Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Her again…

We know that we are not supposed to look to the world to find our identity.  We know that the world constantly puts impossible images into our minds, leading us to frustrating efforts to conform.  But what do we do when the bible gives us the impossible image?

The Proverbs 31 woman:

  • She does her husband only good as long as there is life within her. 
  • She shops for the materials for her work.
  • She shops for the groceries.
  • She rises while it’s still night to prepare her household for the day.
  • She manages servants and delegates the chores.
  • She’s prudent in accepting more responsibilities, not neglecting her current duties.
  • She manages so well that with the time and strength she has left over, she gardens.
  • She stays fit – spiritually, mentally, and physically.
  • She assesses her work to see its value before God.
  • She prays continually for her household, especially through times of trouble.
  • She sews.
  • She gives to the poor according to their need – body, mind, or spirit.
  • She’s prepared her family for inclement weather by making them warm clothes.
  • She decorates her house with homemade cushions, coverlets and tapestries.
  • She wears nice clothes.
  • She’s in sales – she makes garments and “leads others to buy them”.
  • She delivers the garments she’s made.
  • She’s happy about the future, knowing that her family is in readiness for it.
  • She speaks in wisdom.
  • She speaks in kindness.
  • She’s isn’t idle.
  • She doesn’t gossip.
  • She is content.
  • She doesn’t engage in self-pity.
  • She reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord.

Seriously, God??   She’s described as virtuous, noble, capable, and excellent.  These are not typically the words that come to our minds when we think of ourselves.  If we are not guarding our hearts, the enemy will use these words to condemn us, to cause us to see an image that is acceptable to God but impossible for us to achieve.  Impossible goals defeat us immediately and blind us to our potential to be all that God has called us to be.

The key to this woman’s success…is in the last attribute listed:  She reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord.  She recognizes and acknowledges that she is incapable of accomplishing anything without Him.  He directs her steps.  He leads her as she listens to Him.  Everything she was able to do began with her worship.  This is the foundation for our lives.*

True confidence in who we are can come from God alone.  We long for it, ask for it, seek it.  We say we believe that God loves us just as we are, but an honest look at our striving to “do” things reveals we don’t feel He is pleased with us.  So we try to do more. We try in ourselves to be the perfect women (or men) yet we measure ourselves by what someone else is able to do.  It never works.

“…when they measure themselves with themselves and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding and behave unwisely.”  2 Corinthians 10:12

The bible IS where we are to go to learn what God has for us, and learn how to live a life that pleases Him.  But all our efforts are wasted if we miss the most important thing we can do – worship Him.  When we stand before Him, all those “good works” won’t matter if we didn’t know Him, if we didn’t spend time with Him.

What’s on your list of “to do’s” today?  Or tomorrow?  Or next week?  Set the list aside, spend time with your Shepherd who promises to lead you into everything that you need to do.  The things that don’t get crossed of the list at the end of the day?  Give them to Him.  If He plans for you to do those things, He will make a way for it to get done.

He’s already made you virtuous, noble, capable and excellent.  Time in worship allows Him the opportunity to work these attributes out in your life where they will be visible to others.

*excerpt from “unCluttered:  heart, home, work”  © Kay Stinnett

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Pretty feet

Spring is approaching, the temperatures are getting milder, and my open-toed shoes are begging to be worn.  It’s time for a pedicure.  If you’ve never had one, I highly recommend that you invest in this experience.   Feet soaking in a warm whirlpool of fragrant water, the chair massaging your shoulders and back, it’s a little taste of heaven….until they begin the work.  Now, if you’re like me, feet are a tickle spot.  So even when they are gently working, it may detract from any deep relaxation hoped for.

Nails are addressed first – this involves the removal of any polish, clipping, and filing (cringe).  While grinding my teeth a bit through this process, it doesn’t last long and once back in the warm, whirling pool, all is better.  After soaking a bit, cuticles are trimmed.  I have learned not to watch as this is done, because it involves a sharp cutting instrument called a cuticle nipper.  Trust in the technician is a must to remain relaxed.

In order to accomplish the end goal of smooth, pretty feet, it is then necessary that the rough places on the feet be dealt with using a pumice stone.  If you’ve never had a pedicure, or it’s been a really long time since your last, it may require something more severe that literally shaves away those rough parts, such as a callous file.  Again, trust is important.

Next, your feet are covered in hot wax designed to soften the skin – I don’t know if it really does, but it certainly feels wonderful! While the feet are waxed the massage begins.  This, my friends, is the highlight of the experience.   Lotion applied, the skillful hands apply the perfect amount of pressure to relieve stress and soothe tired muscles.  Wax removed, this massage extends to the feet. While this may occasionally produce what looks like quick spasms if you’re ticklish, in the end is worth the discomfort.

Lastly, the polish and design of your choosing are applied to the nails.  All completed, you leave the salon feeling pampered and pretty, displaying your feet as a work of art.  Guys normally skip the polish and feeling pretty part….

