GOOGLE TRANSLATE

Sunday, November 17, 2013

RAINY DAYS

Psalm 51 
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  
11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.  
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with a willing spirit. 



My four barefoot children raced toward a large puddle in our driveway like lead shavings drawn to a magnet. Then for over an hour they pranced back and forth through the muddy water.  Dancing and singing, laughing and gesturing, they delighted in their soggy merriment.  

Imagination reigned supreme. Here, all other earthly realities faded into the background.  Joy scribbled its delight across muddy faces with a whimsy that left me staring in awe at this exhibition of raw delight.  

Flashes of lightening and rolling thunder in the night sometimes awoke or frightened the youngest in the house, but the downpours in the daytime with explosive claps of thunder, found a fan club who lined up to stare out the fogged up windows in wonder.  

Partly, the unleashing of this unearthly booming and cracks of light awed them. Also, I think they each anticipated the fun that followed a big storm. When the showers stopped, four little heads would look over at me and before they could ask, I would grin and give them the go ahead. Quickly they peeled off their clean play clothes in exchange for the old stained underwear saved for stomping through the mud.

Over the years, one spot in our rural driveway kept wearing away.  Our cars drove in and out, until this place expanded and increased in depth. It got so bad that my husband just maneuvered around to miss it altogether, as he pulled in and out each day. This hole took up almost half of one side of the caliche drive.  We filled it in once, but the rains came and with wear this deep trough appeared again. 

Watching them at play once, I remember thinking that this was one repair I would not hastily add to our "to do list".  Watching this rain dance was too precious now and in a few years they would outgrow this stage. 

Today, thirty years later, I dally among these memories while a  steady rain pounds on my roof. I reminisce and get lost as I remember their abandon and bliss.  A spirit of glee stirs and still yearns to flow through me. Even after maturing and learning the conventions of society; a desire rises up to abandon the cloak of a responsible adult in exchange for a simpler frock.

Just as I delight in the carefree moments of my children, my Heavenly Father charges me to liberate myself from worldly concerns.  God sent his son, Jesus, to redeem me from the guilt and the penalty of sin.  He also filled me with the Holy Spirit so that his hope, love, and strength would carry me above my daily trials. 

This frees me to join in the dance. I live with an expectancy for each new day.  With eyes opened wide like the eyes of a curious toddler, I expect to see God's goodness in the storms.  I know that nothing can separate me from receiving what he has coming my way.
After all of that splashing and dashing through that tiny "pond", there came the time for spraying everyone off with the hose.  The cleansing rinse to loosen the caked on grime.  

Then my dripping children balanced and followed the trail of towels I laid from the back door to the bathroom. Our soapy tub transformed my dirty offspring one by one from mud varmints to cherubs. 

Later, they all piled into the kitchen for a snack. The adventure was over, but the pilot light was still lit in each one of them; waiting for the next wet episode. 

I am thankful God does not extinguish this little fire inside any of any of us. This exuberance from God keeps us reaching for the dreams that are just around the corner, not impossible, but within our reach; even on the rainy days.

The second picture is a picture of exuberance that I borrowed from my daughter-in-law, Naomy.  Pictured are my two grandsons Alan and Mateo on the right running carefree with their cousins.




   

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

GOD'S VOICE



Be still and know that I am God.


Be still. We've had so little time.
Be still, so you can feel my love.
Be still. I've longed to tell you much.
Be still.  Tune your spirit to mine.

Be still.  I'm with you through the years.
Be still.  Be free within my flow.
Be still.  Hear what you're meant to know.
Be still. I'll chase away your fears.

Be still.  Allow your heart to swell.
 Be still.  A fortress rises 'round.
 Be still.  Gentle and controlled strength.
  Be still.  You'll shake the gates of hell.

Be still.
 

 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

RELAX, DADDY'S RIGHT HERE



Psalm 131:2, 3 (MSG) But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.  O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.


Tonight's bedtime story and evening chat lasted longer than usual with many "Why?" questions from my two year old.  Normally, I have no trouble staying awake and relish each moment, but tonight I was really worn out and I had to fight off sleep while I listened carefully to my inquisitive son after prayers.

"Mommy, why is it dark at night?"  "Why do I sleep way over here on this side of the house?"  "Can I have another drink of water?"  "Can you stay with me a little longer?"
 
I answered what I could and stayed nearby until I heard Philip's regular breathing, signaling that he was finally asleep.

Stretching, I turned in my bed like a cat looking for just the right spot to curl up for a good night's sleep.  At last, I talked to my head, my neck, and on down to my toes, "Relax".  

Slowly tight muscles softened and released their tension from scurrying around to drop off and pick up my kids, and teaching my middle school ESL students all day.  Then home again to prepare supper and family time.

My body was exhausted, but tonight my mind continued to rehearse the events of the day and then plan for the next.  I got up for a glass of water, thinking I could clear my thoughts by walking a little bit.  Then, back into the covers I went with high hopes of a deep sleep that normally came over me pretty soon after lying still.

Several hours later, something moving close to my head startled me as I jerked awake.  I squinted in the darkness to see what it was, and suddenly I heard, "Mommy,(pause)  "Mommeeeeeee..."  

"What is it sugar?"

"Mommy there's a noise outside my window and I can't sleep." my toddler whined.  

I could see the whites of his big round eyes, they were open so wide.

Honey, it is probably just the wind.  Come up and get in bed, it's still the middle of the night and I want to sleep some more."  And before I knew it, he snuggled up beside me, squirming a little. 

"Relax, Daddy's right here," was all my husband said, and soon Philip fell asleep.

Secure in the knowledge that his dad and I were near, my youngest son lost all sense of alarm and mellowed out, totally at peace.

This repeated itself for several nights, and Pops was concerned that this was going to become a habit, so the next time Philip crawled in with us, afraid, he crept out of bed and went to sit in our little guy's room to see what he could hear.  Nothing.  He returned perplexed.  Our children are all very sound sleepers, so this was really unusual.

