Tag Archives: Church of Christ

Dreams Uprooted: Nicaragua 2012

The sunshine the other day brought me to my flowerbed to do some much needed tending.  After the vibrant blooms of spring and summer started to wither, I dug up the bed to allow the earth to rest for the next spring planting.  Little did I know, the mild winter brought about blooms from the seed that had fallen creating a mess of plants that had rooted and bloomed before their time.  I created for myself a bouquet of bright yellow and orange daisies to enjoy inside, and went to work ripping up the remaining plants to allow seed to be sown for new blooms.

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As I worked, sweat and tears streamed down my face as I related to the plants.  I too felt as if my roots had been ripped up and tossed aside to be withered by the sun.  Therapeutic swashes of the gardening hoe were in full force as I worked out my frustration and desperation.  With arms and legs shaking, I continued on with the task and listened to the lesson that God was planting in my heart.

My husband came to the excruciatingly hard decision to stay behind from the Nicaragua Spring mission trip, and I chose to stay with him.  This decision came with a lot of meditation, prayer, and pleading after several weeks of battling with the idea.  Because of the heart procedure he had in January, recovery has been slow and grueling on him and going out of the country at this time is not in the best interest of his health.  I am aching for him, because he has deep-outstretched roots for the work in Nicaragua, but I also marvel at the courage it took for him to put the mission before himself.  Because I am his wife, created to be his helpmate, I feel as if my calling to be a Godly wife far outweighed the Nicaragua trip, and I chose to stay by his side.

Working out the emotions of feeling left behind had left me almost broken.  The months and months of planning, preparing, visiting congregations, raising money, writing support letters, shopping, sewing, gathering, packing, prayers, research, meetings, and all the love that has been rooted in this trip is hard to let go of.  The mission trip started as a seed in my heart when Jake came back from his last one in September, and it took root as we planned out being those spoken of in Matthew 25: 34-40.

I do not know why things sometimes work out the way they do, or why this trip was uprooted from my life, but I do know that God is in control, He is good, and He is alive and working.  My flowers had to be uprooted because they were blooming before their time, leaving no room for new growth.  After I work the land and prepare it for planting, I will plant and nurture new seeds, and their brilliance will shine through bringing life to our family as we get to enjoy their fragrance and beauty.  In the same way, this trip may have come too early for Jake and I; too early for his body as he is still recovering, and too early for me, as a mother having to leave my small children behind.  But as this plan has been uprooted, I know God is now cultivating our souls and planting new seed to bloom at just the right time.

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The mission trip will still go on.  All the money needed has been raised, and our tickets will be held to use in the future.  The bags are packed and so many people of Nicaragua will see God’s love through the mission.  The hungry will eat, the naked will be clothed, the thirsty will drink, the sick will be visited, the stranger will still be welcomed in, and the prisoners will receive provision.  God will see to it.  Not going has shown me that I am but a means to His glory, and if I cannot be used at this time, His glory will still be revealed through other willing souls.  He is so good.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 states: “To everything there is a season, and a time for ever matter under heaven…..A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted.”  My time to serve in Nicaragua has been plucked up, but that does not mean I cannot still serve ( I have a lot of prayer time planned on behalf of the mission crew). There will be times in all of our lives when things just do not go the way we had planned.   When this happens, we must remember the simple fact that life is not about us (thanks Billy) and our purpose is to serve in love because He first loved us.

When we find ourselves uprooted, remember the Master Gardener will tend to what needs done, and His Truth will always prevail.  We must allow God to break the roots we have tried so hard to establish in order to allow new growth to prevail; growth God’s way, not of our own.  Then, when it comes time for our seeds to take root, we must willingly and wholeheartedly obey the call and bloom where we are planted. 

Please join me in prayer this week as we pray over the Matthew 25:34-40 Spring Break Mission Trip and those involved, as well as the Medical Mission crew, set to serve in Nicaragua as well.  God is good.

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Here I am, Send Me! Well…If You will Keep Me Safe…

ImageSix years ago, I went on my first mission trip to Toluca, Mexico as a Youth Minister Intern’s wife and had been forever changed. I longed for the time to return again, but then the babies came, and my world travel was put on hold. Until now. Our three children are now old enough to share a week of their mommy and daddy’s time with others. My plane ticket has been bought, and my passport application is in the mail, Nicaragua Mission Trip, here I come!

