Sunday, May 1, 2011
This blog is coming a little late as Easter was a week ago. But it has taken me this week to reflect on all that Easter means to me. As a survivor of a pain-filled childhood, an offender of every rule in the book, and most importantly, as a girl saved by grace, you can imagine how this celebration affects me. I recently watched the movie, The Passion of the Christ, again. I sat anxiously as Jesus labored in the garden of Gethsamane, knowing what God had planned for the coming day. I wept as I watched the Romans violently beat Jesus and I felt sick as I saw Jesus struggle to carry His cross to Calvary with the crowd jeering and spitting on Him. I couldn't watch the screen as the guard hammered the nails into his hands and feet, but I heard the strike of the mallet on each nail. I cried tears of joy as He overpowered death and was ressurected. Afterwards, I sat numb. The sacrifice He made for me weighed on my heart. I realized that I spend most of the days of the year zipping through life, but it is on this day that I stop... think...and pray fervently to the Lord of my gratitude for Jesus sacrifice on the cross. I am a free woman today, broken from the chains of sin, shame, and regret. All because of the love of God, a God who knows my inner most being, yet loves me despite myself. My victory comes with knowing that Jesus over came death on the cross and on the third day, just as He promised, He defied death and rose from the grave. An act that secures my place in eternity. My question is as much for me as it is for you. Do we live each day with the same devotion and gratitude that we pour out each Easter? Or do we save it for that "one day"? Jesus had one life and He gave it for us - we did not deserve it, but He did it because He loves us. The power of one day...and one life should be something we acknowledge more than once a year, it should be something we live out every day. I am going to try, how about you?
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I know I blog a lot about the "zoo load" of animals we have around our home, called pets. I have to tell you that though I cringe at cleaning the cat box, am hysterical over muddy paw prints on my carpet, and throw my hands up every time a new critter appears at our house - I have learned more about life's predicaments through these animal's crazy situations, then in my 15 years in ministry. This could be a slight exaggeration but it's not too far from the truth. Here is our latest blog casualty, Dozer. Just wait until you read my next blog about dumping 200 crickets in our son's room. Help me Jesus!
We have a beautiful 4 year-old, yellow lab named Dozer. He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he certainly is the most loving dog a family could have. We named the big lug “Dozer”, because as a puppy he slept all the time, but as he grew and grew, and grew, his name became more appropriate. This canine of 105 pounds can knock everything over in his path with one wag of his overstuffed tail.
Last week Dozer had a mishap. Well, it wasn’t a mishap so much as a lack of good judgment. When the sun goes down Dozer is always the first of our three dogs to come in to the garage. It figures that this goofy dog is also afraid of the dark. When the sun goes down, he panics and heads for his dog house in the garage. I don’t know what he is afraid of, but his fear is very obvious. As we were getting ready to lock up for the night, we called the dogs in, and much to our surprise Dozer was not in the garage. We called for him, then called our folks who live nearby, (he often visits them, much to my mother’s dismay) but no one knew where Dozer was. My husband took the flashlight and hiked down to the barn, wondering if the dog was locked in with the 4-H pig. Our dog Molly ran along with Kevin, but then departed and headed over to a nearby culvert and began whining. Kevin walked over to find out what she was fussing about, and saw the dilemma. Dozer had chased something into the culvert, but was unaware that one end had been crushed together by a lumbering school bus (yes, Mr. McLean we need to talk about that). Dozer was stuck. He couldn’t back out the 13 feet behind him, and he couldn't’t move ahead to freedom. He was stuck.
My husband, father in-law, and our son, Parker, tried everything to pry that culvert open. But to no avail. I could see Dozer’s eyes, wide open, and obviously frightened, but there was no place to turn for comfort. I tried comforting him with my voice and even got my fingers in far enough to scratching the tip off his nose, but it was not enough. Finally, the guys took to a metal saw and began to cut. After an hour they were able to cut the opening wide enough to get Dozer out. You have never seen a happier dog in your life. Though his hips were stiff from the cold and being in the same position for several hours, he jumped around like a puppy. The culvert was his prison and his family was the bridge to freedom.