I thought I would go and take a look out of his window, and then I heard it.  A few minutes later I saw the culprit.  It was a large barn owl.  It was perched on the branch of the neighbor's tree which stood close to Philip's room.  The bird continued to hoot, "hoo-hoo", but I was relieved that the mystery of the sleepless nights was finally solved.

Being in our presence calmed our little boy's fears.  Peace settled in because he knew Daddy was big and we would not allow anything to harm him.

When frustrations rise up over unfair treatment, or unexplainable breakdowns occur after the budget is used up.  If a job is lost with no money coming in and the fridge is pretty bare.  When we come to the end of our rope, we finally sidle up to our Heavenly Father for comfort and strength.

Even before the disasters come, we can dwell in peace by daily spending time in the presence of God.  When we quiet ourselves before God and bring a question to him, then wait. Listen and he will answer every time to calm our fears.  It is unexplainable, yet so real.

I call it baby trust.  Just in the same way a baby that trusts its parents will go limp and rest better in their arms, we as adults can practice baby trust toward God.  Allow yourself to completely trust in the promises of God. He will never leave you or forsake you. Rest in this promise alone and I can assure you that you will experience a peace that passes all logic for the situations that you face in your life.

Relax, Daddy's right here...you are never alone.  He is with you even unto the ends of the earth. 

These men in the pictures are my older sons.  On top is Nathaniel Markley and his oldest son Alan (taken about 8 years ago).  Just above, is Jonathan Markley and his niece, Janae and nephew, Ashton (taken almost two years ago).


  



  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

FRESH PROMISE

Psalm 128:3b (MSG) ...the children around your table are as fresh and promising as young olive shoots.

Psalm 127:3-5 (MSG) Don't you see that children are God's best gift?  The fruit of the womb his generous legacy?  Like a warrior's fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth.  Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children!  Your enemies don't stand a chance against you; you'll sweep them right off your doorstep.

On my way home, I decided to drop in on my youngest daughter, who is always in constant motion at a local coffee shop.

We exchanged broad grins as I walked in.  Even though she was preoccupied mixing a latte,  she introduced me proudly as her mom to one of her regular customers waiting at the counter.

"Your daughter just brightens up our day here!" he spoke without missing a beat.  "No really, she is very special."

"Well thank you!" I beamed!

I hear this from time to time when I visit her at work.  Believe you me, I never take any of it for granted, either.

I stayed and chatted with Christian while I drank my pumpkin spiced latte, then hugged her before departing.  

On my way toward the exit, I smiled at a lovely brunette, who was getting situated with a table full of friends.  She turned to me and deliberately stated, "Your daughter is so sweet, really she is."

The first thing that touched me, was the fact that two thoughtful people stopped to take the time to express to me something so great about my daughter.  How kind is that?  Music to my ears!  

Upon reflection, I realized that both of these patrons also made a point to emphasize to me that their compliment was genuine.  Contrast this with so much insincere small talk these days that reeks of empty flattery and pat phrases.  Yet today, I clearly read between the lines, "Great kid--well done!" (Well done to the mom, and well done to my collegiate, hard-working daughter.)

Don't get me wrong, I have not had a seamless life without trials or mistakes.  My children have not had perfect lives, either.  Yet, they are my legacy!  I am so blessed with the fresh promise in each of my blooming olive shoots.

My mother heart realizes that these children are outstanding-- each in their own way.  They have their unique personality and gifts.  They deal with their hang ups and struggles; sure, who doesn't?  Yet, they are recognizing goals and dreams which are thrusting them forward into unchartered waters; where they wade right in, undaunted.

I am thankful for this light airy moment that stirred my heart, transformed my countenance, and  inspired this short monologue of gratitude today.

I wholeheartedly agree with the psalmist and choose to admire with wonder the wealth of possibilities that incubate in my children, who are on their way to fulfilling their destiny. 


Saturday, September 28, 2013

DRAW A LINE IN THE SAND


2 Kings 18:5 (NIV)  Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel.  There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. 

Coming from the great state of Texas, and not too far from the famed Alamo, I taught Texas state history for many years, along with other courses as a teacher.  

I taught geography with my famous land formation projects to help the kids visualize the land and water features of our state.  We divided into groups studying regions, Native American tribes, settlers, cowboys, and of course the famous Texas Revolution against Mexico where we won our independence from Santa Ana.

Several movies have been made about the men, women, and events of the Alamo.  One scene that stands out to many is when William B. Travis tells his men that no more reinforcements will be coming other than the thirty-five. He informs them that if they fight against the Mexican army, there will be no survivors.  Slowly and deliberately, Travis took out his sword and drew a line in the sand. Travis invited any who wanted to stay and fight to the death, to cross over the line as an indication of their willingness to stand firm against the enemy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgkkTGdEBjM&ytsession=eqdPnQY4R4JgPOoh-f3bXpSEBqSOwSp9zMg_ZczEvJqyHAqMaSoaXKG9R_Za50HCYITQKS3FrnFQXyQ5pfbG3MZedr8a6Xe1H6M9FM3emJyjLvkgFGRVzzOwTS50_xoZtmfzujF_OImUKGXWU-DsbeLCyD1XsqEBEd5USKYac9aVkyfx3dKmFHCBQ8NBKdNEpLphQjN-jg-dajVP6pnULtRxsNk_nOTCM_jCQ4aKZibP8TPBDNirHc1APs2Qs1Km4eUCJvYKGNHRDSrqKLgfxgCjlEywRoC3txco1vTSFxWNyByzLJJwdsGFi-vK9phYiybBBmy3EMy2uYwahuBdVRFd815EXxpu7lqE7l1Rtx9JPpwtALfODlHE6AWi0kPESwPep0Fy0EFQ9nSswDNY2IFwo7ceyipcfNoSeuK4h0SiJfXsyUdPfNooS2jtFtXGIUJ9EBLSQHFm3VHvvv4mUTPfg5_U5_cRbKus3kktQVF_1Lxe_TnWYxGsZXr7IBRpOod2ycHN941QgDEPQuB_VKZ393mDM1yL_0R9FVtRIHhco68ztCPfH7X2TGPuJTYj-EhS-WG15yJns-sirCaUb0zQ6TRQvSaT (YOUTUBE scene with Travis drawing the line.)