 

The decision to go has been such a hard one. Honestly, it took my husband looking at me with pleading eyes and saying, “I need my wife there by my side.” that lit the fire in my soul again. The fire went out long ago when I forgot how important the mission was. I would pat myself on the back for surviving a week or so home alone tending to the home and the kids, as my husband shared the gospel in a foreign land. I was ok that I could not go. I got comfortable earnestly praying for the mission to be successful in the comforts of my large bedroom with my sweet children tucked in and “safe”. The calling for me to personally go abroad to share my faith has been muffled by the comfortable daily routine in which I am wrapped up in. Most of my prayers for this trip have been so self centered that I have become swallowed up by them and have already lost sight of why I am going in the first place.

 

I am being tempted to worry. I am being tempted to fill my prayers with ramblings and repetitions of weak faith, when I should be praying about the mission itself. I am worrying about the plane crashing and leaving my children as orphans, getting gravely ill, or my children being involved in some horrific car accident that could have been prevented if I would have just stayed home. Just the other night, I woke up feeling the need to write out a living will…just in case. The need to worry has choked out desire to serve my God. But…I am repenting, daily, for my lack of faith.

 

As Jake and I sat down with our friends the Goads to map out the trip and go over our mission there, I got excited, really excited. Jake and Dale orchestrated this wonderful plan to go to Nicaragua and BE those spoken of in Matthew 25: 35-40 which states,

 

“35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

 

During the seven days of our mission, we will focus on each part of this passage in several small villages in Nicaragua. We are going to distribute meal packages to the hungry, set up water purifiers for cleaner drinking water, host a cookout and devotional time for a neighborhood, bring clothes to the orphans we support, and visit a children’s cancer wing in a local hospital bearing toiletries, tutus for the little girls, and super hero capes for the little boys. We will visit a prison and give the prisoners toiletries and Bibles. We will also host a graduating banquet for graduating students of the Bible Institute of Central America and present them with their own Bibles to be used to spread the gospel. Yep, this got me excited.

 

I have been mulling over this passage (Matthew 25:35-40) and the parable of the talents above it, and the separation of the sheep and the goats after it. I want to invest my talents like the servant in the parable of the talents, and I want to be a sheep on judgment day. I realize that I cannot be these things by worrying about my “life affairs”. These passages have convicted me all the more that God is control and He has a task for me and he wants all of me to complete the task.

 

So why am I rambling about this? I am convicted that God needs us to do His work, and most of the time, we simply will not move due to the fear of loosing our comforts here on this earth. Jesus told us following him would not be easy, and we would have to sacrifice for the sacrifice. Are you ready to sacrifice? Maybe this means digging into the word and really studying the passages you avoided because it interfered with your lifestyle. Maybe this means digging deeper into your bank account to give until it hurts. Maybe the sacrifice is a mission trip, an outreach project, or giving up friends, family, or a job. For me the sacrifice is leaving my children in capable hands so I can tend to the needs of strangers in another country. For me the sacrifice is letting go and letting God. It means having faith that whatever this trip brings, good or bad, that God is good and He always has a plan. Pray for me, and pray for this mission. Pray that I keep the worry out, and let God do His thing (Jeremiah 32:27). Pray that the mission team will have success in bringing more sheep to the kingdom. Pray for our conviction to shine through in the work that we will be doing, and that we will be a light to those spoken of in Matthew 25.

 

 

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Veterans Tribute: Leaving Your Legacy

What kind of legacy will you leave behind one day?  Have you thought about the values, traditions, and flaws you have passed down to your children, or will pass down to your future children?  I met a man in the VA waiting room a few weeks ago that was living the legacy of military service.  He explained how his grandfather had served, how his father had served,  how he had served, and how his daughter was now serving with her third tour in Iraq.  His eyes lit up as he talked about the pride he felt that his family had such a part in our country’s freedom.  It looked as if he got a little misty eyed when he talked about his daughter and her job as a guard at one of the prisoner facilities in Iraq.  Four generations of this man’s family had all served the red, white, and blue, and the citizens of our nation.  I was proud to have met him, and as we left, I shook his hand and told him thank you.

