Lottery Ticket

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The school where I work is holding their annual plastic drive. Families bring in plastic trash and the classroom with the highest weight of recyclable plastic wins.  The school in the district with the highest weight wins. Last year, our school won and the kids would like to win again.

I brought in a large bag (4 feet tall by 2 1/2 feet wide) stuffed with plastic.  All of the kids wanted to take that to their class but only one bag so, in an effort to be fair, we decided on lottery tickets. I put kid’s names on tickets and placed them in a bowl and drew out one lucky winner.  Kids that did not hear their name called were disappointed for themselves but happy for the winner.  Probably slightly more disappointed for themselves. These are elementary aged children! We, as adults, would never act that way! Right?

I recently shared with a friend that God had healed me of fibromyalgia.  He has been in pain for years and has had countless surgeries and still not completely healed. I hoped to encourage him to not give up on God.

All he said was, “lucky you”.

Then he added, “congratulations”.

I wanted to say this wasn’t a lottery. Healing doesn’t depend on luck. God promises that what He has done for one, He will do for all. He is no respecter of persons. But he had that closed off look people get when they don’t want to hear any more.

I understand giving up on God. My healing didn’t come after one prayer, or one time of being anointed with oil, or one week of confessing healing scriptures. This blog is testimony to the time I have spent waiting on a healing and the posts only cover four years. I lived with chronic pain for over 22 years and then one day, the pain was gone. I can’t explain that but I know luck deserves no credit whatsoever.

I remember all too well hearing testimonies of people being healed and feeling sad for myself because I wasn’t. I didn’t credit this to luck as much to thinking I had done something wrong. Didn’t have enough faith or something like that. Maybe I waivered in my faith too much or didn’t confess enough.

There was a tremendous amount of torment in waiting for a healing that didn’t seem to be coming. And so I gave up. I gave up blogging and searching for answers. I gave up confessing scriptures and seeking God for a healing.

I never gave up believing, however, that God is a healer and that healing is the children’s bread. I simply gave up letting that quest dominate my prayer life and my thinking.

And one day I realized I hadn’t taken any pain meds in quite a while.

I couldn’t remember the last time I couldn’t sleep because of pain.

The pain that had been a part of my life 24/7 was gone.

That’s not luck, that’s God!

Abba Father, thank You.  Thank You for touching my body and bringing the long awaited healing. I praise You for not forgetting about me or giving up on me or turning Your back on me.  For those who are waiting on a healing, Lord, I ask that You touch them in a palpable way, remind them of Your love and grace and mercy.  And please, let Your healing flow to them.  In Jesus’ name, amen.  

 

 

 

 

pic credit:  clipartfest

 

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I Have A Song

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When the world is up against me
When it seems I’ve lost it all
And my back’s against the wall
When my heart’s grown dry and empty
When the life that I had planned
Is slipping through my hands

I hear sweet music rise above it all
And when it seemed my hope had ended, I was wrong

I have a song
And I’m singing to my Savior
Singing to the One who set me free
I have a song
And my heart will ever praise Him
This world can never take this joy from me
When all else is gone
I have a song

When I cannot see tomorrow
When the questions flood my mind
Looking back on wasted time
When my soul is full of sorrow
When the pain won’t go away
And such brokenness remains

I join the music rising far above it all
It’s an anthem to my true and faithful God

I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free
For His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me!

Lyrics by Shannon Wexelberg

Thank You Jesus, that in spite of it all, I do have a song. Let Your song rise up in me, help me to hear the song, to be moved by the song, to be lifted by the song and to share the song. Amen.

pic credit: groundedbygrace.wordpress.com

The Unstoppables!

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What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:31

Here in the Pacific Northwest, it rains a lot. It’s raining as I write. Fox 12 News launched their new promos calling all of us rain-drenched Northwesterners the Unstoppables, proclaiming that we don’t let the rain stop us, we continue with our plans regardless of the rain. I have to admit, that when it comes to doing things in the rain, I am somewhat stoppable.

For a number of years, I let pain stop me. I felt powerless and unable to continue to do the simple things I had taken for granted. It was a season and I am better now and I feel the spirit of unstoppable rising in me. I came to know at a deeper level than I have ever know before that God is for me. And if He is, who or what can be against me and win?

