Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Gift of Rain

Oh Father,

How thankful I am for your gift of rain today...such a pleasant sound to awaken me this morning.  My mind  so vividly pictured each raindrop washing away the pollen and drowning out the weeds that had wreaked havoc with my allergies the past two weeks.  And I mustn't fail to mention the cool breezes I imagined, with the promise of cooler temperatures, this rain is to usher into North Texas.  

I felt new energy rising within me as I considered the possibility of inhaling long, deep breaths of the outdoors, able to finally emerge from my home cocoon, after this long hot summer...ready for long walks, picnics in the park, and the community of neighbors.

Neighbors...that word quickly averts my mind to my neighbor, who has recently separated...then to my friend who made the heartbreaking decision to force her husband to leave, due to his repetitive abusive actions...and then another friend, trying to break a drug addiction and left her husband because he chose his own addiction over her.  I think about others left homeless from last month's floods and wonder how they feel about today's rains...or another who is about to be forced out of her home due to family drama.  

I think of those whose lives have been shattered by sin...some by their own choosing and some merely helpless victims.

And as I listen to the rain, my thoughts shift to thoughts of how You--Oh LORD, our Jehovah, the Almighty, self-existing One, I am that I am--can wash over all these needs...forgiving sins, healing wounded hearts. You are the healing rain who brings new, refreshing life to all which seems so broken, parched and desolate.  You are the way for the lost, offering hope to the hopeless, providing strength to the weary.

"What joy for those whose strength comes from you LORD, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs.  The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.  They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem." Psalm 84:5-7 (NLB)

And so, once again, I cast my cares--for so many who are close and dear to me--at Your feet, knowing that You alone are God...You are faithful and You can be trusted.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

He Loves Me Too Much

She could barely contain the excitement, as she handed me the package to open...the gift her family had brought me from China Town.  I could tell this was no ordinary token of thanks for caring for their dog while they were away.  I eagerly peered inside to discover two ornately decorated worry balls.  

"Now you don't have to worry so much, Aunt Debbie!" she squealed with delight.  

She was only ten years old, yet even she was aware of the impact and control worry had on me.  Countless days and endless nights I would roll those worry balls around in my hands, begging God for victory over my fears and worry.  Both seemed to have a death grip on me...a grip I could not break.

Then, I began an in-depth study of my Father's love for me. The more I studied, the more confident I became in trusting Him. As I understood just how much He loved me--enough to physically separate Himself from His Son and send Him to earth; enough to watch His Son to endure suffering and persecution; enough to allow His Son to die a death on the cross; and enough to turn His back on His Son as He took my sin upon Himself--I realized that He can be trusted for absolutely everything.  

During that study of understanding His love, a phrase kept running through my mind.  "My Father loves me too much to allow anything in my life that isn't ultimately for my good and His glory."  That phrase has stuck with me and has become my anti-worry motto, if you will.  I know that God does love me so much that everything He allows in my life is for my good and His glory. I may not immediately see it or understand it.  But, I know that the God who loved me enough to send His Son for me would not allow anything in my life that wasn't for my good and His glory.  To do so would go against the nature of God.  

Therefore, whenever something comes along that causes me to feel anxious or nervous, I remember how much God loves me, remind Him how much He loves me, and trust that it is somehow for my good and His glory. 

As for my worry balls...they are simply a great reminder that I have replaced my worry with a deeper understanding of my Father's love. 

I am linking up today with Faith Barista Jam as we share about Letting Go of Worry.  Click on the link below to read more blogs on this subject.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Father...You know


Today has been hard. I have struggled in many ways. Thank You for being who You are!  Thank You that when my mind won't form the words to pray...You know.

I cast all my cares on You and rest in You.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Expecting the Unexpected at a Baby Shower

It all started when I had that dream, several months ago...a dream in which my pastor preached a sermon entitled, "Expect the Unexpected from Unexpected People."  Some may scoff, thinking a simple dream couldn't possibly revolutionize a person's life...but this particular dream certainly did mine.   

