Saturday, August 31, 2013

God or Fear?

Psalm 46 is one of my favorite pieces of Scripture because it contains one of the first verses I ever memorized, “He says, ‘Be still and know that I AM God.’” (10) But this morning I was grabbed by the first 3 verses,

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging…

What struck me was the structure…it seems like a fragment…an incomplete thought…(sorry, I am a grammar enthusiast : ) But seriously, the way verses 2 and 3 read leave them hanging, almost as if there is something missing… When you read them, you are like, “yeah, yeah…though all these scary stuff may happen and our worlds may be destroyed…what? WHAT?” It needs an ending! It needs to reiterate the initial affirmation about how “we will not fear” because by the end of verse 3, we’ve already forgotten it!

Maybe it’s just me…but I don’t see verse 4 as a logical next sentence to go after verse 3:

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.

Once again…it is possibly entirely just me. But this morning, after I read this passage I felt as if God in His infinite Wisdom inspired the Psalmist to structure the verses this way as an invitation for those who would read them to finish the thought by personalizing them with their own stories and struggles. I see it as a ‘fill in the blanks’ type of exercise where we are to complete the sentence on our own. It is our choice. We choose how we are going to deal with such catastrophes as illustrated in the verses.

Are we going to reiterate the initial statement and affirm: “ Therefore we will not fear…?” Or once we see the earth giving way, the mountains falling, the waters roaring and foaming and everything quaking we’ll choose to crumble as well and be swallowed up by the pit of darkness and hopelessness? 

What we do is up to us. The answer to the “what, what?” is in us. It is our choice.

God, Himself, tells us what to do, “Be still and let me be God!” Translation: “DO NOT BE AFRAID!” Though all these horrible and terrifying things are possibly going to happen to you, “I AM your Refuge and Strength, your ever-present help in times of trouble.  TRUST ME!” 

 The decision to believe His Word, however, remains in us. The choice is ours. What are we going to choose? God or fear?

Friday, August 30, 2013

A River at the Zoo?

Change can bring about much anxiety. I don’t like change unless it is change I have pursued myself. I don’t like imposed change…the type life throws at you without warning. I really dislike that. I get it from my Father. He was a MAJOR control freak and he did not deal well with “un-authorized” change. Everything had to be just “like so” which meant, it had to be just the way he liked it, no exceptions. He built our childhood home in 1961 and kept it the same all throughout the decades until the day he died. The same furniture he bought when he and my Mom got married in 1955 was still there last December. Nothing ever changed in that house, right down to the coffee pot…yes, it was the same old one that they got as a wedding gift…the thing is a true relic.

Change brought a lot of anxiety to my Father’s spirit. He knew how he wanted things, and he couldn’t handle people/life/God messing with his plans. He was fortunate that God allowed him to keep his neat little order for most of his days on this earth. But when big changes happened, when my Mom fell ill, his world crumbled. He didn’t know how to handle it. He was a wreck. It was sad to see him struggle with the certainty of the unknown. I’m the same way. I want my little life to be preserved the way I like it. I don’t want anything to disturb it. But that is not what God wants for me/us. He doesn’t want us to be like icky, stinky, yucky stagnant water. He wants us to be like a river with a flowing current that promotes life inside of it and keeps its surrounding vibrant!

The problem is I don’t know how to be a river and flow…I am rigid and my limbs begin to break when the wind blows. And unlike my Dad, life has given me plenty of wind that has caused significant re-arranging. My life has not been the museum-like existence that my Father was able to enjoy. My life has so far been more like a zoo. And like the zookeepers, I spend my days bathing monkeys, reaching giraffes, pulling donkeys, and shoveling waste among many other fun activities. And then, there are the added bonuses of unexpected problems like illnesses and disease that cause some of the zoo exhibits to be closed for a while.

I’m not cut out for life at the zoo! Did God make a mistake?

No, of course not, God does not make mistakes. According to His purpose I am right where I am supposed to be and my life is just the way He planned it to be. He doesn’t want me to be like my Dad. He wants me to be like a river. Better yet, He wants me to be in Him, the River of Life, and flow towards that abundant life to which His children are called. The life where everything is possible because He is the current! Because He’s got us by His right hand...because He’s got us when we fall...because He mends our wounds and comforts our hearts.

He doesn’t want me to live the life that my Father lived. He wants to transform me into someone He could use for His purpose and His Kingdom plan, and for that I am humbled, honored and thankful, even if it means I have to be a river at the zoo : )

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8: 28

Linking with Be Simply Better

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

God's Holy Ground

I have spent the entire summer pondering the issue of fear. Health concerns that came up right at the beginning of the season have kept my anxiety high. Therefore, fear has been my constant companion. I am nervous about the many unknowns and my soul struggles to find rest…So the one strategy I’ve been using to cope with worry and fear has been meditating on Scriptures that exhort us to not be afraid.

