Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Earthquake & Tremors"

Around Dec. 9 I shared a devotional on this blog spot about, "I am thankful for towels!" In the devotional I shared about how sometimes God comes in and changes our plans, because He has the best master plan, from Jeremiah 29:11. I am now walking that pathway! My husband had quadruple bypass on Dec. 22, an earthquake to his body, and tremors to the whole family! He was in the hospital for 6 days! Our son & daughter& daughter-in-law & son-in-law & my mom & grandkids & ME were shaken ( tremors), but, we have stood together and are helping to rebuild with home health, physical therapy, many medications for my husband, and most of all the love & devotion that has been shown for my husband, the kids daddy, & Pop has been amazing! I have seen so much supplied during this time (there was no muscle damage to heart, ( even when I was told of the enormous blockage my husband had),, an extra artery my husband had (that did not show up on film taken before surgery), this helped circulate blood & oxygen more! (God's Provision!) A wonderful heart team for the surgery! Nurses that we knew that took care of Gary (God's comfort!) This was definitely not in my plans for my husband, But, we serve an amazing, faithful God, who is an on time God! He was definitely on time with my husband! He had 100% blockage in the right side of his heart and 99.999% blockage in the left side! I praise Him and thank Him for giving him back to us! We have a 6 to 12 week recovery period, or longer, for my husband! But, I know that God will walk us thru each step of the way! Trust & Obey for there is no other way! I thank God that we are fearfully and wonderfully made! Psalm 139:14. Thank you Lord for the extra artery for my husband at the right time in his life! You are an on time God! Our world has been shaken, by circumstances, but we serve an ever faithful God who never leaves us and is our solid rock! Praise Your Name!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Shepherds on hills on green,
A chorus of angles seen.

Praises of worship they did sing,
Of the newborn infant king.

Out they ran in the night,
To see the most wondrous sight.

Down on knee they worshiped Him,
Joy in their hearts never to dim.

Listen, and you can hear ,
He still calls all men near.

Answer His call and you will be,
A precious member of His family.

~Marni Raney 2006

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ladies Bible Study-"Living Your Life as a Beautiful Offering"

Seven ladies from our church committed to a 8 week Bible study from Oct. 11-Nov. 28. Prayer requests were shared at each meetings, good food was shared, laughs, and a bond of friendship was tightened between us!
This study was based on the Sermon on the Mount. We studied the Beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer. We learned that because of Jesus we can live our lives as a beautiful offering, that only the Love of God can make you whole and Jesus fills the cup of our soul, and that God delights to show us mercy. Mercy, even in its smallest application, lets you breathe! We learned that God can use the ordinary woman with her everyday life! God's standards call us to a life of obedience, and we belong to heaven, and to not hide anything from God, (He knows anyway!), and to do all things for His glory, We learned about giving, praying, & fasting in secret. When you do these things God adds power to your everyday life. It is so important to keep a secret life with God. In the secret place, God comes to restore your soul. In order to live the life Jesus dreamed for you, lay yourself on His altar. Build your life on the rock of God's love for you!

All of the above fundamental truths are solid truths taught from the Word of God. Remain, Stay, & Abide with Jesus!

These words,from a song, "This is My Offering," was part of the study:

I will not give what costs me nothing
When I bring my sacrifice
Cause You have asked for only one thing
That I gladly give my life
So now I lay down on Your altar
Knowing what I lose I'll find
Please receive me thought I falter
For all I have is Yours, it's no longer mine
With my mouth I will praise
With my heart I will obey
This is my offering
I will go where You lead
I will trust what I can't see
This is my offering, This is my offering
May my worship be a fragrance
Rising up in sweet refrain
As I come into your presence
May I be a life worthy of Your name
With my mouth I will praise
With my heart I will obey
This is my offering
I will go where You lead
I will trust what I can't see
This is my offering, This is my offering
Be well pleased
With my mouth I will praise
With my heart I will obey
This is my offering
I will go where You lead
I will trust what I can't see
This is my offering, This is my offering
Be well pleased.

This was a wonderful Bible study by Angela Thomas and the song was by Kelly Minter. Highly recommend this study!

"Father, I pray that my life would be a beautiful offering to you!"


This morning i was getting ready for work and the water in the commode started bubbling and all of a sudden water started filling up in the commode and bathtub!! The commode overflowed and water was going everywhere! I was grabbing towels as fast as I could, I used nearly every towel in the cabinet, my bath rugs were soaked, and I used a large blanket, also, to wipe up the mess!!

So many times in our lives things come in and change "our" plans for the day!!! But, God has the best plan, the master plan! (Jeremiah 29:11-"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."

I am thankful for a faithful friend & plumber who came right over, he said it was the city's problem (sewer), I am thankful for towels, blanket, and rugs to soak up the water! Messes in our lives happen!! But , I am so thankful the the Lord is my Banner! (Exodus 17:15-"The Lord is my Banner." I thank God for His Grace, (2 Cor. 12:9-"My grace is sufficient for you) and His mercy and love, (Eph. 2:4-"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.) I thank Him for making me into a new creature when I accepted Him as my Savior. (2 Cor. 5:17)-"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things passed away; behold, new thing to come."

We ought always to give thanks to God! I pray that just as the water bubbled in the commode, that the Living Waters would bubble over in me to tell others more about Jesus, the One, who can clean up all your messes!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Psalm 63"

"The closer you walk with God, the less room for anything to come between." Psalm 63 is a beautiful Psalm telling how the Thirsting Soul is Satisfied in God! It tells of David's intense love for God. David was in the Judean wilderness. He sought God's presence, Remembered God's Power, and Anticipated God's Judgment. The psalmist clings to God. David's unfailing commitment to His Lord. His soul clings to the Lord! He lifts His hands, in readiness to receive every good gift from God, His trust is in God alone!
"Psalm 63:1-11"
O God, You are my God; I shall seek you earnestly; My soul thirst for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. But those who seek my life to destroy it, Will go into the depths of the earth, They will be delivered over to the power of the sword; They will be a prey for foxes. But the king will rejoice in God; Everyone who swears by Him will glory, For the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped."
Father, I pray I would seek You in all things, and remember things You have done, are doing, and will do!

"A Parent's Prayer"

I can give you life, But I cannot live for you.
I can teach you things, But I cannot make you learn.
I can give you directions, But I can't always be there to lead you.
I can allow you freedom, But I cannot account for it.
I can take you to church, But I cannot make you believe.
I can teach you right from wrong, But I can't always decide for you.
I can buy you beautiful clothes, But I cannot make you lovely inside.
I can offer you advice, But I can't accept it for you.
I can give you love, But I can't force it upon you.'
I can teach you to share, But I cannot make you unselfish.
I can teach you respect, But I can't force you to show honor.
I can advise you about sex, But I can't keep you pure.
I can tell you about the facts of life, But I cannot build your reputation.
I can tell you about drinking, But I can't say no for you.
I can warn you about drugs, But I cannot prevent you from using them.
I can tell you about lofty goals, But I can't achieve them for you.
I can warn you about sin, But I cannot make your morals.
I can love you as a child, But I cannot place you in God's family.
I can teach you about Jesus, But I cannot make Jesus your Lord.

"One Solitary Life"

He was born in an obscure village.
He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty.
He then became an intinerate preacher.
He never held an office.
He never had a family or owned a house.
He didn't go to college.
He had no credentials but Himself.
He was only thirty-three when the public turned against Him.
His friends ran away.
He was turned over to His enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While He was dying, His executioners gambled for His clothing, the only property He had on earth.
He was laid in a borrowed grave.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race.
All the armies that have marched,
all the navies that ever sailed,
all the parliaments that ever sat,
and all the kins that ever reigned have not affected
the life of man on this earth as much as that ........ONE SOLITARY LIFE!

"Wit's End"

Are you standing at Wit's End Corner,
Christian, with a troubled brow?
Are you thinking of what's before you,
And all you are bearing now?

Does all the world seem against you,
Are you in the battle alone?
Remember, at Wit's End Corner,
Is where God's Power is shown.

Are you standing at Wit's End Corner
Blinded with unbearable pain?
Feeling you cannot endure it,
You cannot bear the strain.

Bruised through constant suffering,
Dizzy, dazed and numb,
Remember that Wit's End Corner,
Is where Jesus' love will come.

Are you standing at Wit's End Corner,
Your work before you spread,
Living begun--yet unfinished,
Pressing on with heart and head.

