Wednesday, February 28, 2018

When HE Speaks to Your Heart

"Please inquire of the LORD on our behalf, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is warring against us; perhaps the LORD will deal with us according to all His wonderful acts, so that the enemy will withdraw from us."

Jeremiah 21:2
Taken out of context, the above request sounds completely reasonable. Appropriate, even.
I mean, who wouldn't - who shouldn't - call upon the LORD and trust in all His wonderful acts in a time of desperate need?
Who shouldn't call on the wonderful acts of the LORD in a time of desperate need?
I'll tell you who.
Someone with an unrepentant heart who has been ignoring God's call to turn from "his" wickedness for the past 20 chapters. Someone who suddenly thinks the LORD is wonderful, though he has been among those forsaking God and worshiping idols. Someone who seems to only want to seek God now that the devastation about which HE warned, over and over again, is coming to pass. That's who!
Ahhh, but such is the circumstance we read about in Jeremiah, chapter 21.
King Zedekiah, sending Jeremiah to the priest to inquire of the LORD. Even though Jeremiah had already been faithfully proclaiming the word of the LORD for years. Over and over again, he prophesied to the people that they needed to return to the LORD whom they had forsaken. They needed to stop worshiping idols, building altars, sacrificing their children - or else, God was going to bring devastation on them from the north. But the people didn't listen. In fact they sought to take Jeremiah's life because they so despised the message he delivered.
And NOW the king thinks he can simply "inquire of the LORD" and all his troubles will be removed?


On the one hand, I am shocked and sickened that a people could treat the LORD so frivolously. I am angered that they could mock Him so: Ignoring His holiness and His call to treat Him as such, yet cozying up to Him and calling out His "wonderful acts" when they need them.
On the other hand, I guess nothing has changed. And maybe that's why I find this study of Jeremiah so disturbing - because the things the people of Judah did to dishonor God are the same things I see in the world today. We may not be building altars to Baal, or burning our children in sacrifices - but we are surely forgetting God. We are doing what is right in our own eyes, we are worshiping many things rather than the One True God, like the prophets in Judah - we proclaim, "Peace, peace," where there is no peace, and we are sacrificing our children in other ways.
All the while declaring that a "loving God" would never send anyone to Hell.
Presuming upon His grace without surrendering our ways to Him.
Acting like we know better than God how we should live in the world.
Ignoring Him.

But what is going to happen when His patience with us comes to an end?
Men and women of 2018, we must seek the LORD and follow His ways. NOW!!!


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Do the Right Thing

I spent 2 hours and 15 minutes in the movie theater, watching Black Panther.
Would've rather been reading a book, or playing Scrabble. But my boys (the Big One, too) wanted to see Black Panther. So - for the sake of spending time with them - I went to the movies, too.

I stood in Matthew's bedroom watching his new computer keyboard flash and wave with colored lights. I received a brief demonstration and lesson covering the basics of changing the colors, patterns and effects of the lights. As well as a tutorial on how said colors assist a serious gamer in his gaming objectives.
Dinner ingredients were sitting on the kitchen counter waiting patiently for me to assemble them. Accepting my son's invitation to come into his room and see his new keyboard, however, seemed to be the better use of my time.

Everyone had finished eating dinner and I sat with them at the table listening to lots of talk about Josh's plans for his fishing channel on Youtube, purchasing fishing and video equipment, and some fishing trips he hopes to take this coming summer. I even tried adding to the conversation when I had something to say which I thought Josh would find helpful.
About 15 or 20 minutes into the conversation I started becoming keenly aware of the shopping list and dinner menu which were waiting to be created by me. But I reminded myself that my 20-year-old son was eagerly talking to me, and I realized the chore could wait.

The thing is, I have recently become aware of how very easy it is to miss the people who share this house with me. Everyone has different schedules filled with work and school and hobbies and other responsibilities. Rare is the night that we all sit down together for dinner anymore. In fact, one night last week I ate all by myself!
Some time ago I heard a statistic along the lines of "the average parent talks to their teenager less than 90 seconds per day". I remember thinking that was a ridiculous claim - until once last week when I wasn't sure I'd even seen my son all day.
That realization - in combination with a telephone conversation I had with my daughter, and some Holy Spirit promptings - is moving me to do the right thing, rather than the preferred or pressing thing. I am asking God to open my eyes to the opportunities He gives me with these boys. While they're growing up to be men (and I often feel pushed aside and unneeded) I am asking Him to give me the grace to do what feels unnatural, in the interest of connecting in the arenas they're willing to share with me.
And as I write this post while Brian and Josh are watching "The Walking Dead" in the adjacent room, I am also thanking God that's their thing. Because - even with HIS help - I'm not sure I could get into that show. *wink*


Monday, February 26, 2018

Friday, February 23, 2018

Billy Graham's Hope

It's been a busy week.
Thus the reason I haven't posted since Monday...