"Expecting the unexpected" demands faith...not just saying, "I believe," but letting go of normal and routine to grasp the unknown and sometimes unacceptable.  It means disappointment when you fall back into the rut of expecting the expected. Yet the results are amazing blessings...beyond anything one could ever imagine.   

"Expecting the unexpected" has become the theme of my life, in conjunction with my desire to be a part of whatever it is God wants to do in and through me. My heart cry is to be an unexpected person in the lives of those I come into contact with, never missing an unexpected opportunity made possible by God.     I've seen God open doors for me to minister to--and be ministered to--by people I would have never before expected.  He has formed relationships in the most "unexpected" of circumstances, using the most "unexpected" resources.  

One such unexpected experience came just a few weeks ago when I got an email from somebody who is very dear to my heart...almost like a daughter.  

She had joined our family for dinner around Christmas but then had been busy for several months. So, we had communicated only online or by phone until June, when we celebrated her birthday.  We met again in July and all seemed well as we laughed and talked over some delicious cheesecake.  

So, yes, it was very unexpected, when on August 1st, I got an email from her, informing me that she had a three-month old daughter.  Her heart was was mine.  We met a few days later and I learned that she had nothing for her precious baby girl...not even a crib.  (She was sleeping in a borrowed car seat.)  My heart was in prayer prior to and during our entire time together, longing to be so filled with Christ's love...a love that doesn't condemn but points her to Him so that she may go and sin no more.

I felt God leading me to have a baby shower for her and her precious daughter.  This shower was about much more than meeting the material needs for her baby.  The greater need was that she be showered with pure unconditional love.  I knew she had few friends and that meant a huge step of faith for that God would provide her many that people would respond. 

I approached her with the idea of the shower and she melted with disbelief and gratefulness that I would do such a thing.  With her permission, I would invited several of my friends to the shower.  

I had never asked people to reach out to a total stranger, in this capacity, before.  Yet, I knew God was calling me to do it.  I truly believed this was one of those "expect the unexpected" events and only God knew who was to be there and who wasn't. So, I prayed about who to invite and sent out the invitations, trusting God to lead those He wanted involved to participate in whatever manner they could. The enemy tried to attack and thwart in so many ways--even a threat from the baby's father to cancel the shower--but I continued in prayer and stood firm...expecting the unexpected.

None of her friends made it to the shower.  She was nearly in tears an hour beforehand, and was hesitant to come, when she found out the last of her friends wasn't going to make it.  I persuaded her to come on, knowing a little of what what awaited her.  She definitely got some unexpected--and much needed--encouragement that day.

I cannot begin to describe the joy that was evident in her face as she opened the many gifts people she didn't even know gave her and her baby.  Every need she had was met...and then some...a swing, crib, glider (rocker), Bumbo, exersaucer, blankets, stroller, sling, toys, sheets, towels, and more clothes than she could have ever hoped for or imagined. 

When God speaks to people and they obey, His work is accomplished.  She was blessed beyond words!  As we helped her set things up at her apartment, she could not stop thanking me, expressing how much it meant to her.  She experienced love like she has never known.

I had no intention of gaining anything from this shower; the thought never even crossed my mind.  This was all about God meeting her was about her feeling loved and encouraged...or so I thought.  So, it was certainly unexpected when I found my own self relishing in an abundance of love and encouragement that night...and the days following.  

My own heart was filled to the brim and overflowing with the love that my friends had poured out on some one so dear to me.  For you see, when they loved her, they loved me.  That must be how God feels when we love His children..."when you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me."


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pain...It's All Part of His Healing

I don't remember when it started...seems it was always a part of my life.  As far back as my memory takes me, I catch glimpses of me inflicting pain upon myself...the only means I knew to smother the vast array of emotions I was forbidden to express.

I do remember when it ended...that is quite clear.  October 20, 2007...You sent Your Word and healed me and delivered me from all my destructions.  You freed me from that destructive addiction of self-abuse.

