Archives

FEAR NOT!

STORMCLOUDS_crop

Smoke billowed out around the edges of the bedroom door as we looked down the hallway, frantic! About the same time we realized the second bedroom had smoke coming out as well. My husband was yelling, “Dial 911!!” I looked at the brand new phone in my hand and the black screen facing me. Had it been my old phone, there would have been no problem, but the shock of knowing our house was on fire was short-circuiting my brain, and I could not remember how to get it off screen saver. Between the smoke, the fire, my husband yelling, and the new phone, I was rendered incapable of doing what should have been easy! And because my hair is strawberry blonde, it became a joke in our family over the past two years that “Mom’s so blonde she couldn’t dial 911!” All the peripherals were not mentioned!

Paralyzing fear in a situation can cause even a very cool-headed person to shut down on normal reactions! Fear or its climax can render anyone unable to react, and often does.

Have you ever considered the number of people in the Bible who were told not to fear? Joshua had to be told over and over in the first chapter–four times he was told not to be discouraged, that the Lord would be with him; Mary, when met by Gabriel as he foretold her coming pregnancy, told her to not be afraid as he came to her. Abraham, Hagar, Gideon, Elijah–and so many more, our “cloud of witnesses,” all were told in various ways not to fear. Why? Because fear renders one incapable of doing what should be easy! God’s will is thwarted and Satan wins.

How so? Well, why have you not told someone in the family that they are on the road to hell? Because you fear a severance in the relationship! The same could be said of your co-workers, your neighbors, or someone close to you in relationship. What is always the response? “Well, only God knows their heart, and we are not to judge.” Well, half-right  is better than all wrong, I guess, and the truth is, we can’t judge their heart, but we are to be “fruit inspectors.” “Every tree is known by its own fruit” Matthew writes the words of Jesus. A saved person may be in sin for a season, but if so, he will be miserable, enduring discipline from the Lord, and eventually back on the right path.

Does fear cripple you when you think of telling someone about the wondrous things God has done for you? It should have no power over you. Discipling someone, counseling someone, praying with someone, do those possibilities make you tremble? God is with you, my friend! Or how about an example closer to home: do you hold your tongue because you are in an abusive relationship and don’t want to set someone off? That person then has complete control over you. Get help. You can’t? Why? Oh, you’re afraid you will lose the kids, lose….. Are you a parent who sees your spouse belittling one of the children, but you don’t interfere? You will let someone destroy a child, why?

For just one day, write down the times you hold your tongue because you fear the consequence. It may surprise you that victory is so close and yet so far. Memorize the verse “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of a sound mind,” and then–as fear comes into a moment–start praising God for His goodness at all times.

Father, please help us remember that You have not sent a spirit of fear into our lives, even today with all of the atrocities going on around the world. We know that You are still on the throne, guiding all the nations as we watch and marvel of Bible prophecies being fulfilled. Help us to not fear to tell those in our family who are facing hell, that You alone are truth! Amen

FACADE…… OR FAITH?

coffeeblog

The smell of brewing coffee seemed to seep under the door to the hotel bedroom, enveloping the room in the ambiance of a European coffee shop, and even though I had had very little sleep, the odors pulled me from the warm covers toward the kitchenette. I didn’t even take time to get my glasses, without which nothing is clear.

The coffee pot was full, sitting on the counter next to the stove. But there–on the back burner–sat a full cup, and even though my husband had gone, his thoughtfulness in making me a cup of coffee, ready to drink, was just too sweet! I hoped it was still piping hot, and, picking it up, took a nice big “swig.” If you’re familiar with Jesus’ return, you’ll know the meaning of a “twinkling of an eye.” It took less than that to realize I had taken a nice gulp of grease (I won’t think about the “juice”) from the cooking hamburger the night before, when they had all had spaghetti & meatballs for supper–before I arrived. The turn from the stove to the sink about four feet behind me took even less time as I gagged, all my reflux actions in perfect working order. It wasn’t pretty.

