Don’t Pick At It!

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Don’t Pick At It!

She looks like she bumped into an unyielding object, quite hard. Bruise on the forehead, abrasions on the side of her little nose and between the other eye and eyebrow. It seems she took off running, not realizing that something was in her way and BAM! Can you relate?

She knows there’s something there, even though she can’t see it and so she tries to pick it off. Only it’s not ready to come off yet. I told her “Jesus is healing it.” He has placed a protective cover over the boo-boo until it’s ready. To pick it off will interfere with healing and “He will have to start all over.” Hard concept for a two-year-old to grasp. Can be hard for us grown-ups to grasp too.

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” 1 Corinthians 13:11

Several lessons there, huh?

1.       There are times when Jesus heals immediately. The time when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus and Peter would not stand for it. He grabs his sword and swings at one of the soldiers and the ear gets sliced off. Well then, Jesus would have none of that, and reaches up and restores what the impetuous Peter has done. Immediate healing. (John 18:10 and Luke 22:51)

I remember a time when I witnessed my little boy jumping off the end of my bed’s footboard and heard his blood-curdling scream when he hit the floor with his little two-year-old feet and ankles. We prayed together and the tears stopped and he hopped up and played like nothing ever happened. Immediate healing.

2.       But sometimes, and it seems like most times, healing takes time. But we have to remember that time does not do the healing, Jesus does. If we leave it alone and let Him do it. If we stop picking at it and picking it back up and reopening the wounds that He promises to heal. If… and that’s a pretty big IF, we grow up a little bit in our faith and start trusting Him more. Start thinking like a grownup in Christ.

Remember, we “…walk by faith and not by sight” 2 Corinthians 5:7.

3.       We need to trust that God is working things out, healing what needs healed, even when we can’t see it or feel it. We must remember that just like picking at physical wounds can introduce bacteria that complicates healing, we can put complications in our own path to spiritual healing and growth. Holding on to anxiety and grief can impede recovery from wounds we have experienced, when it is possible to experience the peace of God through prayer.

“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

I asked for boo-boos to pray for in Sunday school class, and this same little girl asks for prayer for the small scabs on her knees. I asked about those on her face and she says, “I don’t have any boo-boos on my face.” Out of sight, out of mind. Hmmm.

So remember, if it’s a physical injury, bring out the peroxide and antibiotic ointment, and don’t pick at it! But remember the advice from the Word when it comes to the wounds of the heart. Walk by faith until those wounds are out of sight. Pray, asking for what you need, remembering to give thanks, and then enjoy the peace of God. Don’t try to understand it. God’s healing surpasses understanding. Rest in the protection of His Spirit that guards you in every step of this journey.  

 

 

I Want the Cymbals!

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I Want the Cymbals!

Music time with my preschool Sunday school class can be a bit deafening. But one thing can be said for sure, they make a joyful noise!  I think they all want to be the one who gives the loudest praise. The two instruments that are fought over more than any others are the drum and the cymbals. So we take turns. How fun it is to watch them pound that drum and clang those cymbals. They have to be reminded to sing, but they don’t miss a beat on those two noise makers.

As much as I appreciate their “music” I can be glad when we go to a “quieter” activity. Cymbals have their place in an orchestra at just the precise second, but a consistent clanging of them can be quite unnerving.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1

So starts the “love” chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. Words are important and I love to communicate but if what I have to say is equated to a clanging cymbal, I am sure those who read my words or hear me speak would rather I just shut up. How much love is in my talk and how in the world can I say what I think needs to be said without seeming unloving?

 

I’m feeling a bit guilty about a note I sent to someone where I honestly expressed my opinion on something and it was not all that positive. I hated to do it but felt like I had to do it, you know, one of those things that bugs you so much, you just have to spill it. I’m not sure how it was received because I have not heard anything back. I still stand behind what I said, yet I wonder if I could have said it in a more loving way.

God has used this as a lesson. No matter how much I am offended by something, I need to always respond in love. Love can do hard things. Love can say, “I disagree with you.” Love can say “No, I’m sorry but I can’t fit that into my life right now.” Love can say, “Your words have hurt me, but I still love you.”

 

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

How can I love like this? A pretty tall order, huh? A kind of love that is impossible for us to do on our own. Only with God’s help can we love like we should. And with God, ALL things are possible. I know I have problems loving people like I should. I can say I feel like it is getting easier as I am getting older, but oh my, when I read what some people write or hear what some people say, the clanging cymbals of it all is enough to stir in me some pretty unloving thoughts. I want to put my hands over my ears and scream STOP!

