Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Religion or Power?

The church building was familiar, yet not.
I had been there before, but it was not the same.

That was the setting of my dream.
And you know how dreams can be.
Common in a very uncommon way.

The pews were so close together that there was barely any leg room.

I slid into one of them and upon sitting down my knees touched the back of the next pew.
It felt very confining.

A number of priests sat in front of me.
I could tell that they were keeping an eye on me.

Suddenly my phone alarm rang startling me. 
I thought I had turned it off, as I usually do, before entering the building.
It wouldn't stop and I was growing frantic.

With that I awoke.
My phone's alarm was indeed ringing, as it does every morning....

Whenever I remember a dream I try to figure out whatever message it might hold.
It seemed pretty obvious to me.
Religion is restricting, confining.

Selwyn Hughes calls it religiosity.

That was the topic in today's reading.


I am back to reading Brennan Manning's Reflections for Ragamuffins
I just can't help it.
It had been my intention to skip this year, but I felt drawn back to it.

A comment made in today's reading spoke of the importance of who we are in Christ, not who we think we should be or whom somebody else wants us to be.

It seems Papa is making certain I am getting His message.

My bible study group has begun another book by Jim Cymbala.
It is entitled, Breakthrough Prayer.

His premise is that we need to set aside religion and go after God with all we've got.

It is crucial.

A verse from Scripture keeps showing up on my radar.
The Tenth chapter of John, the Tenth verse.
"The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly."
I wonder if one way the enemy works is to encourage us to settle for a lot less than the abundant life that Jesus offers.

The abundant life is full of God.
It is one marked by an intimate connection with Him.
The power of prayer is tapped into and things happen.

It is so easy to get into a routine that ends up lifeless.
Without power.

I have been praying for many of the same needs for quite a few years.
Slowly, but surely, it can become rote.

Yet, it doesn't have to be the case.

How does that happen?

Maybe by starting to look for man's approval....

Maybe by beginning to ride on the coattails of the last victory and forgetting the battle is still on.

Maybe by forgetting how dependent we are on the Spirit...
for everything.

Religion offers a long list of do's and don't's.
It is about externals.

Second Timothy, Chapter Three, verse Five says,
"...holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power..."
It finishes up by warning,
"avoid such men as these."
We need to avoid being such people ourselves!

How to tap into the power and not the religiosity?

Time on our knees at the feet of our God.

Jim Cymbala pointed out example after example of those who cried out to God and did not let go until He blessed them.

They rose to their feet empowered.
So will we.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Joy in all Shapes and Sizes, But All Full!

This project I began of taking the time to recognize the blessings that Papa fills my life and noting them in a journal has begun to become a way of life.
The more I watch, the more I find!

Each one brings joy with it.

There is only one source of true joy and that is the Living God.

Each time I stop to take in one of His sweet gifts and turn the discovery into an opportunity to give Him thanks and praise, He responds with the blessing of joy.

There are numerous references to joy in His Word.

In the Old Testament there are eight different Hebrew words that are translated into the English word joy.
Sometimes the use of just that three letter word does not do justice to what Papa seeks to convey.
That is why I love to pull out my concordance and find the fuller meaning.

Sometimes the word is simply joy, which, by itself, still represents something fuller and deeper than happiness.
However, many other times so much more lies under the surface.

Shouting out of joy.
Singing with joy.

The New Testament has just three words that are translated joy.
Each one deserves a fuller definition.

Great rejoicing.
Rejoicing with.

These two lists still fall short of the joy that Papa shares with His children, but they help.

Our God is the giver of all good things.

James says it well,
"Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow."
Papa loves to bless and loves to increase our joy as we become wide-eyed with discovery.
His joy has no limits.
I imagine Him poised, just waiting for another opportunity to pour more joy into our lives.

Joys comes in an unlimited variety of forms.

Putting on a necklace this morning made by my granddaughter just for me caused me to thank my God for such a show of love.
with the thanksgiving my joy increased.

After one week of searching for our little white cat I had given up.
She had obviously gotten out somehow.
Too sad.

It was Wednesday night and Ray and I had just retired for the night when I heard noise coming from the living room.
There sat Miss Sushi!

It turns out that she had been hiding (and still is) in a little corner next to the washing machine.
That night I trapped her with a trap from the Humane Society.
I then released her in a small room.
She allowed me to pet her.
Probably because I set her free from the trap.