Longing for strength to do it,
Stretching out trembling hands,
Remember, at Wit's End Corner
Is where our burden-bearer stands.

Are you looking at your family,
Yearning for those you love,
Longing and praying and watching,
Pleading their case with the One above.

Trying to lead them to Jesus,
Wondering if you have been true.
Then He whispers to you so sweetly,
I'll save them as I have saved you.

Are you standing at Wit's End Corner?
If so, you are in the right spot,
To learn of the wonderous resources
Of Him, who faileth not.

No doubt to a better, brighter pathway,
Your footsteps may soon be moved,
But only at Wit's End Corner,
Is Our God who is greatly proved!

"God Bless You!"

I asked the Lord to bless you
As I prayed for you today
To guide you and protect you
As you go along your way....

His love is always with you
His promises are true
No matter what the tribulation
You know He will see us through

So when the road your're traveling on
Seems difficult at best
Give your problems to the Lord
And God will give you rest!

"I Wish for you...."

Comfort on difficult days,
Smiles when sadness intrudes,
Rainbows to follow the clouds,
Laughter to kiss your lips,
Sunsets to warm your heart,

Gentle hugs when spirits sag,
Friendships to brighten your being,
Beauty for your eyes to see,
Confidence for when you doubt,

Faith so that you can believe,
Courage to know yourself,
Patience to accept the truth,
And love to complete your life."

"List To Live By"

The most destructive habit...................Worry
The greatest Joy.....................................Giving
The greatest loss.....................................Loss of self-respect

The most satisfying work.......................Helping others
The ugliest personality trait...................Selfishness
The most endangered species................Dedicated Leaders

Our greatest natural resource................Our Youth
The greatest "shot in the arm"...............Encouragement
The greatest problem to overcome........Fear

The most effective sleeping pill...............Peace of mind
The most crippling failure disease..........Excuses
The most powerful force in life................Love

The most dangerous pariah.....................A Gossiper
The world's most incredible computer...The Brain
The worst thing to be without..................Hope

The deadliest weapon.................................The Tongue
The two most power-filled words............."I Can"
The greatest asset.......................................Faith

The most worthless emotion......................Self-pity
The most beautiful attire............................SMILE!
The most prized possession........................Integrity

The most powerful channel of communication.....Prayer
The most contagious spirit......................................Enthusiasm

"Smile Jesus Loves YOU and so do I!"

"I Am..."

1. A Child of God(Romans 8:16)
2. Redeemed from the Hand of the Enemy (Psalm 107:2)
3. Forgiven (Colossians 1:13, 14)
4. Saved by Grace through Faith (Ephesians 2:8)
5. Justified (Romans 5;1)
6. Sanctified (I Corinthians 5:17)
7. A New Creature (II Corinthians 5:17)
8. Partaker of His Divine Nature (II Peter 1:4)
9. Redeemed from the Curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13)
10. Delivered from the Powers of Darkness (Colossians 1:13)
11. Led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14)
12. A Son of God (Romans 8:14)
13. Kept in Safety Wherever I Go (Psalm 91:11)
14. Getting All My Needs Met By Jesus (Philippians 4:19)
15. Casting All My Cares On Jesus (I Peter 5:7)
16. Strong in the Lord and in the Power of His Might (Ephesians 6:10)
17. Doing All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me (Philippians 4:13)
18. An heir of God and a Joint Heir with Jesus (Romans 8:17)
19. Heir to the Blessings of Abraham ( Galatians 3:13, 14)
20. Observing and Doing the Lord's Commandments (Deuteronomy 28:12)
21. Blessed Coming in And Blessed Going Out ( Deuteronomy 28:6)
22. An Heir of Eternal Life (I John 5:11, 12)
23. Blessed with All Spiritual Blessings ( Ephesians 1:3)
24. Healed by His Stripes (I Peter 2:24)
25. Exercising My Authority over the Enemy (Luke 10:19)
26. Above Only and Not Beneath (Deuteronomy 28:13)
27. More than a Conqueror (Romans 8:37)
28. Establishing God's Word Here on Earth ( Matthew 16:19)
29. An Overcomer by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of My Testimony (Rev. 12:11)
30. Daily Overcoming the Devil (I John 4:4)
31. Not Moved by What I See ( II Corinthians 4:18)
32. Walking by Faith and Not by Sight (II Corinthians 5:7)
33. Casting Down Vain Imaginations (II Corinthians 10:4, 5)
34. Bringing Every Thought into Captivity (II Corinthians 10:5)
35. Being Transformed by Renewing My Mind (Romans 12: 1, 2)
36. A Laborer Together with God (I Corinthians 5:21)
37. The Righteousness of God in Christ (II Corinthians 5:21)
38. An Imitator of Jesus (Ephesians 5:1)
39. The Light of the World (Matthew 5:14)
40. Blessing the Lord at All Times and Continually Praising the Lord with My Mouth -
(Psalm 34:1)

"Twas the night before Jesus came'

"Twas the night before Jesus came, and all through the house
Not a creature was praying, not one in the house.
Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care
in hopes that Jesus would not come there.

The children were dressing to crawl into bed,
Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head.
And Mom in her rocker with baby on her lap
Was watching the Late Show while I took a nap.

When out of the East there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash!

When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here,
With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray
I knew in a moment this must be THE DAY!

The light of His face made me cover my head
It was Jesus! returning just like He had said.
And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.

In the Book of Life which He held in His hand
Was written the name of every saved man.
He spoke not a word as He searched for my name;
When He said"It's not here" my head hung in shame.

The people whose names had been written with love
He gathered to take to His Father above,
With those who were ready He rose without a sound
While all the rest were left standing around.

I fell to my knees, but it was too late;
I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate.
I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight;
Oh, if only I had been ready tonight.

In the words of this poem the meaning is clear;
The coming of Jesus is drawing near.
There's only one life and when comes the last call
We'll find that the Bible was true after all!

"The Goodness of God"

"The reason we breathe, to sing of His Glory!" When I think of all the many things that the Lord has done for me, I stand in awe of Him! He gave His Son for me and you!John 3:16, "For God so loved the world , that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." The Goodness of God!
It is so comforting to know that God has the best plan for each of us! Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." His goodness passes before us! In Exodus 33:19, "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious , and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion." What a gracious and compassionate Lord! Isn't it exciting to expect ongoing opportunities of intimate fellowship with the Lord! In Psalm 23:6, "Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!" God is PERFECTLY GOOD! He does good things for us! In Psalm 31:19, "How great is Your goodness, Which you have stored up for those who take refuge in You, Before the sons of men!" One of the fruits of the spirit is goodness! Believers are commanded to exemplify goodness, (Gal. 6:10-"So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" and in 2 Thessalonians 1:11, "To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power." Our every desire should be for goodness! There are many thing in life that you value, but the most important thing of value is your relationship with God! Cherish it, draw near, seek Him, Listen closely ( hear), receive, and apply the "goodness" in your life! I thank God for His Goodness! God is good all the time.....................!!!!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Caleb Levi Riddle

How precious was your tiny life
Created by God divine
Handed down as a gift of His
to bless this life of mine
So short the time I had with you
here upon this earth
So sad to say tears of grief
were shed upon your birth
What should have been a joyous thing
met with excited smiles
Seemed a journey in the shadows
that lasted many miles
Your spirit had gone to be with God
before I held you, dear
So instead of smiles and joy
I greeted you with tears
I can not know the reason
your time here was so brief
But take comfort in the knowledge
that you will never know such grief
Your days will long be filled
with angel's songs so sweet
And you'll have a chance before I do
with all the saints to meet
I imagine you will dance
in the inner courts of praise
And sing your songs of joy
with tiny hands raised
You are so loved by all of us
that remain still here
We can not wait to meet you
when we finally get there
For now I say good-bye
for but a brief time
And thank you for the blessing
you are to this life of mine.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hope in the Storms

Lamentations 3:22-26
It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassion's fail not. They are new every morning great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. Is is good that a man both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.

I am ever thankful for the eternal, unconditional love of my Father! In Lamentations we see that because of His mercy we are not destroyed by the things of this life. He is our salvation. Even in the midst of suffering and pain scripture reminds us of this unfailing, everlasting love. It gives the believer hope in the midst of the storms of life.

