Sunday, December 29, 2013

We Want Change

"He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it."

This time when we are looking to the new year brings hope for change.  A better year than last year.  Lose weight.  Stop those nagging addictions.  Exercise and eat healthy.  Be better organized.  Love better.  Hopefully, sin less.

I can tell you that I don't see true and lasting change come by making New Year's Resolutions. We start out with a bang and then the old patterns seep back in.  We get tired of trying harder to be better. We give up and give in.
 
The change that I see in my life comes through in several ways:

Time spent in the presence of the Lord ... Through prayer, meditation, and receiving His love for me. Letting His word be written on my heart. The ongoing communion, unbroken union, and reliance on the person of Christ and the Love of the Father, bring about a likeness.  Faith.  Trust.  A rest in Christ. A relationship like no other. A delighting and enjoying the Trinity.
 
Daily repentance ... It is a turning from independence to dependence on God. A dying to my will and pride and growing in desiring His will and humility.  It is like walking: repentance/faith, left foot/right foot. This can be a slow change or it can more quickly be life changing. I have a change of mind or heart through the work of the Spirit in me. What I believe affects everything I do.
 
Experiences ... Good experiences, but also through experiences of suffering. Suffering is a training. It brings wisdom, thankfulness, strength in weakness, joy and peace in all circumstances. A longing for Christ and not the things of this world. You tire of having your own way in your own strength. It breaks you, humbles you, gives you a contrite heart. It teaches you what is important in life and what is fleeting with the things to be left behind. You identify with Christ. Your life brings Glory to God.
 
Influence ... We not only influence others but others influence us. We see their example and make a conscious decision whether to be like them or not.
 
Living in the moment ... Not that I don't plan, but I don't want to waste today waiting for a tomorrow that never comes. Neither do I want to live in regret of a yesterday I can do nothing about.
 
The truth of the gospel in our everyday life ... Through Christ's life, death, and resurrection, we have the same power that raised Christ from the dead. He left His Spirit so that He might live His life through us.
 
There is always change for the worse or for the better. Because of God and His grace and faithfulness to us...we change for the better.

Friday, December 27, 2013

                                    Sharing some of our times together








Monday, December 23, 2013

Remembering a Christmas Past

"As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love...These things I command you, that you love one another."  (John 15:9-10, 17)

Every Christmas until last year we had been together with our children. It was after the Thanksgiving holiday that I began to hear the plans of my family, one by one, most of them going in other directions instead of to our home. I knew all their plans were for the best, but I was expecting to fall apart and go through a major down spiral. You know, the poor-me that I can slide into. The one daughter and our grandson who would be there would be wonderful. But with the rest of the family away and with my husband's plans to be out of town some, I pretty much saw myself going through the holidays alone.

I started thinking what that might look like. Didn't feel like reading. No concentration. Couldn't seem to write. Computer problems. Had not bought any presents. The kids already had the things in mind they wanted to buy. Had not put up a tree. Didn't plan on cooking. My grandson was going to grill for us. So while my husband was away, I decided to do some things that would make the occasion special. Different, or unique. I spent time with great friends and family, and so enjoyed them, but also a lot of time alone. Wanting to be with some women whose family could not be with them on Christmas, I prayed, "Lord, tradition is great, but Christmas is really about you. I want to enter into rest in your presence. In your love."

Jesus tells us to abide in His love. That is to dwell. Live. Breathe. Move. Be nourished. To me it is like a little baby in its mother's womb. She provides the baby's every need. The two are as close as they can possibly be. The baby is inside the mother. She surrounds herself around the child. We are to be inside Jesus' love. He loves us as the Father loves Him. How utterly amazing!

I remember a special time I turned the lights down low. Lit the candles throughout the room. Placed the nativity figures just as I imagined they were on that glorious night. Made a warm fire with music softly playing to quiet my heart. God's presence was amazing. I pictured my Father letting me rest on His shoulder. My Savior, as I kneeled in front of Him to wash His feet with my tears, like a brother, reaching for me. Whispering His love for me in that still small voice. In His presence I experienced being loved, healed, strengthened, cleansed, renewed, and reassured. For it is there I am whole.

There is no happier place to be than trusting in the One who is Supreme and who controls everything. To know your life is in His hands. That He gives you rest in His gentle, meek, humble heart. That He lives in you and His love is in you. That you are in His love and nothing can separate you, ever.

After we have come into God's love, may we then go and give that love to others. Let's give it to a love-hungry world whether inside our homes, or beyond. When we are in the presence of God we are so full of joy and love, it has to go somewhere.

May you have an abundant love and joy this Christmas.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Shame, Guilt, and the Gospel (Excerpt from The Interview)

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2

When God created Adam and Eve, they were naked and felt no shame.  (Genesis 2:25)  They lived in freedom, joy, and perfect union with God.  But from the moment they sinned they were afraid and felt shame. They hid from God and wanted to cover themselves. Apart from living out of the gospel we are no different.

Brene' Brown describes shame this way:  Shame says you are no good. You are not worthy. You don't measure up.  You can't do anything right and you never will.  Shame can bring fear and anger.  Fear of man, wanting to gain peoples approval, trying to please God.  Also anger which can be outward, poured out on others or it can be turned inward and even manifest itself in depression.  Shame brings a tendency to say I cannot fail.  I must be perfect.  It says I cannot be vulnerable or honest about my failures or I might be judged.

"Funny how we as imperfect people think we can ever be perfect."  (Rose Marie Miller)

In this study on guilt and shame, I am amazed as I recognize the underlying feelings of shame I held deep inside.  Seeing this, I believe, is half the battle of being freed from living a life of guilt and shame.

This innate feeling of shame goes back into my younger years when I felt the need to enter beauty pageant one after another to prove my beauty.  The ones I lost said, “See you are not pretty enough, smart enough, or talented enough to win.  You will have to work harder.”  The ones I would win never felt satisfying.  I felt I had to have more confirmation, so I would try again.  I once read how beautiful women focus on the one flaw they have rather than knowing they are beautiful.  


I think of the things that happened while I was in psychosis. The being hauled off to a hospital in a police car, an ambulance.  Being locked behind a close door of a tiny room, with a little two-pane widow, holding my fingers in a cross on my forehead thinking it would keep anyone from hurting me.
When I had my first psychotic break I fell off the throne of certain peoples lives.  But they kept pushing me back up on the pedestal.  I had always been so strong, so capable, so together, holding everyone and everything together.  No one knew how to accept this weakness in me.

I still struggle, but I am learning that it is in my weakness that I am strong in Christ.  That His strength is manifest when mine is gone.

I think of the time I first told my story.  It was in church.  I was vulnerable about things that had happened.  A woman came up to me afterward, smiling, she said, “I will be praying for you.”  I thought, How sweet.  Then she said, “for the demons inside you.“  I was devastated then and have never forgotten since.

I think of an embarrassing thing I did 40 years ago.  You know.  You remember.  The thing you did in your past that was so shameful.  Satan will still bring it up so subtly, and remind you what a failure you are. 

We cannot avoid shame.  Our world is always shaming us in relationships, billboards, television advertisement, sports, even our own mirrors tell us we are gaining weight or getting older.  Shame brings death to our very souls.  It sucks the life out of it.  But recognizing it, by bringing it to the light is half the battle.  We can change how we respond to shame.  Share your shame with someone and the Lord.  Shame loves secrecy.  The gospel is the perfect antidote to shame. 

