December 29, 2009

Sometimes Love Lets You Fall

It was a quiet Saturday afternoon, and my mother and I were enjoying a cup of tea and some conversation. Her full-time job and my "newlywed status" did not allow us the time to visit as often, which made our times together even more deeply treasured.

While the women were inside chatting, the men were out in the garage doing some kind of "man thing" to one of the cars. Every now and then we would peek out the window to check on them. We did a "head count" just to make sure they were all accounted for, but otherwise left them alone. Over the years we had learned never to disturb men at work.

We had just changed the topic of conversation when my husband appeared in the doorway. By the grimacing look of pain on his face and the tight grip he had on his thumb I could see, without him saying a word, that he was hurting badly.

December 14, 2009

No Room


"So it was that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:6-7

At the time of Jesus’ birth a census was being conducted which required people to return to their place of origin. Joseph and Mary were traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It was during that trip that Jesus made His entrance into the world.

There were no hotels or motels. No hospitals with elaborate birthing rooms. Apparently a lowly stable, more like a damp and dingy cave, was the only place that they could find to stay.

Have you ever wondered about that? The Son of God, King of the Jews, Messiah, the Christ Child came to this earth and God did not even arrange for a room for Him in one of the local inns. What a way to treat your only Son. He was of the noblest of origins yet born in a stinky stable-like environment sleeping in a feeding trough. What a way for the Son of God to spend His first night in the world.

December 12, 2009

Christmas Presents or Presence

"You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your Presence."
Acts 2:28

When I was a child the weeks before Christmas were very exciting. Our house was decorated beautifully and smelled of freshly baked cookies. We spent time with family and friends and, of course, participated in the yearly Christmas program. Then, on Christmas Eve, we were almost sick with excitement (and a few too many cookies) as we waited for Christmas day.

Bedtime would come and my parents would hurry us off to bed reminding us that we needed to go to sleep so that Santa could visit. After all he only traveled at night and if he did not come we would not have any gifts to open. We would try to stay awake just to hear or catch a glimpse of this jolly old man; who somehow managed to keep all the children of the world’s addresses and requests straight and deliver everything in one night.

December 7, 2009

No Gift To Bring

"And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh." Matthew 2:11

One of the things that I enjoy most about the holiday season are the annual Christmas programs that I have been watching since I was a child. I am sure we all have our favorite one and, for some of us, it may be hard to choose. One I personally relate to is "The Little Drummer Boy."

For those of you who have not seen it I'll give a quick synopsis. A young boy’s family is killed and he is taken away, to be sold at a time deemed most profitable, by a nasty man. The man uses the boy’s ability to play the drum among other things for financial gain. He repeatedly mistreats the child who, by the way,  lost his smile the day his village was destroyed.

November 28, 2009

I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues

I cannot recall the first time it happened to me, but I am certain I did not have a clue as to how I could have fallen sleep only to awaken in what seemed to be a desolate and secluded place.

One moment I was living on top of the world and in what seemed like a flash I found myself standing on what appeared to be the edge of the abyss.

All joy felt as though it had been drained out of me. My smile seemed forever lost. I couldn't eat or sleep and could hardly form a thought worth thinking. I tried to slap on a smile but could not find one lying around.

I desired to sleep both day and night but rest could not be found. It was as if the world had gone from beautiful vivid colors of reds and purples to a shade of cold misty blue. I felt lost in this far away place not knowing what to do.

My Christian friends seemed distant and aloof but then again I was equally distant, too. I was very frightened by what I felt as it was out of character for me, and all I could think about was getting back to the place that I had been before everything turned blue.

November 24, 2009

Mine, Mine, Mine

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine."
Isaiah 43:1 NKJV

The question seemed to leap off the page during my quiet time. "If you were to ask God to change your name, what would you want your name to be, or to mean?" Wow. Now there was a question to ponder. In some ways I had been pondering it for years.

When I was a little girl, my friends and I would play. Part of the fun was in choosing new names that we liked better than the ones we had. None of my childhood friends felt that their parents had given them appropriate first names—myself included. Worse yet were the "unmentionables," those, of course, being our middle names. Heaven forbid we even allow them to surface in a conversation, which, by the way, is something I still struggle with to this day.