These brave men courageously offered their lives in an attempt to weaken the troops from Mexico; slow them down. This would give General Houston the time to recruit more volunteer militia in hopes of a stand that would stall out Santa Ana.  

A few days later, the dust settled; the battle was over.  Nearly 200 defenders of the Alamo died at the hands of the Mexicans.  Before they died, the Texans and other defenders killed over 600 out of nearly 5,000 in the Mexican army who waged the assault on the mission fortress.  

This was quite a feat of bravery; to whittle down this enormous opposing army.  Yet, after this battle, all across Texas, when they faced the Mexican army, the people shouted, "Remember the Alamo!" bolstering courage from the memory of these heroes.  

Their example spurred on many others to volunteer, join, fight, and remain in service until Santa Ana was captured at San Jacinto.

In the Old Testament, there is another story about a man who made a stand against an army that was going to annihilate his country.  Hezekiah, King of Judah, goes down in the books as quite the man of principle and faith in God.  It is quite an accolade when the Bible states that there was no king in Judah like him; before or after.

Hezekiah daily conversed with God.  He reformed his country by destroying pagan shrines and shutting down sex-related deviant religions and stopped all infant and child sacrifices. He led by example and continued to follow God without wavering and without sin.  He kept all the commands that God gave Moses.  

This man was special because the favor of God was on him.  Hezekiah prospered because he loved and reverenced God.  He experienced God's favor and was successful in WHATEVER HE ATTEMPTED TO DO!  Not many have this written down in their bio.

This one time stands out, when Hezekiah rebelled against Sennacherib, king of Assyria.  Hezekiah refused to continue paying tributes to Assyria.  He knew that Israel (the northern kingdom) and Samaria were attacked by the Assyrians and their people were taken into captivity, then deported into Assyria for assimilation into the pagan culture to prevent another uprising.  Israel over and over fell away and was disobedient to God. Over and over they fell into idolatry  refused to respond to God's warnings and his expressions of love for them.  

The attacks on Israel and Samaria occurred in Hezekiah's 6th year as king of Judah (the southern kingdom).

Eight years later, Sennacherib attacked all the cities of Judah to collect the tribute owed over the years.  Hezekiah went into the temple in Jerusalem and emptied the treasury of silver, and gold to comply.  He and even removed the golden doors from the temple to appease the Assyrians and to prevent the slaughter of his kingdom.  

The Assyrians' field commander, Lachish, went to Hezekiah and his advisors. He delivered a message that all of Judah would still be destroyed.  He even turned and yelled in Hebrew, so that all the people could understand. In an attempt to divide and weaken Hezekiah's influence, Lachish spoke to the people of Judah and declared that Hezekiah's God would not be able to deliver them from the sword!  He recounted how no god of conquered country had delivered them from the powerful Assyrian army and certainly Judah's God would be no different. 

The Assyrian commander next promised that each family would own their own plot of land with grape vines, fig trees, and cisterns if only the people would separate themselves from their king and make peace with the king of Assyria.

Now, before the enemy came into the kingdom, the people had been told by their good king Hezekiah not to say a word in response to the Assyrians when they spoke.  It is amazing that not one person made a reply; not even with all of these tempting "carrots" that were dangled to tempt them to betray their God and their king. 

King Hezekiah, upon hearing these accusations against God and his power tore his robes and put on sackcloth.  He went directly into the temple and cried out to God. He asked Him to strike out at the Assyrians for their disrespect and ignorance.  He implored God to defend Himself from the insults of the Assyrians to demonstrate that Jehovah was indeed the one true God.

Notice, Hezekiah did not pray for peace.  He did not pray safety.  Rather, he prayed that God would show up in all of his glory and prove that the foolish talk of God's powerlessness was all rubbish.

The prophet, Isaiah also received a long prophesy from God.  In the first part, God declared who He was. Then the second part was directed toward the Assyrians.  God heard their insolence and He was going to put a hook in their noses.  

Concerning the siege, the prophet declared that not one Assyrian arrow would even be shot into the city.  The enemy would not enter the city.  God had declared that he would defend the whole city and save it from ruin. 

The line was drawn in the sand.  Hezekiah and Isaiah inflamed the Assyrians with their refusal to surrender.  But they remained firm in their trust and faith in their magnificent God.  When the circumstances were screaming, "Disaster!"  God gave them a view of the greater reality and peace reigned in their hearts.

That night, the people of Judah went to sleep.  ONE ANGEL of God was sent during the night to attack the Assyrian's!  It only took one angel to destroy 185,000 of this invading army.  

The next morning, the city awoke to find the thousands of Assyrian corpses. What a glorious deliverance.  Fabulous!

So, whatever you are facing today, stand with the one true God who loves and protects those who believe and stay in fellowship with God.  

Today, draw the line in the sand.  When the enemy tries to get you to doubt or give up, cross the line courageously-- never looking back.  Be loyal and you will prosper with a sound mind, balanced emotions, sound body, and an empowered spirit.  

No matter what seems to be staring you in the face!  All hell may be breaking loose with no conceivable way out.  

Remember the faithfulness of God.  Let this world see His kingdom come on this Earth and His will being done by us, just like it is done in Heaven!  


*Check out the 10 character tests we need to pass in order to move from our Dream to our Destiny, go to http://.www.gatewaypeople.com then look under toolbar MEDIA go to the bottom to The Blessed Life then click on Dream to Destiny, where you will find the 10 tests of character discussed.  Start with The Pride Test.
   
**Read more about Hezekiah in 2 Kings chapters 18-20. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

ALL MY TOMORROWS




Psalm 27:13-14 (NASB)  I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.

