Saturday, December 29, 2012

Electronics For Christmas

I was browsing around the store and noticed the NOOKS had been updated since last year. Then I noticed they were updated along with every other electronic device in the same department, where people were standing in line to purchase the latest “thing” that was on sale.

I shook my head wondering how soon after we left the store, with our items, that a new updated one would be on the shelf, and what we had just bought would be outdated.
We lost the charger to my daughters DS and had trouble finding one that would work in her device. A very young guy who waited on us had to look up our DS on the computer and we showed him a picture of it so he could help us. Okay, it’s really not that long ago since we bought it, but…

That’s how it is now. As soon as you turn your new lap top on, your new phone filled with a bunch of cool apps, or the latest game player another one is being marketed that is so much better than what you have in your hands. A person just has to have the latest one too.
In the book of Proverbs it says:

“There are three things that are never satisfied,
four that never say, ‘Enough!’:
16 the grave, the barren womb,
land, which is never satisfied with water,
and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’
If that passage was written today I wonder if it would add – “electronics” to the list.

Don’t get me wrong I love electronics too. It just made me think while I was Christmas shopping and watching the crowds of people in the electronics section how much it’s become a part of Christmas. And every year there is a new thing for a person to want. It’s always changing and can a person really keep up with it all?
The hustle and bustle of the stores is such a stark contrast to what the message of Christmas really is all about. Yes, there is a magnificent gift involved, but the original reason for celebrating Christmas doesn’t change.

During the live nativity presentation at our church the story of Christmas was told from over 2000 years ago and it is the same powerful loving story year after year. It is truly what Christmas is about.
In a small town in Bethlehem, a virgin girl named Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is Immanuel, God is with Us. The angels came to the shepherds and told them this wonderful story and they went to see the baby. A star shined brightly above where the baby lay in a feeding trough and the poor shepherds were witness to this miracle baby and then went and shared their tale.

You see, Unto us a child was born.
This child grew to be a man and walked among us. His name is Jesus.

This man gave His life for us and paid the price for all of our sins. If we believe in Him, we are saved.
This is the reason we celebrate this holiday. Yes, the gifts are awesome, but the first gift ever given to us regarding this holiday can never be surpassed in its awesomeness.

Because of Him…
You are forgiven.

You will live ETERNALLY with God.
This gift was done with a love that is incomparable.

It is for you to receive and it doesn’t change, it doesn’t get old, nor does it need an update.
John 3:16 NIV
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.


 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Light In Darkness

I cried when I heard there was a shooter at Clackamas mall. The next day I was upset because there was a lock down at Evergreen High School due to a teacher finding a rifle in a student's backpack.

And yesterday...

How do you react to the horrific news of young children, and the adults caring for them, being shot to death while they are in an environment that is supposed to be safe? Where children are enjoying their peers, and learning from their teachers to be able to grow into intelligent adults.

How do you react to the reports of the little kids who hid in terror and the heroic efforts of the teachers to protect them and their own lives?

How do you react to the news of the principal losing her life trying to stop the gunman? Or the young teacher who hid the children of her class in a closet and then stood between them and the gunmen?

So utterly senseless.

I have seen and heard one way people are reacting...people want answers. They want the "Why?" answered. Investigative reporters have spent the last two days searching for the answer to that question. They've heard opinions, and have also discovered the gunman had altercations with four of the staff at the school.

Okay, a big enough altercation to take the lives of innocent children? Still doesn't answer the why for me. There is not a good enough reason for a twenty year old guy to do something so horrendous.

Yet...this seems to becoming an answer for so many people. Murder, suicides and shootings, when will it stop?

Now we are left to grieve for those whose lives were lost and for those who lost the ones they love. To grieve for those who don't get to tuck their precious babies into bed tonight and don't get to watch them as they sleep. Kiss their cheeks or feel their sweet arms wrap around their necks. And for those who don't get to share that one last kiss with someone they love...why? Because of senseless violence.

Today, we went downtown and watched Santa arrive on a steam engine train. He was waving at the crowds and all of us were waving back. When I watched my daughter and her friends wave and smile, I fought the wave of emotion that struck me and was quick to wipe at the tears that sprung to my eyes when I realized how blessed I was to watch this moment of her life.

