Pride is NOT Pretty

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace,who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1Peter 5:5b-11 ESV

There is a lot of power in scripture.

God’s Word speaks for itself.

It speaks LOUDLY!

What part of this text from 1 Peter stands out to you? Is there a sentence or two that brings you comfort or perhaps makes you uncomfortable? Does part of it make you want to learn more or dig deeper? Is there a truth you need to read, or a reminder that hits you like a baseball bat cracking on opening day?

For me, it is the first 10 words; “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

I have by my own admission, always struggled with pride, and it has become apparent to me that I am often too proud to let others know when I am in real need of assistance.   On this journey of widowhood,  it’s hard to say when I’m pressed physically, emotionally, financially, or spiritually.   I am supposed to be strong. 

Pride is not pretty, and it can leave us vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks as he prowls around seeking whom he can devour.  Pride actually makes us weaker, not stronger! Proverbs 16:18 says, Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.”ESV Yet, oh the promises of God sisters, if we humble ourselves under His mighty hand, He will exalt us in His time. If we cast our cares on Him, He will shoulder them because He cares for us. After we have suffered, His grace will be sufficient. His mercy and strength will fall on us. TO GOD BE THE GLORY.

We are not alone and we DO NOT HAVE TO DO THIS ON OUR OWN. Sometimes, it is hard for us to ask for help, or reach out, or seek wise counsel because we do not want to appear foolish. This too, is pride and arrogance. Let it go and seek any assistance you may need. Someone may be waiting to bless you, if you will just ask. God may be waiting on you to say, “I give up, Lord. I can’t fix it, but You can.” That may be all He needs to shout, “FINALLY, I’ve got this!”

So, this is my honest prayer today:

God, I give up. You and You alone can help me fix the messes I have made. You and You alone can bring healing and peace. I step down Lord and long to get out of Your way. Please rescue me, right now. I need Your grace. AMEN!

Obstacles or Opportunities?

In all your ways acknowledge him,

    and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:6 ESV

Becoming widows three months apart was not something my mother and I ever thought would happen.  Our widow journeys are so very different. My parents lived together until they were nearly ninety but my husband and I only had twenty years together.  I was left with six kids at home and her six kids were grown.  But we both love investing in the lives of other widows.  Since her new path took shape, she has been visiting widows in our church, painting scenes on canvas, and driving the “widow car pool” to events at church. She totally supports me in my ministry in A Widow’s Might and gives our devotional book away to her friends.

As we were talking recently, she retold a story of traveling across the USA.  She was constantly running into “bumps” along the way.  Car problems, record-breaking fog, flight delays, military personnel no-shows, etc.  She was driving to California to fly with her five children to the Philippines, in order to meet up with her military husband already stationed there.

In the first place, just being stationed in the Philippines was not as it should have been.  My father broke his ankle playing softball and needed surgery and pins just before he and the family were being transferred to Germany.  The military powers-that-be assured him that his assignment would be saved for him when he had healed sufficiently.  Fast forward a few months and that assignment disappeared.  But something “similar” was available.  Similar?  You call the assignment in the Philippines “similar”?  So off to Clark Air Base they went, dragging their lederhosen behind them!

At what point did my mother think, “Enough. Maybe God just wants us to stay here until Dad is finished with his assignment.”  Families do that all the time in the military.  What if she had stayed in California with family members?  Was she meeting obstacles that meant, “Stop” or was she meeting opportunities that meant, “Keep trusting God for this”?

My mother kept plodding through the obstacles she believed the enemy may have been throwing at her to keep her from going to the Philippines.  But why would the enemy care if she went there?  The Philippines, really?

It was there my parents were confronted with serious Christians who changed the direction of my parent’s lives.  It was there a “switch” was flipped in their hearts – they began to follow Christ in a new, real, life-changing way through the relationships they made with ministry workers.  These friends are STILL part of my mom’s life.  It propelled my parents into full-time Christian ministry after retirement from the military.  It developed character in them like no other assignment in the military.  And, I might add, I was born there in the Philippians. So it obviously was worth it!!

