Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

Driving home under an eyelash moon, the streets aglow with twinkling lights, I couldn't help but think about the reason for the season.  Our church's candlelight service tonight was perfect.

To hear again the old old story, to realize anew that He came for all of us.  To know that tiny Baby born - probably in June - came knowing that those tiny baby hands, so captivating, would one day be pierced by a nail, his feet also destroyed and crushed by a mallet driving metal into it.  To have that wee tummy pierced by a spear.  To be nailed, naked, to a piece of the wood He Himself created.  And to be bled by that spear, as befits a Paschal lamb.

Knowingly, a Being so immense He filled the universe, pledged Himself to be forever held captive by a human body.  Think of that.  Never again will His spirit be free to fill all things with Himself.  He will be walled in.  Forever.

And the reason for this?

So that you and I will never be walled in by flames and darkness and suffering - our spirits will expand to fill a body that can walk through walls and will never ache or falter ever again.

It amazes me, over and over, that He loves us so - and chose us before He ever created the first man, knowing that that choice would cost Him everything.

It's hard to imagine myself making such a choice.  Loving THAT much.

But He does.

And what great feat do we have to do to qualify for this greatest of all possible gifts?

One thing.

Say yes.

So, on this day we celebrate this choice becoming flesh and blood and marching inexorably to the cross, if you haven't said it yet, please accept this most magnificent of gifts ever given.

And all you have to do is:

Say yes.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas and CI

It's a few weeks before Christmas, and I'm pondering.

I'm a big fan of Calvin Miller's - the Singer Trilogy and his other, weightier Christian treatises.  In The Singer there are several poignant lines that, as a calligrapher who treasures a tight turn of a phrase, struck me deeply and got grafted into my notebook of quotes for just that reason.  One of his lines in the Nativity portion is "every cradle hangs above an open grave."

Every person has an expiration date already settled, and when that date arrives, he will stand before his Maker, whether he believes there is one or not.

For those of us with CI (chronic illness) that is striking.  CI often feels as tho it's a fatal thing.  It lasts sooooo long, and takes so much away.  At this time of year especially, it steals our energy and robs us of outings and get togethers, shopping and decorating.

But (I love that word) it can only steal what we allow it to steal.  Many of the things we want to do are not necessary things.  It cannot steal our joy.  It cannot steal our relationship with the King of kings.  It cannot steal our giving of love, or our support of others when they are feeling unsure, afraid, or alone.

Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered.

The Word tells us this, to show us that Jesus knows what we are going thru, what it feels like to suffer in ways we will never have to endure. 

He knows.

I find great comfort in that.

He knows what it feels like to grow up poor in material things, but rich in family.  He knows what it means to walk alone when others walk in pairs.  He knows what it means to feel helpless watching someone we love die - how He must have ached to watch Joseph pass away, when He had all the power there is at His fingertips, and His Father said, "No."

I read something tonight that mentioned there is a big difference between submission to suffering in Jesus and submission to suffering period .  Submitting to suffering alone carries with it a bitterness, an aftertaste, if you will, that lingers in all of our words and attitudes.  Submission to Jesus means we know that His hand was the One Who allowed this.

Joni Earickson Tada described suffering as "He uses what He hates to accomplish the things He loves."

Submission always means we soften our stiff necks; we bow them and bend our knees.

It's not fun.

But our modern world has forgotten what the early Christians knew well - that suffering has a reason, has merit, has the ability to teach in a way nothing else can, simply because it is His inescapable choice for us. When He chooses to allow something uncontrollable in our lives, it is always for our benefit.

Because the simple truth is, nothing in our lives, not a single second, is under our control.  We have no control over our next breath, whether one hair turns white or gray, or whether we wake up in the morning. 

What we do have control over is how we wake up in the morning.

We can praise Him for another day to love in His Name. We can  be obedient to the best of our ability.  And we can praise Him for all the gifts in our lives. 

We can choose whether to be grateful or grumpy.

And in this Season of the Father's wholehearted giving of His only Son - knowing that He would not be received, that He would be stripped naked in front of the whole world, that He would taste spittle, be scourged, have His beard pulled out and His head crushed with thorns - and then after all that, He would be nailed to a cross made of the wood He Himself had created - I think I can manage some praise, some gratitude, some bowed neck and bended knee.

Because He did it for me.

And my paltry bit of chronic illness, carried with as much grace as I can manage each day, is what I do for Him.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A 'Tale of Two Ladies'

Reading in Mark 5 and 6 today.

The story is familiar - especially to me, which I will explain later.  I have been drawn to all the accounts in this as well as the other gospels. But in reading these chapters one after the other today, I noticed something I've never seen before.

The woman who suffered from "the issue of blood" had been afflicted 12 years - the same number of years the young girl had lived. who was to be raised from the dead.

That gave me chills.  Numbers are important in the Word, and I was sure there was something connecting these two that I had not put together yet. This is no simple coincidence.  God's Word is written by design, not some haphazard happening.

So I started meditating on these two stories to see what the Holy Spirit wanted to show me.

For as long as the little girl had been alive, this woman had been bleeding. All her money had been spent on doctors.  The Word mentions no husband or family to nurture her in her isolating sickness.  Was she a  business woman?  Women , as a rule, had no private funds. And in addition to having spent all her money, which must have been substantial to afford doctoring for 12 years, she had spent all that time being unclean.  Being unclean meant that no one could touch her or enter her house without becoming unclean because of her.  In addition, constant bleeding leaves you wobbly and weak from the blood loss.

I say this because I had periodic hemorrhages and severe pain for 21 years. The blood loss was bad enough.  It was the pain I came to fear. I was the only under-age woman in my college with a doctor's script prescribing a shot of brandy every 3or4 hours when the pain  began.  And most likely, knowing what disorders create a medical profile like this (I;m an RN) it was not only isolating, but excruciatingly painful - and it sounds like it was from endometriosis. I especially noted the place where she says, "She felt in herself that she was healed."  Power went out from Jesus, and blasted into her body, going directly to the place where the pain came from, and the bleeding stopped.  Finally.  After 12 years of agony.  Did she have any warning when the pain/bleeding would hit? Endo is notorious for irregular cycles. I know from my own experiences, I never had a clue when it would hit me.  I could be out to dinner with someone, or on a trip, didn't matter. by the end I was bleeding 3 weeks out of four. All of a sudden I would be curled up and trying to hold it together, or, if it was especially bad, I would be on my way to ER and would wind up spending the night at the hospital to get the pain under control. My last year of college I almost bled to death - I was in shock with blood going in each arm and when I moved on the guerney, a waterfall of blood splashed over to the ground. When I found this account of healing it touched my heart deeply.  I  knew this woman -  well.  It bolstered my faith enormously.

What I know for certain is, no matter how much pain she was in on this particular day, she was determined.

To enter a crowd and struggle, weak and shaky from blood loss, to catch up with this Man that folks said healed people, speaks of a finality of desperation. He could heal her.  She knew it.  All she had to do was touch the fringe of His garment.  Can't you hear her, saying this over and over and over and over to keep herself going?  "All I have to do is touch the the fringe.  I just have to get close enough to touch it, that's all.  Just a little closer...I can do this....just a little more..."

