Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Prayer To Abba

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" ~ Romans 8:15 (NASB)

Abba Father, there are days that come when we feel so overwhelmed by our life circumstances; by the situations and events we see taking place all around us; by the people in our lives who are often abrasive, deceitful, difficult to love or forgive -- cold and uncaring or just plain too busy for us. 

Things aren’t working out the way we want them to; life isn't turning out the way we’d hoped, dreamed or planned. We cry out to You in desperation, but our voices echo back to us, our tears splash back on our faces and we feel alone in our struggles and our desperate needs. We wonder where You are in the midst of these dark and violent storms, these fiery trials and frightening happenings, these climbs up the steep mountainside......are You listening? Why won’t You answer the cries of Your children? We are anxious and afraid.

Oh, but Abba, You DO hear us and recognize our voices. You are well aware of our circumstances, You know exactly what we need. You see us in our wilderness and You are not surprised to find us there. You are with us, right beside us in the lonely deep, dark pit or in the chaotic and frantic crowd, although we find it hard to see You through our tear soaked eyes, and to hear You and feel Your presence above our rapidly beating hearts, racing minds and shaking bodies. 

Help us to be still and know that You are God, and that You are constantly working behind the scenes in our favor, although we can’t see the work being done nor the fruit of that work as yet. Perhaps You are leading us down a path we don’t want to travel.  Perhaps You are preparing us for something yet to come. Or You are teaching us a hard and painful lesson we don’t wish to learn. You tell us, “Follow Me,” but we are afraid of the destination and the unfamiliar change of scenery. 

Help us, dear Father, to trust You totally and completely, because we know that You are merciful, forgiving and compassionate, always offering us Your amazing grace and unfailing love. You have ransomed us; You know us well, calling us by our names because we are Yours. When we pass through the deep waters, You WILL be with us; when we go through rivers of difficulty in our lives, You WILL NOT let us drown; and when we walk through the fires of oppression, You WILL NOT let them burn us up nor allow the flames to consume us as we fear they will. 

We are so very precious to You and You love us. Help us to remember this, dearest Abba Father, and to not be afraid, no matter what. We ask this in the wonderful Name of Jesus, amen.

Why should the Father bother to call us His children?
Why should the Spirit hear it when we pray?
Why should the Father bother to be concerned with all our needs?
It's all because of what the Son has done
And we cry "Abba Father, Abba Father

Abba Father, Abba Father"
We cry "Abba Father, Abba Father
Abba Father, Abba Father" ~ Why Should The Father Bother? by Petra

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Worship Song Sunday -- Search My Heart, by Hillsong United

Today, there may be some of you who are unable to attend church services and to worship together with the body of Christ.  Depending upon where you are, your church services may have been cancelled due to Hurricane Irene's arrival or if they haven't, maybe your area is flooded and surrounded by fallen trees, making it impossible for you to get out.  Perhaps you're unable to leave your house to worship because you're caring for a sick child, spouse or parent, or you yourself may be ill.  Perhaps lately, you just don't feel as if you 'belong' at your church anymore because you've been burned and hurt by the people there (and if this is the case, my heart goes out to you).  Or maybe none of these reasons apply to you at all, and you're just one of the faithful blog readers stopping by for a visit this morning.

Whatever the reason, take a few minutes to sing out to the Lord God from your heart, worshiping Him. Open yourself up to the Lord God and allow Him to search your heart and soul.  Let Him restore you in your brokenness and make you whole again, praise Him with joy and thankfulness as you sing to Him, making these lyrics your own:

So with all my heart and all my soul
With all I am, Lord, I will follow You
You took the cross, You took my shame
Restored my life, Lord I will follow You
Without You I am nothing

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Are You Ready?

It’s just after 2:00 PM as I type this up. I’m sitting in my kitchen, sipping coffee after going for an invigorating walk with my dog. The rest of my family is in the living room, watching TV. Seems like a typical day in the life (well, typical for us anyway). Yet there’s an odd expectancy in the air, inside and out of the house, and it’s hard to believe that in just a few short hours, Hurricane Irene will be arriving in our area as a very unwelcome guest.

It’s also hard to believe that earlier this week, our area experienced an earthquake. I’ve lived here in NJ my entire life (54 years) and I’ve never known our area to have an earthquake. Now granted, compared to other quakes around the world, this one was small potatoes, coming in at a mere 5.9. But the epicenter was in Virginia and the tremors were felt as far away as Canada.  I certainly felt it here. I was sitting on my bed when it began to shake; then the large mirror over our dresser and the pictures on the bedroom wall began to dance back and forth; finally I watched in amazement as our rather heavy armoire started to sway. I’ll admit -- I was scared and I panicked. My fearless, fifteen year old daughter, whose favorite school subject is science, deemed the whole experience as ‘so cool’ and found it hilarious that I came barreling down our steps, shouting, “It’s an earthquake!!” I was totally unprepared for something like that.

Thankfully, though, we are prepared for Hurricane Irene’s arrival today, or as prepared as we can be. We’ve more than enough food in the house. For cooking and drinking purposes, I purchased enough bottled water to fill an in-ground community sized pool.  We own a variety of flashlights (thankfully, all with batteries, because I understand there isn’t a C or D cell battery to be had in this area) and I also bought several large bags of ice to put in one of our four coolers, to keep food/drinks cold, in the event we lose power. We’ve also got an array of candles sitting on our kitchen table -- so many that I daresay I could hold a Novena service at our home one day a week for a year or more.  Should ATM’s be inaccessible for the next few days, my husband took out money to get us through.  Today’s headline in one of our local papers reads: ‘Ready?’ And hopefully, we are.

Yet as we prepared yesterday and today, it got me thinking back to a conversation I had this week with a total stranger as we sat in a waiting room, an hour or so after the earthquake. He was saying that unlike hurricanes, there's really no safe place to be, other than in the air, when an earthquake hits. You can never tell when something like this is going to happen, he went on to say, so that’s why you need to be all prayed up.  Now, I’ve never been sure what ‘all prayed up’ actually means, though I’ve heard the phrase used often. Is it like depositing prayers to God in some sacred account, hoarding them away until an emergency or crisis appears, then withdrawing them to use like a protective shield or cloak of invisibility against enemy attack? I’m no genius, but I don’t think it works that way with God. The reality is we live in a fallen world and unfortunately, terrible things can and do happen to godly people as often as they occur to the ungodly (the Sept. 11 tragedy is a prime example of this).

