, if not for Easter Sunday, it would be a day where despair leaves its final mark.  However, Glory! Glory!, on that particular Sunday, as the sun rose, so did the Son of God!!

I read something this morning by Max Lucado that sums the whole story up.  I will leave you with his words:
His Name is Jesus by Max Lucado


He could hold the universe in His palm
but gave it up to float
in the womb of a maiden.
Christ became one of us.
and He did so to redeem all of us.


The man...
who spoke with such thunderous authority
and loved with such childlike humility.
The life of Jesus Christ
is a message of hope,
a message of mercy,
a message of life in a dark world.


The palm that held the universe
took the nail of a soldier.
On the eve of the cross,
Jesus made His decision.
He would rather
go to hell for you
than go to heaven without you.


the moment He removed the stone,
He removed all reason for doubt.
Christ's resurrection
is an exploding flare
announcing to all sincere seekers
that it is safe to believe.

We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. I John 2:1
Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.   Revelation nineteen, verse one.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


To develop a closer relationship with someone takes time and attention.  It is no different in regard to our connection with our God.
There are a few essential components to connecting with Papa on an ever deepening level.

I have heard it compared to a three-legged stool.  Take one leg away and it takes much effort to keep from toppling.
What are these three essentials?
Prayer, scripture and fellowship.

Let me begin with fellowship.  This is the sharing with others who are within His Kingdom. 
Just last night the codependency group met at my home.  There were only four of us, as a number of others were unable to attend. 
We may have been a small group, but that didn't hinder us from encouraging one another in the LORD.  Simply sharing our struggles and receiving insight and support in return was a blessing.   The focus was on our God and His love for us.  The reminders washed over us like a gentle breeze on a hot day and captured our hearts anew.
We discovered in the fifty-fourth chapter of Isaiah that God's love surpasses His judgment; He would rather love than judge us.  Then in the sixty-second chapter we read that His love rejoices over us.  Turning to the Song of Solomon His love was described as fierce and beyond price.  It is an insult to Him when anyone tries to buy it.  This love is ours!

That is one little example of the benefit of fellowship.  Of course, at other times fellowship is simply sharing a cup of coffee or meal and enjoying one another's company without ever opening up the Bible.  Yet, His love and truth are always in evidence.  After all, His love marks true fellowship.

Prayer and scripture go hand-in-hand.
While reading "Today in the Word" I was reminded of what the approach to prayer, that I use, is called, lectio divina.
It entails four steps.
First read through the scripture.
Then read it again, but this time aloud.
The third step is to mediate upon it. 
Lastly, discuss with Papa whatever issues arose during the reading and meditating.
This involves more than talking, one needs to listen and then rest in Him.

Whatever the issue is, whether my own struggle or sin, or a concern for another, I picture bringing it before my God and then resting in the fact that it has been entrusted to the One who is completely willing and able to resolve it.

When praying for myself or someone else I love to weave my prayer around scripture.  I gain confidence as God's Word reminds me of who my God is and what He has promised to do.

As we invest our time in these three essentials, we will grow in our love and knowledge of our God.  Our God will eagerly reveal more of Himself and our relationship with the Living God will deepen.
What is more essential that this?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The King

It was my turn to lead the Monday night Bible study that I attend.  Our group is using Ann Spangler's guide, "The Names of God."  There are fifty two lessons in the book and we take turns selecting, then preparing and facilitating the discussion of the particular "Name."   Each name reveals another of our God's attributes.  The one I chose for last night was King of Kings.
When I began to prepare the lesson I realized that one of the two passages of scripture that were the focus of the lesson was Matthew, the twenty-first chapter, verses one through nine.  The triumphal entry (Palm Sunday).  How timely!

Sunday evening my family and I attended a play, The Passion of the King in East Hartford.  It is produced by and held at a church and was done exceedingly well.  They have begun to take it 'on the road!'
It worked its way through some of the key promises of God found in the Old Testament, promises that pointed to the Messiah.  Then it moved to the New Testament and the One who fulfilled God's promises, Jesus.
His entry into Jerusalem was beautifully done.  Many held palm branches, which they waved, as they praised and honored The King.
Papa had given me a visual to stir my heart afresh as I put the lesson together!

This King came as a humble servant and even as He was honored on that Palm Sunday, he did not exalt Himself.  He rode in on a donkey.  No charger for Him.
At least not then.
He had set aside the privileges of His Kingdom for a time for the sake of those that He desired to see enter into that Kingdom.
In the second chapter of Philippians we read,
"..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."
The second passage in our study turned our focus to His full identity as King.  It is found in the book of Revelation, the nineteenth chapter and tells us that He is
"The King of Kings and LORD of Lords!"
One day His reign and rule will be evident to everyone.  Whether they welcome Him or not, He will return.
This time on a white charger!

