Sunday, May 7, 2017

Cast Your Cares

Have you ever had your heart broken, your spirit crushed? Have you felt like you were rejected, damaged, and broken beyond repair? I'm sure most of you have at some time or another had some heartbreak. Pain is a reminder that we live in a fallen world. None of us is exempt, but Jesus has the cure for the pain.

 "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." 1 Peter 5:7 NLT

I'm not proud of the broken life I used to live, but God is using what the enemy meant for evil to do good. I am sometimes led to share some of it.

During prayer recently I was reminded of a time many years ago in my life when I was in one of those very painful places. Life had dealt me a series of hard blows, leaving me as a broken, damaged version of who God had created me to be. My heart had been broken into a million pieces and I was crushed emotionally. God has done a miraculous work in my life and I am completely healed from all that emotional damage, praise the Lord! But I'm feeling drawn to write about it, so here I am. 

I was a mess, but because of the Lord's redeeming love He has delivered me and set me free so well that before I could write this blog I literally had to look it up in my journal because I couldn't remember the details. Thank GOD I can't remember it! This is a testimony of His awesome, redeeming power and love. 

My journals are written in many volumes, spanning the last 22 years since my walk with Jesus began in 1994. They record the details of the journey and I feel strongly that I am supposed to keep them so others can benefit from hearing about what God has done for me. I don't live there anymore, though, and seldom go back into those darker volumes unless I feel led to do so. God gives me grace to read portions without being negatively affected, but He also gives me the sense to leave the past in the past.

Because of my fragile and broken emotions, I was easily hurt over small things. But if something substantial came along that was bad enough to knock even an emotionally stable person down, it was devastating to me. This is about one of those times where an incident hurt me very badly.

After the incident I was to the point emotionally that I had actually become sick physically. I couldn’t eat. For days, I had no appetite.  I ate next to nothing, only then because I felt like the Lord told me to eat.  So I did, but almost got sick. Grief consumed me.  I was functioning a little, sort of on “auto-pilot;” but I wanted to die. I cried out to the Lord repeatedly to help me, because I knew He was my only hope. 


Then one morning during my prayer time something happened. Looking back, I know it was the Lord. Suddenly, for about a ½ second, there was a brightness (I had my eyes closed, but it felt like a light was directed toward me).  Then, I felt the presence of Jesus.  First, His hands were on my head, and then He touched my heart.  For just an instant, it was heavy, like a weight was on it.  I had a cramping sensation in my stomach, like a resistance.  Then it was just GONE. The grief, pain—ALL GONE!!!  My heart was light.  I remember Him saying as He touched me, “you can’t bear this, so I am taking it.”  He took my pain!!!

I have never been the same since that day. I still had some emotional stuff to work through, but the incident that had caused me so much grief and heartache in that particular situation has never bothered me again. I have completely forgiven those who hurt me. I am completely free of the pain.  I don't think about it. I don't worry about it. Its power to hurt me has been neutralized.

If you identify with this at all and are having a struggle emotionally, take heart. You are not alone, and you aren't the only one who has ever felt the stinging pain that is so prevalent in our broken world. Do not believe the lies that the devil is telling you that you are too much a mess, that you are unlovable, or you have passed the point of being able to be redeemed by God. The devil is a LIAR.

God will do for you what He did for me. You have His Word on it.

Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22 NIV




22 





Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Has God Forgotten You?

I was thinking about this past "winter," if you can even call it winter. It got kind of cold a couple of times, and even snowed the first week in January. After that, we were on a roller coaster of temperature changes for the rest of the season, going from below freezing to near 90 in the same week sometimes. Crazy.

In a normal cycle of seasons, there is spring, summer, fall, and then winter.  Then the cycle begins all over again. At times, everything seems dead in winter. Judging by the outward appearance in nature, if there are no leaves on the trees, no grass, no flowers, and the birds have mostly gone away, it's winter. There is no sign of life, and it would appear that all is lost.

It's kind of like what we go through sometimes in our Christian walk. 

I've had seasons like that, where my prayers seemed to bounce off the ceiling. I would pray and not feel like God even heard me. The situation didn't change. I would cry, pray, cry some more, read the Bible, and pray some more.  Still no change. Still complete silence from God.

Even David went by his feelings and said in the Psalms many times, God, have you forgotten me?

"O Lord, why do you stand so far away?
Why do you hide when I am in trouble?" Psalm 10:1 NLT


Of course God hasn't forgotten us. We can't live by our feelings; they lie. Repeat after me: Feelings cannot be trusted. The older I get and the more I grow in my relationship with Christ the more I am sure, completely positive, that these are the times when He is at work, when all seems to be lost; when we are tempted to give up. We just can't perceive it.

Just like in winter.

In winter, the trees have no leaves and no signs of life. Even though the outward appearance seems to suggest that there is no life there, we know better. We know that in the spring, life will return to all the plant life.

