Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Love is...


2018 was a very difficult year for our family. The twists and turns were both surprising and at some times scary. The year started out with promise and optimism, but by February, things began to change.

When you are young you take for granted that things will always stay the same. But as you get older, things like your health become more important. February of 2018 began a year of health challenges for me. Thankfully, after months of working with a doctor, I am on the road to recovery, however, it has been a long, slow journey.

In April of 2018, my mother in law also began having health challenges. She was 84 years old and her body was simply wearing out. After nearly two weeks in the hospital, she went home and was under the care of visiting nurses. My, husband, her only child, was now in charge of helping her navigate her through the health system. This proved to be a challenge. In the world we live in, the sick and aging don’t seem to be very important and we had to always be one step ahead just to get her proper care. I was in awe of the character of my husband as he fought almost daily to make sure her basic needs were met.

She continued to decline with more and more health issues compounding. By September she was back in the hospital and it was clear she was not going to be able to go back home. She was being sent to Hospice.

The Hospice staff and facility were a tremendous blessing to us. We promised her she would not be alone and so one of us was there around the clock for the next 18 days. It was exhausting but at the same time amazing.

What a gift to be with someone who knows the Lord at the end of their life. She was able to communicate up until 18 hours before she passed.  She had made some decisions in the past that changed the course of our relationship 25 years ago.  She was able to make peace with all of us. It was a sweet and beautiful thing!

The amazing thing is we actually watched as her body, mind and spirit as they separated. Her circulation was very poor and we saw that the life is truly in the blood as her extremities began to decay.

Next was her mind. She remembered things, people and places as she seemed to go back in time. She could not do anything for herself, however her mind was so sharp and she never lost her sense of humor. She was able to communicate up until the day before she died.

At the end she struggled as her spirit left her body. The last few hours were difficult to watch, but her son had the privilege to be there when she passed into eternity.

The lessons we learned through this experience were sometimes very difficult, yet the Lord has taught us so much about faith and grace as we walked through it. I can now look back and be grateful for this difficult year. The Lord used it to bring us together and teach us what is really important in this life…the true meaning of love.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

True Treasure

We have accumulated a lot of “stuff” during our 32 year marriage. In fact we have a garage full of “stuff”. We are currently in the process of converting some of the garage space into office space and during the process we have had to clean out a lot of our “stuff”. We had to make decisions as to what to keep, give away or throw away. Some of those items were old and worn out. Some things my children had outgrown. Some things we forgot we had and some were just neglected or no longer usable. So after a few trips to the dump I started thinking about the fact that some of those things we were tossing used to be treasures to me, yet now they were burdens.

I think the passage of time has given my some insight on what really matters in life, something I did not really understand when I was young. What really matters is the relationships we have with others.

First is our relationship with God. How much time are spending in his Word, in prayer and just talking with him? This can not be neglected! It is the most important thing we should be doing every single day! Our fellowship with the Lord is our most important relationship!

Second is our family. Is this really my priority or am I spending my time doing what I want to do? Am I really present when I am with them. I have caught myself checking my email or a text instead of really paying attention the the person I am talking to. Am I sending them the message that they are really not that important? Whatever you are doing can wait. Just like the stuff in my garage that will not matter in the future, your children will be grown and gone and you will miss out on the precious time you have been given to nurture and train your them…and that time goes by so very quickly.

How about your relationships with others? Be careful that you have real relationships with real people you actually know. Facebook and Instagram feeds are not real relationships. Most of posts are snapshots of someones life they want you to see. The kinds of things someone puts in a scrapbook. Sadly many young people can not actually talk to someone face to face. They lack the skills and are missing out on so much. Their is nothing like real life relationships that can last for years!

Believers Are Salt and Light

 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” Matthew 5:13-16
We are called to be salt and light to the world. You can not do that if you are spending your time consumed in your own world collecting “stuff” and not really interacting with others. We should be pursuing things that have eternal value… are we making this time count for eternity?