Meanwhile, Jairus, the head of the synagogue, had come and asked Jesus to heal his daughter; she was on the verge of death.  It was urgent! He must have been screaming inside - "hurry UP!!! Just hurry UP!!"

They were moving right along when, suddenly, impossibly, it happened.

After struggling and hoping and fighting to get near, she touched Him.


Power blasted thru her, a warm tingling of a fire that shot down her arm to THE spot she knew so very well. She felt in herself, it was over. And I'd be willing to bet you that Jesus replaced the blood she had lost in that moment also. The pain was gone.  The bleeding had stopped. She felt energized, her spirits lifted, SHE WAS WHOLE!

Jesus stopped in His tracks.  He turned.

And then He spoke."Who touched Me?"

His disciples shot Him a look of astonishment.

Then they looked at each other.  It seemed like a million people surrounded them, pushing, jostling, bumping.  "Who touched Me?" He's got to be kidding! EVERYBODY touched Him!

As for her, she knew she'd been caught in the act. She had stolen this healing. She, too, froze, trembling, knowing of a certainty, that if He could tell she'd stolen that power, then He could easily figure out it was her.  The crowd had grown silent, curious. No one was moving.

He asked again, "Who touched Me?" Strong. Commanding. He was dead serious.

The synagogue ruler was there, staring. Tapping his foot.  His daughter was dying!  They had no time for this!

With her heart beating out of her chest, on trembling legs she tottered forward, eyes cast downward as the men began to part, allowing her access to the Healer.  She fell to the ground in front of Him, and sobbed out her story. She expected rage, she expected Him to be indignant.

Instead, she got love.

"Your faith has saved you, My daughter, Go in peace."

And that was all.

No recriminations, no casting of stones, no sarcastic comments. Just the tenderly spoken words: "go in peace."

While all this was transpiring, Jairus was getting frantic.  His need was urgent.  His daughter was beyond sick.  She was DYING for pete's sake! Dying! We need to hurry!

At that moment, one of his servants came to him and said, "Don't bother the Master anymore. She is dead.".


 The very word was fraught with heaviness.  It was over.  His only child, his light, his life, over.

He stumbled, put his hand to his face, turned to look at Jesus, dazed, his eyes filling with the pain of grief.

Jesus speared him with a glance. "Don't be afraid.  Just believe"

And taking with Him the top three - Peter James and John -  they proceed to his house .

I find this so intriguing.

With God's fingertip-control of time, the news of her death doesn't come until after he sees Jesus heal someone, right in front of him, close up and personal.That picture is fresh in his mind.  He had just seen the miraculous power operating in Jesus.

And the key was faith. Trust. Belief.

But his daughter!   She was dead they said.  Dead.

Jairus is trying so hard.  Trying to trust. Trying to believe.

Trying not to panic and crumple, wailing aloud, to the ground.

And all he can think is, my daughter!  My daughter! My daughter!

As they arrive, they hear the loud groans and shrieks of pain from the professional mourners. Jesus says to them "she is not dead, she is sleeping."

Their "sorrow" turned to laughter and sarcasm.  They were experts in dead.  They knew what "dead" looked like.  And they had seen dead lying in a bed in this house.

Stop for a moment and think about the other apostles.  Jesus takes "His guys" and goes off to perform some kind of miracle, and he always takes Peter, James and John. He does, I'm sure, tell them what happened afterwards, but it seems none of the rest of the guys ever get a turn.

Especially Judas.

Is this one of the things that so poisoned his heart that he grabs his chance to betray with both hands?

Just a thought.

So Jesus takes mama, papa, and the three and goes into the house. He tells them again not to be afraid, and to believe. Then He walks over to her bed.

We are not told what it was that she died from.  Most diseases aside from snakebite take a long time to kill. Perhaps measles. Mumps. Chicken pox or polio, diptheria, meningitis - there were so many things that killed in their time, as in ours.

There are few things that kill quickly. So she probably hadn't eaten in awhile, probably ran a high fever, tossed and turned and perhaps her hair was still flayed all over the place.

Jesus is looking tenderly at the child His Father placed in this family,  He smoothed back some hair from her face, and gently said to her "Talitha Koumi" Little girl, I say to thee arise."

She starts to blink her eyes. Her parents gasp.  All eyes are on the face of their little girl.

Her color changes. Blue lips and white face becomes pink lips and rosy cheeks. She sits up and her family is struck dumb, frozen in place with wonder.

Peter James and John are flies on the wall - they are stunned and have let fly a few gasps themselves. Wow.  Jesus really does have power. Unimagineable power.  And they begin to ask themselves, for the 100th time, "Who is this Guy??"

Into the moment of silence Jesus says, dryly, "Soooooooo one of you guys want to feed her?"

I love His wit. It's like when He raised Lazarus.  Everyone was stunned into silence and here is a bound Lazarus hobbling out of the tomb and Jesus says"ummmm you want to untie him and let him go?"

Chaos! Bedlam!

Parents rushing to her, calling for servants - "She's alive.  Alive!!  Get her some food, some water!  Hurry!  She's well!  She is well!!"

The Word doesn't describe this moment.  But in my heart, I know that Papa fell to his knees before Jesus,  overcome with gratitude and wonder and the solace a parent's heart experiences when his worst fear has, in fact, come to bear  - and then - simply undone.

And looking into the eyes of Jesus, I see such joy, such delight in conquering that last enemy, the one that will someday be placed under His feet.

Two women.  One grown, one not so grown.

Two lives.  One little girl, seemingly lost already and in a hopeless state.  The other was a grown woman, alive, and yet everything that made life life had been lost, inch by inch, who faced only a hopeless gray expanse of time until it was all, finally, over.

And what was it that bound these two apparently unrelated miracles together?

I finally saw it.

There wasn't just one person raised from the dead that day.

There were two.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Heartbreak Hill

Leah and Rachel  Genesis 29 and 30 and a little at the end of chapter 35

I have been reading in the Word about Leah and Rachel.

This time through I find my heart aching for Leah.

From the time Jacob arrives at his uncle Laban's house, he has eyes for Rachel and only Rachel.  About Leah, the Word says only that she had "weak eyes" - which according to the scholars most likely meant a very pale blue.  Beautiful Rachel outshines her in a moment - and comes across as vain, spoiled, and mercenary.  Jacob probably never even looked at Leah except as "Rachel's sister".

I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when Rachel found out about her father's plan to marry off Leah first.  I bet they had to tie her up somewhere to keep her from stomping in and claiming Jacob for her own!

The Word doesn't say it, but I think Leah has a crush on him from the moment she first sees him - but she knows she doesn't have a chance.  Laban, ever scheming, surely noticed - and I'll bet you that is where his little plan hatched - seeing Leah watching Jacob dolefully, watching her blush every time Jacob came around or spoke to her.

