1/30/18

{truth}


"Worship Me only. Whatever occupies your mind the most becomes your god."

sounds so simple doesn't it? i think most of us, me included would say that it's the God {capital G}, Lord of Heaven and earth who we worship but when we look closer, is that always true? is it Him that i run to first when i have a problem or is it my  husband or a friend or google? is it Him who occupies my mind when i have some down time or is it surfing the net, catching up on facebook or watching tv? these things are not wrong in and of themselves, but when they come before God or i spend more time with them/doing them than seeking God, they can quickly become my idols, my "little 'g' gods"

who or what occupies more of my time? spending time with God and His Word, the Bible or some of those other things? those other things can be very good things. they can include reading Christian books, serving, loving, helping others. but when those other things start to come before my relationship with God and His Word, the Bible, they have become a "little 'g' god". when i am reading these books, am i following them blindly or am i comparing them against the Bible? am i turning to these books, written by human hand for my guidance and instruction or am i using them as a companion to the proven, inerrant Word of God? what is the bottom line, where is my basis for how i act, how i respond and the decisions i make each day? is it founded on my Bible study book or God's book? i'm going through a great Bible study right now with an on-line community of beautiful, Christian ladies but i find that i need to daily check where i'm basing truth ... is it in the words written by wendy blight in the book "i am loved" {or anything else i may be reading} or is my truth backed up by the Holy Scriptures ... the ones that are "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" {2 timothy 3:16}

2 timothy as a whole is an amazing passage to read. in it we are reminded that in the last days, we will be led astray by godlessness ... there will be those {and their teachings}  "having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power {vs 5}" we are told to "avoid such people. for among them are those who creep into households and capture ... leading astray ... {men will be} always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth" {vs.5-7}. as we read further, we are instructed "continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" { vs 14 & 15}. chapter 4 goes on to say "for the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn from listening to the truth and wander off into myths" {vs 3 & 4}. 

ouch! what a good reminder to always come back to scripture, to test what you have read, or heard or believed to be true against God's Holy Word, the Bible! so often what i read in the Bible is hard to hear. it points out hard truths, ways that i am not pleasing God, things i am doing/not doing and ways that i need to change. i don't like what i read, or don't fully understand what i'm reading so i turn to other sources ... friends, facebook, google, books written by man. this is not what i should be doing, and i need to change my focus. my one true God the only true God is found in His word! i need to guard my heart and mind and make sure that all of the "little 'g' gods" clamoring for my attention take their rightful place in my life. i need to worship Him and Him alone. i need to seek Him first and follow His Words for my life first!

dear Lord, let me seek you first in all that i do today. let me put the "little 'g' gods" where they belong and follow You first and foremost. help me to seek out and be aware of those other things that i'm letting creep into my life that keep me from You. lead me, guide me, direct me in all that i do today. help my life be in service to You and You alone! amen.


1/16/18


some days, life is easy, the sun is shining and all seems right with the world.

other days, it seems the sun will never shine again, questions abound, finances loom, fear assails.

"You hem me in behind and before and lay your hand upon me." 

what a promise!

on the good days, the bad days and the normal, ho-hum, everyday days ...

GOD IS THERE!

we are hemmed in by Him and His ever gracious, loving protection and provision.

verse 5 of psalms 139 tells us that not only is He all around us, but He lays His hand on us ... He is personal, He is not detached, watching from afar, but His hand, that hand, that beautiful nail scarred hand that was pierced for you and for me is laid upon us! truly "such knowledge is too wonderful for me".

He has been in our past {You hem me in behind}, He is in our present {You lay Your hand upon me} and He knows our future {You hem me in before}!

