He Reads Minds

 

 

He Reads Minds – Kind of a scary thought, isn’t it? But there is really nothing you have ever thought that God wasn’t aware of. We are created beings. Not so with God. He always was, always will be, mind-blowing right?

“…whatsoever things, are pure, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

God is omniscient. This adjective used to describe our God means “having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding: perceiving all things.” He knows it all. The good, the bad, the messy and the beautiful. He doesn’t just see the outside behavior, what you actually do, but he knows the thoughts and intents of your mind and heart. God goes for the deep work that needs done. Scripture supports this:

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 KJV)

Having a free-will means we are free to not think good thoughts as well as to think good thoughts. This is the battle we face every, single day and we have to have a weapon to win it. That weapon is the Word. Dear reader, you are a warrior on a winning side when you get into the Bible. Read it. Study it. Memorize it. Use it to reap all the rewards of strong faith. Courage. Strength. Peace. Hope. Joy. To name a few.

The enemy is described in the Word as a “roaring lion.” Have you watched those National Geographic films where the lioness prowls around a herd of animals on the Savannah? Looking for the younger, weaker ones to take down. Satan is like that. Different than God, Satan is a created being that went against God.

1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”

Satan cannot read your mind, but he can see your actions. The way you behave when you are not in His Word, not staking your joy on God’s truth. I believe he uses this observation to spring into action and cause you to doubt God’s good plan for you. He moves in just like he did in the Garden.

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Ann Voscamp writes, “If Satan can keep my eyes from the Word, my eyesight is too poor to read light—to fill with light. Bad eyes fill with darkness so heavy the soul aches because empty is never truly empty; empty is only a full, deepening darkness. So this is what it is to be. Eve in the Garden, Satan’s hiss tickling the ear. “Did God actually say…?”” (Genesis 3:1 ESV). Ann points out the need for us to look at our lives through a “biblical lens” in order to decipher the meaning of it all. (One Thousand Gifts, Devotional, Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces)

In Jesus’ great Sermon, there are some verses, Matthew 6:22-23, where He teaches about light and darkness. How our eyes can be good and provide light for us, or bad and fill us with darkness. The choice of where to go with our field of vision is ours. And the choice is made in our minds with the information we allow to influence us.

The fact that God can read your mind need not be a scary thing, especially when we remember this promise in 2 Timothy 1:7,

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Speak those words the next time your knees are shaking or you are tempted to believe you are powerless, unlovable or losing your mind. I have, believe me.

“No” With Love Attached

He cried his little heart out in my arms. It was late, bedtime even, and he wanted…candy. And this was not the first request, but his daddy had already shared some with him earlier and they had a “talk” about no more until tomorrow.
I don’t like the answer “No.” I didn’t like it when I was a kid, young adult, or “older” adult. I wouldn’t ask for something if I didn’t want it, how about you?
Have you ever begged God for something? I mean really asked with all your heart, over and over and only to experience that little word with the biggest meaning of hurt, that you think your heart just can’t possibly absorb? You are not a little girl anymore, so the asking is not “Could I have …this?” and you could take the no and move on. But, “Please God, You know how important this is to…and how could this possibly not be Your will?” This kind of over-and-over prayer that comes with deep, on-going disappointment. Heart wrenching even.

“Likewise the Spirit also helps our weaknesses: for we do not know  what we should pray for as we ought: for the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He that searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27

So what we don’t have words for, when we don’t even know what to pray for “as we ought” the Spirit of God prays for us. And because the Spirit knows what the will of God is, (and we don’t) the prayer is offered perfectly and answered perfectly. Not saying it’s easier to take when it is so different from what we are asking, what we see would solve a problem, or help someone who is struggling. Because the picture is much bigger than we are capable of envisioning.
Dear reader, God is so big. He knows the end from the beginning and all those that are connected to your life and actions. If I think about it too much, my head hurts with the responsibility of it all. All I can do is trust Him and try to overcome the need to control anything. Just live abiding in Him and absorbing His Word.
“No” can seem unkind, especially to those in our close circle of family, friends and church. But it does not have to be when we remember to attach the love to it. To not use it in an automatic way to brush off responsibilities or make things more convenient for us. I love how Ann Voscamp says “You are willing to love only as much as you are willing to be inconvenienced.” That phrase “love is not convenient and I love this person” is one I say in my mind when I am asked to do something for someone that I quite truthfully do not want to do because it’s a bad time for me or I think I’m too busy. Try it, it works for me.
We girls love the romantic comedies where the guy, eventually, gets down on one knee, and asks the question that he pretty much knows will be answered with a “yes!” And of course, through the course of the story, he has had quite a bit of a struggle winning that “yes.” With the possibility of a thousand missed opportunities and missed connections leading up to the climax of the movie, and the happily ever after. This is the movies, dear reader. Anything can happen, and does.

