Being Woven

My Christian Walk with the Lord

Memorial Day – 2015

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Memorial Day can be a gathering of family for a barbeque or for a day at the beach.  It is remembered as a day off from work or a reminder that we will only have a four-day workweek.

But Memorial Day is far more than that:

  • It is a day (and there ought to be 364 more days a year for this) to remember the many men and women who have worn a uniform of the United States Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard over this country’s history.
  • It is a day to remember why they wore those uniforms — to protect the United States of America and her citizens.
  • It is a day to remember that many have died in the face of an enemy during battle, protecting the people and the freedoms that come with living in this country.  Their blood was shed as they obeyed their commanding officers.
  • It is a day to remember that there are many, this very day, who are wearing one of these uniforms and are in harm’s way…this very day!  

May we stand proud for the United States of America whether we believe in all that is going on in the country today or not.  This is our country.  We must stand proud of the flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, our National Anthem.  As we stand with our hand over our heart, be proud because these men and women in uniform are standing in obedience to the orders they receive from their commanders.  They are doing this for us, in our name, for we are citizens of the USA.

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You and I are to stand in obedience to God Who is our Commander in Chief, our Stronghold, our Refuge, our Protector.  His Son shed His Blood for us…His red blood…in obedience to His Father Who is our Father.

Father God, may we look to You for all of Your commands, Your will,  for our lives each day.  May we honor those who stand for this country, who die for this country.  Please care for them as they fight or assist in war-torn countries, or work in places that have been ravaged by natural disasters and have been sent to help.  We lift up the many families who have lost loved ones in these many battles this country has been involved in.  We lift up those families who have someone in uniform right now and are fighting, protecting, assisting, or are preparing to go into a place that could be dangerous in one way or another.   Please guard them with your legions of angels.  We pray in the Powerful Name of Jesus.  Amen. 

But this command I gave them: ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’  Jeremiah 7:23

For He will command His angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.  Psalm 91:11


F
lags In

“This is a mission unique to members of the 3d United States Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), which has the distinction of being the oldest active unit in the United States Army dating back to 1784. The Old Guard is the Army’s ceremonial unit serving as honor guard to the President of the United States, and performing burial services for fallen service members, veterans and their family members at Arlington Cemetery.”  Arlington Cemetery

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment place American flags at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia.

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Both of my parents are now buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

There is a flag on their grave this very day and I remember.

I am honored to remember.

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I am married to a Vietnam Veteran and am honored to have my hand in his.

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I do not forget.

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Photo of Young boy saluting flag: http://365atlanta.com/2010/11/11/286-a-simple-thing-to-do-thank-a-veteran-every-day-not-just-on-veterans-day/

Flags In photo: http://media4.s-nbcnews.com/j/newscms/2015_21/1038161/pc-150522-arlington-flags-mn-0430_f195bba7ed10dc1c882e0c9d58494cc9.nbcnews-ux-1360-900.jpg

linking up with:

On Monday:

http://lauraboggess.com/    PlayDates with God

http://embracinghiswill.com/     Motivate and Rejuvenate

http://afieldofwildflowers.blogspot.com/    Small Wonder

http://www.solideogloriasisterhood.com/    Soli Deo Gloria Connections

http://www.blessedbutstressed.com/    Inspire Me Mondays

On Tuesday:

http://www.richfaithrising.com/    Unite the Bloggersphere

http://purposefulfaith.com/    Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp

http://hollybarrett.org/    Testimony Tuesday

http://jenniferdukeslee.com/    Tell His Story

Rejoice in the LORD

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Isaiah 35

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;

the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;

it shall blossom abundantly

and rejoice with joy and singing.

The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,

the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.

They shall see the glory of the Lord,

the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,

and make firm the feeble knees.

Say to those who have an anxious heart,

“Be strong; fear not!

Behold, your God

will come with vengeance,

with the recompense of God.

He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

then shall the lame man leap like a deer,

and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

For waters break forth in the wilderness,

and streams in the desert;

the burning sand shall become a pool,

and the thirsty ground springs of water;

in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down,

the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

And a highway shall be there,

and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;

the unclean shall not pass over it.