What is making you feel stoppable now?  Financial concerns, a disease, a diagnosis, a persistent, chronic condition that has limited your life, a relationship that has gone terribly wrong?  Whatever it is, however large and insurmountable it seems right now, God is for you.

So, how does that play out in an ordinary day? For me, it was recognizing that I am not alone. I’ll be honest, in the beginning of this trial, when I would call out to God to help me, He was strangely silent. I felt abandoned, hurt, betrayed and alone. I could read a verse like this one and think, yeah, great, maybe for others, but not for me. Or, and I am not proud of this, what good is it that God is on my side, if He does nothing. Ever think thoughts like that?

I took my feelings to God, sometimes crying, sometimes begging, sometimes yelling, sometimes scolding. And He remained silent and the pain persisted. I finally decided that I would choose to believe that He was there, that perhaps He had purposes that I couldn’t understand, purposes that would be better met if I walked this path trusting that He was there even when He didn’t remove the pain or answer my prayers. I wasn’t easy; every time I tried reading the Bible, I could only read a verse or two before closing it. I felt like I was up a brick wall. But I stayed with it.  And soon I could read several verses at a time. That was the birth of my blog.

I have discovered from this that God is for me. He is with me. I might not have tangible evidence of that, but He is there and He is for me. At all times, I have to take that by faith and through this journey with His word, the pain has lessened drastically and I no longer feel alone or stoppable. I know that with God on my side, I am UNSTOPPABLE!

Thank You, God, for being with me, for being for me, for being my Healer, my Champion, my Comforter, my Ever-Present Help. You and I both know that I don’t always see You that way. Forgive me, please, I felt so alone when my prayers seemed unanswered and You seemed so far away. I can see now that Your were there and You were guiding me into a deeper relationship with You, one that is about more than just me and my needs. Thank You for loving me enough to wait for me. Thank You for the healing You have brought into my life and the healing that is still to come. With You I am unstoppable and I am grateful. Amen.

pic credit: Fox 12 News

Let Us Settle The Matter

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“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson they shall be like wool.

Isaiah 1:18

Some time ago, I became aware of the fact that unforgiveness can hinder physical healing.  Fred Luskin, PhD at Stanford University says; “Not forgiving – nursing a grudge – is so caustic.  It raises your blood pressure, depletes immune function, makes you more depressed and causes enormous physical stress to the whole body”.  Ok, I got it. I asked God to show me anyone I needed to forgive and over a few weeks, He did just that. People just came to mind and I made the decision to forgive them. Some were easy, others were not. But with God’s help, we went through the list. I’m not saying I’m done, only that He hasn’t shown me anyone else.  At least not until the other day when He showed me who is most probably the most difficult person I have needed to forgive – me.

Wow! I did not see that coming! I could, however, instantly see the truth of that. I am quick to tell people they need to forgive themselves when I hear them verbally beating themselves up over something they did or didn’t do, but I don’t very often extend that mercy to myself. I wasn’t even sure how to begin. I remember I teaching someone once did on forgiveness and he said it begins with a decision to forgive, not a feeling to forgive. So even if I don’t feel forgiving, I can decide, as many times as I need to, to forgive and if I keep at that, the feelings will come.

So I am choosing to forgive myself. Choosing to accept the forgiveness Jesus paid for. I am settling the matter in my heart that my sins are covered and even though there are consequences to those sins, the stain of the sin is washed away. I am choosing to stop beating myself up for things I can’t go back and change. I am letting myself off the hook for expecting so much more of myself than I would expect of others. I am allowing the healing that comes from forgiveness to do it’s work in my life, my heart, my mind and my body.  And when self-incriminating thoughts come, I am reminding myself that it is settled and I am forgiven both by God and by me.

