Dancing in the Light

I John 1:7 "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."

Location: North Platte, Nebraska, United States

I am a christian wife, mother and grandmother. I am a licensed Social worker and a licensed Christian counselor. I am most proud of the relationships I have with God, my family and friends all over the world. I have been blessed beyond my dreams.

Friday, November 30, 2007

What Am I About?

My friend, Stacie, gave me a new CD by Sierra. The songs are wonderful and I like them all. However, I find myself playing one of them over and over again. The song, "Make Me" is about the process of becoming what God intended. As the artist sings about this struggle, the lyrics speak of the all too familiar waves of doubt that occaionally surface in every Christian's life. The exact words are "My mind becomes entangled beneath a web of doubt, questioning the question of what I am about." I have played this song many times and each time, I am struck by this simple phrase: "What am I about?" This same question has plagued mankind for generations. I daresay there have been times when we have all wondered why we are here, what we are doing and why we are doing it.
So what am I about? Now I realize the song, though inspirational, is not inspired and should therefore not be the source of some great theological truth. However, the idea that doubt is linked to this cloudy vision of purpose is a concept that is both practical and biblical. For it is when doubt overtakes us that the questions begin to come. It is when doubt seeps into our lives that our faith begins to waver. It is when doubt wiggles its way into our faith structure that our hope begins to wane and all that we know, all that we stand for, all that we hope and believe comes under scrutiny. Doubt is a great modifier of purpose.
As I think about this I began to wonder how we can battle doubt, how we can always and forever have the assurance---the assurance that instills hope in our hearts and compels us to persevere. I began to think about Jesus. Ephesians tells us that before we were even created, He saw us and made plans to redeem us. Our redemption was His sole purpose and all of history led up to the fulfillment of this plan. We walk along with Abraham, the promise recipient, and we see his great acts of faith and also his stumbling doubt. We read of the hardships of the family of Moses and his summon to be their rescuer and we hear his excuses, as if he doubts that God has made the correct choice. We journey through biblical history to the birth of our Savior and we see the miraculous and purposeful announcement by Gabriel and the heralding of His birth by angels and shepherds and wisemen alike.
And then in Luke chapter 2, we see the boy Messiah, in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of the Passover with His family and other Jewish worshippers. His family and their entourage have made the long pilgramage and are returning home, only to discover He is not with them. An extensive search finds the 12 year old in the temple with the teachers. He is not worried, seemingly oblivious that He has been left. He is not thinking about how He, at only 12 years old, will find His way home or what He will use for food or water on the trek, which was several days worth of travel. He is not concerned that something will happen to Him. He is not thinking about the physical at all, rather His focus is on the spiritual. When His mother finds Him and reprimands Him for worrying her, He simply states, "Why were you worried, did you not know I must be about my Father's business?" A simple statement of fact--my Father's business---that is what I am about!
It occurred to me as I read this that perhaps that single-minded focus, that unwavering determination, that one purpose would help us combat doubt in our Christian walk. Perhaps if we were not so worried about opinions and traditions, and if we were not so concerned with programs and platitudes, perhaps we could devote more emotional, physical and spiritual energy toward being about our Father's business. If we could take the physical out of the picture, if we could not worry about what other's think, if we could focus on the spiritual, then I believe doubt would find no place in our hearts or minds. If we could do this, then the age old question "What am I about?" would find its answer in "I am about my Father's business."


Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Devil Dropped In

The devil dropped by for a visit the other day. I have to admit that I hadn't prayed the day before so I wasn't really prepared for guests. He didn't seem to mind and went right about making himself at home. We talked for what seemed like hours. He'd just returned from a visit to some friends of mine. He told me all about how large their house was and what a nice car they had. At first I felt ashamed of what I had, but satan said if I worked really hard, took extra shifts on Sundays and cut back just a little on my contribution, I could have those things in just a few short years.
We laughed as we remembered the "good old days" and what fun I'd had "sowing my wild oats". I told him that sometimes I was ashamed of the things I'd done. He simply laughed and reminded me that no one had been hurt, and besides, everyone does those kinds of things when they are young. That's what being young is for. He needed a few things and so together we went shopping. I spent way more than I could afford but he told me that using my credit card helps build up a positive credit history, so I worked on my credit history. (grin)
We shopped later than we had intended and I just knew my husband would be upset. So we decided to leave our purchases in the car and bring them in after he went to bed, thus preserving the peace in our household. So we hurried in and began dinner. Satan and I had already grabbed a quick bite so I opened a can of soup for the family, tossed it onto the table and excused myself to the other room.
We watched tv while they ate. After I got the children ready for bed, my husband tried to engage me in a conversation about his day. His days are always the same and so I put him off to go clean up the kitchen. The devil came in to help me. He was surprised at how big a mess my family made out of soup. He said he felt sorry for me because I work so hard to get a hot meal on the table and they don't even put their dirty dishes in the sink. I hadn't thought of that before, but he was right! I deserved better treatment than this! So, I decided I was going to leave the dishes on the table until one of them moved them to the sink. We smiled and chuckled at this great lesson I was teaching my family and then we returned to watch tv. We stayed up really late and watched a violent and trashy movie. There was lots of sexual content, innuendos, bad language and nudity. But, as adults, we decided we were mature enough to not be influenced by such things.
The alarm clock went off and my husband and I were up out of bed. It was Sunday morning and we needed to get ready for worship. We were surprised to find satan sitting in the living room, watching tv already. He told me that I didn't look like I felt well. He said my eyes looked tired and like I had a headache or something and that my voice sounded raspy, like I had a sore throat. I was thankful he brought it to my attention, because I hadn't noticed before. If I was coming down with something, I certainly didn't want to share it with some of the old people at church. My husband planned to go and take the kids. Satan talked to him awhile about the church people. He remembered when they'd mistreated him and how they had gossiped and talked about him. He said if they did that to others, they probably did that to us, too. He also reminded us that we sing the same old songs and hear the same old lessons every time and that church just isn't what it used to be. He stated that since God wants us to worship in spirit and in truth, wouldn't it make sense that God would rather have us stay home and worship him here instead of at the building, doing the same old meaningless rituals with a bunch of phony gossips? That did make sense and so we decided to have a devotional with our children, once they got up.
Later on, the phone rang, satan offered to answer it, looking at caller id, he noticed it was a church member. He picked up the call and smiling impishly, told them we were all ill. He didn't tell them we were already feeling better, but that was okay!
Satan stayed for a few more days. We made lots of changes during that time, tried lots of new things and stopped doing some other things. He smiled and hugged me as he left, telling me he'd had an absolutely wonderful time. After he was gone, I was surprised to find my house was mess and my life was in shambles. It would take months to clean up. As depression replaced the thrill of the visit, I realized that this had not been good. I wanted to cry, not because I would miss him but because I had allowed him, more like welcomed him in. It occurred to me that while satan was here visiting, God hadn't stopped by. I realized how much I missed God and how much better things are when He is around. It seems that the devil always leaves chaos when he drops by. I decided that I would not allow this again. I decided that I would be too busy with ministry to spend time with satan, that I would have my house so full with God that I would not have room for this unexpected guest and should he stop by, well . . . . . next time, I will not be such an accomodating hostess. Next time, satan will not enjoy his visit with me and perhaps he will leave quickly. I resolved that next time I would be ready when the devil drops in again. . .


Friday, November 23, 2007

Car trips, Cutie-pies and Killer Coons

It is very early Friday morning, the house is quiet (for the first time in days). I am the only one up, I did not awaken for the early morning day after Thanksgiving shopping, but rather because I needed some time alone with the Lord. It occurs to me that on this holiday when we remind ourselves of just how blessed we are, that we often get so busy "enjoying" all these blessings that both the quality and quantity of our time with God is diminished. This morning, as I sit and talk with Him, I smile as I thank Him for looking over me, keeping me safe and making me happy. I wanted to share some of the incredible ways, He has blessed me in the past few days.