This is a time of year where people are expected to celebrate. Expected to be joyful and party. But many across this country are mourning, not celebrating. They don't get to see their loved ones open the gifts they bought for them on Christmas day.

An article by Max Lucado hit on a story in the Bible that I really hate to read. It is such a heart wrenching story that it makes me wonder how someone could be so cruel.

But today it actually gave me a light in this very dark situation.

When Herod found out that a King was born named Jesus, he sent men out to kill every male child under the age of TWO in the area! Joseph was warned in a dream. So he took Mary and Jesus and took of to Nazareth.

When I read this story I can't help but imagine the entire scene. Soldiers forcing their way into homes and killing the child on the spot and the parents knocked to their knees in grief.

The evil of that story is so hard for my mind to wrap around just like the evil that has happened across our land is hard for me to deal with.

Yet...it is so clear to me how important it was for Jesus to come to this world. To walk among His people, His creation and show them how to live in His love. How to treat others. How to love God with all of our hearts, minds, and souls and to love our neighbor as ourselves. To empower us to be kind, patient, giving, loving, hopeful, good...because we are sinful and sin spreads...it hurts those close to us and others who cross our path.

When He came to the world, it was dark and full of violence just as we experience it today. He was with them in the darkness. Immanuel - God is with us.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Watch for Stones

This last month has been incredibly busy, with proofing two books from the Sister Blue Thread series, getting ready to participate in a conference, and holidays. Now I’m busy finishing up the third book that is due the beginning of December.

During all of this time I’ve had so many thoughts I wanted to put down and share on this blog, but I didn’t find the time.  One in particular keeps bouncing around in my head, so I’m taking a few minutes before getting ready for church to share it with you.
I shared the following in the break out sessions I did at the conference and then amazingly when I went to church the following day, the Pastor did a talk on the very same subject.

The Bible tells us of a story, of when Jesus appeared at dawn in the temple courts, and all the people gathered around him, then he sits down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman who was caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
According to the Bible they were asking Him the question to trick him because they wanted to have a reason to accuse Him.

Jesus however bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. They kept questioning him; he then straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
When I read this story I can feel the anxiety the woman probably felt at that moment waiting for the stones to start to hit her. Did she wince, I wonder? Cover her face? Cry out? Or did she stare all of them in the face with a dare to throw a stone at her?

The Bible doesn’t talk about her reaction. So to me that only says it wasn’t as important as the response of Jesus and the reaction of those around her.
What was their reaction? They began to go away one at a time, the older ones first until Jesus was left with the woman still standing there.

Can you picture yourself in this position? Your sin has been brought in front of your community; they could have punished you for your sin, but realized they had sins of their own. And now you’re standing before Jesus.
Pretty vulnerable position to be in, I’d say. Except, I remember a time of standing before Him, filled with guilt and remorse, not in reality, but spiritually, where I confessed my sins to Him, and  I got a reply pretty close to the one this woman received.

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

I can only imagine that woman went away with a grateful heart and lived a life loving the one who saved her from being condemned from her sin. I know I did and do.
Have you experienced that? Or is this your experience?

This story is a reminder to look to our own hearts and make them right with God. Pointing fingers and judging others for their mistakes, bad judgments, isn’t what we are called to do. Because when I bring them before Jesus, I’ve found He deals with me, not the person I’m ratting on.
Sometimes though, that person we’re ratting on is ourselves. We carry the weight of guilt and condemnation for a choice that we have made in our lives. Divorce, abortion, abandonment, stealing, failed relationships, mistakes as a parent, and many, many other things.

It’s carried on a person’s shoulder like a bag of garbage that they are not going to let go of for anything.
The Bible says that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When we bring our sins to Him, it’s not just for a chat, but it’s to bring them to Him and confess that we have done wrong. Now, here is the hard part, because we think we have to pay a price.
But we don’t. Yes, sometimes there is a consequence, but the hard part is to believe that Jesus paid the price. He died on the cross for your failures. Not just one or two, but for ALL of them. He alone is worthy to pay the price for our sins. He is the Lamb of God.

Can we, can you walk in faith that God loved the world so much, He sent His only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
And that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe  stands condemned already because He has not believe in the name of God’s one and only Son.

That is what faith is all about…believing.
Now, let’s do what Jesus said and go and sin no more.