Adding insult to injury, the grease, besides making me sick as a dog who eats grass, left a taste that HAD to come out of my mouth! So I grabbed a clean cup, looked quickly in the frig for a creamer, poured a good ‘dollop,’ and added the coffee from the hot pot. Aahhh. Taking a big swig of that should fix the taste in my mouth. It did. If you’ve been to Europe you’ll know that for every 5 oz. size cup, there’s enough coffee to grow hair on a bald man’s head. This made European coffee bland by comparison. Later, I learned my married daughter–not a coffee drinker–had made it for me, so pleased she could do something special for mom; in that situation, you read directions. One “scoop” of coffee in the filter per cup, for a 12 cup pot, is great if you have a scoop, but if you’re operating in a hotel suite, really, only tablespoons are available. So, just to be on the safe side, she “rounded” the spoonful, making each tablespoon probably equivalent to 2 scoops of coffee. Twenty four. Even in my sleep-deprived, grease-tasting state, I almost gagged again. Then, part of my brain (fried by the grease) said “dilute it,” while the major part of my brain went by forty years of habit, and rather than turning to the sink to add water, I did what I do at home: I added more coffee to my cup. By the point at which I had done this maybe four times, my caffeine overdose was taking effect, and I realized what I was doing. Also by then I was shaking so badly I couldn’t hold the cup anyway. Even my son (her brother), who drinks his very strong, came in rather soon after all this and filled his cup, only to spit it out in about a second flat yelling, “That’s the worst coffee I’ve ever had!” He took out the filter to make new, and there, in the filter, you could see a slight circle of white barely above the grounds. A filter full of grounds. Her good intentions were completely appreciated but I’m afraid the results were poured down the sink.

God doesn’t waste lessons with me. Immediately (as in once I had stopped shaking from the caffeine, and stopped gagging from the grease), I began to see the similarity to our Christian walk. As I’ve written before, (probably), we smile and send a big friendly handshake or wave to everyone we know as we go into church, or when we’re out in public. We talk like Mr. or Mrs. Super Christian before the world, but when God looks at us, as He did with the Pharisees, does He see the outside of the cup being clean and beautiful, but the inside being something He wants to gag out of His mouth? In the semi-darkness, with no glasses, the grease on the back burner passed for a clean cup of coffee! The relationship I had with the grease, as fast as it was, let me know I wanted nothing to do with what it held.

The same was true for the other cup, the one that could have been taken out by the spoonful, each added to a cup of  hot water, and made a good cup of coffee (that’s what I actually did in Europe). But are we strong for other people, always trying to encourage them, display our efforts on their behalf, but inside have nothing that God wants to use? We have to ask ourselves these questions!

The Pharisees, as we say here in Virginia, “kinda, sorta, figured” that He was speaking of them when He pointed things out. Do you wonder, when you hear the pastor preach something that might possibly apply to you, if it really does? That’s probably the Holy Spirit.

And He’s probably saying, “This is for you. Listen. Learn. Apply.”

God, what a lesson! I’ll hate grease the rest of my life (whether I have much left, or not). Help me, please, to be sensitive to the lessons You have for me, so that I can be beautiful for You on the inside, so that You can use me in any small or big way to help someone who needs to know You better. I love You, Lord. Amen!

SO LITTLE TIME, SO MUCH TO DO…

SOWREAPPLANT_cropAh, the feeling of crawling into bed, lights out, getting comfy between the covers, and realizing the day is over–you can really relax now. The nicest moment of the day!

Then comes the thoughts hitting the brain like little b-b’s: “It was a wasted day.” “I didn’t get anything important done.” “What did I do today that meant anything to anyone?” “Oh, shucks, I forgot to…” and so on. Myriads of things that could have been done, should have been done, but would you have fit them in?