“But Jesus looked at them and said “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” Mark 10:27

When Jesus spoke those words He was teaching about salvation. How impossible it is for a man to enter the kingdom of God on his own. As impossible as “a camel to go through the eye of a needle…” verse 25.  Loving someone well is just as impossible without God. God is love. (1 John 4:16) How could we truly love without His help?

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There’s this little ceramic statue of Jesus that sits on a shelf across from my desk. Jesus, holding little children close. It’s a picture of the love that He has for us. Holding us close. Always holding us close. He was and is the perfect example of how to love in word and deed. And I can love that way with His help. That truth makes me hopeful.

If Jesus could love through the suffering of the cross, I can love through the times when I feel slighted or misunderstood. I can love when I am used or ignored or taken for granted. When things are going badly and we just don’t see eye to eye, I can still love.  I can always, always respond with love. It is possible because God can make it possible, YES! – cue the cymbals!

First Days, All Over Again

 

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Amy, my firstborn, with her Hollie Hobbie lunch box, 1st day, 2nd grade

 

First Days…All Over Again

I loved the first day of the new school year. It was fun and exciting to get to wear my new clothes and shoes. Backpacks weren’t around when I was little. I carried a “book satchel.” It had twisty closures and a handle. Too cool, right? I didn’t go to kindergarten, let alone pre-school. The first grade opened my eyes to so many new experiences and I got in trouble on the very first day. It’s funny how vividly I remember it. I chased a boy down the hallway yelling his name “J.J” over and over, quite loudly. He was dropping some papers and I just wanted to help. I didn’t know I was supposed to use my “inside voice.”

 

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Couldn’t find a picture with my satchel, but I probably looked a lot like this

 

 

I love seeing all the posts with the pictures of all the little ones experiencing their “first days.” Wasn’t it just yesterday I held them as tiny babies? Time does fly, doesn’t it? They can’t be babies forever, it just wouldn’t be right. They have to move on. And so do we.

With each of my four, I watched as they boarded that big school bus, knowing that they would never be the same. Their world would get bigger and I would fear that they would think less of the world I made for them at home. I wanted to protect them from everything and how could I if they were out of my sight? I learned that I could do something for them that would mean much more than following them around all day. I could pray.

 

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Matt, #2, first grade, getting ready to catch that big yellow bus with big sister

 

I could prepare for the scary stuff by bringing it to God and trusting Him to surround my little ones with protection and love. I could seek wisdom for how involved I should be in their formal education. I could follow through with a commitment to support their teachers, as they were entrusted with my most precious possessions. I could cheer my little ones on with praises for their papers and stickers and sign up on all the “volunteers needed” sheets. I could be right there with them, doing my part as they did theirs. I was “in” school too.

I certainly didn’t do it all right. Looking back, I would have this advice for those of you sending your little ones off this Fall. Your child’s teacher should be very important to you. He or she needs your prayers and support. Any good teacher will appreciate the help and will realize that cooperation at home is the key to the success of the child at school. Mammas, make sure your little ones have good rest and nutrition. A school-night should be protected and regarded as preparation for the day ahead.

 

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Mark, #3, first day of Pioneer Preschool

 

I read something so sad the other day. In some school systems a well-known washer and dryer manufacturer has donated these appliances to the schools; this is not the sad part. The sad part is that they have discovered that children who had clean clothes to wear had better attendance and participation in school. There were many homes where the children didn’t have someone making sure they had clean outfits to wear. Attendance improved because the schools picked up where the home life dropped the ball.

It all starts at home. Whether God has led you to homeschool or given you peace about sending your little ones to church-affiliated or public schools; you are their first teacher. As you keep learning new things with excitement, you are setting an example that they will follow. Learning is fun and has rewards that no other endeavor holds.

 

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Melanie, #4, first day Pioneer Preschool

 

First days are great, whether they are the first-ever days of school or the repeat first days of the new   years. Let’s start each new day as a first day. Forgetting and letting go of the mess-ups of yesterday. It does us all good to remember that awesome advice from the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:13-14:

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Let’s go onward and upward, following the example of those little ones on their first days of this new school year. Say cheese!

Our Time Is Now

 

Our Time Is Now

“Can I just trade these and go?” Says this woman to the staff, while waving two DVDs in the air at the customer service desk at Walmart. “No, you have to get in line to do the paperwork,” was her answer.  Another frazzled female making her way behind me in line said, “Good thing I’m patient…” after she grumbled about how she had been out since eight o’clock this morning and has got “nothing” done. Which was preceeded by the story of how the other places she had already been to this morning failed her. Did I mention that the line was long? Kind of  like “the day after Christmas” size. Oh my.

I had to decide to change what would be my default reaction and try to think of another way to process this. I said to myself “when they call me up, I am going to let the lady behind me go first.” It was fun. She says, “Are you sure?” Then quickly goes ahead. Then I offered this to the next lady in line, the one with the DVDs, and she declines. She instead said something to the effect “oh no, I can wait, I shouldn’t have let that bother me so much.” We then had a pretty pleasant conversation until the staff could help us with our exchanges.

It was good. Thankfully, I was not under any time constraints, so I know I wasn’t much of a hero. Yet it was a victory over my normal way of dealing with hold ups. I’m the worst at waiting. I will drive the long way around rather than wait my turn when there’s road construction. I will get there no faster, but at least I won’t be sitting there waiting. I have enough examples to fill this page, but you get the picture. I have a problem with time; always worrying that I’m wasting it.

Time has been called lots of different things. It can be a gift, a curse, an illusion, a friend or an enemy. Each true depending on the circumstance. Something about time that is true in every circumstance is our time is now. This is all we really have. I love how Christine Caine says it in her book Unstoppable, “God has plucked you out of eternity, positioned you in time, and given you gifts and talents to serve him in this generation. Your race is now. This is your time in history.”

It excites me to think that God placed me in that line today to do that seemingly small thing and I know it changed someone else’s day. Mine for sure. He has you in this special time in history to do what you can to help others and to glorify Him. It’s just not all about us. And when the right “time” comes, He’ll pluck us out of time and put us back into eternity. The question is, what story are we writing while we’re here and where are we storing up our treasures?

Jesus says in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The time we have here can add some wrinkles and wounds, the effects of the Fall. But we have to look deeper than that. We need to look for the treasure in each day that we have. Each decision to put others first glorifies God and adds to our treasure in heaven. Challenge yourself to overlook offences and extend graces in your relationships. By doing so, you’ll be racking up treasure in eternity that can never get tarnished. The only things we should be rushing to are those things that count for pleasing God and helping others. (Preaching to myself here.)

One thing that is so true about time is that it has a limit.  We can run our race, the race we are all called to run, with joy, in the time that is now.  Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2) And when what we consider hold-ups in life happen, we carry out whatever would hold up to those goals for our journey here. Pleasing God and helping others.

Solomon, considered to be the wisest man this side of heaven, wrote about time. How everything under heaven has a purpose. Only those closely attached to God can have the wisdom to know when those times are and choose the appropriate way to react or respond.

Ecclesiastes 3

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die;

A time to kill, and a time to heal;

A time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

A time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones;

A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to gain, and a time to lose;

A time to keep, and a time to throw away;

A time to tear, and a time to sew;

A time to  keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate;

A time of war, and a time of peace.

These are the first 8 verses, then in verse 17 the wise king says:

“God shall judge the righteous and the wicked,

For there is a time there for every purpose and every work.”

Only those closely attached to God can have the wisdom to know when those times are and choose the appropriate way to react or respond. I can only pray that I will know and trust God’s Spirit to tell me. May He always find us following Him so closely that our answers are as plain as can be during our time which is now.

 

 

Undone at the Drive-thru

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No, I wasn’t losing it because they put tomatoes on my sandwich when I specifically said “no tomato.” I wasn’t even trying to get some fast food. I was actually at a bank waiting on the teller to cash a check for my mother-in-law when it happened.

I grabbed my mail at the end of the driveway on my way to town to run some errands. I noticed the return address was from a friend that I had not seen in about 20 years. The coast was clear so I took out into the road thinking I’d open it later when I had more time.

First stop, gas up the car. Check. Second stop, cash the check. Check. Well almost. I’ve noticed, if you haven’t, that it seems to take longer and longer to get a check cashed nowadays. There must be about the same number of check-points for a teller to pass through as when a nurse tries to give an aspirin to a patient in the hospital, and true to form, I was getting impatient. So I remembered the mail and opened the little envelope.

