Friday, March 16, 2018

Touched by an Angel

I just received an email notifying me it's time for a TB test. Because it's been a year since my last one - which means I've been volunteering with Great Lakes Caring for an entire year already. I had six months of Lovely Moments, and now I am blessed to be Touched by an Angel.
What an incredible joy!

So, this week when I visited with Angel we had a short conversation when I arrived, and then we moved right into reading the Bible. Have I said before how much I love how much Angel loves hearing His Word? I know I have! *smile* I suggested we start with the Creation story, and Angel agreed - so I opened up to Genesis 1 and began reading.
I enjoyed hearing Angel's various vocal responses to what I read, but by the time I got to The Flood, she was asleep and the room was quiet - except for the sound of my voice.
I think it was the lack of extra sounds which allowed me to concentrate more on what I was reading. And I think it was my extra thoughtfulness which allowed for my train of thought. That is, as I read about "how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time," and, "The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled," (Genesis 6:5-6) I wondered, What does God see when He looks at us today?
Have you ever wondered the same thing? Have you ever contemplated how evil mankind was before the Flood that God regretted making him, to the extent that He washed it all away and started over? Are we in 2018 more or less morally deficient than Noah's contemporaries?

I wonder.

I paused in my reading to ponder the thought.
Then Angel awoke, and I started reading again from chapter 37. Together, we delighted in God's faithfulness to Joseph, and we marveled at His ability to take what man meant for evil and use it for good. We sat there - Angel and I - in the presence of God who is holy and perfect and righteous in every way, and we praised Him. We thanked Him for His goodness and mercy. And we rested in the knowledge of God's enduring love for us.
I'm telling you, friends, it is such a deep, deep joy to spend an hour with Angel every week and to have her point me to the Father - even when she barely says a word.


Thursday, March 15, 2018

"J" is for Jesus - and Jenga

So, you know I love JESUS.
And I love talking about Jesus.
Especially every Sunday morning at 9:15 with my 3rd and 4th grade girls at church.
But the girls and I have another "J" love. That is, before we start talking about Jesus - as girls are arriving to class - you can usually find us involved in a good game of Jenga.
And this past Sunday I got a picture of our tower, because I was so excited about how well we were balancing it on a relatively "skinny" base. See?

I tend to be the one who likes to take pieces from the bottom, and sometimes one or two of the girls will get into it with me. However, this particular young lady was intent on de-constructing and re-building from the top. So I was taking blocks from the bottom and putting them on top, and she was taking blocks from the next-to-the-top, and putting them on top. We kept each other on edge as we anticipated the tower toppling. (As it did right after I snapped this picture!)

The thing is, while there is nothing I love more than Jesus - and talking about HIM - my heart flows with joy by simply playing Jenga with my girls. (And Walk the Dogs. We love that game, too!)
Because if Jesus were here on earth in the flesh right now? I think He would probably make time to play with these girls. I think He would make them feel like they're really, really loved. And then I think He would tell the girls how they could have a relationship with Himself.
But since He isn't here on earth in the flesh right now, I count it a privilege to stand in and do what I think He would do.

Is there somewhere you are/could be standing in for Jesus?


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

What's LOVE Got to Do With It?

So I've been thinking about love lately.

The outlook for lasting relationships in today's world, that is.

This thought process started with a conversation I had recently with one of my honorary daughters.
She was telling me about some relational struggles she's having and how hard it is to persevere when most of her generation is telling her to just quit. To send him packing. To get rid of the difficulty and start afresh with somebody else. ***read that: Someone with whom there are no problems - which will make for a suitable replacement - until said stand-in reveals he has issues, too. At that time, previous suitablity becomes null and void and must be re-replaced with another proxy who will suffice until inevitable complications surface. Repeat ad infinitum.***
I was simultaneously pleased and saddened.
Pleased that my girl recognizes the madness.
Saddened by the reality of the whole situation.
It seems like our world has become a place where struggle is taboo and comfort is to be elveated above all else. Where the most important factor in a relationship is our personal "happiness", with no room for personal character growth via strife, conflict, or serious effort. For many people, a relationship in 2018 is a situation in which you shouldn't have to give up your preferences, where the "other" is expected to please you in every way, and offenses are unexcusable.
And it breaks my heart.
Because there is no way a relationship can survive those standards. And standards like those are going to produce shallow people whose lives are based purely on feelings, and who will never make it in an imperfect world.

My honorary daughter and I were talking about romantic relationships, but the current state of affairs isn't limited to those connections. We see it in families, neighborhoods, peer relationships, in the church, and at work. If one party offends another, today's world allows the offended to righteously declare that they have been wronged and move on to find someone who will treat them better.
Nevermind addressing the offense, dealing with the differences, and growing through the process.
Nah. That's too much work!
The thing is, I remember a time - some 25 or 26 years ago - when somebody told me about lasting love, which makes for a lasting relationship.
It's love that has a will.
It makes a decision, doesn't depend on feelings.
It stays in the mix when times get rough.
And it commits to seeking the best outcome for everyone involved.
I have lived and received this love in my marriage, my family, and my friendshps - and I have seen it in the lives of many people around me. It isn't easy, but it is possible.
And it is imperative for a lasting relationship.