Slowly, but surely she is warming up.  At one point she rolled over and let me rub her belly.
This is a big deal in the cat world!

Meanwhile, Stir Fry loves to be carried around in a furry sling which keeps him close to my heart.

I have been thanking Papa for these two fur balls and the life they have added to our home.
Life and joy all from Him!

The weather yesterday left Matt and Tim without work for the day.
This is not a bad thing, as they work hard and long, usually six days a week.
My dear sons chose to spend the time together, just hanging out.

My boys are friends!
This fact caused Papa and I to dance a little celebration of joy.
It warms are hearts!

Ray and I headed out for a few errands today.

Pearly needed gas and my honey pumped it.

Once in the store, Ray steered the shopping cart.

Both tasks are done with a measure of extra effort and difficulty for my man and I could have done both myself quicker and easier.  However, Papa has shown me the importance of stepping back and letting my husband do as much as possible himself.

Resisting the urge to take over I was able to enjoy the gift of peace and the gift of a husband who is with me and able to do much more than anyone anticipated.
For both I am very thankful.
Papa added joy to my gratitude.

Outside our last stop a young man stood at a table.
The table had all kinds of material about the ministry of Teen Challenge.
The ones who man those tables are people in recovery who are participating in the program.

I love meeting each and every one of these dear people.

Of course, I stopped by the table to speak with the fellow.
I learned that he was very cold.
The store is perched on top of a good sized hill and is windy on a good day.
Today is an especially windy day, so it is that much more so on that hill.

I knew that his shift was a long one, as they always are, so I asked him if he wanted a cup of coffee.
Oh, yes, please!
After picking up the few items I needed I got him that cup of coffee.
Papa threw in a package of cookies.  :)
We also were able to include a few words of encouragement!

As Ray and I drove away my heart overflowed with joy.
Papa and I were giggling.

He was pleased and I was grateful!
Nothing makes my day like such an opportunity!!

My heart joins the Psalmist in the Seventy-First chapter,t he Twenty-Third verse,
"My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; and my soul, which you have redeemed."
My joy simply echoes His.
"The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior.  He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy."  Zephaniah 3:17

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Joy of Vulnerability

My pearly Forester is equipped with a few features that are spoiling me for anything less.

Seat warmers.
I know it has been the winter that wasn't thus far, but I get cold easily!

Blue tooth.
No more driving with something sticking out of my ear!

A port for my iPod
All my favorite tunes at my disposal!
This is vying for my vote as most-favored accessory.

The system is set up to play all the selections at random.
I love a surprise!

Interspersed among the songs are a few sermons, conferences talks, devotional materials and even the book of Revelations read by Max McLean.

Occasionally one of the non-musical items is selected.
Sometimes I hit the handy button on my steering wheel to skip it, just like I do for a song here and there.
At other times I feel prompted to listen.

Earlier today a portion of a sermon by a man named Ivan Tate came on.
He spoke at my son, Matt's former church, The Mission in California.

I did not hit the button, but listened instead.

Mr. Tate was speaking about being real.
He made a statement that caught my attention.
The gist of it was that some of us never let anyone else really know us.  That somewhere along the line we were hurt and had put up a wall to protect ourselves from future pain.
He asserted that there were definitely couples sitting in the audience that had been married for years, yet did not know really each other.

I know about putting walls up.
Many years ago I began to attend a Child of Alcoholics group.
It is there that Papa revealed to me that not only did I not like to find my self in a vulnerable position, but I didn't even like the word!

Through this group He taught me to connect with my emotions and then look at where many of them stemmed from.
The first step was to learn about emotions. 
With the help of a wonderful priest, who led the group, we explored emotions.
We all knew about anger and fear, but many others were seemingly foreign to us.  We had learned to suppress them.

It was tough work, but it was rewarding and very freeing in the end.

I may have moved on from the group, but Papa has not ended the lessons.

Just the other day He brought the subject of being vulnerable up again.
However, this time it was about Jesus' vulnerability being my example.

The Creator laid Himself bare before His creation.
He left the glories of Heaven to be ridiculed, spit upon, beaten and even crucified...

.....by the very ones He, not only created, but loved.