So the question rolling around in my head becomes, had the earthquake been one of massive proportions and if Hurricane Irene hits us harder than predicted, am I ready for the possibility of death and meeting my Jesus face-to-face? Believe me, folks....I’m not bringing this up to be morose and to sound like some town crier of doom and gloom.  Really I’m not. But it’s something I began to seriously consider. I had to ask myself: do I make sure to take a daily, heart-searching inventory of myself, keeping short accounts with the Lord God? Do I seek forgiveness and mercy from Him when I mess up, and do I offer that same forgiveness and mercy to others when they’ve hurt or offended me? Or do I harbor unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness towards them in my heart? Have I taken time daily to commune with my family and tell then how much I love them (even when sometimes I don’t feel like I LIKE them or that they like me)? Did I follow through obediently on a commitment to something or someone that the Lord placed on my heart? Did I make time to sit at Jesus’ feet today? If today were to be my last day on earth….would I be ready? I must say, these questions are neither easy nor comfortable for me to answer.

In Matthew 25 of the Bible, Jesus tells a parable in which He compares the coming of the kingdom of Heaven to ten virgins who set off in search of the bridegroom, taking their oil lamps with them. Five of them brought along extra oil; five of them did not. While they were waiting, they fell asleep and the bridegroom appeared unexpectedly at a late hour of the night. The five wise virgins who packed the extra oil had enough to keep their lamps burning as they ran out to greet the bridegroom, while the five foolish ones had to run down to the local, all night Jerusalem lamp shop to buy more oil. They wound up missing the bridegroom and his invitation to the wedding feast, showing up much too late because they hadn’t been ready. Jesus warned His disciples to remain alert and to be prepared, because the day and hour of the Lord’s return for His people is known only by the Father.

This past week’s quake and today’s impending storm both serve as some powerful reminders to me to keep short accounts with the Lord God EVERY day, to stay alert and prepared, because ‘the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him (Matthew 24:44). Some years ago, my dear, sweet friend and sister, the late Dee Hunt, jokingly, yet firmly warned me, ‘Pammy, you don’t want to be half asleep with your hair still in curlers when Jesus comes.’ Indeed I do not.

Are you ready?

For my friends you see
There will be a day when we'll be counted
So know Him well, know Him well!

People get ready Jesus is comin'
Soon we'll be going home;
People get ready Jesus is comin'
To take from the world His own ~ People Get Ready, by Crystal Lewis

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Jesus

He comes to my rescue
He fights my battles
He defeats my enemies
He eases my pain
He heals my wounds
He protects my life
He carries my burdens
He provides for my needs
He quenches my thirst
He satisfies my hunger
He nourishes my soul
He refreshes my spirit
He quiets my heart
He renews my mind
He delights in my laughter
He wipes away my tears
He listens for my voice
He hears my complaints
He forgives my sins
He removes my anxiety
He calms my fears
He knows my way
He walks by my side
He holds my right hand
He lifts up my head
He whispers my name
He loves me

He is my Jesus

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Anchor Me Down

There is a feeling of bitter sweetness in my heart and soul today. As usual, it’s fairly quiet in my house at this hour, and both my son and daughter are still sleeping. It’s sunny, cool and crisp…a true autumn morn, yet we’re still in August, the time of year referred to when I was growing up as ‘the dog days of summer.’ Although weather like this wreaks havoc with my allergies, it’s still beautiful and I enjoy it so much. It’s a refreshing and welcome relief from the 100 plus degree temps we’ve experienced throughout much of June and July. And I’m also grateful for the coolness, as my church is doing a children’s outreach at a church in Trenton all this week, and the building has no air conditioning.

But I digress. Back to the bitter sweetness and the reason for it. Over the weekend, my son’s two best friends slept over, and yesterday at this time, all three were sacked out in my living room. Today, they are not. They are home in their beds, and my son is upstairs in his. Tomorrow, the first of his friends will be leaving for college out in Illinois, so very far away. His brother, my son’s other friend, leaves for college up in Rochester, New York, the following week. For the past month or so, both brothers have talked incessantly to my son about the college experience…and rightly so. It’s a new chapter beginning in their lives, and a much anticipated and exciting time for them. I’m excited for them. But due to some unforeseen mishaps, many miscommunications and a series of unfortunate events, my son will remain behind in New Jersey and not be a part of that experience. For him, college is a dream put on hold for now. I can only imagine how he must feel.

These two young men were the closest friends my son had. They’ve known each other since third grade in Sunday school, and these two brothers were the only ones who ever approached me to inquire as to why my son was so ‘different;’ the only ones who hung in there and remained faithful and true to him even after I explained in detail to them about his genetic disorder, his learning disabilities, his autism. Yes, there’ve been other kids my son has known, from school and church, and has been friendly with -- but they’ve all left for college, or moved away, or grown apart and moved onto other friends. It seems my son is alone. And my heart aches for him. I cry over him a lot lately, although I make sure he doesn’t see or hear me. I put on my brave face and encourage him as much as I can.  At the same time, I’ve been begging the Lord to protect my son’s mind and heart from depression, asking Him to send my son some new good, kind, fun friends. Some guys and gals who truly and sincerely love and live for Jesus with everything in them to come alongside my son to encourage and support him; to enjoy him and have fun with him; to protect him, love on him and understand him. I don’t want loneliness or depression to surround my and choke the life out of him. I know his friends will probably come back from college on breaks, but I’m also aware that they’ll be forging and firming up new friendships at their schools, and I fear they may grow away from son, no longer having the same interests and things in common. And my heart aches for this as well.

My son is now too old to be able to attend our church’s youth group. As far as I’ve been able to tell, there’s basically nothing for the young adult community there, unless you’re affiliated with or on some college campus, and then there’s something called InterVarsity. But we’re down to the wire here in getting my son into the career training institute connected to our local community college, and the State agency that we sought out that helps those with disabilities to do this, seriously dropped the ball in my son’s case. At this point in time, I don’t know what will happen next, as the culinary program in which my son wants to enroll at MCCC begins on August 29 and the State agency’s paperwork to get him in is not even close to being completed by them. It’s going to take a true, blue miracle from God, if it’s His will for my son to attend at this time, to move that mountain of paperwork and to orchestrate my son’s admission to the program.  And not surprisingly, God has revealed to me a backup plan for him in the mean time.  