As we laughed and shook our heads at this crazy dog’s antics, I began to put the whole situation into “life perspective”. I thought about how many times I have felt like Dozer, stuck in a situation with no escape. These are times I have felt completely alone with nowhere and no one to turn to. I have heard story after story from women around the U.S, who have felt exactly this same way.
One woman recently told me, that her husband of 22 years was leaving their family for another woman who was 15 year her junior. She cried and couldn’t understand what had happened. I could only hold her and pray. I had another young woman tell me she was terminally ill with colon cancer and the doctors gave her less than a year to live. I held her and prayed with her. Another woman in India shared her despair when she had to sell her body to make money to buy food for her three children, after her husband was killed in a tragic auto accident, only months before. Just today, I had a friend tell me that an unexpected debt of $10,000 had dropped into their lives that needed to be paid in four days. The list goes on and on. A dark place, where there is no place to turn around and escape the circumstances.
Have you been there? I know I have. These situations often feel like the end of the world. We ask ourselves, “How will I make it out of this?”
Then the dawn comes or the metal saw, in Dozer’s case. Something to comfort you, an answer to relieve the load, something to ease the fear. When we can breathe again and we can see the light, there is a massive sense of relief. In retrospect, I see God’s hand. In each and every situation, I have watch the Lord move mountains, put money into bank accounts, bring peace despite bad news, and to provide when there appeared to be nothing available. As I comfort, pray for, and encourage women in these situations, I don’t expect my words or hugs to change their situation. I have no power, but I do have empathy. I pray with them because in the depths of my soul I know there is an answer. That answer is God. It may sound simple but in my vast experience of tough times, it has only been the Lord who has been my shelter, strength, and provider.
Precious friend, if you are experiencing adversity today and feel like you are lost in the dark; I hope that you will cry out to God. Your comfort may come through a Christian friend, or an encouraging word you hear on the radio, maybe it’s a warm smile from a stranger. Consider these things God’s way of telling you, you are not alone. Just like Dozer, being so completely afraid of the dark and stuck in the darkest of places, you have someone waiting to rescue you, Jesus Christ. He knows your name and loves you more than you can ever imagine. In fact He loves you so much that He died on a cross so that you could live in eternity with your Heavenly Father. Don’t underestimate what He is capable of, or what He is willing to do for you. He will always shine the light in your darkest hour and bring comfort through the fear.
"You light a lamp for me.The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness."
Thursday, May 7, 2009
May is a special month for mothers. It is the one day every year where they are celebrated for their love, care, and commitment to their children. Speaking from a mother’s perspective, I look forward to this single annual event. This day is usually the only day I get a, “thank you Mom for all you do”, from my kids. Now don’t get me wrong, I have a great family, but gratitude is not something poured out generously from our three beautiful children’s lips. As a mother I tackle Everest sized mountains of laundry, chauffer every child to their prospective events, cook each meal, even when I hear constant complaining, and tuck cranky kids into bed at night and say prayers. Being a mother is the toughest job I have ever done, but also the most rewarding job I have ever done. When you are a mother, the days of being self absorbed are cast off. You can no longer take off whenever you feel like it, nights out with friends become few and far between, and your wardrobe often disintegrates into jeans and tee shirts (the days of designer clothing are gone). The truth of the matter is, that I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I have had fits of anger that would make a sailor blush. I have had bouts of frustration that have left me missing tufts of hair, and crying outbursts that could have easily made me a candidate for committal; all because I am a mother. This day is special. It allows me to feel appreciated. My kids give me breakfast in bed and though the toast is burnt, the eggs over done, and the orange juice diluted; I thank God for the blessing of these children. They bring joy and laughter to my every day. I couldn’t imagine my life without them.