The passage in Philippians does not end with His sacrifice, but speaks also of His final position.
" Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father."

Our study guide urged us to call to mind when we pray to Jesus, "his mastery not only over human beings but over nature, diease, and death itself."  I would add time and circumstances also!

I love movies like "The Three Muskateers."  Swash bucklers!  Men in capes, wearing swords and big boots.  Men of power.  They sweep their capes aside as they do battle.  They lift their feet up onto tables, heavy boots and all.  Confident men!  When I read about King David and his mighty men I always picture these kind of scenes.
That is only a mere shadow of our King!

Most of us have heard that some churches are called "basilicas."  Know what it means?
The Hall of the King.
I love it.
The Hall where the King enters.  The place He calls home and where His rule is supreme.  The place where He is loved and all await His Presence.
I have decided that is what I am going to call our home!  The Basilica!

I want to be found waiting and watching for Him upon His return.  
In the meantime, I am privileged to entertain my King right now, in my heart and my home.  
King Jesus welcome to the Basilica!!    

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mr. Toad Strikes Again!

Some might remember my comparing the ups and downs and all arounds of emotions to the Disney ride "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride."
Well, the ride is not over.
Silly me, if I was thinking for a moment that it was!

Yesterday started with me down in spirits, which then rose to a lovely height:  The result of a fresh look at Papa's heart.
That should have carried me through the end of my day, wouldn't you think?

My Honey and I had a date.  We went out for a light supper and then to a movie that was being shown at a small, local theater.
Supper was fine.  We had a bit of conversation, which only goes so far, as Ray has less to say to me than others outside our home.  We do not discuss his therapy very much, as there isn't much to say.  We do find a few things to say and then we just enjoy our meal. 
I, for one, did enjoy the conversation going on next to us.  Four high school guys were engaged in a lively conversation.  It covered sports, homework, fellow students and, of course, their teachers.  It gave me a fresh glimpse into the mind and heart of the male teenager.  Fun!  They were a nice group of guys and seemed of good character, respectful.  In many ways very innocent and so naive.

Without much life experience a person sees things through information from outside sources and their own limited perceptions.  One fellow made a comment that I so wanted to respond to with a few words of my own..
It was a very typical comment for one of his age.  He couldn't wait until he was a full adult so he could speak his mind, as he saw fit.  He would not have to do one thing that he wasn't inclined to do. 
Don't we all wish!
As I thought of what I really would have said to him the thought came that really every age has its drawbacks, as well as its pluses.  There are responsibilities at almost all ages.  The greatest responsibilities involve relationships, first with our God and then others, especially our mate....

As we prepared to leave the restaurant, I helped Ray on with his jacket.  Something that use to be what he would do for me.  Then I zipped him up, just as I use to do for our boys when they were small.
To be honest, I don't give much thought to these actions anymore, but it must be in the back of my mind....
Did I feel this ride zig a little?

We walked up the street to the theater.  It was raining and Ray began to stumble a bit, as he has a tendency to get his upper body going faster than his legs can carry him.  I miss, as I am sure he does, his confident stride, but I wasn't aware of this waying heavily on me ...
A touch of a zag?

As we were finding our seats my husband fell down to his knees and struggled to rise back to his feet.  Seeing him down on his knees brought a flood of grief to me.  After settling him into his seat I headed to the ladies room.  So much emotion threatened to come pouring out...
The ride plummeted as I headed quickly to the ladies room!

My husband has lost much and I do not want to be selfish in my perspective.  Yet, at times, I have to address my own longings and sadness.
How different our relationship is now.  I am definitely in the role of caregiver.  I don't like it, but who would?
It is very difficult, at times, to see him so much weaker than he was, so much less decisive.  Ray had a strong personality, which drove me nuts at times.(!)  Little did I know that I would miss it!

I looked to Papa and sensed His care and strength.   With that I headed back to my husband.  My wild ride calmed down a little as it began an uphill climb.
The movie was mildly entertaining, worth the ten dollar entrance fee for the two of us.  If you are wondering the movie we saw was the "Adjustment Bureau."  A bit far fetched, but after all it is just a movie, not a documentary!
As we sat there I so wanted to rest my head on Ray's shoulder and feel his arm around me, but he was busy cradling his left arm.  His arm needs so much of his attention we have nicknamed it 'his baby.'
No more going uphill for now....
When we got settled back at home, Ray, as always, immediately turned on the television.  This generally drives me out of the room, which it did last night.   I needed a little alone time anyway.  Ray doesn't seem to notice my moods, of which I am glad.  I do not want him to feel that he is a burden to me.
Matt and Mindy had been out for the evening and arrived home shortly afterward.  I do not want to be bringing all my heartache to them either.  After all, they are my children, not my counselors, though Papa has spoken through them on many an occasion.