But it’s the lack of friendships and mentors in my son's life that weighs heavily on my heart, mind and soul these days. I don’t believe my son has ever sincerely and consciously given his life to Jesus, either, and that concerns me deeply, too.  So with no true friendships or mentoring relationships with some older godly men (or women), no church group community activities he’s connected or involved in, I fear that my son will just eventually fade away from the church, from the body of Christ -- and ultimately, from the Lord Himself.

Well…I’ve certainly thrown myself into a deep, dark pit here, haven’t I?  Yet, it’s when I reach rock-bottom moments like these, my Jesus gently reminds me that He is here, that He can be trusted, that He is faithful and true. “Trust in God, trust also in Me,” was what Jesus told His disciples (John 14:1b). And it’s what He tells me, too. Our great and awesome God loves my son more than I do, and I MUST believe that He did not bring my son through all the difficulties, all the road blocks, all the valleys and wilderness experiences; through all the seemingly impossible situations and dark, rocky, winding roads in his life that I’ve been a witness to, JUST to drop him off and leave him lying alone, discouraged and forgotten by the wayside. That is not in His character.

So I must shake off all of this negativity and keep pressing on, remembering God’s promise to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), holding tightly to my Jesus, Who is the firm and secure anchor for my soul (Hebrews 6:19), and believing that this latest bend in the road will only make my son -- and me -- stronger.

A footnote to this: at the time I finished typing this, I hadn’t yet read my daily devotional from “Jesus Calling,” as I do every morning. Before I got ready to post it, I grabbed another cup of coffee and felt nudged in my spirit to open up the book.  No coincidence what today’s devotional reading was about; as my friend Toni would say, this was indeed a ‘God-incidence,’ with Jesus speaking tenderly to me. Here are a few of the highlights from it:

‘Entrust your loved ones to Me; release them into My protective care. They are much safer with Me than in your clinging hands. If you let a loved one become an idol in your heart, you endanger that one -- as well as yourself. I detest idolatry, even in the form of parental love. When you release loved ones to Me, you are free to cling to My hand. My Presence will go with them wherever they go, and I will give them rest. This same Presence stays with you, as you relax and place your trust in Me. Watch to see what I will do.’

Jesus…..I’m trusting. And watching.
You said I'm not alone here.
I said throw me a rope and,
I've had more than enough of the rain and the cold and I wanna give up and,
I know, I know, I know without hope,
I'll only sink, not swim.

And the current here is stronger now, than I remember.
And I'm crying for You to help.
Please save me.

When I feel like I am drifting away,
Sinking down, the sails aren't shipping today,
I'm about to lose my way,
You anchor, anchor me down.
Looking out, the skies are turning to gray,
All around the tide is pulling away,
Just about to lose my way,
You anchor, anchor me down. ~ Anchor, by Satellites and Sirens

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Worship Song Sunday -- Your Great Name, by Natalie Grant

Jesus -- such a beautiful, glorious, special Name. In Hebrew, His Name is Yeshua, which means 'salvation.'  In both the Book of Acts and in Romans, it is written: 'Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.'  Paul wrote in Philippians that Jesus' Name  'is above every name,' and 'that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth...'  And Jesus Himself told His disciples, 'And I will do whatever you ask in My Name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask Me for anything in My Name and I will do it.' (John 14:13-14).

The Name of Jesus -- it is great, it is wonderful, it is awesome.  It should be so very precious to us, and never used lightly or in anger or frustration. Call to Him, cry out to Him, pour out your heart to Him. 

Worship Him.

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice He judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God.  On His robe and on His thigh He has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.  (Revelation 19:11-13;16, NIV)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Growing In Thankfulness

Each and every day, I am learning to be thankful. That sounds a bit odd, now doesn’t it? But not really. In a perfect world, I believe that living life as a grateful people would come naturally to us, like breathing. But this is not a perfect world. It’s a fallen world and we are a flawed people. From the moment we open our eyes in the morning until we close them again sometime late in the evening, it’s easy to breeze right through our days, missing the blessings, big and small, and the favor that our Almighty God and Father graces us with, and believing that everything we own or have become is a result of our own hard work, effort and intelligence. It can be easy in our high tech, high speed, self-focused lives to miss the gifts God leaves for us along our daily paths, to recognize they are from Him and to thank Him for them. I know….because I’ve been so guilty of this for much of my own life.

For me, growing in thankfulness comes from keeping my heart and mind focused and centered on my Lord, while making a determined effort to slow down and take time to look around for the blessings from Him that may or may not be obvious to me throughout my day.

Right now, I’m thankful for this day. I do not know what it hold for me, what all it entails. Yet, I choose to be thankful for it. I am thankful for the time in the early mornings that I’m able to spend with my Savior. I am grateful for the peace He affords me when I do. I’m thankful for the beauty of the stars when they glimmer and sparkle against the deep black velvet sky, like diamonds in a jewelry store showcase, or play hide-and-seek among the wisps of clouds that move across the early morning sky. I’m grateful for the dawn’s beginning: the wind of His breath that whispers through the bushes and the trees leaves. I’m thankful for the symphony of sounds: the tinkling wind chimes in my backyard and the chorus of crickets, tree frogs and birds. I’m grateful that I can inhale and enjoy the scents that float around me -- the fresh bamboo, lavender and peppermint candles I’m burning in various parts of the house right now, and the smell from my rain soaked backyard -- and that I can taste my morning coffee with its warm, rich flavor and a hint of cinnamon, and my crisp, buttery toast. I’m so, so thankful to God that my son and daughter are safely asleep in their bedrooms upstairs, and that they are healthy. And I’m grateful to God that I can walk, speak, see, hear, feel the temperature changes, think, write! Most of all, I am thankful for the privilege of being able to talk to my Lord Jesus, and that He hears my voice and listens to me when I bring Him my praise, my worship, my thanks, my joys, my sorrows, my rants, my needs, my concerns…and that He loves and cares about me, no matter what. There are so many things to be thankful to Him for. 

But wait a minute here. What happens when my life ISN’T so rosy? How about when my day DOESN’T start off so peacefully and the coffee's bitter, the toast is burned, the birds, tree frogs and crickets aren’t making music because it’s pouring down rain and my basement’s flooded?  Are we to be thankful for our rebellious, prodigal children (no matter what their age), for our mundane, dead-end jobs (or for the job we DON’T have), for the health problems that plague us and only seem to get worse, for the perennially empty bank account and never ending bills, for that person that just can’t seem to commit to the relationship we long to have with them, for the loss of a loved one, for our broken hearts and broken dreams? When life is dark and uncomfortable, filled with trials and storms, are we also to give thanks to God? And how in the world do we do that?