There is one condition of all of this. It is that we must know our Father, not know of our Father with a heart knowledge, but rather we must have a personal, intimate relationship with our Father. We must invest in this relationship, spend time with God - in His presence. We must desire His word. Lamentations tells us that the "Lord is GOOD to them that WAIT for Him". We must learn to be still and wait for Him to speak, we must seek His presence. The verses conclude that we should hope and wait for the salvation of the Lord. This is our hope: He has said that He is our salvation and strong tower and He can not lie - therefor we will pass through this storm if our focus is on him.

This verse is dear to me. I am learning more to look to Father for everything. I would not have made it through the initial onslaught of my storm had I not hid in my Father's arms and stayed at the foot of the throne. Even now, I find my favorite place is before his throne in prayer or focused on His face as I walk.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Get Rid of the Junk

As you read this scripture ask God to open your heart to His word and to make you able to receive that which he has for you - it may be a little hard to swallow.

Psalm 119:37-40 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in your ways (or give me life in your word NLT). Establish your word to your servant, who is devoted to fearing you. Turn away my reproach which I dread, For your judgments are good. Behold, I long for Your laws, Revive me in your righteousness. (NKJV)

I began this morning with my bible studies and this verse struck me. "Turn my eyes from look at worthless things and give me LIFE in YOUR WORD".

How many "worthless things", I began to wonder, have I let slip into my life and distract me from my mission - that ordained by God task at hand - the work I am called to?

How many seemingly small things distract me from His precepts or laws and keep me focused on a task that is menial and has no eternal value. And if these things were distracting me what was my cost in this world?

So, as God does, he began to show me areas of worthlessness that creep into our lives, some of these I struggle with, some you may struggle with...this list is general and by no means complete.

(1) Your job and the acquisition of worldly things.
Have you allowed your job to consume most of your time?___________________
Is it to provide and be satisfied or has it become more, do you have to work
more hours or longer hours to pay for all your stuff?____________________
(Did you fall into the trap of instant gratification, this is so easy to do. Have you justified it because the kids need new clothes, we have to have this vehicle, a bigger house would be nice, that game system or newest electronic would make life easier, etc.)
(2) The pursuit of too many activities.
This can be all things, church related, school related, work related, hobbies, sports, etc. Anything that consumes your time to spend with the Lord and make more worthwhile the relationships in your life.
Is there anything you can cut out? ________________________________________
(Have you justified it as my children need this activity to be well-rounded it will develop character, I don't want my children left out. Or I need this time alone. Or I know I'm really busy but it's all church stuff it's all for the Lord - Do not get me wrong or get the wrong idea - I am all for church activities that cause us to grow in the Lord. However, if these activities are pressing out personal time with the Lord they become empty. They are only fulfilling and worthwhile when God is involved and leading you. They will only bless you with God involved - otherwise they are empty acts.)
(3) Housework. I know, right, but for some of us having things in order and always caught up give us a since of accomplishment, and they are often times a way to control our environment.
Does the drive to perfection in your environment crowd out time for God and those you love? __________________________________________________________________
(will you fold the laundry, sweep the floor, vacuum, etc. in order to keep it all nice when the Holy Spirit is calling for alone time, will you do these things even if you know you need to invest in relationships of those in your family and justify it that there will be time later)
(4) Television.
Do you set aside time to watch your favorite television show no matter what?
even if it means no study for the Lord? ____________________________________
(Do you justify it as a time to relax....)
(5) The computer/cellphone/facebook, etc.
Do these things eat up large chunks of your times, distracting you from those around you and your time with the Lord? ____________________________________

Worthless things - ANYTHING that distracts us from God and from those things with kingdom and eternal significance. Remember ladies the enemy comes to seek, steal, and destroy. He wants your time and relationship with God first and foremost, once he distract you from this all the other areas are left wide open. He then goes for the marriage relationship between husband and wife: breaking down communication, causing conflict and misunderstanding, bringing in diverse temptations. Then are the internal relationships. He wants mothers to neglect personal time with their children by substituting it with activities and busyness so there is no real personal, devoted time - Do you really know your child's heart? When is the last time they invited you into their world? When was the last time you stopped what you were doing just to look them in the eye and really hear from your heart what they were saying to you - invested in them personally?

Worthless things - time eaters - the distractions and deceptions of the world/the enemy.

Worthless things - things that appear valuable, necessary or require justification; while devaluing those things of highest importance.

O, Lord, today bring me to my knees. Cause me to see you. This life that is common I lay on your alter. Show me the worthless things I have allowed to creep into my life. Lord, I acknowledge that I am prone to wonder, that I am easily distracted. Lord, I need your strenght. Show me these worthless things and help me to control them, to leave them behind - to place you and the things of eternal significance in front. Thank you Lord for your help. - Amen

Ladies, God has intended great things in each of our lives. I pray that the "worthless" things don't pile up, turning our focus from that which is truly important. Redeem the time! Let's clean house today - pack up those worthless things! Let's put God first, then our jobs, our acquisitions, our activities/hobbies, will fall into proper perspective no longer having bloated importance.

Redeem the time!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sacrifice of Praise

I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord Now in the presence of all His people, In the courts of the Lord's house, In the midst of you, O Jerusalem. PRAISE THE LORD! Psalm 119:17-19

I have come to understand this verse in a whole new way since burying Caleb on November 5th. It was my deepest desire to be back in church, to be surrounded by God's people, to worship him. Nothing, however, prepared me for the profound effect that the worship time would have on me.

If I have learned nothing else through this pregnancy and this physical loss of a child it is the grace of God. I have seen this first hand and have been changed by it. I can testify of His goodness - because it is real to me, tangible, I lived it and experienced it - I saw it in the physical and in the spiritual. I can with a clear conscience say I am not angry with God and I don't even question his will in all this. That being said, the pain is still sharp and real, and in this world I can't understand His will. I can not see what He is working in my life - my prayer is that my life is more beautiful because of Him in it, that I have lived and continue to live in such a way as to reflect the God I have come to know more intimately and personally through this trial - That I give him glory and honor which are due him.

However, when the praise music begins and I begin to pray and to sing something happens. As I sing about God's goodness, I praise Him for all that He truly is - as I stand face to face with those realities in the courts of the God most high something happens. All that pain, all that loss, all that ache comes rushing back. My breath catches in my throat, my heart feels squeezed, my eyes fill up and I struggle to keep composure. I struggle with the desire to run up to the alter and lay down weeping before a God that means so much to me that He has given so much that I simply do not deserve.

My praise has become a sacrifice - it hurts, it costs me my comfort - it is no longer all feel-good, fluff. For the first time in my life, I think, I fully realize the impact of grace, the beautifully tragic gift that was laid out for someone who is totally unworthy and will never be worthy. My pain, my loss, my dreams, those things I prayed for that will not be in this earth - all that falls away and I am overwhelmed, consumed.

A sacrifice of praise is the choice in the midst of your pain, suffering, turmoil, heartache, brokenness to come into the House of the Lord and offer up what you know to be true (praise of who He is, thankfulness for what He has done and what He is) even when it sometimes feels so distant.

The sacrifice is costly - it means to do it when you don't feel like it, when it would be easier to stay out of the courts of praise because the pain is so sharp and your throat closes up, your eyes overflow, and you feel again that intense breaking of your heart, your shattered dreams and aching soul.

This choice causes you to look directly on Christ - in all His glory and sacrifice - causes your heart to acknowledge the grace of God that is being lavishly poured out upon you. In the midst of this praise God brings you close to him and begins to comfort and heal you. He gathers you in His arms, wipes away the tears, and whispers his love: "My daughter, you are precious. This pain will come to pass, and in it will be something more beautiful. My heart aches with you, for you, but remember I am able to deliver you...I've loved you since before time began, known you by name and numbered your days and set your path - I can see the end..."

Through the sacrifice we are made more beautiful and we see the spiritual made manifest in this physical world. We are consumed by His love, grace, and mercy - and we are forever changed by the encounter.

I know this time of praise may be hard for a long time to come. The physical world takes time to heal. I am so thankful, for being able to enter the gates of thanksgiving, to come into the Courts of God most High and to lift praises - even if they come from a broken wounded heart that simply doesn't understand.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Knowing, Showing, Growing: My John 3:16 Discovery Workbook, Robert J. Morgan

This is the workbook much like Lola Mazola's Happyland Adventure. Although the items are idependent of one another I would recommend both at the same time. Once a child has read the story book they will enjoy this workbook. Or if you have older children this is ideal for them.

In order to review it I kept having to go get it from my 9 year old's room. Everytime I would lay it down she would pick it up.

It is as thourough and concise as the story book, but written for older children.