Matt came into the room and we exchanged a few words about our evenings.  He began to leave the room, but turned around, put down all he had just gathered up and came over to me.  My son gave me  a big hug and told me that he loved me.  When Matt hugs anyone, he does it with an awareness that it is both he and Jesus doing the hugging!  The hug-ee senses it too!
With that he gathered his items up and left the room.
I am so blessed to have such loving sons!

A even greater blessing is that of having such a wise and loving God!

Later I opened up the devotional "Our Daily Bread", found the scripture reading and read it to Ray.  As I read Papa ministered to my heart so beautifully and tenderly!
The reading was Psalm thirty-two.  We read from the "Life Recovery Bible."  It is the New Living Translation.
"Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!  Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete homesty!
How wise He is to remind me, afresh, of His grace and mercy in my life!  No matter what goes on in my life, I know that I am right with Him and that gives me great joy!

"When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.  Day and night Your hand of discipline was heavy on me.  My strength evaporated like water to the summer heat.  Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt.  I said to myself, 'I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.'  And You forgave me!  All my guilt is gone.  Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time, that they may not drown in floodwaters of judgment.  For You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble.  You surround me with a song of victory."
Yes!  My life was a mess, but all that changed when I came to Him!  When I remember this I realize that nothing that I face with Him compares to the emptiness and distress I felt without Him.
I am safe and secure in Him.  His lap is mine to climb up into at all times!

"The LORD says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will adivse you and watch over you.  Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.  Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the LORD.  So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey Him!  Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!"
A mule?  A stubborn mule?  Who me?!
When I forget to look to Him I am going my own way, at times, stubbornly.  To what end?  Needless grief and sorrow.
In Him I can rest in the arms of the One whose love surrounds me, it is unfailing!  I can trust Him to direct my path.  Nothing comes my way without His permission.

You know when the ride takes you to the top, the view is amazing!

As I received these words of tender love from Papa a chorus began to fill my heart and I fell asleep to its words...

"Faith is the Victory!  Faith is the victory!  Oh Glorious Victory that overcomes the world!"
Words by John H. Yates

Music by Ira D. Sankey


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Papa's Heart

On occasion Mindy will say, "I'm going to get grumpy!"
That's how I felt this morning.

I like to ease into my day and do not like to feel rushed; especially where it pertains to my one-on-one time with Papa.  This morning I had to hustle and this meant hustling my honey at bit too.
ACTS4, an outreach to the poor and needy, was offering an event for the women of the area.  All the guests who attended were from area shelters or rehabs.  Six of my ladies took part.  "My ladies" are residents at the rehab where I hang out on Friday afternoons.

I am sure that Papa was smiling knowingly at me as I got ready to leave the house.  He is so gracious; He knew that making room on my "plate" for this event would be worth it.

Slowly women came through the door, one-by-one and some in groups.  Most had hesitant expressions on their faces.   What had they agreed to?  What did this day hold for them?
One of the ladies that I knew struggles with anxiety and seeing the big room and the number of people in it, she nearly panicked.  She and I stuck together and I saw her visibly relax as different volunteers interacted with her. 
The room was alive with the presence of our God.  His love enveloped each one of us.

The women moved from station to station.  Manicures, facials, Haircuts, massages and clothing were available just for them!  Everything was scheduled as they arrived, so it all flowed very nicely.  I do not believe anyone felt cut short or rushed.

A lovely luncheon was laid out and as the women ate their meal, the speaker,  a woman who radiated the joy of the LORD, came to the microphone.  She shared her story very simply and clearly.  The Living God had changed her life in spite of much pain and many challenges and she is a new person.
Many hearts were touched and tears flowed.

Others were given the opportunity to share blessings and sorrows with us.  One by one women stood and expressed how God was moving in their lives.  So many spoke of the blessing of being able to attend such an event.
At one point the women were invited to model their new hair styles and clothing.  Many did so with great joy!

As I looked around the room I saw radiant faces, faces that said that they had encountered hope, love and joy! 
Papa's Heart was reflected so beautifully. 
I sensed His smile, a smile of sheer joy that His children had been His willing vessels so that many, who so desperately needed to be in a place where they could more fully hear and experience His love for them did.
There was a smile just for me too; a smile that we could share this experience together and that He knew I wouldn't have wanted to miss it!
I realized that I had had the privilege of an up close look at the heart of my amazing God!

I think, no I know I am going to.........Rejoice!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

This day could not pass without a few words from the little corner of the world
that the Reynolds family takes up.
Today, April 14th, two thousand and eleven marks exactly one year since my honey's motorcycle accident.
And what do I have to say about that fact?

Only one thing.  We have indeed been carried by grace.