Most of you know that my friend and new sister in Christ, Stacie, came to Nebraska to spend a few days with me. We laughed and laughed, we painted a bathroom in the middle of the night and laughed and laughed some more. I loved seeing how much she has grown spiritually since her new birth and I loved introducing her to our dear friends here. After a couple of days here, she rode to Texas with me to get the grandchildren. We truly thought we were well prepared for the 10 (turned out to be 13) hour trip with three young children. Well, let me just say it was more than an adventure. You see, Madi is five going on thirteen. She is all girl, which means squeals accompany every emotion. She loves the Wizard of Oz and was totally impressed that Grandma knew where Dorothy's house was. (For those of you just dying to know--it is in Liberal, Kansas). Madi is very smart, she never forgets anything and has an amazing vocabulary. For instance, she was very excited to go to Worship because when she sang, she wanted to show me her "vibrato". Too funny! Kyle is three and as much little boy as Madi is little girl. He is a bit more shy but he loves to sing. He "composed" songs all the way from Lubbock to North Platte. He is ornery as all little boys are supposed to be and has learned the word, "but". Every sentence starts with "but . . ." He loves the Legos and the little cars and seems unmoved by big sister's constant, "Now Kyle, you be the king and I'll be the princess . . . Kyle, you be the Lion and I'll be Dorothy." He simply looks at her and replies "But . . . . . . . Mason is six months old and is not feeling very well. As his antibiotics seem to be working, he smiles and laughs more. He snuggles with Grandma and watches everything. He breathes better when I hold him and so I do. (smile). And although he can't yet speak, he is very able to communicate when he is hungry or needs changed or just plain old tired of being in the car seat, if you know what I mean.
The ride from Lubbock to North Platte should take about ten hours, however this time, it took thirteen. Imagine if you will, thirteen hours in a minivan with Stacie and I, Stacie's teenage son Dusty, and these three little adorable personalities! You are cringing right now aren't you? I am sure there is no need for me to tell you that the trip was very, very long. The children were good but thirteen hours is just too many hours to be in a car. We had many bathroom stops, many food stops and a few, "Let's play the quiet game". We did drive by Dorothy's house in Liberal, where we stopped to get gas and use the restroom. We did get to listen to Kyle sing "Awesome God" several times. We did get to eat and laugh and sing. And although tired and ready to be home, we were grateful to be safe and still reasonably sane. We were less than an hour from North Platte and all of us anxious to be out of the van when . . the most exciting part of the trip happened----and just miles from home. It was very dark and Stacie and I had been watching for deer, per instructions from Ned. Several times, he had reminded us that it was deer season and we should take extra care, especially after dark. We'd been watching and had not seen one live deer. All of the sudden, something darted out of the bushes on the driver's side, ran across the highway and SMACK--right into the passenger side of the van. Minutes before it hit, Stacie and I were both able to make out a GIANT raccoon. Simultaneously we said, "Are you kidding me?", Madi squealed, Dusty asked, "what was that?" and this horrible sound, the sound of a raccoon "the size of an elk" dragging on the van. Finally either it let go of us or the van let go of it. I drove a few hundred feet and then pulled over to the side of the road. By this time, we had Madi calmed down and Dusty, Stacie and I were laughing. We did not have a flashlight with us and so by the light of her cellphone, we got out to examine the damage, which was extensive. The plastic part under the bumper was cracked and dragging on the ground, the windshield wiper fluid hose was pulled off and dripping washer fluid.
Now, I don't know if that was some sort of Al-Quaida suicide bomber raccoon, don't know if somewhere he'd gotten into some plutonium that made him huge and crazy, or if he just wasn't all that bright-----but I do know that anyone or anything that messes with two women who have been in a car for thirteen hours with three little ones and one teenager, deserves to be run over!!!!!
We arrived home safe, happy, tired and grateful to God for giving us a safe journey. My prayer for each of you, if you have to take a long car trip, make it with some little cutie-pies and a good friend. Remember to pray, drive safely and watch out for killer coons!


