Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Good Master

Walking through a parking lot I saw a woman headed in my direction. 
She did not look like someone that you would want to tangle...
Her face wore a scowl that gave the impression of being permanent.
Her steps were planted, one-by-one, with such force that I would not have been surprised if they were accompanied by sound effects! 

 Boom!  Boom!  Boom!

It struck me that the words to go with the steps, which might have been running through her subconscious were these:   
"Take that world!!"

(Yes, the words would definitely be on the large size.)

As this person passed by me I got a glimpse of the words on the back of her t-shirt:
I would have liked to ask her how that was working for her, but really it was obvious.
The only reason to ask such a question would be if it would have made her stop and think.
However, that would take a lowering of her defenses and, if I were to make a guess, she had been fortifying them for a good long time!

My heart went out to her.
I did want to speak with her. 
Actually, I wanted to give her a twenty-second hug!
Those hugs last just long enough for you to feel something relax in the recipient...
I wonder when this broken woman last relaxed?

Even though I do not know this person personally I feel pretty certain what the core issue is that has her so angry.....
She does not know she is loved.

They all lead to us putting up walls for self-protection.
All the energy that it takes to erect those walls feeds the anger that builds inside of us.

So after I gave that hurting one the hug I would have told her:
"Hey, there I have some really GOOD NEWS to share with you!!!"
I would explain to her that there is One who is THE MASTER and He is good.
Each one of us has a master whether we recognize it or not.
If it isn't the Living God, it isn't a good master....

He is the Master that makes us willing to follow His rules.

We'd also discuss the importance of rules.....
No one would like to be in an airplane whose pilot decided he didn't want to land on the tarmac, would they?
Neither would we want to be on roads where no one followed any rules...

(Wait!!  That sounds like Cambodia!
(All I can say about that is that I knew Papa had His girl covered.  It was the only explanation for my survival!)

During my readings today I found myself in 1 Samuel 16. 
There I read the familiar story of Samuel seeking out the one the LORD would have him anoint king of Israel.
Samuel was impressed with the very first son, Eliab, Jesse presented to him.  The Lord rejected this son and reminded Samuel that He did not judge by appearances, but He looked upon the heart.
May we see through His eyes and look beyond the walls that so many have erected!

Our Lord calls to each one...
"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 will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
I like how The Message puts this passage from Matthew 11:
"Are you tired?  Worn out?  Burned out on religion?  Come to Me.  Get away with Me and you'll discover your life.  I'll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with Me and work with Me-watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
Now isn't that just what that dear woman needs?  Isn't He what we all need?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Reminders in the Rain

This morning, as I sat on the porch of our vacation rental watching the rain fall and feeling a bit glum, I asked Papa to help me climb out of the hole I had allowed myself to sink.
It wasn't the rain that was causing the blue mood. A number of things were weighing heavily on my heart. Nothing on the list was within my control to do anything to affect change. The only change possible was within me.

Papa knew what I needed and how to help me receive it.

My son, Matt, joined me on the porch. He, too, enjoys an intimate relationship with Papa, which enriches the relationship we enjoy with one another.
While we sat quietly, side by side enjoying the morning our thoughts I were focused on our beautiful God.
Here and there we would share what was filling our hearts and minds.
This is very natural for us.
I am always grateful for this gift.

The thought came to make a gratitude list.
So I picked up my pen and journal and began to write.

The life I have in Jesus always tops my list.
Then, of course came the gift of sitting on a porch with my beloved son enjoying Papa and what had become a rousing thunderstorm.  We both love a good storm!

The falling rain reminded me of the refreshment that I receive from my gracious Savior.
The thunder and lightening reminding me of His Power!

The falling rain spoke to me of His cleansing blood. Such grace!

Of course, His Sovereignty came to mind.
He rains on the righteous and the unrighteousness.  His blessing falls on us all, no matter our position or condition.

Another son, Tim, joined us at this point. He, too, is in an amazing relationship with Jesus.  Another reminder for my gratitude list!
A reminder that my God is the miracle-working God!!

In front of the porch is a holly bush whose leaves were all open and reaching up to drink in the life-giving rain.
Water an essential ingredient for life.

The water He gives is Living Water.
It never runs out.
For those who choose to drink of it.

Not only does this water satisfy, but it becomes a river flowing through those who drink.
As this river flows out, it begins to get others wet too!

First a little splash, here and there, and then before they know it they are wiggling their toes in it!From there it is just a matter of time until they find themselves ankle deep, then knee deep and then over their heads!

I know this to be true, so very true.
That river is flowing through those of us who sit on this porch, and we are confident that it will continue to reach further and further into many more lives!!

Yes, a gratitude list was a very good idea!
Thank You, Papa, for the rain and all it's reminders!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Tears for a Father

Tears quickly filled my eyes as I listened to the commentator's remarks. 
As usual, I was listening to "The World and Everything in it", which is produced by World News Group.

 Monday through Friday, as I settle myself in my little Subby, Pearly and prepare to drive my honey to the "Y", I click on their latest podcast.
Today's had a segment on Fathers' Day.

The speaker spoke of his father and how the man always had time for his kids, even though he held down two jobs.  His dad would play games with them and give his undivided attention.  At this father's grave site a few years ago his daughter summed his life up with this comment:  "He was a good man."
What a wonderful thing to be able to say, in all sincerity, about one's father!

