Monday, August 30, 2010

I Am Has Sent Them


You are Jehovah, I am that I am, the self-existing one.  We call upon Your name and You answer...again and again and again.

Less than a week ago, A's situation seemed so hopeless apart from You...and a powerful (not to mention expensive) attorney.  We sought Your face for wisdom and You supplied it; we interceded for favor and You granted it; and we asked Your Holy Spirit to convict and He did.  You showed up and did what only You could do, reuniting A with her precious baby...right where she belongs.  

And You didn't stop there.  You are stirring up the Christian community to answer the call to love on A and provide her many needs to make her apartment a home for B...responding beyond anything I could have ever hoped for or imagined.  I can hardly wait for A and B to get here for the shower on Sunday.  When she asks who sent the abundance of gifts, my reply will simply be, "I am that I am has sent them."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

We Will Not be Shaken


I have so much on my heart this morning...yet once again my thoughts are so scattered and jumbled.   How thankful I am that You know all my thoughts--before I even think them--and Your Spirit intercedes on my behalf.  I have set You always before me.  Because You are at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

The needs of those I love and care about are so great, Father.  If not for You, things would seem so hopeless...overwhelming, at best.  But, You, Oh God, are faithful and can be trusted. I have set You always before me.  Because You are at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

I think of A and the custody battle she is facing...a battle in which she doesn't know where to turn for legal counsel...a battle she has no financial resources to fund...yet a battle she must fight or lose her precious B forever. My heart is breaking for her and I feel so inadequate to help her.  Yet, I know You have called me to do so.  You have placed her in my life and I will answer the call.  Guide me, Father, giving me wisdom and discernment to her needs...needs that go far beyond loving her and that precious baby.  Remind me not to lean on my own understanding but to trust in You and You will direct my paths...and more importantly A's. 

Lead us to the attorney You have picked out for that will have B's best interest at that will fight for truth and that will be compassionate toward A's that will work with her financial status.  I pray too that You will place this in the district with a compassionate, understanding judge who will show favor to A. And I pray for the father, that his heart will be softened, that he will repent and turn back to You.  I pray this whole situation can be settled quickly, in the best interest of B.  I pray that A will keep her eyes fixed on You, that her peace will be great, and nothing will cause her to stumble.   Remind her that You, Oh God, are faithful and can be trusted. May she set You always before her.  Because You are at her right hand, she will not be shaken.

I think of C, going in for major surgery next Friday.  We've never been close and I don't even know how to reach out to her.  The enemy would like to take me places that I know are not of You.  Help me to keep my focus on You and how You want me to minister to my sister.  I pray that she will keep her eyes fixed on You and she will be in perfect peace...peace that surpasses all understanding.   Remind C that You, Oh God, are faithful and can be trusted. May she set You always before her.  Because You are at her right hand, she will not be shaken.

I also think of my dear friend, D.  Father, her surgery has left her in so much physical pain these last six weeks...not to mention being so isolated from people.  I am so thankful that she draws into You during times like these.  Still I've sensed--and even heard in her voice, the few times we'ved talked--that she is struggling with discouragement and depression.  I so long to be with her but can't, due to distance and my own financial resources.  

So, I am asking You to meet her needs, Father, in ways that only You can do.  Be all that she needs today, tomorrow, and everyday.  Be her companionship--or send people to visit--encouraging her and lifting her spirits.  Walk through the pain with her, giving her comfort and relief in the way and timing You know is best.  Draw her even closer to You during this time of physical healing...using it as a time of Spiritual healing as well.  I pray that D will continue to keep her eyes fixed--steadfast--on You and that You will keep her in perfect peace.   Remind her that You, Oh God, are faithful and can be trusted. May she set You always before her.  Because You are at her right hand, she will not be shaken.

I think next of several of my friends who are struggling with relationships.  I shudder, my own struggles in that area still raw, as I think of how the enemy is at work trying to keep us from being effective for You by tearing apart viable relationships with each other.  The phone call the other night made me realize how devastating some of these situations are...people withdrawing from ministry involvement because of them.

I pray for these gals--all such dear friends of mine--that they will seek You (and only You) for the healing they need...that they won't let the pain from these relationships allow them to build walls and wear masks that keep others out, preventing them from ministry and community with others, as You designed.  Help them to forgive as You forgave and to love as You love.  Remind them that You, Oh God, are faithful and can be trusted...even when people can't. May they set You always before them.  Because You are at their right hand, they will not be shaken.