Not so in real life. I would love to write that this life is fair. All our prayers are answered with the “Yes” we expect and everyone lives happily ever after, here. But that is not the truth. We will have trials. We will be persecuted. We will not always get the candy before bedtime. But that is okay, because the love this parent is modeling at the start of this post, is like the love that God has for us. He knows the whole story. God knows our whole story and He has to do what is best for us, because that is what His love does.

The Little Boy with Light-Up Shoes

 

I know these are pretty common now, but I wish they were available when my kids were little. Those shoes where the soles sort of flash and light-up as they step. So cool!

The other morning I got to keep my great-grandson until his daddy got off work. Since the sun does not show up till later and later every day, he walked out of the house in the dark, but his shoes lit-up his path on my front sidewalk, with every step he took.

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

I thought of that verse as I watched him walk the sidewalk to the car. Darkness dispelling bit by bit as he took those little steps. Lights show up the best the darker the path. And words can be like lights that enlighten dark spaces when we are not sure what to step into.

Sometimes all it can take to brighten a dark, dingy day, is a word of kindness. A smile. A listening ear. And there is the light. A thought or word of praise, for God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). And there it is, in the middle of what would send you spiraling down, down…lifts you up.

“That was the true Light, which gives light to every man coming into the world.” John 1:9 (NKJV)

The light to walk through the hour-by-hour or day-to-day is not like the kind of light that lights miles ahead. If we only look at the light at the end of the tunnel, we will end up with tunnel vision. The hear-and-now and right-in-front of us will get missed. He is always there for us and wants us to notice His light for the small steps and not just for the giant leaps.

“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” I was just thirteen years old when Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon. He said those words as he stepped onto the moon that we gaze upon from 238,900 miles away. It’s glow caused by the reflection of the sun, which, by the way, is 92.96 million miles from us.  Another interesting fact I found was that the moon reflects only between 3 – 12 percent of the sunlight that hits it. We glow when we reflect the Son. We all seem to have varying degrees of reflection. So many parallels.

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I love space movies. Not the “Alien” kind at all, but the documentaries out there about the astronauts and space truth and travel. They reinforce my belief that our beyond intelligent God created the universe and rules it from His throne in the heavens.

The words I attached to this blog, “Renewed. Refreshed. Redeemed.” are a reflection of what His light brings to my life. Dear reader, this is what He does. There is no day that goes too badly, nothing that can be just too old, or spoiled so rotten, that He cannot bring His glory to it. Sometimes just watching a little boy with light-up shoes can remind you of that. Glory Renewed.

 

 

The Pumpkin Party

 

 

IMG_2004How was your weekend? If we could have coffee and a visit I would tell you about this. My son’s family invited me to go with them to the Pumpkin Show in Circleville, Ohio, last Saturday. On that day, in that little town, I witnessed something really beautiful!

Let me set the scene for you. It was crowded, I mean packed, with people. This is what happens when the world gets invited to a small town to celebrate bigger-than- huge pumpkins. Where all food trucks have the star ingredient of pumpkin added to their recipes and wearing the color orange is what makes you blend in no matter where you’re from. It didn’t hurt things any to have the most gorgeous autumn weather the good Lord could have arranged and the ability to attend an event that has been held for 113 years in a row with no admission fee.

Except the parking, of course. This event is an opportunity for those locals to make a little extra cash and who could blame them? After all, they had their community bombarded by tourists and turned upside down on account of an orange fruit*.

*Side bar: I had to do a little research to see if a pumpkin was a vegetable or a fruit. Webster says it’s a fruit. However, because it is not sweet like other vegetables that are technically called fruits, such as tomatoes, beans, green peppers, etc., the pumpkin can also be considered a vegetable.

Okay, let’s get back to the parking. The closer you get to the action, the more the price goes up. We saw five dollars, then eight dollars and then ten dollars as you got closer to where you wanted to be. But that was really all the money you “had” to spend to enjoy this great show. You could walk right up to the prize winners and take your picture with them. It’s not everyday you get to see an over 1,400 pound pumpkin. You could watch a very talented pumpkin carver make his magic and there was a free concert in the town square with smiles and friendly faces all around. I enjoyed seeing those wearing the special pumpkin sweaters and t-shirts that gave away the fact that this was a yearly pilgrimage for them.

