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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Anticipatory Living...

I celebrated another birthday and remembered when I was about three years old.  Someone asked me when my next birthday was.  My answer seemed logical at the time, “I don’t know, it was on Sunday last year.  It keeps changing.”  I wondered why this ‘someone’ laughed.

There is always a birthday anticipation that grows inside me as my birthday approaches.  When I was sixteen, I remember it was a big year.  I obtained a driver’s license, able to wear lipstick and had permission to date. That was a big year.  What could top the sense of freedom and being in control and growing up that year?   

This year, in particular, I realize what the anticipation is.  It has nothing to do with hot fudge sundaes with pecans or ‘likes’ on Facebook.  It is beyond this world…It is the understanding and giving control to God over my every decision and thought.  It is the knowing of the immensity and faithfulness of God’s love long before I was born.

It is about falling in love with Jesus as my Savior…and being forgiven of my sins.   The memory of my Mother remains with me.  She felt it was time to die and God wasn’t ready yet.  Christmas came and she thought Christmas would be a good time to die.  We do not decide the ‘when’. 

It is about learning to let God have the control of our earth clock of time here.  It is believing and trusting God.  It is about learning to be patient and keeping our eyes on Jesus.   Learning to accept what is and see God’s Hand through it all.

We long for the adventure of the new year set before us once a year – we long for the new birth in Jesus and the journey that begins anew with Him.  This longing for Heaven is part of our dna.  It cannot be erased.  We substitute many things to become ‘new’.  All these substitutes come from the world that has an end.  The anticipatory feeling of birthdays on earth changes from blowing out the candles on a cake to the anticipation of our Home in Heaven.

It is trusting and having faith in the love God has for us.  It is the gift of grace He offers us which cannot be earned.  It is ours through a love we often cannot comprehend. 

When we accept God’s love and live for Him, we have Hope.  That is the beginning of a new life in us.  Without the Hope of eternal life, we cannot endure this life.

Our lives often unravel without the Love of God.  We think nothing can be right again, but our hope and faith in the Glory of God sustain us through the uncomfortable times and we rest in His Promises. 

Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal.  If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them. Psalm 40:5.

But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.  Psalm 42:8

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!  I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!  And when I wake up, you are still with me!  Psalm 139:16-18

When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.  Wherever I go, my enemies have set traps for me.  Psalm 142:3

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior.  He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17

 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.  John 15:9

 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39

 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.  Ephesians 1:4-5

He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young. Isaiah 40:11

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.  I John 3:1

Your love so great, Higher than the stars, Unfailing love...Deeper than the sea, Your love so sure.  Stronger than the mountains.  Oh, your love…It’s everything to me – How deep, how wide, how long, how high!  (Love so High – Matt Redmon) 


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What Makes Us Valuable?

We are born needing someone’s love and caring.  It is innate.  First, it is a physical need, and through that becomes the ultimate need for love and caring emotionally and spiritually.  We want to belong, to be valuable to someone.  We want relationships and the ultimate relationship is with God Himself.

When I retired from 31 years of teaching school, I wondered who I was, and what would my life be without wearing the ‘teacher-hat’.  The answer should have been easy.  Finally, I understood – Do the Next Thing!   In 2010, I wrote:

What do I do, dear Lord - To show my love for you?
How can I witness your love - How can I make my life anew?

Then a small voice whispers - Deep within my heart
Do the next thing, my child - Do the next thing, it's a start.

Each morning when I arise - My heart to Him I bring
When I ask what to do - He whispers, Child, do the next thing.

The tasks I see before me - Are not the grand things I long for
But being faithful in - The next thing -- with Him, I'll soar! (eac)

Recently I posted this quote - "You are valuable...because God loves you." Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer.  Reading this quote, I stopped to ponder…  When did God begin to love me, after I chose Him?  No, not at all.  God loves us before the world began.  He chose us.

Then I read in Ecclesiastes 3:11 - Yet God has made everything beautiful in its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

No matter how some try to evade or destroy God and His Word, It is an impossible task… But the word of the Lord remains forever.” I Peter 1:25

Recently I heard the words that God is a myth like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.  My answer is without our faith in God, nothing in this life makes sense.  No matter how many letters designate the high education of a person, without the underlying understanding and faith in God nothing makes sense – including our lives and the very beginning of the world. 

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:3-5

“God plans ahead” is a definite understatement. He chose us before He made the world. He knew our names before our parents chose them, He knew our thoughts and actions before the world began.  When He says he loves us, He moved Heaven and Earth to achieve His plan to adopt us into His Kingdom.   

