He Loves Me

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(The Proclamation of) The Daisy

I snap off the last daisy to be seen.

I pluck the long, narrow, white petals one by one and rehearse:
“He loves me, he loves me not . . .”

At last, 3 petals remain.

“He loves me, he loves me not . . .”

I stare in wonder at the round, yellow head, with the last petal still attached.

It proclaims: “He loves me!”

At the sound of shuffling in the thick, green grass,

I look up, shielding my eyes from the bold, beautiful sun.

He strolls across the lawn,

confidently wearing that familiar boy-like smile

beneath the shadow of his favorite ball cap.

One more pleasant glance at the daisy

and a wistful sigh for days of fleeting youth.

I toss the daisy aside and take his hand in mine.

I smile.  I know he loves me.

~Christi Marie

Love is a splendid thing.  It makes the homely attractive.  It makes the poor rich.  It makes the weak strong.  It makes the old young.  It makes the captive free.  It makes the broken whole.  It sets the lonely in families.  It remembers those who were forgotten and forgets the pain of an offense.   

In I Corinthians chapter 13, the Apostle Paul says it like this:

Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up,

Does not behave itself rudely, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, keeps no record of evil;

Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;

Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails . . . .

Love never fails.  Never.

Look around.  What do you see?  Failing.  Why?  Selfishness.  Everything love builds and supports, selfishness tears down and annihilates.  Pride–me, Me, ME!!!  Remember what God did?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

God was fully aware of the problem.  The people that He loved, the people He created to have fellowship with Him and be His family, were completely derailed and by their own doing.  He didn’t keep accounts of the wrong they had done or let them wallow in the mess they made.  Instead, He absorbed all of the pain, even unto the death of their sin, through His Son Jesus Christ, so that they might be saved and have eternal life.  He is still doing that for us today.  That is the epitome of love.  The exact opposite of selfishness.

If all of us could but . . . love.  Just love.  How much simpler would our world be?

It’s hard though, isn’t it?  To lay down injustice.  To give up revenge.  To quit poking the wound.  What if we would do it anyway?  Give it all up?  What if we would take a deep breath and pray, “LORD, there’s no way I’m doing this on my own, but if You’ll help me, I can do this.  Remind me what it felt like to be wholly surrendered to You, trusting You to work all things for my good.  Remind me of my first taste of Your love and deepen it.  Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation.  And help me love the unlovable like You do.”

Life can be good.  Life is good.  We don’t need to pluck the petals off of daisies to know that God loves us.  Just know that He does.  Join me today and take the time to reflect on those moments when Jesus, Lover of our souls, felt as close to us as our own skin.  Let’s not keep Him waiting.  We need Him and our broken world needs us to share His love.

 

Happy Anniversary Robert.  I Love You.

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Not Much More Than Five Feet Tall

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We received a newsletter from a local church that had painted a mental mural of a family based on passages from Psalm 127 and 128.  When speaking of the wife, apparently being home, raising the children, they asked, “Does she appear to be suppressed by her station in life?”

It gave me pause to remember and ponder.  Bob and I agreed early on that when the children came, I would remain home with them.  They came quicker than we anticipated but they were a welcome addition.  At delivery, Laura was briefly laid at my shoulder where I could get a good look at her and I remember thinking, “Wow, a whole, beautiful, little person.”

I love being a mom.

I have also loved being a homeschooling mom.  When I think what a privilege it has been for me to watch my children grow in wisdom, and knowledge, and stature, and to think that I had a front row seat to it all, I am overwhelmed.  I am literally reduced to tears of gratitude.  They have been and are such a blessing to me.  And to others.  Being a mom is not without its bumps, bruises, and battles, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  These moments and memories I have had with my children are precious jewels in my treasure chest.  Back to our initial question: Are mothers suppressed?  Not this mother!  Definitely not!

I couldn’t think about being a mom without thinking about my maternal grandmother.  (My paternal grandmother passed away when I was young).  Gram was a delight to me.  She was bright, passionate about life and family, generous with the little she had, readily laughed, and eagerly tried new recipes.  Tell you what, she made the best nut twist cookies I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.  If she’s willing, I hope God lets her bake me a batch when we meet again in Heaven.

In paraded thoughts of Mum, Gram’s only daughter in a satchel full of boys.  To meet Gram, one would never have guessed the life she had with Pap.  Mum describes him as “a hard man”.  He didn’t think girls were worth much.  Though others complimented Mum’s singing, he thought it was okay, but a little eh–whatever that means.  Once when Gram insisted he look over the report cards, he did say Mum’s was the best in the bunch–probably the closest she ever came to receiving a compliment from him even though she graduated second in her class.

