Thursday, February 27, 2014

Your Spring Will Come!

I'm sitting at my desk tonight feeling like I've been hit by a truck!!  My nose is stuffed up, I can hardly breathe and my head feels like it weighs 15 lbs!!!
Just this past Saturday I sat at my kitchen table eating breakfast watching a bunch of robins cavorting in the snow outside.  Yes, I said robins!  I was so excited thinking spring couldn't be far behind.  That day and the next day the temperatures went into the 40s and it felt like a heat wave!!!  Hope was stirred in my heart!

Then, just when I thought it was safe to go outside without my long underwear, came Monday!
Monday, Monday, can't trust that day!!
(lyrics to an old Mamas & Papas song)
The temperature was back in the teens with a terrific wind blowing - sure made it known that Old Man Winter was not ready to let go of his hold on us just yet!  And then tonight, watching the news, adding insult to injury, it was predicted to go down to -10 degrees tonight!!  And there is no end in sight!
I don't know about you, but I'm done!!
Oh, if only it were that easy to be done with winter - to just say the words - I'm done!!
But, I know spring will come - I have no idea when - but I know it will come!
And with thoughts of spring comes the promise of new life.  When I think of the spring season, I always think of newness of life.  Just as our hearts long for spring, so, too, we long for newness of life.
It reminds me of times in our lives when we think the "winter" will never end.  All of our hopes and dreams have seemingly been "buried beneath the snow" and we can't even imagine resurrection, let alone hope for it!

It may be hard to believe right at the moment, but the flowers will appear, the birds will sing again! The winter season will end, truly it will!

"For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."
Song of Solomon 2:10, 11
Several years ago, a friend brought me some tulips for my birthday.  My birthday is in February, so these tulips were subjected to some severe weather before they made it to my house.  They looked very droopy and pretty sad as I put them in a vase of water and put them in the sun on my windowsill.  I figured the sun would cause them to stand up again, but by the end of the day, they still looked pretty sad and I didn't think they were going to recover.
How surprised and amazed I was when I got up the next morning to find them standing at attention and looking very much revived!!  They had "come back to life" during the "night season!"  They needed the coolness to revive again!
During the "night season" or the "winter season", we can't see what's going on in the dark or under all the snow, but a mighty work is taking place.  Some of the greatest growth in my life has come from the darkest seasons I've ever been through!  All new life comes from dark places - even resurrection follows a cross and dark tomb. 

God is at work even if we can't see or feel it.  He is always at work in our lives; the roots are reaching deep underground and we can't see any growth at all and can be pretty well convinced that God has forsaken us or we've done something to displease or dissapoint Him.
But, in the spring, when the flowers grow and bloom and wave strongly in the breeze, we realize there was a foundation being "built" that would enable that flower to withstand the rains and winds and any unfavorable weather to come!
Our lives are like that!  We go through "winter" seasons and don't understand what is happening, but God is "building" His character in us.  He is building our foundation in Him that will prove valuable in the future when adversities come, and be assured they will come! 
Embrace your "winter" season - oh, how I don't want to do that right now - but be assured, spring will come.  The newness of life we so desperately hunger for right now will come and we will once again feel the "Son" shining warm upon us!
I think of the words of a beautiful song, The Rose:
"Just remewmber in the winter far beneath the bitter snow
Lies the seed that with the sun's (Son's) love, in the spring becomes the rose."
Your spring is coming!!
Believe it!
Hope for it!
Look for it!
Expect it!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A More Excellent Way

"But covet earnestly the best gifts.  And yet show I unto you a more excellent way."
I Corinthians 12:31
In 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, Paul is describing spiritual gifts: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, interpretation of tongues.  Then in verse 28, he talks about the governmental gifts given to the church: apostles, prophets, teachers, workers of miracles, those with gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.  And then he tells us:  "eagerly desire the greater gifts."
And then despite that encouragement, he says "And yet show I unto you a more excellent way."
Paul then goes on to speak one of the most often quoted Scriptures in the Bible, especially at weddings.
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Loves does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled, where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.  When I was a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love."
I Corinthians 13