As I mark more years on this planet I tend to be moved to tears more easily.  A simple headline can do it at times.  Yet, I have been especially sensitive regarding the topic of fathers for years prior this increasing sensitivity.

I recall watching a MacDonalds'' commercial years ago that opened the flood gates.  It was a little girl with her daddy on a father/daughter date at said fast food place.  I was mesmerized, but what truly moved me was when she climbed up into her daddy's welcoming lap.
How I wept for what I would never experience. 

I never knew my father.  To be truthful I am not 100 percent certain who he is/was.
The first father image in my life, thankfully, was my maternal grandfather.  I had him full time for the first three or so years of my life.  He loved me.
Then my mother married and we moved away.
By the time I was five my grandfather had passed away.

My step-father was a very conflicted man over many things, but one of the major issues concerned women.  This terribly damaged man was ill-equipped to father anyone, especially daughters.  (He and my mother went on to have three more girls.)

Many of the issues that I have struggled over in the past stem from the longing for not only a father, but a daddy.  Truly that was my heart's cry.

I remember seeing a plaque at my cousin's home that read something like this, "Anyone can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a daddy."

Today many are fathering children and then moving on without so much as a backward glance.
I meet many such abandoned grown children regularly.
We often connect because of this shared loss.

After I encountered Jesus and fell in love with Him the way was opened up to me to get to know my Heavenly Father.
In time I came to learn that His love was unconditional and that I had His undivided attention.

Never will I forget the day He told me that, not only had He adopted me, but I could call Him "Abba", which means daddy or papa.
As anyone who has read my musings in the past can attest I have settled very comfortably on the Name Papa!
The Words that spoke to my heart are found in Romans eight, verse fifteen.  They read,as follows, in the Amplified Version:
"For the Spirit which you have now received is not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption (the Spirit producing sonship) in the bliss of which we cry, Abba ! Father!"
Fear is what I wore as a cloak.
Now I am covered by His wings instead!

So why am I still moved to tears in longing for an earthly father?
Simply because this life is a journey where we experience more and more healing as we learn to lean on Papa more fully.
We do not arrive on this side of glory, but a day is coming when...
"He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."
Meanwhile, I can climb up into Papa's lap anytime I need to, as His arms are always open in welcome!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Musings from Israel

The hotel has been teaming with life since shortly before Sabbat began. It appears that many people take their families here for the Sabbath.
It is not uncommon to hear young voices calling down the hallways followed by matching running feet.
Sabbat is a joyful time for the families.
Right now the lobby is filled with families; children singing and playing, adults playing cards and chatting, very lively I might add!

Today is low key for our group. We enjoyed a Sabbat celebration with a Messianic congregation followed by lunch in an Armenian restaurant.
The man at the restaurant knew he had a captured audience, as all other places were shut for Sabbat.
Unfortunately he took advantage of us by overcharging us, as well as reneging regarding the use of credit cards. I felt badly for Amal, our leader, who handled the whole thing.
After we left there the instruction of Jesus to His disciples regarding shaking the dust of a place that did not receive them in peace from their feet came to mind!
This did not ruin our day.
We are in Jerusalem!  What could overshadow this fact?!

Sitting here in the lobby looking out the window one sees many sights.  Those who are orthodox pass by in their black coats and hats, sporting their long sideburns. One very somber fellow passing by had what looked like a black mushroom riding on his head!  Many men have their heads covered, yet
many do not. The women range from those donning wigs and long dresses to those with their hair uncovered and slacks on instead of a dress or skirt. Even those who are not particularly religious seem to dress conservatively. Something we could benefit from in the US!

Traffic is light today. This reminds me of Sunday traffic as a child, when most stores were closed as they are here.
A day of rest and celebration!
Yet, what is it most are celebrating?
Tradition for most.

They have a long history of tradition and much of it originated with their God.  Yet, they have carried on with the traditions and left the Living God behind.
I am sure that they would argue vehemently with me over that last statement.
Oh, how I pray that their hearts would be turned from stone to flesh so they could discover their
Then they would discover what true celebration is all about!

Psalm 145:7 will come to life in a new way for them:
"Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness."

Friday, April 11, 2014


Every single day of this trip has been beyond amazing! If I could, I would transport each and everyone of you here!

Upon returning to our hotel we usually head right to dinner. After that I sit in the lobby to check my email, etc. fully intending to write a post.
The problem is that I don't get time to process all that I have seen and heard, which makes it very difficult to share here.

Then there is the fatigue factor.
I began a posting yesterday and got as far as saying that it would be a short one as I was very tired. Then I realized I could not form any more coherent sentences....The camel ride did me in!

There is so much I could tell you.
I could tell you about the temple foundation where they are preparing all they can to be ready to rebuild the temple. They have the menorah and laver, as well as the altar ready.
It is their hope that they will be able to rebuild and then be used to being peace and unity to the world.
Truth be told, that is what their God had called them to from the beginning, but they failed.

The sad thing, which our guide, Sahad, pointed out is that without their Messiah, Yeshua, their is no peace and no unity.

They forget their own history.
The first temple did not bring peace or unity and neither did the second. Why would they think this one would be different?