He is behind, before, above, below, and on either side of me!

this knowledge really is far beyond my scope of comprehension.

my frail, limited human mind cannot grasp the depth and height and breadth of a love so all encompassing!

i can get a small glimpse of it when i consider the love i have for my girls, or my parents, or my husband, but even that is limited by my human-ness.

the knowledge, the wonder, the all encompassing love that God has for me exceeds any knowledge that i possess ... and i don't believe i will ever fully understand it until i reach my eternal home in heaven.

until then though, this great love that hems me in is a comfort beyond comfort on the most difficult of days, it is the sunshine on the days that seem the sun will never shine, it is the grace that holds me and the life that sustains me when i feel like i can't move forward. 

it is the love that i got a glimpse of when i first peered into the faces of my beautiful newborn babies. 

it is the love that sustained me when the doctor spoke those words that forever changed my life on november 5, 2011.

it is the tip of the iceberg of the love and joy i felt being able to say *i do* when He allowed me to find love again, and the sheer happiness i felt watching my girls experience that same love and commitment when they said their wedding vows!

here in the *yoop* {michigan's upper peninsula} it is the dead of winter ... days are short {but getting longer}, temperatures are cold {but getting warmer}, snow is plentiful {but beautiful to behold} and i know that many suffer from the *winter blues* {i know that many of you in other places suffer the same}.

how different would our lives, our outlooks, our emotions be if we could continue to keep our focus on Him rather on the weather, or our circumstances, our perceived lack of material possessions, of the love we so desperately seek, our health, our relationships or the many other things that sometimes threaten to bring us to the brink of despair?

to fully realize that He has *hemmed us in* ... He goes before, He follows after, He is above and below and all around truly is a thought that should cause us to find peace and joy in every day, in each situation, and in each moment that we live!

dear Lord, as we live each day, sometimes in the sunshine and sometimes in the shadows, let us never stop looking to You to be our all! help us to remember that truly, Lord, You are really all we ever need.  You are the One who knows all, who goes before and behind, holding us close, knowing all there is to know about us. You know us, You love us, You lay your hand upon us. such knowledge is too great for us  to fully grasp, but please let us be aware of it! let us seek it out and hold on to it through the good days and the rough days. remind us daily to look to You and to trust that You have a plan for us and that you are going before us. thank You that You lay your hand upon us, love us and guide us, when we seek you with all our being. please provide comfort where comfort is needed, hope where hope feels lost. remind us to praise you when the days are sunny and to lean on you when they are not. thank You for this amazing love that You have freely extended to each of us, and let it be our strength and portion for each day that you give us breath here on this earth. amen.

remember ... you are cherished, loved and adored!

1/9/18


a couple of months back, i wrote a post about how i like to "chatter" {you can read it HERE} so this verse from psalm 139 is one that speaks directly to me!

since i met rick in july 2012, he has been encouraging me to write, specifically to write about losing rickey, and how God kept me through that time of great grief and great loss.

the problem is, i like to talk! writing is a good stress relief, but it's so much easier to just talk about it! sometimes when i write, there are too many words, and i really don't feel i convey them well, i tend to like to give too much detail!

all of this to say, i will continue to blog, i will continue to try and write so that i can tell the story of how mighty God was when i was at my weakest, and i hope that some day, in some way, these small snippets will be a blessing to someone else who is hurting or healing, someone who is grieving loss or searching for the God who restores.

for now, though, back to this verse ...

"before a word is on my tongue, you know it"

those words can bring you comfort or they can make you cringe!

because i can be a "chatterbox" my mind is more than full of things i could say regarding this verse but since you probably only have a few minutes to read this in the busy-ness of your day, i'll keep my thoughts short!

in God's all encompassing knowledge of us, He knows everything about us, including the words we speak. with that thought in mind, think of the words you spoke in the last 24 hours ... were they

kind
loving
uplifting
nurturing
encouraging

or were they

rude
harsh
biting
hurtful
sarcastic

also consider

what tone were they said in
what was your body language when you spoke them
was the intent behind them to build up or to tear down

though it is a commercial for auto insurance, i just love THIS because it portrays how the exact same words can carry such completely different emotion ... depending on the context and delivery!

the next time you open your mouth to speak, remember, God knows what you are going to say and remember, it's not just *what* you say but also *how* you say it!

ask Him to help you

to "set a guard over your mouth" {psalm 141:3}

to "let your conversation be full of grace" {colossions 4:6}

to speak "what is helpful for building others up according to their needs" {ephesians 4:29}

remember that "a gentle answer turneth away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" {proverbs 15:1}

as much as i *like* to talk, i am learning that sometimes it is best to walk away and pray before i speak. to give those words back to God before i just let them spill from my lips. i am slowly learning that being quiet together can be just as edifying and enjoyable as constant chatter! 

it's a process, but i'm working on it day by day!

dear Lord, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you. may i use words today that would encourage and edify others. please help me to hold my tongue when i feel mis-treated or unloved or quarrelsome or short tempered. help me turn to You before a word is on my lips and let the words that i speak be spoken in grace and love and humility! let me love and speak and serve in the way that would please You and encourage those to whom i am speaking. thank you for the promise that you are present even in my speech and that you long to help me use my words to love others well! amen.

remember ... you are cherished, loved and adored! 