Guilt, on the other hand, does not define you, but says that you have done something wrong. I have been in a place where I thought more about what I did wrong than what Jesus did for me.  I was guilt-ridden.  I felt guilty even when I wasn't.  Always self examining. 

The gospel says that God intended for our guilt—that conviction of the Spirit, to drive us to Him.  To bring us to Him and remind us of what Jesus did on the cross for us, and of His love for us.  It is a means to bring change in us.  In confession to God, our sin helps lead us to repentance.  We stop running from God and fall into His merciful and forgiving arms.  Our sins are forgiven. We live out of that forgiveness and righteousness of Christ. 

We begin to take risks.  To love others with abandonment.  To think more of others than we do ourselves.  Our faith and trust in God with ourselves and our lives begin to flourish.  We live lives in a whole new way.  A selfless way.  We are more God-centered than we are self- centered.  We cannot do this, but because the Spirit lives in our hearts we are continually changing as the gospel is worked out in our everyday lives.  As God removes the lies and uses truth to transform us from the inside out.

Christ took our shame to the cross.  He died being shamed that we would not live in shame.  He covered our nakedness with His perfect life.  He took our sin, our shame and gave us value and worth and righteousness.  So we can be open and honest about our sin with Him and even others because our heart is to trust Him more, not building our own reputation, but being identified with Him. 

This is Christmas.  Christ came to live the life we could not live and die the death we should have died.  He came to bring us into intimacy with Him, Father, and Spirit.  He came to rescue us from ourselves, to give us life, to set us free from guilt and shame, to feel our pain, to give Himself to us.  If God chose not to remember our sin, then why should we?

Monday, December 9, 2013

The End of the Interview ~

When pondering the past and wanting to learn from it I am gaining new insights.  Things I even struggle with today began to form as far back as I can remember.  Thinking life was about being perfect because of a need to please people.  My friend, Rose Marie Miller, said that it is odd how imperfect people try so hard to be perfect because we have the righteousness of Christ.

This unquenchable thirst for approval continued in my first 20 years of marriage.  Then as I saw how very hard I had tried during those years to be the perfect wife and mother, and that I had failed, I had my first psychotic break. 

For the next, almost 20 years, I gave up trying.  I minimized my world most of the time to satisfy the illusion that I was still perfect and in control.  You cannot fail what you don't try was my rationale,  I guess.  Isolation, depression and my own illusions were the world I lived in the majority of those last 20 years except for this last year.

I began to get a vision for who I really was to God (being in Christ).  Of the love of the Father in sending His Son to rescue me from myself and evil.  I saw grace in the face of Jesus in a new way.  I began to live as I never had before.  I did not want to go back to the trying harder or the giving up.

Three months ago in writing my story I broke again.  I am just now coming out of that and entering life again.  These past few months I have been removed from my comforts of home, isolation, all electronics, reading, church, driving, and my friends during the first part of recovery.  I did have my family and the presence of God.  I was determined not to feel deprived but to love being with my family and grow in other areas.  I thought of it like a man with a broken left leg.  His right leg gets stronger.  My plan was, when I was allowed to have these restrictions back, I would have a broader life.  I focused on my grandson, daughters, being creative, and I began a new therapy which teaches you how to be more mindful of life, circumstances and people.  I am almost completely reintegrated now.

During the time I stayed with my daughter and grandson, she at first, had to give me 24 hour attention to keep me out of the hospital because my delusions and illusions were all consuming.  This was three moths ago.

A few days ago my daughter and I had an argument.  By the very one who had done so much for me, I was finding my feelings being hurt.  It is hard to have someone in your home all the time no matter how much you love them.  I ended up thanking her again for all she had done and asking her forgiveness for being accusatory and condemning.  For handling things all wrong.

Last night I made a post. It started out good but the more I wrote the more confused the post got, and I got.  I had sent and edited it several times. I felt like I had handled God's Word carelessly. I finally erased it all and wrote a few short lines.  The End of the Interview ~

When pondering the past and wanting to learn from it I am gaining new insights.  Things I even struggle with today began to form as far back as I can remember.  Thinking life was about being perfect because of a need to please people.  My friend, Rose Marie Miller, said that it is odd how imperfect people try so hard to be perfect.  Because the Lord is already pleased with us.

This unquenchable thirst for approval continued in my first 20 years of marriage.  Then as I saw how very hard I had tried during those years to be the perfect wife and mother, and that I had failed, I had my first psychotic break. 

For the next, almost 20 years, I gave up trying.  I minimized my world most of the time to satisfy the illusion that I was still perfect and in control.  You cannot fail what you don't try was my rationale,  I guess.  Isolation, depression and my own illusions were the world I lived in the majority of those last 20 years except for this last year.

I began to get a vision for who I really was to God (being in Christ).  Of the love of the Father in sending His Son to rescue me from myself and evil.  I saw grace in the face of Jesus in a new way.  I began to live as I never had before.  I did not want to go back to the trying harder or the giving up.

Three months ago in writing my story I broke again.  I am just now coming out of that and entering life again.  These past few months I have been removed from my comforts of home, isolation, all electronics, reading, church, driving, and my friends during the first part of recovery.  I did have my family and the presence of God.  I was determined not to feel deprived but to love being with my family and grow in other areas.  I thought of it like a man with a broken left leg.  His right leg gets stronger.  My plan was, when I was allowed to have these restrictions back, I would have a broader life.  I focused on my grandson, daughters, being creative, and I began a new therapy which teaches you how to be more mindful of life, circumstances and people.  I am almost completely reintegrated now.

During the time I stayed with my daughter and grandson, she at first, had to give me 24 hour attention to keep me out of the hospital because my delusions and illusions were all consuming.  This was three moths ago.

A few days ago my daughter and I had an argument.  By the very one who had done so much for me, I was finding my feelings being hurt.  It is hard to have someone in your home all the time no matter how much you love them.  I ended up thanking her again for all she had done and asking her forgiveness for being accusatory and condemning.  For handling things all wrong.

Last night I made a post. It started out good but the more I wrote, the more confused the post got, and I got.  I had sent and edited it several times.  I finally erased it all and wrote a few short lines.  It is a huge responsibility having  others read what you write, and I felt like I had handled God's Word carelessly.  I am trying to learn my limits.

Totally frustrated I came and sat down on the sofa, looked at a cross in the window pane and began to cry.  With tears streaming down my face, I said, "Lord I can't do this.  I want to crawl in a hole and hide.  I want to quit.  I don't want to do this.  It is too hard."  The only prayer I could pray was: "Lord, help, help, help.

I called my friend Brenda.  She talked to me about God's love for me and pleasure in me.  About performance, perfectionism, and pleasing people. That I was not a failure.  God saw me as perfect already.  Things I knew but needed so to hear again.  We have to make the gospel relevant in our day-to-day life.

I read an article by Rick Thomas about whether we are problem or grace centered.  How we are to be others focused and what the Spirit is teaching us, guiding us, and so much more, through our problems. Praying again, "Lord I don't know what you are teaching me here."  I knew the things I had mentioned but knew there was something more.  Something life changing and different.  The Spirit said to me, "I am teaching you how to live."