Then there is the Wailing Wall where many repeat many rote prayers in hope that they will be heard for their many words....their right words.

I went to that wall and worshipped. And I pled for those who are blind to who their Messiah is.
Following tradition I wrote out a few prayers that weighed upon my heart  and added my paper to the many already their.  I knew my God hears me without any paper, but felt woo moved to do so.

Many back away from the wall and I had wondered about that until I was there myself.  There is something about this place in the heart of Jerusalem, which stirs reverence.  How could one present their worship and petitions and then turn their back and walk away?

Yes, I am seeing much and learning even more. It will be a while until I sort through all of it.
Truly I am on overload!

Yet, there is one thing that I am more convinced of than ever before...
Our God is Holy and ever so good and wise.

Jesus is LORD!

Come LORD Jesus they and we need You!p

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Today took a different turn.
We began our day in the middle of the Sea of Galilee on a simple boat worshipping our LORD and Savior!
We had to walk through the huge gift shop to get to the boat and I was a little leery, but pleasantly surprised. The boat is run by a messianic Jew with a wonderful singing voice. Sigh....

As I looked around I was overwhelmed as I envisioned Jesus on a similar boat, or walking on the sea itself.  I could have stayed right there all day.....
So blessed!

Across the sea you see the Golan Heights and I imagine that it looked very similar two thousand years ago.   This aids one's imaginings.

The Mount where Jesus delivered His Sermon on the Mount needs much more help picturing the scene, as it has been adopted by the church to protect it, yet the protecting came in the form of an ornate church and other buildings, such as a convent.
It definitely didn't look anything like what it must have when Jesus physically climbed to the top of that mount to teach His disciples.
There was a gift shop to finish off the scene.

Another highlight was planting trees in memory of a loved as a blessing on Israel. I planted a cypress tree in my niece, Sara's memory. A sweet time of remembrance.  A blessing to be sure!

Capernum was no more impressive.  Much development interspersed with the old.
Yes, there was the synagogue dating from the fourth century, which was built on top of the one Jesus would have spent time in , but you had to pay for the privilege of seeing it. Peter lived in this town, and Jesus made it His home quite often, but it was hard to imagine with all the modern buildings.

But all that quickly faded away as I waded into the Jordan to be baptized.
Tears came to my eyes as I reflected upon the fact that my previous Savior also had been baptized in this same river. What a Savior!!

The teaching today focused on The Beatitudes.
Jesus taught what it meant to be blessed.
The first blessed was....

                  "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"

Poor in spirit...
Recognizing and mourning our sin...
Turning away from it...
And turning to Him.
What could be more blessed?!

True History

The plane that I boarded on Saturday was bound for Tel-Aviv, Israel. It took to the air at 9PM and landed approximately eleven hours later, which was 3PM Israeli time.  My seat mate had been a Jewish woman who was moving to Israel with her husband to be near her family. She informed me that she was a secular Jew. Carmen prided herself in being tolerant of others and accepting of those of faith.
At the end of our flight, after some good discussion, we wished one another well. My wish, desire, prayer that I bade her goodbye with was that she would encounter the One who is the reason for this people and nation of Israel that she is part of and loves so dearly.

The tour I am on is called "Discover Your Jewish Roots".
The past two days have been laying a good foundation for us. They have been filled with all things Jewish, of course.
The history, religion, politics and even cults of this place have been the focus.

As I reflect on all that we have seen and heard with our view being through the lens of Scripture, I cannot help but think of my seat mate, Carmen.

All history is best seen as His story. There would be no story without Him. He is the source of our life, whether we acknowledge this or not.
It is the story of His faithfulness contrasted with our unfaithfulness.

How can anyone examine Israel's history without taking their God into account?
What sense does it make without Him?
What sense does our own history make apart from our God?

Politics fall away when we take Him at His Word.
The world views this land from a purely secular lens. That is a very distorted view, to say the least!

It all breaks down to what and who we choose to believe and honor.
Man or God?

When we embrace the God of the Bible as the One True God then our religion is pure and simple and does not have man's fingerprints superseded over God's. Isn't it amazing that we dare to even think of doing such a thing, as elevating our thoughts and opinions above God's?
Enter the cults.

It all comes down to the struggle for power, if we are unwilling to admit our powerlessness without Him.

I will end with the words spoken by Nebuchadnezzar once he came to his senses in the book of Daniel,

"and at the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me , I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored Him that lives forever; for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing, and He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth and none can stay His hand or say to Him, 'What do You do?'"

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Love Without Measure

At the moment I am preparing for a trip to Israel.*
If anyone had asked me where I would like to go, if I had to choose just one place, I would have responded immediately with "Israel!".
If they had then asked when I would most like to be there my answer would have been "Passover!".

Well, no one asked, but Papa knew and amazingly He had decided now is the time for me to do so!
I often shake my head in wonder. 
How can this be?
Why is my God so good to me?

I could easily fill this page with line after line listing all the ways He blesses me.
My God is so very gracious!!

As I pack I can hardly grasp that I will be boarding a plane bound for Tel Aviv in less than a week!
It does not seem real to me, yet I do what needs doing in preparation because all the indications are telling me it is in deed a fact.  :)

Still I wonder over such blessings...