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Stuff on my heart-----

I am leaving tomorrow morning early to pick up three of my grandchildren. They will spend the week in Nebraska with us and my parents, who are travelling from the West coast. I am enjoying my time with Stacie here and am so very happy she is my sister in Christ. I am both awed and humbled at the way my Father keeps blessing me over and over, flooding me, overwhelming me with His special gifts. Worship today was wonderful and I feel at peace, happy to be with family and blessed by their love for us. My face hurts from smiling!

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am reminded how much God loves me and am even more aware of His grace. I may be posting sporadically for the next week but I wanted to share with you all this great video. May we all remember how blessed we are to be "new again".




Friday, November 16, 2007

"God Doesn't Even Know Who I Am"

I had the most disturbing telephone call recently. It was from an old friend of mine. She has been having some real health problems which in turn have caused some overwhelming financial problems. She was despondent, angry and depressed, her pain shouting out every word, as if she were unable to restrain it. I hadn't heard from Sheila* in a very long time. We used to be co-workers and friends. She attended a bible study at my house every Tuesday night for over a year. Sheila was one of the few people I have ever met who truly knew nothing at all about God. She had grown up in a family that did not go to church, that did not pray and in fact, that never spoke of God or religion at all. In fact, she did not own a bible nor had she ever and no one in her family owned one they could loan her. Her desire to learn and her fresh look at the Bible and its characters was inspiring. We knew that every week, Sheila would come with her notebook, having studied the lesson in advance and prepared with three or four pages of questions. She was not ashamed to have so many questions and as we taught her, she also taught us. Her simple questions reminded us that not everyone knows that the Old Testament land of Israel is in the same place we find the Israel of today. Not everyone knows that the Old Testament and the New Testament are both the stories of God and His people. Not everyone knows that Moses was a real life person and the story of the ten plagues was very real. And so, as we learned to together, we grew to love Sheila and began praying for her salvation.
It was not long before Sheila changed jobs and stopped coming to bible study. As her illness became symptomatic, she started to withdraw. She did not answer her phone, nor did she come to answer her doorbell, cards were sent without response. We looked for her while shopping, we looked for her when driving down the road and we asked about her to mutual friends. Sheila, it seemed had chosen to drop off the face of the earth.
So you can imagine my surprise, three years later and three states away, to get a phone call from my long lost friend. The first call was a hangup, but thanks to the modern convenience of caller ID, I saw her name and called her right back. Sheila began telling me about her recent struggles, her chronic pain, the lack of support from her family and friends and the emotional strain she was under. I cried as she told me how depressed and desperate she had become. I cried as she said that her parents did not believe she was ill in spite of the fact that she was losing weight and her hair had all fallen out. I cried as she told me, she no longer knew where to turn for help. My heart hurt so much for my friend and I began suggesting possible resources and services. I gave her phone numbers and contact people. I gave her names of people who knew other people who could possibly offer some assistance. She seemed to listen and I was hopeful that somehow she would be able to find relief, that she would once again be able to work, able to function, able to care for herself and that she would be the happy, beautiful Sheila I remembered.
As our two hour phone call came to a close, we exchanged the usual goodbyes and I ended my call with, "I will pray for you", to which she replied, "Please don't---God doesn't even know who I am." At that statement the phone call abruptly ended. To this day, I am not sure whether Sheila hung up or the phone lost its signal or what happened. I tried to call back several times but got no answer. I was unable to get back in touch with my dear friend Sheila. And now, several months later, I have still not reconnected. Every attempt has failed and I began to feel helpless. And then I remembered the incredible power of prayer. In spite of the fact that Sheila has no faith in it, in spite of the fact that her desperation has shaped or misshaped her view of God and His power, I still believe in prayer. I believe God can heal her, I believe He can use her pain and her illness to help bring her to Him. I believe He can restore her health and bring about a faith that will open the lines of communication between them. I believe in prayers.
So today, my request from you, my friends, is that you pray for Sheila also. I am back in the town where she lives and am looking for opportunities to minister to her, pray that God will open those doors. Please pray for her and although you don't even know who she is, we all know that God does indeed and it was for my friend that He sent His Son!


