Simple, but Real

It is sometimes funny to me the things that drive people, including myself.
What bothers one person isn’t even seen by another.
When we put things in context of eternity, they seem to come into proper perspective. My mom is fond of saying, “A hundred years from now, it won’t even matter.”
How right she is!
The older I get, the more I want the simple way. Not dull, life can have panache, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.
When things are simple, you can more fully enjoy them.
My favorite season is fall with spring as a close second.  The reason is simple. I don’t like extremes in temperature. Like Goldilocks I want it “just right.”
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. Ecc. 3:11
It’s fall now and time to plant the future in bulbs. Nothing more beautiful than to see daffodils and tulips, crocuses and hyacinths pop up out of the cold spring soil and reach towards the warmth of the spring sunshine.
Let me encourage you to enjoy the every day simple things and quit straining to getting everything perfect. Perfect is generally fabricated. Keep it simple by getting real.

Which Way Leads to Peace?

There are many paths we can take. Some are easy, others are not. What influences our choice?
God has told us. This is the way, walk in it, but we do not consult Him, We go our own way, an easier way and then wonder why we have no peace. Our rebellion tilts the scales of obedience.
Isaiah 30 illustrates the consequences of forsaking His ways.
  For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.Isaiah 30:15
That does not sound like an idle request.
What draws us away? What demands our time and what do we simply give our time to without thought?
20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
By not following His ways, we open the door to adversity. Then we feel compelled to create new ways to compensate, to bring course correction. All along the way, His path is before it but we are blinded by the cares of the world. We are not sensitive to His voice.
If he said, “This is the way, walk in it,” would I hear His voice? Am I so busy that I have lost that quietness and confidence?
To find His ways we must read the course guide. It is back to basics. 
Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10
Show me your way, Lord. Let me hunger for your righteousness. 

His Eye is on the Sparrow

Ray and I were married 37 years ago when we were both in our 30s. It was a tumultuous beginning as we each had children, some with special needs. There were those that said our marriage wouldn’t last a year. There were even times when we would have agreed.
The worse it got, the more we sought God the best we could. In the first seven years especially, there were financial catastrophes, major illnesses and other stresses, but each time God met us. It was during this time that I really relied on a song by Ethel Waters called His Eye is on the Sparrow. I played it, I sang it and I even opened a little shop called The Little Sparrow. It was time in my life when I knew that I knew that though we were hard pressed, we were in His hands. He met us each time right on time.
I can look back now and see how He protected us even we made wrong choices. Because it was so long ago, I can also see how he has made something beautiful out of all.
Our fondest memories are when we lived in a tiny rundown farm house in the midst of a large dairy farm. When we moved to a larger farmhouse a year or so later it was patched with license tags. What joy was wrought on that farm and we could tell you stories for hours of how God met us, cared for us and fed us.
We moved to Georgia almost 17 years ago. I have never lived in one place or gone to one church that long in my 72 years. If God laughs (I am sure He does), He probably had a good chuckle when I moved from my hometown of over a half a million to now a tiny town of a half a thousand. It is her I can here the birds singing in the morning. I don’t have to play a CD. His fingerprints are all of the place.
God is into details. He sees the beginning to the end.
If you just concentrate on the mess, you will miss the small fluttering of other sparrows making the journey with you. You don’t have to do life alone.

Matt. 10 says,

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows

You are worth so much more than that tiny bird.
His eye really is on you today.

Put on Your Big Girl Boots

Well, the Married Couples’ Retreat has ended. What a blessed and challenging time. As I write  tomorrow’s blog by sharing an oldie but goodie, updated, I am eager to begin share some of our experiences next week. For now a throwback:

We all face challenges. The enormity  can almost always be determined by your attitude.
Even if you cannot change the size of the problem, you can choose how you will overcome it or walk through it.
1 Peter 4 tells us:

