My husband and I married 20 years ago on a chilly, rainy, spring day. One year later caught me in a whirlwind as I was celebrating my first wedding anniversary, my first Mother's Day, and my first publication as a freelance writer. The birth of our third child followed a couple months after we celebrated our twins' 3rd birthday. Though a pen has been one of my constant companions, I have not pursued writing professionally due to the monumental task of homemaking and the raising of children. A shout out to my Robert who has been our sole provider while I have had the pleasure and privilege of remaining home with our children to homeschool them. Now, thanks to him, I have the liberty to once again pursue my passion to write and encourage others in written word as we journey with God through life experiences.
It has been brought to my attention that two of the things enclosed in “I Don’t Get It” did not have a play button. I did not realize that as these looked playable from my site. Please take time to listen to Psalm 46. It is a reading with lovely photos and instrumental music. I think it will be a blessing to you.
I’m also re-posting Chris Tomlin’s song, “I Lift My Hands” and pray that it, too, will inspire you for the day.
I will try to pay closer attention to this in future posts. Thanks for viewing and for listening!
The verse from Psalm 46:10 had been turning up for two weeks. It caught my attention before that, but then it really began to peck at my brain. On a near daily basis, if not daily, I’d say, “LORD, what am I supposed to get out of this?” I began feeling like one of our nieces. At almost every one of our family gatherings she utters, “I don’t get it.” It’s maddening. The blank expression on her face causes the joy from the wit or the joke that was shared be sucked out of the room whenever she says, “I don’t get it.” Aargh!
That’s how I was feeling. Over and over I’d hear this verse, see this verse, dwell on this verse. Over and over I’d say, “What, LORD? What am I missing?” I knew there was something here that I desperately needed or He wouldn’t continually bring it before me. But, what?!
I searched the web for commentaries. I scanned the multitudes of books on my shelves. I read the study notes in my Bibles. I tore it apart in Hebrew. I did find something there. Although the verse is really quite literal in meaning, I found a reference to the word “still”. It pertains to healing and it was in a scripture the LORD gave to me two years ago when I faced surgery. I sensed, though, that this was not quite “it”; maybe in part, but not the whole.
After sending Bob off to work, fiddling with the coal fire a little, and reading a bit, I went back to bed. I was beyond tired in every which way. The weariness of life was having me for breakfast. Couple that with the fact that I couldn’t shake Psalm 46:10 nor could I understand it. My eyes filled with tears of frustration. I needed a good word. I needed to hear from Heaven. “God,” I whispered, “tell me. Make it plain.”
That’s when a couple of the notes I read came back to me. God was telling His enemies to “Be still and know that I Am God.” Ah. Yes, there is a time for us to be still, to rest, to be quiet, to listen, and I was doing that, but the dawning came with the notes.
“Christi, tell the enemies within you to ‘Be still and know that I Am God’.”
Tears of gratitude flooded my eyes at the revelation. I’d been assaulted with so much garbage lately. “Thank You, thank You, thank You,” I breathed. Then I fell into a long, overdue peaceful sleep. When I awoke, I told the nagging, lying voices in my head and the things I am battling physically to, “Be still! And know that He is God! You are defeated!” I went on to have a productive, peaceful, joyous day. All because of a revelation from the LORD in His Word.
What are you wrestling with today? Financial fears, doubts you’ve heard God’s word, sickness/disease, mental tsunamis, false accusations, stress over broken relationships, rejection, a weighty decision, work? Whatever it is, tell it today to “Be still! And know that He is God!”
Hope listening to this reading of Psalm 46 with a soothing instrumental and beautiful photos in the background blesses you.
The LORD of hosts is with us! Read this from 2 Kings 6:15-17 NKJV:
15 And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Let’s ask the LORD to open our eyes today. He has us covered. He is our champion, deliverer, healer, rescuer, defender. It is because of this that we can boldly tell our enemies, “Be still and know that He is God!”
Take a listen to Chris Tomlin’s, “I Lift My Hands”.
I know that there are a lot of poems and sentiments out there like what I’m writing today. It is not my intent to take from any artist who may have written something similar. This is simply something I was jotting down one night and would like to share. I hope this is a blessing to you.
Though the rest of the choir goes silent, sing anyway.
Though the music stops, dance anyway.
Though you feel bankrupt, give anyway.
Though the world around you is filled with hate, love anyway.
Though you have insurmountable reason to doubt, believe anyway.
Though your prayers seem to go unanswered, pray anyway.
