Tuesday, December 15, 2009

a place of "in between". . .

I started looking at Ps 126 today and found it interesting to realize that it can be divided into two parts: v.1-3 are a remembrance of what God has done in the past and v.4-6 look to the future.

In between those two sets of verses is what I would call "today". I can look back and remember good things that God has done... brought deliverance from fear, anger, hurt... brought healing... I recall His faithfulness as we walked through some dark days...

I look to the future and anticipate what God will do in our lives.

Yes, God is faithful. The events of the past are witness to that. I believe that He will be faithful in the days ahead - He has promised that.

But for today. I teeter on the brink. I wonder , "How long, O Lord? Have you forgotten us? When will You act?"

My head knows all the right answers... but my heart feels a little less sure.
My head says, "Remember His faithfulness". My heart feels heaviness and asks, "How long?"
My head says, "Great is Thy faithfulness. His mercies are new every morning". My heart cries, "O Lord, forgive my feelings of hopelessness and doubt. Help my unbelief"
My head says, "You do not walk this journey alone". My heart begs, "Help me to know Your presence"

and yet... for today... I'm in that place of "in between". . .

Sunday, December 13, 2009

have you ever felt....

alone? forgotten?

I heard another challenging sermon today... We often feel that God has forgotten us. Certainly Israel felt that way. Assyria was knocking on their door and they were not only afraid, but felt God had abandoned them.

Ever feel that way? that you were all alone in the struggles that you were facing? that perhaps even God has abandoned you? and worse, has forgotten you? My heart broke as our pastor described a time in his early school years when he had been forgotten. He had been made to stand with his nose against the brick wall as discipline for not getting into line quickly enough... The rest of the students filed into the school and got settled into their classes... but not our pastor. For forty-five minutes he stood there... all alone... The teacher had forgotten about him... and my heart cried it resonated with that feeling of having been forsaken... alone... and terrified of making another wrong move...

The trouble with Israel was that they had forgotten God. They had ceased to seek Him and now... when trouble was knocking at their door, they felt all alone.

But there is good news. God has not forsaken His own. He has promised to walk with us moment by moment. Yes, the way may be dark and we may not see Him, but He is there. Take heart. He is there and His presence brings joy. How can it not? for He is joy.... unspeakable joy.

During this season of busy and crazy schedules, let's not forget to remember God and in that remembrance perhaps we will find joy... and peace... and hope.

photo credits to Aliyar Taravati

Sunday, December 6, 2009

mountains... and peace....

Psalm 125 begins with,

Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people
both now and forevermore.

Ever considered mountains? On a clear day I can see the Rocky Mountains from here. Standing so majestically, they remind me of strength and permanence. They are the epitome of immovability!!! and just as Mount Zion surrounds Jerusalem, sure & secure, so too the Lord surrounds us, His people. If we trust in Him, we are surrounded with a blanket of security - we are safe! and above all, that security is immovable - it's unshakable!!

Even when life around us seems to be going crazy and stuff is happening that we just don't understand - God's presence is there. He is standing between me and all the "stuff"... He is surrounding me... and He is immovable!!

What does that look like in real life? This past week has been unbelievable. Our oldest son had an accident with his car last Friday. The streets were skating rinks and another vehicle pulled out of a parking lot in front of him. As much as he tried to avoid a collision... my daughter was in the car. She's had a headache since that evening - the result of whiplash. Two days later, my son's car packs it in. It's now sitting at a service station waiting for a transmission. Of course, my son is looking at his bank account and realizes that this is going to cost a fair bit of money.

Where is God? Where is this protection? Let's take a closer look...

  • except for my daughter's whiplash, the others didn't sustain any injuries
  • my son does have enough money in his bank account to pay for the work
  • my son had a friend who could give him a ride the morning his car died
  • my son was able to get off the freeway and limp into a parking lot

Today our pastor spoke on being peace in places where there is no peace. Our home this past week has been one of those places that has needed some extra peace. What does this mean for us? for me? We came home from church to... no water. There's a break in the water line that the city is trying to fix today. How can I find peace? no... the question is not how can I find peace. The question is, "How can I BE peace in this situation?"

The answer I believe is found at the beginning of this post. "As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people." God is still here. God is surrounding us. The LORD is the Prince of Peace. As He is the Prince of Peace, that means we are surrounded by Peace - His Peace. I just need to allow that peace to fill my heart and then, by God's grace, may I be a vessel of peace to those around me.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

from where does your help come?