It was a homemade card. I could tell because there was no greeting card company logo on the back cover. The front and inside contained glued-on, computer printed greetings. The front proclaimed “If it weren’t for great people like you…” and the inside continued “…there wouldn’t be grateful people like me!” With the “me” underlined three times.

Because of her, I looked forward to getting older, knowing how faith in Jesus looks on a lady who trusts Him with everything.

With the teller still busy clicking through the steps at her computer, I decided to read the personal hand-written note, from an obviously shaky hand. It starts, “My Dearest Vickie”, and I get a lump in my throat and water in my eyes that cloud all the words that come after. My dear 82 year-old friend penned some words that hugged my heart and gave me joy unspeakable and full of glory!

How in this world, could I deserve a gift like that? Truth is, I don’t. But God gave it anyway. You see, this dear godly lady was an older woman that took a younger woman (me) into her heart years ago. Prayed for her, gave her good godly advice and yearly checked on her. She kept in touch, always sharing how good God is at every stage of life. Because of her, I looked forward to getting older, knowing how faith in Jesus looks on a lady who trusts Him with everything.

She was a beautiful example of a Titus 2 woman then and now. Being an example. A woman of great faith, living in front of me a life surrendered to God at every age and stage. Beautifully adorning the gospel. (Titus 2:10)

1st Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”

In our small group study, “Adorned”, I challenged each of the Bible Group Girls to think of a lady who had inspired her or helped her at some point to live a life more devoted to God. I suggested she text her or write her a note telling her how important she was and is; expressing how truly thankful she is for her influence. I followed my own suggestion and wrote to this dear lady who had me crying at the bank window. I hoped that my note would reach her okay because it had been 7 months since Christmas Cards were exchanged, and she is “getting on” in years. And it did. By the words she returned to me, I could tell that it provided a blessing to her.

How about you? Is there someone who has been an encouragement when you were down, pointed you toward the God who comforts all sorrows and can guide all decisions when you didn’t know what to do? Can I challenge you to tell this dear person before it is too late; and we never know when that is. Would you like to share it with others in this community in the comment section? I’d love to hear about her!

My sweet friend closed her note with “Once again, Our Lord is so faithful, He is with us no matter what age. The best friends believe in each other! Encourage one another and build each other up. You did.” She cited 1st Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”

I put my sunglasses back on so the poor teller wouldn’t think the wait for her to do her job had undone me. Amazed that a few moments at a bank window brought about one of the greatest encouragements I’ve every experienced. Never underestimate your power to change a day or a life by sharing Jesus’ love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Searchlight

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“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my anxieties;” Psalm 139:23

I read this morning that the average American adult makes 35,000 decisions each day. If you’re someone who hates to make decisions, that can bring on a tremendous amount of anxiety. I don’t think we realize this because we do so many things out of habit. Yet operating out of habit is a decision in itself. There’s this line in one of my favorite movies, Riders of the Purple Sage, “the habit of life is stronger than life itself.” If this is true, we better make sure we’ve got good habits.

I had a scare yesterday. As my habit is, after I get my husband off to work in the morning, I go to my recliner and spend about an hour in Bible study and prayer. During the last few mornings, when I got up from this chair, I’ve experienced a sickening weak, numb and tingling feeling in my lower body and legs. Yesterday morning it lingered for a longer time and interfered with walking so it got my attention. I’m not sure what is going on other than maybe my herniated disc is acting up when I sit in that chair, at that angle, for that amount of time. So, I decided today I would change this habit.

As I type this, I promise you, I am sitting up quite straight in my office chair hoping this new habit of sitting will prevent any medical attention. When a habit no longer serves you well, change it.

Godly habits are good things as long as we don’t rely on the habit more than the abundant life they were supposed to help us achieve.

To present a spiritual parallel, consider some things we think we do for God without noticing that the life has gone out of the effort. Consider going to church, out of habit, and not being the Church. Isn’t it just like us, walking like the living dead, going through the motions, all the while not being fully present?

And what about our prayer habits. Isn’t it just like us to take our prayer time and spout out requests without taking the time to consider that we are addressing a holy God that blesses those who come to Him in pureness of heart?  (Matthew 5:8)

Yes, Christians should go to church. Christians should pray. But if these good habits have lost their “life” – what has eclipsed their original intentions? Let’s make it our new habit to stop thinking about what we can take out of church and start thinking about what we can bring into it. After all, it is all about Jesus, isn’t it? Let’s sing our hearts out, worship with undistracted hearts and minds, fellowship with our forever family like it really matters. Because it does. Let’s start our prayers with praise and adoration for the God we’re addressing and maybe the request list won’t be so long.