Though there’s much to fear, have courage anyway.
Though there seems much to complain about, praise anyway.
Though your light seems small and insignificant, shine anyway.
Though you are tempted to give up, go on anyway.
~Christi Marie Jan./Feb. 2019
Holy Spirit reminded me in my devotion time today that He told me some time ago, “What God has been crafting in the dark, He will reveal in the light.” I am to share this with you today.
Some of you are incredibly battle-weary. You feel like you have been in the trenches more than in the light. It’s been so hard and so incredibly lonely. There were times you felt like you couldn’t take one more second of your life being the way it was. But that second passed. And the next minute passed. And the next hour, day, week, month, year, possibly years, passed. There were times when you asked, “How long, LORD? I just don’t know if I can take anymore.” But you did. He has seen it all. Every tear. Every time your spine stiffened with determination. Every time you fell and like a righteous man, rose again.
New American Standard Bible
For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of calamity. Proverbs 24:16
He saw it and He held you…just as He held me. What He has crafted in the dark, He will reveal in the light. And that time is upon us. Let’s receive it with child-like faith. Today He is doing a new thing.
This post is dedicated to my Robert, “a great man of faith” ~ although he doesn’t realize it…yet. I love you.
In my estimation there are few things as bleak as literal dark and cold. Put them together and you’ve got a recipe for disaster of about every kind. Ever have a sick child? Ever been sick yourself? Isn’t it worse at 2 a.m. than it is in 2 in the afternoon? Ever needed, I mean needed to go to work or go to school or go grocery shopping or keep an appointment and cringe because it’s 4 degrees instead of say, 40? (Yes, I know my Florida friends are shivering at the thought of a modest 40 degrees).
We had yet another disappointment this past week. It was both dark and cold. It was so…disappointing, (that’s all I can think to say) that my husband gasped. Bob does not gasp, so hearing him do that made me spin around on my heel to see if maybe he was having a heart attack or something; he wasn’t. Thank God. But there we were, speechless as to yet another heart-breaking revelation, seeing yet one more thing that we were hoping for, praying for, believing for, slip from our fingers.
I do what I usually do when I’m upset: I went to the kitchen and got busy and kept quiet. At least that’s one thing I’ve learned, well, mostly learned 🙂 keep quiet. I still do find it a tall order at times but that evening I was so dumbfounded that my mouth was quiet even though my mind and my heart were turning rapid-fire. Bob joined me for a little while in the kitchen, neither one of us saying much because we simply didn’t know what to say.
A ray of sunshine broke through at the supper table when Bob shared our disappointment with the kids. I’m not going to tell you what Rachel said because it was specific for us, but I’ll give you the gist of it: “So, it’s not going to happen the way we thought. Maybe God is going to do it another way instead.” Huh.
I do some of my best thinking while in the shower and it was there that her words hit my mind and heart like a freight train. I absorbed them. I breathed them in and let them quiet me like the steam that opened my lungs and the warmth from the water that soothed my tired soul. Word mixed with water: what a wonderful combination. I became even more quiet and reflective.
There are promises I have been waiting for for years, actually, decades. And this recent heartbreak just sliced me again. Waiting and waiting and waiting wears on a soul. I found myself telling the LORD, “I am weary! LORD, hear me, I know that with You time is not but I am a vapor, remember? Jesus, tell Father what it’s like here, remind Him. I don’t have the luxury of waiting an eternity for things to come to pass here like You guys do.” A few days later I sensed Father saying to me, “Jesus came to Me and was saying something about time…” Ha, ha, ha. Yes, LORD, but I’m still waiting!
I wholly agree with Inigo Montoya: I HATE WAITING. That’s the weight of what I carried into the following morning. Yes, I had fresh faith, fresh eyes from Rachel’s passing statement, encouragement to think outside of the box and let God be God. I also, however, had residual pain so I prayed and admitted to God that I feel I’m in an emotional/spiritual tug-of-war of sorts. Oddly, I didn’t feel condemnation at my confession as I feared, but hope. A tug-of-war at least lends to a battle; I have not quit. I won’t quit.
I felt somewhat defeated when I thought about writing another post. I tire coming to the world-wide web, throwing out my fears, doubts, failings, and the like when I’d much rather come with a HALLELUJAH story. The thing is, I have a sneaking suspicion that most of you maybe feel the way I currently do or at least you have in the past. You’re banged up waiting for breakthrough but you’re willing to go on. I need encouragement myself and thought maybe some of you could use a little, too. I looked up some things that have been a blessing to me and I hope they will be a blessing to you. Here’s a short excerpt from Reverend Jesse Duplantis that may bolster you.