It shall belong to those who walk on the way;

even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.

No lion shall be there,

nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;

they shall not be found there,

but the redeemed shall walk there.

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return

and come to Zion with singing;

everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;

they shall obtain gladness and joy,

and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

 

The Way of Holiness is surrounded by waters, plants, and animals that reveal the glory of the LORD.  All of creation shouts.  Redemption has come and we, the people, sing with rejoicing.  Healing and forgiveness make way for gladness and joy.  The hard things of this world fade away, leaving sorrow and tears to be no more.

The LORD your God is in your midst,
a Mighty One Who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by His love;
He will exult over you with loud singing.  Zephaniah 3:17

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
and let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”  1 Chronicles 16:31

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.  Psalm 16:9

Father God, I rejoice in Your Holy Name.  I sing to You and worship only You as I continue to learn of Your ways.  Your highway to holiness is the only way I want to be journey upon.  Your Way is the Truth.  May I walk steadfastly along that highway, remaining close to You, precious LORD.  As I ponder these and other verses about rejoicing, my heart lightens.  The heaviness of this world, all the heartaches and soul aches I see and hear about me seem to fade into the background as You stand strong and faithful beside me.  You come before me and are my way.  I follow You.  May I be in Your will in this world, and may I be strong in You that my heart would not grow faint.  

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:28-31

May I wait upon You and sing praises of joy to You, only to You.   In the Strong Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

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linking up with:

On Friday:
http://www.missionalwomen.com/ Faith-Filled Fridays

http://arabahjoy.com Grace and Truth

http://equippinggodlywomen.com/ Fellowship Friday

http://countingmyblessings.com/blog/ Blessing Counters

http://www.simplemomentsstick.com/ Faith and Fellowship

On the Weekend:

http://www.barbieswihart.com/     The Weekend Brew

http://sandraheskaking.com/     Still Saturday

http://seespeakhearmama.com/     Give Me Grace

http://www.janiscox.com/        Sunday Stillness

http://www.spiritualsundays.com/     Spiritual Sundays

Caring for the Caregiver – Part 2 @ SDG

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One of the very first things a giver of care should think about doing for herself/himself is to find quiet … find the calm center of the storm, find peace in your mind and heart. Finding quiet is calming down, letting the mind focus on the Lord. Find a physical peaceful setting or find one in your mind. Get away to a quiet place even for an hour, go for a walk, sit-down for a time in the park or in a coffee shop, or soak in a hot bath. This usually means being alone for a time.

As we begin to quiet ourselves, we usually need to allow the voices, the day’s busy-ness, the stresses of the daily activity roll through our minds, our hearts, and then gradually let it slide away. When these things pop back up, let them go again. Rather than getting upset that we keep bringing the stresses back up, allow them there and then release them again, each time allowing it to remain for shorter periods. It will subside if we let it. Remember, these concerns, issues, words spoken, or words left unspoken, may be issues that have already been resolved, may be un-resolvable right now and need setting aside, or may not even be of our business! Listening and reviewing the day can allow us to step back, look at things from a different perspective, and take some or all of the emotion out of an issue. Then give these things to Jesus. He asks for them. “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

During the quiet, take time to look at your personal needs. You may be a parent. You may be homeschooling your children. You may hold a full or part-time job. You may have more than one person you are taking care of. You may be married, single, divorced, going through problems in relationship. All kinds of personal concerns surround us. So time may be of the essence and you may think, “I don’t have time for me, Linda. I cannot even begin to do any more and now you want me to take care of myself.” Well, yes, I do. And I know it well. (When I moved Mama here from California, I worked full-time, had been married only 5 years so still felt like a newlywed! Mama needed help in so many ways. Besides her regular medications, the doctor placed her on insulin within the first year here. Her dementia worsened and giving herself insulin became a problem as she would forget or think she had already given herself the shot. I was running over to her place (in a senior residence) twice a day taking her blood sugar and then giving her a shot. My workplace was 12 miles away. My hours were odd two days a week so I had to teach my husband how to do this too. Bless his heart … imagine talking to your mother-in-law and reminding her to take her blood sugar and then measuring the insulin and handing her the syringe? Not easy, I know! My mother was rather strong headed, too! But it had to be done, and we did it and much, much more!

