Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Family unity......

Photo from 90's. Debbie, Sherri, Me, Mom, Aunt Carol.
I just returned from a three week visit to Ohio to visit my family. So much has happened since this photo was taken years ago. There is not much real unity in my family, although we believe there is a sense of love. My precious parents are feeble whether in body or mind and can no longer care for themselves.  YET they deny this and insist they can. My sister Debbie has taken the task of tending to them and it is an overwhelming, stressful, anger producing endeavor that is burning her out. We so often deal with each other with harsh, bitter words, impatience, frustration, gossip, condescension, and a spirit of divisiveness that is disgusting. I am ashamed to admit that I am sucked into this all too often. Where is our love for one another? Where is our caring for one another? Our encouraging one another? As I went thru each day observing the family dynamics, I found myself needing to "run" to 
1 Cor: 13 1-8
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant
5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 
6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 
8 Love never fails.....

Love as the Lord Jesus defined it here is non-existent in my family.

I read today a thought provoking chapter on Unity in the book by Tony Evans  "Horizontal Jesus" . Here is a part of what he says...

It’s amazing how much power and impact people can have when they share a common goal. In fact, a small minority of like-minded people can make big changes. Lobbyists and protesters—even in small numbers—wield great power when unified. So we must ask ourselves, is the church of Jesus Christ experiencing the unity and exerting the national influence that we should, especially considering the strength of our numbers? Sadly, the answer is often no. Even though we claim the same God and worship the same Lord, we have allowed differences in race, class, culture, preferences, priorities, platforms, and more to divide us. In doing so, we have reduced our cultural impact as the horizontal representatives of Jesus.
Jesus stated clearly, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand” (Matthew 12:25). This applies not only to the universal body of Christ but also to the local church’s impact on individual lives, families, marketplaces, neighborhoods, communities, and schools. Hell has sought to divide God’s kingdom to minimize His influence. Satan is the ultimate divider. He tried to split up heaven by getting one-third of the angels to join him in rebellion against God. He brought chaos into the first family when he separated Adam and Eve from God and pitted them against each other. Satan also instigated sibling hatred when he enticed the first son (Cain) to kill his brother (Abel). In fact, Satan introduced so much dissension into the world that God issued a worldwide flood.
Satan loves to divide. When he divides, he can conquer. This is because he knows something about God’s nature that you and I need to always remember.
********************************************************************************
Satan is the author of dis-unity. He is shown victor in my family as we relate to one another with unloving words and attitudes. I examine my heart and see so much rubbish I need to remove permanently and I ask the Lord for His divine help. I ask Him to reveal His love to my family members so they too can lean on His strength. We have a desperate need for unity.






Saturday, April 27, 2019

One more time.....

Cookie
  It has been almost nine weeks since Cookie died. My heart still aches and when I think of her or look at her photos I cry. But not as much. Time does lessen the grief, just as it did with Biskit. I find myself still waiting for her bark to come into the house, making her little whining sounds to get my attention and try to figure out what she wants, looking at me for some more treats, wanting up on the footstool in the TV room, slowly thumping down the stairs one by one each morning to find me, hopping around when she had a little burst of old age energy. Habits I miss. Although she was old, she still had a lot of spunk and life in her. Although I knew her last days were approaching I was not ready to say goodbye. She was not ready to die.
   Sometimes I think that I almost want to hurt, to cry, to miss, to mourn. Maybe to remind myself of my love for her. Maybe because I feel guilty if I don't grieve? I am not sure. 
  I just want another chance to groom her, to hug her, to give her the towel rub-a-dub when she comes in wet from outside, to give her another greenie, to stick my nose in her fur and kiss her, to speak sweet nothings into her little ears... I want one more time. It would always be that way...just one more. Never enough.
   I am ready for that to happen with my parents. My dad almost 92 and my mom 88. Their life is winding down and I know, as I did with Cookie, that death is around the corner. I walk with that knowledge, yet still hoping for another visit, another card game, another puzzle to make, another conversation to be had, another photo to take. I leave tomorrow for a three week visit with them. It may be my last. 
    I know the Lord has all of our times appointed. He is in charge of life and death. Heaven and Hell.
I can't change anything.... but being a creature of earth and time, I still want to hold on to those I love.
Just one more time.....











   

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Do I shout for joy?

Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause; and let them say continually, “Let the Lord be magnified, who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.” Psalm 35:27
   In our culture, many self-absorbed people, (often myself) focus their energies on doing the newest activity that promises the most pleasure, getting the latest technology to make life easier and fun,  going shopping for the latest styles in clothes and jewelry, traveling the world, and spending hours on favorite hobbies.  Those things don’t satisfy for long.  God made us with hearts that long for a transcendent purpose.  We want to live for something much bigger than ourselves.
  Causes come in every stripe and color.  Some people get energized for a political candidate who promises to change a city, state, or nation.  Others devote themselves to preserving the planet or helping the homeless.  In war, soldiers fight and die for the freedom of those back home. Many of us have the sole purpose of  pursuing self-satisfaction. We sit on the "throne" and feel we are the center of the universe.
   Although some causes are noble, most have only temporary results.  Taking the message of Christ’s love not only to the ends of the earth but also to  our family members, friends, and coworkers is truly our most important task. The purpose for every believer is to know Christ and to honor Him in everything we do.  He should sit on the throne of our life. As we turn our attention to Him, forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead...eternity with God, we discover He is the true  cause that makes us shout for joy!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Seeing clearly

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. Psalm 19:8

   It’s the strangest thing:  Millions of Christians say they really want to be wise in their decisions.  They want to follow God in their personal lives, jobs, and families and to experience God’s blessings, but they often fail to do the one thing God promises will give them that wisdom:  soak up the truths of His Word.
   People who devour God’s truth (and that’s the image we get from Jeremiah 15:16) gradually develop a new set of eyes, one that sees beyond the tangible to the eternal.  But that doesn’t mean they’re clairvoyant.  They can’t see into the future or know exactly what God is doing all the time.  Rather, they gain insight about the ways and the will of God.  They aren’t shocked when roadblocks occur, because they’ve learned that God often uses detours to redirect them.  They don’t pout when God doesn’t answer their prayer, because they know God sometimes has a different agenda that is much bigger than theirs.  And they aren’t caught off guard when people disappoint them because they have more insight about the selfishness that’s in their hearts too.
   Learning to see through the lens of Scripture takes time and effort, but most of us gladly expend time and effort on a host of other activities that promise far less.  When I  reflect on how much time I spend reading the paper, watching TV, working on hobbies, shopping, and talking on the phone compared to how much time a spend with the Lord I am shamed. If I love Him, why don't I hunger to know Him more?  Why not more time spent in His word soaking up His truth?
  My prayer this day is to grow in seeking Him. He is here waiting for me.





Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Saying goodbye....

Let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You. Psalm 5:11

   Sometimes, the stresses and struggles and heartbreaks of life take their toll on our emotions and our outlook.  We never intend for it to happen, but suddenly our sense of joy is washed away in a sea of demands, conflicts, tears and sorrow.
    That has been my experience these last days. Losing Cookie has been hard on me. Like jumping off a cliff and landing on rocks in the darkest of night.
    At 17 years old I knew her time to die was upon her, upon me. Everyday I would wake up and check to see if she was breathing as she slept in her little doggie bed beside me. As I would see her chest moving slowly I thanked the Lord for another day with her. She had become my shadow especially as she aged and lost her hearing and vision. If I even got up from my desk to walk to the door, she would be standing at attention discerning where/what I was going to do.  We were a "duet" being played all her waking hours. In the kitchen I danced around her food bowl while I cooked and she ate...one piece at a time.  When I got up in the wee hours of the morning not being able to sleep within minutes I would hear her body slowly thumping down the stairs one step at a time until she found me in my reading chair. She would look to me for acknowledgement and a dog treat and then settle down to slumber once more. My little soul mate.
     And though I knew her time was coming and thought I was prepared, I was dead wrong. I feel as if a vital part of my soul is gone leaving an emptiness behind, a huge void filled with longing. I want to see her once more, smell her little warm body, feel her life, massage her stiff joints, call her my crazy names, take her out to potty, trim her nails, bathe her, groom her.....on and on. Just once more.....
    Saying goodbye is not in my vocabulary right now and it needs to be. Because it is a reality. She is gone and I am here.
     I am thankful that the Lord knows all of this. He knows my heart pain, my head pain, my tears, my sorrow. I need to lean on Him to comfort me as only He is able. He is ever with me, just as my memories of my Cookie are hidden in my inner being. Thanking the Lord always for my little Monster.
Cookie Monster

   




Monday, March 4, 2019

My Cookie Monster dies.....

Yesterday, Sunday March 3rd, around 3 pm, after lunch, Cookie started breathing really hard. We thought she had tired herself out coming up the staircase as she often does. She is 17+.  As the day wore on, her breathing became more labored and rapid. She couldn't get comfortable because she was suffocating. As the day wore into evening, we decided that her issue was serious and took her to Flagstaff's Emergency Vet. hospital. They put her in an oxygen cage immediately, did some x rays, blood work etc. She had developed pneumonia and her lungs had fluid build up. She was struggling for air. They were wonderful in treating her. Giving her antibiotics, oxygen, breathing treatments.......but it was her time to go. She lived a life of love, and fun, and love, and love.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Sight....