Lest you think Mum dissed Pap to me, she didn’t.  I discovered these things as an adult although it didn’t require genius status for me to draw my own conclusions when I was younger.  I know that Pap wasn’t without good qualities, for we are all a strange combination of good and bad.  Pap once threw an abusive brother-in-law in a pond; but then dropped Gram off at the hospital to have a mastectomy.  Alone.  Maybe he couldn’t process that.

Mum said he did soften in his older years, when he became diabetic and had health issues to deal with.  Up until then maybe he counted on his own strength.  He was incredibly strong, straightening a dent in the fender of a Model T with his huge, bare hands.

Still, Mum had a lot to overcome.  Pap didn’t attend her wedding, saying he didn’t lose much there.  That could mortally wound any daughter’s heart . . . .

Here’s the thing: Mum did overcome.

She went on to publish a devotional, kept singing and writing songs, made a 45 record, and become a minister.  Like Gram, she’s one smart cookie; ever studying, trying new recipes, and crafting.  She has a tender heart for the downtrodden and has for years lent a listening ear to those who need it.  She’s a good friend.  She’s thoughtful and giving.  What I appreciate the most, her spiritual insight.  Other than the few little prayers Gram taught her as a child, and a stern warning that “God doesn’t like that” when she imitated Pap’s foul language as a child, she had no knowledge of God.  Pap had reneged on his word that Gram could attend church after they wed so they were for better or worse, an overall “heathen” family.  Yet look how far she has come.

I’m proud of Mum.  She didn’t bring her wounds into mothering my brother and me.  Was she without faults?  No.  Who among us is?  But there is simply something grande about knowing where she came from as a child and the woman she has come to be.  There is hope in Jesus Christ.  Living a hard life doesn’t need make one a hard person.  Gram proved it.  Mum proved it.  The wounds of the past needn’t be carried into the future and injected into the next generation.  Wounds can be healed.  And out of those wounds can come strength and wholeness when God is invited in to do His work.  There is no hard situation into which a child is conceived and born that God cannot redeem if He is permitted to do so.  Lies need to quit being perpetuated.  Children are a gift from God.  Being a mother is a blessing.  Wounds can be healed.

Join me today in thanking the mother in your life.  If she knows Jesus and led you to Him, thank her.  If she knows Jesus and you’ve resisted or strayed away, give her the best mother’s day gift ever and Come Home.  If you know Jesus and your mother doesn’t, then present Him to her.  She brought you into this world, maybe you can lead her into the next.

 

For living a faith-filled, transparent life, loving me, supporting me and being a wonderful mother and grandmother, thank you.  I love you Mum.

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A New Normal

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Mainstream media was irritating and has become even more so since covid.  I tune out the talking heads on a regular basis.  One would hope, with all that our nation is battling, there would be a laying down of swords and a meeting of the minds for the greater good of the citizens of this nation.  Besides nasty politics as usual, I’ve had my cup full of grim predictions.  I’m kind of fed up with having covid projected into the future.  Can’t we get through this first then look forward?  And, again, why does the future have to be so grim?

There is one thing, though, I have heard, that I hope is true.  I hope life will never be the same.  I  hope it’s better.  I hope husbands and wives have taken this time to reconnect and dream again.  I hope parents have taken the time to reintroduce themselves to their children and are reminded of what a blessing they are.  I hope children have come to respect and appreciate their family more than stuff.  It would be wonderful if we as a society move once again toward placing value on people over possessions.

I hope the single person has used this time wisely.  I hope they have carefully weighed the relationships they are currently in or were considering entering.  I remember taking a dating sabbatical and concentrating on prayer and the Bible and becoming the type of mate a man would want rather than finding the type of mate I desired.  On the surface it might have seemed lonely, but it wasn’t.  My trust and expectation in the LORD grew exponentially during that time.

I really hope the U.S. citizen, especially those whose states are under the control of power-hungry, illogical, irrational governors, resists socialism and appreciates capitalism.  More than that, I hope we as a people repent of our ingratitude and appreciate the value of a land whose motto is, “One nation under God.”

I hope in general for a quieter, slower, kinder world.  I don’t fear the “reset” button, I long for it–along with new, improved life on top of that.  I refuse to be discouraged.  God said He’d work all things for good to those who love Him who are the called according to His purpose.  Quite frankly, it’s been a l o n g time since my hopes have been this high.

My greatest hope is that we won’t have “church as usual”.