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Funeral Ends Today

Recently Ned and I rented the movie, "We Are Marshall". For those of you who haven't heard about this movie, it is the story of the 1970 plane crash that took the lives of practically the entire Marshall University football team, along with coaches and some of the booster club. The movie chronicles the attempts of the University to keep their football program alive, despite the inconsolable grief of an entire town. After repetitively petitioning the NCAA to lift their ruling about freshman recruiting, the University begins to rebuild a football team out of young, inexperienced and naive players. These boys do not have the experience nor the determination to win. As they don their new football jerseys, they come under a constant barrage of negative support from those who mourn the ones who once wore those very same jerseys. At one point in the movie, head coach, Jack Lengyel, played by Matthew McConaughey, takes the boys and the coaches on a "field trip" to the cemetery. Coach speaks about those who lost their lives on that horrible day. He speaks of the impact the loss has had on the town and the team. In a moving speech about the oftentimes crippling effect of grief and the team's seeming inability to focus on the game, McConaughey says, "the funeral ends today".
That phrase stuck in my mind throughout the rest of the movie. I thought about how many of us talk about the "good ole days" as if they really were---good. I thought about those who recount the "sowing of wild oats" that took place before they became Christians, and about that little edge of pride hidden behind the smile of regret. I also thought about churches that have been hurt in the past and still carry that pain today, allowing it to keep them from growing and maturing and reaching out beyond the stained glass windows and the steeple's spire. I thought about brothers and sisters whose feelings have been hurt, whose spirits have been wounded and who have let the past hurts cripple them and drive a wedge between them and their church family and ultimately between them and God. Why is it that some of us are unable to live beyond our past? Why is it that though logically aware the past is gone and we cannot change it, emotionally we hang onto it like a small timid child, clutching our security blanket? It seems to me that if we are to grow as a Body, if we are to become healthy, fully functioning Christians, that we must let the past die, bury it and end the funeral.
The past is simply that---passed! We can neither change it nor control it. We cannot rewrite history! Neither can we pretend it did not exist--bad things do happen! People do get hurt and they grieve and mourn. While we cannot control the past, we can decide how much impact it will continue to have on us and how it will effect our relationships with others and with God. We can decide that! We can choose to move through the pain, to grow in spite of the past and to let it die.
Like most of us, there are things in my past that I am ashamed of, things I have done, people I have hurt, words I have said. Would I take them back and undo them if I could? Absolutely! But I cannot. And so I try to remember how much pain they caused and make every attempt to not repeat those same mistakes. There is some of my past I am not proud of! There is some of my past that still hurts when I think about is. But . . . and this is huge--there is a future that I can affect, a future where different choices can be made, a future that is right in front of me. You have heard me say before, "God put our face on the front of our bodies so we look forward." (One of the many things I learned from my brother Tom Washburn).
Perhaps, just perhaps, it is time to look forward. The old Neva, her sins are gone, washed clean by the Sacrificed Blood. The old pain, it is healing, healed by the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the mighty power of forgiveness. I refuse to be crippled by the past. I will no longer mope and no longer grieve. The funeral ends today!


Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Meager Existence

Have you ever had a thought that rather than simply passing through your mind, sets up camp in your brain? The thought, though nothing more than a thought at first, expands and grows and the more you think about it the bigger it gets. Finally your mind almost bursting, you know you have to do something with this thought! So here is my mindburst----For several weeks now, I have been thinking about this idea of eking out a meager existence. I know that in physical, worldly terms we think of the man working several jobs just to provide the very basic needs for his family. We think about the elderly woman taking in ironing, not because she likes to iron, but because her medication takes all her retirement and ironing pays for her food and utilities. We think of the single mom who goes without so that her children will not. We think about those in third world countries who eat in year what we eat in a month.The sad part about these situations is that usually the circumstances are not chosen but rather thrust upon the individual. We have compassion for those whose daily existence is hard won, who by every day, all day, sweat and tears and much elbow grease are able to provide the barest of necessities. They learn to make do and get by, not by choice but out of need. And get by they do, but barely. These stories cause us to empathize and the details sadden our hearts.
We cannot imagine anyone choosing to eke out such a meager existence. And yet, isn't that exactly what many of us do? God desires to bless us in abundance, to help us grow strong enough to face whatever satan and his world throws at us. God wants to comfort us, guide us and provide for us. He wants to bless His children with all He has to offer. And yet, we opt to decline His offer.
I don't believe we are sinning when we have friends who are worldly. But, if they are the only friends we have, if we choose to "fellowship" with them rather than God's people, we are denying God a chance to bless us. He says that His children are those who love one another, are those whose words are edifying and uplifting, are those who bear one anothers burdens. God's children are our companions on this life journey toward heaven. We share the same eternal destiny, the same purpose, the same mind and the same object of our affection ---that is Jesus Christ. The journey, the walk in the light, is so much less difficult when we are walking with those who share our faith. To choose only friends in the world is to live below our privilege and we start existing rather than living.
And I do not believe that missing Sunday services together or Wednesday night classes will send us to hell. But I do believe when we choose every other activity, every single week, we are robbing ourselves of one of God's greatest blessings--the fellowship and encouragement of the Body. There are those in the church, my brothers and sisters, who are much stronger, much wiser, much more spiritual than I. These family members can help instruct and teach me so that I can grow. They feed my spirit and nourish my soul and they help me mature and stay strong. Refusing time with them contributes to my spiritual malnourishment. Just as filling our stomachs with junk food lessens our resistance to germs and impedes our growth, so filling our hearts with all that the world has to offer lessens our resistance to sin and impedes our growth. An occasional nutritious meal is just not enough, physically or spiritually.
Likewise, there is nothing wrong with having things. We all like nice cars and nice houses and nice clothes. We all recognize that these things are not free and in order to get them, we must work. We also know that in order to maintain them, we must continue to work. And so we are busy working. Don't get me wrong, work is good. God commands us to work. However He also admonishes us to not get so caught up in things that we forget the important stuff. He reminds us several times that it is not the earthly carnal things that save us but the spiritual heavenly things. Those things are eternal and incorruptible, indestructible. Our focus should be on storing up spiritual treasures.
I believe we as Christians, should take care of our bodies. We should exercise and eat right. We should remain healthy. But not so we can look good in designer clothes or so we can outrun the 20 year olds or so we can pretend to hold on to our youth. We should take care of ourselves so that we can work for the Lord, so that we can go, teach, make disciples without having to take a nap, without having to lie down and rest for an hour after each bible study. We should take care of ourselves so that as long as God gives us life, we can be useful in bringing souls to Him.
We have the Word of God that helps us, guides us and corrects us. It is important to read it. Over the years I have seen numerous little tools designed to help Christians get back in the Word. It isn't important which one we use, only that we get into the Word. We cannot gain the wisdom and knowledge needed to remain spiritually strong unless we spend time listening to God. Spending time with God also requires talking to Him. He is our Lord, our Savior, our Bridegroom and in order to have a relationship with Him, we must communicate with Him more than once a day at bedtime and twice on Sundays. He wants to talk with us!!!!
We short-change ourselves in so many areas of our Christian walk. When we could be thriving, we instead eke out a meager spiritual existence. This should not be! It is not what our Father wants, and it is not really what we want either. Don't we want to partake of all of His blessings? Don't we want to live lives overwhelmed by the love of God, compelled to teach, hungry to learn and eager to accept the glorious and rich life He has in mind for us? Don't we want to thrive rather than simply exist? Just imagine what thriving spiritually would like, imagine what blessings would flood your life and what peace would fill your soul. God never meant for us to have a meager existence but rather abundant life. Its there for the taking--all we have to do is ask!