So that's what I've been thinking. What do you say about it?


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Never Say Never

I always think of this song when I say, "Never say never."
Ah, yes. An American Tale. My favorite movie from 1986!
Anyway, I found myself saying "never" to a certain possibility for many years. And now it's going to happen. So I have been happily singing this song for days.

That is to say, do you remember a while ago when I mentioned a vacation I wanted to take with my husband - but he thought it was too expensive? So rather than nagging begging continually listing off all the reasons we should go being a pest about it, I decided to be quiet?
Well, I am not sure what happened (Except maybe God was smiling on me!) but Brian recently suggested we take that vacation. He brought it up again, after I had stopped mentioning it, y'all!!!
You've got to know I jumped on it and we made our reservation.
And last night it got very real.
The confirmation email arrived with our cabin assignment.
Yes. Cabin - as in a cruise.
As in a 10-day Panama Canal - Caribbean cruise next January with Kathy Troccoli and friends.

And I am so stinking excited!!!
I never thought I'd get to go on a vacation like this one.

So, yeah. Never say, "Never."


Monday, March 12, 2018

I Wasn't Expecting That *A Re-post*

I had a very full weekend, and just didn't have time to make a video devotion for today. So last night I sat down to view my archives and I found this video from 2015.
My heart was encouraged as I listend to these words of truth again, and I pray yours will be, too.


Friday, March 09, 2018

Touched by the Holy Spirit

I usually write about Angel on Fridays, but not today.
That is, I visited her Tuesday afternoon, and enjoyed reading the Bible to her. But my heart is on another thought at the moment.
What I mean is - all week long I have been experiencing unplanned conversations, longer-than-expected interactions, heart-convicting messages, and urgent calls to prayer. And in each instance, I have wanted to be obedient to God's Spirit - saying what HE wanted me to say, doing what HE wanted me to do, being who HE wanted me to be.

God is putting a desire in my heart to be more like Jesus, relinquishing my control on my life and submitting fully to HIS.
Indeed. I want to be touched by the Holy Spirit, a faithful host to Him, His instrument.
Oh, the desire is there so strongly. Yes, my spirit is willing. But my flesh is so weak.
As God is shaping me and building Christ in me - I am becoming more and more aware of my pride, my tendency to judge, my self-righteousness. (Ouch! It hurts to put those confessions out here for everyone to see.) I am becoming more and more aware of my need for Him to change me, to make me like Himself. And my heart cries out, Yes, Lord. Please make me like YOU!

Yeah. So that's what has been on my heart lately.
Pray for me???


Wednesday, March 07, 2018

When It Seems Hopeless

I was plugging my phone in to charge Monday night before going to bed, when I noticed a text from a friend. So I responded to her, and we went back and forth a few times before I said good night - and promised to pray for her.
Then I lay in bed thinking about her, and about what she'd just told me.
A doctor's diagnosis she received recently.
It isn't life-threatening, but it seems pretty hopeless and I was feeling at a loss for how to pray.
God, will you comfort her in the midst of the pain?
But her pain is physical. Where's the comfort in that???
Will you give her peace in spite of her circumstance?
Peace in what? The thought that maybe tomorrow it won't hurt as much as it did today? But what if the next day the pain is excruciating???
God, would you give her hope in... No. I can't ask for that. It's too Pollyanna-ish. She needs help now.
See, the thing which came to my mind to pray for her was that God would give her hope for eternity. That she would remember this life and its trials are only temporary. There will come a day for every believer in Jesus Christ when God will wipe away each tear. There will be no more death, no mourning, no pain.
And that Day will last for all eternity. Oh, what a glorious hope!
I felt I ought to pray for my friend to be comforted - to have peace - in this eternal hope.
But then my flesh started arguing. Started accusing me of taking the easy way out. Sure. Just pray about "one Day". Never mind the reality of today. Just think about the Day when it's all going to be better. You Pollyanna, you. Who really thinks like that??? Such that I began to doubt if my prayer was reasonable, or if it truly was a cop-out because I didn't know what else to say.
So I lay in bed wondering.
What would God have me pray for my friend???

Then, as He so often does, God spoke to my heart.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Hebrews 12:2 came to my mind:
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Are you seeing what I saw?
Jesus looked ahead, past the trial of the present - to the joy set before Him!
Jesus knew there was something of far greater value than what He was enduring, and that hope carried Him through.
Jesus thought "like that" - and He was no Pollyanna!
And, as if that reference to Jesus wasn't enough, yesterday in my Precepts class the speaker on the video we watched went on for a few minutes about the truth that the life we're living now is NOT our best life. Rather, our eternity with God is going to be our best life.
This life is broken and temporary.
Eternity is going to be perfect, and forever. Hallelujah!!!

Thank You, JESUS!!!

Are you facing a circumstance which seems hopeless, too?
Just as Jesus was able to endure the cross because of His confidence in the joy which would follow, I pray God would strengthen you with the hope of eternity as you trust in Him.