Meeting him made me think of the legacy I would like to pass on to my children.  I want  them to know how to show kindness to strangers from my Momma, the hospitality of my Nana and Aunt Lisa.  Saying what you mean and meaning what you say from my Dad.  I want them to see honor in serving our country through my husband, his Grandpa and my amazing Papa.  I want them to be gentle spirits like my Mom-In-Law, and have a fun loving spirit, and know the importance of family like my Dad-In-Law.  Most importantly, I want them to know God as Jake and I have gotten to know Him through our sweet Grandmothers and other influential family members.  To see servanthood in their wonderful Daddy.  I want them to see God in our marriage.  To see His love, His grace, His patience in mine and Jake’s actions.  I pray often for Him to mold me into the likeness of His image so that I can teach my children about Him and what He has done for us all.  I pray that they will not pick up the traits of my faults and flaws.

I pray in confidence that if I adhere to the teachings found in Proverbs 22:6 which states, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”,  God will hold true to His promises.  Reflect on the legacy you want to leave and hold true to it.  Allow God to direct your steps (Proverbs 3:5-6) as you discern what is important in this life.  I am thankful to the veterans who stamp an honorable willingness to serve America onto the hearts of their children, and who allow God to stamp their hearts with truth and love.  I am thankful for the Godly parents and grandparents who work together to mold their children and grandchildren into fruitful, faithful servants, because they had done the same.  I am thankful for the brotherhood of the Church who strengthens and sharpens each other in Christ.  And I am thankful to God, in whom all blessings flow, who sustains us, protects us, and guides us through this life into our home in heaven.  What legacy will you leave?

“The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

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Veterans Tribute: Till Death Do Us Part

As I was sitting beside my husband’s hospital bed in the VA ER, a very old, extremely frail man was wheeled into the hall across from our room.  He was bundled up in blankets, and looked like he was 5 foot 4 inches and 90 pounds….maybe.  He had a bushy, wiry white beard, and atop his head was the well-known black Veteran’s hat.  His voice was weak and shaky as the nurse began to question him about his condition.  He had fallen and broke a few ribs, then developed pneumonia and was hospitalized.  He checked himself out of his local hospital against the advice of the doctors, and now was back, barely hanging onto the shallow breaths he was forcing in and out of his frail body.  The nurse asked him when he served, and he replied, “I fought in World War II ma’am.”  Jake and I just looked at each other, marveling at the fact that a real life WWII Veteran was right across the hall from us.  Due to this fact, he must have been in his late 90’s.  The nurse questioned him about other things, and asked who he lived with.  He replied, “With my wife of course!”  She went on to ask who took care of him and his wife and he went on to say, “Well…we take care of each other, just like we always have.”  This statement, made Jake and I grab hands and give a thoughtful squeeze as we marveled at the fact that he and his wife were still happily married and taking care of each other.  He went on to say that they had 10 children together, and drifted off to sleep, tired of the questioning.

I couldn’t help but dwell on the commitment between the two people.  Their love survived a terrible war, rebuilding after the war, children, jobs, hardships, and new eras.  This is what God intended for marriage, and I am so thankful that we have examples such as this couple to show us that marriage can, and will last if we only commit ourselves to the other.   When my husband went overseas, the number of soldiers deployed was around 600 men and women.  Of the 600, a little over HALF of these peoples marriages ended during the deployment.  It was a sad, sad reality.  I honestly had no idea the divorce rate was so high.  There were several divorces after the deployment as well because of the difficulties that arise after the soldiers return home.

Jake and I saw other Veteran’s and their wives during our stay; the husband and wife sitting in the waiting room, and the wife half asleep as the husband rattled off his medical report to her.  The wife wiping drool off of the corner of her half-crippled husband in the wheelchair waiting in the hall, and the young couple walking hand-in-hand while the husband waddled because of the leg brace attached to him.  I thank you Veterans for the commitment you made to your spouses and the determination to see that commitment through, in sickness and in health, in good times, and in bad; during times of peace, and in times of war.

May we all strive to cling to each other as described in Matthew 19:5 and engrave upon our hearts the passage in Ephesians 5:22-27 which reads, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

Let us as married couples study this scripture together and discuss its true meaning.  As a woman, I have been placed in the protection of my husband, who is being guided by his love for the Father to be the best protector and provider he can be because of his devotion to Christ, and to our marriage.  As a man, understand that we women submit to your loving care and protection to please our Father and to show complete trust in the fact that you are our provider and our shelter.  We respect you and love you because of our love for Christ, and for the man he has set over us as a shield.  May God continue to bless our marriages, as we continue to make Him our guide.

