Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Brennan Manning, who is one of my favorite writers, wrote a book entitled, "The Signature of Jesus."  I just completed my reading of it.
It was perfect timing.  Papa's timing, of course.

The premise of the book is about what your life will be like if you live as one who bears the signature of Jesus. 
Just like a baseball who has been signed by a famous player is valuable and not because it is a ball, but because of who has written their name on it.
Our value is immeasurable because of the Name we bear.

The title of one chapter in the book is "The Courage to Risk."  Risk implies the possibility of failure.  Most of us try to avoid failure at all costs!  We expect too much of ourselves and we forget the value of allowing ourselves to fail.
Brennan ends the chapter with a few words he has heard the Father say to him and then his own comment.

"'My point, little brother, is this: I expect more failure from you than you expect from yourself.'  In season and out of season, in success and failure, in grace and disgrace, the courage to risk everything on the signature of Jesus is the mark of authentic discipleship.  In the words of Winston Churchill: 'Success is never final; failure is never fatal.  It is courage that counts.'"
I love that he quoted Churchill, as I have always appreciated the man and had listened to his biography on my way home from West Virginia.  The man had no fear of failure and when he did he faced criticism without cringing.  His value was not in being perfect or perfectly accepted by all.

Above all else I want to be authentic!  That is what Papa wants for me too.

Another chapter spoke of giving our whole energy to "Grabbing Aholt of God."  In it Brennan suggested an exercise that wasn't new to me just forgotten.  It is one I learned of in California a few years ago and one that has been an great blessing to me.
Why would I have let it slip away from me?
I think I have been letting too many things distract me from 'my first thing', as Rich Mullins said in one of his songs.

The exercise is simple.  I will quote from the book again;
"1) Take a few minutes to relax your body and quiet your spirit.  Then, in a simple act of faith be present to God dwelling in the depths of your being.
2)  Choose a single, sacred word or phrase that captures something of the flavor of your intimate relationship with God.  A word such as Jesus, Abba, Peace, God or a phrase such as 'Abba, I belong to you,'  'Help me to live in Your presence," etc.  Without moving your lips, repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly and often.
3)  When distractions come, as they inevitably will (even in the most advanced pray-ers) simply return to listening to your sacred word.  Picture yourself sitting quietly in a rowboat in the center of a placid lake.  All is still and quiet.  Suddenly a speedboat roars by about fifty yard on your starboard side.  The ripple of waves rocks your little rowboat violently.  The ripple represents the wanderings of the mind.  Again, gently return to your sacred word.
4) After a twenty-minute period of prayer, conclude with the LORD'S Prayer, a favorite psalm, or some spontaneous words of praise and thanks."
He recommends that this exercise is done before breakfast and dinner.  I decided to do just that.

I followed the four steps this morning except instead of a rowboat my transport was a canoe.  I did not like it being a canoe, but it would not change!
I reached for the oars and heard my Jesus tell me that He would be doing the rowing. 
It was not my job.
He then told me to relax; His canoes never tip... I had been sitting very stiffly as I do not like rocking boats and the possibility of falling into the water!
His voice was very calming and reassuring.  "I want you to get over your fear."

We moved along in silence.  It was so peaceful...

Okay, why don't we go walk along the beach now?

I became aware that we were approaching the foot of a waterfall.
"Enjoy the beauty.  Do not fear the energy and power.  Revel in it!"

"I want you to jump into the water and swim into the waterfall."
No way!
"You need to do this.  You will enjoy it!"
For some reason I believed Him.  He is really trustworthy, so what was to doubt?

The water was refreshing and as I entered the waterfall every one of my senses was heightened!  It was invigorating!!
Passing through the falls I found myself behind them.  It was so peaceful and sheltered.
"You can come here anytime that you want.  You need both rest and the stimulation of life."  Do not fear the turmoil, find the beauty in it."

Afterward I read the ninety-sixth Psalm, closed the book and went to make breakfast. 
Throughout my day I have found myself returning again and again to the refreshment I experienced this morning. 
The refreshment of His Presence.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Tender Guiding Hand

Most people consider themselves to be good drivers; many of them are wrong! 

I would count myself as not only one who believes she drives well, but is not deluded in her assessment.
That does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that I am a perfect driver.
Why would driving be any different than anything else about me?