I was going through a really rough time several summers ago.  I asked the LORD why it was so hard.  He said satan had come to distract and discourage me.  He saw light and movement all around and didn’t know what was happening but knew God was on the move so came to thwart my focus.  I look around the world and wonder, Was this Word just for me at that time?  I don’t think so.  I think satan has come to distract and discourage God’s expectant remnant because he sees the Spirit of God weaving heavenly works all over the place.  All he could think to do to prevent a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, one which the remnant has been praying for, is to saturate our land with sickness.  More importantly, let fear run rampant.  We cannot be in fear and faith at the same time.

So it is my greatest hope that when church families join together again there is a spiritual power, the likes of which our generation has never experienced.  I hope God’s kids have taken this time to repent and recharge and coming together is much like that of a husband and wife who look forward to their reunion after an extended, forced separation.  You know what comes out of reunions like that?  Babies!  Lots and lots of babies!  Get ready, people of God.  He’s coming on a wave.  Don’t be swallowed up by it, ride it with Him.  Covid pales in comparison to what God has planned.

Yes, things may never be the same again, and in a sense, I sincerely hope they are not.  I hope people return to the greatest commandments, the two on which the Mayflower Compact were based: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and Love your neighbor as yourself.

I hope people’s vision has changed.  I hope we choose to look up.  I have.  For there lies my Hope.  There lies my Redemption.  There lies the Answer to my everything.  I refuse to let grim predictions sully my soul.  I hope you’ll join me in this rebellion.  Let’s remember the only voice worth listening to, God’s.  The only hand worth holding, God’s.  The only future worth seeing, God’s.  The only life worth living, God’s.  The only victory we’ll be celebrating, God’s.  To God be all the praise, glory, and honor, Amen.

I love exercising to this song!

No Door

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I awoke to snow on the ground.  In April.  That’s not necessarily unheard of here, but we’re more accustomed to the March coming “In like a lion and going out like a lamb” kind of weather concept.  April is supposed to be sunshine and rain and tulips and Easter lilies.

The snow and cold adds insult to injury.  Was it only less than two weeks ago that our pastor came to us via internet and said the difficult decision had been made to close the church doors for a month?  A month!  And with it being Easter?!  I cried.  I can’t remember ever missing celebrating the Resurrection of my Savior with church family.  I cried again the next day.  Then hope came in an unexpected way.

I was watching a Christian program.  They were showing the streets of Jerusalem.  The streets were empty.  The merchants’ doors were closed.  The doors to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher were shut tight.  Few prayed at the Western Wall.  What an eerie sight and silence preceding the wondrous celebration of Passover.  Then. . .

. . . a picture of a tomb. . . with no door.

The angels asked the women who had gone to Jesus’ tomb, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  Jesus of Nazareth which was crucified is not here.  He is risen as He said.”  

He is risen.

Covid-19 will prevent our gathering as is our custom.  But it will not prevent joy, gratitude, songs of praise, hope, supplication, and faith from swelling in my heart and escaping from my lips.  Jesus is alive!  One would think that the very reason that such controversy exists after nearly 2000 years is some kind of proof that something supernatural happened.

In Matthew 27:22 Pilate asked the crowd, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

The same question still begs to be answered.  Whatever plagues us today will disappear and fade away, but the question remains, “What will I do with Jesus?”  I know what I’m doing, I’m journeying with Him.  And this particular weekend I am remembering the sacrifice He made for me and I am thanking Him for it.  “What will you do with Jesus?”  It is my sincere hope that you are joining me.

 

GOD > satan

 

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Just recently, I ordered a tank of cooking fuel and topped off our heating fuel tanks.  Both of the delivery guys left the bill in my door.  This is not normal practice.  Normally, they  knock, I answer, they hand me the bill, I pass them a check.

I caught the cooking fuel delivery guy at the bottom of the porch steps.

“Don’t you want your check?”  I asked.

He shrugged, looking totally deflated.  “I guess they want you to send it in,” he said, and off he shuffled.

Cooking fuel delivery guy is a sociable guy.  Our habit is to make small talk while I write the check and the day seems cheery somehow because of it.  That day, cooking fuel delivery guy looked totally defeated.

It was much the same with heating fuel delivery guy.  I spoke to him through my window.  He didn’t look near as dejected as his counterpart, but his smile was a little sad as he said it’d be best if I sent the payment in.

Isolation is hard on people.  The little things we take for granted daily, such as passing a check to someone without the fear that the ink is poison, feels like a thing of yesteryear.  My heart especially goes out to people who lived relatively isolated lives prior to all of this craziness.  I think of the single person who counts on chats at the coffee shop and the elderly person who seeks camaraderie through senior centers.  We have our nice, little 5 family, so named by the girls.  But what of those whose outlets have been shut off?

