Sunday, October 25, 2015

God can take the mess.....

Many people know our "story", but I was thinking the other day that some may not. Some do not know how God took me from a place of ashes of mourning to a place of utter joy, how He showed me how to open myself up once more to love after I'd decided to never open my heart up that way again, or how He took me from a place where I never smiled to a place where "smiling is my favorite." So, here is a part of that "story." Perhaps later I will share part two, otherwise known as Levi.

We have always known what a blessed family we were. Since our daughter entered our lives through adoption over 20 years ago, we have been a family living with the constant reminder of God’s grace toward us. When we were blessed almost three years later with her baby brother, we knew life would never be the same......

Most families begin the same way, man and woman fall in love, get married and have children. For us however, things didn’t follow the pattern they were supposed to. I met my husband in Jr. College. He was sitting on the air conditioner - right above the sign that said “Do not sit on the air-conditioner” and it was love at first sight. Of course, it took us 5 more years to get to the married part. Soon after we married, we decided to start our family…only things didn’t go according to plan. Things rarely go according to my plan.

Our story isn’t unique, many couples go through the heart-ache of discovering that having a baby isn’t an option for them. Since we realized that the love in our heart didn’t require that the child be “flesh of our flesh”, we decided to adopt. Unfortunately, after loving this child for over 7 months in our home, the adoption fell through and we found ourselves heartbroken and questioning God. I couldn't understand why this was happening. We loved and served God. Things weren't supposed to go this way. 

I didn’t understand why God wasn’t hearing our prayers….why it seemed that the world was crashing down around our shoulders and there was nothing we could do except ache. Life lost its color and joy. Laughter left my heart for a very long time. I think I went for months without a smile ever crossing my face. I even shook my fist at God and said "If this is who you are, I choose not to serve you." Fortunately God had mercy on me and the next day He began a healing of my heart that showed me I had no idea who He is. 

God did slowly heal the hurt, but there was still that empty space in me that longed for a child. I simply wasn’t willing to open my heart up to be hurt like that again. I often said "God would have to send a telegram telling me Himself that we were to adopt again." Eight years later that telegram came in the form of an invitation to a Bethany Christian Services banquet.

At that banquet, we heard adoptive parents speak, a birth mom speak, and we saw countless pictures of happy children who had found their forever families. Before the night was over, we knew that we were on the road to adoption once again. Miraculously, nine months later our daughter came into our home. With her came laughter like refreshing water to a thirsty soul. I never knew how much I could love someone until I held her in my arms. I also realized what a sacrifice her birth mother had made in choosing adoption and I prayed for her….I still do.

As our daughter grew, we were blessed with joy that words could not express. She was and is the apple of our eye. We talked wherever we went and she was becoming quite expressive with her language. As we would drive, I’d point out the beautiful colors in the sky and ask her, “Who made the sky?” She would respond, “God made the sky.” I just knew that we had a child prodigy on our hands.

At the park, I’d point out the flowers and ask, “Who made the pretty flowers?” Her response would be, “God made the flowers.” What a joy! My child was so smart!

When we’d see butterflies, I’d point out their beautiful colors and ask, “Who made the butterflies?” She’d answer, “God made the butterflies.” Obviously, my child was destined to become a spiritual giant!

Then one day, I walked into the living room to find the floor covered with crayons! I put my hands on my hips and said, “Who made this mess?” She looked up at me with those big brown eyes and said very matter-of-factly, “God made the mess.”

I still laugh when I think of that day, but her words make me realize afresh and anew just what a miracle working God we serve. Through all the turmoil, He brought laughter. He gave us hope where there had been only heartache. Where there was emptiness, He brought fullness of joy. Where there were wounds, He brought healing. He truly did give me the oil of joy for the ashes of mourning. Though I did not deserve it, He gave us the most precious gift and He did what no one else could do.

No, God didn’t make the mess….but God certainly can take the mess and make a miracle.

Isaiah 61:3New King James Version (NKJV)

To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Psalm 34:8The Message (MSG)

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The day AFTER the election...

This is from 2012, but in light of some of the current political debates, I thought perhaps it was worth re-posting.

This was on my mind last now it's found its way into a blog.