God is at work, and even though it appears He hasn't heard us, the answer is coming. Just like Spring. Hang in there. All is not lost; you have HOPE.

Speaking of hope....

We are in Holy Week. In this season of Easter, let us pause and reflect on what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross to save us. When they hurriedly laid Him in the tomb as the sun was going down and Passover was about to begin, it appeared to the disciples that all was lost. He was dead. The Messiah, their promised Savior, had died.

But all was not lost. On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead! He is still ALIVE TODAY! He did what He came to do; He died for our sins, and defeated death, Hell, and the grave. 

Because of what he did for us, we can live with Him forever. We have HOPE. 

So, take heart, friend. God has not forgotten you.

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.   Roman 5:8 NLT





Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sunday Driver

I grew up in the 60s. Looking back, it appears it was a simpler time and kids today would probably think it was boring. We didn't know what we were missing, though, so we weren't bored.  We didn't know about any of the things that the future held back then, like computers, smart phones, and streaming movies from the internet right to your living room. Talking to another person on a screen and actually seeing them while you talked to them was pure fiction that only happened on the Jetsons.

We had fun, and there was always plenty to keep us entertained. Lots of  pastimes from that time in history seem to have "gone by the wayside," though. The saying itself is outdated and has faded from our modern vernacular. THIS actually strikes me as funny, because it's so ironic. 

But I digress.

The 1st car I remember, a 49 Dodge
One of our activities in my family was the Sunday drive. After Sunday dinner was over and the Sunday paper with its funny pages in color had been read, sometimes there was an outing. It was the practice of piling into the family car--usually there was one per household--and driving around looking at the countryside. Sometimes we would drive 20 or 30 miles out in the country or go to another nearby town; sometimes we would just drive around our town and see the pretty houses going up in the new subdivision. 

Think of it as an old-fashioned way of seeing what's going on around you, like surfing the internet is today. Of course, our "surfing" was in a car with no seat belts, where the children in the backseat leaned up to the back of the front seat and propped their chins over the seat back to get a better view of where they were headed.

Ah, yes. Those were the days.

There was no mall to go and walk around in, and with the blue law in full force no stores were open on Sunday anyway. And...there was no Wal-mart yet! 

Sometimes our drives would include a visit to a relative's house, or sometimes if the weather was nice we would go to the park; but most of the time we just drove around. They usually ended the same way, though; we would stop at Dairy Queen for an ice cream cone. Then, as we drove home I would ask if we could drive by the "little pink house," a mid-century modern house a few blocks from our house that was...you guessed it...painted pink.

Yes, this was interesting to see. It was, after all, actually in the middle of the twentieth century at the time, so the house was just "modern" without the "mid century" part.  It was a novelty; a new, ranch style house in a neighborhood of white bungalows built in the 20s and 30s, so it already looked oddly out of place. And, don't forget it was PINK. 

It was also, as we established already, a simpler time. We enjoyed being together, experiencing the sights together and making memories. We laughed at silly stuff that no one else but our family would get. Driving by the little pink house was a bonding experience for us. I've carried that memory and others like it for over half a century and now I'm the only one who remembers them. 

My dad would laugh and tease me, but I think he was secretly glad to indulge my silly request. He wanted to gawk at the strange looking house, too. Of course, we had to slow down when we were looking at something.

And that's where the term "Sunday driver" came from.  Now you know. 

Enjoy life with your family. Make memories like these with your kids. These are the good ole' days they will reminisce about someday. Make them good memories.
,

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Recalculating

Recently, I was using GPS to help me find the airport when one of my sons flew in for Christmas. I had received advice from someone in the area to get off the interstate at a certain exit, but the GPS had other ideas. As soon as I passed the exit the GPS had told me to use, he said, "recalculating..." then gave me the updated instructions for which exit to use. Three times I passed the exit I was instructed to use, and three times I heard him say "recalculating," ever so politely, in a beautiful British accent.

Hey, you set your Siri the way you want. Mine is a British guy.

I laughed about it at the time, but it got me to thinking; doesn't God do that for us? He has a plan for each one of us, but sometimes we either don't ask His direction or we ask Him but then veer off the path He put us on and go our own way. We get ourselves into a mess, way off track from where we meant to be. Finally, we admit we messed up and go to Him for help. He gives us direction, possibly recalculated from what He told us earlier, depending on how far off course we have gone.

In my case, I had planned to go to college but fell in love in my senior year of high school. Since I had always seen myself as a mother, and even wrote in my journal that I wanted to have three children, I did what a lot of eighteen-year-old girls did back in the seventies:  I got married, intending it to be for life, because I believed--and still do--that marriage is forever.

Life happens, though. I did have three children, as I had always hoped I would, and they have turned out to be wonderful people. They were the joy of my life when they were little and still are today. The marriage, however, did not turn out well.