Over the years, I’ve heard sermons that point to 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which says in the New Living Translation: ‘Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.’ I’ve taken that to mean that I should thank God for His loving, powerful presence in my life and for the work He is doing in all my trial-like situations. Makes sense to me. But then there’s this other troubling verse, found in Ephesians 5:20, also in the NLT: ‘And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Notice the change in wording: give thanks FOR everything. So what does this mean? Are we to give thanks for being jobless or homeless; for our falling apart marriages, our cancer diagnosis, the crash that totaled our car, for being the sole caretaker for our aging, ill parent or the death of a child? I can’t imagine talking to our Lord and saying, “Father, I’m so thankful that I have diabetes and have no job,” or, “Lord, how grateful I am that my son is on drugs and that my daughter was born with autism.” These things don’t roll off the tongue easily or comfortably, and honestly, I don‘t think they should.

However, I think, if we can come to the place where we truly believe that the Lord doesn’t bring about trials and storms in our lives because He delights in tormenting us or in punishing us for mistakes we’ve made, but does so instead to change us, to strengthen us, to teach us and to grow us, we can learn to thank Him sincerely, for the things He brings about in our lives are for His glory. We can begin to grow in thankfulness. Thankfulness to the Lord in hard times, as is praise to Him, is a sacrifice. Asaph, one of the psalmists, wrote these God breathed words in Psalm 50:23 (New Living Translation): ‘But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me. If you keep to My path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.’ And Jonah, while lodged inside the belly of a huge fish, humbly and desperately cried out to the LORD, ‘But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.’ (Jonah 2:9, NLT) And finally, the apostle Paul, who was inspired to pen those words in Ephesians 5:20, also said this in 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 (NIV): ‘To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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. 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.’

 Like Paul, we can learn to thank God for allowing us to be the vessel through which He displays His glory, His honor, His power. We can learn to thank Him for strengthening us in our trials and for transforming us into more loving, compassionate, grace-filled followers of Him. We can learn to thank Him for the lessons He is constantly teaching us, and for drawing us ever closer to Him through every fiery trial and difficult situation. So while I may not say, “LORD God, thank You so much for allowing me to have cancer, thank You for these challenging children and this problematic marriage,” I CAN thank Him for the lessons in strength, perseverance, compassion, patience, humility and forgiveness that He has and continues to teach me, and for the way He continually draws me closer to Him as a result.

So for this present moment, I am growing in thankfulness, grateful to God for the wonder and the glory that He shows me in each day, in large and small ways; in mundane and exciting experiences; and for the growth that comes out of each situation and circumstance, good and bad; joyful and sorrowful. Lord, I’m thankful for Your nearness, Your realness, Your loving presence.

What if in the morning when I wake up
Even before I fill my coffee cup
I said, "Thank You, thank You"
What if I look at the day and the hours ahead

And before I move forward I bowed my head
I said, "Thank You", oh, I said, "Thank You"
What if I looked at my life in a different way

Took a little more time to stop and pray
I know it will change all the moments in between
So here I go….
Thank You for everything

Thank You for loving me
It don't even matter what tomorrow brings
Well, I will sing my
Thank You for sun and rain

For what You give and take away
For all Your goodness, I will always say
Thank You, oh I say thank You ~ ‘Thank You,’ by 33 Miles

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Blinded By The Light

I had a rough night last night. First, I couldn’t get to sleep. Then, after several hours of tossing and turning, I finally fell asleep, only to wake up around 2:00 a.m., sick to my stomach and in pain. I wandered downstairs and into my kitchen, in search of some Pepto-Bismal, and found that someone (or perhaps multiple someones) had left behind a sink full of dirty dishes. Neither food nor liquids had been kindly or thoughtfully rinsed off the variety of bowls, dishes, silverware and cups. I became immediately aggravated which only intensified my stomach pains and my headache.

As the mother of teens, I am weary of having to remind them daily to be responsible and to do their part regarding household chores. Everybody wants to reap the benefits of being older and more mature, but having to handle the responsibilities that go along with that don’t seem to get much attention and often get lost in the shuffle. Of course, there IS another adult in this household that could help and be supportive, but that’s a minefield I choose not to walk across today.

Anyway, over the years, I’ve come to realize and have had to admit to myself (and now, to others) that I am a full blown, anal-retentive control freak.  As I stated in earlier posts, the act of letting go of people, things and situations into God’s hands and then leaving them there has been and is a constant struggle for me. Try as I might (and believe me, I have tried and tried and tried), I cannot change anyone, which frustrates me to no end.  There are times when I feel like such a failure because my words, actions, examples and prayers have done nothing to change the hearts, minds and attitudes of the people in my life, especially those who are closest to me. I’m well aware that only God is able to truly change the hardest and most stubborn of hearts, minds and souls of people, yet when no change seems to come, even after years and years, I tell myself that in order for God to be able to transform someone, they themselves have to sincerely WANT to change (sidebar of irony here: as I‘m writing this, my dog just let me know the mail had arrived and waiting for me was a solitary envelope with the words “I REALLY WANT TO CHANGE…SO, HELP ME, GOD” emblazoned across the front of it). But, as I sat at my kitchen table in the wee hours this morning, clutching my trusty pink bottle of Pepto and glaring at the sink, the story of Saul on the road to Damascus popped into my head.

Saul was certainly not looking to be changed the day the Lord stopped him dead in his tracks with a blinding light and a message that he was to go from being Saul, persecutor extraordinaire of those who were followers of The Way, to Paul, man on fire for Christ and deliverer of the Good News for the Gentiles. In fact, Saul was actually on his way to Damascus to wreak more havoc: 

‘Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” He replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. ‘ (Acts 9:1-9)

No, change was not on Saul’s agenda that day, but in the blink of an eye (no pun intended), he was instantly and completely transformed from the inside out by the Lord. A man who believed he had his life and the lives of many others completely under his command and control and felt no need or desire for change within himself, now found himself out of control: not only totally blind and dependent upon his fellow traveling buddies to lead him the rest of the way to Damascus, but totally under the Lord’s command and control now.

The point here is something that I keep forgetting -- 

ALL things are possible with God (Mark 10:27). 

NOTHING is too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:17)

Yes, not being in control and unable to change certain people in my life sure is frustrating for me. Yet I wonder how much more frustrating it is for God, watching me struggle all these years to learn to let go of each and every person, thing and situation into His more than capable hands and to leave them there, trusting Him to bring about the necessary change, perhaps with other Damascus moments. 

