Grief Jumped up and Bit Me

This little grandson was having a wild hair day every time he went down the slide!

April 30-May 1
Yesterday, I had a wild day myself.  Grief, over the loss of our friends' son, jumped up and bit me as my Bible Study Fellowship ladies were singing "When We All Get to Heaven."  I made it through the first verse and by the chorus I had a major, belly sobbing, melt down.  I don't know half of these ladies well and only four knew why I was sobbing.  After we completed the song, the leader graciously said I think we need to pray. I was ready to make an exit, thinking I couldn't go on, but she prayed for the Holy Spirit to comfort me and He did.

The lesson was on "heaven," so I'm glad I stuck it out, but I was wiped out for the remainder of the day.  Grief is sneaky like that.  Eventually is has to find its' way out.

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 

Surpassing All Others-Christ Preeminent!







April 29
Our daughter, Jiewon, has completed her doctorate work and will now be a professor of French at Covenant College, high atop Lookout Mountain!  We are so proud of this newest accomplishment and thrilled God has called her to a Christian University!  I wanted to take time to share the school's motto and mission statement, but also to ask you to pray for the door to stay open in America for students to be educated in such a manner.

The focus of Covenant College is found in it's motto, based on Colossians 1:18.

"In all things Christ preeminent."

"Acknowledging Christ preeminent as the creator of all things, as the redeemer of people fallen into sin, as the touchstone of all truth, and as the sovereign ruler over all ares of life, the College strives to discern and to unfold the implications of His preeminence in all things.

The Mission...
is to explore and express the preeminence of Jesus Christ in all things.  We educate Christians to engage culture and cultures, to examine and unfold creations, and to pursue biblical justice and mercy in community.  With the student-faculty relations and strong teaching and scholarship at the foundation, out Christ-centered community seeks to help students mature in three primary areas:
Identity in Christ
Biblical frame of reference
Service that is Christ-like
We offer the world biblically grounded men and women equipped to live out extraordinary callings in ordinary places."

Don't you love that last statement!  That is what I am praying for the generations which are coming after me.  Lord, teach young men and women all around the world in a manner that they are grounded in Your Word and equipped to live out extraordinary callings in ordinary places!  For those of us closer to heaven, keep us mindful that You can teach an old dog new tricks and we still have the ability through the power of the Holy Spirit to perform extraordinary service for the cause of Christ.  In Jesus' name. Amen

Which Gate?


"Enter through the narrow gate. 
For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
Matthew 7:13-14

April 28
This fabulous stone gate is located in the gardens of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.  It can't compare in splendor to the New Jerusalem 12 gates described by John in Revelation 21:21...
"The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl.  The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass."

In the Bible gates were used for the protection of cities, as places for announcements and proclamations to be made and in some cases where marketing and trade take place.

The Matthew verse above references a gate choice we have to make.  The small, narrow gate is the one we take if we want to enter into a relationship with Christ.  Look at how The Message translation explains the choice we have before us.

"Don't look for shortcuts to God.  The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time.  Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life-to God!-is vigorous and requires total  attention."

Here's an exciting aside to gate thoughts.  In New Jerusalem the gates will always be open, because there will be no evil to creep through and harm us there.

If you know people who have not opened the gates of their hearts to Jesus, encourage them to open up today! 

Cling


The view from George Washington Vanderbilt's covered terrace at Biltmore, in Asheville, NC.
He died at the age of 51 from complications after an appendectomy.
His only child, a daughter, was thirteen years old.

April 27
I apologize for not remembering the source, but in a notebook I've written this quote sans the author.

"Here's a hard truth; God's mercy does not require His treatment of us to be comfortable or safe (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).  But in the midst of our pain, God's plan is still good and His promises remain true. He will deliver us. He will free us.  He will redeem us (Exodus 6:6). And come what may, He promises to be with us (Isaiah 43:2)

Here's another word that has been on my heart...cling. 
"To remain very close; remain persistently or stubbornly faithful to something; to be overly dependent on someone emotionally."  (Yea, like clinging to Jesus.)

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good."
Romans 12:9

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world."
John 16:33



Alongside


April 26
(I wrote this last week before learning about our friends' son's death, which I mentioned yesterday.)