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My grandkids called it the “Pumpkin Party” which I thought was adorable. So let me tell you about what I loved about the “Pumpkin Party.” I saw grown-ups play concession games with their kids. And I looked at this in a whole different way than I used to as a younger adult. I used to think it was a waste of money and couldn’t see that maybe this was a positive memory for a child that may have never seen this side of their parent or grandparent.  I saw kids patiently wait their turns for tickets and rides and then the sweetest thing of all… at the concert.

“From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Psalm 8:2

At the front of the stage were children, dancing with pure joy to the peppy country music that was being played. My granddaughter joined them and it was such a delight to watch these children, who did not know each other, enjoy the dance together. On my left I saw a little Asian family. A precious little girl, holding on to her Daddy’s fingers, moving to the those twangy tunes that seemed to me so strange given her ethnicity. To my right, another family that appeared to be from the other side of the world as well, clapping and toe tapping to “Chattahoochee” and “Kaw-Liga.”  Their little boy doing the cutest thing with his swaying body. Everybody enjoying this day, getting along, being one.

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Dear reader, don’t you wish everyone would put down their differences and take their lead from the little ones who see things so simply? It was a party and it didn’t matter where you came from or what you looked like. It didn’t matter if you had a lot or a little. It was a kind of no judgement zone and I loved it. I wondered why we all could not be more childlike. The scripture says God ordains praise from their lips. This praise silences  foes and avengers.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

From what I could see that day, in this small town, we all wanted the same thing. To enjoy life with our family and friends. I just have to say “thank you” little Circleville town, for reminding me that God’s love is like a circle, with no beginning and no end. Because He has no beginning and no end. And He is love. (1 John 4:8b) This circle includes everyone. His love is for all people. God’s love encircles us with mercy and grace. May your little town continue to have pumpkin parties for another 100 years, and find us coming together time and again, over a pumpkin.

 

Choose Your Words Carefully

 

I would have never dreamed texting would be the main way I communicate with most of my family and friends. I grew up in the era of using the telephone, attached to a wall, and mostly when needed to check on folks and for the rare long talk across many miles. Back then, you always answered the phone because you had no way of knowing who was on the other end. Now I hardly ever answer my phone without knowing who is calling me. I trust a machine to answer it for me and take a message that I can check later when I have the time.

The problem with texting for me is that I’m always afraid the person I am sending it to may not understand it in the context I meant when I put the words together. Will they read into it some sarcasm or lack of concern? So many times I rewrite it and re-read it myself, to try to keep any and all inflections that might be misinterpreted out of the words. I choose my words as carefully as I can and hope the emoji I attached helps my reader to know that there was no offense intended.

How can something that is really so cool and convenient cause such stress? Because I know how important those texted words, and how they are delivered, can be. I once read about a woman who became a physician because she had a terrible memory from her teen years. She and her father were being informed that her mother had died. The doctor that brought the news into the lobby of the hospital where she and her father were waiting delivered this statement, “She is gone.” To this young woman, being told about her mother’s death in those words, made it even more devastating. She vowed that when she would have to deliver hard news, she would do a better job.

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Proverbs 25:11 (KJV)

The word “fitly” means that it is spoken at the right time. The words “in pictures” can mean settings. What we say and how we frame it can make all the difference. Have you ever taken note of obituaries? Kind of morbid I know, but when you are reading one of those short or long skinny columns, you are reading the story of someone’s life. There are the bare bone facts, when they were born and when they died. Then the names of their family members. The jobs they held, the activities they loved. The contributions they made during their circles around the sun. The ones that start with, “went home to be with his Lord” or “surrounded by her loving family” begin the story with the end and ending well is really what it is all about. The end can be truly comforting and very beautiful, when framed with such soothing words.

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Words can be instruments of art. They can create artistic expressions of love, hurt, joy, melancholy, silliness, chaos or stillness. They can crush spirits and make souls stronger. They can be framed and they can frame truths, petitions, declarations, resolutions and praise. Words can be gifts of grace, weapons of warfare. They can be heavy and hurtful. They can bring light and healing.

Right now I just want to apologize to anyone I’ve hurt with my words. When I allowed myself to spew out hurtful verbiage just because I was angry or things weren’t going my way. Over the course of time and growth in Christ, those times are fewer and farther between, but I know I still speak or write before I fully surrender my words to His Holy Spirit. Maybe you can relate. We all fail.