Now, I usually don't get too "political", but bear with me...I think it will all make sense by the end.

Imagine it is the day after the election. Imagine your candidate - no matter which one that might be - was not elected. Now what? What will your response be? If you think it's yelling and complaining, then you're probably pitching a toddler tantrum. If it's to take a deep breath, trust God, and move forward by praying - honestly praying and not complaining - for your leader...then you're probably being a mature member of our country.

It might take making the decision now - that no matter who wins, we make the decision to pray, trust God, and come back together as a nation. You can still disagree, but even in disagreement we have got to work together. 

All this brings to mind all the yard signs I have seen lately. On my street, there are signs for both candidates - one candidate is on one corner and across the street, the other candidate's sign holds a prominent position. Now, I have nothing against people showing their support, but let's be honest - if I am still undecided at this point then a yard sign probably isn't going to make me choose one candidate over another...and I have to wonder again - what about the day after the election? Will those two neighbors be able to go back to talking about the weather and lawn maintenance after seeing that sign in their neighbor's yard each day? I hope so, but this campaign has gotten so heated, I have my doubts. I have been around long enough to have seen the United States have a number of different presidents - some I agreed with and some I did not. With that in mind, I'd like to make my own "yard sign". It would say something like, "One nation under God - no matter which candidate wins."

Then there are those who make rash statements about how awful life in this country will be if the "other" candidate wins. Seeing the rants and raves reminded me of something that happened with my son when he was about 3 years old. He had one of his toddler meltdowns and decided he didn't like our rules. He was going to run away if things didn't go his way. In my "parenting wisdom" I tried to use psychology. I told him it would make me sad if he decided he didn't want to be a part of our family, but if he did leave, he'd have to realize that all the cool toys and clothes in that room belonged to the little boy that wanted to be a part of our family. I was feeling pretty proud of my ability to outsmart a 3 year old....until I turned my back and he stripped down naked and headed out the door! I caught him before he made it past the driveway, but that "meltdown" made a memory like none other...and it makes me wonder again about our reaction once this election is over.

Will we be like my toddler and pitch a fit, tossing aside all that is good because we don't like the way things are going? Or will we look around and realize just how blessed we are and find a way to work things out? I hope we'll decide to grow up a bit and remember that through good and bad, through celebrations and disagreements, through elections and inaugurations, we are still family. 
I think it's very significant that not long after the election, we have a chance to sit down together and give thanks for this country. No matter who wins the election - your candidate or the one you desperately don't want - God is still in control.
I'm thinking we'd do a lot less "yelling" during the process if we could remember that.

Daniel 4:35

The Message (MSG)

34-35 “At the end of the seven years, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked to heaven. I was given my mind back and I blessed the High God, thanking and glorifying God, who lives forever:
“His sovereign rule lasts and lasts, his kingdom never declines and falls. Life on this earth doesn’t add up to much, but God’s heavenly army keeps everything going. No one can interrupt his work, no one can call his rule into question.
Proverbs 16:9
We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.
Proverbs 21: 30-31
Nothing clever, nothing conceived, nothing contrived, can get the better of GodDo your best, prepare for the worst - then trust God to bring victory.
1 Peter 1:3-5
What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.

Psalms 33:12-22
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,  the people he chose for his inheritance. From heaven the Lord looks down  and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches  all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all,  who considers everything they do. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;  despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,  on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death  and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord;  he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice,  for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,   even as we put our hope in you.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Come as a little child...

Throwback Thursday...a day late.

Today in church our pastor was speaking on who the Kingdom of Heaven belonged to, and when he got to the part of those who were childlike, my ears immediately perked up! I got excited not because I am childlike - although I sincerely hope I am, but because this is a blog topic I've been mulling over for about a week. I take that as a signal that now is the time to write this blog.

What exactly does it mean to "come as a child"? What characteristics does a child have? For many, the answer is that a child is innocent and trusting - well, that may be a baby's description, but for those of us who have worked with children, a very different picture emerges. Children can be so full of life that containing them is a challenge. They are sometimes loud, runny-nosed, smelly, and just plain messy! What about those characteristics?

I really liked what our pastor said about being childlike as opposed to childish. To be childlike meant to be without cynicism...full of wonder instead of doubt. That is a pretty accurate description, but I think there's even more. So, with hat in hand, I submit a further definition of being childlike.