Friday, November 09, 2007

Awwww . . .Those Were The Days

One of the best things about moving is you get to "find" stuff from your past, stuff you hadn't really missed and had done okay without, but now, are unwilling to get rid of. The past few weeks have been filled with the discovery of such "treasures". Day before yesterday was no different. The treasure was a photo strip, you know the little photo booths in the mall, where you sit and before you can really pose, the camera shoots and then spits out a strip of four little black and white pictures? Remember? I found such a strip, probably taken around twenty-two years ago. The picture strip features two of the very most important people in my life, my sons. Chad looks like he is six or seven and Nathan four or five. Let me just say without being at all biased, that they are two of the cutest kids I have ever seen!
I have looked at these pictures over and over again. I notice how innocent and childlike they seem. They smile for the camera and make silly faces. They appear to have no worries, no cares, no future concerns. I remember those smiles. I remember all the concern I had for them, already knowing their father would probably not live to see them through childhood, I was constantly worried about how they, how we would handle that loss. They'd already spent more time in hospitals that one their age should. They'd become very familiar with the local EMT's and knew where all the vending machines were at our local hospital. They'd already witnessed the struggle to breathe that was part of their father's daily, hourly, minute by minute struggle. They'd already seen their mother cry barrels and barrels of tears, had their playtimes hushed and shushed to accommodate the sleeping patient. And yet, in these pictures, they smile!
In my prayers, I often ask the Heavenly Father to make me more like a child. I ask Him to help my faith be childlike, unflappable and unstoppable and absolutely limitless! I plead with Him to remind me that I needn't worry, He is taking care of things. I ask that He instills in me the courage and determination of youth. And a sense of awe and wonder at every piece of the world around me. I beg with Him to give me a child's self-esteem that comes from the inherent and proven knowledge that He loves me no matter what, that there is nothing I can do that would make Him so angry He would not offer mercy and grace. I ask Him to make me curious and inquisitive and hungry for learning about Him and His Word. I ask Him to make me desperate to please Him, determined and focused. And I ask Him to help me smile!
As I look at the pictures of these beautiful children, I see their smiles and I cannot help but smile back. I see in them the innocence and purity, the faith and love, the courage and wonder that I so desire in my own spiritual life. I pray with confidence that God will help me be what He can use so that when He looks down at the daily snapshots of my life, He sees me smiling and cannot help by smile in return.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Worthwhile Investment

Lately I've noticed more and more advertisements encouraging us to invest our money wisely in order to guarantee a secure future. While they are advertising for their companies, in an attempt to drum up more business, the principle they promote is very sound. That principle is that in order to guarantee a return, one must invest. Without investment there is no return.
Being a minister's daughter and now a minister's wife, I can't begin to tell you how many times I've heard the excuse, "I don't come to church anymore, I just don't get anything out of it." Comments like those have always irritated me as if "church" is all about "me" and "having my needs met". All rational human beings can refute that statement, or so it seems to me!
However, I began to think about other relationships and life endeavors. I started wondering if that same mindset permeated every part of our life. So I deliberately thought about investments. On a daily basis, I invest emotionally, financially, spiritually, physically and I expect a return on those investments. We all do! But what would happen if we all, in anticipation of a big return, invested more?
For instance, what would happen if I invested more time and energy at work? What if I invested my effort in having a positive attitude, in making my workplace a good place, in being a good employee, almost as if I were working for the Lord? What kind of return would I receive? The answer is obvious isn't it?
So perhaps the way we earn the respect of others is to invest some respect toward them and toward ourselves. We cannot expect those around us to support and encourage us if we are constantly self-demeaning or disrespectful to them. Perhaps the way to teach our children to speak respectfully to us and others is to speak respectfully to them and in front of them. It seems it would be difficult to instill an attitude of respect for authority in young ones who see us yelling at policemen and badmouthing our churchleaders, president, and lawmakers.
And just think about what would happen if we invested an attitude change about worship? What if Sunday mornings weren't a time of yelling at the kids to hurry up and get ready because "we HAVE to go to church" and what if the ride home after services was filled with conversations about God and His blessings rather than the boring sermon, slow songs, and those singing off key behind us? What return could we expect? What attitude would our children learn about worship and being with God's people?
Maybe the way to strong, spiritual marriages to invest our time and energy into making them what God would have them to be. Maybe if I sacrificed my will once in awhile, maybe if I didn't share my opinion every time, maybe if I spoke about and to my spouse like I did when we were dating, then just maybe I would get a return on that investment.
Perhaps the key to good, healthy spiritual friendships is to invest our time in being the kind of friend who promotes spiritual conversation, who encourages self-control and discourages gossip and who examples trust and values the importance of keeping confidence. Perhaps if we we invested in this way, we would find ourselves blessed with an abundance of good relationships.
What do you think would happen if we invested our time and energy in a stronger and deeper and more intimate relationship with God? What if a big part of our day was invested in talking with Him, reading His word, praising Him? What kind of return would we expect? Wouldn't we become stronger? Would we become wiser? Would we feel more confident in our ability to endure and maintain until His return? Would we find our church growing and growing and growing?
Perhaps it is time we examined our investments? Could be that we are not getting the desired return because there is a lack of the required investment! The only free thing is the gift of God's grace--though it cost Him dearly, He was willing to invest the blood of His Son in us. Daily we have opportunities to invest ourselves in pleasing Him! Worthwhile investments are everywhere! What does your investment portfolio look like?


Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Thank you for your prayers and well-wishes over the past three weeks. They have been hectic to say the least! We are now back at home in Nebraska, and although our house is littered with boxes, some packed and others empty, and although we have been running around starting checking accounts, getting phones and email service, changing addresses for utilities and greeting old friends, we are happy and at peace.
Transitions are never easy, either physically or emotionally. However, when decisions are right, when there is no doubt that this is what the Holy Father wants for you, when you are met with the love and support and prayers of those who love you most, the transition time becomes less harried and hasseled. It transforms into a time of peace and renewal.
We will miss our friends and church family in Spearman. I will miss being close to three of my grandchildren, but I have to tell you that being "home" feels really, really good! I remember when I was a young married woman. I remember going home to mom's for the holidays. Home was where I could be who I really was, knowing I would be loved and accepted no matter what. Home was where one could be inundated with comfort and overwhelmed with love. Home is where you can take off your shoes, run around in your jammies, tease your family and know that you all still love each other. Home is where people are genuinely concerned for you and your well-being. Home is where you can walk in the door and finish the conversation that you started a few months ago. Home is where you can kiss your mom and sit on your dad's lap. Home is where you can pick on your brother, cry with your sister and listen to grandma's stories one more time, as if it were the very first time. Home is where the heart is!
When I began thinking about the concept of "home". I started to realize that the struggle to not make our "home" in this world is a huge struggle. In the book of Philippians, the author apostle, makes it clear that he is looking forward to being "at home" in heaven. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that we are aliens and strangers here in this world and that our real home is one of an eternal nature. We are sojourners, journeying through life on earth, our course set on heaven above, with our Bridegroom and our Father.
And so, I struggle with the feelings of being "home". I have been praying and meditating about this. My thoughts wandered to the Old Testament, to the children of Israel, taken into captivity again and again, as a result of their own actions! I recall in Jeremiah, God's people are once again in captivity, being held by the Babylonians. God, through the prophet, Jeremiah, instructs them to build their houses and settle down, to plant gardens and eat the produce, to marry and to seek peace and prosperity. God reminds them to not forget His word and to remember that He has plans for them. His plan is to rescue them, to restore them and to bring them home. I wonder if perhaps that is the mindset we are to have here on earth. Perhaps it is our duty to settle down, plant gardens and marry. Perhaps we are to seek peace and prosperity, all the while remembering His words to us and keeping in mind that HE has a plan for US--that plan involves a new home, where we can live with Him forever and ever--rescued and renewed. Perhaps this home should be the one that our heart is set on---after all, home IS where the heart is!