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Sunday, September 21, 2014

CLOAKED IN BLACK


 Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure. Psalm 24:4 (MSG)
     
     Contented, I listened to the bantering of my young children while I prepared then cleaned up from breakfast.
     This morning, after Jennie and Nathan left with their dad for school, I was left with my youngest daughter, age three.  Audrey stood watching me as I blow dried my hair. She waited patiently for me to finish.  When the whine of the dryer came to an end she followed me around as I made the beds.  Without missing a beat, my preschooler told me about her experience with a visitor in the night that I will never forget.
     Audrey and Jennie shared a double bed in the back of our rental house.  Nathan had the bedroom in between their room and ours, down a long hallway.
     It was our custom at bedtime to read to the kids and pray for them.  The girls and Nathan always begged me to sit with them until they fell asleep, so I compromised. Each night after prayers, I sat outside their rooms in the hallway.  Their doors stayed cracked open slightly so that a little light would  shine in.
     Some nights I played soft music on the cassette player and sing along, or other times, I sang from a book of lullabies by Nancy Honeytree, without guitar or piano to accompany me.
     Usually, I heard their even breathing before the third or fourth song and I could tip toe away.  
     Audrey excitedly told me that during the night she woke up.  No one else was awake.  All the lights inside the house were off.  Only the street lamp along the sidewalk outside sent a filmy streak of light through a crack between the curtains.  
     A dark shadow appeared to be standing in the doorway of the room. She blinked her eyes and looked again, because she thought that she saw a this dark figure moving closer to her bed.  
     Sure enough, as this dark figure moved closer, it appeared to be clothed in a long cloak with a hood that covered most of her face.  She stopped, then slowly moved closer.  
     Audrey wanted to scream, but she was too scared to make a peep.  Instead, Audrey squeezed her eyes tight to shut out the image and pulled the comforter over her head.
     After describing all of this all in great detail.  She went on to tell me that she didn't want to go back into to the bedroom alone to get her dolls.  Later, she asked to take a nap on the couch, instead of sleeping in her bed.  I could see that she was still scared and so I hugged her close.  
     I prayed over her and commanded fear to leave her right then and there.  I assured her that she could go back into the room whenever she wanted, but she stayed beside me the rest of the day.
     At bedtime, I had a long talk with her again.  I explained that there were times when my husband and I had sensed a different presence in our room.  We prayed and every time, God removed it.
     Also, I silently remembered a time in Japan when Nathan, our very sound sleeping baby, woke up,  doubling up from pain.  He screamed for about 45 minutes.  We walked him, fed him, and burped him, but he was not himself at all.
     I remembered a story we heard Clem's brother, tell us about witches visiting some churches in California.  When there were disruptions, the pastors pled the blood of Jesus. They commanded spirits to be silent and to leave quietly.
     Again Nathan woke up and screamed in the night. This time I commanded, "I plead the blood of Jesus over us and demand any evil spirits to take their hands off of our baby and to leave all of us alone.  In the name of Jesus, leave and never come back."
    
     Not wanting to alarm my already nervous little one, I softly encouraged her to call out as loud as she could, "Jesus!" and that when any bad spirit heard her say his name, they would have to leave her room.  I also encouraged her to call us and that we would come right away.
     At six the next morning after the alarm went off,  I laid there a minute and was surprised that our night went uninterrupted.  
     Curious, I woke up Jennie for school, and then while she was off in the bathroom, I gently shook Audrey awake to hear if she had slept well.
     At first still groggy, she wanted to stay under the covers, then suddenly she bolted up with her eyes wide open and a big grin on her face.  I couldn't wait for a full report.
     Just as the other night, Audrey awoke and did not want to open her eyes.  Finally when she felt something close to her side of the bed, she peeked.  This same hunched over woman cloaked in black  stood near her bed, then lifting her arm, she beckoned for her to come out of her bed and follow her. 
     Audrey admitted that she was afraid to talk again, but in order to make the shadowy lady leave the room she stated, "Jesus is here with me and you have to go."  
     Immediately, the woman in black disappeared from sight.  My daughter said she didn't feel scared anymore, so she went back to sleep.
     Wow!  I admired this little tyke. She displayed faith and courage to deal with this on her own.     
     From that day on, Audrey always had an uncanny way of talking about God and writing him letters throughout her childhood.  
     Since she was very honest and never made up stories, I know this is the way it happened to her.  She never begged me to stay outside her door at night, but I continued my routine.  
     She gained a special confidence that night. She felt secure with the Shepherd at her side.
     
     

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

FERRET OUT JOY

Though the cherry trees don’t blossom and the strawberries don’t ripen.  Though the apples are worm-eaten and the wheat fields stunted, Though the sheep pens are sheepless and the cattle barns empty, I’m singing joyful praise to God.  I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.  Counting on God’s rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength.  I run like a deer.  I feel like I’m king of the mountain. Habubbuk 3:17-19 (MSG)
     

     The dim light of the early hours peeked through the shutters as if a bit hesitant to disturb me.  My head throbbed and my joints ached as in sympathy to my torn emotions.