Anyone who is a parent knows the joy of going to pick your child up from the sitter and knowing that when they hear your voice or see your face, that child will come running and shouting your name, eager to be picked up. You are their hero and they are SO glad to see you. That fades with time and as they get older, they tend to ignore your presence - even seem embarassed by it. I want to be the child who eagerly RUNS to my Father God knowing that He has come for me! I don't want the cynicism of time to dull that excitement of knowing my Father is near.

Children also are notorious for hugs and kisses - even if they aren't especially neat when they feel the need to give those hugs and kisses. Jam all over their face - no problem. Gooey mud on their fingers - they don't even give it a second thought. No matter what kind of mess they are in, they eagerly run to their father and wait to be picked up. Too often, when I find my life is a sticky, gooey mess, I think I have to clean myself up BEFORE I can come to my father. Instead, I should just run to Him...He can clean me up much better than I can clean myself. He doesn't turn away and tell me to go clean up before approaching Him - He stoops down to pick me up and return my embrace. I've found myself saying to my own child - "My aren't you a mess," only to have them laughingly agree and reach out for me to fix it.

When a child is hurt, they immediately look for their parent. They know the one who can take the hurt away simply by holding them. I see this in my own children, even though they are now older. They may hold it together, hiding their pain - until they see my face. Then they crumble and just allow me to hold them. At times, when life has beaten them down, they lash out at me. I don't like it, but I know they aren't angry at me. They are frustrated and need to vent. They know no matter what they say or do, I love them. I have had time myself when I railed against the injustice of life to my Father. He is not afraid of my anger or angry at me in return. Instead, He listens, allows me to rant and rage and then reminds me of His Truth that helps me go on in peace. For my anger, He gives peace in return.

Children are sure that their parents can fix anything. It only takes one or two feeble attempts before they come with broken pieces in their hands and beg you to fix it. I wonder how often I forget to take the broken pieces to my Father God to let Him make things new again.

Children believe they can do anything their parent tells them they can do. I was sure I would be a doctor or veterinarian or great artist - all because my parents said I could do it. Yet, I doubt God when He tells me I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Funny how getting older changes things.

A child is filled with the awe and wonder of creation (thanks for pointing that one out Pastor!) My children were constantly filled with wonder at a rock, a flower, a turtle, just about everything when they were young. Yesterday, we went on a nature walk and once again we slowed down enough to marvel at a spider in his web. Maybe it's not just that we forget to be filled with wonder, maybe we forget to slow down enough to see it.

A child is filled with compassion. When they see something that has died, their hearts fill with sorrow - even if it's only a small bird. Have I allowed my heart to become so hardened that it no longer feels sorrow for the helpless...even the birds and opossums? Yes, I know I can't go around crying over ever creature that dies, but do I still feel at least a little sorrow for what sin has brought into this world? That is what caused all this - sin....and mine was a part of that.

A child is always looking to see if their parent is watching. Mama, watch me! How many times have I heard that? Am I still just as eager for my Father's watchful eye? Do I seek His approval above all others?

At times, I have found others who think that an optimistic outlook is simply the mark of someone who just does not understand how dreadful things are. Make no mistake, remaining childlike is NOT easy in today's society. It takes a concentrated effort to find the good in all situations and people. Still, it's worth it....for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.

Now, I have to go and deal with my child who is not acting very childlike, but who is acting very childish right now. You can figure out which one.

Matthew 18:3 (NIV)

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Time to confess

This post is painful, because I feel the need to confess. I am a diabetic. 

I hate that term. 

Now you probably are thinking, "We already knew that you are a diabetic. What's the confession?" Well, that's it. I am a lousy, stinking, no-carbs allowed diabetic. And I fail constantly at trying to control my blood.

See, I went to the doctor yesterday to check my A1C....for those who don't know what that is, it's sort of an average of your blood sugar levels over the last few months. While I knew I'd been "cheating" for a while, I really did "feel" like my numbers would be improving. I was wrong. My numbers went up. (Wonder if it had anything to do with the three, make that four, pieces of fudge I'd had after lunch? Actually, it wasn't just the candy I'd had after lunch THAT day, but the candy I'd probably indulged in a lot of days.) I discovered my "feelings" lie.