November 23, 2009

The Battle

Wounded and weary the warrior laid down
Face deep in the dirt with mud all around
Longing for silence, no strife no more fight
Jeers by the enemy instilling more fright

A voice said "Arise, stand tall, I know that you're hurt
But the time has now come be sober, vigilant, and alert
Your enemy is roaring and prowling about
It's not time to be silent, lift your voice now and shout

Submit to My plan
I'm in command
I'm the power behind your sword
I'm Your Captain, The Highest, Your Lord

Warrior, lift up your head
Listen to what I have said
The plans for this battle were drawn before the foundation of this world
I knew of this war and every dart that would be hurled

I gave you weapons of war and power to fight
Go in My Power, My Strength, and My Might"
Lifting my head I looked at His face
I caught a glimpse of His glory, His eyes full of grace

I rose to my feet with the help of His hand
Positioned on His Word I fought just to stand
The forces of darkness came running at me
I submitted, I resisted, and they had to flee

November 22, 2009

Thanks Living

If you've been out shopping recently it’s pretty obvious that “Christmas is in the air.” Local stores, shopping malls and restaurants appear aglow with everything from candy canes to mistletoe.

Many retailers began playing Christmas music long before the costumes and masks of the trick-or-treaters had been put away. It is not “beginning to look like Christmas” but rather as if it is well under way.

There have been grumblings about this issue within the ranks of those who participate in social networking. “Isn't there a holiday between Halloween and Christmas” many people are asking?
Some are acting upon their concern that Thanksgiving has been lost in the holiday shuffle by joining sites such as GratitudeLog or by posting daily status updates expressing thankfulness via Facebook or Twitter in an attempt to counteract the perceived sweeping away of what many consider a holiday of “reflective gratitude.” They've spent a few moments every day in the month of November making their blessings publicly known. Many of these posts are quite moving to read.

November 20, 2009

When Pigs Fly

I just returned from a doctor's appointment with the dreaded "offical diagnosis" of H1N1 otherwise known as the "Swine Flu." It was not really a suprise to me as I could almost hear oinking during my endless coughing fits over the past week.

Fortunately there are medications to help with the complications of the flu. My infection & bronchitis should fly the coop soon. Then it will be time to disinfect our stye home. All of this is good news. Yet I can't help but feel a little bit down.

We just had the vacation of a lifetime. We returned with many dreams, plans, & goals which we collaborated on during our 5,000 miles in the car. Seems that illness has quickly put the brakes on everything and it's not the first time, either.

I was just about to have a pity party when I thought back to another time. A time off great difficulty in my life. The testimony I am posting below is very special to me. I pray that as you read it you'll be reminded, as I was today, that God is always "on the scene" in your life. 24/7 He's orchestarting our affairs for His glory and our good. (Rom 8:28-29) When will that change? When pigs fly!

November 19, 2009

Monkey Business

"Poor little guy" I said to my husband on a recent visit to the zoo. Looks like he could use a Prozac fortified banana milkshake. If that doesn't work a second helping complete with Abilify
I'd never seen such a dejected animal in all my life. All of his friends and relatives were monkeying around--but not him. He could have been the "poster monkey" for depression.

Come on, unless you have Tivo and never catch a commercial, or have thrown your set out of the window you must have seen that coming. Surely you realize we're talking "anti-depressants." We've all seen enough advertisements about them to choke an elephant.

$122 million buys a lot of air time these days. Apparantly the money has been well spent as an estimated 27 million Americans, or 10% of the population, are currently taking medication for depression.

I don't mean to throw a wrench in all this "monkey business" but doesn't that sound a little excessive? Oh, and just for the record, I'm not judging those who are currently under a doctor's care or taking anti-depressants. I've taken a few in my time. Who can say what the future might bring.

November 17, 2009

The Struggle For Simplicity

Struggling for simplicity is something I've done a lot of lately. Perhaps you can relate. It almost seems that:

"Life is one long struggle to disinter oneself, to keep one's head above the accumulations, the ever deepening layers of objects which attempt to cover one over, steadily, almost irresistibly, like falling snow."- Rose Macaulay

In retrospect I often experience something that is much more like the sensation of an "avalanche" in my life. Yet I can't help but wonder if a struggle of such magnitude is meant to continue all of life's days? Somehow I don't believe it is.

It seems so cruel to me that life would be so smothering; not unlike a huge snowdrift from which we can never shovel out. Just because someone has said it--doesn't mean it's Gospel truth.

November 12, 2009

The Sands of Time

I have always been facinated with hourglasses. If I had my way there would be one in every room of my house replacing the bright digital displays and noisy ticking clocks. In my heart I believe that it would make me more mindful of how quickly time passes.

