Friday, December 30, 2011

Lebab Shalem

Psalm 119:16(MSG)I relish everything you've told me of life, I won't forget a word of it.

OK....so being that I'm approaching the half century mark on this here planet earth, to boldly proclaim that "I won't forget" something is farther than I am willing to go!  On some mornings, I awake and have to spend at least a good minute or two just to remember what day of the week it is.  The thoughts go something like this as I stretch and approach the edge of the bed to disembark....."Let's see, today is ....wait...what is today and where am I supposed to be right now?  Am I late?!  Oh no....!!!"  Usually within a few seconds, I come back to reality from my slumber and can shake the fog away, but rest assured that it is not a good feeling.  Anyone else have this occurrence?

So, having said all of that, I am going to see what the NIV translation has to say in this verse.
Psalm 119:16(NIV)
I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your word.

"I will not neglect Your word."  Yes! That I can say with confidence!  I might not be able to always remember the words, but I can commit to study and read the Word of God and attempt to memorize it.  I can return to it constantly day in and day out.  It doesn't seem a coincidence to me that  I read the story of King Asa a few days ago.  Powerful words of encouragement and valuable lessons about life lie within the verses of 2 Chronicles chapter 14-16 as the life of Asa plays out on the pages. 

King Asa was the son of King Abijah and succeeded him to the throne over Judah in Jerusalem.  It is written in 2 Chronicles 14:1 that Asa "did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God."  (I would certainly love to have that said about me....wouldn't you?)  Anyway, when this king came into power, the country was experiencing a time of peace.  God  gave Asa a powerful word through the prophet Azariah.  The prophet said,
(2 Chronicles 15:2)MSG "God will stick with you as long as you stick with him.  If you look for Him he will let himself be found; but if you leave him he'll leave you."  

It goes on to say that when the people saw that God was with Asa, they came to him in large numbers.  At that point they made a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul.  In the Bible's original Hebrew translation we would have read the words  "lebab shalem", which means to have whole hearted devotion.

They chose not to neglect the Word of God.  King Asa followed through on this and for thirty-five years there was no war in the land as the king cleared out every distraction and thing that did not glorify the Lord....including the dethroning of his grandmother the queen who made an Asherah pole and shifted her focus to idol worship. 

The sort of sad part to this king's story, however, is that in his last years he must have gotten off track a little.  The story finishes up in chapter 16 where King Asa slips in his trust and devotion to the Lord and relies on men for the deliverance of his country.  When afflicted with a severe foot disease in these later years, the Bible records that King Asa ends up seeking  physicians for healing and forgets to turn to the God who has sustained him through incredible hardships in the past!  I conclude that  the king lost perspective.  Rather than going before God and asking for direction which may have led him to physicians for healing,  (God can and often does use the hands of His people to restore health to our bodies) King Asa relied on men.
The ending to King Asa's story concludes with his burial with honors in the land of his people.  Yes, God's grace overcame Asa's lack of follow through, but the way his walk with God ended left a sadness within my heart.  It jarred my mind into a reflective mode.   

This is what I thought after I read King Asa's story.  With the approaching new year, I want to look ahead and see where I am going.  What are my priorities?  Am I still completely relying on God for all things?  Where am I leading my children?  How am I being a help mate to my husband?  Am I simply looking back at yesterday's victories and enjoying them as though I have no work left to do and the best is behind me?  Or, am I looking to the future with hope and rolling up my sleeves to rely on God even more than ever before? 

II Chronicles 16:9 (NIV) says, "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him."  I want God to see me living out a life of whole hearted devotion to Him!  I need His strength to fulfill the purposes He has designed just for me to complete!  It is exciting to think about the future and the hope that we have in Him!  As our pastor frequently says, "The best is yet to come!!"

Father,
Looking at the future through the cross gives hope and peace.
Thank You for a message of hope and grace despite our sometimes faltering faith.  Your love for us is written throughout Your word!  You are a strong tower of protection and our error free navigational system for a life filled with direction and purpose.  I am trusting in Your words and listening to Your voice for every step of this year!  I will not neglect Your word.  I am praying today that You will fill our hearts with devotion to You.  Speak softly to those tonight who might be fearful of the future and infuse them with Your gentle words of encouragement and love.

In Christ's name,
Amen

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

John 3:16(MSG)
"This is how much God loved the world:  He gave his Son, His one and only Son.  And this is why:  so that no one need be destroyed;  by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life."

Taking a quick break from baking....pumpkin bread, cookies, traditional "church windows", and gingerbread house decorating, to wish you a Merry Christmas!!  What a beautiful time of the year to pause and enjoy the wonders of Christ's love for us!  Wherever you are tonight, I pray that you are able to experience the love that He has reserved just for you!

God,
Thank you for the gift of Your son! 
Amen

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pondering Wisdom

Psalm 119:15(MSG)
I ponder every morsel of wisdom from You, I attentively watch how You've done it.

I enjoyed watching this Ibis catch fish at the beach.
I do love to ponder!  Webster's Dictionary defines ponder as:  to think deeply (about); to consider carefully.  I love to attempt to see into the meaning of everything.  I don't always figure things out correctly, but I love tryin'! 

As is the case with most of our character traits, however, there is an up side and a down side to them.  The down side to the "perpetual ponderer" is that this activity often leads to over thinking things, which can then lead to what I like to call, "Analysis-Paralysis".  A sort of frozen state, if you will, that keeps you from moving in any direction.  Not forward. Not backward.  Not side to side.  Just plain stuck.

But, the up side to this evaluation trait is that once we have really thought through an idea, we feel quite satisfied with every angle of what we've learned.  Generally speaking, ponderers will not be caught off guard.  So, tonight's verse reminds me that, it is definitely a good thing to ponder the Word of God.  To read it; study it; memorize it; pray it; and then apply it!  

Lord,
Your Word is so refreshing.  It speaks life into my very being!  It brings strength when I am weak.  It builds courage when I am fearful.  It brings direction when I am lost.  It surrounds me with comfort when I am lonely.  Every verse has purpose and power!  Thank you for the gift of Your Word.
Amen    

Thursday, December 15, 2011

He Is A Delight

Psalm 119:14(MSG)
I delight far more in what You tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches.

The quietness of a mountain stream.
Awe.....there is so much peace in this verse.  I have been so busy this season running hither and thither that the peace of God has eluded me.  Kind of hate admitting that little secret, but 'tis true.  I always know when I have forgotten to delight on His word, because that frenzied feel begins to creep into the core of my heart.  I start to feel like I am chasing a shadow when I merely read His Word like it were a dictionary, instead of hearing Him talk to me like the special friend that He is.  