Isolation also made me think of something, or rather Someone, contrary: Jesus.  He went in when others went out.  Think about it: He touched lepers.  Lepers!  Who does that?  He didn’t take leprosy, He gave healing.  His actions were so contrary to what we’re being asked to do today.  Do I understand?  Yes, I understand.  People are getting sick.  People are dying.  But people have always been getting sick.  And people have always been dying.  Do we really need a pandemic to point that out?  Do we need a pandemic to appreciate our freedom to worship and gather together?  Do we need a pandemic to appreciate the sharing of a meal with family and friends?  Do we need a pandemic to appreciate a hug or the simple act of handing over a check without fear that it possesses some contagious disease?  Do we need a pandemic for people to be kind, and do selfless acts, and give of their own abundance?

This may be the beginning of a series of bad things to come.  There may be more plagues, more pestilence, more outrageous things happening in the weather and in the natural world.  Covid-19 may be  part of our dress rehearsal.  Are we covered with the armor of God?  Are we wearing the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and are our feet ready to go and share the Gospel?  Are we taking up the shield of faith and using the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God?  (Ephesians 6:14-17).  Are we covered by the blood of Jesus?

Please, DO NOT FEAR.

This may also be the beginning of things too wonderful for us to imagine.  God will outdo any evil thing the devil devises with His goodness.  I am telling you, there are good things that are going to come at the end of this battle.  And as battles continue to come, so will the victories.  God does not know how to lose.  Remember the idiocy of satan?  He did everything he could to destroy our Savior–he even killed Him.  But you know what he discovered?  God’s resurrecting power is greater than death. GOD IS GREATER, period. 

Join me today in the epic challenge to turn aside from all negative voices that incur fear and hear only the voice of the LORD which inspires faith.  His report is the only one we should be putting our faith in (Isaiah 53:1).  He earned our trust.  He beat death with an ugly stick.  Jesus willingly suffered in very specific ways and places to deliver us from very specific curses.  (Again, I strongly recommend Larry Huch’s book,  Free at Last: Breaking the Cycle of Family Curses).  We don’t need to struggle.  We need only believe and speak His Word.

I don’t know why, but songs and choruses from yesteryear are coming to visit me.  This is the song that’s going through my head today and I think it’s perfectly suited for today’s content.  If the music isn’t your style, please at least take the words to heart.

 

Part of the Bridge:
God is greater (than the wisest man)
Greater (than the power of sin)
God is greater (than the gates of hell)
Greater (than any tongue can tell)
God is greater (than the richest king)
Greater (than anything!)

Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.

🙂 Let’s expect a supernatural releasing of God’s power in our lives and in our world today.

A Safe Place

 

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On January 20th of this year, the United States of America had its first confirmed case of the coronavirus (COVID-19).  We live in a very rural area.  So rural, in fact, that the gravity of this virus did not sink in until the last two weeks.  I don’t even recall hearing about it until a month ago.  For us, it seemed to come out of nowhere.  (I don’t watch much news because it’s devastating to one’s psyche.  I mean that).  God dropped a memory into my mind during prayer this morning and I felt compelled to share it with you.

On January 5th of this year, before we were even aware of the existence of COVID-19, a prophetic Word was given at our church.  I try to record as many and as much of the prophecies as I remember.  This is what I felt the LORD wanted me to share with you today, directly from my journal:

“I have drawn you in circles of love.  I have called you by name.  I love you.  Come to Me.  Step into My embrace.  Let Me cover you for you do not know the time, the evil, what is coming, what lurks in the shadows, but I do.  I would protect you.  Step into My embrace.  Let Me cover you.  Come into My bosom.  I will be to you a shield and a buckler.  Will you continue to refuse and resist Me?  Do not.  Come to Me.  For you do not know the time or the evil.  I AM your Father, Healer, Friend, Savior, Deliverer–all you could ever want or need–I AM.  Come to Me.” 

I immediately thought of the scripture from Isaiah 26:20:

Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.

In my mind, the message was an upgrade from this particular verse.  The LORD wasn’t telling our congregation to hide themselves, He was saying He would hide whoever would step into His embrace.  That was incredibly comforting.

There were also a few unusual words that stuck out to me so I drug out my Strong’s Concordance.  These are the simple notes I made and scripture I wrote:

bosom-meaning to enclose

shield-prickly, pointed, piercing

buckler-something surrounding the person

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.  Psalm 91:4

Those who do not refuse or reject Him will be surrounded, totally enclosed with a protective barrier that is covered with an encasement of outward piercing thorns.  A long time ago I got a tip from a woman: she planted rose bushes outside beneath her windows to deter intruders.  Piercing thorns is a big deal.  It’s what the enemy of our souls gets when he messes with God’s kids…and more.

