Monday, October 16, 2017

Ramblings On The Ebb And Flow Of Life

Hey Friend,

Three nights ago, my husband and I went out for a long overdue dinner date.  When the waitress, with the warm smile, asked if there was anything special we were celebrating, my husband and I just looked at each other and together we said, "Life."

We had come through two more surgeries for me, staring down cancer for the second time and beating it, shingles, a very scary hospitalization for our daughter, a job change, and several other challenges.  We were celebrating life and God's goodness in bringing us through all of this.  

My adult daughter and I have had a very strained relationship for over a year, but God brought us back together at the foot of her hospital bed.  When life or death hangs in the balance (and it did) you begin to realize what's worth holding onto and what needs letting go of.  Out of the ashes, God, who is in the business of restoration, is bringing beauty one step at a time. Praise.

The day after our dinner I was still on a high from feeling an immense amount of relief from the past several months.  I felt like I could breathe again for the first time.  I called my mom.  I knew her gentleman friend, whom I think the world of, was in the hospital and had a successful heart procedure.  I wanted to check in to find out how he was doing.  

I could tell in my mom's voice that something was wrong.  "They did a biopsy on a cyst they found in his kidney and his kidneys are in complete failure."  I realized I wasn't breathing, but was holding my breath.  She went on to tell me, with interspersed tears, that they brought him home that day and that Hospice had been called in.  It wouldn't be long. Wait a minute.  I thought he was going to be okay?!

I called him Sunday morning and told him how much I cared for him and how thankful I was for how kind and caring he is and how he has treated my mother so well for the past few years.  I told him what a blessing he is and that my life had been made better by knowing him. We chatted and laughed, but I knew it would probably be the last time I'd talk to him this side of heaven.  

When I hung up I went outside and stared up at the beautiful sunny blue sky with a hint of fall crispness in the air and wondered how I could be here, thankful to be alive, and he was lying on a bed waiting to die?  I was thankful that I knew He loved the Lord, but still, how can life vacillate like this I wondered.  The tears just flowed.  My heart ached for my mom who had lost my dad and now was losing another love in her life.

That afternoon, still with a heavy heart, I tried to get myself ready to go to a farm to table dinner with my son.  His girlfriend had recently broken up with him so he was still licking his wounds and I was the back up date.  I admit that my heart was sad and I just wasn't into going.

Then my son showed up, looking very handsome and had a specially picked bottle of wine.  On the ride, we talked about everything and nothing: girls, relationships, football, work, memories....for the 45 minute drive to an idealic farm setting.  

It was a very interesting mix of people.  Young, older, a couple from Brazil, a family from India; add in doctor, homemaker, research scientist, computer guru, registrar, farmer, clothing designer, retired vet....a real melange of society brought together to enjoy a delicious farm to table dinner.  

The candles flickered in the beautiful night as we talked about food (of course), music, cyber warfare and technology, home brewing beer (the farmer had a crop of hops), children, grandchildren, the story of how a couple met, different cultures, you name it.  

At one point I looked up and you could see all the stars against a completely black sky.  I risked it and said, "Wow just another wonderful display from an awesome Creator!"  Even the research scientist looked up and maybe contemplated a Creator God for a moment?

On the way home, my son and I turned on an XM radio station that played some of my favorite R & B music from the 80's that my friends and I used to go dancing to.  Well we had a fun little seat-dancing jam session in the car as we rolled down a country road.  

I texted my son thanking him for a wonderful evening. He texted back, "I had a blast mom.  Thanks for everything you do and have done for me.  I love you!!"  I went to bed with a contented heart, but woke up at 3 am. thinking about my mom's sweet friend.  

I went out and looked up at the night sky from our back porch.  There was Orion's belt constellation where it always is in the wee hours.  I thought of my adopted son in Christ and the Christian school I head up in the Middle East.  It was already daytime there, but I thought of how we are One under God's constant and loving gaze.  I thought of how their world is so different....so much more terrifying than ours.  It wasn't fair.  Christians are being murdered there everyday and I am basically safe in my suburban bubble. 

I can't explain it all.  Life, death, the mix of people, the mess of people, joy, pain, celebration, suffering, trust, fear, peace, worry.  It's all part of this world.  I realize more and more that I am merely a stranger passing through.  I will get to experience it all.

