Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fall whisperings....

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
as I have seen in one autumnal face
Autumn quote by John Donne

In autumn when the trees are brown
The little leaves come tumbling down
They do not make the slightest sound
But lie so quietly on the ground
Until the wind comes puffing by
And blows them off towards the sky.

The winds will blow their own freshness into you,
and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop away from you
like the leaves of Autumn.
"Fall Poem" by John Muir

Friday, October 30, 2009

Impossible situations.....

I have been contemplating a life-changing move back to California, my home state. Countless hours have been spent in prayer about this for awhile now. I am missing my folks; time is more precious now that there is less of it. And there is a special little six year old girl who tugs at my heart. She has been a very late talker and every word she says is precious to hear. When kids with special needs reach milestones it seems to mean so much more. She and her Grandpa have a standing date for ice-cream most days after school.

I know she loves me; I know because her face lights up when she sees me, but she hasn't hugged me yet, and that breaks my heart. She did cling to my legs once, so I think she knows that I am safe, and I belong to the clan. I know that if I were there more she would see me less as a visitor and more like family; always I carry around like a weight the moments that I am missing with her.

My good sense tells me it is craziness, lunacy. Leaving a good job with benefits is not something you do lightly in these times.....My home state is bankrupt, among other things. Also, as the media keeps telling me THERE ARE NO JOBS. But it is home to me just the same; just as Arizona has become to me now.

But God is not bankrupt, He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Is there anything too difficult for Him? God loves impossible situations. By what I read in the Bible, He seems to revel in them. So the question is, "How BIG is my God?" If He wants me there He will work it out. End of story.

As I was driving to work thinking about all these things and feeling sad that I wouldn't see Lauryn in her costume again this year, this verse came up on the CD player. Once again I was blind-sided by just the right scripture at just the right time. It reached my ears and then my eyes with tears as I pictured Paul writing this from his prison cell.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:16-21

Lately I find I am alternating between two states of being. Like the Israelites after passover, I am ready to bolt, bags packed, walking stick by the door. Watching for the shadow at the door. Other times I am content to burrow in like a sand crab. Life like that sometimes and it's okay.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

2 Corinthians 12:9 (New International Version)
9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

I posted a prayer to go with this verse and lo and behold, I hit a key stroke and POOF! It was gone.....So God will have to go with Me here and I will have to rest in Him alone. So the words remain in my heart and God knows how I feel.....

He remains my strength when I feel ill-equipped....

Monday, October 26, 2009

God is still God

We sometimes ask, does God still do miracles? Where is the God that parted the Red Sea? The One who caused manna to rain from Heaven, each day a fresh new supply for those wanderers in the desert. Where is the One who led captive Israel out of bondage....sending them away with parting gifts from Pharaoh? The One who raised Lazarus from the dead, and healed the centurian's daughter with only a spoken word? Fed the 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish?

From time to time we may forget, but those who work in the trenches know. He is still here and He has not changed. Yesterday at church we had a live feed from Africa, where a missionary couple has been serving for several years now. They have settled in a small predominantly muslim village. Life in this area had all but dried up and blown away, since it had not rained there for 9 years. Shortly after they got there they held a meeting for the people and local leaders, some of whom were muslim clergy. They were wary, since Christianity has been met with hostility and persecution in this area, but all went well. They held a prayer service that night and one of the things they prayed for was rain. As he was seeing everyone off after the service, it clouded up and began to pour, ending a 9 year drought. The locals called him "man who has rain" after that night.

He assured him that he had no special power over the weather, but that the God he serves does! There is great persecution in these parts of the world and he told several stories that are unimaginable to us here in America. One man was hung by his wrists to a tree and the backs of his legs were severely beaten because he would not renounce his Christian faith. By the time he was rescued, his legs were mangled beyond repair. The hospital said he would never walk again due to severity of the damage. When this missionary went there to see him, with tears streaming down his face he said, "I am sorry brother, that you had to go through this!" The man said, "Don't feel pity for me because I never felt the presence of Jesus closer to me as when I was suffering." The missionary prayed for an impossible healing, and God heard from Heaven. The man who they said would never walk again walked out of that hospital.
YES, God is still God. And He is the same yesterday, today and forever!
There were many more stories of miraculous escape, provision and rescue and I am sure we could all add our own! So I add to my list of gratitude today that God is still changing lives, still "Emmanuel" God with us.