Oops, I didn’t do such a great job at that. I’m still messing up. Now, my faith has to take over in a different way. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives.”
Confess, confess, confess, and go follow Jesus. Don’t sit there in guilt, condemnation and shame, then you will miss out on all He has for you. Receive this wonderful gift He has for you, He didn’t hang on that cross in vain. It was to pay the price. Rejoice in that.

After living it, and also hearing about it, I put that message into the Sister Blue Thread series. Each book leads Trudy’s friends and family through situations where they learn to go to Jesus no matter what the circumstances is that they are in.
I hope that you too will bring your issues to Jesus. He will make your path straight.           

Look up passages in John 8, John 3:16 – 18, Romans 8:1, 1John 1:8 - 10

Monday, October 29, 2012

You Are Invited To A Conference

Ecclesiastes 3 (NIV) 1-4
A Time for Everything
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance…

This last weekend the rains were coming down hard. Although a true Pacific Northwestern is known to not use an umbrella all of the time, the rains this weekend caused quite a few of us to pull them out from where they’d been stored.
The water was high on the roads and windshield wipers were working on high in order to have clear visibility.
In life guilt, hurt, anger, or un-forgiveness can cause the road we are walking daily to be unclear.

Sometimes we can hold onto things we’ve done or someone else did to us in the past and we carry it with us daily. Or we are just plain angry over things in life. Maybe we’ve been hurt or experienced a loss in such a way that we can’t figure out how to take the first steps to get back into the swing of things.

You may have seen these signs around town. If you go to the website you will see that there is some wonderful speakers who will be there to talk over these issues that are on the sign.

I was honored to be invited to hold a session on abortion recovery. Abortion touches lives in many ways. You may have participated in having an abortion, or you may have driven someone to the clinic, you may be a grand-parent, aunt, or sister to the aborted child. Abortion affect lives in a very negative and painful way. Women can live in guilt for years about their decision. They can feel a sense of loss and are unable to mourn after all, it was her choice.

In our short time together I won’t be able to cover all the steps that lead to living a life of healing and forgiveness, but I hope you will leave with tools that can help you get on the road to healing in Jesus.

Sometimes things come our way that break us, but there is someone who went out of His way to redeem us.
I hope to see you at this conference no matter what session you sign up for because there is a time to mourn…a time to weep…and there is also a time to heal…to laugh…and to dance…again.
Click here and go to the conferences website - www.pacificnorthwestwomensconference.com or call 360-901-8675.

 

 


 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Someone Else's Boots


Boots! I love to wear boots during the fall and winter as much as I love to wear my flip-flops during the summer.
When I saw this pair of boots at a consignment store I picked them up to check the size. They were a size and a half to small.

Still…
I put my foot in them and surprisingly, other than being a little tight, they fit. I rushed over to the mirror and admired the way they looked with my jeans. I was really liking those boots.

I was tempted to buy them even though buying boots is not in my budget right now. Times are tight and buying them would have made it tighter.
Still, I battled back and forth, even after my right foot started to go numb from lack of circulation. I just kept stretching my feet hoping to make the tightness go away.

Then a thought drifted through my head. You’re trying to wear someone else’s shoes.
I felt a bit uncomfortable with that and took them off. There was a lady looking at shoes and I asked her what size she wore. It was the same size as the boots in my hand. I gave them to her and they looked great on her and fit too.

She didn’t want them, but still they were made for someone her size, not mine.
That thought hasn’t left my mind since that day.

Not when I went for a walk yesterday and admired the beautiful houses and started to imagine what it would be like to entertain for holiday’s in places like I was seeing.
No, the thought became louder then. You’re trying to wear someone else’s shoes.

I stared down at the sidewalk littered with beautiful red and yellow leaves and didn’t turn my head to the left or the right because of the temptation of envying what these people had.
It’s really easy during struggles to start to desire what is in other people’s lives.

When it seems God’s answer is “wait’ or “no,” it’s easy to become discontent, lose hope, and get frustrated.
Like my Dad said, God’s seems to be testing your faith and you just have to get through the next couple weeks.

It’s easy to say I will follow you God or I believe in everything Your Word says when things are going really good. It’s easy to encourage others, praise Him, talk about Him.
But when that road leads you into a dark tunnel that looks like there is not a light at the end of it that’s when faith is tested. Faith is grown. Faith is made strong.