Our God is the One who weeps with us, when we weep.  He is indeed acquainted with grief.
As He weeps with us, He tenderly holds us.  Though He knows that the blessings will come, still He weeps.  He Himself is acquainted with pain and not just in passing or from a distance. 

As I have shared in the past, I read the commentary "a Slice of Infinity" each day. 
I highly recommend it.
Yesterday's offering was authored by my favorite, Jill Carattini.  It was entitled "Acquainted with Grief. "
She refers to a scene in one of C. S. Lewis' Narnia books.  A small boy had come in search of Aslan, the Great Lion, who is Jesus in lion form.   He is desperate, for you see his mother is dying.
Let me share the passage that Jill quoted from the book along with her comments.
"Please-Mr. Lion-Aslan, Sir?" said Digory working up the courage to ask.  "Could you-may I-please, will you give me some magic fruit of this country to make my mother well?" 
"...Digory, at this point in the story, had brought about much disaster for Aslan and his freshly created Narnia.  But he had to ask.  In fact, he thought for a second that he might attempt to make a deal with Aslan.  But quickly Digory realized the Lion was not the sort of person with which one could try to make bargains."
C.S. Lewis then recounts, "Up till then the child had been looking at the lion's great front feet and the huge claws on them.  Now in his despair he looked up at his face.  And what he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life.  For the tawny face was bent down near his own and wonder of wonders great shining tears stood in the lion's eyes.  They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory's own that for a moment he felt as if the lion must really be sorrier about his mother than he was himself."
"My son, my son," said Aslan.  "I know.  Grief is great.  Only you and I in this land know that yet.  Let us be good to one another..."
Jill speaks of the immense comfort it is for her to know that Christ wasn't always smiling, how His fortitude unfastens her fear, and that His mercy frees her shame.  Above all when she reads of how He weeps and sweats drops of blood her own tears are given depth. 
Jesus Christ, God in human form brings validity to our own humanity.

The assurance that our God not only was and is with us, but also knows and feels our griefs and struggles has carried us through all of it.  It is not over for any of us, not until our final breathe. 
It is good to look back and recount our God's faithfulness.  Reminders help us continue to trust and to watch for and recognize evidence of His continuing grace.

Andree Seu writes for "World" magazine.  Each month I look forward to her column.  Her article in the April ninth edition is entitled "The Mouths of Babes."  She speaks of the power of praise.

All of us have enough concerns and struggles to occupy our every thought.  It is easy to go there, isn't it?  And every day will offer us something we could add to the list.  Just today our third son, Jonathan called to say that he needed a sonogram for a lump on his chest.  He's been meaning to get it checked.
Yet what will worry get us?  What will complaining get us? 
Not peace!  Not hope!  Not strength!  Not victory that will carry us through any and all of it!
When we get stuck there it encourages the enemy of our souls; it energizes him.  Loser that he is, he wants to take as many down with himself as possible.

Know what knocks him for a loop and down for the count?  Praise!
Our God inhabits the praise of His people and where our God takes up residence the enemy cannot.

However, apart from all we gain from giving our God praise, there is the fact that He is worthy to be praised. 
Simply because of who He is. 
Even if He didn't extend His grace to us.

But we don't have to separate it all out.  We do have the benefit of His grace and of His compassion.
So as I look back over the past three hundred and sixty-five days I rejoice in Him and give Him praise.
And as I look ahead I will praise Him, as I hold tightly to my Papa, who knows and shares in all that comes my way. 

"Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His Name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples.
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
S[peak of all His wonders.
Glory in His Holy Name;
Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad.
Seek the LORD and His strength;
Seek His face continually.
Remember His wonders which he has done...."
Psalm One Hundred Five, verses one through five.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Free to Celebrate!

It seems that Papa isn't finished speaking to me about the circle dance....

Earlier I was reading the scripture that accompanied my friend's devotional thoughts about that dance.  It is found in Second Corinthians, chapter thirteen, the fourteenth verse.
"May the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." 
Just like my friend, I saw the three Persons of God rejoicing in and with one another AND beckoning me to join them!

A couple of years ago I read a book which, I believe, has helped me to see this aspect of my God.  The book is, "The Shack," by William Young.  Some have had difficulties with this book and its depiction of the LORD God.  For was a blessing.

The phrase "fellowship of the Holy Spirit" drew my attention.  When that happens I reach for my concordance so I can gain a deeper understanding of a word's orginal meaning, which was in Greek.
Doing so really enriches a person's grasp of what is being said.

The word I sought to learn more about is "fellowship."   Its Greek word is "koinonia," which gives the picture of participating and sharing in fellowship.  The word fellowship, according to my thesaurus, draws the picture of companionship, camaraderie and friendship.
I love it!

