I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them.
Isaiah 42:16 (NIV)
I love springtime. I had no idea when we moved to the desert that this brown landscape would fill with color, each cactus with its own particular flower. One of my favorite tasks after the cold, dreary, dark winter months is to replenish my pots with brilliant blooms. This year they glow red, yellow, and white. It warms my heart to look out on the courtyard and see them waving in the breeze.
This has been an especially dark year with only glimpses of light: not only in my house but those of my family and friends, and even our nation. Once again, bombs in Boston rock our security and bring destruction to families. The consequences of those acts of violence will last forever.
A friend struggles with the darkness of separation and divorce. Children are confused and angry, grandparents shuffle children between meeting spots wondering how did it get to this, friends are caught in the middle.
Depression has sucked Mark back into the pit over and over this year. There’s lots of talk about mental illness these days but for those who suffer from it, talk is cheap. New laws will not help and those who love them, watch and wait, hoping for a new treatment or medication to help them out of the darkness.
Hope is my word for 2013. Without hope, there is no reason to go on. However, God is faithful to His promise to “turn the darkness into light and make the rough places smooth.” I know that He does this for me, usually in ways that I might not choose, but the outcome is for my hope and future. Because my hope is in Him, I will be thankful for today, waiting with anticipation for what is just around the corner.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)
Grandgirlie, Tori, is in North Carolina this weekend with her Cheer Squad competing for the championship at the National Finals. Last year, the team won it all so there is a bit of pressure to finish well.
The old adage, “Practice, practice, practice” resonates in each team member when they run onto the floor knowing they have done the work to win. They even got a little extra practice at the airport while they waited for a delayed flight.
But it also comes into play when the unplanned happens. I watched Tori (via live streaming) move right where she was supposed to be even though she had been unintentionally struck in the eye during the routine. She never missed a beat. She may have a shiner tomorrow but that is for another day.
We can learn from a little girl’s endurance under trial and see from her actions the strength of character to carry on.
I thought I had everything all planned and organized in my life until a doctor’s prognosis tripped me up this week. It’s not life threatening but it will change my life. I have macular degeneration and it’s progressing more rapidly than I would like. I watched both of my parents struggle with it, especially my dad. Things that I take for granted now, such as driving, will become impossible. I think the loss of independence is what I will miss most.
Yet, last year has taught me again and again that my dependance must be on God alone. He’s not going anywhere and I know I can grab His hand whenever I need it. However, it changes my perspective: Live each day to the fullest. Don’t put off something that I want to see or do. Love extravagantly. Be grateful for little things. Show appreciation.
In His great mercy, God is developing my character, giving me strength and confident hope in all that He has for me.
Way to go, Tori! Grand Champions!!
Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you]. Colossians 4:6 (Amplified)
I love dark chocolate caramels sprinkled with sea salt. I discovered them at Trader Joe’s during the Christmas season and purchased several boxes. Now, alas, they are all gone. There is something about that sweet-saltiness on the tongue that explodes with flavor and yumminess and makes me happy. Is it Christmas yet?
We are about to the end of February, the month of love and Valentine’s Day. I’m a romantic and enjoy the cards, flowers, and celebration, however, I’ve found that marriage can be much like that caramel — sweet and salty. Consider this comment by Anne Lamott:
”Domestic pain can be searing, and it is usually what does us in…But grace can be the experience of a second wind, when even though what you want is clarity and resolution, what you get is stamina and poignancy, and the strength to hang on…”
The Apostle Paul reminds us that in the middle of that sweet-salty interaction in a marriage, it’s grace that gives us the strength to hang on.
Salt has several purposes: Bland food perks up and becomes full of flavor. Salty language is often sharp and course. A salt scrub at the spa causes discomfort when rubbed over my feet but leaves the skin silky soft. Salt preserves and pickles as with bacon or ham.
Let that seasoning of grace preserve, perk up, leave soft, and cure the rough places in our relationships. Experience that second wind from the Holy Spirit and enjoy a sweeter life.
I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there.
1 Chronicles 29:17 (NLT)
Endurance. Perseverance. Integrity.
These words really test our mettle—what we are made of. Hard words. Often abandoned or ignored words. I know because I have been there, done that.