But, God.  He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  He always was and always will be. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the great "I am".  One day at the feet of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.  We will see clearly what, up until then, we only see dimly.  One day all of this will make sense.  It will all be worth it.  Why? because God promises that it will be, and I know from experience that I can trust Love's heart.  

So for now, I don't know what this day will hold.  But, I go forward knowing He has hold of my hand with His righteous right hand.  I don't have to know where I'm going.  I just need to know with whom I am journeying.   


What about you?  Where do you turn when life just doesn't make sense?  Where does your identity and your security come from?  What are you learning along this journey called "life"?

Dear Heavenly Father,  thank you for being the awesome Creator God that you are.  I thank you that you have created all this for our good pleasure.  Help me to accept that I won't always understand the ebb and flow of life, but that I can trust that YOU are sovereign and you are in control.  I know you are good and that I can trust your heart when I simply don't understand.  Help me to love well the people you put in my path, whether that be for an evening or a lifetime.  Let my life arrow always be pointing toward you.  Thank you for your love, grace, and mercy that you continue to pour out on me.  Thank you for taking my hand, and the lead in my life.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed....this post in honor and memory of Herbert H. Luce (9.5.'31 - 10.16.'17).  You are loved and will be missed...


Monday, October 9, 2017

Is Control The Antonym Of Love?

Hey Friend,

Boy, have the pastors' messages at church been hitting me squarely between the eyes.  Today it really hit home that "love" and "control" are diametrically opposed.  

You cannot love and control at the same time.

I grew up in a home where love was shown, but not in my love language at times.  I knew my dad loved me, but I never heard the words, "I love you."  I was determined that my children would always hear those words and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they were loved.  I followed through on that promise. 

I also tried to live out the words of Mark 10:42-45 by demonstrating the love of Jesus by serving:

42 Jesus called them over and said to them, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and their men of high positions exercise power over them. 43 But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.”[l]

I served alright.  I ran to practices, games, competitions, tournaments, parent-teacher conferences, play dates, sleepovers,etc.  I cooked family meals. I demonstrated a servant's heart, and I tried my best to raise my children to love the Lord and His Word.  My children would even, jokingly, call me "Bible Lady" at times.  I talked about "JOY" - Jesus first, Others second, and You last.  I tried to model the phrase "I am third."

One big problem, however, was that my husband and I did not have a good marriage.  One might even call it toxic.  I had OCD (an anxiety disorder) and the perpetual stress in our marriage just poured gasoline on the OCD fire.  

I thought, however, that a "good Christian" stayed in a marriage no matter what.  I was committed to my vows. I felt like by trying to make the marriage work through counseling and every means possible, I was giving my children a stable and healthy home.  What I didn't realize, however, was that subconsciously I was doing some things that were the very opposite of love.

1.  Since I did not feel love from my husband, I mistakenly looked to my children for love, appreciation, and validation.  Only Christ can fill this role. God's model in a family is God first, marriage second, children third.

2.  Since I felt like I had greatly sacrificed for my children's sake there were inadvertent strings attached.  Deep down, at a subconscious level, I expected something back from them.  My love was not unconditional.

3.  In my woundedness, I misused guilt.  Looking back I see how I guilted them and tried to manipulate in order to get the love that I was looking for so desperately.  

4.  Guilt, manipulation, expecting something in return.  These are all subtle forms of control.  And, the antonym of love is not just hate, it's control.  Love lets go.  Control manipulates.

When we truly love, we make ourselves vulnerable.  We give away expecting nothing in return.

These are very, very hard things to admit.  Especially when I know I love my children so much, yet know that I have hurt them.  My woundedness has caused them to be wounded.  What mother wants to do that?

But, God...is the great Healer and Restorer.  Recently, I almost lost my daughter to a case of rhabdomyolysis (I'll let you Google that).  She could have died.  We have had a strained relationship for over a year, but two days ago, after she got out of the hospital, I really, really listened (perhaps, for the first time in a really long time). 

I obeyed Proverbs 17:28.  Somehow the KJV really does this scripture justice:

28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. 

Listening much and speaking little is a form of love.  I let my daughter verbalize the burden she felt from my OCD, the guilt I had dealt, and the expectations I had tried to exact from her.  It's a hard thing to hear this from your adult child.  