Father, I admit I still struggle with some of the hurt from this summer.  I thank You that You have spoken so clearly to my heart and shown me that I cannot withdraw...that I must keep following Your calling for me...teaching me to forgive as You forgave and to love as You love.  So far, You've only led me to reach out in new areas...areas where I haven't had to deal with those who inflicted the wounds.  Wednesday night is going to be a big night for me as I obey You and attend the get together with women who hurt me so deeply.  Thank You that You, Oh God, are faithful and can be trusted.  I have set You always before me.  Because You are at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

You tell us to cast our cares upon You because You care for us.  I know this to be true. And so with a scattered brain, I haved poured out my petitions before You, with thanksgiving...for You are worthy of all thanks and praise.  And I thank You that I can go forth in peace...a peace that goes far beyond anything I could ever comprehend, amidst all the concerns flooding my mind.  What a release it always is to lay my requests at Your feet and to get up, full of such peace, reminded that You are faithful...You can be trusted...and I will not be shaken.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Divine Clarity and Absolute Peace

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  Jeremiah 29:11-13

God gave me this promise about six months after I had my first major exacerbation with MS.  I had no clue then what was wrong with me and in fact would go almost six more years before being diagnosed with MS.  Yet through the journey, I learned to trust in God's promise to me...learned what it meant to call upon Him, to go to Him, to pray and most importantly to seek Him with all my heart.  As I sought Him with my whole heart, I did indeed find Him and in finding Him, learned that I can trust His plans for me...His plans to prosper and not harm me...His plans for a hope and a future.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:4-6

Trusting Him means I don't try to figure things out on my own but I go to Him for answers about everything.  So, when things seem confusing--like what to do about my MS treatments--I know who has the answer.

"For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding." Proverbs 2:6

I asked Him to give me wisdom in what to do and He did!  I also asked him to give me divine clarity that would override the effects of the double dose of Benadryl I had to take that morning and He did! He even provided a friend to drive me so that I had somebody with me who knew the decision I had come to before taking the Benadryl, knew all the questions I wanted to ask the doctor, take notes for me...all in case I was too out of it to think clearly.  It was also a blessing to not have to take the train and wait around in the heat. 

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

I had been praying about this for months.   My Sunday School class prayed with me on Sunday morning and by Sunday afternoon, I felt confident in what I needed to do.  I talked with two of my daughters that evening and both agreed with my decision.  I woke Monday morning with total peace about my decision, as I wrote it out for my friend.  My oldest daughter called that morning and as I shared the decision with her, she also agreed that was what I should do.  With all three girls in agreement with me, I was ready to go.  I had an absolute peace.  My heart was guarded by such powerful peace as I set off to make a very difficult decision that could impact my health. However, I knew, without a doubt, it was the right decision.

The meeting with the doctor went great.  I was so alert and truly did have divine clarity of mind.  I had some lightheadedness from the Benadryl and felt I could close my eyes and drift into a deep sleep, if I stopped for more than a few seconds.  Yet, I also felt so alert and clear headed.  I knew it was God honoring my prayer.  When the subject of the therapy I was on was discussed, my doctor actually recommended the exact course of treatment I had felt God leading me to do...down to every detail!!!  Talk about confirmation!!!  It was simply more than I could have asked for or imagined.

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Desperate for an Answer......BUT GOD!!

Today's blog is different than I usually write.  Today, I need to just share my nobody in particular...just ramble.  Tomorrow is a big day...a day that could change the course of my life...and not necessarily for the good...physically speaking...humanly speaking.......BUT GOD!

I will try and explain things as I go along in case anybody stops by who doesn't know me.  I have Multiple Sclerosis...have had it for at least nine years...probably more like 20 years.  After almost seven years of one debilitating relapse after another, and losing a good part of my vision, God opened the door for me to get into the MS Center in Dallas where I was finally diagnosed and put on Tysabri.  I've not had any major exacerbations since.  I have days the MS affects me but not to the extent it was and I've not had any more attacks of Optic Neuritis which is what has caused my vision loss.

