Our Rock Eternal

Isaiah 26, Rock...from Hawaii

God has inserted Himself in every part of the world He created.   Since I’m a visual person,  I gain much understanding of God from observing His world.

As I was reading Isaiah 26 this morning I, once again, read one of my favorite passages – verses 3 and 4.  The Amplified Bible reads, “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].”  (Amplified Bible)

Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  But Hawaii also has one of the most dangerous and destructive forces surrounding it, the ocean.    When ocean collides with rock, as in the picture, two powers meet.   The surf, with its power and defiance, slams into the rock which doesn’t move.

As beautiful as the ocean is, and even with all the good it can provide, there is still much unrest, turmoil, turbulence and destruction in it.

So, as I’m looking at this picture, I’m thinking, “We can either live in the breakers of life, or on the Rock.”  The surf can be brutal.   In fact, this picture is from the side of the Hawaiian island of Oahu they call “Break Neck Beach.”

Likewise, we break our necks trying to fix things, attempting to survive, by clinging to a jagged edge of the Rock while trying to stay in the “stuff.”   It doesn’t work…I’ve tried.   As the waves beat against the rock, so we beat against a God Who wants us to be in Him, in His safety.   But as long as we’re trying to do it all ourselves, we are still in the dangerous surf.

There have been times when, I am enjoying the safe clefts of my Rock of Ages…my Loving Heavenly Father, that I think I might be able to take on the waves.  I don’t know if I become complacent or if I’m lured by the lies of the Evil One, that it will be safe to dangle my toes in the inviting water as it swirls beneath me.  Either way, I’ve fallen back into that perilous smashing of life.

It could be that I simply lose sight of the stability and goodness of Him.  Jesus warns against this when He describes the different soils in the gospels.   Worries, persecution, troubles, deceitfulness of wealth, desire for other things…they all can produce the same result….chaos and destruction which come from separation from the Giver of Life.

Thankfully, I’m pulled to safety and I’m reminded that with the promise of Psalm 91:1,2, comes a responsibility of me, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].  I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!”

We love the promise of this passage, but we must remember that it is our responsibility to dwell there…to live and inhabit that place.   Settling in and staying there takes work. As we dwell there, God’s power helps us to remain, but we must want to remain there.

Unfortunately, at times, other houses seem better and we want to go out and test other ground.   We become restless – until we find ourselves in the swirling waters that will eventually suck us in once more, smothering us with fear, worry and anxious thoughts that destroy our peace of mind.

Or circumstances – many of which are grave and threaten to break us – steal our peace. It’s definitely a world at war, and we’re in it as a matter of life and death.

But with all this, STILL – The Rock remains…God, the Creator of the universe, our Refuge and our stability offers us peace of mind.    As the passage from Isaiah says, “…whose mind is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”

He is THE Everlasting God.   There is safety, protection and shelter in Him.    And one thing I know….He remains steadfast and faithful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Depression, Robin Williams and Us

sadwoman2

The suicide of Robin Williams has brought to the forefront a serious topic.  It’s a darkness nobody really wants to talk or hear about – depression.  Sometimes and most sadly – the church, Christians – want to avoid it at all costs.  It’s just too negative.

Those of us who struggle with depression are told to simply get over it.  “Deal with it,”  “quit feeling sorry for yourself,”  and “get a grip” are some of the harsh words and thoughts thrown out. Even worse, and more cutting, people assume those who struggle with  it don’t understand God’s grace and forgiveness.

Labels are placed on those who battle the the Enemy’s words of, “You’re not good enough,” “nobody loves you, nobody really cares,” “they would be so much better without you.”    And those labels aren’t pretty.

But Robin Wiliams’ decision to end it all has forced everyone to take another look.   I hope Christians will as well, even more so.   It’s time for the church to offer hope to those we think should already have that hope…Christians.

The world is mourning a great comedian.  News people don’t know what to do with a man who, having brought laughter to millions, lost his own ability to smile.   They talk about the legacy he has left, but what about the man within?  Condemnation is heaped, but who was there in the bitterness of his nights, to know the person he really was?

Christians are throwing out trite answers such as, “this is what happens when someone doesn’t know Jesus Christ.”

And those of us who DO know Jesus Christ, and still suffer, hunker down and wonder, “Could this happen to me?”  We understand the demons that speak to the soul.  Robin lost the battle.  We do not want to, but the edge of the precipice is ever so close sometimes.

I won’t begin to argue whether or not Robin was a Christian.    I can only speak as a Christian who fights the battle.

It’s not like it’s a surprise to anyone…people have been whispering about it for years – the entire time my husband, Tom, has been in ministry (which only makes it worse).  People have seen it, and pointed fingers, talked, ridiculed, and tried to fix, and…..done everything but what it takes to help.   All in the name of love, of course.  I’ve been told I will ruin my husband’s ministry, I’m unloveable and I’m unfit.  (Oh, those words help!)

