Zip It!

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So, I am currently in a Women’s Bible study group. We are reading through Keep It Shut by Karen Ehman. The book is good, in the sense that it causes me to think, consider, and well…..learn to keep my mouth shut. There is a time and place for everything, and quite frankly just because I am thinking something, doesn’t mean I need to say it. Is what I am saying truly beneficial? Is it helpful to others? Am I speaking truth? Or are my motives more about being right, and having the last word? Yes, admit it. We have all been there! The truth is, I might legitimately be right and my words valid, but that doesn’t mean I need to use my words like a sledge hammer.

Let’s make no mistake about it. Words have power. They can build another up or destroy. Words can decimate, far greater than a sword. We have all probably had experiences where someone said something that hurt us, and we carry the scars of how those words made us feel, even years later. I remember words a friend’s older brother said about me, when I was just ten years old. The teenage boy’s thoughtless words probably meant nothing to him, but cut me deeply.

I do not want to be that person. The one whose words sting.

I can be wise when I choose what words to say……or not say.

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning.  Proverbs 10:12-13a NIV

 

 

Kicking and Screaming

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Sometimes in life I find myself saying NO. No, to the way things have worked out. No, to plans not going my way. No, to living in the midst of the mess.

I tell myself, I deserve for things to go my way. Right?  I’ve already been through so much.

Unfortunately, many times, God has to pull me, kicking and screaming, into His plan. I only see my problems, but God in his infinite wisdom has already provided my Salvation…..for  anything I face today, tomorrow, ever.

In this intricately embroidered tapestry of life, I often see the frayed edges, loose strings and ugly knots, but God sees the beauty of His work. He views the bigger picture with all its vivid colors, interwoven relationships, and perfect plan.

Everyone knows there are challenges in this life. Some of those challenges are small daily obstacles, and others are seemingly insurmountable, but for those of us that are followers of Christ, I remind you, as I also remind myself, of Jesus’ words……..
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV

His words make a difference.

They give hope.

They are life.

 

 

Will You Pray For Me?

IMG_2026.JPGThe whispered words are often spoken in the quiet….the question hanging in the air, being held there by the trials of this life.  Will you pray for me? Sometimes, the person can’t remain quiet, and instead of a soft plea, the words tumble out in frantic desperation. Will you pray for me? Hearts crack wide open, gushing pain, and fear, and sorrow. When our world feels as if it is leaning too far to one side, and it makes us sick with all the unknowns, we often ask, will you pray for me?

Or maybe, we don’t. Maybe we don’t tell. Maybe we don’t ask. Maybe we feel like our problems aren’t big enough to be prayed about. Or are not worthy enough of prayer. Could it be we are scared to let anyone know our struggles….because if we do, they might think less of us? How many have the mistaken idea that being a Christian means always having it all together? That we can’t share our hurts, our need for prayer…that we need to be strong, toughen up, and hold it in.

This week alone, I’ve had several friends and family tell me of their friends and family who are in need of prayer. A young child, chronically ill, requiring life changing surgery. Parents desperate for healing. A mother of young children just diagnosed with stage 4 cancer that has already begun to spread. Children heading back to school, parents hoping all goes well when their children are away. Safe travel. An upcoming wedding. A child whose cancer has returned. A freak accident that never should have happened…but, it did. A family member that has passed away. A child about to be born. So many things, almost overwhelming……… Almost.

But, those of us that are followers of Jesus Christ, adopted into God’s family, can bring our hurts, our joys, our concerns, and our uncertainties directly to Him. The Creator of the universe, the One who calls all the stars by name, the One who created life from nothing…..big enough for all of time and eternity…..and yet close enough to hear His children when they call out “Abba (Daddy), Father!”  He hears us. He sees us. He knows us. Even when we cannot put into words all the heaviness we hold in our hearts….He understands.

Some people have the mistaken idea that prayer is a passive thing. That it is a last resort. Instead of what it truly is…..the incredible opportunity to talk to the Almighty.

 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8: 26-27 NIV

Be Changed

The other morning I was driving the back country roads with no other cars in sight, on my way to a meeting at the next town over. As always, I was mesmerized by the blue sky, white fluffy clouds and the vastness of the sky out here. The fields, were vivid green with corn and soybean. The landscape dotted with white farmhouses and red barns. On mornings such as this, the world looks like a picture postcard of country living. I took that moment to thank God. Saying “thank you” is so simple, and yet, so profound.

In acknowledging the beauty of nature, I am, in fact, acknowledging the beauty and creativity of the Creator of it all. It is He, that is the giver of gifts.