12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, .
as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings;
 that, when his glory shall be revealed,
ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
Repeatedly when something life-shattering happens, my first thought is not to rejoice, but to ask, “Why me, Lord?
That is really a form of accusation as if to blame God for allowing it to happen. However, the job description of Satan is to “kill, steal and destroy.” So why would I blame God for something the enemy caused?
My friend, Mary Pat, wrote a book, Walking Through Fiery Trials. She lost two sons and her mother in a time span of less than 18 months.
When my daughter was killed in an accident five years ago, I thought of her and how she handled it. It did not lessen my grief, but it showed me that I could get through it.
During the following 18 months, Ray lost a brother, had another sister very ill. He had to have a quadruple heart bypass which was a huge surprise for us, because he had always been the family Energizer bunny. We thought his slowing down was due to grief.
Three months after the surgery, we moved from the home we thought we would spend our latter years in. A couple of months later Ray lost another brother.
In each case, there was mercy, a measure of time to deal with it.
We never felt the Lord abandoned us, but instead felt a sweet closeness. His provision during that season was exceeding abundantly.
The joy comes not in celebrating the loss. I could never celebrate the loss of our daughter. The joy comes in knowing I will see her again and that in the mean time, He will never leave us nor forsake us.
The joy came when things no longer mattered. Relationships matter. Period.
Every mountain we faced, He gave us the strength to traverse it. He showed us the path to take. Each time he traveled with us. Each time we drew closer.
When you face the mountains of your life, look back to see the ones you thought you couldn’t cross, but did, then put your big girl boots on and begin to climb again.
Prologue: We are at a place where Ray helps me put those boots on and face the things I would rather ignore. He has been my best friend for 38 years even when things were out of order.
Some of you reading this don’t have that best friend. I am sorry. Always remember to have  friend, you must be a friend.
As a child I learned What a Friend We Have in Jesus. These past 16 years I have learned the depth of the Father’s love. No matter where you are in your walk, that is available to you too.

Begin Again

We can never recapture yesterday. It is gone. We may have a memory, but we cannot redeem the time.
I will not waste time in regret. But no more. Each year is a year to celebrate. A cardiology surgeon once told me that I would not live to be 60. Liar, liar, pants on fire. I am 72 and am believing for my full inheritance of at least 80 years. I have much life yet to live. My mom is 89 and God is not a respecter of persons so I can believe for that as well.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

A Historical Masterpioece, a 10,000 Square Foot Award Winning Special Event Facility

At my age I am better prepared for it than a young adult. I know how to stretch a dollar. I know how to make delicious meals out of little. And most important, I know how to keep my husband happy and he delights in doing the same.
Ray and I have had an awesome week at the Married Couples’ Retreat. Tonight is a special date night at Alvaton Banquet Hall. It includes more one and one time. I am so looking forward to it

Maybe your relationships haven’t been the best, not only husband and wife, but others as well. Let me leave you with Dr. Wright’s 10 Commandments of Relationship:

  1. Communicate
  2. Communicate
  3. Communicate
  4. Communicate
  5. Repent
  6. Communicate
  7. Communicate
  8. Communicate
  9. Communicate
  10. Repent

In other words, spend 80% of your time communicate and be quick to repent when you blow it!

Blessings to you and your house.

 

 

Prescription for Healing

20My son, (my daughter) attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.
21Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.
22For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
23Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
24Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
25Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
26Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.
27Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.Proverbs 4:20-27

We are body, soul and spirit. It does no good for me to eat properly if my spirit is deprived and my soul is on a binge.
We have to hear God’s voice for ourselves. Verse 20 says attend which says pay attention and incline means to bow. Today I have purposed to pay attention to what He is saying and to come in humility. I am not going through all of these verses today for I assure you they have not all come as rhema to my spirit yet. Yet I am listening.
It is sacred to hear the voice of the Lord. I am not talking about a booming voice, I am talking about that quiet knowing. A peaceful knowing that you know.
Sin will always keep us from hearing the voice of the Lord. In my case, overeating among other things is a besetting sin. I am conquering clutter as I see that it makes me anxious. Anxiety does not allow you to have faith in God for fear and faith are like oil and water.
“Let them (God’s words) not depart from thine eyes.”
What am I looking at?? How smart is it to watch the Food Network while bringing correction into your eating? Well, that is pretty obvious. But I believe the Lord is asking me during this 28 days to be very careful of what I am focusing on. That includes television, magazines, books, shopping and I am sure more.
Keep them (God’s Word) in the midst of thine heart.
Sometimes my heart is so crowded that I don’t pay attention to it. (See verse 20) Just as a rotten apple spoils the barrel, the Word of God in the midst of my heart will influence everything else in my heart. Those things that cannot handle the Light of His Word will be exposed and I will have to choose to get rid of them because His Light disperses the darkness.
For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. Isaiah 60:2

22For they (God’s words) are life unto those that find them, That means we have to to look for them. God does not have a drive-thru where i your haste, you drive up and order the word for the day. No, you have to find His instruction, His direction daily. What if you were going on a long trip and you got on the highway without a map or directions, and there are no road signs. You may ultimately get there, but wouldn’t it be simpler to have directions?
What if a pilot did not constantly make course corrections? The winds, turbulence, often take the aircraft off course, one degree here, another there. If there are no course corrections, he will not reach his destinations.
So it is with our lives. Yet we want to do our own things and try to figure things out. Who are we listening to? The voice of God or the voice of reason? Are we willing to make corrections or is always being right more important?
“and health to all their flesh.” Do you have disease in your body?