Alongside, the word kept reverberating in my mind...
   A dear friend, who stood alongside her son recently as his 28 year old wife died of cancer, now prepares to stand alongside him for his birthday and then wedding anniversary.
  Another friend emailed asking for courage to stand strong alongside her husband in the months ahead as he faces surgery for tongue cancer.
  I look forward to standing alongside our grandson and granddaughter in the coming weeks to celebrate their 5th birthdays.
  After receiving a phone call I drove straight to a friend's house to sit alongside her and listen to a disappointing medical scan report.
 Have you ever stood alongside someone in church as tears dripped down their cheeks and just your arm around their shoulder or a tissue offered let them know someone was there?
 Have you stood alongside a child, a friend, in a courtroom as the judge offered down a verdict?
 To all the people who've been alongside me these past months in hospital rooms, rehab centers, physical therapy appointments, needed car rides and doctors' visit after doctors' visit...
YOUR PRESENCE HAS MADE A DIFFERENCE.
My heart still aches for all the people I saw alone on a similar journey.

The Message translation holds some convincing truths about who is alongside us.

"Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along.
If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter.  He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.  He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.  That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good." Romans 8:26-28

"All praise to the God and Father of  our Master, Jesus the Messiah!  Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel!  He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.  We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort-we get a full measure of that too."  2 Corinthians 1:3-5

The Lord on High is Mighty



April 25
There are times in life when we are called upon to go alongside another and wrap our arms around them, holding their broken heart in our soul, while we allow the tears dripping from their eyes to mix on our cheeks with our tears.  In this time you hear nothing except the deafening sound of grief.  Time stands still while love, prayers and compassion are poured out for there is nothing else we can do to change the reality of their loss. The process unleashes a vulnerability as your emotions are rawly exposed and you exit the experience exhausted from what seems to have been an outer body experience.

Yesterday, that is where I was.

Long time friends, who now live in TN, lost their 26 year old son to a tragic accident.  He was part owner of a film production company and working on a project in Oregon. His parents didn’t even know he was out there, until they received a phone call that his body had been swept off a huge rock into the sea by a rogue wave. His business partners watched as he struggled against a strong current in the seas below with nowhere to go.  After days of searching, his body has still not been recovered.

My hand is trembling now as I try to type.  When my girlfriend called me with the news, I was in shock. All I wanted to do was hold her, so we waited until most of their children had left and went and held our friends and listened.

For me, from a mother’s perspective, this truly is one of the most tragic scenarios a parent could experience.  My friend was so thankful her last text to her son said, “I love you.  You truly are my heart and soul.”  

What I want to share next is God’s faithfulness in the most difficult of times.

Crissie told me that the morning after they learned the news she opened her devotional and read:

“I said in my haste, ‘I am cut off from before Your eyes’; nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried out to You.

I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters where the floods overflow me.  Waters flowed over my head; I said, ‘I am cut off!’ I called on Your name, O Lord, from the lowest pit.  You have heard my voice: ‘Do not hide Your ear from my sighing, from my cry for help.’ You drew near on that day I called on You, and said, ‘Do not fear!’”

Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more?  Has His mercy ceased forever?  Has His promise failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious?  Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?  And I said, ’This is my anguish; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.’ I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of old.  I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I wold see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

“Mightier than the roaring of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea; the Lord on high is mighty!”  Psalm 93:4

When their ministers arrived at their home to discuss a memorial service they asked if there was a particular direction they family might like to go.  Crissie took out her devotional and Psalm 93:4.  The ministers looked at each other.  The verse they had written down to bring to this family was….Psalm 93:4.

God’s exhibits his faithfulness, his love, his compassion and his never ending Presence in such magnificent ways.
1,500 people showed up to the memorial in a clearing on the family’s mountain top property.  These and many more have opened their hearts to let a little more of Jesus in and have all committed to love one another more deeply.

I thank God for each of you and your friendship, for the unconditional love you show me again and again, for the times you have come alongside me in unexpected tragedies like my grandfather’s murder, my brother’s drowning, my nephew’s death, Britton’s accident and this ole stroke.

So much we experience on this earth is a mystery, but the hope of heaven is a gem not only to hold onto, but the greatest treasure we have to give away.
Kelly Smith loved Jesus and I am certain is with Him now.

