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Monday, August 31, 2015

The Chase

                                                     The Chase

The trash bag almost tripped him up as he walked in the door. Picking it up, he spied a note taped to it. “I don’t love you anymore. I’ve tried to be the wife you expected, but I can’t do it anymore. I’m in love with someone else, he makes me happy. It’s time to take care of my own needs now. It’s over between us.” Peg

Gazing into the bag he saw something that shocked and distressed him. Stuffed into the bag like common trash was a rumpled wedding gown. He pulled it out and held it out in front of him; it was his wife’s lovely gown. Tears ran freely down his face, as he sobbed uncontrollably. Hadn’t he seen this coming? For sometime now warning signs flashed and jingling alarms sounded in his gut. He ignored the forewarnings, never allowing tinges of doubt to stain their marriage.

He slumped to the floor clasping the gown tightly, lace scratching his face, her musky perfume lingered. How could this happen? Hadn’t his love been enough? He did everything for her. Holding out the gown he remembered that wonderful day.

Peggy was a radiant, shining bride. She took his breath away as she walked up the church aisle. He didn’t remember saying any vows; his focus was only on this beautiful princess standing next to him. Her eyes sparkled as he lifted up her veil to kiss her lovely lips. The passion and love glowed from her face and enveloped him. They were soul mates, their love would endure. Somehow it didn’t.

He sensed for months that something wasn’t right between them. There was restlessness in her wandering eyes. She turned away coldly when he tried to draw her close. She was so remote, so indifferent when he shared his heart. She seemed to forgot the fiery passion of first love.

The gown was a white haze through the sheen of tears. How could she do this? She was the desire and delight of his heart. He yearned to embrace her in his arms so tightly that the thud of her heart reverberated through his body. Oh, to gaze into her sky-blue eyes, and see the wonder there.

His grip tightened on the gown. And now the precious, tender intimacies they shared she discarded just like the gown. Jealously surged through him, the spear twisted its blazing tip deeper within. He cast the gown away repulsively.

Should he stand aside uncaring and callous, or go after her? Is restoration even possible? Why should he care? Why pursue someone so faithless, so undeserving? He loathes what she did, yet every fiber of his being aches for her.

A determination mounted from deep within. The chase for her heart is his passion now. He will pursue and captivate her with his gentle, tender love. He won’t stop the reckless chase until he has captured her wandering heart. He looked intently at the gown spread on the floor. Regardless of how she may picture herself, she will always be his radiant bride.

Surely a wild passionate lover as this exists only in soap operas and romance novels. No one would love so recklessly or zealously.

Oh, but there is such a lover. It is the Almighty God, the ardent lover of our souls. 

”This is what the Lord Almighty says, ‘I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealously for her” Zechariah 8:2 NIV

Does this sound like an impersonal, indifferent God? This is a God that knows you so intimately that He keeps an accurate count of your hair, records your tears, and closely covers you like the clothes that enfold your body. He is burning with jealously for you.

He constantly woos us to Himself. Fervor burns in His eyes as His tender, gentle whisper allures, “Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come away with Me.” Yet we act like a moaning, decrepit widow with cataracts clouding our eyes, hard of hearing, and completely forgetting our fiery passion for Jesus.

We work so hard to wear our Christian camouflage, by saying and doing all the right things. We look like we are in love with Jesus. When in fact we are such faithless, distant lovers attracted to the phony loves of this world. We search elsewhere and wonder at our discontent. Jesus offers a haven of bliss and intimacy like no other. But we rebuff Him time and time again.

We are like a lost coin that a woman grieves over. She lights a candle, searches behind furniture, and in every darkened corner. Grabbing a broom she then carefully sweeps every inch of the earthen floor. What joy rushes over her when she finds the valuable coin and grips it in her hand. Lifting it aloft she rejoices, “I’ve found it! I’ve found it!