Did you know the bible talks about pretty feet?

Isaiah 52:7 says “How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns!”

God says our feet are beautiful when we share the good news, when we proclaim to others “Our God reigns!”  But as I thought about the pedicure process, I began to look back at all God has worked in my life, and is still working in me, as I learn how to boldly and courageously share the gospel.  He strips away old coverings, baring what is underneath.  He buffs and trims and cuts away those things that He can’t use – attitudes that are rough and harmful to others.  Words that are harsh and sharp.  Strife that opposes His message of peace.  He covers us in His love and works in us His plan, His design when we yield to Him in trust.

Are we avoiding the discomfort of the changes God wants to make?  Do we long to be used by Him, yet draw back when He begins to buff and trim and cut away?  Do we trust Him?  A pedicure is a silly example, but can we relate?  How many have missed the very best God had for them because it was hard or uncomfortable.

I want pretty feet when I leave the nail salon.  Much more than, that I want my feet to be the carriers of the good news, the news of salvation to those who would come.  I want my voice to cry out to His own “OUR GOD REIGNS!!”  I want to shake off the fear that I’m not ready, that I’m not perfect, that I don’t have it all together yet!  I want to step out and compel those who are lost to come in! I want to share this message of peace with all who will listen!

Come with me – let’s be the beautiful feet that take this message into our everyday worlds!

Christian, Faith, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Who said that?

I find it interesting (and annoying) how frequently strangers give unsolicited advice.  I was entering a store recently when a guy on the sidewalk told me that I should not shop at that store, but should go to a different one.  Another day, I was sitting at the pattern book table in the fabric store with several pages side by side, making my comparisons and trying to determine which I would choose. A lady walks up, looks over my shoulder, points to one and tells me that’s the one I should choose.  Really?  (I’m very often tempted to respond to them in my second language:  sarcasm.)  Why would I follow the advice of a stranger?

When friends offer unsolicited opinions or advice, it’s a little easier to take because I know them.  Even if I disagree with their position on a matter, I can listen and consider what they are saying if I know they care about me.  I’ve learned to smile and just say thank you.  When I need help, when I want good counsel, I will seek out those I trust the most, people who I know truly love me and will not give me “fluff” answers.  I will seek out those that seek God.

Jesus said “…the sheep follow him because they know his voice…they will never follow a stranger…I am the Good Shepherd; and I know and recognize My own, and My own know and recognize Me….The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me.”  John 10: 4-5, 14, 27

When life presents its challenges, we need to know where to go for answers.  We need to know that we are listening to the right voices and not following the voice of a stranger.  When the pressure is on there are many voices speaking to us – friends, family, teachers, books, television, radio….and of course, the enemy.  I spent much of my life following the wrong voices.  I lacked confidence in my own decision-making abilities so it was easy to believe that others were smarter and surely they knew better than I did.  I followed the voices that told me who I should be and what I should do – voices that preyed on my desperation to be loved – voices of the enemy.

When a thought comes telling us who we are or what we ought to do, we need to ask “Who said that?”  Do we recognize the voice?  Is it the voice of our Shepherd?  Or is it the voice of a stranger?  The most important question is – can we tell the difference?

As Christians, we often struggle with our efforts and desire to hear God.  But the question must be asked – are we in position to hear?  When we need answers, are we willing to remove ourselves from all the noise, get the other voices out of our head, and be ready to listen?  He is our Shepherd – He is leading and He promises to speak to us.  We get to know and recognize His voice by spending time with Him.  His voice is never going to give us instructions that go against His word.  His word is where we go to “test” the thoughts we have, and the advice others give.

When we give Him first place and seek Him before any other voice, He is faithful and speaks to us clearly.  He has so much He wants to say – let’s get still and listen!

Christian, Faith, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Fox hunting

Although my childhood was spent in the country, my father and brothers were not hunters.  I was not introduced to hunting until I had grown and moved away from home.  I have been rabbit hunting, squirrel hunting, duck hunting, and deer hunting.  I will admit to you that I don’t have a problem with the practice of hunting for food, although squirrel and duck do not appeal to me as a food choice.  While some of you may adamantly oppose hunting for sport and/or food, that’s not really the point of my thoughts today, so please bear with me as they unfold….

Yesterday was one of THOSE days.  It began with the sun shining through the windows, which always makes me smile, but as the day progressed the clouds began to blow in, metaphorically speaking.  First, there was a situation at the school with one of the children that had the potential to be very bad.  This required several conversations, emails and phone calls before any resolution was to be had.  So for several hours a part of my brain is working on this issue.  Next is the frustration of retrieving the children from school on a Friday afternoon.  Two children attending two different schools, dismissed at two different times.  Add to that a ridiculous amount of traffic surrounding the schools, and my frustrations are mounting.  Resigned to the “wasted” drive time, I finally have the first child in the vehicle and enough time to run a couple of errands before picking up the second child, who has an after school meeting/practice.