But more than all the little things going on in my little life, I am fixated on the Homegoing of Billy Graham on Wednesday.
Perhaps you saw Kathy Lee Gifford respond to it on Megyn Kelly's show. (If you didn't watch it here.)
Chances are you've seen this quote, “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”
If you have spent any amount of time with your eyes and ears open over the past 48 hours, I'm sure you have seen and heard story after story of this man's faith and the hope he has in Jesus.
I know I have!

And as I am taking it all in I have one prayer:
That God will use Billy Graham's death as significantly as He used his life.
I cannot begin to imagine how many souls were saved - how many people found new life in Christ - through the ministry of Billy Graham. It's staggering.
But now that we find ourselves so frequently reeling in pain and outrage at the senseless deaths of terror and mass shootings around us, I wonder if the beauty of Billy Graham's death might lead even more people to eternal life.
See? We're so accustomed to pain and sorrow when we think of death. And even though tears have been shed by many over Billy Graham's passing, the overwhelming story is of a faithful son being called Home to his Father where he will surely hear HIM say, Well done, My good and faithful servant.
It's a story of fulfillment.
Of a man finally reaching that for which he has been longing his entire life here on earth.
It is reunion and joy and holy celebration.
And in the midst of the pain we experience in this world, I pray many will hear Billy Graham's story - and will know there is hope. His name is JESUS and He came to earth from heaven. Sent by the Father to take on the sin of the world. Jesus lived a sinless life and died in our place to pay the penalty for our sin. He was buried, and God raised Him from the dead, and brought Him back to heaven where Jesus currently sits with God on His throne preparing a place for His children. Now everyone who confesses their sin, repents, and receives the gift of salvation God offers us through Jesus no longer has to fear death.
Oh, friends, our death on earth is NOT the end of life. Because of Jesus - our death on earth can be the beginning of eternal life in heaven. That is the hope onto which Billy Graham held.
That is the hope God holds out to each of us.
If you have questions about this hope and how it can be yours, please leave a comment or send me an email. I would LOVE to talk with you about it more.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Friday, February 16, 2018

Touched by an Angel

Mmmmmm, Angel was different this week.
That is, she wasn't awake and talkative like she has been for the past few weeks. She had taken a bath right before I arrived, and was wiped out. Complaining of a headache, and just wanting to close her eyes.

Well, one thing was the same. She still wanted me to read scripture to her.

So I sat by her bed and read Psalms. Occasionally Angel would repeat the words I was reading, otherwise she remained quiet. And in between psalms, as I turned pages in silence, I wondered at the difference I see in Angel from one week to the next. I remembered when our visits used to be silent like this one, how they became more lively for a few weeks, and were now back to tired and quiet.
I remembered when my grandma was living with me and how I often saw her change from day to day. One day she'd be great, and 24 hours later I would wonder how much longer she had on this earth. Things could fluctuate so quickly.

Then Wednesday happened, and the shooting in Florida.

And I was reminded yet again how quickly a moment can be transformed.

The thing is, we just don't know what tomorrow holds. We don't even possess our next breath.
Let's not waste a single one!


Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Oh, friends.
This is my heart right here - coming out of Francis Chan's mouth.
From the study I am doing of Jeremiah with my Precepts class, to the condition of our world - this is my heart! The video segment is 12 minutes long, and so worth every second.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

It Isn't That Easy

Last week I saw this on Facebook:

The version I saw was a video. The top frame showing a nice trip down a peaceful path in the woods - the bottom frame showing bottles falling and spilling pills everywhere.
I read the words, "This is an antidepressant," and I thought, If only it were that easy. How nice it would have been seven years ago when I discovered depression was the reason I could cry at the drop of a hat, the reason I could take just about anything someone said to me and turn it into a negative slam on my personhood, the reason I often felt like the world was crashing in on me - how nice it would have been to take a walk in the woods and feel all better!
Ahhh, but it just isn't that easy!

When I found out I have a condition called depression, I started taking medication. And I started learning how to think better. That is, I began engaging in a lot of self-talk - which means when a circumstance arises and I start going down the path of negativity, I talk myself out of it. I remind myself the person who just said something to me doesn't really mean I'm a failure. Sometimes it means I recite scripture to myself because I need to hear Truth. I remember once when I realized I had forgotten to get gas and was about to start berating myself for it - I literally spoke the words out loud, "It's OK, Karen. It's OK."