I remember years ago when I was a young Christian, my pastor at that time, preached a sermon on this segment of Scripture.  He admonished us to read the Scripture by putting our own names in where it said "love."  For example:
Donna is patient, Donna is kind.  Donna does not envy, Donna does not boast, Donna is not proud.  Donna is not rude, Donna is not self-seeking, Donna is not easily angered, Donna keeps no record of wrongs.  Donna does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  Donna always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres.  Donna never fails.
Lord Almighty, help me!!
It doesn't matter if I have all of the gifts Paul describes, if I don't love, I am nothing.  If I give all kinds of money to the poor, maybe even travel to foreign countries and minister to the poor, if I am martyred for my faith, it amounts to absolutely nothing if I do not have love in my heart.  If I do all these things from any other motive than love, they mean absolutely nothing to God!
Love is the more excellent way!

When Jesus was asked by one of the Pharisees, "...which is the great commandment in the law?" (Matthew 22:36), Jesus quoted two commandments.

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Matthew 22:37-40

Love God and love your neighbor.  Interesting, isn't it that He never said anything about good works, giving to the poor, being kind, live a life of self-sacrifice, etc.  He never mentioned any of that.

Know why?

Because He knew if we truly loved God and our neighbor, all those other things would fall into place.  Love is the great motivator.  Love is what motivates us to be kind, to treat others with respect, to forgive, to not be rude and so on.

There is no way we can love like that on a regular basis without God's help.  As we lean hard into Him asking Him to fill us with love for Him and for others, He is faithful in showing us just how to do that.

I have spent lots of prayer time saying, "God, I don't love him/her.  I don't even like him/her.  Help me, Lord.  Help me to love him/her the way you do, Lord.  Love them through me.  Use me to show your love."

The reason we need to show each other love and respect is because we are all God's creation.  We have been created by a God of love, who fashioned and formed us all in love.

"For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from yu when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before on of them came to be."
Psalm 139:13-16

Now let's try a different take on that verse:

God is patient, God is kind.  God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud.  God is not rude, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs.  God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  God always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres.  God never fails.

Love - God is the author of Love.

His love never fails!

Lord, show me the more excellent way!


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Strength of My Heart

"Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Psalm 73:25, 26
I guess we're not done with this Scripture quite yet!
(see February 20, 2014 post)
"My flesh and my heart may fail,"
My flesh will fail and is failing.  As I get older, I am all too aware of that.  I just can't seem to make it do what I want it to do anymore - and even if it does, it sure puts up a fuss!  It gets tired more easily, can't move quite as fast as it used to and it has a lot more wrinkles, too!  It succumbs to sickness, muscle aches, pains and assorted bruises more frequently.  My eyes don't see quite as well and my ears seem to hear only what they want to hear :)!

My flesh fails in that it has limits - regardless of age.  A person can only be so strong, so beautiful, so athletic, so fit and trim, so intelligent, etc - there is no perfect specimen!  The flesh has definite limitations.
"For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.  The grass withers, and the flower thereof falleth away:"
I Peter 1:24
My heart may fail.  The word here for heart in the Hebrew means understanding.  My understanding of life and the things of God may fail.  It does fail.  There are so many, so, so many things I don't understand.  Try as I might, I can't understand.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8, 9
"The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Deuteronomy 29:29
My finite heart and mind cannot comprehend the things God has planned, the way He works.  He never intended for me to be able to "figure it all out."
He is all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful and simply, I am not!
The smallest word with the biggest impact!
"but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
God is the strength of my heart. 
He is the rock. 
He is my refuge. 
He is the power and security of my heart. 
He is the rock I lean on; the rock I sometimes fall on. 
He is my sure foundation. 
When all understanding fails, He is my refuge.
 He is the rock that does not move. 

When I come to the end of what my flesh can do and what my mind can understand, God is there!
 He is my portion!
He is my allotment!
For ever!


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Our Heart's Desire

"Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Psalm 73:25, 26

The Lord brings me back to this Scripture over and over again. In fact, this has become my life’s scripture. Time and time and time again, God has been “the strength of my heart.”

As I was reflecting again on this Scripture the other day, I was brought back to “earth has nothing I desire besides you” and I realized, yet again, that my life doesn’t always reflect
the truth of this Word.