I love the way The Message puts it in the Second chapter of Philippians, verses Five through Eight read this way,
"Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of Himself.  He had equal status with God, but didn't think so much of Himself that He had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what.  Not at all. When the time came, He set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!  Having become human, He stayed human.  It was an incredibly humbling process.  He didn't claim special privileges.  Instead, He lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death-and the worst kind of death at that- a crucifixion."
You can't be humble without being vulnerable.
All rights must be set aside.

He did it out of love.
Love for the Father and love for us.

It is that love that moves us to follow His example.

Vulnerability; humility requires surrender.
Surrender of stuff, status and self.

The stuff Jesus surrendered was far greater than any we could be required to let go of....
His stuff was made up glory....The glories of Heaven!
Any status and sense of self we have more than pales in face of His position and identity as God.....

He gave it all up for....
 "the joy set before Him." Hebrew Twelve, Two
The joy of a relationship with us for all eternity!

His joy is available to all who come to Him in surrender.
"These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full."  John Fifteen, Eleven
Joy and so much more!

I have been hanging out in Colossians lately.  In the Third chapter, a three letter word caught my attention.


We are instructed to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts and to let the word of Christ richly dwell with us.
In other words surrender.

Surrender, be willing to be vulnerable and though pain might come, the joy will make it worth it all.

We have our Savior's Word on it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


A friend emailed me the other day to share the closing prayer a group leader had used that morning. She felt I would appreciate it and said, "The leader asked us to say our names each time we came to the word 'yours'. Try it I know you will like it."

I did and now I pass it on here.

Christ Has No Body by Teresa of Avila

Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion of this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet.
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
What a privilege!

There is something that I have discovered though....

As His representative, we need the One whom Jesus promised to send to empower us.

Gradually, I have learned to rely upon this One, who is the Holy Spirit.  The result?  Opportunities have been more plentiful and the fruit more bountiful!

Certainly we can make a difference in this world by our kind acts and words, but to make an eternal difference, we need the power of our God. 
That power comes in the form of His Spirit.

Scripture is filled with examples of how the Spirit worked in and through Jesus followers once He had returned to Heaven.
Men who were uneducated spoke with power and knowledge and hearts were reached, lives were changed.

Innumerable prayers offered for the church spoke of the need for the Spirit to teach and empower.
Ephesians Three, verse Sixteen is an example,
"that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;"

In page after page we discover more of those riches under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit.
And then time after time we will be able to proclaim those riches to others!

On Fridays I have the joy of spending time at a drug/alcohol rehab.  My visits have spanned eleven years now.
There has never been a time when I did not speak of Papa and His love.


The past few years have seen a greater freedom to speak and equally a hunger to hear. 
It is as if I am an observer. 
The words just come.
And as they come, more and more residents grow quiet, gather and listen.
Listen with open faces and shining eyes.

What has made the difference? 
The Holy Spirit.
I am dependent upon Him, not my knowledge.

Yes, it is critical to study.  It gives the Spirit the opportunity to draw out richer truth to share.
But without the Spirit we lack the power.

That power raised our Savior from the grave.
It is available to raise anyone from the dead.

Imagine our God has chosen us to be vessels through whom He desires to demonstrate that power!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Not Just a Pile of Rocks!

In the Old Testament the people of God would often create monuments out of a stack of rocks, as reminders of where God met them.

Rocks stir memories of God's grace for me too.

Thus far, today has been such a lovely day and rocks helped me to stop to thank Papa.

When I was a small girl my family would make infrequent trips to visit my grandmother.
During those trips I would watch for the sign that we were getting close.

The sign was along the Saw Mill River Parkway.

In some areas a lot of blasting was done to facilitate the building of that road.
Blasting of rock.

The remnants of those rocks rise up on both sides of the roadway.

That's the sign!

Joy would rise up in me at the first glimpse of the jagged, gray walls.

My grandma loved me. 
I was eager to be enveloped by this loving woman who knew how to hug!

I will let you in on a little secret.  One of my wonderful friends, who is a little older than me, hugs like my grandma.  It is so tempting to tell her how her hugs stir such sweet memories, but I fear she might not like being compared to my grandmother!

Fast forward to this morning.
While driving Ray to the gym I came to a stop sign.  Usually I am intent upon finding a gap in the traffic and never notice anything else. 
However, today I happen to look across the street and took in the scene.