I don’t know that COVID-19 is what God meant when this Word was given to us in January.  To be of a truth, I believe this is more of the earth’s groaning as in the pains of childbirth due to man’s sin (Romans 8:22) and there is more to come, much more.

I can hear you now, “Way to go, Christi, you just ruined your encouraging  word.”

But I did’t.  It is encouraging.  Do you hear?  God’s prophets are speaking.  His Word is alive and well and going forth.  The question is, will we listen and obey?  Obedience brings a blessing (Deuteronomy 28, first half).  Will we receive the Word and act on it today?  The choice is ours.

Please join me today in prayer for a worldwide end to this dreadful virus.  More so, let us pray for worldwide revival.  The LORD has spoken.  We do not totally comprehend the time or the evil that lurks in the shadows, but He does.  God has issued us an invitation to step into His embrace and let Him be to us our shield, our buckler, our everything.  Please join me and accept the invitation.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

A Desert Place

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And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while:  Mark 6:31 KJV

The disciples have once again met up with Jesus after having been sent out by Him to minister.  They were like a bunch of excited kids with news too good to keep to themselves.  They couldn’t wait to tell Him the ministry they’d done.  Although they were excited, they were tired.  Ministry is physically, spiritually, and emotionally draining.  If you’ve never experienced this, it is both exhilarating and exhausting at the same time.  I imagine this is how all of them felt on this particular day.

So Jesus says to them, “Come away with Me, to a quiet place, the desert, to rest and eat.”

I looked into different translations of “desert” and have come up with: desert (literal), solitary, secluded, wilderness, remote, etc.  He was leading them to a place where there would be no other people.  Face it, not many people desire the desert and seek it out on their own.  And I doubt few, if any of us, would dub it the ideal place to rest.  The desert is so many different things to so many people: sickness, disease, divorce, loss of a loved one, trauma, facing past abuse–the list of desert places is as endless as the variety of people who find themselves there.  The desert is a tough place to be, not only because there is no apparent provision, but there is generally no company, either.  Are we any greater than our LORD that we should bypass the desert when He dwelled in one for a time?

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.  Mark 4:1  KJV

I looked up wilderness in my Strong’s concordance.  Here are some definitions: lonesome, waste, empty expanse.  And then what one would assume: desert, desolate, etc.  In other words, not the place one would choose to host a feast.  But then, we serve a God whose thoughts are not our own.  Remember what David wrote?

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.  Psalm 23:5  NIV

He’s apt to do things like that so I guess we shouldn’t find it unusual that Jesus created a feast in the desert.

Here’s where the feast comes in: The multitude followed Jesus and His disciples.  A multitude that had been with them for THREE days, from every direction, and spent the rest of that day with them, too.

“LORD, they’re hungry.  Send them away so they can get something to eat.  We are in the desert.  There’s nothing here.”

He had compassion on them as sheep without a shepherd.  Jesus’ calm reply,  “You feed them.”

“With what, Master?  We are in the desert.  We can’t feed all of these people.  Let’s be serious now, Jesus, send them away.”

He knew exactly where they were.  Does Jesus change His mind?  No.  Their unbelief doesn’t faze Him a bit.  He was stuck on His initial reply of,  “You feed them,”  by giving them further instructions:  “Find out how much bread you have.”

They reported five loaves and two fish.  I can see Jesus clapping His hands once with a great big clap and then rubbing His palms together, a smile creasing His face.  “Wahoo!  We are going to feast tonight!”

Then Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down in groups on the green grass.  Mark 6:39 NLT  (italics are mine)

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Green grass?  In the desert?

Ah, the desert.  Dry.  Lonely.  Difficult.  An undesirable place.  And yet…

…a place of introspection, growth, discovery, miracles.

Jesus makes green grass in the desert.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.  John 14:18 KJV

In the dark night of grief, in the loneliness of rejection, in the pain of trauma and abuse, in the suffocating feeling of sickness and disease, in the worry of financial woes, in the despair of unanswered prayers, in the turmoil of broken relationships, in the awfulness of it all, I am here to tell you today that Jesus Christ not only cares and loves us enough to give us the comfort of green grass for our parched souls, He is also preparing a feast for us.  Do you see it?  Can you smell it?  Hold on just a while longer, Dear Heart, our Comforter is here and all He has said will come to pass. We will not only see it, and smell it, we will taste it.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!  Psalm 34:8  NKJV

For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.  Proverbs 23:15  KJV

Join me today and sing “Amen.”