This love and conviction of the Spirit led me to repentance.  Lord please let me get off the throne of my life.  Repentance is looking into the eyes and face of grace and love, of God Himself.  Somehow I knew Satan would love to keep me in a defeated state of mind for the next 20 years (if I have that).  I saw God's faithfulness in not letting me stay there.  In not letting me go.  In not leaving me.  But I even saw His mercy in it all  He has set out to rescue me from me, and He has never given up.

The second Advent is Peace.  Peace has always been my idol.  My sin of perfectionism is one of the things that can rob me of my peace.  Perfect Peace is not in the absence of trouble, problems or conflict, even sickness.  But perfect Peace is the presence of Peace Himself in our hearts and minds.  I can live because Life Himself lives in me.

I am keenly aware that this battle for isolation when I fail and get tired may not be over, but I know the way to struggle to rest.  It is through trust.  Through the gospel. Even when I gave up, He did not give up on me.  He chased me down a long, lonely, isolated road to Calvary.  He came so He could die for me.  So I might have life.  All I have the words to say is "Thank you Jesus, Father and Spirit.  I love You."  I am trying to learn my limits.

Totally frustrated I came and sat down on the sofa, looked at a cross in the window pane and began to cry.  With tears streaming down my face, I said, "Lord I can't do this.  I want to crawl in a hole and hide.  I want to quit.  I don't want to do this.  It is too hard."  The only prayer I could pray was: "Lord, help, help, help.

I called my friend Brenda.  She talked to me about God's love for me and pleasure in me.  About performance, perfectionism, and pleasing people. That I was not a failure.  God saw me as perfect already.  Things I knew but needed so to hear again.  We have to make the gospel relevant in our day-to-day life.

I read an article by Rick Thomas about whether we are problem or grace centered.  How we are to be others-focused and what the Spirit is teaching us, guiding us, and so much more, through our problems. Praying again, "Lord I don't know what you are teaching me here."  I knew the two things, with my daughter and the post, but I also knew there was something else. The Spirit said to me, "I am teaching you how to live."

This love and conviction of the Spirit led me to repentance.  Repentance is looking into the eyes and face of grace and love, of God Himself.  Somehow I knew Satan would love to keep me in a defeated state of mind for the next 20 years (if I have that).  I saw God's faithfulness in not letting me stay there.  In not letting me go.  In not leaving me.  But I even saw His mercy in it all  He has set out to rescue me from me, and He has never given up.

The second Advent is Peace.  Peace has always been my idol.  My sin of perfectionism is one of the things that can rob me of my peace.  Perfect Peace is not in the absence of trouble, problems or conflict, even sickness.  But perfect Peace is the presence of Peace Himself in our hearts and minds.  I can live because Life Himself lives in me.

I am keenly aware that this battle for isolation when I fail and get tired may not be over, but I know the way to struggle to rest.  It is through trust.  Through the gospel. Even when I gave up, He did not give up on me.  He chased me down a long, lonely, isolated road to Calvary.  He came so He could die for me.  So I might have life.  All I have the words to say is "Thank you Jesus, Father and Spirit.  I love You."

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Interview ~ Continued

He Leads Me

Psalms 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd. I will have everything I need. 2 He lets me rest in fields of green grass. He leads me beside the quiet waters. 3 He makes me strong again. He leads me in the way of living right with Himself which brings honor to His name. 4 Yes, even if I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid of anything, because You are with me. You have a walking stick with which to guide and one with which to help. These comfort me. 5 You are making a table of food ready for me in front of those who hate me. You have poured oil on my head. I have everything I need. 6 For sure, You will give me goodness and loving-kindness all the days of my life. Then I will live with You in Your house forever.”

As I flip through the pages and pages of my journal, I come here and feel I have nothing to say...

Wednesday a week ago, I was given permission to drive again after a few days of driving with someone. It was not what I had hoped, but maybe expected, praying all along the way, fighting fear and giving it all I had to stay focused. I was able, but it had been so long since I was behind the wheel.

I was also told I could be on the computer for 30 minutes at a time. That night I attempted that task. While I had been without my computer, a drink was spilled on it. So I began on an i-pad, foreign to me, with no passwords, and my fingers not fitting the keyboard. It was very slow and time slipped away.

My feelings then were something like a seven year old boy jingling a little change--a few pennies--in his pocket as he walks along a gravel road, kicking chosen rocks in from of him. Then he decides to save one in his pocket, adding to his collection. This is only a picture of the shambles I feel my life has been in during this time.

I couldn't read or concentrate that night. There was no way to write, plus, as I mentioned before, no words would come. I know I cannot hold my life together any longer, nor the people in it. Sometimes for change to take place, you have to let everything fall apart. I have tried to build my life, but in vain. Am I willing to trust God to lead me? Do I have the patience and strength to follow Him even now?

Just the first step is needed in a long walk down a gravel road. I fight the feeling that hope is deferred and choose life. As I have walked along the road, I stopped and looked behind me. The road I have walked has been in a dark valley, dusty, and hard. Just over a a hill in front of me, the road forks. The one to the left, the familiar one, dark and dusty and hard. The one to the right, the gravel is laid into a black-top road. It is smooth, curving beyond a mountain with a breath-taking view.

Somewhere along the way, I have chosen to take the road to the right. I have been on a path detour to life, but this is the way to my destination. I just have to get beyond the hill and on to the right road.

Please continue to pray for me. I can't go back and I can't continue in the wrong direction. Even though the hill will be hard to climb, I have the view in sight. It is a bit scary, curved into the mountain, but I know it is the way. The fork to the left goes straight up in the middle of fallen trees and seems to dead end. I know I cannot continue on that path.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pretty Is as Pretty Does

"Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. "  Psalms 45:11
Looking back, times were tough when I was a young girl. My sister and I never realized that because our parents would do without what they needed to give us the best they could. One thing we had plenty of was love. Our parents adored us. Even so they were fallen people because we live in a fallen world. We pass our dysfunctions from one generation to the next.
One particular day, starting out the door to school in my blue and white checked glasses, my ducktail haircut and my thick black and white oxfords, my mother said: "Pretty is as pretty does."  Somehow, for some reason, I hung on to that.  One thing I wanted was to please my parents.  It became a life ambition to gain their approval and keep it.  So I unwittingly decided to be a pretty girl and to show that I was by always doing the right thing.  I would perform to earn love and approval from those I cared for.
Someone said to me, "You are an unbelieving believer. You believe, but God help your unbelief.  You have not moved into the inheritance of God the Father as a child of the King.  You do not know the love of God."  I have to agree.  For years I focused on my relationship with Jesus.  I knew nothing about my relationship with God the Father.  Only this past year have I begun to experience my Father's love for me.  
I am 60+ years old.  I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face.  I have strived to be some kind of beauty queen and gain the approval of people all my life.  Why am I crying? Because I finally see I may never be any better.  The striving is over.  And you know what?  I see my Father fighting for me.  He is not passively sitting by, nor is He yelling and screaming. He sends the greatest, mightiest warrior-His very own Son-to come and get me.  To bring me to Him.  To protect me.  To love me.  To have personal relationship with me as I have never known.  And you know what?  It feels good.  To cry.  To rest.  To be loved by my Heavenly Father in such a way no human being on earth could ever love me.
Pretty is as pretty does?  My Savior thinks I am beautiful and He is the lover of my soul.  He fought for me, died for me, and won.  He has brought me to the arms of my Father to share in the love of the Family of God.  I boast in my weakness so you may see the power of God on display in me.
This Christmas we will be giving lots of presents, perhaps. But with God our Father we are to learn to receive.  It is a very humbling thing to receive a gift graciously.  To know there is nothing we can do to earn it.  Nothing we can do to lose it.  It is the gift of the Father's love through giving to us His only Son: Jesus.  We have so very much to celebrate.  Not just the birth of Jesus but the ultimate gift of God the Father--His love.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Interview ~ Continued

Usually when I write it is like God gives me pearls on a string and I see it from start to finish.  Now I am writing and I can't see the end … well maybe.