There are definitely times when I act like I can find the answers to all my problems here on earth.

I distinctly remember shortly after my husband died acknowledging to the Lord that my strong desire was for my husband to be here back on earth with me. I had a greater desire for him at that moment than the Lord’s presence.

I know He understood and I know His heart was tender toward me during that time.

But I’m brought back to the question,

What does earth hold for me that I desire more than the Lord?

Do I often want my own way as opposed to the way of the Lord?
Do I often want to be right in any given situation rather than seeing the hand of God move?
Do I want to be loved and accepted more by man rather than God?
Do I fear the opinions of man more than the opinion of God?
Do I live my life bowing to the pressures of others and of life instead of seeking God’s plans and purposes?
Am I easily swayed more by what others think and want rather than being obedient to the Word of God?
Would I choose to increase my days here on earth if I could rather than desiring to be with the Lord?

Lord, help me. Sometimes I can even want a piece of chocolate more than I want your presence at a certain time in my life!!

“Earth has nothing I desire besides you.”

Earth definitely has nothing I should desire besides you!!

Anything that we desire or want enough to manipulate to get is an idol that we have set up above God. It is “a high thing that exalts itself” above God.

Commandment #2:
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
Exodus 20:3

An idol is simply anything that takes the place of God in a person’s life.

It can be financial security, health, a job, a house, a car, security, recognition, food, romance, a person, an emotional need. The list goes on and on.

I remember years ago knowing a woman who wanted so desperately to have children and for reasons known only to God, she was not able to conceive. I think they tried everything that was medically available to them at the time to no avail. I was in a home group with this woman and felt her pain as she shared her desire. At that time, I was quite overweight and wanted desperately to be thin. The Lord revealed to me through this woman’s situation that we both had idols in our lives. She wanted children; I wanted to be thin. She was thin; I had children.  Our desires in and of themselves were not sinful, but the power we had given them in our lives was.

This woman and her husband went on to adopt two children (brother and sister) whose parents had died and she ultimately found out that what she thought she wanted, she really didn’t. She wasn’t prepared to pay the price that it required and they sent the children back to the adoption agency!!

God really does know best!! 

If He doesn’t give you something you long for in your life, it’s probably because you’re not ready for it yet; not prepared in your heart to count the cost and pay it. Everything comes at a price and we fool ourselves if we think the object of our desire will fulfill us in every way.
“And he (God) gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.”
Psalm 106:15

This is why we need to seek God above all else. Only He truly knows what’s in our hearts - our needs and our desires - and more often than not, they are not the same thing!!

The current bookmark I am using has this Scripture on it:

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”

Psalm 37:7

Seek Him above all else and trust Him to add to your life what He knows you need.

God has been showing me this very clearly in the past couple of weeks. I have recently taken on a part-time job and as a result, I have been constantly juggling my schedule. It seems I have very little time to myself and I am constantly going from one thing to another. 

I’ve been crying out to the Lord with this prayer - “Lord, you know I’m an introvert and I get my strength and energy renewed by spending time alone and with you. Lord, show me what to eliminate from my life so I can have that. I need that time, Lord. I just need one day all to myself with no obligations!”

The Lord has answered my prayer with this - “My child, I know what you have need of and I will provide it in my time. What you think you need and what I know you need are often two different things. You place limits, I do not.”

What I think I need can very often become an idol!

He has given me this Scripture:

“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left;”

Isaiah 54:2, 3a

The Lord is desiring to increase my capacity and it hurts right now!! It is not my desire and I have found myself longing for what God is not giving me at this time.

As a result, every morning I have had to go before the Lord and submit my schedule unto Him. I am not praying anymore that He would change my schedule. I’m praying that He would give me strength and grace to meet the challenges of my day.

What are your idols? 
Ask the Lord to reveal them. 
Lay them at His feet.
Trust Him.

Seek the Lord with me as we endeavor to declare with undivided hearts of truth:

“Earth has nothing I desire besides you.”