How much more will God rejoice when He finally captures our wandering hearts? How can He love someone so faithless, so loveless, and a thousand times rejected Him? How amazing that He would persist in pursuing us! What heart can continue to hold out against this great Lover?

Can the flickering embers be ignited into flaming passion? Can a moaning, decrepit widow transform into a radiant bride?

David, a man who chased after God’s heart, told his son Solomon to “Serve Him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.” 1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV

If you are truly seeking after Jesus, He will know it. Like an attentive Lover, He awaits your response to His wooing. He never gives up the chase for your heart. There will come a defining moment when you will find He is the One for you. 

He knows who His burning, passionate lovers are. It is to these lovers He responds, to show Himself, to bless and use mightily. These lovers are content with nothing less than knowing Jesus, and are constantly aware of His sweet presence. 

Have your searches for love and acceptance left you weary and lacking?  Have you forgotten the fiery first love you had for Jesus? Are you cold and distant? Put aside everything and wholeheartedly seek after your Lover. Feel the pulse of His heart as you read His Word. Share you heart in prayer, don’t hold back…He knows you intimately anyway. Your transformation into a radiant bride may not happen overnight. It takes time to cultivate a relationship.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Rambling Thursdays

“The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer's ending, a sad, monotonous song. "Summer is over and gone," they sang. "Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying."

The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year—the days when summer is changing into fall—the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.”  from Charlotte's Web

Summer is coming to an end and I’m sad to see it go, but there is a tinge of anticipation for fall and all its beauty and unique delights. In the depths of dreary winter I often ponder and remember experiences from summer. This is what I will remember: 

*Coloring books are all the rage this summer and I caved in and bought one for myself. I LOVE IT! It’s relaxing to sit on my front porch and color. I feel like a kid again.           

*Speaking of my front porch...I can’t begin to tell you how much I love sitting on my rocking chair. I have a wrap around porch and it’s like another room in the summer. I spend afternoons reading, coloring, gazing at my flowers, watching the butterflies, listening to the birds and playing with Copper, my dog. On the weekends my husband and I drink our coffee there. 

*The mosquitos have hampered our outside porch sitting. The hungry pests have been bad this summer, mostly through July. I’ve been bit more this summer than I have in a long time.

 *I’ve ate more fresh picked fruit and vegetables this summer. The fruit harvest has been so productive. The garden has done well too. As a result, I’ve canned and put up blueberries, green beans, peaches and tomatos. There is nothing to be compared to the taste of fresh food. I repeat NOTHING. 

*There is nothing like an ice cream cone either. I’ve ate more than my share this summer. There has been two new ice cream stands that have opened up within fifteen minutes of my house. Of course we have hit them both. It’s worth a summer’s evening drive next to my man cruising  the countryside, the dog’s happy face out the window admiring the view. 

*The highlight of my summer was the beautiful views we gazed upon in the Southwest. I’ll be remembering our trip all through the winter. It truly was epic. It was so fun to experience new adventures. 

*Our last two days of vacation we spent with our Son in Western Nebraska. It was good to be with him. I’m proud of him and thankful he is able to pursue his dream job. And wow, I had no idea Nebraska was so pretty. The prairie and buttes are uniquely beautiful. And the people there are so friendly. I’m going back out to see him in a couple of weeks and am looking forward to it. 

*The special day my Daughter-in-law and I went to Michigan and picked berries. We had so much fun that day. We went to Lake Michigan, which is like our ocean, went to a lighthouse, walked on the beach and ate some great food. I don’t get to see her much because of distance, so I’m  glad we took advantage of my day off. We truly seized the moment. 

*My flowers have put on a beautiful display. It does my heart good to go outside every day and play in my flowers. This is the first summer in a while that I didn’t do a lot of work in my gardens. I just enjoyed them. Now they are dying and ready to go to sleep for the winter. Next January I’ll be poring over my seed catalogs and dreaming of flowers again. 