None of this took God by surprise, of course. He knew all along the course my life would take and had already set His plan for me in motion when I found myself divorced at 42.

I can second guess my choices, the paths I took, whether I should have turned here or there, and I have--many times--but it doesn't really matter. It's in the past, and the best I can do now is listen for the voice of God for directions.  Recalculated directions. Because He still has a plan for me. He didn't toss me aside because I didn't follow His plan precisely.

Whether I messed up and missed my exit, or took an exit when I should have stayed on course, God is right there with me, whispering directions to get me where He has planned for me to go.

If you are feeling like you missed God's plan for your life, or if you never even asked Him what His plan is, there is still time. First, if you've never trusted Jesus as savior, please do that now. Admit that you can't save yourself and invite Him to be Lord of your life. Then ask Him to give you directions, and He will.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tonight I am Thankful

I'm feeling kind of blue tonight, so I sought the Lord. Immediately I heard "in everything give thanks." So here I am, using the 21st century medium of social media to shout it from the rooftops.

I haven't been able to blog lately. The words just wouldn't come. It seemed like I had nothing of any consequence about which to write, no encouraging words, no funny stories. So I kept quiet.

Tonight, though, I know that I must praise the Lord anyway. This may be a very short post, but I can't fall into the trap of feeling I have to have quantity to have quality.  I can and will encourage myself in the Lord. If someone reads this and is encouraged, that's wonderful, but if not, He still deserves my praise and thanks.

Tonight I am focusing on the real meaning of Christmas. I am thankful for it.

He loves me, and you, with an everlasting love. That's what this season is all about; the baby in the manger who came to die for my sins. Who came to die for ALL our sins.  I have spent years trying to comprehend that very truth; to wrap my mind around it. I have accepted Him as my Savior, but wow.
It's such a BIG truth and I'm merely a frail human. How can I possibly ever fully understand?

I don't have the answer to that, but tonight I am here to say:

In everything give thanks.  

I know; it doesn't seem to fit into the Christmas season. It seems like I should be quoting Luke 2 and the story of the birth of Jesus. However, it is the reason for Christmas that I am thankful for. So it does fit.

Are you thankful for the real meaning of Christmas?  Stop for a minute and say thank you to the God of the universe Who loved you and me enough to send His son to live as a human and ultimately die for our sins. He wanted a relationship with us that badly.

Tonight, as I said before, I am thankful in spite of everything that is going wrong in my life right now,

Be blessed. <3

In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess 5:18 AMP

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Story of the Isabels

It's national cat day again. According to Facebook's reminders of my posts from a year ago, 2 years ago, etc., a year ago on this day I showed a picture of my cat Isabel and said someday I would blog about why she is named that. Well, that day has come. With all the serious and depressing stuff going on in this election year, I thought a lighter, somewhat whimsical post might be in order.

Jennifer and Tom
In the mid-eighties when my kids were, well, kids, we were visited by a gray tabby cat quite frequently. She was a sweet cat, but somewhat skittish around people. My children loved animals, though, and she warmed up to them eventually. They named her--you guessed it-- Isabel. I think the name was from a character on a cartoon they liked to watch, but I'm not certain.  

Isabel made herself at home in our carport. In fact, one day we discovered she had a litter of kittens there. Five kittens, to be exact.  The kids were ecstatic to discover this and started in with pleas of "can we keep them?"  At first we said no, but with time they wore us down and we kept two of them: a gray tabby they named Tom and a orange tabby named Tiger. 

I'm foggy on what happened to Isabel;  I think she disappeared one day and we never saw her again. We still had 2 kittens, though. Then one day we found Tom in the street where he had been run over. We were heartbroken; we all cried over Tom and I started letting Tiger come inside more to keep him safer. My husband wouldn't let him stay in all the time until he got in the fan of the car and almost died. Then he became an indoor/outdoor cat.

But I digress. This story is about the Isabels in our lives.

Isabel II and Tiger
In 1986, we sold that house and moved temporarily into a duplex while we looked for another house. We managed to get Tiger to move with us, even though everyone always said you can't move a cat; they will always go back to their old territory. 

Enter Isabel II. Yes, Tiger started hanging out with a gray cat who looked a lot like the original Isabel, even though we knew it wasn't her. So of course they named this gray cat Isabel II. 

This Isabel also had kittens on our carport, and then promptly got herself killed when they were only about 2 weeks old. I know, right? This is why I do not condone indoor/outdoor cats anymore except maybe in the country. Too many cars.

Tiger
We moved to the country and took Tiger with us. He was such a good, sweet cat. Tiger was the best cat we have ever had (shh...don't tell Izzy). He was an indoor/outdoor country cat for the rest of his days. We moved him twice and he chose to stay with us. He would jump right up into my arms when he wanted to be held. I've never had another cat do that.