I am so impressed with this authors ability to break this verse down and present it in a logical way that children understand.

This book has three sections of salvation to explore:
(1) Knowing - coming to know Jesus: who he is, what he did for us, why we need him. This section Has two stories and worksheets. In the worksheet part other verses in Romans and other books are brought out to show our need for a Savior.
(2) Showing - Baptism. Again there is a short story and verses and worksheets. This helps a child understand what baptism is and what it signifies and why we follow a confession and prayer with this public act of obedience.
(3) Growing - how to grow in your christian walk. I Love the acrostic given to help the children remember the steps to christian growth. This is by far the lengthiest section in the book, having 7 areas. Each one has a short story followed by activities and additional scripture to be completed.

The book has helpful pages for parents.

Again - this is an excellent gift....a must have for young children who are asking questions about God, Jesus, salvation, and baptism. A book they will enjoy working through and that will help them dig deep into God's word to learn His truths.

This book was provided as a review copy by B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for this copy.

Lola Mazola's Happyland Adventure, Robert j. Morgan

If you are looking for the best way to explain God's plan of salvation this book is it! My children loved it - all 4 of them from the ages of 2 years old up to 9 years old. I even tested it on my sunday school class of girls aged from 4th grade to 6th grade. All of them loved it.

This book is about a young girl named Lola Mazola who gets invited on an awesome trip of a lifetime with some friends. The catch - it costs too much money, his dad can't afford it. Lola is so disappointed, as any child would be.

At Sunday school she learns about John 3:16 and the Happyland of Heaven, and God's greatest and most perfect gift.

At this point in the book the verse of John 3:16 is broken down into small parts that are easily understood by even the smallest child. Who is God? What is the world? Who is Jesus (and what all he did - birth, life, ministry, death & Resurrection)? and How can we accept this gift? and What does salvation mean?

Still disappointed about her trip she soon forgets about John 3:16. When she receives a gift of money that will allow her to go she says this is the best gift ever. *This is where the story gets good - this author does an excellent job of tying scripture to real world experience. As a parent I LOVED it!!!

Her father explains that the greatest gift was from God. My Favorite quote is,
"Uncle Tom gave his money so that you could go to Happyland for a week. But God gave is ONE and ONLY son so that you could go to His happy land of Heaven FOREVER..."

The book ends with Lola realizing how special Jesus is and praying to accept him as her Savior.

An added bonus to this book is that following the story it gives practical steps of growth after salvation.

This is truly an all inclusive childrens book of salvation. Start young bringing them into the knowledge of Christ and they will see him as a person, a friend, and a Savior - they will desire a true relationship.

This would be an excellent Christmas gift.

This book was given to me by B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review of the product. Thank you for the review copy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Water Walking Faith

Matthew 14:28 "Lord if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.."

This is a familiar passage. The apostles were out in the boat and a storm came up suddenly and fiercely. The waves raged against the ship and threatened to break it apart. The apostles, frightened by what they saw, struggled to correct the situation. The winds hissed the lies of the enemy...."overboard, overboard, it's hopeless, it's hopeless..." Here they were surrounded by the darkness of night, their tiny vessel battered by tumultuous waves, the sails battered and ripped by the wind - without escape, seemingly without hope.

Then calmly, walking in the midst of the storm - on the tossing waves was a figure. "Is this a dream - is it a ghost - what is this that comes toward us - an angel of death???" The fear, the worry, the unknown - all in the form of questions.

And then the voice - "Be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid"

That calm steady voice. So very quiet it could have been missed amidst the rage of the storm, it could have been lost in the hiss of the wind, could have been drowned out by the pounding waves. But it is that voice that pierces all darkness, cuts through all distraction. It is that voice that demands an audience, complete attention - it can not be ignored. It demands action - will you stop to listen?

I have come to love this passage of scripture over the past year as God has brought so much to me in these 12 months. He has taught me the truth of water walking faith. You see I knew this story...I had a head knowledge of it...I believed it to be true - but when was I ever going to be out on the water to walk upon it? Simply a Sunday school story miracle.

What a deception of the enemy!

Water walking faith happens all the time, are you ready for it?

Water walking faith, however, has a cost. You must be willing to accept the storm to see the miracle. You must be willing to look only at God to trade in the physical for the spiritual. To trust what you don't see, can't explain, know in this physical world is impossible and believe in the one who said "Fear Not".

I love Peter's response when he hears that familiar voice - the voice of the one he has come to trust as Savior, Messiah, Master, and Teacher. The one he has heard call the dead to rise, the blind to see, the possessed to be set free. The one he has heard pray and talk with Father God.

"Lord, If it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.."

For me it came, all to often, in a question like this - and I believe this is the way many of us have phrased it: "Lord, my world is falling apart, my heart is shattered....IF you are here call me - show me a miracle"

But look closely at Peter's request. He did not ask for a miracle, he did not even ask that the storm be calmed. He asked for Jesus to bid him to come to him on the water. THROUGH the storm, in the midst of the turmoil. He wanted Jesus to bid him come into his presence. He knew something so many of us forget, or never fully learn, or somehow don't grasp - He Knew where safety was. Safety was not in that earthly vessel, it was only in the presence, the company, at the feet of, in the arms of JESUS. No where else.

My request has become: "Father, here it is - my life, all that I am, just as I am - use me: help my sight be on you and you alone."

As we continue this we see that Jesus responds to Peter with firmness and authority in verse 29 - One simple word, "COME"

Come: step out, a simple command. you hear it? An invitation of Jesus into the safety of his arms.

Please note that the storm has not stilled. Very likely the others are a mixed group: some terrified still, others staring in disbelief as the events unfold. The winds still rage, the waves still pound - - - the enemy still attacks with his lies: "it is hopeless, it is hopeless, give up, there is no salvation"

But there in the midst is the truth "FEAR NOT, IT IS I - the I Am, the Alpha and Omega, The Strong Tower - FEAR NOT I am able to deliver you - I love you, you are mine!"

Peter stepped out in the midst of that storm - eyes on Jesus. One foot after the other, walking on water. All is well even in the midst of the raging storm because all he could see was Jesus' face, all he looked at was that out stretched arm - all he listened for was that calm, quiet, authoritative voice.

But the enemy was still there whispering. And Peter saw the crashing waves, he saw that his feet were on uncertain ground that rolled and shifted and threatened to upturn him. He looked away.

In verse 30 we see him sink.

Then the miracle of grace comes in - He cried out and Jesus lifted him up.

Thank you Lord for that grace! "Why did you doubt?" Jesus asked.

So it is still - why did you doubt, why do you worry - you are my child, I love you and know you and have set forth your days, I have good thoughts toward you - plans for an expected end.

Wow! Why - because we are weak, we are of this physical world - because our faith falters, and we long to be in control.

Through this year God has shown me spiritual things that are more beautiful than anything this world has to offer. However, it has come at the cost of my being in control. Some say this should be easy - but I ask each of you to look closely at your heart, seek that which is hidden. Is is not our tendency to try to fix things, cope with things, be the strong one.

In my darkest hours as the enemy whispered his lies of defeat I cried out to Jesus to show me the cross, to extend his hand, to comfort my heart. In my times of doubt I have learned to ask for His perfect strength, His understanding, His peace.

My earthly vessel is weak and battered. It shatters easily when the waves of life beat upon it. This road I walk shifts beneath my feet and I stumble. Sometimes this world I know falls around me, and the things I thought were in my control slip through my hands like sand. These dreams I cherish sometimes never come true, these hopes I treasure sometimes are stolen or broken. These things I strive for sometimes do not happen. These prayers I whisper are not always answered the way I want.

Yet it is all beautiful - and perfect - and calm.

Water walking faith is trading in this physical sight for things unseen - it is looking to Jesus and through him it is being given spiritual sight of things more beautiful and precious, things hoped for, believed in and things to come. It is grace in its purest form.

Water walking faith means in the midst of the storm you accept it for what it is - a storm that will pass - and look to what will be - The perfect will of God.

This is no easy thing, there are times we will begin to sink. But this is our hope - "IT IS I" will immediately pull us out of the crashing waves when we cry out.

My darkest hours were still dark, my pain was and is still very much real. But in those hours when the enemy whispered and in those hours when my world shifted, and in those hours when my hopes shattered - I was allowed to see the cross and Jesus said "COME".

