Saturday, 10 October 2015
As I left the store today, I saw something hanging beneath the bottom of my side-mirror and for a moment, thought someone had stuck gum on my precious bug! I could feel myself begin to boil at the thought . . .
However, as I approached the car, I flipped my head upside-down to get a better look and saw this teeny snail, hanging on for dear life. (I'm sure there were a few people cracking blonde jokes at the sight of me). I wasn't too sure what to do with him, so I decided to leave him to meet his fate.
As I drove home on the freeway at a fairly good clip, I found myself praying for the little guy. I was elated when I pulled in the driveway and he was still clinging. Amazing!
Which got me to thinking about how hard I cling to the Lord.
Reality is, this past year has shown me how shaky my walk with the Lord can be. Sometimes I was amazed at the strength He gave me. Walking through Don's heart attack, surgery and recovery, I was filled with a deep peace and was so aware of His presence.
But then there are days when I find myself "losing it" and yelling at the dog, the cat, and various inanimate objects for the stupidest reasons. (And I don't even own a cat).
They say you can judge the size of a person by the size of the things that make them mad. Well, I don't see that in my own life. Besides, I know my true size —I joined weight watchers last week and became sorrowfully aware.
No, much like my weight, the size of my Christian character can fluctuate madly.
It appears that the Lord gives me an extra measure of grace when I am called to walk through fire, but when it comes to something silly—like thinking someone stuck gum to my car—I believe my off-the-chart, emotional reaction relates more to the size of my morning devotional than to the size of me. How much time I have spent at His feet, getting a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit and yielding myself to Him before starting my day is what makes all the difference in how I react to the bumps along the way.
Anyhow, these are the random thoughts that came to me as I hung my head upside down, snapping a few shots of my tenacious, tiny friend.
Is it just me? Or do you too struggle with being a bit of a flake . . . or even a fake? As I write this, I am repenting and filled with complete awe that the Lord chooses to use me in all of my imperfection.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's okay. Life's a bumpy journey and none of us are "there" yet. We're just cruising down the highway of life, clinging to the Lord for dear life.
Just Hang on Little Buddy. Just hang on.
Friday, 3 April 2015
Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (Romans 15:2 ESV)
The other day, my friend Sheila shared with us about a recent visit she had with a neighbor. Sheila had been befriending a nearby lady in hopes that she would build a relationship and have an opportunity to share Jesus with her.
Finally the day came when the neighbor invited Sheila in for tea, (which being from England, suited my friend just fine!) When the woman went into the kitchen to put the kettle on, Sheila began to pray that the Lord would give her the right words to speak.
So imagine her surprise then, when the elderly lady passed her a proper teacup, to be greeted by a floating fly, staring back at her, belly up. Now it’s important that we are equipped for every good work, and Sheila usually is, but this? This she was not equipped for. Deftly, she leaned forward to take some sugar with a teaspoon and then as she stirred, tried to catch the dead fly on the spoon. What on earth she was going to do with the floater was yet to be determined. But, in order to build up and reach her neighbor, she did, with a quick prayer, drink the tainted tea.
You know what, ladies? Poor Sheila isn’t the only one who is sometimes faced with evangelistic dilemmas. We too can be called out of our comfort zones to make new friends and share our faith. We don’t know what kind of unexpected things will meet us on our journey, but – like my friend – we need to keep our heart and eyes focused on their need for a Savior and not on any dead or unpleasant things they may have lurking in their lives. We can trust that the Lord will provide us with what we need when it’s needed.
Father, we thank You that You choose to engage us in reaching the lost and sharing Your love. Help us to learn to relax and see the humor in circumstances that may be stretching us beyond what we would think or even imagine. Holy Spirit, thank You that You equip us with all we need to do what You’ve called us to do. Amen!
Saturday, 28 March 2015
He looked a bit tired but fine, and we spoke while they hooked him up to all kinds of monitors and gadgets. Arriving at the hospital, his heart rate was 33 and they couldn't establish a blood pressure reading (I assume because his pulse was so slow?)
As the day progressed we were told he had not suffered a heart attack, and then hours later, we were told he had. Let the roller coaster ride begin. More turns and highs and lows would follow. As Don and I sat in the trauma room, he asked me to take a picture of the heart monitor because it was averaging around 40 beats per minute . . . he thought it would make him look like an elite athlete.