Tysabri carries with it a risk of getting a rare brain infection  called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), which is always fatal.   New research shows this risk increases in patients who have been on the drug for more than two years.  Because of this new research, we are required to meet with our doctors after our 24th infusion to discuss future treatment plans.

I had my 24th infusion last month and tomorrow is decision day for me.  Up to this point, I have felt the benefits of Tysabri have been greater than the risk. The risk is now at a level which I am not near as comfortable taking.  However, the reason I was put on this particular MS therapy is because it is the only one known to target the area of the brain that affects the optic nerves.  

The optic neuritis aspect of the MS had begun to enter the progressive stage and we were able to stop that through this therapy.  To switch to another form of therapy would mean treating the MS as a whole, hoping--and certainly praying--it will keep the optic nerves under control......BUT GOD!!

In addition, I would have to go off the Tysabri for several months before I can start on any other form of therapy...hoping, praying and a great deal of trusting God that my body stays in remission without the aid of any drugs......BUT GOD!!

This Texas heat gets harder and harder on me every year. So, right now, the thought of going three to six months without any form of therapy feels like a death sentence in itself.  Yet, I know that relapses with MS are not fatal and even losing my vision altogether would be better than death.  Still, only God knows which is the greater risk.  I cannot base my decision on fear...fear of death or fear of total blindness......BUT GOD!!

I know God knows the answer. He tells me to lean not on my own understanding; that He will direct my paths. He tells me that He gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He tells me to seek Him and He will be found.  He tells me to cast my cares upon be anxious for nothing. 

I am seeking Him and trusting Him for the right answer...I just would like Him to show me before I go tomorrow.  See, I have an MRI before my appointment.  Because I'm allergic to the MRI contrast, I have to be pre-medicated with Benadryl...which knocks me out.  So, when I see my doctor a couple of hours later, I'm not going to be the most coherent person in the world.  I'm sure my doctor will discuss the risks and options--which we've already gone over--and I don't want to make a decision based on something she says that may sound a little different due to my drugged state of thinking.  I want to make a decision when I'm of a sound mind.......BUT GOD.

Yes, that is when I have to step back and say, "BUT GOD".  I have to remember that if God can speak through a donkey, he can speak the words that need to be spoken through my Benadryl laced mind.  I have to remember the days when the MS had so messed up my cognition that I couldn't put two words together, yet I delivered His truths to a group of women, changing lives so dramatically that they talk about it still today.  Yes...BUT GOD!!!  

He is still God and He will give me direction about what to do regarding my treatment. It will be the right decision; the right words will come to me when I need to know them; and He will make sure they come out of my mouth when it is time to tell my doctor.  Ahhh...peace......ONLY GOD!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Birthday Prayer


It is August 13, 2010...the 19th anniversary of the day my precious Sarah--Your princess--surprised me by entering this world five weeks early. 
I still remember, ever so vividly, those long hours of the doctors and nurses frantically trying to stop my labor...while it increased instead.  You, oh God, knew what was going on during those critical hours and minutes of decision making by such a Godly doctor.  For You are the one who created her inmost being, knitting her together even during those last seconds, inside my womb.  You numbered her days and and wrote them in Your book before even one of them came to be. You knew her days were to begin on August 13th...not September 15th.  Only You knew that I had contracted an infection that could have killed that precious baby girl...or in the least left her with brain damage.
I thank You that she was fearfully and wonderfully made to be exactly as she is; her frame was never hidden from You when You made her in the secret place. When every intricate detail of Sarah was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw each and every part of her unformed body.

Thank You for the peace I have, knowing that You know when Sarah sits and when she rises; You know her going out and her lying down.  You are familiar with all her ways. You know all her thoughts without her even speaking them aloud; before she even speaks a word, You, Oh God know exactly what she is about to say.
Father, thank you for hemming Sarah in. You are both behind and before her at all times.  You have laid Your almighty hand upon her.  How reassuring, as a mother, to know there is nowhere she can go that will separate her from Your Spirit or Your presence. You always know where she is and what she is doing.  If she goes up to the heavens, You are there; even if she makes her bed in the depths, You will be there as well.  If she rises on the wings of the dawn, or settles on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide her; Your right hand will hold Sarah fast.