If I'm blind to His will for me,
Then I'll wait to be shown;
And like Paul, I'll have an answer too,
At the end of Damascus Road.

I've been walking down Damascus Road,
And I've carried many cares;
To the place where I am waiting now,
Till the Master tells me where to go from here.

I'm learning grace I thought I'd never have,
And how to wait upon the Lord;
The answer's sweet, I think it's just in sight,
At the end of Damascus Road. ~ Damascus Road, by The Perrys

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Worship Song Sunday -- To Worship You I Live, by Israel Houghton & New Breed

'Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.  Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care.' ~ Psalm 95:1-2;6-7

Worship.   We Christians may use this word when referring to a particular portion of our Sunday morning services (i.e., the call to worship), which generally centers around a particular style of music (as my Sunday blog posts reflect -- Worship Song Sunday).  It's also used to describe our church buildings (worship centers).    Sometimes I wonder if we use the word so much, we've become kind of numb to its true meaning.  What exactly is worship?  Is it all about the music? In John 4:23, Jesus tells the woman at the well that the Father seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and truth. What does it mean to worship God in that way?

There are no doubt lots of books written on the subject of worship, and I'm sure if you did a Google search, you'd find loads of definitions and info (I did that just now and Google showed 220 MILLION results for the word 'worship'), so obviously, there's nothing new that I can offer.  However, this morning, as I turned to Psalm 95 in my Bible, I came across something I'd jotted down in the margins about four years ago:

'Worship: honoring God in gratefulness and humility, with a sincerely loving heart; a giving back to God for Who He is.  Worship must come from a humble posture of the heart.'   What I get out of that is this: while my worship of my Father God can be done in various ways -- through song, through conversation with Him (prayer) or through service -- it should always be done with humility, thankfulness, simplicity, sincerity, joy and love.  When I stumbled upon this song, by Israel Houghton and New Breed,  I felt as if I'd walked in on a sweet, intimate conversation between Father and one of His beloved children.  To me, this song is sung with those each of those characteristics I just mentioned: humility, thankfulness, simplicity, sincerity, joy and love.  It's a simple song of worship, straight from the heart, which is what God truly desires from us and delights in.  May you be blessed by this song, and may it usher you directly into the presence of our loving and holy Abba Father.

Away away from the noise
Alone with You
Away away to hear Your voice
And meet with You
Nothing else matters my one desire is...

To worship You I live
To worship You I live I live to worship You
To worship You I live
To worship You I live I live to worship You

Oh oh
Away away, away away from the noise alone with You
Away away to hear Your voice and meet with You
It's been a while, but hear my heart cry again

To worship You I live
To worship You I live I live to worship You
To worship You I live
To worship You I live I live to worship You
Nothing else matters, nothing else matters

When you have no words left, just say....
Oh oh

Friday, August 12, 2011

Letting Go, Part Two

Yesterday, I ended my post by asking a question: ‘what does letting go look like for me? What or whom do I need to let go of?’ Today, I’ll do my best to answer that question. As I stated in yesterday’s post, the act of ripping open your heart and allowing others to step up and take a peek within is never fun or easy, and I might add, it’s a little bit scary. I’ve found that being raw and transparent sometimes results in offending, angering or turning off other people. So at the risk of perhaps doing that, here I go.

As the believing wife of an unbelieving husband, I need to let go of my dream of having a loving marriage to a man who knows and loves and lives for Jesus and who would give me incredible joy by serving Him alongside of me; a husband who really LOVES ME, and just doesn't stay with me because it’s perhaps easier, cheaper and less messy than divorcing me. I need to let go of my dream of a happy family with kids who know and love and live for Jesus because they have a mother and father who are on the same page as tandem spiritual leaders in the home and can model His love, grace, mercy and forgiveness to them. I need to let go of my fear of a recurrence of cancer somewhere else in my body, a fear that I keep well hidden from others, but one which I’m constantly aware of hanging over my head. I need to let go of my family into God’s hands. I need to let go of all the hurt, humiliation and rejection I feel because of them, all the anger, bitterness, frustration, disappointment and most of all, the unforgiveness I feel towards them. I’ve tried, but it hasn’t been easy, due in part to some particularly difficult and dysfunctional family dynamics, as well as the aforementioned fact that my husband and I are spiritually unequally yoked. This may sound harsh, but as dearly as I love my family, I often feel as if they are the enemy and there are days I have to wonder just what in the world God is doing. Does He not see what’s going on here? Has He not heard my cries and pleadings for help and change and deliverance? What’s He waiting for? How long ’til He steps in and does something??!! It’s as if my expectations of what could be and the reality of what is are engaged in a continual, fierce battle...and reality seems to be winning.

However, let me assure you right now that all of this is NOT to say that these dreams and expectations may never come to fruition some day. Please don’t think for one minute that I believe or want anyone else to believe that letting go is parallel to or equated with giving up. It is not. There is ALWAYS hope, for as Jesus told His disciples, “All things are possible with God.” But for now, God’s still, small voice continues to invade my heart, mind and soul as He tells me: “Everything you’re holding onto -- let it go. Let go of the dreams and the overly high expectations, dear one. Let go of your family…and leave them to Me. Let go of the control you think you possess. Let go of your fears, your doubts, your despair, your anxiety. Let it all go and give it all over to Me. I have so much more for you, but you can’t receive it until your hands are open and free!” 
There are lessons to be learned in letting go. Like learning to be content with the life I’ve been given by Him, and being satisfied with that great, unfailing, no strings attached love He has for me. Learning to keep my hands in an open position and to be on the lookout for the unexpected blessings that God has in store for me along the way. Lessons of trust and of patience, knowing and believing that God does indeed have plans for my life, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, but instead, to give me a hope and a future; plans that will ultimately bring Him glory -- yet these are lessons I struggle to learn every day.

Maybe this is your struggle, too. What are you afraid to let go of and surrender to God today? Some thing or someone? A hidden sin or addiction? A prodigal child? A broken dream, marriage or relationship? A broken heart? Something that has long since died and yet you keep holding onto its hard, cold, lifeless corpse. Won't you join me in allowing God to gently, but firmly, pry our hands, finger by finger, off whatever it is we're holding onto so tightly? Won't you join me in allowing God to empty our hands of something dead so that He can refill them with something alive and good and glorious and wonderful?