Today is one of such days where I seek the comfort of Scripture to steady my heart. The good thing is that there are plenty of passages to choose from…that should be a hint, huh? One of the most obvert commands from God to His people is “Do not fear.”

My comfort today comes from Isaiah 41 where the prophet delivers God’s Word to his chosen ones.

I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41: 9b-10

In these verses I hear the Lord asking me to remember that:

1. He chose me!

2. He won’t forget about me

3. He is with me

4. His presence is enough to calm any fears

5. He provides what I need, including strength to overcome any situation

6. He got me by the hand.

The Lord is clear, I need not fear, but I continue to be afraid. Why? What else do I need? Well, I need to remember one more thing, that the battle is in the spiritual realm and that there are forces that try to snatch me/us from the hand of the Most High. I need then to be aware and to tell the enemy to stand behind. I must summon the power of the victory of Christ in me to smash the deceiver’s head, stomp it with my foot, and claim my place as a Child of God.

I know it may sound radical to some, but to me, spiritual warfare is real. It is the enemy’s attempt to make us weak and to drive us away from God. But our Faithful Father is there telling us

For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you. Isaiah 41: 13

So I pray that my ears may not be closed to the voice of the One Who Chose me. After all, I don’t need to be strong. It is His strength what carries me through. I will continue seeking comfort in His Word, and I will aggressively tell the enemy to stand back because where I stand is God’s Holy Ground!

Linking with Simply Helping HimWhole Hearted Home

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Love Conquers All

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16: 33

This is the Bible verse that came to mind as I woke up the morning of our nineteenth wedding anniversary.

Who would have thought we’d last this long? Our parents probably didn’t. Seeing their children marry into very different cultures must have troubled them immensely. Distance, language, background differences constituted barriers that were seemingly too high and hard to overcome. Of course, Dan and I didn’t see any trouble. We didn’t think of the challenges. We thought love would conquer it all.

Marriage has taught me, however, that love doesn’t mean we would have no trouble. It means that once trouble arrives, we won’t be shaken. This is only possible if that love is God. We won’t be shaken if we stand on the Solid Ground, on the Rock of our salvation. He has overcome the world, and as we invite Him into our marriage, He turns us into overcomers who can endure the storms, the fires and the mountains of life.

The knowledge of this truth gives us His peace, the peace that transcends the circumstances and allows us to take heart!

My parents are not here anymore to see us overcome the barriers they once feared; but I trust one day we will be able to tell them the story of how Love did conquer it all.

Linking with, The Character Corner

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bible Verse to Remember Not to be Afraid

I will hang on to His hand and when the enemy attacks me by rushing the chill of fear down my spine, I will claim His Word

I will trust His promise and I will grip His hand, for He is Our Faithful Lord, and He will not disappoint me or anyone who puts his/her trust in Him.  I cling to Him and claim His victory over death.

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15: 55-57

Sunday, August 25, 2013

An Unexpected Gift

Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger. Psalm 8: 2

On the Sunday before I begin a new semester, I was called in to work for a couple of hours administering some placement tests to incoming freshmen. I KNEW nobody would show up, so I reluctantly said yes to what looked to me as a wasted afternoon. When I came in, I realized a student worker had been assigned to work with me to help me out (good thing, since I was new to this testing system.)

Well, the first hour went by and only 4 students showed up to take the test.

The student worker was very talkative so after the last students left the classroom, we began to chat. Little did I know that the Lord had me in for a HUGE treat!

After listening to this young woman talking about her desire to travel and learn Spanish and all her dreams of graduation and jobs, I found out she was a Christian! Without me realizing it, we were involved into a deep and rewarding conversation about faith and Our Great God! We talked about families, marriage, adoption, motherhood, Christian womanhood, and the awesomeness of Christ. It was unreal!

“I am so glad to know that you are not neglecting your Spiritual life! It gives me hope…most of the kids around here don’t listen to the voice of God…they don’t want to have anything to do with Him…” I said in a melancholic tone.

“Well, I tell you what,” she replied, “that is the enemy trying to convince us of that…however, the truth is that college kids are searching for God. They might not even know it, but they are desperately seeking for Him! They look for Him in drugs, in alcohol, in sex, in partying…but they are truly searching for God! They really want Him in their lives. But the devil makes us believe that kids don’t want God in their lives, so we don’t talk to them about Him…!”


I was slapped on the face by this tiny, petite, young undergraduate girl. I looked at her and said, “You are absolutely right,” the eloquence of her words left me completely speechless.

I looked at the clock on the computer screen and realized we were done. No more students had showed up so we wrapped up and walked out the building. “It was great talking to you,” she said with a bright smile. “It was a joy!” I replied. I got in my car and I praised God for the gift. I would have never expected that the last Sunday afternoon of my summer break would be so refreshing. It was the farthest thing from a waste of time I could think of.

There is always hope in the Lord’s ways!