“Don’t bend to the pressure of time.” Doesn’t that seem impossible? But it isn’t. We know it isn’t or we’d all be dead from waiting. We go on because there’s no other agreeable choice. And we go on with Jesus because there is no better Companion.
I also want to encourage you with this song that I heard for the first time. Maybe I heard it before and didn’t realize it. I think a lot passes us by until we need it. Today, I must have needed it. Maybe you do, too.
Haven’t seen it…YET. Not yet isn’t never. Dear Heart, let’s not give up! God is worth the wait!
I know that today’s post is a little different from what I usually do, but I felt it was necessary. A lot of people are hurting and it seems we’re hurting for waiting and seeming unmet expectations. Such things can be so crushing. I said can be. That doesn’t mean that it will be and it certainly won’t be forever. As the saying goes, It ain’t over ’til it’s over…and it ain’t over yet. Let’s hold on together and trust the good LORD to bring beauty from the ashes of all of our broken dreams. He willfulfill every Word He’s ever spoken because He can not lie. Oh, don’t shrivel up waiting! Praise Him! For He is worthy, so worthy!
There is one more thing I feel compelled to leave you with today. It is the word: SUDDENLY. I hope you enjoy this devotion from Dr. Tony Evans as much as I did.
“I foretold the former things long ago; they came out of My mouth; I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.” Isaiah 48:3 Berean Study Bible
One day she just appeared; a scraggly kitten with fluffy black fur, yellow eyes that shone out of her head like spotlights, and a fear of man. My heart went out to her. I wanted to hold her, comfort her, but every time we opened the door she fled. By and by she didn’t run as far as fast. Eventually she tolerated a mini-petting but only while she was eating and shrunk a little when she realized it was a human hand stroking her back. With time and meat broth, our little kitty became a smidge more amicable.
From Thanksgiving on, all of our pets received a little fat or skin or tantalizing scrap on a semi-regular basis. It was then that I noticed that Whiskers (Rachel named her that on account of how her bleach-white whiskers stood out against the black of her furry face) was a lot more amicable. She would forego the food and reach up my leg for a petting first. She chose contact with me before the filling of her belly. I smiled to myself as I realized I had won the heart of a rejected, lost animal. A sense of small wonder welled up inside of me for the simple yet complex trust that had been cultivated between us.
One Saturday morning, she was here, like always, then that Saturday night, no sign of her. Sunday morning and Sunday evening passed without sighting of her. I lay in bed that night, fretting. What if someone had taken her? What if a bird of prey or a coyote had snatched this little one?
“I was in the garage yesterday,” Bob offered. “Maybe she followed me in.”
I was about to jump out of bed and go open the garage to see if she were there.
“Then again, I was right back in it to put stuff away and I didn’t see her.”
My heart sank again.
“Should I go look?” I asked.
“If she’s in the garage, she’s safe. Check tomorrow.”
I admit, I fretted a little longer, but if God’s eye is on the sparrow, wouldn’t it be on this stray who tugged on my heart?
The next morning, I checked. I was kind of afraid of what I would or wouldn’t find but the driving force to know drove out all other fears. I unlocked the door, stepped inside, and queried, “Whiskers?”
And there she was, sleeping on foam we had trimmed from a mattress. She gave a slight stretch and a yawn to match, and then happily came to greet me, wrapping herself around my ankles, purring. I stooped to pet her, (she still resists being picked up), and couldn’t contain the joy in my voice that she was safe. Her day and a half adventure proved her none the worse for wear. Surprisingly, she didn’t vault for water and food as I anticipated but continued to circle my legs and purr and beg for my affection. I was astounded. But no more than I was a couple of days later when…
I lifted her onto a bale of hay so that I could pet our orange Tiggs and her at the same time. Tail-end facing me, I rubbed and rubbed her head and neck. Amazingly, she was so engrossed in my administrations that she lay parallel on my arm, only the pads of her feet of her sidelong body grazed the side of the bale of hay, I suppose giving her the sense that it was still beneath her. My arm bore her full weight and was her only support. Had I picked her up and tried to cradle her, she would have wriggled and fought to be free, but she had no realization so totally rested on me. I couldn’t help myself, I stood there and wondered at it all because I sensed there was so much here than what met the eye.