On this Mother’s Day, please take the opportunity to express your love and gratitude to your mom. Though she would lasso the stars for you, it really will make her day
to hear that you love and appreciate her. Then say a prayer to God thanking Him for giving you the precious gift of a mother.
Before I sign off I need to say; “I love you Mom! You are an extraordinary gift from the Lord and I appreciate you more than words could ever express.”
Here are a few quotes from a few people you may recognize – enjoy!
A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~Tenneva Jordan
The phrase "working mother" is redundant. ~Jane Sellman
I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. ~Abraham Lincoln
There's nothing like a mama-hug. ~Adabella Radici
No one in the world can take the place of your mother. Right or wrong, from her viewpoint you are always right. She may scold you for little things, but never for the big ones. ~Harry Truman
A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest. ~Irish Proverb
Saturday, April 11, 2009
If we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. —Romans 8:25
In Louisiana, a woman lies buried beneath a grove of 150-year-old oak trees in the cemetery of an Episcopal church. Only one word is carved on her tombstone: “Waiting.”
A friend of mine knows an elderly pastor who delivered a stirring Good Friday sermon titled “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Comin’.” In a cadence that increases in tempo and volume, his sermon contrasts how the world looked on Friday—when the forces of evil seemed to have triumphed—with how it looked on Sunday. The disciples who lived through both days never doubted God again. They learned that when God seems most absent, He may be closest of all.
The sermon skips one day, though—Saturday—the day with no name. What the disciples lived through in small scale, we now live through on cosmic scale. It’s Saturday on planet earth; will Sunday ever come?
That dark, Golgothan Friday can only be called good because of what happened on Sunday. Easter opened up a crack in a universe winding down toward decay. And someday God will enlarge the miracle of Easter to cosmic scale.
Meanwhile, we wait in hopeful anticipation, living out our days on Saturday, the in-between day with no name.
It’s Saturday. But Sunday’s comin’.
Devotion by Philip Yancey
Friday, April 3, 2009
As I looked out my window today, and watched the snowflakes dance around in the breeze, I began thinking about faith. Faith...it is an obscure idea to me at times. I know that doesn’t sound like the thoughts of a deeply entrenched Christian. I am, but even in this solid walk with Jesus, I sometimes find myself wondering: Does God really hear my prayers? Is there really a heaven with golden streets and no more pain?
It is April here in Idaho, and it is snowing. This makes no sense to me. April is the month of budding green grass and blossom on flowers. But not this year, it is a place stuck in the winter season. That is what prompted my thinking about faith. Sometimes things are not what we believe they should be. People die unexpectedly, human conditions are severe, leaders do unconscionable things, and justice appears to be only a pipe dream. It is in the moments I look up and think “God do you see all of this?” Hoping and praying He will right the wrongs of this world.
These moments are temporary, but very real. Just when I think it can’t get any worst, God sends a reminder. It can come as an unexpected healing, good news about a job opportunity, or a sweet note from a friend. Or best of all, an event that brings someone to the feet of Jesus. Just like the snowflakes flitting by my window, I know deep in my soul that spring will come, and that God is here. He just doesn’t work in my timing, most often, not. I have learned that even on those days when I wonder if God is really there, He gently lifts my eyes to Him and reveals Himself. God’s silence is not His way of ignoring us but of growing us.
I may not always understand why God does what He does, or why He sometimes seems absent from a crisis. But I know, that I know, that I know…. God is. The scripture in Isaiah 55:9 describes this accurately; “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways
and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
And in the book of Amos (4:13), the profit could see clearly what I often fail to see; “For the Lord is the one who shaped the mountains, stirs up the winds, and reveals His thoughts to mankind. He turns the light of dawn into darkness and treads on the heights of the earth. The Lord God of Heaven’s Armies is His name!”