I am missing a whole lot when I don't take time to delight in what He is saying to me!  If I am so distracted with a pile of earthly riches that I cannot focus on Him, then it might be time for me to remember what Jesus said:

Luke 12:15(NIV)~Then he said to them, "Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." 

Father,
Thank you for pouring into my life and offering a beautiful picture of who I am as You reveal it to me through Your word.  Help me to always linger in Your presence and to remember that You are a trusted friend and counselor.  Lord, speak gently into the hearts of others today who are struggling to know that You are listening and let them know that You hear and You care for them so deeply! 
In Jesus Name,
Amen

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Getting To The Top Of The Hill

Psalm 119:13(MSG)
I'll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from Your mouth;
I woke up in the usual way.  As I was rushing around from task to task before we scurried out the door to head for school, I heard my husband say something about needing to leave early because the radio was reporting slick roads.  Huh?  There wasn't snow in the forecast?  I was precisely on my usual time schedule with no buffer minutes factored in.  Uh-oh.

Shutting the car door behind me, I backed slowly out of the garage to find that there was indeed a slight snow and ice covering over the pavement.  No problem, I thought, this is not too bad.  I made quick time as I wove around the neighborhood curves and came to the stop sign that leads to the main road.  Slowly approaching the intersection, I could see cars stopped from both ways and basically parked on the road.  As I ventured the nose of my car a bit further to the edge of the corner, I was able to see what was happening. 

The main road is similar to a roller coaster as it moves up and down steep grades in both directions.  I watched as cars would attempt to go up the hill and get stuck in the middle.  They would then slowly back down and try again.  One by one, the cars would attempt to climb the hill.  Some were making it, but some were not.  Those that were unable to conquer the task remained trapped in the valley with no hope of escape.  You can only imagine the tangled, congested mess that ensued, as cars, trucks, and even buses became prisoners to the icy hills. 

Before it was all over, there ended up being two buses and numerous cars that had to be towed up the hills by fire trucks.  My daughter and I successfully made it to school, but we were two and half hours late!  The whole thing got me to thinking.  Here's what I thought.  Our lives are like those cars that got stuck.  A significant amount of time we find ourselves paralyzed at the bottom of monstrously large, slippery slopes.  We try to get up on our own,  but  our attempts are futile.  We get completely immobilized.  We spin our wheels, run off the road, and sometimes even crash before we ask for the "fire truck" to come and rescue us. 

My daughter "riding up the hill" on a local nature trail.
Why do I do that?  Why, when I have the complete counsel of God in my hands and readily available to speak from my lips, would I ever try to travel without Him?  I can choose to cling to Him and use my lips to rehearse His promises when I am in the valley, or I can keep my mouth quiet and miss His amazing grace working in my situation.  The choice is entirely mine to make. 

Father,
Thank you for Your continued Word of counsel that provides a firm hold for me when I am crawling in the valley and barely able to stand up.  Help me to respond to the trials that I encounter  with the light of Your wisdom and grace.  Lord, let me honor You in my darkest times with genuine praise to the King of Kings!  I am asking You tonight to carry those that are in the midst of a trial and deliver them safely to the top of the hill.  Place Your Word on our lips and let us glorify Your name from the highest of heights!
In Jesus Name,
Amen

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hello? Do You See Me?

Psalm 119:12(MSG)
Be blessed, God;  train me in Your ways of wise living.

Am I invisible?  Can you see me?  Can you hear me?  Am I insignificant to you?  I'm wondering if you have recently asked yourself any of these questions when you were hanging out with someone who picked up their hand held electronic device and started tapping away on it?  I have.

Today's verse asking God to train us in His ways of "wise living" has thrown my brain into overdrive.  I listened last week, as an elderly couple told me that it is a good thing they don't have much time left here on earth because they don't feel very relevant anymore. It is heartbreaking to hear that, especially when the Bible tells us that we are to learn from the experience of older Christ followers.  What are we doing as a culture to give this kind of a message?

I cringe as an intelligent woman tells me that her break time is no longer filled with conversations between coworkers sharing their lives, but instead is spent with everyone sitting silently playing electronic games on their phones or scrolling through their e-mails.  Yikes, maybe that's what we are doing wrong!!  The Bible is very clear that we are to encourage one another and lift one another up.  How are we to do that if we aren't interacting with each other when we are together? 

I am not down on the electronic world, obviously, as I type away on my web blog, but shouldn't we be present, mind and spirit, when we are physically with people?  Aren't we missing opportunities of learning, teaching, uplifting and love when our face is stuck in a hand held machine while we are standing right next to a real live person?!!  Aren't we communicating to those around us that they are not worthy of our undivided attention when we pull out our phones and start reviewing data or texting someone else while we are in their company?  Again, I am a huge fan of the cell phone, so I am standing in conviction as I write this....well actually, I'm sitting...but you know what I mean.     

Have you experienced this feeling of smallness when someone is busily typing away on their tiny device while you are standing right next to them?  I want to hear your thoughts.  Am I alone in this?

Father,
I want to be a blessing to others by applying the wise training that You have given to me in Your Word.  I also never want to miss an opportunity to learn from one of Your children.  You are the Master of wisdom and I want to be an encouragement and light in the places that You lead me.  Please help me today to more aware of my "real life" opportunities.
Thank you for Your patience with me,
Amen   

Monday, November 28, 2011

I'll Never Be Bankrupt

Psalm 119:11(MSG)
I've banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won't sin myself bankrupt.

Scurrying around the house putting up the Christmas decorations and taking down the Thanksgiving fan fare, I had nothing on my mind, but completing my task.  (No surprise to those of you that know me well, I'm sure.)  But on my fourth trip through the living room, my mission was interrupted by something on TV.  What had captured my attention and emotion was the sweet voice of a young lady and her brother.  I'm guessing their ages to be about 11 and 15 years old.  I thought I heard her say something like, "....it's really not that bad to live on the truck."  Huh?  Live on a truck??!  

Ornament in hand, I walked right over and sat down on the edge of the coffee table to get a clarification on what I thought I had just heard.  Surely that isn't what she said!  As I sat there, perched on the edge of the wood, I realized that this was a news documentary interviewing a family who no longer has the ability to pay their bills.  They are surviving and attempting to provide for their needs the only way they can.  Currently, that means living in this delivery type truck.  They have been declared bankrupt.  