How must she have felt to be a substituted bride - knowing that Jacob thought he was holding Rachel in his arms, whispering words of love and tenderness that she knew she would never hear again - and she surely knew that her father's little trick would explode when Jacob awakened to find her in his arms and not his lovely Rachel.  I think she felt this was the only way she'd ever be married to him - or anyone else.  Still, the embarassment and hurt she suffered - being rejected with anger in the morning, Jacob's sullen acceptance of "her week", his unbridled anticipation of, finally, having Rachel as his wife - must have been food for gossip for a while after the wedding.

Especially since one week later Leah was unceremoniously booted out so Rachel could marry her husband. I would not be surprised to find  Rachel's "week" lasted much longer than a Leah's hasty, enforced week.

And so the pattern was set.

We see from the Word that Jacob chose to live with Rachel and visit the others when their day came.  We can glean how Leah felt about it when her son finds some mandrakes in the field where he is working.  Rachel comes and asks, with a "please", to have the mandrakes ( thought to be an aphrodisiac), hoping this will give her a child.  Leah responds with "Is it not enough that you have stolen my husband?  Now you want my son's mandrakes too!"

Rachel responds that ok, ok, you can have Jacob tonite for the mandrakes - and Leah hotfoots it out to tell Jacob (you can almost hear the glee in her voice) "You must come in to me, for I have hired you with my son's mandrakes!"

Her forlorn hope to be first in Jacob's heart is reflected in the names she gives her children - and God informs us of her comments on their names.  The one that gets me is when she says "Oh, now my husband will dwell with me!"

Alas, her fertility made no difference to Jacob.  Even tho, in the Middle East, a barren woman was a disgrace, Jacob steadfastly clung to her.  The only time we even see Jacob being upset with Rachel is when she demands that he give her a child or she will die.  Finally, Jacob rebukes her, "Am I in the place of God?"

I'm sure Leah never missed an opportunity to rub it in, either.  "Nanner nanner's" surely flew freely with every child the fertile Leah bore.  Here, finally, was a way to outshine Rachel (not that it mattered to Jacob.)

Then the maid-swapping began - each trying to outdo the other in child-creating.  I wonder if the maids smirked behind Rachel's back - it doesn't seem like Rachel would be a kind, undemanding mistress.

Rachel, who had been most likely favored and spoiled since her birth as "the pretty one" had to have been sooo frustrated.  She always got her way.  Now, pouting and demanding and throwing a fit were of no avail.  Perhaps Jacob's rebuke is taken to heart - or maybe she thought, "Well, nothing else has worked - I might as well pray..." because next we hear of her actually speaking to God, as the Word says "And God hearkened to Rachel and opened her womb." (my paraphrase)  It's the only place we see her praying.

Actually, that sort of pierced my heart to read that line.  It made me wonder how often I act like that - using prayer as a last and final result?  Too often, I fear.  Lord, please cause my heart to seek You FIRST in my need!

30 years later, when they are going to leave Laban and go back to Israel, Rachel's greediness shows up again: knowing that the family idols indicate the heir of all her father's possessions, and that a woman would not take priority over Laban's sons, she simply steals them.

Laban's sons already felt cheated by Jacob.  I wonder if one of them discovered their absence - and immediately connected it with Jacob's absence.

So Laban chases after Jacob.  He demands the idols back.  Jacob, unjustly accused, robustly denies everything.  So sure of his company was he, that he said (my translation) " Go ahead and look!  go ahead! and if you find them, the person they are with will die."

Jacob had no idea he was cursing his beloved.

When Laban came to Rachel's tent, she sat on a camel saddle underneath which she had hidden the idols.

From everyone but God.

She must have been pregnant with her 2nd son by this time, and yet she gave Laban the excuse that her monthly  "way of women" was upon her, making her unclean, and everything she sat on unclean.  He looked at everything around her, but did not require her to stand.

I bet you she thought, once again, she had her way.  She had insured her sons' inheritance.

Dying in childbirth is always a horribly painful, long, drawn out death.  I can't imagine in those days if they even had anything that would ease the pain of labor.

Jacob must have been beside himself, unaware that he, himself, had cursed her with death.  Everything he valued was lying before him, slipping away.  His precious Rachel.

So Jacob, smitten to the last, transfers his obsession with Rachel to her sons.

I find it intriguing that it is Leah that lies beside him in the grave.  Rachel is buried somewhere by an unmarked trail on the side of the road.

Yet Jacob never realizes that perhaps, just perhaps, Leah was God's choice of a mate for him, not the self-centered Rachel.  There is no record of him ever saying anything even considerate to Leah, let alone loving. I wonder if he even moved in with Leah after Rachel's death.  From Scripture it appears he spent the rest of his life mourning the death of a woman who seems to have valued Jacob only to "one up" her sister who, after all, married him first.  She was always the pretty one, and saw Jacob as hers. No doubt she had been valued and petted by her father as the one who would reap him a fortune in dowry to the highest bidder.  Jacob was ensnared at first sight, besotted and entranced.

The only love glimpsed comes from the rejected Leah - who had a heart full of it.

It is so sad to me that Jacob never realized it. How loving his life could have been.

But like so many of us that follow the Lord, he chose what glittered, not what counted.  And never once is he noted as having prayed about God's will for his partner in life.

Sadly, like many of us today, he simply never asked.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Paying it Forward

A friend of mine told me about a great day she had.

She'd found a bargain at a fast food place and went back for an ice cream cone.  The young man taking her order was on his 2nd day of work and had never used the ice cream machine.  She told his supervisor that she didn't care what it looked like and for him to go ahead and do it.

He did.

Presenting her with a lopsided cone, his supervisor asked her, "is this ok?"

"Yes! Great job! Perfect!"

And as she turned to walk away, she passed an older man, standing back from the menu, and in an undertone for her ears only, he said, "Good job."

She walked away thinking how good God is.

And she was right.

"So shines a good deed in a dark and weary world."
                                                               --Willy Wonka

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

One day at a time...

When I started the title for this I mis-spelled  "day" and instead wrote "dy ---"

And it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes.  When speaking of the difficult things in life, Amy Carmichael wrote, " See in it a chance to die".   As in dying to self.

For those of you who don't know, Amy Carmichael was a Brit, a missionary to India for over 50 years.  Her work focused on rescuing little girls, and later, little boys also, from being sexual slaves in the Hindu temples, where their bodies were used in the "worship" demanded by their gods.  Little girls were worth less than nothing, except as temple prostitutes or, as they were known, priestesses, from the youngest age they could be acquired, to their death.

Parents of these "worthless girls" nonetheless found places to sell them, as a "priestess" in a temple or a personal sexual slave, in which they were married at the age of 3 or even younger, it didn't matter. In the temples, the girls were given the best of everything - gold nose rings, necklaces and bracelets, silken clothing, softly pillowed "beds", exotic spices, candies and pastries etc etc. Miss Carmichael was horrified when she learned of their captivities, and began to find ways to retrieve/rescue them, soon necessitating the building of an orphanage.  Since nothing was known of their origins or birthdays, they had, instead of a birthday, a "coming day" - the day they arrived at the shelter - to celebrate, and many chose to remain when grown to help with the increasing amount of children arriving. To all, Amy was known as "Amma" the word for "mother" in the native language.

