Saturday, March 31, 2012

One Obedient Response

Psalm 119:34(MSG)
Give me insight so I can do what You tell me--
my whole life one long, obedient response.

They came in slowly.  As the sun shown bright across the sparkling clean floor, they trickled in one by one.  Some were walking easily without assistance, while others steadied themselves on the cold silver metal that rolled carefully in front of them.  There were also those who rode in on their scooters, navigating smoothly between tables and chairs to find their spot in the crowd.  Entering last were the more frail among them.  The victims of time and previous injury who now found themselves prisoners to the chairs with moving wheels.  Their escorts propelled them into the gaps and spaces that were left, so they could enjoy, if only for these few brief moments, a distraction from their daily routine. 

I stood quietly in the back watching the scene unfold.  After the room was filled to near capacity, in they walked.  In stark contrast to the previous entrants, they each walked with a quick and light step dressed in brilliant white collared shirts and smiles big enough to light up an entire stadium.  They unpacked their gear and quickly set up there props.  There was a confidence on each of their faces that was visible even from my vantage point quite a distance away. 

The band began to play the National Anthem.  One by one I watched these veterans stand.  Some of them were up within the first few notes, while others took nearly the entire song to rise, but those who were even remotely able to do it, stood and placed their hand over their heart.  It took my breath away to realize that these men had made a decision many years ago to serve their God and country with such allegiance that they would die for it and for one another if necessary.  The very sacrifices of these men were what had allowed me the freedom to travel to this place today and watch my son perform with his school's choir. 
Unable to stand, this gentleman tipped his hat.

I swallowed hard as I could feel the lump welling up within my throat.  I glanced over at my own father who had made the trip with me.  He, being a veteran of two wars himself, stood tall as the song continued.  I wondered how much my Dad had to give up throughout his lifetime to serve his country.  Each of these men gave an obedient response to a call.

Someone recently told me that we can learn a lot from history.  They said that history repeats itself and we are wise when we look back and gain insight from what has happened in the past, so that we don't repeat those mistakes in the future.  We have so much we can learn from these beautiful people that have a few more years of experience than we do.

I was honored and privileged to visit this Veteran's Home today.  As I left, I recognized that the building contains precious lives that have already spent most of their time in obedient service to their country and fellow men.  What a great legacy of love they will leave for us.

Thank you for the gift of allowing me to visit the Veteran's Home today.  Continue to keep Your watchful eye  upon each person who lives there.  Grant each of us insight into Your plan for our life and pour out Your Spirit on us so that we can obediently respond to You our whole life!
In Christ's Name,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Steep Course

Psalm 119:33(MSG)
God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course.

The birds are singing; the sun is shining; the grass is growing.  Spring is definitely getting an early start around here.  As I jumped onto the old green machine and carefully turned the key, I grinned at the old familiar sound I have actually grown a little fond of.  Our riding lawn mower has been with us since we moved into this house over ten years ago.  When the previous owner sold us the home, he said he would throw it in.  He sort of grinned when he said it....I think I understand now. 
You see, to mow our yard takes....well...many lessons.  I received my lessons from my sweet hubby.  He really didn't (and still doesn't) want me to take over the task of mowing  the yard, but I really do enjoy it, so I insisted that he show me the ropes.  With a great deal of reservation, he cooperated.  Now, I think there are several reasons that he would rather I not mow.  Mostly, it is because he is chivalrous and doesn't want me to be doing a "man's job".  This carries over into all areas of life with this incredible man that I have been married to for almost twenty-four years.  He opens doors for me, pumps gas for me, helps me in with the groceries, fixes this silly computer for me when it freezes, and the list goes on and on.

The other reason that he isn't really into me mowing is because our yard has some really steep hills.  "The hills are tricky," he says.  "You don't want to get sideways on a hill, or you might flip the mower over on yourself."  Well, that most certainly got my attention and I have heeded that warning ever sense.  His words still ring in my head every time I begin the descent down those hills. 