I won't try to wrap this up with a pretty bow like everything is perfectly solved, but I will say that, with God's enabling, I believe that I am taking baby steps toward truly loving my children in the way that God intended.  I am also, trying to give myself the grace and forgiveness that God has given me through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus paid the price.  I do not add anything to the equation by continuing to beat myself up for my mistakes.  

I am thankful that God is ALWAYS working to bring beauty from the ashes in our lives.  In His power, relationships can be restored and healing can be completed.  

Dear Heavenly Father, Forgive me for the times I have not shown love but have tried to control those I love.  Please heal the guilt, maniuplation, and expectation that I have looked for to fill my own selfish needs.  Help me to realize that your goal is to grow me into the reflection of your son Jesus....to model love like He did.  Jesus made himself vulnerable unto death. He gave love when His people shouted, "Crucify Him." He asked you, Father, to forgive them for they knew not what they were doing.  Restore and heal my brokenness, Oh Lord.  And, please restore the woundedness I have caused.  Enable me to love with a Christlike love.  In Jesus precious name I pray, Amen.

What about you?  Are there any people in your life whom you have tried to control?  Have you ever attached guilt, or expectation, or tried to manipulate in order to receive love?  If so, what is God speaking to your heart?  Would you share answers or lessons you've learned?

Be blessed...

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Monday, October 2, 2017

What Would I Do (WWID)

Hey Friend,

We've all seen or worn the bracelets (WWJD) What Would Jesus Do?  Thanks to my pastor, I've really been pondering the question What would I do? (WWID) He read to us a familiar passage of scripture.  I invite you to read it with me again and then we'll jump off from there.  

John 8:1-11New Living Translation (NLT)

A Woman Caught in Adultery

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
11 “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”   (END)
I have always focused on the part where Jesus instructs the crowd, "Let the one who has never sinned cast the first stone."
Immediately, I know I must drop my stone, because I am not without sin.  
But, I am convicted. I am definitely guilty of practicing throwing stones.
I may not say it out loud, but I am guilty of judging.  I may not say it to someone's face, but I'll say it in my head.  Everything from, "Look at her shoes.  She's way too old to wear shoes like that.  She looks ridiculous."  Or, "I could never do something that rude.  Doesn't he have any manners?"
To the adulteress, I might say or think, "I could never break my wedding vows like that and dishonor God."  Maybe I wouldn't, but you see, I was brought up in a home where my parents were faithful to each other.  They were married for 56 years when my dad passed away.  They didn't have loud arguments in front of me. I grew up reading the Bible. I was brought up to have a healthy fear of my parents and God. (Maybe a little too much).
But What would I do if I had walked a mile, or a lifetime in the shoes of the woman caught in adultery?
What if my childhood was terrible.  What if my mother or father cheated on each other.  What if I made poor choices in men and then was passed from one bad man to the next like an old shoe. What if I was beaten? What then?
I'm not justifying her sin as we are all ultimately responsible for our own behavior, but what would I be capable of doing if I was her?  Hmmm....
What if I had been the victim of child abuse or domestic abuse?  How might that affect my behavior?  What if I was left a widow at an early age, how might that affect my temperament? What if I was cheated out of an inheritance? What words might come out of my mouth? What if I longed for love and a spouse or a baby and was denied? What if a drug dealer was on trial for dealing drugs to my child who overdosed.  Could I possibly pull a trigger? 
The answer is:  I really don't know.  Does this justify sinful behavior?  Not at all, but putting myself in someone else's shoes, does make me wonder what I might do, how I might act, or even what I might be capable of. The truth is that hurt people, hurt people.
Asking myself this question helps to take me down off my high horse.  
Asking this question equals the scales.  After all who is to say that my sin is less than someone else's sin?  And sin is sin after all.
Asking this question, makes me want to extend compassion, empathy, and understanding rather than picking up and throwing stones.
I need more practice at extending grace and mercy and less practice at throwing stones....whether verbally or in my head.  
I love Jesus' last exchange in this passage: “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
11 “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”  
No matter what our sin, when we turn it over to the Lord, He says loud and clear, "Neither do I condemn you."
This is where I shift to WWJD or WDJD (What Did Jesus Do?) He forgave...
What would I do if I walked in another's shoes and then what did Jesus do?....now what WILL I do?
What about you?  Do you ever find yourself practicing throwing stones?  What triggers this reaction?  What can we learn from this story?  Is God calling you to a greater understanding of others?  Is He calling you to not condemn them or yourself?