Enter: Jags. Our heavy weight gray cat. I was on the way to tend our other animals so didn’t stop to love on him right at that moment. I had fully intended to scoop him up, straddle him over my arm longways (just like he likes) where he’d hang like a limp 10 lb. jacket, head dangling over the tips of my fingers, and pet the purr right out of him. When I returned, he was not along the path waiting for me. That was odd. I called for him, he did not come. Do you know where I found him? Sitting in the middle of the highway in front of our house. I’m talkin’ on the yellow lines, with his back turnedtoward me, ignoring my calls, as the sound of oncoming traffic in the distance was getting closer and closer. The insolence! The impudence! The audacity! The picture of *gasp*…me? Not me, LORD. Oh, yes, Christi, you. ouch, Ouch, and OUCH!
The Jags part of me is impatient. The Jags part of me wants answers now and in triplicate. The Jags part of me knows that I am loved and wanted but sometimes I want loved and wanted when I want loved and wanted and I want to experience it in my own way. And sometimes when that doesn’t happen, I go sit in the middle of the highway with my back to the LORD, while the enemy approaches, as if to say, “You didn’t answer me, I can’t hear You”.
Oh, that’s awful, Christi. And stupid. Yes, yes it is. But there’s something very liberating about confession so today is my day of liberation. Here’s another confession: I don’t wholly trust the LORD but I want to. I’ve been doing some serious soul searching as to why I feel this way. I think it basically boils down to the thing about the answers. I know I have faith, I do, so then why do the answers not come in stride with my faith? Hmm…
That’s when God Whispers are so cool. That’s when He gently comes and wraps me in His arms, and we have a discussion, He and I. This faith walk has been so hard because I have made it that way. Think about it: God gave me life. I did not create myself. It’s His breath I breathe. However, I get to choose how to live this life and since I chose Jesus, He’s a vital part of nearly every part of me.
Here’s the dawning: God also gave me faith. I could not create it on my own. It, too, is a gift from my Creator. But I took responsibility for my faith as though it’s very existence depended on me, so when it failed to produce the results I anticipated, I felt condemnation and, more often than not, frustration at myself, God, or both. That’s where I erred. As absurd as it sounds, I wasn’t including Him in this facet of my Christian walk. I took His gift of faith on as a one-man-show instead of the partnership that it was meant to be. It’s His faith that works in me, but I was carrying the burden of working it alone. And what a burden!
God began to explain to me in a way I could understand, in terms of a garden. He makes the seed; I plant it. I give it the best environment that I can by planting it in nourished, fertile soil, where it will receive the appropriate sunlight, weed it, and water it when it doesn’t rain. But I cannot make the sun. I cannot make it grow. Like Adam in the Garden, I am responsible to tend my seed of faith and to guard it, but I can’t make it grow or produce answers by sheer will. The explanation God sent in the form of a garden and visuals of my feline friends were priceless pictures of what I was doing. What a loving, gentle, and patient Savior! I was never meant to carry my faith alone. Thank God!
I was also complicating my faith by “formulas” and was thereby bewildered as to why it didn’t “work”. That’s when God showed me that the formula for faith is actually quite simple: BELIEVE. And I show that I believe by providing the environment that faith needs to grow. So faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. I fill my surroundings with the Word, prayer, obedience, praise, and proclamations and release (and that is key) all of the growth to the Son.
I also need to be careful that I am seeking God’s heart, not only His hand, just like Whiskers did after her stay in the garage. I get so desperate sometimes, especially when someone in my family or I am suffering physically, that I allow myself to be consumed with the gifts rather than the Giver. I don’t believe God is disappointed with me when this happens, it at least shows that I know He provides. But my attitude has got to be right. I cannot be so consumed by my needs/wants that our fellowship goes by the wayside and my soul begins to shrink.
And then there was the picture of Whiskers resting on my arm although she was totally unaware of it. Why? Because she was consumed with love.
That there is my ultimate goal: consumed with His love. Not that I haven’t experienced it, but I want to live there on a continuous basis. To bask in His presence in such a way would be Heaven on earth. And isn’t that part of our LORD’s prayer? Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven…
Ah, to know Him, to love Him, to rest in Him and let the growing up to Him–this is my heart’s desire.