“His banner over me was love.”  Song Of Solomon 2:4

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Veterans Tribute: The Value of a Friend

I know I sound crazy, but I like to sit in the VA waiting room.  There are always people waiting for you to make eye contact and give them a friendly, “Hi, how are you?” so they can tell you ALL about what’s going on with them.  Upon arriving for Jake’s appointment, we settled in the packed waiting room and found ourselves seated across from two men, probably in their late 70’s waiting for the eye doctor.  One was very tall, and wore a plaid, pearl snap shirt, brown polyester pants, and cowboy boots.  The other man was shorter, wearing a plaid pearl snap shirt, dark denim jeans, and cowboy boots.  They BOTH had the exact same hair cut…flat tops.  I could see their eyes light up as my little handsome man Zeek plopped down right in front of them and gave them a quick glance.  They commented him on his cowboy boots, asked him where he was from, and assured Jake and I that we better enjoy him as long as we could because time flies.  They had been waiting in the waiting room for 2 hours by the time we arrived and told us to settle in for a long wait.  I was thrilled (no really, I was).  They told us that one of them was blind in the right eye, and the other was blind in the left, and that between the both of ’em, they could still navigate a vehicle pretty well relying on the others “good eye”.  They would goof off and poke each other in the ribs, and both loved interacting with Zeek.  I could tell they had been friends for a very long time, and they both genuinely cared for, and adored the other.

Watching them enjoying each other’s company, I wondered if they had served together.  I imagined them as childhood friends growing up together, and enlisting in the Army together as young teens.  I could see them going through Basic Training together, being stationed together…fighting a battle huddled in a cold dirty trench… together.  I was not able to fill in these gaps, because surprisingly, Jake was in and out in 20 minutes, but 20 minutes was enough to see the deep friendship these men had.

It made me thankful for the people I call “friend” and thankful for  the wonderful friends Jake had during his military career.  I was so thankful that Jake was able to go on his first deployment with his childhood friends (they all enlisted together),  and that they were all there together, supporting one another and protecting each other.  I was even thankful for the crazy mischief they would get into together because I knew that it kept their spirits high.  I am amazed at the deep relationships that form through the military.  The way recruits are trained to love their fellow soldier more than themselves, doing everything in their power to keep their buddy safe; to leave no man behind.

Proverbs 17:17 states, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”  God in His wisdom, developed this very special relationship for us to gain strength from another.   Another beautiful verse on friendship is written in Proverbs 18:24 which reads, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

As friends, we are to love one another so deeply, that sometimes we have to take the chance of hurting a friend to get them back on track, when others are telling them what they want to hear, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6)

I am thankful for the deep bonds of friendship that are developed because of the Military.  I am thankful for the brotherhood that gives their lives for the man beside them, and ultimately, for those of us here at home.  Thank you Veterans, for choosing to love, protect, and fight for your brother in arms.  Thank you Todd, for being such a constant for Jake when he was away from us, and for the commitment to serve well beyond what you were asked to do.  Thank you JD and Jared for your service and for your dedication to the military, and for the friendship you have given to Jake as well.  I am deeply appreciative for the brotherhood of the military, and for the brotherhood we have in Christ.  May God continue to bless you, your families, and your brotherhood!

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

John 15:13

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Veterans Tribute: Golf Carts & Humility

Have you ever witnessed someone going above and beyond another’s expectations?  Have you ever wondered that going above and beyond does not have to be a grand act deserving of publicity, merit, or honorable mention?  Upon arriving at the VA hospital’s notorious parking lot, we found ourselves in a spot that seemed to be 100 yards away from the entrance.  It was the first substantial cool down of this year’s crazy-hot weather pattern, and the temperature was struggling at 53 degrees with 15 mph winds barreling through our climate shocked bodies.  A burly man came whipping around the corner in a golf cart offering us a ride, and yep, we took it.  He was decked out in his black Northface gear, complete with stylish Oakley’s and black gloves.  He has a big bushy grey and white beard, and on his head, he wore a black beanie with a United States Marine Corp lapel pinned to the front of it.  The retired Marine made small talk and instructed us as to where to go once inside.  We made a remark about the crazy Oklahoma weather and he jokingly said, “Sometimes I wonder why I volunteer to do this!”