Papa knows our hearts and thoughts; He knows my heart and thoughts and He knows that I am just in wonder over Him.

He loves to send us into deeper wonder over Him and His ways.

I begin my day in a number of different ways as I try to let the Spirit lead me.  So after writing for a bit there are a selection of devotional thoughts to choose from.
Most often I do not consider opening up anything with too many words from man, but prefer something that offers a few thought-stirring words to accompany Words from God.
Yesterday morning I felt strongly prompted to open an offering from Frances Frangipane though he is rarely brief.

It was a love note from Papa to me.  One that spoke to my wonder.
Frances called his readers to consider the passage in the Old Testament found in Song of Solomon 3:1-4 .
He said we find there and throughout the book "a bride and bridegroom, both of whom are intolerant of the distance between them."

The bride is restless for her bridegroom and not willing to allow anything to keep her from him.  She is willing to go without sleep and venture out in unfamiliar places; willing to leave her comfort zone.
Let me share the verses with you below:

"On my bed night after night I sought him
Whom my soul loves;
I sought him but did not find him.
I must arise now and go about the city;
In the streets and in the square
I must seek him whom my soul loves.
I sought him but did not find him. 
The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me,
And I said, ‘Have you seen him whom my soul loves?’
Scarcely had I left them
When I found him whom my soul loves;
I held on to him and would not let him go
Until I had brought him to my mother’s house,
And into the room of her who conceived me.”
When we seek Him with all our hearts we are promised that we will find Him.
Why?  Because He wants to be found!  He is eager to be found!
Such a love story!

Frances spoke of Mary at the empty tomb weeping.  She was seeking Jesus with all her heart.
Jesus met her there, interrupting going to the Father, because He never ignores the heart longing for Him.

I have been longing for more of Him, yet life affords me but bits and pieces of time to enjoy just Him.
As I read these thoughts, which He had prompted Frances Frangipane to pen, my heart was stirred with the thought that the Lover of my soul was answering my heart's longing with time to be with Him without all the normal distractions of life.
And not just time, but such a setting for this intimate time with Him!

Papa loves to underscore His messages to me, so when I opened up Reflections for Ragamuffins by Brennan Manning I received yet more words of the same.
Brennan reminded me that Jesus "love is welcoming, unconditional acceptance, a relentless and eternal affection that so far exceeds our human experience that even the Passion and death of Jesus is only a hint of it."  He called it "love without measure."

Ah, Papa, Your love humbles and astounds me!

The chorus to the song 10,000 Reasons  comes to my heart and mind....

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

*I will be sharing my experiences in Israel here as time and the Spirit allow.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Those of you who are not new to this blog know that I am fond of dancing.
Papa is aware of this also.
Actually, He is my favorite Dance Partner!

So what I am about to share here isn't really very surprising, but it truly is beautiful!  At least to me!!

Many mornings I open my journal and write whatever comes to mind before I have read anything that might get my thoughts going in one direction or another. 
I find it very enlightening and often freeing.  The days that I listen and wait for the Spirit's prompting are especially sweet.  Whether it is correction or simply words of love they always encourage my heart.

This morning was one of those mornings.  :)

As I sat poised with my pen and pad the word Dance popped into my head,  With it came a flow of words that delighted me.

I am in a dance with my LORD. 
Jesus and I are developing more moves and becoming more fluid as time goes on.

Yet time has little to do with our dance.
It is not one which is limited by a season or even this mortal life, but is one that will continue for all eternity!

One day I will see my perfect Dance Partner face-to-face and there will be no more missteps on my part.
I will be able to follow His lead perfectly!

His leading is perfect.  It is Debbie who causes the dance to less than flow at all times.  Yet even when I becomes distracted or try to anticipate where He is leading me, somehow He incorporates all of it into something that is beautiful.

When I watch a couple that are practiced, dance I am drawn into the romance that the fluid movements create.  The movements flow out of the unity of the pair and reflects the pleasure they take in one another and the dance.

I so enjoy being lead by Jesus and how effortless it is when I rest in His arms and trust His leading.

Years ago I took some dance lessons and on one particular night we were practicing the waltz. 
It is such a graceful, lovely dance.

As my partner and I took to the floor I sensed that he was capable of leading well.
I could rest in His arms and simply follow his lead.
After a few moments we took flight(!), which is what it is called when you are in sync and glide across the floor.
It feels as if your feet are not touching the ground and that you are floating.
I felt like I was in the "King and I" and I could have Danced, Danced, Danced!

That is how it is with Papa and me at times.

If life were truly a dance floor then for many years you would have seen me flat against the wall.
At other times, after being coaxed or dragged out onto the floor, you would have witnessed me as one of those who crashed into others trying to navigate their way.  I felt clumsy and awkward, thus never comfortable in some one's arms.  I also felt much safer leading!

The only time you will find me against the wall now will be when my Partner takes me there for a breather!

Papa wasn't done with the subject and so brought me to the Book of 2 Samuel.
In the Sixth Chapter we read of King David dancing before the LORD with all his might.

The occasion was worthy of celebration.
They had just brought the Ark of the LORD into Jerusalem.
The King wasn't alone in his joy.
"So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the Ark of the LORD with shouting and the sound of the trumpet."
I think his joy affected the people.

David danced and leaped before his LORD.
I am with him!
May my joy affect others also!