Dear Heavenly Father, Please forgive me for the times I have thrown stones either verbally or in my head.  Help me to first walk a mile in another man's (woman's) shoes before I even think of passing judgment.  Even if Your Word is on my side, let me think how Jesus would approach someone.  Let my words be filled with compassion, grace, and mercy.  Instead of throwing stones, let my words be a balm of grace to those who are hurting.  Let me not be quick to condemn....others or myself.  Let your grace be my grace.  In Jesus' name I pray, Amen. 

Be blessed....

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

There Ain't Nothin' Gonna Steal My Joy

Hey Friend,

Any of you who read my blog regularly know that this has been a long season of "What next, Lord?"

I was getting ready to go to an appointment with my OB-GYN to discuss recent ultrasounds and the next steps depending on whether what was being seen was benign or cancerous.  Some polyps and abnormalities had turned up in my endometrial lining. I know....TMI, but you know me; I'm real here.

While I was getting dressed, I tuned into a Facebook Live event that Liz Curtis Higgs had announced.  If you don't know Liz, she's one of my favorite writers and speakers. She also has the absolute best sense of humor.  I needed a little humor right then, so I tuned in for a little levity.

Liz looked perky and smiling as usual and was sporting a sassy new hairdo. "Boy, she looks great," I thought.  As her post progressed she revealed that her new "do" was actually a wig.  She had no hair because she has been going through chemo and radiation treatments for...endometrial cancer...(gut punch)!

She had undergone a full hysterectomy and had recently come from a seven hour chemo session.  But, by the grace of God, she looked joyful....radiant even.  She calmly and matter-of-factly shared what she'd been through and shared some verses that had reminded her (us) not to make too many plans because it's the Lord who numbers our days.

Was Liz "happy" that she was going through all of this?  No, I don't think so, but she exuded a certain joy because she was alive and her joy was not in her circumstances. It was firmly set on God's goodness and love.  She talked about not taking a single day for granted and that each moment is a gift.

The Biblical definition of "joy" is: Extreme happiness with which the believer contemplates salvation and the bliss of the afterlife.  A joyous mood as we encounter God and His steadfast love.  A response to God's Word.

Nowhere does it say that joy comes from circumstances.  The enemy will use circumstances to take our eyes off the Lord and focus us on fear, and defeat, and failure.  

But, God....commended my anxious heart and skyrocketing blood pressure into the hands of my compassionate doctor.  Her voice was reassuring that I'd be getting the best possible care.  She understood my worry.  She talked me step by step through what she would be doing in the outpatient procedure.  And, if the cells proved to be cancerous, what the next steps would be.  She'd be there to see me through.  

With tears in my eyes, I listened and nodded along with what she was saying. Her last words were, "Either way, you're going to be okay."

With having OCD, my mind always wants to rush to the worst case and ruminate on that, but as I was driving home from my appointment, a certain peace came over me. A peace mixed with lingering anxiety.  No matter what though, I knew that God's got me.  He's got this.  None of this is catching Him off guard. God is good and I can trust Love's heart.

I also thanked God for my amazing husband who has been at my side through so much.  He's never wavered or blinked....steadfast as they come.  Even though he had to return to work after the appointment, I knew his heart was firmly with me.  What a blessing.

I believe it is possible to experience pain and joy at the same time.  Yes, I was fearful and painfully aware of what I might be facing, BUT GOD....I was encountering His presence, at that moment, and His steadfast love...joy.  

He drew my gaze upward toward Him and soothed me with the knowledge that He has always been with me and has never forsaken me.  Even if....my life ceased....there was joy in contemplating my salvation.  It shifted me toward an eternal perspective.

About that time, this song came on the radio....yes another "But, God" moment. I really hope you'll listen to it.  I cranked up the volume and sang along as loud and passionately as I could.  My hands were raised.  Tears were flowing and the joy of the Lord was present in my SUV sanctuary.  The guy behind me, in his Ford F-150 truck, was clearly getting a charge out of my gospel style revival worship...but you know, I didn't care.  

I was singing to an audience of One!  The joy of the Lord was mine in that moment!


Because I have God, there ain't nothin' gonna steal my joy!!!

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy (delight in the Lord) to my soul.  (Psalm 94:19)

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.  (James 1:2-4)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 15:13)

"Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10b)

The joy that I experience is not something I can muster up on my own.  It is truly a gift of the Holy Spirit.  If you are not a believer, oh how I pray you'll accept Christ into your heart so you can experience His gift of joy.  