I've been holding on so tight
Look at these knuckles
They've gone white
I'm fighting for who I wanna be
I'm just trying to find security

But You say let it go, You say let it go
You say life is waiting for the ones who lose control
You say You will be, everything I need
You said if I lose my life, it's then I'll find my soul
You say let it go. ~ ‘Let It Go,’ by Tenth Avenue North

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Letting Go -- Part One

My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long?~Psalm 6:3

Letting go. A phrase that falls into the category of ‘easy to say, hard to do.’

Letting go. Such a foreign concept to me, but one so necessary for me to understand.

Depending upon what or whom we’re holding onto, it certainly isn’t easy or fun to rip open our hearts and share with one another what we’re struggling to keep a tight rein on in our lives, is it? It can be gruelingly difficult. It can be terribly embarrassing. And it can be downright painful. Very painful.

Each of us has something or someone that we need to let go of. Past regrets, guilt or shame. An ungodly attitude or an unhealthy addiction. An ugly, hurtful stereotype. A loved one who met with an untimely death. A child stepping into young adulthood and heading for college, the job market or the military. A broken relationship. A broken heart. A broken dream. Painful memories. Admitting we need to let go is one thing. Making the effort to actually DO IT is an entirely different story.

Our hands can become cramped and quite bloody from our inability to let go. I know mine are. There are things and people I’ve been holding onto for a very long time, not ready, willing or able to unclench my fists and let them slip from my grip. Why is that? For me, I think perhaps it has to do with my great expectations of life. For many, many years, I had this perfect vision of exactly how my life would turn out to be, what I was entitled to and what I deserved. I don’t think I’m alone here in having such expectations. After all, from the time we’re young, we’re encouraged to dream and dream big as we reach for the stars. We’re told we can be whomever we want to be or have whatever we want, it’s all within our grasp. And really, there’s nothing wrong with focusing on the positive and aiming high. But what happens when the dream is shattered and the stars disappear? When we wind up being secretary to the corporation president instead of BEING the president or turn out to be more like Mommie Dearest and less like Mother-of-the-Year?

As a flawed human being, I also tend to place these great expectations on other people, most especially on those whom I deeply love and care about, setting them up on Mt. Everest sized pedestals. But once again, what happens when they come crashing down around us? What happens when the perfect child suddenly turns into the prodigal child? How about when expectations of a storybook romance and marriage morph into an episode of Fractured Fairy Tales instead ?

Well, with me, here’s what happens. Surrounded by my shattered expectations and broken dreams, standing amidst the painful shards of disappointment, fear, anger, bitterness, sorrow, resentment and frustration, I throw back my head, shake my fist and shout things like, “Hey LORD, WHAT are You doing?! NONE of this was supposed to happen!!! You KNOW I didn’t sign up for THIS!! WHEN are You going to DO something? How much longer do I have to wait, Lord?!” I feel alone and forgotten, like God isn't paying attention or listening, and maybe never was. My faith, hope and trust in Him rapidly begin to disappear. But it shouldn’t. God loves me. He knows me. He’s on my side. But I forget about this as I begin doing damage control, desperately focusing on trying to hold onto those people, things and situations I feel are not following along accordingly with MY plans, or gripping tightly to whatever or whomever I believe is being unfairly snatched from my hands. I engage in a brutal tug-of-war and refuse to let go, because THEY’RE MINE, doggone it! But I need to let go. It’s what God desires and requires for me to do. Because really, everything I’ve ever had, currently have or will ever have all comes from God. By letting go, I’m freeing my hands up to receive whatever else God has for me. In the story of Job, after losing everything he had (except for his own life and his unsupportive, disparaging wife) Job said, “The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away. Blessed be the Name of the LORD.” And by the end of the story, we learn that, ‘The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.’ But I forget about that, too.

For years I've been struggling to remain in control....of my family, of my health, of every painful circumstance that’s come down the pike in my life and threatened to trip me up and knock me down and out. But in the Kingdom of God, life isn’t supposed to be about being in control and holding onto things and people with a death grip. It’s supposed to be about surrender and letting go….to Him.

So what does letting go look like for me? What or whom do I need to let go of? I’ll share that in tomorrow’s post.

Monday, August 8, 2011


We are a society that seems to be in love with acronyms and abbreviations. When I was growing up, the most popular ones were ASAP (As Soon As Possible), FYI (For Your Information) and SWAK (Sealed With A Kiss).  Televisions turned into TV’s, personal computers morphed into PC’s and compact discs became CD’s,  Now, there’s an acronym or an abbreviation for just about everything. Diseases and medical concerns are identified by their letters, like ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder). Most government agencies are referred to by their acronyms like NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), NYPD (New York Police Department), DMV (Division of Motor Vehicles) and NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service). And of course, texting has become a language unto itself, with some people actually using the letters instead of the words in their everyday, speak-out-loud conversations:

LOL - Laugh Out Loud
BFF - Best Friends Forever
IDK - I Don’t Know
SMH - Shake My Head
TMI - Too Much Information

One acronym I came across some years ago had me perplexed at first sight. When I was volunteering at my church’s now defunct book/gift store, we carried quite a few items for kids that displayed the following letters: F.R.O.G. One was actually a plastic frog (see below) with the letters emblazoned across his/her forehead (wait -- do frogs actually HAVE foreheads? Never mind).

I asked the woman who managed the store and she explained that the letters stood for Fully Rely On God. As someone brand new to faith in Christ, I found this both interesting and extremely weird (yet later wound up buying two of these plastic frogs for my son and daughter).