Now to break out those worship flags!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Drugs Anyone?

Have you noticed how many commercials these daysare related to the pharmaceutical industry?
I have.

Commercials, in general, annoy me.  Some more than others.
Some are simply ridiculous, though some are entertaining.
One that keeps popping up on Pandora steams me.

It is for a drug trial to help children with ADHD and/or dyslexia.
Could it be possible that there might be another way to treat these issues?
Is it possible that some of the observed behavior is not as much a condition as a symptom of one's environment?

When we were raising our boys, two of them were diagnosed as with ADD.  There were many issues to deal with in our family at the time and so I accepted the labels and the prescriptions.  This would not be my response today..

It seems to me that we are awfully quick to label.  Of course, if one is labeled then we can more easily find a drug to address their problem!
Please do not misunderstand me.  I am not saying that drugs never help or should never be used, but just that we are so quick to dispense them.

A few years ago I was in my doctor’s office for my annual physical.  It was just over a year since my honey’s accident and he, as well as my life, had dramatically changed.
At that time I had been feeling a bit blue.  I do not recall what my doctor said, but I responded by bursting into tears.  He immediately wanted to prescribe an anti-depressant for me.

What was wrong with me feeling my feelings and working through them?  Was masking them more important??  I assured him that I would rather deal with my feelings,which were legitimate, but if it became too much, I would let him know.
Papa and I, with help from my friends, worked through it.

So what is the point of this post?
Our society is in the midst of a drug epidemic.
The majority of those in our jails and prisons are there for drug related crimes.
On a regular basis we are burying our young due to an overdose.
Rehabs and the like are flourishing businesses.

The majority have been weaned on the philosophy of drugs being the answer or at least a good part of the answer.
It seems easier to drug our young than to address their real needs.  

What are their needs?
A stable home.
A sense of their value in our eyes and even more so in the eyes of their Creator.

We are a broken society.

I spend time volunteering at a drug/alcohol rehab.  For the majority, who pass through that place, they have been given little in the way of a foundation.

Addiction is a family disease.
Yet, many family members do not see that their loved one who struggles with addiction is not the only one who needs recovery.

I grew up in a dysfunctional home.  Who didn't?
We are all broken and our God recognizes this fact.
That is why He sent His Son.
We need fixing.
He says that He makes all things new!

Papa makes available all the tools we need for wholeness.
Those tools often come in the form of relationships, first with Him and then with one another.
He reached out to us and we are called ot reach out to one another.
In love.

Karl Marx is quoted as saying that
 "Religion is the opiate of the masses."
 In James we can read,
"This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world."

Now, Mr. Marx,  that is a drug that makes sense!

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Valentine Just For You

Last week I had a topic burning away in my heart and mind that I wanted to share here, but, as often happens, the time to express it did not present itself.

Now I have time and as I sat down at my desk I fully intended to put it down in writing right here.
However, Papa just told me "No, not right now.  After all it is Valentines Day.  Let's say something else more fitting with the day....."

So I guess I am going with the topic of love...

Today many cards and gifts are being received in an effort to convey our love for one another.
Love is expressed in a multitude of ways.
Our God loves to remind us of His love and, if we are on the lookout, we will discover many of His love gifts each day.

This morning when I checked the latest offerings from my friends on Face Book my attention was arrested by a picture a dear friend posted.
It was of a beautiful male cardinal perched on a branch outside her window.
What a lovely sight!

That was a gift of love from Papa for certain!

Mr. Cardinal appeared to have not a care in the world.  You see his Creator has everything in hand.  Why He provided tats lovely resting place just for him!

You know the Almighty, Everlasting One didn't need to create such a beautiful world for us, but He so loves to share His creativity.  It is a joy for Him to bless us.

Nature holds so much evidence of the Wonderful One and of His love for us.
He knows what touches our hearts and brightens our spirits.

Right now we are in the midst of a winter that is proving itself worthy of its name.
One of the evidences of this winter is all the snow that covers the ground.

I love the gentle silence of the snow, as it blankets the dreary, barren earth and trees.
From my window I see our yard and across the street a field; both of which are whiter than white without a blemish on either.

This picture reminds me of a verse found in Isaiah's first chapter.
"Come now, and let us reason together," says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool."
Out of His great love He gave His greatest gift - That of His Son!
His Son, who washed all of our sins away and left us clean as the freshly fallen snow.
Now that is truly love at its purest and deepest!

When we have experienced this Love, well then it truly is a

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Law of Burden Bearing

The other day a friend passed me a DVD entitled "Five People You Meet in Heaven." 
I wasn't sure when I would be viewing it, as I have become very selective as to what occupies my time.
I do, however, like to watch something that will pass the time while I am on my treadmill and after checking other sources decided this would suffice.

It took more than one stint on the treadmill, but I did see it in its entirety.
So I feel comfortable commenting on it.

The basic premise is that there is a purpose behind all the details of our lives and it is in sacrifice that the most painful or seemingly meaningless things find their value.
I found the story line a bit choppy, but that aside it did get met thinking.

A sweet friend of mine recently went through surgery and was home bound recuperating.
Most of us do not enjoy being sidelined and many of us do not like the feeling of burdening another.  It is much more comfortable to be the one doing the caring of self and others.
My friend is no exception.
She expressed her desire to not be a burden.

Her words got me thinking.  The movie just stirred the pot a bit more.

Our God is all about relationship. 
With us and us with one another and then all of us, collectively, with Him.

His Words and actions underscore this fact.

He calls us to servant hood.  Everyone of us.
As He walked this earth, He did so as the Servant King.
He set the example.

He washed the disciples feet, but also allowed a woman to wash His with her tears.
Our LORD was comfortable giving and receiving.

Paul tells us in Galatians, chapter six, verse two,
"Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ."
 It is a give and take.
We get to take turns!

Easy to say, but for some it is hard to practice.
Especially if the message you received in your formative years was that you were to be the one doing all the burden bearing!

Yet, when we do allow another to help us we are allowing them the blessing that comes from the doing.  To withhold that opportunity is to deprive them of the gift.

Another gift that comes from caring for one another is a greater intimacy, a deepening of our love
Simple acts can transform a heart and a relationship, if we are open to it.

As I go through my day, I trust that Papa wants to use all I do, wherever I may be.
Something as simple a smile can touch a heart and lift a burden.
I have seen eyes light up and faces soften.

Yet, in my desire to lift another's burdens I have to be careful to be open to receive too.
I have seen eyes light up and faces soften when I have been willing to admit my need.

We are the body and thus one part that is hurting affects the whole and one part that is revived also affects the whole.

So the suggestion by that movie that we can be part of the redemption of a situation, heart or life is not so far fetched!

By His grace Papa will help us to learn more and more to give and take, as burden bearers, and thus fulfill His Law of Love!


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Solitary Places

Papa hasn't moved onto a new topic with me yet.

Many mornings I have woken up with a particular verse playing in my head and because I am a bit slow on the uptake at times, it has replayed for me numerous times throughout my day.
Then I would stumble across it while reading one thing or another.  There it was, as if Someone had used a highlighter pen. 
I think that Papa might have been getting ready to resort to writing on the walls!
It wouldn't be the first time He has been found doing that, yet I am glad it didn't come to that!

What is this verse which wanted my attention?
It is found in the Gospel of Luke, Fifth chapter, Sixteenth verse.
"But Jesus often withdrew to solitary places and prayed."
Often when this verse would appear I would think that I, too, should do more of this and would fully intend to do just that....

However, we live in a very distracting time.

For many years I had no trouble withdrawing to a quiet place to enjoy some sweet one-on-one with my beautiful Savior.
That was before computers with their email; i-Pads and i-Phones with their texting, Face Book connections and, let us not forget, Words with Friends!

Each morning for years I would rise, put on the water to boil and boot up my computer.
As I sat down with my tea I would  check my email for the latest prayer requests and devotionals.
Sounds spiritual enough, don't you think?

It wasn't a problem at first, but I think it was the first step in drawing me away from where my heart and mind needed to be focused.
I have read that for many of us our attention span has been reduced dramatically by technology.
We can multitask as never before!
But I wonder just how much of great value is accomplished?

As I checked those emails I would discover one reminding me of a bill that needed paying or another that needed a response from me.  They always take my mind down a rabbit hole and those holes do not allow much Light in!

So here I was with that verse rumbling around in my mind and heart and growing louder with time.  I began to feel unsettled and really restless.
Oh, I took time with Papa, of course, but not the leisure time that had been my habit.

The struggle was how to fit in more time to enjoy sweet fellowship with my loving God?

Then the other night I recommended a book to a friend.  A book that I had worked my way through a couple of years ago and had thoroughly enjoyed.  I had shared my adventure with it pretty extensively here.  The Artist's Way by Julie Cameron.

The book's goal is to help the reader find their inner, creative child and it did do that for me.
Trouble is that I have been neglecting that child quite a bit as of late.
All in the name of being responsible!

Well, after mentioning this book it wouldn't leave me. 
So I gave it some thought.

One of the activities that I engaged in was the writing of morning pages.  The idea is that you do this first thing every morning before anything can distract you or influence your thinking.
I loved it.

For many years I have been journaling and this was simply an extension of that.

Last night I felt prompted to begin this once more. 
That meant no turning on the computer or any other technology until I had written for half an hour.

Let me tell you that Papa and I had a lovely conversation!
 What a gift!

Know what?  Everything else seemed to fall into place after that.
He ordered my day and showed me where to focus my attention.

 Oh, Papa God, how wonderful and faithful You are!
Thank You for drawing me back into that solitary place with you!


Friday, January 24, 2014

Shut the Door!

We have all had days when we would like to just go into our room and shut the door in an attempt to shut the whole world out.
I was tempted to do just that the other day.
If I had, you have found a sign hanging on my door that read,
"And I am not coming out again for a very long time!!"
The problem would have been that I was in the room and often it is me who I am trying to get away from!

Oh yes, it would appear to me that it is the stress and strain of relationships that wear on me, but truthfully it is what goes on in my head in response or really reaction to all of it.

I am involved with a ministry which is experiencing some growing pains though not all of the pain is really necessary.  Personalities with agendas added to the mix make it much more challenging.  Throw in a few who are adverse to addressing issues and you have a mess in the making.
Not Papa's way of handling things.