I often wondered how Paul and Silas sang praises after they were beaten and put in stocks in a dark gross prison after being obedient and telling the world about Jesus. Yes, I know it comes from a faith that was built and from the power of the Holy Spirit within in them, yet it still amazes me they were able to do it.
I mean, they could have said, “Look at where we are after what we’ve done for Jesus. And look at the other believers, home, eating with their families.”

They could have.
But, they didn’t, they sang praises, and in that dark prison cell God did a mighty tremendous work. He saved the guy who ran the prison and his entire family. They were even nice to Paul and Silas.

There are tons of stories in the Bible where people are put in the most terrible situations, and they keep the faith, then God steps in and show His glory.
The most important time for all history is reading about how Jesus is hanging on a cross. Beat to a pulp, nails pounded in his hands and feet, and naked.

He could’ve said, Father, forget it, this is too much for me. Change of plans. Instead, He said, Father, forgive them…
Forgive them?!

Soon after, He died… after all of that, He dies.
But once again, God came in to a dark situation, darker than we can even probably comprehend, and Jesus rose from the dead. He stepped in and showed His glory.

Because of that dark moment… all of us who believe won’t suffer for what we’ve done because Jesus did. He paid the price. He saved us from paying the price of our sin by paying it for us.
So now, while I’m walking down this part of the road that seems dark, and I’d like to wear someone else’s shoes for awhile (although someone’s else’s life may look good, but we all have our own set of problems) I can believe that if Jesus is willing to die for me, and save me for eternity, then He has to have a plan to come in and show His glory.

Believing is where my faith is built. Holding on to who He is no matter how dark times seem is a faith work out.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10

New International Version (NIV)
8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Changes - What Do We Do?

Although I really love Indian summers. I miss the gentle September breezes we normally get as summer turns into fall. A few days this week, instead of gentle breezes, we experienced some October wind. The sun may have been shining, but the air was chilly and the wind was strong. When I walked to my car it was raining pine needles. If they hit my face or head just right it kind of hurt. Pine needles covered my car. Broken branches and leaves blew across the streets. The wind seemed so strong for a while that I hoped none of the trees around my place would fall.

This morning was a different story. I went out for a walk, the air was crisp and cool. The wind had settled down a bit and the pine needles were staying attached the trees.
When the sun rose higher in the sky it even started feeling a bit warm. What a change from one day to the next…

Isn’t that how seasons are though?
Constant changes…even though every year we see the same cycle…each season is different.

Sometimes the changes are beautiful and mild.

 Even in life, changes can be mild going from season to season. Having kids, hair changes to gray, kids grow up and get married, the normal progression of life. It’s expected but it can leave us feeling bare just like a tree that just lost its leaves.

Then there are the changes that come from unexpected things. Like the October wind we experienced that left a mess behind on the sidewalks and streets. Or like storms that tear up the place and a person has to completely restore their life.

This picture is mild next to what some people experience after a big storm. Still, sometimes a continual persistent wind that rips the branches off one by one and causes the needles to fall continuously on a person can be just as damaging.

Causing a person to be frustrated, angry, bitter, disillusioned and struggle in their faith.
 
 This old tree being cut down piece by piece just reminded me of how it feels when the same old problem keeps coming up again and again. No matter what a person does it just keeps coming back again and again. It can be a health problem, relationships, jobs, finances…so many things that can tear at a person day by day leaving them in a place where they struggle to hope, struggle to keep the faith, or battle to hold on to joy. Weariness can set in causing a person to just want to give up.

We’ve been in a struggle for a long time. Whenever it seems we have the answer it turns out it’s not the one for us.

During the entire time, no matter what we’ve been through in the struggle, there has been something else we experienced. A bigger picture of the God we read about in the Bible and hear about from the pulpit. We’ve personally seen God work in ways that have amazed us.
I wish I could say when we get to those points of feeling like we are on an edge of a cliff I respond in a mature faith walking way, but I don’t. The reason, the cliff keeps getting higher and higher.

We don’t arrive at the same place every time the problem arises. No it gets tougher and tougher and we do hold onto what we’ve seen Him do before, but we stand and wonder what will He do now?
I walked down a road the other day that hasn’t been a part of my exercise routine for years. I remembered the trials my sister and I were going through during the times we walked that road. I remembered how God encouraged me with pennies. (And He still does) I remembered how I started being a little more vulnerable while writing my blogs.