A little over six years ago, I participated in my first Beth Moore study on Daniel. As the lion roared at the end of each lesson, I often found myself in tears and finished that study with the lingering feeling that it was so good but not many of the details. Now, I’m doing it again with our local ladies.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read my earlier workbook but my curiosity got the better of me and I pulled it out. I don’t look at it until I’m completed the week’s lesson but it’s interesting for me to note a few things:
- I, obviously, didn’t get the routine because the first few lessons, all the blanks were still blank. I finally figured out how to catch that missing word from a woman with a southern accent that speaks a mile a minute.
- Some answers have the very same words both times.
- Some answers reflect the happenings of period of time.
- Some answers show that God has been working and is changing me in ways to complete His purpose for me.
The book of Daniel challenges us to live with integrity in a world filled with the Babylonian motto, “I am, and there is none besides me.” Sound familiar? Everywhere we look or read or watch today, it’s all about me. What can I get out of it? Who is going to give it to me? How do I look? What can I buy? Me. Me. Me.
But that’s not what God is looking for when He talks about integrity. As Beth describes it, “The lifeblood of integrity is becoming the same person no matter where we are—no matter who’s around.” My version, “What you see, is what you get.”
Integrity requires consistency so that I can live each day with a clean conscience in a world of temptation, listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit for direction. I don’t have to rack my brain for whatever cover story I might have used the last time because the truth is easier to remember than a lie.
One last word to add to the list — resolve.
I challenge you to look at your life and assess where you are on the integrity scale. If it needs work, get to it. If it looks pretty good today, beware. Satan’s goal is to trip us up.
Remember that integrity doesn’t just happen. We must purpose or resolve to live a life of godliness and integrity. Dare to be different.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)
2012 was a tough year for many reasons and I was glad to ring in the new year. A week into 2013 and I sense that something new is coming.
New…new calendar, new journal, new look in the home accessories, new Bible Study, new devotional. New. Even the journal that I purchased has one of my favorite verses printed on its cover, “For I know the plans I have for you.” What are they, Lord?
I loved reading Jesus Calling last year with its subtitle of Enjoying Peace in His Presence. However, this year I decided to try a different one from Sarah Young entitled, Jesus Today: Experience Hope Through His Presence. As much as I needed His peace last year, I want this year to be filled with hope for new direction, new experiences, new love for family and friends. There is a quote at the beginning of the book that really resonated:
Don’t you know that day dawns after night,
showers displace drought, and spring
and summer follow winter?
Then have hope!
Hope forever, for God will not fail you!
Are you ready for something new? Is your hope strong and secure in the One who holds your future? Walk with me and let me know what dreams stir in your heart for 2013. We will see what God has planned.
For nothing is impossible with God.
I like to get up early when all is quiet. In the summer, I sit on my back patio and listen to the birds chirp and watch them bathe in the fountain. But in December, it’s dark out, even chilly, so I curl up on the conch in my library/office to sip a latte and read Jesus Calling. For the Advent season, I’m also reading Preparing for Jesus by Wangerin. Today the two devotionals dovetailed over a miracle…seemingly impossible situations.
Sarah gave birth when she was long past childbearing. And, teenage Mary gave birth as a virgin to the Son of God. How can these things be?
However, the thought posed by Wangerin that caught my attention was Mary’s willingness and her immediate response of “Yes” to the angel’s proposition. I might have had a few questions for that angel. But Mary trusted God even when it didn’t make any sense to her.
We’ve had a year that didn’t make sense to me. If I was in control of my calendar and life, I would have added much more pleasure and fun and taken out all the sorrow and pain. Yet, God has chosen this path for me to follow. I have the option to catch His hand and keep up or go my own way and stumble around in the dark. I choose God and know that without Him, I never will make it.
When life is arduous, I want to sit in God’s presence and soak in the hope and peace He offers. The hard part is staying there when life is easy—when I think I can handle it.
I’m looking forward to celebrating Christmas with my family. We have all been challenged this year…but God. As the New Year approaches, I want to say “Yes” to God’s plans because I know He will do the impossible.