I was reading Ps 121 today - doing a bit of a study on it actually.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills,
where does my help come from?

My help comes from Yahweh
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not slumber
He who watches... will neither slumber nor sleep"

He does not slumber ~ He does not sleep ~ He watches over you 24/7 - and will protect you from all harm...

Reflecting on the past few weeks, I realized that.... I've been alot like Peter. He got out of the boat just fine. At that point, his focus was on Jesus. But then the waves started to surround him - high waves - waves that were threatening to drown him - and guess what? He looked down. That was his mistake. He lost his focus.

"I lift up my eyes. . . from where does my help come?"

I've lost focus the last few weeks - looking at the waves that were threatening to wash over me instead of lifting up my eyes....

"My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

what a treat . . .

My son surprised me today with a quick stop by the house.

He had to come into the city for a supply run and took the time to come home for a quick minute.

While making a sandwich for lunch he talked... and talked... and talked.

It was such a delight to hear him talk about the things that are filling his thoughts.

God is so very real to him ~ I am deeply grateful.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

celebrating life . . .

Have you given any thought to the kind of legacy you're in the process of leaving behind? Whether we are aware of it or not, we are each creating some kind of legacy that will be left behind when we die.

Today we celebrated the life of a man who was well-loved and "finished well". He was the most godly man that I know and the afternoon was filled with stories of how he impacted lives all across the world. He was generous, loving, faithful and lived his life with integrity. The legacy that he has left behind for his kids & grandkids is incredible.

That has left me wondering... what kind of legacy am I creating for my kids? Will others be able to say of me that I "finished well"? that I was a woman after God's own heart? Those are my deepest desires and today provided me with yet another opportunity to reflect & re-evaluate.

Thanks John for your example of faith ~ for your wise words of guidance ~ for being a man of God ~ for your role model ~ for having a lasting impact on my life.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

what do you do . . .

when there's nothing you can do?

Praying seems so . . . easy to offer and yet it certainly doesn't feel like it's really helping to ease the burden . . .

I drove to the airport yesterday evening to pick up a dear friend. She had flown here to be with her mother-in-law. Her FIL had just yesterday been placed in hospice care and . . . well, I just feel so helpless. Their journey is so hard ~ and there's no guarantee when God will hear their heart's desperate cry to release him from his pain & suffering. Saying goodbye is so very hard. How do you ever prepare yourself for this?

Platitudes are so easy to come by... yes, it's wonderful to know that he is headed for heaven and we are so very thankful for that, but it's hard to face and say the final farewell.

And so I sit here with tears welling up and I hardly know how to bear the pain...

but then I think of my dear friend and her family and realize that if it's this hard for me, it must be nearly unbearable for them. . .

and in my state of helplessness, I pray ~ for that is all I can do at this moment.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I haven't figure this all out yet . . .

but some of what I've been thinking lately is about conversation.

I've had a few conversations the last while that have troubled me. There seems to perhaps be a deeper need than just what appears on the surface. How does one recognize that? How can one do more than just offer advice? spiritual counsel, if you will? How can I speak to the heart?

I've been reading Larry Crabb's book, Soul Talk Yesterday I came across this:

"As I looked at the husband weeping in my living room and at his wife stting numb and motionless, I could think vision. The memory of Dad at breakfast helped. I longed for Christ to be formed in their souls until they valued fellowship with the Trinity above protection from pain, above every pleasure that second-thing blessings could provide.... I had a vision for them. I wanted them to move toward each other in a way that thrilled the Lord, in a way that would make it plain to anyone who watched that these people had been with Jesus, and that nothing mattered more."*

hmmm... to value fellowship with the Trinity above everything else? to have people see me and it would be plain that I had been with Jesus, and that nothing mattered more?

It reminds me of another book I read this spring, Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. Quoting from the back cover, "But what if God's primary intent for your marriage isn't to make you happy . . . but holy? And what if your relationship isn't as much about you and your spouse as it is about you and God."

Somehow I think we've gotten it all wrong, trying to be religious and pious, offering answers... answers and 'help' that will make us look wise and spiritual... answers that will make us feel good about what we've been able to do in helping others sort through things... answers that put bandaids on scrapes & cuts. When, maybe... just maybe.... it's not really about that at all.