So you and your close friend are sitting, chatting over a latte about your straight and crooked paths.  What do YOU say to her?  Is it an obstacle or opportunity? There are definitely obstacles that CAN be opportunities to trust God, either going forward or turning back.

I don’t believe there is any way to know for sure every time.  I really don’t.  In looking at Scripture, we see many examples of obstacles/opportunities.  These examples show clearly how to acknowledge the Lord in all they did.

I really just want to be so tuned into the Holy Spirit, when I hit obstacles, I will find opportunities to trust God going EITHER direction.

Today, God, I thank You for the obstacles I am going to encounter.  I thank You because You are giving me another opportunity to trust in You completely.  I am trusting You for wisdom to know which direction to take on my path.  I love You, Amen

 

Stolen

Bow down Your ear to me, Deliver me speedily; Be my rock of refuge, A fortress of defense to save me. Psalm 31:2 ESV

Was something stolen from you to usher in this new season?

Was it time or energy?

Was it self-worth or dignity?

Was it part of your soul or part of your spirit?

Has something been stolen from you, which perhaps makes you doubt God’s desire to give you His very best? Or perhaps, you feel the joy of this Christmas season has been stolen from you?

Satan is a thief and a liar. He has no other focus, aside from destroying everything God created. If we are created in God’s image, how much loathing must Satan have for us? This world is the best that Satan has to offer, but it is not even remotely close to what God holds for those who are called according to His purpose.

John 10:10 says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

Satan may steal from us but God gives abundantly to us.

He gives us hope and purpose.

He gives us grace and mercy.

He gives us instruction and guidelines.

He gives us boldness and desire.

He gives us power and authority.

He gives us eternal life.

You may be asking, “So what’s the catch?” How do we grab hold of all that God has for us, when the world seems to be focused on everything  but Christ? The catch is we have to be willing to give up or give away the things of this world to truly follow God, and allow Him to be Lord of our lives. It is not enough to say that we know God. In fact, Scripture tells us that even the demons know God. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!”  James 2:19 Faith is much more than knowing God. It is trusting Him, loving Him, believing Him, and most of all, laying down everything to follow Him. If that price seems too high, I encourage you to rethink the cost versus the benefits.

Consider the price of not claiming Christ as Messiah and inviting Him to become the Lord of your life, the Boss of you, the One you set aside self for; it would be the ultimate eternal price. He created each of us so we could praise and love Him and He longs to show us how much He LOVES us.

If you want to find true joy and peace this Christmas season, admit Christ is the Son of God, believe that He died so you might have life, and confess Him as Lord. The rewards will be greater than you could ever imagined and they last forever!

Father,

Please give us the courage to come to You and seek a relationship. Help us to be fully restored in You. War for us and protect us, please. Give us back all that has been stolen and most of all, give us eternal life through  Jesus, Amen. 

God Is Good – Even When It Seems Bad: Part One

Part 1

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

  Romans 8:28

Everywhere you turn; it seems there is a sad story…in our lives, on the news, in our schools, churches, at work, everywhere.  As Christians, we turn what the world “worries” about over to Christ and we do that through prayer.

What happens when you pray earnestly, with proper intentions, and God’s answer is not what you prayed for?  What happens when your worst fears are not taken away, but realized.  God is asking you, or someone you love, to bear pain that seems unbearable, unthinkable, un-survive-able.

Is God still good during these times?  Is He still there?  Does He know what He is asking of us?  Does He care?

What do you do when God’s answer is, “No, my child.”?  Or, “Not yet, my child.”?   Or, “Yes, darling child, but not as you imagined it would be.”  The writing team felt called to share with you where we stand regarding the statement, “God is good – even when it seems bad”, in the hope you would be encouraged.

~Sherry Rickard

 

Elizabeth Dyer:  There was a time in my life when so much was going “wrong” that I felt like God had dumped a truck load of manure on my head.  Have you ever felt that way?  Prayers are unanswered.  Peace cannot be found.  Pain grows with each breath.  How is it that I was supposed to believe God was still good?