Miss Carmichael wrote some of the best poetry I've ever read.  She was totally sold out to Jesus.

And she was no stranger to suffering.

When she had been in India for 30 years they had acquired a new property.  She hastened to inspect it and traveled with 2 of the children-grown-serving women and arrived at dusk.  Approaching the front door, no one noticed in the half light that a pit had been built by the front door and covered, as the foundation needed strengthening.  As the light faded, Amma approached the front door and fell into the deep pit, injuring her back and legs in a way that could not be remedied, and spent the rest of her life mostly bed bound.  On occasion she could sit up in a pillowed chair, but not often.  A sheer netting hung over her windows and door to the outside patio.  Each morning she wrote a small note to the children - turning their thoughts to joy, or obedience, or steadfastness in the all-important relationship with Jesus.

Sometimes the pain would get beyond her capabilities to endure, and the Word would be her refuge, from which would come the daily lessons or a poem, collected into small books by the women workers at the home, named Dohnavur.  Many are available now as devotionals - Rose From Briars, The Edges of His Ways, A Candle in the Darkness among others.  Elisabeth Elliot wrote a book about her after traveling to Dohnavur. Amma delighted so in the little ones and rejoiced to see them grow in Jesus.  I highly recommend her books and the biography - and there is also a collection of her poetry.

I mention all this because "See in it a chance to die" has become so important in my own life.  Her poetry and devotionals have been life-savers for me at times.  And they have definitely guided my steps and helped turn me in the right direction in difficult times. I believe Amazon has a collection of her books for Kindle that are free downloads.

These last few weeks have been difficult ones for me.  The smallest things have become difficult to impossible to accomplish.  The amount of energy I awaken with has taken a huge downturn, and the headaches have increased both in frequency and strength.  I barely manage my daily read in the Word - and that is the most important part of my day. My nephew is living with us right now, and my sister in law will soon be leaving for Israel for a month of service. Please pray for me that I will have the strength for cooking and chores while she is away - not to arrive home until thanksgiving day.

I praise God for the dishwasher! 

In the mist of all this, there is plentiful room for pondering "See in it a way to die", which is centrally placed in a Scripture quilt of my favorite verses. It comes, of course, from the example of Jesus, Who died not only for us, but to Himself - any desires or dreams had to be placed aside for the Father's will, as well.  His sacrifice was not only physical. Day by day, He died to Self, that never-satisfied voracious appetite we have to live an easy life, happy and pain free, and, of course, utterly selfish.

Each day presents us with multiple options to temptation - put off some duty required of you,  something as simple as taking the largest cookie, or as intricate as stretching the budget at someone else's expense, for something that is totally unnecessary but lusted after.

Right now I am simply trying to keep my groans to myself, which I have discovered are full of self pity and self aggrandizing. It is an astonishingly easy pit to fall into! And I am surrounded by people that deeply care about me, quick to react with sympathy - a deadly situation for someone on the verge of self-pity, which is at the center of all such impulses.

Now, I am not saying that we should live hermit-like lives, never speaking, bravely soldiering on alone, separating oneself from those around us. When someone asks how I am who truly wants an honest answer, I give them one.  Most people want an answer of "fine" - and if so, I give it to them. But I avail myself of those I know will intercede, and  who understand that this life is God's desire for me.

Recognizing God's hand in suffering is a difficult thing, and offers many chances to die to oneself - which I have a difficult time doing, by the way.  There is something within me that will learn no other way but to be ill- and learning to walk His way is the desire of my heart.  This illness, when I truly look at it, is an exceedingly small price to pay for closeness to the Creator of the Universe, to be infilled by His Spirit, and to be cleansed from sin by His Son. And He not only gave me all that, but when I remember to submit myself whole-heartedly, which I am ashamed to say does not happen daily, when I do give it to Him, He unhesitatingly helps to carry it.

The Awesome God I serve has never failed me.

So, I hope, placed next to "Jesus never fails" , enshrined in my heart are the words, "See in it a chance to die."

One day at a time.

Thank you, Amy.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Amazing Grace

My daily reads these days are in IIChronicles.

One verse talked about the Holy Spirit coming upon someone to share a word from the Lord.

It literally says, The Holy Spirit "clothed Himself" with that person.

I got chills.

I realized that when the the Lord brought me to Himself, and the Holy Spirit came to live in my heart, that He "clothed Himself" with me.

That is how He works in us" to will and to do of His good pleasure" - none of it is from my vast amount of (non-existent) holiness - it is all from Him "clothing Himself" with me.  When I give Him control and "walk in the Spirit" I can do so  only because the Holy Spirit is literally my core.  I am His garment, so to speak, the form He is taking at this instant.


On my worst days of illness, when nothing is going right and all I feel is sicker than I felt yesterday, when the pain blooms and it seems like each minute lasts for hours, He is still there, encountering the pain with me, enduring it with me, and sometimes, conquering it with me.  Anything that happens to me in this body happens to Him also. And when I clear my pipes of all the garbage, and let Him pour through me, it is none other than the Living water that spurts out of me in blessing.  It is alive with His Life.

As am I.

I'm having to relearn "In quietness and in confidence is your strength."

Because I'm in a season of murmuring. I wish I could be quiet!

I had the other half of my root canal two days ago, and two other cavities filled.

I got 9 shots of novocaine - and still it hurt.  But any more and I would overdose..

4 hours in the dental chair. Livid, multicolored bruises in my mouth and gums.  Swollen cheek. Headache.

I've been a puddle on the floor with just my eyes bugging out the last 2 days.

And yet - our God is always faithful.  While I was waiting for my ride (I don't drive on D days) it gave me time to sketch the courtyard her office is in, something I've wanted to do for 8 years!  I didn't finish the stonework, which is good cuz the perspective is way way off, but still...

Sketching/painting is one of those things that revitalize me, like a deep breath in the snow, where just breathing invigorates you.  I haven't added color yet - and one of the reasons I love the courtyard is the multicolored stone pavement. so I'm debating whether to add it or not, cuz the pavement is what I messed up.

In spite of my puling milksop of a heart, the Holy Spirit gave me time to do something that I love - sketching the courtyard.  He even moved the heart of the receptionist to bring one of the chairs from the waiting room to the outside location where I was standing so I had something to sit on while I sketched.

What a perfect example of amazing grace! In spite of all my murmuring and kvetching and complaining, my King deigned to make sure I had comfortable seating to do something that brought me joy.  Living deep in my heart, He knew exactly what I needed to get through the ordeal of dental work and not lose the whole day to self pity and let the pain win.

I pray that the tender heart He showed me that day will, one day at a time, become my heart,  worthy to be made a cloak of the Holy Spirit, and a dispenser of amazing grace myself, to those in my life who need it.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ahhhhhh the work of the Best Artist EVEr!

There are several things I love about living in the desert - even tho God had to drag my heart kicking and screaming and other messyniss taking place while my facial features were calm and seemingly in favor.