See, I am a diabetic. Sugar has a really bad effect on me. I really can't eat carbs, well, not like everyone else. Because I am a diabetic. I can pretend I'm not. I can feel like it won't have an effect on me. I can make excuses (like I've been good all day so I DESERVE to splurge on an ice cream cone this afternoon, which of course leads to an ice cream cone the next day and the next and the next...well, you get the picture. I have almost NO willpower when it comes to Ward's ice cream cones.) 

But the fact remains, I am a diabetic and sugar DOES have an effect on me. I can do a lot of things to help myself, like take my medicine and use things that help me keep my cravings under control, but if I then go ahead and eat things I know I shouldn't...well, I guess my A1C answers what happens when I do that.

Being a diabetic is a little like being a sinner. The problem is in my blood. I can try to pretend it's not and that I am fine, but my blood tells the story every time....and eventually my body shows what my blood has already known for a while. Sugar, like sin, may seem innocent, but it will kill me...slowly, secretly, but surely.

I'm not making light of sin by comparing it to diabetes, just trying to make a word picture here. Just like with that extra piece of candy, or that ice cream cone, I try to convince myself that just this once won't hurt. The problem is it is never just one. Once I get the "taste" for that forbidden fruit, I only want more, and more, and more. And all the while, it is killing me.

I am a sinner, saved by the pure blood of the only One who never sinned - Jesus. I can try to convince myself that the little "sins" somehow won't hurt me, but my blood is tainted. It will never be right, no matter how much I try to pretend that it is. Sin, no matter how innocent it might seem to us, kills. It's like those hidden carbs that do a number on me. Mix the "sugar" into the meal any way you want, the effect is pretty much the same. Death.

So there you have it. I am a diabetic. I am a sinner. For the diabetes, I take medicine but I also HAVE to watch what I eat. There is no cure. For the sinner part - well thankfully for that I have a Savior, Jesus. Jesus is more than a medicine, He is the cure. 

Unfortunately, I can still choose to sin which still kills all that Christ has died for in me. It can kill my joy and peace, my testimony, and yes, it can even kill this body. I can't tell myself, "Well, I'm saved, so I'm good." That's like taking my insulin and then eating three, make that four, pieces of fudge and expecting it to have no effect in my body. 

I am reminded of something my Nurse Practitioner told me when she first diagnosed me. She said that learning to eat right would be tough, but once I did I'd be amazed at how good I felt. She was right. When I did "right" I was amazed at just how alive and full of energy I felt - I had felt bad for so long, I'd forgotten what it was like to feel good. Sugar, and sin, does that to you. It's sneaky, but it steals your life from you a little at a time.

The good news is, while my insulin is a temporary fix and sometimes "fails" me, Jesus never fails. He is not a temporary "fix", He is the cure. I confess....I need Jesus. We all do.

When Death Becomes Life

1-3 So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!
3-5 That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.
6-11 Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.
12-14 That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.

What Is True Freedom?

15-18 So, since we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in hisfreedom!
19 I’m using this freedom language because it’s easy to picture. You can readily recall, can’t you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing—not caring about others, not caring about God—the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God’s freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness?
20-21 As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn’t have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you’re proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end.
22-23 But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Inside your "gumball" machine...

The theme of dealing with frustration seems to be coming up around me quite a bit. Thought I'd revisit this blog from a few years back. 

I know that a lot of people are feeling the stress of everyday living right now. The economy had shortened our paydays or lengthened our months or something because I always have extra month left at the end of my money. When I look around, I see more and more people who seem to be on edge and I have to wonder if their months have suddenly gotten "longer" too. Let's face it, life can be downright tough sometimes. Seems like everyone is looking for answers. I have been known to mutter that if one more person asks me one more thing I'm liable to just go bouncing off the walls! Yep, life is "shaking" us all. That's where today's random thought comes in.

Imagine that you and I are like huge gumball machines....and life seems to be continually trying to get something out of us. Problem is, the only thing you can get out is whatever we've put in. As long as it's the normal everyday stuff, we're fine. Then along comes that BIG test that grabs you up and shakes you around till your "gumballs" are rattling against the glass. You know you're going to spill out....and whatever is inside you is going to go EVERYWHERE! It won't just be the normal gumballs, but every "prize" inside you will come out.