This sweet angelic voice went on to say that she had grown accustomed to this way of life and felt sad for those who are living on the street and don't have any shelter at all!!  She and her brother are continuing their education and she is determined to become a child defense lawyer so that she can help kids that don't have the ability to help themselves.  Her sadness was not for herself, as she described seeing other teens reacting poorly to their parents in disrespect.  She described watching those teens in their arrogant behavior and feeling very frustrated with them.  She said they should be appreciating all that they have been given and the privilege of having a home and loving parents!  Wow....

When the story was finished, I stood up and looked down at the ornament I had in my hand and the other forty bazillion (is that a word...nope just looked it up...it's not in Webster's) in the box waiting to hang from my tree with lights "all aglow" and I suddenly remembered the truth of Christmas!

Webster's Dictionary defines bankrupt as:  a person legally declared unable to pay debts.  That's me...without Him.  Unable to pay my sin debt....no matter how "good" I try to act or be....just can't do it on my own.  Thankfully, as I found in my Bible reading this morning, I can bank this promise:
There is hope in His Word.
1 John 2:12-13(MSG)
I remind you, my dear children:  Your sins are forgiven in Jesus' name. 
1 John 2:14
Your fellowship with God enables you to gain a victory over the Evil One


Yes, this brief story from a financially hurting family brought it all back to plumb for me.  No more frenetic activity for me this season.  I am purposing to focus on the promise that I will never be bankrupt in Christ! 

Jesus,
Thank you for this sweet family and their humble spirit to share their painful story.  May you bless them financially and spiritually with Your presence today.  As for myself, continue to open my eyes and ears to the tangible ways through which I can share who You really are.
Amen
If you would like to watch this documentary you can click here .  (It is found at CBS 60 minutes Season 44~ Episode 10.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Single Minded

Psalm 119:10(MSG)
I'm single-minded in pursuit of You:  Don't let me miss the road signs you've posted.

Having just returned from a four hundred mile road trip, I can really appreciate this verse tonight.  Driving without road signs would be pretty dangerous!!  Not only dangerous, but a real time waster and major disappointment if after purposing to arrive at a destination, you never manage to get there! 

I've been looking at this picture of the water that I took recently on one of my hikes in the woods.  The water is channelled between the banks making twists and turns and careening over rocks.  Some areas of the river are quiet and smooth, while other areas bubble with life and beauty.  Further still are those places where the water crashes into the rocks and falls harshly to the stones below. 

The river is so much like our life.  I know I have said it before in this forum, but it is worth mentioning again.  This verse is another gentle reminder that  I need to check my course frequently.  Am remaining on the path that I chartered when I set out on this journey?  Am I single minded in pursuit of God....or have drifted off course?

Father,
Thank you for giving me road signs through Your Word to guide me on the pursuit of You.  May I stay true to the passions of Your heart.  Thank you for Your loving hand to carry me through the rapids of life.  Bless those tonight who are struggling with life and searching for direction.  May they find You and the good news that You hold for each one of us!
In Jesus Name,
Amen




Monday, November 21, 2011

On My Knees

Psalm 119:9(MSG)
How can a young person live a clean life?  By carefully reading the map of Your Word. 

I'm listening to the cold rain fall here on this dark November night.  The wind is whipping up the trees outside of the window and it feels a little heavy in my heart.  I think it is because whenever I hear the words "young person", I think of teenagers.  Whenever I think of teenagers, I am jolted into a marginal panic for all that this generation has to deal with.  I remember back to the complicated feelings that I had at this age and then I multiply that times at least one thousand and I come up with about the number of trials these kids must face in our present age.  Phew!  It's enough to drive you to your knees for sure.

That's what I need to be doing for my kiddos.  I need to be on my knees...begging for His mercy and grace to be poured over each of them.  I am also asking that the Lord would open their eyes to His Word for direction and give them a blinding love for the things that matter to Him.  While I'm at it, I'm going to request that He give them a passion for pleasing Him. 

Yeap....I'm heading down to the floor....will you join me?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Don't Get Trapped

Ecclesiastes: 2:11(MSG)
Then I took a good look at everything I'd done, looked at all the sweat and hard work.  But when I looked, I saw nothing but smoke.  Smoke and spitting into the wind.  There was nothing to any of it.  Nothing.

The thing about taking a detour is that it allows you to see things that you wouldn't have seen if you had stayed on the usual route.  In addition the bypass will take you around an obstacle and deliver you to where you were wanting to go.  Now, having said that, I am definitely going back to Psalm 119, but before I return, I saw something this morning in my time in the Word, that I wanted to share.  It came from the book of Ecclesiastes.  It is understood that the writer of this book was King Solomon, the wisest ruler in the land.  It was penned toward the later part of his life.  In the past when I would finish reading this book, I would always feel a bit depressed.  Sort of like....well what's the point of life....we live and then we die, right?
WRONG! 

Today, my eyes were open in a whole new way.  Perhaps because of the post from two days ago or maybe because I am getting older and realizing that seasons come and seasons go, but as I began to read through this book, I finally understood what the writer is saying.  His huge point.....without God as the center of your life.... we may as well just spit into the wind! That uncomfortable void we all feel at some point in our life will NEVER be filled by anything or anyone but God!  The book of Ecclesiastes uncovers the basic premise that we need God revealed to us through His Son.  Once we have that revelation, all other meaningless, arrogant, and ignorant pursuits will be exposed and our energies can be spent on what matters to the one true King!  The book ends with these words:

Ecclesiastes 12:11-14 (MSG) 
The words of the wise prod us to live well.  They're like nails hammered home, holding life together.  They are given by God, the one Shepherd.  But regarding anything beyond this, dear friend, go easy.  There's no end to the publishing of books, and constant study wears you out so you're no good for anything else.

The last and final word is this:  Fear God.  Do what He tells you.

And that's it.  Eventually God will bring everything that we do out into the open and judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it's good or evil.

Yeap.... I so often view detours in my life as an inconvenience or a time of unplanned chaos....but every time I have had a literal detour on the road or a figurative detour in my life, I always see or learn something new.  I think I will start viewing detours from a different perspective from now on.  I sure don't want to spend the rest of my existence down here being tossed about in the wind and ending up entangled in the trappings of this world like this kite.  I am going to try to apply a little of this in my life today.  What else do you want me to see today, Lord? 