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Contentment, Part 2

"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance."
Psalm 16:5, 6
"The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places." 
A boundary is an edge, limit, margin, border; something that indicates a border or limit.
Lines - a district or inheritance; measuring line; country, region, rope
Something pleasant is something delightful and favorable.

The Lord sets up boundaries in our lives for protection, for our freedom, our security and to mark out what is rightfully ours.
An experiment was conducted several years ago in which children at a school were put out into two different types of playgrounds.  The first playground had no fence surrounding it but lots of play equipment and toys for the children to play with.  After a week of playing in this type of playground, the experts found that the children always stayed close to the school building, sometimes not even playing with the equipment that was there.
The second playground had the same amount of land but there was a fence surrounding the whole property.  These children played through the whole playground, utilizing all of the play equipment and the whole yard!!
What experts found was that children feel the most safe and secure when there are very clear boundaries established for them and made clearly known to them.
God gives us boundaries so we won't go beyond our calling; what He has called us to.  God says the boundaries are fallen in pleasant places - favorable places.  They are favorable to and for us, not to limit us in any way, but for our own good, to bring us to a place of freedom. 
But boundaries also limit us.  What are our limits?  What are my personal limits?
I no longer have a spouse; that alone imposes several limits on me:
I have a lack of male companionship and love
I have no husband to protect and care for me
I have no husband to guide and lead me; to be my strength
I have no husband to give me another perspective - the male perspective
I am no longer #1 to someone
Loss of retirement plans and years to grow old together
I have food limits:
I can't eat whatever I want and stay healthy and at a reasonable weight; I have to ever be mindful of what I put in my mouth
I have age limits:
I am 64 years old.  No matter how much I exercise, no matter how many beauty products I use, I will never look like a 25-yr old again.  I have more years behind me than I do ahead of me.
I have job limitations:
I can't just do what I want when I want - I have a job.
Financial limitations:
my income is fixed and I need to live within those financial boundaries.
Time limitations:
there are only so many hours in a day!
What are some of your limits?
Lack of a family
Sick parents
Too young, too old
Not enough time to do what you want to do
Physical limitations; sickness

Whatever your limitations or boundaries are, what do you do with them if they are not what
you want them to be?
Grieve them
Embrace the pain of your limitations
Give them to God and trust Him.
He knows your limitations and your boundaries.  He is the one who has established them for your own good.  TRUST HIM that He knows what is best for you.  Those boundaries are there for your protection and for your freedom.

Grieve your limits if you need to, embrace the pain of those limitations and move into the realm of divine trusting!!
"...surely I have a delightful inheritance." 
Delightful is to give great pleasaure or joy; great enjoyment
An inheritance is something inherited; heirloom; estate; portion; possession; something passed down from preceding generations; property or tradition
What is the inheritance we have in Christ?
restored relationship with God
eternal life
abundant life
freedom from sin and death
partakers of the divine nature
freedom in this life from bondage to sin
blessings - beyond measure!!!

Our inheritance is immeasurable!!
Summary - (again, Donna's paraphrase) Lord, the limits and boundaries you have put in place in my life have fallen for me in delightful and favorable places and I can trust that you know what is best for me.  I have a portion, a possession, a heritage passed down to me through my relationship with Jesus Christ, that is considerable and will give me great pleasure and joy!!
Do you long for that in your life? 
Seek contentment through the Lord. 
Let Him work in you that you might learn and attain it!
Paul said in Philippians 4:11 - "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content."
"But godliness with contentment is great gain."
1 Timothy 6:6
Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.  It's about learning to dance in the rain.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Contentment, Part 1

What is contentment?
What does it take to be content?

The dictionary definition of contentment is - happy, satisfied, pleased, comfortable, at ease.
The Greek word for contentment means - self-complacent, enough, suffice, satisfied.  Complacent means contentment, satisfaction, self-satisfaction.

To be content is to be at peace and at rest within yourself and with your God.

The following Scripture was the one God gave me for the year 2009 and through it He taught me much about contentment.