Before taking an antidepressant, my immediate response to almost any circumstance was to belittle myself and rehearse all the reasons why whatever was going on indicated I was a failure. And to cry. Crying was always a part of it.
When I started taking the drug I felt like somehow it gave me space in those circumstances. Rather than going right to beating up on myself, I had a moment to hear what was said and evaluate it. I had time to think better. I didn't rush into condemnation, rather I began to think rationally. And I cannot tell you how that time changed me.
Eventually, I began to think, Maybe I don't need to take this medicine anymore. Now that I know how to think better, maybe I can manage depression on my own! So I weaned myself off the antidepressant.
That is to say, I didn't learn the first time how bad of an idea that was. It took me two attempts to realize that for me - it's more than just knowing how to think. Somewhere inside my brain there is a chemical imbalance, and I need medical intervention to achieve harmony.
Since then, I have come to understand one very important thing. God is using this medication to carry me. He could lift me out of the pit of depression any way He chooses, and it appears he's chosen a drug.
Here's the thing: I am confident that God is not ashamed of the way He is working in me. And if HE isn't ashamed, I won't be either!


Monday, February 12, 2018

Friday, February 09, 2018

Touched by an Angel

If your arrival was received with a warm smile and bright eyes...
If you shared laughter over silly jokes...
If stories of days gone by brought joy and illicited happiness...
If moments of silence were spent in peace...
If singing made your heart soar...
If you're already looking forward to your next visit...

You must have been touched by an Angel.


Thursday, February 08, 2018

He's Just Like Me, Too!

Tuesday I wrote about one of the ways Elizabeth is just like me.

Today, it's Josh's turn.

See, this morning we got into a conversation about how we respond to one another when we ask for something to be done. That is, I tried explaining to Josh that when I ask him to do something around the house and he doesn't reply to me I think either 1) He honestly didn't hear me, thus I should repeat the request, or 2) He did hear me but he's ignoring me, thus I should repeat the request with a bit more force enthusiasm.
Josh insisted that he always responds to me - though sometimes the response may simply be with a glance my way, or a raising of the eyebrows. I followed up with a request for a verbal reply, otherwise I probably won't know he "responded" and I will repeat myself.
That is the moment he informed me that I really ought not repeat myself because he finds such behavior annoying, and will intentionally go slower to spite me.

My mind immediately went to the numerous occasions when I was a teen and the family was getting ready to go somewhere. My dad had a habit of rushing us because he had this incessant need to be on time way early to everything. I would be in the bathroom, curling my hair and brushing and spraying it. And re-curling some spot because it just wasn't right. Then I would hear my dad call from downstairs that I needed to hurry because it was time to leave. I would think, What? You want me to go faster? OK.
And I would sllooowwww doowwwnnnn.
Yeah. I think I know where Josh gets it.

And I suddenly feel the need to call my dad and apologize. *wink*


Wednesday, February 07, 2018

God Said NOT to Pray???

Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not listen when they call to Me because of their disaster.

~Jeremiah 11:14
Are you as shocked as I was when I first read this statement from God to Jeremiah?
Did He really just forbid prayer???
I mean, it sure looks like it, doesn't it? The God of the universe who has been sending Jeremiah to the people over and over again with a call to stop worshiping other gods, to stop being faithless and adulterous - and instead return to HIM - has just said not to pray, for HE will not listen when they call to Him because of their disaster.
Because of their disaster.
Because of their disaster.

Ahhhh, that phrase makes all the difference.
God was refusing to listen to another cry for help, another plea for mercy and removal of the impending disaster - from a people whose hearts remained hardened toward Him. As long as the people continued to worship idols, as long as they trusted in deceitful words and continued with their wicked practices - while assuming they were safe from harm because the temple of God was in their midst - until they humbled themselves and returned to HIM in Truth, God was not going to listen.
But what if the prayer for the people was not with regard to their disaster? What if, instead, the prayer was for their hearts? Would God listen if somebody asked Him to have mercy on their souls? Would God listen if an intercessor pleaded with Him to soften the stubborn hearts, to open the blinded eyes, to unstop the deaf ears? Would God hear the prayer of one who was crying for the repentance of His people?

I believe HE would.