What if it's really about seeing things from a different perspective... maybe seeing things from God's perspective... maybe it's about wanting more than anything else "to please God more than we want to please others or win back an estranged spouse or straighten out a rebellious kid. Maybe it's about wanting to experience Him more than we want to be right, to be in control, or to enjoy the 'good life'..."* Maybe it's about "enjoying God so much that we want to reveal what He's like to others"*... Maybe it's about "seeing a passion for God ruling in the human soul..."*

What do you think?

* Larry Crabb, SoulTalk (2003, Integrity Publishers, p.104,108)

Monday, June 22, 2009

this week. . .

on the devotional blog for women, (Woman to Woman) there's a great interview with Lori McCroskey from Clear Dollar Stamps.

Not only did I find it inspiring, but it made my heart smile as I read Lori's story because it is always such a joy to find women who strive to keep their love for Jesus "front & centre" - women who continually strive to bring glory to God in all they say & do, whether it's running after toddlers, in their business practices, or in the conversations that take place in their homes.

May you be encouraged & blessed as you read an interview with Lori.

p.s. Lori has also been very generous in offering 4 stamp sets.... if you think you'd like the opportunity to be on the receiving end of her generosity, you can read about it here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

have you wondered. . .

why God doesn't seem to give us any explanations when things just don't make sense?

I have. I have had the most confusing & bewildering time this past year. I thought I had clear direction to move ahead and yet when I did, the doors were closed? It just didn't make any sense. Either I was misunderstanding God's OK.... or maybe .... was He playing some kind of cruel joke on me?

I'm just starting a study in the book of Job and read this as part of the introduction. It's from Search the Scriptures*:

"The principal agony lies, not in his (Job) diseased body, but in his bewildered mind. His cry to God to explain Himself is maintained with growing impatience....

At last his desire is granted. God speaks to him, but very differently from his expectation. The sole divine answer consists of a vision of God's great power. Job, seeing his small concerns against this vast back-cloth, is humbled and silenced. Then God commends him, and he is restored."

It has taken a long time, but I think I'm OK with those closed doors. It has forced me to consider other paths... other directions... and in that I realize that God's OK was there, but maybe, just maybe, it was me who misunderstood... that this was God's way of re-directing my thoughts.... of knocking on a different door that I will find open....

* Search the Scriptures (1974, InterVarsity Press)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

good results

So Florian saw the doctor on Thursday and heard once again, "no lumps or bumps". These are words that bring a sigh of relief. We are so very grateful to hear the wonderful news once again.

Yet, so many have heard different words and we wonder why we are the ones who are still in remission while these others have not been as fortunate?

Last night I attended the Gaither Homecoming Concert with 3 of our kids and at one point Bill Gaither commented how there probably was no one there who had not had cancer touch their lives in some way. One of the guests who sang had just last week received word that after 4 years she is cancer-free; another guest singer had just finished her rounds of chemo. Sitting with me was a dear friend whose father had recently been diagnosed with cancer and had surgery only a few weeks ago. Even in our family we have some who are still fighting the disease and we wonder about the outcome.

Cancer has truly invaded our world. It is an ugly disease. I dreaded it. I still hate it. But its presence cannot be denied for it has touched our lives in a very real way. Presently it is being held at bay but for how long we do not know. For others, it is a battle that continues to rage.

I want to walk beside these dear friends & family members and offer our support and encouragement. It is hard, though, because there is a certain guilt that we feel - one that makes us feel somewhat hypocritical or insincere. It seems impossible to rejoice in our remission and yet sorrow for those that are still struggling. We do care - we really do. We also feel guilty. At the same time we try to reconcile in our minds the fact that this is our path and the other is theirs - and somehow they are both God-ordained. . .

And so I pray. I pray that they would accept our feeble attempts of support and encouragement. I pray that our words would be few. I pray that we would each take our days - our moments - and live them to the fullest - making the most of each one so that we will have memories to cherish - so that we won't have so many regrets - that our lives would be a living testimony to the grace and mercy and love of Jesus that we have experienced - that we would bear fruit and bring about "good results" - God results.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

it's time again . . .

for Florian to have his 3-month check. I realized this morning that I'm a little nervous this time. We're closing in on 18 months of remission. Until now, I guess I've just assumed that there wouldn't be anything, but the longer we go... well, let's just say that I feel we're 'pushing the envelope' a little more each time.

