Month: January 2016 (page 1 of 2)

Dirty Snow

IMG_6593A week ago most of the mid-Atlantic area was blanketed with a hefty amount of glistening, pure-white snow. A handful of the frozen precipitation helped quench my shoveling-induced thirst once I ventured outside.

I recall as a  young child spooning  freshly fallen, clean snow into a pan to usher quickly inside. Vanilla and sugar were added for an easy, sweet cold treat. Snow was fun as a child. Fun to play in, fun to eat, and a fun reason to miss school. All fun.

Adulthood seems to suck the fun out of snow. Our out-of-shape bodies groan with each shovel-full. The beauty is still in the snow; we just don’t take the time to see it. The fun is buried with our cars and mailboxes.

Now a week later, the streets and parking lots are filled with piles of gray, dirty snow pitted with gravel and trash. It reminds me of how quickly something so clean and so pure can become so unclean and dirty.

dirty snowThe once-clean has become unclean. The once-white has become gray. The once-ready-to-eat has become inedible.

Each day my heart begins as white as freshly fallen snow. The whitest of whites, Clorox-white.  I begin anew and clean  because of what Jesus did on the cross. Praise God!

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV

However, it doesn’t take very long for my heart to go from clean to unclean. The white grows grayer and darker and dirtier as each second ticks away.

But His Word reminds me, I can start fresh and clean and white-as-snow each and every day.

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, His merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great is His Faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 (MSG)

Matthew’s account of the leper is a wonderful reminder that He is more than capable of cleaning our outsides as well as our insides with His Holy words, Be Clean!

When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Matthew 8: 1-3 NIV

As I step around the piles of dirty snow waiting for the spring thaw, I know my heart doesn’t look anything like what I am sloshing through. No, His red Blood has washed my heart and has made it whiter than any snowfall. Only God’s color wheel makes black + red = white.

Jesus offers “Be Clean” daily and I am so very thankful.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 KJV

Let’s Walk Worthy!

A21

Christine Caine is an Australian firecracker. Speakers get and keep my attention when they speak passionately and fervently. She does both and then some. I have heard Christine speak several times and her energetic realness left an impression on me. I have read several of her books and give them a “thumbs up”.

She loves Jesus and her caffeine intake is probably off the charts. Christine and her husband, Nick, founded the A21 Campaign to combat human trafficking. A21 stands for “Abolishing Injustice in the 21st century”.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. It is sad that this horrific problem is so prevalent that we need an entire month to heighten awareness. But it is. It is flourishing in developed and still-developing communities around the world  whether we want to see it or not; whether we want to believe it or not. Just because we choose to stick our heads in the sand doesn’t make the problem any less serious nor make the problem go away. It is a real problem affecting real people, children and adults.

Recently, I have started following A21 on Instagram. I discovered after emerging from under my rock that being on Instagram is a rather pleasant experience. I enjoy seeing quick snap shots of what people post: intriguing photo-op locations, smiling faces,  yummy foods, catchy phrases and inspiring verses set against  beautiful landscapes.  I enjoy scrolling through and “hearting” them. Nothing else is required really, so it doesn’t stress me out.

Then I received some posts from A21. They have rocked my world.

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These words should rock everyone’s world and the rocking shouldn’t stop or subside until every child and adult who are being held as slaves are set free.

These words are not a quick, cute “like” on Instagram and scroll on. These words demand a bowed head and heart prayer of “thank you, Lord”.

 

Dearest Heavenly Father,  Please wrap Your loving arms around these freed ones. Heal their bodies, minds and souls. Keep whispering in their ears that they are safe now. Let them know with every cell of their being how much You deeply love them.

As I continue to receive the celebratory “Breaking News” posts from A21, I will be rejoicing and praying but I will also be writing.  A21 accepts encouraging letters and cards for the survivors in their restoration facilities. How cool is that! What a great opportunity to love-on someone who needs to know they are valued and worthy. So I am picking up a pen and paper. I am going to pour out on paper a whole bunch of love and support to a very brave survivor. If you want to learn more about this, click here

It doesn’t matter that I don’t know the name of the woman in Ukraine who is now FREE.  God knows her name and He hears my prayer for her. He is the ultimate Rescuer.

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 82:3-4 NIV

Let’s Walk Worthy!

Lapis Lazuli

Lapis lazuli is a rock; a beautiful, bluest-of-blues rock. It can be polished brightly and be crafted into jewelry, carvings, ornaments and vases.lapis Fun Fact: Lapis lazuli was used for the eyebrows and surrounding eye area on the funeral mask of King Tut. It can also be ground into a powder to be used as a brilliant blue pigment too.

Lapis lazuli was also used in the Holy Ground of our Almighty God.

Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. Exodus 24: 9-10 NIV

These verses hold such wonderful imagery. The leaders of Israel were invited to come meet God and they did or at least some version of Him.  These mere mortals were able to look upon My Creator with their eyes and see what He was willing to reveal to them.  What an incredible experience! Wow!

But God did not raise His hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.  Exodus 24:11 NIV

This passage in Exodus certainly piques my curiosity.  What was that experience like? How much of the Veil was pulled aside and was made visible to them? Were they shaking in their sandals? It doesn’t say they fell down in awe, unable to move. No, we read that the leaders were comfortable enough in that setting, in the Holy presence of God, to eat and drink. What do you eat when God is in the room? Hmmm.  Double Wow!

This lovingly reminds me that God is approachable. Yes, He deserves all my reverence and respect but He invites me to come to Him. He will show up.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord.”

Exodus 24: 1 NIV

“Come and meet with me. Come and spend some time with me. Let’s enjoy a meal together.”

God had invited the leaders to approach Him and He was very present, standing on only God-worthy bright-blue pavement. The black asphalt that I am accustomed to is not suitable for the God of the Universe.

I love the color blue and I will allow my  imagination to visualize a ton of lapis lazuli in Heaven; but nothing will compare to His Beauty!

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

Snow Day

Jonas has arrived and my hubby is snowed in at work all weekend. I know I will need to bundle up and go out into the winter wonderland to shovel once Jonas exits. But while the  snow is still falling and blowing, I have time for some indoor snow day activities:

  1. clean my mouthguard (yucky)
  2. look through the Christmas cards I received and count my blessings
  3. say many prayers for the electricity to stay “on”
  4. clean out my messy purse
  5. find mates for all my gloves
  6. catch up on my emails
  7. write to my Compassion children and share about lots and lots of SNOW
  8. try a no-bake oatmeal cookie recipe
  9. get busy on some shutterfly projects
  10. relax and enjoy God’s beauty and creation

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Let’s Walk Worthy and Be Safe!

Anticipation

We can never know about the days to come. But we think about them anyway, And I wonder if I’m really with you now or just chasing after some finer day.

Anticipation. Anticipation

is making me late, is keeping me waiting.

Carly Simon made those lyrics famous in 1971. She wrote them while waiting for Cat Stevens to pick her up for a date (fun fact).

Heinz ketchup capitalized on those words ketchupfor their commercials in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Who doesn’t recall eagerly anticipating the ketchup to emerge from the bottle onto that juicy burger or a pile of fries?

Currently, the entire Northeast sits in high-alert Anticipation mode for its first major snowstorm, Jonas, to arrive this weekend. The news is predicting 50 million people will be affected by this winter storm.

So in true American style, we (me included) head to the stores to stock up on food and other necessities.  Sporting events are being cancelled. We can’t be trapped without chocolate. Flights are being diverted. We need milk too. Travel now or we won’t be traveling anywhere. Get more toilet paper. My husband’s work sent out an email detailing how to prepare in Anticipation of being stuck at work this weekend. We are scrambling in Anticipation of a storm that may or may not live up to its hype. Get more bread and eggs. Plans are being devised. Preparation is underway. Our eyes are on the skies in Anticipation.

Just like our upside-down ketchup bottles, we seek answers to similar questions: When will it come? How much will come? Will it come all at once? Will it be too much or just the right amount?

A much bigger and more significant event is coming. Am I preparing in Anticipation for it? Am I bustling about in high gear making sure I am ready; making sure my loved ones are ready? This event is a guarantee; not a possible bust like some winter storms.

Therefore be on alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason, you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. Matthew 24: 42-44 NIV

If Jonas shows up, I will have lots of indoor time to look long and hard at my preparation for His Coming. I may find myself on my knees with a box of Kleenex as I recognize my deep lack of heart-readiness.

When I venture outside to shovel, I will be dreaming about “Chasing after some finer days.” Eternity with my Lord and Savior sounds quite lovely. No shoveling in Heaven, right, Lord?

Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into Heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into Heaven.” Acts 1:11 NIV

The skies may bring snow and ice this weekend; but they will usher Him in one day too. May I care more about preparing my heart and mind for Him than I do about stocking my fridge. Anticipation is keeping me waiting.

Walk Worthy!

DREAM

As we pause to remember a man with a great dream today, I am reminded of another dreamer. Joseph’s life-journey revolved around his dreams and his God-given ability to interpret other’s dreams.IMG_6557

Joseph innocently shares his dreams with his brothers and his father. Both of his dreams highlight that one day his family will bow to him and be at his mercy. Through the visuals of sheaves of grain and heavenly bodies, God begins to drop hints of His great plans for this shepherd.