I hope you have had a good summer. I hope you seized every moment; ate lots of ice cream, enjoyed family and friends, had a smore or hot dog over a camp fire, spent a lazy day on a porch, smelled the flowers, ate a fuzzy peach, caught a fish, hiked a forest trail, gazed at the stars. 

Do you have any experiences to share with me? Have a good weekend my friend. 

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Monday, August 17, 2015

I don't have a Clue!

Have you ever felt in your encounters with people that you just didn’t have a clue?  Afterwords, did you regret something you said, or wished you reacted another way? 

I’ve been there many times. I feel so ineffective sometimes. I can’t see beyond my own nose, my own heart deceives me at times. I’m not so quick on my feet when it comes to communicating. I guess a lot of that is because I am an introvert. To enter a room like a boss and win you over with my sparkly, bubbly personality is just not me. I’m more the one who enjoys the intimate one on one deep conservations. 

So now you know why I love writing so much.

Anyway, I’ve been studying in 1 Kings lately about King Solomon and wisdom. Solomon had just become King and in a dream God asked him, What do you want me to give you? 

Wow what a question huh? Oh the possibilities! But what an answer Solomon gives. 

He says, These are not my people, but Yours. 

I am not able to govern Your people. Give me a discerning heart. 

Of course God is so pleased at his answer that He gives him wisdom beyond measure. This is what I desperately need. 

I don’t know about you, but I need wisdom just to shop at Walmart sometimes! We are vice regents on this earth. We are His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). We represent Christ to the ones we rub shoulders with. 

It all begins with a discerning heart. A discerning heart means a hearing heart. A hearing heart to listen to the Source of all Wisdom, the Omniscient One, our Heavenly Father. 

He told Solomon to ask for whatever you want. In James 1:5 it says “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
And then one of my favorites, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

We have His wisdom there for the asking. We need a discerning, hearing heart to hear the voice behind us saying, “this is the way, walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:21

There are hurting, empty people all around us who need Jesus. I think of the woman at the well that Jesus reached out to. She had been with many men and just couldn’t find her thirst sated. Jesus ministered so effectively to this woman. She was changed and transformed by His touch.

The same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead lives in us. Romans 8:11. Can I be an effective ambassador for Christ at my job, in Walmart, wherever? Can I get past all my insecurities and fear? Will I hear His still, small voice? 

This has been stirring in my spirit the past couple of weeks. I need His wisdom so badly. I blow it sometimes. Instead of trusting Him, I lean on my own understanding. But there are the times when I do seek His wisdom and I listen. I always stand amazed at what He does through me. 

I’m sure you can identify with my thoughts. We all have our unique struggles. We don’t have it all together by any means. But I think the key here is that we are aware of our need for His wisdom and we ask for it. He never finds fault with us and will give us what we have need of. 

So this is my prayer this morning:

Heavenly Father, you said in your Word that I can ask for Your wisdom. Your Word tells me to call on You, and You will show me the great and unsearchable things I do not know. Solomon asked for a discerning, hearing heart so he would know how to govern Your people. 

Lord there are hurting seeking people that rub shoulders with me. Help me to hear from You. Help me to know how to reach them. You have given me Your Spirit. I am an ambassador for You. I’m leaning on You today and not on my own understanding. 

I am a weak vessel, a cracked pot, but You are strong. In You I can do all things. Help me to look beyond my own issues and struggles and lean on You. 

Lord, You are so beautiful and You are mine. I am so thankful for You and Your hand in my life. Bless and help those who are reading these words today. I pray they would be an effective ambassador for Christ, Amen. 

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Rambling Thursdays


      Day of the Melting Eyes

I wore glasses since I was in the 3rd grade, so they are as natural as the nose on my face. I’ve never been interested in laser surgery and don’t like contacts, so I’ve always been content with glasses. I love picking out a new pair. I just don’t enjoy spending my hard earned money to do it!

And for me it’s quite pricey.  I’m very near sighted. Which means everything is a blur without them. I could hurt myself without them on my nose.  Coke bottom glasses aren’t cheap. 

