Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Don't you just love weddings? After months of anticipating the first wedding of a grandchild in our family, we were not disappointed to witness two Christians uniting in love and dedicating that love to God.
The picture above is so special because it is my brother conducting the service for his son, Joshua. I love the glimpse of their love and joy in the background as Bill shares with the family and friends news of the Author of true Love, Jesus.
It was just an amazing night, and as my brother said, it was truly "a glimpse of heaven."
-Because as the beautiful bride walked down the aisle, Joshua smiled and cried at the same time overcome by such love and devotion to her. I knew at that moment, that is how Jesus sees me, you, each of us. So much love evident as He sees us as His special bride, new and fresh, free from sin, disease, age, flaws.
-Because that night we had family together for the first time in such a very long time. I revelled in hearing stories, soaking up laughter, and just being in each other's presence. I knew this is what heaven is like where we will NEVER have to leave each other; where we will laugh and enjoy Jesus as well as family and friends. Conflicts and quarrels will be absent as our egos are transformed in Christ. Love will abound as it did during this special time.
-Because it is a beginning. Josh and his bride, Kelsey, reminded all of us of the excitement and joy of a new life, a new beginning. Heaven provides for us a new life with Jesus.
On the other hand, I know it was hard on some folks as they celebrated the wedding because they knew it was the ending of childhoods, of dependence on parents, of the past times of having their son or daughter home daily. It was a departure from those familiar times together and now would be part of family stories and history passed on at reunions or to future children.
I sat in the audience aching for my parents to be there, knowing what joy they would have seeing their son conduct the wedding for his own son, seeing their beautiful new granddaughter-in-law, seeing the joy of that night. --Yet I knew the joy they are experiencing in heaven far surpassed our own. I could not be selfish in wishing them back even for my own glimpse of heaven.
Driving back, I realized it was also a little bit of another ending for me. I have written this blog for a year now and have enjoyed sharing what God has put on my heart for His glory. --Yet now I feel it is time for a break from the weekly/daily devotional to see what God has in store....what is His desire for this next in between part of my life?
Thank you for following, responding,praying, Dear Readers. Keep in touch on facebook if you can. I may return....but I wait for God's direction.
May God fill you with His peace and love now and forever more.
For His Glory,
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
What a difference one hour can make!
Walking into the neurologist's office I felt my life could change dramatically depending upon what this doctor interpreted from my MRI during my one-hour appointment.
Onset of blindness?
The possibilities were not good. I had read the report. My primary doctor said the report looked like MS and I needed to see a neurologist. He just wasn't sure, but it could be....
Left with that possibility and the loss of vision as well as excrutiating head pain, my heart was crushed.
My mind ran to worse-case scenarios. You see, my mother was diagnosed with Parkinson's close to my age. Her active lifestyle (and I mean active, she ran circles around her children) changed in that one diagnosis.
I was with her at the hospital in St. Louis when the neurologist told her the heart-breaking news as to why her little finger fluttered uncontrollably like a butterfly. I was with her when she went to get her first prescription of dopamine which would not help control the soon-to-be violent tremors.
I was hurt and angry at God as she eventually gave up playing the piano for the church, taking daily walks in the park to enjoy nature, feeding herself, going to the bathroom alone, and talking. It took me a long time to realize God did not give her the disease and loved her through it all.
-Yet, I knew that if this could happen to my mother, then why not to me? I am no better.
As I sat in the waiting room surrounded by twenty or more patients with MS at varying stages, I felt I was watching my own future. While I prayed that it not be so, I also knew God had healed people in the past and He also had chosen NOT to heal people this side of heaven, like my mother.
All that was left for me to do was to trust He walked with me as He did my mother. He held my hand. He heard my cries at night, my fears in the day, and knew of my pain and worries for my daughter and her future.
The Word became my solace, my source of strength. I recited Psalms over and over. I wrote in my Bible where ever a verse spoke to me about my fears and the MRI results.
God was with me. He IS with me.
God let me get my news today instead of more waiting and more testing. He let me find out that I do NOT have MS!