It was as if the post office, the bank, and the dollar store were waiting for me.  Not to bring sunshine back into my world, but thunderclouds.  Nothing was easy.  Lost mail, 83 people in line at the bank (ok, well maybe not 83, but it felt like it…), and the overly chipper cashier who wants to visit with the person in line ahead of me….  It was a conspiracy!!  I am on a tight schedule, people!  I have just enough time to pick up second child and drive first child to game practice!

Finally, I am at the school to get second child and I wait.  And wait.  And wait.  She’s not answering her phone and I must leave to take first child to ball field.  Leaving a text message promise that I would be back, I return to the afternoon traffic.  Ugh.  I decide to take the short cut through the nearest subdivision, and just as I pull out on a major street, another car across the street rapidly pulls out at the same time.  They barely miss my grill, while furiously honking and giving me the “What are you doing, Idiot??” look.  Oncoming traffic is approaching and I must reverse to get my grill out of harm’s way, and BUMP – I back into the car behind me. Seriously???  It’s extremely minor, a small scratch on her grill.  She is beyond gracious as we quickly exchange information. She assures me it is nothing to worry about.  I am ever so grateful.

I nervously return to my attempt to get first child to practice on time.  Once deposited at the correct field, I return to second child’s school.  I wait.  And wait.  She has given me the wrong time for the meeting end.  Rather than a 45 minute meeting, it was a 1 and 1/2 hour meeting.  Not enough time to go anywhere else.  Nothing to do but wait.  Hindsight reveals that I most assuredly should have used this time to pray, but I confess that is not what I did.  I stewed.

Second child apologizes profusely while getting in the car.  At last, I am on my way back to the safe retreat of home, very glad that I have already prepared the evening meal, anticipating my time to blog.  I am home approximately 30 minutes when my husband calls and needs me to pick him up.  My tone with him is less than pleasant, and once at the correct location, I wait.  And wait.  And wait.  By the time he is in the vehicle I know that I just need to be quiet.  If I open my mouth, I am quite sure the wrong words will escape.  I can do this.  I can make it home to a nice, hot, relaxing bath, and I will be able to be nice again.

Once home, my husband needs help with our duties for this morning and I crack.  I was tired and grumpy and feeling very much the martyr for having to take care of everyone else all day.  I was sharp with my words, grudging in giving the help he needed, and impatient with his response time.  It wasn’t pretty.  It was time to go fox hunting.

This hunt I needed to go on did not involve guns or horses or even a small creature such as those mentioned above.

“Take for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”  Song of Solomon 2:15

The Song of Solomon is a book about love.  The Amplified Bible says “…the vineyards of our love…”   Whether the interpretation is the love between God and Israel, Jesus and the Church, or Solomon and the Shulammite, it is still about love.

God is love.  God is all about love.  He has lavished His love on us and fully expects that we allow His love to flow through us to others.  All the time.  At home, at work, and even at the dollar store.

It’s not the big issues that do the most damage to our love walk.  It’s the “little foxes”.  The sharp tongue, the ungrateful attitude, the impatient spirit – crafty, little foxes.  Ignored, they will destroy the vineyard.   Did you know that you can hunt fox while relaxing in a hot bath?  I caught quite a few and put and end to them.  Once the bath and the hunt were over, I gave my husband a much needed apology, kissed him, and went to bed.  The sun had long since set on this day, but I drifted off to sleep knowing it would rise again and my vineyard was safe.

Christian, Faith, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Broken filters

My husband is a great guy.  He has a good heart and loves me devotedly.  It’s a good thing I am confident of this because occasionally he says the wrong thing.  It’s quite unintentional, and in the end has brought me hours of amusement and given me great material to share with those around me.  For example:

One evening he and I are comfortably settled in our recliners, watching reruns of a crime drama.  In this particular episode, the bad guy is a very charismatic character who has several women that “share” him.  The women have all had plastic surgery and colored their hair in order to look very much alike.  They are completely enamored with this man, so much so, they are willing to share.  Mark is dumbfounded.  He looks over at me and says

“What would you do??  What would you do if I got two other bimbos….”

I don’t know what he said next as I was equally dumbfounded…not at the plot of the episode, but at his choice of words….

“Eeeexxxxcccuuuuuuuse me?  What did you say?”

He still hasn’t caught on, so he repeats it….

“What would you do if I got two other bimbos….”

Again, I have no idea what followed those words….

“Ok, let me get this straight…..two OTHER bimbos??  As if you already have one?????”

Seldom is my husband rendered speechless, but this was one of those rare moments.

I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this story, and many others. We have good friends that have dubbed his misstatements “Markisms”.   Sometimes I can tell by the look on his face in the nanoseconds after words have escaped his lips that he is thinking “Did I really just say that out loud??”  I know that he doesn’t really think I’m a bimbo, nor does he ever intentionally try to disparage me, but I tease him that his filter is broken.   To a degree, we can all probably identify with him, as we have said the wrong thing at some time or other.  Hopefully, it was to someone who knew our heart wasn’t accurately represented in the words we chose.