     So much to cheer me the day before with the fresh mowed lawn, a revitalizing rain, and fresh peanut butter cookies for the grands.  Two sweet children spent the first part of the weekend cheering us.  A birthday party with my family.


     My youngest son shared words of encouragement as doors opened for him, he stepped confidently through and now glowed from the favor shown and his success.  My husband had a very promising week and proudly handed me the funds in crisp hundred dollar bills to make our house payment, just in time.

     All week I’d noticed the small things.  I rejoiced in them as they chimed in to remind me that God is good. 

     Yet when some undue complaints reached my ears, a sudden chill swept in to steal the warmth of my heart. 

     Hanging baskets of delicate pink flowers around the patio to cheer my daughter's lovely cottage did a little to wipe away the memory.  Children’s laughter, and their shining eyes filled with excitement  returned.  Cozy conversations lingered until hunger pangs reminded us to prepare for supper.

     Then off for home again.  Down I laid to read and quiet my mind before going to sleep.  But, there were more negative words before bed.  We were soon exhausted from the flurry.

     When I awoke this morning to overcast skies, they mirrored my mood.  I was tempted to turn over and ignore the Spirit’s call to walk higher than the low that I found myself in.
     

     I wrestled back and forth until my best self won.  I showered, dressed and willed myself to rise up and defeat this spirit of gloom that wanted to steal my passion for my family and to keep me absent from the presence of our congregation.

     “Go on,” prodded the Holy Spirit.  “Come and delight in me.  Remember, your family situation will turn around when you all do your part to remember who you are and who you are meant to be.”

     Such a petty battle, as I look back on it today.  I mostly just wanted to pout and wallow in self pity a bit more.  Then, how much better I felt, just with a change of heart.  Cheerfulness quietly crept in and this heart of mine thrilled at the opportunity to worship and to walk into the King’s presence as a conquering warrior.

     This is what I might have missed.  This synergy of hearts yielded up and extolling God’s character in the midst of a variety of ups and downs we all experience in life.  It was like I had come in blindly and then put on the perfect prescription that allowed me to look up into the glorious heavens to comprehend God’s infinite might and beauty.

     Adjust my posture oh Lord.  Keep my lowered head facing forward and turned up with the expectancy of a birthday girl looking over all of the decorations, the lit cake, and table piled high with a colorful assortment of gifts.  Just as the family members come from near and far to express to her that she is very dear, you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit surround me in celebration.

     “All of creation I made for you to enjoy.”  I soaked up these love words whispered into my heart.

     “All of my love I extend in forgiveness that allows fresh starts.”  Oh, how I've needed to wipe the slate clean--time after time.

     “So, remove the stopper from your soul and let my love splash all over and around you.  Don’t be flustered anymore.  Rather, expel Trouble and be free of his tricks that spoil your play.”

     I understood and gazed up into His eyes.  My face relaxed into a soft smile.

     “You see what power you have within you?” he continued. “Simply by refuting a lie with the simple truth that I am always here with you, look at the transformation.  I care about your concerns and I will prevail...so can you.” 
     

     A quiet breeze drifted in and softly caressed my cheek as if to say, “There you go.  That’s my girl.”

     I sat and took it all in, not wanting to break the enchantment of this tryst.  The sweetness of His peace and contentment is where I wanted to reside.

     “I take heart and gain strength.  I run like a deer.  I feel like I’m king of the mountain”...again.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

WHY BLOG?

      
     No matter what your vocation, no matter where you are located, you can reach the world by "speaking out" and letting others in on meditations.  Write down the thoughts that have passed between you and God in your quiet time. 

     

     I started in 2010, writing some poems, then short little stories of everyday happenings and the response at first was just from family, then some acquaintances and friends. Now, I have a readership in over a dozen countries. I talk to people on airplanes, in airports, shopping, churches, and on travels. Many times, they want my blog address and I hand them my card with the Blogspot link as well as the link to our Tumblr newsletter for Mission Costa Rica.

     
      From an unknown teacher who retired to write a few books, I have now evolved into an author of a blog with over 11,000 hits.    
     I pray that God will take my message of a loving God and Father to hearts that need to hear that He is real and cares for them in the midst of their circumstances. 
     I am thankful that though my budget does not allow me to travel all over the world, and my language is limited to English with a bit of Spanish, that my God can use the technology today so that readers can translate my stories into their own languages in order to hear how God interacts in my life and can in anyone else's as well.

     
     Use your voice. Reach out to the multitudes parched for a grain of hope and truth that they can rely on to get them through one more day. 
     Yes, pray for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted, but also speak to them and to their tormentors as well and throw them a rope with a life ring attached.  They are all God's children.

     
     Share your stories with others.  Tell who God is to you in your daily life. The wonders, the miracles, and His words spoken to you. Share these treasures with your family, your friends, your congregation, your acquaintances, and also cast your jewels out to the world. Don't hoard it where they will collect dust, or will rust, but scatter them out there to be useful and to lift up the spirits of others in the kingdom of God.


     I don't want to wait until my death for my loved ones to search out and discover a few scribbled notes in my Bible as they try to figure out what the meaning of my life was to share at a memorial service. I want to shout it at the rooftops! And today, the rooftops are found on the web.