I have chronic-daily-late-stage-onset of migraine headaches. Loss of vision is a side effect of these terrible daily pains. The doctor believes it is treatable. I am on new medicine today.
I have to tell you, Dear Reader, God really taught me the past week about trusting Him, about priorities, about His Word. I never understood the part in Phillipians 6 about "...with thanksgiving make your request known to God...." I understood going to God with requests, but with thanksgiving?
I get it now. I am thankful God let this fear come to my door. I am thankful because it brought me closer to Him.
My mother said that same thing about Parkinsons. She said without the disease, she would never have gotten as close to God as she did.
I get it.
I don't like it, but I get it.
I serve a mighty God. A loving God. A patient God.I have to stop having anxiety about life and trust Him!
I am a different person having had this scare and faced that waiting room and having had the MRI and suffering this pain than I was last year.
Thank you, Jesus, for loving me so much and being so patient with me through this life.
His mercy endureth forever.
Monday, October 10, 2011
It has been awhile since my last post. Ironically, it has been one year since I started this post. I was planning on stopping after one year, and still may do so. For now, I wish to share what is on my heart this morning, Dear Reader. May it bless you.
God has been working on me as I have struggled with shakey MRI news and severe pain.
I continue to ask for prayers as I face the neurologist October 12th at 10:00. I am praying for a good report and already feel God's merciful healing and relief from headache pain.
Ironically, I have been reading about David and the Psalms during this trial. It comforts me that David cried out to God, had his doubts, panicked as well, yet is still counted in Hebrews 11 as among the cloud of faithful witesses of God's glory.
God understands my weaknesses and my fears and is so very patient with me. He has been so good as I have found Scripture after Scripture reminding me of His mercy and love. I also feel the presence of prayers going to Him on my behalf. I have never had that feeling before now. It is precious.
This past weekend I was able to travel to Branson, Missouri, to surprise my daughter for her Adoption/Gotcha Day anniversary. To celebrate her walking into our lives from China, we took her on a family road trip to see the Acrobats of China and the Kung Fu show.
Both shows demonstrated such amazing talents and skills of the human body! It was good for her 10-year old eyes to see others who looked like her and celebrate seeing objects and pictures of her culture.
Yet, I must confess I felt such sadness in the Kung Fu show. The entire show talked about a young monk's journey to Enlightenment. It was an arduous journey filled with self sacrifice and discipline of his mind and body.
Sitting there, I wanted to tell the audience and the actors about another way, a way that does not depend upon ourselves, our disciplining of weaknesses,but a way of love and life and mercy and hope: Jesus.
The young monk would always battle trying to overcome his mind, his frail body. It would never be enough, and in the end, would only find failure.
No matter how poetic.
No matter how noble.
No matter how strong.
No matter how brave.
Man can not be god.
Man can not create heaven.
Man can not redeem himself.
Jesus can. Jesus did.
I thank God today for His mercy.
I also thank Him for His healing power, for my daughter, for this time of trial, for hearing me.
So...What are you thanking God for today?
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Today, I am reminded of how little in control I am of my life. Just when I think I have it all together, I am put on hold and waiting for results of my MRI, trying not to be anxious.
MRI's are interesting experiences, aren't they? For those of you who have had one, the last thing you want to be is claustrophobic and have to have an MRI. On top of it, try going in because of severe headaches and listen to the loud drumming sounds for the 30 minutes required of screening.
While in the "isolation tube," I decided to keep my eyes closed and just focus on Jesus. In addition, I used the drum sounds as the baseline beat to several Christian hymns flowing through my mind. As a result, "the peace that passes all understanding guarded my heart and mind in Christ Jesus" as promised in Phillipians.
The problem seems to come though AFTER the MRI. As I drove home, I lost that focus somehow. The "What If's?" started to haunt me. The dizziness and pressure did not abate on top of it all.
I wish the technician had not told me the results would be ready in an hour. Knowing this, I thought I would surely get results today. (I know, optomistic and naive, right?)