I knew the move had to come.  California had gotten to be too much, with it's never-ending taxes and super liberal/anti Christian mind set.  And the areas within which we lived had become less and less safe over time, as we became older and more like targets than people.

At first, of course, the heat destroyed me.  110 degrees by 10 am and the "cool" night time temps of 100 degrees.

And then there were the winds.  I remember asking a gent at the bank, where we were transferring our bank accounts. 'Oh ...the wind...welll mmmm yeah,  It gets a little blowy,"  a LITTLE blowy?  We went out for dinner that night and  the "blowy little wind" blew down 5 trees in the parking lot, one of which landed on a car that was owned by a customer eating inside.  He came out with his elderly silver haired relative to find it completely crushed, almost all the way flat. 

Blowy indeed.

But I have found after 10 years, the only thing I really miss about CA is the world renowned San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park and the ocean.  OH! And the Fair, with its gauntlet of games to "try your luck" at and rickety roller coasters and Barkers (World's best vacuum cleaner right here folks, at a special SD fair price and available now!  Come one come all!"  Kids screaming at the height of the Ferris Wheel, timid youngsters reaching out a tentative finger to touch the fur of a baby llama/goat/pig/calf/foal/baby chicks or rabbits - whatever babies had been rounded up for the adventure. And all of this carnival delight played out with a backdrop of rolling surf, gentle breezes washing over you with the aroma of salt air in its back pockets (and fried chicken, whatever you can cram on a stick and deep fry, sloppy burgers and corn coated hot dogs.  Ahhhhhh.  memory.

Here, we live pretty much from A/C house to A/C car to A/C restaurant or store.  For a short time in the spring and early fall we can open the windows and let the air flow thru, smelling of Texas sage in full bloom, redolent of oleander and rosemary, so delightful.

And of course, there's the fact that we actually do have seasons.  Four of them.  Not hot/cool like CA, these are actual seasons, with the normal harbingers of flowers starting to bloom, trees leafing out, 6 months of fry an egg on the pavement and then a cool nip to the air, a drawing in of the soul, the changing colors of the leaves - with it's annual reveal of exactly where those birds nests were, now that the leaves have fallen.

But one of my very most favorite things are not the  aforementioned.

We have clouds,

Now, in SD we had clouds.  They were 1)grey or 2) absent.  It was very very rare to get pufferbellies growing with the day's heat into magnificent towering columns with dirty feet that would rain their way across the valley, making the arroyos look like white water rafting on the Colorado River - and which, unfortunately, claims teen aged lives every year as they try to waterboard or surfboard thru the waters.  The problem is, these flash floods tumble2 and 3 ton boulders down the arroyo as if they were tiny marbles - terrifying to watch.  One day we left the house with the sun shining and 'a cloud the size of a man's hand' in the sky.  15 minutes later we were awash in a flash flood up to the top of the wheel well, seeing accidents everywhere - and within a half hour the streets are not even damp!

But I digress.

The clouds here sometimes make me stop stock still with wonder.  The light plays and colors and shapes them into a vision of creation morning - I can almost hear the hallelujah chorus from the Messiah ringing in my ears.  Here is a poor attempt at capturing it:

We had a wonderful tropical storm come thru today - looking across the valley, I could see the billowing skyscraping clouds pouring water as if out of a bucket, punctuated by the most amazing ginormously elegant strikes of lightning I have ever seen!  They took my breath away, and with each one I would take a startled inward whoosh! of air into my lungs and just let it out praising Him for His power and beauty and absolutely amazing power.  My car was being blown back and forth on the road from the wind, lashing all around the car, with boom crash accompanying the lightning and periodic pending flash floods all swirling around me.  It literally took my breath away!!

We serve such a powerful God and King and Lord.  We have absolutely no idea Whom we are dealing with.  None whatsoever. I think we namby pamby God sometimes into a harmless picture to hang on our walls cuddling little lambs or toddlers.  Now, don't get me wrong.  He is all that.

But He is also the God of Elijah, the God of Moses, the One Who destroyed Egypt and its gods, the One Who flattened Jericho in nothing flat, the One Who showed His presence on top of MT. Sinai with flames and sparks and thunders so deep and rolling that the people were terrified to come near Him.  His own people!  They knew He was their God, but just the view - at a distance yet - of one puny iota of His power and presence and they were trembling in their sandals. 

This is not a God to be messed with.

And I felt the tiniest fleck of that power driving home this evening.  Lightning bolts so huge it seemed they stretched for earth to the heaven of heavens, unleashing a crackling of power in such heart stopping symmetry and gigantic size that my jaw literally dropped open,

If you know me, you know I say this all the time.

The difference today was, I said it face down before Him:

We serve an Awesome God.!

He reigns from heaven above in wisdom, power and love:



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Joy, Joy, Joy!

A friend of mine is participating in a week of joy at her church.  She came up with the idea of writing it in thin air.

In the dark.

With a sparkler. 

Did I mention she's an artist?

I never would have come up with that in a hundred years.

Her husband sacrificed himself to take a picture of it ( he is the local favorite of the state bird - the mosquito - and reportedly came back in covered in welts - and followed by a flock of bloodthirsty skeeters that had to be hunted down and dispatched, one by one) The photo turned out worthy of his suffering - absolutely amazing! Her name is Kate Lehman and her blog is Letterplay. The pic of the sparkler writing is in her Flickr stream. Check it out - you'll be glad you did. The hubby who sacrificed himself is Brat Don. 

She has graciously sent me a copy of the pic to share!  Here it is:

Doesn't that make you smile?

I needed that.  Cuz here, I'm in a blue funk. I can't sketch. I can't paint.  I can't do much of anything useful at all right now - I've hit one of those disabling patches in my illness where pretty much all I can do is wait it out,  I feel like a withered plant, a mildewed bucket of slime.  OK, maybe that's a little dramatic, you get the idea.

Had a root canal a week ago, and haven't been able to get to my dentist to have it finished - and won't be for at least another week. And then it's another ride on the torture wheel, finishing the root canal and fixing two other cavities.

I really really really hate dental work. Because of the diabetes, the ph in my mouth is different, and cavities start easily. And the xylocaine they use doesn't work well and they have to stop because the pain is still full force and shoot all 3 shots all over again. Then they turn those razor sharp lights on me and poof! instant headache. It's such torture.  I feel like I've been beat up in some alleyway and left for dead. And, if that weren't enough, it activates the pain in my muscles and joints. Blechhhh!

OK, Soapbox over with. Hopefully I got it out of my system, tho it still feels like it's hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles.

I'm really trying these days to concentrate on blessings instead of wrinkles in the sheets - and failing miserably!  I keep a blessings/thanksgiving journal, the holy experience joy dare, 3 things to give thanks for per day - at the end of a year you have over 1000 things you've thanked God for.  And I have no problem finding the 3 things - we have a God Who loves to bless us personally, with things that may not delight others, but set our hearts afire with it..

But the flies in my ointment of life seem to burst forth from my heart (thru my mouth and out into the cosmos) just as easily - murmur, murmur, murmur.  I hate it. This is not me.