1/8/18


as the music ended and the congregation again sat down, i slid over a bit in the pew to make room for rickey. he was done handing out bulletins and greeting folks as they arrived at church that morning. as always, i leaned into him as he gently went to slide his arm around me, but this time it was different ... his arm was gone. wait, what happened to his arm, where is it i questioned as i awoke with start ...

this was one of the very few dreams i have had of rickey since he went to heaven in 2011. i clearly remember that dream to this day. i remember where in church i was sitting, what rickey was wearing, and the emptiness on the right side of his body where his arm should have been.

i also remember feeling shaken, and uneasy, and alone. very alone there in my bed in the dark of night.

i remember it took a bit to become fully awake and realize that it was the middle of the night. 

when that did happen, i remembered, rickey was gone.

he was not there in bed with me and he would not be sliding into the pew next to me at church ever again

it was a very vivid dream and one that is still vivid to this day.

in those moments of becoming fully awake, though admittedly i felt shaken, i was reminded of truth. i was reminded that even though rickey was no longer here on earth with me, he was fully alive in the presence of our Lord in heaven! i was reminded that even though for a moment, i felt very alone and shaken, i was not alone, never alone! i was reminded that it was just a dream. and i was reminded again of the truth in this verse from psalm 139.

"You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways."

God knows.

God sees.

God hears.

He knows my lying down. He is there when i awake with a start in the middle of the night from a dream that for a moment seems like reality. He is there when i toss and turn and cannot find rest. He searches out my path and He is acquainted with all my ways. 

the dream i had that night, and any other sleepless nights that i had before or have had since are known by Him. He has searched my path and is acquainted with all my ways.

when i am lying down and the night is dark and long and seems to stretch out before me as never ending. when worries and fear plague me {aren't they almost always the worst at 3 o'clock a.m.?} when sleep is elusive and my thoughts run wild ... 

He.is.there! 

He knows my lying down. my sleepless night may come as a surprise to me but He already knows of it, He was there before it began, He is there in the midst of it, and He will bring the dawn of a new day. 

He is acquainted with all my ways!

acquainted {adjective} = having personal knowledge

ahhh ... in that, i can rest. 

He, the God of the universe, the God who created everything has personal knowledge of me!

we are only 3 verses into this passage, yet we are again reminded of the personal knowledge that God has of us. we are reminded that He knows us.

He knows me.

He knows you.

when i sit, when i rise, when i lay down ... He knows and He is there!

the richness of this is almost too deep to grasp!

the next time you find yourself awake at 3 o'clock a.m., tossing and turning, wondering if sleep will ever come, remember this truth from God's word. 

He is there. He knows. He is with you!

surrender to Him. let His love flow into you and fill you. use that precious quiet time to turn your attention to Him. whisper His name. trust Him with any fears or anxieties you have ... fear and faith cannot abide together, so if that 3 a.m. wake-up has you fearful or anxious, simply whisper His name. remember He is acquainted with you. remember He is with you. remember He loves you!

dear Lord, when the dark of night seems to overtake me, when i am awake and anxious and i feel all alone, let me reach out to you! help me to remember day or night, sitting or rising, lying down or going about my day to day tasks, You are there. You care. You are acquainted with me. help me to simply whisper your name and to allow faith to overcome any fear that may be present. thank You for knowing me, for searching me and for loving me. help me to look to You and You alone to be my all. amen.

remember ... you are loved, cherished and adored!



1/4/18


in my esv study Bible, it says of this verse:

"my sitting down and rising up is an old testament expression depicting the routines of life.  whether a person is at rest or work, God sees and knows ... that "You understand my thoughts" positively overwhelmed david. God cares about every detail of every person's life.