The habits of life should not be stronger than life itself. Godly habits are good things as long as we don’t rely on the habit more than the abundant life they were supposed to help us achieve. Habits are tools we can use for positive change. If the habit is no longer producing the result intended, change it. With God’s help, we can. The habits of our days are well known by God. Read all of Psalm 139 and you will see how well your Heavenly Father knows you.

“Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.” Psalm 139:16

Before we were conceived in our mother’s womb we were known by God. Every day that we live has been fashioned by God. All our days have been creatively constructed by the wisest, most intelligent Creator with so much love for us that He would rather die than live without us.

All our days. The good ones when we hum “Oh, what a beautiful morning….everything’s goin’ my way…” like the Oklahoma musical; and the bad ones when we just can’t get out of bed and we want to smack those hummin’ that tune. Give them all back to Him because He’s with you and knows just what you need and when and how you need it.

Let’s get out of our comfy recliners that aren’t doing us any good, any longer, and do something brand new for Him. God’s searchlight is on us right now, nothing escaping His view.  Let’s fashion fresh, new habits that will help us grow closer to Jesus and help others along the way. I’m in, how about you?

 

 

Greater Than All

 

What is the biggest thing? What is the best thing? What is the most important thing? What are we supposed to pay the most attention to? These questions have always caused me a lot of distress. Maybe I’m weird but I’ve always thought if there was something I should be doing, I wanted to make sure I was hard at it. To not be would be bad and I didn’t want to be bad. I hope I’m not the only one.

As I’ve been around the block a few times, I’ve realized that I’m severely lacking in what it takes to be doing everything I deem important and when it is important that those things get done. Because the truth is, I’m only one, small woman. What difference can I really make in this world? And what part of this world am I supposed to make a difference in?

We all know that we have to prioritize things and hopefully we live in freedom enough to do so. The most important has to be able to float to the top and I think it’s interesting that the Spirit of God is a floaty thing. Even though the weight of His importance is compared to a Rock in Scripture, God’s presence is compared to the lightest, sweetest, purest experience this side of heaven.

God comes to the top. Or He should. No matter what the day holds, what time constraints we live with, the length of our daily to-do lists, He has to come to the top.

The Bible says in 1 John 4: “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” So… all those “in the world things” are lesser things than God, who has taken up residence in you, the child of God.

The Scripture that has captivated my heart lately, which I have been writing out every day that I journal in my newest journal and what prompted this post…

John 10: 28-30: “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”

I’ve read those verses many times in the past, used them to claim the blessed assurance that comes from my salvation, yet never had the words “greater than all” jump out at me like they have lately. When I pray I tell Him, “Lord, you are greater than all” and when I am tempted to worry and fret over something I’ve already prayed about, I remind myself, “He is greater than all.”

Those words were spoken by Jesus, written in red. All the words in the Bible are important, but those words written in red, WOW!, they come from the mouth of Christ, the Son of God! Jesus tells us that His Father is GREATER than all. No room for wondering about what is most important. No room for procrastination or hesitation when it comes to setting our priorities. He is GREATER than all the other things that are pulling at your heart today. He is GREATER than any temptation you face. He is GREATER than any lack you feel in energy, in time, in finances, in intelligence, in skill or technique. He is GREATER THAN ALL.

This has given my prayer time radiant energy, quantum even. When I go to my God in prayer I proclaim to Him that there is nothing that is impossible for Him. I remind Him of Luke 1:37: “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” The angel Gabriel said this to Mary when he announced that she was to have a Baby that would be the Savior of the world. Talk about impossibilities. From this sweet, young, virgin woman who gently responds, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (vs. 34) comes this answer. This answer is all she needs to cause her to say “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (vs. 38) Oh that my faith would follow this example.

When Jesus was born, this world had no room for Him. He came into this world in a borrowed barn. The little Baby grew to be the Man that this world rejected because they had no room in their hearts for the Savior. The Messiah that bragged on His Father when He said His Father was “GREATER THAN ALL.” Those of us who love and cherish our earthly fathers and lavish on them our love and respect, cannot make the same claim. For truly there is only ONE who can be GREATER THAN ALL.