Yet all of a sudden, I find myself acting as if it is.

That soapbox somehow slithers over and under my feet and there I am again.


Why are they even a blip on my radar? Why can't I just shut up about it?   If I look at the tiniest thing that Jesus went thru - or Paul - or John - my goodness! How do I dare to murmur?? I wonder how God keeps from saying "Enough!  These humans take the cake!  Game over!" And clap His hands, roll the universe up like a scroll, then tuck it under His arm and walk off without a backward glance -- and be done with us!.  He's been enduring our murmuring and sinning and complaining and ungrateful hearts for thousands of years!


It must feel like having a faucet dripping for every single second of every one of those years.

Just think of it - somewhere in the world, every second of every everlasting day, someone is complaining about something.  It's too hot.  It's too cold. They hurt my feelings. He's a brat,  She's nasty. I have a sore finger. My head hurts. My cat threw up. My dog pooped in the house. And on and on and on and on, never stopping.

How wonderful that some day the earth will be filled - FILLED the Word says - with the knowledge of  the Lord.  The whole world will be full of people praising and loving God!

And then...

Then, somehow even with the living Christ ruling and reigning and loving in Person, a generation arises that doesn't want Him telling them what to do, and it begins again:  I don't want to be good anymore, He is too strict, He doesn't understand me, what I did isn't so bad...

Then, egged on by satan, they decide to stage a revolt. Hundreds - make that thousands - assemble to make war with Jesus.

In their orgy of resentment, satan somehow gets them to forget: this is God they are dealing with.  He is ALL powerful - unlike their leader, who is severely limited in his power.

And with a single breath - a SINGLE breath - they are dead.  The war is over. The evil one is locked up, never to be released again.

And God reigns a people who will never ever ever complain again.

I can't imagine the joy that would bring to my heart! To be free of this groaning in my soul!  Instead of the greyness, only light - brilliant, dazzling light - would fill my spirit, my soul, my every cell, and I would only be capable of praise and blessing. We would be free, totally free from the knowledge of good and evil and would only and ever know good.  Period.

Because, thru all my murmuring and falling and getting back up, I really do love my King and Lord.  I really do want to live pleasing to Him.  And I so often fail,

Correction: the Holy Spirit just bonked me on the head, reminding me that I can never fail to be pleasing to God - He only sees me in Christ, washed clean by His blood, pleasing to Him in every way. Every failing has been paid for.  He only wants me to get up, dust off, and start again on the narrow path. Somehow, all my murmuring gets wiped away.


What is there to complain about?

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Remembering Randy

A whole week has gone by since the last post.

I'm a bit meditative, thinking about a friend who committed suicide.

He'd been in great physical pain with the sister to my own illness for 10+ years. His life was ruled by pain, like so many of us chronically ill folks.  Sometimes pain meds work, but they have their cost. He felt a burden to everyone.  He wanted to set them free.

So he did.

I'm sure nobody told him that, altho it's true his pain would end, his family and the wife who found him would always wonder: could I have done something? Said something?  When did he change from thinking about it to doing it?

Questions that can never be answered.

He was a talented artisan.  He made some whirligigs, for lack of a better word - apparitions? mechanical devices? Moving color? -  that looked so sublime your mouth fell open and you watched his design-rich delicate spinning beauties with your mouth open.

For me, he made 4+feet long elegant wind chimes - but oh, they are so much more.

It is filled with hand shaped stones and crosses and stained glass and delectable sounding chimes.

I would never ever put it where the wind could even touch it tho - the hot desert sun would wreak havoc on the delicate construction and metals - and the thought of bird poop on my chimes makes me shiver!

No.  It claims pride-of-place in the entryway, and stuns everyone with its quiet presence - until....until the daily path of the sun intersects with the beads and brass and stained glass and suddenly, it is alive with wonder and joy!  From the moment his wife presented it to me, I have treasured every stone, every piece of glass, every chime.

As I will all the days of my life.

Thank you, Randy, for the gift of a lifetime.

Like the chimes you made when sunlight dazzles, you are now pain free and sparkling and filled with wonder. All of the gold and silver parts of your loving heart are flashing with light and glory, and  you are face down before a God Who has loved you from eternity past, so filled with joy you could not hold another drop. You will never ever ever be forgotten.

For you have been etched into my heart with  the indelible ink of God.

Suicide survivors - those left behind - here is a link that is moving and purposeful

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The amazing Creator

The other day, I received news that someone I love very much is carrying a new life.

She and her husband have wanted a child since their wedding day.

And God agreed with them.  He joined them in the act of creation and breathed a living, eternal spirit into the joining of egg and sperm.

It takes my breath away.

for those of you who don't know, before my illness I was an RN.  For 20 years I worked in maternity, labor and delivery, with the really sick ones.  I was also a Perinatal grief counselor, so I worked with those who had a stillborn, or a child whose development was incompatible with life.  So I know a lot that can go wrong..

But the everyday miracle is that problems like that are rare.  And the system itself , the incredible design, always left me breathless with wonder. No less now, at this moment, while once again, the celestial dance of Creator and created begins,

From the moment of conception, the child develops his/her own circulation system, separate from the mom.  Their blood type is their own, not the mom's.  But mom's blood washes the baby's blood, pulling out what needs to be eliminated and filling the blood with oxygen mom breathes and passes on to the baby.  By the end of the first month, the cells that will become the heart - which beat independently, each cell throbbing alone - begin to pull together and the beat of the cells synchronize, forming the heart.


Each cell in this wee little person knows to find other cells with the same signature and they gather together to form the eye, the spinal cord, the fingers, the toes.  All by chance, of course - everything sort of evolved into these incredibly complex  features necessary for survival.

Even the placenta, which the body will dispose of when it is no longer needed, is amazingly complex.  When the baby is created, the placenta is formed along with it.  Think of how a carrot grows - that is how the placenta attaches.  The carrot-like parts are called "villi" and they imbed into the musculature of the uterus.

The thing is, as the baby grows, it needs more oxygen and creates more waste products.  So the covering of the villi begin to thin out. Mom's blood bathes the villi, and the thinner the layer of cells, the more easily the oxygen/waste product exchange takes place.  By the time of delivery, the covering is only one layer of cells thick.  And yet, mom's blood and baby's blood never mingle.

And because the villi covering is only one cell thick, at delivery the placenta can easily detach and be discarded.  The womb clamps down tightly so the blood vessels that washed the villi are squeezed shut and only a small amount of blood is lost.

And with the baby's first breath, the circulation changes direction.

Before birth, the blood doesn't need to all go thru the lungs, because the placenta works as the baby's lungs.  So there is a hole in the heart where most of the blood passes thru without going thru the lungs.  The first breath, however, closes the hole in the heart, and the blood changes direction, going thru the lungs with every heartbeat.

All by chance.

But that is what evolution would say.

On the other Hand, the Bible tells us that God knits the baby together.  It is His Hand that moves those cells into the correct groupings to form organs, to form the placenta, to develop the baby.  The Hebrew word used is "embroidery by a master".