Father,
Help me to follow all of Your detour signs today and teach me to be aware of what is going on around me from Your angle....not mine.
In Your Name~Jesus,
Amen

Friday, November 11, 2011

Freedom Isn't Really Free


Proverbs 28:2(MSG)
When the country is in chaos, everybody has a plan to fix it-
But it takes a real leader of real understanding to straighten things out.

Taking a brief detour through a Proverb today....in honor of Veterans and all of the men and women who serve our country.  Remembering what was said yesterday at a ceremony to acknowledge those that have sacrificed so much for each of our privileges.  The speaker said, "Freedom isn't really free!"  So true.....

Lord,
I am thankful for those that have given so much so that I could have the freedoms that I have.  Help me to never take that for granted.  Praying today for the leaders of our country to stand firm in You for guidance, understanding, and courage during these times of great challenge.
Amen

Monday, November 7, 2011

Don't Ever Walk Off And Leave Me

Psalm 119:8(MSG)
I'm going to do what You tell me to do;  don't ever walk off and leave me.

I was probably about four years old, but I remember the fear that swept over me as if it happened just yesterday!  One minute I am standing in an aisle looking at a toy with my Mom next to me and the next minute I am still looking at the toy, but there is no Mom!  In my hyper focus on that single object, she had continued down the aisle and I didn't even notice she was gone.  Panic set in immediately.  Thankfully, she quickly realized I was not in tow and returned to retrieve her youngest charge.  

The statement, "Don't ever walk off and leave me", conjures up that very same sense of isolation and tangible  terror within my heart.  The very idea of the Lord walking off and leaving me behind without me even noticing He has departed, makes me shutter.  Could I become so distracted with something that I might miss Him moving and not follow? 

I never want to be alone in the spiritual sense.  Not ever.  The idea of attempting to walk down here without the leading of the Lord seems pointless at best and futile at the worst!  It's as if the psalmist is bargaining with God.  Something about the way he says, "I will do what you're telling me to do, just don't walk off and leave me", seems desperate to me. 

That made me wonder who the writer of this Psalm was?  Turns out most scholars agree that this Psalm was written by Ezra.  Ezra was considered an extremely Godly priest and scribe from way back in time....even before Christ. (BC)  He apparently had an unwavering passion for the Word of God.  I'm guessing from this information, that he knew without the strong hand of God upon His life, he was rendered helpless.  As such, he would be unable to accomplish much of anything. 

The New Living Translation Bible states it this way:  Psalm 119:8~"I will obey your principles.  Please don't give up on me!"

I'm thinking that the Psalmist is basically begging God to not give up on us.  It seems to me that Ezra is asking the Lord to continue His presence with man, even though we will mess up....again!!  The writer has declared that he will continue to walk on the path the Lord has sketched out for him, but he certainly will continue to fall short and won't be able to proceed unless God is right there by his side.  What a humble spirit within a very wise man!   

I am thankful today for a God who doesn't ever give up on me despite my inability to always be glorifying to His name through my actions and thoughts.  Even when I am not always in a spirit of worship, He remains close to me.  I need only to be listening and learning with a submissive heart.  Thankfully Christ has told us, that He will be with us always....to the very end...

Matthew 28:19-20(NIV)
Then Jesus came to them and said,  "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."  (Italics mine.)

Lord,
I know that I can become distracted quite easily.  When I was four, it was the toy.  Now that I am older, it is the ever growing list of things that I have on my "to do" list.  Help me to prioritize my life in such a way that You are always first and I am attentive to following close behind You.  Teach me, as Your Word taught Ezra, to live a life that is empowered by faith in You and spurred on by hope, revival, reform and restoration.
In You I trust,
Amen

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Giving Thanks

Psalm 119:7(MSG)
I thank You for speaking straight from Your heart;  I learn the pattern of Your righteous ways.

It has been a simply gorgeous fall here!  The trees are taking on their brightest colors and the crisp breeze brings a chill to the air.  A walk was most certainly in order!  As I meandered along a winding trail with my husband, daughter, and son, I became overwhelmed with thankfulness for all that the Lord has blessed me with! 

It is always a perfect day to praise the Lord for He is so loving, gracious and kind.  The blessings of health, family, and friends are just a few of the things that come to my mind.  I am also so thankful for His Word that, as the verse says, speaks  to us straight from His heart, so that we have a pattern to model our life after. 

I saw a bumper sticker again today.....you know I am drawn to reading these if you've read very many of my posts.  This one said....."JESUS IS".  That's it.  That's all there was.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  I like that bumper sticker....enjoy the rest of your day or night...with a voice of praise and thankfulness to the Lord...because...He is! 

A day can hold a lot of things.....but we know who holds the day!!
Lord,
I am not always as thankful as I should be.  I am sorry about that.  Please help my mind, heart, body, spirit, and soul to take on a stance of praise and worship to You throughout each and every moment that You allow me to have down here on Your earth. 
Praises to Your name~
Amen

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Life Without Regrets

Psalm 119:6 (MSG) Then I'd never have any regrets in comparing my life with Your counsel.

I was just talking to a friend this morning about regrets.  "Should have said this...shouldn't have said that....wish I would have done that....surely I shouldn't have done that!!"  How appropriate this verse is for such a day as this.  I am beginning to notice the timeliness of all of the words that are being brought to me lately.  For instance, the little girl in the elementary area of our church that has twice now hand written the scripture memory verse and then walked up and without words...handed it to me.  It is odd in that I am not her teacher and it is not a requirement for the children to write down the scripture they are trying to memorize.  Having said that, even if she is using that as a means to teach herself about the lesson, why is she handing it to me with a beautiful smile on her face for the past two weeks and then quickly walking away without so much as a "boo"!  Coincidence?  I think not.  The scripture that she sweetly handed me was:

Jeremiah 29:11-14(NIV):  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you," declares the Lord. 

Or, as another example, the man in the gas station this morning who was standing at the counter next to me.  He simply turned to me and asked with a loving smile, "Do you know that Jesus loves you?"  Then as quickly as he appeared, he disappeared out the door.  So taken back was I, that I hardly had a chance to wonder if this is something he says to everyone, or just me.  Was he led to speak to just me?  I didn't see him ask anyone else this question on his way out the door....and there were other people around.  These are curious actions indeed, but by faith, I chose to accept them as gifts from a loving God. 