Rest and be thankful. ~William Wordsworth
Bask in God’s love with me through the song Just Be Held by Casting Crowns.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8 KJV
It was one of those days. You know, the kind when you wake up feeling like you’re under a dark cloud for no apparent reason–one of those. I don’t like those. It’d been quite some time since I’d felt that way and that it didn’t shake easily bothered me. Instead of post-Christmas cleaning like I should have been doing, I found myself searching my mind as to what had brought this on. What was churning in my mind? The truth is, I didn’t want to face it, but since I longed for the sun to return to my disposition I went into the shadows to see what lurked there.
Visiting with family during the holiday season was pleasant overall but there had been some difficult situations. A particular memory was unknowingly stirred up by my husband’s sister that caused him a great deal of pain. It kept us both awake that night. It actually sat in me like a loaf of bread made from a brick. Then on another day there was the inhospitable treatment at another relative’s home. That was awful.
Then there was my ruminating over 2018 in general. It felt like a loss due to dashed hopes and unmet expectations in our family as a whole–the kind that hurts deeply because I truly expected great things for us. That led to me contemplating my own personal goals and what I’ve achieved. It seemed like very little once written out on my mental tablet. 2018 felt like I was trying to catch vapors. News flash: they can’t be caught. I guess I just wanted…more. Then I had a startling thought: I wished 2019 were over. That jarred me. Where did that come from? I thought: You better get over that real fast because 2019 has only just begun.
Lone Follower, Encourage Me came back to me. “Practice what you preach, Christi,encourage yourself.” Oh, but picking oneself out of the doldrums is so hard! “Do itanyway. You know better.” Okay.
Two to three years ago the LORD drove a scripture verse through my brain like a nail. And let me tell you, I had to have it pounded into me. But I was a willing recipient of that particular hammering. I needed it. I wanted it. And I find that at certain times, such as these, I must revisit it. This is the verse in two translations:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2NKJV
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.Romans 12:2 NLT
This was so important to me because I would find myself visiting a cesspool of thoughts, especially concerning my husband. I hated going to that place. That doesn’t mean hurts and misunderstandings between us weren’t real; they were, they are. But I visited them–no, I dwelt with them way too often. He and I, we’re in this for life, so I had to figure out how to shut this place down. It had way too much power over me and contaminated my relationship with him. Not to mention it corrupted me by virtue of not wanting to be the kind of wife I found myself being at times. I had to change this. But it had to be changed God’s way: with the Word.
I first asked Holy Spirit to make me aware when the thoughts would begin trickling in. My sad admission is that I had to have Him tip me off because reverting to these thoughts had become so habitual I was afraid I would not notice it right away. (By the way, this works with all thoughts contrary to God’s way of thinking).
My first severing Word:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proudor rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. I Corinthians 13:4-5 NLT
I had to train myself that if my words weren’t kind, or they were rude, or I was irritable, then I wasn’t acting in love. I wasn’t acting in God. Therefore, it had to go. That was basic. That was doable.
I had to retrain myself to be the wife I wanted to be. (God bless my Robert who, more often than not, said he didn’t notice when I’d go off and sit by the edge of the cesspool and then apologize to him for words and actions incurred during my visit there.) More retraining and severing came from these:
4 A worthy wife is a crown for her husband, but a disgraceful woman is like cancer in his bones. Proverbs 12:4 NLT
What sane wife would choose cancer over a crown?
Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.Proverbs 31:10-12 NLT
I like the NKJV which says “the heart of her husband safely trusts her” and “she does him good and not evil”. I want so badly to be this kind of wife.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness.Proverbs 31:26 NKJV
I wanted to share this because this is a simple example of what retraining the mind looks like. And it works for everything and anything. Still, I was left with my current ruminations. But thankfully, as I wrote earlier, God’s Word pertains to everything.
Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Hebrews 6:11
I like this particular verse because it applies to the inhospitable relative (keep on loving) AND hope (so that what you hope for comes true).
The sun (Son) broke through.
And this for my feelings of little achieved and 2019:
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.In those days when you pray, I will listen.If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord.
“I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” Jeremiah 29:11-14 NLT
And this for all times:
…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV
That’s a tall order, thanking God in everything. It may help to notice the wording: in everything not necessarily for everything. It would be silly to thank God for disease, divorce, bankruptcy, etc., but to thank Him in it looses Him to work in the situation and empowers us to triumph. I’ve heard it said that if you can’t think of one thing to be thankful for concerning a difficult person/situation, then be thankful for something simple. Inhospitable relative: seems to be a supportive and involved parent. So-so 2018: 2019 is a New year. Yes, the year has changed, God has not. HALLELUJAH!! Whatever it is, find one positive thing and cling to that.