Jagged, gray rocks greeted me.

And with the sight came the wonderful memory of visiting my grandmother.
Papa delights in bringing a smile to our hearts!
And He did just that for me.

My thoughts expanded to embrace and rejoice over the fact that my dear, baby sister was actually visiting me!
This is no small thing.  It is the first overnight at my home that we have had as adults.
And we have been adults for quite a while!

With that thought came the memory of her coming home from the hospital for the first time.
I was eight years old.
She was placed in my arms first thing and since then she has been my baby.

We had a lovely visit.  Sitting up past midnight, sharing our thoughts and enjoying the alone time was such a gift.

A leisurely breakfast and a brief shopping trip finished our time together, for now, but I hold close in my heart the treasure of this gift.

If I were to gather rocks to build a monument of this serendipity that Papa has allowed, I would need quite a few!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Here Kitty Kitty

Saturday was the mark of a fresh adventure for the Mister and Misses who resides in our home.
We adopted two young cats.

Since becoming Rue-less we had come to the decision that we needed a fur ball or two of our own.
So two weeks ago we made a trip to the Humane Society to find a kitten or two.
We filled out a multi-page form where we gave more information than was necessary to take our offspring home from the hospital. 
I am surprised that they didn't require us to get physicals!

That day we left without our selected  kitty, as he needed a few more shots and they needed to check out our application, line-by-line, page-by-page.
I know I implied that we chose the little guy, but really he was the one who decided we belonged to him!
A few other cats came to check us out, but turned their noses up and continued on their way.  This guy jumped right up to sit between Ray and I.  Then he pressed his little face against me.

The little boy had been found starving on the street.  He is still very thin and bony.

This past Saturday was the day we could take the four month old little oriental tabby home. 
While we were signing yet more papers the staff person told us that there was now one more young cat available for adoption.  Would we like to meet her?

In came a nearly pure white kitty with the biggest eyes I have seen on a cat.
She, too, jumped up and curled up between my honey and me.
Needless to say, she was the second cat that came home with us.
The poor thing had been found with a badly broken leg and had just been declared healed.
I think her heart will take a little longer.

The girl was named Sushi and somehow it seemed to fit.  The little guy had been called Ranger, but we tossed that name.  He is Stir Fry. 
A word play on Small Fry. 
Being part Oriental and also big on eating we thought a food reference fit.

Well, upon arriving home Stir Fry jumped out of his carry case and promptly began to check out his new home.
Sushi ran and hid.

Five days later Sushi is still hiding.
A number of times each day I seek her out and speak kindly to her, while not insisting that she come out of hiding.
Sometimes it becomes a challenge to find her latest hiding place.
Yesterday I found her collar, but no Sushi.  It made me think of the Chesire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, who could vanish at will! 

Yes, every day I have found her after some searching.
Every day until today.
I cannot find her anywhere and I am becoming concerned.
Sushi was last seen under a chair at eleven o'clock last night.

There is no way that she got out, but where in the world could she be??
I am suppose to call the Humane Society within the next few days to report on how our little ones are doing.  I certianly hope that I do not have to report her missing!

The way I figure it, if she is going to make an appearance it will be tonight.
My sister is coming for the night and she is allergic to cats.
She comes armed with her allergy medication, so she'll be okay, but knowing the way cats operate it would be no surprise if Sushi decided my sister was too good to resist.

Meanwhile, Stir Fry has decided that he has to have either Ray or I within sight at all times.  Given the choice he wants to be in physical contact and gets vocal about it if there has been too much of a lapse since last contact.
We think he must have been separated from his mother too soon.
I am considering getting one of those baby carriers that mother's use with newborns!

According to Proverbs Twelve, verse Ten, those who belong to Papa care about their animals.
Eugene Peterson puts it this way in The Message,
"Good people are good to their animals..."
I think I'll close and make another search for that missing kitty.

That is if I can convice Stir Fry to give up my lap!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Good Dirt

Dirt has been on my mind.
Soil to be exact.

It started with me praying for my grandchildren's hearts and minds to grasp, not only their need for a Savior, but all that Savior has done for them. 

I had just read and meditated on a passage of Scripture found in the Second chapter of Colossians. 
"And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the Cross.  When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him."
As I read of all that Jesus (that's the He the passage is referring to!) did for me, it caused my heart to rejoice afresh.