Well, back to our needs. Time or not, we must find some for our care or we cannot care for others. What do you do for yourself? What do you need for yourself? Do you eat nutritionally? Is there a way to do that better? Are you able to exercise? Can you make time to take a class of aerobics, yoga, Pilates, walk regularly…the type that would make you feel better after it was over? You don’t need more stress and taking a class that you feel is a “should” will not be a help to you. Can you watch a video of yoga or stretching at home to help you relax some? Do you have time for family, for friends? How can you make quality time with the people you love and who love you and care about you? Are there hobbies that help you relax … reading, crocheting, quilting, baking, taking a Bible study? What do you enjoy … riding your bicycle, walking on the beach, visiting others, …? And the most important piece of this pie is to spend time with the LORD…sitting at His feet. You don’t have to talk with Him or do anything in particular. Just sit at His feet. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:39-42

Setting time for enjoyable, relaxing treats is so key to a caregiver’s well-being. Caring for another can zap all of your energy, leaving you lifeless. If we are good at caring for others then we surely must learn to care for ourselves. Begin by making an appointment with yourself, spending time writing down those things that are important to you for your well-being. Once a list is in print, prioritize them either by most important to least, or by the amount of time it takes to do each, or how often you would want to do each. Begin doing one thing on your list. Calendar things in daily, weekly, monthly … make it work for you. If you cannot do anything every day, then begin with weekly or every other day. Gradually, work the most important things into your world so you will feel better. And when you cannot do something, please, PLEASE, do not feel guilty. Guilt is the last thing you need.

You are important! YES! You are IMPORTANT! And caring for yourself is a part of caregiving for others that gets neglected far too easily. How can we be wholly there for others when we can barely be there for ourselves? Take time to begin. Just begin!

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.  Isaiah 43:2-3a

God tells His people that He will be with us as we walk through the fires of life.  Fires burn, but they also purify, refine.  Caregiving is not easy.  In fact, it is painfully difficult at times, and exhausting.  Yet, He is with us and will not let the fires consume us.  The waters will not drown us.
Father, hear our prayers. We need You and want You in these times of giving care to others. Father, You are our Shepherd and LORD.  Give us the abilities needed for the task. Fill our hearts with Your love so that we may care for those You love, for those who need help, who are unable to do for themselves any longer.  Father, guide us in ways to care for ourselves that we would be more able to be the caregiver whom You have called … able to be patient, loving, kind, gentle, and joyful too. May Your fruits of the Spirit shine through us in all that we are and do for others. Father, give us calm and peace, and may we be the Christ in the eyes of these precious ones of Yours.  In Jesus’ Name we pray and we love.  Amen.

 

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Caring for the Caregiver – Part 1 @ SDG

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Caregiver:  the definition of a giver of care is a family member or paid helper who regularly looks after a child, or a sick, elderly, or disabled person.  The description of a giver of care who works 24/7 can be joyful, weary, tired, delighted, exhausted, angry, frustrated, energetic, impatient, alienated, lonely, depressed, etc., etc., etc.! Does any of this fit you?

Let’s turn the tables and take a look at taking care of ourselves. This is a key component to caregiving.  A KEY!  The care of the caregiver is vital to the health and welfare of the one who receives the care.  If the caregiver is so rundown that she/he has no energy for the day’s work, she/he cannot give the necessary care in the manner in which it ought to be given. As caregivers, we are usually trying to understand the needs of the person we care for with a desire to do some of this precious care right so as not to confuse, frustrate, or further anger our charge. We desire their days to be pleasant. We also want to love them as they are, not as we wish they could or would be.

As a caregiver of 15 years, I ran the gamut of being extremely weary, unable to get a good night’s rest for ailments of my own, worried, confused about what to do, depressed, frustrated that my sisters lived so far away, coming only once a year (and then for just a little while, not long enough to help me out much or give me a real break), even upset with one sister because she accused me of something that our mother believed about me–this sister chose to believe a dementia-laden lie versus the truth.  I became impatient with Mama, too, for things she could not help.  I felt alienated from “friends” or lonely because of this separateness.  I wondered if I was being a good enough wife while trying to be a good enough caregiver and daughter too.  AAAHHH!  Do you know these feeling, these thoughts?