Linking with, The Better Mom

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Crowded Sidewalk

Direct my footsteps according to your word...
Psalm 119:133a

A new semester is about to start and our new town of residence has suddenly become alive. The sleepy sidewalks of the summer have turned into hubs of congestion and activity…people walking everywhere! Bright-eyed freshmen walk about downtown with a mixture of excitement and fear reflected in their eyes. Older kids walk with an air of knowledge that borders in arrogance. Parents walk with melancholic eyes, unsure of what the new semester will bring, and nervous about the future of their kids. The rest of us just walk in suspense, hoping we don’t get trampled on and avoiding over-packed eateries.

I take a step back and see my own two sons walking among them too, and I can’t help but wondering where their walking will take them in a few short years. They are still too young for me to worry about them leaving for college, but as we all know, in a blink, the years will disappear and I’ll be one of those parents walking unsure.

I look at my own walk too and I see my steps taking me to the uncharted roads of the unknown.

Scripture gives us “hikers” a breath of fresh air, though. Psalm 121 is a Psalm of Ascents, the quintessential Psalm of those who are “walking.” This is one of the Psalms that the people of Israel would sing as they walked to Jerusalem for their yearly pilgrimages to the Temple for the different celebrations.

Today, it reminds me not to walk downcast, but to lift up my eyes to Him to see the hope that comes from the knowledge of His presence among us “hikers” of this world. It reminds me that He will take care of His own, from the college freshman, to the anxious parents and the new generations still to come. He watches over His people always, for He does not sleep nor slumber.

I get back to reality and as I still walk in the midst of a crowded sidewalk I praise the Lord for His protection for I know He watches over our coming and going, both now and forever more!

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore. Psalm 121

Linking with: Be Simply Better

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Scary Beginnings

“Beginnings are always scary…and endings are usually sad…” I heard this line in a movie a while ago and it stuck with me. I’ve actually used it quite a bit since. As a matter of fact I used it this morning with my older son as he is going through a few beginnings of his own.

After living his whole young 11-year-old life in the same place, going to the same school, seeing the same people and going to the same church, he is dealing with the beginning of a new life in a new town, new house, new faces, and the scariest of all…a new school where he knows no one…sigh…He doesn’t like to admit it, but he is mighty scared, and I am too. My heart sinks just thinking about his first day of school. I have had several melt downs late at night when the fear of imagining my dear boy going through something uncomfortable and probably painful overcomes me.

We keep talking to him about being friendly to others and keeping an open minded attitude; giving people a chance and trusting Christ’s guiding hand at all times. “You are never truly alone, Jesus is with you always!” We tell him/us…but the fear persists. He is nervous and due to his stoic attitude, doesn’t want to talk about it. I am nervous, and due to my, I-should-pretend-I-am-not-in-front-of-him attitude, don’t know what to do to help him…sigh…

This morning, however, Dan asked our son if he was nervous about going to the new school. Of course Grant answered with a quick “no.” Dan then told him that it is OK to be nervous. He also told him that we were scared and nervous as well. He went on telling him about how change is inevitable and regardless of our age, we will constantly have to face new things/situations. He gave him some examples of older people going through change in their lives so he wouldn’t think it was just empty words. Grant listened intently and silently. That’s when I used my borrowed line. We heard no harsh/sarcastic replies from him in response (which usually happens with Mr. Grant Contrary) so I took that as a good sign.

Showing vulnerability in front of our children may be a good thing after all. It teaches them that parents are, indeed, humans! Being honest with them about our own feelings and struggles teaches them about reliance in the One whose strength makes it all possible in spite of our weaknesses. And I pray it teaches him that he can come to us and to the Almighty to pour out his heart with his issues at any time.

As the first day of school approaches really fast for my sons, and my own jitters increase, I’m going to try to remember to trust in the Lord, for He protects His own. And I’m going to try to remember that it is just another beginning, and it is supposed to be scary…soon it will become an ending…but that’ll be a different post.

Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge. Psalm 62: 8

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Empty Bedrooms

En empty bedroom has to be among some of the saddest things in life.  That must be why some of us have the tendency to fill up with junk the empty bedrooms in our houses.  We turn our empty bedrooms into catch-all rooms to pretend that someone really messy occupies them.  Hmmm

I still remember when I was a young girl and my sister left home to go to college.  Boy, was that a sad moment in my life.  I would stare at her empty bed knowing that life as I knew it had forever ended.

The bedroom my parents shared for almost fifty years sits empty miles away today too...Life as I knew it, has forever ended.

Today, I have an empty bedroom in my house once again, and it is truly sad...I can't help walking by that bedroom and looking at it, longing to see it filled with life, only to see it completely bare.

This time, however, I am not going to clutter my recently emptied room.  Instead, I am going to fill it up with the hope of a return to occupancy.  That empty bedroom is going to stay pristine, ready to receive anyone at a moment's notice!  Because with an empty room comes the anticipation of a visit, and I'm going to hang on to that thought.  

Although an empty bedroom may be among the saddest things...I am going to think of it as a promise.

"Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.…John 14: 1-3

P.S.:  Buen viaje, Rosi...pronto regreso...