Grabbing my cell, I held it up just as his heart rate disappeared. The top right of the screen lit 32 and then went blank; the green line that had been slowly leaving a weaving trail went flat. In shock I just kept taking picture after picture while beeps and alarms sounded. Strangely, Don kept speaking and looked pale but fine.
I dropped my cell onto the bed and began to quote scripture, starting with ,'He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds'. Don - not knowing what I was doing - joined in. Moments later the number reappeared and slowly rose. He was admitted and hooked up to a horrible machine that beeped and alarmed constantly.
The next day, they told me that they were taking my man for a quick, twenty minute angiogram. Two hours later I was still alone outside in the hall waiting. I sat, head hung down and asked the Lord, 'You are El Roi - you do see - right?' Moments later my cell rang. It was a friend telling me that something I had prayed about years ago and had been waiting for resolution was . . . resolved. In that moment. Not last year . . . not last month . . . not yesterday . . . but in that moment.
A half hour later, they wheeled him out with a report that showed he needed open-heart surgery. Shock? You bet! Supernatural peace . . . buckets full! I was still in awe of God's intervention minutes before.
The next day I was scheduled to fly to LA to see Mia off before her three month mission trip. We were dumbfounded but the cardiologist assured me that Don was in good hands and that I should go.
So I did.
For forty-eight hours I was in a blissful, beach bubble with my kid, miles away from painful reality. However, come Sunday, having returned the rental car, the truth slammed me and I lost it. Babbling, snotty tears flowed.
Back home, two of the kids were able to fly in just before the surgery, and we captured a selfie. (I was going to post it, but decided to protect the innocent. It wasn't too pretty a shot of Don).
El Roi was holding us. We could feel it. Once in awhile I would crack and have a good cry when nobody was looking, (except for the couple of hundred people at the Burbank airport). But we were good.
His bypass surgery was postponed a few times as he was bumped by others with more urgent needs. I struggled with resentment, but then kept remembering my El Roi moment days before. His timing is always perfect.
The night before his surgery, I lay in bed alone with one of Don's shirts I pulled from the hamper tucked under my chin. I could smell his scent and it brought me comfort. I knew that I had to let go. That I had to open up my hands and release my husband into God's perfect will and purpose. Not for God's sake, but to grow my own faith and to give up my selfish fleshly desires for whatever He had planned. It took me a bit, I prayed a lament using Psalm 41:1-3, replacing Don's name where possible.
I wanted Don to walk with me for many more years to come . . . but I also trusted the very One who had showed up and encouraged me when I was alone outside the angiogram room a few days before.
As I write this, Don is in the cardiac intensive care unit recovering from a quadruple bypass. When he woke this morning and they removed his breathing tube, the nurses told me his first words were, 'Thank you. God bless . . . Jesus loves you!'
Moments later, I sat down next to him and he reached out and - forgetting that he could speak - spelled out 'Jesus loves you' into the palm of my hand with his finger. My man was experiencing the crazy love of His Father and wanted everyone in the room to join in.
There is nothing amazing about us or our journey - we acknowledge that many have walked much more challenging and tragic paths. But we are amazed at God's faithfulness and all that He has taught us these past twelve days. As Don said when the nurses left us alone for a moment, 'This is not about us, Lori . . . we're here for His purpose.'
Yes, my sweet man, Jesus does love me. And He sees. And He is faithful . . . He gave me you . . . and then He gave you back to me.
Saturday, 14 March 2015
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 ESV)
There is a syndrome that affects loving parents across the world and is has done so since the beginning of time. I call it, ‘Lord I believe, help my unbelief!’
Typically the condition doesn’t manifest right away. No, as new parents, we confidently stand before God and others and dedicate our children to the Lord. We plan brunch, invite friends and family, choose frilly outfits for our sweet, precious babies and in front of witnesses promise to raise them in a God-fearing home, entrusting them to His care. We believe fully in what we are saying. But then . . . we have to let go.
We let go of the baby carrier, taking a sniff of the new-baby smell as we leave them with a sitter for the first time. Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!
We let go of sticky little fingers, as we guide them up the school bus steps. Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!
We let go of their passports as they pry them out of our fingers and disappear behind airport security barriers, setting off for college or a backpacking adventure. Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!
These are the times when those simple, heartfelt words spoken at their ‘child dedication’ can begin to stick in our throats. It’s no longer about frilly outfits and brunch. Rubber soothers are gone and the rubber is hitting the road. Faith-filled words are now put into action. And it’s hard.