Thankful today that:

87. He willingly left the Halls of Heaven to come down here to this mess of a planet.
88. He reduced Himself to a baby in a manger in order to redeem us and bring us back into fellowship with Him.
89. He willingly died a terrible death He didn't deserve so that I might live.
90. He ascended back to Heaven with the hope that we all follow Him there.
91. Not only that, but He gave us the seal of the Holy Spirit, the promise of redemption, to live in this body so that I can be equipped to do His work successfully!
92. He sent death packing.
93. He prays for me even now.
94. He has given the assurance in His Word that all this is true.
95. He hears my prayers.
96. He is as closer to me than my own breath.
97. He will never leave me or forsake me, no matter what happens, His presence will always be there.
Counting toward my 1000 blessings, I continue with others at:
holy experience

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Kinder World

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

I feel as if I have discovered a treasure, on another blog I came across the writings of J.R. Miller. I tried to backtrack and find it so I could thank them but in all my online wanderings yesterday I lost track of where I was. He writes about something I have been working on in myself lately, being less critical and more kind. He uses the word "forbearance." He has this to say:

"If we resent every apparent injustice, demand the righting of every little wrong, and insist upon chafing, and uttering our feelings at every infinitesimal grievance, and if all the other parties in the circle claim the same privilege--what miserable beings we shall all be, and how wretched life will become! But there is a more excellent way. The Spirit of Christian love inculcated in the New Testament will, if permitted to reign in each heart and life, produce fellowship without a jar or break." And I love what he says about how "Christ puts a veil over our faults."

A popular Christian author/speaker once challenged herself to not say one negative thing for a day. I can't recall who it was, but she ended up being silent for the better part of the day.

I asked my Mom, "Did the world seem a kinder place when you were growing up?" She says, emphatically, "Yes!" I am talking about general terms here, because it is easy to romanticize the past, since we are no longer in it. But she says groups of teenagers, sometimes as many as 20 would go to the beach on a bus and nobody would even think of doing anything malicious. The boys treated the girls like gentlemen, and nobody got drunk or high. Everyone danced with everyone else, and they all looked out for each other. Wow. You could actually walk around in the middle of the night and have no fear. Kids respected not only their own parents, but the parents of their friends.

It is sometimes very hard to be kind. My friend took her Alzheimer's afflicted mother to the store the other day. Her mom gets very sharp and unkind and leaves things she doesn't want out of place, and argues about what she needs and doesn't need. She has to go in the same entrance every time, otherwise she stands in the store and turns circles, lost. My friend is a master at the "soft answer" that turns away wrath, by God's grace. It's not easy, but it's right.

In a world that sometimes seems very harsh, a kind act stands out and has the power to stop us in our tracks. I am now surprised when a young man holds a door for me...SORRY I miss this! I try to be nice to anyone in customer service, they have a tough job. My Mom has only two "people categories" either nice or not nice. I think there is some truth to that.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


You can't even turn on the news anymore without hearing something about how terrible the economy is. They would have us believe that we are on the brink of financial ruin, and people are queueing up to jump off the tallest building they can find. While the situation is troubling, it is not hopeless. I refuse to be swept up in the fear mongering frenzy. I challenge anyone to get into any restaurant in my area on a Friday or Saturday night without a minimum of a 45 minute wait! Yes people are cutting back, being more careful; but we are not standing in bread lines yet.

No doubt about it, the world we live in right now is a scary place. And I admit I have been pulled in somewhat to the unease that seems to permeate everything around us. This is a weakness for me, and I sometimes wonder whether I have placed more value on the "safety and security" that my job provides than God intends. This is a temptation for all of us in very large companies. They tend to make us feel like we can't do without them. I have to fight this constantly.

BUT: The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10)This is where REAL safety lies.

AND: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9) This is where I find true security.

But has God really called us to a "safe, secure life?" The early Christians had no such thing. They had danger lurking around every corner, unrest, possible prison, homelessness, in some cases illness, torture, not to mention ridicule. I struggle with this....I love safety and security, I love my home and that the payment is low, I love that I know exactly how much money will show up in my account every two weeks, and that I can pay my bills. But I also know where it comes from and who it is that really sustains me. With grateful heart I thank Him for His blessings, and that I can bless others, knowing that someday I may need that "hand up."