To take part in such a celebration is to experience a sense of total acceptance.   It is one thing to recognize that each person of the Godhead totally accepts one another, but an entirely different one to realize that such acceptance is extended to us!

For many years I suffered over the fact that I am not perfect.  Wrapped up in that suffering was the fear of rejection, the fear of being discovered as falling short and lacking some essential ingredient to being accepted, of being loved.
Now I am mostly free of that which used to hang over my every thought, word and action.

Though this fear rears its ugly head on a regular basis I am happy to report that it doesn't get to hang around quite as long as in the days gone by.

Monday night I was tired, but wanted to do a quick posting to this blog.  Usually I review before posting.  Not that night.
I take pride in being able to spell and love it when the spell check comes back with no errors. 
It would have found one glaring mistake in Monday's posting.  I found it when I read it Tuesday morning.  After a number of people had read it!  There is no 'K" in frolic!
Know the word "chagrin?"
The wording wasn't all I wanted it to be either.  I did change up one place!

Years gone by such a thing would have ruined at least one day.  No more!  After a brief groan Papa and I smiled and moved on.

Yesterday I succumbed to the urgings of a few dear ones and joined FaceBook.
It is my intention to simply use it to check in on those few dear ones; my godson for one, who lives a number of states away, and there are my grandchildren, as well as a few treasured, out-of-state friends.
That is all.
I much prefer face-to-face, but sometimes that is not possible.  So this will be a nice tool.

Yet, already I have had to battle the fear of falling short!
I have been getting quite a few friend requests, etc.  Then there is all the information that many put on their page and many who seem to communicate often throughout the day!
This will not be me!

But...what if my profile appears dull?  What if others are disappointed by my lack of response?  What if I don't "friend" someone and they are hurt??

Isn't it interesting how easily we can all into our old patterns of thought?  Mulling over all of my concerns to do with FB is where Papa found me.  When I noticed His Presence I realized that He was once again calling me to join the dance.
The dance...where I am accepted; accepted in the beloved....

All because of Jesus.

"The grace of the LORD Jesus Christ" is favor that was not merited.
"The love of God" is what motivated the grace.
Grace and love are woven through the fellowship.

Reading in John I was moved by the prayer that Jesus prayed for all who would believe in Him.  The prayer reflects all He desires for us.  He wants to share all He is with us, individually and collectively, as His body.  He may have actually prayed that prayer two thousand years ago, but it is still the desire of His Heart.
That is found in the seventeenth chapter.  The following chapter, on the heals of Jesus pouring out His pray for us before the Father, He is arrested. 
After mockings and scourgings, He was sentenced to death though innocent of any charge.
When He was praying for us, He knew what awaited Him.  He knew that His death would be the only way that His prayer could be answered.

Of course, the story doesn't end with His death...
Death could not hold Him and His resurrection is what validates our faith. 
His resurrection is what causes the Godhead to celebrate.
And His resurreciton is what gives us access to the circle dance!!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Time to Dance!

This posting will be brief, as it took eight hours instead of five to drive from Maryland to our home today.  On any future trips I will gladly go out of my way to avoid I-95!
I am weary. 
I always enjoyed driving, but not so much anymore.
Maybe because I have to do all the driving now, because I am certain that it doesn't have anything to do with getting older!

One of the blessings of becoming...I am groping for the right words....  Maturing?  Aging?  Growing older?  EEK!  None of those sound good....None are a good fit, at least not for me.  I don't feel an age and in many ways don't see myself that way.
Yet, I do enjoy the fact that I have reached the season of my life where I am more comfortable in my own skin.  I have also come to a place where I treasure my friendships more dearly and am free to enjoy they more deeply.
So I was eager to stop overnight at my dear friend Kathy's in Maryland on our way back from Virginia.  As always it was refreshing to be able to visit for a bit.

A couple of years ago someone shared with me a vision that the LORD had shown them for me.  She said that she saw me going down a path that Papa had laid out before me.  Alongside the path were all kinds of lovely flowers that filled the air with their fragrances.  Among all the beautiful colors there were special treasures for me.  Treasures to take to myself and hold close.
I believe those treasures are my dear friends.

Some friends are close by, some you get to spend time with on a regular basis, others are not in your everyday life whether near or far.  However, our Gracious God weaves our lives together so that we connect at just the perfect times.

This weekend had a few challenges.  As we all know, family can bring some of life's greatest joys and deepest hurts and sorrows.  Mix in fatigue and ongoing responsibilities and it is easy to become weighted down.

Papa knew I would need a word to carry me through.
There is a special woman whom I have known for seventeen or eighteen years.  We use to be in each other's life on a regular basis.  No more.  I miss that. 
However, shared experiences are never lost, nor forgotten.
Once lives have connected, the connection continues....