“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.  Revelation 1:8.  We are nestled into God’s plan to do his will and the work He and He alone gave each of us to do.  

Amazing Love! We often sing this Hymn. But until we understand all that God and His Son did for us, we don’t understand the depth of His Love.  The blood sacrifice of the innocent lamb of God, Jesus, left the glory of Heaven to live on earth, to die on the cross that our sins might be forgiven.

..but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.  He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.  I Peter 1:19-21

We can be assured of His Great Love for us and have full conviction that God loves us.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  Ephesians 3:18.

Everything on earth wears out, withers or rusts away.  How can we prove God’s love will not do the same?  We are used to people whose hearts change without warning.  God is not people…  And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.  Philippians 1:6.

What is authentic in this world or out of this world?  What can we know without a doubt the place our hearts belong?  Living in God’s Will is a Race of Endurance and Faith.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.  Hebrews 12:2

Our Valuableness in this world is always tied to our Lord God.  We belong to Him and everything around us has arrows pointing to our Creator.  Without His love, we have no value.

Nothing in this world has the kind of ultimate value that we can ever find – except through our Lord God and His Great Love.  He says He loves us in trillions of  ways.  He is life itself.  We have value only because God loves us! 


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Father's Day!

It has been thirty-seven years since my Dad left this earth.  It could be yesterday.  We did many things together.  He built my brothers and me a swing out of a steering wheel.  We hung on for dear life when he turned the wheel.  He built us a mini-house for our sand pile for hours of fun play in the sunshine.  We had a pet baby goat to feed with a bottle.  We knew him as a disciplinarian and a man who expected the best from his children.  He often said all I can give you is my name.  Be honest and be true! 

We grew up in the depths of the depression of the 1930’s.  We often did without, yet he provided enough for us by hours of walking 20 miles a day or delivering special delivery letters.  Dad loved to laugh and he adored his grandchildren, often ‘baling hay’.  A game he devised where he had more exercise than his grandkids.  He loved music and led singing on Sunday nights in church.  He spent hours with Mom trying to match his voice to the note she played on the piano.  He sang with great enthusiasm.

We learned growing up Dad always got the biggest piece of pie or cake from Mom.  They lived a true love story.  Dad’s word was always the last word.  He wanted to be best Dad there was with the gifts God gave him.  He taught a Sunday School Class of rambunctious teen boys.  He practiced his lesson on Saturday night with us.  On Saturday nights we headed for the living room after our baths, and Dad told us the stories from the Old Testament. This way I learned many stories from the Bible.  He was much more captivating as a storyteller than the hero stories kids watch today.

Then came the moment when his heart just could not sustain life anymore.  Our family sat in the hospital room, his feet were cold, and he had small heart attacks, one after another.  At the last moment, before his heart was stilled, he gave us a gift of love and joy.  The smile on his face taught us about the glory of God in death, with his last breath. 

Seven years before this, I wrote the following;
As I sit by my sleeping Daddy's side
In a room full of suffering and pain
My eyes drift into sleep, from sleep to sleep.
Suddenly I feel a Presence. And a shadow flits by.
My eyes open wide, I see no one.

What is the Presence I feel so near?
Is it Death?  Death who comes to claim my Daddy Dear?
Is Death a Friend or a Foe? Can I let my Dad with Him go?
Then I read the promise in God's Holy Word. 
And know that I must let my Daddy go
Daddy has heard God’s Word and he believes.  
Death may take Daddy by the hand,
And lead him to that Eternal Life-Land – 1972

With Dad’s last breath, I remember the lessons Dad taught me about living in God’s will, believing in Jesus with my whole heart and mind. Even his discipline taught me lessons I will remember. 

When he finally closed his eyes in death, I remember saying, My Dad is with you, God, and now You, Abba Father, are my Father in Heaven.  Dad gave his last gift to me by placing my hand into the Hand of God. How deep is your love for me! My desire to become totally God’s Child was overwhelming then and now. 

I would like to say I became altogether perfect in all things.  No, no one is perfect.  Jesus is the One who is Perfect.  As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one.  No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God.  Romans 3:10-11
Living with memories is not enough, yet Living with my Heavenly Father is forever.  Each day is a step of faith and trust in my Heavenly Father. 

On this Father’s Day, I honor my husband, the father of our children.  In so many ways, I can see his love for his children through the years. He wants all to know the love of God is so deep, that even dementia cannot erase his heart of love for God the Father and His Son Jesus. 

His children remember their love for their Dad.  In 1992, our four children wrote: A storm making the furnace go off and on, but it is OK, I always feel safe and sure when Dad is home -- When I was home sick, he came with a butterscotch milkshake, I enjoyed the day with just the two of us -- How did my Dad do it all? Between working the long hours, fixing things and have family time with us -- My Dad introduced me to the world and made it a place I felt safe to explore.  There was always a safe haven somewhere for me, with my Dad.