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Solitary Bench

A few Sundays ago I heard my Pastor talking about when he was a younger man and had lost something/one who was very precious to him at the time. He told us how he would go sit on a solitary bench by the Niagara River day after day for a long while. It was at that bench that He heard God’s voice telling him, “I am enough.”

That image moved me deeply and it made me think how God often meets His children on a solitary place. He meets us at a point where our fears are heightened and we feel most vulnerable. It is on that lonely “bench” that the River of Life goes by, sprinkling us with the Living Water, telling us that He is, indeed, all we need, and inviting us to jump in.

It is on that solitary bench, when there’s no one else around, when we have seemingly lost it all, that God speaks to us and shows us that His Grace is really sufficient. It is when we don’t know what to do or say, that Jesus becomes real. It is when we are at our weakest point that Christ shows up and tells us that His power is made perfect in our frailty. It is when our fears are heightened that He, Himself, reveals His radiance to us so we can rest. It is in the loneliest hour that we hear Him ask us: “Aren’t I enough?”

I am convicted by His question for if I am honest I have to say, no… I have to admit to myself (He knows this already) that I have other lords in my life. But with the conviction comes the promise of freedom for it isn’t until I am faced with my own weakness that I can see His face, the face of Truth, the Truth that sets me free. It is when I admit that it is OK to not be strong enough that He shows me that He is! Therefore, it is when I become aware of my own weakness, and I boast about it, that His power rests on me.

Like my Pastor met a Living Christ on that park bench years ago, I am meeting Him today in the midst of my fear. And that same God of my Pastor says to me today, “I am enough for you too.”

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12: 9

Linking with The Character Corner

True Freedom Is Found In Truth

I am tired of being afraid. Some days and especially some nights I feel consumed by worry and an unsettle sensation in my stomach paralyzes me. Instead, I want to be consumed by the fire of God which burns through the thick brush and weeds that entangle me so I can move freely again. I want to be free, like He promised. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5: 1) Well, I want to experience that freedom permanently!

I know of it in my mind. Now, I need to know it in my soul and trust it in my heart. How do I do that? I need to remember the truth: "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8: 31-32 Then, like Pilate I ask: “What is truth?” (John 18: 38) This question that has puzzled philosophers over the millenniums takes us full circle back to Christ: Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18: 37) In reality we see how Jesus answered Pilate’s question even before he asked it.

-“what is truth?”

-“I AM Truth!”

No wonder Jesus didn’t reply to Pilate, there was no need for it. Jesus had already replied. Jesus had replied right before and way before, when He said: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” John 14: 6 Obviously Pilate had not been listening then and was not listening now while having Truth right in front of his face, staring back into his eyes. Pilate was not on the side of truth; therefore, he could not hear Jesus’ voice, which in turn is truth itself. It is a marvelous and unbreakable circle!

This is the truth that will set me free. Knowing Truth, knowing Jesus, will set me free…nothing else.

 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 
2 Corinthians 3: 17

He has made me/us free! Let us not waste this freedom by remaining enslaved to our old yokes. We have been brought into the freedom of being children of God. Let us rejoice in that truth. We are free from the law of sin and death! We are free, indeed! We are free and in that freedom we realize that the same is found in surrendering to Him who sets us free. Yet another circular motion, we are set free from sin and eternal death by becoming His!

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. Romans 6: 22

Why fear then? Circumstances do not determine my destiny. From God’s perspective, I am already there. The struggles of this life are just that…life. We have to go through them. But we can use them in a productive way. We can use them as our spiritual offering which we lay down at the foot of the cross as our sacrifice and thank offering for our undeserved freedom.

I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I am tired of it. I am going to trust the Truth which has already set me free!

Linking with The Better MomMoms The WordThe Alabaster Jar

Friday, August 16, 2013

Feeling Needy Today? Join the Club!

As I contemplate the approaching of yet another surgery, I find myself falling into a deep state of neediness. I need comforting. I need reassurance. I need certainty. I need listening ears. I need loving arms. And the list goes on and on and on. I am finding my neediness annoying even to myself. I don’t want to be so weak. I want to be strong. I don’t want to repel people because they can’t take me being so needy. But I can’t stop. The dimension of my needs is wider, longer and deeper that I had anticipated. A couple of weeks ago, however, I read in my devotional these words by Beth Moore which brought me hope and a different perspective: “God is the only one who is not repelled by the depth and length of our needs.”

Remembering this truth helps me exhale. I don’t have to be guarded with God. He knows exactly what is happening to me at any moment so it is not news to Him that I am at a needy state. And He can take my moaning and complaining too. He has a lot of experience dealing with whiners. Take the Israelites, for example…boy, they certainly mastered the art of whining while roaming around in the desert. “We’re hungry!” “We’re thirsty!” “We want meat!” “The enemy is too big!” “We are too small!” One can really see here how patience is, indeed, a main component of God’s character.

What does God do when we find ourselves drown by our needs? He provides. Just as God provided not only His very presence before them, but also godly leaders to the Israelites all throughout their desert wandering, He provides what we need in our hour of need. He provides His Word to find comfort. He provides His loving arms to find rest. He provides an awareness of His presence to give us strength. He also provides prayer warriors and friends who help us carry our burden.

What does God do when we find ourselves at a defining moment in our struggles? He encourages us, just as He encouraged the Israelites when they were about to finally cross the Jordan to face their destiny. At that moment, God spoke His words to His people through Moses in His commendation to Joshua by saying:

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31: 8

These are words to live by every day, but especially in those days that we are facing our needs, our fears, our weaknesses and our struggles.

So now, when I am at my point of most heightened neediness…I will take refuge in Him. I will remember that there is a place where I can vent all I want without scaring anybody away. I can let out my deepest needs in the place where mercy meets me. He will deliver me while tending to my deepest needs and strengthening my soul. Praise be to God! Jehovah Rapha, the Healer…Jehovah Jireh, The Provider.

Linking with Be Simply BetterFaith Filled Friday

Thursday, August 15, 2013

“What if you don’t want me anymore?” My son Dylan asked me the other day as we were trying to take an afternoon nap. Being an adoptive mother has taught me the need to be aware of Dylan’s special emotional needs. One of the most difficult of such needs to deal with is the fact that he cannot help but to occasionally feel unwanted. Once in a while, out of the blue, he’ll say or do things that will prompt us to show and tell him that we do love him and that no matter what, we are not going to stop loving him…that we are not going to stop wanting him…Apparently, no matter how young they are, children who have gone through abandonment develop issues in that department which can cause them to always have a hidden fear for the possibility that they may be not wanted; therefore, abandoned.

“How do I know you want me for real, when my “real Mother and Father” didn't?” That’s the question that lingers in their hearts and minds for a good part of their lives. My job is to make sure, no matter what, that I constantly reassure him of my unconditional love.

Just like Dylan, sometimes I also wonder why God would love me…why He would want me…

He who is Holy. He who is Perfect. He who is the Most High. How and why could He possibly want me as part of His family? Some of the members of my “real” family don’t even want me around, so…why would He? I have no idea. I bring nothing to the table. I contribute nothing. I am needy, weak, intolerant, prideful, etc, etc, etc…I am not but a burden. There is no logical reason for God wanting me as His daughter. Would you give your life for someone who means nothing to you?

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5: 8 

That is the miracle of Grace. We did nothing to deserve such an expression of unconditional love. We can do nothing to pay Him back. He paid it all and all to Him we owe. Salvation is a gift. It is the gift of Grace and our reaction to it is gratitude and praise in worship of the One Who Saves us.

I am deeply loved! I am wanted! He died for me. This is what I must remember every time I feel the hurt of abandonment fears. I will never be abandoned by Him who died for me. Regardless of the depth of my neediness or weakness or imperfections, He loves me enough to have thought of me even before the creation of the world.

I hugged Dylan tightly and thought to myself…if I who am a sinner know how to love my son unconditionally, now how much more the One who chose to die for me to bring me into His family would love me. Praise His Precious Name!

Linking with Intentional Me

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Care Free Day at the County Fair

Sometimes we all need a care-free day to leave our troubles and stress behind if only for a while. I am in great need of days like that…when I can put my burden aside, breathe in fresh air and smile. So, yesterday I grabbed my sons and we headed out to the County Fair!

I have to admit that even though I lived in a country-setting for years, and I have the utmost respect and love for farmers…I am not much of a farm girl, at all…neither are my sons. However, we do eagerly await with great anticipation the fair every year! So when I announced to them that it was time to go, I did not have to round them up like reluctant cattle…as it is usually the case every time we need to get out of the house. I said, “we’re leaving,” and before I paused to say the rest of my usual prior-to-departure-pronouncements, they were out of sight and heading down to the garage.

The Lord gave us a beautiful day for the fair…not too cold, not too hot, with just enough clouds to protect us from the sun and enough breeze to keep us cool all day long. We arrived before most of the good stuff was open (by that I mean food booths, of course), so we went down to visit the animals first.

We maneuvered through a great variety of different types of … how shall I say it …. stuff you don’t want to step on which was all over the ground...and we looked in wonder at the cows, goats, pigs, sheep and horses which made for an amazing symphony of sounds and smells that reminded us of some of our family gatherings! (My older son told me that the cows’ mooing reminded him of the sounds I make when I’m annoyed…the nerve!) 

We moved on and saw all kinds of neat stuff...It was great watching a young girl ridding her horse saddle-less and shoe-less…so graceful and fearless! And some animals even posed for my pictures!

It was finally time to eat. We took our time so we would be ready for the rides without having the inconvenience of half-digested food in our system…never a good thing when you are planning to spin around like a crazy chicken for the next few hours. And spin we did! After a while, I had to sit on the grass and let the boys ride on their own…I was done! To be young! If I had left him, my older son would still be there ridding the Spider for all he cared! I got dizzy just looking at it. But unfortunately, after a wonderful day, we had to go home…not before having a delicious funnel cake, though! 