Monday, October 16, 2017

True Beauty

As women, so much of our time can be spent trying to conform to the beauty standards of the culture. We often spends lots of money and time trying to make ourselves live up to unrealistic standards. The truth is, that the culture's standards are constantly changing and if you are caught up in trying to keep up with the latest "trend", you are not seeking true beauty. Now I get that you do not want to look unattractive, old fashion or boring , I was a young girl one upon a time. I grew up in the 70's and 80's. Some of the styles back then would make you laugh now, but at the time, it was what the fashion industry told us was beautiful. God loves beauty. He made a beautiful world! But, our culture's standard of beauty and God's standard often are not the same. We should be seeking to be beautiful in both appearance and attitude.

So how do we seek true beauty? We go to God's unchanging Word.

First of all, lets take a look at clothing. What is it's purpose? Adam and Eve made the first clothes out of fig leaves. Why?

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. ~ Genesis 3:7

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called to Adam, and said to him, Where are you? And he said, I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.And he said, Who told you that you were naked? ~ Genesis 3:8-11

To Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. ~ Genesis 3:21

  Adam and Eve were trying to cover sin and shame. But the Lord was not pleased with fig leaves that covered their "private parts" and made "coats" of animal skins to cloth their bodies. The Lord wanted their nakedness covered. Sadly today, our culture tells us that immodesty and looking "hot" is beautiful. If you are a believer in Christ your body is not your own, Jesus is Lord over every area of our lives including how you represent him to the world. 
 What we wear and how we look is a picture of what we believe! 
How about your attitude?
 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. ~ James 4:10

 I have known women that dress very appropriate, but are not kind. They can often be self righteous and judgmental. They often point out the flaws in others while holding themselves in high esteem. Some of the most beautiful people I have known have also been the kindest. In fact their kindness overshadows their physical beauty.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4
The Lord wants us to be humble.
 How we act can also be a picture of what we believe.

Here are a few questions we can ask ourselves...

Am I humble?
Am I promoting myself by the way I look or act?
Am I grieved at the thought of offending the Lord?
Am I grieved at the thought of causing someone to stumble?
Do I want to be the center of attention?
Am I acting arrogant or controlling?
Am I reserved in both dress and behavior?

 Our dress and attitude should be very different than the world's. Living life to God's glory will require some choices that may not be popular or in style, but it will be so worth it!

 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 12:2

Shared at : The Joy in the Journey

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Standing Alone

As a believer, it is likely that you have been challenged to stand alone. You have probably been in a situation that forces you to decide if you will obey God or “follow the crowd.” It is not always easy. It requires courage. Standing alone means you have confidence in the Lord and His Word.

When I became a Christian at the age of 18, I soon found out that not everyone was happy about my new faith in God.  As I studied God’s Word and learned His ways, some of my friends were not exactly pleased with me. The convictions started to come and the cost of following Christ became very real to me. But, now I knew the truth! I was no longer looking for the approval of the World, I was looking for the “Light of the World”!

        Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” 
~ John 8:12

The “world” is watching us and we have the awesome privilege to be on the mission field every single day! It starts in your home, with the people you love and extends to your neighborhood, the workplace, the marketplace, and maybe even in your church!
Here are a few verses I hope will encourage you as you stand alone!

 Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he [it is] that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 

Isaiah 41:10 – Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

1 Corinthians 10:13 – There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].

Isaiah 40:31 – But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.

Matthew 11:28 – Come unto me, all [ye] that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Psalms 31:24 – Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

Exodus 15:2 – The LORD [is] my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he [is] my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

Matthew 6:33 – But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Instagram and #hashtags

I have had an Instagram account for a couple of years. I really like Instagram and find it can be very encouraging and a great way to keep connected. However, I have a few “younger” friends that I follow and to be perfectly honest, I am worried. Many of these young ladies are posting pictures that often surprise me. I am not sure if they are really doing what they are posting or if they are just trying to be hip, cool or popular, but as Christians, they should really take this verse to heart…
 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 12:2
One of the “fun” things about using Instagram is using #hastags. You see that when you put up a #hashtag you are linking it to other posts that have the same #hashtag. But, ladies you need to be very careful! I often check the #hashtags some of my younger friends post and have often been shocked at what they are linked to. If I see something that concerns me, I will make contact with these young ladies privately and ask them it they were aware of what they were linked to. Many times they are shocked and embarrassed as to what they see when they click on the #hastags!
 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Use this verse as a guide. Unfortunately, many times I do not see things posted on Instagram accounts that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely (from God’s perspective, not the worlds) of good report, of any virtue, or praiseworthy. These are the things we should be meditating on…and posting on social media! Is what you are posting proclaiming  your faith to the world? Are you using this opportunity to advance the Gospel or are you conforming to the world?
Ladies, please be careful. Don’t get caught up in the trends of the day only to find out you are literally linking yourself to things that are of the world. We are to be different!