"the message" version of the Bible says "i'm an open book to you".

these verses continue with the theme of the entire passage that we are intimately known by God, the creator of the universe. 


i posted this word art from my personal devotions earlier this morning and it fits so amazingly with this verse to me! if i am perfectly known by the God of the universe, the One who made the moon and the stars, the land and the seas and all of the galaxies, what have i to fear? it is about God from the first to the last ... He created me, He loves me, He knows me and He understands my thoughts ... better than i do myself ... the truth of that is all that i really need!

dear Lord, as i journey through this day, remind me that nothing that comes my way has not passed through Your loving hands first. remind me that You know when i sit and i rise, and You know my thoughts {even before i think them}. if anxiousness or fear threatens, please remind me of these truths from Your word! amen.

thanks for reading today ... remember, you are cherished, loved and adored!

1/3/18


as we begin looking through Psalm 139 you will see that the "title" of this passage is 

"God's Perfect Knowledge of Man"

this means that david, the writer of this Psalm knew that the LORD knew him. He knew david inside and out, the LORD knew david better than david knew himself.  this becomes evident as we read through the rest of this Psalm, but what a great beginning ... in the knowing and being known ... this in itself is an awe inspiring thought! 

i think that to be known by someone is a common human desire. i know that i enjoy the feeling of being known. i like when rick knows when i need a hug, or a friend knows when i'm down, or someone knows just the right gift to get me! being known means you are loved and cared for by someone ... and to think, the God of the Universe, the God who created the heavens and the earth knows me ... this is almost beyond my comprehension!

according to dictionary.com, to search is to  seek carefully and thoroughly, to examine. 

when you lose something and you search for it, you may find yourself looking in the strangest places! have you ever lost something only to find it in your purse, your pockets, in the refrigerator, the freezer, the kitchen cupboards or any number of other odd places ... or maybe right where the item should be but in your panic thinking it is lost, you overlooked it in your initial search? God had searched david; He has searched us on a far deeper level than we have ever searched for anything in our own human  frailty. 

searching usually involves looking diligently and the writer of this Psalm knew that God looked at him diligently ... he searched him ... not he searched "for" him, but he searched him. to further complete this thought, david goes on to say, you have searched me and known me.

to know/be known means to be aware through observation, to have knowledge of, to be recognized or familiar with. 

in addition to being searched by the Lord, david {and we} are also known by Him.  

we cannot have secrets from Him.  

we may have secrets that we tuck away from the rest of the world, even from those we love the most, our parents, children, spouses and friends. we may have secret sins or addictions that we think nobody knows of, we may omit the full truth from others in our actions, our deeds or our words, and they may or may not find out about our deceit. 

the LORD however searches us and He knows us ... we can keep no secrets from Him. we cannot deceive Him. He searches us and He knows us.

if we are following His path for our lives and if we love and serve Him with our entire being as commanded in matthew 22:37 "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" this verse should not cause us to be fearful, but to celebrate! 

it means that with God we are free. we are free to be completely real. we don't have to pretend to be someone we are not and we can approach Him with our fears, our failures, those sins that we think we can't share with anyone else.  we can share our deepest sorrows and are greatest joys ... because He has created us. He has searched us. He has known us!

dear Lord, as we begin this study of Psalm 139 i pray that i would be open to your searching and knowing me. help me to open my heart to you and to be thankful for being searched and known. remind me each day that i cannot hide from you, that i can keep no secrets from you. help me to seek each day to live according to Your will and Your plan for my life. thank You that You know me and that i can run to You with every joy and every sorrow, every tragedy and every triumph. thank You for loving me enough to search me and know me. amen.



does this first verse of Psalm 139 give you peace or does it cause you to be a little uneasy? search your own heart today. prepare your heart to receive Him if you haven't! if you have stumbled upon this and have no idea what i'm talking about, or want to know more, please connect with me in a comment or through the "connect with me" link in the right side bar. i'd love to share more with you!



1/1/18

{2017.in.review & a.glimpse.into.2018}

1 year ... 12 months ... 52 weeks ... 365 days ... 8,760 hours ... 525,600 minutes ... 31,536,000 seconds ... 1 year!