We got back in the car and drove home with beautiful memories dancing in our minds…Nothing transcendental to think about…just filled with gratitude to a Loving God who provides just what we need when we need it for the glory of His Blessed Name. Sometimes He takes away…but O does He give in abundance too! Praise be to Him always! Until next year, good bye County Fair!

Linking with Whole Hearted Home

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Gift Is that We Get to Say Yes!

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matthew 16: 24

“Leading is overrated…be a follower.” I read that clever line the other day at someone’s blog. Her purpose was, of course, to get people to follow her musings to increase traffic in her blog. However, it made me think of something completely unrelated which my husband and I were discussing on Sunday on our way home back from church.

Dan and I were talking about Spiritual gifts and how sometimes we become so stressed out in our feelings of inadequacy for believing the lie that we don’t have any gifts that we miss the point.

And what’s the point? The point is that the gift is that we get to hear Him saying “follow me.”

If we remember…what was the one thing that Jesus told His disciples when He was recruiting His unlikely “band of brothers”?

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said… Matthew 4: 19

Over and over Jesus told each of them, “follow me.” Get to know me. Love me. Love my children.

He didn’t call the disciples because they were the most gifted individuals. He knew they weren’t. He knew they were sinners. But He called them nonetheless. Then, He equipped them. 

The disciples said yes to Jesus and spent the next three years by His precious side learning about the Kingdom of God and above all, getting to know Him…learning to love Him…and learning to love His beloved. At the appointed time, the Holy Spirit came upon them so Christ would be in them always, even after He had ascended into heaven, and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit they became fully enabled and equipped to do God’s work on earth. (Acts 2: 4)

What this means to us is that the true gift is the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. And because we who are His children have this priceless gift, another gift comes right with it…the gift that we get to hear Him saying: “follow me.” And from that, yet another gift…the gift that we get to say “yes, Lord. I will follow You.” 

The gift is that we get to follow Him and in doing so we get to know Him, love Him and love His beloved. And as our heart becomes a willing follower, He will lead us where He wants us.

So I guess that clever blogger was correct, after all. We are to become followers. Followers of the Way, the Truth and the Life! He will let us know what to do once we get on the road with Him.

I'm linking with Time Warp WifeSimply HelpingHim

Monday, August 12, 2013

Blazing Fire

Call it fires, storms, valleys, mountains, deserts, cancer, loneliness, joblessness, poverty, brokenness, loss, or whatever you may; sometimes we must go through them. Many times God in His infinite power delivers us from some of them as we see them approach. Many other times, however, in His infinite wisdom, God decides that we need to go through them. And there is yet one last time when He, in His infinite love, delivers us into His arms by it.

God has delivered me from most of my personal fires…Now; however, He has chosen to make me walk through one. I am using the metaphor of fire at this time since it reminds me of the time when God appointed three of His most faithful followers to be in a not so metaphorical fire. The fire these three would have to be in was no sparkle. It was a full-flesh, Old-Testament-grade-fiery furnace! The incident was when The Most High allowed the Babylonian King to put Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into his special, super-hot, blazing inferno for not obeying his ego-maniac’s new command to bow down to a gigantic statue of himself at the sound of the trumpet and other such instruments.

The response that the three friends gave the pagan king when he asked them one last time to bow down to him was one for the ages:

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3: 16-18

In other words, “No way, Jose!” We rather die a horrible death than do what you said and betray our faith. Our earthly lives are not worth risking our eternal salvation. What did God do? He rewarded their faith and used what developed as one of the best and most vivid examples of how He is with us even in the scariest of circumstances. “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3: 25 Well, yes, turning the furnace 7 times hotter than usual and literally dropping the men in it didn’t make any difference. The Most High God was not going to have His beloved scorched by King Nebuchadnezzar…no way Jose!

The fact that God did not deliver His faithful ones from this fire, but allowed them to be dropped into it after such a demonstration of their trust and reliance on The Almighty may seem like a reckless move made by a God who is Love. God’s love, however, extends beyond the confines of time, space and dimension. Therefore, every decision He makes has eternal repercussions… Hence the fact that we are still learning crucial lessons from this incident which occurred a few millenniums ago.

The lesson for me today is to know that even though God did not deliver me from my current fire, I can be assured that He will be with me inside of it, walking with me, undoing my ties and breaking me free from my bondage of fear and anxiety during my time in the furnace. And the result of it all will be praises to Him, just like the unlikely source of this amazing response:

Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God…no other god can save in this way.” Daniel 3: 28-29b

Linking with The Better Mom

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Best Antidote Against Worrying: Filling Your Mind With All Things God

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4: 8

“If you are worrying, you are not praising, and if you are praising, you are not worrying.” These were the wise and inspired words a dear friend wrote me back in reply to my nervous ramblings about doctor appointments, test results and such unknowns. I remember her telling me that before, but the impact of the thought at the precise moment left me speechless. It was exactly what God wanted me to remember at that exact time.