Good News Brings Relief



April  23-24
April 14th my husband heard the words, I'm afraid the cancer is back. I need to do another biopsy. You will need to be thinking about surgery or six weeks of radiation three times a week. UGH.  
It took a whole week to get the lab results.  You say you aren't going to worry, but you do.

With his busy teaching/administrating schedule we asked the doctor's office to give me a call with the results.  When the call finally came the phrases "Praise the Lord!  What a relief! I am so excited!" just spewed out of my mouth. The lady making the call laughed out loud at me.  I guess that's not a normal response from patients, but I was so happy!

Take time today to think back on occasions when you've gotten good news...
"It's a rub on tattoo! It's not permanent!"
"You're pregnant!"
"You're flight is on time!"
"You were selected for the scholarship!"
"You made the team!"
"You got the house!"
"You passed the bar!"
"There are no termites!"

What a good feeling good news brings! Proverbs 15:30 expresses it like this.
In The Message:
"A twinkle in the eye means joy in the heart, and good news makes you feel fit as a fiddle."

The NIV
"Light in a messenger's eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.


Can You Hear Me Now



"My sheep listen to my voice; I know the, and they follow me."
John 10:27

April 22
While enjoying a wonderful getaway with our daughter, I awakened one morning realizing I hadn't heard from the Lord the day before.  We had been sight-seeing, shopping, eating at amazing restaurants, taking photographs, reading books and laughing with one another all day long.
Early in the day, I had taken time to work on two Bible studies I'm doing and I guess subconsciously God was pouring himself into me because of the conviction that set in about not hearing from him.

The thought process was WOW...Moses really had to do some listening to lead, feed and provide safety for those Israelites.  Then, I opened a She Reads Truth Email and read...

"When the Israelites continued to whirl in the wilderness, Moses kept His eyes fixed on one thing-
God.  With each unsettling turn of circumstances, Moses' knees never buckled.  God's provision kept Moses standing firm by turning water from bitter to sweet (Exodus 15:25), raining manna from heaven (Exodus 16:4). and providing drinking water from the rock of Christ (Exodus 17:6)."

He had to listen pretty intently to walk them into the Red Sea as well!

While, my intercepting God's message was a little delayed ( as so many things seem to be these days) He's still getting through!  Not sure which cell company used the slogan..."Can you hear me now?" where they would move around trying to get service, but hopefully we will each position ourselves to hear from God today.

"Ears that hear and eyes that see-the Lord has made them both."
Proverbs 20:12 

Called to Be Thankful

Tulip garden at The Biltmore House
April 21

We aren't privy to God's specific agenda. For those of us who live by faith we believe not only in His promises, but also in the constancy of His character.  The other day I read in Jesus Calling...

"I'm calling you to a life of thankfulness.  I want all your moments to be punctuated with thanksgiving.  The basis for your gratitude is My sovereignty. I am the Creator and Controller of the universe.  Heaven and earth are filled with My glorious Presence.

When you criticize or complain, you are acting as if you think you could run the world better than I do.  From your limited human perspective, it may look as if I'm mismanaging things.  But you don't know what I know or see what I see.  If I pulled back the curtain to allow you to view heavenly realms, you would understand much  more. However. I have designed you to live by faith, not by sight.  I lovingly shield you from knowing the future or seeing into the spirit world.  Acknowledge My sovereignty by giving thanks in all circumstances."

"And they were calling to one another:  'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty: the whole earth is full of his glory.'"  Isaiah 6:3

"We live by faith, not by sight."  2 Corinthians 5:7

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Turning to thankfulness is an excellent activity in tough times. It turns our focus onto God instead of the issue weighing us down.  Instead of being devastated over the stroke, time and time again we were able to praise the Lord for where I was, the timing and fact my daughter had not left the house, the efficiency of the EMT's and ER attendings,  how wonderful and compassionate my medical and therapy care was and the heartfelt support I received from my family and friends.
Yup, even when we are in the lion's den, we can look around and see we are not alone.  We have a God who wants to fight for us.


"The Lord your God himself will fight for you."
Deuteronomy 3:22 

Things That Come Back


April 20
LOL right after this title came to mind, I went to my keyboard to type and a warning flashed on the screen saying the batteries were dying. So, I installed new batteries and the keyboard came back to life!  Like Lazarus and Jesus!
Walking through the grounds at Shiloh with my camera, it was like a treasure hunt looking for all the flora, which has come back from a long winters rest.