At the beginning of 2017, we didn't know what the next 365 days held for us except the "time" that they represented! 

On January 1, 2017, I was working from home, selling LuLaRoe, Rick was enjoying and still settling into retirement, he and I were continuing to navigate our still "new-ish" marriage, getting to know each other better each day and learning how best to "do life" together. We were adjusting to an empty nest as the kids were all grown up and settling into their own "life routines".

The year  progressed with many changes ... 

I left LuLaRoe & joined up with another direct sales company before feeling very strongly that God was telling me that was not the path He had for me! Rick continued his ongoing love to learn and has spent hours studying {quantum physics, health & the Bible}, researching and growing in knowledge. His beard has grown right along with him ... allowing him to be called Santa several times this last month! 


Here is Rick, his beard and 3 of our "critters"; Smoke, Gretchen & Graycie ... we have 2 more dogs Bentley & Sterling & 3 cats Patch (aka "Grandpa Cat"), Darcy & Smudge of our own and are pet-sitting our fur babies, a cat named Doughnut & a Chinchilla Yugi (aka "Pig).

Tessa & Andrew settled into life as a newly married couple having been married on New Year's Eve 2016, Taya & Justin planned for their October 2017 wedding, took a mission trip {along with Kajsa} to Slovakia, bought their first home, got married and adopted a dog! Prior to going to Slovakia, Kajsa graduated from high school, finishing a semester before her classmates and moving to Georgia in February, where she worked until the Slovakia trip and then enrolling in the "Gap" year program Off the Wall and moved to Ohio for a year {or more} of Bible training.  We were blessed to get to visist with Ricky, Sarah & their sweet Emersyn this December and catch up on their busy lives with a precious toddler! They have such a beautiful family! Deiter moved back to the area from Green Bay and is working as the best server at the Landing Restaurant while he decides which life-path he wants to pursue next {so many options, so little money!} and Bryce got his own apartment in Green Bay to continue his education while he decides on what comes next in his life.

Whew, that makes me tired just writing about it all and it's just a portion of all the year held!

As if that isn't enough, at the beginning of November, after some phone calls and Facebook messages, Rick & I felt that it was time for a visit to his Mama {& family} in Florida as his mom had some health issues earlier in the fall. So, on my birthday, November 18, with just 5 days advance notice we packed our car with enough clothes to cover 3 seasons {summer, fall and winter} and began a journey that ended up lasting 38 days, taking us into 11 states with temperatures that ranged from 80 + to below 0! We saw and re-connected with several of Rick's siblings and helped out with his mom, spent some time at the beach, and explored several different areas of the country! Rick also surprised me with my first ever trip to Disney! It was a very good time of growth in our relationship with each other, and we saw God clearly at work ... I guess that happens when you spend 38 days 24/7 with someone! 


Here is the map our our journey which amazingly allowed us time with all 6 of our kids, parents, step parents, siblings, step siblings, friends and more! 

All of this rambling to say ... at the beginning of 2017, we had no idea what was in store for us over the course of the 365 days to come, just as we don't know what the next 365 days will hold. Not every day was sunshine and roses, life is hard, marriage is difficult, parenting brings joy and challenges {even when they are adult children}. We watch our parents getting older and facing health issues from time to time. I don't want you to read this thinking our life is "charmed" and only good has come our way, but I choose to look for the blessings of each day and to be grateful for what is given to me from the Hand of God!  We may have our own ideas s for what we would like to see happen in 2018, and will work towards goals and dreams, but we will do so knowing that God is in control of each day that is gifted to us.  

Come joy or sorrow, "adventure" or the "normalcy" of every day, wealth or need, we know without a doubt as we we enter into 2018, we do so holding tightly to His hand ... because we believe in the words of Jeremiah 29:11!


I'm not going to make "resolutions" this year; according to one study, nearly 80% of those fail by February! I do however, with God's help want to complete some projects I've begun, blog more {starting with a study through Psalm 139} and read {again} through the Bible and some other books on my reading list. I want to love well, laugh more, and serve others better than I have in the past!

Won't you join me this year? I'd love to have you along for the ride! 


He knew. . .

As I sit here on my comfortable couch in our cute little air conditioned apartment in Chattanooga, I'm again amazed at how God works in...