And indeed, He is exactly that.

So inside my dearly loved one's tummy, right now at this moment, God is knitting and embroidering the traits He desires to be in this eternal soul He has designed.  He knows where each dimple will go, what eye color He wants, how delicate or rugged and sturdy this body will eventually be.  His/her heart is already beating, s/he is moving in the amniotic fluid, and by 12 weeks, this person will be perfectly formed, all that will remain is a period of growth and maturation - the eyelids will separate later in development and the eyes will open.  S/he will suck his or her thumb, kick, urinate, even have the hiccups.  S/he will have sleep periods - in spite of the noisy environment s/he floats in - mom's voice amplified in fluid, the sound of her heart, her laugh, her cough, the gases moving thru her bowels, her bones creaking as the ligaments soften to allow the bones to stretch and the baby to fit thru the pelvis.  S/he will learn to recognize dad's voice, to recognize music heard regularly, to nestle securely as the muscle of the uterus reaches its limit of stretching and becomes more snug.

And then, as s/he is squeezed thru the pelvis, the amniotic fluid s/he has been breathing in and out is squeezed out and suddenly cold air hits his/her face as the rest of his/her body swooshes forth - and the first separation from mom is completed.

Now baby has to learn how to deal with gravity, how to eat, how to poop, how to coordinate muscles and roll over, stand, walk, run - and how to find the One Who made him/her for His own joy and delight, and be connected with the great Father-Heart Who dreamt this person into being, putting that sparkle in papa's eye that answered the sparkle in mama's eye and were joined in the everlasting sparkle in God's eye.

All the years I worked in labor and delivery, it never got old, got boring - every baby made a miraculous entry.

And I can't wait to see this new one, percolating away safely in mom's tummy.  Godspeed, wee one.  May the Father's joy in you be made full as your mama's and daddy's joy explodes and their arms never tire of holding you close.

May you seek your Papa early, come to know His Son, and serve Him with joy, all the days of your life.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More lessons!

Hello again - I  bet you thought I'd fallen off the edges of the earth!

Actually, I feel like I did.

I've been battling physically, with headaches, infections in bladder and kidney, more nausea from the antibiotic for the infections, and a root canal tomorrow.

Every time I have nausea and stomach pain I am terrified that I'm getting yet another bowel obstruction.  Twice now I've been able to be treated conservatively, but how many times will that work before I have to have surgery? And my hearing loss is worse, which makes everybody groan when they have to repeat something forever and I still can't understand.  It makes me feel sad that I irritate folks so much.  I almost never talk on the phone.  When I have to call a dr office (or 911) I ask my sister-in-law to do it cuz it's ssooooo hard to understand.

And (yes there's more, poor poor me) my cat jumped up on the bed and landed on my feet with claws out.  I'm diabetic and it's really easy to lose a foot the longer you've had it.  So I've been applying antibiotic and soaking my feet, hoping to stave it off.  But the scratches are red and painful, and that doesn't bode well either.

But (don't you just love that word?) God is the one designing each of these circumstances.  My daily TTW (thru the word) reading has taken me to Esther and Daniel lately.  I can't read those books without realizing that God is in fingertip control of every moment. He is the God of Elijah, the God of Joshua who keeps the sun from going down, the God Who watches over Israel and neither slumbers nor sleeps.

The China Inland Mission (Hudson Taylor) has a plaque over the doorway that reads:  The sun stood still.  The iron did float.  This God is our God.  When I remember that, everything that bugs me is placed before God and His breath washes it away.  He is in charge.

There are bonafide miracles happening in Israel - so much so that the Palestinian paper had a headline that read "We fire the missiles one way and their God changes the directions they are flying.

The IDF (Israeli Defense Force) has been astounded at the protection and occurrences on the battlefields.  they have had over 500 bombs fired into their land, with only 1 fatality of the people.  The IDF has lost, I think, 50.  

A bomb with the trajectory to land on a skyscraper in Tel Aviv in the middle of a shopping mall, was fired a few days ago.  The Iron Dome experts fired 3 times and missed it - which is highly unusual. But God (love that phrase!) had other plans.

There were only seconds to impact when they notified the emergency teams of mass casualties impending.  the Iron Dome guys use all the atmospheric factors when firing (temp, wind speed, storms etc) And there was no wind that day.

Seconds from impact, a wind strong enough to blow the missile off course began.  It didn't show up on radar.  But it was strong enough to carry the missile from the heart of Tel Aviv out over the ocean, where it dropped harmlessly into the sea.

Another team of pilots was on a late afternoon bombing run, trying to knock out some of the missile firing spots (which are often, incidentally fired from hospitals and schools, because they know Israel will not bomb them - the palestinians feel no such constraint, and often aim for Israeli schools.)  anyway, they were coming back to base facing the late afternoon sun.  The radar of the palestinians didn't pick them up - they weren't shot at at all - and as they were flying into the sun, the sun stood still because of their speed.  And they radioed one another that it was like the long day of Joshua. Not a plane was lost.

Another squad of the elite section of the IDF had a complicated operation to perform, it was supposed to be undercover of darkness, but to get the tactics lain out took longer than expected.  Dawn caught them on a treeless flat expanse of ground - sitting ducks.  "From nowhere" a thick cloud came over them, and they were able to move to the required positions without being seen.  Once they were safe, the cloud disappeared.

The soldiers swear it was the Shekinah glory of Israel.

And another soldier was fired at point blank.

The bullet hit the grenade he carried - and it did not explode.  It does have a big dent in it, tho.

there are so many stories coming from the men of the IDF!  Our God lives, and Israel is His special spot in all the earth.  It is, He said, the apple of His eye.  And He is bringing so many of Israel to know Him - and the Muslims too. One of the Muslim converts is a pastor and preaches, he says, the whole Bible, and that means the Jewish people are God's people and he has been given a great love for the Israelis.  As a result, the church has been bombed 4 times, and he's been shot more than once in assassination attempts.

And I complain about a headache.

Kind of opens my eyes a bit.

I am not deserving of any better than my King and my God experienced.  He learned by the things He suffered.  And He suffered waaaaaaaaaaaaay more than I ever could.  I can't imagine the suffering a pure white, totally innocent spirit could go thru when He became sin - I can't even imagine what that means - and for the first time in eternity, His Father turned away.

So, yeah, my illness and the complications wear on me.  I get tired of being stuck in bed/in house and only being able to go out if someone else drives.  I groan and moan and murmur in my heart - and then ask for forgiveness for my murmuring and lack of trust and the fear that I allow to conquer me.

And every time, He is faithful to give me His peace the second I ask for it (Why can't I remember to ask??) and assures me that He has my back.  I am, literally, immortal until the day He decides to take me Home.

So if you are having a bad day, I want to assure you that you are not alone.  A chronic illness didn't happen to us by chance - it is part of God's plan to teach us more about Him and how trustworthy and loving He is. Ask for His peace.  Thank Him for His grace.  Count your blessings.

And praise Him for suffering for us, to show us how to do it well.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

One of those days...