I forced myself to go for a bike ride hoping fresh air and the beauty of an impending fall would cheer my spirits and renew my faith. As I biked, I listened to my favorite podcast by Adrian Rogers. Guess what the sermon was about as I biked?
He reminded me how God's time and God's timing are different from our own. How in learning patience we need to focus on the support God has provided in our past and trust in God's promises for hope of the future.
So I remembered.
I remembered how this past year God healed my sister-in-law, Tabby from liver/abdominal cancer. A miracle!
I remembered how God took my extreme fear of death and had me hold the hand of my father first as he transitioned to heaven and then hold the hand of my mother as she followed him a year later. I no longer fear death. A miracle!
I remembered how in the midst of losing my career, God brought me a wonderful little girl to be my daughter. I went from an aging career woman to an old, grateful mother of a 10-year old, a Sarah in 2011. A miracle!
I remembered how often Satan attacks me with bouts of depression only to find God's Word spreading light and hope in my heart each day. I hunger for His Word as my daily medication of Truth and Perspective. A miracle!
I remembered how I battled food addiction only to be set free this past year as God reminded me in a wonderful Bible study how Jesus came to set the captive free. A loss of 55 lbs. in a year for His glory! A miracle!
I hope in God's promises throughout the Bible that He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5) and that He knows me so well and loves me and hears my cry (Psalm 22, Psalm 139,1 John 4:4...and so much more).
So I wait...and remember...and hope.
God knows best. God loves me.
It is His time.
For His Glory,
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Well, I blew it yesterday. I told a lie to a stranger to get my way.
Don't be shocked that a writer for a Christian blog told a lie. Just be shocked that I am able to confess it and have apologized for it.
You see, I don't think it would have bothered me as much a year ago. I mean I really had to fight the rationalizations that came all too easily. I believe it is because I am in the middle of studying the life of David that it hit me so hard and convicted me so very much.
Background to my lie is that I have shopped hard for just the right wedding attire lately. I capitulated after hours, days, weeks of continuing to bemoan colors, fit or lack of fit, and dress lengths. I ended up buying a black, pant suit for a Texas ranch wedding. In my heart I knew it wasn't right for the wedding, but I felt defeated and desperate. I did not notice the sign at check out that said NO RETURNS after 3 DAYS. This wasn't a sale item either by the way.
One week later, I spied the PERFECT dress, much less expensive, even WASHABLE and something I could wear again and again AFTER the wedding. I could not afford to add that dress to my account, so I thought it would be simple to return the pant outfit. I don't usually return items, but I was sure a few days would not be a problem for the pant suit. Confident, I purchased the dress and went back five days later to the pant shop.
After handing my never-worn-before-still-in-the-original-bag pant suit to the sales person, she pointed to the small sign (it was small) saying no returns after 3 days. Desperately I told a lie to her. I told her this outfit would be in no way approved or appropriate and I need my money back, please.
I knew it was wrong. I was operating out of purely selfish motives. As I walked out of the store with my return slip, I went home to finish my Bible study on David. Yes, ironic, right?
Guess what section I read? 1 Samuel 21-22 where David has to flee from Saul for his life and goes to a priest for food. When the priest asks David why he is alone and not with Saul or Saul's army, David lies to him. David's lie gets him needed food which was bread only used for God's convenant, and his lie gets him a sword. Ironically, it is the sword David took from Goliath when David was but a boy. David's lie gets him what he wanted. I thought, "Yeah! David was a man after God's own heart. If he could lie, so could I, right? No big deal."
Trouble comes from that lie later. David continues as he flees Saul to use his "street smarts" to get what he wants.
Of course, as I read this, I became terribly convicted. I thought, "Why did David not depend upon God to help him flee Saul, fight Saul, just as God had helped David when David was a boy fighting the giant, Goliath? " The answer was the same reason I did not trust God when I confronted the store policy for a return. I panicked. I saw people not willing to budge.Like David, I thought I would use my little white lie, my "street smarts."
You may think this a small thing in life.