 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light ~ 1 Peter 2:9

Shared at:
The Joy in the Journey

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Lessons Learned

2016  is a year I will not soon forget. This year so many lessons were learned. Many were not very pleasant at the time, but through it all I experienced emotional, spiritual and physical growth that I am so very grateful for.

Lesson 1 ~ Good things sometimes come to an end. ~ This year our homeschooling journey came to an end. For the past 20 years that has been the focus of my days. My "new normal" is still a work in progress, but the Lord has graciously given me glimpses of the results of those years. Seeing the fruit of my labor in my children has been very rewarding.

Lesson 2 ~ Sometimes others choose another path.  ~ It is hard to see people you have known for many years choose a different way. It is sad to see that maybe you were not so much alike after all. But, Jesus reminds me that he is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. He never changes and neither do his ways.

Lesson 3 ~ Sometimes surgery is the only option. ~ After over 4 years of dealing with gall bladder issues, I ended up in an emergency situation. I had my very sick gallbladder removed in early September and a week later I ended up with a kidney stone. For 45 LONG days my journey with the kidney stone was not only painful, but also humbling. Through this trial, I now have so much more compassion for those afflicted. After being in pain for so long, I now have a better understanding of how people can get addicted to medication.

Lesson 4 ~ Love never fails. ~ My husband and I have been married for 31 years. We have been through many trials and losses during those years, but his care of me during my health crisis demonstrated love in a whole new way. He was my rock and was there with me every step of the way. Words can not express how truly thankful I am.

Lesson 5 ~ God's people are everywhere ~ We have had the amazing privilege to travel to many destinations this year. We were able to meet with other believers who really love the Lord. What a blessing and encouragement to me to be with others who share my faith.

Lesson 6 ~ Life is a journey ~ The older I get the more I understand that I will always be learning and growing. I have no idea what lies ahead for me in the coming year, but I do know that God is faithful.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

Shared at:  The Joy in the Journey

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

31 Years of Marriage

Happy Anniversary to the man who makes me laugh, can drive me crazy, and loves me so well. 31 years later, here we are...I can't imagine this adventure without you!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Partakers of Christ’s Sufferings ~ An Essay

     Our 18 year old son, Andrew, just found out that he won the Bible Presbyterian Publications Youth Essay Contest in the 18 - 21 age category...the topic was Persecution of Christians - Yesterday and Today 

Here is a copy of his essay...
Partakers of Christ’s Sufferings

Loss of property. Imprisonment. Martyrdom. These are just a few forms of persecution facing people around the world for one simple reason: because they believe on Christ as their savior. From the time of the apostles in the book of Acts, persecution has been an issue faced by Christian believers. Christ said in Matthew 5:10-12,

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (KJV)
Here, we are told not only to expect persecution, but to “[r]ejoice, and be exceeding glad” when it occurs. Looking at examples from around the world, we can see just how believers are standing strong in the face of tribulation.

Before examining persecution on the global scale, we must first define it, and then see what God’s Word has to say about it. Webster’s dictionary defines persecution as: “The infliction of pain, punishment or death unjustly, particularly for adhering to a religious creed or mode of worship.” This very appropriately describes the daily issues facing many Christian brothers and sisters worldwide. God’s Word uses many terms to describe persecution: fiery trial, tribulation, railing, and reviling, just to name a few examples. To summarize, persecution is trial or suffering for faith in Christ.

The Bible also lists many different sources and reasons behind persecution. First of all, we as Christians must understand that we are in a constant spiritual battle. We are told, 

[T]hink it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (1 Peter 4:12-13)
For those that have accepted Christ as Savior, we are “partakers of Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter 3:14): Christ is dwelling within us. This, of course, puts the world at odds with those who claim the name of Christ, as it says in James 4:4: “…whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” Ephesians 6:12 brings to light even more aspects of this battle: 

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
To put it in my own words, persecution occurs because a world that is at odds with God will fight against Him and His servants.