Ultimately, I rest in this verse: "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Philippians 4:12

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Leaving my "self" at the door

Autumn gate by Thomas Kinkade

Happy are they who throw themselves with bowed head and closed eyes into the arms of the "Father of Mercies," and the "God of all consolation," as St. Paul said! There is only one way to love God: to take not a single step without Him, and to follow with a brave heart wherever He leads. All those who live the Christian life, and yet would very much like to keep a little in with the world, run great risk of being among the lukewarm of whom it is said they will be "spewed out of the mouth of God." Taken from "Devotional Classics"
Sobering words by Francois Fenelon

The Christian life for me is a constant process of moving myself out of the way, and letting God take over. Today I started to pray when I realized that I was tripped up by my own "self." It was something I had to correct as soon as God brought it to my attention. As soon as I started thinking about how much time I would put in and how much would be acceptable to God, the battle was lost. I had made a religious "thing" out of it. It's like this: How would you feel as a parent if you knew your child was only spending time with you because they felt they "should" but not because they wanted to. Forgive me, Lord for all those times I try to playact with You.
I paused, I reflected, I started over with a purer heart. Then my prayer time became what it was supposed to be once again. A place where I connect to the Creator of Heaven and Earth, and He connects with me. What a privelege, what a unspeakable gift!

If the Holy Spirit is our gateway to the throne of God, then prayer is certainly the pathway through that gate. Thankfully, the omnipotence of God is tempered with love and grace otherwise we would not be able to stand in His presence......

“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Prayer changes things

From Philip Yancey's book on Prayer
Towards the end of Einstein's life....When a doctoral student at Princeton asked, "What is there left in the world for original dissertation research?" Albert Einstein replied, "Find out about prayer. Somebody must find out about prayer."

"I have come to see prayer as a privilege, not a duty. Like all good things, prayer requires some discipline. Yet I believe that life with God should seem more like friendship than duty. Prayer includes moments of ecstasy and also dullness, mindless distraction and acute concentration, flashes of joy and bouts of irritation. In other words, prayer has features in common with all relationships that matter.
Philip Yancey, "Prayer"

I find this to be true. I enter my prayer closet with an expectation of change. Either change in a situation or change in myself or help for someone else. I know that even if the situation remains the same, prayer is the way I can ask God to help me deal with it the way He wants me to. I never quite know what to expect when I enter but I know that always, He meets me there.

I love this illustration from a man named John (also in Yancey's book) he says this: "I've been working around street people, mostly homeless, for twenty-five years now. I help run a coffeehouse where they can drop in, and then on Sunday we hold a small urban church service upstairs. We never know what will happen there. Some of the people smell bad, disturbed people pray too long, and visitors wander in and out of the service. The other week one person prayed, "Thank you, Lord, for Metamusil," and another chimed in, 'That's a 10-4, God."

Romans 12:12 rejoicing in hope; enduring in troubles; continuing steadfastly in prayer;

Monday, October 19, 2009

Multitude Monday....

Thankful for the promises in the Psalms today.... Continuing onward to 1000 gifts! I included a few different translations.
77. Psalm 9:9 (NAS) "The Lord also will be a stonghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble."
78. Psalm 9:10 (NAS) "And those who know Thy name will put their trust in Thee; For Thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken those that seek Thee."
79. Psalm 18:36 (NAS) "Thou dost enlarge my steps under me, And my feet have not slipped.
80. Psalm 23:2 (NAS) "Makes me lie down in green pastures; and leads me beside still waters."
81. Psalm 23:3 (NAS) "He restores my soul, and guides me in the paths of righteousness."
82. Psalm 104:12 (NAS) "As far as the East is from the West, so far has He removed our transgressions from us."
83. Psalm 116:8 (NAS) "For Thou hast rescued my soul from death, my eyes fro tears and my feet from stumbling."
84. Psalm 121:8 (NAS) "The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in, from this time forth and forever."
85. Psalm 145:17 (The Message) "Everything God does is right-the trademark on all His works is LOVE."
86. Psalm 145:14 (The Message) "God gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit."

Join Ann here for more gratitude:
holy experience

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Morning prayer

Now that I am down the road a bit, I can see all the times
in my life where I left you out, Lord.
How much better they would have
been had I invited You along.