All of this came to my attention this week and I suddenly felt as if I had the weight of the world on my shoulders.  My heart grew heavy.

Then I received a text from one of my girls, who is doing so well with her recovery.  She just celebrated a year of being clean and sober, is in a new relationship with someone who has a good bit of sobriety and is ready to move out of the sober house and live on her own.
She has been making good choices!
Just one little snag....She finds that she is pregnant.
A little more just landed on my shoulders and my heart grew heavier...

Oh, then there is the friend who dropped the ball and never followed through by responding to another one of my girls, who was looking for help getting to meetings.

Let's toss in one more.
I encountered a religious spirit in someone who is dear to me.
I have a strong aversion to that particular spirit!

Bent, burdened shoulders....heavy, heavy heart....

What was wrong with this picture?

I was trying to carry these burdens.

Finally I did go into my room, but before I could get into a good pout I encountered Someone else in there with me...
You know  :)

First, I found Him in the pages of His Book.

        "Hear my cry, O God; give heed to my prayer. 
        From the end of the earth I call to You,
        when my heart is faint;
        lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
        For You have been a refuge for me,
        a tower of strength against the enemy.
        Let me dwell in Your tent forever;
        let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. 
        For You have heard my vows, O God;
        You have given me the inheritance of those who fear Your Name.
        You will prolong the king's life;
        his years will be as many generations.
        He will abide before God forever;
        appoint lovingkindness and truth,
        that they may preserve him.
        So I will sing praise to Your Name forever
        that I may pay my vows day by day."

As I read the words of Psalm Sixty-One my heart calmed and I was enveloped in His peace.

He is the Burden Bearer.
He hears the cries of my heart and responds with the assurance that He is able to handle it all.  After all He is the "Rock that is higher than I and the "Tower of Strength"!

The enemy will always be stirring up trouble and throwing obstacles in our way, but the LORD God is Higher and Greater than him or anyone else!

I was reminded that I have an inheritance that will outlast all the troubles and disappointments.

How can I but sing praise to His Name forever?!

Papa, may I be quicker to shut the door so I am shut in with You!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Sheltered at All Times!

As usual, I opened up the email and began to read the latest offering from Moody's "Today in the Word."
Often I gain something from the reading, but this day I was simply doing what I usual do with no expectations.

There is extra joy in receiving a gift when it is unexpected.
Yes, it is especially delightful to receive a lovely surprise.

That is what Papa had waiting for me!
Joy and delight!
A gift from Him which filled my heart and soul to overflowing with gratitude and a holy awe!

The devotions from Moody this month are all around the theme of God's faithfulness.  They used a particular story to illustrate this truth.
"A story was told by rescuers following the earthquake in Sichuan, China.  While searching the rubble, the body of a woman was found.  She was crouched in a kneeling position, almost as if praying.  The house had fallen on her back and killed her.  Kneeling down to reach the body, they spotted a three month old baby wrapped in a blanket tucked under his mother's lifeless body.  Inside the blanket, they found a cell phone with a message still on the screen.  It read, "If you can survive, you must remember that I love you."
As I read this account the picture that flooded my mind was of my God and the great sacrifice which He made for me.
He took the brunt of all the brokenness and sin that marked my life.
For all time!

Verses Thirteen and Fourteen of the First chapter of Colossians comes to mind,
"For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
Papa's gift didn't stop there, but took me "further up and further in", as C. S. Lewis put it!

In my spirit I was reminded that He continues to bear my burdens, to watch over me; to protect me.
I actually felt enveloped in this amazing love.
There I was sheltered under His protection and thus so very safe and secure.

Then came the thought that this is my position at all times!
With it came the sweet thought that He wants me to remember that He loves me!

Ah, now Papa help me to remember this all the time!!


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Not Much Black and White

Most of us have used some version of the phrase
"Two steps forward, one step back"
when asked how we are doing in some area or other.

If we are feeling particularly disheartened we increase the amount of backward steps so they outnumber the forward ones.
No matter the proportions, all those steps in reverse are meant to be viewed negatively.

Papa has a different perspective.

I am coming to realize, contrary to popular opinion, that He does not view life in black and white/good and bad.

He sees all the little nuances that we can tend to overlook in our striving to put everything in neat little categories.

Let me illustrate.

Each spring many of us eagerly plop ourselves down with trowel in hand and begin to play in the dirt
After the soil is prepared we begin planting.  We may begin with seeds.  Yet, whether seeds or small plants, we know we must wait.
Digging up those seeds or plants to see what is happening or relocating them, in hopes of faster results, would not be wise or productive.

So we wait.
We water and then feed as appropriate.

And we wait......hoping that they are good seeds and plants.
Some will prove disappointing.
Others will produce a little, while others a great abundance.
Jesus spoke of this aspect in the Parable of the Sower, but that is not where I am going today.

It isn't the direction Papa has been taking me.

Some things take longer to germinate; some take a long time to grow into anything worthy of note.

Life and growth are in the process.

I believe Papa loves that process.
Of course, He has an advantage over us.
He sees that little seed softening and then opening up to the moisture and soil.
He watches as a tiny little shoot forms within that seed and then slowly breaks its way out of the covering.
It isn't until it breaks through the earth that we get to see the progress, but He sees every bit of that tiny life and it is beautiful to Him.