His remark sent a warm feeling throughout my body.  He volunteers to do this.  This man had gone through the rigorous training of the Marine Corps.  He is part of the “few and the proud”, and he had probably seen his share of misery on the battlefield because he looked about the right age to have fought during Vietnam.  Yet, there he was, driving a golf cart around the parking lot picking up fellow Veterans.  This was a job most would turn their noses up at, but he was there, lending a hand, sacrificing his time, and on that day, his warmth for others.  This simple act made me think of the ultimate servant, Jesus Christ.  He left his throne in heaven to serve us, and give his life for us so that we too, may share in the reward of heaven someday.  The Son of God washed others feet, played with children, ate with sinners and tax collectors, gave the leapers a second glance, and reached out to a man whom society had condemned to solitary confinement.  He went above and beyond by simply humbling himself.

What if we all strove to follow in these footsteps?  To perform extraordinary tasks by simply performing an unwanted duty out of humility?  The Son of God washing others feet, the Retired Marine becoming a golf cart shofar.  The corporate president serving in a soup kitchen.  The teenager picking up trash on a Saturday morning.    In Matthew 20:26-28, Jesus states, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Jesus served.  Jesus sacrificed.  Jesus stepped out of the status quo of royalty, set aside his crown of majesty, and replaced it with a crown of thorns on our behalf. 

Let us all set aside the crowns that we think we are sometimes deserving of, and find opportunities to serve big in small ways.  I am thankful to that Retired Marine for the  sacrifice he made when he defended his country, and even more humbled that he set aside his medals, his rank, his honor, and served me with a golf cart ride on a cold day.  I am thankful that Jesus set aside his relationship with his Father; set aside his life for me, a sinner in need of grace.  What are you going to set aside today?

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Veterans Tribute: Together We Stand; Divided We Fall

As I walked down the halls of the Veteran’s hospital, a silent sense of unity echoed all around me.  I saw men and women, proudly displaying hats, vests, and jackets with the branch of military they served, and in what war they played a role in.  I saw Navy, Army, Air Force, National Guard, and Marines all brought together, in one place, asking for healing of different sorts.  It seems at my age, the people involved in the military seem to have a struggle between which branch is the best, which one trains the hardest, and has the most important role.  I did not see this here, I did not see it today.  I saw hungry souls, seeking camaraderie and comfort within one another in the unique setting of a hospital.  I saw retired Air Force men sitting amongst the Marines, all swapping war stories in the waiting room.  I saw an Army Infantry Veteran having lunch with a Navy Veteran.  The great divide between the branches was not seen at the VA and made me appreciative of the many roles each retired soldier played, and thankful for each and every one of them.

If not for the mechanics, the Airborne soldiers would not have a plane to jump from.  If not for the helicopter pilot, the medics would not have a vessel to carry the wounded in.  If not for the Calvary, our Infantry would have to do a lot more walking.  Each and every man in the service plays a vital role for the safety of our country.  Do some train harder?  Are some put into more dangerous situations?  Do some go longer without being able to speak to their wives or children?  Yes, but they are all valued the same as the other.  Without one, the other would be weak.  The body of the military forces would not be able to function properly without each and every man and women, dedicating themselves to the specific area of training they need to perform the task they signed up to do .

This makes me reflect on the passage in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 which states:

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.  If all were a single member, where would the body be?   As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

The men and women in the VA seemed to have gotten this.  They seemed to have grasped that they all served well in the duty that they performed for us and were content to have done it.  I saw this passage about the body of Christ come to life when I took a step back, and reflected on the body of the United States Armed Forces.  I see the body of Christ in action when I reflect on the many members within the Church working as hard as they can in the specific area that they have gifts for, and do them humbly, without complaining about why they do not have a more “important” job.  From the bottom of my heart I thank you Veterans for the work you put into protecting this country.  For the role you gave 100% to, without complaint, or grumbling for a bigger better tittle.  It is my prayer that you are also putting this same commitment into the Lord’s Church as well, serving to your greatest capacity with the talents that you have been blessed with.  May the Lord continue to bless you and keep you in His perfect and holy peace.