Pondering such thoughts and feelings made me realize that I was disconnected, exasperated, less than healthy, just plain worn out.  One doctor of mine even asked me if I was “depressed.”  He had been in my shoes by caring for his father and saw signs in me, a long time patient of his for fibromyalgia.  Yet I needed to face myself, my selfish, self-protecting ways.  I wanted to stay in God’s will and honor my mother through to the end of her life.  I also, naturally, wanted to remain in God’s will for my marriage.

James 1:2-4 says,  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  Pure joy?  Oh, I wondered sometimes how I could possibly feel joyful.

As God continually desires to grow us in His garden, the roots grow deeper into His soil, hitting rocks and tree roots, those trials and tests.  It is our reaction to these tribulations that give us the telltale sign of our step-by-step relationship with God.  Our faith in God to bring us through these trials and our willingness to allow Him to grow us to be more like Christ builds the perseverance…hanging in there: close to God, in an honoring manner, trusting Him at every turn, a close and growing relationship with Him.  This relationship depends upon having open eyes, ears, and hearts.  We need His wisdom and He tells us to ask.  We certainly need it in this particular period of our lives, but truly in all periods, don’t we?  James 1 continues,  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; they are double-minded and unstable in all they do.  Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. (verses 5-9)

He will develop us, mature us, complete us … in His time.  We must stay close to our Teacher, spend time in His Word, and bend our knees before Him.  As we face trials, we can be purified in these fires.  We can become more valuable in God’s economy.  He can use us as His giver of care to the precious one He appoints for us.  He is able to guide us as we are willing to listen to Him, our Lord.  He can reshape our lives from ungodly to godly, from not being Christlike to being a reflection of the beauty of Jesus, and to glorify Him in all we do and say.

James 1:12:  Blessed are those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Some positive aspects that caregiving can offer:
• A closer relationship with God
• Trust in God
• A sense that others are watching your faith in action
• A more mature faith, purified by testing

• The ability to face and handle negative emotions

• Healing of previous hurts, especially involving family fallouts

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9

Let us stop here and ponder: asking for God’s wisdom, about the trials and testing that you are going through in your daily caregiving and how they might lead you to have more perseverance.  Think about God’s ways versus ours.  Think about James 1 as well.  What is God saying to you?

Father, we ask You to come to us in this garden and sit beside us on the bench where we are, weary and worn out.  Father, you know the task of caregiving we hold in our hands.  You know the one we care for.  He or she is Your child as are we, Father.  We feel so weary some days that we wonder if You are even in the vicinity.  Yet, we know You are.  You are everywhere, our Omnipresent God.  We trust You deeply, Father.  Walk down this path with us, giving us wisdom so that we can care for our precious loved ones, or for those we care for as a professional caregiver.  Father, please teach us how to take care of ourselves, better care of our bodies, our minds, and our souls.  Build us stronger spiritually that we would depend upon You for everything. Everything. You are our Refuge and our Stronghold.  Guard our souls and deliver us; Do not let us be ashamed, for we take refuge in You.  Let integrity and uprightness preserve us, For we wait for You. (Psalm 25:20-21) We ask all in the Name of Jesus.  Amen. 

 

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Rejoicing in Trials

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Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!  Psalm 98:4

“Let us sing even when we do not feel like it, for this we may give wings to leaden feet and turn weariness into strength.”  J. J. Jowett

As I age, I sense losses of abilities…physically.  I have had three spinal surgeries and one hip replacement.  I will be having knee arthroscopic surgery at the end of May to repair a torn Meniscus and remove some arthritic growth…more physical therapy and using a walker or cane or both.  I am becoming limited in being able to do things I used to do with no thought.  I just did them.

But God and Mr. Jowett remind me that joy is a fruit of the Spirit and I have the Holy Spirit living in me.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  James 1:2-3

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 1:6-7

So I sing.

I remember Who placed song in my heart and Who gave me freedom to rejoice in all that I am and all that I am given, no matter what phase of my life I am in.