I like what our Pastor once said:
Thanks> leads to >Joy> leads to >Peace> leads to >Answers
A cooperate prayer for all of us based on Romans 15:13:
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill us completely with joy and peace because we trust in Him. Then we will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Whatever you’re facing today, be it pain buried so deep from your past that you feel like the hurt will never end, contrary relatives, or the feeling of never being enough, our Father has an answer for that. Join me in minding our minds and applying a fitting Word to all that ails us…and let’s give thanks.
My middle daughter baked a jello cake today. They are so delicious and moist. After supper, she took out the cake and began slicing it for us.
“Can I take a piece to Dora?” she asked.
Dora is the sweet, white-haired, 70 something who lives across the road from us.
“Sure.” As if my kids need permission to do something nice for someone.
I watched her cross the road and then returned to my dish washing. When she came in she said Dora looked so happy to get a surprise piece of cake and said she was going to “eat it right away”.
While she was gone, I was wondering if people attribute the kindness of my girls at least in part to me (or Bob) and how we’re raising them. “That Christi, she is such a good mom.”
Made me think about the partial scripture I used in a prior post, The Gray-Haired.
This time I’m going to share it in its entirety.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’.
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:13-17
There are certain criteria for being children of God. They:
Live by the Spirit, are led by the Spirit, have witness by the Spirit that they are God’s children, and they suffer with Him.
That last one is no fun. Most of my suffering has come in the form of rejection. I remember a particularly trying time when the rejection of someone close was repetitive to the point of madness. I kept wondering what was wrong with me. That’s when this scripture was highlighted to me and I realized nothing is wrong with me, I am normal by God’s standards.
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18,19
Fun stuff (sarcasm), yet ironically uplifting (honestly). Jesus knows. He was treated the same way for no good reason, just because He was righteous and chosen–which is what we can all be if we so choose.
We live our lives below God’s standards if it’s all rejection, though. We were made for so much more than that. Jesus was our model. He laid down His divinity to become one of us to show us how to live as children of God.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” John 5:19
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these will he do because I go to My Father.” John 14:12
What did Jesus do? Preached the Good News, set people free from bondage, healed the sick, made the broken whole on every level, and raised the dead.
It’s true, I don’t always look like Him and I am not seeing the great manifestations in my life that Jesus had in His. But I feel I’ve had an incredible growth spurt in the last 2 years. And even though I am not yetseeing what I am believing for, I know that I will because I have seen what the Father is doing and I am willing to let Him do it through me, just like Jesus did. How ’bout you? Who’s your daddy? If you answered God, do you look like Him? To know what He looks like, remember the example Jesus set for us. He was the very image of His Father which was hope, joy, peace and love personified. Join me this New Year by giving our best effort to present the face and hands of our Father to a lost and dying world.
Click here to check out No Longer Slaves. Let the words become alive in you.
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God.
I’ve been born again, into a family
Your blood flows through my veins…
We’ve been liberated from bondage…
I AM A CHILD OF GOD….
I AM A CHILD OF GOD. Are you? Let’s unashamedly live like it in 2019.
Another year of gift giving and receiving going, going, gone down the drain. Time sure does fly. In a society hyped up on materialism, it’s hard not to consider the stuff–the gifts. I can’t imagine one person out there who celebrates Christmas that hasn’t had the frustration of finding the perfect gift. If I said it once I said it 10 times this year: “I don’t want to buy a gift just to buy something.” I shrink from the feeling of “having to buy”. That’s one of the frustrating sides of gift giving.
Another side are good-intentioned gifts–the ones of which we say, “It’s the thought that counts.” I’ve given them and I’ve received them. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
There are the very memorable, perfect-for-me gifts. Years ago for Christmas, Bob had me search the tree for my gift. It was a ring with a heart-shaped ruby and three diamond chips on the side that represented me and the girls. My mother’s ring. Then there are the hand-crafted gifts that I cherish from Mum. When I think of all of the time and love she spent on each cut, stitch, etc., it brings tears to my eyes. And it’s so fun to see what the girls will come up with. They’ve caught on to my love of writing and provide me beautiful books for journaling, pens, stickers, etc. They’ve also given me some of the most beautiful decor. My biggest problem is trying to remember who gave me what 🙂 .
Then there is the thrill of finding the perfect gift. Years ago I found tea cups and saucers that match my great-grandmother’s china set and purchased them for Mum. She cried when I gave them to her. My brother, eyes a little widened and jaw hanging a bit said, “How do you do that?”