We had some friends over.  Danny was steaming oysters.  It was cold.  The three ladies snuggled in blankets even in the house.  Two of Danny's friends, my son and his friend, and my grandson added six more.

After one of the ladies left, it was just a distant friend and I sitting inside.  Breaking the ice, I said, “You may not know that I relapsed?”  She was great—so understanding.  She said, “I have heard being a coach's wife is hard.”  I had never admitted that to myself.  “Clemson was so good to us and I knew the blessings of not having to move my family around a lot like most others,” I told her.

I began to remember our move to Arkansas.  I thought about when we moved out of the University House and stored all our things in the barn at the farm.  We then moved to our fairly small lake house.  We bought a sectional teal-colored sofa that filled the one great room with a beautiful rock fireplace.  We still had some of our first furniture pieces also which were very special to me. 

But when Danny got the coaching job in Arkansas, he bought a house and most of the previous owner's furniture before I got there.  He sold our lake home and all the furniture.  So I walked out of our home with all my treasured memories into a house I had never seen.  It may seem silly thinking like that, because we did have a job—I know, I know.  Still I left family in Alabama, moved twelve hours away from everything I knew—my dear church and friends—to what was to be a harder situation that would only get even harder.  I did love my new church and friends there.  I met some great people.  I think I have let that keep me from feeling the loss I had all those years ago until now.

I talked to Danny and my youngest daughter who is getting her Christian Counselor degree about all this.  They both said to move on.  This was a hard time for us, but there were also good times.  I am now deciding that I am one who can learn from my past, but that I cannot dwell there.  God was with us and kept us, and I press on, releasing what lies behind me forevermore.  It is not wrong to visit the past but we cannot live there.

When I return to writing online, I will write a conclusion to the “The Interview,” but I am letting the past go.  Working through those old memories was what caused me to spiral after having such a great year or remission.  I am refusing to live in the past any more.  I'm mailing this to Martha to type and post because I don't want to re-read.  It will be several days past when you read it—so no worries, I am doing good.

I don't have to grieve all the events I have stuffed away all these years.  I can acknowledge that it was hard when it comes to mind, but now in faith, move on.  I'm so thankful for this season especially.

I am still learning to stay well and trust.  My daughter, Elizabeth is going to make a great counselor.  Danny is pretty wise too.  Thanks to all of you for your prayers and love.  It has carried me through. 


I will trust in You, Lord, and not be shaken.  “When doubts filled my mind, Your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”  Psalms 94:19

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Like That River's Swollen Waters ...

Today on Facebook, I've seen a friend's prayer request for homeless living by a swollen river. The blood-bruised back of a Christian captured by Islamists in Iran. The face of a nephew I have never met who looks so much like my birth brother I met only twice. Another friend than...king God that school is closed so she can attend to Thanksgiving preparations.

Emotions tangle, and I think, "Lord God, where is Your heart?" Then I think to myself that it is where it always is--with each of His children, in each unique situation. He does not slumber nor sleep. Neither is He like the shifting shadow. He is the same--true-to-our-hearts--right where we are God of all comforts. He feels both our joys and our sadnesses.

It is not so much that one of us is in a loving family gathering while another is in suffering. God is not partial. He is not unjust. His heart is always looking at the heart. He looks for our faith turned towards His face, trusting Him. Daring to believe that He is more satisfying than earth's abundance. More real and healing than earth's sufferings. He outrageously amens even our mustard seed faith. He is unmistakably, infallibly present and proactive in the lives of all those He loves who love Him. If we could but see through His eyes, thanksgivings would flow like that river's swollen waters 
~ martha langley

Monday, November 25, 2013

Living with My Eyes Open

"No, Christian brothers, I do not have that life yet. But I do one thing. I forget everything that is behind me and look forward to that which is ahead of me. My eyes are on the crown. I want to win the race and get the crown of God’s call from heaven through Christ Jesus."  Philippians 3:13-14

One of God's gifts to us is the present.  I am learning to live each day as if it were my last.  We cannot change the past nor do we have any guarantees about our future.  We can learn from the past and plan for the future.  My friend, David, said, "We have no power in the past or future, only the present."

My friend, Rose Marie Miller, said something like, "Satan will try to get you to live in the failures and regrets of the past and the fear of tomorrow.  Jesus wants us to live in the present."

The present is not only God's gift to us, but my gift to others.  I pray, "Lord, reveal Yourself to me today.  May I live today like You want to be with me in making a difference.  What I do today does matter.  Give me Your love and may it overflow to others mightily and powerfully.  I promise to not sleep my day away, or stare into space as I have before mulling over the past.  I will press on."

My friend, Kathy, says to live in the moment.  Right now--this moment is all I have.  I choose to live it fully and masterfully whether I rest, work, or play.  Jesus, You are with me in the moment.  (Now if I can finally get this!) 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Secure in God's Good Hands ...

"The gracious hand of his God was on him...."  (Ezra 7:9)

Have you ever heard someone say, "God's hand is off my life"?  The sense that for some reason, God is distant.  His blessings or answers to prayer seem birthed stillborn. 
 
We tend to feel more secure when the ecstatic God-moments come. They often leave us with a vivid sense that God's hand is at work.  Like my young grandson who asked God for a sign that Jesus was really in his little-boy heart.  He said when he looked to the sky he saw a cloud in the shape of his first initial, "N." Then like Gideon, he asked for confirmation of his confirmation. Looking up again, he saw a cloud in the shape of a check mark.

Our pastor told us about a young woman who was finding it impossible to forgive the person who had molested her.  But as she lashed out her accusing question to God, "Where were You?" she was given a mental image of Jesus standing beside her with His hand on her.  His tears were streaming and there were sweat droplets like blood.  Then to her surprise, she realized Jesus' other hand was on the person she couldn't forgive.

In my early battle with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) before medicines were found to help and the pain was severe, I had set aside a time one evening to pray for others.  But without thinking, my wrists throbbing from inflammation made me ask instead for God to stop the pain.  Suddenly in my mind, I saw Jesus' hands outstretched, nailed to the cross. Feeling humbled that His pain was so much greater, I then prayed, "Father, forgive me for asking You to do something for me that You couldn't do for Your own Son."  My pain ceased immediately.

When God answers quickly to give insight or understanding, or He immediately heals emotionally or physically, we have no doubt of His nearness or earnestness to work in our lives. But in the times when loss looms like an unwelcome heart guest refusing to leave. When pain or sickness find no ease. When answers to our questions are left to Eternity's unfolding, we may feel God's hand has left us.  But it has not.  He is actually holding us more tightly. 
 