Yes, even the weeds are back!


Here's the Good News!  Jesus is coming back for us!

"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you  to be with me
that you also may be where I am."
John 14:3

The Nature of God


April 19

Oh, how I hope you are able to be still and watch this video.

http://www.andiesisle.com/thenatureofgod.html

Obstacles Set by Satan




Our tradition of an obstacle course here at Shiloh is one of my favs.
iPhones having stopwatches on them is a big help!

April 18
One word can have a huge impact on a sentence.  Our pastor is currently preaching on the Invisible War surrounding our lives.  We took a look at the Garden of Eden, where lies and deception were tossed at Eve concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We are quick to concentrate on what they COULD NOT do, instead of thinking about ALL that was available to these two. That apple was not the only tasty item on the buffet in the garden.


"And the Lord commanded the man, 
'You are free to eat from ANY tree the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the 
knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.'"
Genesis 2:16

I needed to hear that tiny word "any." Last week I allowed myself to be hurt one ONE little flaw someone I love very much flung at me.  My defenses went up and I was ready to shut them out of my life.  Hearing our pastor's message (the VERY next day) caused my mind to consider that one tiny flaw compared to all the other amazing characteristics/qualities this person has, making them truly a treasure in my life to be cherished.

Another great point he made hit home with me.  At the time of the attack I was very vulnerable, as I was totally worn to form doing way too much that week.  Had I been on alert for spiritual danger,
(the OBSTACLES/traps Satan sets before us)
I would have recognized the footprints surrounding the attack.

Yup, I was glad I was in my place and ready to listen to what the Lord had for me that Sunday.  A funny, honest aside, is that as a church greeter I try to come up with greetings besides, "How are you?"  Often people aren't great and there really isn't time for them to tell you all about it.  So, I say,
"I'm praying you are filled up to joy overflowing this morning!"  "I'm so glad you are here to worship the Lord with us this morning! It's going to be awesome!"  "Let's get readyto praise the Lord."  " I hope your time with the Lord exceeds all your expectations!"

This particular Sunday, I told a couple people, "I'm praying you encounter God today in a way you never imagined."  Well, that's exactly what happened to me! 

Praying you allow the Holy Spirit to guide you through any obstacles in your way this week.






The Multi-tasker


April 16-17
I used to be a multi-tasker.  Not so much anymore.  My mother called me one day to say a friend had seen me driving, talking on my phone and eating a sandwich all at the same time.  Oh, the blessing of having your parents' friends be informants!  (Please! I was sitting at a stoplight at the time!)

On the particular day this photo was taken, I had a stack of ironing to be done.  A good multi-tasker would have taken the ironing board outside and soaked up some vitamin D and the beauty of the day while ironing! I did swing and listen to praise music at the same time!

God is the ultimate multi-tasker.  He's the one who can work all things together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.  (Romans 8:28)

Just as Moses went to take a peek at the burning bush, we need to peek into the Word of God and seek out what He has to say to us. God's Word is a multi-tasking tool!

"Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another-showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correction our mistakes, training us to live God's way.  Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us."  2 Timothy 3:16-17

I just had a wonderful time listing times God has placed me in one location to do a totally different work in me than what I'd set out to do.  Won't share them all, but here are a few.

You had me at a church concert and used the singer to take me down the Roman Road in the Bible and understand my sin and the need for salvation through Christ.
You called me into a DQ to pray for someone, when it was my faith you planned to increase.
You used a broken down Seadoo to get me to the marina to see The Bible Boat ministry you desired.
You had me walk to the mailbox, making the timing perfect for me to encounter an angel.
You drew me out to the chapel in the woods to discipline me in love.
You placed me in an ambulance with a stroke to show me I'm not afraid to die.
You used an annoying robin at our window to remind me of the power in the name of Jesus.

Oh, my Marvelous Multi-tasker. Please keep teaching me.

My sweet husband did the wash recently, but wasn't very careful when putting my socks together.
It wasn't until after I had them on I realized my "Note to Self Socks" were multi-tasking by
telling me I was both blessed and relaxed that day!
I think I'll keep the miss matched pairs!