Yesterday was Monday, and I have deemed it to be the official weekly "mowing day".  I backed the mower out of the garage and whipped through half of the yard in no time flat.  Gingerly I headed down the last steep hill for the day.  As I got closer to the bottom, I had to strategically plan my turn or I would plow smack dab into the middle of one of the beautiful berms that my husband had meticulously constructed a few years back.  Oh no....had I miscalculated the angle of the slope?  It felt like I was tipping as I turned.  I quickly jerked the wheel back, but that made the course of the mower headed straight for berm...........crash!!  Right into the rocks and bush I went.  Oh boy.  I climbed off.  It was stuck.  Couldn't go back...couldn't go forward...

I started digging rocks up in an effort to move the mower.  Nope, that wasn't going to work.  I got in front of it and tried to push it up the hill.  Nope, that wasn't the solution either.  "I know what to do"...I thought.  I can call my nephew (the 6'2" marine), quick before my Hubby gets home!!  He'll know what to do!    

My sweet nephew was up for the challenge, but my Hubby made it home before the caper could be carried out.  My wonderfully observant spouse saw the evidence of the mower, well shall we say, gone "off the course".  As is so like him, he smiled at me and went right outside and took care of everything.  The mower is back in the garage and I am left with very little pride, but I am determined to return to the mowing position next Monday.  (If Mr. Hubby will let me...that is.)

God's light revealed in His creation.
I saw a billboard as I  was driving today.  It read:  "The world's source of light is the Son."  I love that!  The number one lesson I must remember to be able to stay on course, no matter how steep the slope gets,  is that Jesus Christ is my source for light.  He will illuminate my path and guide me every step of the way as I remain in Him.  What a wonderful peace and confidence this verse brings to my heart tonight!

You are our source of light.  Your light shines in the darkest of places.  Help me to bring Your love to those who are desperately needing it.  Open my eyes to the needs of Your children and equip me to serve them in unselfish abandon.
In the glorious name of Jesus,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Run The Course

Psalm 119:32(MSG)
I'll run the course You lay out for me if You'll just show me how.
Taking in the beauty of nature on a trail not far from home.
I have a love~hate relationship with running.  Let me explain.  I hate to start the run, but I love it after the first ten minutes or so and I especially love the feeling of accomplishment that comes after I have successfully completed the course.  The mental gymnastics that I go through just to get myself out there on the trail is ridiculous!  Those first few steps and essentially the first mile are usually a bit painful.  The aches and stiffness from generalized wear and tear on my body through the years seem to scream, "What are you doing to to me?!"  Eventually, however, these voices settle down and allow me to get into a rhythm.

Through the years, I have picked up some very helpful tips from runners.  By the way, if you run, then by definition, you are a "runner".  So, you are probably a "runner" too, and just didn't know it!  Anyway, without some of these very helpful procedural notes, I would have had a lot more struggles in the running world.  Here are a few helpful hints in case you want to dust off your running shoes and hit the trail:
  1. Purchase a good pair of running shoes.  Visit your local athletic store and let them watch you run on a treadmill.  They do this for free and can analyze your gait and suggest helpful apparel.
  2. Start your mileage out slowly and work up gradually.  Running five miles your first day out is not a smart idea.
  3. Find a running partner.  This is so helpful!  When you're not motivated, hopefully they are!  
  4. It's okay to walk portions of your run.  You can start out running 1 minute and walking 9 minutes out of ten minute cycles.  The next time out build up to running 2 minutes and walking 8 minutes and so on.  (This advice was presented to me from     a knowledgeable coach and it really does work to build up your endurance.) 
  5. Be consistent.  At least three to four days of running a week is optimal.  Throwing in an additional cross training session or two helps even more.
  6. There are a lot of helpful sites out there on the web. and are two that I have found extremely useful.
  7. One final thing that is very helpful and pertains to tonight's verse.  If you plan on running an official race, be sure to look up the course map and study the path.  If you have the ability to run the route once or twice before your race, do it.  It will help you immensely to know where your biggest challenges lie as it relates to hills and any other obstacles that might be out there.
As I think about running the course that God has set out for me, I get a pretty clear picture that I will need His Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to prepare me for what lies ahead in my path.  As I purpose to listen closely, I trust that He will most certainly show me how to run an effective race for Him!