Last month, You made it clear that I was to make the switch from Tysabri to Copaxone...and I had perfect peace.  I had no clue, administering these daily injections would resemble the self-inflicted horrors of my past.  I bring that needle to my skin and I tell myself it is for my good, not harm. I heart begging for a way out...refusing to abuse my body again.  Then, I remind myself that even you subjected yourself to suffering to produce perfection.  I push the button; the needle penetrates the skin; the tears swell as the sting of the medication spreads throughout my body...and I rest in the knowledge that your grace is enough for me, for when I am weak, You are strong.  

You knew what You were doing when You guided my doctor and me to make the switch to these daily injections.  You were completely aware of the memories that lay just under the surface of my mind...memories that would be rattled by this new form of treatment.  And You are still the God who heals and has healed me; the God who delivers and has delivered me; the God whose plans for me are for good and not for harm.

And so, in a few hours, I will once again load that syringe and administer healing to my body...relying on Your strength...trusting that You are using even this as part of Your healing and deliverance...Your plan for me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So Many Brokenhearted

So many broken many wounded hearts.

You sent Your Word to heal them...yet they refuse to heed it and continue to suffer in pain.

You sent Your Son to bind up their broken hearts...yet they turn and walk away.

You are near to the brokenhearted...even then they don't acknowledge you.

Help me point them to You, Father...the One who is waiting to bind up their wounds and save those who are crushed in spirit. Help me point them to you.

Friday, September 10, 2010

O Lord, My Lord

O Lord, our Lord, how Majestic is Your Name, in all the earth.  

My own words are few this morning, Lord as I search for words to offer back to You for the many who are once again on my heart.  I am so thankful to have Your Word...words of truth...words of life...words of hope...words of peace...when I have no words of my own.

Be near to the many brokenhearted, saving all those who are crushed in spirit.  May those who are so downcast in spirit right now, put their hope in You...the Living God. May they pant for You, as a deer does for water. Direct them with Your love by day and sing over them with Your song at night.  

I pray they seek You first for all their needs, knowing that You are El Shaddai--their all sufficient one--and You will supply all their needs...adding all things unto them.  I pray they will wait upon and put their hope in You and as they do that You will renew their strength...proving that You indeed are strong when they are weak...that Your strength is made perfect in weakness.  I pray they will run into You...their mighty strong tower.  

I pray they will put on their armor daily, not forgetting any part...the shield of faith...breastplate of righteousness...feet shod with the gospel of peace...helmet of salvation...feasting on Your Word which is their sword....belt of truth to counteract those lies of the enemy...and above all to cover themselves in prayer.  And I do pray that they will know the truth. So many are being deceived by lies. I pray they will know Your Word--the Truth--for in knowing the truth, they will be set free.  

I pray they will learn to persevere through trials...knowing that You have allowed them to perfect that they may be made complete, lacking in nothing.

Father, thank You for sending Your Word to heals us and for healing wounded hearts...every so tenderly...ever so beautifully.  What a beautiful event when two young women recognized unconditional love--probably for the first time in their lives--this past weekend.  Thank You for allowing me to witness that, firsthand. 

Thank you for being who You are.  O Lord, My Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

How Do I Respond?

It was June 19th...a Saturday.  I was preparing to go on a much anticipated trip to Colorado, where my body would surely come to life in the mountains and cooler air...away from the scorching heat of Texas.  She stopped by the house to visit and during the course of the conversation, informed me that she and her boyfriend had made plans to move in together.  

It was August 1st...a Sunday.  I was relaxing at home after teaching a Sunday school class on our Father's love, followed by an hour of loving on God's precious little ones in the nursery.  I opened my email and listened as she shared a very secret part of her ready to share with me and various others that she has a nearly three-month old daughter.

It was September 9th...a Thursday.  I called to ask a question about her daughter when she burst into tears, leaving me wondering what it was I said.  A few hours later, as we sat in the privacy of my bedroom, she confided her torment of an eight-year emotionless marriage, a recent emotional affair and being abandoned by friends in the process.