For me, the wasted day theme hits me almost every night! As I lay there, I know I have worked–and worked hard for many hours. I have tidied the house (but there’s so much left to do!), … did I do anything else? .. ad nauseum.  And then I realize, Paul himself said, it is only the things I do for Christ that counts (loose translation, Philippians 3), and I understand that my spirit is depressed because I felt there was no fruit in any of my labor. Do you ever feel like that?

If you desire above all things to hunger and thirst after righteousness, to be more Christ-like each day, then thinking that we have accomplished only the busy things that make up our lives leaves us as an open target for Satan to tell us we’ve wasted our day.

Do a self examination! I get (you’ll think I exaggerate) between 200-400 emails each day; the ones I respond to have the verse from Romans 1:20 after my signature: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” I take that for granted (that it is there), but what if it directs one person toward Christ? Did I sow or water? My blog address is also under my name on my emails: does that ever cause anyone to click on the blog and possibly wonder why I write? Does anyone ever wonder why I’m so amazed at His grace, at His goodness toward me, the chief of sinners (I was worse than Paul)? Was I kind in the many telephone calls that came in, and did I take the opportunity to tell the person at the other end, “I’ll pray for you to have a safe weekend”? Does God look upon my day as wasted, if just one person looks to Him? No, and my focus is wrong!

I need to be praying that my tiny little seeds will fall in a piece of fertile soil, so that someone else may come along and perhaps put a little water on them, and someone else may fertilize. I need to get my focus off myself and my “half a glass of water,” and realize Christ can make that water “living!”

I tend to forget that His POWER is what drives the universe, holds it together, but I still worry?? Then I am limiting Him to my own world. I pray He helps me remember that the same power that resurrected Him is in me, and I just need to put fears aside and keep on keeping on.

God, thank You for the power You have given to Your children to change the world. Grant the seeds that we plant turn into a crop that is a hundredfold! Thank You for the cross, Lord! Amen

One last thing, on an aside: I am getting many comments, and they are like reading the Amplified version of the Bible: for every word there are forty parentheses, etc., that leave me out in left field. If you ask a question and really desire an answer, know I’m trying to figure them out! I do remember to check Facebook about once every month or so (I’m telling you, time is not on my side!), so leave me a message there, and eventually I will get it! Either under “Love Notes” or Sandy Day. If you have negative comments, just keep them to yourself and remember your Grandma telling you, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything!” :~>

 

 

 

 

PUT IT ON? YES! PUT IT ON!!

madisongrace

“Grace! Go put your dress on so we can leave for church! We’re going in five minutes!” She laid her book down, and headed for the stairs. This ritual was quite ordinary–almost every day was a trial as distractions come into her life at inappropriate times. At almost nine years old, looking six, she knew that to obey is important but her attention span needs upgrading.

Four minutes went by. Heading for the stairs, I wondered what I would find. There, having noticed a stuffed animal who was “lonely” she had sat to cuddle him a moment. Quietly thinking for a moment on how my mother would have handled the situation, I swiftly put her dress into my purse, hanging on my arm. “Come on, let’s go. We’re leaving.” I reached for her hand, and watched the horror in her face. “But I’m not dressed!” “I realize that. But you were told to put your dress on. We go through this every Sunday, and every school day. Today, you’re going in your pajamas. Let’s go.” Hopefully the shock going through her system at this point would be the valuable lesson I was striving for, as modesty and daintiness meant a lot to her. She still could not grasp that I would allow her to go to church in her pajamas. Had I gone crazy?

We walked to the car, piled in, buckled up and eventually pulled into the parking lot. The entire trip had been made with quiet tears running down her cheeks. Yes, it broke my heart, but I had to keep in mind the amount of time she had cost us over the years, waiting for her to get ready. Everyone got out of the car, except the two of us. I pulled her dress from my purse, and said, “Can you put it on now?” Her tears dried, the dress was on in thirty seconds, and a hard lesson had been learned. Maybe; only time would tell.