Speaking of time, as difficult as it is for us to believe, my husband and I are celebrating 25 years of marriage this year. It hardly seems possible that we have known each other 25 years and 5 months. Yes, we had a very short engagement, but that's an amazing story for another day.

Show Me The Money

Our recent trip put me far behind on email. When I began taking the time to read very little some of it I was amazed by the amount of junk mail that had slipped past my spam folder landing in my inbox. For a few moments I thought I had some real treasures to explore.

Much to my chagrin billions of dollars apparantly awaited me--according to several dozen emails from various countries. All promised oodles in return for what seemed like very little. Some banking information, a small sum to ship documents--you know the drill.

A few of the letters were much more original than the ones I have seen in the past. That means one of two things: either the scammers are getting better OR I'm growing more naive. Not naive enough, however, to fall for any of them.

November 9, 2009

Faith Worth Lugging Around

For several months, prior to our 25th wedding anniversary, my husband and I had been kicking around the idea of taking a trip out West. Perhaps it would be more accurate of me to say that my husband had been seriously considering it. I was merely going along with what sounded like a lovely fantasy dream.

As the days grew closer to our anniversary my husband continued to research possible places to travel to and got in touch with friends he wanted to see. I nodded my head to show some interest now and then but gave very little input. It all sounded wonderfully impossible to me.

Why would it seem impossible, you might ask? After all people take vacations all the time, right? Well most people do but I somehow fit into the "unique" category which means what most do rarely works for me. Severe physical limitations have made short trips a "rare treat" over the past decade and a half. Who in the world could ever HOPE to take a jaunt clear across the country? Not me.

Did You Get The Memo?

"Then God said to Noah,  "Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it." Genesis 8: 16-18


There they stood like statuses--this pair of zebras. They were totally isolated from the rest of the "herd" which is quite unusual for this uniquely patterned species. Normally zebras enjoy mingling. The more the merrier. As I took the photo I could not help but wonder if somehow these two had not "gotten the memo" issued in Genesis 8 to move out and on with their lives.

Then I began to question how many times my life has remained unchanged because I did not "get the memo." In all honesty it feels like I missed a memo or two in recent days. The world is moving forward yet it feels like I am standing still. It's not that I want to because there is so much to see, do, and experience. It's just that I can't clearly discern what is next. On the outside it looks like "business as usual" but on the inside there is a voice shouting "I did not get the memo. What am I missing? What is next for me?"

When I look around it seems like everyone else has "gotten the memo." They seem to have an awesome plan for their life and are moving forward in it. At least that is how it appears. I wonder if appearances are deceiving?

Ever fail to "get the memo?" When did you notice? What did you do?

November 5, 2009

Can You Picture It?

My husband and I just returned from a 17 day journey out West to celebrate 25 years of marriage. It was the first time we have traveled alone in over 20 years. We logged in nearly 5,000 miles and saw 7 states. Of course some of them we saw twice from different points on the map. All in all the trip was wonderful and something we will never forget.

Prior to leaving my husband decided to get a new camera. My little pink one did not seem befitting to him. Besides I am forever crying--"I need more zoom." During our trip we took at least 1,000 pictures. Not only did we both have cameras we had tons of great scenery, animals, people, & signs to capture. I personally think I found a new addiction hobby. As a matter-of-fact I just came in from shooting pictures of the moon in freezing weather wearing my pajamas and hubby's slippers. Apparently I'm becoming a nut shutterbug.

November 2, 2009

Seasons

"He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding." Daniel 2:21

In case you haven't noticed summer is over. Crisp cool air is replacing the heat of day. "Old Man Frost" is leaving interesting patterns on the ground. The leaves are turning colors. Many are falling off the trees. Without a doubt a change in the weather is upon us.

During this "season of change" what is God saying to you? What wisdom has He given to you regarding your life? Who or what needs to be removed from your life and who or what needs to be set up in it's proper place in order for you to mature in Christ?

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Eccleiastes 3:1

What is His purpose for you during this time and season? Are you open to His leading in all things and willingly sensitive to His timing?

These are some of the questions I have found myself asking as I have witnessed the visible changes as Summer turning to Fall. Colorful changes like those captured in this picture I took while in Russellville, AR yesterday.

God changes the times & seasons. Life would be boring otherwise. He also directs us toward times of transformation during the various seasons of our lives.

What season is it for you? What activities will you engage in and why? Will what you do display the awe of His wonder and power for all the world to see? One of the things that I love most about seasonal changes is the visible display of God's handiwork.

Lord, may Your handiwork be clearly displayed in my life during this new season!