The writer, Paul, had a thing about run-on sentences, but that is fine because, in this case it seemed to emphasis what Jesus did.
Remember action verbs?  Well, these verses are full of them. 

I picture Paul heaping one after another on the pile in a most breathless way.
made us alive
     and has forgiven us all our sins
         and canceled the debt
            and taken all the hostility out of the way
                and disarmed all spiritual enemies
                    and made a public display
                         and TA DA! TRIUMPHED!!!

The most recent email I received from a dear man that I know and love was written in just the same style.

The difference was that he listed a pile of things that were overwhelming him right now; things he had to handle.
While Paul wrote with great excitement, eager to share and remind us of all we have in Jesus.

If we do not focus on Jesus and all He offers us, then all the stuff of life will pile up until we are suffocated.
The pile of all that Jesus offers does not get heaped on us, no, it becomes a solid foundation that lifts us above all the stuff!

That is what I long for in my grandchildren's lives.
Actually, every one's life!

So where does soil come in?

As I prayed for them I prayed that their hearts would be tender to the Truth of God.
Referring to the Parable of the Sower and the Soils, I prayed that their hearts would become good soil that could and would receive the seed of Truth.

Papa reminded me that it is not a one time thing.
He, the Master Gardener tends the soil of our hearts continually.

The Parable speaks of four types of soil.            
      Soil that is too hard to receive any seed.
         Soil that is very rocky.
            Soil covered with thorns.
               And good soil.

For soil to be good it must be tilled and watered.

All kinds of instruments can be used to turn over the soil.

Especially if the soil is your heart.

Papa is able to use everything and anything so that our hearts will be receptive to all He desires to plant.

Each experience, every word, can be turned into something that will bear fruit in His Hands.

When our hearts are made of good soil, then all that Jesus has done for us and all that He offers us becomes more real to us. 

Removal of rocks will hurt.
Clearing out the thorns will leave scars.
Even the water we so desperately need might seem frightening as it envelopes us.
Ah, but the fruit that it produces will be so sweet!

I'll let Hebrews Twelve, verse Eleven close these thoughts....
"All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness."

Friday, February 10, 2012

Are There Words?

With quivering lip and tears streaming down her face the woman shared her fear and pain with me.
It looked like she might be sentenced to three years in jail.
She had spent eighteen months there and was loathe to think that she might have to return; of having to give up three more years of her life.

What could I say to her?
Were there words of encouragement to be said?

The young man in the hospital bed trembled in pain.
Just twenty-two years old, yet the pain etched on his face belied that fact.
There are many symptoms, but no diagnosis.  The doctors are at a loss right now.

What could I say to him?
How could I make a difference there?

Just two of many people who are in crisis. 
Crises that they both have aided and abetted.

Addiction is a deranged motivator.
It is also a destroyer of life and limb.

These two precious ones have struggled with the beast for years.
It has left its mark.

So were there, are there words of encouragement for them and all the rest of us who struggle with our own beasts?

You know the answer to that question.....

A resounding YES!

The Good News is that there is hope, a sure hope....

The Words that bring that hope are from the Living God.
They are the Word of God.
The Bible.

As I speak and pray with those who Papa brings across my path, I do not stop at the fact that we are broken, sinful and unholy on our own. 
No, the news that we all need to hear and receive is that the Holy One has made a way for us to not only approach him, but also enter into relationship with Him!
And He made the way because He so loves us that He couldn't hold Himself back from sacrificing His own precious Son for us!

He loves to love us.
Papa delights in blessing us.
The only hindrance is when we don't receive Him and His love.

When we receive, then have a Presence who goes through all the struggles with us.
He promises never to leave us, nor forsake us.
He may not remove all the hard stuff, but He will work it out for good in the end.
Because He loves us.

The other day I was reflecting on how faith in Jesus Christ, a.k.a. the Christian faith, is the only one whose followers are motivated by love alone.
Pure love.

Not to appease...
Or to earn favor...
Nor to avoid punishment...

But out of love for the One who loves us.

In First John we read that,
"God is Love."
"We love Him because He first loved us."
That is the essence of our faith.

When a person gets a true taste of His love for them, they are never the same.
And where His love is there is hope and peace; a future.

That is what I tell everyone who will listen.
That is what I pray they receive.