God was preparing my own heart to receive a lesson He had for me. I should have known. Not having been raised in an affectionate family, I have found it hard all my life to show physical love. I’m definitely a work in progress. I have struggled constantly with my lack of concern (love–see? I’m rationalizing) for my neighbors, those in my family with whom I have chasms, Christians at church who ignore me, and more. I thought I should feel love for them, no matter what. I know it’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit, so it should just BE there! Automatically, since the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in me! But I have fallen back on the excuse “I wasn’t raised like that” too many times for God to put up with it any longer.

Studying 2 Corinthians 13–the love chapter–in our Life Group at church (the new word for Sunday School), has been a struggle because I have been brought face to face with my lack of love in so many areas of my life. As we have studied, the act of giving our resources, going on mission trips, feeding the poor, ministering to the saints, even being a martyr, is counted as nothing in God’s eyes if we are not doing it with a heart of love–which I realize with all consciousness that I sadly lack in most cases. It has been a heartbreaking series for me.

God’s mercy is so amazing. Having read the Bible more times than I know, I’m familiar with putting on the armor of God, so that we can withstand Satan; put on “mercy”, even put on “Christ,” which is to take Him as Savior. But as I read Colossians a couple of days ago, it is not that He suddenly gave me a “shot” full of love, but what He did was direct my reading to chapter Three. As I read, verse 14 seemed to pop out at me: “PUT ON love!” It started taking root: “Put on.. clothes.. makeup…lipstick…armor…”  it is an act of the will! It is a CHOICE. WooHoo!! He gave me my answer! My “lack” of love was not that I could not feel it because I had not been raised being loving, it was because I had not chosen it when a situation arose! Mind boggling! A stranger approaches: I have the option to smile with genuine love because that person was made by God, or I can choose to ignore them and go about my business! Perhaps this is elementary and redundant to you, but for me, it was the opening of a door, seeing into God’s presence. It was definitely a “Love Note!” It was more–it was as if I could see Him saying, “Good for you! You got it this time!” How long will it be before my “choice” is tested? Probably within a few hours!

Life has a way of testing to make sure the lesson took. Hopefully, I’ll never choose pajamas.

Oh Lord God–You are so unfailing in Your patience with me! Thank You for the lessons in everyday life, and for Your love. Thank You for Your nail-pierced hands, Lord. Help me never forget what You did for me. Amen

A THOUSAND YEARS? OR YESTERDAY?

gloryThe chainsaw lay like a ghost from the past on the hardware store counter. The salesman shook his head. “When did you buy this?” he asked my husband. “Just a couple of years ago, I think,” was his reply. With today’s computer technology, the salesman decided to see if it was still under warranty. He could hardly keep from grinning. “Sir, you bought this in 2006.” Eight years, not a “couple.” When my husband arrived home, he asked me when we had bought the chainsaw (before showing me the new one). “A couple of years ago, I think,” I replied. Wrong. By a long shot. We must be having more fun than I thought.

We had a granddaughter born recently–or so it seems. How then, did she enter college last year, and is ready for her second year? And one left last week for the Army–but how? She was just, what? Eight? Ten, maybe? When did eighteen happen? I wasn’t ready for her to go, and I’m not having fun with her missing at Sunday dinner, or swimming in the pool, watching the younger ones!

People asked, “How long have you been married?” “Forever,” I reply. Well, it seems like it. But then no, it seems like yesterday that I ran into the house, tossed my books on the piano and sat down, learning Fugues and Canons and Symphonies–that was just yesterday, wasn’t it? Or a lifetime ago?

How can the little one in the picture be fixing a tie on a child? He was just born! I remember bringing him home, and my husband fixing hot dogs (which I hate) and canned green beans! I had checked a steak on the menu at the hospital! Wasn’t that yesterday? When did he become a father?

Going back to the little home place where my mother was reared, which my great-grandparents built, I see it setting like a memorial to them, perfect logs, a tiny 2 room home on a hillside in WV; time has stopped there. It’s a hundred and fifty years ago all over again–or is it today? With drones, and hackers, and threats to security? Am I having fun yet?