If you are a believer, here is my prayer for you:

May the God of hope fill you with ALL joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Be blessed....and, if you will, keep me in your prayers.  Surgery on Monday the 25th.  Please share in the comments how God has given YOU joy amidst the trials so that we all might be encouraged.  Thanks. ***Update for my wonderful prayer warriors...just received word:  NO CANCER, NO MORE SURGERY!!!  BIG PRAISE!!  Unless symptoms reappear, no further surgery or treatment needed at this time.  Sore, exhausted, but elated :)  God is good!!

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Whose Hand Can I Hold?

Hey Friend,

Just when I think there can't be anything more, the onslaught continues.  I have been bumping and stumbling my way through this last surgery recovery for over four months now.  There have been small incremental improvements, but there's still a long way to go.

With regard to some other things going on in our lives, it's been a waiting game. Hurry up and wait.  Enter hurricane Irma and waiting on her arrival and scary passing through the night - wondering if my mom and family would be safe. More waiting and wondering.  There was much physical damage to property, but lives were spared. Praise!!

Then, enter having to go for tests to rule in or rule out endometrial or uterine cancer.  More scary tests followed by more waiting.  

As I headed off to have the tests done I grabbed onto an index card that had two scriptures on it.  While I waited anxiously for my name to be called at the radiologist, I read them over and over again.  I repeated them slowly in my mind so that they might resonate with my weary and frightened soul at that moment.  

I desperately needed something or someone to hold onto...

My heart was crying out, "Not this Lord...not now."

These are the scriptures I clung to that day and have continued to cling to:

I keep the Lord in mind always.  Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  (Psalm 16:8)

For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, "Fear not, I am the one who helps you."  (Isaiah 41:13)

Two scriptures that talked about God taking hold of my right hand....holding me...comforting me....calming me...slowing my racing heart.

I began to wonder, what is it about the "right hand" that is so significant?  In my research several interesting things came to mind about this "right hand" that brought me strength and comfort.  

The right hand signifies strength.  Most people are right-handed and that is the hand that normally has the greatest strength.  (Even though my husband is a lefty and he is one of the strongest men of faith I know).  

In the Bible the religious leaders were always trying to trap and trick Jesus with questions and so he once told them:

"The Lord said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.'"  (Luke 20:42-42)

Being at the right hand, is the place of authority to whoever sits on the throne, and in this case, it was about God the Father and Jesus being the One who was to be and is currently seated at the right hand of the Father.  

The right hand is the hand of AUTHORITY

The ancient patriarchs usually blessed their children and grandchildren with their right hand. When Jacob (then called Israel) blessed Ephraim, he stretched out his right hand to do it.

The right hand is the hand of BLESSING

In Revelation when John saw Jesus he "fell at his feet as though dead.  But he (Jesus) laid his right hand on me, saying "Fear not, I am the first and the last" (Rev. 1:17) so by His right hand He strengthened him.  

Isaiah provides further evidence of this by writing, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  (Isaiah 41:10)

The right hand is the hand of STRENGTH AND RIGHTEOUSNESS

When Aaron and his sons performed animal sacrifices, God instructed them "You shall kill the ram and take part of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tips of the right ears of his sons...." (Exodus 29:20)

When you were anointed with oil, it was done on the right side.  When the side of Jesus was pierced on the cross, it was his right side that was pierced.

The right side is the side of SACRIFICIAL SIGNIFICANCE

In the book of Revelation we see Jesus using His right hand throughout like "in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals" (Rev 5:1), and having taken "the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne..." (Rev 5:7)

The right hand is the HAND OF SOVEREIGNTY

In the story of Jesus separating the sheep from the goats in the book of Matthew, we see that Jesus said, "Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he will place the sheep on his right and the goats on the left."  Being on the "right" side is critical to our eternal destiny.

The right side is the CHOICE SIDE IN JUDGMENT

So back to the question, Whose hand can I hold?  I felt that day and I continue to know this week, that God is upholding me with His righteous right hand. When God extends His strong right hand of blessing and takes hold of my right hand of surrender and weakness, it is like we are shaking hands.  