It's in those "Where is God?" times, His compassion anchors and His heart throbs with empathy for us.  In perfect love that is not willing to leave us stunted or leave us behind, His Spirit is doing a sanctifying work.  Severing Self and sin.  Implanting a sweeter, deeper, more gripping trust.  Strengthening us past what our eyes see, or our minds reason.  Faith-ing us past whatever would betray the truth that we have a Good Father.  It is in those times that a radical contentment arises to acknowledge that all that we are and have are most secure when held in God's Good Hands. ~ martha langley

Thursday, November 21, 2013

No Need to Shrink Back ...

"Live a holy life. No one will see the Lord without having holiness."  Hebrews 12:14

Honestly, the words "holy," or "holiness" in regard to who I am to be in my spiritual life have never felt warm and fuzzy to me.  It's more like the fearsome feeling that Isaiah described when he saw the Lord high and lifted up, unclean and unworthy.

So when I saw the verse above in my reading the other day, I wanted to take time to really think it through.  I concluded: Holy or holiness means the absence of evil.  That's what heaven is all about.

I think because I know my faults and my flaws and that I often say "Yes" to Self, and "No" to God's Spirit, that this makes me shrink back from thinking of myself as holy. 

Those are my feelings.  What is true?  The truth is that because of Jesus' agony on the cross to pay my sin debt, I was freed from sin and death, made new--alive to God.  This means that Jesus' life in me has made me:  "Holy to the Lord."

Just remember that Jesus=holy.  And if you are a believer, Jesus is living in you.  This does not make me want to shrink back.  It makes me worship and adore.

"...God gave you His Holy Spirit. Now you belong to God. You do not belong to yourselves. God bought you with a great price."  1 Corinthians 6:19-20  ~  ml

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Gift Giver

One of Deborah's writings from the past:


The Gift Giver

Many people are born with natural talent while others try to develop talents.  When my children were little I looked for what they enjoyed and were good at doing so I could point them in that direction.  It has been interesting to see God reveal the true loves and gifts He has given them.  He was preparing them for the way they should go.

I used to say, "I have no gifts."  I am not a great artist or painter or writer.  I don't sing or dance (although I sure tried).  Raising four children with my husband often away, I didn't take time to develop outside hobbies.  I thought when the children left home I would have a huge empty space of time.  That is not the case.  God uses our past and present circumstances along with the people in our lives.  Even our weaknesses and our struggles can become part of our gifts.

The more time I spend in unbroken communion in God's love, the more things I find myself enjoying.  God is the Creator.  He is creative.  When we ease into the things He begins to reveal in us, we start to enjoy the gifts we have been given.  We not only experience Him, but learn something about Him in the process.  It is Him expressing Himself through us.

One of my friends gives away her flowers and bakes for people.  Another one is a prayer warrior, never hesitating to give a smile and encourage.  Another friend shares photography on a blog. I have a friend who writes for a local paper and does prison ministry.  One friend, a single in her 50's, delights in three young sons she has adopted.  Really struggling in her health, another speaks of doing well because God has a plan for her.  I see my friends passing on their God-given talent, love, and wisdom.

Sometimes we may feel like we are in a barren land, perhaps stripped of all we have done in the past.  We feel useless.  Without purpose.  This is the furthest thing from the truth.  God is really wanting to do a mighty work.  Use this time to be alone with God.  His first concern is our relationship with Him.  When I have been in that situation (several times), afterward, I came away with a deeper, fuller relationship with God than I had known before.

Be patient.  Enjoy God.  Worship.  Rest.  Wait.  You'll be amazed.  These are gifts in themselves.  God is the Gift Giver.  He is the Gift!

God, You have given us such an abundant life.  May we seek You in the things and people we enjoy.  Lord, if we are not enjoying life in You right now, will You meet us there also?   Teach us all to enjoy You more.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dream-Tested

From Whispers of God Facebook Post Today:

"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow." (James 4:14)

When news comes unexpectedly
A dream long-planned, dissolved
Sadness' spiny fingers close
Around my heart--tears fall

Emotions rising over
Faith trying to make its stand
Questions scream--whys demand
"Where was heaven's hand?"

I speak the words I know are true
"God is good, He's in control"
But as they escape my lips
Loss still tears across my soul

I cry out, "Father! Why?
How could You hurt me so?
Do You not understand
How deeply this pain goes?"

But before His answer whispers
Calvary's cross comes into mind
And suddenly I realize
My cries have been unkind

For that one act of love was proof
Of my value in God's eyes
His "nos" are still His words of love
Meant to make me wise

Let me not give myself to things
Count them for me to use
But lay all things at Jesus' feet
Keep or cast away--You choose

Let me champion Your Sovereignty
Each time there comes a test
Then I will know I'm resting in
Whatever You've decided best
~martha langley

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Created for Worship

"But the time is coming-it has, in fact, come--when what you're called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.  It's who you are and the way you live that count before God.  Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth.  That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for:  those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.”  God is sheer being itself-Spirit.  Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration."    (John 4:21-24, The Message)

We are going to worship something. Our hearts and minds and souls were created to worship God.  The reason we struggle is because of our bent to worship someone or something other than God.  Like cobwebs, these other things trap us, each strand pulling us in opposite directions.  They are illusions that promise us enjoyment or peace, or that our every need will be met.  That once we have that person or that thing which we desire, we will be satisfied.  So we work to that end and offer our worship.

The counterfeit, the idol, the false god, grabs our immediate attention.  Then it demands more and more of our loyalty.  It sucks the very life from us because, in the end, it does not give what it has promised.  It does not have the power to give, and it can never be enough.  It is a false gospel.

At a young age, I became preoccupied with approval and beauty.  First I think, as a small child performing, and later entering pageants. Then over the years, the honors I achieved were very important, because I wanted others' approval.  My last year in high school, I was voted "Queen of the School."  I don't know why, but I felt embarrassed by the honor.  I asked my mom and dad not to come see me crowned.

Since that time, I've continued to be embarrassed by attention paid to me.  The public lifestyle we have lived because of my husband's career has made made it very hard for me to take a back seat.  But that is where I have chosen to be whenever possible because my focus changed from getting approval by honors, to wanting to be good.  A good wife.  A good mother.  And a good Christian . . .

When I realized I could no longer balance all the plates, and that what I was doing was too much for me, I came out of denial.  I was no longer a beauty queen, or the great wife of a successful man.  I was a woman with a mental disorder, locked behind closed doors, singing amazing grace with my inmates.

With everything I had taken pride in taken away, my focus was all about God.  I could be honest about who I was and who God was, and who He had been to me.  I learned what it was to worship from my heart, all the time, not just in the traditional way at church, although I loved that worship also.  I started taking steps towards simply being myself.

For so long, I had hidden behind walls of protection for fear of rejection.  I had pretended to be someone I wasn't and could never be: perfect. I came to understand that I could only be perfect by the gift of Christ's righteousness.  I was already loved and accepted by Him and the Father.  I was beautiful to Him no matter what my appearance.  I also realized that Christ came for the sick and that I needed a Savior, even more.  No one or no thing could meet my need besides Him.  I was free in the gospel.