Last week, I played with color and the fruit of the Spirit.  I am still coloring in my heart and now I am singing, humming in color.  I don’t always feel colorful, yet my heart does because of the LORD.  He fills me up and gives me joy and loves me through these hard things, so He fills me up with colorfilled songs.

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Father God, You are the God of all creation.  You know the trials of my body, of my soul, and of my mind.  You know my heartaches too.   You also know that I want to be able to do everything I “should” be able to do.  Growing older is hard, Father.  I miss being able to bend with ease.  I wish I did not have to think about the way I pick up a book from the floor or the way I need to walk with extra care.  Father, I wish it would be easier.  But it isn’t and I am sad.  Yet, these trials are only for a time.  Even if I live many more years, I know…I KNOW…that one day, I will be with You in Heaven and will have a perfect body.  The heart and soul aches of this life, from loss of family and friends, from physical struggles of various kinds, from knowing that this world is not of You…seeing evidence every day on the news, even in nearby places, I KNOW that one day…ONE DAY…I will have only You to kneel before and praise.  So I begin NOW and sing praises to Your Holy Name.  I REJOICE and thank You for always being with me.

 “Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
all the remnant of the house of Israel,
who have been borne by Me from before your birth,
carried from the womb; even to your old age I am He,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save.”  Isaiah 46:3-4

And I will remember –

The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

They are planted in the house of the LORD;
they flourish in the courts of our God.

They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,

to declare that the LORD is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.  Psalm 92:12-15

and that I am to … 

…fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

I pray in the Wondrous Name of Jesus.  Amen.

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When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride….

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1st picture: Unknown

2nd picture: “colors, colours, crayons, music, notes, photography, pretty” by abigaylee @ http://favim.com/image/81928/

3rd picture: Musical Note: http://www.mouserunner.net/Spheres_Free_Musical_Notes

Fruit of the Spirit – Colorfully

I am just in a pondering and color-filled mood.

By repentance, admission of my sins, and acceptance of Christ Jesus as my LORD and Savior, I have received the Holy Spirit.  As I abide in Him and He in me, the fruit of the Vine can grow in me.  I must stay close, receiving the life-giving sap from the True Vine so that I will live the fruit before the eyes and hearts of others.  May this be so, Father.   

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

Love

Joy

Peace

Patience

Kindness

Goodness

Faithfulness

Gentleness

Self Control

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say,  rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:4-9

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As I ponder the fruit of the Spirit, I want to live them as well as think upon such as these.  The words of my mouth should be true to You, LORD.  I pray that this would be so.  I thank You for gifting me with such lovely gifts that are useable for eternity.  I know that I will never receive a gift from You that I dislike and do not want to keep.   You bless me with each one.  I want to bless you by walking in Your Presence and clinging to You, my Vine.  Thank You, LORD.  I pray in Your Holy Name.  Amen.

 

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God of the Mountain

 

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My two sister-in-laws are visiting this week.  Yesterday, one asked what the rest of a song was.  It was a song that none of us knew well enough to be able to sing or even recite the words.  So I looked it up.  As we listened to a YouTube version, all (4 of us) gathered ’round the computer and sang together as the words were displayed on screen.  What a sweet moment!  What a beautiful reminder of the faithfulness of our God.

God of the Mountain by Lynda Randle

Life is easy, when you’re up on the mountain
And you’ve got peace of mind,
like you’ve never known
But things change,
when you’re down in the valley
Don’t lose faith,
for your never alone

Chorus:
For the God on the mountain,
is still God in the valley
When things go wrong,
he’ll make them right
And the God of the good times,
is still God in the bad times
The God of the day,
is still God in the night

We talk of faith way up on the mountain
But talk comes easy, when life’s at its best
Now its down in the valleys, trials and temptations
That’s where your faith is really put to the test

Chorus:
For the God on the mountain,
is still God in the valley,
When things go wrong,
he’ll make them right
And the God of the good times,
is still God in the bad times
The God of the day,
is still God in the night

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Many nations shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion the law shall go forth,
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.  Micah 4:2