All my tomorrows flew off in a grey mist,
Somewhere beyond the reach of my palm.
Beaconing me, but too shattered to dare,
I believed that my dreams would soon disappear.

Catching a glimpse of You from out of my eye,
You called out, casting furtive glances my way.
Perhaps due to second thoughts about being spotted,
I shuddered that I almost waved your Divine self off.

My brow wrinkled.  I wondered if I viewed a mirage.
So many friendly faces changed growing distant or sour.
Did this kindly phantom know the depths of my heart?
Could you feel me so deeply?  Could you ever comprehend?

Would I repel you with my earnest desires for truth,
Or for principles and dreams to which I aspire?
The depth of my innermost passion has always been,
To reach fulfillment of all that God created in me.

My lofty pursuits, the desires of my heart
Have given my suitors quite a rough start.
Am I truly odd then, how may I then know
If there are others with this ache, a yearning to grow.

Years have passed by with only occasional clues.
Just what have you put me here on this Earth to do?
Tarnished and dented, I stumble on through.
You haven't forgotten, or discarded me, true!

Tentatively I stretched my arm through the haze.
In return, you enclosed and warmed my chilled hand.
Kind words massaged and soothed my heart once again.
Strength germinated within. You just wouldn't let go.

You never despised, when doubts arose with a fright.
In the middle of heartache, fresh healing you brought.
You hovered and covered and caught those shed tears.
Abiding love stilled the tempest.  Peace and joy tuck me in.

I started this poem in 2004 and I just ran across it in an old notebook this week.  After some brushing up and a few verses more, I think I will let you take a peek.  

We have all struggled through the "pits" in life.  I am enjoying THE BLESSED LIFE study from Gatewaypeople.com (under media on their toolbar).  It is a study on 10 character tests we have to pass in order to move from dreaming dreams to fulfilling and living our destiny here on Earth.  I want to pass these tests, don't you?

Looking back at my life's ups and downs, it is easy to see how God was there encouraging me on and hoping I would "get it" and move on to the next lesson in becoming a warrior child of his.

I am thankful for such tough love that never fails me.  Love so amazing and so cherished.  I am living a perfect life with an awesome God.  The ups and downs are still with me, but the filter and lenses he has given me allow me to see that there are better things in store everyday.  I just have to become aware of what is really going on and to trust that each part, with the good and the bad, that it is all part of my life's tapestry he is weaving.

Note:  The photo at the top are my pride and my joy!  These are my six lovely children gathered rather miraculously for a reunion, which was encouraged and orchestrated by my beautiful daughter, Audrey, who has a heart of gold.

  
 


Saturday, August 10, 2013

FAT OR SKINNY?



 Ezekiel 34:3-5 Aren’t shepherds supposed to feed sheep?  You drink the milk, you make clothes from the wool, you roast the lambs, but you don’t feed the sheep.  You don’t build up the weak ones, don’t heal the sick, don’t doctor the injured, don’t go after strays, don’t look for the lost.  You bully and badger them.  And now they’re scattered every which way...(MSG)

Driving home from my REJOICE! exercise and fitness class this morning,  I drove out of the neighborhood and onto the frontage road to head home for some more water and the last bowl of leftover beef stew.

None of my kids are here today.  It is just my husband and I.  It is unusually quiet here.  

Just a few days ago there was the jingle of Tinkerbell's tags, chatter, laughter, little feet running up and down the stairs, and catching up with my oldest daughter's family who sought shelter in our home for a few days due to a broken water main in their neighborhood.   

For the past 39 years I have geared my life to look after my little flock.  When there was plenty we all enjoyed all we wanted, and when I went back to college things were lean and there weren't so many choices, yet healthy food kept us satisfied.  

I have to look back and reflect with a thankful heart that even as a pastor's wife going through a heart wrenching divorce that totally changed the lives of my children and certainly changed my ability to attend the Bible studies, book shares, or to be looked to as a role model for spiritual guidance as I was used to, God was there providing through others around me.  I smarted inwardly from the choices that others made that could upset and turn my life upside down.

There were times when I wondered if I was some sort of puppet on a string for others to jerk around and wondered if people understood how much impact their actions had on me and my children through the years.  

Fat sheep?  What's up?  When we are in a place of power or authority we have to keep in mind the lives that are all around us.  Words, actions, body language, or a lack of affirming words, a lack of good and honest action, a lack of communicating the individual uniqueness and worth of those nearest to us.  Some family we choose and some we do not.  The trick is to cherish each and every one and to demonstrate their value so that they can feel significant beyond a doubt.

It is the same in the workplace.  There are superiors, peers, and those under our supervision that are easy to work with as well as those who are like a burr under a saddle.  We glide in and out of each others consciousness, but with an impact by either ignoring the opportunities to feed the hungering souls who desire to be filled with a sense of accomplishment and meaning for all of their labors and assistance on the job or to look one another in the eyes with a nod that says it all.  Written notice of a job well done can lift the spirits of those struggling to find purpose in their very existence.  Granted there are a few who calmly surf through in peace and perfectly content no matter how much chaos goes on around them, but face it...we all need to hear that we matter, and for the good.

It is not up to us to put people in their place.  It is up to us to give them space and an audience to listen to aspirations.  Time to see them as more than someone to deliver us a products or to add a convenience to our life.   They may need to draw boundaries when they are stressed or do not agree.  Rather than crushing and crossing over to cause damage, why not just take a breath and stop to look a little closer.  Stop and observe.  Open your heart.  Listen.  Really listen.

Then as I help to mow half of the yard in this blistering heat, I look out over my neighborhood.  No, I did not choose any of these people, but they are in my life.  I can open myself and get to know more about their world or I can close the door and blinds and stay to myself.

Fat sheep.  Fat cats.  We think we have it all together and we don't need to bother to change our lives one bit.  Life is so much neater and predictable when we stay in control.  Keep it simple, right?  My family and no more.  Whew!  What do you mean I need to care about my neighbor.  I have enough on my own plate.