I know that when Sarah feels like the darkness is hiding her and the light becomes like night around her, even the darkness will not be dark to You.  So, I pray the night will shine like the day for her, just as darkness is as light to You. (Psalm 139)

I pray that Sarah will continue to be taught by You, Father, (and only You) and in doing so, her peace will be great. (Isaiah 54:13)
I know she has received Your Son, Christ Jesus, as her Lord and Savior, as a young child.  I pray she will always continue to live in Him; that she will be deeply rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith she has been taught, and constantly overflowing with thankfulness.  

I pray no one leads her astray through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ.  Oh Father, this is such a deep prayer because these teachings are running rampant in the universities...and even in the churches. 

I pray that Sarah will always set her heart on things above where Christ is seated at Your right hand.  I pray she will have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed and idolatry.  I also pray she will get rid of all anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language and lying.  I pray her conversations will always be full of grace, seasoned with salt...irregardless of whom she is speaking.

I pray that Sarah's spirit will continuously be renewed in knowledge in the image of you, the Creator. 
I pray that she will be full of compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience; that she will bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances she may have against others.  Teach her to forgive as You forgave her.  Most importantly, I pray that she will be filled with love, which binds all together in perfect unity; that she will let the peace of Christ rule in her hearts, and be thankful.  

Father, thank you for the precious demonstration of love I heard coming from Sarah this past week, as she ministered to a hurting child of yours.  And thank you for the way she has reached out to her friend, Virginia...and many others who have been hurting.  I love her precious heart.  Please help her to learn how to demonstrate that same love, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness where it is often most home...towards her sister.  

Oh how I pray that the Word of Christ will dwell in Sarah richly; and whatever she does, whether in word or deed, she would do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, always giving thanks to You, the Father through Him.  I pray that she would be consistently devoted in prayer. (Colossians 1-4)
I thank You, Father God, that you chose me to be Sarah's Mother.  Help me to walk in a manner worthy of that calling. (Ephesians 4:1)

Thank You for doing all that I have asked, according to Your will and in Your precious Son's name, 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Love in our Home

What does LOVE look like in your home?

The past two weeks I've been given the opportunity to love as Jesus would, to a young gal who, as many--Christians included--would say "messed up big time"...a precious girl who has never known unconditional love...a hurting child of God who needed somebody to say "let him who is without sin cast the first stone but that certainly isn't me so neither do I condemn you, now let me help you go and sin no more".

Oh what a rich experience it has been, loving on her out of the love that Christ has lavished on me. I am able to love only because He loved me first (1 John 4:19)

What has made it even more beautiful is to hear her tell me how my own children have also poured their unconditional love out on her...without my knowledge. Two of my girls don't even live at home anymore, yet, knowing of her situation have reached out in such priceless expressions of love...a text from my 22-year old daughter; an e-mail from my 19-year old; lots of hugs from my 17-year old and promises to help her out anytime she needs it.

Christ's love has been pouring out in abundance both within and beyond the physical walls of our home.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

My Source of Strength


This devotion speaks so deeply to my heart…in many ways.  So many things are crying out for my attention…bills, paperwork, Rachel’s needs, other people’s needs, thank you notes, and so much more.  I feel so overwhelmed, if not for you, Father.  I don’t know where to start.  The heat has gotten to me and my energy is just totally shot…not an ounce of it there to even begin any of these things.  And my mind is mush to the point that I can’t focus or even put a sentence together to pray for those on my heart.  The burdens are so great…yet nothing comes out when I try to pray because my mind is so fatigued. I’m so glad your Holy Spirit is there to intercede on my behalf…and on behalf of those for whom I long to intercede.

All day today, I have thought of Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  I know I can do what you have called me to do—both ministry and personal responsibility—through the strength you give me…the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual strength.  I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 2:9 which tells me that your power is made perfect in my weakness.  And Isaiah 40:31 tells me, as I wait and lean upon you, you will renew my strength so that I will walk and not grow weary; I will run without fainting; I will even soar with eagle’s wings.

Thank you, Father, that I do find sweet rest and victory in your strength. Thank you for enabling me to do above and beyond anything I could ever do in my own strength.  Thank you for your promise in Philippians 1:6 that you will finish the work you started in me.  I'm so glad you are my Father...and in control.  Yes, you are faithful and you will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

I love you!