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  Psalm 23:4

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 1:6-7

Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

LORD, thank You for Your reassurance in all things of this life and ever after.  You are faithful and true.  You redeem and You behold.  You love and You call to obedience.  You rejoice and You weep.  You hold time in Your hand and know the very hairs on our heads.  Thank You for being with us no matter whether we are on a mountain top or deep in a valley.  You hold us and love us always.  Grace and Glory to You and You alone, Father God.  In Your Son’s Holy Name, I pray.  Amen.

bwdarkgreen sig

A Brass Fire Pole

Fire_pole
Have you ever slid down a pole at the playground, pretending to be a fireman?  Or gone to a children’s museum where they had a brass one installed from the second floor to the first, where you put on a jacket, boots, and fireman’s hat before sliding down, landing at the foot of a real fire truck sitting inside the museum?  Or have you been at the top of such a pole and been afraid to take that leap onto the pole?

One year, while teaching in Washington, D.C., I took my K-1 class to the Children’s Museum, a bus ride and short walk away from our inner city school.  (In looking for that museum online before writing this, it looks like that building is gone now. but there is a new National Children’s Museum in Prince George County, only open a year or so now.)   It was fun and delightful for the children and for me as I watched them immerse themselves in pretending, allowing their imaginations to bloom with possibilities and dreams…careers…arts…machinery and equipment…on and on.  All of this gave these young children ways to dream as well as to escape the realities of their harsh worlds of inner city violence, drugs, sex, and other hard things, for all of us, let alone little children.

children fire engineI don’t say that we need to escape our realities for our God knows right where we are.  God is there right beside us.  But, sometimes, just sometimes, we need a break from the hard things in life.  We need the comfort of a mother’s arms, the strength of a father’s stance before and beside us, the love of family and true friends.  I watched and read Kara Tippetts and her family live death on their blog, in books, on videos, in photos.  Hard stuff.  Real life.  Kara and her family had and, now, still have all those arms, the comfort, the strength, the love near them, yet when the night falls and the family is alone, they remember that Kara has gone to be with Jesus.  The children do not have their mother.  Jason’s wife is missing from his side.  Not forever.  One day, they will all be together with the LORD.  One day.  And Kara is whole now.

We are human and fear creeps in and takes over sometimes… afraid to leap forward and grab that pole … afraid to trust God Who works all things together for good to those who love Him … fear that we will not be caught when we lean back against the unknown.  Fear holds us in its grip and we can do nothing.  The brass pole stands before us and we are frozen with fear.

woman going down pole

The LORD is my Rock, and my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my Strength, in Whom I will trust; my Buckler, and the Horn of my salvation, and my High Tower.  Psalm 18:2

He is right there … ready to catch us …ready to hold us … ready to be All to us and for us.  We are called to trust … TRUST.

The LORD is good, a Stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him.  Nahum 1:7 

The child in each of us needs to slide down that brass pole right into the arms of the LORD, into His Word, into His Truth, into forgiveness, away from sin, away from all that holds us back from the beauty that God wants for each of us.  Slide … slide onto the path that He has just for each one of us … JUST.FOR.US!  Can you sense yourself taking that quick leap onto that sturdy brass pole, wrapping your arms and legs around it and just go…go…go…to God.  I can feel the strength of this pole and the love awaiting me when I reach His arms.  Yes, LORD, I am coming to You.

And He took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when He had taken him in His arms, He said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in My Name, receiveth Me: and whosoever shall receive Me, receiveth not Me, but Him that sent Me.  Mark 9:36-37

Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe on His gentle breast,
There by His love o’ershaded,
Sweetly my soul doth rest. **

Abba Father, I felt Your call upon this life of mine.  I know that You want me wholly.  Guide me away from all that defines my life as worldly, as sinful, as not-of-You.  Mold my heart to be more and more like Jesus… that I would forgive when I need to and to whom I must.  Abba Father, thank You for Your forgiveness of my many misplaced steps in this life.  I came to You as a prodigal.  You were there with arms open wide and waiting for me to step into them.  Thank You, LORD.  Thank You.  I came sliding in, at first with hesitancy, with fear, because it seems a long way to You.  I slide … I go and I come to You again and again.  Your arms are warm and filled with such love.