My thoughts are a jumbled mess. I know God is in control. I know that today has enough troubles of its own without borrowing tomorrow's. I know that 90% of the things we worry about don't ever actually come to fruition. I know that whatever happens we will take it one step at a time.

and yet... I still ask, "What if . . . ?"

I am reminded of another woman's story I read yesterday. Friends of ours are very close to this family and I found her story online, "Death is Not Dying" .

If you pray. . . please pray for them. They are walking such a very difficult path - I cannot imagine how hard it must be for her. I cried as I read her letters. I cried as I tried to imagine having to say goodbye to my family. . . and I prayed for her . . . for her husband . . . for her children . . . for her family. . .

I have so much for which to be thankful. Regardless of the outcome of tomorrow's visit, we will take the hand of our Father and He will walk with us. What comfort there is in knowing that He cares so much - not only for us and our family, but also for Rachel Barkey and her family.

And guess what? He cares about you too!!!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

what do you want to do . . .

. . . after high school?
what do you want to be when you grow up?
what do you plan to do with your life?

These are questions we often ask our children when they are young or approaching a major milestone in their lives.

I too have been asking these same questions.

Our youngest graduates from high school in 2 years. At that time, I will have spent the last 16 years devoted to my children & their schooling. What after that? What do I want my life to look like? What do I want to be when I grow up? How do I want to spend my time?
In what ways do I want to use the gifts God has given me?

Last Friday, my husband & I took the day to drive down to Montana. Although our purpose was to pick up a package that had been shipped to Eureka, it gave us the day together, uninterrupted. We had a wonderful time together. On the way home, I drove for several hours. To help keep me alert, I initiated this discussion with Florian. Although we didn't arrive at any earth-shattering conclusions, it was good to have the opportunity to discuss the things that I have been thinking.

I don't have an answer. I don't know that I need to have it all 'figured out'.

What I do know is that for today I have been asked to continue focusing on getting my daughters through high school - to care for my family - to make our home a place of refuge.

Above all, I want to love the Lord with all my heart, mind & soul. I want to serve Him today.

Monday, April 20, 2009

giving a shout out...

My dear friend Diane has introduced a new blog award from Women to Women.

She and I would love to start seeing it on hundreds of blogs. Hopefully it will encourage other bloggers to help us exalt the name of Christ as we share our papercrafting passions.

The Exalting Christ blog award is given to bloggers who consistently exalt the name of Christ on their blogs. What a joy to see crafters blend their passion for Christ and papercrafting. This award is given to bloggers who share Christ through their posts or through the design of their artwork. We are commanded in Scripture to be "salt and light" sharing the Good News of Jesus no matter where we are (Matthew 5:13-16). This award is just a way members of Women to Women: Sharing Jesus can say thanks for exalting Christ with us!


1. Post the blog award in a regular post on your blog with the explanation, including the original link to WTW and the rules for passing the award along
2. Name five people (more or less is fine!) to whom you want to offer this award and link to their blogs. The blogs need to obviously exalt Christ in some manner.
3. Contact the bloggers you have named to let them know they can pick up their blog award from you.
4. Invite them to permanently display the WTW blog badge and/or the award on their blogs. The badge can be obtained on the WTW site.


I am giving this blog award to:

Jennifer of Just Coffee Please is a wonderful wonderful friend who is just living life to the fullest as she radiates the love of Jesus.

PurpleStamper316 muses on her blog. What a witness to the love of Jesus as she provides thoughts on life, faith, art...

I got to actually meet Diane (momoffive) a few years ago!! She's an amazing woman!! She has been such an example to me of God's love in action as she juggles a very full plate!!

peggysue (Roses by my Window) is another friend that I got to meet IRL (in real life) a few years ago. I love her deep desire to honour God in all that she does - her love for Him is so evident!

Tricia (Simply Stamping) is another dear friend that I 'met' while ago. Tricia is a godly woman who seeks to shine for Him!!

Enjoy their blogs and let their creative works of art be an inspiration for you today!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

stepping out . . .

A few months ago I was asked to consider writing a devotional for a new blog that a dear friend of mine was setting up. Diane has been such a blessing to me since I "met" her!!

Woman to Women Sharing Jesus is a "place where women can meet and share their love of Christ".

I invite you to come and be challenged... inspired... to enjoy the company of women who love Jesus.