We have many filters.  Some may work well.  Others, not so much.  Consider the filter of emotions.  When situations, circumstances, or maybe the actions/words of others are poured through the filter of emotion the outcome is a gamble. Emotions are fickle and can turn on a dime.  They can change very quickly and often without warning.   The filter of emotions can take a minor problem and turn it into a major disaster!  They can produce an inappropriate response or attitude.  Sifting life through this filter on a regular basis wreaks havoc and keeps us in turmoil.  Perhaps you are not that different from me, having asked yourself “Why did I respond (i.e., feel) that way?” once a situation has passed.   Emotions are a filter that is unstable and unreliable.

Let’s look at the filter of our minds.  We have a lot stored in our brains, and taking the same situations, circumstances, etc., and pouring them through the filter of our minds can create a clog.  We can think so much about our problem or what someone else said or did, that we never come to any conclusions or resolution – it just keeps circling around and around in our minds.  One of the reasons it continues to circle is that this filter is made up of everything we think we know or have heard.  Our minds try to sift the problem through what we’ve been taught, the latest magazine article cited, or what the expert on the talk show had to say.  Surely these professionals know what they’re talking about!  As Christians this clog can become painful as we often try to push what we’ve learned from the world and what we believe the bible says through the filter at the same time, when there’s a conflict between the two.  Our minds, while an amazing part of who we are, cannot be trusted as the best filter for life’s experiences.

Then there’s our will, the decision-making filter.  How many times have we made a decision (usually with our mind and emotions as consultants) that seemed so right, so perfect, only to discover that we chose wrong.  We analyze why, regroup, and continue to make life decisions with a filter that is flawed.   Being a very strong-willed person, this has been a filter I fully expected to assist me in fulfilling my desires.  If I just make a strong, committed decision, put all my energy into making something happen, I will be rewarded with success…  Yet this filter has failed me time and time again.

There can be friend filters, church filters, family filters, work filters…     Filter:  A substance or device used to remove impurities.  Whether its air or liquid or gas or our lives, a filter is used to cause a better result in the final outcome.  Are we filtering our lives through the opinions of others to determine if we are on the right course?  Are we looking at others with the expectation they will chart our course and then blaming them when we don’t like the results?

God created us to use our minds, wills, and emotions in this life.  But if our filters are broken, how can we know we are going through our life experiences responding appropriately, and making right choices that will be for our good?

Hebrews 4:12  “The word that God speaks is alive and full of power…penetrating to the division of soul and spirit….exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.”

Psalm 119:105  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Proverbs 16:3  “Roll your works upon the Lord – commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will – and so shall your plans be established and succeed.”

Proverbs 3:5-6   ” Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  In all your ways know, recognize and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.

Jeremiah 29:11  “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.”

The perfect filter through which every part of our lives should flow is His word.  By His Spirit we can be “…cleansed by the washing of water with the Word…”  Impurities removed, all that He desires remaining, ready for His use.  The final outcome?  The ultimate satisfaction of a life lived with right purpose.

Christian, Faith, Spiritual, Uncategorized

A simple life

Even with all of my many methods of over-complicating things, I do enjoy when life is simple.  And not just those times I am able to purposely remove myself from the everyday responsibilities, such as a vacation or a short get-away.  Learning to relax and keep life simple on a day by day basis has been a mission for me over the last eighteen months or so.    I’ve made great progress.

Recent events, which on the surface were filled with uncertainty and pressure, have led my husband and I to a blessing in disguise – an amazing level of simplicity in our lives.  Adjustments are still being made, but I do so with ever-increasing delight!  Without the pressure I would not have made this move, yet I am amazed that the literal removal of “things” that surrounded me has set me free to thoroughly enjoy having less.   Oh, it wasn’t such a lofty purpose as selling all that I have to give to the poor (although I begged anyone who stopped by to please take whatever they wanted!), but I’ve definitely downsized.  Precious things are safely stored away, one day to surround me again.  But in this season of my life I want to learn how to make simplicity a part of me that doesn’t change when my world expands again.

Jesus led a simple life.  On purpose.  He had many an opportunity to get caught up in the complications surrounding Him.  He had throngs of people pressing in on Him when He traveled from one city to another.  They each had their own agenda – some wanted to discredit Him, others came to worship Him, many needed to touch Him and be healed.   Sometimes He answered the questions meant to challenge Him, other times He ignored them.  He always had time for those seeking Him with hearts full of faith.  He never treated them with impatience, never scoffed at their needs, never rolled His eyes in frustration at all the demands on Him.  He drew away to spend time with God while others were clamoring for His attention and His miracles.  Even knowing the suffering ahead of Him, He didn’t worry or fret.  He kept His peace.  He kept things simple.  He only did what His Father told Him to do, and He only said what His Father told Him to say.