Lord, I do love Your word and how it shines the light of truth into my life. Sometimes that truth is a little painful to see, but it always brings healing. Thank You for Your word and for Your grace to allow Your word to do its work in my life. Continue to show me when unforgiveness is present in my life, I pray. I choose to forgive myself; help me to remember that when I talk otherwise to myself.  I ask in Your name, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

A Dangerous Read

Study to shew thyself approved unto God,

a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,

rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

 

“When Frederick Douglass’s master discovered that his wife, Mistress Sophie, was teaching this eight-year -old slave to read the Bible, he sternly forbade her to do so again. “If he learns to read the Bible it will ever unfit him to be a slave, he said, and in no time, “he’ll be running away with himself.” This, the renowned abolitionist Douglass later reflected, was the first antislavery lecture he had ever heard, and it inspired him to do anything he could to read more of the Bible. He recalls zealously gathering scattered pages of it from the gutters of Baltimore streets, carefully washing, drying, and collating them to read in secret. He had begun to realize what Master Hugh (and no doubt Mistress Sophie) knew – that there was power, indeed subversive, revolutionary power, in reading and interpreting the Bible for oneself, and that the institution of slavery in fact depended on controlling biblical literacy – who can read the Bible when and how. Many years later he wrote, “Let the reader reflect upon the fact, that, in this Christian country, men and women are hiding from professors of religion, in barns, in the woods and fields, in order to learn to read the Holy Bible.” Hiding, that is, from those who claim authority to say what it means, to control its interpretation. The Bible can look dangerously different when you read it on your own. *

That may seem like a time gone by, when people couldn’t read the Bible on their own, but oftentimes, people, even today, have formed opinions of God and His word based on something somebody told them sometime. God has been portrayed as harsh, judgmental, punishing, indifferent…the adjectives go on an on. Verses have been twisted to serve someone’s purpose and some people in some religions (here in America) are told not to read the Bible, leave that to the pros.

It’s so simple and yet profound: knowing God’s word brings freedom, subversive power and can actually be a threat to slavery. What are you enslaved to? a habit, a relationship, depression, chronic pain, loneliness, a substance, fear, feelings of unworthiness, anxiety…?  What if the revolutionary power of the Bible could set you free? What if some of the things you have heard about God simply aren’t factual? Is your belief system built on truth or slander? Your freedom from slavery may depend on getting to know God and His word on your own. But be warned – it could read dangerously different than what you thought!

I remember Father, the first time I read Your word. I was so shocked at how different You were from what I had been taught and believed. All of the years I had spent in slavery to fear and anger and feelings of worthiness and You set me free just from reading Your word. What an awesome God You are to love me so much that my freedom is upmost in Your heart and mind. Please help me to study Your word carefully so I can know You more fully. I ask in Jesus’s name. Amen.

 

 

*from Biblical Literacy by Timothy Beal

picture credit: anacostiaatscenter.com

The Baby With the Bathwater

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I believe in divine healing even though I still have pain in my body. I first learned about divine healing experientially. Members of my family were healed because someone prayed.  But experience isn’t the same as biblical doctrine. While living in Tulsa, I encountered the Word of Faith teachings of Kenneth Hagin, Bob Yandian, Billy Joe Daugherty, Richard Roberts and more. It was new to me; I had never in all my years of attending church, heard this message of healing. Since I needed healing, I gravitated towards it.

Having been healed instantly on occasion and not having been healed instantly led to many questions and I began digging deeper, which is also the purpose of this blog. Is healing really for today? Is it really for everyone? What happens when the healing doesn’t come?  The Word of Faith movement has quick answers for these questions and maybe they are spot on. Maybe they aren’t. The WOF movement has received much criticism and much praise. Neither of which makes it right or wrong.  I personally know people who have been hurt by this teaching when faith didn’t produce the results they were after and I know others who have dismissed the whole thing because of a healing that didn’t come. That, however, strikes me as throwing the baby out with the bathwater because I also know people who have been healed by this.

Have some people gone off the deep end with this? Probably.  Have some misused it? No doubt. But do those things make the underlying truths false?  I don’t think so.

When we build our doctrine on our experiences (or lack of experiences) or build it simply on the message preached by some or dismissed by some, we are in danger of rejecting truth. The very truth we may need to turn our live around.

My doctrine needs to be based on the word of God. Period.  Did God say it? Then it must be so. If I don’t understand something about God’s word the place to go is to other parts of the Bible and let it lead me into a better understanding. The Helper I need is the Holy Spirit who is available to help me understand truth. Listening to preachers and teachers is good and has it’s place, but it can’t take the place of doing our own homework and building our faith on what God teaches.