Yes, there are Words of encouragement, because they are His Words, Words coming from the one Who loves us and died to be sure we could enjoy that love.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Gaze

There are times when I feel prompted to post a new entry to this blog with only a vague sense of what I am going to write.
This is one of those times.

I know I am suppose to write something about God's eyelids, so here it goes!

Eyelids, you ask?
Yes, eyelids!

During my reading this morning I was taken to the Eleventh Psalm.
As I read it, I realized that I was following the devotional material from yesterday, which I had read already.
Thus the Scripture was not the passage for today.

It was no mistake.

I had journaled about the Psalm the day before.  Could there be something else here just one day later?
Did Papa have more to say to me?
Oh, yes.

Verse four was where He stopped me.
"The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD'S throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men."
Okay, I know where His throne is and wherever He is the place is holy just by His Presence.

It was the second half of the verse that I needed to examine more closely.

The Almighty God sees everything, He doesn't miss a thing.  He is very observant, but what does the part about His eyelids mean??

I checked out the concordance and the translation is correct.  We are talking about His eyelids.

It was time to pull out a couple of other translations.  My usual version is the New American Standard, as it is an excellent translaiton, but using others helps give me a fuller understanding at times.

The New International Version says,
"He observes the sons of men; His eyes examine them."
King James puts it this way;
"His eyes behold, His eyelids try, the children of men."
These two, as well as the Amplified Version did not move me any closer to a deeper understand.
However, Eugene Peterson's The Message not only gave me understanding, but stunned me.  I will quote the full verse, for it drew the entire picture for me.
"But God hasn't moved to the mountains, His holy address hasn't changed.  He's in charge, as always, His eyes taking everything in, His eyelids unblinking, examining Adam's unruly brood."
With the reading of this I became acutely aware of His gaze.
His unblinking gaze.

His eyelids do not lower, but keep fully open so Papa sees the whole picture.
It not only the picture He sees in its entirety, but all of me, heart and soul.

I felt His gaze reaching to my very core.

All I could do was bow my head in silence.

His gaze stirred fear and relief in me.
For a message was carried in that Holy gaze.

He knows all about me.
And He understands.
It isn't all lovely, but He is making it so.
Trust Him.
Rest in Him.
Obey Him.

I am accepted in the Beloved and nothing will change that.

This reminds me of something I wrote about before.

Looking up into His gaze I see me reflected there.
Me, the apple of His eye!

Oh, Papa, what lovely, unblinking eyelids!
Oh, Papa, gaze away!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I Spy!

The trick to traveling with young boys with very active minds was to keep them occupied. 
Our sons loved to be read to and so we worked our way through quite a few wonderful books filled with glorious adventures.

The list included books whose stories drew all of us in and definitely helped to pass the time in the car, as well as many an evening at home!
The Newberry award list's offerings included many an enchanting story that captured imaginations, one and all.

The reader (me) would need a break now and again, which meant another diversion was needed!

The game I Spy was a good one. 
Someone would silently select something and say, "I spy something that is....(at this point you insert a descriptive word such as a color or size.)  Every one blurts out their ideas until someone gets it right.  They then get to spy something for others to guess.

I have been thinking about that game because I feel like Papa has engaged me in something very similar....

The wonderful thing about playing with Papa is that there are no wrong answers!
Every discovery is from His Hand.

As I have been pondering the joy of this glorious scavenger hunt I have realized two things.

I know I have referred to this first one already, but it bears emphasizing. 
Each little gift is a treasure and I dare not overlook it because of its size.

A comment by a dear friend brought the second realization to me.

It is important not to set limits on what treasures we will watch for.
By setting our expectations on what we believe would like to find, we miss all that Papa has set before us already!

Certainly let's look with anticipation for what He would have us spy and enjoy, but let's not sit in expectation that He will do so as we prescribe!

Psalm Forty-six, verse Ten goes hand-in-hand for me with the Ninetieth Psalm's Twelfth verse,
"Be still and know that I am God..."
"So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom."
I get still before my God and then in recognition of Who He is I let Him show me how to live.

Life happens in the moment, not at some distant point.
Truly living involves discovering all that He places in my life.
Savoring the gifts is His idea of living...

I spy....

A Mighty God who loves me beyond measure!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Take a Seat!