I know Mum. I listened to her heart. Just like she listens to mine and spends hours of time and loads of materials making memories for me using her crafting skills. Just like my girls put pen and paper in my hands and beautiful, adorable, sometimes comical decorations on my table, island, shelves–anywhere and everywhere. Just like my husband hung his heart on the tree for me to find. They know me. I know them. It is our delight to bless one another with the exchanging of gifts.
You know what? None of this matters without Jesus, the One Who knows us better than we know ourselves. In fact, there is no Christmas without Christ. The unbelieving can slice this holiday any way they like, but there is no reason to celebrate without Jesus. Gifts wear out, don’t fit, rust, corrode, stain, fade, break, go out of style–they don’t last forever. In fact, I read a staggering statistic in a magazine that said the average gift loses its luster after 2 weeks. Two weeks!
But Jesus never loses His shine. He can’t, because He is the Light of the world. He knows my name. He knows where I live. He knows my heart’s desire and surrounds me with people who love me. Even without the packages and bows I am full to brim–no, I am spilling over in awe of the love He has for me. What other god would leave Heaven’s splendor to meet me where I am? What other god would be born for the sole purpose of dying to save an undeserving people? What other god would nail the sins and sorrows of man to His Holy Son and hang Him on a cross in order to deliver man from them all, all for the asking? What other god would live as a man in order to demonstrate to us how we can live like God and make a way for us to spend eternity in Heaven with Him? None.
The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save, He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
Join me in taking time to listen closely this season to the song of Heaven. Your Creator Father is delighting in you and rejoicing over you with singing. Do you hear Him?
Thank God it was an exceptionally mild December day. Temps reached into the 60s. It was a good day for us to get our spring water for drinking. Standing there filling jugs made me think of another day not too long ago. It was in early September.
Most of the kids had started school in our area but we had not yet begun. Miss Debbie (a teacher in the church) wanted to spend a day out with my older two girls so that left Rachel and me alone. On the spur of the moment, we called Pappy and asked if he’d like to hang out with us. We went to a beach at a lake and had the place to ourselves. The day was hot and dry, so different from the rain-saturated summer we’d just had. We waded and had a competition skipping rocks on the choppy waves. The two laughed at me every time I squealed about a wayward fish brushing up against my feet. I think they were trying to eat my toes.
From there we went to a little local pizza place that serves up some of the best pie we’ve ever had. It’s quite the treat. Rachel took lots of pictures and relished being one of three children, if only for a few hours. We filled water jugs at “our” spring and then took Pappy home. It was there, chatting with Grandma about our day out, that I noticed Rachel was missing one of her rhinestone clip-on earrings. Her face immediately fell. The day had gone from sunny and joyful to dark and awful for her in one brief twist.
I was mulling over choices of action on the short journey home and while we unloaded the water. My first course of action was to call the restaurant. It was a very pleasant woman who answered and took the time to look around our booth. She then called back to tell me that the earring was not there. She’d tell the woman who sweeps at night to take extra care to look for it.
“That’s my favorite pair, Mom. They’re so comfortable. What am I gonna do?” she wailed.
My heart went out to her. Her ears aren’t pierced because of the terrible reaction she has to metal. Even some of the clip-on earrings cause her to rash and chaff.
She mentally retraced her steps. She was almost certain that she had both of the earrings at the restaurant. We then tore apart our vehicle looking for it.
“We’re going back to the spring.”
Rachel felt like that’d be putting me out. It wasn’t far but neither is it just a couple of miles away.
“We can’t wait until we get water again, Rachel. If it’s there it could be crushed from other people getting water. We need to go today.”
I think her heart sank a little when we saw a vehicle parked where we had been not long before. What if it was too late? What if it had been crushed? Or carried away in someone’s tire tread? Or covered over with dirt so that we’d never find it? Not wanting to freak the woman out who was getting water as we rushed the area, I gave a brief explanation and began to scan the dirt myself. Meanwhile, Rachel had immediately jumped out of the vehicle and seemed to go right to where it lay. It happened so fast that I didn’t comprehend she’d found it until she walked towards me, a smile illuminating her face.
“Got it!” she said triumphantly.
“Nope, it’s perfect.”
That was the shortest trip I’d ever had at the spring. And one of the happiest, I might add.
Years ago, Rachel’s older sister, Beth, had lost an earring at a Christmas party. It, too, was one of her favorites. I told her that God knew where it was, ask Him and He’d show her. The next morning she said she had a dream that the earring was in her jeans’ pocket. When she awoke, she looked, and sure enough, there it was.