Skinny sheep?  Well, those could be the ones who are in need, they could be the ones who have their hand continually out and the line never ends, right?  There are agencies for them.  There are paid staff who will "befriend" them.  They will take them and hand them forms to fill, give them the regulations, and then if they are lucky they will be one of the recipients of the rubber-stamped issue that comes across as a slap in the face and also stamps their hearts with INVALID, UNNECESSARY, or CAST OFF.

Circumstances come to skinny sheep that they never asked for as well as many that they cultivated with their choices.  So, because a sheep is skinny, does that make it no longer of any value, to be culled from the flock and forgotten.  Is there a place for these undernourished, damaged ones to go for comfort, love, and affirmation so that when the circumstances change they can return the favor and hand off to another in need?

Fat or skinny?  I keep going back and forth in my mind about all of this.  If I go to work in missions these lost are the very valuable ones that we work so hard to secure and build back up.  Yet when I stand looking down the cul-de-sac I see the homes of many who have moved in that I have not gone to greet.  I do not know their children's names.  I do not know when a husband is out of the country for months on end on duty.  New babies on both sides of me, but we are having hard times now.  Making an effort to go see their precious bundle would add joy regardless of whether I can afford a gift.  The gift of interest and admiration is the one that they really want after all.

I am feeling like a fat sheep when I see how simple acts of caring, interest, and kindness could make a difference with so many I know.  A phone call, a note card, a pat on the back, a hug and certainly waving and smiles would span the gap.  Baking some cookies for the new large family that has many needs across the street from me.  I pray for them, but they need so much more.

Or maybe I am the skinny sheep.  Maybe I have such a small heart and soul that I do not even care enough too get up and ask you oh God what is it that I can be and do for you?  What can I spend my time doing that will really make a difference in someone's life?  Isn't that the true meaning of life?  Relationships, connecting, and giving until we are filled up and dead tired.  We get fat from the fuzzy feelings we receive.  Real joy is waiting to break into our lives every day.  Instead I find that many of us just hold it at arms length.  Wait until I have time, next summer, next weekend, or tomorrow.

Live life now.  

Fat sheep! Lose that fluffy self-absorption!  Lose that callousness.  Lose that mindset that only yours are important and open up your eyes to the lives God has put into your life.  Treat them all with care and the tenderness that they deserve.  Share your attention, your gracious words, your culinary efforts, your home, and serve one another.

Skinny sheep!  The same goes for you!  Do what you can to make life easier for those around you.  Give a kind answer, be patient, lend a hand, be thankful for what you have and always be grateful for help, but don't feel anything is owed to you.  Work hard and better times will come around.  You will forget your own misery when you are concentrating on someone else and giving them a temporary respite.

Bottom line.  God wants to enlarge our hearts.  It is for our good.  He is preparing us for Heaven.  I want to ready and I want to make sure you are ready as well. 




Thursday, July 18, 2013

READY!

These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us.  There's far more here than meets the eye.  The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow.  But the things we can't see now will last forever.  II Corinthians 4:17,18 (MSG)

One minute Philip was lounging in his room with his attention fixed on building a new world in Minecraft, then after calling out that it was time to head out, he bounded off of the bunk, dropped his pants, and pulled on his favorite swim trunks.  He was ready in less than a minute!

I checked in Phil's room to make sure all of the lights were turned off and I chuckled when I noticed that his pants literally stood on the floor where he stepped out of them!

My son was ready in an instant to take off the old khakis and change into his trunks when he knew we would be leaving this small cramped poolside condo for the wide open sandy shore of Playa del Tamarindo (Tamarindo Beach, Costa Rica).  Of course it didn't slow him down any to think that he was going to meet up with Eddie for his first surfing lesson either!

New challenges, new thrills; the anticipation was enough to keep him up half the night as chattered on.  He envisioned himself riding in on the waves.  All the time wondering how big they were going to be, would he fall a lot, would he get slammed?  Just trying to imagine himself doing something he had seen others do on videos created an excitement in him that bubbled over the whole night before.

On the hour long drive over to the neighboring beach, I looked over and saw the eagerness in his eyes as he joined in the conversation.  Jerry and Eddie sat up front, and Philip and I in the back of our Nissan rental.

We passed farms, small towns, lavish estates as the road wound closer to our destination.  We passed a group of horses loose on the road ever so carefully as we remembered Eddie's story about getting the radiator on his Jeep kicked in by a stubborn horse that didn't want to vacate the road just a few weeks before.

Before we knew it, the car turned into a narrow road lined with more surf shops than I had ever seen all in one place.  The public parking was off to the right.  We walked over to Kelly's, a surf shop that Phil's instructor used to rent boards.  He chose a light blue board.  It was lightweight and not too long for him.  Then Eddie insisted that Philip borrow a long sleeved shirt from the rack of various shirts available for surfers to use and return.
 Now, while he might have made a comment to me about how he didn't need the shirt or tried to wheedle out of it, with Eddie he just took it and said, "Sure".  He couldn't wait to get out there in the water and learn a new sport!  He was READY!
With a passion to learn this new water sport, Philip experiences a driving force that takes him out of his comfort zone with no fear. 
Listening patiently, yet eager to embark on the experience itself.
Okay, one more pointer, yes, listening intently, but the water looks good right now.
In we go!

This is the life!  I too am ready!  Each day brings more challenge, more adventures, and more connections, but the passion stirred up in my spirit is a foundation for the canvas of my life.  Being at the right place at the right time helps, yet nowadays I believe being in the right state at the right time is much better.

I believe in my Creator.  I believe in my Redeemer.  I believe in the Helper.  They all reach out to me and communicate my worth and yet they also dangle before me so much freedom to explore and see just how good my God is.  See the earth, a tangible, natural creation, yet hear the invisible music that lifts my spirits.  Hear him speak a few words that transforms fear into joy.  See lives turned around and purposeful by the filling of His spirit. 