Our circumstances and storms may not change - that is not what water walking faith is. It is just that our focus, like Peter's, changes from the storm to the Sustainer, from the lies to the Truth, from the bondage to the Freedom, from the Fear to the Peace-giver, from the shifting ground of life to the Solid Rock of Christ.

When he bids you come - step out. Surrender and walk upon the water. Invite Jesus to take your life and make it calm in the midst of the storm.

If we began to live out water walking faith a revival would sweep our nation. For you can not walk into grace and experience water walking faith and not be changed.

Surrender your life - all that you are - to Christ. Be as Peter and ask that He bid you out into the water.

Created for a Purpose

The following is an email I sent to a dear daughter of the king. However, when I logged onto my email after bible study tonight it showed up as an unsent draft. Maybe this was meant for others as well, maybe God was speaking a truth to me. So here it is...something so simple, a message lost sometimes in the loudness of the world, hidden under our daily cares, forgotten in our rush to complete our tasks at hand. We all need to be reminded from time to time how very precious we are to Abba Father. Though this was written for someone in particular - I think it was also meant for others and myself - why else would God have not allowed the email to go through the first time (nothing in life is by happenstance but by divine appointment).

We are each created for such a day as this - to do our Father's bidding. I only say or write what is in my heart - I have learned in my years that my life must be surrendered to the One who created me and knew me before time began, who knit me together, placed me in my mother's womb and set my days - Just as he has done for you.

Always remember that you - a daughter of the king - are the crowning jewel of his creation - created for a purpose.

My loss is only physical - the spiritual side is so beautiful it can not be put into words. I rejoice daily in the time I had with Caleb Levi and I am ever thankful for the four children that are living (Anna Grace - 9, Chase "Rocky" Ryan - 7, Justin Wyatt, Jay - 3 and Rachel Elisabeth "RaeBird" - 2). I was four months pregnant with Caleb when a hemorrhage that I had developed at 4 weeks became worse and the bleeding blocked Caleb's blood supply. God answered many prayers during that pregnancy - he showed my husband and I many spiritual truths and we are forever changed because of our encounter with His grace.

Never forget that you are the crowning jewel - God saw woman and for the first time in the creation story said the words It is very good (not just it is good). Your life and the things in it are never by chance. Even our pain is beautiful when we allow God to use it.

Many nights during my pregnancy as a lay in bed hurting from the hemorrhage, tired from the blood loss, frustrated at the unknown - I prayed that God let me see the cross - that He support me with his strong arm - that he give me spiritual sight that overlooked the physical. Nothing in this physical world changed but my perception, my focus, my reality became that of the spiritual (this is the truth of the spiritual: it is not seen by human sight but by faith, it is comforting, beautiful, and peace that is incomprehensible). The enemy would whisper lies and Holy Spirit would whisper life sustaining, faith altering truths.

I do not know what the enemy has whispered to you - what life has done to you, what things you wrestle with I only know that God has said you are His daughter, you are more precious than rubies, more beautiful than anything on this earth, capable of all things in His strength, valuable above any earthly thing - created for a purpose. Even your heartaches, mistakes, pain, disappointments, broken dreams, broken heart, hurting spirit are made beautiful in His hands.

Ladies, we are each priceless, valuable, and loved beyond measure. Let Abba Father scoop you up in His strong arms and lift you high in the air and twirl you around. Look deeply into His laughing eyes, drink up this delightful love. Let laughter spill from your soul. Be filled. Be freed. Be Beautiful!

Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself in the Lord and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thank you Lord for trails
that have brought me to my knees
That I may see your love
and grace more abundantly
I can not know the reason
for such suffering
Or why there must be pain
in this offering
I only know the surrender
that brings about your peace
That covers all this pain
and brings my heart relief
No longer bound by sorrow
in the midst of suffering
I rest in arms that hold me
through all these things
I thank you Lord for for things
I do not comprehend
That I learn tor trust in you
not what I understand
Thank you Lord for sight by faith
of spiritual things
More beautiful than earthly sight
that make my soul sing
Lord, my faith was shaken
in the midst of the storm
Yet my eyes were straining to
see your sweet and holy form
The waves rose up hissing
with lies of the enemy
But you asked me to stand
and trust what I can't see
Take this heart that's broken
and all that I am
Make it more beautiful,
use it as you plan
I will not ask you why
nor question where you lead
Only for your grace
and comfort will I plead

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thank you

On October 26th we went to our regular OB check up expecting that all was well with Caleb. Dr. Mason listened for the heartbeat and found none - encouragingly he patted my hand and told me that sometimes babies turn and it is difficult to hear the heartbeat with the Doppler. So they got the ultrasound machine. As I lay there that day watching his expression change my heart went numb. No heartbeat, Caleb had passed away. I felt my world crash around me and could barely hear the next things that Dr. Mason said - I called Brent and he came in with all our children in tow.
The next week passed in a blur of heartache and questions - and how do you answer the questions of your children when your very own heart is reeling in shock. I felt so separated from reality - begging for a Lazarus miracle and receiving a small answer: "Surrender it all to me, I will take care of you - this seems like it will overwhelm you, but just as I stilled the wind for my disciples I will still this too, surrender".

What a difficult thing to do - human nature cries out for answers, demands control, wants stability, needs things fixed. God however wants us to be fully reliant on him, to give up the need for control, to accept the broken - knowing that in our brokenness He is making something more beautiful in the end. The key is letting him have the brokenness and not asking what he's making but fully trusting that it will be better and blessed.
I think I cried enough tears to fill a river, yet my comfort is those tears were lovingly counted by my Father.

Peace comes in that surrender - a strange peace that I am unable to put into words. God did not remove my heartache, he did not stop my pain, he did not stop my tears. He just wrapped me up in his love, wrapped my family up in his love. And we are changed because of this surrender, because of this encounter with His love, His grace, His provision. Our eyes were opened to spiritual things so beautiful that we shall never be the same. What the enemy would have as tragedy our family sees as victory, what the enemy would use to drive a wedge between husband and wife have driven us all the closer together as we leaned into our Lord, our Refuge, or Strength and Strongtower.

My Father's words to Jeremiah so many years ago echoed in my heart.."Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; and before you came forth I sanctified you..." (Jeremiah 1:5), and again in Psalms David recounts the same knowledge. Caleb was known and loved by God. He was given as a heritage and blessing to Brent and I and our children - Anna Grace, Chase Ryan, Justin Wyatt, and Rachel Elisabeth. Caleb's days from conception where written out by God, numbered by His hand just as each one of our days are. His life was sanctified - set aside, special and valued - by God. He was created for an expected end (as the scriptures say each of us are). In what the world sees as a tragedy I see such blessing. I am continually overwhelmed by God's provision. we prayed to see Caleb - God gave us a clear ultrasound just 3 weeks before his death. We watched as he waved his arms and kicked his feet to the beat of his beautiful heart. Then God granted us delivery in the hospital where we were able to see his perfectly formed body.
Through this entire pregnancy God has faithfully answered our prayers, strengthened us in our weakness, comforted us when we were fearful, given us words to comfort our children, and filled our hearts with overflowing love for God.

Life is beautiful, real and precious! I am ever thankful to God for this life that changed our family. Though he will be greatly missed I am so thankful God saw fit to allow him here for the time that he was here.

Today, we were surrounded by our spiritual family - our church family. They grieved with us and comforted each one of us in ways that others have not. They have stood by us throughout this, and lifted faithful, beautiful prayers on our behalf to God. I can never say enough to this family God has provided us in way of thanks. Through this God has shown me how very special our spiritual families truly are - for we are joined by a common God in a miraculous love.

Caleb Levi Riddle
Born November 2, 2010
12:26 am
3 1/2 inches long
8 ounces
Titus Memorial Hospital
Little Brother to: Anna Grace (Sissy), Chase Ryan (Rocky), Justin Wyatt (Jay), and Rachel Elisabeth (Rae Bird)
Son of Brent Ryan and Abbie Day

Thursday, November 4, 2010

30 Days of Praise & Thanksgiving

I've started 30 days of Praise and Thanksgiving on my blog and Facebook. Care to join me?
We have much to be thankful for and much to praise the LORD for. His blessings are without measure.

"Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name." Ps 100:4

1. I am thankful for my faithful husband.
2. "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; His love endures forever." Psalm 107:1
3. I'm thankful that I live in America, where I can participate in free elections.
4. "I will praise the LORD according to His righteousness; and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high." Psalm 7:17

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Talking Tombstones

Here I am again.

It’s 2:00 a.m.