I do think I have the upper hand over many drivers because I was a driving instructor for a number of years and thus know the rules of the road. 
Take the four-way stop sign.  It seems that the majority of drivers have no idea who goes first at those intersections.  At times an urge comes over me to get out of my car and give everyone an few words of direction!

It has crossed my mind more than once to offer to write a column for the local paper that discusses the rules of safe driving.

There is one rule that I am not partial to myself though.
The speed limit.
Now I do not mean that we shouldn't have any limits, but some are especially slow!  I think it is more about control than speed.
Another factor that plays into the whole speed thing is the fact that I grew up in New York.  Need I say more?

Having shared my view of speed limits I must say that I do try to stay close to the limits because it is the right thing to do.  Even if it is a bit difficult at times...

Now it's time for a confession.
I received a speeding ticket at the end of June.  The first one in over thirty-eight years!
I was stunned.  I didn't know what to say to the officer (who was not friendly at all!).  To be honest I wasn't aware that I was going that fast. 
I was having a conversation with Papa and must have been pressing a little harder on the pedal as I prayed.

It was a hefty ticket. 
I didn't pay it, but sent in a "not guilty" so I could have my day in court.  Oh joy....

A few weeks passed and then I received a summons from the court for a set date.  The day I received it I had woken up in the morning with the thought that I was to go to court the twenty-third.  And that was the date set down on the paper.
As I was taking a trip to West Virginia with a return date of the twenty-fourth, I was not pleased.  I do not like to have to drive the whole eight hours in one day, but now I would have to do just that!

Fast forward to the morning of the twenty-third of August.  I left my home with plenty of time to drive to the court, find a parking spot and enter the building promptly at nine o'clock.
As I was making my way to the court I saw a hitchhiker on the side of the road.  It was a man, who many have nicknamed "the bottle man."  He is an older eccentric man named Jim, who walks everywhere he needs to go.  It is his habit to try to hitch a ride, as most destinations are a good distance from his home.
We know him and have included him at a few of our holiday meals, so I am comfortable giving him a ride.

Once Jim was in my car I discovered that his destination on that particular day was right around the corner from the court!  He isn't use to getting a ride all the way, so he was very pleased.

Having dropped Jim off I proceeded to the court.
I had never been on this side of things and was jittery as I stood on line waiting to speak with the prosecutor. 
The line moved much more quickly than I had anticipated and before I knew it I was giving my name to this young attorney.  He asked to see my summons, as he could not find my case.
He discovered the problem immediately.  I had misread the date-it was September twenty-third, not August!!
He could see I was not comfortable and I had mentioned that this was my first offense ever.  He was apologetic that he couldn't help me right then and there.  I think he felt badly for me and would have dismissed my case if he could have!
I do hope he is the one that I encounter when I return in September!

Now what was the point of sharing this story apart from removing any doubt of my imperfection?

I thought about how I had driven straight through and how tired it had left me; how tired I still was and I wondered what the point of the whole thing had been.  I do believe that everything has a purpose to it, especially for one who looks to the Living God to direct their steps.

My wondering brought a thought to me.  It was to satisfy Papa's plans...
Plans to care for this man who is so often overlooked.
Plans to get me where He knew I needed to be.

Every single individual is of concern to my Father.  He has a special affinity for the downtrodden and lonely.
When His child tells Him that they are available for His purposes, He takes them at their word.
He also works all of the details into His purpose for every person involved.

I had been growing more and more weary as of late.  My energy level has been diminishing.  A sadness has been keeping me company on a more regular basis.  Yet, I have kept going.
It takes a lot to stop this lady.

Papa knew that I needed to hit the wall and face all that was weighing upon me.  So He allowed me to get totally worn out.

This past week depression settled down on me with a few anxiety attacks thrown in.  I have not been my usual upbeat self and I didn't care.
My Papa is so loving and caring that He allowed me to get to this place because He wants to do a deeper work in my heart.

I know a couple of counselors who have told me that it is not uncommon for a person to become depressed and anxious after going through a major traumatic situation.  Once things settle down and they don't have to be so "in charge" they often collapse.
The reality of the reality sets in and finishes them off.

I may be down, but I am not finished!  I have a tender, loving God.  He has proved Himself to me over and over.  Never has He left me nor forsaken me and He isn't about to do so now!

A visit to a naturopathic pharmacy was profitable.
An impression that I was in my God's arms though I couldn't sense them is very comforting.

Last night I watched a movie.  I cannot recall the name.  It was one on  the Netflix instant list.
I just wanted to vegetate.
The story line was about a young man who hit a dead end and became depressed.  He didn't stay that way.  One person after another was brought into his life and he learned to celebrate life.
By the end I was dancing! 
Papa uses anything He wants to bless His children.

This morning I awoke feeling less anxious and more rested.
The weather kept us home for the day.  I was a day of rest, relaxation and refreshment.  I finished reading Brennan Manning's "Signature of Jesus."  My spirit was stirred by a fresh breeze, which was the breath of my God.

Yes, His tender, guiding Hand has never left me.  I am His and He is mine...through it all.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Scout

While growing up one of my favorite TV genres was the western.
My favorite characters were the rugged men of the old west.  The ones who had explored the land and knew it well.  

The frontier scouts.

They were the ones who were equipped to be in charge of a group of travelers to see them safely through to their destination.
I recall two basic story lines.

The first found the scout leading a wagon train, becoming aware of imminent danger and then demonstrating his knowledge and skill to save the day.  In this scenario those he was leading put their trust in him and benefited for doing so.
The second story followed a similar line, but with a twist.  There were those who disregarded his advice and did not put their trust in him.  Many paid with their lives.  Others came to their senses in the nick of time and the scout stepped in and thus all road away into the sunset.

Do I see a spiritual lesson here?
Papa thinks so.

What I am hearing from Him is that He is the Scout who leads me.  He knows the terrain and the dangers that it holds; He also knows how to deal with all of it.
Just like the scout of old He is with me and makes His knowledge and ability, which happens to be unlimited(!), available to me.
Will I be one who is safe in His care or one who jeopardizes her life through lack of trust and possibly loses that life?

What does trust look like?
Well, it is tied into obedience
If I am choosing to trust my God then I will step out wherever He leads.  Every time I do He shows up in Power!

Today I had a commitment to help with an outreach in the nearby city.  My role was to be in the prayer tent and be available to pray with anyone who entered.
If I could have I would have stayed home.  Still feeling tired and very drained I did not feel that I had anything to give.  However, I had made a promise because I felt that Papa would have me there, so off I went.

It was good.  A joy actually.
One of the other volunteers in the tent was a new face and it was lovely to get to know her.  Her faith was fresh and an encouragement to my heart.
She was not the only one that touched my heart.

Men, women and children came in for prayer.  Some of their circumstances were very difficult, yet all demonstrated faith in the power of prayer.  Some because they know the One to whom we were praying. 

A young boy came by himself and asked for prayer, as he was struggling with grief over having lost his dear aunt.  Later, with eyes shining, he brought two friends in for prayer.

Mothers and grandmothers came with their broods seeking God's blessing as their young ones begin their school year.  
One mother shared how her husband works seven days a week and she five to make ends meet, yet it isn't enough to meet the needs of their family.  She spoke of her struggle to not give in to fear.  After prayer her face shone with confidence that she could trust in her God completely.

A man sat with us for a while and spoke of the joy of a thirty year marriage.

A wonderful pastor joined us on and off in the tent.  He was overseeing a number of details, but wanted to be available to pray with the people.  Many knew him and would shout a hello or hurry to speak a word with him.
At one point there was a lull and he was able to sit quietly for a moment after having been pulled in many directions.  His words blessed my heart,
"You know, I don't need any rewards when I get to heaven, I am getting plenty down here.  How I love what I get to do!"
He also spoke of the privilege of being in the same place, this particular place, for so many years.

I left that tent fuller than I had been when I entered.

Papa had scouted ahead and knew that it was the path He had for me for this day.  As usual, one of blessing.

I could have stayed home and been me focused.  Not only would I have saddened the heart of my God, but I would have missed so much blessing!

I am so grateful that I have the Scout leading my little ole wagon who has all knowledge and ability.  By His grace I plan to let Him do all the scouting and leading for me!

By the way, I am glad one (not so) anonymous person likes the new look of this blog!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's All About Focus

Last Saturday I snapped pictures as I watched one kayak after another attempt to successfully ride over and down a waterfall.
In one of the pictures the kayak was seen through the branches of a tree I stood behind. 
Unfortunately the branches were in focus, thus the kayak was not. 
This amateur photographer is still learning.

The focus was on the wrong thing.

This reminds me of a bit of advice that I often give to those who are being crushed by the weight of their concerns. 
Look to Jesus, fix your eyes on Him and all the rest will grow out of focus. 
It is inspired from a line in a song.
"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."
Jesus put it another way.
"Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you."
Whatever we make our chief concern is going to fill our vision.  It will be our vision.

Life does tend to overwhelm at times. 
Even if it is not one's intent.

It can just pile one thing after another at such a rate that you just can't keep up.
Before you know it you are under the pile.
Not a very comfortable place to be!

That is where I have been.

Hey wait a minute!  Aren't I Papa's girl?  Doesn't He promise to care for me??
Yes and yes.
I have learned that when anything comes my way it is because He has allowed it and for a good reason.

Everything didn't suddenly get heaped up. 
No it was more gradual than that.  I just didn't pay close attention until....
I had no choice.

Tuesday night I had the worse nightmare of my life.  And believe me I have had some doozies over the years....
I will not give the details, but will share the message and lessons it carried.

I needed to stop moving...
"Be still and know that I AM GOD."
I needed to not focus on all the negative things around me.
"...fixing our eyes upon Jesus...."
I needed to recognize that once refocused I would need to deal with the one issue that was in my power to handle.  If I didn't then I would suffer greatly both emotionally and physically.

It left me feeling spent.
I needed to stay focused.

Papa spoke to me through a friend's Facebook posting.  She quoted the seventeenth and eighteenth verses from Psalm Ninety-four:

"If the LORD had not been my help, My soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence.  If I should say, "My foot has slipped," Your loving kindness, O LORD, will hold me up." 

He wasn't finished.
Checking my email I found another message via another friend.  His was from one of my favorite Psalms; the Ninety-first.  (It came with the picture of the momma bird and her chicks). 
Here is what the first four verses say in The Message:
"You who sit down in the High God's presence, spend the night in Shaddai's shadow, say this: 'God, You're my refuge.  I trust You and I'm safe!'  That's right-He rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you-under them you're perfectly safe; His arms fend off all harm."
Shaddai means "God Almighty."  That is ALL MIGHTY. 
There is nothing beyond His reach, nor His power.
He is my strength and hope.
Such peace comes as I focus on Him alone.  He will take me through the present difficulties and all future ones.
The greatest blessing will be that I will have gotten to know Him more deeply and learned to rest in Him fully!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More Than I Can Handle

Exhausted mentally and physically
It's as if something has attached itself and drained me dry.
Breathing is an effort
Got nothing to give....

Family heartaches near and far.
Friends with troubles too.

I drive to visit my loved ones with a stopover at a dear friend's home.
Alcohol seems to be a problem at both destinations.

Not the only issue.

A young mother, who is very young emotionally.
A sweet baby who needs an equipped momma.

Words that were on my heart spoken, but barely heard....

Head home with no stopover.
Arrive to conflicts that need resolution.
Check the mail and discover other issues that need immediate attention....

Too much...

All this and today is one year since we lost our Sara...

Too much...
A few days ago I told Papa that I wanted to decrease so that He would increase.
Decrease?  This feels more like shriveling....

He takes me back to those Words that drew me to Him all those years ago...
"Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden...."
This morning I placed myself before Him and turned it all over to Him. 
I am not worrying over how to handle all of it, but I am sad.
I am still weary.
I am still heavy laden.

Yet I have hope.
Though I am in a wretched place, in the depths of my heart I know that He is faithful and that He has a purpose for all of it.
I know that He loves each one and if they would but catch the slightest glimpse of His Heart and Hand they would begin an amazing adventure.

Yes, deep down there is a peace that passes understanding and with it I am reminded that it is not all up to me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Turn It Over?

Our codependency group was to meet tonight, but it is summer and our members were otherwise occupied.
If we had gathered our topic would have been the importance of recognizing just how powerful our God is, so we can be confident in turning over all of our struggles.

Why would we be willing to surrender our concerns to anyone if we weren't certain that they could handle it?
We've wrestled with so many situations and issues because they matter to us.  At some point it all becomes too much to handle anymore.  Then what do we do?
Give in to the mess?
Grow depressed and despondent?
Or give up to someone else.

Not just anyone will do.
There is only One who has the wisdom and power to sort it all out and actually draw the beauty out of our turmoil.
The thing is that many have no idea who this is...

In my reading this morning one verse in Amos leaped off the page.
"For behold, He who forms the mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, The LORD God of hosts is His name."
How awesome He is!
Imagine this God.
Has a vast army (hosts) at His command...

This exalted One reveals Himself and His thoughts to us!
Some will deny that He reveals anything to them.
Oh really?
Creation speaks of Him.
Life reveals Him.
His Word reveals His thoughts.
Our hearts cry out of His existence and our need of Him.

Just stop and open your heart and mind.
Look into the face of a newborn baby.
Enjoy the embrace of a loved one.
Take pleasure in the beauty of creation.

This is the One who will gladly take all our burdens.

Let me share, once more, the verses in Matthew that ushered me into His Kingdom where I found my Burden Bearer waiting to take all of it.
He has indeed made something beautiful out all of it!
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My load is light."
Tomorrow I head to West Virginia to spend time with our oldest son, Eric and his family.  I am particularly looking forward to spending time with great-grand baby Ariana!
Yes, it will be good to hang out with my dear ones, but I will leave them with a burdened heart.  I know that already.
However, I also know that Papa will be right there to take every care, as I hand them over.

I know that He will bring beauty out of every single care!
How I praise my Gracious God!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Some of My Favorite Things.

Throughout this day I have caught myself humming a tune.  It is one of those that can catch hold and refuse to fade for a while.
In this instance, I do not mind.  At least not yet!

The song is from The Sound of Music.  This posting shares its title.

Instead of fighting the tune running through my head I decided to use it to reflect on some of my favorite things.

I share the song writer's love of raindrops on roses, or any other flower. 
Actually, flowers make the list even if they have no raindrops on them, though early morning dew does add a special touch....
A freshly cut bouquet always brightens my day.

Kittens make the cut also.  Especially one certain kitty who is in residence in our home.  Roo is the most affectionate, inquisitive, gentle kitten I have ever encountered.
Each morning she has taken to greeting me by rubbing my ankles and mewing to be picked up.  She loves to cuddle and rub noses.  After her emotional tank is full she begins to squirm.  Once I release her she takes off at full speed.  There are birds to watch, toys to bat around and a jungle gym to climb.  All before breakfast!This fur ball never uses her nails with a person, even when playing. 
Roo has a permanent look of innocence on her face, so even if she is involved in a little mischief, you cannot be very stern with her.
All her ways are very endearing.

Every single thing mentioned in the song is a simple thing.  Nothing super fancy, just ordinary people, commonplace creatures and items; such is my list.
The smell of fresh cut grass...
The early morning sound of birds welcoming the new day...
The sense of belonging as each family member emerges from their room to start their day...
Baking my family's favorite cookies or meal...
Hanging laundry out on the line...
The smell of that laundry once dry...
Curling up with a good book...
The sound of rain....
Communication from a friend...
Visiting over a cup of tea....

I could go on, but you get the idea!

Now I will turn to some of my favorite things that I dare not consider commonplace.

Beginning my day with Papa...
Going through my day with Papa...
Realizing the joy that He shares with me...
The peace that comes from such a relationship...
The fellowship with others who love Jesus...
How words can leap off the page, as He speaks to my heart...

Yes, these are some of my favorite things!
Now it is your turn!

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Papa

My Bible study group is doing a study by Jim Cymbala. 
Yes, the same Jim Cymbala that I heard in person this past Tuesday.
He is God's man. 
Timothy, the author of two books of the Bible, would call him."a vessel meet for the Master's use". 
I love the sound of that and would love to be described that way.
Time will tell.

Anyway, the assignment for our study, which is entitled, "When God's Spirit Moves", was to read a few very familiar passages of scripture and invite the Holy Spirit to give us fresh teaching. 
What blessing came from it!

We were to read all of Psalm One Hundred Thirty-Nine.
It speaks of how well our God knows us. 

Each verse spoke to me.
He knows me, through and through.
He not only knows my thoughts, but He understands them.  Something that is not always the case for me!
My God knows where I am and what I am doing.  He is with me.
The Message puts it this way,
"I'm an open book to You..."
I was scribbling as fast as I could as the familiar Words spoke afresh to my heart.
Then I came to the fifth verse and I was so overwhelmed that words failed me for a moment.
"You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me."
He is with me.  This I know.
It is the picture that He brought to my spirit that bowled me over....

I saw myself as a little girl on the side of the road, waiting to cross.   There was a Hand resting on my shoulder, a Father's Hand.  A Hand of protection and guidance.

The image of God as my Father has always stirred my heart. 
I never knew my father.  To be honest, I do not even know for certain who he is.

When I was just beginning my walk with the Almighty, Living God, I came across a verse in Romans, the eighth chapter that said that I can call Him Abba, which means Papa or Daddy!
How my heart rejoiced!!

The Psalm goes on to say that there is no where that we could go that we would not find Him.
Even the remotest place we would discover...
"Even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me."
The picture was complete!  My Papa's hand is on me to direct me on the path He knows is best for me and He won't let go!

The sixth verse says it best.
"Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Six days have past since I last visited this site and I am surprised by this fact. 
Have I had nothing to say?  
Well, anyone who knows me will testify that this is unlikely.
The truth is that my energy level has been low while my activity level has not.
Beats me what is with my low energy.  It has been so low that I have snuck in a couple of naps along the way!
Not like me at all.

Today, however, I am feeling revived to some extent.
How could I not after last night?

At three o'clock in the afternoon I was sitting on a bus bound for The Brooklyn Tabernacle.  Traffic was a bear and added an extra hour to our travel.  (Is a pattern developing here?)
We arrived in time for a quick bite to eat with time to spare to find our seats.
Normally there is no reserved seating, but our group was the exception so we ended up with upfront seating!  Maybe having a pastor along helped....

Honestly it wouldn't have mattered to me where I was sitting.  The energy in the building was charged!
The Spirit was in the building!  Yahoo!!!!

This congregation takes praying very seriously and it was energizing to be able to experience such faith up close and personal.
Prayer is not something to get through for them.  It is a privilege and one to be taken seriously.  It is a time of deep connection with the Living God.
A few days earlier I had journaled about what prayer is to me.  "Prayer is an intimate connection with God, not a place to seek answers so much as to seek Him."

The pastor, Jim Cymbala urged everyone to remember that we are dependent upon the Holy Spirit to direct and empower our prayers.  We seek Him and then He will birth our prayers.

It is easy to get overwhelmed by all the need in this world.  When Papa makes me aware of a need, I write it down.  The list is a long one!   Truthfully, there are numerous lists!  If I tried to cover all of it every day I would be done in.  I must depend upon His Spirit to bring to my heart what needs to be prayed over.
If we simply try to get through the list, all we do is gloss over all the needs.  When we let Him lead, then we can focus on what truly needs attention and saturate it with prayer.
That is what they do at the Tabernacle.

That is not all they do.  These believers love the LORD and love to praise Him, so there was some wonderful time of praise and worship led by the Spirit!

The evening was topped off by a message by this man, who has a heart after God.  I was impressed by his humility, honesty and how down to earth he was.

Pastor Cymbala spoke from one verse in Genesis.  It is found in the twelfth chapter, the second verse.  God was speaking to Abram (Abraham before the name change).  He was making Abram some promises.  This is right after He had called Abram to leave his country and go where God showed him to go.  This is what Papa said to him,
"And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing."
The pastor focused on two of the four promises in this verse.
"I will bless you."
"So you shall be a blessing."
He asked us to see the connection between the two promises.
God blesses us so that we will be a blessing.
Not so we can sit back and be comfortable and hoard all of it for ourselves.
We were urged not to circle our wagons and keep to ourselves, but allow what we receive to flow from us out to others.
Otherwise we will become like the Dead Sea.  Water flows in, but there is no outlet.  Its water is heavy and lifeless and not refreshing at all.

If God blesses so that we can bless, then as we do bless, His blessings will continue to flow. 
I can testify that this is a fact. 
So can many others.

His blessings come in many forms.  It is not all , nor even primarily materialistic, but spiritual.
There is nothing better.
Stuff comes and goes.  None of it lasts, but His Spirit never fails.

This morning's reading in "My Utmost for His Highest" spoke of being a saint (a believer) who satisfies the heart of Jesus.
That is what I long to be.
Nothing satisfies a person more.

My adventure last night, which was shared by some dear friends, so blessed my heart.
To join with thousands of other voices in worshipping our King is a great joy.  To hear the truth proclaimed stirred my heart and gave me great encouragement.

The book of Joel, which I finished reading this morning, closes by drawing a picture of the place where my God dwells.  It is one of beauty, plenty, joy, sweetness, life, nurture; it is home!

What blessings! 
The privilege of communing with the Living God; being filled, led, taught and encouraged by His Spirit; being a conduit of His blessing and then getting to dwell with Him eternally is too much for this lady to contain!

"Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever!" 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Book Made for My Yellow Highlighter!

A yellow highlighter is my constant companion.  I use it to mark up most of the books that I read.
At times, I need to refrain as the book is borrowed and I doubt that its owner would be happy to have my sometimes crazed markings in their book.

Whatever book I am reading at any given time can be found close at hand.  On my errands and travels  I take it with me, as I never know when I might have a few minutes to fill.  It is always a pleasure to be able to get a little reading in here and there.
Sometimes Papa has other plans with those free bits of time, so I try to be aware of His promptings.  Even so, many opportunities do present themselves and I like to be ready with a book nearby!

Today I had a hair appointment.  It was time to cover up all that salt and pepper!  I nary had a gray or silver strand until this past year, but the stuff is making up for lost time these days!
This meant that I was going to be sitting with gook on my hair for a while and I was hoping to be able to use the time to read.  It all depended upon whether my hairstylist was in the mood to talk or not.
Her shop is a one person salon, so there would be no one else with whom to hold a conversation.
It turns out that she had a book that she was eager to pick up too. 
So there we sat stylist and client with our noses in our books.  Good thing we could rely on a timer to tell us when it was time to rinse the dye out otherwise me might still be sitting there with our open books!

What book is holding my interest so greatly at the moment?  Brennan Manning's "The Signature of Jesus."
His focus is on what a life will look like that has the signature of Jesus on it and what value is found in such a life.

I have been very busy with my marker!  Two chapters so enthralled me that I finally gave up marking the individual paragraphs and highlighted the chapter titles.

The first chapter title is, Fools for Christ.
It speaks of being willing to be set apart and the importance of finding community with other fools.

To be set apart means that we are willing to embrace the whole of the life that true disciples are to live.  To quote Brennan,
"True disciples see Christianity as a way of life on and off the camera."
How easy it is to hold back, modifying our behavior or words according to the expectations or beliefs of those around us.  Jesus did not do that and He has called us to follow Him.

For years there was a word that I disliked greatly.  The word was vulnerability.  Life had taught me that to be vulnerable was to open yourself up to be hurt.  And getting hurt was a guarantee.
As I grew in my love and knowledge of my God I became more secure and thus more willing to take risks.
This happened in community.

We need one another to encourage and challenge us.  Another quote from Brennan,who quoted Scott Peck,
"There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace-and ultimately no life-without community."
We learn to trust in community and thus become willing to be vulnerable.

How could we touch another life without being vulnerable?
How can I expect another to be open with me if I will not do the same with them?
I have a motto these days.
"I will share anything with everyone, but not everything with everyone."

There is no part of my past or present that I will not share if I am prompted to do so by Papa. 
That was not always so.
I was afraid of being exposed.  I was afraid that, once 'found out', I would be rejected.
Papa has given me peace.  As I realized that He was really for me, it mattered less whether anyone else was against me or not.
That is the kind of peace He gives, which is so very freeing!

The second chapter title is, Discipleship Today.
Brennan examines the difference between religion and relationship; doing and being.  He doesn't disregard all religion, but wants it held in proper perspective.  He says,
"We need reminders, symbols, stories, exhortations, living models, time-outs for reflection and celebration.  These things are indispensable supports.  The error is to think these things are the Christian life."
"The heart of discipleship lies in commitment and worship, not reflection and theory."
I find it very interesting that this particular book came to me at just this time, as I have been going through fits and starts regarding the place of religion in my life.  Papa has been showing me that the more I enjoy His Presence, the more aware that I am of His very Presence, the more all of my concerns will fall away and He will lead me through the labyrinth that man has laid out and called religion.

Just one more quote from Brennan,
"Herein lies the secret, I believe, of the inner life of Jesus.  Christ's communion with Abba in the inner sanctuary of His soul transformed His vision of reality, enabling Him to perceive God's love and care behind the complexities of life.  Practicing the Presence helps us to discern the providence of God at work especially in those dark hours when the signature of Jesus is being trace in our flesh."
Ah, I could quote the whole book, but instead will encourage you to read it for yourself.
However, before you even consider doing so I would urge you to do what Brennan does in His book.
Offer yourself to the indwelling God!

Monday, August 1, 2011


I am in slow motion this morning, as I returned at eleven o'clock last night from a three day visit with my family in New York.  It was a jam-packed visit.
It started off by my choosing to torture myself by driving instead of taking the ferry.  They all live on Long Island and though I know traffic can be a bear I figured heading there early would make a difference.
There are many people on Long Island.  All those people have vehicles, which they use constantly!  If it were a floating island, it would sink!

The visit was a full one, to say the least. 
First there was a birthday dinner for my sister, Lilly at a very noisy restaurant.  Is there any other kind on the Island?
Saturday found me at a baby shower for one of Sara's closest friends, which took the whole afternoon.
That was followed by a visit to Sara's grave.  I myself do not feel the need to visit graves, but I certainly didn't want to upset my sisters, especially Chrissy, by not joining them.

The night found me at a biker bar & grill.  I had promised that I would attend one of Lilly's boyfriend's gigs. 
This was it.

On Sunday Lilly and I had time to just sit and visit.  It was evident that Papa had set this time aside for just the two of us.  We shared our hearts, which filled my heart with joy.
Then it was on to a short visit with Chrissy.  We talked as we floated in her pool. Refreshing!   The two of us have not had much time to connect as of late.  I was very glad for time to catch up.

My day was capped off by sharing a meal with my Jon and girlfriend.  We were celebrating his birthday.  The man is working seven days a week, so I was very grateful for the visit, though brief.

No surprise - I took the ferry home.  It too was jam-packed and I am very glad that I had a reservation!  Jon had asked why I couldn't take the last ferry so we would have more time together.  I had to explain to him that I am getting a little (just a little!) older and get tired more easily.  I cannot do all that I use to be able to do.  If I had stayed longer, there would have been a good chance that his momma would not have made it safely home.

Once my car and I were safely on board, it was my intention to check in and then go back to my car and take a nap.
Papa had other ideas.

I found myself on the upper outside deck.
I stood against the railing and cleared my mind while I took in the night sky.  My God filled me with peace.

I thought through my visit and all the struggles and burdens that had been revealed to me.  Some had been shared and some were unacknowledged by the individuals. 
I examined each wondering how I would view them if I wasn't a follower of the Living God.
Without my God I would be burdened without knowing what the answer could be.
Because I have Papa I can bring it all to Him and know that not only does He know the answer to each concern, but He is the answer!

In time my mind and heart were clear and I could simply take in the beauty of the night. 
With this came an overwhelming sense of Papa's presence.
Such peace...
Just what my loved ones need.

I became aware of those around me on the ship.
Four or five boys around the age of ten years old zigged and zagged through the rows, dodging and ducking one another.  It was difficult to be sure of the count as they seemed to be everywhere at once!
There were a number of parents carrying babies, others chasing toddlers or holding their little chubby hands.
Some people had a leash in hand, instead of or, in addition to little ones.
Many sat on the benches either talking to one another, into their phones or staring at the phone's screen.

With this awareness my sense of Papa's Presence was not diminished.  Instead I sensed Him watching over each individual, sometimes in delight and sometimes with concern.
I wanted to put my finger to my lips and shush everyone.  I wanted to tell them to stop for a moment and be still.  I longed for each person to become aware of Papa's Presence right in the midst of their lives.

It was a holy moment for me and I wished all to recognize it as such and savor it.

The thought came that every moment is a holy moment, as He is present in each and every moment.
If we would stop and take in this truth, then we would enter into our lives with a fresh perspective which would give us a solemn joy.

How glad I am that I did not make it back to my car for that nap!  I was more refreshed by His Presence than sleep could have ever given to me.

"I will extol Thee, my God, O King; and I will bless Thy Name forever and ever.  Every day I will bless Thee, and I will praise Thy Name forever and ever.  Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.  One generation shall praise Thy works to another, and shall declare Thy mighty acts.  On the glorious splendor of Thy majesty, and on Thy wonderful works, I will meditate.  And men shall speak of the power of Thine awesome acts; and I will tell of Thy greatness.  They shall eagerly utter the memory of Thine abundant goodness, and shall shout joyfully of Thy righteousness."                                                  Psalm One Hundred Forty-five, verses One through Seven.