Life’s body blows hit when we least expect it. The reasons don’t even matter yet the sting is searing, our breath is labored, and we wonder if we can go on. Where is God in all of this? Why now and why me? Why my family?
I found this poem in Streams in the Desert and it gave me comfort and a reminder that the path, at times, will be muddy and hard to see – but He is there!
Our church has been reading through the Bible with the YouVersion app this year. If you have always thought you would like to read the entire Bible but didn’t think you could do it, this is an easy way.
As I read this portion of scripture in March, three things struck me: twelve years, daughter, and faith. Our house has been on the market since June, 2017. I remember praying with the realtor that day that we would trust God’s timing knowing from Jeremiah 29:11 that He has a plan for me. As the months wore on, I was confident that God knew what He was doing and I trusted Him. It was not that we were homeless as we lived in a lovely home. But, there were moments when I wondered “when, Lord?”
As I read the scripture that morning, twelve years lit up in neon because in June, we will have lived here for twelve years. And then Jesus said, “Daughter.” That was me. I am His daughter. And she was healed because of her faith. Faith has been my word for 2018. As I wrote in my journal that morning, I praised Him for His words of encouragement to me. And as the weeks went by and no sale, I thought to myself, “It’s not June yet.”
Last Sunday, a realtor called for a showing for a couple from out of town. We hurried home from church to turn on all the lights and grab the dog. Normally, a showing lasts 15-20 minutes so we decided to just sit in the car and wait…and wait…and wait…for an hour. At that point it was too late to go grab lunch and it was 100 degrees. Finally, the car drove away.
I received a call from my realtor about 5:30 that afternoon and she asked me if I believed that the house was sold. I said, “No.” How about for full price? Again, “No.” Well, it has and it was a clean offer with an acceptable closing date in mid June. And she told me that her father has a rental house that we could use until we find something more permanent. I have nothing lined up for the next part of the journey because I didn’t want that pressure or disappointment. I have trusted God all along that He would show me and He gave me more that I could even ask or think about. If He could do it for Abraham, He would do it for me.
The tears started flowing and wouldn’t stop. And then I realized it would be exactly twelve years.
When we moved here, I found a saying in a devotional that I adopted; “God is rarely early but never late.” As I have looked over the challenges of this last year, I know He is right on time. With the next step, my faith is being stretched once again. He has proven Himself faithful over all these months so I know He has just the right place in mind. Yes, Lord, I will trust You.
My granddaughter, Tori, celebrated her 16th birthday this week, passing her driving test today. Look out world, here comes T! Since she was 7, this girl has been willing to test gravity and take on challenges through the sport of cheerleading. What started as a fun class with a friend in second grade has developed into the position of co-captain of her high school junior varsity cheerleading team.
When she first began, she was a tiny girl with a brave heart, and she learned how to be a flyer. If you watch the stunts that cheerleaders perform, the flyer is the one on the hands, knees, and shoulders of her teammates with arms outstretched, back arched, and a big smile on her face. But for a flyer, it’s all about balance and trust. One bobble, one slip of a hand, one missed cue, and the flyer comes tumbling down, hopefully without injury.
The girls holding her up are the base. Their strength and concentration serve to keep the flyer in the air. Without a coordinated effort between the girls composing the base, the flyer can’t get a footing to complete her part of the stunt. And, it all requires practice, practice, practice.
As Tori grew, her role changed from flyer to base. It was hard to give up that flyer role because that’s the “fun” part, but she was needed in the supportive role of base. Having been on both sides of the stunt, she knows the importance of both roles and plays a leadership role, gaining the respect of her peers.
So are you a flyer or a base? No, not in cheerleading but in your daily life. Are you the upfront person or the behind-the-scenes person?
At different times in my life, I enjoyed both leading and speaking…I was the face of the group. But, there have been seasons when I emptied the wastebaskets, set up the room, took care of the children, or cleaned up the kitchen. I know how much I depend on the church office for support for the Bible Study I currently facilitate. I don’t fret that the flyers will be printed, the tables and chairs set up, and that the equipment will work when I open the door because I know it will be done.
The body of Christ needs each of us to fulfill our roles and do our part so that the Gospel is proclaimed and Jesus is praised. We need each other when life is easy and then turns hard… when we celebrate and when we mourn…when we are on the mountain top or in the valley. We need the support to give us balance and then our job is to trust in God for the next step.
We all have gifting for certain roles but how do you respond when that role changes? Rather than becoming discouraged or frustrated, do you accept with humility the role God has for you today? This may be a permanent position or only for a season but our response is key. Others will be watching. God has a job that only you can fill. He has equipped you, so revel in it and give Him the praise.
A few weeks ago I was fretting about how boring life was. It was the end of a long, very hot summer, and I could hardly wait for Fall to arrive. I decorated the house early, with the hope that pumpkins, in every form, would hasten the arrival of cooler weather and a new schedule of activities.
I was grateful when our women’s Bible study began. We are studying Beth Moore’s, David, Seeking a Heart Like His. One thing I really like about the Bible is thatGod pulls no punches when he tells David’s story. We read about the good, the bad, and the ugly. This young man, who would be king, is first ignored and then pulled out of the fields, while tending sheep, and anointed for a job he didn’t even know he wanted.
But God knew David’s heart because they had spent many an hour together while he was alone with those sheep on the hillside. The lessons he learned there would eventually become very useful as he led men and troops as King of Israel. But David had more waiting to do. It was not yet his time.
His entry on the world stage occurred when with only courage and a slingshot, a giant was taken down who had taunted the army of King Saul. He didn’t need the king’s armor because God alone was his defense. He had already wrestled with a bear and a lion while protecting the sheep. What could this one man do to him?
That boring life? It quickly changed as we’ve spent the last three weeks dealing with hospitals, doctors, surgeries, and recovery as Mark had a Deep Brain Stimulator implanted in his brain to control essential tremors in his right hand. The process complete, we now have some fine-tuning to do but the good news is that it works.
I didn’t realize, until we sat at a favorite restaurant after the doctor’s appointment to turn it on, how tense I had been. The unbidden tears of relief started to flow down my cheeks. I’d been updating friends and family through emails and I received a note from a friend that summed up exactly how I was feeling:
I so understand your tears. I’ve been there too many times, and you just don’t forget what that feels like. I’m glad you are able to let those tears fall. They are very healing, and as Mark is healing, so will you. What you have been through is exhausting physically, mentally and spiritually. It’s difficult to believe what that stress, especially trying to be the “strong” one, will exact on you. Now you can “let down” a bit, and rest.
God has sustained me each step of the way, whether sitting in the waiting room for many hours, watching over Mark as he recovered in his room, or driving almost an hour back and forth at night. He brought me encouragement through a bottle of water and pumpkin muffin brought by a friend who greeted me in the waiting room one morning. Emails, cards, and Facebook posts reminded me how much people care about both of us. And there is something about a note from someone who has been there that is so encouraging.
I can let fear and discouragement take me down, or I can choose to see that it is God alone who brings me through tough times and gives me the will and courage to make it through another day. My inclination is to wrestle in this type of situation and see if I can control the outcome. But I’m learning that the little word in the middle of wrestle – rest – is what God wants me to do. He is my refuge and rock. He will take care of me…and I can rest in His success.
I’m usually one of those girls that has a glass-half-full attitude. But this has been quite a week and if I choose, I can do a great job of whining and complaining.
The news that blares out of the TV, on the radio, or over the Internet has been all bad news. In my 70 years on this earth, I have never seen anything like it. I’m sure my grandparents said the same but the speed of the disintegration of our society is breath-taking. Charlottesville. Barcelona. The White House. And my house.
I thought this week was gong to be a time of relaxation for Mark and me. We planned to celebrate our birthdays by going to Scottsdale for a couple of nights and enjoy the big city. But as we were packed and headed out the door, I noticed that the freezer temperature light read 16° not 0°. Uh oh. This has occurred twice in the past and the options are not good. I called for service and was offered the next day or next week.
We transferred the food from both the refrigerator and freezer to our kind neighbor’s garage refrigerator and decided to head to Scottsdale and return early the next morning to meet the serviceman. At least we would get one day. We enjoyed a movie, complete with recliners, pillow, blanket, food, and wine. It was great!