You are an amazing presence in our lives.  Sometimes I stumble and get tripped up trying to run this race of life.  Please help me to stay on the course that You have laid out for me.  May I sense Your direction and complete the race with a heart of love for You.
In Jesus Name,

God Won't Let You Down

Psalm 119:31(MSG)
I grasp and cling to whatever You tell me; God, don't let me down!
I've been reading some of the miracles that Jesus displayed during His short walk here on earth.  They are very interesting to me.  Specifically the one where He is seen walking on water past His very own disciple's boat and yet they don't recognize him. (Mark 6:45-53)
They were told by the Lord to get in the boat and go to Bethsaida.  They obeyed, but as they were crossing the lake, they experienced great winds which made them unable to make progress.  They kept trying late into the night, making very little progress.

 Blue Herring walking across the water.
Jesus watches them struggle from the land.  Finally, He begins walking on the water as though He plans on passing them and arriving at Bethsaida, but as they see Him, they all freak out!  The Bible says the disciples think He is a ghost and they are all terrified.  I guess at that point, the Lord sees their reaction and quickly calls out to them.  Once He calls out to them, they comprehend who it is that is walking across the water.  When He jumps in the boat...the wind stops and the water calms down.

Here's the goofiest part of the whole thing.  The disciples are dismayed by The Lord's ability to quiet the wind!!  How can this be?!  They had just witnessed the feeding of the 5,000 people with bread and a fish, and yet they were surprised.  Why?  The Word of God tells me that it was because their hearts remained hard.

I read this passage in The Voice.  The commentary following this portion of scripture goes hand in hand with today's verse.  When we "cling to whatever God tells us" (listening and recognizing His voice), we will then develop a faith in Him that will allow His activity in our lives to be unleashed and a deep trust to be developed.  Faith first....and then miracles!  It is not miracles first and then faith.

When we are in doubt about who Jesus is we will continually live in a state of duplicity in our daily walk.  In this scenario Jesus directly told them to get in the boat and travel to Bethsaida.  They ran into some rough water.  They weren't making any progress, but didn't they trust the Lord enough to know that the God of heaven had sent them and that He surely would get them there?

Ugh...I can so relate to these guys.  How many times am I totally sure that the Lord has set me in the water on a direct course and the minute the wind whips up and I appear to be making little progress, I question the assignment!?  Good grief!  Has this ever happened to you?  The following scripture is my remedy for this thought process.

Romans 10:17(ESV) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Thank You for Your Word that reveals to me that I am not always going to understand the reason for the wind.  Thank You for showing me that even in the times of my life when I am struggling to make progress on the assignment You have given me, You are watching me and You will never let me down! 
In Christ name,

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Road To Somewhere

Psalm 119:30(MSG)
I choose the true road to Somewhere, I post Your road signs at every curve and corner.
Psalm 119:30(NIV)
I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws.

My daughter making her own road through the snow.
I'm thinking about the road trips I have been taking out of town lately.  Having an arrival  location in my mind, I set out on my journey, but if I've never traveled the roads to my destination, I rely completely on the road signs to get me there!  If it weren't for the well marked path, I might end up in Timbuktu.  (Timbuktu is actually an extremely remote location in Africa by the way.  My daughter informed me of that while she was studying her geography lesson the other day.  I absolutely love that...but I digress!) 

While driving through some of the busy cities on my recent trips, I find I have to really concentrate to stay in the correct lane or I might end up heading in the complete wrong direction!  The problem with that is, I might not even recognize it was a wrong turn until I end up arriving Nowhere...instead of the goal of "Somewhere!"  In utter frustration I might have added miles of rough road to my trip that would have been completely unnecessary had I not missed the turn off! 

Today's verse is incredibly tangible!  I have included two translations for a greater focus on exactly what it is that keeps me seeing the markers on every corner and holds me to the path that God wants for me to be on.  The conclusion I draw is that TRUTH and OBEDIENCE to the word of God and His law is what keeps me going Somewhere!  His words are what hold me to the correct roads in this life. 

I can always be sure that I am not lost when I am applying the truths that I find in the treasured Word of God.  I may not recognize the towns I am traveling through, but I know with great assurance that these are the exact places that God has allowed me to be if I am in His Word and in prayer.  I have to be intentional about staying on the right road, however.  If I veer off my course, there is the possibility of ending up in places the Lord never intended for me to be in! 