God brought me through those trials. I’m at a different place now. Seems the same but it’s different because I’m different inside. My faith has grown and I have some wisdom and understanding that I didn’t have before when I walked this road.
God knows what I need and He’s the provider. He has always been there.

I thought we had the answer to the problem yesterday and was pretty excited, but discovered we don’t have that answer. So, it’s really disappointing.
Now what? There’s not another solution in sight at the moment. I hate waiting. So I’m probably learning patience. I like to know what’s going on, something to work toward. I don’t have that right now.

I didn’t want to write my stories or blog because I was in a bad mood and I thought what should I do this for anyway?
Then I got a phone call inviting me to a conference to be a part of ministering to hurting women and they said I could bring my books for the ladies.

Okay…so I’ll stop pouting and keep writing my stories.
But I didn’t want to write my blog. I tried but…stopped a few times. Who wants to constantly write and show the whole world things that are personal to them?

Then I read a story in my daughter’s devotions. (Aren’t they supposed to be for a child?) About a guy named Naaman and he was an important guy. He had leprosy and his servant girl let him know about Elisha who could heal him. Naaman gets permission from the king to go and see Elisha. Elisha doesn’t even come outside to talk to him but sends a messenger who tells Naaman to go dip in the Jordan seven times and he would be healed.
Well, the Jordan River was beneath a man of his stature, after all he had beautiful rivers back home. He also was insulted Elisha didn’t come out and meet him. So he didn’t do it.

The servant girl said some things that made sense to him and he went back to the Jordan and dipped in the pool seven times and was healed.
Sometimes, we have to get to the place we want to be, following instructions we don’t understand or want to do.

My daughter went to the acupuncturist for her back. (He does not use needles on little kids) She refused to do one of the therapies because she is afraid of it. Sometimes we have to do things that scare us or even hurt a bit to get better.
She did it. And we were all proud of her. She isn’t healed but it helped a bit and in time will hopefully take care of the problem. She has to follow instructions she didn’t understand or want to do.

That’s when I knew I needed to sit down and write my blog post. Because, I’ve heard that my struggles and how God has answered them have encouraged others in their struggles. And I hope with all my heart that whoever reads this will be able to believe more and more in the God of the Bible. To be able to believe in who He really is not who we think He is. And that yes, He is here in our struggles, in our joys, and He is not just something, but someone who has a plan and interacts with His children in a personnel way.
No matter how many times you face the same battle. He is the same God who is there to face it with you. Things in life can wear us down, but He can lift us up.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 New International Version (NIV)
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

 The story about Naaman and Elisha can be found in the Old Testament, 2 Kings, Chapter 5.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lately, It's About Trusting

Lately, it seems I keep writing about giving your cares to God and trusting Him. It just comes up over and over again in my life so I really don’t have a choice.

I feel as though I am at a place in my life where my faith is being stretched further than it ever has before.
It’s like my husband and I are on the edge of a cliff, hoping stones soon appear, so we clearly know where to put our next step down, so we can get to the other side. But right now, we aren’t seeing anything to help us get to the other side.

In one of the scenes from the movie Indiana Jones, he was on a cliff and had to step out before the stones appeared and then the stones showed up one by one.
That first step can be a terrifying leap of faith.

This last week I’ve been looking back and remembering all of my spiritual markers. I have to say God has never failed us. Sometimes it seemed like He was about too…we could feel air beneath our feet and then…His hand appeared.
Throughout the Bible you can find stories where God showed up and then the person left a memorial so they would see it and remember what God had done and so could future generations.

For example in Joshua 4:19-24
19 On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[a] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”

I don’t put stones out all over the place, but I usually write it down or talk about what He has done. I have found when facing things, and battling worrying…I pray, read the Word to see His way and how He deals with other circumstances in the past. Then I look at my life and it adds to my faith.
But, God is a big God. He is not in a little God in a box. Or one I can control in my mind. What He did in the last incident or spiritual marker, He may not do in this one. I may see His hand work differently. He may be leading me in a new direction, or doing a new thing in my life.