He then answered, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”  John 9:25

Vision...amazing. I am recovering from cataract surgery and am amazed at how much clearer and colorful  things appear. 
   During the process of considering surgery, being anxious beforehand of the procedure, and now healing and having new vision, I have come to ponder several things.
  The first item is how often patients (myself included) take our doctors for granted. We expect  them to find out quickly what is wrong with us and "fix" it.  We are disappointed, even disgruntled, when our doctors can't figure it out, or the fix takes too long or is not perfect. We have forgotten who our doctor is, the years of study, exams, sacrifice, money and practice it took to make him the person we trust our lives with. Our sight with.
   The second is how physicians, too, may take patients for granted. After practicing medicine for many years, where it seems second nature, they may get tired of complaining patients, long hours, administrative issues, staffing problems and all the other things involved with work life. They may have forgotten how they toiled to get where they are and how very significant their gift of healing is.
    The third is how I recognize, appreciate and am grateful for my surgeon's special skill, the lengthy path it took to achieve it, and giving me, personally, new sight.
      Lastly, and most importantly, I am thankful to the Lord. He not only gave the doctor those sight saving skills and the desire to use them, but He gave me new spiritual eyes when He saved me twenty-five years ago.  Back then with no cataracts, I could see but was totally blind to Him. Not only blind, but spiritually dead, destined for hell. But, at a moment in time, when I least expected it, and was not really searching for Him, He saved such a wretch as me and gave me new sight.  20/20 spiritual vision. For eternity. 
   
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 
 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? 
 Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? 
 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:33-36


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Remedy for fear...resting in the Lord


Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.Proverbs 3:5 

  Today I go for cataract surgery.  This is supposed to be an easy eight minute procedure that will allow me to see clearly again, instead of looking through the "wax" paper vision that I have been struggling with. Why am I anxious, fearful, fretting, worried that I will be blind?  Conjuring up all sorts of morbid scenarios of the doctor's hand slipping as he cuts my cornea, that I will move unexpectedly and jar his hand, that I will be allergic to the medication and have a bad reaction. On and on my mind reels with fear. I know the remedy, so why don't I grab hold of Him who is the cure for all fear and anxiety? I need to rest in Him, the author and perfecter of my faith, who holds all things together by the power of His word, who loves me and will never let me go, who promises eternal life with Him where there is no more pain, no tears, no sorrow. 
   Jesus, the lover of my soul, my savior, Almighty Holy God. He who has granted everything I need pertaining to life and Godliness. He who saved such a wretch like me. 
   This life is so temporary and then eternity in the presence of Him forever. Why does fear grip me? 
So, I pray that the Lord, today would grant me His peace that is there for my taking. No matter what the results of my eye surgery, one day I will see Him clearly just as He has always seen me. Praise Him. Amen. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Joy at the finish line.

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing 
that the testing of your faith produces patience.  James 1:2-3

   When I ponder James’s comment concerning suffering, it is hard to accept. God uses our suffering and hardship to develop perseverance and build our faith?  And this is to bring joy? How?
   To see these trials produce results in our lives, we need to undergo a radical reorientation.  Cultural critic Francis Schaeffer observed that most of us supremely value “personal peace and affluence.”  Anything that gets in the way of those values is, to say the least, unwelcome. That is me!  But in the Kingdom of God, those things aren’t all that valuable, and in fact, they can get in the way of what God truly values.  He treasures our faith in Him through thick and thin, but He knows faith is built most effectively in times of difficulty.  For that reason, God, our loving and attentive Father, allows or orchestrates problems in our lives so that we learn to trust Him.
    I need to fix my eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of my faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross. Scorning its shame......(Heb 12)
    Every obstacle, every annoyance, and every genuine heartache in our lives is part of God’s curriculum to produce persistent, tenacious, rich, deep trust in Him.  Patience isn’t killing time until we experience more personal peace and affluence.  It’s riveting our affections on God and His purposes every moment of every day.
  I pray for the ability to lean on Him....at all times...and find joy in Him at the finish line.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Contemplation...All I have is Christ.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Romans 6:23
Today I have a heavy heart. So many sad things in the world, in life, everywhere. My sister's loss of her husband, my aging parents so feeble, friends battling cancer, unsaved loved ones, my own sinful ways and aging process. Losing hair, hearing, eye sight, aching muscles, joint pain, critical nature. The list is long. I weep with tears that could fill buckets if I let them. But, the Lord interrupts and reminds me that I have Him, who knows all things, is in control of all things, and sees the Big picture of all things because He is the maker of all things. I am a comforted in this knowledge even as my sorrow lingers. The lyrics of a favorite song come to mind and I contemplate them....
All I have is Christ- Jordan Kauflin
 I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace
CHORUS
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
O Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You