That was my mom in the image I just passed! No, for a split second I thought it was she, but suddenly I realized, that was me! But I’m twenty–or I feel from the inside looking out that I am! Where have the years gone? And I realize, that is the spirit that is within us, the same spirit that God explains when a day seems like a thousand years, and a thousand years a day. And I’m not sure which one I’ve lived yet.

So I have to bring my mind back to the basics; back to what is really important since I can’t control time: what am I doing for Jesus? Will anyone be in heaven because my journey here has been long or short? Worse, will someone be in hell because of my journey here? The thought breaks my heart in two.

Paul, through the Holy Spirit, tells us in Ephesians 5:15, 16, to “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Let us be sure that we redeem this time, this vapor that is here today, and gone tomorrow. We can’t take one second back, but we can make them count. Or not. It’s up to us.

Lord Jesus, please help me make the most of the time I have, to pray fervently for those to be saved whom I love so dearly, and bring glory to You! Amen

THE GLORY OF CHILDREN………FATHER’S DAY

 

Image

Pizza sounded sooooo good! I had to decide: would it be worth it when it came back up? For nine months I had lost almost everything I had eaten, but this time–this time–I was giving in to my craving! So the pizza went down, every yummy, cheese-dripping, bite! And sure enough, within thirty minutes it was coming back.

Carrying this baby–and the future four–was an act of love, and I could hardly wait for her to get here. The agony of the birth itself, the long nine months when one goes from “normal” to waddling like a duck, the back aches, trying to get a good night’s sleep–all that was forgotten the second I held her in my arms. But. The glory of children is their Father. (Proverbs 17:6).

Not fair, Lord! We’re the one who feeds them, changes their stinky diapers, plays airplane with their food, remembers to write everything in the baby’s book, and smells like spit-up 24/7! We’re the ones who carry a two year old on one hip, a purse over one shoulder, a diaper bag over the other, and lug a twenty-pound car seat/carrier with the infant in it! But. The glory of children is their father.

The class stood at attention: some were Pilgrims, some were Indians, a few turkeys, and some had signs. Moms, for the most part, and tons of grandparents, were sitting as close to the front as possible, cameras flashing. The little one on the back row–the Indian–kept his head straight, looking at his teacher, but every thirty seconds he cut his eyes to the right. Finally, a light bulb was turned on in his face–his daddy had arrived to watch the program. The glory was reflected in his face. The glory of this child–my grandson–is his father.

Summer has come, and mom has to come up with tons of ideas as to how to keep the children occupied, especially during rainy days, when going outside is not even considered! Oh, the things we think of to do! Making tents over the dining room table, having lunch in the “campsite,” playing Hide and Seek. But waiting for that special moment when daddy comes home. The glory of children is their father.

A new car is needed now, one that will carry all the kids and all their gear, their musical instruments, and presents for parties, and mom becomes not only the nurse, the cook, maid, but now the chauffeur. But the glory of the children is their father.

God, how can this be?! We pour our souls into these children, we take care of every need, are You sure this is right? And He says, yes, it’s right. My Father is My Glory, and I want to be the Glory of your children, as well. And we say, “But God, what about all the homes where Dad has left, and Mom has to carry all the burden? He doesn’t even send money except when the courts make him!” And God says, he will answer for it, because I created him to be the glory of his children.

So–this week we honor fathers. Let’s make sure we honor those who go to work day after day, and bring home the money that takes care of a home for their wife and children; we honor those who are trying to keep America free by being willing to not only be deployed but also willing to die, if necessary, only being able to see their sweet babies on Father’s Day by way of a webcam; we honor those who try to make it to the school programs, the ball games, the concerts, and the camping trips. We honor those who are fathers in love and in deed.