Praise His Name, for He is Elyada, the God who Knows, and He knows what we need and He provides it, for He is Jehovah Jireh and He is always on time.

He has reminded me that it is a matter of surrendering to Him and allowing Him to take control over my thoughts and my frame of mind. It is a matter of intentionally choosing to fill my spirit with Him and surrounding myself with all things good, all things God. And what better way to do that than praising Him without ceasing for His presence and power, for He is El Shaddai, the Lord Almighty.

So today, a day before an important doctor’s appointment where I’ll get significant news, I will praise Him. As the twinge of nervousness begins to creep up my spine, the words of my friend will flood my brain and I will Praise! I don’t want to worry. It is useless. It changes nothing. Its only purpose is to blur our vision and shift our focus. It is a weapon of the enemy whose greatest desire is that we distrust God and whose greatest victory is to make us turn our eyes away from our Savior.

Today I resolve not to fall for the trap once again. So I will Praise God the Healer, Jehovah Rapha, for He sees me, loves me and has my name written on His blessed palm. I’m only as far from His heart as the distance of His outstretched arm. 

Blessed be His Holy Name! My Lord, Adonai, El Elyon, Sovereign over all.

Linking with Be Simply Better

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will. Ephesians 1: 4-5

A couple of days ago Dylan had a particularly bad day behaviorally-wise (unwise-rather). So I took him for a late afternoon walk. After being walking for about 40 minutes or so, he asked me, “Mama, do you wish you’d had me?” I pondered the question for an instant, and asked him to please repeat it. “Do you wish you’d had me?” he repeated. Do you mean if I’m glad I have you? I rephrased it to see if I could understand his real point. “Yes,” he answered with bright eyes, indicating that he was happy I had “got” what he had meant.

Dylan often seeks reaffirmation that he is loved and that he is wanted. As he is becoming more aware of his reality as an adopted child, he wants to make sure that such reality doesn’t mean he is a lesser type of son. I understood this to be one of those instances so I replied: “Of course I am happy you are mine!” “I picked you, you know?” “Out of many kids we could have adopted, we picked you because we loved you the first time we saw your picture and heard about you.” His face lit up since I believe this was the first time he had heard the fact that he had been chosen.

“Just like God does...” I continued, “He adopts us to be His children.” “Like Jesus, right?” Dylan commented. “Yes, you are right, Jesus was adopted by Joseph when he was here on earth, but God also adopts each of us whom He picks to be His children.” “Wow, God has a very big family!” Dylan replied. “Yes, He does! And we are all going to be together in Heaven one day, enjoying all our brothers and sisters,” I added. “And we’ll get to see God every time we want,” Dylan pointed out as he was already starting to walk away, distracted by some rocks alongside the path.

I looked at my little boy and I praised God for this chance to have him with me. The privilege of experiencing the miracle of adoption in a most personal level has allowed me the opportunity to see first-hand the truth of the unconditional love God lavishes on us. It has nothing to do with us or with what we do or how we behave…it has to do with Him and His sovereign will. It is a gift that we get to be part of His family and bask in His love. And the best thing is, nothing can separate us from this Divine kind of love…

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 38-39

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Littlest Part Plays a Big Role

Our Sunday School teacher’s object lesson last week was a simple and quick one, but one that has stayed with me still. He handed pieces of a flashlight to different people as he said how sometimes we may feel as if we are the littlest and most insignificant member of the church because we believe we have nothing to offer. The point was to illustrate how we all bring something to the table which is crucial for the well-being and efficient functioning of our body of believers. We all have gifts, and when we think our gifts are not usable or important, we are sorely mistaken. 

All of us who had parts of the flashlight were to put it together, which was interesting because, of course, we couldn't figure it out and then the teacher had to “teach” us how to do it right…gift of teaching... : ) Then he took the flashlight into his hands, turned it on and it still didn't work…it was missing the littlest part…the tiny bulb. "What if the one with the light bulb had decided that his part wasn't worth anything and he’d rather hide it…?"  Hmm...

It is not until the one with the littlest part decides to offer it for the service of the church that the flashlight would able to function properly and bring light to the world!

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12: 4-8

Grace has been given to each of us; therefore, we all have a purpose in God’s plan. Let’s say yes, and have Him lead us in His path of service. Let’s step out and express our willingness to plug ourselves into the outlet of the church. After all, “to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12: 7) It is by answering the call, answering it with a yes and by presenting our Spirit-given gifts as an offering for the use of God's purpose and for the common good that we’ll find out what we are made for. Who knows? We may discover we are the light bulb!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Does Greener Grass Happen Magically?