‘Ha Ha Ha’ is their  laughing response and Joseph is mockingly referred to as “the dreamer” in Genesis 37:19.  I can hear them roaring with laughter, “That’s a good one, Joey. Tell us another one.”

Their jealously becomes darker and more evil; “Come now, let’s kill him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” Genesis 37:20.

God-ordained dreams don’t die; even if the dreamer does. Joseph’s brothers don’t know Whom they are dealing with. They don’t kill Joseph but sell him as a slave for 20 shekels of silver. Now Joseph is on his way to Egypt.

If Joseph’s highs and lows in Egypt caused him to scratch his head  and wonder if God had abandoned him and those now-hazy dreams, we don’t read of any. We don’t read about any wavering or questioning. We don’t read about Joseph chucking his faith during those dark days.

He suffers through false accusations and false imprisonment. “But God was with him” as we are reminded in Genesis 39:2 and 39:21.

The next dreams belong to Pharaoh’s officials and Pharaoh himself. Joseph interprets the good news for the cupbearer (you will be restored to your position) and the bad news for the baker (you will die). Don’t shoot the messenger.

When Joseph is brought in from his prison cell to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph shows his amazing, unwavering faith. No bitterness. No “it’s about time, God”.  No “You forgot about me, now I will forget about You”. Nope. Joseph gives credit where credit is due. “I can’t, but God can.”

“I cannot do it, but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” Genesis 41:16 NIV

Joseph’s dreams and their interpretations have caused him much pain and now much praise and admiration. Egypt and the surrounding lands will survive the famine. Joseph is reunited with his family and offers forgiveness. Forgiveness that resonates of “I cannot, but God can.”

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us. Ephesians 3:20 NIV

Sweet dreams!

Photo credit: Sarah Bessey

 

Hold Fast

 

The last words I wrote in my journal this morning:  “I am fearful.” I put it all out there for God. Raw and honest.

I am fearful of our upcoming trip to Tanzania. I am fearful we won’t be ready – physically, mentally or spiritually. I am fearful that my husband, who is a member of the Blood, Sweat and Compassion Team trekking to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro as a clean water fundraiser, will get sick or eaten by a tiger or fill-in-the-blank-here with any other calamity. I am fearful of altitude sickness for all the Team. I am fearful for my safety and health as I am staying behind in Arusha.  I am fearful to be separated from my husband and the Team for 6 days. On and On.

So many doubts and second thoughts were spinning around in my head. “Why did we decide to do this? I don’t recall praying about it and putting it before God to seek His Will. Are we nuts? Something bad is going to happen.”  The list was growing and my fears were snowballing.

But my God knows me and my long list of fears; and He can handle all of it. He is cool with me admitting what He already knew was welling up inside of me.  AND He knew what I needed to read this morning from His Word. He met me where I was –  on a high speed merry-go-round of fear with no stopping in sight.

I will be with you

Five words. They were what I needed to hear. “I will be with you.” Thank you! Keep leaning in and shouting at me, Lord. You know I can be hard of hearing You. “I will be with you.”  Over and Over. I needed reminded, just like Moses.

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

God’s answer, “I will be with you.”

Exodus 3: 11-12 NIV

Moses, like me, continues throughout Exodus chapters 3 and 4 to hem-haw, doubt, question, fear, offering more and more excuses.

“I will be with you.”

So I will continue to bring my “What if’s” and my “I can’t do this” and “We must be crazy” and lay them down at His Feet as He lovingly responds, “I will be with you.”

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your Presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your Hand will guide me, Your Right Hand will hold me fast.

Psalm 139:7-10 NIV

I am being held by His Mighty Right Hand. I am not just being held; I am being held fast. That means tightly; to remain tightly secured. Thank you, Lord, for the reminder.

“I will be with you no matter where you go.”

Photo credit: “Master and Commander”

 

 

 

Fountain or Drain?

Be a fountain, not a drain. IMG_3753

I love that word picture and life-challenge. How would I describe myself? How would others describe me?

Fountains are life-giving. Fountains invite us to come closer and drink in; offering beauty and refreshment. You would go out of your way to visit a fountain. You would stop and spend some time in its presence. Fountains whisper, “Stop and rest here a bit. Enjoy these cool waters, refresh yourself before facing life again.” Fountains put us at ease and wet our dry souls.

Drains, on the other hand, are emptying. No one goes sight-seeing to see a drain. There is nothing encouraging or desiring about being near a drain. Gurgle, gurgle. Drains get clogged with gunk. Drains get stopped up with debris. Get the plunger and Drano. Drains are a waste land. Drains suck water and life.  Drains are true-to-their-name; they are draining.