Early, (I mean early…4:00) we headed back, stopping for a donut and latte as we got gas. The serviceman arrived on time but after inspecting and determining our problem, he didn’t have the part on his truck. Sigh. But, he could have it at the end of the day and would install it then. Good thing we had decided to not go back to Scottsdale for our second night (Groupon.)
With no food in the house, we headed to the club for pizza and a glass of wine. On the way home, we dropped off leftover pizza at a friend’s house and while backing out of her driveway, I had a fender bender with the neighbor across the street from her. My car’s park assist had failed me. By the time I walked into my house after exchanging all the info, I was spent.
Over those 36 hours of stress, I continually asked God for peace and comfort. Sleep was elusive but the 23rd Psalm came to my rescue. I am so thankful that I noticed the increased temp before leaving for 3 days. I am grateful that no one was hurt in the accident. I am relieved that the serviceman could come the next day and not the next week. Oh, and throw in a broken garbage disposal that was covered by the manufacturer and installed by my faithful handyman in the middle of the chaos.
However, I can report to you today that the refrigerator is working fine and food has been restocked. The insurance company is handling the accident. (Isn’t that why we have insurance?) However, I continue to pray for God’s guidance and protection for this country. He alone is in control.
I definitely don’t always like the circumstances of my life, but I have the choice how to view them. Whining and complaining only adds to my stress. Being thankful and trusting that God has my back and will give me all I need fills me with peace.
Christ has set us free! This means we are really free. Now hold on to your freedom and don’t ever become slaves of the Law again.
Galatians 5:1 (CEV)
The July 4th weekend is longer this year since it falls on a Tuesday. Talk show hosts and even our sermon have shared tidbits and snippets of history from that long ago weekend of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
John Adams wrote a letter to his wife on July 3rd and penned many thoughts on the process of developing this historic document. The last couple of paragraphs reminded of the significance of this date:
I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.
The sacrifice and dedication of the signers is summed up in his cautionary tone – You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States.
I am tired of division, hypocrisy, finger-pointing, and failure to get anything done by the Washington elected officials — both parties. This country has been blessed by God with so much wealth and happiness but we seem to be throwing it all away in an effort to be right. Our forefathers spilled blood and treasure to ensure our freedom. What will our grandchildren’s children say of our generation?
We live in a different world than the signers, yet, we must celebrate this historic day. Why? Because freedom is God’s gift to us — one not to be taken lightly. We must continue with that sacred trust to preserve and protect this land.
So, pull out that red, white, and blue shirt to wear tomorrow. Enjoy a meal with family and friends. Watch the fireworks light up the sky and know that we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
One of my favorite things is to take my latte and breakfast to my screened porch and survey the world in and outside of my yard as I eat. Deer, coyotes, bunnies, roadrunners, quail, and an array of birds wander in and out of my line of sight and sound. I have a fountain, but early in the morning, it has not yet begun its tinkling melody. I recently replaced it and wondered if my feathered friends would come back and visit the new one.
The other morning, I watched one bird venture out and stand on the edge of the lower bowl. I know he knew there was water in it but he couldn’t figure out how to get to it. The water level was too low for his beak to reach. So, he hopped all around the rim, even losing his footing at one point but catching himself before he landed in the water.
I wondered if he would ever look up and notice the upper bowl that would have more than met his needs. Silently, I urged him to look up. It’s right there. Instead, he just hopped, first one way, then another, and eventually gave up and flew off. He never got his drink of water.
I couldn’t help but think of the many times I’ve tried every which way I know to solve a problem. I think I can figure it out so I check the Internet, talk to friends, go shopping, even just read a book—anything to distract me from my problem and the real source for the answer. The enemy has a field day while I stumble around and I’ve been known to take the wrong turn.
I have a majestic view from my office window and every time I look out, I think of our verse. Where does my help come from? I need to look up because my help comes from the Lord. He has the answers to whatever my situation calls for. If He can make those magnificent mountains and all the creatures in my yard, it’s a snap for Him to solve my problems.
But He won’t force me to come to Him, just as I couldn’t direct that little bird. When I choose to seek Him, He offers me all the thirst-quenching water that I need. Those problems? They don’t seem impossible any more because I know He takes care of me and will give me direction.