Heaven is one thing I have longed for with a passion all my life.  I yearn for goodness, peace, love, and pure joy with no guile.  At times I am distressed and feel life is futile because so much is out of whack around us.  Nothing seems to make a huge difference for so many that are struggling with evil in their midst.
  
Yet, we are the difference.  Each and every one of us makes the difference every day.  The daughter-in-law who changes sheets for an elderly mother, the brother who hears his sister cry and goes to comfort her, or parents driving six hours to pick up a beloved daughter after a forty day trip abroad.  A mother holds that precious baby girl and softly sings and smiles to express how much she is loved and valued.  Chopping vegetables for an hour, so your husband can begin his diet.  Helping to pay for a funeral and cleaning out the apartment of your ex-husband in respect of your children's sorrow and loss.  Simply smiling and really wanting to know, "How are things going for you today?"

I find that when I see acts of courage, kindness, and genuine love that I am touched by Heaven on Earth.  We are that intersecting point, as Alan Smith so beautifully states in his book, Unveiled.  We have the freedom to meet and live the heavenly everyday.

One day we have our full glory restored in earth as it is in heaven, but living daily in his presence and with a heart ready to hear and respond to the opportunities around us fills us so full of purpose and lasting joy.  I think my heart will probably burst when I finally get to be in God's presence.

Watching my son's anticipation, his readiness for this new experience was delightful and reminds me of my own anticipation with new experiences everyday.  I look forward to life eternal with all my heart still.  The perfection and beauty of new exploits and escapades in this wonderful world without evil that God has for us is alluring.  I cannot wait! 
Today has so much potential as well.  Practicing God's presence.  More to love and more to learn.  More given back to me than I could ever give away.  This is where I am now.  But someday, like my son's delight in learning to surf for the first time, I will be with Jesus face to face...forever!  Wow!  I'm ready!
 One of Philip's initial trips across the waves!  He high fives as he passes another surfer, he is so thrilled!



You can contact Eddie by following this link to their Facebook page.  He works out of Playa del Coco, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pacific-Coast-Stand-Up-Paddle-Surf/418417948206860







Sunday, June 16, 2013

LIVE GENEROUSLY


Bring health to the sick.  Raise the dead.  Touch the untouchables.  Kick out the demons.  You have been treated generously, so live generously.  Matthew 10:8 (MSG)

I know that in the life of Jesus, each time he prayed for a person in need of healing, the healing came one hundred percent of the time.

The dilemma for me today is to keep praying when at times I see the healing, yet other times I do not.

I recall one exciting moment when my oldest, Jennifer, was a young girl about seven years old.  She came into the bedroom and like all children with their parents, told us her problem and then curled up in a feverish heap between us for comfort.

Jennie explained that she had been very hot for most of the night.  Oh, my heart went out to her.  There is nothing that stirs a parent more than to have a sick child.  It moves you to immediate action to make them more comfortable and to ease their anxiety.

Usually, I would go rushing to moisten a washcloth and place it on her forehead, but this time I encouraged my husband to pray with me for her healing.  We both laid our hands on her head and prayed a simple prayer.  Immediately, the fever backed away and she felt much cooler to our touch.

Just to be sure, I went to the medicine cabinet and fetched our thermometer.  Placing the thermometer in her mouth to take her temperature, I waited a few minutes.  Then sure enough, her temperature was normal again!  Wow!

I know God is able to answer a healing prayer.  God is willing, but we rarely invite him to enter the mix of things unless we are at the end of our rope.

A prayer for healing is what we all need at times.  We have all come up against physical barriers to health, but more common are the emotional bruises that we end up with due to the harshness of life events.  Emotional scars covered up by years of living are still there with their subtle effect on us.  Many times, we need to peel through the layers to the root causes of our physical ailments.  Prayers for healing and ministry may truly aim at issues much deeper than we realize.

Francis McNutt, a healing minister, has found that it is the spiritual and emotional areas that God deals with at times when we do not see immediate physical results.  He suggests that by continuing to pray with the sick individual each time you meet together, they are receiving spiritual and emotional releases.  Changes in their physical symptoms follow once these other areas are set right.

About two years ago, my neighbor started wearing a cap to cover her shaved head.  She had beautiful
dark brown hair that was always beautifully styled, so I knew that she wasn't doing this as a fad.  I hesitated at first, but then approached her as she watered flowers near the front porch.

"Hi Cheryl, what's up?"

"I found out that not only do I have breast cancer this time, but I have cancer throughout my whole body."

"Oh, Cheryl, no!  I am so sorry to hear that.  May I pray for you?"

"Please, I'd really love that."

Right there in the front yard I placed my hands on her shoulders and prayed a faith-filled prayer for this woman who had previously fought breast cancer.  This was her second bout.  She had a strong faith in God.  She was the type of person who gave of herself whether decorating for a friend's wedding, baking to welcome new neighbors, or shuttling around her kids to practices and games after a week of work.

I had another opportunity to pray face to face with her after treatments when she was feeling low.  This time she walked up to me while I was pruning in my front garden.

Everyday for over a year I looked across the street knowing that she was frail yet fighting valiantly to get well.  I prayed for her and for her family to have strength and peace.  I cried as I took showers and pleaded with God to give her more time in perfect health with her family.

I sent over food several times on days when I knew she was coming home from radiation and would be too weak or sick for the next few days.  She wrote notes to thank me and always expressed how she felt our prayers strengthening her in an uncanny peace despite it all.

I watched her children take on more responsibilities and never complain.  Their faith in God is one thing Cheryl wanted to see planted firmly in their lives.  She lived a life of faith before them and talked to them about their future and how to make wise choices with God's help.

Months went by.  Cheryl even went in to work to help with the files at work on her good days.  She was a dental hygienist and could not be near germs due to her weak immune system at the end.

Then, the next thing I knew it was October, she was wheeling around an oxygen tank to watch my son and her two kids carving out their pumpkins...but before Christmas she was gone.
 I know that many of her prayers for her family were answered through their shared suffering.  God did a work during that time and the kids now walk in a maturity that most their age don't possess.