Translate that into our lives and the lives of those around us.

The Omniscient One see the tiny seed begin to germinate in hearts working its way through all the cracks and hard places long before we have any clue.
He sees the beauty and life.
Though it may be buried very deeply.

My dear Papa is teaching me to look for the hints of beauty and life that are buried in each and every life and event.

I spent some time with two who are very dear to me.
In the past I had a hard time getting past the amount of alcohol that was consumed by both of them.
By applying some thing I have learned from ALANON I found myself in a place where I could see beyond the obvious.

What is this lesson that I could apply in this situation?
The Three C's, which is: I did not Cause the alcoholism, nor can I Control it and certainly can not Cure it.
This thinking really is applicable to all kinds of situations!

In the past I would view the whole thing as dark and hopeless.  This kind of thinking kept me weighed down and blind to any good that I might have found.

Once I was settled into this new, healthful way of thinking I was delighted to discover that there were definitely good, beautiful aspects to discover in these precious lives.

The two of them are still in love after over twenty years of marriage.
Now that is something beautiful!

They now have a new home which has brought out the creativity of one of them and brought a greater degree of contentment to the other.

Spending time with them I caught glimpses of some of what is going on in their hearts, longings, fears, hopes peeked out hear and there.  All because I was relaxed and accepting.

As these truths opened up for me I realized how much I miss when I fall back into my black and white world.  Truth be told, to fall into the "white" category it must be perfect, which explains why I spent so much time feeling gloomy and hopeless, as well as heavy laden!

Papa looks upon all of us with eyes of love.  He looks for every hint of life and growth and nurtures it.
May I see with His eyes and following His example be a nurturer of life!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Settling in

At the start of every new year I select the devotional books I will use on a regular basis for the next three hundred and sixty-five or so days.

This year will include some regulars, such as "Today in the Word", which is published by Moody, "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young and a book by Richard Rohr entitled "Falling Upward".
Papa made an addition to the list today, "Reflections for Ragamuffins" by Brennan Manning.  Many a year, I have included this one.  It is an all-time favorite of mine, yet I thought maybe I would wait another year to pick it up again.  One can overdo how much is being read and end up on overload, which does not lend itself to setting the stage for much devotional thought!

There are times when I discover that I haven't heard as clearly as I thought.  Papa always clears things up.  :)
As He did today with "Ragamuffins".

It took a few hours for me to actually pull out the book and read Brennan's thoughts for January first, but once I did, it seemed as if I were reading the words that I found there for the first time ever.
Words put there, seemingly, just for me.

I think they are intended for you too, my dear reader.

Here's why.

A number of days ago I had highlighted a few of my journal entries to share here.

It was the day after Christmas and I was feeling unsettled.
A few issues were rumbling around in my head and heart.

My husband's condition was one of those issues.
He does better when he can stick to his routine.  His routine seems to keep him distracted from a degree of the pain he lives with every day.  When it is disrupted, which is usually due to a social situation, then the pain becomes more prominent.
I am finally understanding this dynamic, which I wish I had figured out sooner.

Alongside that I had found myself in a situation that made me uncomfortable, yet I remained in it without speaking up. The conversation was not one that I felt should have been happening in my presence, but I still sat there.
I wasn't being true to who I am, so who else would?

Then there were my sons.  Three were here for Christmas.  Two are very close with one another, the third is out of the loop.  As a mother I want to see all of them enjoying a close relationship with one another.
I tried to help.
Actually, I tried to manipulate.

I wasn't liking myself a whole lot at the moment and wasn't feeling like I was very lovable either.

Our gracious, all-wise God is good at settling us back down and sorting out all the jumble we (I) tend to make in our lives.

How He did this was by reminding me of His love, which is totally unconditional.  This means that it is not contingent upon my behavior.
Though His love is constant, not decreasing, nor increasing at any point He knows there are times when I need it amplified.
He used Sarah Young's words to do this.  So often I read something that seems tailored to my heart alone.
"Absolutely nothing in heaven or on earth can cause me to stop loving you."
"When you are dissatisfied with your behavior, you tend to feel unworthy of My Love."
Then I was directed to His Words in First John,
"And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us."
Then Papa drew me closer with these words found in Deuteronomy,
"The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms."
 I settled down in those arms!

You would think that I would stay settled for a good long time, but not so.

Today held a to do list that had many items that needed to be checked off. We are traveling to West Virginia tomorrow, which means extra details to tend.  I also, had plans to have lunch with a special young woman and did not want to miss it.  It made for a jam packed day.
As the day unfolded, I grew weary and, as I have said before, being tired doesn't lend itself to positive thoughts and attitudes!

Enter Mr. Manning.

He opens the year with these words,
"God's love is based on nothing, and the fact that it is based on nothing makes us secure.  Were it based on anything we do, and that "anything" were to collapse, then God's love would crumble as well."
He speaks of weary Atlases who need to put the world down and dance on it instead of trying to carry it.
He closes his thoughts with a paraphrase of the verse found in Matthew Eleven that first brought me to Jesus.
"Come to Me, all you Atlases who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you."

Then he closes with verse Three of Jeremiah Thirty-One,
"The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying, "I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with loving kindness.'"
Why don't we all just settle into that everlasting love.
His Arms are wide open!