That’s where faith comes in. Where I have to trust whatever He allows to happen in the situation.
In the devotion I read today, it said, “God does not differentiate between problems we should handle on our own and God-sized needs. He asks us to turn them all over to Him. One of our greatest errors is to assume we can deal with something ourselves, only to discover that we really can’t. God sees you as His frail child, burdened with a load that surpasses yours strength. He stands prepared to take your load and to carry it for you. Will you let Him?” Quoted out of the Experiencing God Day-By-Day Devotional and Journal by Henry T. and Richard Blackaby.

1Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. NIV
As I stand at the edge of the cliff, eyes closed, holding my husband’s hand, and cast all my anxiety to God…I have to believe…we step…right into God's hand.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

As a Child

While having coffee with a friend one morning, she told me some things about her cute little grand-daughter.

One thing… her grand-daughter likes to dance around and just enjoy herself.
We started talking about how free kids are and how Jesus tells us to come to Him with the faith of a child.

I mentioned how one afternoon I came downstairs to the sound of my daughter’s squeals of delight. She had stepped outside on the patio and was jumping on her trampoline. It had started to rain and she was delighting in the feel of the raindrops on her face.
I hoped she never stops delighting in the feel of the rain against her face or dancing in a puddle.
Childlike things...

Childlike faith…
It can be harder and harder to just enjoy simple moments with the pressures and responsibilities of life. It can be harder and harder to trust when things in life slip you a curve.

How do you keep a childlike faith after watching a dream you’ve prayed about for years slip from your hands?
Or someone you love slip from life?

Or when a certain bad situation, whether it is health, finances, relational or whatever, keeps happening again and again?

How?
There’s one thing my daughter does and I’ve noticed lots of other kids do to. She will bring me something to fix and then as I’m fixing it, she try to take it back to do it herself. Or she will follow me around, even though I’ve said I’ll have it done in just a minute, and ask me over and over again about the same issue, instead of waiting for me to finish what I’m doing.

Even though I will admit I’m pretty good at acting just like that, I don’t think that is what childlike faith is supposed to look like.
There is something I’ve noticed too about my daughter. When something is going on in her life, or she has a question, or a need, she comes running right to me or her dad. She has faith that we will protect her, provide for her, and love her. Now, have we always come through in the way she wanted us too? Uh…that is a definite NO!

But yet, she continues to trust us and come to us. She continues to open her eyes every morning with a love for her parents. She daily wants to spend time with us and talk with us.
That I think is the key.

No matter what is going on in life, we push it all aside and believe. Believe in who GOD really is, not the circumstances that surround us. The more we learn about God’s character through His word, and how He loves us so much, the more we will want to draw near to Him like a child to their parent.
One of my husband’s friend’s past away this week after battling cancer for twenty years. The one thing his wife told me about his life that stands out in my mind is he never lost faith. Cancer kept coming back and attacking his body, but he never lost faith in God.

This man knew. He knew God and didn’t let circumstances try to tell Him who God was. Instead, he believed in the true character of God and how much He loved him.
Childlike faith, I don’t think is a sign of immaturity, but rather a sign of maturity.

When you come up against a mountain that you have to climb…go to Him, take His hand, and start walking. Your Heavenly Father is always with you no matter what. In the midst of the storms, He is there. In the pain of the moments, He is there. In the middle of chaos, He is there.

 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dandelion Seeds


Dandelion seeds…a child’s delight…I remember how fun it was to pick up one of these and after making a wish, blowing on it until it looks like…
Then I’d pick up another one and spend many enjoyable moments delighting in blowing and watching the seeds fly through the air.

Now as a gardener, I groan when I see a dandelion seed knowing full and well the weed can only ruin the look of a beautiful yard. Each time one of these seeds is sent flying in the air there is a chance when it lands it will ruin someone’s hard work or just cause a field of thistles.
I was reading the story of Jacob and how he fell in love with Rachel. He made a deal with Rachel’s dad to work seven years to be able to marry her. The morning after their wedding night he woke up to discover the dad had deceived him and he had married her older sister, Leah. Jacob soon discovered it was the custom that the oldest had to be married before the youngest.  

It’s like, uh thanks Laban (Rachel’s dad) for speaking up and letting Jacob know.