I Love Lucy


Love this little one so much and pray as grandparents we can pass a godly heritage onto her.

April 15
I've jumped into a three week study of Moses.  Reading Exodus 1:8
"A new king, who had not known Joseph, came into power in Egypt."
I journaled to the Lord...
Father, how quickly we can forget godly leaders/authority figures who have gone before us.  Forgetting what they stood for, who they worshipped, and the morals they represented and wanted to pass on to us.
The story of Moses reminds us how you remedied the influence of the "Golden Calf Generation." You sent the Israelites off to the wilderness until that entire generation had died off,  so temptation for that sinfulness would not enter the next generations' hearts.

The Lord's anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone.  Numbers 32:13

Breaking a generational curse is a calling that is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit.

May we take seriously the call to pass on a knowledge of the mighty God we serve.

"We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeps of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done...,so the next generation would know them,
even then children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children...
They would not be like their ancestors-
a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God,
whose spirits were not faithful to him."
Psalm 78:4, 6, 8

Here's a Thought


Bubble wands are a blast on a windy day!


April 14
I'm still celebrating in "resurrection" mode.
"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  Death will no longer exist: grief, crying and pain will exit no longer, because the previous things have passes away."  Revelation 21:4

So, here's a thought.  We won't have a prayer list in heaven, because heaven will be total fulfillment without wants!

"Then the One seated on the throne said, 'Look!  I am making everything new.'"  Revelation 21:5

Our bodies won't ache, our noses won't get stuffy or drip,  cancer will be non-existant, the heartaches of rejection, loneliness, cruelty, and unkindness will be removed and a  NEW intensified joy of being with God will be our new normal!   Now that's a happy thought!




Read to Me


Found these sweet cousins out on our screened porch reading together!

April 13
Stepping back into the Easter story, I journaled...
Lord its easy for me to understand how the disciples didn't recognize you in your risen form.  I think we overlook your presence everyday.

"Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him, but He disappeared from their sight."
Luke 24:31 

Hmm.  Was that a precursor of Hebrews 11:1 and the kind of faith we would need? 
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for an assurance about what we do not see."

Jesus popped into view again and posed a potent question to the disciples. One that He likewise may have asked us on occasion.  "Why do doubts arise in your hearts?"  Luke 24:38

But it didn't end there!  "Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures."  Luke 24:45

Oh, Father God, open our minds and illuminate our hearts in a manner which banished all doubts!
In Jesus Name, Amen



Nutty Bird





April 12
This bird has been driving me nuts. Three weeks ago it was the window well of our laundry room he was tapping upon every morning. Then for two weeks it was one of our dining room windows he was bombarding. The activity began at 7:00 in the morning and he kept on going for 2 hours even when I was standing there waving my arms. At  4:00 in the afternoon, he would return for his afternoon attack persistently flying into the window until 7:30 PM.  Our windows were a smeary mess!

Revelation 3:20 came to mind..."
Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock. 
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, 
I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me."

Maybe the bird is God's reminder for me to open up my heart and listen to his voice!

My husband's first thought was the term...birdbrain.  
My computer dictionary definition is: "An annoyingly stupid and shallow person."
Don't want to be that.

Could it be this bird has been reading the Word of God on our scripture signs and saw...

"For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; 
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."   
Matthew 7:8

(I do realize he REALLY likes his reflection!  We need to find him a mate!)

Someone suggested hanging towels over the windows.  So two lovely beige bath towels were draped over the two offended windows.  All he did was head around the corner of the house and begin attacking the windows on that side.

Last Friday, at Bible Study Fellowship, one of our members commented on how much power was in the name of Jesus.  She said the devil flees at that name!  I piped up and told her about the bird and how I'd tried human tactics to rid him from our house, but not the name of Jesus.
Returning home from study around noon, no sooner had I set foot in the house, than out he came.
I ran to the window and shouted, "In the mighty name of Jesus, BE GONE! Go find another place to spend your time!"  An urgency set in for me to look at the front door and pray the UPS man was not there. Also, a fishing tournament  was in action and I turned around praying there wasn't a boat in the cove with a man who had just watched my hysteria.  Whew!
Are you ready for this?  The bird never returned that day and has yet to come back!!!!

What a faith builder for me and reminder there is power in the name of Jesus!  One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess....right now... one nutty bird at Shiloh has flown away under the authority of that name!