Of course I know You were there, waiting in the wings.
Hoping, waiting for me to acknowledge You
instead of being focused on my fears
my feelings
my needs....Or just simply thinking that
You had forgotten me,
or didn't care.

I can imagine you saying, "I can help you with that,
if you just let Me;
Ask, seek, I am here knocking
but I will never violate your
free will."

Help me to remember all the times I have been helped
by a perfect stranger. How grateful I was.
Help me to keep my spiritual eyes and ears
open to those who need help, or might be seeking You.
Remove the blinders that keep me so focused on my own agenda that I miss Your opportunities.

Thank you Lord, for being with me now.
What a miracle that I can bring eternity
into every little moment, and know
that Your are smiling on me when I do.

Revelation 3:20
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock:
if any man hear my voice, and open the door,
I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Be Blessed

"Bell Tower, Mount of Olives"
1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

3"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

4"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

5"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

6"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.

7"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.

8"You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

9"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.

10"You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.

Salt and Light
13"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

And the picture above reminded me of this verse.......
14-16"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

"The Message, Beatitudes Matthew 5:1-13

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pushing through fear

Have you ever met anyone who would just try anything? They seem to sail through life devoid of fear, embracing change and leaping over roadblocks and challenges that would cripple the faint of heart. The reality is: they DO have the fear, they just don't let it stop them.

My best friend is one of these people. I think it comes from living in an "unsafe" environment growing up. She had a mean older brother and every day she was faced with waking up having to push through her fear of what he might do. She knew that her folks would do nothing to stop his behavior; they never had. So it was up to her to push through.....As a result it left scars, but it also made her a survivor.

When she was 18 a friend offered her a job driving a logging truck. Here was his lesson, "I will drive up the mountain, you watch what I do and it's your turn on the way down." Mind you, these trucks have two gear boxes and sometimes as many as 16 gears! She made it down the mountain and got bit by the professional driving bug.

Later on she drove a cement truck for several years, until the day another truck driver pulled out in front of her. He was completely stopped at a stop sign. (Tell me how you miss a cement mixer?) He looked right at her and pulled out. She sustained a broken back and the other driver was unhurt. His license was revoked and he was cited. The police officer said that if it hadn't been for her exemplary driving skills, they both might have died. She has since said that the accident was the best thing that ever happened to her....I met her not long after that and as a result, I introduced her to the One who not only could heal her body, but her soul as well.

I never had to fear that much growing up. My home was a calm, peaceful, happy place. However, when I was 27 and my husband died unexpectedly I was introduced to real fear. It stretched out in front of me like a "black hole." I got reintroduced to prayer like never before and I learned that when I didn't have the courage to get out of bed, I rolled out anyway on raw faith; knees hitting the floor first! Everytime He met me there. Through those experiences, I learned that His promises are true.

Now all these years later I am working at a place I never dreamed I could be, doing things I never thought I could do. Fourteen years now at Intel,Corp. Always there has been help. At every turn He has been with me, and sent special "angel" people (and undoubtedly real ones too) to surround me during times I felt like I would cave in and run home. (Well, I did do that but only once.)

Whenever I feel fear nipping at my heels, telling me I can't do something, I rest in this verse: "I can do ALL things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
Depending on Him through prayer, reading His word, believing Him for His promises. That is the only way to banish fear and send it packing back to hell, where it belongs.

For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

“Nothing fosters courage like a clear grasp of grace.”
“Feed your fears and your faith with starve. Feed your faith and your fears will.”
“Fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness.”
From "Fearless" by Max Lucado

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Everyday Holiness

By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet.
Thomas Merton

After posting the quote above, another "Merton" quote kept popping up in my mind and I couldn't let go of it. I think it is very true, we tend to "section" off parts of our lives, but knowing God, who is in all and through all, wants ALL of us, not just part of us. Once we know Him, everything around us becomes infused with His presence and we begin to see the "Holiness" of everyday experiences.

A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.
Thomas Merton

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Life is a prayer

God doesn't care if we use big words when we pray,
He already knows the biggest words anyway.
Sometimes silence is prayer because we run out
of words, but God knows our heart.

Sometimes I fall asleep right in the middle
of a prayer at night, and I think that is okay.
I think He smiles at that. Sometimes you aim
for Heaven and that is enough.
He likes that I am thinking of Him.