For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Where did the month go? The last post was written the day before we drove to Mesa to check out a rescue dog to see if he was a good fit for us. We had been researching various rescue sites but finally found him on Craig’s list. As we drove to meet him, we tossed around several names but decided to wait until we actually met him. It took about two seconds and he was Rusty, a Havanese with a cream-colored coat and rust accents. We took him home.
In some ways, I feel the blur, like that of a new mother only with a toddler. He raced through the house creating chaos in the wake. He had been abused, likely by a man, because he was very hesitant around Mark. The foster mom found him in the pound, all matted and dirty but longing to get out of the cage. He literally crawled to her once out, fearful and cowering. But after six weeks of care, he was ready for a forever home.
For the record, I am not the dog person — Mark is — but because of his background, Rusty took to me. It’s been a challenge to transfer the affection and devotion to Mark but after 30 days, we are well along that road.
What have I learned from Rusty?
I wonder what my heavenly Father would say about me? Probably, many of the same words would fit the scenario of my life. He was there in those moments when I was cranky, willful, disobedient, and tempted to give up because it was so hard. God persevered, grabbed my hand, and returned me to the right path. He offered help and hope.
We discovered that a gentle voice, small hand gestures, enticement with treats, and a bunch of toys helped to gain Rusty’s trust. He learned that we were not going to leave him but would be there as his family. It didn’t happen overnight but patience helped all of us to keep going.
When we moved to Arizona ten years ago, a family member told me to watch out for the monsoons. Being a California girl, I had no idea what we were in for. We moved in late June which is the beginning of the monsoon season..and I soon found out.
Picture this: Clouds begin to fill our clear blue sky, fluffy white at first and then turning dark gray. Winds pick up and the trees start to sway as the velocity increases. As the sky darkens, lightning zig zags while thunder roars in the background. Sometimes those lightning strikes sound and feel like they are right outside the door, while other times, light fills the sky followed by a distant rumble. The rain begins — quickly changing from sprinkles on the concrete to torrents of water running down the street. Then it’s over. The sun returns, the heat increases and drys the ground, the desert is refreshed.
As I thought about the loud thunder that can be heard for miles, there is no doubt in my mind that when the trumpet sounds with the return of Jesus, we will all hear it. Nothing is impossible for our Creator — He proves His power and majesty in the middle of the storm.
It’s encouraging to know that while the storms in my life appear ready to take me down, God is there — not surprised, not fearful, not confused — but capable of everything I need to weather them and move forward on dry ground. I can trust Him for my safety and walk out of the storm ready for a new day.
Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:13-14 (NLT)
Our church has the tradition of greeting those around you. I spoke to a woman today who made me stop and think.
“I’m sorry,” she said. ” I have vision problems and can’t see you very well.”
“I do, too. Do you have macular degeneration?” I asked.
“Yes, in both eyes,” she answered.
“I do, too. Wet or dry? I have wet,” I replied.
“Are you getting shots in your eye?” I asked.
“Oh no. I had laser surgery 12 years ago and it really messed up my vision,” she answered quickly.
“But,” I said, “they have new methods and shots which really help! I get them in my eyes.”
She shook her head, no, and the music began. As I walked back to my seat, I thought of the good news available to her if she would only listen.
How typical is that in life? One of the sayings — no matter the context — that makes me lose it is, “we have always done it this way.”
I wonder what the woman at the well thought when Jesus asked her if she wanted water that would assure her of never being thirsty again. Was she satisfied with the way she currently retrieved water for her household? Maybe she wasn’t thirsty? Had she already tried one of those new “sparkling” waters and found it didn’t quench her thirst any better than regular water? Was she in such a rut that a new way looked too hard?
What area of your life is so routine but without much life and joy? You realize that options are available to make changes but it’s just too much effort, it may not work, and you’re OK with the way it is.
But what are you passing up? The woman heard something from Jesus that she wanted — and she didn’t even know what it was. The more he talked, the more intrigued she became. And to top it all off, He knew all about her.
His offer of living water was irresistable and she realized that this man was the Messiah. She opened her heart to His “water”and could hardly wait to tell her neighbors and bring them to meet Jesus so they could have it, too.
In a world filled with fear and frustration—we have that same Jesus. He offers hope and help to fill us up with joy and peace. Speak to those around you.
Don’t be a know-it-all. Be an I-want-to-know-it. Offer the Living Water as you meet those on your way. They may be very thirsty.