He calls us to simplicity in ways that seem impossible to us.  Let me paraphrase an example out of Mark 5:

Jesus had just stepped out of a boat and a great throng gathered around Him.  A ruler in the synagogue (a Jewish house of worship) named Jairus fell at his feet and begged Him to come to his house and lay hands on his daughter, who was dying.  So Jesus heads off to Jairus’ house.  The crowd doesn’t stay behind, they continue to press in around Him as they walk.  In this crowd is a woman who had spent all her money on doctors, enduring much suffering, and yet was not healed from her “issue of blood”.  She had heard about Jesus and she made her way through the crowd, came up behind Him and touched His garment.  Jesus stops, asks who touched Him, keeps looking for her….she’s healed….He commends her for her faith…  A beautiful story….but not the one for today…

He was headed to Jairus’ house because his daughter was dying and He STOPS?!?  It is not recorded that Jairus said anything.  He waited.  While all this is going on, someone from Jairus’ house comes and announces that his daughter is dead, and tells him not to bother Jesus anymore.  Verse 36 says “Overhearing but ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear; simply believe.”

He proceeds to Jairus’ house, allowing only three of the disciples to go with them, and once there, puts everyone else out of the house.  These were the friends and family members who had already begun to mourn her death.  They laughed at Jesus when He said she was only asleep.  He put out all those who wouldn’t believe.  He took only His disciples, Jairus and his wife into the room with the girl, gripped her hand, and raised her from the dead.

Throughout all this, there are no words of Jairus recorded.  Now I don’t know if he literally did not utter a single word, but I am quite sure he never spoke a single word of doubt!!  He believed.  Just like Jesus said.  No matter what other circumstances existed, no matter what anyone else said or thought.  His faith was made even more remarkable by the fact that he was a ruler in the Jewish church!  Most Jewish leaders opposed Jesus!  Believing Jesus went against all that he had been taught, all that his natural mind could conceive, all that his emotions were screaming to display.  He chose to believe Jesus.  There is a simplicity to this choice that escapes us all too often.

What has Jesus said to you:   Don’t worry?  Don’t be afraid?  Cease striving?  I’ll take care of you?

He wouldn’t tell you not to worry if it wasn’t possible, not to be afraid if you couldn’t do it, to stop striving so hard if there weren’t an easier way.  Draw away and spend time with Him.  Choose to put out all the unbelieving voices.  And simply believe.

Christian, Faith, Spiritual, Uncategorized


Growing up in the country in a family of seven, my father self-employed, we were accustomed to receiving previously owned clothing, otherwise known as “hand-me-downs”.  I was fortunate to have a cousin who was just a couple of years older and the clothes I received from her were always anticipated with excitement.  I thought she was so cool!  The clothes she wore were almost all store-bought, as opposed to the homemade ones I had hanging in my closet and folded in the chest of drawers  (most often referred to as the “chester drawers” – I suppose we thought that someone named Chester had invented drawers…).

My favorite hand-me-down, remembered to this day, was a white, drop-waist dress with large blue and red polka dots.  It had a two-tiered, ruffled skirt that danced beautifully as I twirled.  I was sure I looked just like the pictures in the magazines when I donned this garment.

As children, we participated in the necessary chores around the house such as dishes, dusting, vacuuming, etc., however, my mother most often did the laundry.  We routinely placed our dirty clothes in the hamper, next to be seen hanging in our closets or with Chester. As the household chores were a never-ending activity for my mother, our clothing would quickly be washed, dried, ironed if necessary, and placed in our rooms ready to adorn us again.  Except my dress.  It would mysteriously disappear for weeks on end, removed from the hamper, yet nowhere to be found.  And somehow my questions as to its whereabouts were most often averted by my mother, as she would suddenly have something that needed her immediate attention…

She strongly disliked the dress and would tuck it away in some secret place until she could no longer ignore my inquiries.  She would finally launder my most treasured dress, enduring until it would be soiled again, thankful when it was back in the bottom of the hamper.  She thought it was “tacky” (ugly and ill-fitting). She much preferred a dress with a full skirt attached at the waist – the kind she made for me.  Looking back, I can appreciate how insulting it must have been to her as she labored over the perfect construction of clothing for me only to have it rejected in favor of a poorly constructed, and most likely, ill-fitting store-bought garment.   Her talent as a seamstress, combined with her perfectionist tendencies made her the envy of other women, who had no other choice than to let their children out in public with clothes that may or may not have fit properly. We were always fitted perfectly.

We learn a lot about God from others.  We attend church, Sunday school classes, and bible studies.  We listen to Christian music, watch Christian television programming, and read Christian books.  We watch the video series and complete the workbooks.  We have access to so much information from so many people who have walked with Him and readily share their stories and experiences!  We can learn so much from what they have to say.  But if all we know about God and Jesus is what we’ve learned from someone else’s study and experience, we have a “hand-me-down” faith.