Friday the submission in the Lenten devotional that I am reading was by my friend.   
She spoke of a vision that the LORD gave her, a vision of the three persons of God in a circle dance together.  This dance was one of joyful abandon; a fellowship marked by love, acceptance and enjoyment. 
So many have learned to picture God as some severe, stuffy judge holding Himself aloof from mere humans; ready to come down on them for every little infraction. 
So a picture of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit enjoying one another would be foreign to them.  This view is lifeless and is so foreign to the true picture of who God is.
As the structures and false pictures press in on us we might begin to wonder if this is all He has for us and then ask. as the writer did,  "Is this as good as it gets?"
He answered with the vision of the circle dance!

Imagine a Hand extending to us from the circle of Dancers!   Amazingly the invitation has been extended for us to join the circle dance!
What an encouraging picture!
If you have read this blog for any period of time you know that I love to dance in worship to my God and at times have pictured dancing with Him.
Now He is calling for me to forget the precise dance steps and simply frolic with Him!

As my friend spoke of the invitation she reminded the reader that it is much more delightful than sitting outside the circle fretting, worrying, working or pouting.  I would add that we also need to let go of whatever we are clutching in our hands, as our hands need to be free to be able to grasp the Hands that are extended to us in invitation!

Can we trust those Hands? 
Yes, they hold the mark of love that is the guarantee that we are indeed safe in them......those Hands are nail-scarred.

As I leave behind that which I was fretting and pouting over; releasing all that I had clutching in my hands, running to join the circle dance, I experience a deep sense of freedom and joy; an assurance that I am free to frolic!

If I were to look back I would not find any of my cares scattered about. 
No, they have all been gathered up by my loving God.
He will tend to all of it without missing one opportunity to dance!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

He's in the details

Here I sit in our hotel room with no desire to move.  Our eight hour trip of yesterday evolved into a twelve hour challenge.  Instead of griping about it I want to thank Papa for getting us here in one piece.
I hadn't slept well for two nights so I was not at my best for the drive.  Trying to get my honey out of the house in a timely fashion left me a bit on edge too.
Three hours into our trip we connected with our son, Jonathan, who then assisted with the driving.  A great relief until the last leg of our trip.  Let me just say that I have renamed him Mario!  We had all been in the car far too long, traffic was horrendous until the last hour and rain accompanied this whole ordeal.  Jon wanted to make the remaining time in the car as brief as possible.  I told him he was also trying to shorten our lives as well! 
Yes, I thank Papa for allowing us to arrive safely!!

I love how Papa is intimately involved in every detail of my life.  As Jesus told us, He evens knows the number of hairs on our head!
I have recently been reminded of His singular attention to all the aspects of my life.
This past week I was out doing errands and planning my route as I drove.  Deciding what the shortest and most efficient path would be I decided that I would be turning left at one particular traffic light.  With the decision came a vision of being in an accident.  I took it as a caution.  About ten minutes later I approached that light and the reminder came again.  This caused me to be especially cautious.  As I went through the intersection I saw how the accident could have happened.  Thank You, Papa!

It isn't simply the areas of safety and health that He involves Himself.
A few days ago one of our portable phones went missing.  When I hit the pager button I could hear it in the distance, but I could not figure out where the sound was coming from.  In time tthe battery died, which meant no more beeping to help lead me to it.
The remaining portable does not hold a charge very long, so we really needed to find the other one.  Throughout my day I would go on a hunt, but to no avail.
Thursday morning I asked Papa point blank to help me find the thing.  Later that morning I had to go up into our attic for a suitcase, so I could pack for our trip.  After lowering the suitcase down the attic stairs a thought came to me.  "The phone might just be in the attic, you know."  With that I turned to look and there it was, right in front of me!
Papa knows that I need extra promptings, as I am visually challenged.  When I had gone up into the attic the phone was right in front of me, but, of course, I didn't see it.  Thank You, Papa, for being concerned about all the details of my life!

He is also concerned for others and seeks to position His children to be a help to others.  Often we don't know what He is up to, but if we continue to let Him lead we will have the joy of discovering ourselves just where He wants us to be!
I will not go into the details, but want to say that I had seen a particular doctor for about twenty years, but had begun to see a different one a couple of years ago.   It just seem to be the way I was being led, at the time.  However, one morning a number of months ago I had the thought that I was to go see my former doctor, as I was in need of this particular type of doctor.  I felt really awkward, but the prompting was very strong, so I went.  It turned out to be easy to do, but I then have felt awkward regarding the last doctor.  You see they both are friends.
This past week it all fell into place.  The doctor i am going to now and his family are in a painful place and need people to come alongside them.  I am in the position to do just that now.  Isn't God amazing?!
Often it looks like He is leading us into a shadow, but be sure that it is always the shadow of the Cross, which amazingly is where we find the Light.  Light to illumine our darkness and Light to illumine the hearts we encounter on this journey!