I think of my sweet, dear friend, ‘Nadine’, who had to let go of her son, Kris, well before she was ready. Labor started right on time and everything looked good. But when they hooked up the baby monitor, it was discovered that the precious child she had carried and anticipated for nine months was already in the arms of the Lord. He was gone. Yet, the pain of childbirth and holding his lifeless body still lay ahead. Oh the painful loss of letting go!
Some would say that Kris never came of age, but we know that’s not true. He lived the life that was laid out for him since before time began. And his parents found it a privilege that they were chosen to be his, even if it meant having to let go of the plans that they had designed for their son and trust in the Designer who knit him in Nadine’s womb.
Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!
This is the cry of every parent’s heart. We have times filled with belief, and times where we struggle with unbelief. The Father knows so well how hard it is to let go of a beloved child! So wherever you are in the journey of ‘letting go’, remember that our empty hands are not to hang limply at our sides, but to cling to the Lord, the One who entrusted us with their care for a season.
Father, forgive us for holding on so tight and for making your precious gifts into idols. We thank you that you have proven to be a faithful Father and that we can trust You with our precious children. Help us to believe and when we do lack faith, to cry out to You for a fresh filling and a clearer vision of just Who you are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Saturday, 28 February 2015
And he said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” (Amos 8:2a ESV)
And the LORD said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “Figs . . .” (Jeremiah 24:3a ESV)
He asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” (Mark 8:23b-24 ESV)
I love that the first time the Lord touched this blind man, he saw people as walking trees. This is not a coincidence as we are compared to trees many times in the Bible. And, not just any tree – but fruit bearing! God wants us to see fruit. Not just a harvest in our own lives, (an indicator that He is at work and that we are in obedience), but also that we see people as walking trees; full of productive potential!
But, so often we only see the rotting, fallen fruit that lies at the bottom of our brothers and sisters trunks. Failed marriages, abortions, wayward children . . . we don’t look up to see the growth and change – we look down and back. Oh what a shame! This is not what He has called us to see!
The Lord has been speaking this into my own life. Not just to be seeing others as He sees them – full of life-giving potential – but also to see myself as a tree, planted by the Living Stream of Water. Yes, there is some rotting junk lying amongst the base of my trunk, but the Lord redeems and uses these past hurts as fertilizer, building up my roots and giving me a stronger foundation.
Oh that we would all have eyes to see!
Father, we thank You that you use all things for Your honor and Glory. Help us to keep our eyes looking up – expecting to see fruit and growth in ourselves and others, and not looking back or down to focus on the rotting mistakes. Fill us, Holy Spirit, with Your redeeming, empowering, transforming power. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Saturday, 14 February 2015
As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women. (Song of Solomon 2:2 ESV)
Where would the world and movie theaters be without love stories? Chick flicks dominate at our house and my sweet man has learned to embrace a good tear-jerker or two. We like to see the boy find the girl, overcome adversity and conquer whatever stood in their way. Sigh. Everything tied up nice and neat in less than two hours.
This is not a new deal . . . Shakespeare wrote love stories long ago. One of my favorite scenes is the balcony scene where Romeo and Juliet declare their love for each other. Funny though, one of the most quoted lines I always attributed to Romeo was actually said by Juliet, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
As children from warring families, their surnames were the obstacle they had to overcome in order to be together. I love how it was Juliet who told Romeo that their names were a stupid reason to stay apart!
Ok, so that story didn’t get tied up nicely in two hours . . .
But, the best ever love story is . . . His story. The pursuit of our hearts by the One who created love and desires intimacy with us! What is the obstacle that stands in the way?
Look in the mirror.
We sabotage his love advances. If our love scenes with Him were projected in a movie theater, there would be groans and popcorn hitting the screen by frustrated viewers. We can be so obtuse! He’s waiting for us to come and sit next to Him, to hear his sweet whispers of love and we turn away and flick on the television, completely ignoring Him. On the table, His love letter remains unopened day after day as we stumble through unsatisfying relationships wondering when we’ll find love. The audience screams, ‘Open the letter! Turn off the TV!’ Viewers look around at each other, incredulous at the horrible story unfolding. What is with his heroine?!
Not seeing the Truth, we walk through life seeing ourselves as unlovable – a bramble amongst lilies.
When our Lover says we are lovely, wanted, desired.