While the things we’ve learned from others have increased our knowledge of Him, their walk with Him and their experiences don’t fit us exactly.  They may even be ill-fitting!  He has a plan for each and every one of us, conceived before we ever existed and designed to fit us perfectly.   He wants to teach us and lead us into His perfect plan Himself!  Imagine the insult as He sits waiting. He paid a great price to lovingly create the perfect “fit” for us, yet we prefer taking a plan designed for someone else and try to wear it as our own.

I love the understanding King David had of God.  David knew that he could do nothing without Him, and he trusted in and depended on God to teach him.  The 119th Psalm is replete with David asking God to:

  • Teach me
  • Open my eyes
  • Make me
  • Raise me
  • Restore me
  • Help me
  • Hold me
  • Look upon me
  • Establish me
  • Deliver me
  • Hear me
  • Save me

Why do the teachings of others receive more of our time than bible study with God, one-one-one?  Often, we are afraid we won’t understand His word or we won’t hear Him when He speaks.  Perhaps we’re just lazy – it’s easier if someone else does it.  We need to take hold of the 119th Psalm and start asking God as David did:  Teach me!!

1 John 2:27 says “But as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you; then you have no need that anyone should instruct you.  But just as His anointing teaches you concerning everything and is true and is no falsehood, so you must abide in Him, just as His anointing has taught you.”

I don’t believe this is saying we don’t ever need teaching from other godly people.  But we are never supposed to listen to teaching and take it as truth without examining the scriptures on our own and asking God to reveal His truth to us.  We have the responsibility of testing what others say, not for the purpose of controversy, but to make sure we are listening to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us through God’s word.  I love attending bible study.  I teach bible studies!  My goal as I teach is to create in those present a hunger for an intimate, personal relationship with God.  A relationship based on the confident trust that He will teach them, He will help them understand His word.

When my mother took us out in public she was proud that we looked nice, that our clothes fit properly.  It wasn’t arrogance, it was the fact that when people looked at us they would see we were well taken care of.  They would see that she didn’t want us to wear just any old thing.  We were each fitted perfectly for our individual sizes and shapes.

When we let God speak to us directly through our bible study and prayer time with Him, we begin living out the life that is perfectly fitted for us.  We display to the world that He takes care of us very well, and we become an invitation for others to go to Him and find the right fit.  It makes our Father proud.

Christian, Faith, Spiritual, Uncategorized

And she treasured these things in her heart…

I am thinking of Mary, mother of Jesus.   I know she was entrusted with a very special child, but today I envision her just like every other mother with her child.  When he was small she would just stare at him for no apparent reason.  Eyes that were so lovestruck they couldn’t be drawn away from his beautiful face.  They giggle together and make funny faces.  She gently touches his face as he sleeps, careful not to wake him.  As he grows, they share stories passed down through many generations.  They sing and laugh and play.  She watches as he learns from Joseph how to be a carpenter, and later, how to be a man.  He was wise beyond his years, but he needed them.  He needed to be nurtured and instructed by parents that loved him.

Mary was completely human and must have had the other kind of days as well.   I can imagine her range of emotions on the day after she and Joseph have left Jerusalem following the Passover Feast.  They’ve traveled this way with friends and family and assume that Jesus is somewhere in the crowd.   Perhaps she felt annoyed that he hadn’t joined them by nightfall.  The next morning maybe that strange sense of foreboding begins to build as they diligently look for him to no avail.   The trip back to Jerusalem couldn’t have been fun, thoughts of evil trying to capture her.  Finally, they find him in the temple.  After the relief, was she angry? She was human.

The plan of salvation unfolds to both mother and child as they continue to study and meditate on the prophecies.  “What do you want to be, Jesus, when you grow up?”  She knew, but what mother wouldn’t ask?  “The Savior” he replies.  They know this is his destiny. She watches with amazement as his ministry begins, so honored to have been chosen to be his mother.  She misses him when he is away, and rejoices to see his face when he returns.  There is a bond of many things unspoken as time draws near for his death.  She knows.  She knows this is the Father’s plan, that Jesus was born to her for this very purpose.  But with all the knowledge and understanding that has come through the years, her heart still sees her little boy.  Her body reverberates with the pain as if she were the one being whipped.  She cannot protect him.  And she cries.

Their eyes meet before he takes his last breath and there is nothing between them but love.  And the earth literally quakes under her feet as he dies.  Her world will never be the same.  She reminds herself of all he has spoken, that he will return.  Her faith in his words remains absolute, unshaken.  But it doesn’t stop the sorrow.  She knows she will see him again, but in this moment she just wants to talk to him one more time, to touch his face, feel his kiss.  This is the longing of every mother’s heart.


God entrusted him to me when he was one year old.  We didn’t have the normal nine months to begin to know each other, but our love unfolded easily and quickly.   He and his sister, a two year old, gave me my first real lessons in love.   I asked God to give me a true mother’s heart for these babies, and He faithfully and gladly answered my prayer.   We had several years to develop this love before their sister joined us, anticipated by all as my belly grew, and welcomed with much enthusiasm.

My stares were often, examining their every feature, embedding the beauty of them in my heart and my mind.  I was lovestruck. There were multitudes of funny faces and giggles, games and books, and I watched them as they slept.  We learned about God and I was blessed to lead each of them to Christ.  We played and laughed and I watched them grow.  There were many days my humanity didn’t handle it all well.  But they needed me and I needed them and love endured, even through the brokeness our family would suffer.

Were it not for Jesus, my heart would be shattered beyond repair.  For having loved this one so dearly, the earth shook under my feet the day he died.  I could not protect him.  I knew in that moment that my Father had not left me, and He faithfully spoke to me words that would carry me through and continue to do so to this day.  I believe what the Father said and my faith remains unshakable.  But the sorrow lingers. The emptiness of a mother’s heart that longs for one more touch, one more kiss.

Were it not for Mary, I would feel that no one else could possibly understand the state of my soul as I treasure all that we had.  I didn’t see him suffer as Mary did her child.  The last time I saw him was precious and sweet, and the memory of it so strong that sometimes I imagine I still feel that last kiss on my cheek.  I remember those childhood smiles and hugs.  And I treasure these things in my heart.

Were it not for Jesus, I would have no hope of ever fulfilling that longing, of every touching that face again.   I will one day take that face in my hands, our eyes will meet, and there will be nothing between us but perfected love, because of Jesus.  So as this anniversary visits me again today, I will rejoice.  Through my tears, I will remember and be ever so thankful that God chose me.

I hope you know this Jesus.

Christian, Faith, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Out of my mind

My mother began teaching me to sew when I was twelve years old.  I remember the first dress I made – it was a simple shift dress, with color blocks of orange and green (one half orange, one half green), with a large, lovely, very sixties flower at the front neckline.  I was so proud.  Thus began my love of sewing.  I sewed many of my own clothes throughout high school, learning more with each piece, and using this skill as a source of income once I was grown.  I became a seamstress for the public, a profession that allowed me to stay home with children and have a small income.  When I say small income, I really mean it.  Sewing for others in a small country town isn’t the strongest opportunity for business growth, and while still in the times when many women made their own clothing, my fees were relative to the average low-income of my community, not necessarily indicative of my talents and skills.  But I loved the creativity involved and the freedom to be a stay-at-home mom, so I took almost every sewing project presented to me.

Some of the sewing projects pushed the limits of my knowledge and skills, but having a mother and a grandmother who had vast amounts of experience, I had resources to rely on and a perpetual continuing education course available upon a simple phone call.  Many projects completed brought about a firm decision that I would NEVER do that again.  Others brought much delight.  The greatest pleasure in creating a piece for a client was the smile on their face when pleased with the outcome.  And of course the check they would write.

Fast forward to today, when life has brought me back to the pleasure of working from home and the opportunity to once again be a seamstress for the public. However, much has changed!  Very few women make their own clothes in this day and time, opening a much wider door for business to grow.  I also am residing in a much more densely populated area, with many of the subdivisions near being very affluent.  I am able to charge fees that are more appropriate for a professional with thirty-plus years of experience.  It is very satisfying.

A friend of mine, who also sews, asked me last week to complete a simple sewing project for her.  Of course, I accepted and made plans to do it one afternoon this week. If you’ve read any of my recent posts you understand how I have the propensity to take something very simple and completely over-complicate it.  Well, I was true to form this week.  In my defense, I did have to make some changes in design and complete mathematical calculations in order for the proportions to be correct.  I’m not sure exactly when or where my thoughts went awry…

I am happily sewing away, pleased with the care I am putting into each separate piece in preparation to put them all together for the finished product.  I have taken more time than usual in the details as this is for my friend (who knows how to sew) and I want it to be just right!  Each piece ready, I begin to try to assemble the garment.  At first, I find myself just staring at them, my mind aware that something is wrong but cannot determine what it is.  This examination lasts longer that I choose to reveal to you.  When my brain finally begins to process what I’ve done, I still just stare at the pieces in utter disbelief.  I have made the most elementary mistakes!  A first-time student with nothing more that a machine, fabric and a pattern could have done better!!  How could I have done this??  It was as if my mind had completely emptied of all that I knew about sewing.

I finally just had to put it down and walk away.  It obviously wasn’t a good day for me to sew.  I couldn’t get it off my mind, though, and kept attempting to figure out how and why this happened.  Was it because I have recently relocated and my sewing set-up is vastly different from before?  Was it because I was listening to the radio and singing along, not paying attention to what my hands were involved in?  Was it because it was the first day of a new venture for my husband and I am wondering how his day is going?  Or was I just out of my mind?  It was so frustrating.

On this particular day I didn’t feel as if my mind was in the way – it appears it wasn’t even present!!  But often, when it comes to the things of God, my mind IS the problem.  I’ve spent countless hours of my life trying to analyze and figure out what He was doing.  Or not doing.  Examining my every word and action to determine if I had been acceptable to Him, or had made a mess of things.  Many times I’ve stood looking at a mess I’d made and felt mentally incompetent!  How can a Christian with many years of experience make such elementary mistakes??

You may be familiar with Isaiah 55:8 –

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord.”  

The beginning of  having a “right” mind is to acknowledge that His thoughts are ALWAYS right.  If my thoughts are in contradiction with His, mine are wrong.  We would all agree that God’s ways can be very mysterious.  Paul wrote to the Ephesian church –

“For I always pray to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation – of insight into mysteries and secrets – in the deep and intimate knowledge of Him…” (Ephesians 1:17)  

God wants us to get so close to Him that His ways will be revealed to us, that we will increasingly understand the mysteries and secrets of His ways!  Paul also wrote a very bold statement to the Corinthian church –

“For who has known or understood the mind of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge?  But we have the mind of Christ and do hold the thoughts – feelings and purposes – of His heart.”  (1 Corinthians 2:16) 

How often are we busily doing things our way only to find that it just isn’t working?  We sift and analyze and may even find ourselves trying to instruct God on how things should be!  Wondering why He hasn’t done what we expected!  Once we’ve stared at the situation for a while with still no understanding, we surrender our minds to God and He begins to reveal His thoughts to us.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we learned to seek His thoughts first??  How much peace will we gain by believing we already have His mind and depend on Him to lead us?

Spiritually, it’s a good thing to be out of our minds.  He does His best work when we are.     🙂

Christian, Faith, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Swim lessons

I’ve never taken swim lessons, and to my recollection my older brother was the only one of my siblings that did.  The little I knew of how to swim as a child I learned from him.  We didn’t have the opportunity to swim very often, but I remember the times we were taken to the public swimming pool in our area.  We’ve often laughed and given our mother a hard time as her last words before letting us out of the car were not “Be careful” or “Take care of each other”.  They were “DON’T LOSE THE TOWELS!”  She obviously believed enough in our abilities or those of the life guards to not be overly concerned about our drowning.

The phrase “sink or swim” was on my mind today.  It means to succeed or fail based on your own abilities.  It’s often applied to challenging situations that people face where they will have a limited amount of time to use their skills and either succeed or face failure.  Once trained in areas of knowledge or skill, it is expected they will be put to the test.  Those with competitive natures enjoy the challenge of the test and use it to develop even further.  The world teaches us a lot about self-reliance, self-confidence, and self-discipline through the “sink or swim” mindset.

There’s nothing wrong with good, hard work to reach our goals and to accomplish our dreams.  However, if we’re not careful, we try to take the world’s way of thinking and doing and apply it to our spiritual lives, rather than the other way around.  When life brings a struggle, a storm, we very quickly begin to look at ourselves to see what we can do or how well we are equipped to handle it.  Our minds immediately go into the “what am I going to do?” mode and we try not to panic. Drawing on all the knowledge and skills we possess, we begin to work as hard as we can in our own efforts to fix the problems or find the nearest shelter to escape the storm.

I am reminded of Peter when he stepped out of the boat to walk on the water towards Jesus (Matthew 14).  We are all familiar with the story – a storm was raging and Peter saw Jesus miraculously walking towards them on the water.  He asked Jesus to command him to come out on the water to Him.  Jesus did what Peter asked and Peter was doing fine until he began to pay more attention to the storm than to Jesus.  As long as he focused on Jesus, he could successfully do exactly what Jesus had told him to do:  Come.  But even when he began to sink, Jesus didn’t say “Peter, just start swimming!  You can still get to me.  You’re a fisherman, you’ve been around water all your life – you should know how to swim!  You can do it, keep trying!”  Jesus knew that Peter would never be able to get to Him by his own efforts.  He immediately reached out and caught him.

And I would dare say that most of us, as believers, truly do look to Jesus when the storms of life are raging all around us.  We are confident that He is there and able to help us.  But what about when there’s peace in our lives?  When things are going good and we don’t feel like we’re about to drown?  Do we think we can handle it on our own?  Do we see Jesus as the lifeguard, only needed when circumstances demand more from us than our own efforts can support?

Acts 17:28 says “In Him we live and move and have our being…”  Are we living our lives as if we have any capabilities that didn’t come from God?  Are we acknowledging that we can do nothing without Him – His strength, His help, His power?  Why wait til there’s a storm?  What could He do with us in our everyday lives if we depended on Him for everything??  He’s not just the lifeguard that will save us before we drown.  He is the one Who is calling us just like He called Peter and the other disciples – He wants to use us to change the world!!  When we begin to take this spiritual truth and apply it to our lives in every area, we are in position for God to do the impossible!

He’s not giving us swim lessons.  He’s calling us to Him and saying “Watch what I can do with you if you keep looking at Me!”