This little lie.
Yet, for some reason it really stood out to me. I got in the car only to hear Dr. David Jeremiah talking about a time he did not return $20.00 as a young man and how, even after returning the money with interest years later, he never asked forgiveness or owned up to it personally. He talked about how the power of God can be diminished in one's life with unrepentence and how he had to ask forgiveness years later of the man whose money he had taken.
So I went home and wrote the owner a letter of thanks and a confession.
-And I warn you, Dear Reader, once you get into the Word of God, be ready for the Spirit to work on your life. It doesn't make things easier to be a Christian, but God' Word is for our benefit, for our good, so His power can flow freely through us. We can be free from guilt as God works to reveal and forgive sin in our lives.
Don't you know Satan was upset with all of this? All those wonderful rationalizations he and I had worked on that day disappeared in the Light of God's Word.
What about you? Is your mind open to God's direction today even though the world may say, "That's no big deal"? I pray so.
For His Glory,
Friday, September 23, 2011
What a way to celebrate having no migraines during the night nor in the morning! Praise God! This morning when I woke up, pain free, my husband and I set off for a mini vacation day to celebrate our first day of fall. We enjoyed hiking in the Missouri hills.
Bubbling streams,the sun dancing through trees, cool breezes, and a few leaves struggling to turn a color after a summer of drought made today feel extra special.
As I walked behind my husband (that dapper man in the picture), I noticed the saying on his "Life is Good" t-shirt: "Do What You Like; Like What You Do."
We were certainly doing that this morning. We love hiking. I especially like hiking where I know there are no bears. My husband prefers the moutains. Missouri, though, gives us a nice compromise.
I wondered as we walked how God sees what we like in life? Does He plant those desires in us that make us so unique from each other? Why do I love to hike while others would go nowhere near the woods and prefer the city? I believe God enjoys our differences as long as our "likes" are in line with His love and desires for us.
The I took a real challenge. How can I take what I like in life and use it for God? Now that one, I don't have an answer for yet, but I am going to work on it.
How about you? Are you doing what you like and do you like what you do? More importantly, how do you use what you like for God's glory? ("Do all for the glory of God.")
As you reflect, perhaps you will join me in celebrating the first day of fall by getting outside. Oh, and by the way, tell God a little thanks for healing me from these awful migraines. I truly give Him glory knowing He can heal with as well as without medicine.
For His Glory,
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I just LOVE making lists! I don't know how people function without them. Spreadsheets must be the list-makers' nirvana. These past two weeks, I have been wondering how the lists have been going for my nephew as our official wedding invitations arrived in the mail. Once the beautifully embossed cream colored invitation arrived I knew it was time to get serious with my own shopping for something to wear to this celebration.
Unfortunately, it seems that it has been much too long since I last attended a wedding. Nothing seems appropriate. The colors available on the racks this time of year are just not right, and the frugal side of me keeps trying to find something I will actually wear again after the wedding, like say for the holiday season. (Somehow red does not seem to fit this ceremony.)
As I shop for just the right outfit for my daughter and me, I can not help but imagine how precious God must see us as His brides preparing for our wedding day with Him in heaven.
When I look in the department store mirrors (they are so wise to slant those mirrors so I look thinner, yet when I get home, I see reality), my reflection shows the years, the miles, the neglect, the abuse my body has born. Too many cookies, too much sun, and not enough exercise make me reach for SPANX yet again.
Scripture tells me though that God sees each of His chosen ones like a new bride, pure and beautiful. I like that. I like knowing as my hair and skin change, God's love doesn't.
Although I am reminded God sees me as a new bride, I wonder about my preparations for my wedding in heaven, the day I get to join Jesus. Have I been as diligent in my wedding plans here on earth? What do my Christian lists look like? What should be on there? Am I inviting others to join me? Is my list inclusive? Have I been conversing with my groom as regularly as I should?
It is something to consider, isn't it?
By the way, you are invited. Jesus will be hoping you attend. After all, we, His church, are the bride.
For His Glory,