Father, oh how we – Your daughters – walk around needlessly in lonely rejection. Forgive us for getting it wrong again and again. Let us see ourselves as You do – as a beautiful lily – and help us to get ourselves engaged in Your Love story. Thank You for Your perfect love! In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Saturday, 31 January 2015
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5 ESV)
Anyone who’s ever been caught on a foggy road knows how terrifying it can be to suddenly not be able to see two feet in front of the car. Sure, if someone is ahead of you, you can try to inch up behind them and follow along . . . but here’s the deal . . . they probably can’t see either! Best case scenario is that they fall off the cliff first!
My daughter was on her way home one night on a back country road when her car lights just shut off inexplicably. She stopped and played with the controls, finally getting the high beams to go on and crept her way home. There was nothing else she could do, but she felt terrible for the few drivers that came towards her – she knew that her lights were probably blinding them!
We like to see where we are going . . . it is only human nature.
So many people are lost and are just following their friends or family down a dark path, not really knowing for sure if they know where they’re going.
Others are being blinded by people who are giving off a false light, making them unable to see the Truth and putting them in danger.
The Word is full of verses about lamps and lights. We are called to be a light to the world, a beacon of safety. We best be knowing where we are going and that we are speaking the truth into the lives of those around us. And remember, His light is gentle, not brutally blinding.
Father, we thank You that You are the Light of the world and that You choose to use us as vessels to show others The Way. Help us to shine a sincere light and to stay on the path that will lead them to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Friday, 16 January 2015
And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ (Acts 26:14 ESV)
As a city chick, born and bred, I never truly understood what ‘kicking against the goads’ meant. I recall a Christian band called ‘The Goads’ that sang a song my kids learned, ‘God Made me Thumbody Special’ but that was about the only context I had. I never dug in to find out more.
So when our pastor recently told us about how the goad was a stick with a sharpened iron end that was used to prod on stubborn oxen, I giggled at the sense of humor Christ had.
And people ask me if God laughs!
Saul (later known as Paul) was determined to wipe out Christianity. He was a zealot amongst zealots! He himself was at the stoning of Stephen and our pastor mentioned how it must have been such an amazing testimony to behold. And still, the stubborn Saul kicked against the Truth.
His kicking finally lead to a sentence of three days of blindness in order to see The Way.
Now before we gang up on poor Paul, let’s acknowledge that we ourselves have been known to do some kicking and screaming ourselves. I know I have! In fact, whenever I hear myself say, ‘I never will’ I stop myself now. I’ve read the Word and lived through a few good goad pricks of my own . . . repercussions of telling God, ‘no!’
God is going to use who He’s going to use. And if He is tapping on your shoulder as you read this, best to just surrender and let Him lead you. After all, who wants a sharp prod to the backside!
Father, we thank You that You mix Your lessons with humor. Help us to hear Your voice with clarity and that Your character would shine through giving us glimpses of You. Forgive us for our stubborn kicking and fill us each day, Holy Spirit, that we would walk controlled by You instead of by our own willfulness. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Thursday, 1 January 2015
Never join a gym in January. You can’t get on any of the machines and the parking lots are always full. No, much better to wait until February when you’ll get all kinds of discounts and the workout equipment and parking spots will be vacant. It would appear that people tend to lose their resolve faster than their excess weight.
So, what do you resolve this year? What changes do you wish to see in your life?
I, for one, never make New Year’s resolutions. As a youngest child, and as a competitive person, I don’t like to fail at things. So why on earth would I commit myself to change something that I haven’t been able to make happen in the previous 365 days? On January 1st, does my entire DNA suddenly align differently giving me new miraculous abilities to overcome horrible ingrained habits?
For most of us, it takes a strong desire, or critical health issue, to make such changes. To think we change with a flip of the calendar would be downright silly.
Not so silly is the decision to start the New Year with a fresh commitment to the Lord; to resolve to honor His name and to listen and seek His face in obedience each day.
That is the key to all worthwhile change, His Spirit living within us. After all, the fruit of the Spirit is actually a great listing of most of the character flaws that we need help with in order to see any positive, external changes in our lives:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)
So we should take time alone on New Year’s Day, asking God to direct our paths, to transform us, and to stir up a renewed fervency for our First Love.
Lord, we thank You for this fresh, new year, full of promise. Please help us to walk in Your light, allowing your Holy Spirit to make the changes You desire in our hearts as we resolve to honor You and Your name in all that we do. Amen.