"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance."
Psalm 16:5, 6
"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;......"
It is the Lord who specifies and designates my portion - my piece, my part, my share, my lot.
It is the Lord who specifies and designates my cup - a measure of capacity.
I believe that the one who assigns, who specifies and designates my "lot" in life is God. 
What I know or believe to be true about God will affect how I react and/or respond to this Scripture.
If I believe that God is who He says He is, then I know I can trust the one who assigns or designates to me.
What does this encompass?
My whole life -
How I look
Where I live; when and where I was born
Who my parents are; who my family is
My job
My spouse or lack thereof
My daily portion of food
My free time
My exercise time
My finances
My children
etc, etc, etc, etc, etc

Acts 17:26-28 says, "From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.  For in him we live and move and have our being."
The Lord has assigned me a measure of capacity; and He has assigned how much this container can and should hold AND He has assigned the contents of the cup!!
What is your capacity?
God knows what each one of us can and cannot handle because HE has assigned the capacity to each one based on His plan and purpose for each one.
Don't judge another based on your capacity!
Summary thus far - (Donna's paraphrase) - Lord, you have designated for me my part, my fate, my ration, my share, my serving, my lot; You have weighed it out and allotted it to me and you have have specified a measure of capacity; how much this container can and should hold and you have actually assigned the contents of my cup!
When we accept this, we are on our way to contentment, to that place of satisfaction because we KNOW we are right where God wants us to be and we want to be in the center of His will.
This place of satisfaction eliminates jealousy, striving, anger, resentment, covetousness, etc.  We live "in the shadows" of life when we allow ourselves to make comparisons.  There will always be someone who is -
better dressed
more spiritual
There will always be someone with -
better behaved children
a more thoughtful husband
a better job
a nicer car
a better family
better health
etc, etc, etc.
We need to learn to be content with who we are and where we are and what we have and what we have not - and trust God in that!
" have made my lot secure."
A "lot" is a portion or destiny; one's fortune or fate in life; a piece of land having fixed boundaries; allocation; allotment; share.
To be "secure" is to be free from danger; safe; free from fear or doubt; assured; certain; to make certain; guarantee.
WOW!  This tells me that the portion or lot that God has assigned me is secure.  He has made it secure.  It is safe, certain.
My place is secure!  I can be free from fear and/or doubt.  He guards my place from danger or risk of loss.  He makes it certain.  He guarantees it!  I don't have to worry about anyone stealing my portion.  What God has assigned to me is mine and cannot be stolen!
What I don't have is because God has not assigned it to me!
Summary - Lord, you have made my destiny, my fate, my allocation, my share - safe and certain; free from fear and doubt, free from risk of loss.  You have guaranteed it!



Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love & Romance

Almost every woman likes to read a good romance novel.  Boy meets girl - boy romances girl - girl falls in love - they encounter a little relational turmoil - boy gets girl and they live happily ever after! 
 We love to get lost in the fantasy of that, don't we - the perfect man who always says and does everything right and we sure do love the happy ending!

There's nothing wrong with a good romance novel as long as we remember it is simply a fantasy - there is no perfect relationship and there is no perfect romance.  The problem with reading romance novels is we may then become very discontent with our own lives or we come to expect too much from our own relationships - we want to live the fantasy.

The biggest detriment, as I see it, is our definition of romance.   We think romance is flowers, chocolates, a knight in shining armor, candlelight dinners, jewelry, etc.  We all have our own secret fantasies of what romance is.  All those things are wonderful, but I think romance is something so different. 

Romance to me is caring, really caring, doing what you can to serve the other person to show them you are thinking of them; they're in your heart and thoughts all the time.

The dictionary defines it as "a love affair; romantic involvement; love; woo; to carry on a love affair; imaginative but impractical; a dream of adventure, heroism or love."
Sometimes we think romance is a day - Valentine's Day - and we set all out hopes, desires and dreams on this one day, and we hope to experience the ultimate experience of love and romance!