Shout for Joy


"I love Jesus, yes I do!  I love Jesus how 'bout you!"

April 11
Spring makes me just want to shout for joy!  I awakened from a dream that I was in a church service, but the setting was actually an art gallery.  Music was playing, but instead of a choir singing as the spirit moved you just sang out praise to God. It was euphoric!

If you are not involved in a Bible Study or quiet time that thrills your heart, find one!  I'm just finishing up She Reads Truth's 14 day study called The Resurrected Life.  I highly recommend it!

Here's are some "shout for joy" verses.
"We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are struck down but not destroyed...Indeed, everything is for our benefit, so that grace, extended through more and more people, may cause thanksgiving to increase to God's glory. Therefore, we do not give up.  Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."  2 Corinthians 4:8, 15-16

Hanging With My Peeps



April 10
 An earlier Bible study took me to 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God.  First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves.  Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  Then we will be with the Lord forever.
So encourage each other with these words."

This has to be one of the most exciting verses in Scripture!  It's right there with the tomb being empty, Jesus' ascension and Lazarus coming back to life!  So we read it, our hearts thrill and then what do we do?  This verse tells us...we go encourage others with this truth!  So off we go!  Tell someone today that Jesus is coming back!

Rejoice if you know you are one of Jesus' PEEPS!
Praying you are able to get out and go worship the Lord with your PEEPS...the Body of Christ!






Deficiency

The one year old cousins had a good time hanging out together.


April 9
People laugh about getting older and talking about health problems, but there really is wisdom and insight to be gained from people battling the same diseases or in one case, deficiencies.  Going over blood work results with friends, I've come to find out that most of them also have a Vitamin D deficiency.  I also learned that if I'd snoop around on some back porches and decks, I'd find my friends lying out in their bras and panties (I'm opting for hiking up my skirt) for about 10 minutes a day to get sun on their mid-drifts, backs, and thighs!  (Supposedly the best areas of the body for soaking up the vitamin D!)

The definition of deficiency is "the lack of something that is needed."

God knows all our deficiencies.  Physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Jesus' brother, James, was not a believer until after the Resurrection.  In the book of James, thought to be written by him, he has great insight into the purpose of the trials and training process we go through here on earth.

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends. when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.  You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.  So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."  James 1:2-4

Needed to read those words today.  While I had a fabulous week and did more than I ever could have imagined, my body shouted "STOP!" yesterday.  Timidity and stupidity kept me from asking my Bible Study leader yesterday if we could turn off the fluorescent lights. After over two hours under them I had a nasty headache.  Everyday this week and several evenings had me out and about.  At a large function last night, involving dinner and a lot of socializing, by 9PM my left leg was dragging and my thought process and speech greatly slowed.  Prayerfully, I was not an embarrassment to my husband who was hosting the event.
Once again, I assumed I was totally back to full speed.  God had even placed a wise nurse at a dinner here Thursday night, whom in hearing my elation over feeling so good stated, "You will have set backs."  So, I've regretted a fun sewing event at our church this morning and I will be still and practice the lesson of contentment, allowing God do his work to mature and develop me, so I'm not deficient in any way!

"Be still and know that I am God."  Psalm 46:10

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11




Disqualified




Some of our boys!

April 8
Being a teacher/school administrator provides the occasional chuckle. My husband said he was teaching a bean bag related relay in kindergarten PE one day and told the students if they picked up more than one bean bag they would be DISQUALIFIED.  A little boy piped up and said,
"I don't know what that word means, but it doesn't sound good."

Disqualified: eliminating someone from a competition because of an infringement of the rules

In the race for heaven, there are rules.  There's only one coach we are to follow or we will be disqualified.

"You were running superbly!  Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience.  This detour doesn't come from the One who called you into the race in the first place.  And please don't toss this as of insignificant.  It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread.  Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect.  But the one who is upsetting you, whoever he is, will bear divine judgement.  Galatians 5:7-10


Confidence



April 7
Continued from yesterday...
Thank you for encouraging me through this stroke recovery.  Tuesday, the check-out lady at the grocery store told me that I seemed to be doing so much better.  I went around the counter and hugged her neck!  I told her that was such a boost to my confidence.

Confidence: "the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something."