I'd like to believe that inside me you will find the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.....really having to work on that last one. Instead, I'm afraid that lately when I've been shaken, the yuck prizes have come tumbling out: cheap rings that fall apart the first time you put them on (vanity), temporary tattoos of skulls and crossbones (popular "wisdom" of today's culture), or sometimes something that you can't even recognize or figure out....(guess that would be my incoherent babbling). No matter how you look at it, it's not what you wanted. Like gumballs, whatever is in there comes tumbling out, bouncing and rolling and going all over the place. I so wish that it was the fruit of the spirit that was rolling out, going into new areas and changing lives.

So, how do we fix it....okay, how do I fix it? I can't give out what's not inside. It's time to realize that I can't go non stop and never take time to clean out the old and refill with the refreshing Word of God. No one can. If we don't make a conscious effort to refill with God, life will make sure we are so "busy" that we don't even realize we are no longer filled with the fruit of the spirit but have cheap imitation goods instead....that is until someone "shakes" us really hard. That's when you find what's REALLY inside. If it's not what you hoped, there's still time to refill....cause trust me, life will be sure to shake you again.

Luke 6:45New King James Version (NKJV)

45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Luke 6:45The Message (MSG)

Work the Words into Your Life

43-45 “You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Nobody listens to me...

*Repost from a few years back...

Ever have the feeling nobody really listens to you...nobody really cares what you think about things? I think we've ALL had those days. A couple of years ago, I even made my husband a shirt that said, "But they didn't ask me..." (It had become one of those phrases he said right after lamenting about some "stupid" decision that he was having to deal with at work, with a machine, or that he said in response to the "talking heads" on tv.)

I've spent most of my life dealing with the feeling that no one really listened to me or wanted to hear what I had to say. For a talker, that's tough! Mind you, I have a BIG voice that can be heard across the campus, but I've always had the feeling that I am just loud. My volume and talkativeness isn't something I embraced - I cringed at this "gift" because it always seemed to be much more of a curse than a blessing.  People tend to think that talkative people like to talk....sometimes it's not that they LIKE to talk, they just can't seem to help themselves! Even in writing this blog, I often chastise myself with, "what makes you think you have anything worth writing about? No one really cares what you think."

The other day, however, it occurred to me that someone DOES care. God cares. He actually stops and listens to me. The New Living Translation of Psalm 116:2 says it this way:"Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!" Wow! You mean, God actually WANTS to hear what I have to say?

As I thought about this, I remembered a time many years ago when we had guest pastor Tommy Barnett visit our church. There were literally hundreds of people at that service, and at one point I was thrilled to find myself standing in front of this man of God with a moment to talk to him. What happened next totally floored me. He stopped and listened. No, I mean REALLY stopped and listened. He focused on my eyes and I could sense that I had his undivided attention at that moment. It didn't matter that hundreds of people swirled around us or that probably every one of those people wanted a moment of this man's time. For that moment in time, he was listening to ME.

I remember walking away from that encounter thinking, "This must be what it was like to talk to Jesus...He really listens."

My mind is on prayer this month...not that I don't pray every day, but for some reason the topic of prayer has really captured me right now. I am praying for our nation, for my students, for my family, even for my own health. I spend my "spare" time listening or reading more about prayer. It was in the midst of all of this that I ran across something that made me realize - God actually hears...make that LISTENS to my prayers. He isn't guilty of doing what I sometimes do with my own children - looking like I'm listening but my mind is actually tangled with all that I have to get done that day. He isn't doing like my students do when they "look" like they are paying attention but their minds are a million miles away. He is doing more like what Tommy Barnett did that night after a service - He is FOCUSED on me.

I think of the way my husband demonstrates love to me by the way he listens.  He actually turns off the tv and faces me when I tell him about my day. What a beautiful picture of Christ and His bride. He seems to understand that, often, all I really want is to be heard.

I don't pretend to understand how God can focus on my prayers and those of millions of others at the same time...but He does. I'm also not saying He necessarily does what I ask. It's not like the child in the mall who screams and pitches a fit and the parent bends to conform to the will of the spoiled, it's not that He changes to suit me - but He listens. He hears. He cares.