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 
Philippians 2: 12-13

Very recently we moved to a new house in a pretty nice development. After living in a more country-rural setting for many years, this has been quite the adjustment. The biggest change has been facing the reality that the grass is literally greener on the other side of the fence…

Previously, we lived in one acre of rather wild and woodsy land where dandelions grow freely and weeds and grass cohabited together peacefully during spring and summer before they get covered by leaves and snow in autumn and spring. Now, however, it’s a different story. The smaller lawn only admits nice, green, well-manicured grass…

The previous owners didn' shall I say this politely…cared for the lawn much at all, so our yard sticks out like a sore pinky finger among the rest of the well-kept, bright-green “grasses” around. In simple terms, ours was really sorry looking when we moved in. 

I quickly realized the beauty of the scene didn't come magically. Our next door neighbor, for instance, is relentless! Armed with mower and trimmer, he faces the task with utmost tenacity, bravado AND frequency. Nothing better get on his way, or he’ll give it a clean shave! Then I found out that the neighbor on the back owns a landscaping service and that he often cares for the neighboring yards. 

We haven’t been able to bring our tractor here yet (yes, I did say tractor…) so when I saw our landscaping neighbor outside I went and talked to him about our situation. It was an education! After discovering the intricate lingo of yard-care-products involved in creating and maintaining a good looking lawn…sigh…I said yes to him taking care of ours for a while. I was tired of our yard being the least green around.

It only took a few weeks of our grass being at the care of professional hands when I began to see the difference. My husband, did too…in the budget! It takes time, effort and money to get the yard looking as green as the one on the other side of the fence!

So it is not that I want to keep up with the proverbial “Joneses” (though the Joneses I know have a pretty charmed life : ) LOL! But I just want to do the best I can with what God has given me. I want to offer Him my very best in return for what He has so graciously allowed me to manage while on this earth. I want to be a good steward. Not just of my yard, but of all the gifts He decided to present me with. He endowed me with those for a purpose, and I want to fulfill such purpose to the best of my ability. How do I do that? I truly believe all I need “to do” is say yes! He will do the rest. Even if I have NO clue what my gift(s) is/are, my part is to have a willing heart. He will lead the way.

Funny how the brain works, huh? I don’t even know how I ended here from thinking about my yard? The Holy Spirit does work in mysterious ways, indeed! The one thing I do know is that next time I feel like the grass is greener on the other side of the fence I will remember that it is not by magic…it is by the product of a significant investment of effort, dedication and resources. So if I want mine to look just as green, I must get off my back and do something about it…I have been gifted with abilities that will promote the beauty of my lawn…the ability of not being shy about going over our monthly budget : ) Likewise, I have been blessed with spiritual gifts, and I don’t want to be lazy. I want to get off my back and discover what I get to do with them so I can diligently use them for His glory and for the service of my neighbors!

The LORD will fulfill [his purpose] for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever-- do not abandon the works of your hands. 
Psalm 138: 8

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Foolish Person Says There is no God...

Between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of 
the Spirit...
there is no choice, really...I pick the Spirit all the time!

The world says I am a fool for believing, but I know, however, that the wisdom of the world is not the wisdom of the Spirit.

Visit Psalms 14 & 53

Friday, August 2, 2013

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Waiting on the Lord

I have resolved to wait on the Lord as I am expecting news from the doctor. Now my question is: How do I do that? Well, the best resource anyone has when confronted with questions of the spirit is, of course, The Word. What does Scripture say about waiting on Christ? Psalm 33: 20-22 caught my attention while searching:

We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.

In this passage I see the relationship between waiting and hoping. We “wait in hope for the Lord” says the NIV, which is about the only version I could find that has this phrase. Waiting in hope…for we trust in his holy name. He is the true hope. We see it in His revealed will for us in Scripture and in our lives. He is Faithful and Good, so we are not mistaken to make Him our hope. He is worthy of our trust, so our hope in Him is justified. Therefore, waiting in hope is waiting in Him who is trustworthy.

Complex? Yes! So is God’s nature : )

From my situation, as I have decided to wait upon Him, I see I need to do the following:

-Realize that Christ is our true Hope: Romans 5: 1-5 And Hope does not disappoint!

-Realize that we hope in faith for the things that are unseen. Romans 8: 24-25

-As we hope for the unseen, we must wait patiently. Romans 8: 24-25

-And it is through the Holy Spirit that we are able to wait, for He is our strength in our weakness. Romans 8: 26

-For we live by the Spirit, by faith and not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5: 7 That’s how we achieve peace.

-It is all about the frame of our mind. Peace comes to those who have a mind governed by the Spirit. Romans 8: 6

-In order to have a mind governed by the Spirit we must not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Then we will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12: 2

-We transform and renew our mind by surrounding ourselves with the counsel of the saints, and all things holy and good. Psalm 1: 1-6

Challenging? Of course! Nothing worth our while comes easy. In every situation let’s remember that God is worried about our character rather than our comfort. So every time we are uncomfortable, we should praise Him for He is refining our character…and He usually uses fire for that, but His unfailing love remains in us even as we walk through the burning coals.

Linking with:  Be Simply Better