Beyond the obvious physical and mental weakening strokes produce for individuals, there has been for me a significant deflation of my confidence in several areas.  I find myself turning to my husband to confirm if I've said something correctly.  I'm cautious walking on stairs and unleveled surfaces. I'm tentative to schedule things too early or too late knowing there are possible pits to plummet into related to the dressing process and my stamina stash. I'm not confident I could make the drive to Nashville or Virginia Beach like I used to.  I wonder if others can rely on me.
The stroke has left me with a lack of confidence in myself.

So, fellow strokees or caregivers of stroke survivors, memorize this verse...

"..being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you 
will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:6

It might not look like what it used to or what you want it to look like, 
 but God is always up to good and growing His Kingdom!

So Much to Figure Out


April 6
Saturday chore days wear us out here at Shiloh.  Last Saturday, I took the truck up the road to get a scoop of mulch and laughed to the lady as I checked out. I said, "Well, having a stroke in September and being fairly well recovered by April didn't have me miss a day of mulching season!"

The weekend warrior strategic plan here at Shiloh was daunting and the financial phrase of "cha-ching" was pinging in the back of my brain.  On top of the normal chores the windows all need to be washed, but now we might as well wait out the pollen splash. My husband's elliptical machine bit the dust two weeks ago and this now his computer/TV screen has died. Our beloved ole VCR on which our grands watch the videos their parents grew up on is legitimately defunct and eating the old tapes.  Sixty mile an hour winds were headed our way this past weekend and we were wondering if God might save us $300 and take a large dying tree down for us, but it's in the path of the house or the boathouse depending on which way the wind blows. We prayed ourselves to sleep that night.  The deer have demolished our shrubs over the winter and are probably salivating over the hydrangeas about to pop out. The list was going on and on. A new quote equivalent to "Life is a lot" tumbled off my tongue.

"UGH! There's so much to figure out in life!"

The good news is I'm able to figure things out without sticky notes to guide me and a headache or total exhaustion coming on from the process.  Yes, everything is still a bit slower, but I really feel the tide has turned in a major way.

In the same breath it is comforting to remember there are things we aren't capable of figuring out on our own!  God to be exact!  We just trust in His good, holy, perfect ways.

"This is God's Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: 'Call to me and I will answer you.  I'll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own." 
Jeremiah 33:2-3

Even in all his suffering, Job wrote about God and said:

"Take a long, hard look.  
See how great he is-infinite, greater than anything you could ever imagine or figure out!  
Job 36:26 


Thank you for encouraging me through this stroke recovery.  The doctors may never find out why this happened to me, but I totally trust God and the end results He is working towards in my life and the lives of others. Because of His love for me, I can say this has been for good.

Yesterday, the check-out lady at the grocery store told me that I seemed to be doing so much better.  I went around the counter and hugged her neck!  I told her that was such a boost to my confidence.  Saying that brought about a stroke epiphany.

Tomorrow I'm writing on confidence and how a stroke steals it....

(Funny, so many times when I type stroke it comes out stork! I would much rather have had another baby than a stroke.)


Be Real

Easter morning I took family photos...
the moms are always excited for the opportunity to catch a shot of their families together.
The dads and kids did a great job of going with the flow...
UNTIL....things finally got REAL!

I think this may be my favorite photo of the whole week!

April 5
Sunday, our pastor made reference to the fact that the Christian walk isn't one of simply chasing butterflies.  Real life involves heartache, it involves loss and it involves suffering.  Not everyone will embrace our faith.

"But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.
Do not fear their threats, do not be frightened."
1 Peter 3:14

A while back, I was asked if I would like to give the prayer at an event I was going to attend.  Knowing a little background on this group, I had heard you could not mention God or Jesus and it had to first be submitted to the leaders of the group for approval.  I confirmed this information with the caller and then graciously declined.  Hanging up the phone, I called my husband and expressed that I felt a little funny, but it wasn't because I had said no.  It was more because I would have been committing a great betrayal to not pray in God or my Savior's name.  To whom would I actually be praying?  He agreed, I had made the right decision.

The very next night, I was at another gathering with a group of women I've just briefly gotten to know this year.  Walking in the door, the hostess asked if I would pray for the meal and also for two ladies who had just lost loved ones this past month.  This is not a group that usually prays together, but it was God showing me that he knows the hearts of everyone and he will direct us to the places where he is at work in fertile soil.  Friends, He is so with us!