The Lord is changing me to see that it's not about whether the attention is on me or not on me, but it's about the attention being on God and on loving others with the love He gives me.  I still forget at times, but when I do, the Spirit is so gentle in showing me.  I confess it to Him, and to others, and He brings me to repentance and faith.  It is a gift from God and from others, to point me to Him.

God is seeking those who will worship Him.  Since we were created to worship Him, He helps us by stripping us of our idols.  It's not that we will never go there again, but we can pray, "O Lord, search my heart," and hopefully, we will begin to recognize our idol(s) more quickly each time.

God always desires us.  The Spirit will give us the longing for God.  We can respond with worship in Spirit and in Truth.  He is the truth and the way.  

Let's go to Christ and the Father and their affection for us.  Let us be changed, fulfilled, reassured of who we are to Him, and who He is, and rest in that truth.  Let us rest and receive God's love.  Lord, this is my prayer. 
 

Monday, November 11, 2013

True Freedom

One of Deborah's writings from the past ...

"More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith." (Philippians 3:8-9)

I remember my grandchildren lying on their backs looking up to the sky. They yelled and pointed at the clouds taking on different shapes, floating freely across the sky.  You could see the wind shape and move the clouds. The children laughed, calling out, "A puppy!" "A snow man!" A fish or bird or angel.

Do you ever say, "I just want to be free"?  We take on the shape of our beliefs in God, our new heart, and receiving God's love. We are even influenced by our environment and past. But we are not left to that end.

I have thought my freedom would come by being perfect. I longed for peace. Sounds like a good thing, doesn't it?  The Spirit has shown me the dangers in this over the years.   Trying to keep the peace at all cost determined what I said and what I did. I sought things to bring me peace and appear perfect.  I hid and denied my failures.  I pleased men over God.  I lived in fear and would not speak truth. It was most deceptive.  I now see that the only true peace, perfection, and freedom, is in Christ Himself.

Ephesians talks about who we are in Christ.  We are new men and women.  We are brought near to God by the blood of Christ. His Spirit lives in us, and we live in relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit.

Our freedom was bought for us at the cross.  Christ bought us out of darkness to light. We are forgiven. We have Christ's righteousness. His perfect record and life is ours.  We are co-heirs with Christ. We have an inheritance from God. We have eternal life.  There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. God is no longer angry with us.  His wrath on sin that was due to us was taken out on His Son on the cross. He was the perfect sacrifice.  We can serve the Living God with a clear conscience. Christ satisfied our holy God's demand for righteousness. So now we can enter the throne of grace in freedom and confidence.  We are children of the King! We are seated with Him in the heavenlies. We are totally free.

When Paul explained this freedom, men questioned: "So does that mean we are free to sin?" Paul says, "Heaven forbid. You understand nothing."  In the Greek it says, "May it never be." (See Romans 6:15)

When this freedom and love of the gospel takes hold of our hearts, it changes us from the inside out.  We begin to live in the freedom of who we truly are.  We take on new beauty. New love.  New hope.  New life.   New joy.  New Peace. Our striving to be something we are not is over.  We are honest about our sin, but our focus is on Christ.  Our relationship with God, and the truth of the gospel sustains us. It is His righteousness not ours.  Nothing we do can commend us to God. Freedom is in the struggle against sin.  Then finding rest is in Him, you finally come to the conclusion that no matter what happens in your life, "God is good."   This brings a new obedience from the heart that you had never thought possible. An incredible longing for God to fill your whole heart.

Thank you Lord for setting our hearts free in you. May all glory and honor and praise be to You.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Life-Changing Words

One of my most memorable words from God came at a time when I was so broken I didn't think I could ever be mended. My sense of being a "good Christian" was waning, my health was weakening, my marriage seemed to be more difficult than I could face, the reputation for godliness I had tried sooooooooo hard to build by appearance, talent, perfecting, hard work, serious study, raising godly kids, and keeping the peace, was crumbling at my feet.

In a moment of "I give up," on life, and even on God, He spoke a Scripture reference in my heart. With the tiniest speck of hope, I looked it up. It said that Jesus was able to save to the uttermost.

Suddenly, God shifted the responsibility from me about being a godly person to Jesus. For the first time I understood from the inside out that Jesus didn't save me and then expect me to live the Christian life by my own grit.  My failures were just as saved as my "good."  I didn't have to try and try, I could trust and trust.

Literally, that verse brought me from the dark deeps of depression to a spiritual jubilation.  My spirituality is held in Jesus' heart for all time. He loves it out. He lives it out. He lauds it before my Father. He is my uttermost saving, keeping, all in all forever and ever.  ~  martha langley


"[Jesus Christ] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them." Hebrews 7:25

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Words of Life ~ Guest Blog

I had been writing out prayers for children. Thought I was finished, but the next morning several more prayers came to mind about different topics.  One was regarding anger: That when we have angry words forming, to quickly give them to God so He can replace them with His words of life. 
 
To me that is such a free-ing prayer because I remember years past when another person's criticism or angry words toward me could send me reeling.  Unfortunately, the wound would end up taking me to the same place--anger.  My temperament, though, wasn't as prone to express it verbally.  I stuffed it away, feeling that by doing this, I was being the peacemaker. But eventually all the repressed anger was smothering, like grave clothes.  Like gauze wrappings which have been left and grown into the wound.  So when God began to remove them it was very painful. I was losing my method of self-protection.  
 
But when God begins to move in an area of our lives that needs His truth and freedom, He gives us courage to rely on Him in those temptation moments.  It feels kind of like going down an unmarked path.  You are not certain what you will encounter or find at the end.  But as God gave me heart to immediately pray in the face of angry words for His wisdom, I found that those flaming arrows which normally pierced me, were now glancing off. I was focused on knowing how God wanted me to respond.

Sometimes God would reveal a truth I needed to heart that was hidden within the anger. Sometimes He would help me understand that it was an attack of the enemy and I needed to be still and let Him be my Defender. Sometimes it was to test my willingness to partner in Christ's sufferings.  But most often, it was for me to go against my "peace at any cost" personality, and calmly confront by asking the hard questions:


Why are you angry?  Is what you said really true?  Are you trying to help or to control?  Why do you feel you need to yell or threaten?

Even if my questions were met with more anger, the times that I stopped to listen to what God wanted me to hear from Him, and responded in His will, resulted in the heart peace I had unsuccessfully tried to create on my own. 
 
Jesus went through many harsh encounters. Sometimes He responded with gentle revelation.  Sometimes commanding.  Sometimes hard-to-hear truth.  But always following the Father's leading.  Always offering words of life.  Even the abuse shouted at Him while suffering on the cross was met with, "Father forgive...."

Any unrighteous anger--whether expressed because of lack of wisdom (James 3:15) or lack of self-control, or repressed because of a false sense of self-control--is extremely destructive, allowing Satan a foothold in our lives. (Ephesians 4:26-27)  Only as the unrighteous anger is given over to God, again and again if needed, can we be Spirit controlled.  Only then does His Spirit empower God's words of life through us. 
~  martha langley

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thanks for your prayers ... One of Deborah's writings from the past: Become Like a Child

"I tell you the truth. You must change and become like little children [in your hearts]. If you don’t do this, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Most of the time I find myself taking life too seriously. I put up walls of protection, tighten my shoulders, and grit my teeth. Why do I find it so hard to become like a little child? Is it the fear of rejection? The need to be loved? What did Jesus mean by this verse?