Instead of focusing on all the things that are wrong, or uncomfortable, or boring in life, I choose to focus on the good. Make no mistake, choosing thankfulness is always a choice. When I focus on the problems, life can seem so small. It makes me feel grouchy and short with others, and causes worry. When I fill my mind with gratitude and thanksgiving, my world might not change, but I most definitely do. Might that be the reason why God tells us over and over again in His Word, to give thanks? So that we can experience, the joy?

Being thankful changes my perspective, and it changes me. I find myself much more appreciative of my life and all that is in it.  I’m not perfect, nor is my life. I’ve had my share of wonderful experiences and painful tragedies in the forty-eight years I’ve walked this earth. This day, choose to walk through your life with your hands open to receive all the gifts that God daily gives…….and, be changed.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.  1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV

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Fingerprints Of The Creator

The rogue raccoon is driving me nuts. He continues his nightly visits to the barn and eats all the barn cats’ food. Currently the dogs have him cornered under our house deck. They can’t get to him right now, but they are trying….because that is what raccoons do, and that is also what dogs do.

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I hear people say, “If only we (humans) were more like animals. They are loving and loyal.” Well, with some animals that may be true in certain circumstances, but for the most part animals act on instinct and live by the rule of survival of the fittest. My dogs love me, but they will kill that raccoon if they can ever reach it. My cats can be sweet and purring, but become furry assassins when there is a mouse, bug, or small snake involved. Chickens can be cruel. When one gets injured they peck at her when she is down. There is no loyalty or friendship amongst fowl. I could go on and on.

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Even in situations such as what is going on at my house this morning, God reminds me that I am loved. I am different than all His other creations. I am created in His image, and so are you. The image of the Almighty. Just take that in for a moment…..

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26 Then God said, “Let us (speaking to Jesus) make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1

Or the beloved verses of Psalm 139

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13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

You, my friend, have the fingerprints of the Creator, on your soul.

 

 

How Is Easter Real To You?

I found this post that I previously wrote about Easter. It is just as true today, as the day that I first wrote it. I needed to read it again…..maybe you will too?

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“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live.”    John 11:25

How many of us have stood over a casket, looking down at one we loved?

Tears leaking down our cheeks…already missing the one that is gone.

The body so still. The breath has ceased. The lids now closed.

Burial. In the ground. Dirt covered.

And we weep.

And yet…

Jesus‘ words ring out in the darkness. The darkness of hopelessness. The darkness of fear. The darkness of death.

I am the resurrection and the life.  Alive again. Living. Breathing. In glory.

Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  John 14:6

He who believes in me, though he dies,

yet shall he live. Shall live. With Him. Forever. Real. Oh, so real.

No more heart hurt, no more rampant cancer, no more diseased body, no more accidents, no more shallow breathing, no more depression, no more pain, no more poor vision, no more sickness…

No more.

Believe in Me, Jesus whispers to our souls.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him, shall have everlasting life. John 3:16

Jesus says,

I have conquered death. I have taken your place.

It is finished. 

Words that echo through the ages.

How is Easter real to you? Not only on a Sunday in Spring…but, all year long?

Challenge #5, Before And After…

Yesterday’s challenge was my take on “Before and After”……

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Before I became a follower of Christ, I thought I was “good enough”. After, I understood I was a sinner in need of a Savior. I found love and I found redemption. I realized that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. My life changed…for all eternity.

Before I was married, I thought I understood what it meant to share, to compromise, to trust, to love. After, I knew what it was to create a life together, to put aside my pride and say “I’m sorry”, to show forgiveness, and to remain committed through both good and bad times…..because life has a fair share of both.

Before I was a mom, I thought I knew how to be a good parent. After, I understood love in a way I never understood it before. I laughed, I cried, my heart changed, and I happily gave my time, day in and day out, for this little one. Each year brings surprises, and each stage is a new adventure.

Before I was a teacher, I thought I knew what it was to run a classroom and be an excellent instructor. I would be planning assignments, and checking papers. After, I found out that teaching is more than students in a classroom, but young lives that looked to me for some answers in an otherwise confusing world. I learn as much from my students as they do from me. That is just the truth.

Before the deaths of my grandparents, husband, and father, I thought I understood how to grieve. After, I realized that grieving is different for everyone. Grief comes in waves like the ocean, and one must face those waves and move through them. There are good days, and there are bad days, and on some days all I could do was breathe.

Life is full of before’s and after’s. The older I get the more I realize that when I am standing in “the before” I rarely understand. Oh, it is easy to think I do, but life has a way of teaching lessons in the midst of “the after”. Valuable, cherished moments. Lessons learned.