People may say not to bother God with such insignificant things. I say, Why not? And who’s to judge what is significant or insignificant? I look in the natural to my children. If it concerns them, it concerns me. They’re my kids. I love them.
You know who I am? I’m God’s kid, a daughter of Creator of the universe; Creator of me. He loves me immeasurably more than I can think or imagine. In a world of conditions, I can not wrap my mind around that kind of unconditional love. And yet He has it for me. And for you, if you’ve received it.
Give all your worries to Him, because He cares for you. No matter how “big”, no matter how “small”, no matter anything~to Him give them all. To have a Savior like that, a Friend, a Love beyond comprehension; Someone I can talk to anytime, anywhere, about anything…wow. Words fail. All words but: Thank You, God.
I pray that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith; that we, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height–to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that we may be filled with all the fullness of God. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. GLORY!!! Amen. (Ephesians 3:17-20)
Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged...Leviticus 19:32
This past weekend we had a Christmas party on my mother’s side. For the first time in many, many years, it was cancelled last year due to no one volunteering to host it. For as long as I can remember we’ve had parties but, although my Mum’s generation has the want for a party, most no longer have the stamina to coordinate them. It fell to my generation and there were no volunteers. My heart went out to the family but we had sickness in my own household; there was no guarantee we’d make it to a party if they had one let alone host it. Earlier this year, at my request, I was entrusted with the family finances that remained and offered help and cooperation to make this year’s party happen– which it did.
Planning the party was an incredible amount of stress, but I needn’t have worried, it went off without a hitch. Throughout the evening I observed the “gray heads” laughing and sharing memories with each other and catching up on the new homes, new babies, and new jobs of nieces and nephews. Then there were the cousins and cousin-in-laws entrenched in light-hearted chitchat. Love bubbles floated all around me as I saw what joy getting together brought, especially to the elders. Their joy made all of the time, effort, and resources invested worth it.
Family: love them, leave them, don’t judge me by them–I laugh every time I read that last one on a t-shirt. Bob dared me to buy it and wear it to family gatherings. Getting together with family creates stress in some people with just the very thought of it–I know, I confess that I’ve experienced it. There always seems to be that one relative that rubs me raw. Hosting the Christmas party this year caused me to see family through a different lense, and though that evening was joy-filled, part of me is very grieved by what I’m seeing and hearing.
I fear what will happen when the gray heads, those ones not submersed in technology, who believed in hard work and not entitlement, and knew the value of family, are gone. What will society be like? How many times have I witnessed parents in public with their young children but they’re paying no attention to them; their eyes are glued to their gadgets. I want to say, “Hello. There’s a real, living being, your child, in your presence, engage them. Look them in the eye and invite them to talk. They’ll be grown before you know it.” Then I’ve seen it in reverse: the kid out with the grandparent who absent-mindedly stuffs food in their face while staring at their gadget and the grandparent looks on in silence, a wistful expression on their face. I want to grab that kid and say, “Hey! Look them in the eye and ask them about their life. They have so much to share and they’ll be gone before you know it.” Another chance for meaningful conversation and memories shared, lost.
As frustrating as family can be at times, I’d suffer a huge void without them. Earthly family got me to thinking about heavenly family.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us… John 1:14
God created man. He came and talked with Adam in the cool of the evening. Then man sinned. And the only way to redeem him, the only way God could bring man around to right relationship with Him again, to have him for the family He longed for, Jesus had to come. He had to leave Heaven, His throne, and every thing familiar to Him. He humbled Himself and became one of us. As a child, He submitted Himself to His parents (Luke 2:51). He learned the dynamic of the human family on first-hand terms. He witnessed the ugliness and the beauty of humanity in an up-close-and-personal way. And despite it all, He loved us to the cross.
Mind boggling, this love that God has for man.
Join me in passing on this love to the gray-haired by means of an unexpected phone call, surprise lunch out, or card via snail mail. Having done visitation at a nursing home years ago, I remember how forgotten and lonely some of the residents felt. Let’s show them love and give them the honor that’s due.
Let us also show love and gratitude to the Father of fathers and the Son Who has made us joint heirs with Him.
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…” Romans 8:16,17
*For a comic treat, click here and check out some senior experiences and parodies done by “gray-haired” Barb 🙂 To make it even more meaningful, view it with an elder in your own life.