The first Sunday of each month is marked by many church families with the celebration of Communion or the LORD'S Supper.
I always look forward to this, as it is a time to stop and remember His great sacrifice and what it means to me.

The Words read by our elder were ones I had heard many, many times before.  Yet, today they took on a a greater emphasis for me....
"and when He (Jesus) had given thanks, He broke it (the bread), and said, 'This is My body, which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.'  In the same way He took the cup also, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.'" (parentheses added.)
Those Words from the Eleventh chapter of First Corinthians washed over me.  One phrase hung in the air.
"as often as you drink it.." 
As often.....

Ann Yoskamp discusses the meaning of Eucharisteo in her book.
Eucharisteo, the table of thanksgiving.
That is what Jesus instituted at that Last Supper.

As often...

Not just once a month, but every day....
                    Take a seat at the table of thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving for the sacrifice that opened the way to be whole.
Whole with God and thus whole within ourselves.

The subject of recovery is never far from my thoughts. 
I have a few dear friends who are very committed to their own recovery.
Would it be that many more would join the ranks!

What does recovery have to do with what I have been writing about?

Well, let's look at the meaning of the word recovery.
Of course, that means a look into the dictionary.


The regaining of something lost...
Return to any former and better state or condition....

Many might think of this word in reference to those who struggle with addiction.
So the following is a definition from that angle.

The Betty Ford Clinic defines it as a voluntarily maintained lifestyle composed and characterized by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship.
To me recovery is the path of healing, a means to wholeness, which is only found through and in Jesus Christ.
Everyone needs to find their way to that path.
I have often said that we all have our addictions; it's just that some are not as obvious as others.
We all need healing.
Papa is teaching me afresh that to commence our recovery we must first recognize our need for it and then we must take a seat at the beautiful table He has set for us...
The more we give thanks, the more we will discover there is to be thankful for.
A number of years before I had the privilege of a taste from that table.   I had an experience that, I believe, marked the turning toward that path of healing.
On my way home from work I noticed an older woman struggling to carry her bags of groceries.  She was obviously walking home from the store and must have come a considerable distance already.
I pulled over and offered her a ride, which she accepted.
We chatted, but I do not recall our words.  I only recall her gratitude and how I felt after the encounter.
I felt grateful...
Grateful to have been able to help...
And just plain grateful for what I could not say, but grateful just the same.
It is as if an inner eye was turned from a focus on self and all my struggles..
An inner eye that was turned to see others and thus discover my own blessings.
There is an open invitation to join Him at His table.
How delighted He is when we take our seat!
It is my desire to celebrate Eucharisteo every day.
May I seize every opportunity....
      Lift every cup....
                        In thanksgiving!

A Nugget

At the end of a full day I cried out to Papa,
"But Papa how am I to be constant, steadfast in prayer, if I get so many interruptions?"
I love to spend unlimited time with Him, praying at leisure.  That type of opportunity comes rarely these days.
This particular day I arose, brewed my cup of tea and settled down with His Book in my hand.  I like to begin by hearing from Him, opening my heart to His loving ministration.

It was the morning that my friend comes to sit with me and Papa.  It is a lovely prayer time and I wanted to prepare my heart.

The phone rang and it was her saying that she was in crisis mode and would not be able to come.  She needed prayer.
We turned our hearts and minds to our God.

Then it was time to rouse my honey and get him going for his day.

Upon returning from driving him to the gym I headed to my sanctuary.
Ah!  Time to sit at His feet!

After a brief time the phone rang.
It was a dear family member, who needed someone to listen with love....

The time to head to my friends at the rehab had arrived.  As I drove there I committed the time to Papa's safekeeping mentioning that
"apart from Him I could do nothing!"
He and I had a grand time and how my heart was stirred by His love for these precious people!

From there I swung by to pick up my long-time prayer partner.  We usually pray on Friday's after the rehab.
Unfortunately I needed the time to do some banking, as my morning had left no time for it.

We talked to the bank and prayed our way home! (I, the driver, kept my eyes open.)  :)

Fast forward to that cry to Papa.
His response?
"What do you think you were doing today?!"
Silly me. 

Just because my day didn't take on the route that I had laid out for it....

Just because my prayers were not from my little cozy prayer room...

Just because I couldn't shut out the busyness of life while I prayed.....