My faith was shaken to its very core.  I finally came face-to-face with Scripture and had a choice to make.  Either God was still the God of the Old Testament whose name is Elohim, Strong One, who says to me, “Don’t be afraid.  I am with you.”  Either He was the God of the New Testament who silenced the storms and promises to always work our life’s events out to His glory.  Or He wasn’t any of this- He was a fraud and a destroyer.  I couldn’t accept that He was my enemy so I had to accept the other.  I clung to Him as my Creator and Lover of my soul.  It was all I had to hang on to.

When I had only God to cling to, I changed the focus of my prayers.  Previously, my prayers had been really good, but really mine.  I was convicted to change my prayers to simply, “Not my will, but Yours.”  I wanted all kinds of great things, but I dropped all that baggage at the foot of the cross.  I walked away with only five words. Those five words were proof whether I really did trust God fully with my life.

And that’s where I return every time things seem to point to God’s not being good. We probably would never put these horrific events in our testimonies but God has chosen to trust us with these circumstances so we must trust Him with them too.

So do I trust Him or not?  That is what it boils down to.  Sometimes I fight with myself over the answer.  I trust, but… No, that isn’t true trust.  I have to trust completely.  God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.

 

Ami Atkins:  Whenever I’m posed with the question, “How is God good when bad things happen?” I run immediately to the cross where Jesus faced the worst thing.

Yet He was willing to bear the crushing weight of sin, to absorb the fireball of the Father’s wrath that should have been hurled at humanity, to be rejected so that we could be accepted.

How could that possibly have been good?  How could a good God willingly turn away from His Son? How could the Son also willingly offer His life?

The powers of hell thought they’d won. The one called Messiah hung there dead. God lost. He was not powerful, and apparently, He was not good.

But, oh, my friends don’t stop there! The plan was bigger, the goodness of God incomprehensible. On the third day Jesus rose conquering death and hell!

Now don’t miss the radical nature of what Jesus accomplished. He purchased salvation. He satisfied God’s righteous wrath toward sinful men. He redeemed His own, buying back those who once went a whoring after other gods. While we were His enemies, He died for us.

He is good. It is His very nature. From the heart of the Father, flowed the grand plan of redemption before time began. At the cross it came to fruition. God saved men from Himself. God saved men to Himself.

Jesus faced the ultimate bad so that we could know the ultimate good.

Life. Hope. Peace. Grace. Eternity. Reconciliation.

Therefore, if God has already done the ultimate good to me, He will always do good to me.  (Romans 8:32).  I can count on that!

There Are No Do-Overs

I have a secret to tell…I am selfish, controlling, and I’m not always happy.  Phew!  I got that out!  Now, for an explanation…

But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the likeness of God.  Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not so to be- James 3:8-10 KJV

I am almost four years into this grief journey, and as I type this article I am preparing for this ministry’s upcoming November 2014 conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  I will be co-presenting on the topics of Dating and Courage.  Then, I will be speaking at our Love Lights ceremony about grieving with hope and being open to God’s new calling in our lives.

As I march into the days and hours leading up to the conference, I have been bombarded with flashbacks of terrible moments at the end of my husband’s life; the moments where I did not use my tongue to God’s glory.  Those moments are moments I wish I could erase.  The things I said and decisions I made were made in my flesh, thinking I had more time.

Several days before what would be Bill’s death, we were in the transplant wing and it was getting late so I was preparing to leave to go to the hotel for the night.  Bill asked me to spend the night in his room.  On the transplant wing, you cannot use the patient’s bathroom or their bedding.  There is no comfortable place to lie down in the room, and any time you have to use the restroom you have to leave the wing. Then, to come back, you have to go through a series of doors and a hand-washing station to enter again.  I had been on caregiver watch for several weeks, had been at the hospital since before breakfast, and I was very tired.  I told him I needed to go home, so I could re-fuel and come back to love on him the next day.  I thought we’d have “tomorrow”.  I never slept with my husband again; nor did I ever wake up near him again.

The last conversation I had with my husband was in ICU on Friday, February 11, 2011.  He had just had his breathing tube removed and his voice was raspy.  He was lucid for the first time in days, and his medical team was talking about taking him back up to the transplant wing.  There was a lot of hope in that ICU cubical that day.  Bill’s best friend from work and two other friends were visiting us, and they had travelled a long distance to visit him.  Bill wanted just me and kept saying to me, “I love you; I love you; I love you” and holding tightly to my hands and pulling me close and kissing me – over and over again.  I felt the pull of his friends wanting time with him and I told him I would see him soon and gave some of my time to them…I would never have another conversation with him again.

I am not looking back when I share these moments (and there are many more).  I am simply sharing lessons with you.  Do not take the present moment for granted.  Love like you don’t have tomorrow.  Forgive as though your life depends on it.  Share as though you are the only resource available.  Speak with love.  Once the moment is over, you will regret it if you didn’t handle it with grace and love.  There are no do-overs.  Satan uses these moments to attack me and stunt my grief journey.  I have to call on my sisters and brothers in Christ to carry me when I am attacked with these moments.

God is good and He sustains me, through the Holy Spirit who strengthens and comforts me. Prayer supports me.  I can, through Christ, move past these memories and into the Truth.  Bill knows I loved him and knows that in both of those moments; I made the correct choice with the information I had at the time.  Bill has forgiven and, in Heaven, he has forgotten those moments and is busy worshipping his Savior.  That thought helps to remind me that I need to be busy about the Lord’s work here.  If I sit and think on these moments that I could have handled better, I am looking back and not moving forward.  If I am busy about the Lord’s work, then I am moving forward and thinking about my Savior; not regrets, memories, and what ifs.

Sweet Father,   Thank You for reminding me to look to You when the memories of what ifs come to mind.  Thank You for Your Grace and Mercy and for Your Word which sustains me.  Thank You for my brothers and sisters in Christ who continue to point me to You.  I love You, Lord!  In Jesus name, Amen

 

 

 

It Can

Most of my life I believed God was faithful through the bad times, the storms of life.  I believed in my head this was true, and I saw with my eyes, through others difficult circumstances, that it looked true.  But, without my own severe storm, without that first-hand knowledge, I’m not sure now my heart truly believed it.

Then, something terrible happened in our life, thrusting us into the deepest storm I’d ever known.  When my head didn’t understand and my eyes could see nothing, I had only my heart left.  That’s where God met me; broken, bewildered, blind, and on my knees pouring out my heart in a storm so severe, I wasn’t sure we could survive.

It’s been four years and four months since our catastrophic storm hit… The day my beloved husband journeyed to heaven by taking his own life.

Death is a kind of storm that no one can ever be fully prepared for, and suicide takes it to a dimension of intensity not many understand. It can easily create destruction and devastation for all. It can turn everything you believed and everything you thought inside out and upside down.  It can give Satan such a foothold, and it can thrust those left behind into such a shock there’s the potential for no return.

It can!

The “Suicide” Storm is brutal and it leaves a mess.  This storm of death did just that for us.  It left an ugly, scary mess, and far more questions than answers.

So, how have we survived?

What’s allowed us to move forward, to heal, and to even grow?

Who thwarted Satan’s plan of destruction?

God did!

Because of the Almighty Father, we moved from suicidal death being the “it can” storm of destruction, to the “God did” story of restoration.  My children and I are a walking breathing testimony to God’s faithfulness through a horrific storm!   His faithfulness came in His provisions for us, His love and care over us, and His healing power through us. He revealed Himself to us in such a deeper more meaningful way, by showing us that His perfect plan was played out in every moment leading up to that day and every day after.

Death is never outside of God’s plan, even suicidal death!  He allows really bad stuff to happen.  Not for our harm, but for our growth.  That’s tough!  And without deep faith and trust in Him it can be confusing and seem unfair, because our pain, sadness, and loss are so real, so raw. But, God doesn’t tell us life is fair or easy, that we won’t suffer or even die.  In fact, He warns us we will, so we better get prepared. Preparedness comes from knowing God intimately, hiding His words deep in our heart, and trusting that He is totally and completely in control during every single moment of every single day.

Then in the midst of any storm, it can becomes God did!

~It can be so tough, God did show us He’s stronger. Psalm 105:4

~It can be really sad, God did show us He understands deep sadness and He will be near the broken-hearted. Psalm 34:17

~It can be scary looking, God did show us He creates beauty. Ecclesiastes 3:11

~It can be overwhelming, God did show us with Him all things are possible. Matthew 19:26

~It can be long term, God did show us He has gone ahead to prepare for us. Deut. 31:8

~It can be a hard road, God did show us that He has us right where He wants us. Psalm 16:8

~It can be devastating, God did show us He will heal us and bind up our wounds. Psalm 147:3

~It can be ugly, God did show us that ugly stuff will grow us. 1 Peter 5:10

~It can be frustrating, God did show us that trusting Him is the only way. Proverbs 3:5

~It can be hopeless, God did show us hope is not found here, but in our eternal victory and sealed place in heaven with Him.  Jeremiah 29:11

Father God, thank you for being so faithful to me in the midst of such a tragic, horrific storm.  Thank you for your promises strewn throughout scripture.  Lord, your word has every answer I need.  I pray now for my widow sisters, those who might be struggling with the it cans.  Father help them to see your fingerprints everywhere.  Move them from the it can ugly stuff to the God did promises and assurances.  In Your precious and matchless name, Amen.

 

 

 

Am I the only one?

Am I the only one, the only one who falls prey to lies?

I reveled in the joy of peace, and welcomed reprieve from the onslaught of heavy emotion.

“Finally Lord, perhaps I’m out of the valley. Perhaps the long winter is over.”

Wonderful joy. Wonderful peace that passes understanding. Wonderful delight in my God. Then out of nowhere the lies attacked as ravenous lions, quickly debilitating me under the weight of their fury.

It sure does seem like I write about lies often. I guess I’m a slow learner.

But it’s also true that since Jon died, they’ve been drastically more brutal. It’s like Satan has upped the ante in a war he doesn’t know he’s already lost. Sometimes I forget that he’s lost.

It seemed I battled about 25 lions.

“I am not loved.”

“This will never end.”
“God we wanted only to live for you and proclaim the gospel. Why would you take that away?”
“I am surely NOT measuring up to whatever grand plan you have in mind.”
“If this is how you treat those who want to serve you, I don’t want it.”
“Why would you give this person the thing that I want? Why does everyone else get their idols?”
“When will people get to rejoice with me instead of only weep?”
“God, the desire for intimacy is so strong. If marriage is not in your plans, just take the desires away! This is desperate God. I don’t want to sin. And I don’t want to cause anyone else to sin!”

Still there was more.

“My friends are tired of sharing pain with me.”
“God doesn’t listen. He doesn’t care.”
“I HATE constantly being the weak one!”

“I am not loved.”

Crushing weight mingled with shame and guilt.

I tried to tell myself truth, but nothing seemed to abate the sharp claws and satisfy the predator’s voracious appetite. I was being devoured. I walked around in a haze of tears and irrationality.

I wanted to run, to protect everyone around me from me.

Finally, relief.

Friend upon friend arrived and beat off the lions, striking them with the truth that I could not. Faced with a weapon greater than themselves, the enemies retreated, running tails between their legs.

“Attack them one at a time,” my wise friend said.

You are vastly loved. You are valued. There is grace.

The KING is here. He cherishes. He provides. He protects. He will not let you be destroyed! He calls you beloved daughter. You are normal. You don’t have to beat yourself up.

What? I was one of the lions? Yes.

The flood gates opened, and again I could meet with God.

“Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil…Fear not O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you with his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:14-17

What is true?

God is zealous for His people. The KING himself bursts forth in divine celebration over his chosen ones! His love is deeper than I understand. He rejoices over me because I am his own. Because God is present and in control, I don’t have to be afraid.

Sing aloud! Shout! Rejoice! Exult!