The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Psalm 33:10-11 (NIV)
The countdown to Election Day is less than a week away. If you are like me, the cessation of political phone calls, emails, mail, and TV ads will be a wonderful relief.
I heard a prominent radio commentator ask the question this morning, “How will we feel on the day after the election if our guy doesn’t win?” Been there, done that when I was in the political trenches in California. It’s not fun—often both disappointing and a little scary.
However, the most important concept that I have learned over the years is that it’s not all about me; it’s all about God. If I didn’t firmly believe in the sovereignty of God, I’d be a mess. God is not going to be surprised the day after the election.
Each election is touted as the most important we will ever have. Personally, I think this is it, which means we can’t sit at home and do nothing. The one thing God has called us to do is to be faithful. To my dismay, when I was working in this arena, when church rolls were overlaid with voter rolls, the disparity was amazing.
As citizens of the United States of America, our responsibility is to vote. One vote can make the difference and we must never shirk our duty.
As I peer into the future for my grandgirlies, I’m so thankful that I can trust God’s plans for them. His purpose will be accomplished.
Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you. Deuteronomy 3:22 (NIV)
In an election season, the subject of politics comes up in situations that most consider impolite in other circumstances. But why? Because people have different opinions? Why can we differ on who is going to win the World Series and promote our team but can’t talk about the election and our guy?
Our pastor has made a commitment to speak from the pulpit about biblical principles pertinent to this election, just as he prays weekly for the President and leaders. I appreciate his example and willingness to ask people if they are going to vote just as easily as he asks a person whether he or she has accepted Jesus.
The point is, we must not be intimidated to speak up for our beliefs. We are called to be salt and light. Ask questions of your friends and neighbors—many people are just beginning to be aware of the approaching election and are unaware of the importance of our vote and how it affects our families.
We could choose to fret and worry as to the outcome but there is no fear. Ultimately, God is in control of this election. Trust Him.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)
I’m the go-to person if you want to get something done. My original ID for the Internet was infomom, deemed appropriate by my son as he was setting it all up. I enjoy figuring out problems and can spend hours on the Internet in the process. Yes, I have a GPS in my car but I like googling maps and checking out all the options for time and distance. It also helps put an unfamiliar route in my mind so I don’t get lost. I probably would have been a good Boy Scout since I subscribe to their motto, “Be Prepared.”
This has been a year and season where God has said over and over again that I’m on a need-to-know basis and I don’t need to know. As I thumb through my journal, I read the pleadings, weeping, and at times despair of my heart. The things I had carefully planned were edged aside by the immediate — depression, illness, and death.
Yet each morning, sometimes in the dark or with the sun just beginning
to peek over the mountains, my heart-needs have been met in the presence of Jesus. I made a commitment at the beginning of the year to read Jesus Calling as part of my devotions each day. Over and over the scripture and comment have hammered to the very depths of my soul that I am to rest in His presence and not worry about tomorrow.
Some days the waters are so deep that I can only slog through and I’m so glad I can catch His steadying hand. Other days, I almost skip along with Parker as we walk the quiet streets. He is there. Yet, I know that whatever the day brings, in due time, He will show me everything I need to know.
Words for the day: rest, wait, watch. He is there.
May integrity and honesty protect me,
for I put my hope in you.
Psalm 25:21 (NLT)
I’m a political junkie and have been for over 30 years. The next couple of months will be filled with TV ads, endless phone calls soliciting money, votes, and time, debates, all culminating with a vote by the people in November and a candidate elected.
But for the next two weeks, wall to wall stories on TV and radio will fill the air as each political party attempts to showcase their candidate through their National Convention. I attended one of these as a delegate back in 2000 and it was so much fun. Mel and Kate (who was 9 months old at the time) even joined me for a few days. Some will resent the time taken from their favorite programs, while I have the whole week blocked out to watch C-Span.
However, I learned a very important lesson from my years in politics. No politician will ever be able to solve the heart problems of this nation or even those of a single person. That, alone, belongs to God Almighty. Our hope is that the person chosen to lead us will be a person of integrity and honesty, one who realizes he can’t fix anything without Your help.
As believers, I encourage you to watch, listen, evaluate, and then pray. Our responsibility is to vote for the candidate that best reflects our values. But remember—God is in control.