And just because all my prayers were not even conscious....

Papa showed me that I had, indeed, been constant in prayer!

Isn't He so gracious and so ready to bless our hearts?

He is my great encourager and comforter!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Miles of Hats?

The vehicle I am driving now has been on the road for two weeks.
In that amount of time I have found a way to log over seven hundred miles on the lovely creamy white Forester.

Unfortunately, it was easy.

I do not wander around aimlessly.
No not I.
I fill ever mile with purpose!

It all has to do with the hats I wear.

In church circles, for quite a few years, I was known as the "hat lady".
I use to collect hats and had more than enough for any occasion, in a multitude of colors.

My hat collection has been retired.
Yet, I still seem to be wearing many hats.
Who doesn't?

I have the sister hat, which took me down to Long Island to visit one of my sisters.  It was suppose to be a visit with all three, but two were down for the count, so sister Chris and I got one another to ourselves.  Very lovely!
However, this began the rapid changing of the numbers on my ride's odometer.

The mother hat came into use on that New York trip, as one son is down there too.  Of course, no one lives in the same town or vicinity of one another! 
Click, click, click went that dutiful meter.

Once home this self-same hat made a trip to yet another son's home to wait for a repairman.
I got to visit with Rue on that trip, which was such fun.
Well, it was once she would acknowledge me.

I had to explain to Rue that as far as I was concerned she could have lived with me forever.
After that she warmed up and was up to her old lovable ways!

Now back to my collection of hats.
There is the married woman hat.
Actually, there is quite a variety of hats to fulfill that role!

There are the hats that cover all the typical wifely things, but there are a few additional head coverings.
The caregiver style encompasses everything from checking toes for any hint of those unnatural colors of blue to making sure that all medication is not only in the proper dispensers, but that they are ordered and/or in a timely fashion.

All those hats do not stay at home baking chocolate chip cookies.
Though the husband would not mind that at all!

How could I ever keep that mile-counter happy if I didn't climb into the pearly transport on a regular basis?!
That brings us to the chauffeur hat  and running around doing errands headpiece since my honey no longer drives.

Take Ray to the gym.
Pick Ray up from the gym.
Don't forget the pharmacy!
Oh, didn't we need milk??
Time to visit the credit union!

You know the drill, as I am certain that this type of list is not unique to me!

This week has seen much more use of the mother hat.
Our youngest has been miserably sick.


I never knew just how awful that illness is.
But I do now.

The poor guy's glands are so swollen that when he tries to close his mouth, his teeth no longer line up!
His throat is so swollen and sore that he could not swallow his own saliva.

Tuesday morning I awoke to a text from him.
All it said was,
He's twenty-three, but when he is sick you know who he wants.  His mommy, who happens to be me.

That day found me picking him up and driving him to the doctor, which conveniently was after Ray was done with the gym.
Our doctor is not local, as we have had him for years and love him, so we are not changing doctors.
Though when one needs to make regular trips to see him the thirty minute trip each way can get a little old!

Since the visit to the doctor our dear son has needed numerous things, including a little laundry done, as he was running out of essentials.
I am very grateful that my new four-wheeled friend has very comfy seats!  It feels like I am truly becoming one with this vehicle.  both literally and figuratively!

Of course the friend hat hasn't sat in the closet lately either.
It hasn't wanted to stay in the house either, but has insisted on contributing to the tallying of those miles too.

My hat selection wouldn't be complete without the prayer warrior number.
Alas, this one didn't want to be the only one to be stuck in the house all the time so......
Off we went!

At some point in my week this really ugly hat showed its brim....

I call it the martyr hat.

One little comment brought it out into broad daylight.
"How are you holding up?"
Oh, how it loves to get itself to fit snugly on my head!
And it almost succeeded!
But just as the fit was becoming all too comfortably familiar Papa helped me to realize what was happening!

The thought had come that if it settled itself down and got nice and snug, it would be because I was choosing to wear it.
It is not a style that Papa is particularly fond of.
By His grace I don't feel very comfortable wearing it anymore.
Well, not for too long anyway....

After a few deep sighs from me, which made the hideous hat lift its brim in a leering smile...
It thought it might get quite a few miles out of me....
I tossed it down and put on the...

Papa's little girl selection and I climbed up into His lap!

I have gotten many miles on this one without my little Forester!