Father, I know this for myself.  I pray for those children whom I once taught in Washington, D.C. and ask that Your love guide them into Your arms if they are not there already.  I pray that they will recall the day at the museum and the brass pole.  For those who came down without fear, I pray they come sliding into Your arms, seeking Your face, Your forgiveness, and Your love.  For those who were afraid to go down and walked back down instead, erase any and all fear and trepidation, LORD.  I pray for family and friends who do not know You and ask the same for them whether they have played on a brass pole or not.  Give them one and may Your message be clear so that they will desire You, and only You, and come sliding to You. 

As I am sliding to You, LORD, I pray in the Holy Name of Jesus, Your Son.   Amen.  

beblacksig   

Photo: http://www.kansasfirefightersmuseum.com/main/

**Safe in the Arms of Jesus: lyrics by Fanny Jane Crosby (1820-1915), music by William Howard Doane (1832-1915)

Second Photo: by Wendy Pramik   http://www.examiner.com/article/learn-about-fire-safety-slide-down-a-pole-at-the-central-ohio-fire-museum

Fourth photo:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdkahn/5758603835/

 

God-Breathed

images.duckduckgo.com

“The Bible is a vein of pure gold, unalloyed by quartz, or any earthly substance.  This is a star without a speck; a sun without a blot; a light without darkness; a moon without its paleness; a glory without a dimness.  O Bible! it cannot be said of any other book, that it is perfect and pure; but of thee we can declare all wisdom is gathered up in thee, without a particle of folly.  This is the judge that ends the strife, where wit and reason fail.  This is the book untainted by any error; but is pure, unalloyed, perfect truth.”  Charles H. Spurgeon from “Daily Help”

God speaks to us, and to those who came before us, by His Word.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.   2 Timothy 3:16-17

And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  Revelation 21:5

He sent His Son to show us the Way, the Truth, and the Light.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:1-5

Jesus said to him, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  John 14:6

Father, You gave us Your gift, Your Only Son.  You sent Him here to take my sins upon Himself, to wash me clean.  He is the Word and the Word is life, my life.  I thank You.  I am gratefully Yours.   In the Name of Your Son, Immanuel, God with us, I pray.  Amen.

beblacksig

 

Caught But Not Trapped in New Age Religion

John1.5Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.   1 John 4:1

I was raised in a Christian home, learned about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  (Please note, for later in this conversation, that I said, “…learned about….”)  We were a Navy family and moved every two to four years, therefore changed churches without changing denominations.  I was not introduced to Jesus as Someone with Whom I could have a relationship.  In my senior and fifth year of college, I lived away from home and did not attend church at all.  Shortly after college, I married a man who never had attended a church and wanted nothing to do with one so having a spiritual conversation was not even an option.  (Let me throw another fact in to be absorbed a bit later: Before marrying him, I heard a quiet voice say to me, “You are not to marry him” which I ignored completely.”)  Upon divorce ten years later, I felt “something” was missing from my life.  I set out to find a church that I felt comfortable in and landed upon one with a very strong singles’ group.  This church was a different Christian denomination from my childhood one, yet also did not introduce me to Jesus, only spoke about Him.

When I moved back to be near family again, I found another church. It was what I came to know as a New Age church. They taught things that made me “feel good.” I finally thought I had found what my heart and soul had been missing. Although Jesus was taught as “a good teacher” as was Buddha, and some philosophers, those who had founded this “religion” were the most revered. The Bible was used as a resource, but their “bible” was a text book created by the founders. Parts and pieces of many religions worldwide were integrated. I thought very little of these oddities as they seemed to be right and good. I was so hungry that this “stuff” made sense. I attended weekend workshops which left me feeling happy and self-loved. I studied books that espoused the self and the god within. I was taught that the mind could control everything. There was an integration of science, religion, nature, and philosophy. I participated in this for about ten years. I was confused often by their teachings, but I felt good, so that seemed to be all that mattered. I ignored the confusion as best I could.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15

I moved a couple more times, continually seeking this kind of church. On the last move in 1990, this brand of religion had no presence in this city. I sought no others at that time. Then, a dear friend committed suicide, leaving a note at my apartment so that I would end up being the one to find him. My world came tumbling down. Believing that I could handle this alone, that this “self” would get me through it all, I was hit squarely between the eyes. I realized that all that I had thought to be truth were lies, bold-faced lies. I began attending a Christian church, but, once again, the introduction to Christ was lacking. These denominations that I am calling Christian (and not New Age) are predominant ones in the United States. Jesus is believed in. Where was the invitation to have relationship with Him? …the admission of sin? …the call to repent and ask forgiveness? Where?