The shaking of hands is the first step before pulling one into an embrace.  I envision Jesus saying to me, "Bev, we're in this together.  I have hold of your right hand with my righteous right hand.  You are mine and I will not let you be shaken.  So do not fear and do not be dismayed for I am your God."

In times of trial, this is the hand that I know I can count on.  What a blessing.

What about you?  What are you facing that you need to grab hold of that right hand of authority, blessing, and strength?  Do you believe that God will uphold you and He will not let you fall or be shaken?  Ask Him right now for what you need....He's listening and will answer!

Be blessed.....and know that I am praying for you!

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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Breathe

Hey Friend,

Readers have described my writing as "real", "honest", "raw" even.  Let's just say I don't shy away from getting a little gritty.  What you see is pretty much what you get.

I wasn't always this way.  In fact, I was just the opposite.  For a large part of my life I spent a lot of my time trying to be perfect and to "earn" God's favor - as if that's even possible.  I wore a mask that said to the world, "I'm doing just fine and I've got my act together."  Do you know how much energy it takes to keep up this masquerade?  I was afraid of being found out as a phony....a fake...a desperately insecure young woman who really didn't know her true worth in God's eyes.  

Let's just say, that through the trials and struggles I've been through, God has taught me a few things.  I have grown tremendously in my faith and more importantly, in my relationship with God.  I can't imagine doing life without Him and together we laugh at my silly and vain attempts to try to maintain "control" of my life.

God has definitely called me to be vulnerable with my doubts, my struggles, my fears, my trials, and my disappointments, in my writing. Why?  

Because we are ALL going through something.  Behind every door there is a story and chances are it's not a fairytale.  

We NEED each other and we NEED each other to be real....so we know we're not alone and we're in this thing called "Life" together.

We all need friends who have been there.  Friends who'll lean in close and say, "Me too!"

That's why I was thrilled and humbled to be asked to join the company of some amazing writers to put together a devotional that will truly meet you in your everyday mess!

We wanted to provide a place where you can come as you are and find yourself among friends and people who "get" it.  In this devotional, you'll find real women writing about real life. 

It's a place to take off your mask, kick off your shoes, come in your yoga pants and find a safe place where you can be real with God. You can take a moment to breathe, and find peace and encouragement for your soul.

The devotional, put out by LifeWay and (in)courage.me - two awesome ministries, is due to release on October 3rd.  I am offering you the opportunity to pre-order "A Moment to Breathe", and get a FREE DaySpring mug with the book.  This offer is only good through LifeWay.  You must pre-order before Oct. 3rd. 
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With 365 readings, each day begins with a passage of Scripture and tells a story of everyday faith.  In the rush of regular life that leaves you breathless, it invites you to take a moment to breathe.

If you'd like to see what you'll be getting, I invite you to go to the link below and you will receive a FREE 10 day sampler...just enough to get you through till my next post :)

                                                     

GO TO THIS LINK TO GET YOUR FREE 10 DAY SAMPLER: 
Click HERE to get the FREE 10 day sampler....

**Also, I have 2 copies of the book that I'm going to GIVE AWAY.  Here's what you can do to enter the drawing which will be held OCT. 3rd.:

1.  Subscribe to my blog (just go to the "Subscribe" tab to sign up).  Be sure
     to check your email for a link to confirm your subscription.  This is for YOUR
     privacy.  You will only receive my weekly blog....I never share my email list.

2.  If you're already a loyal subscriber just leave a comment below on what
     you think of the book or the sample devotions.

WINNERS WILL BE NOTIFIED AND ANNOUNCED AFTER THE OCT. 3RD DRAWING.  

"A Moment to Breathe" and the free mug make a wonderful gift to yourself and don't you deserve it?  Or, get some Christmas shopping done early...this would be a lovely gift to receive.

More than anything, I would like to thank you for supporting me in my writing endeavors.  My prayer is that my writing would point people in the direction of where true hope can be found and to glorify my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Be blessed....



Friday, September 1, 2017

When The Ocean Speaks

Hey Friend,

It's been a few very trying months, to say the least.  My husband and I have been looking forward to this week at the beach (The NC Outer Banks) all summer.  After hearing everyone's tales of summer adventures, we were anxious to embark upon ours, which had been delayed by my surgery recuperation.  

My husband and I are both early risers and so one of our favorite times has been to sit on the deck and watch the sun rise over the ocean.  This, to me, is one of the grandest displays there is.  I delight in watching the sun rise and spread its glorious tendrils as if in a heavenly morning stretch.  Glorious rays of light seem to stretch on to infinity.  