Many years ago, my family and I went to a friend’s mountain cottage for a few days vacation. It was a warm, glowing, full-of-personality place. After unpacking the car we decided to take a little walk. Although it was dark, the snow was so bright we didn’t even take a light. As we walked down the hill, I plopped myself down in the snow. Then lying flat on my back, I began to laugh, swinging my arms and legs up and down. When I stood up to shake off the snow, I saw the beautiful imprint of a snow angel. “I have always wanted to do that,” I said. It made me feel like a little child.

When I went to the dermatologist for a precancerous spot on my nose, treatment meant going through some awful looking stages. One day in the Dollar Store, a little girl said, “You gotta bobo on your nose?” I said, “Yes, I do.” When she looked at me with great concern and compassion, I told her, “It doesn’t hurt. It will go away soon.” She smiled and said, “Oh.” While most adults seemed to feel awkward about it, the little girl was open and honest. Why can’t we be like a little child? Children just set their hearts out there.

My grandchildren have taught me a good deal about being a child. They love to laugh and create. One summer afternoon we made biscuits together. Soon the flour was all over the floor, the counter, and us. When we finished, one of them wanted to decorate with sprinkles and birthday candles. I said, “Hon, we are not making cake, we are making biscuits.” The children didn’t care. I gave each one a ball of dough to create his masterpiece. We even lit the candles and sang “Happy Birthday” to each one of us.

Time with my father when he was older and very sick made me think more about the idea of child-like. Both he and my grandchildren being similar in many ways: very dependent. Open and honest. No walls between them and you. No reputation to try to uphold. They share love boldly. They share their hearts freely. In thinking about my dad and my grandchildren, I wonder if God intended for us to enter this world as a child and leave it as a child? The question is, “How do we, during the time in the middle, live our daily lives, when needing to be so much like them?”

Brennan Manning says in “Souvenirs of Solitude,” that the “child” represents our authentic self. He says, “I am a unique and radiant center of personal thought and feeling. Rather than living a routine existence in mere conformity with the crowd, the emerging child reminds me I have a face of my own, gives me the courage to be myself, protects me against being like everybody else, and calls for that living, vibrant, magnificent image of Jesus Christ that is within me, waiting only to unfold and be expressed.” He also says that you don't really share yourself until you share your feelings. That this is the secret of love.

Father, Son, and Spirit, Your love makes me want to be a little child again. I want to laugh and sing and dance and run with You. Please give me a child-like faith with enjoyment, dependence, and confidence in Your love. Believing it, receiving it, and giving it away. Help me not be guarded, but love openly and freely. Teach me again, I pray.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Update on Deborah Ford:

The doctor is reluctant to allow Deborah's return to technology now. She's doing really well, been having few afternoons at the farm, but his observation is that it's better to keep the wellness intact--not risk a setback. So she is contenting herself to give more prayer attention to family and look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas family gatherings. Hoping to do some... special gifts of her own making. She sends her thank-you for your prayers and love, and for continuing to read her past writings.

If the Lord gives you time to pray--please remember her recovery. For her to know the Lord's leadership one day at a time, as well as to receive His healing.

Prayer for you: Father God, let this be a day when Your beauty shines through to the hearts of Your people. When all that is heavy or hurtful is taken into Your good hands, and You touch each worn or wounded place with Your love and wisdom, and transformation power.

Whatever is disappointment--make into new vision or an open door.

Whatever the enemy has meant for accusation or to bring anger--translate into words of life.

Whatever is bringing feelings of "just want to come Home"--refill with Your strength and courage to keep keeping on, for Jesus' namesake, until Your plan to make much of Him through their lives here is complete.

Now, Lord, bless in the deepest reaches of each heart as only You can
... ml

Thursday, October 31, 2013

All the Difference ~ Guest Blog


“But with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” (1 Peter 1:19)

In our years at the farm, taking the highway to our former hometown was a regular route. I think I could almost have driven it in the dark, even though there were many curves, ups and downs, a river bridge, and a couple of places where the pavement separated into a “Y.”

One spring, I noticed a triangular lot at one of the “Ys” being leveled and fenced. Soon after a manufactured home was anchored at the back of the property. It seemed no matter how often I drove by, no matter what time of day, a middle-aged woman would have her shovel and wheelbarrow, planting rows of saplings.

In only a few months to my surprise, the trees grew tall, and the trunks thickened--much faster than any I had seen before. I stopped by one day to compliment the lady on her success. She said she had found the secret to growing. To each portion of rich soil, she mixed in equal portions of bone meal and blood meal. “The blood really makes the difference.” I sort of cringed inside knowing that it came from slaughtered animals.

In a day when offering slaughtered animals’ blood had become tiresome religious duty, God planted a tree in rocky soil. The men He used to place it there did not expect it to grow. But as God would have it, when His Son was nailed on that Tree of Death, it supernaturally transformed into a Tree of Life. The place where the tired religious or the wayward rebellious can come and be implanted with a forgiven forever new life. Jesus’ blood made all the difference.

I wonder when someone is becoming acquainted with me ... is the difference that Jesus’ blood has made visible? I know I can talk Jesus’ talk. I can wear the smile and give the hugs. But inside, is His love that is greater than all my sins bleeding through? So much so that others sense it without me saying so? Can others see that my heart is under His control of "Peace, be still"? To those who know me, am I noticeably growing in grace? Rooting ever more deeply into a devotion to this One who brought me to His Tree of Life. Who carved my name into His Family Tree. That One Whose precious blood makes all the difference for me.

~ martha langley

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"O, Lord, Show me the Way ... "

                          Love the idea of going to the River to pray since Jesus is the River of Life.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Love Awakens Love

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails....”   (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

When my children were small I remember wishing that I could just place them in a glass dome so that nothing could ever harm them.  But then I realized they would also miss all the joys of living. They would miss love.

I remember the first time I studied the Scripture passage about love in an easier to understand text.  When I read it over, I thought, I have not loved anyone.  I found out how self-serving I was.  How sensitive I was.  Keeping record of wrongs others had done to me.  I had been loving out of my need, not as an overflow to others.

It hurts when you love and then others don’t love you back as you expect.  A husband may not be as attentive as you think you need.  A wife may be consumed with her children.  Teenagers may be in rebellion.  You may long for someone to be in your life to love you.  You may have lost someone you loved dearly.  Working through that sense of lost love is going to be extremely painful.  Where do you run with that pain?  Who but Christ can fill that void?  But if the love you receive from someone has been lost, and without it you absolutely cannot function, then that relationship has been a god to you. Confess it to Christ and to someone else, and ask for a repentant heart.  If God holds that place, run to Him.

When God’s love began to awaken my heart from its deep sleep of being stoic, in denial, and hardness, I began to experience what real love was all about.  My grandchildren hugging me and saying they love me awakens my heart.  I remember my elderly dad reaching for my hand, how that awakened love in me.  When I know I am wrong and a friend listens and doesn’t preach but prays for me, it awakens my heart.