Jacob loved Rachel and made another deal (why he trusted Laban after that I don’t know except the fact that Jacob was good at deceiving people himself) to work another seven years for Rachel, but Jacob had to do the customary wedding week with Leah before he could have Rachel. So Jacob complied and did the week with Leah and then…he married the one he loved… Rachel.
Laban’s deceit blew seeds of angst into his daughter’s relationships and their children.

Poor Leah, was an unloved woman, who God blessed with sons. Each time she had a son, poor woman would think to herself, Now my husband will love me. One time she sold her son’s mandrakes (plant) so she could have a night with her husband.
Sends shivers up my spine at how desperate that sounds.

Now Rachel was barren and had to observe the man she loved have children with another woman. That had to be so incredibly hard, too. Then finally, the time came when Rachel had a child of her own.
Joseph. Now Joseph was well loved by his dad.
Joseph had his faults, one of the big one’s was he bragged…a LOT.

His dad made him a special coat and sent Joseph out to check on his brothers. His half brothers were pretty jealous of their younger bragging brother.
One day they sold him and told their dad he got killed by a wild animal.

One seed of deceit caused many weeds to grow in people’s lives.
Sometimes it’s just one action that can cause so much pain to those around us. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of the pain we cause in other’s lives.

In and throughout the weeds growing in this family, was the touch of the gardener’s hand.
Unloved Leah had many sons which was really important for a woman back then.

Barren Rachel was able to have a son and her husband continued to love her.
Sold… Joseph was brought down a path which led him into a position of authority, in which he was able to bring his family to a place where they had food during a time of famine.

Out of the lineage of Jacob came Jesus the only begotten Son of God.
He took the death of His Son Jesus and turned it into eternal life for His creation.

God the master gardener is still able to bring beauty in the midst of the weeds caused by the seeds of our own sins, or the seeds of another person that may touch our lives.
Years ago, I was ready to tear out a dried up rose bush, entangled in thorns. After pulling the weeds out from around the bush, I was amazed to find a solitary rose.

My prayer would be that God would open our eyes, while we are in the middle of entangled messes, to see the work of His hand.

 

 

 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bring It To Me

“How on earth am I going to do this?”

“What am I going to do now?”

“Should I do this? Or should I do that?”

“This is impossible.”

“There’s nothing I can do.”

Ever asked those questions or made those statements? I have. At those times life can be tiring, stressful, or frustrating.

One afternoon Jesus, was trying to get some alone time for the disciples after they’d had some incredible experiences doing things in Jesus name.

Instead, the crowds followed them and so Jesus taught the crowd. When it became later in the afternoon the disciples suggested to Jesus that He send the crowd on their way to go and get their dinner.

Jesus told them to feed them.

“Uh…what? That would cost us lots of money. We can’t afford that.”

Jesus told them to bring whatever food they could find, to him. They found three fish and a loaf of bread. If I had been there, and I brought the food to Him, my words for people to read throughout history would’ve been something like, “Jesus, this is all we can find. And it’s late…they should probably go because how are we going to feed them?”

And when He blessed the food and handed me the basket to pass out food to the people, I would probably had been telling them, this is it, this is all we got. And apologizing to the people I hadn’t reached yet, that they probably wouldn’t have any food.

When the time came where everyone had food to eat and there was leftovers I would’ve freaked out. “Did you see what He just did? Did you see that? Wow…can you believe it?”

“That was incredible, Jesus, wow!”

I guess you can say I would’ve had a lack of faith and not understood truly who Jesus was, but when I read this the other day…I realized I do that over and over again.

I will see God work in an amazing way. He will do something in my life that astonishes me. And then another situation comes up and I’m right there at His throne going, okay…here we go again…I need some help here.

And though He’s never failed to come through, I’m so amazed at the time He does. It still amazes me to see how He works in people’s lives. I doubt I’ll ever get over it. How can a person get over how God works?

If you were standing there in front of a crowd with over 5,000 and Jesus told you to feed them, wouldn’t you feel a bit intimidated and interested as to how Jesus was going to do it?

I would be.

But, in that amazement I have to say, I’ve learned things fall into place when I do what the disciples did that day. They brought what they had to Jesus.

“Bring it to me,” He said.

And they did.

Jesus did what only Jesus can do.

He still wants us to bring our stuff to him. The Bible says, “Cast our cares upon Him,” and “…bring all our anxious thought to Him.”

So, when I ask those questions or say those things, I know there is one thing I just gotta do…Bring it to Jesus and let Him do what only He can do with what I have.