People tell those of us who battle this foe to “get help,” while they walk away with all the help a despondent person might need…love, a listening ear, care or time from a sincere brother or sister.  But those take time and getting down in the nitty gritty of a person’s life, where there’s muck and mire; well…eww….it’s ok, we’ll stay up here in our pretty people spots.

Advice seems to be abundant, but trust me, those words of advice are like shards of glass ripping the inner soul to pieces.    We’ve heard them all, we’ve inwardly recited them…over and over and over.  We’re also made to feel like we will never be able to contribute anything, especially to the Christian world.

Christians meet each other at church, or small group, or other venues and ask, “How are you?” without stopping to hear the answer.   Sometimes we don’t want to look deep into another’s soul because we may find ourselves there.

I know it’s no fun…hearing others’ stories, taking time out of our busy schedules to really love and care.   It may be a tad bit uncomfortable to hear that I was abandoned and horribly rejected as a child and can’t seem to “work through” those abandonment issues.   It may take patience and kindness.  It may take love.

My struggle will most likely be with there until I am perfected and made completely whole in his sight when I behold Him.   Some days I win, some days I simply hang on to a thread of the string that threatens to break.

God told Paul in 2 Corinthians, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”   And so, I come to you today, sharing my weakness, so that God’s power can be made perfect, and so that God can work through me to reach out to those who are hurting.

I understand that by embracing that weakness, God has developed compassion within me.  And quite honestly, I would rather be broken and have one of God’s greatest characteristics, than to be whole without it.

Depression – it can kill,  but it can give life as well.   Such an oxymoron.   In some of my most disheartened moments I have seen a Loving God, a Heavenly Father, Who keeps my tears in His bottle, Who holds me in the palm of His hands,   Who promises, He will feed his flock like a shepherd.  He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart.  He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.”

Depression teaches me also to not live for this world.   I cling to the passages like Isaiah 65:17, 18, “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth,  and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.  Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation!   And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness.  Her people will be a source of joy.”  

So do yourself a favor, listen to someone’s story.  Ask someone how they are really doing, reach out to someone who is hurting so much they will turn to a bottle or pills.  Get dirty, take time, care.   You may just find yourself in the sandals of Jesus.

Oh dear! I’m getting older!

Lj...little girl...funny faceI

I remember sitting around with my mom and her friends and listening to them talk about their aches and pains, and woes of wrinkles and fatigue – all from growing just a little older.  And yep, like most 30 something’s I just thought, “If you would exercise more you would be in shape,” or “Evidently you haven’t taken care of your skin.”

Oh my! When I think of my condescending  and judgmental thoughts now, I realize I have become my mom and my friends have become hers.  Time and my body have truly humbled me.

It really hit home recently when our 8 year old grandson looked at a 10 year old picture of my husband (Tom) and me and said, “Papa looks the same but Nana looks a lot younger in that picture.” Oh, how I was hoping he was going to say, “Nana looks a lot younger NOW!” But alas, he did not.

So, I face what others my age are facing, the fruit of growing a little older.  The problem is…I’m the same inside, but nobody can see inside.  They only see that I have bags under my eyes, things…um…sag, spots appear, weight hangs on in places and hair shows up where it should not.  Sleep is elusive at times and things hurt; things I didn’t even know I had!

Back in the day, before all this, I proudly proclaimed I would grow old graciously.   Well, so much for that – I’ve given up on that silly idea. These days I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that my body is growing older but I still have my mind.   Most days.  Well, some days.

I’m aware of the fact that our society respects age less and less.   In just about every profession (including ministry) “older” people have been replaced by youth.   Wisdom is not honored.   I don’t understand that.  I remember as a young Christian longing to learn from the ones who had been Christians for years.     I wanted them to help me.

I still have that mindset.   There are Godly women who have helped to shape my life and I joke with them and tell them they’re not allowed to die before me!  I need their wisdom.

More than that, I have promises from God’s Word about growing older.  Losing both parents was a huge wake-up call that this thing we call life here, is only the beginning.  We have an entire life waiting ahead of us.

But either way, whether I’m respected or not for my age, I have great and precious promises from God’s Word.   We are told that the righteous will, “flourish like a palm tree….they will still bear fruit in old age…proclaiming “The Lord is upright; He is my rock…”

And my favorite, “I have cared for you since you were born.  Yes, I carried you before you were born.  I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age.  I made you, and I will care for you.  I will carry you along and save you.”  (Isaiah 46:3b-4)

So, ladies (and gentlemen), let’s proclaim about our Lord!    Let’s trust God into our future and old age!   Let’s continue to love and live, grow and give, learn from others (even the youth), and seek with all our hearts to glorify our Father in heaven, bearing fruit as we seek and serve Him!

 

VBS and days of days long ago

picture for June 9 blog

I’ve been thinking a lot about Vacation Bible School lately.  Seeing the banners at churches we drive by has caused me to go back a few years in my mind.