God’s Word has the prescription for healing. That health is our physical body but also our mind.
1) health, healing, cure
a) healing, cure
b) health, profit, sound (of mind)
c) healing
Want to be in your right mind? Then hear the voice of the Lord through His Word. Again this is a daily choice. Remember God doesn’t shout at you. His word is one of peace.

Poured from Vessel to Vessel

Because Ray and I are at the Marriage Couples Retreat this week, here is another oldie but goodie from 2011. This is very timely for this week for us.
Yesterday as I was moderating a forum, a scripture was given that seemed out of context. So I thought this would be a good time to stop and have a Bible study. I decided to study Jeremiah 48:11 in the context it was written. It was a prophecy spoken over Moab.
In it was an illustration of winemaking processes and uses that as metaphor for
Moab. “Having settled in her lees.” So I went to blueletterbible.org and looked at their commentaries (learned much from Chuck Smith’s) and Dake’s as well. I learned in those days when they made wine, they would pour the juice of the grape into a large container and then they would allow it to sit until it fermented. After fermentation, lees or dregs would begin to settle to the bottom of the vessel. And as these dregs had settled in the bottom of the vessel, then they would pour off the top into another vessel. Allow the settling process to go on again and then pour it off into the next vessel, back and forth from vessel to vessel. Letting the dregs settle down and developing the clarity and purity of the wine.
Here is the important part: if you did not pour the wine off of the dregs, then the dregs turn sour and they begin to smell. Jeremiah said, “This is the problem with Moab. It’s been at ease and had never been attacked or pillaged. It was never poured from vessel to vessel. It is settled down on the lees which have turned sour. The stench remains. The wine tastes of the sourness of the lees. Thus Moab is to be destroyed.”
The Lord showed me I was like that. I am a “don’t rock the boat” kind of person or if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mentality, but God’s ways are so much higher than mine.
Isn’t it interesting how that we often grumble at the processes of God in our lives. I am by nature a nester. I like my comfort. I am a chronic planner. Now I may not always work the plan, but my plan is my security blanket instead of FULLY trusting God. Did He tell us to pray give us theis DAY our DAILY bread, but I want it worked out til the end of the year or my five year plan. This is comfortable for me.
But where does that leave God? He would have to fit His ways into MINE. Hello?! That’s NOT going to happen. That is self-idolatry.
So that verse was a wake up call for me. Whether it is me being poured from vessel to vesssel or someone I love, it is so we can be without stench of the world, without sourness and then when we pour into others, it will be with clarity and richness.
How many times have I asked God to use me and then I complain when the purification begins. He pours me into another vessel to leave the dregs and lees behind. The vessel I was fermenting in had become a hiding place. It was dark and cool. Just bubbling. There is nothing glamorous about fermenting, but it is safe.
In the past ten years, He has put me in one vessel to learn who I was and before I really got the fullness of it, He said now I am pouring you into another vessel to begin to show others what true beauty is and to make them feel loved. More recently He allowed me to write for others and stirred up my writing gift. Then abruptly He poured me back into one of the first vessels that had been cleaned. Again I am resting, there are less dregs, but there isn’t yet that full-bodied bouquet that will come when it is my time once again to be poured out.
It reminds me of that worship song about being broken and poured out.
Hebrews 2:1 says, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let [them] slip.”
I work for a ministry. I have HEARD much, but have yet to apply even 50%. Much is in my head as I process, but for God’s truth to become rhema, it has to get deep in my heart and flow through the life I live for Him.
This year has been a year where repeatedly God has been pouring me into one vessel and then another. I must have had a lot of lees and dregs.
God sure got my attention. He dealt with me. I had to repent.
When we do the 8Rs we are saying, “Oh, Lord, I’m sorry. Lord.” Genuinely we are. We meant the vows when we made them to God. And we are genuinely sorry for our failures and for our drifting away from God. There are many ways God can just bring a disturbance into our lives. And God does allow them for that purpose of purifying us. We’ve got too much flesh. We’re beginning to settle in a life of the flesh.
God says, “Thou stinketh. It’s beginning to permeate your whole life. You’re beginning to smell of the flesh.” Therefore, God pours me into another vessel in order that He might refine me.
The history of Moab teaches that when that doesn’t happen, it will be destroyed. God will have no other gods before Him.
Being broken and poured out allows me to be who God called me to be before the foundation of the world.

The Love Disclaimer

Ray and I are attending the Married Couples’ Retreat this week. So I am going to share some oldies but goodies.