God didn't answer my prayer for Cheryl the way I expected him to.  I was grieving and a little troubled at the end.  I know that God looked down and loved them all and this was her time to leave suffering behind.  Her body would feel no more pain.  I also saw a beautiful transformation in that family.  Peace reigned in their lives despite their loss.

I am determined to walk by faith and to invite God into my daily life.  Whether I notice a need or breath a prayer, this world needs a gentler touch and caring words.  I desire to be his hands, feet, and voice.  I want to be moved by compassion as Jesus was.  He had Kingdom eyes and I pray that I could have that kind of vision when I look upon each precious child of his.

God, whose essence is love, is concerned for the ones I pray for, far more than I am.  I will trust him to do his part, as I do mine.


Friday, June 7, 2013

DADDY LONG LEGS!

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother's womb.  I thank you, High God-you're breathtaking!  Body and soul, I am marvelously made!  You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body;  You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.  Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;  Psalm 139:13-15 (MSG)

Red hair flying behind me like a kite, mouth pursed in concentration, freckled-face turning red from the effort of racing across the playground.  Yes!  This time,  I finished first against my classmates!

Jumping up and down, I turned around and looked in exaltation ready to see my friends cheer me on, only to hear, "Daddy long legs!  Daddy long legs!  Christine is a daddy long legs!"

The boys who had lost to me started the taunting.  Used to being the winners, they squirmed around trying to divert embarrassment by ridiculing me,  this carrot top girl who has just out-sprinted them all.

In second grade I'd experienced a growth spurt and as luck would have it, I towered over all of the boys in my class.  Yes, I had red hair.  Yes, I had freckles.  Yes, I was a tomboy who loved to run, bat, kick balls, and shoot marbles.  I didn't mind getting sweaty or dirty and I just loved to move and play hard!

But that name-calling slapped me side of the head.  I never had dreamed I would be cut down like this.  Quickly, I turned away with a brave smile.  I went to the other side of the playground to hide the tears that escaped without permission.  I would not give those proud boys the satisfaction of seeing how their words affected me.

Gladly, one of the swings was vacant, so I grabbed high on the chains, then I backed up ready for take-off!

Daddy long legs!  What a silly thing to say!  Why couldn't they tell me, "What a great run," or, "Way to go?"  Tears of disappointment still streamed down my cheeks.

Childish pain, you might say, but pain none the less.

Today as well, I reflect on the manslaughter outside of a British church in London several days ago.  The young man was a Christian.  The very reason why he was the target of this senseless hacking by two Muslims.  An eye for an eye?  No way!  What had this young man done wrong except go to his house of worship, serve his country, and love his family?

Oh, of course, that's right, he was a Christian.  One of those who want to emulate Jesus and to live in the Kingdom of God here on Earth.  Such a scarey kind of a person?  No, I think not. 

My heart goes out to his family.  My heart goes out to the onlookers who cannot shake this vision from their mind.  My heart even goes out to the two who blindly followed and took this action against an innocent victim. 

Daddy long legs seems like eons ago to me.  It also seems childish to even mention this alongside the slain man in Britain, who died as a martyr for his faith.  But the fact is, the enemy of our souls starts the attempt to break us down starting when we are young.  The methods subtle for some and overt with others, but that is the why of so much cruelty.

Each of us was shaped and formed purposefully as we grew in our mother's womb.  We all had the stamp of love and approval on us.  So, from the beginning, you were loved, planned for, and have a wonderful purpose here for the good of mankind; not for evil.  Then later came other events and all those choices.

Our enemy, Satan, wants to twist our existence and cheapen us.  He warps our viewpoint.  Then he blurs our mission.  We forget the sweetness of innocence, or don't look back when we exchange it for compromise.  Then each choice on down the line becomes easier and easier as we slide the slippery path toward the ruin of our character.

According to Galatians 5:19 the immoral acts, when the devil tempts us to follow after the desires of our flesh are: "immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these." (NASB)  Do any of these look familiar today?

Those of us who belong to Christ Jesus, when we come and give our lives over to him.  We are charged to stand strong and not to be led around by our fleshly passions and desires.

Galatians 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." (NASB)  But against such things there seems to be a stigma in an increasingly secular world.

Today, God leans near to comfort the widow, and he caresses her young son across the Atlantic.  The sight of flowers lovingly placed along the avenue speak to their hearts and give them comfort in knowing that others are grieving along with them.

God walks beside the homeless now raking through the tornado strewn rubble for their belongings.  He sends help their way and helps to reunite victims, even to reuniting families to their pets.  Others have to find a solace in their financial and personal loss.

God is the one who brings a balance.  While Satan wishes to discourage, dishearten, and deaden the faith of men and women. The storm victims gain strength in their faith as volunteers, churches,  family, neighbors, and organizations come with encouragement and aid.  The hand of God.

Love, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion are God's nature: the antithesis of the disruptor. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

YOU MAKE MY HEART SING

 Sing to God a brand-new song. He's made a world of wonders! He rolled up his sleeves, He set things right.  Psalm 98:1 (MSG)

I gaze out the windows here as I babysit and watch the deer grazing in the cool of the day.  I enjoy the contrast of colors, the tawny brown of the animal's hide against the verdant grass. 

Then I note the textures of the pointy fragile green shafts of grass next to the grainy bark of the oaks.  Up above I see the various shapes formed by leaves and branches arched up into the hazy morning sky.  All of these daily wonders delight my eyes with their variety and contrasts.

Majestic mountains in the winter with their snowy coverlets and veils of clouds.  Pine forests that provide us with materials to build homes, build fires, furniture, toys, even down to toothpicks.  Fresh springs gushing from crevices in rocks that refresh, clean, purify, and hydrate to sustain life.  Mighty waves crashing and foaming upon the shoreline.