The spiritual and physical threats of persecution are very real around the world. Across the Caribbean and South America, many such issues are incredibly active. In communist Cuba, professing Christians face harassment or imprisonment, and are under the constant threat of attacks by mob-violence. This stems from the totalitarian control of the Cuban dictatorship. 

Across the Gulf of Mexico in the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, believers face a different kind of threat: violence from local Catholics. Amidst claims that Christianity threatens the local way of life (which includes numerous feast days blended from Catholic doctrine and pagan tribal beliefs), Christians in this area face many trials. These include death threats, and the potential loss of crops, homes, and land…all for claiming the name of Jesus! Additionally, because the Gospel causes people to turn from their addictions, drug traffickers across Mexico have a great disdain for Christianity. This prompts violence in the form of assassinations, murders, and assaults.

In the South American country of Colombia, a corrupt government offers little protection for believers from several threats. Among these is the terror of militant guerillas, who seek to rid the area of anyone who disagrees with them politically or religiously. In addition, the risk from drug lords is also a concern, again because of the freedom Christianity gives to those entrapped in addictions.

Across Africa and the Middle East, numerous Muslim nations greatly restrict—or outright prohibit—the practice of Christianity. Although too numerous to list specifically, Christians in many of these nations face imprisonment, fines, and even martyrdom, for “offences” a simple as possessing a Bible! 

The rise of the “Islamic State” (ISIS/ISIL) in recent years has greatly intensified persecution for Christians in Iraq and the surrounding countries. The goal of this group is to fulfill the most extreme teachings of the Koran, which instructs its followers to annihilate those who follow other beliefs (such as Christianity) and refuse to recant their faith.  As such, martyrdoms of faithful Christians are common, as well as numerous horrific brutalities by this militant group. 

In the Far East, both religious and political factions present even more threats to Christians in those areas. Anti-conversion laws in Hindu-controlled India are a growing concern, as is the official stance of humanism--“freedom from religion”--in communist China. 

In North Korea, the state pseudo-religion of Juche demands obedience to the tyrannical rule of the Kim family. Juche is a severe distortion of the true Gospel, replacing Christ with a new “savior:” the dictator. Those that turn to Christ are often arrested, tortured, and executed as a “threat to the state.”

In light of all this persecution and tribulation, how should Christians respond? In our flesh, such trials naturally cause anger, bitterness, and a desire for retaliation. These are obviously wrong; but what is the right way? How does God desire we respond to attacks because of our belief in Him? It all comes down to perspective. We must realize that persecution is not a personal attack on us, but rather an attack on the One within us: Christ. Seeing persecution this way allows us to look to Him for guidance in what to do next. Additionally, we can see ourselves as “partakers of Christ’s sufferings,” (1 Peter 3:14) and allow His love to flow through us to our persecutors. 

The Bible is very clear on what we are to do to our enemies—whether they be personal, or enemies of the Lord. Christ admonishes believers in Matthew 5:44,

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
This passage outlines some very specific steps. First, we are to love them. This takes an active relationship with Christ, to allow His love to flow through us. Secondly, we are called to “…bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you…” Not only should we love our persecutor, but should also seek to be a blessing to him, and not return evil for evil. Lastly (and most importantly) we should pray. Pray for those that persecute us! Pray, not that the situation might go away, but that God might be glorified and His Will might be accomplished through the situation.

We have examined what persecution is, the reasons behind it, how it is occurring around the world, and how we should respond. There is one aspect we haven’t discussed however: the eternal consequences. In Romans 8:31 we read, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” This is where our hope can be found in times of trials for faith: Christ (Who is within us) has the ultimate victory! He has promised, 

Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
The temporary sufferings and persecutions in this life pale greatly when compared to the eternal glory and reward for a faithful life. This is truly what it means to become “partakers of Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter 3:14) : to be willing to die for faith in God; trusting that He has the final victory of death, and will glorify Himself in the outcome.