The counsel of God delivered directly through Him in prayer; through His people; through His Word; through a melody....... each one, the voice of our Savior~Jesus Christ~through His Holy Spirit.  The one and only Savior that died on a cross so that He could live in me through the faith and belief in His action at that very cross.  Not so that I could be perfect and then come to Him for a pat on the back....but instead that I could cling to His back and allow Him to carry me wherever He chooses!  If I will do that...I will definitely live a life without any regrets!

Galations 2:20(NIV) I have been crucified with Christ and I know no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.     

No regrets indeed!!!  (To enjoy a special worship song by Hillsong United, click here.)

Father,
Thank you for giving Your one and only Son for the salvation of Your children.  May I always walk in Your counsel and allow Your life to fill mine completely.
Amen

Monday, October 24, 2011

Steady Steps

Psalm 119:5(MSG)
Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set;

Steady steps.  That's all that is required to stay on course, but sometimes even that is difficult.  I'm thinking about different kinds of trails.  First there is the easy paved paths that are set out before you with brightly marked signs.  These are usually walkways filled with beautiful scenery to look at as you stroll along the marked trail.  Then there is the "off road" rugged terrain that requires a sure foot and a set of strong legs to climb up and over stones and navigate down slippery slopes.  This course requires a concentrated effort on our behalf.  This path is exhausting, but when we get to the end of it, we celebrate our accomplishment with a sense of pride and completion that is not experienced on the "easy road."  

What course do you find yourself on tonight?  Is life cruising along without any extra effort on your part, or are you struggling just to stay upright and maintain any step at all?  I find myself increasingly holding onto His Word for direction and confidence.  Without His instruction and clear leading, I would most certainly be wandering around lost and tripping over my own two feet.  In Acts, Paul reminds us of the words of David who describes his path  this way:   

Acts 2:28 (NIV)~You (Lord) have made known to me the paths of life;  you will fill me with joy in your presence. (Parenthesis mine.)

Lord,

Help us to keep a sure foot walking in the direction that You have mapped out before us.  You know us better than we know ourselves.  Tonight, give us the confidence to walk on the paths of life that You have carved out for us, so that we will experience the joy and reward of being in Your perfect will.
I am also asking for your protection and rescue of those who have been affected by the earthquake in Turkey.  May You reach down and bring victims out alive from the rubble tonight.  Provide, sustain, and heal as only You can do!

Thank you and praises to Your name,

Amen  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fill Your Prescription

Psalm 119:4(MSG)
You, God, prescribed the right way to live;  now you expect us to live it.

How exciting this week is for me!  The reason behind the joy, is due to the fact that this week is the one year anniversary of this blog!  Hard to believe that I have been writing each week for a year now.  I have thoroughly loved every minute of it.  As I look at the list of countries who have visited this site, I get overwhelmed at the privilege of modern technology.  It thrills my soul to think that the Word of God is being shared in places that I didn't even know existed!

I have completely enjoyed your visits and many of your encouraging words throughout the course of this past year.  Today's verse spurs me on in my endeavor to keep Him first in all things, as it states a clear expectation from God to "live in the right way" as prescribed by Him!

Each one of us has been divinely created for a very specific purpose.  That purpose is to "feed His sheep" and bring Him glory!  We must always remember that He has gifted each one of us with a unique ability to passionately pursue what He has specifically placed within our hearts.  Our job is to find that God given passion and then, as the verse says, "Live it!"  What a big God we serve.

Lord,
Help each one of us today to realize the gift You have placed within us and to courageously press in to You, so that we can utilize that gift in a manner that is fitting for Your glory.  In that place of residing in You, we will most assuredly find our direction and a completion of Your prescription for our life!
Praising Your name today Jesus,
Amen

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Bunny Beatitudes

Psalm 119:3(MSG)
That's right--you don't go off on your own; you walk straight along the road He set.

Alright, you've heard the expression, "Look what the cat dragged in", right?  Well, Sunday night, as I was out jumping on the trampoline with my daughter, enjoying a gorgeous fading October sky, the dog went flying by.  I caught her out of the corner of my eye, because she had this fluffy gray toy in her mouth and was quite giddy, even beyond her usual happy state.  I slowed my jumping a bit to think through this sight.  (I can't jump and think...it's like walking and chewing gum!)  Here is what I thought, "What is that in her mouth?  We don't have any gray fluffy toys?"  
It was at that point that my brain caught up with my circumstances.  That's not a toy is it?  Oh no!  That must be a live animal!  I stopped jumping and basically fell off to the ground.  I shouted at the top of my lungs, after I saw it didn't have any black and white on it, (think back to the "skunked" post) "LUCY DROP IT"!!  She whipped around with an astonished look and at the same time her jaw dropped open.  It was if she was saying to me...."Huh?  What is WRONG with YOU?  This is an awesome find."  At that point, the creature she was carrying tumbled lifelessly to the ground.  

As I scurried over to check out what poor helpless creature she had just mutilated, I realized it was still alive!  Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was a very small fury baby bunny.  I would have guessed it's weight no more than 4-6 ounces.  I began preparing my daughter for the sadness that would certainly be taking place in front of our very eyes within the minute as we would surely be watching this poor little baby take it's last breaths.  We waited.  It continued to breathe.  

I scooped it up and carried it to the porch where we could make it more comfortable.  It continued to live, although motionless in my hands, it's little heart beat on.  Eyes closed and completely limp, we set it in a little box with towels and waited, stroking it's sweet little head.  This went on for at least an hour, when suddenly, it opened an eye...then the other.  It looked around as though to say, "Where am I?  Who are you and what have you done with my mother?!"  With a great deal of hope, I willed it to get up.  It did not. 

The box (of course I had to continue the rescue I had started...you understand this right.?..) was gently transferred to the bath tub, where large soft rags were placed for a bed.  I again explained that in all likeliness we would only be allowing a measure of comfort while the little darling breathed it's last breath.  We softly tiptoed out of the room to allow a peaceful  sleep. 

An hour or so later, we faithfully entered to check on "Bunny" (now given a more official name....uh-oh..) and found her ("her" because my daughter says so...not because of any official pronunciation) not only awake, but sitting up.  Well, gee...now we should probably give her a little sugar water to perk her up a bit.  Maybe we should even read up on baby bunnies being rescued out of dogs mouths.  There was evidence of mild trauma to internal structures.  ( I will spare you the details in case you are squeamish, but she definitely was not ready to be flopped back outside to hop away.)  More sugar water and a long explanation of anatomy and physiology to my ever optimistic girl, and we said good night to Bunny, knowing that we would not see her alive in the morning.