I got a post from a Christian friend today - her manager, who watches netflix all day at her desk, had somehow been instrumental in her being dismissed  from her job exactly at the cutoff of the trial period.

She had been looking for a job for quite a while, had moved 3800 miles for this job, her 5th move in a single year's time.  What is going on here? Her direct supervisor was dumbfounded as well.

Her soul is crushed.   And it sounds like her spirit is in the same vicinity.  Besides praying, I sent her this note....a rather long note, to be sure, but a note, none the less.  Please pray for this woman.  Life is very hard for her and her spouse and their kids right now.
 I'm so sorry.

I know it feels like a kick to the gut and makes everything else feel so unreal, We feel like "God, weren't You watching? I was being good. I was being faithful! You didn't send an angel to close the mouths of the lions! I feel abandoned here!" 

To this, I can only say the hardest and most difficult thing of all:

Take a deep breath and trust Him. 

Go soak in a tub, put on some praise music (My fave is Marty Goetz singing Psalms.) and while you're in the tub, no thoughts of work. only thoughts of Praise.

Remind Yourself this is the God of Elijah,

This is the One Who knelt in the dirt to make the first man.

This is the One Who made cast iron float. 

This is the One Whose hand made each dot of DNA in your body, each star in the sky, and knows the name of each one of them. And He "honors" you

He knows exactly where He wants you to be.

 He knows exactly what He needs to change in your spirit to make you equal to His plan for you,

This did not take Him by Surprise. 

This is on page 74b of the (your name here) play-by-play book. I have often wished I could snatch my book for even a split second and rip a few of those pages out. 

BUT what if this has come upon you to break thru someone's resistance to God. S/he sees you carrying this in peace, trusting that God let this happen because He had something wonderful and magical waiting for you, and you needed a bit of down time to let your heart and soul become ready

Maybe one more move is going to be a place you don't want to go. There will be scuff marks all along the path where He had to drag you, kicking and screaming, out the door (I describe them so well because I invented them.) and then...

And then, hidden amongst the tears and puffed out lower lips and .sullen obediences, a golden light begins to shine., things begin to happen because only you could see in the right direction and thru the detours and through the resistance to something that will appear to many as the parting of the Red Sea.

And what if He has been planning for your whole life to watch your face as He unveils, bit by bit the most wonderful thing He has designed for only you to be able to manage so beautifully, to bring glory and honor and power and majesty to His Son Jesus Christ?

As you lay your head on your pillow tonight, please remember He is counting every tear you cry, saving them in a bottle. He is so sorry He has to make you swallow this - He knows how hard it is to be undervalued and stripped naked, so to speak, before the whole world. But listen hard as you drift off, and you will hear His songs in the night, as He holds you close and sings over you. You are His beloved child, and He feels your pain and puzzlement, He knows what it means to be the victim of unjust rulings, and He has promised you that goodness and mercy will follow you (in the Hebrew "search dliligently for") you all the days of your life,

And if nothing else, THIS is" one of those days!" our parents told us about - except a day with Jesus in it is a blessed day no matter what else comes with it! 

Friday, July 11, 2014


I'm taking an online sketching/painting class with Danny Gregory, one of my fave artists.  6 weeks, one with each artist and two more of my faves are teaching - Kate Johnson and Brenda Swenson.  (Thank you, Nan, for making it possible for me to take this class - I've wanted to do it for ages)

Half of our first homework was to draw a piece of toast. The purpose of the assignment is to "deep dive" into whatever you are sketching, to capture each nuance - or in this case - air bubble.  I'll add the picture at the bottom - mostly cuz I can't figure out how to type next to it!

Anyhow, the reason I'm telling you all this is because while I was sketching the toast, which took forever to get the nooks and crannies, I realized that this is a bit of a metaphor about how I read the Bible.  Especially since the 2nd part of the homework (which I haven't done yet) is called "fast and slow" - it entails a quick capture with large watercolor brush after a few seconds of looking, then spending a large amount of time sketching the  teensiest details with pen and ink over the quick sketch.

And I realized, that's how I read the Word.  Or, rather, how I SHOULD read the Word.  A quick run thru, then grab my Touch Bible and use the embedded Strong's to catch each "bubble," as it were, in my reading. (99 cents on Amazon)

I do do this - sometimes.  Every single time I have done this I have been blessed with a new look at something I thought I was familiar with (see "A Shocking Discovery" posted last September, where I took John 3 :16 word for word thru the Strong's and was mesmerized by how much is contained in those few words. )

I think we are cheating ourselves when all we do is the quick run thru.  And I can say this cuz the run thru happens, to my shame, more times than the word for word. I can't imagine the thousands of nuances I've missed by doing that.

Why is it so very hard to really delve into the Word?  I think it's more than laziness.

How many other things do you begin to read or study and gazillions of things pop up that *demand* your attention? It's called "the tyranny of the urgent" and is one of the evil one's favorite ploys to distract us and steal outright our Quiet Time with our Maker.  It won't cost God anything - except He rejoices in our company.  He loves to hear our voice saying "Wow!  I had no idea that meant something so wonderful!" when we discover some of the riches He has hidden in the Word for us to find.

It does, however, cost us, and cost us big time.

Our whole purpose on earth is to know, love and obey the Supernatural Being Who created us.  The enemy of our souls does not want us to discover all the wonderful things about our God (as if it were possible!) because the more we know, the more we love Him! Psalm 103:14 says "For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust".  With the Strong's we find "He diligently knows our framing (as in shaping pottery; our purpose, imagination and intellectual framework); He (earnestly) remembers that we are (powdered, gray) dust". This is the Psalm that compares His mercy to the height of heaven above the earth, and removes our sins as far as the east is from the west.

It was with a great sense of awe and gratitude that I found those few words in Strong's.  How often do we realize that before God we are powdery gray dust?  It certainly knocks us down a peg, doesn't it?  And God earnestly reminds us that no matter how wonderful and amazing we think we are as individuals, in reality, we are nothing more than gray powdery dust.  (I find it amusing that we aren't even up to the quality of clods of earth - nope, we're not that valuable.  Gray powdered dust. that's it.)

Except ...

Except for the fact that God is absolutely in love with us.  We are His children.  We are the inheritance of Jesus, the Anointed One, the Captain of the Host, the Almighty Creator, the great Loving Heart at the center of all existence.

Without that small detail, we are nothing but (altogether now, one two three:) gray, powdered dust.

As I began to sketch out my homework, I realized this is how God sees me - every tiny nook and cranny of sin or sickness is no surprise to Him. Every quirk, every wobbly line, every pinpoint of being stands revealed before Him. So He earnestly reminds Himself what we are made of, how He framed each one of us as Potter to our clay.  Chronic illness is no mistake.  He formed every molecule that goes into what makes us us.  He has a purpose for it.  As He learned obedience by the things He suffered, He gives us that privilege as well.  Not a single ache, pain, cough or wheeze happened to us by chance.

And He loves every minuscule dot that goes into making us who we are.

What an Awesome God we serve!!

Here it is!