And if, by circumstance, you are a mom who is role-playing the difficult task of being both a mom and dad, God Himself will give you grace and strength; teach them every moment that He has promised to be a Father to the Fatherless. And somehow, in all of it, He will get glory from your children.

 

ARE WE ISOLATING OURSELVES FROM THE WORLD?

“The man who isolates himself seeks his own desire.” Proverbs 18:1a

Image

Few things equal the imagination of children! Being raised in a dysfunctional family, at an early age I learned the escape from reality that books afforded me. My aunt had many wonderful books, an actual series, by Arthur Maxwell, and I would sit in the corner behind a chair and read story after story. Later, my grandmother gave me a book by Grace Livingston Hill, which presented me not only with a physical book, but a way of life that grew into a hobby and collection that few rival. But my greatest feats were the fantasies I would make up as I lay in bed at night: I can still see the woods around me, the small cabin I (in my fantasy) lived in, the garden I grew, and the hermit life I lived! It was my dream–to be a hermit, away from people.

Although that didn’t happen, it has never left me, and over the years I can see our pattern of residences have almost all been on acreage. A couple of years ago it happened–as it does often to all of us who read God’s word on a regular basis–as I’ve mentioned before on other passages, that, as I started on Proverbs 18, this first verse jumped off the page and God spoke straight to me, that, in my fantasy of isolation, I was not heeding His desires, but my own. Ouch! Double ouch! We are to be “neighbors,” to “love our neighbors” (wherever we find them), and spread His word. It’s hard to do that if you don’t go into the world!

So, I rationalized. Don’t tell me you don’t do that. I do this, I do that, I minister here, minister there; go on short-term mission trips—-WHOA. Suddenly that one hit me, and for a very good reason. The last one I went on, nearly two weeks in duration, was long enough to love on the people, help with a project, eat their food, and tell my story. But, oh! was I ready to come home at the end of two weeks. I just spoke to a sweetheart of a sister-in-Christ who had gone for three weeks, which, she said, was too long. We wanted to get back to our comfort zone.

Where does all this go? If you read any of my blogs, you know I don’t take short cuts. I have to lay the groundwork before giving the interior design, and this design nearly took my peace away! You see, a short term mission trip is great because it is SHORT. We can get back to comfort zones, but also to responsibilities–I understand that. But we also miss a lot. I know–I got a letter yesterday, which some of you may have gotten also.

The letter spoke of a dire need that is never addressed in Christmas boxes, medical terminology, children’s school requirements (i.e., books, pencils, paper, etc). The need is much more crushing, but overlooked–in fact, the mention of it in a blog might be a “no-no,” I’m not sure! But a certain humanitarian organization, Gleaning For the World, addressed it in letter form, and it touched me like few things have: it communicated the crucial need of young girls when they begin their feminine cycles, and have nothing with which to keep themselves clean. They have to resort to used newspapers, old rags, corn  husks–use your imagination. They miss school, and are basically housebound for the week. As a woman, how can I NOT have considered this in the trips I’ve made to Guatemala, India, or sitting in my comfort zone, isolated? I should have thought of it in connection with the sweet young girls that were ministered to in the poverty stricken countries. Shame washed over me, and I realized a new kind of isolation had been in my heart: unmet needs that are not talked about.

GFTW has made a kit available which will help these girls. For a mere $15 USD, it will take care of six months worth of necessities these girls need. I had to come out of my isolated “studio” and put it on paper this morning before I could shake the responsibility I feel to reach out and give hope where there is none. You can go to http://www.gftw.org and read the letter, I’m sure. But along with me, let us be pro-active in reaching the world for Christ: He Himself ministered to physical needs and then taught the spiritual lessons. I pray we do that as well.

Dear Lord, please forgive me for staying in my area of comfort when there is a world who is suffering at the hands of Satan, held bound by tradition, not knowing there is a freedom that is found when they give their heart to You. Help me reach them, not only with spiritual food, but with daily needs as well. Please, God, give me love as You love. Amen