The morning arrives.  "Well, hello Bunny..." who is now walking around her beautiful box bedroom!  Four phone calls to vets and "wild animal know how people", many google searches, one eye dropper, one kitten bottle, one large bottle of Pedialyte, one can of kitten formula, one nail brush (to groom it's lovely fur of course....added by said daughter), eight old rags, two shredded up old newspapers, and four days later we still have a "dying" bunny who has now been named Muffin!  I learned, through my research that baby bunny is still quite dependent on her mother as evidenced by the white streak on her forehead.  That white mark is only there if the baby is still nursing!  How incredible is that?!! 

She looks pretty good for what she has gone through.  My daughter and I tried to return her to her nest by the sinking pond, but we can't find it.  We took her in the general area of where we presume it to be and set her down.  She looked up at us and started shaking!  She wouldn't budge.  Not even an inch.  (Insert heavy sigh....here....).  Not sure if today will be successful for the repeat attempt at locating said nest or not, but we have another date with the field this afternoon.  Judging by the sounds of her shredding the newspapers in the middle of the night, munching intently on leafs of green spinach, and cruising around the bathroom out of the box and tub...I think she is ready to return to her mother....and the field that is her true home.

Four hours have passed since the previous paragraph and I have wonderful news.  My daughter bravely ventured past the fence into the tree laden field with Bunny curled up in her arms.  Once on the other side of the fence, she was thrilled to see a little trail leading to a big cedar tree and a large thicket.  She waltzed over to the path and placed Bunny gently down.  Two seconds later that little bunny tore off down that trail and disappeared into the thickness of the green.  Ahhhh....mission accomplished!!!


I have been reminded of some basic truths throughout these past few days.  We shall call them:

 The Bunny Beatitudes

1.  Don't go off on your own cuz you might get eaten by a dog.  (Like today's verse says.)
2.  Life really is fragile.
3.  God created us to withstand some immense trials and trauma. 
4.  It's ok to curl up in a quiet place and get some rest.
5.  Frequent nourishment is very important to our survival.  (Literally and spiritually.)
6.  We all need a little help sometimes.
7.  It's important to maintain a specific level of warmth to live.
8.  A soft loving voice is much less frightening than a loud angry one.
9.  Compassion is learned from practicing it.
10.There truly is no place like home.
11. God hears the prayer of a child.

Father,
Thank you for the life lessons that You keep bringing my way.  Help me to be extra mindful and attentive to Your voice. 
Amen

   

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Secret Keeper Girl

Psalm 119:2
You're blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
What a treat last night was for my daughter and I!  We had the opportunity to attend a Secret Keeper Girl Pajama Party.  If you've never heard of them, feel free to check the link out here.  It is a group dedicated to teaching girls of any age about the love of Christ, but their focus is on the "tween" girl (8-12) age range. 

The event is specifically designed to facilitate mother-daughter interactions.  The evening centered around God's love for each one of us and paved the way for candid talk about some of the pitfalls we as "girls" can fall into.  I listened to the teaching, which was saturated completely with the Word of God, and felt the burdens grow a little lighter.  Here in the midst of a chaotic world with lots of confusing and just plain old wrong teaching, a group of devoted ladies are spurring on the Christian mother to follow God's direction for their life and the life of their daughter!  Amazing!

At one point in the evening, one of the leaders came out on stage in a long robe with lots of words stuck onto it.  She explained to each of us how we can get "labels" placed on us  from a very young age and we then wear them around...especially as women....and that they can be very hurtful.  Words like ugly, fat, dumb, weird, clumsy...and the list goes on.  I have pondered this all day, because at that point in the event, we were to turn to our daughter and ask them if they had any labels attached to them.  To my surprise my daughter shared with me a few she is carrying. 

While ironing this afternoon, I dutifully smoothed out a pair of pants with the hot steam.  I mindlessly placed the iron on the label of the back pocket.  This  is one of those that is made of the paint like stuff that you aren't supposed to iron.  Guess what?  Yep, you guessed it.  It melted and I proceeded to smear those markings all over the rest of the pants.  That ugly stain melted from one end of the garment to the other.  I realized then, that's exactly how it is with these careless names that are applied to our lives.
They stick and smear all over until pretty soon we're completely stuck to them, unable to break free! 

The challenge given to us was exactly what today's verse is telling us to do!  Listen to who God says you are not who the world says you are!  Follow His names for you and allow the blessings to flow!  Below are just a few verses that we are planning to print out in bold letters and tape as a border around our mirror, as a simple reminder with each look into the mirror each day, of who we really are in Christ.  We will not listen to the world's labels for us!!

Psalm 139:14 (ESV)  I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.

Psalm 45:11 (NIV) The king is enthralled by your beauty, honor Him, for He is your Lord.

1Peter3:4 (NIV) Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

Father,
It is my prayer tonight that our daughters shall see within us a longing and love for You.  May we model a confidence in Your Word and in Christ that is tangible in a world where it is increasingly unpopular to honor Your name.

Praising and loving You tonight.
Amen

Sunday, October 9, 2011

River Revelation

Psalm 119:1(MSG)
You're blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. 

Discovering the wonder of God's Word, verse by verse, has led me to this amazing chapter in the book of Psalms.  Rather than return to Proverbs right now, I have decided to remain in the book of Psalms and soak up the incredible golden nuggets of truth found in Psalm 119!  I will be here for at least half a year....if I post daily....seeing as there is 176 verses in this one book alone!!  I know that I am going to completely enjoy lingering over every word.

Today's verse is so powerful!  I certainly long to have God's blessing upon my life and that of my family.  Here in this one simple sentence, I get the blueprint for how to get it.  I just need to stay on the course God has placed me on. 

How do you know what that road is?  I'm certain that the road He places me on, will contain opportunities to be feeding His sheep, so I can automatically assume that if there is no feeding going on, it's not His chosen path.  The way to get started down the right highway, according to our Pastor's  timely message this morning, is to walk through the open doors that God has placed in front of you.  Get involved in what you know God is a part of.  Is your neighbor needing their driveway shoveled?  There's an open door.  Is the church needing help in the kids area?  There's an open door.  Is there a clothes drive this weekend?  Another open door.  As He "reveals our road" and we continue to walk on it, we are blessed beyond anything we could possibly imagine!  