The true KING is here, who lay down his life so justice and mercy could dwell in harmony. The true KING. The one who loves. The one who can be trusted completely.

That I should have to face the full weight of HIS wrath, heightens my wonder at His astonishing mercy!

He will save. His grace is infinitely bigger than the lies. His truth utterly defeats them.

Lord it’s a beautiful mystery that you delight in me. You are passionate about justice, but you are equally fierce in your love. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Satan is already defeated. Help me remember! Help me know that your truth defeats every lie!”

Navigating the Waves

 “I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. But each day the Lord pours out his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life. “

Psalms 42: 7-8 NLT

As I was growing up, I spent a lot of time at the beach with my family and as an adult I love taking my kids to the beach as well.

I love playing in the ocean waves. I never quite know what the day is going to be like in the water.

Some days the waves are calm, gentle, rolling. I can just relax and float all day. Other days they are big and powerful and crashing. On these days I have to work really hard to keep my head above the waves.

Then there are those times when the waves come consistently and predictably for hours on end. I am able to find a rhythm as I ride them. The waves feel manageable and I start to get comfortable. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, a rogue wave will hit. Suddenly I am struggling to find my breath as I am tossed around in the water, hardly able to tell which way is up.

Sounds a little bit like grief, doesn’t it?

In the early days, weeks, and months of my widow journey I felt as if the waves of grief were relentless. Never stopping, tossing me about, and making it hard to stay above water. It was exhausting.

But there came a time when the waves of grief evened out. I found my rhythm and became so comfortable in dealing with it that there were days when I didn’t even notice them. These days would go on and on until….the rogue wave hit. Oh, and when it hits, it hits big!

It’s the days when a memory is triggered. It doesn’t really matter if it is a good memory or a bad one, either has the potential to knock me off my feet. Maybe the wave was caused by my having to help my children in their grief, or facing the reality of how much my life has changed…what I have lost. No matter what the trigger is, it has the potential to really toss me around.

Now that I am four years into this journey, I find most days the ocean is gentle and calm. I am able to relax, float, and even enjoy myself. I have found peace. But every now and again, a rogue wave still hits. The difference now is that I have learned how to navigate these waves of grief. They still have the power to knock me off my feet, but I am able to recover much faster. I find the surface quickly and am back to floating comfortably again.

How does that happen? How did I get to the point of being able to get above the wave again? By keeping my focus on the Father.

You see, as a child, when the waves would get rough, big, and hard to handle I would hold onto my dad. Because he was so much bigger than me, he was able to stand firm in waves that were knocking me about. He was steady and strong and when I went under, he pulled me up and out of the water.

This is what our Heavenly Father does for me now when those waves of grief come. By reading His word, leaning on His strength, and allowing Him to pull me up when I feel as if I am drowning, I am able to navigate the rough times. Without the steadfastness of the Lord, I would be lost in the sea of grief. I would easily be pulled under by those waves. But because of the strength I find in Him, when those waves of grief do hit me, I am able to recover and once again find my peace. And so can you.

Abba Father,
I pray for my sweet sisters who are on this journey of grief with me. I pray they will find the comfort and peace that comes with knowing you. I ask you to be the strength for each of us. When we feel as if we are drowning in the waves of grief, lift us up through your word. Help us to keep our heads above the waters and comfort us as we wait for the calmness to come again. Thank you Father for the peace that only comes from knowing you.
Amen

An Apple

He that touches you, touches the apple of my eye. Zechariah 2:8 (NIV)

These last few weeks have been a bit rough here in the corner house. Discomfort, resulting from a fall, has limited my activities. Struggling to learn something new has frustrated me. An anonymous letter from a neighbor complaining about my untrimmed hedge has hurt deeply. It seemed no matter how hard I tried,  I just couldn’t get it all done. And suddenly I found myself feeling dry, uninspired and “all used up” – pretty much like a partially eaten apple – you know the feeling – wondering what’s next, what else do you have left to give, how on earth can you be of service to anyone – all the “good years” are gone……….