I have been meditating on 1 Corinthians 13 for several months, but I always began with verse 4, because I thought that was where I needed the most improvement.
Then one Sunday I watched as a young father struggled to calm his son. He was clueless. He turned to me and said, “I don’t know what else to do.”
I whispered, “Just love him.”
I thought how the young man repeatedly looks for opportunities to express himself whether to share an exhortation or sing on the praise team all the while leaving his wife with the all of the children. (In our church, the children are in the service. There is no children’s church.)
Suddenly what began as a critical thought, boomeranged back. I thought of the past 30 years especially how I did high profile things while neglecting my own family. Only when we operate in divination instead of discernment is this possible. Divination is a counterfeit for the truth, but sadly on the outside it looks real.
When a person is being trained as a cashier, they make them count money for hours on end. The purpose is to teach them the feel and look of money, then instinctively when someone gives them a counterfeit they will immediately know the difference.
Maybe I spent too few hours counting His ways.
Here are those beginning three verses:
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Here is my tongue in cheek, finger pointing back to me transliteration:
1 Though I sing on the Praise Team and help with the children’s choir, but have not God’s love inside of me and sung silly songs and laughed with my own children, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, attend every church service and even teach clsses and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not tended to my family’s needs in love and with joy, I am nothing.
3 And though I cook meals for the new mothers, and bring the best covered dish to the potluck, but I have not prepared an awesome meal for my own family and given them my time, it profits me nothing.
I am on the south end of life’s journey now and I don’t get a “do-over” with my young family, but I look around the church and I see mamas and daddies who could use encouragement and an extra bushel of love. I can do that and so can you.

You May Be the Only One

Do you have someone in your life who is just plain miserable? Someone who complains about everything and believes for nothing good? Their face looks like it has been pickled in vinegar and no matter how you greet them, you get a grunt rather a word.

That person could be a cashier you see weekly, a co-worker or even a spouse. It’s rough trying to love a porcupine. However, I want you consider this: I wonder if anyone prays for that person? Genuinely prays. Could that be why they are in your path?

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

Check this out. Pray for one another that YOU may be healed. When you get outside of yourself, pray for others YOU are healed. Don’t pray as a project. Ask the Lord to give you a heart for this person. Don’t tell God what to do for this person except that they may know His love. Let Him define that, not you for His ways are higher than ours.

My mother has a list of all the children, their children and their children’s children, She prayerfully prays for each daily. When I think over this list, I recognize that for some, this will be the only one praying for them today.
Perhaps when we get to heaven, we will find out the difference our prayers make. Perhaps they kept someone from making a mistake or kept them from harm.
I have a friend who will spot someone obviously in need and pray for them as he drives by. It may be something simple like, “Bless them, Lord” or “Send them hope and direct their paths.”
Whenever he does that, I often wonder if he is the only one praying for that person.
Have we become so busy that we cannot pray for those he causes to cross our paths?
Lord, open the eyes of my heart that I may see as you see.
Let me bless those that come into me life not only in word, but also where you have opened the door, in deed.
Let me splash your love everywhere I go.

Make Time for Those You Love

Almost 40 years ago, I married a wonderful man. I call him my Sugar Bear. He was a bear of a guy but is so very sweet and kind to me.
I was a divorced woman in my 30s with three children under 12 when we met.
He had two children under five. We probably came together for the wrong reasons. I needed a daddy for my children and he needed a mom for his children and we enjoyed each other’s company. That is not quite enough for a good marriage, but Ray was tenacious. When I, as a wounded woman, would push him away, because I knew that he was going to leave me or abuse me like everyone before him had, he never insisted that I respond differently. He just loved me right where I was. Often that place was a miry pit of self-pity that I refused to leave.
I remember once about the end of the first year of our marriage when we went to Marriage Encounter. The priest told me, “Diane, there is no reason in the world why this marriage should work except that Ray is not going to give up on you. He is giving you the same kind of love that your heavenly Father has been trying to give you. It is time for you to receive it.”
Something broke that night.
Walls from years of protecting myself came tumbling down. I wish I could tell you that immediately we lived happily ever after, but that is not so. I laugh now and say that the first year of our marriage, he re-wrote The Taming of the Shrew. My programmed self-hatred, made it a bumpy road, but the good news is we stayed on the road.
By trade he is a professional driver and in our marriage he has been a professional driver driving us through life’s mountains and valleys from Florida to Texas to Africa and Georgia with an awesome second honeymoon in Ireland. Today he teaches truck driving at a local technical college.
As we approach another wedding anniversary, we are taking time out next week to go to Be in Health’s Married Couple Retreat. We went last year and several years before that.
You may ask why we would repeat it. Simple. Marriage not only requires love, but it requires focus and commitment. The MCR gives us a course correction that we may not even know we need. We go with great anticipation. One thing for sure. It is never boring and is a great time of fellowship for sometimes you get so caught up in life that you forget that special one on one time.
Let me encourage you today to take time for those you love. Don’t think you will when you have time. You have to MAKE time.
Send a note today to those who have brought sunshine into your life and those who need encouragement. Today be a lover.
Romans 5 says:

 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.