Don't worry if your tongue stumbles over itself,
To His ears it is eloquent, because
You are His child.

And sometimes, the burden of life is just too
overwhelming, that is when I can pick up the prayer
where you left off...
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express" (Romans 8:26).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Multitude Mondays

Today I am thankful for yesterday's reminders
of the beauty of being in Your outdoor sanctuary....
the sway of pines against sky, magic sway
and song....oh let me hear the sigh of
Your wind in those trees in my soul
forever more....

Thankful for a carpet of pine needles, more
grand than any berber or import rug you can name.

Fall coloring foliage, nature's surrender summoning
strength for what is to come.... yet the pine remains itself
all year.

Cool whisperings in the air of solstice rest,
winter's deep ponderings.

She rests from her labor.

What a treasure to be reminded once again,
how I need this quiet, this filling up of
my soul; this rest that satisfies,
lingers deep for when I need it next.

As we walked from tree to tree looking up I said, "Do you think when we are in Heaven we will remember our times on earth? Or will we be so overwhelmed with everything we won't give it another thought." She said, "I don't think we will give it a fleeting thought." I said, "I don't know, maybe little glimmers of things." Then I said, "No, you're probably right."

The gratitude list goes on.....
67. Cool solitude of the mountains
68. Going away for the day
69. Coming back home
70. Pine trees and their gentle sway
71. Appreciation of all these things
72. Fresh unpolluted air
73. God's blueprint of nature
74. Red cliffs against electric sky
75. Escape from the sound of cars
76. Sharing these with like minded people

Join Ann here for more gratitude:
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

The stones will cry out...

When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!" "I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." Luke 19:37-40

Today I feel so grateful that I feel like the stones along the side of the road; they are there just being stones, doing nothing....minding their own business, until the Son of Man passes by and they can no longer contain themselves. See, the people knew who Jesus really was, and as usual the Religious leaders of the day were clueless. Except for some of them like Nicodemus who came to Jesus at night.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."

"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" John 3:1-10

Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

"How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.

"You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. John 3:1-15

This conversation leads up to one of the most well known Spriptures in the Bible, John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Thankful, so thankful for this today. I pray for all those today who do not know you yet.....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

God be with you...

A woman with a scarf over her head hoists her six-year-old up onto the first step of the school bus. "Goodbye," she says.

A father on the phone with his freshman son has just finished bawling him out for his poor grades. There is mostly silence at the other end of the line. "Well, goodbye," the father says.

When the girl at the airport hears the announcement that her plane is starting to board, she turns to the boy who is seeing her off. "I guess this is goodbye," she says.

The noise of the traffic almost drowns out the sound of the word, but the shape of it lingers on the old man's lips. He tries to look vigorous and resourceful as he holds out his hand to the other old man. "Goodbye." This time they say it so nearly in unison that it makes them both smile.

It was a long while ago that the words, God be with you disappeared into the word goodbye, but every now and again some trace of them still glimmers through. Frederick Buechner

Yes, I would much prefer the phrase "God be with you." According to Wikipidia, that is where the term "goodbye" comes from....I never knew!

Saying goodbye always feels wrong, there is something within our soul that rails against it as abnormal and unnatural. That is because it is. God never intended for us to ever have to part, in life or in death.....Because of what Jesus did, none of us have to face that "eternal" goodbye; so while we have this earthly sorrow now, we have that promise that we will see each other again in that place where goodbye is never uttered, that sorrow never felt.

Brothers and sisters, we don't want you to be ignorant about those who have died. We don't want you to grieve like other people who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Best Gift

The clamoring for gift ideas is already starting....Every year about this time it seems all the news channels have to start talking about how well, (or how poorly) the retailers will be doing this Christmas season. What will people buy, what will be the best sellers....Every year it irritates me more and more. And you go into the store and see Halloween decorations right next to Christmas! It's too much.

Thinking of gifts reminded me of a very special gift my Mom received earlier this year. My dear friend and I were thinking of what to get her for her 80th Birthday.....All of a sudden she looked up, electric eyes alight...."I have an idea!" She asked, "What means more to her than anything? I said, "Family? God?"