And often, when I finally stop talking, God speaks. Do I listen in return? Do I have a conversation, or do I just talk? Do I forget that what I have to say isn't nearly as important as what He has to say? Am I focusing in on His voice, or do I say my words and then become spiritually ADD and start chasing every squirrel that comes into view? (This so reminds me of my own son who talks constantly but never waits for a response. He can change subjects almost mid-sentence.)

In the world today, we may feel like we don't have "a voice", but we do. God not only hears - He LISTENS. He LEANS in. He LOVES. The one thing He never does, is leave. I guess the question is, will I focus in on HIM and what He says in return?

Psalm 66:19 (NIV)
but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.

Philippians 4:6-7

The Message (MSG)
6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Just the facts, M'am...

Can hardly believe it's been over 4 years since I received the diagnosis "diabetic." I choose facts over fear.

I just got back from a class to train me about diabetes management. You see, I was diagnosed just a few weeks ago with Type 1 diabetes. Yes, I know that is the type that you usually find in kids - I guess I'm just a kid at heart...or at pancreas. Anyway, I find that I am now being bombarded with LOTS of information to help me manage my diabetes and keep things where they need to be.

Don't get me wrong, I am very glad to have information to help me learn about my new way of life, but in tonight's class I decided that there is a very fine line between fear and facts.

You see, there are things I need to know; but if I'm not careful, those very facts can play on the "what if's" of my mind and cause fear. I hear information upon information about the complications associated with diabetes - heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, loss of limbs - the list just goes on and on. I went into the class to learn about how to eat and walked out with a ton of stuff about what could go wrong! I listened to others in the class talk about a barrage of tests and wondered - why am I not more concerned?

I decided it is because I'm learning to discern the difference between the facts and fear. The facts are I will be insulin dependent for the rest of my life, which I plan to make sure is a LONG one by the way! The facts are that I need to be vigilant and take good care of my health. (To be honest, I consider this a blessing! This diagnosis has made me FINALLY start caring for this gift God gave me!) The facts are that I will need to adjust some things...but those facts are so much different than fear.

I got to thinking how much this is like spiritual matters as well. It is a fact that we have an enemy that comes to steal, kill, and destroy us. I do need to be aware of that, but it does not mean I need have any fear. I have a Savior who has overcome the enemy! My Lord came that I might have life and have it abundantly! Are you seeing how this works?

There is a fine line between looking at the facts and allowing those facts to cause me to live in fear. You see, I know a secret - facts change but my God does not!

Don't believe me? It was a fact when I was a kid that no man had walked on the moon - that fact changed before I was in second grade! It was a fact that at one time, man could not fly; but thanks to thinkers like the Wright brothers, that fact is just no longer true! It was a fact that if you wanted to communicate with someone on the other side of the world, you would have to send a letter that could take weeks to arrive . That fact changed (in the past few years!) and now we talk "face to face" via skype on a regular basis. Yep, facts change.

So what is staring at you right now, taunting you and trying to get you to fear? Is it finances - yep they can look pretty bad. Is it health - we've had a few trials in that area in the past month. Is it relationships - we've had our share of rough patches there, too...anyone with teenagers will say AMEN to that! But all those "facts" are prone to change. I will choose to trust in an unchanging God who loves me and has promised He will NEVER forsake me!

Come to think of it - it was a FACT that they crucified my Lord on Calvary. It was a FACT that they buried Him in a borrowed tomb (I can't think of anyone else who could just "borrow" a tomb.) It was a FACT that for three days He was dead....but praise God - facts change!

There is a fine line between facts and fear....and I think I'll be keeping my focus on my Lord and FAITH that He will do what He promised He would do. He loves us - and that's one fact that won't be changing!

Have a great day y'all! Share the good news with someone that you doesn't matter what the facts say - you know the One who is greater!

John 10:10 (Message)
A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

Hebrews 13:5-6 (NIV)
God has said, 
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.” 

6 So we say with confidence, 
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”

 2 Tim. 1:7 (NIV)
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Romans 8:31-32 (NIV)
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 

Isaiah 40:8
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”