Our children have learned from their Dad as I did from mine, that our ultimate love and trust dwells in our Heavenly Father.  We continue to learn that our Lord God who created Heaven and Earth, sent Jesus to be our Savior.

This Father’s Day, I remember the Dad I did not choose, yet who loved us all.  I remember the Dad of my children I chose, gentle and loving, and yet expecting the best.  The Dad who continues to teach and to guide even in the depths of dementia.  And I thank my Lord God who placed these two men in my life, who taught me the true meaning of my Father God who numbers our days on this earth.  I praise Him, too, for our three sons who are loving fathers, too.  I praise God for ‘loving days’ and ‘learning days’.  Thank you, Lord.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help?  My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in. From this time forth, and even forevermore.  Psalm 121:1-2, 7-8


Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Welcome Home!

From an email, I learned our second son would be coming for a brief visit to visit his Dad, who is in Memory Care, and me.  I flew into action, preparing a place for him to sleep, making the pudding he likes, and more goodies, the day before his arrival.  Suddenly, he is here.  My joy filled my being.  My children. And their children and their children will ever be my joy.  I had a glimpse of our Lord God’s joy when He welcomes His children home.

As with all of my children, memories of their birth, childhood, the teens, and finally leaving home, played in my mind.  My son once told me, when he came home, it was relaxing.  He knew he didn’t have to worry about what the next meal would be. 

All the preparation is time truly well spent. I watched my two sons renewing their relationship as we had dinner together.  All of the years fall away and it is love in the raw again.  Disagreements and different paths in life, and yet they turn their hearts to the love that never disappears – at home.

Home has many meanings and thoughts.  Home begins to have different meanings as we age when there is no home to go back to visit.  No parents are there to give us their blessing and undergird our lives with prayer.  So many poems have been written describing home and describing home in glowing terms.  What really is home?  For me, it is an anchor that even today steadies me in this life.

I had a second birth when I was eight years old.  I was baptized in the name of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The renewal of my heart and life were real. It is truly a process, to learn to be a Child of God.  The longer I live, the more I love my Lord God and know how real He is.  It is a new birth with the inside of me, that continues despite the wrinkles on my face and gray hairs on my head.  The lyrics of the praise song yesterday said it all… I'm no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.  John 14:1-3

Long ago, I read these words from John 14:1-3 and what a thrill.  God has a home and He wants us to come live with Him.  He created us for this!  Jesus is preparing a place for you and for me.  The words, Jesus is preparing a place for you and me is so comforting.  Even as I prepare for a visit from my children – Jesus is constantly preparing a place for us to live with Him.  Oh, the rejoicing when we see our brothers and sisters in the faith, who wait with anticipation for our arrival. 

Living our lives here on earth in Jesus, become expectant, filled with hope and joy of a final coming home.  How much more does our Lord God anticipate our arrivals one by one?  Coming home to the Lord God who created me, the Lord God who forgives me over and over, the Lord God who watches in pain as I deny Him by my careless words, thoughts and actions, the Lord God who wipes our tears and rejoices with us when we are victorious over temptations, hurts and slights.  The Lord God who teaches me to be His more and more day after day.

This God who loves me, loves you, too.  When I hurt, I remember.  I remember His Son, Jesus, who suffered in my place all the slights, scoffing, denial, physically, spiritually and emotionally.  How often I remember those who lived before me and the hurts they endured as they lived in the faith.  Then I know, through His power and strength, He will help me endure and grow in faith.

For it is written in James 1:2-4… Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

We were created to live for and with the Lord God and to worship Him!  There is no other.
Then we will be perfect and complete in Him, forever and ever and a day. 

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  Ephesians 3:17
For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
Hebrews 13:14.
Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.  I Peter 3:18
God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord.   For we live by believing and not by seeing.  2 Corinthians 5:5-6
Feels Like Home…..
It is your smiling face
. In this comfortable place…That feels like home.
It’s the way you wrap your arms, Around me, that disarms me…That feels like home.
It’s the hurts you heal, That makes it real…And Feels like Home.
I never have to pretend, With my closest friend…You Feel at Home.
How long will home last? Will it soon be passed?...Oh, it Feels like home.
I’m home where I can share Jesus’ love and care…He makes it Feel like Home
Jesus gave His Life for me So, I could live eternally…Where I feel at home.
With Him, it feels like home. For me, it feels like home, Where there is love and trust
Where it Feels like home.