Yes, it is all in the details and when we leave those details to Him those details turn into treasured reminders of His Loving Presence!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Good Selfishness

For a few weeks I have been checking Connecticut's DOC (Department of Corrections) website.  I had been hoping to find a name listed there, which would mean that this person was incarcerated.  It had been a number of days since I checked, so I decided to look once again.  I was overjoyed to find the person I was looking for listed there!

What is with me?  Why would I be glad to discover that someone that I knew was locked up?  Do I have something against someone?

Let me explain.

Finding that this person was locked up meant that he was still alive.
This young man is someone that I got to know at a local rehab. 
A few weeks ago someone brought drugs into the building and my friend gave into the temptation. 
Thus out he went.
Out into the streets where the level of tempation is racheted up quite a bit.
It is not uncommon for someone who relapses to overdose.   Back out on the street they begin where they left off, at the level of drugs they had been using.  That can be lethal.

My heart broke when I heard the news.  It broke for all eight that were no longer there.  I had spent time with each one of them to one degree or another, yet this one young man had really opened up his heart.  He was hungry to learn about Jesus.  I saw real change happening in his life.  Joy was awakening in his soul.

So how did this happen?
Just as it can and does for each one of us. 
We all have our weaknesses, some are more evident and some are extremely destructive.  It only takes a weak moment and the enemy jumps at the chance to take us down.
We are all vulnerable, but with Christ we have a protection and a strength that is far beyond ourselves.  We need to rest in it, in Him.

I wrote my friend as soon as I had an address for him. Wayne is his name.
What did I tell him?  A number of things.

First, that God still had a good plan for him.  That all of us are hopeless without Jesus, but with Him hope abounds!
Secondly, I encouraged him to want recovery for himself.  He was focused on recovering for his mom's sake.  Not good enough.

I had heard that the program is a selfish one and for a long time I didn't understand. 
I do now.
Unless we want to be well, to be free of whatever keeps bringing us down, so we can live the life that can be ours and be whole, then we won't get it.  It is the only motivation that can succeed.
Turning to the LORD God is for our own benefit.  If we want the best for ourselves, we do it. 
That's selfishness in a good light.

Finally, I encouraged Wayne to abide in Jesus.  To abide is to dwell, to rest in, to make your home in.
When we make Jesus our home we are then surrounded by peace and love and wisdom. 
He will direct our path, our every step.
That is what I hope and pray for Wayne.
That is what I hope and pray for everyone.
May our lives be marked with this good selfishness!

In with my letter I included a self-addressed stamped envelope and writing paper.  Hopefully, he will use it and write me back!

On another note, Ray and I are going on a road trip!  We head to Virginia tomorrow morning for a family wedding on Saturday.  We return home Monday evening.
Mindy asked if I was excited.  It isn't the word I would use.  I wasn't sure how I was feeling.  Until this evening...

Matthew, the ultimate tree man loves to come home from working on trees all day on our trees!  Today was no different.
He invited his father outside to help him. 
Out came the lawn tractor pulling a wagon.
Up on the tractor went Ray with help from Matt.

Mindy commented how "cute" Ray looked on the tractor.
With that comment I knew what was going on in my heart.

Yes, Ray looked "cute" just like his father did when we let him have a ride on the tractor. 
His father was eighty-seven!
The accident has left my husband more like his elderly father than like the man he was before that car pulled out in front of him.
I want to go to this wedding with my husband!  Not his father!!

Okay.  I got that out now I can more on.
I get it out and then refuse to dwell on it.  I choose to dwell on Jesus!
It isn't healthy to get stuck in such places.  It would be bad selfishness!
And I am too selfish for that!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wants and Pits

A codependency group has met in our home every other Wednesday for a couple of years now.  We had taken a couple of months off until the winter and its very wintry weather passed.  This evening was our first time back together again.
The first year found us working our way through a workbook entitled, "Conquering Codependency" by Pat Springle.  Since its completion we use a topical approach and often refer back to the guide, as there is always more to gain from it.

In preparing for this evening's discussion Papa used a book that I am currently reading to give me the topic.  The book is Beth Moore's, "Get Out of that Pit."  She speaks of the different kinds of pits that we can find ourselves in, pits that we willingly step into, ones where we were pushed and those where we slip accidently.  All of them are results of choices we have made to one degree or another.  The bottom line is all about what we want. 
As I read, it was clear to me that the question we were to address this evening was "What do we want?"  You see what we truly want motivates us to either end up in a pit or find higher ground. 