In this time when it is so easy to share our words, I wonder if we realize the power we wield. I am reminded again, that what I say and how I say it matters. And I pray that my words are a reflection of His. And that they count for His Kingdom, shining like apples of gold in settings of silver.

Home

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Have you ever been homesick? That awful feeling in the pit of your stomach. That longing for a familiar place where you just belong?

I had to stop by her house today to retrieve some items she asked me to bring her. I thought I could do it without crying, but I couldn’t. She should still be there. She should have been able to stay until He took her home to paradise and I am so disappointed in that. Everywhere I turn, I see her there. Cooking in her kitchen, getting dressed in her bedroom, fixing her hair in her bathroom, watching her television in her living room, playing cards with her friends at her dining room table.

But it wasn’t to be. These bodies fail us, eventually. Sometimes we have to move on to places of someone else’s choosing so that we can be cared for when we can no longer care for ourselves. All of this may be my future and I certainly wouldn’t want anyone crying about it. So I wipe my eyes and head out. Locking the door behind me and loading her reminders of home in my car to deliver to her now “home.”

She greets me with a smile and I realize that she seems to be having a really good day today. She wants me to meet a neighbor down her hallway and she tells me that a church group came to sing today and she enjoyed it. I still want to cry.

Does it ever “get” you this way? When you witness someone being so brave and accepting, which is how you would hope they would be, and it makes you sad. Because you wish it didn’t have to be this way.

God knows and understands. Can you even imagine how hard it was for Him to send us His Son? To take Him from the paradise of Heaven and have Him take on flesh and be fully human while still being fully God? To have to feel what we feel and worse?

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I know that the circumstances I just described could be so much worse, but still, they hurt. I am reminded that no matter how “wonderful” things are here in our own little worlds, they will never satisfy the ache in our hearts for our forever home.

“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid, you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there you may be also.” John 14:1-3

Little farther on in John 14:27, Jesus says:

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Could it be this dear lady has peace about where she is and what she is doing because it is the kind the world cannot give? I am sure this is so. And His peace will comfort the ache in my heart also, when things are not the way I wish they would be. And maybe every now and then I need to be reminded that the disappointments that we direct at God, should only be to handed over to Him for healing.

If Jesus could endure His cross, looking at the joy that was set before Him, (Hebrews 12:2), I can choose to see what hurts in this life as an endurance test and look forward to the next. There is nothing, no thing, that can separate us from the love of God, (Romans 8:38-39), and isn’t the love of God the only thing that matters? This is the joy, His love that never ends. His love that leads us home.

 

My Cup Overflows

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Sometimes it feels like I’m a turtle, crossing the road. I hate the slowing down part of my journey. I’ve always had a quick pace. Not that this was always good, because at times, it was not. But, it was familiar and I like familiar.

I like the shortcut, the faster route, and the quick results. Again, not always good. As I studied this turtle in my driveway, head lifted high, extremities out of its shell, vulnerable, I saw myself. I try to venture out in this vehicle of a blog, into the vast openness of social media with my meager offering of words for souls. I carry around my shell for protection. I return to it for a while but know I cannot stay there forever. I have to share what I have been given and receive from others what nourishes me.

Never before can a person think they know how important they are. The “likes” and positive or negative “comments” validating their influence. It takes a hard shell to keep plodding along. Keep plodding along sisters. Put something out there and don’t check how it’s doing. Do it just because He led you to and trust Him for the eyes to see it and the souls to be touched and made a little bit stronger because of it. Resist the urge to word and re-word, just trust that God will use the words for good.

God is showing me that as I slow down, what I have to offer actually has more value. It comes with years of experience of living life with Him as my Lord. Since a little girl, He has been with me. Using every bit of my story to bring Him glory. The mishaps, the victories, all of it. To give wisdom.

Proverbs 3:17:

“Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace”

That turtle is on a peaceful path. Not without danger, because anyone in a hurry and distracted could crush her in an instant. And so am I. If I pay attention to what the world has to say about today’s Christian women, I can be hurt badly. Our culture is sadly post-Christian. Even many who claim to be Christians do not hold to the teachings in God’s Word, the Bible. But this does not change the Truth and I am commanded to speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:14-15)

Tears of deep joy run down, He fills and my cup overflows. He turns “you are bad” into “you are beloved” dear ones. Because it is true. The truest words you will ever hear come from Him. He has chosen you, and made you His. (Ephesians 1:4-5)

Someone reading this may be afraid that what they say won’t make a difference. Don’t believe that; God will sort all of that out. He can use anything for our good and His glory. Venture out of your shell, reach out and be blessed.