Jesus, is the Ultimate Fountain. He is the Fountain of Living Water. People were drawn and are still drawn to Him. He gives True Life with  just one drink.

For my people have done two evil things: They have forsaken me, the Fountain of living waters; and they have built for themselves broken cisterns that can’t hold water. Jeremiah 2: 13 TLB

We can probably name the fountains and drains in our lives. I know which one I want to be. Here’s to more bubbling and less gurgling.

“The cistern contains; the fountain overflows.” William Blake

Walk Worthy and Overflow!

 

 

 

Wrestling

My husband was a high school wrestler and I attended many of his wrestling matches years ago. Wrestling is such an unique sport.  No extra equipment like a  racket, bat, club or any-shaped ball.  One on one using just muscles, motions, and maneuvers. The wrestler tries to control and maintain restraining power over his opponent.

Most of the time, I was unaware of what was going on, but I decided if my boyfriend was on top, that was good. If he was on the bottom, not so good. And based on this definition, I guess that was a correct assumption. Wrestling is the activity of grappling with an opponent and trying to throw or hold them down on the ground.

wrestlingIn Genesis 32, we can read about a divinely appointed wrestling match.  One opponent is Jacob, son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham. Yeah, the big guns. Jacob has a super-impressive Godly heritage with the line of Jesus continuing through his son, Judah.

But Jacob wasn’t perfect or righteous.  He tricked his brother, Esau, out of his birthright and deceived his elderly father. However, Paul reminds us in a God-written history lesson from Romans 9:13, “Just as it is written: Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

The other Opponent was God, the Creator of Everything. The Big Man. This match seems lopsided from the start; the opponents aren’t in the same weight class. Jacob is a lightweight; God is the Ultimate Heavyweight.

The match occurred beside a stream during the night. I think a lot of my wrestling with God happens at night too. Mental takedowns and escapes; reversals and stalling. I plan, plead, plot.

God wants me to let go.  He wants me to let go of people, in particular. People whom I think I can fix or change. People whom I have measured and judged and have concluded they should change.  “If these people would just do what I tell them to do, everything in my little world would be so much better. Life would be easier for all of us.” Wrestling with big control issues.

Jacob left the wrestling match with a limp, God’s Mighty Blessing and a new name. God renamed him, Israel, meaning  “he struggles with God”.

Face-to-face, eye-to-eye, and toe-to-toe- this is the kind of close relationship God wants. When God allows something in your life that you don’t like or understand – honor Him by wrestling with Him about it. Step into Him – not away from Him. And while He may not reveal all of the answers to you about your situation, God will meet you, as He did with Jacob, and give you what you need.

Discover God’s Heart, Devotional Bible, NIV

God is OK with me wrestling with my issues; it means I am aware of them and it honors Him. He is OK with all my issues, my questions, my cries, my many why’s, my confusion, even my doubts. Because wrestling involves working through all this stuff. Wrestling develops my spiritual muscles and causes me to seek Him out by getting into His Word.  It keeps me coming back for more of Him.

Jacob, now Israel,  says in disbelief, “I saw God face-to-face and yet my life was spared.” He was not the same after his wrestling match; I don’t want to be the same either.

Wrestle and Walk Worthy!

 

The Scales

bathroom scalesIt’s January; time to think about losing weight. Time to try to eat more broccoli and not as many chocolate chip cookies.

To demonstrate how serious I am, I head out  to buy new bathroom scales. I am convinced that my tight-fitting jeans must be due to my current scales malfunctioning and not from peanut M & M’s. New scales must be the answer!

I scan the large selection and see some offer a feature that records the history of the weight up to 2 individuals. What? With the push of a button, my husband or any relative/guest could see my weight history! Horror of horrors!

Why would I want my husband (or anyone) to see the glaring LED display of how much I weigh today or last week? That numerical display would also be proof (like he hasn’t figured it out yet) that I outweigh him. I don’t want to talk about it.

I don’t need brainiac scales with a memory and will happily share my private information with a push of a button to anyone. I have issues.

Another selling feature is how this evil machine will flash RED, if I gained weight, and GREEN, if I lost weight and pigs were flying around. That is not what I want to see in the early morning hours. Again, no thank you.

So I am all stressed out about what number my husband could see when I  know he loves me no matter what the stupid scales illuminate. What about when I stand before God and I have to give an account for all my thoughts and actions? What will my life-scale show? My weight and vanity won’t matter an iota.

But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. Matthew 12: 36 NIV

 On display won’t be my weight, but my life. All of my life.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things while in the body, whether good or bad.

2 Corinthians 5:10 NIV

It’s time to take my words and actions more seriously because God certainly does.

Let’s Walk and Talk Worthy!

 

 

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