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The Predator and the Prey

My Dad called me the other night to talk about a traumatic experience he had just witnessed.  He was driving his ATV to the mailbox, when he heard the faint cry of a small kitten.  As he approached the tree line, he found two baby kittens, perched high atop a pine tree.  He said he stayed under the tree for almost an hour, trying to coax the kittens into his arms, so he could take them home, feed them, and care for them.  With each soft, comforting word, one of the kittens slowly began to trust Dad enough to come down.  She was solid grey with bright green eyes, scraggly and scared and wanting comfort.  She made her way down to the lowest branch, within reach of my Dad’s arms.  As he was gently guiding her, a though crossed his mind, “Oh please little kitten, jump into my arms, not the ground, you will be safer with me.”  His dogs had come along for the ATV ride and were going crazy barking and jumping at a chance to sink their teeth into the small kitten.  She made her move, and instead of going to Dad, she jumped the other direction, and was instantly attacked.  Dad said his bulldog wrapped his jaws around the kitten’s neck and shook her violently.   Within seconds, she was dead, and the dogs began to tear away at her little body.

My Dad felt so helpless and guilty for trying to get the kittens down from the tree.  He said, “All I wanted to do was take care of them, not have one killed!”  I told him that it was ok, and that the kitten made her choice between the dangers of the ground, and his arms.  This caused a thought to stir within me.  As I tried to comfort my Dad, I said, “You know this makes me think about our relationship with God.  We find ourselves ‘up a tree’ sometimes in life, and needing someone to rescue us.  All the while, God is waiting, calling for us with his arms opened wide, waiting for us to jump into them.  But sadly, we often decide to go the other way, and jump into dangerous situations, while getting ripped apart by the decision to go it alone, without His help.”  Dad kind of laughed, and said, “Yep, Leena, I guess you are right about that.”

Where are you today?  Have you jumped into your Father’s arms, or have you made the decision to navigate this world without Him?  When trials and temptations put you into a corner, do you turn to Him, or to the world?  God is the ultimate source of comfort and strength and the very constant that will sustain us in this life and the next.  If we choose Him, He will heal us from the damages caused by this world and be our Protector when faced with trials.  Psalm 18:2 states: “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”  I know that so many of us are hurting right now through death, divorce, illness, marital issues, money issues, family troubles, and just the day-to-day temptation to veer off of the path of righteousness.  We are over-worked, and over-stressed, and can’t find enough hours in the day to sit down and reflect on Him, talk with Him, and read into His promises through the Word.  Take comfort in knowing the Lord will guide you through these things if you allow Him to do so. 

He is always there, waiting to give you His divine power to sustain and refresh you, but it is up to you to seek Him out.  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”  (Matthew 7:7-8).  If we do not seek the Lord, Satan will devour us. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  Satan preys on each and every one of us, aching at the chance to pull us away from salvation.  The ones that he cannot gain full access to are the ones who are in the refuge of the Father.  We are told to submit ourselves to God.  Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you in James 4:7.  If we do not submit to the Lord, we are as the kitten, on our own, out in the open, easy prey for the predator.

 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Matthew 11:27-29

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Restless Souls…Restless Nights

“When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.  Because You have been my help, therefore, in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.  My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.”  Psalm 64:7-8

I came across this beautiful piece of scripture while flipping through my Bible this morning.  It made me picture myself, all warm and cozy in my bed dozing off peacefully in the middle of my nighttime prayer with God. I wondered where David was when he wrote this Psalm.  I imagined him curled up in his bed with the finest linens draped across the great king; in a peaceful state with no worries to plague his thoughts as he drifted off to slumber.

This piece of scripture was written by David when he was in the wilderness of Judah, or the forest of Herreth. (1 Samuel 22:5)  It was right after his tearful goodbye with his best friend Jonathan as he was fleeing from the wrath of King Saul.  Before going into the wilderness, David came to Nob and met the priest Ahimelech.  Ahimelech helped David by giving him some holy bread to eat, and the sword David took from Goliath when he slain him.  From there, he flees to Gath, then, by the words of a prophet, he was told to go into the wilderness because Saul was hot on his trail.  While in the wilderness, Saul came to the priests and slain every one of them because of the help that they gave David.  David was soon to hear about this grueling fate of his allies, and though troubled greatly for the death of holy men on his account, David is seen comforting Ahitub, the son of Ahimelech who had escaped and fled to David to tell him the news.  In 1 Samuel 22:23 he states, “Stay with me; do not fear.  For he who seeks my life seeks your life, but with me you shall be saved.”