All the days spent living and loving and sharing and serving and caring have taken a “bite” – bites given willingly to be sure and most definitely each one of them would be offered again – and the desire remains to continue to give and love and share and care. Yet there does not appear to be much left – certainly not the “best” part – that part seems to be gone. This is not a feeling reserved for “age”. It can happen at anytime and it shouts silently to the soul saying, “You’re done; there’s nothing left for you”.

That voice is shouting a lie.

The truth of God’s Word to me says: “He who touches you, touches the apple of my eye”

What comfort that gives to my weary heart!

I am the “apple of God’s eye” – a special one, treasured, loved and cherished.

God wants me to see myself as He sees me – the apple of His eye – whole and full and lovely and delightful – not used up, not done, not useless. He wants me to know that there is hope, there is a future, there is still sharing and caring and loving and serving to be done. He will lead me into His plan in His way, in His time.

He wants you to know that as well, dear sister – you are a special one, treasured, loved and cherished. I pray that your weary heart is comforted today.

Father, thank You for guarding me as the apple of Your eye. Apart from You I can do nothing. Keep me in Your care and guide me through the days ahead. I love You so much!

Flying

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

Psalm 139:13-16


My children and I take a family of “4” vacation to the same place every summer now.  It has become a treasured NEW tradition; one of the many I’m creating as we move forward. One of the highlights of this vacation is going to our favorite beach.  On the third day there was a threat of rain and it was chilly. I decided to brave it anyway, and grabbed TWO kites and a soccer ball. As we pulled down the two lane road, I realized I might be the only person thinking it might NOT rain. My ten year old daughter and twin seven year old sons groaned a bit as we unloaded. So I prayed half-heartedly for no rain. We settled in and some bickering began. My no rain prayer petition became a bit more serious.

Once we figured everything out the wind began to pick up, so it was perfect for kite flying. There was a problem though, I purchased two kites and thought we could “buddy” up and share. I definitely had some twin brain (it’s a fact, twins drain your brain twice as fast) issues that morning. They weren’t in the mood to share. So, I explained they had to figure it out or the kites were going back to the car. Quickly, they had worked out a plan. My daughter, Shelby, and my dominant son, Scott, convinced my very placid, happy go lucky son, Ben, to let them have a go at the two kites while he “watched.” He as usual complied with a smile.

In just a few minutes Shelby and Scott had the kites up and flying. I watched as Ben marveled at their skills for a little while. Then he lost interest. I felt terrible that he had no kite of his own and the guilt set in on my morning “twin” brain. But instead of complaining, he began to look around and fumble through our stuff. Before I knew it he had created his own kite. He was off running around, hooting and hollering, while his make shift kite invention soared behind him.

I sat there in awe of my three uniquely and wonderfully made kids. I watched as my cautious girl, Shelby, soared her kite closer in and carefully monitored it often. Scott’s, my dare devil boy, was flying high and free above where he paid it little mind. Then, there was my precious inventive Ben, who can make his own fun out of anything.

After my beloved husband’s death, I find it important and even helpful for their grief process to tell them what traits or idiosyncrasies they have that were their daddy’s. But inwardly I worry. My mommy heart is frightened by what they “could” inherit. He had so many wonderful qualities, but he also suffered greatly in his last few years. I also worry for them and the weight they will carry because their father committed suicide.  It’s my mom heart and I know my mom heart lets satan in.

As I watched my three amazing children and how they each flew their kites differently, God reminded me of the verses above. He’s formed them each, He’s planned their days, and He knows their innermost beings better than I ever will. He is their all in all; He knows their beginning, and their end. I don’t have to worry! They are each uniquely and wonderfully made and I can fully trust Him for all their days. No matter what traits they may inherit, they are in HIS hands!

I sat savoring my three blessings and their unique kite flying techniques and meditating on God’s words, and such a sense of relief settled in. I’m not burdened by the traits my kids might inherit from either of us.

But, I’m freed by a God who’s so much bigger than our flesh. I can trust Him and His plan for them. I am so grateful for His promises, provision, and love for my kids and for me.