I met my second husband who is a Christian and who has a relationship with the One and Only Savior, but this fact was unbeknownst to me initially. On our first couple of dates, he listened to my mixed-up beliefs when he spoke of spiritual matters. He shared Jesus, Scripture, the Truth with me. Tears welled up in my eyes on our second date. Tears, for me, are a tell-tale sign that a vulnerable part of me is touched. The Truth had done that, as we know It surely can do. After seven months of his patience, his gentle love, his Christ-like ways, our spiritual conversations, plus his dear mother sharing the LORD with me, I finally turned to Jesus, as I was lying alone on my bed one morning. I asked Him to be my LORD and Savior through an acknowledgement of my sin, repenting to Him, and beseeching His forgiveness. I had spent year after year living a life filled with sin and disbelief. I was not a “bad” person, but I did not believe. After hearing that “still, small voice” in 1971, I continued to wander along wrong paths, making wrong choices for another 22 years. I was 45 when Jesus, the Holy Spirit came to live in my long-awaiting heart. And I have never looked back. I have dug into the Bible deeper and deeper, and continue to do so.

In these past 21plus years, I have discovered that I had beautiful women friends from the various places I had lived praying for me, for my salvation. They rejoice now. One dear woman prayed for me, but, before she could and did, she had to come to know Jesus as her own LORD and Savior. We had met in a New Age church. She came to Jesus about two years before I did so her prayers were lifted high to the LORD for she knew where I was headed if I stayed on the track I was on. We both stand in awe of our amazing God. He never gave up on us. Hallelujah! Thank You, Jesus!

Religions espousing self, mind-over-matter, the prosperity gospel, use textbooks or books other than the Bible as their bibles, these so-called religions are manmade. They are not of God. And why were churches, considered mainstream Christian denominations, not teaching that Jesus wanted to be the LORD and Savior of our lives and, to have that, we needed to have a relationship with Him? I pray that since I last attended one of those churches, they have come to see this Truth. Oh, I pray, Father, that they have changed.

If we know someone “caught in a ‘church’” that teaches New Age thoughts or they are attending a Christian church that teaches ideologies that are not Biblical, we need to be the Christ that they may never see any other way. We must step out in faith, guiding them by love, prayer, words and actions. Our conversations should be centered around Jesus as LORD and Savior. If they are turned off and will not listen, then pray. Be Christ to them in the way you speak and in your behavior.  Most of all, pray.

You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be know and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, Who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:2-6

He Looked Beyond My Faults
by Dottie Rambo

Amazing Grace..Shall always be my song of praise.
For it was grace, that brought me liberty,
I”ll never know, just why Christ came to love me so.
He looked beyond my faults and saw my need.

I shall forever lift mine eyes to Calvary,
To view the cross, where Jesus died for me
How marvelous, His grace that caught my falling soul
He Looked beyond all my faults and saw my need.

I shall forever lift mine eyes to Calvary,
To view the cross, where Jesus died for me
How marvelous, His grace that caught my falling soul
He Looked beyond all my faults and saw my needs,
Christ looked beyond all of our faults and saw our needs.

Father God, I thank You, thank You dearly, for saving me by the Blood of Your precious Son. You caught my falling soul, looking far beyond my faults. You saw the need of this soul. You never left me nor forsook me, LORD. You were standing at the door. Thank You. I love You so, my dear Abba Father. On knees before You, I weep with joy as I realize the beauty of my salvation. These hymns, above and below, mean more to me today as I write this piece than they ever have, Father. With tears for Your bottle, I thank You. Amazing grace, how can it be? In the Strong and Saving Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Amazing Grace
by John Newton, 1779

Amazing grace!
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

As I am…Being Woven ~ linda

This was originally posted @ Soli Deo Gloria Connections.

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