I loved VBS.  I mean…I absolutely loved it.  I loved the stories, crafts, memory verses, all of it.   I especially loved the people who worked so tirelessly.    All women, of course…at least to my recollection.    And, back then, VBS went 2 weeks!  I’ve helped and taught in many  a VBS in my life and believe me…after a week, all of us were ready to go to bed.   But these ladies from my childhood made it seem completely chore free.   I don’t remember one helper being cranky.

It was always the same, year after year.   A lesson, memory work, a craft,  music, play time and cookies with Kool-Aid.  O yes, the sugar….2 cookies and Kool-Aid.    Homemade cookies…and real Kool-Aid.   No pyrotechnics, no big show, simply good old Bible stories, passages of scripture to memorize and pictures to color.  And we can’t forget the projects made out of macaroni and/or Popscicle sticks 🙂

Those of you in my home town of Lamar, Missouri will, no doubt, recognize some of the names of some of those I fondly recall.   Many of them have gone on “Home” but their teachings remain.   So, in no specific order, here goes.

Jewel Gardner.   She had a gift of making missions come alive to a child.  Jewel took real life happenings and facts and wove them into a story that captured the attention of a room full of wiggly grade schoolers.  I remember her voice, her mannerisms and her love for what she did.

Betty Gilkey taught VBS as well as my Sunday School class when I was little.  She is probably the main reason I came back to the Lord.  She showed love in a way that melted my heart and filled a void that was left by the destruction going on at home.   She was beautiful, inside and out.   Blonde hair, that I always thought was perfect.  A smile that beckoned.   She was the most encouraging teacher I ever had.

Roberta Braxdale was always there as well….I think in crafts.   I can’t remember who the craft ladies all were, but I remember a high-heeled shoe I covered with macaroni and then they sprayed it with a gold glitter paint.   Oh yes.  My mom displayed it for a long time.   Probably longer than she wanted to.

Cookies and Kool-Aid were always right outside the door of the fellowship hall.   A huge metal container of red, orange or purple was poured into little cups…way too little for me, unless it happened to be green.   And homemade cookies on a napkin.

VBS filled 2 weeks of my summers, every summer, until I was too old to attend.   After VBS in the morning, we would all end up at the city pool in the afternoon, or on Wednesday we would ride our bikes uptown for the matinee.    Double feature with the Three Stooges for an interlude.

Thank you to all the fabulous, tireless teachers who helped to shape and mold my life and view of God.

I’ll say it again.  Your love, your scripture teachings, the songs I sang, the Bible verses I memorized…they all were part of drawing me back to the precious love of our Lord and Savior.  You were a haven in my chaotic world.

For those of you who aren’t sure of the impact you’re having, or if you just get tired and wonder if you’re doing any good in the lives of children…wonder no more.

Not your child’s Mommy Blogger

IMG_2379

I’d heard of the term “mommy blogger” before and decided to do some research. Wow….they’re all over the internet, and usually have specific criteria that marks them as such.

Since I don’t fit the category, I searched “middle aged blogger.” Wow. I was shocked at the language some of these ladies my age are using. I guess it’s considered cool, but that’s just not me, although I’ve been known to have a slip of the tongue.

So, before you go any further, I’ll tell you what I’m about. Then you can decide if you’re interested. Hopefully, somebody will be. I’m 58 right now (2014), and have what some probably would consider a very boring life.

I’ve never been about “doing lunch” as I think the conversation is typically shallow, but such that I could still drown.

We are not financially set well enough to go off on vacations every other month or do fancy things.

I’m a midwestern born and bred girl from Missouri. I love the Lord with a passion; love my husband, kids, their spouses, grandkids, fried chicken and Hawaii. And sometimes not in that order.

Speaking of the Lord, and yes, I will almost always speak of Him, He’s my life. No, He’s not a part of my life, He IS my life. I realize I could not breath, walk, enjoy beauty, love, receive love or care one flip about the lost people of this world if He were not my life.

I have so much favorite scripture, I don’t know where to start, but one of my favorite accounts of Jesus is when he allowed the “sinful” woman to anoint Him at the home of that ever so arrogant Pharisee, Simon, in Luke 7.  I relate so well to her.

I will very regularly post pictures from Hawaii, as it’s my very favorite place in the world.

So, I would love to hear about topics you would like me to cover…because we all know I’m an expert at everything.

Just what you needed….another blog to read!

The internet is bursting forth with new blogs, websites and words of wisdom.  So why another, from an obscure author in Texas?  Well, I guess I believe that our life experiences help each other.  We’re also unique in our personalities and if there’s any way I can connect women with other women, and especially women with our Lord, Jesus Christ…I want to do that. I love to write,  and have time at this point in my life and want to share a few things with others. I’m not so arrogant as to think I have anything super spiritual or great words of wisdom, which are so profound that no one else could think of them.   I’m just a simple girl, with simple beliefs. Not that these beliefs haven’t been tested in my 58 years.   As you read through my blogs, you’ll come to find out that they have been tested in many ways. I have definite ups and downs.  I find that it’s in the valleys that I truly meet with the Lord, and so I share those with transparency.IMG_2856

Author, Speaker

%d bloggers like this: