Swinging Bridge

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Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

When I was 24 years old, I had three children under the age of 5. I was living in Montana miles and miles removed from my family in Texas. My husband, their father, was seldom home and not very helpful when he was home. I felt alone; I was alone. I had this recurring dream.  In this dream, I was trying to cross a swinging bridge with my three daughters. The bridge was high above rapidly moving water, water that would sweep us away in minutes should we fall, and the bridge swayed and seemed very unstable. I was trying desperately to figure out how I was supposed to get three kids across to safety when I only had two arms. I would wake shaking and terrified and overwhelmed. It wouldn’t take a dream specialist to interpret that dream.  In my waking hours, I was alone, I was overwhelmed and I was terrified. And more than once, I would question, how on earth, am I going to take care of these three kids by myself?

It would be years before I would know the comfort of this verse. Years before I came to know that I wasn’t alone and didn’t need to be terrified.  I don’t know how He does it, but God has a hand available for all His children to keep them from being swept away by life. I love this promise. I love the image it paints in my mind – a father, a loving father reaching out his hand to hold mine for as long as I need him to.  I am much older than 24 now and I don’t have 3 young daughters to raise anymore, but still, at times, I find that life can be overwhelming but I know that  when I feel alone I have only to reach out and the bridge doesn’t sway quite so much and the waters don’t seem so threatening. If I hang on to His hand, I can cross to safety.

Whatever the trial, whatever the bridge you or I need to cross, we are not alone. The God who promised His hand to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, promises His hand to you and to me. We don’t need to fear or look anxiously look about. We only need to extend our hand to hand God has offered us.

Once again, I come to You, hand extended. Would you stabilized me again? Thank You for being my God, my Father, my Protector, my Comforter, my Peace, my Help. Thank You for always being there, for always reaching out to me, for always strengthening me. When fear tries to tell me otherwise, would You please remind me of this verse and Your love?  Thank You for being all these things and more to my precious three daughters, help them to come to know that they are not alone.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Salvation Garden

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In simple humility, let our gardener,

God,

landscape you with the Word,

making a salvation-garden of your life.

James 1:21

Learning the things of God requires humility; a desire to know the Lord requires meekness. Humility involves teachability. Taken as such, God’s word has the power to make a salvation-garden of our life!

God’s word has the power to save us from ourselves, our sins, our pain, our sense of unworthiness and bless us in so many ways but only if we come to it with a humble, teachable spirit. Too many times though, we come to the Bible with preconceived ideas of who God is, of what He means, of how He operates in people’s lives and rather than let the word of God speak to us as it will, we hear what we want, we accept what makes sense, reject what doesn’t, try to complicate it, try to overlook the parts we don’t like and twist the ones we do.

What would happen though, if we wiped clean the ideas we have of God and His word and look at it afresh with a teachable spirit? What kind of seeds would be planted in the salvation-garden of our lives?

Seeds of hope

Seeds of forgiveness

Seeds of love

Seeds of healing

Seeds of deliverance from habits

Seeds of mercy

Seeds of grace

Seeds of joy

Seeds of acceptance

Seeds of belonging

Seeds of adoption

Seeds of freedom from everything that enslaves us

Seeds of provision for our journey

Seeds of value

Seeds of significance

Seeds of vision

What an amazing garden that would be!

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And all we have to do is approach the word of God with humility, let God plant the seeds, and stand back and watch as He produces a harvest in our lives that will amaze us and bless others.

Let my heart be fallow ground; may I always approach Your word with humility and a sincere desire to be taught by You. Thank You for the salvation garden You are growing in my life. I see evidence of new life, Your life, springing up all around me and in me and I am humbled by that. Open my eyes to the preconceived ideas I have of You, misconceptions that blind me from the truth of Your word and help me to be teachable. Bring a harvest in my life, I pray, that will bless others, I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Beloved

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“I have called you by name, from the very beginning.

You are mine and I am yours.

You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests.

I have molded you together in your mother’s womb.

I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace.

I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child.

I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step.

Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch.

I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst.

I will not hide my face from you.

You know me as you own as I know you as my own. 

You belong to me.

I am your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your lover and your spouse…even your child… wherever you are I will be.

Nothing will ever separate us.

We are one.”

I needed to hear this today. Probably yesterday and perhaps, again tomorrow. It is all too easy for me to forget just how much I am loved. What about you? Is it hard at times to see yourself as the object of God’s love? I found these words in Henri Nouwen’s book Life of The Beloved. He also wrote, “We are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children and friends loved or wounded us.”

How would it change our day if we got up and allowed these words to sink into our heart?  We are known, warts and all, and loved anyway. We are watched over, every step of our day, every moment of our day. Accompanied by the God of the universe, who holds all things in His hands.  All of our need satisfied by Him, and never, never, never will he abandon us. Even if we look away from Him, He won’t look away from us.

It might mean that whatever the doctor said, whatever the bank statement said, whatever the symptoms said, or the voices in our head that would trash talk us, that God says differently. He says, I am with you. I am here for You. Whatever the future holds, whatever this day holds, you are not alone, we will face it together and I will care for you. You are my beloved.

I can scarce take it in. I am Your beloved. I don’t understand that kind of love but I want to be open to receive it. Help me to still the voices that would tell me otherwise so I can hear Your voice whisper to me of Your love. Help me to remember that You are with me, whatever comes my way, You are already there to care and provide for me. Thank You, Father. Amen.

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Payment Accepted

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So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.”

Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God.

The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body.

 So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out.

Hebrews 10:19-22

Message Bible

Need healing? Need restoration? Need peace? Need something you can’t even put into words?

Feel like you can’t even approach God? You’ve been too distant – feel too unworthy – it’s been far too long since you even considered Him as a viable source for anything? Whatever the barrier that keeps you from God, He hasn’t placed it there. The only barrier was our sin, yours, mine, individual sins and collective sins, all of them, the sum total, the past ones, the present ones, the ones you haven’t even thought of yet. Those caused a barrier; but that barrier has come down. They came down when Jesus said, “it is finished”. The sacrifice made to  atone for our sins was made. God was pleased to call our debts paid in full and the barrier that separated us is no longer.

If we believe that, if we accept that, we can walk right up to God – without hesitation. We can take our needs, our concerns, our fears, our joys, our hopes (the ones that are alive and even those that have died) and we can confidently know that we are, as this verse says, presentable – inside and out. We don’t have to clean ourselves up first, we don’t have to dress up or act proper, we just come, as we are, and know that it was God’s desire to have the barrier of our sin removed so that we could come. He paid an incredible price for it. The only thing to be done now is accept that fact and walk right up to God.

The payment has been made; my debt is wiped away. What an amazing gift! I come to You, confident that I am presentable, inside and out, and ask for wisdom. I feel somewhat divided today. Does what I do honor You? Does it please You? I want, I need to know that what I do with my life is Your will and not mine. Would You show me, lead me, help me settle in my heart just what You would have of me? I ask in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Jesus Turning, Sees

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… Jesus turning and seeing her…

Matthew 9:22

To many of the people in that crowd, she was faceless. Just one more person in a crowd. Odds are, nothing about her stood out. But Jesus turned and saw her. Ever feel like just one of many? Like a nameless face in a crowd? I have a map of the world on the wall in front of my desk. When I look at it, I feel so small and insignificant. The city I live in isn’t even on there. There’s nothing about me that stands out, nothing that sets me apart. I’m a wife, a mom, a co-worker, a sister, probably as are many of you. When I read this, though, this morning, I lay my head down, closed my eyes and tried to imagine what it feels like to know that Jesus would turn to see me. Me. In a city that isn’t even on a map of the world, He turns and sees me! He turns and sees you! Isn’t that amazing?