Three women, in three months...all dear to my heart...all living a life of sin.  

How should I as a Christian respond?  How do I respond?

In each and every case, God immediately brought to mind the story of the woman caught in adultery (John Chapter 8).  Three specifics phrases, spoken by Jesus, stood out to me.

     1) "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."(Vs. 7 ESV)  
         I cannot judge or condemn...for I have sinned. Even one sin disqualifies me.

     2) "Neither do I condemn you" (Vs. 8 ESV)
         Loving like Jesus means offering grace and forgiveness rather than condemnation.

     3) "...go, and from now on sin no more." (Vs. 8 ESV)
         I am not Jesus; nor am I the Holy Spirit.  Telling them to go and sin no more is not my place or responsibility. The Holy Spirit must convict them of their sin and bring them to a place of repentance.   My place is to help my sisters, who are caught in sin, meet Jesus face to face.  I do this by walking beside them; constantly pointing them to Him; teaching them to follow Him, so they will come to the place of sinning no more. 

Father, may I love as Jesus a way that reflects His forgiveness and grace, without condemnation...willing to walk beside...always pointing to Jesus.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tu Fidelidad

(Turn off music player at bottom of page before playing.)

Tu fidelidad is grande. Tu fidelidad incomparable es. Nadie como tu bendito Dios. Grande es tu fidelidad.
Your faithfulness is great. Your faithfulness is incomparable. There is no one like You God. Great is Your faithfulness!

I praise You for who You are...that You are faithful and can be trusted.  I thank You for showing us yet again this week just how great Your faithfulness my precious niece and great niece's lives, in my daughters' lives, in my own life.  How could I ever doubt You, Lord?  Yet, so often I do.

My heart is rejoicing at the way You have answered so many of my prayers this week...sometimes exactly as I have asked, sometimes above and beyond anything I could have ever have asked for or imagined, sometimes in a way I would not have hoped, but always in a way that was absolutely perfect, in accordance with Your will for our lives.  Yes, Your faithfulness is incomparable!

My heart is also heavy with burdens of so many friends who are hurting with various things right now.  I think of S & R, sifting through the news that the cyst on his brain is once again filling up with fluid...the surgery they hoped was going to cure him didn't.  I think of D, still in such excruciating pain, more than six weeks after her surgery.  I think of my sister, having major surgery today, due to a second battle with cancer...a new form of cancer...after being cancer free for five years.  I think of B, in the hospital, recovering from a brain injury caused by a head on collision by a drunk driver.

My heart breaks for C, J, M, S all struggling with deep, painful relationship issues...all with wounds so deep they find it hard to move forward in community with other believers...wounds that threaten to destroy them and the ministries You have for each of them.  Then there are D and J who lost two dear loved ones in their family this past week and the pain they are both experiencing right now.  I think of far too many to name, who are struggling with the emotional pain of rejection, abuse, divorce, and more...deeply wounded hearts.

You tell me in Your Word that when I am weary and carrying a heavy burden that I can come to You.  You tell me to cast all of my cares upon You.  You tell me not to be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving to present my requests to You.  You tell me to ask, seek, and knock.  And so, that is what I am doing.  I am once again, bringing my heavy load and laying it at Your feet, asking You to work on behalf of each of my dear friends and family members; seeking wisdom for any involvement You would have from me.

How reassuring it is to know that You never get tired of me asking, seeking and knocking.  You are never bothered or perturbed  when I come to You with the same request over and over again.  When You bring them to mind, I simply lay them before You, as often as the burden is on my heart.  But, I never need to pick them up and carry them again. For I am laying them at the feet of my God who is faithful...and can be trusted.  I don't have to take these burdens up again because I know I can trust YOU with each and every one of them. 

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens,  Your faithfulness to the skies.  (Psalm 36:5)

"Know therefore that the LORD Your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands." Deuteronomy 7:9