All in nature has such an order.  Even fires initiated during a summer electric storm burst seed pods that would otherwise remain barren.  

When I see the balance in all of creation, a feel a natural high, a desire to shout your greatness, O God!  All that you have made is wonderful beyond our comprehension!  

Even looking into the organisms to see the complexities of their design and ability to heal or repair themselves.  The instincts to build hives, nests, to burrow, to fly, to hunt for food, and to care for their young.  

During a biology lab, I sat in wonder as the function of the ear was explained.  Even though I had read and studied the diagrams, it seemed utterly remarkable to be able to hear such a myriad of sound.  Then when I sang in choirs with live orchestra I felt a swell of joy in being at one with my vocal instrument in the midst of such majestic synergy. 

How marvelous are your works O God!  You have made all things for good.  My heart sings out to you and cries out for the disorder that mankind has made of creation to be silenced and put to right. 

You are a patient father.  You have allowed us our choices and allowed us to test our boundaries.  So much good has been invented, discovered, and shared by many, while others seem bent on living just a tad above the animals with no compassion for their fellow man.  Bring us back to the harmony and the wholeness we are lacking soon, I pray.

Trustingly, I catch myself in the middle of a hum.  Hope does that to me.  God set things right when he first created and soon, he will cleanse the Earth from the its impurities and set all aright again. 

Then the Righteous King will reign and we will rejoice at the fruit of his goodness and be astonished at the possibilities that lie before us.  
                                           *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   


"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell."                           -C. S. Lewis  



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

ROCK STAR

 One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them.  The disciples shooed them off.  But Jesus intervened:  "Let the children alone, don't prevent them from coming to me.  God's kingdom is made up of people like these."  Matthew 19:13, 14 (MSG)

Eager little eyes underlined with expectant grins catch my eye.  Then those strong lithe legs propel them with outstretched arms as they race to be enveloped in hugs and kisses.  This is a moment that I cherish.  Upon arrival when visiting my grown children, the grands come running to see Nana and Grandpa Jerry!

 What a picture of ecstasy!  What an experience of love!  I pray these precious children of my beloved children all feel the same excitement coming their way!

It is early May and Mother's Day is just around the corner.  I wanted to just share what fun it is to me at my stage of mothering.  I have six children of my own and two of Jerry's.  Between us we have eleven grandchildren.  (Our own kids are stair steps from ages in the forties down to thirteen.  Our grands are ages fifteen down to one.)

I have to tell you that being a grandparent is like being a rock star!  These children are so delightful!  They hug, they listen, they chatter, they twirl in their excitement, race around so you can see how fast they are, always glancing back to be sure that you are watching them in admiration.  They hear that Nana is coming or Grandpa and they light up inside because they know that adoring adults are on their way to make over them and give them special attention that is always so positive, gratifies their little hearts and puffs up their self-esteem.

Patience, love, praise, and attention all go so far to please these tender shoots.  Nurturing, thoughtfulness, surprises, and chases bring a harvest of giggles, joy, and a sense of importance.

Children are such little sponges.  They soak up all the good you give them and give it back again when they sense a little tender loving care is in order.  At their best, with a good dose of love and confidence building rapport they reflect to a greater degree the love that was given to them.  They thrive on belonging to you.  Unabashedly, they trust you to do the best for them.

Children are fascinated when they are exploring outdoors.  They see everything with such a wonder.  Ladybugs are little friends to stop and chat with.  A new flower gets sketched in the science journal.  Curiosity is peaked with a new bird to look up.  Sandy beaches become the medium for sketching and sculpting.

Stories told and songs sung are long remembered through the years.  Drives to the park or across the country remain unforgotten.  The time we walked the caverns, the square dance near the campground, building dams with rocks, throwing bread crumbs out for water fowl or a surfing lesson together; all memories tucked away to daydream of later on.

A never ending thirst at bedtime, a plethora of questions waiting for an answer always accompany each mighty mite.  Simple bouquets of wildflowers, hand prints in plaster, or exotic crayon filled pictures satisfied with a hug that tells them, "I feel your love!"

Sadly, they can be injected with the poison of abandonment and abuse just the same.  The anti-dote for years of ugly, thoughtless choices by the adults who should be cherishing, takes nearly a lifetime to figure it all out and then the rest of their lives to escape the pain of it all.

Even last month my grown kids thoughtfully produced a giant surprise party with such detailed artwork shaped by loving hands, a DVD filled with wishes from all my family members, photos covering boards cut out in the shape of 6-0, and thoughtful accolades expressed to me.

Sacrifices of time, money, and long travel dampened my eyes with thoughts of their love for me.  Favorite foods, hand prints on cards, memorable pictures laboriously were searched for and posted in art form.  All of these loving words flooded my heart and spilled out in tears.  They touched me to the core.

My children encourage me by their example to remain pliable and to drink in the beauty of all that is around me with a grateful heart.
God's kingdom, Jesus said, is made up of childlike believers.  Just take a look next time at the attributes of that precious little boy or girl you adore.  Ponder those sweet traits displayed in their  innocence.  This is what Jesus meant when he said that if we would become as a small child, then we would be the people who please God.  

Freedom come, so that I may please my Heavenly Father.  He is my bright and Morning Star.  Everything else will fade away when I see him face to face.  I will be in the home I have yearned for.  I will gaze all around and giggle in unbelief at the wonders he has prepared for my enjoyment... for all eternity.  

Enjoy your day moms, step-moms, foster moms, adopted moms, grandmoms, and stand in the gap moms.  You work hard.  You rarely are thanked for all that you do.  No one could ever pay you what you are worth to your family.  Take courage.  Your presence is dear and near to the hearts of your little tribe.  Your life does matter.  You do make a difference that will extend through the generations and on into eternity.  I pray that you will feel a little like a rock star on your special day!

I love you Mom!  The adventures you planned for our vacations, prayers that held me up when I needed something more than I had to give, and your faithful walk with God, made all difference in my life.  I pray that you will feel a little like a rock star this year on your special day!