The story continues to be amazing. After Jesus turned, after Jesus saw her, He immediately addressed her need and she was healed! At that very moment some translations say. Whatever you may be going through, Jesus sees. If you feel abandoned by Him, tell Him. If you need to experience Him in a tangible way, ask Him. If you aren’t too sure of His love for you, let Him know you want to know, you need to know. If you have a need that has gone unmet, touch Him through your prayers, see Him turning to see you, and know that He is your healer. What He has done for one He will do for others. What He did for this woman, He will do for you and for me – turn, see, heal. Isn’t that amazing?

Jesus, what a wonder You truly are! To think that You see me, You see my deepest need even when I don’t have words to tell You about it. Thank You for turning in my direction, for seeing me, for healing me. Help me to let those truths sink down deep into my heart, help me to see You as clearly as You saw that woman, as clearly as You see me. I ask in Your name, Amen.

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Really Jesus?! Children?!

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The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.

Mark 10:14-15

Jesus was constantly surprising people by His word and His actions, even His disciples who had been with Him for some time. He refused to condemn the woman caught in adultery, He dined with tax collectors, He touched lepers, He healed all, He fed thousands with a handful of food, He walked on water, He taught with such authority that people scratched their heads in amazement, He claimed to be the Son of God. And here, He has the audacity to tell His disciples that children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Who but Jesus would elevate children to such a place?

Jews at that time would have been taught that the kingdom of God is something you earn your way into and how could a child do that? By their standards, most adults couldn’t do it.   The disciples attempted to shoo the children away,  thinking Jesus apparently had more important things to do. Once again, Jesus surprised the crowds, the Pharisees and the disciples by showing them what He considered worthy of His attention and His kingdom – children.

This is a beautiful story of Jesus welcoming all of us who can’t earn our way in to be able to freely enter the Kingdom of God. The kingdom prepared and planned by God, planned and prepared for us. A kingdom where Jesus is Lord over all. I don’t know what that kingdom will look like, but I suspect that if Jesus is Lord it might look a lot like all of these things He did on earth that surprised people. Loving the least of people, healing the all and the many, dining with the ones society might call unworthy, refusing to condemn those we would gladly point a finger at, opening His arms and His heart to children. Welcoming people like me and people like you and laying His hand on our head to bless us. Wow! I can’t even begin to imagine the healing that flows from His hand when He lays it on my head. Can you?

What a beautiful story this is Jesus of Your love for us all, for me. To be welcomed into Your arms, knowing full well I can do nothing to deserve such a love or embrace and yet…  Words fail me now, I am so touched by the thought of Your kingdom and Your hand of blessing on my head. Thank You. Amen.

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If…Then…

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea’, and it will happen. 

But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in you heart.

I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. 

But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”  

Mark 11:22

If I believe…then the mountain will move. Speaking to the mountain is not a superstitious exercise. If our faith is in God and in alignment with His will and His word, it becomes an applied release of God’s creative word of promise. When I was in Bible school and first learning anything about faith as a means to an end, I saw a number of misapplications, at least, I thought they were misapplications. One time, while driving to a women’s prison to hold a Bible study, a man riding with us pointed to a newer Cadillac and claimed it as his. For all I know, he is driving one now but it seems contrary to what I have read in the Bible. Our faith needs to align with God’s word and His will. I don’t think this is a carte blanche opportunity to go around speaking to everything and commanding it to become ours or to disappear altogether.

But, we are told by none other than Jesus Himself that if we have the God kind of faith we can move mountains. What are the mountains in your life right now? Disease, financial lack, a relationship gone sour, a child who is rebellious? Would having the faith in God’s ability to keep His word move that mountain?

What are some of those promises that could move mountains?

God has promised that His grace is sufficient for us.

God has promised that His children will not be overtaken with temptation.

God has promised us victory over death.

God has promised to supply every need we have.

God has promised that all things work together for good to those who love and serve Him faithfully.

God has promised that those who confess Jesus as Lord shall be saved.

God has promised His people eternal life.

God has promised to be with us always.

God has promised that no weapon formed against us shall prosper.

God has promised to lead us and guide us and provide for us and heal us and love us and love us and love us.

Surely faith in those promises could the mountains that seem unmovable.

Father, You tell me in Your word that the grass withers and the flower fades, but Your word stands forever. Your word of power is unshakeable and the power of Your word is undeniable. Thank You for all that You have promised me, thank You for loving me with an ever-lasting love. I pray for healing, for myself, for Bruce, for my children, for Roy and Kathy and Janice. Forgive me for my sins and if I am holding unforgiveness towards anyone, would You reveal that to me? In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Could Not Have Been Made Better

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“God sat down for a moment when the dog was finished in order to watch it…

and to know that it was good…

that nothing was lacking…

that it could not have been made better”

R.M. Rilke

His name was Houdini because he could escape anything I put him in. He was one out of a litter of  9 Standard Poodles I had some years ago. I donated him as a puppy to Summit Assistance Dogs to be trained and used as a therapy dog and I was given a clay wall hanging with those words written on them as a thank you.

The accolades given dogs amaze me. I am a dog breeder and love them but I don’t think they walk on water, in fact, I’m pretty sure they don’t. They are wonderful, and perhaps those of us who adore dogs would readily agree with those words written about them,  but I wonder if we changed the words above to read like this how many of us would still agree with it.

God sat down for a moment when you were finished, when I was finished, in order to watch us…

and to know that we were good…

that nothing was lacking…

that we could not have been made better

I can almost hear a collective groan. I know I’m groaning. I groan because I think I could have been made better. I groan just thinking about the number of times I have envied some feature someone else was born with and lamented that I was not or vice versa.  Because what? I know better than God how I should be? Comparison is such an insidious thing, robbing us of recognizing our uniqueness. What if we could actually embrace those words, that God was pleased with us, just the way He created us; that we could not have been made better? Isn’t that what He is saying here:

…for You formed my inward parts;

You wove me in my mother’s womb.

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Wonderful are Your works,

And my soul knows it very well.…

Psalm 139:13

If God is pleased with me, with how He made me, why is it so hard to accept myself the way I am. My physical features don’t need to look like someone else; they need to look like me. I need to accept that I look exactly how God intended and He calls His creation good. I think a big step in healing would come from just this – recognizing and accepting that I am who I am by God’s design and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made even if I don’t look exactly like what society calls good, even if I don’t look like what I might call good, God calls me good. He didn’t make a mistake when He made me and He didn’t make a mistake when He made you.

Father, how hard it is to see myself just as You do. Do You watch me with a smile on Your face? Do Your eyes light up when You see me? Am I really the apple of Your eye? Are You proud to show me off – there’s my daughter, my beautiful daughter? Forgive me for seeing myself as anything less than Your creation, Your masterpiece. Even as I write these words, I know I am a long way away from truly believing them. Help me to believe them as I give myself permission to believe them and thank You – thank You for creating me just the way You did. Amen.

Getting Out of the Gate

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…and as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him.

II Chronicles 26:5

This is talking about Uzziah, a sixteen year old who became king and reigned for 52 years in Jerusalem. He started off on the right foot -he did right in the eyes of the Lord, he continued to seek God and this verse tells us that as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him. But something went horribly wrong because in verse 21 we are told that Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death and cut off from the house of the Lord.

We used to have race horses. Well, we had horses and some of them actually made it to the track. Mostly, they just made us broke. These were Thoroughbreds which means that most of their races were not sprints, they were bred for longer distances. Getting out of the gate in a sprint race has to be perfect, too much time out and it can’t be made up in a short race, but it can be made up sometimes in a longer one. A good start is crucial, but its the finish that counts.