As a busy Mom, it's sometimes easy to start the day off running in many directions.  From the time my brain clicks on in the morning, I am thinking of all that needs to be accomplished in the few hours ahead.  The truth is though, that to really be effective and successfully implement my plan, I must make a conscious choice to open the Bible and talk with the God of heaven and earth before I run out the door!

Thank you for providing a path to You through the Word that You so graciously left for us.  Help us to make wise choices and remain in Your truth throughout our days here.
In Jesus name,

Saturday, March 3, 2012


The bracelets that we were given to each child.
Psalm 119:29(MSG)
Barricade the road that goes Nowhere;  grace me with Your clear revelation.

F.R.O.G.  Fully Reliant On God!  That was the theme at church on Wednesday night (February 29~Leap Day) in our elementary area.  We played leap frog, had frog racing contests (they were plastic frogs...if you were worried), and jumped up and down during worship with praises to the Lord!

There was so much electric energy it was almost palpable and most certainly contagious.  Following all of the activities, the children had the opportunity to spend a little quiet time in prayer with the God of Heaven and Earth!  Pretty amazing.

I appreciate this type of simple reminder that I need to always be completely trusting in my Savior, Jesus Christ!  The fact is that we "grown ups" tend to make things a little complicated sometimes.  I enjoy those people who clearly present the revelation of Christ in their life just by the way in which they live.  The Lord said it best when He said:

Matthew 19:14 (NLT)
But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children."

There really IS a road that leads nowhere!  I don't want to be on it!!  The "leap of faith" to an abundant life is graciously provided for us.  All we have to do is "jump" on board!!    

Romans 10:9(NLT)
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Thank you for the fun I had Wednesday night.  Thank you for the leaders in my church who provide an avenue to You and the Word of God.  Bless each of Your children with protection and the knowledge of Christ. Grow within us the faith to continually walk with You!
In the joyful name of Christ,

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Old Barn

Psalm 119:28(MSG)
My sad life's dilapidated, a falling-down barn;  build me up again by Your Word.

I stuck my arm way back in the back and feeling around with my hand, I gently began to sweep all of the contents of the cabinet into a box that I had cleverly placed just beneath the lip of the shelf.  As items fell out one by one, I shook my head in utter amazement at the stuff that had been shoved beyond arms reach over the course of time. 

Let's see.  There were the water filters that were still neatly in their boxes unopened.  These were the ones that I have to special order for the refrigerator.  The very ones that I was looking for about a month ago and thought I had run out of, so I ordered more of course.  I also found a box containing a carefully placed humming bird nest that my daughter and I had found on a "nature walk" over three years ago.  We were thrilled to have discovered it.  It was empty and obviously no longer in use as it was lying in a heap of dirt by a tree.  We couldn't bear to part with such a unique treasure at the time.  I continued to sift through the contents finding several loose dog biscuits that had somehow managed to escape from the bag.  There were also leashes, dog brushes, a dog coat, some doggie bows and the list could go on, but time is a precious comodity, so I will stop.

There was one long white cardboard box about the size that a necklace would come in that caught my eye and seems worth discussing after reading tonight's verse  Hmm....what was in it, I thought?  I scanned my memory and came up empty.  I carefully lifted the lid, and peered inside.  Lying neatly inside of this box on a soft cotton bed similar to what a strand of pearls would lie on was a red "dilapidated" collar with silver rhinestones.  Warm, beautiful memories began washing over me one by one.  It was the actual collar once worn by my very first pet dog from over thirty years ago!  Wow, what a fun thing to discover and jeteson me back to years gone by and the carefree spirit of my youth. 

It is true as I think about this verse that our life or the "barn" is not a permanent structure.  Over time, the boards begin to splinter and warp with an eventual collapse.  But not so with God's Word.  His Word is here forever to build up and restore the brokeness of our lives.  It is a permanent help during times of trouble.  The Word of God is a source of comfort in periods of grief.  It is an excellent map for direction in seasons of confusion. 

Luke 21:33(NIV)
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

I am so thankful to be able to have Your Word available to me.  You have provided us with such an incredible gift through the pages of scripture.  Please help me to never take that for granted.
In Jesus name,