Let’s don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, let’s examine scriptures and build our faith on what God says and find our healing in His word.

Lord Jesus, sometimes the questions demand answers, answers I just don’t have, answers You have chosen not to give me. I know, by reading Your word, that You are my healer God and that nothing is too difficult for You. With You all things are possible, even my healing. Thank You for standing by Your word, for establishing Your word in my heart and giving me the Helper to lead me into all truth. Where my doctrine is off, would You lead me into Your truth. In Your name, I pray, Amen.

 

picture credit: pgannon.com

The Other Side of Addiction

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The Lord will accomplish what concerns me;
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Psalm 138:8

I have loved a number of addicts in my lifetime, including myself. I’ve seen pain drive them and me to kill the pain by any means possible. I am free from those addictions, praise God, but currently, I am watching a loved one spiral back into an addiction he was once free of. I know from past experiences and 12 Step Programs that there is only so much I can do and much I need to not do. I found these 10 Things to Stop Doing If You Love an Alcoholic on About.com. They serve as a good reminder to me and so I am printing them here:

STOP:

1. Blaming Yourself

2. Taking It Personally

3. Trying to Control It

4. Trying to Cure It

5. Covering It Up

6. Accepting Unacceptable Behavior

7. Having Unreasonable Expectations

8. Living in the Past

// 9. Enabling

10. Putting Off Getting Help

Someone else’s method of pain relief is causing a problem in my home and in my family so it is time to face it squarely and truly assess what is my role in this going to be. My first step, after recognizing the problem, is to turn it over to God. I trust that He will accomplish what concerns me, He will minister in this person’s life and bring healing and He will keep me in peace throughout this process.

I will practice forgiveness and grace and mercy and extend compassion but not allow myself to be trampled upon. I will find the support I need and take care of myself. I will welcome joy and laughter and embrace the good in the midst of the yuck.

I will repeat the Serenity prayer as many times a day as I need to.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

 and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;

Enjoying one moment at a time;

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;

Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

Amen.

Like the little engine that could, I can repeat “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can”. And like that little engine that could, I will make it to victory, as will my family.

Lord, You know the hurt and the pain that drives people to addiction. You are intimately acquainted with my loved ones pain and I pray Your healing touch upon him and Your grace and love to envelop him during this difficult time. Help me, please to practice what I know to do and leave the rest in Your hands. Help us as a family to draw closer together to You and to each other and help us to tear down any walls that have divided us from You and from each other, I ask in the mighty name of  Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Halfway to Goal

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I am not so sure how properly I set this goal, but I am halfway there. Posting a blog a day for a year has been a stretch for me. Some weeks ago, I had to take a break because pain was too intense for me to sit at the computer and now I am trying to fill in posts on those days I missed.

So what else can I say about where I am right now, six months into this?

I am still dealing with pain.

I am still limited by pain.

I seldom use pain as an excuse for my mood, attitude, behaviors, etc.

I am encouraged by things I have studied and read and sometimes very challenged by things I’ve studied and read.

I still have more questions than answers and that’s good, it keeps me seeking.

I have more good days than bad.

I sleep more nights than I don’t.

I have learned that taking care of me is ok.

I’ve learned that God is a holistic healer and is as interested in my overall health as He is in my physical health.

I have discovered that I am more interested in my overall health than I am in my physical health.

I am relaxing in this process and not feeling like I must/need to rush it.

I am still connected with a local church and involved there.

I have made a new priority list and I am not at the top of it anymore!

My prayer life has grown by leaps and bounds.

I am grateful for this process and whenever my healing comes, I will be grateful for that.

I am learning to set boundaries with other people.

I am learning to delegate things I can’t do anymore.

I think going into this that I had in mind that I would be healed before my year was up. I know I can’t put a time frame on God and I know that what He has done in me in these past six months has more eternal value than just healing my body would have had. I have had to change my expectations from Daily Devotions on Divine Healing to Almost Daily Devotions on Divine Healing and I am ok with that, especially if the other choice would be to just quit. I won’t quit, I will make it to May 28, 2014.