You want romance?  You really want romance?  Let me tell you where you can find real romance!!
"He brought me to the banqueting table, and his banner over me was love."
"My lover spoke and said to me, 'Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me."
"How beautiful you are, my darling!  Oh, how beautiful!"
"You are all fair, my love; there is no flaw in you."
"Many water cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away.  If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned."
Song of Songs 2:4, 2:10, 4:1, 4:7, 8:7
"He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me."
Psalm 18:19
"Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her."
"I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.  I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord."
Hosea 2:14, 19, 20
"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
This, ladies, is romance.  This is the relentless pursuit of One who loves us so, that He will continue to pursue and woo us until we turn our hearts and affection towards Him.
He is the author of romance; he defined romance.  His romance of us is continual, imaginative and so very, very personal.  His love is unconditional and His pursuit doesn't waver depending on our response or lack thereof. 
His romance of us is more than hearts and flowers, more than precious jewelry and candlelight dinners, more than teddy bears or chocolate.......

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
John 3:16
Romance, true romance gives, sacrifices, gives and then gives some more.  It is unconditional, forgiving, unchanging, everlasting and self-sacrificing.  It loves and woos and continues to reach out to us even when we are defiant, rebellious and even contemptuous.  It continues to reach out to us especially when we are fearful to give our hearts in return.
Romance (Jesus) says to us, "When are you going to understand I love you?  I want you to love me.  I want you to trust me enough to let me love you."
Not one of us deserves this kind of love.  But it has nothing to do with whether we deserve it or not.  It is a blessing that comes down to us directly from the Father.  It is a gift!
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
James 1:17
He has chosen you!  With all your past, all your faults, all your frailties, everything!  He knows where you came from and where you are now and where you are going!
Jesus - the Great Romancer!
He brings to our lives adventure and love.
Several weeks ago, I was caring for 5 of my grandchildren while my daughter, her husband and the other 2 children were away for the weekend.  Because of the weather that Sunday morning, we were not able to go to church.  I decided we would have our own church service, so we sang some hymns from the hymnal, prayed and read Scripture.  The Scripture reading I picked was one I had been reading and pondering on - Matthew 8:24-27.  For the sake of time and space, I'm just going to zero in on the question I posed to the kids - "What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!" (vs 27)  I asked them, what manner of man do you think He is.  We had a little discussion and then I asked them, what manner of man is He to you personally? 
My 8 yr-old granddaughter said, "He's my hero!"
May He be your adventure, your hero and your love!!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Living Single in a Couples World

For a little over 30 years, I was part of a "couple."  I have now been "single" for almost 10 years.
I had what I would call a really good marriage - not perfect - but really good.  I had a very thoughtful, selfless husband who was very considerate and cared for me in every way.  When he died, I not only lost the most important person in my world, but I lost my status as "one part of two."  I think, along with the journey of grief, I suffered an identity crisis.  I had to find my way in the world again as "just one."  I had to find who I was without him.

I have written before that I absolutely love Valentine's Day, and I do.  I use it as an opportunity to spread the love of God to those around me.  I love the hearts and the pretty red and white decorations and everything else that goes with the holiday.  But, let's face it, Valentine's Day is hard on a "single."  We have no "significant other" to love up on us, buy us chocolates or flowers, send us a card or take us to dinner.

Please hear me right - I'm not feeling sorry for myself and I'm not seeking your pity. 
It simply is what it is.
What I do want to say is - I have learned over the years that
It's OK to be single. 
It's OK to be one. 
It's OK to be alone.
And just because I'm alone doesn't necessarily mean I am lonely.  Sometimes, I am, but for the most part, I'm not.
Being alone does not mean I am rejected.
Being alone does not mean I am not loved.
Being alone does not mean I am undesirable.
Being alone simply means this is the portion God has given me for this time in my life.
I want to say to all you out there who are single - for whatever reason - this is God's plan for your life right now, right this moment - maybe not forever, but for right now.
Many times in the past, even when I was married, I would have occasion to counsel a single woman who desperately wanted to be married.  One of the things I would always say is - "No man is better than the wrong man.  You could get married for all the wrong reasons and end up more miserable than you were before!!"
Some women want to be married because they think it will solve all their problems. 
Some women want to be married because they are tired of being alone.
Some women want to be married because all their friends are and they want to be part of a couple, too. 
Some women want to be married because they want to be loved and desired.
Whatever your reason, it's the wrong one unless it's for this reason:
Because it's in God's plan for your life right now.
I had no clue when I married my husband that I would end up a widow at the age of 54.  I planned on spending the rest of my life with him, growing old together, enjoying retirement and the grandkids.  But God had other plans.
It's taken me awhile to embrace my singleness.  But I have to tell you, right now, in this present moment, I am enjoying it.
The Lord has become my husband!

"Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.  For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called."
Isaiah 54:4, 5
One of the things I missed the most about not being married was not being #1 in someone else's life.  I missed being desired and loved.
Without sounding too cliche, I would like to say that I now know in ways I never did before that I am #1 with the Lord.  He does desire me and love me.  His thoughts are always for me.
Being single is an opportunity to really get to know the Lord.  As a single person, you have the time and opportunity to be more in the Word and prayer.
"An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.  But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world - how she can please her husband."
I Corinthians 7:34 NIV
"A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives  But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.  In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is - and I think that I too have the Spirit of God."
I Corinthians 7:39, 40 NIV
While my husband was alive, my thoughts were to please him.  Now my thoughts are to please the Lord.  It's the portion He has allotted me at this time in my life.
Regardless of why you are single - divorced, widowed, always been single, whatever - seek to be content right where you are - right where God has you.
"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
Philippians 4:11
Don't give in to the pressures and lies of the world that tell you you're nothing if you're not part of a couple.  Seek to be secure in His love.  As you grow secure in Him, you will be secure in your portion and your position.
HE is your portion!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Stop the World...I Want to Get Off!

Have you ever felt like that?
Have you ever felt like your world just keeps spinning and spinning and you can't
get anything into focus?Have you ever thought if the world could just stop for a few minutes, then maybe, just maybe you might be able to catch up?
Have you ever had so many thoughts going through your heard that you
can't even complete one simple thought?
Ever thought you can't even think straight, your mind keeps flitting from
one thing to the next??
Ever feel like there are simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done that needs to get done?
I'm feeling like that today.
I look at all the things on my calendar for the week ahead and I am already overwhelmed and exhausted!!  My "To Do" list gets longer by the minute!
I feel so totally out of control.  It's like I'm slogging (is that even a word?) through a fog, calling out, "Lord, where are you?"
And in the midst of this, God very softly says, "Come to me."
"All that is mine is yours.  I have given it to you."
God stills my me peace.
God is stretching me.  I think I can't do this, but God says:
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:13
I feel weary, tired, overwhelmed and Jesus says:
"Come unto me all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus says simply - All I have I give to you ---- peace, comfort, rest, mercy, grace - tons and tons of grace, strength and so much more.
"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in informities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak then am I strong."
2 Corinthians 12:9, 10
I'm reminded by the Lord to take one day at a time, one step at a time.  I'm reminded to give Him all I have on my calendar - turn it over to Him - ask Him to order my steps, plan my days, give me strength, make my sleep sweet.  I'm reminded to lean hard into Him.
I'm reminded that all is grace - abundant, amazing grace.
I'm reminded that I and I alone have put limits on myself and my God.  I'm saying - Lord, I need some time alone to myself, I can't do this and He replies to me that He knows what I need and He is the provider.  Trust--- I need to trust.
My devotional this morning - these words God spoke:
"All things are provided and are even already given; only recognize that you have them. Oh, what we have missed....from not having had eyes that could see.  I have hungered so for things that all the time I possessed, if I had only known it."  (Safe Within Your Love, Hannah W. Smith)
He has provided all I need for this day and the day after and the day after that and on and on.  I have only to recognize it.  Lord, give me eyes to see that these things on my calendar are not responsibilities or obligations, but opportunities - opportunities that you have given me - to serve you and to stretch me. 
"Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen they cords, and strengthen they stakes;"
Isaiah 54:2
What if these things are given of God to stretch me, to build character, to cause me to lean heavily into Him, to enlarge the capacity within me to contain Him?
Do your best work, Lord, in me.  Calm my wandering thoughts, stop the spinning, center me in You. For YouYou, are all I need - to get through the days ahead, to minister to those you have called me to, to do those things that need to be done and leave the rest in your care.
"Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.  My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up."
Psalm 5:2, 3
"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delights in his way."
Psalm 37:23

Thank you, Lord, that You have ordered my steps and I can take delight in the path you have put me on this day!!