So that has become my prayer for our world as I watch what is happening. As I see laws passed which forsake God's laws. While standards which HE set in place at the beginning of time are tossed aside in the name of not "offending" or "hurting feelings." When I read, Shall I not punish these people, and on a nation such as this shall I not avenge Myself? (Jeremiah 5:9 & 29) and think about how the nation in which I reside resembles one such as this.
I am praying for the Truth of God to come back to us, for the hearts of men to be receptive to It. I am praying for our leaders (in the Church, as well as in government) to humble themselves and turn to God in faithfulness. I am asking God to strengthen those who are devoted to righteousness and to give them courage to stand up for what is right. My cry is for the cleansing of our hearts and our return to the One who has the power to destroy or restore.
Because if we continue to be faithless, if we refuse to embrace a reverent fear of our Maker, if we presume upon His mercy while we pursue our own sense of what is right - I don't think He is going to listen.


Tuesday, February 06, 2018

She's Just Like Me

Last night Brian, Josh and I were talking about Elizabeth while we ate dinner. (Matthew was at work. Otherwise we would have had the family virtually all together. haha) Anyway, Elizabeth had just called and we were talking about the conversation we'd had with her. Which led to an assessment on the guys' behalf of her bountiful frugality. (Like how I linked two opposites there?)
Almost in tandem, as Brian and Josh evaluated Elizabeth's approach to money and material things they turned toward me and exclaimed, "She's just like you!"
And I thought of the list of reasons why they were right.
*The debate Brian and I are having right now about getting a new bed. I think it's fine and we shouldn't spend money on a new one. He thinks it needs to be replaced.
*The thrill I get from looking at my receipt each week and seeing how much money I saved with mperks.
*My tendency to go straight to the SALE rack whenever I go shopping.
*My refusal to buy things which aren't on sale. I really don't like paying MSRP.
*The way my boys used to roll their eyes when I insisted the store brand is just as good as the name brand.
*Then there were my tennis shoes sitting across the room - nearly free of any sort of traction on the sole - which I have yet to replace, because besides the bottom - they're fine.

I mean, I guess they had valid reasons to make their judgement. I don't like spending money needlessly. I love finding deals. It makes me happy to be resourceful and make things "work".
My girl is the same way.
And even though Brian was on the edge of mocking me for my cheapness frugality, I have never once heard him complain about how much I spend on clothes. He doesn't fear that I'm going to go crazy on shoes and belts and purses to match. And he doesn't grumble when I tell him I really don't need a gift for Mother's Day or our anniversary or my birthday.
I'd say he's a pretty lucky guy to have a thrifty girl like me.
And there's a guy out there who's going to find a nice catch in Elizabeth, too.

All this talk about how I don't spend a lot of money has me thinking that over the course of our 24 years of marriage, I must have saved enough money for us to take a certain vacation which Brian thinks is too expensive. Hmmmm. I wasn't going to bring it up again, but maybe I should... *wink*


Monday, February 05, 2018

You Are Beloved

Mindy had a couple of scratching episodes while I was recording this video - sorry 'bout the noise her tags make in the background. *wink*


Friday, February 02, 2018

Touched by an Angel

Ahhh, how sweet.
She did it again!!!

For the second week in a row, Angel was awake and alert during my visit. I mean, I am delighted to see her anytime, and it is a blessing to sit and read the Word of God to her even when she is sleeping, or falling in and out of sleep.
But when she is awake, and when she engages with me?
Ooohhhh, how sweet it is!
And so it was on Tuesday. She smiled and greeted me as I entered her room, we paused as I read from the Gospels (Her choice!) to talk about Jesus, and we sang our favorite song. There was a certain sparkle in her eyes which I don't see very often, and she even laughed at a joke I told her. LIFE flowed from Angel, and it was a beautiful thing to behold.

It's kind of a tricky balance to achieve, you know? The tension between she's-been-alive-for-almost-101-years-so-she's-tired and she's-still-living-so-let-her-have-some-fun. Often when I visit I am torn between prompting her to wake up (Because I know social interaction is important.) and letting her sleep as much as she wants. (Because, well, she's almost 101 years old - and that's a lot of hours of being awake!) So on the days when Angel is awake of her own volition, I like to bring as much sunshine (SONshine!) to her as I possibly can.
Psalm 139:16 often comes to my mind when I'm thinking about Angel. "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." I don't know how many more days God has ordained for Angel, but I sure am thankful He chose to weave our lives together for an hour every week. Because as much as I know this arrangement is "for her," I feel like I'm the one who is most touched.

Is there someone with whom God is prompting you to spend some extra time each week?


Thursday, February 01, 2018

Have You Heard?

I just listened to the absolutely craziest news story. Ever.

Some man - I honestly cannot remember where he's from - woke up yesterday to find the entire left side of his body missing.
Nowhere in sight.

But the reporter said not to worry. Apparently he's all right now!!!