So whatever you’re carrying…Bring it to Him and see what He will do with all of your resources.

 

Monday, September 17, 2012

No Keys


Keys…

Pretty much everyone has a set of keys. Attached to your key ring, you may have a key for your house, work, and car.

So what do we do without them? Have you ever lost your keys? I used to be notorious for losing my keys. Now I’m notorious for misplacing them…difference is…I find them now.

It can be so frustrating when it’s time to leave and for one reason or another, my keys aren’t where I normally put them. I can’t leave until I find them. How do I start my car? It’s even more frustrating when I discover I’ve already put them in my pocket or my purse and I’ve been searching for them.

It was close to Christmas, last year, and I stepped outside to say goodbye to my friend and her daughters. My daughter thought we were leaving so she locked the door behind us and shut it. We were locked out. No problem. My husband had hid a spare key.  

So I thought…he had hid it shortly after he had been in a car accident. His memory wasn’t doing so well and he could not remember where he hid that key. My daughter and I searched and searched, but to no avail. I had some Rubbermaid bins filled with coats still out in the garage. And since we were freezing we were able to put some on. It became a stressful situation since I had company coming over for dinner and needed the time to get ready.

I used my neighbor’s phone a few times and was able to get a hold of the owner. Since he would be a couple of hours I went and sat at my friends for a while. I got to enjoy her company and my daughter got an extended play date.

When the owner came he tried all the keys he had for our place. None of them worked. We had the locks changed just a few months before and he didn’t have the new key. So…he set up my daughter in his car with a junk food picnic, along with a few fruits to appease me and we waited for the locksmith.

Finally, after the locksmith came we were able to get back into our place. I hid a spare key in case it ever happened again and rushed to get ready for our guest.

I still remember how it felt to stand outside of my home, in the cold, without my coat, purse, phone, or my car keys. I had no way to feed my daughter if she got hungry and no bathroom. I also remember how it felt to not be able to do things I wanted and needed to do that afternoon. It was frustrating and disheartening.

We were so fortunate to have so many reach out a helping hand to us. And be able to get back into our house.

This last week, the pastor of our church spent twenty four hours walking in the shoes of a homeless person. He was guided by someone in our church, who used to live on the streets for years, until he started stopping at our church on Sundays for a cup of coffee. When he met Jesus, his life was changed forever.

While they were sitting down at a park downtown, they talked to a man who had lost his wife and two best friends in an accident. Shortly after that, he had a stroke. After that, his company downsized. After that he lost his cars, his house…he is now surviving on the streets.

The thing that struck me the most in this conversation was when he said, “It hit me when I stood outside my house and didn’t have any keys.” He had no keys to a house, car, or work.

If only briefly, I had a glimpse at that helpless, lost feeling, but I had helping hands and was back in my house by the end of the day.

He is not and neither are many others.

There is a misnomer about the type of help available for people in this situation.  It is there, but very limited and not always easy. I find it frustrating when the government is donating 650,000 to 1,000,000 million dollars for an old building now deemed a landmark to be renovated when so many people are struggling.

Our Pastor talked about the parable, told by Jesus, of the Good Samaritan who helped a man who had been robbed and left to die on the side of the road. In the parable Jesus explains that the man lying on the side of the road is our neighbor. And we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. It’s the second greatest commandment.

Maybe you have no idea what to do. But it’s important to know not all the people begging for money are looking for enough to get their next fix. There are people out there like that; there are also those who like to live on the road. But we are in a time when people are desperate, losing their house, and some have nowhere to go at night to lay their heads. If they sleep in the parks they get a ticket and possibly brought to jail. I mean where on earth, does the city expect a poor person, to get the money to pay for the ticket? Can’t they find another way to deal with it?

If you don’t want to give money to them, you can give money to an organization that is helping the homeless.

You can give bottled water, a gift card for a nearby restaurant, a cup of coffee or a blanket. Right now our church is putting together boxes so we can feed the homeless on Sunday afternoons and give them some things to help them.

If you don’t want to do any of those things, here is a very powerful suggestions right from the Bible says, 2 Chronicles 7:14
…”if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

May we pray to start healing our land? It is not hopeless. God is really good at restoration and redemption.

May God bless the people of this country and bless those who are struggling.