I love to paddle the kayak on flat water.  It doesn't matter where you put in at, you will eventually move down stream to your destination.  Your main job is to keep the boat in the water.  I suppose our path with God is a lot like that flat water paddle trip.  If I will make certain that I am on His road, then He will move me from one opportunity to the next, gently blessing me through His spirit every step of the way.

Lord,
Honestly, I think I waste a lot of time looking for the "perfect" river to float!  Please help me to simply get my boat in the river and allow You to do the work of moving and directing my vessel wherever You see fit!  Thank You tonight for the truth of Your word and the confidence that it gives!
Amen

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Calling

Psalm 136:26(MSG)
Thank God, who did it all!  His love never quits! 

Wow, this is the last verse in this wonderful Psalm!  What a blessing the words of Psalm 136 have been in my life over the past few weeks.  They have certainly become part of my thoughts and prayers, as I have reflected on His continual love for me....no matter what!  I am so glad I have been able to ponder on the goodness of the repetitive statement, "His love never quits." 

Last night, I had the opportunity to meet Eric Metaxas at an event for our school.  He is the author of the New York Times Bestseller:  Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.   I listened intently as this writer addressed the room full of people.  There was a definite sense that Eric genuinely loves the Lord and that he wrote this book out of a heart filled with this "unquitting love" for God and a driven desire to carry out the calling on his life. As he passionately told the story of this German pastor, who lived by faith and conviction and ultimately gave his life for standing up against the Nazi regime to honor God, it came to me! 

The simple word "calling".  It kept replaying in my head.  We always talk about finding our "calling".  But, last night, for the first time in my memory, I felt sure that I finally understood it.  As children of God, we all have the same calling!  It's so simple that I wonder why it has been this big question in my mind since I was in high school.  My calling, your calling, Bonhoeffer's calling, your children's calling, and your grandchildren's calling, are all the same!  Ready....I read it in last night's post.....

"Feed my sheep".  That's it!  Feed His sheep.  If I will do that with the "little while" that I am here on this planet, then I have accomplished my calling!  It's so simple.  I guess the hard part is walking in the courage and faith to step out and do it........no matter the cost!
Can't wait to read more of this book and hear how Bonhoeffer completed the task of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ (feeding the sheep)!
As always~I'll keep you "posted"!

Father,
Thank you for Your Word that tells me so much about Your never ending love for us.  It is a faith builder for certain!!  
Amen 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

He Will Take Care Of YOU

Psalm 136:25(MSG) Takes care of everyone in time of need.  His love never quits.

I picked it up and stared at it.  It was beautiful with all of it's colors intertwined and spiraling through the glass like a maze of trails running through a dense forest.  I found myself intrigued by it.  I couldn't completely follow every color through every twist and turn, but I marveled at it's beauty.  It was a gorgeous hand blown glass ornament that hung in the window, gently swaying in the breeze of my sister's home.  It was there every morning when I got up, displaying all of it's glory with the sun shining on it.  It was there every evening when darkness fell on it, revealing different hues, but just as breathtaking.
This verse is a lot like that glass ball.  I have studied it.  I have picked it up and looked all around it.  I have searched under it, beside it, and on top of it and all I can see is a beautiful picture of who God is!  I have to confess, however, that I have been struggling with these words for the past three days. 

The wrestling over these words intensifies when I pick up the paper and see the tremendous hurts present in our world right now.  In fact, I know that someone reading this must surely be going through the trial of their life.  Of course it could be spiritual, financial, physical, emotional, or other oriented, but a severe challenge just the same.  To tritely state, "God will take care you in your time of need", hardly seems fair.  And yet, that is what's being said here.  Right?

I decided to look at this verse in a few different translations:

Psalm 136:25(NIV) and who gives food to every creature.  His love endures forever.

Psalm 136:25(NLT) He gives food to every living thing.  His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 136:25(KJV)Who giveth food to all flesh:  for his mercy endureth for ever.

Alright, for the sake of argument, I would say that we all need food to survive, right?  So, this verse says that God will provide!  But wait a minute... there are people going to bed hungry tonight.  There are children dying of dehydration and disease because they don't have clean drinking water.  There is my dilemma and why I have grappled with this post. 

 I have been at this point before.....such is the trappings of a reflective person.  I don't understand this type of hurt and I never will.  Oh, I could launch into the difference between "wants" and "needs". Obviously, I want things like: a better memory, a warm inviting house, a maid, a beautiful singing voice, etc . But, the word need is different. Webster's dictionary defines need as: a necessity; something that is required that is lacking. 

So, I have agreed (with myself) to settle upon His Words once again, because I will freely admit that I do not, can not, and probably never will understand physical human suffering.  I only comprehend what the Lord said in John 16:33(NIV): "I tell you these things, so that in me you will have peace In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world". (italics and bold mine)

After prayer and more contemplation, I return to this foundational truth: God's Word is true.  He does supply food (His Word) to feed us and to take care of our every spiritual need.  He then asks us in return to help "feed" His sheep through the sharing of His Word with others. 

John 21:15-16~When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?'  "Yes Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."  Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."  Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?'  He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."  Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."   

He does completely take care of our needs through His Word!  The Holy Spirit, by the grace we have found in Jesus Christ, guides and directs us into all truth and removes us from the "needy list" and places us on the "abundant life" roster through His love that never quits!

As for the physical needs that sometimes appear to go unnoticed, I can only continue to trust that His ways are higher than our ways.  I will continue to call out to Him for help and stand confidently in the assurance that He has heard and He is taking care of it....even if I don't comprehend His answers. 

 I guess that's what faith is all about.  Hebrews 11:1~Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 

Father,
Thank you for the Words that you have given us to walk through every step of life!  It is our source for restoring broken and needy people like myself.  Thank you for taking care of each one of us in such an amazing way!  Continue to meet the needs both physical and spiritual of your children in Your way.  Help us to remain in You, because there we will find Your peace and Your calling on our life.

In Jesus Name,
Amen 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Keepin' The Rhythm Of The Boot

 Psalm 136:24(MSG)
Rescued us from the trampling boot; His love never quits.


Keeping The Rhythm

Have you ever kept time to the music by tapping your boot?  I have.  In fact I inwardly nod my head or tap my hand on the side of my leg....or tap my toe to a song when I hear it.  It's pretty fun actually.  Well, this past week, I volunteered for the cool assignment to help a few children with their percussion solo for an upcoming presentation that will be given for our community.  My job is to direct their part and keep them from speeding up, or slowing down, or becoming confused with the other parts.  Sounds easy enough I thought to myself.  Yeap...I can do this...let's go.