What does it mean to Fully Rely On God? It means to trust Him in every situation of your life and with every person in your life and for every need in your life. No matter how hopeless and horrible a situation or a person seems to be, God tells us to trust Him fully, completely. Trust is key in our relationship with Him. In the Amplified Bible, which uses synonyms to ‘amplify’ various words in a text, Psalm 22:4 looks like this: “Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted (leaned on, relied on You and were confident) and You delivered them.” Then there’s Psalm 28:7: The Lord is my Strength and my [impenetrable] Shield; my heart trusts in, relies on, and confidently leans on Him, and I am helped.” And Psalm 32:10: Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but he who trusts in, relies on, and confidently leans on the Lord shall be compassed about with mercy and with loving-kindness.”
Take notice of something here in these three verses: when we, God’s people, do our part…trusting, relying on and confidently leaning on Him, He does His part…delivering us, helping us, surrounding us with His mercy and loving-kindness. Seems almost like a no-brainer, yes? Then why do we struggle so with trusting God? Why do I? I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know for me, in part it’s because I forget. I forget how much I am loved and cared for and delighted in by the God of the universe. I forget all the times that God has come to my rescue, turning around those seemingly hopeless and impossible situations in my life and working them out for my good and His glory and honor… and sometimes, with only moments to spare at that. I forget how mighty and powerful and all-sufficient my Father God has been…and is. I’m also somewhat of a victim of media brainwashing. You know, all that ‘Believe in yourself,’ ‘follow your heart,‘ and ‘trust no one but you,’ mentality. We’re force fed an unhealthy diet of that baloney everyday via books, movies, reality TV shows, even song lyrics. But God clearly tells us to trust and believe in Him. And not just for a few things here and there. For E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.
I’m currently reading “Radical,” a book by David Platt. I’m on Chapter 3, entitled ‘The Importance of Relying On God’s Power.‘ Today, I came across this sentence: ‘This is how God works: He puts His people in positions where they are desperate for His power, and then He shows His provision in ways that display His greatness.’ Platt goes on to talk about the disciples in the Book of Acts, how this motley group of scared silly, lower-class, uneducated commoners hiding in an upper room (and, by the way, on whom the spreading of the gospel and Christianity now depends upon) ‘are not busy putting their faith in themselves or relying on themselves. They are pleading for the power of God, and they are confident that they are not going to accomplish anything without His provision.’ God most certainly placed them in a position where they were desperate for His power and they came to realize at that time and in their bleak situation that they had no other choice but to Fully Rely On God. If you know the rest of the story, you know that God comes through in an amazingly powerful and supernatural way, changing everything and everyone by sending the promised Holy Spirit to descend upon each person in that room. They trusted in, relied on and confidently leaned on God and He came through. They did their part….then God did His.

It’s no surprise to me that I wound up in this chapter at this particular time. For the past several weeks, I’ve been struggling with a situation that concerns my son’s education. Because he was born with special needs, his high school child study team and counselors referred us in May of this year to an agency that would guide him and advocate for him as we sought to get him into a particular college program. My son was excited and so looking forward to begin studying for his dream of working in the culinary arts. But suffice it to say that as a result of a series of unfortunate events and unforeseen circumstances, things fell through the cracks and now no one at the agency or the college can guarantee us that he will be attending this year. My son is crushed and angry, and I’ve been beside myself with anger, frustration, worry and anxiety. I’ve done everything I possibly could think of to turn this situation around and today, after making phone call after phone call to various people, I felt like all I did was go in circles. Then, this afternoon, I came to this chapter. And I was reminded that this is indeed how God works. Once again, He’s put me in a position where I am DESPERATE for His power and where the F.R.O.G. concept comes into play. If I determine to Fully Rely On God….if I do my part by purposely trusting in, relying upon and confidently leaning on my Father God, He will do His part, showing my son and I His provision in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine, displaying His greatness and bringing all glory and honor to Himself. No matter what the outcome, I HAVE TO trust and believe that God’s got a plan for my son, that He has his best interests at heart and that He didn’t bring us this far just to drop us and leave us by the wayside.

Open your eyes
But don’t let go of My hand,
Let your tears give way to smiles
See the joy inside the trial;
Don’t worry, you’re safe with Me around
Rest assured I’m on your side,
I won’t let you hit the ground,
But close as it seems..

Trust Me
Though you can’t see
You can trust Me;
The way may be steep
You can trust Me,
Let Me Me ~ Trust Me, by Crystal Lewis

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Worship Song Sunday - You Are My Refuge, by Maranatha! Praise Band (Lyrics)

For some weeks now, I've found myself turning daily to the Book of Psalms.  For me, it's a book rich with raw, honest, intense emotion and healing.  I've noticed in my reading the various psalmists' references to our LORD as a refuge. The dictionary's definition of refuge is 'a place of shelter or protection from danger, trouble or storms; a place of escape or relief; a sanctuary; a hiding place; a stronghold.'   Our LORD Jesus Christ longs to be and IS all of these things to us, if we would only turn and run to Him for rest and safety.

Today, cease all your striving.  May the words and music and pictures in this video bring you to a place of worship to the LORD Jesus, and allow you to find peace, rest, relief and refuge in Him.

Friday, August 5, 2011

True Value

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. ~ Luke 12:7

True Value

No, I’m not referring to the hardware store chain. I’m talking about the worth of something…or of someone. Let’s say, for example, you come across what looks to be an old diamond brooch, hidden away in your family’s attic; a brooch you learn once belonged to your great-great-great grandmother. What would you do to find the true value of the piece? Would you ask your neighbor or your professor or your boss to assess it? Not unless that was their field of expertise. No, you’d take it to an authority on antique jewelry instead, someone who is knowledgeable about what to look for in order to find the piece’s true value. Same as if you found yourself the owner of a really old baseball card or comic book in mint condition. You wouldn’t take the word of just ANYBODY as to whether or not you had in your possession something of extreme worth. Again, you’d go straight to the expert to find the card’s or the comic book’s true value.

So how about us? To whom do we go and where do we look to find our true value? It seems to me that too many times, we go to the wrong people and look in the wrong places to find our worth. On the Forbes’ website, you can find lists of ‘ The World’s Richest Americans’ and ‘The World’s Top 20 Billionaires.’ Carlos Slim Helu` (chairman and CEO of Telmex) comes in at number one with a whopping $75 billion dollar net worth, making him the richest person on the planet, with Microsoft’s Bill Gates coming in at Number 2 with a cool $56 billion dollar net worth. Wow! Airbrushed supermodels grace the front covers and pages of magazines and parade before us on TV. We look at them and then at ourselves and wonder where we went wrong. We compare ourselves to other people, a damaging and deadly practice. I should know (and believe me, I’m NOT bragging) because I’ve been doing that for years. And each time, I come away feeling gravely disappointed with myself, worthless, with little or no esteem, ready to throw in the towel and call it quits.

All my life, I’ve looked to other people to validate me. I’ve become involved with or said and done things in the hope of gaining the attention, acknowledgment, accolades and approval of others, that I might be found to have great worth and value in the world’s eyes. But I come up short each time, feeling rejected, discarded, forgotten, worthless. Why? Because these people were not made to define me. They are not the experts on who I am and what I’m worth.