To put the icing on His cake, a week later my husband and I attended the first event I mentioned.  The generic prayer was said.  My husband said, never in his life had he heard a prayer begin with "Ladies and gentlemen." Here comes the icing part!  The event speaker, from out of town and not a member of the group,  closed out her program by praying over this group...she addressed God as God, as Father and prayed in the precious name of her Lord! (She didn't ask permission.)   woot!  Toot!  Get 'er done! Go God!

Feel Good


Love this "feel good" Easter morning picture.
We had planted jelly beans the night before and they grew into lollipops overnight!

April 4
I feel good too. I've actually had three good days in a row last week, then a nasty sinus headache snuck in Saturday and stopped me in my tracks!  I've been trying to go to bed each night with a scripture verse on my mind and place it in my heart.  Plugging in the phrase "with you" 1,982 verses popped up, so I changed it to "to the ends of the earth."  Really love what surfaced.

"Like your name, O God, your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;
your right hand is filled with righteousness."
Psalm 48:10

So let's start off our week with praise. Praise makes you feel good. Yesterday, our church was blessed by the music of Liberty University's girl band...Awakening.  One of the singers, Rachel Hickling, sang the song,  Great Are You Lord.
Take time today to remember it's God's breath in our lungs, so let's  use our lungs to pour out praise to Him.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpPOmnH-U9M

A Cheerful Heart is Good Medicine

April 3

We had so much fun delivering "Brown E's" to friends and the school faculty on April Fool's Day!

"A cheerful heart is good medicine!"
Proverbs 17:22

What Should I Do With Jesus?




One of my favorite spring time decorations
are these six little chicks which I attached to a branch and hung over our kitchen island.

April 2
Still wading through the the story of the crucifixion I'm stuck on the words in Matthew 27 where Pilate is in a quandary and inquires of the crowd...
"What should I do then with Jesus, who is called the Messiah?"

I journaled...."You should invite him into Your heart and live each day for him!!!"  The quiet of the moment with the Lord was so sweet. I knew the Lord had more to say and right at that moment a large woodpecker landed outside our bedroom window and went to pounding.  I jumped from the bed, banged on the window and shouted, "Absolutely NOT!"

My impulsive reaction took me back to the crowds before Pilate, who screamed "Crucify Him!"
Hatred is horrible. Hatred is unhealthy.  The devil is for real and brings destruction wherever he can.
But Jesus gets the victory in the end!

What should we do with our knowledge of Jesus today?


Partying With Jesus

This grandson had a party on his head when he awakened this particular morning!

April 1
I'm embarrassed to say that I allowed grandmothering time to usurp my Jesus time over the weekend.  Easter Day was more about basking in the love of these little ones, taking family photos and talking a little bit about what Easter really means.  Getting alone with Jesus and into the Word  didn't happen until Wednesday morning after everyone had gone. It sounded like this...
My heart is glad!  
My spirit rejoices!
My body rests securely!
Your presence Jesus is abundant joy!
At Your right hand are eternal pleasures!
(Taken from Psalm 16)

Boom, bang, flash!  This morning's thunder storm had me up very early! I thought maybe Jesus was coming back and sounded the kettle drums before the trumpet call.  Searching verses related to seeking Him, produced this happy message from God's Word.

"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 your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left.

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, 
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God."
Lamentations 3:24-27

Health Update
The Thursday before Easter, my daughter and I had a wonderful massage. The therapist expressed concern in the fact she found a large swollen lymph node in my neck.  Having had squamous carcinoma removed from my forehead two years ago, I had been warned it can spread to lymph nodes, so I was concerned, but chose to wait until my scheduled yearly check up, which was yesterday.  My blood work was good (with the exception of very low vitamin D, need some sunshine), so the doctor is not concerned (praise the Lord) about the node at this time.
Stroke wise she feels that at the six month mark most people have regained all they have lost from a stroke, but has encouraged me to keep working hard with my brain games, exercises and eating well.
The Queen of Strokes at St Thomas Hospital, told me you can still improve 1-2 years out, so I'm banking on that and keeping on keeping on!  Thanks for all the love and support these past six months.