In addition to their part, there are four other percussion parts and the choir singing four different harmonies with varied words and hand motions.  Sort of a "Row-Row-Row Your Boat" on steroids.  Are you getting the picture?  Ok, we're at the first practice and the first part comes in....then it's our turn and then each part is added consecutively to that.  I concentrated single mindedly on our part for the first few measures.  We were doing great...until, that is, the other eight parts all began their additions.  Suddenly, our "easy" part became more challenging.  As I listened to all the different melodies and flowing rhythm, my mind began to drift and float around with all of the sounds.  Before I knew what was happening, my brain had picked up the part next to me and I found my hands were completely joining in with their beat!  What?!  How in the world did I mess up this easy assignment?  I quickly recalibrated to our three beat rhythm and got us back on task, but there was a valuable lesson hidden just under the vibration of the drums.

Here's what I was thinking on the drive home.  My walk with the Lord is so much like that "small part" in the program we were practicing for today.  As I was concentrating and really focusing on our portion, I was able to keep on track.  However, when I started listening to the other instruments and looking around at all the kids singing and doing their motions, I quickly lost my rhythm. 

This experience is closely paralleled to what I have noticed in my walk with God over the years.  The times when I have found myself wandering around feeling distant from Him and somewhat out of step with His voice are the times when I have lost my focus on Him.  When I have unintentionally shifted my direction and priority on something other than Him, I quickly become out of step with the plan He has for my life.  It can happen so quickly too.  One day, I am firmly planted in His foot steps marching toward the sound of His voice alone.  The next day, I'm tripping and getting dangerously close to being "trampled by the boot"! 

So, here is the truly astounding part about this reflection.  Because His love never quits on me, He doesn't allow me to be trampled by that boot.  When I get out of step, in His great love for me, He scoops me up and holds my face in His hands, looking directly into my eyes, until I regain my eye contact with Him.  Awe.......what a relief to know that He loves me so much, I'm never out of His reach!!  That big boot that is stomping around is not going to squish me.....not today....not ever........!  Why not?  Cuz, His love never quits!!

How do I stay in beat with my Savior, so I won't even trip?  By allowing no other "gods" to distract me from a completely devoted focus on Him.  (Just finished that Bible study a few weeks ago by the way.  If you are looking for a good one to do alone or with a group, check out No Other Gods by Kelly Minter.  It's a faith clarifier for sure!  Now it's on to Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa Terkeurst.  I'll keep you 'posted'....ha..I love saying that.)   

Father,
Thank You for the great love you have for me!  Teach me to listen to You and to walk in step to Your voice this week.  Keep my mind clear and alert for anything or anyone that might distract me from Your mission!  
Amen   

Sunday, September 25, 2011

WOMEN OF FAITH CONFERENCE~Over the Top

Romans 11:33(MSG)
33Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It's way over our heads. We'll never figure it out.

As I sit here looking out at the beautiful Phoenix sky with the gorgeous mountain back drop, I am attempting to wrap my mind around all that I experienced at the "Over the Top" Women of Faith Conference the past two days in this beautiful desert city.  To begin with, I traveled here from the center of the states to be with my Southwestern Sister and my Northern Sister.  We packed our bags and headed for the US Airways Arena, not quite sure what to expect, since none of us had ever been in attendance at a Women of Faith Conference before.

I mention our "bags", because each one of us were carrying one.  The bags we carried all looked different, but they were each heavy and quite cumbersome.  One sister carried a "medical bag" full of uncertainties and challenges that are new everyday.  She finds herself having to navigate the uncharted territory of a visual handicap that would most certainly not be on her "wish list" of life experiences, but I have watched her gracefully hold the bag without dropping it.  My other sister carried the luggage of a crumbling financial market where a mere year ago clients were plentiful and jobs were abounding, but now, people are having to rethink and pull back on previous expansion ideas, and thus forcing her to do the same in a balanced response.  She too, carried the tote high without ever dropping it.  My big bag held uncertainties right along with them, so as we walked up to the hotel room, we were thrilled to figuratively and literally drop our bags and proceed to a "safe place". 

As we entered the auditorium and plopped our tired and weary bodies in the chairs, the lights went off and the music began to play.  Suddenly, warmth filled the room and our "bags" began to fade away with each word we sang.  The worship team (Jovaun Woods, Michelle Swift, Hope Darst, and Kara Tualatai) sang from the heart and led in a genuine expression of praise to the Lord.  It was a precious way to enter into God's presence and allowed us a time to truly enter into worship and contemplation with Him.

This was just the beginning of our great two day journey without the weight of those previously mentioned bags....it was a spectacular trip!  We heard stories from Andy Andrews, Patsy Clairmont, Deborah Joy Winans, Marilyn Meberg, Lisa Whelchel, and Brenda Warner.  Tim Hawkins made a one time appearance on Friday night that made me laugh so hard, my cheeks were hurting by the time he exited the stage!  We experienced authentic worship led by Mandissa, Sandi Patty, and Amy Grant as well.  It was a real treat to participate in this incredible event.

Here is what I walked away from the conference with...and without.  First of all, I walked away empty handed.......without my bag!!  I am no longer carrying a load and I think my sister's would agree, that we left those heavy bags at the foot of the cross where they belong.  Will we pick them up again?  I hope not, but we are challenging each other not to....that's for sure!  The three of us are going to say "Yes" and "Thank you" to God each and every morning, "the first thing upon awakening", like Patsy challenged us to do.  The Bible verse from Romans 11:33(MSG) was the focal point of the conference and so, I conclude with it and the two verses that follow:

Romans 11:33-36
Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It's way over our heads. We'll never figure it out. 
        Is there anyone around who can explain God?
   Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?
   Anyone who has done him such a huge favor
      that God has to ask his advice?

   Everything comes from him;
   Everything happens through him;
   Everything ends up in him.
   Always glory! Always praise!
      Yes. Yes. Yes.


And those verses completely sum up what the Women of Faith conference was all about!!  It was a great privilege to worship with a group of women who love the Lord so dearly.  Thank you to the Women of Faith team for the opportunity to attend such a great event!!

Lord,
Nothing ever escapes your sight.  I am guessing that their might be some people reading this tonight that are carrying very heavy bags.  I am asking You to help them leave their bag at the door of Your house and walk away empty handed and full hearted!  (Help me to keep my hands off of my old bag as well.)  I praise and exalt You above all.  Thank You for the chance to spend these past few days with my sisters! 
Amen