Uzziah started well, and ended up poorly and if you read the story, you will see that his heart became proud because of victories won in battles and he stopped seeking the Lord and guess what? The Lord stopped prospering him.

When I started into this healing journey, I started on my own strength, that and help from the doctor and a wellness consultant. I had cried out to God for months and months to heal me or show me the way and He said NOTHING! At some unnoticeable point, I stopped seeking Him. The pills, the treatments, the supplements made some difference but I still had so much pain that I couldn’t deal with it any more. So I quit the prescriptions, the supplements, the treatments and decided to leave my healing in God’s hands totally. Either He healed me or I stayed this way.

I went back to seeking the Lord, which is how this blog began.  I started in search of physical healing but I have gained so much more. I have begun prospering in my life, not just financially, though that has improved, but mentally and emotionally and relationally and yes, physically. The only difference is that I sought the Lord through reading His word. That’s it, that’s all I did, and He has done the rest. In life, I don’t think our start in this life is as crucial as the finish as God allows us to start over daily, if need be. It’s the finish that counts in life, as in horse racing. And I hope, by His grace, that I finish strong and healthy and prospering.

Jesus, You paid for it all, my health, all of it, my mental and physical, financial, relational well-being are so important to You. I can’t attain to a level of health in any of these areas without seeking You and Your word and following hard after You. Thank You for turning me in my tracks back to the only source of healing for me. Thank you for the increase in my health in all areas of my life and please, please, help me to finish strong. In Your name, I ask. Amen.

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All The Black Sheep

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Who believes what we’ve heard and seen?     

Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?

 The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,     

a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him,     

nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over,    

 a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away.    

 We looked down on him, thought he was scum.

But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—     

our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.

We thought he brought it on himself,     

that God was punishing him for his own failures.

But it was our sins that did that to him,     

that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!

He took the punishment, and that made us whole.     

Through his bruises we get healed. We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.     

We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.

And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,     

on him, on him.

 He was beaten, he was tortured,     

but he didn’t say a word.

Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered     

and like a sheep being sheared,    

 he took it all in silence.

Justice miscarried, and he was led off—    

 and did anyone really know what was happening?

He died without a thought for his own welfare,     

beaten bloody for the sins of my people.

They buried him with the wicked,     

threw him in a grave with a rich man,

Even though he’d never hurt a soul     

or said one word that wasn’t true.

Still, it’s what God had in mind all along,     

to crush him with pain.

The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin     

so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.     

And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.

Out of that terrible travail of soul,    

 he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it.

Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,    

 will make many “righteous ones,”    

 as he himself carries the burden of their sins.

Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly—     

the best of everything, the highest honors—

Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch,     

because he embraced the company of the lowest.

He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,    

 he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

Isaiah 53: 2-12 Message Bible

I was the “black sheep” growing up. Oh, no one really said that, at least not out loud, but I knew. I simply couldn’t measure up to expectations. I didn’t mean to fail, to make bad grades, to get in trouble, but as my mom was fond of saying, “no, but you didn’t mean not to either”. I suppose she had a point. I tried to be good, to mean to do right, but…

The good news is, the great news is, the remarkable news is – I have a defender, a champion, a redeemer and He chose to take up my cause and the cause of all the black sheep. Wow! How amazing is that? And because of that, God’s plan will deeply prosper in my life. Who would have thought God’s saving power was meant for the black sheep of the family?  For all of us who couldn’t measure up.  Only God.

Jesus, again I say, what a wonder You are. Had I seen You back then in person, would I look at You and turn away? Would I give You a second look? Oh, how it grieves me that I might have. Even now, I know there are times when I fail to see You and Your life given for me as completely as I should. Help me to see You, to see what You did for me, to embrace all that You have purchased for me, and to share that with others who may also feel like a black sheep, unable to measure up, unable to make the grade, in need of a champion. Thank You for taking up our cause and taking away our sins. In Your name, I pray, Amen.

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