October 23, 2009

Sacred Friendships


The early Christians lived in a society that produced more questions than answers, more persecution than peace, and more discouragement then encouragement. As a result they were in desperate need of godly input. Mindful of this the author of Hebrews provided them with strong counsel and also reminded them of the many inspirational examples who had gone on before them. Pointing them to a “great cloud of witnesses” whose lives testified to “the validity and veracity of faith” he made it possible for them to both see and hear these great heroes of the faith cheering them on in unison as they ran their “race of faith” despite overwhelming exhaustion and hurdles of unbelievable proportions.

Times have changed yet much remains the same. The need for spiritual inspiration, encouragement, and empowerment is as real now as it was then. But where is our “great cloud of witnesses?” In our search to find “relevant” solutions to all of life’s ills we have had a tendency to allow “today’s crying needs to drown out yesterday’s relevant answers.” Why? Because in our striving for relevance we have neglected the wisdom it is possible to glean from the many historical voices of the church. These voices of the past are deep wells from which we could quench our thirst for spiritual wisdom—if only we could hear them.

October 16, 2009

God, Tattoos & You

While running errands recently I saw someone do something that I rarely see, given that we live in what some might call "the cellular age." With Blackberrys and iPhones abounding I was suprised to hear a young lady asked someone if she could borrow a pen. Once given the pen she began recording information that they were giving to her on the palm of her hand.

Back in the stone age day this was the quickest way of retaining important data. We tattooed ourselves with Bic pens long before tattoos were cool. However, it's been a long time since I've seen anyone write someone's name and or phone number in the palm of their hand.

Later that night as I was worrying resting the scene replayed in my mind. How odd, I thought initially, until the Holy Spirit brought to mind a very powerful Scripture.

October 13, 2009

Poser or Praiser?

Sometimes Christians do silly things. We try to wring things out of people who are unwilling to do them while dismissing what is done by others as meaningless. Recently, while watching videos online, I came across several young children who have an extraordinary anointing on their lives.

In the course of watching the videos my heart has been warmed. Unfortunately I cannot say the same thing about many of the insults comments posted which were at best "cold as ice." I would have been disturbed but the Holy Spirit reminded me of a Scripture that helped me to better understand.

October 12, 2009

Familiar Foes

"O God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” II Chronicles 20:12 NKJV


Foes…we all have them no matter how likeable we are. Whether they are physical, emotional, or spiritual in nature they cause conflict and opposition in our lives. Some are more dangerous than others.

Sometimes our spiritual foes leave us bewildered and confused as they actively oppose and resist what God has for our lives. At other times they are determined to injure or overthrow us completely. They do not just want to inflict pain. They are intent to do harm and can be deadly.

October 9, 2009

Hold Your Horses

Proverbial sayings. We all know them and many of us use them on a regular basis.

One that has stood out to me recently is "you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink."

October 8, 2009

A Pain In The Neck?


"And the LORD said to me, "I have seen this people, and they are a stiff-necked people indeed!" Deut 9:13 NIV

 Recently after missing several weeks of physical therapy, I was very happy to find out that I had not lost any of the range of motion that I had slowly gained over the previous six months. Always excited by a new challenge I was happy to start some new exercises that seemed like a cinch to me. My therapist insisted emphasized that I only do repetitions of three, which sounded boring too easy to me. So, of course, I did more. Several hours later I began to understand why she had cautioned me. I was paying for my lack of obedience.

October 5, 2009

What State Are You In?

I don't know about you, but occasionally I wake up in a different state than the one I slipped off to sleep in. My body may stay at the same location but at times my mind and spirit go on vacation. Some trips are better than others.

September 27, 2009

Are You Possessed

"Then he said, "Beware! Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have. Real life is not measured by how much we own." Luke 12:15

Despite the recent economic crisis we live in decadent times. A short-term mission trip will quickly change your mind if you don't currently agree. Visit any third-world country and you will see mud huts, refugees, bloated bellies, naked or scantly clothed people. Living a life of poverty and experiecing a recession are two entirely different things.

In America mansions line upper class neighborhoods. Even our pets have beautiful houses and nice soft beds. We shop until we drop only to go back and buy more. Many live from paycheck to paycheck and others live way beyond their means. Still, we must "keep up with the Joneses" at all costs even if we ruin our health and relationships in the process. Sadly enough, no matter what we have we are never truly satisfied. We are always looking towards the next best thing and stretching to obtain it.

Jesus was careful to warn His followers about the danger of greed.

September 26, 2009

P.S. I Love You

Sitting in the beautiful symphony hall I found myself being lulled, almost to sleep, by the music. A great tune by a smooth vocalist has the power to do that to me. Because of this I was doing my best to focus on the lyrics of the song being performed. Many times lyrics when they can be understood paint vivid pictures, tell great stories, and stir an array of emotions.

September 21, 2009

Talk Is Cheap

It is hard to imagine how we might spend our remaining time in this world if we were equipped with the knowledge of when and how we were going to die. It seems that knowing would make the moments leading up to that time all the more agonizing. We would be consumed with an array of emotions ranging from panic to terror. After all…we are only human.

Jesus was fully God and fully man. As such, in the remaining hours of His life He made a stunning choice. He choose to take twelve men aside, one of which had already put His death in motion, and give them an object lesson.

Trophies




"Though the Lord is on high, Yet He regards the lowly." Psalm 138:6

There were wounds that now are scars
Forever fixed in place
Scenes etched in my memory
That time cannot erase

I don't understand Lord
All that You have done
But the scars have become trophies
Of the battles You have won


There were times I felt despair
Lost and so alone
Yet You had gone before me
I was never on my own

I dropped my sword in anguish
Feeling the weight of my defeat
Then You brought my enemies before me
And laid them at my feet

When words of strong rejection
Cut through me like a knife
The pain was so unbearable
I despaired even of my life

You picked me up and held me
Whispering softly in my ear
"My child these things I have allowed
So that you'll draw even nearer"

You have picked me up Lord Jesus
When the road has been too long
I was weak and so weary
You are awesome and so strong

I don't understand Lord
All that You have done
But all around me I see trophies
Of the battles You have won


September 17, 2009

No Fishing Allowed

I don’t like to admit it but my memory is not as good as I would like it to be. It seems to serve me well some days but on other days I suffer from something that I refer to as “CRS” or “can’t remember stuff.” Perhaps you have had a bout or two of “CRS” yourself. If so you know it is unpredictable and annoying. Why, because we want to remember what is important to us. When we can't it can be downright frustrating.

I was reflecting on the subject of forgiveness recently and came to an interesting conclusion. God, our Heavenly Father, has “CRS”, too. But guess what? He has it on purpose.

September 16, 2009

Bury The Past or It Will Bury You

“Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19

I recently read a story about the hippopotamus. A zoologist observed that these animals would not leave a lake that they had become familiar with. Even if it dried up they stood there until they died because their minds couldn't move beyond the past memories of a lake once filled with water.

As one Christian blogger put it “they died where they stood, not wanting to go forward, because they wanted to live in the past, where it had always been comfortable for them.”

It is hard to imagine a hippo literally stuck in the mud of a drying pool of water. Even harder to picture is such a large animal dying where it stands because it lacks the ability to see past what it had and go find what it needs to live—water.

Yet there is a lesson we can learn from the hippo. We cannot live in the past and embrace the future. Actually, we need to bury our past or it will bury us.

September 15, 2009

Sacred Cows

We got an interesting call from my Mom last night. She and some of her friends had gone on a day trip to see another friend who recently moved. Day came and went and as night closed in I began to worry.

When the phone rang, I expected it to be my Mom calling to say she was home. Instead she reported that they were almost home but would be a bit delayed because they had hit a cow.

Yes, you read it right, a cow.

September 13, 2009

The Fire

"When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flames scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." Isaiah 43:2-3

Everyone has answers
Yet the questions still remain
Is Your Word hidden in my heart really true
Yesterday, today, forever the same

September 11, 2009

Fruit Flies and The Devil's Lies


"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12

While the entire world around me slept, I was on a cleaning binge. As I waxed the kitchen table, I spied dust collecting on the crystal fruit basket which holds a few cloth napkins and some of the most impressive fake fruit you have ever seen.

As I carried the basket over to the sink to empty the fruit and wash it, I was a little surprised to find some dead fruit flies lying in the bottom of the basket. Chuckling to myself, I thought, “Gee, we must have the dumbest fruit flies in the world in Tennessee.”

Apparently they had met their fate while swarming around the beautiful fruit. Fruit that, unfortunately for them, was fake. It is one thing for a person or two to be occasionally fooled, but why in the world would these little experts on swarming delicious, sweet, overly ripened fruit, die for a lie?

The longer that I thought about the question, the sillier it became to me until the Holy Spirit began His gentle teaching. As He began to show me how fruit flies and the devil’s lies applied to God’s people, the concept at which I had once chuckled suddenly did not seem quite so funny.
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