Right now, I lift my eyes to see God through the white ceiling on our home because of the cold weather. But I know that spring is coming and I will be able to lie on the green grass, breath in the fresh air, and look to the blue skies of heaven to see Him. God is always faithful.
I don’t know if you’re looking out your window at a blanket of white snow or fanning yourself in the heat. I don’t know if you may be doubting God today, or boldly singing His praises. But please know dear friend you are not alone – this is your season. I encourage you to lay it at His feet, for His mercies truly are new every day.
With much wintery love,
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Well it is officially "love day" or better known as Valentine's Day. It appears our culture is obsessed with being in love or at least having the appearance of being in love. I see this phenominon in Parker's (our 18 yr-old son) high school. If you want t o see an obsession for being in love just go to your local high school and spend some time observing. Both girls and guys value themselves based on whether they have a boyfriend or girlfriend. It concerns me deeply to watch them place their personal value in the hands of a hormone crazed, Red Bull drinking teenager. Many of these kids don't even know which way is up at this time in their life. As I told Parker; "I get it -I've been there. I survived it (barely)!" Well why wouldn’t these kids be hungry for attention and affirmation. Families are broken. Parents are so busy working to put food on the table they don't have the time or energy to put in their kids. First television and now computers have replaced active parenting. It is heart breaking.
Love is a natural human need. Being valued by another person is essential to every person at the deepest level of our soul. God created us this way. I know that would shock most teenagers to hear. "Why would God make us that way??!!!" He made us that way so we would long for, desire, strive for a relationship with Him, our heavenly Father. If we didn't need this love we would not desire it from Him. Unfortunately our culture has wandered so far away from God that they are actually looking to one another to fulfill that need. And it is starting at a VERY early age. I'll share my recent experience of shock and awe in this area.
I was filling in for the music teacher at the grade school last week. What a joy it was to share the music of the different countries I have been able to travel to! I had a 1st grade class come in. They were precious! As I was sharing with them I noticed this little boy and little girl sitting beside each other and kind of leaning in to each other. I thought to myself "oh that is sweet. They must be great friends". (I remember in 1st grade, boys were "yucky" and they carried a vast variety of "cooties") However, a few short minutes later I looked down to see these "cute friends" holding hands under their chairs. I was flabbergasted! Knocked over! Absolutely floored! I immediately took action and stopped class to tell them to "STOP HOLDING HANDS. That IS NOT appropriate to do in this class!!!!!" My heart was racing, my palms sweating, and my mouth bone dry! After this precious little class left, I sat down and found myself saddened by this turn of events. Children, younger and younger, are searching for a partner, searching for that affirmation from another. The only way any one of us will ever feel truly affirmed, is from the One who created us. The One who loves us so much He sacrificed His son that we would be reconciled with Him for eternity. God specifically made that hole, or need in our heart for His amazing love, one size. There is no one on this earth who can fit perfectly into that hole. It is not a one size fits all sort of deal. That special place was made for, and reserved for our Savior, our Lord, Jesus. Once we allow Jesus to fill that place, we begin to comprehend the true meaning of love. That love is demonstrated in 1 John 4:7-10 (The Message)
"My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God."
Have a very blessed LOVE DAY and may the love of the Savior envelope you today and always!!
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Has God hugged you lately? I don't mean the quick squeeze and run. I mean the kind of hug that makes you feel completely enveloped, totally safe, and comforted beyond words? Oh how I love those hugs! When things are hectic I find myself saying "God I need a hug!" Sometimes, if I am in a quiet enough state that I can feel His arms embracing me I just sit and drink in His love. However, if chaos is reigning in my heart and mind then I struggle to feel anything. Even when those moments are the moments I am finding myself in need of God's presences the most. What I have found, is that whatever I ask of my heavenly Father, He pours it out in abundance, according to His will. But I must be prepared to receive it. I must quiet myself to the point of hearing His still small voice in my heart and feeling His amazing love wrap me up.
How has God hugged you lately?
"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you." Matthew 5:4