Even the waters seem to wake up and applaud with joy that a new morning has come.  The sun glistens like sparkling diamonds as they dance among the breakers.  The whole morning is aglow with God's new mercy, goodness and love.

                                                       
                                       
"Weeping may endure for a night - but joy will come in the morning. His anger endures for a moment - but in His favor is light."  (Psalm 30:5)

All through the day the waves continue to crash upon the shore.  The crash, crash, crash continues day and night.  To me it is like the steady thrum, thrum, thrum of a whooshing heartbeat.  It's God's heartbeat.  Steady.  Constant. Strong. Never ceasing. Filled with love.  I close my eyes and listen to the rhythm.

Even at night, we sleep with the sliding door cracked open and in the middle of the night, when all is blackness, I still hear the crashing waves reminding me that God's heart of love is beating and watching over me through the night. He never slumbers nor sleeps.  His eye is always upon me.  His ear is bent ever close....listening to my prayers. Even if I have bad dreams, His song gently lulls me back to sleep.

Every morning we watch Kayla (the big, friendly, black lab) and her master, Charlie, go for walks along the beach.  To Kayla, the ocean is her playground. She delights in the sand and the surf and the ability to run ahead and fetch the ball that Charlie lobs with his David-like sling shot.  

Hers is pure, unfettered joy and fun.  She loves the place to which Charlie brings her every day.  Because she knows he's nearby, she feels safe.  She gallops ahead full throttle and then gently returns the ball to Charlie when he calls her name. She walks close beside her master's side, looking up at him....waiting for his next command. She is grateful for his love and attention. This is her happy place - at Charlie's side.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand” John 10:27-28

                               

As Dave and I walk along the beach with Topper, our beagle, I am drawn to the shells at the tide's edge.  The tides, I observe, act as though they are in a military cadence directed by God.  They ebb and flow at His command.  They remind me of God's vigilant protection.  Nothing in this world startles God or catches Him off guard. Nothing happens that is outside His sovereignty.  

I notice that many of the shells, because of the rough seas at the Outer Banks, are turned into "sea pebbles".  Their rough, pointy, and jagged exteriors have been tumbled like raw gem stones in a jeweler's tumbler.  The longer they endure this tumbling, their edges are smoothed down and their surface becomes like glass - smooth and shiny.  As the water coats them they glisten and shimmer in the sunlight and they catch my eye.  

Sometimes I have felt like those shells, being tumbled in the harsh trials of life. God knows, however, what He is doing.  He is smoothing off the rough edges and making me into something beautiful that will reflect His glory. It's not pleasant but it molds my character and fashions me to be more like his Son. This is my calling.



One day the weather channel warned us that a storm was on it's way.  Though the sun was still shining and warming our faces, we could see in the far off, distant horizon that a storm was brewing.  The dark clouds were quickly closing in.  

I kept watching the sun as it dodged in and out of the encroaching clouds. Finally, the sun shot forth its last rays as if to say, "Don't worry.  Don't fear. Though the clouds and darkness may roll in and the rain will come, I will ALWAYS be right here behind them. Even though you won't be able to see me, it doesn't mean that I'm not right here, always watching over you.  Eventually the storm will pass and you will feel my warm rays on your face once again."....and then the sun disappeared.  

As it promised, twenty four hours later, the sun reappeared. Sometimes storms last for an hour....sometimes for much longer, but the sun always faithfully reappears. 

                         
                                                                         
These are just some of the words the ocean has been speaking to me this week....

What about you?  What has God's creation been speaking to your heart lately? Are there any lessons you learned or wisdom you gained this summer?  Would you share in the comments?  I'd love to hear....

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for the beauty of Your creation.  I thank you that you have designed all of this for my good pleasure.  Help me not to take anything for granted or overlook any gift too small.  I praise You for the glory and majesty of Your creation and the lessons through which you continuously teach me.  Help me to be a student of You, my Lord.  Let me always walk close by Your side so that I may hear you call my name and I may know your precepts.  I thank you that, even though the storms and trials may come in life....You are always there.  You will never leave me nor forsake me and You will bring me through so that I may better resemble Your Son and reflect His love. Continue to speak Lord, Your servant is listening.  In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed.....