Not what I had imagined at all.  David was fighting for his life, trapped in a forest awaiting news as to what to do next as he could almost sense the very breath of Saul creeping down his neck with every turn.  He had just given up a deep bond with a very close friend, and was feeling the weight of the priests slain on his account every time he looked into the eyes of Ahitub who was now looking to him.  Through all of this, we see David so confident in the Lord’s provision that he tells Ahitub to stick with him to be saved.  I don’t know about you, but after seeing your father and others slain because of their alliance with David, it would be pretty hard for me to believe that with him, I would be safe.  Ahitub did.   But why?  I believe it is because he saw in David a “peace with God, which surpasses all understanding”.  He saw confidence in the Lord, and I am sure that Ahitub had this same confidence as well.  It was this confidence, this peace that allowed David to remember the Lord on his bed, made by the resources he found in the wilderness, and to meditate on Him in the night watches.  Terror was trying to creep into his heart in the black of night while surrounded by the forest of Hereth, but David felt the shadow of the Lord’s wing, he felt His right hand guiding him steady.

David felt the need to rejoice while entombed in the forest, because his hope rested in the Father.  Do we feel this as well?  Are we resting peacefully at night amidst the enemy trying to destroy us?  Are we rejoicing in the fact that we too rest in the shadow of our Father’s wing?  Are we so confident in the Lord during our trials that we offer a safe haven to other’s experiencing the same thing?

Let us all learn from this example of peace in David’s life as we hit the pillow at night.  Most nights, it is easy to utter the words of David as we remember the Lord upon our beds and meditate on Him.  Other times, it may not be as easy.  We have bills to pay, children to raise, work to find, a budget to adhere to, and a lost family member or friend.  We are stricken with illnesses, debt, guilt, sin, death, greed, lust, and pain.  It is during these times, we must meditate on the Lord and see His provisions through the burdens.  During these times, our souls should be thirsting for God, seeking Him, longing for Him (Psalm 63:1).  Our souls should follow close behind Him, and in doing this, we will rejoice, knowing we are tucked away under our Father’s wing, safe and unbound from the burdens of life, and our souls satisfied.  

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Surviving the Terrible Toos

Romans two verse one has taken on a whole new meaning for me.  By passing judgment on another, I condemn myself.  Ok, Ok, I get the point: Don’t judge, lest you also be judged.  I try hard not to judge others; I try to put myself in their shoes and fight the temptation to place myself higher than they may be.  Then, as I look at myself in the mirror at times, I begin to judge myself.  I get caught up in the terrible toos.  “My hair is too frizzy.” “My face is too broke out.”  “My pants have gotten too tight.”  I catch myself saying, “I’m just too clumsy.”  “She’s too good at that stuff; I am not.”  “I’m too much of a scatterbrain to be able to pull that one off…”  “Im not too good at speaking and teaching.”   I get wrapped up in judging myself and putting myself lower than I ought  because of things within me I label as weak.  These terrible toos plague each and every one of us at some time or another.  When you get caught up in this, have you ever stopped to realize you are passing a negative judgment upon yourself?

When you pass negative judgment upon yourself, you in a sense, become negative.  You hold back from things you could be doing because you lack the self-confidence needed to do those things.  I love the illustration of the members working together as a body in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.  This group of believers were caught up in the terrible toos as well.  They judged themselves by the talents held by another, and began to grumble because they felt as if they were not good enough.  Paul reminded them that as a body, each member had a different role to play so the body would work perfectly.

Have you ever replaced the word “another” with the word “yourself” in Romans two verse one? “In passing judgment upon yourself, you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same thing.”  This means that if I judge myself by the works of others, I am selling myself short and condemning myself because if I believe it, I become it.  We must not look at ourselves and judge negatively when it comes to the things we have been given.  We can judge the sin in our lives, and correct those sins, but when it comes to our appearances, our gifts, and our talents, we have got to get out of ourselves, and use what we have been given to serve.  Psalms 139:13-14 states “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.”  When you read this, how can you look at yourself, or any other being for that matter, and pass negative judgment?  David was not being arrogant, or self serving when he praised God for making him the way he was, and so, we too can praise God for making us the way we are and believe that He thinks we are wonderful.  When we possess this confidence, we will not longer get caught up in the terrible toos, and use the talents and abilities we know we have to further God’s kingdom.  May we all stop passing negative judgment on ourselves as we strive to cultivate and stretch the abilities we have been given as a thanks and a praise for our Almighty Creator.

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