We need to look below the surface of our answer to that question.  We might at first answer that we want acceptance, a sense of belonging, love, peace, success, happiness or any number of things, but we need to go deeper.  What do we really want?
In our heart of hearts we want God.  We want that connection with Him that comes through relationship with Him.
Some will scoff at that and deny that to be true, but they are wrong.  Way down deep they know it is true.
Whatever we think we want; whatever we long for can only be found in the Living God.  Everything else is a counterfeit.  If we settle for anything less we are cheating ourselves.
Desire peace?  Jesus said He would give us peace and leave it with us.  Where else can we find peace that lasts?
The Bible study group that I am part of studied "The LORD is Peace" this week.  This peace is shalom which means so much more than we can imagine.   The original Hebrew and Greek tell us it means being well in every sense of the word; to be complete. 
That is our God and that is what He offers us!

Want love?  God is love.
Want acceptance and a sense of belonging?  He tells us that when we are His we are "accepted in the beloved."
I could go on, but encourage you to do this for yourself!

Our group talked about the wrong messages that we have received and believed and how they become our motivation for getting what we want, when we don't look beyond those surface desires.  Guaranteed to end in a pit!

As I read the fourteenth chapter of John this morning the thought came that His Word is revealed to each and every one who will receive it.  That is were we will find truth.  We have to go below the surface of things to recognize our true need; then we will be receptive to all He has to show us.

We ended our time together by encouraging one another to pursue our God; to admit our longing for more of Him.  The more we get to know Him, the more satisfied we will become.  When we find satisfaction in Him then we are ready to embrace those around us in healthy ways.
Codependency is looking to others to satisfy our wants that only God truly can.  Without Him we will find ourselves empty; with Him we will be full to overflowing!
Isn't it interesting?  To go higher we have to dig deeper!

Sunday, April 3, 2011


It seems that the longer I live the less likely I am to take things for granted. 

As a young person it is not uncommon to be a bit self-absorbed and more inclined to take one's life and all that it contains for granted.  It is also not unusual to give little thought to the privilege of living in the land that you do and of which you are a citizen.  I know I didn't give it much thought.
However, now I give attention to what is happening here and around the world.

Today our pastor spoke about the kingdom of God.  He mentioned quite a few kingdoms that have ruled on this earth, most of which no longer exist.  He reminded us that no kingdom of this earth will last forever.  Power-shifts happen all the time.

Except for the Power of God. 
Nothing compares, nothing lasts and nothing else holds any power in comparison to Him.

It is a comfort to know this.

The other day a friend had sent me an email forward.  Often I do not even open forwards, but when certain people send me something I take note.  The message is usually something of substance.
The subject of this message was regarding how much of what we purchase is "made in China" and how our nation is in great debt to that country.  The writer wanted to encourage the readers to avoid buying products made there.
Neither bit of information took me by surprise, but it did get me thinking...

So when I had to go shopping yesterday I decided to read labels and look for products made in the USA or, at least, somewhere besides China.
I was surprised.  If I wanted birthday candles for Ray's cake, I had no choice. 
In the men's department I finally found something made in Vietnam, as an alternative to its neighbor.  And the towels that I wanted to purchase, I didn't, because there was no choice.
Label after label said the same thing.  Now maybe it is the particular store that I was in, but I doubt it.
One thing is for certain, I will be reading more labels and making a concerted effort to buy wisely.

Yes, there are many things to be aware of and many things to take action regarding, yet it is also wise to keep in mind that all of it will pass away one day.
All of it.
All except for God and His Kingdom.

Life is fleeting.  I cannot believe that I have been on this earth for sixty years already!  You cannot slow life down, nor can you reclaim it.
The world is always changing, there is always turmoil somewhere and often many somewheres.
Battles rage.

It is all temporary.

Without God in the equation it all would have very little meaning.  Empty and hopeless are words that come to mind.
Add God into the mix and the depth, richness and meaning of life are immeasurable. 

A man with a deep, beautiful voice sang a song during morning service today.  By the end many of us were on our feet and applauding. 
We were applauding our God.

I think it sums it all up very nicely.
The song is entitled "It is Finished" and was written by Bill Gaither.

There's a line that is drawn through the ages
On that line stands an old rugged cross
On that cross, a battle is raging
To gain a man's soul or it's loss

On one side, march the forces of evil
All the demons, all the devils of hell
On the other, the angels of glory
And they meet on Golgotha's hill

The earth shakes with the force of the conflict
And the sun refuses to shine
For there hangs God's son, in the balance
And then through the darkness he cries

It is finished, the battle is over
It is finished, there'll be no more war
It is finished, the end of the conflict
It is finished and Jesus is Lord

Yet in my heart, the battle was still raging
Not all prisoners of war had come home                                                       These were battlefields of my own making                                                        I didn't know that the war had been won

Oh, but then I heard the king of the ages
Had fought all the battles for me
And that victory was mine for the claiming
And now praise his name, I am free.