I have to get special lenses with bifocals and of course I need the sunglasses built in. The clip ons are a pain to keep track of. I have trouble enough with my keys? 

I usually go to the local eye doctor whom I love because he takes his time and is just a nice guy who truly cares about his patients. But, his glasses are so expensive. Over the years, the price has increased to the point where I’ve gone for a exam just to get my prescription so I can order online. 

But I’ve not been happy with this either. So, my husband who has never wore glasses in his life, poor soul, is starting to feel the effects of aging. 

He resorts to reading glasses. Lots of reading glasses! Kind of like Fred Sanford.

Yes this is exaggerating just a bit, but it’s close to the truth. Wherever we go, he keeps a pair in his pocket. And there are glasses scattered around the house.

Lord forbid he forgets his glasses! This means I’ll have to read to him. And usually it entails a trip to the nearby store to buy another pack. I know what you may be thinking...Yes he can drive. He can read the signs and avoid oncoming traffic. He just can’t read whatever is up close. 

I tried for a few years to convince him to get “real” glasses, but to no avail. So the reading glasses saga continued. 

Gradually his eyesight became a concern and finally he broke down.  We both went to a Walmart for our exams and new glasses. Because it is cheaper. 
Immediately I didn’t like the Doctor. He was impersonal and impatient; nothing like my comfortable local Doctor. This is the moment our day went off the tracks. 

The trouble started when he asked if he could give me a eye drop to dilate my eyes. I shrugged and said sure. My local Doctor has done this many times. It wasn’t a big deal. 

He quickly drops the liquid in and hands me a set of weird looking glasses wrapped in plastic. 

You may need this later.

Okaayy. Whatever. I threw them in the trash. My husband, (I’ll call him P from now on), was the next victim, uh patient. 

Well, we finished up and since we needed groceries, we grabbed a cart and started in produce. I began to notice something bizarre was happening with my vision. The lights looked weird, everything looked foggy, and then P said the same thing. 

From then it was an adventure to say the least. We couldn’t see! I literally had to hold items up to my face to know what I was buying. We almost bumped into people, stacks of food. We clung to the cart and to each other. It was like the blind leading the blind down the crowed isles. 

Miraculously we made it to a checkout lane. We fumbled around, set the groceries on the belt, somehow paid and started for the door. It was then the horror of our situation hit us squarely in the eyes. 

It was a bright sunny winter day. I don’t think intense would describe the effect of the sun. It was a piercing fire that set our eyes ablaze. P covered his eyes. I had sunglasses, (Transitions), but it seemed feeble to protect against the raging rays. 

The car seemed a mile away, as we stumped along, in our befuddled state.  I can only imagine what people thought as they looked at us. Through our squinted eyes, we found the car, threw the groceries in and fell in. 

P was moaning by this point. He had no sunglasses, (he threw his plastic ones away too). We originally planned to eat out. We were hungry and about a hour away from home. So we decided to eat and perhaps the effects of the industrial strength liquid would wear off. 

But a new problem ensued.  He couldn’t see. He tried to get out of the parking lot, but it just wasn’t happening without us wrecking or killing ourselves. So I got behind the wheel, with my sunglasses I could see better. 

We arrived at Cracker Barrel without an incident and sat down in relief. Out of the horrible glare of the sun. 

Reading the menu was out of the question for P.  I was having trouble too.  The waitress walked up and he quickly asked if they have large print menus. 

Yes we have those. Do you want one? I’ll go get one. 

She brings him a braille menu. 

The moral of my story? If you both go for an eye exam, one of you has to drive home. Both of you can’t be under the influence of the dreaded dilated eye drops. Be the designated driver. And always, always keep the plastic sunglasses! 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Five Secrets of the Potter

“Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8
                    Five secrets of the Potter:

1. The clay needs to be prepared.

The clay needs to be kneaded and pressed together to remove air bubbles, little pebbles, etc... If these aren’t worked out of the clay it will compromise the integrity of the finished vessel. The clay has to be pure and clean so it will be a strong vessel. 