"Well yes," she said, "God, and showing God's love to everyone around her. What better way than to give out Bibles? Very special Bibles to give to all her friends, like a living legacy!" I caught her enthusiasm...."Yes," I said, "She would love that!"

The only problem was that she wanted her to be able to give one to each lady at her party, which would have been about 15 Bibles, but then the guestlist exploded into about 35. (My Mom is very popular.) She went to the bookstore and it just so happened they were discontinuing some very nice leather Bibles in dark blue, and they were on sale. She bought 15, which was all they had. We decided that was the right number. She had it lettered in Gold Leaf to say, "The Vera Cook Legacy Bible" and put a picture of Mom on the inside cover. (the one you see here.)

I don't think we have ever enjoyed giving a gift more. To see her face as she opened the box and saw them all was priceless. And the giving has continued through the year as she has thoughtfully and prayerfully considering where each one will go. Tears usually come with each presentation; on the inside flap of every one is a personal note to tell the person how much she has meant in her life. What a blessing it has been to take part in, and I thank my wonderful friend for coming up with the idea. It was truly a God thing.

Isaiah 52:7
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What matters.....

Ever felt like your mind was over-full but empty at the same time? Sometimes I feel like one of those 8-ball things you used to shake up and then different messages float to the "magic window." Seems like every kid in the neighborhood had one, along with our barbies, GI Joes, skates, board games, and record players; YES record players, not CD players, not I-pods, not I-phones that play music. You remember that little plastic thing you had to plug into the 45s? My Mom still has them all in the original hard carrying case with the squeaky handle.

Not long ago I was back home visiting and we got them all out. Some of the neighborhood folks came over and had a great time listening to those old scratchy songs. Us "older" women squealing like girls remembering Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy....Mixed in with Beatles, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Alvin and the Chipmunks, and the Legend of Wyatt Earp. I am feeling nostalgic alot more lately. I am feeling more and more like my folks. Maybe it comes with turning 50 as I did this year....The years are passing at an ever-increasingly alarming rate. I am more accutely aware of the passage of time than ever before.

A charming little film is out right now that addresses this issue of the passage of time from one man's perpective. Really, God's perspective as it is lived out by one 75 year old man. "The Secret life of Jonathan Sperry" is one of those little films that sneaks up on you after you see it. In a sea of polished, sophisticated, slick movies filled with action and noise, it is a calm, peaceful movie about what really matters in this life according to God; and what can happen when one person stands up and dares to live what they believe. How one testimony of faith and forgiveness can affect others in a powerful way. It slows you down a bit; makes you want to go out to a graveyard, talk to God and take stock of your life. I heartily recommend it.

"Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." James 4:13,14

Monday, October 5, 2009

Why church?

‘I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the House of the Lord”’(Psalm 122:2). Why do we go to the House of the Lord? We go ‘to give thanks to the Name of the Lord’(Psalm 122:4). We seek His mercy for our past sins: ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us!’(Psalm 123:3). We seek His help for our future temptations: ‘Our help is in the Name of the Lord…’(Psalm 124:8). As we receive mercy and help from the Lord, we worship Him: ‘Blessed be the Lord’(Psalm 124:6). In our worship, we ‘look to the Lord our God’, drawing encouragement from His Word: ‘The Lord is on our side’- In Him we have the victory (Psalm 123:2; Psalm 124:1-5). Rejoicing in God’s blessing, we pray for others: ‘May they prosper who love You’(Psalm 122:6).

So often we leave church with the same burdens we had when we came in. This should never be. We turn and greet the person behind us, shake their hand, maybe a hug and smile, maybe give our name. All the while our hearts are aching. God never intended that. "And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Acts 2:42

I attended a prayer service last night and it was really a blessing. Just getting together to talk to God, lift each other up. That is when it gets real, and sometimes that can be scary. Emotions show up, and tears....but after all is said and done, burdens lifted, hearts lightened, strangers grow closer. Real change happens from the inside out.....

Today I am thankful for the circle of prayer that reaches around the world. Heads bowed, hands homes, churches, battlefields, sporting events, commuting cars, hospitals, in hearts and heads. He keeps them all in His bowl of gold.