Recently, I submitted my blog to a Christian blog directory in the hopes that I would get more people to read it (completely forgetting that my reason for having this blog in the first place was to be obedient to the LORD and write only because of Him and when He inspires me). Well, after reviewing my blog, the powers-that-be emailed me and told me they’d rejected it for several reasons (which I found to be somewhat lame and didn‘t altogether understand). But the reason that hit me hardest was that the blog content had 'no true value' (their words). Ouch! The sting of rejection hurts and for a short while, boy, I was hurt. And angry. After all, my topics are very personal, coming from deep inside my soul. So naturally, I took it personally, latching onto their ‘no true value’ phrase and transferring onto myself. If my blog stories had no true value, then it stands to reason that I must have no true value, right? WRONG! Why? Because again, these people are not the experts on me. They don’t know me. They cannot and should not be able to define and validate me. And shame on me for once again allowing somebody to do so. There is only One to Whom I’m to look for my worth, for my true value in this life and that is the LORD, Jesus Christ and Him alone. He is indeed The Expert and Authority. No one else knows me, inside and out, like He does.

While I may be a difficult work in progress, a diamond in the rough, the LORD looks at me and sees something beautiful already, even if I don’t, even if no one else does. He knows what I’m worth as His treasured possession and His Word assures me that:
I am His Masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10)
I’m the apple of His eye (Psalm17:8)
I’m hidden and held safely in the shadow of His wings (Psalm 17:8)
He’s enthralled with my beauty (Psalm 45:11)
He knows me and calls me by name because I belong to Him (Isaiah 43:1)
My name is engraved (not just written…ENGRAVED!) on the palm of His hands (Isaiah 49:16)
He takes great delight in me and rejoices over me in singing! (Zephaniah 3:17)
He holds me in His hand and never lets go (John 10:28)
He loves me…so much that He willingly took on the brunt of God’s wrath against sin and sinners and gave His life for me…. and won’t allow me to be separated from His love (John 15:12-13; Romans 8:38-39)

Wow. It doesn’t get any better than this, does it? I may not be worth billions of dollars. To some, what I’m worth may only tally up to double digits on a good day. But to the LORD, I’m priceless!

So how about you? Will you join me in being determined to ditch what this world has to say about your worth and instead, let the LORD Jesus be the Expert Who appraises you and shows you what your true value is…in Him? Be encouraged!
The days will come when you don't have the strength
When all you hear is you're not worth anything
Wondering if you ever could be loved
And if they truly saw your heart they'd see too much
You're beautiful You're beautiful

You are made so much more than all of this
You're beautiful, You're beautiful
You are treasured, You are sacred, You are His
You're beautiful ~ Beautiful, by Mercy Me

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wholly Yours

There's an ache
Deep in my heart

A desire nothing
And no one
Can satisfy

A hunger in my soul
That can't be fed

A thirst in my spirit
That can't be quenched

An emptiness
A cavernous hole
No one
But You, Jesus, can fill

So fill me up
Quench my thirst
Feed me and put an end to my hunger
Satisfy as only You can

Comfort me
Heal me
Soothe me
Define me
Love me

I long to believe
That I am....
Wholly Yours

Monday, August 1, 2011

Carry Me!

Only two days back from vacation and I’m SO missing sitting by the ocean in my beach chair, listening to the soothing roar of crashing waves, feeling the warm sun’s caress on my face and the soft, wet sand under my feet, the smell of suntan lotion in the air and the beautiful sight of dolphins playfully jumping in and out of the water.

Last Thursday afternoon, as I was sitting on the beach reading, I happened to glance up and saw the family encamped in back of me packing up to go back to their house. It was a young mom and dad and their adorable toddler son. They had a lot of stuff to bring back with them….several chairs, a beach umbrella, a small cooler, a bag with towels and sunscreen, another bag with beach toys and a backpack. As their little boy continued playing in the sand, totally unconcerned with what his parents were doing, the mom picked up a chair, a bag and the backpack, while the father graciously grabbed and carried everything else. When they were ready, they told their son it was time to go. Of course, the little boy did NOT want to leave the beach, and he put up a fuss. The dad leaned down and spoke gently to him, then straightened back up and they all started walking. They had gone only went a few feet when the little boy ran in front of his father, held up his arms and cried, ‘Daddy, up, up!!’ Once again, the father, who was loaded down like a beast of burden, patiently looked down and said to his child, ‘you want Daddy to carry you?’ ‘Yes, peeze, Daddy, peeze ca’y me!’ was the response as he stood on tip-toe, continuing to reach for his father.

As I sat and smiled and observed this little scenario, I shook my head, wondering how in the world this man, who was slight of frame, was going to manage to pick up and carry this child, what with everything he already had in tow, and since his son was a bit on the stocky side. But I watched in awe as he bent down and, without tipping over or dropping anything (as I’m quite certain I would have done), easily swept his young son up off the sand, into his arms and trudged off the beach towards the long path through the dunes that led to the street and, eventually, home.

I watched until I could no longer see them and in all that time, the little boy’s father never set him down nor did he seem to struggle with all that weight he carried. Corny as it may sound, I watched them with tears in my eyes. Maybe someone else might have thought, ‘Good grief, why didn’t the mom pick him up since she had less to carry?’ or ‘Oh, give me a break, way to spoil your kid, just let him walk!’ But I was thinking what a sweet picture this was of a father’s love and compassion for his child. And then I thought what a great similarity this was to our Father God’s love and compassion for us.  It was a visual that God knew I needed to see displayed at that moment. You see, there are some issues and concerns I’m struggling with and believe me….spiritual attacks do not cease when you go on vacation. In fact, for me last week, they actually seemed to increase in strength and frequency. I was hurting, I was anxious, I was weary. I’d had enough, couldn’t go another step and my faith seemed to be unraveling rather quickly. Yet, here is my Father God, reminding me that no matter how many things He has going on, no matter how many ‘things’ He has in His hands, nothing is too hard for Him. For it does say in His Word, in Jeremiah 32:27, “Behold, I am Yahweh, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?” (World English translation). Yes, He is right here with me, and if I would simply reach up my hands and cry out to Him, “Carry me, Abba, please carry me!!” He is big enough and strong enough to bend down, sweep me into His arms and carry me all the way through the hard, wilderness places of my life.

I know the scripture
I've known the songs,
I sang the words
from my hollowed heart;

But You've spoken softly
Through the storm
I've heard Your voice
and I've felt the calm;
I stand only because
You've given me faith to walk,
Only because

You carried me
You carried me,
You carried me through it all ;
And I believe,
Yes I believe,
You'll carry me all the way home ~ ‘You Carried Me,‘ Building 429
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