The ground is wet... damp with dew.   Or is it my tears that have fallen on this place and moistened the grass and soil beneath?

Tombstones don’t mind the moisture.   They are immune to every force of nature it seems, or at least they are immune to my bitter and unhappy state.

Miserable place to be.   Graveyard... resting place for the dead. 

It feels like home.    

I had lost something here.    Something precious to me.   Or maybe I gave it away... let it slip from my hands without realizing its worth.   These late night visits provided no solace for my spirit.   What did they profit me?   An exercise in foolishness some might say, but what do they know?   

Restless nights, sleepless.   I  rise from my  bed and drive to this place again and again.

Keep coming.   Keep searching.   Maybe you will find it this time.

“What do you seek here?   What do you want from us?”   I can almost hear their voices call to me.   I wish.   I yearned to hear their voices again...   To talk with them one more time... to capture a moment of that childhood joy that was gone.  Buried along with my brother and sister.  

Joy!   What a treasure joy has become.  How do I get it back?   At what cost?   Is any price too high?

Apparently not.    He didn’t think so.    It cost Him his life.  The ultimate price.

Why do I seek joy in a graveyard?  In the dark wee hours of the morning?  

Don’t I know?  Haven’t I heard?

Joy is not here.

Joy is risen!  Darkened tombs can not hold it.   

Joy is not in my past.   Joy is my present and future.   It is not dependent on anyone or anything.  It is in me.. in Him.    It comes from Him and no other.

He is my joy!  My Savior!  My Friend!   He has become my dancing partner!   His voice calls to me now, “Come and be filled.  Go and proclaim the good news!  Walk with me.  Peace! Be still.”   

The tombs are silent and empty now.   At 2:00 a.m. His voice and His joyous song is all I hear!

" not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."  (Nehemiah 8: 10) 

Author's note:   This story was written in February of 2005 for a writing competition.  Not a winner, but it is one that I love.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Battle Ready!

For forty days, twice a day every day, he swaggered out and shouted to the four winds.   Had he grown tired of battle?   Was he frustrated because no worthy opponent had come forward thus far?  

""Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us."  And the Philistine said, "I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together!"  (1 Samuel 17: 8-10)

This was the Goliath of Gath... the splendor of the Philistine army.   Ten feet tall, weighing in at over 400  pounds.    His armor alone weighed at least 200 pounds with its bronze helmet, coat of mail, leg armor and bronze javelin.   His spear was as large as a tree branch.

Everyday he created a stir among the chosen people.    No one would dare go up alone against this megalith.   He was more mighty and powerful than any of them.    Good grief! His biceps probably measured 2 feet in diameter!    With his armor, he weighed at least one third of a ton!   Anybody would be a fool to try and take him on alone.     The Israeli soldiers spoke in frightened whispers of his size and might.

Goliath was defiant and intimidating.    He was cocksure of himself and knew he had no equal.   He was the largest of the giants, taller, more muscular, more mighty.    In a land of giants, he was the champion.

The army of Israel was terrified of him.    When he came into battle, they would scatter and flee in horror.

He thirsted for battle!   He was anxious to fight and kill... to destroy his enemy.  

The two armies were camped out on mountaintops with a valley between.   The valley of Elah in Ephes Dammim, meaning the edge of blood.    Israel was camped between Sohkoh and Azekah.    In Hebrew, the word Sohkoh means 'hedge' and Azekah means 'a field dug over, broken up." 

So Israel was entrenched outside their hedge,  between it and the broken ground leading to ephes Dammim, the edge of blood.      

Israel was at a standstill... unsure of their fate... unable to defeat their own  fear, much less overcome the army and giants standing in front of them.   They had forgotten their past and the victories that God had given.

Except for David.    The young shepherd.    The least of his brothers.   David  figured that if with God’s help, he could defeat a Lion coming at him with all his fierce muscle and weight and 20 razor sharp talons, then one ugly giant was a pushover.

King Saul, hearing of David's boldness, and desperate for some solution to his dilemma, called David to his side.   King Saul  offered his own personal armor to David.    David tried it on and couldn’t move.  This was the armor of a man, a warrior king.  It didn’t fit.   He hadn’t tested it.  Hadn’t proved it. 

He didn’t need it.

David was clad in  the armor of God.  With him, it was tried and true.    He had spent years in the field perfecting it.    Singing praises to the Lord, spending time with Him.    Fighting off the bears and lions that would come against him.       He was comfortable in this  God armor.    It fit well and he trusted it.      He had taken it’s measure.   It was reliable.

Goliath issued this challenge to Israel twice daily...  "One on one combat!   Winner takes all!"

Today would be his final challenge!

Except it wasn’t one on one.    This giant’s shield bearer went before him.  He carried a shield and a sword.    He was a giant also.   He had to be a giant.    He carried the shield and sword to protect Goliath.   If he was a normal sized man, what was he gonna protect?   Goliath's  kneecaps?

He’s there to ward off attackers so that the Goliath has room to throw his deadly spear.   The giant of Gath needs a  giant of a body guard!

Here is young David, alone with a slingshot and five river stones.   Up against two grizzly grouchy bullying giants!

Goliath is almost insulted that his only opponent is a boy.  One with no armor and no weapon, at that.   Practically naked before him with no protection.   He’s taking David’s measure.  Goliath is using the wrong measuring stick.

He didn't consider that God had already taken David's measure.

Here is the young Israelite without any visible means of defeating this armor clad, battle seasoned, oversized warrior.

But the battle is over before it ever starts  as these bold and defiant  words explode  from David’s mouth! 

 “I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied!  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand and I will strike you and take your head from you.  And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.   Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear, for the battle IS the Lords and He will give you into our hands.”

With that exclamation of faith, David races towards Goliath, swinging his loaded sling.  With the hedge behind him and the broken ground before him, he almost flies towards the edge of blood.   Towards the enemy of his people and of his God.

If Goliath was cocksure of his  own might and fighting prowess, David was even more confident in his God's ability to conquer any enemy.

With one throw from his sling, David knocked Goliath out with a stone.    The giant fell unconscious to the ground.   His insulting tongue stilled.   His powerful body was rendered limp and useless.  

David took the sword from the champion of the Philistines and before the amazed eyes of the two armies, he cut off the head of  his enemy  Goliath.  

 The completely demoralized Philistines ran away like frightened children.     If one Israelite boy without any visible armor or weapon could defeat their champion, what could the entire Israelite army do against them?   What would the God  of Israel do with them?

They were totally defeated.

If the Israelites had forgotten all that God had done for them, David’s faith and miraculous victory reminded them.   Once Goliath was dead, Israel  marched forward and defeated the Philistines.

We all have giants that come against us.      Finances, Family problems, Work, Sickness, Death, Divorce, Disappointments.      Just like a giant Goliath, they don’t  come one on one.   They  hit you from all directions.       

We have everyday giants.   We have monumental life altering giants.    They all come from the same place.   The devil doesn’t fight fair.      He sends his sword bearing shield bearer before him to trick us, confuse us, distract us and keep us from focusing.    The little things.   We think we can handle it.   Then BAM!  He shows up with deadly force!.     The thing that get us right in the heart.   His javelin or spear.   We lose our job.   We lose a loved one.   We have a life threatening illness.    We’ve been double teamed. and we could so easily be struck down, but for the Armor of God.

Paul tells us to put on the armor of God...  He never once told us to take it off.     In Romans 13: 12  he calls it the “armor of light”.   Unapproachable Light.

When you are wearing this armor, you are not only protected, but you stand out as a victorious warrior!

Our armor is our faith.

Life events take our spiritual measure.  Like David, before we go into our daily battle,  we should make sure we have a good fit.   We should remind ourselves of the times that God has come through for us in the past and that He will do it again now.   

Don’t try to enter into a battle wearing some body else’s faith.    We’re each given a measure.   It is formed and forged just for us.  We need to test it and try it and become so accustomed to it that it fits us like our own skin.

Like the Israelites, we tend to forget.

 David took goliath’s armor and kept it.    In my imagination I see it standing in a focal point in his home.  A daily reminder of how God came through for him and for Israel.

There are many times in the Bible when it is mentioned that the Israelites made a marker , set up stones, as a reminder of what God had done at a particular time or place.

I have several items in my home that are reminders to me of what God has done in my life.   A bowl of seashells on my coffee table.   A Santa Claus figurine holding a sign with the word "JOY".   A photograph of a beach at sunrise.   These are all reminders of the huge things God has done in my life and of His promises.