Years went by, during which Tiger passed away. The kids grew up and Jeremy, then Jennifer, went away to college. I went through a divorce in the late 90s and then in 2000, Jeff left for college and I was alone. Really alone, for the first time in my life. I did not handle it well. I went through major depression, a condition it took years to overcome. 

I was encouraged to get a cat to keep me company. So I adopted a black and white cat which turned out to be possessed.  She was downright mean. She didn't like anyone but me, and she even bit me sometimes just out of the blue. I didn't know what to do about her. She actually made my lonely, depressed existence worse.

Christmas 2005 rolled around, and the kids were coming home for Christmas. My daughter, Jennifer, called and said she and her husband were just getting in to town and would be at my house in about 10 minutes, and would I please lock the demon cat up in my bedroom?  (I won't even bother telling her name. Everyone called her the Demon Cat). This was a reasonable request, so I did. I was used to no one liking my cat.

Jennifer came in carrying a little bitty calico kitten that she had adopted from the humane society in the town where she lived. We talked, and it was decided I had to take the mean cat to the humane society the next day.  It was hard to do, but Jeff was home for Christmas and he went with me. I cried, oh boy, did I cry. I figured it was a death sentence for her, and I didn't want that even though she was almost feral and even bit me. But I did. If they weren't able to adopt her out, I reasoned, at least she was put down humanely.

Isabel III in Dec 2005
So....a new cat entered my life on Christmas 2005, a tiny squeakbox that could barely meow. Jennifer introduced her to me as Isabel III. I'm not sure why; she is not gray like the first 2. I think it was in memory of those 2 sweet, gentle cats and in hopes that she would be a sweet cat, too. 

She has turned out to be a good cat. Eleven years later, Isabel, nicknamed Izzy, is still my roommate. She is a sweet cat who used to spend her days on various window seats, curious about the cats outside and the squirrels in the yard. These days, though, she shows little interest in the goings on outside and prefers to sleep in a patch of sunlight in the laundry room or curled up at my feet. She follows me around like a puppy, and is great company. In the mornings, after I have gone to the bathroom she loudly protests if I don't immediately put food in her dish. She has some arthritis and has trouble jumping up on things, so she mostly stays on the floor, or occasionally on the couch with me if I have a blanket. 

Side note: The Blanket of Incentive is what Jeff started calling a soft, fuzzy blanket that I got for Christmas one year. Every time I settled in with my blanket and a book or a movie here came Izzy. The blanket was soft and inviting and she could never resist it. So after a while, if I wanted her to come sit with me all I had to do is get out the Blanket of Incentive and she would come running. That's the story of the Blanket of Incentive, which is bonus. You get that one for free. It goes hand in hand with the story of Izzy so it had to be explained.

Isabel III today
She is the last in the line of Isabels. The first 2 never really adopted our family and didn't stay around long, but this one came to stay. I hope she has several more years left; she is not getting around very well these days.

Izzy is spoiled rotten, and she is getting up in years. She is a sweet cat like the first 2 and deserving of the name she was given. 

And that's the story of the Isabels.




Wednesday, September 21, 2016

How to Get Through Tough Times

This post may seem scattered, but it's burning in my heart and has to get out.

I've been camping in the Psalms for a while now. Over the years, I've found that I tend to do this when times are tough. And frankly, times are tough right now.

I have not said anything because I'm not the only one hurting. I didn't feel like I had the right to complain. It's not complaining, really, though; it's just being honest. My heart is broken, and I can't be silent anymore.

Oh, I've been crying out to the Lord. I know He hears and cares. But then I remembered that sometimes...not always, but sometimes, I am supposed to share my pain and the remedy for that pain.

I forget that sometimes.

Yes, I get caught up in appearing to brave and strong. We all do that, don't we? We need to come across like we've got it all together. That's what we're expected to do, right?

No, not exactly. God jogged my memory while I was sitting in church tonight. (Don't worry, He did not jog me too hard....)

So I'm admitting that life has been hard lately and I can't do it alone. And I also admit that I have to share my struggles and how I get through them, because that's part of the reason God allows me to write this blog.

I am reminded again and again, that whatever I'm facing;

whether it's

.....the death of a beloved family member....

.....financial struggles....

.....or sickness....

Or all of the above at the same time...
There is a SOLUTION. There is only one way to get through the storms of life. It's exactly opposite of what you would think you would need to do, logically, but here it is:

I praise the Lord. No matter how I feel, In everything I give thanks. GOD HAS NEVER AND WILL NEVER FAIL ME.

"I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the Lord; The humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.
I sought the Lord, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them...

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all" (taken from Psalm 34, NASB).



The Lord is good, and He has never and will never fail me. I have His word on it.

Be blessed, friends. <3