"And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." Rev. 5:8

Thankful for the promises of God today, my gratitude list grows:

57. All our needs will be met. Phil. 4:19

58. We will have enough Grace to do whatever He asks. 2 Cor. 12:9

59. Blessings are ours through the promise of Abraham and the redemptive work on the cross. Genesis 22:18

60. We have deliverance from ALL temptation. 1 Cor. 10:13

61. We have victory over death itself. Acts 2:32

62. If we keep trusting Him, ultimately everything will work out for our good. Romans 8:28

63. We never have to be alone. John 14:26

64. Peace in every circumstance. Phil 4:7

65. Assurance that our prayers are heard. 1 John 5:14

66. With God there is always hope. Heb. 6:19

Continue counting your blessings with Ann here:
holy experience

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Elam Ministries is reporting that the health of Iranian Christians Maryam Rustampoor (27) and Marzieh Amirizadeh (30) is deteriorating after having been imprisoned for six months. Here is their latest update:

Maryam and Marzieh have now been in prison in Tehran because of their faith for over six months and their health is deteriorating. This is the most urgent matter for prayer - that the Lord heals them directly and miraculously for the glory of His name and their encouragement.

Both women are suffering from sore throats, irregular painful stomach aches and often intense head aches. Both have lost much weight during their ordeal, because of their sickness and lack of nutrition. Marzieh's tooth infection is only being treated by painkillers and if the infection spreads it could become critical.

Due to overcrowding in the prison and the limited facilities, they have not received adequate treatment. There are also many other sick inmates and so there is a constant risk of picking up other viruses.

Regarding their case, the judge has said that they are 'not cooperating' meaning Maryam and Marzieh would not deny Christ but were faithful witnesses. The implication of his remark is that they continue to stay in prison. This is the normal punishment for female apostates: they are kept imprisoned until they recant. Please pray for this judge that he is either removed from the case or that he orders their release.

Please pray for these dear sisters and show your solidarity with them by posting a prayer for them on our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Knowing our enemy

art Spiritual warfare by Laurie Cooper

I remember when you couldn't even say "butt" on prime time. The "B" word is commonplace now and I am still surprised and cringe when I hear it. I never want to get to the point that I no longer even hear it. Satan has been using a new tactic lately. I have noticed it more in the past couple of years or so. This is the prime-time "bleep." TV execs know they can't use the real word so they fill it in. C'mon, we know the word they're bleeping! (And so do our kids) The mind, clever thing that it is, will actually jump in and replace the word silently, so it's really the same thing as hearing it.

Last night I noticed that the usual words in a "certain program" were beeped out (a lot!) but "Jesus Christ" (not used in a praise-worthy manner) was not. I have noticed this disturbing trend in movies rated PG13 as well.

Satan is a very clever and subtle strategist. None of us should be surprised by his tactics....."in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes." 2 Cor. 2:11 He knows that if he can get us to compromise in the seemingly harmless stuff, then the rest will be easier. His aim is to get the church to look more like the rest of the world. How is he doing? When I see people slurping sippy cups of Starbucks in church, I have a problem. One time I was standing in the aisle waiting to take communion and two women behind me were talking the whole time, like they were in a movie line. Do we not know we are standing on Holy ground?

The Apostle Paul never lost sight of his enemy and neither should we. He was keenly aware of who he was fighting, but He also knew he already had the victory in Christ. But satan is real, he is here, and he has only one purpose. Jesus warns us: "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." (John 10:10-11)

Satan isn't talked about much in too many churches today, and that may prove to be a fatal error. We need to know who our enemy is and we need to know what to do to send him back where he belongs like Jesus did when he was tempted.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

Thank you God, for giving us the final victory through Your Son!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ten Commandments for Families

Family Life Radio is having their Fall Shar-a-thon right now. I would encourage everyone to give whatever gift you can if you have been blessed by it. It has been an encouragement to me and best of all, it is all listener supported, NO ADS! Today Randy Carlson was talking about family principles and shared these ten things. So simple but so powerful. Think how many families would be changed if we just did these 10 things!

Ten Commandments for Our Family
Guiding principles for family life—

We promise to:
1. Protect each other from harm.
2. Be patient with each other
3. Be trustworthy-so we can be trusted
4. Say I’m sorry and really mean it
5. Be self-controlled
6. Be as polite to each other as we are to guests
7. Celebrate each other’s victories
8. Stay close to each other during times of defeat and loss
9. Speak to each other with words of kindness and respect
10. Never, ever give up on each other