The next time you go into battle, be prepared.    As your enemy takes your measure, race toward him or it with the sure knowledge that God is with you and has gone before you.     

Call to mind what God has done in your past and trust Him for what He is doing in the present.      When the victory is won give Him the glory!    Then just in case you're forgetful like the Israelites, make a note of your victories.   Keep a reminder, something visible, as a reminder of how God did a miracle in your life.

And give Him the glory!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


The king is enthralled by your beauty.   Honor him, for he is your lord.  (Psalm 45:11)

Yes!   The King thinks you are beautiful.   He looks on you and can't take his eyes or His mind off of you.   

We may look in the mirror and see every flaw.  He looks at us and sees an extension of Himself.   He sees in us the beauty of His creation and the perfection of His plan.   He sees His bride in preparation for the wedding day!  

His excitement over us spills  into the heavens and He gives us gifts of beauty!      He honors us with His presence and encourages us with the intimacy of His voice calling our names.  

He does battle for us and defeats every foe!    He shares His heart and knowledge with us and draws us near in an all consuming love.

With playful laughter and open arms, He lifts us up in our hearts and fills us with joy.    He whispers sweetness in our ears and His music resonates through our minds.   His fragrance is breathtaking and falls on our skin like dew anointing us with His essence.

Yes, God IS enthralled by our beauty.     He loves us so deeply that He placed His most beautiful and  precious gift inside  each of us that call on His name.   The gift of Himself... His spirit.

What an incredibly wonderful God!        He makes us beautiful.     We are His heart's desire.

And He is ours.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dwelling Places

I was talking with a friend this morning about life, the universe and everything.   Of course, God is the key element there and He was also the central topic in our conversation.

Reflecting back on our past decisions and actions, we discussed  both  our right  and wrong choices and how they have affected our present and our future.  You know...  Girl talk!    Haha!

Life throws us a lot of  stuff.   Some of it just happens and some of it is our own doing.   But regardless, life is a series of ups and downs.    The major stuff, like births, deaths, marriages, divorces, illness... those are the ones that shape our character and our life stories.  Yet the smallest incident can have the greatest effect on us.    An alcoholic begins his/her struggle with that very first drink.   An addiction to a drug begins with that first "hit".      A first glimpse at pornography catches the eye and mind.   Life is changed forever by those first "small" occurrences.    Relationships are eventually destroyed.

Eden is a nice place to live.    It's a place where everything is beautiful and the blessings just seem to flow one after the other.    On the other hand, the deepest pit in hell is, to say the least, a tad on the miserable side.   I have been in both places at various points in my life.   I prefer being on the mountaintop of blessings in Eden.     But I don't always get to choose my circumstance.    And I really don't believe that our lives are intended to live continually in Eden.     

Let's face it.   We are human beings and we begin to take things for granted when life is good.     That's when  sin creeps into our neighborhood and tries to foul things up.    We come face to face with the world of degradation and lies.    Our faith is tested by temptation.     The temptation comes in the form of  a circumstance.   Our response to a new situation is the elemental device that God uses to teach and meld us into the likeness of Him.  Something changes in our life and we see it as a terrible event, when actually it is the very thing that God uses to shape us into the creation He has planned.

The world was perfect for Adam and Eve.   Yet Adam and Eve were not perfect.    The lying serpent didn't get into the garden by his own strategy.    God saw it coming and allowed it to happen.  He knew that Adam  & Eve would not withstand the onslaught of lies.   Although they were capable of obeying God, as are we,  they  were overthrown by this small "first"  that forever changed life for  humankind.   Or did it just set God's plan into motion?     He knew beforehand that sin would come to destroy His creation and He made arrangements at the beginning of time to send Jesus as the Lamb to be slain.    Only by the blood of Jesus are we, including Adam and Eve,  made perfect.     

During the last major upheaval in my life (going through the break up of an almost four decade long marriage), I journeyed to Galveston to see the aftermath of Hurricane Rita.   I saw not only the destruction caused by the storm, but also the cleanup crews at work and the reconstruction of  the structures and the lives of those affected by the storm.  

I wrote the following words in my Bible:  "Sometimes it takes the hurricanes, the overwhelming flood, the rot and destruction in our lives.. so that we can be gutted... with nothing left but the framework so God can restore and rebuild our lives anew."

Various paths were set before me during that time of my life.   Choices were made... some good and some not so good.    But none were a surprise to my loving heavenly Father.      He has used each of them to direct me in the path that He REALLY wants for me.   Thankfully, Jesus paved that path for me a long time ago.

Talking with my friend this morning, I reminded her and myself of just how God had changed my life so drastically.    Let's just say she is not living on a mountaintop right now and since I am such a fount of wisdom, I thought maybe I could give some advice.     Lord, I just hope the advice came straight through me from YOU.

I told her that during another one of the most miserable  'pit of hell' experiences in my life, I finally caved in and  cried out to God  asking Him to restore the joy of my salvation.       Being the gracious and loving God that He is, He granted my request.  Others may not know this, but God did a miracle that night.    My life was forever changed by His answer to a simple prayer.     I was still living in a pit... my circumstances did not change.   But God changed something inside of me and I was filled with His joy.    Because of Him, my attitude changed, my heart changed, and I drew closer to Him than I knew was possible.   The pit became a place where God taught me about His love and faithfulness.   His joy gave me the strength to endure.

No, I am not glad I was dwelling in a pit.   It was probably a pit of my own creation.  Regardless, who the heck wants to experience pit living?    Looking back, that pit was the circumstance  or experience that  God used to change my life and bring me to Him.       So yes, I am thankful and glad that I finally came to that place in  my life where there was nowhere to go but God.  

So if you are living in Eden, enjoy!    Beware!   Be Faithful!   One of those 'firsts' might show up and try to drag you out.

But if you are in one of life's pits, remember that you are not alone.   Remember that our God is in control and  He is the only one with the power and love to  help you survive the pit circumstance and come out strong on the other side. 

Nehemiah 8: 10   "....Do not grieve.   For the joy of the LORD is your strength."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Story of Uriah...The Lord is My Light

King David. THE King of Israel. His army is at war. He stays behind relaxing. A little R&R in the luxury of his palace while his men are deprived of their wives and children's company. While his men fight and are injured and die in battle.

What has happened? This is King David. The man that leads his army into the fray in the name of the Lord God Jehovah! The man that God has blessed with victory after victory. Yet here he is at home.

He's restless.... can't sleep. So he arises from his bed and walks on the roof of his palace where his eyes fall on the beauty of a woman bathing. And he is undone. All of his vows to live for the Lord are overthrown and he is held captive by her sexuality and his lust.

But she is married. Not only that, she is married to one of his 'mighty men', Uriah the Hittite. Uriah is no ordinary warrior. He is a Hittite. He shouldn't even exist. Centuries before, God had commanded the Israelites to go into Canaan and utterly destroy those who dwelt there. The Hittites dwelt there. But Israel did not carry out that command and they allowed some of the Hittites to remain in the promised land. Thus the existence of Uriah.

Uriah the inexplicable. His bore a Hebrew name meaning "The Lord is My Light." He is listed in 1 Chronicles 11:47 and 2nd Samuel 23:39 as one of David's mighty men. He's in the inner circle of those that David trusts with his life. He had sworn fealty to David the King. To be loyal to him and to do battle for him. To help David be the victorious one. God had made that same promise to David when he was a boy and anointed him King.

Yet these promises and relationships faded into a fog of nothingness in David's mind as he squashed his relationship with the one true God for what was meant to be a one night stand with a beautiful woman. He minimized his relationship and his friendship with Uriah, the Lord is my Light, as he plotted and planned to have her in spite of every obstacle.

Who would know? It wouldn't matter. He would have his way with her and send her home. Uriah was away. He would never discover the truth.

But that one night of guilty and sinful pleasure resulted in a pregnancy... What should have been a welcome and happy occurrence in a marriage became evidence of sin and wrong doing for Bathsheba and David. He was guilty and now the whole world would know that King David was faithless and weak.

Like Adam and Eve in the garden, hiding from God, David begins to plot and plan how to cover his sin. He orders Uriah home from the battle upon the pretense of obtaining a military report and tells him to go home and be with his wife. If Uriah lies with her, then he will think that the child is his own and David's secret would be safe.