Dear Jesus, what can I say but thank You and humbly come to You and surrender my life, my expectations, my timeline, my plans to You knowing that Your ways are not my ways and Your plans are higher, bigger, greater than I could ever imagine. Use me, use this pain, use this blog in any way You deem best, I ask in Your precious name. Amen.

No Favorites

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Peter fairly exploded with his good news:

“It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites!

It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open.

The Message he sent to the children of Israel

that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again

well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.

Acts 10:34

Good news is really hard to contain.  Peter fairly exploded (but Peter fairly exploded often!) with his good news. It is really good news – God doesn’t play favorites.  What He has done for one, He will do for another, for you, for me. I think this is awesome news, because I have discovered, and perhaps you have too, that pain doesn’t play favorites either. Doesn’t matter what race or gender you are. Doesn’t matter what your economic position is or your political affiliations.  It doesn’t matter what church you go to or that you go to church. It doesn’t matter how good you are or how bad you are. If you are a member of the human race and still breathing, pain can interrupt your plans and your life. Life sometimes stinks  – for all us.

This message that caused Peter to fairly explode should have such an effect of us as well.  It is tremendous news. I am no less loved or no more loved than anyone else. So when I see in scriptures that Jesus went about healing people, or as this verse would say, putting everything together again, I know I am included in that group called everyone.

He’s the one who healed the leper. He heals me.

He’s the one who dined with sinners. He will dine with me.

He’s the one who embraced children. He embraces me.

He’s the one who extended grace to the woman caught in adultery. He extends grace to me.

He’s the one who raised Lazarus from the dead. He will raise me from the dead.

He’s the  one who fed the hungry. He will provide for me.

He’s the one who healed the woman with the issue of blood. He heals me.

He’s the one who delivered the man possessed by demons. He delivers me.

He forgave those who persecuted Him, rejected Him, despised Him, neglected Him. He forgives me.

He’s the one who entered our world, so that we could learn how to enter His. He is with me.

And He will do the same for you.

Jesus, I am entering the Christmas season and my life  just got so busy. I don’t want to lose sight of You through this time. Turn my heart towards You; help me not to forget the message of the Christmas season. I feel You are beckoning me to remember that all that You did, to know that You did for it me, for each one of us, everyone of us. How precious we are in Your sight and dear we are to Your heart. Thank You for not playing favorites and thank You for coming to put everything together again. Amen.

picture credit: hesmyallinall.com

Outcast … Again

To the outcast
On her knees,
You were the God
Who really sees.
And by Your might,
You set Your children free.

These lyrics are from Amy Grant’s song El Shaddai. The speak to what is on my heart today for a young girl I worked with. I have written of her – she’s the 10 year old who was raped by her mom’s boyfriend and then taken from her home and put in foster care. She’s the one who would sit for 2 or more hours and cry silent tears because of the pain. I say worked with because last Friday, she was removed from the foster home she lived in and will no longer come to our program. I don’t know where she is now or if I will see her again this side of heaven. This, by the way, was the 7th foster home she was in since September.

I asked our prayer group at church to pray for her and they did. Our pastor brought up the story of Hagar who was an outcast. She was banished from her home and was in the wilderness when the Lord showed up and spoke to her. Far from home, far from anything familiar, far from having any where to go or any place to return to and far, far, far from hope. And yet, God saw her.

She was returned to her home and the ending of her life was far better than the beginning because God saw and acted on her behalf. We prayed that the same God that saw Hagar would see this little girl who has also been banished from her home, far from anything familiar and far from hope.

It is so easy to believe when we are hurting that God is distant, that He doesn’t know or perhaps He knows but doesn’t care or is too busy. This story tells us otherwise. God sought out Hagar and found her at her lowest point and raised her to a new place in Him.

Whatever the situation,

whatever the loss,

whatever the diagnosis,

whatever the change of circumstances that has left you feeling alone or abandoned,

know that God sees,

He is the God who really sees.

Jesus, thank You for the short time I had to spend with this young girl, she will be forever in my heart as I know she is in Yours. Show up big in her life, please, help her to know that You really see, that You haven’t abandoned her or turned a deaf ear. Would you hold her and love on her and put someone in her life who will listen and comfort her and love her? And would you make the ending of her life be greater than the beginning? I ask in the name of the God who really sees. Amen.

pic credit:  karlmarxhausen.net