The kneading process isn’t a pleasant one but necessary for the integrity of our character. The strength of our character is so important when He is using us to minister to others. If we have not surrendered to His workings, it will show up eventually, because it weakens us. 

Making a clay pot takes a matter of days, but to make a vessel of honor is a life-long process. Our Potter is patient and faithful to His great and beautiful work, i.e. YOU. He will not cast you aside in frustration. He loves you too much to give up on you. 

 2. The Potter has a master plan.

As the clay is being formed, the Potter has a master-plan. And He brings that to life in the clay. A visitor to the Potter’s house sees a shapeless mass of clay.

 What can You make with that? 

Oh, I’m making a beautiful serving dish out of this one.

Really? Out of that? 

And the Potter does just that with that shapeless clay. He sees something beautiful. In Ephesians 2:10, it says “that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

The word workmanship in the Greek means poiema. It’s where we get the word poem. We are literally His work of art. His masterpiece. 

I’ve stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon at sunrise. It was amazing and surreal. I stood in wonder at my marvelous God and His beautiful works. But as beautiful as all this is, did you know that you are His greatest work? 

You are His vessel of honor. You are a carrier of His anointing, His presence. When people see the beautiful work He has wrought in you, they can’t help but praise the Potter. His fingerprints are all over your life. You reflect His loving touch. 

3. The Potter achieves His purpose by the means of the wheels.

In ancient days, the Potter would spin the top wheel by his feet turning the bottom wheel. As the wheels turn, His hands hold the clay steady and begins to shape it. He shapes it here, presses it, pulls it up, and alters the shape. 

The wheels are the times of our lives. The circumstances, events, experiences, it’s what turns the wheels. 
As the wheels turn, our lives are in motion. His hands, those steady,  loving hands holds us steady as we press into Him. And He shapes us through all the times of our lives. The good, the bad and the ugly, through it all He is making something beautiful. 

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God."  My times are in your hands; Psalm 31:14-15 

4. The clay needs to be centered on the wheel.

The Potter doesn’t take the clay and just slap it anywhere on the wheel. It has to be centered. Otherwise as the wheels turn, it will rip and tear the clay. As long as the clay is in the true center, the wheels can turn even at a dizzying pace, the clay will stay steady and easily shaped. 

This life can do a number on us. The wheels can stagger us if we aren’t centered on Jesus. There is so much that can distract and pull us away from Him. We need desperately to be anchored in Him. We need to be in the Word. Let the wheels spin, we won’t be shaken! He’s got the wheels and He’s got us!

5. The Potter is able to reshape and remake us.

Do you feel yourself to be a failure? Is your life a disappointment? Do you think it’s too late for you? 

Our Potter is a God of restoration. There is no clay beyond hope. I can testify to that. I wouldn’t be writing this now if not for God’s touch in my life. Believe me, I’ve felt myself to be a disappointment. It’s too late for me. But I was wrong. He did not abandon the work of His hands. He has done something beyond what I could have imagined. 

Don’t you disqualify yourself! You have not been shaped to sit on the dusty shelf. This brings us to the most important part of the process: Yielding to His touch in our lives. 

“You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "He did not make me"? Can the pot say of the potter, "He knows nothing"?  Isaiah 29:16

We don’t always understand His purpose, His plan for us. We may even fight against His hands. Dear beloved sister, trust Him. Rest in His hands. He knows the end from the beginning. 

I don’t know what He saw in me. This shapeless mass of clay. I don’t understand why He chose me, picked me up and shaped me. But He did. He did it because He loves me and thinks I’m beautiful. Do you believe that about yourself? I don’t exactly find it easy to believe it myself. But it is true. 

He has made a beautiful vessel out of you and He longs to pick you up and pour you out to minister to others. Rest in His hands, yield to His touch and you will be amazed at what He will wrought in you.  

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