But Uriah, the faithful warrior, refuses to accept the comfort and luxury of his home and bed while his God and his men are at war. He said to David, "The ark, and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing." (2nd Samuel 11:11)

Stalwart Uriah! Loyal Uriah! He stood firm against a temptation that must have been almost overwhelming to him. To be at home with his wife if even only for a short time would be a welcome and unexpected respite from the discomfort of camp and peril of battle.

He was truly a mighty man. He was truly living up to his name, the Lord is my Light.

And David was stopped in his tracks by this mighty man....Caught in his sin by this descendant of pagans who now worshipped the Lord.

Perplexed and anxious, he plots again and fills Uriah with food and drink, figuring that if he is in a drunken state that his resolve will melt away and he will give in. That he will just go home and do the thing with Bathsheba. In David's thinking, there's no way that Uriah would be able to stand with drunken wobbly legs on what David believes is a shaky moral ground.

In David's thinking, he was underestimating Uriah and trying to bring him down to his own level. David is thinking that he can influence The Lord is my Light and use him to cover up his wrongdoing.

David forgot one thing. The Light of the Lord sheds light on our sin. It will never be used to cover our sin up as if it doesn't exist. The Light of the Lord exists to expose sin.

Of course, Uriah did not comply with David's plans. Somehow his inebriated mind retained some shred of strength and he fell asleep with the servants. He didn't go home to Bathsheba.

In David's state of forgetfulness and in his frantic efforts to cover his sin, he loses any small bit of righteousness and sanity left to him and orders Uriah back to the heat of battle. He orders him to the front where he is sure to be killed. And he is dead. Uriah is slain by the enemy and by the order of King David, "a man after God's own heart".

David had become a murderer. David killed the "The Lord is My Light". He thought he had made sure there was no way that The Light could be focused on his sin. But the mighty David had fallen. Not by a sword or an arrow. Not by the small river washed stone from a slingshot. Not by poison or garrote. He fell from great heights and from mighty power by his own failure to do what God had told him to do... to be what God had told him to be. He fell by his own hand. He may as well have attempted spiritual suicide.

Though Uriah was gone, his death shed the Light even more powerfully over David. His actions and his sin could not be hidden from God. His relationship with his God was broken and gasping for breath.

David knew that the Lord was displeased with him.

In time, the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to confront him and accuse him. "Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon . 'Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' (2nd Samuel 12: 9-10)

When God spoke these words (through Nathan), David could no longer keep up the facade of innocence and he confessed to Nathan "I have sinned against the Lord!" and Nathan said to David "The Lord has taken away your sin. You shall not die." (2nd Samuel 12: 13) "However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die." (2nd Samuel 12:14)

God forgave David the sins of adultery and murder. There were dire consequences to come, but the sin was not held against him. David could start anew with a restored conscience and relationship with his Lord.

As Christians, we can think or believe we are so close to God that He won't mind if we take a break, a little R&R from Christianity so to speak. We get comfortable in our relationship with Him and take for granted our status as His precious and privileged children. Maybe we are weary of the constant battle and like David, we see something or someone and think that we deserve a little pleasure or fun. After all, it won't hurt anybody. We deliberately sin. Then we begin to try to cover it up. We make every effort to kill and squash our guilty conscience... our Uriah. We make excuses. We try to justify our actions and even use holy scripture to do so at times. Failing at that, we put a distance between ourselves and our God and eventually our relationship with Him is in tatters and we begin to live a life where we don't welcome God's Light.

Thank God for this story of Uriah and his moral strength. Thank God for showing us that even those we see as the most spiritual and most righteous can fall. When we think that our relationship with God is so close that "I would never do this.... There's no way." we should thank God for this warning that we should ALWAYS beware of the devil crouching at our door waiting for the chance to trip us up. None of us should become so sure of ourselves that we think there is no way we could give in to life's temptations or that we will not be held accountable if we do.

Thank You God for allowing us the opportunity to ask forgiveness when we fall. Though we may have consequences to our sin, we have forgiveness and a new beginning through Jesus.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"The Living Waters"

This last week-end I went to Broken Bow to the cabin with 4 other ladies on our ladies ministry team. We had such fun eating out, shopping, playing games, laughing, watching a late movie, just being together and relaxing!! Saturday morning I was the only one to brave the great big awesome looking hot tub!!! But, oh as I stepped in and sat back it felt so good!!!!!!!!The waters felt wonderful on my body, but God's touch ,(Living Waters!),how it revived my soul!!! How I cherish that time !!! God spoke volumes to me in that 30 minute hot tub time!! As the waters began beating against me, God reminded me how storms in our lives will come and beat against us , but always remember that He is our still waters and He will calm your storms and give you Peace. He will be with you thru all your storms!!He is our refuge from the storm! "For you have been a defense for the helpless, A defense for the needy in his distress, A refuge from the storm; a shade from the heat; For the breath of the ruthless Is like a rain storm against a wall." Isaiah 25:4. As I lay back on the tub, I saw two small birds flying by and God told me "Always remember I am the Music of your soul!"He restores me!! "He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness, For His name's sake." Psalm 23:3. I spotted a tall vine, God reminded me, "I am the vine, you are the branches!" John 15:5 Stay attached to me!!! Abide in Me!! Go Deeper!!! Learn More about me!! I reached my hand out to grab some to the foam that was in the water and the foam dissolved in my hand, God reminded me how the worldly things we want or try to get, will pass away, but I will never pass away, never leave you, never forsake you!!!"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." Matt. 24:35. & "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you." Hebrews 13: 5b. My word stands firm, "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8
O Father, You are My Living Waters, Praise Your Most Holy Name!!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Road Trip

I woke up Thursday morning and debated with myself whether or not to hit the road.

My 'vacation' week was winding down. I had cleaned out and organized my little office/computer room. I had traded my car for a pickup. I had taken my tax info by the accountant to FINALLY do my 2009 tax return.

The original plan had been for a road trip to somewhere, anywhere, get away from the hacienda and do something different. But the weather was a bit nasty this week and I postponed the "trip to nowhere" thinking that I would go later in the week when the rains had gone away.

When that day came, I almost argued myself out of the trip. But, reasoning that I would kick myself in the rear if I didn't go, I packed my backpack with a change of clothes, grabbed my computer and put the truck in gear.

My pastor's wife, Abbie, had told me about the missions in San Antonio and I had decided that I wanted to see them.

I finally found my way to Mission Concepcion (after going in circles in San Antonio trying to find the right road). It is a beautiful and magnificent building and I took a few pictures. Then I made my way on down the trail to Mission San Jose. I never got to the other 2 missions. I spent so much time on these two.

Lucky me! I arrived on a weekday when the kids are back in school. So there were hardly any other tourists around and I practically had the whole place to myself. I felt like I had gone back in time to an era that has been romanticized by the fog of years.

Life must have been so hard for the Franciscan monks and for their converts, the local Indians. Growing their own crops, milling their wheat. Every basic need required hard work... monumental effort. And on top of the day to day chores and back breaking work, they had to also defend their missions against the Commanche Indians who regularly attacked...killing and stealing from them.

Yet even with all the hardship and danger, they managed to build these wonderful structures. The architecture is beautiful and the statuary and ironwork amazing. Even with all the hardship and danger, the monks managed to carry out their mission of bringing the message of Christianity to these people.

Such dedication to their calling and purpose amazes me. It made me reflect on my own commitment to the calling God has on my life. Would I be willing to go to a strange and foreign land and put my life on the line in order to tell others of Christ?

Missionaries have done this for centuries... Lived and died for the call of Christ. It's very humbling when you think of it. It is hard to get a perspective on it. There are contemporary missionaries that are living this out even as I write these words. I have been receiving regular email from one for a few years now. She uses code words in her email so that the local government will not know that she is talking about Jesus. I am in awe of their love and commitment to Christ.

I was talking with God about this on the way home tonight. His calling on my life hasn't changed. Study His Word. Share His Word. Write devotionals and share them with others. Teach / speak when given the opportunity.

No, His calling on me hasn't changed. But maybe I have been changed by walking a day in the past. Maybe my commitment to carrying out His command is more urgent and solid... more compelling.

The only wild Indians attacking me are my own inadequacies and weaknesses. I am not in fear for my life. I'm not called to a dangerous mission. My God is strong and loving enough to have His hand on missionaries to guide and protect them. I believe He can probably help me out with my shortcomings.

Lord, thank You for the men and women who have lived their lives to bring the love of Christ to the world... Thank You for those that have given their lives in that cause. Father God, keep me mindful of Your purpose for me and help me to be bold to do it. In Jesus' precious name.. amen.