I am very fortunate to have prayer support, friends, and family who have been there through the years for me.  In addition to that, in the last few years I have begun reuniting with family and friends I had not been close to for years.  How my life has expanded with opening our hearts to each other!  The richness and fullness they have brought to me was unexpected, but I am oh, so thankful for them all.  They have loved me unconditionally, believed in me, mentored me, and even become my soul mates.  I have been awakened to love.

We need the whole body of Christ and even unbelievers in our lives.  To love us and to teach us to love.  So that we may love them.  Christ knows how much we want and need love.  He loved us and wanted our love so much He was willing to die to get us.  He knows how it feels to want to be loved. God put this love and need for love in our hearts.  Only He can meet this need.  No one person, no matter how wonderful that person is, will ever meet your need for love as completely as Christ.  Without Him there will always be a void.  It is the fullness of His love in our hearts which spills over to everyone in our lives.  You will love with the same amazing love by which you are loved.  You will enjoy and love people more than you can imagine.  All kinds of people.  Not just those like you.

Father, Son, Spirit, release Your love from our hearts so that we can love You and others with Your unfathomable love.  May it take our breath away and dry our tears.  We are fulfilled in You.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Where is Our Comfort?

"You can be sure that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with His comfort through Christ."  (2 Corinthians 1:5)

I remember a difficult week in dealing with my mental disorder.  I called on family, friends, and my doctor for help, for support, and for prayer.  It was really hard with the racing thoughts that were darting through my brain.  I grew so weary.

I was remembering when my granddaughter was here.  We would lie down together at night.  I would tell her the story of Cinderella, and then we would pray.  She would fall fast asleep.  Have you ever tried to slip out of bed without waking a little one?  Out of a high bed?  As I rolled over there was nothing beneath me but the floor.  I hit hard on my left hand.  It broke my wrist in three places.

Sometimes now, just out of the blue, that wrist will ache deep inside the bone.  It reminds me of a deeper ache inside my soul.  An ache I have for the gospel and all it means.  For love, acceptance, and forgiveness.  I long for rest, righteousness, and peace of mind.  I long to be whole.  I long for God in a deeper way.

I am so very thankful for my mental illness.  I think how self sufficient I was before.  How God has used it in my life, and in others' lives.  Now my depravity is ever before me making me cling to and depend on God.  I am poor in body but also in spirit.  But oh, so rich!  I so want God to be glorified in me.  We are such a beautiful story of His grace.

Out of this deep longing and ache blossoms an abundance of comfort.  From Him to me, and then to others.  It is given, not only to be kept, it must move out as a wind from a storm.  His love for us is so extravagant.  So bountiful.  So very beautiful.  It is it beyond my ability to describe, just experience.

This sometimes comes after very hard times of striving, guilty conscience, trying to measure up, wrestling with God about where I am, and what He has allowed in my life.  Maybe even self pity, questioning, and silence from Him.  Where is He?  What is He thinking?  Why can't I sense His presence?  Am I doing something wrong?

Then, in comes the gospel:  "I went to the cross for you.  I did it all.  It is finished."

Christ cannot be restrained, predicted, or tamed as a Lion. Where did this King of kings come from?  This mighty warrior who is bold but gentle as a lamb.  Just a breath from Him can make the earth quake and the dark sky in a storm turn light as day.  He always was and always will be.

Thank you Lord for using even the hardest things in our lives to show us Your love for us.  You give us unexplainable comfort which we cannot find on our own.  

(Note:  Further reading:  2 Corinthians 1)
Note:  I'll post another one of Deb's writings soon ... but had another thought to add to yesterday's  "Sanctuary."

I talked yesterday about seeing a problem looming before me like Mt. Everest. But that the "mountain" became hardly visible once it was placed in God's hands.

Then last night, I thought about another mountain ... Jesus transformed Mt. Calvary from the Place of the Skull and Death, into a Monument of God-love and God-Forgiveness and ETERNAL LIFE! WOW!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sanctuary ~ Guest Blog


                                    “...Only He should be feared; only He should be held in awe ...
                                                 He will be a sanctuary....”
(Isaiah 8:13-14)

With two young sons and another on the way, my husband and I moved to a plateau area in the beautiful Ozark Mountains. The boys' paternal grandparents were not happy about us living farther from them, but they were excited about the region's camping parks. Camping, fishing, and hunting had been their mainstay of family recreation.

At one point during our first exploration, the curving, narrow highway edged a high peak on one side and a seemingly bottomless crevasse on the other. "Son," my father-in-law said, "you could drop a child off the top here, and he would be grown before he hit the ground." We all laughed. But there is something formidable, something awe-striking, about a great mountain.

Some years ago, a financial challenge loomed before me like a Mt. Everest. How could this happen? Why now? How can we fix this? Wrestling with that how evolved into utter frustration. Then a gripping fear. The pain of thinking there would be no legacy for our children's children seemed unbearable. I started to live in looking backward. Placed the blame on someone else. Angry bitterness to set in.

But that was not where God would let me live. One morning as I sat with my writing tablet, I drew a picture of a mountain. Seems foolish now, but I think I was so caught in my unbelief, that I was trying to prove to God that this problem was just too big. Impossible. Inescapable.

With gracious kindness, my Father then allowed me to visualize my mountain placed in His hand. There it was almost too small to see. Suddenly my faith reignited. Was not the God who spoke the mountains into existence the same One who could speak to them to move? The mountain I needed removed wasn't my financial loss, it was my unbelief. As I gave myself into trust, He moved me into His sanctuary--His rest and peace.

You may have your own mountain: An estranged son or daughter. A difficult marriage. The aftermath from divorce. Financial loss. Health issues. A long-time friend turned enemy. A cherished dream looking dead end. A bleak-looking future. (Maybe you have a mountain range of problems.) Please remember that God doesn't want you to live in the sadness or the hopelessness. There is sanctuary--a helping, healing sanctuary--in your Father's presence, trusting in Him. Don't delay naming that mountain(s) and placing it in your Father's loving, powerful hand.

Father God, YOU ARE OUR SANCTUARY. Nothing in this life is bigger than Your love for us and Your power to help us. Thank You for Your ever-kind heart to hear us and to restore us to Your peace that passes understanding. ~ martha langley

Monday, October 21, 2013

Man's Best Friend

"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”  (John 15:13)

As a little girl, I loved to visit my friend Jeanette.  She was older than I and, to me, oh, so beautiful.  She had dark hair and dark eyes.  I was several years younger with a boy haircut called a ducktail, blue and white checkered glasses, and knobby knees.  I could go into her bedroom and open her big, deep dresser drawer full of nothing but paper dolls, and play for hours.

For many years I had been so very busy with children, my husband's occupation, and my illness, that I let many family members and friends go.  I do  have a few close friends who have hung onto me throughout the process.

But in visits home to see my dad before he died, I got in touch with family I didn't know, and friends I had not seen for years.  I loved spending time with them and with my dad.  Along with those new friends, I also have friends with whom I take off my mask.  I tell them my innermost thoughts and struggles.  I feel that nothing can separate us.

Are we willing to let someone take the mask off with us?  For us to take it off with them?  We can face the fear of rejection with a smile because we are totally accepted in Christ.  It does take wisdom to know which person we allow in.  Those whom we enter into their world and suffer, rejoice, and limp with them.  It can be uncomfortable.  We may want to rescue them and fix their world.  And we also want to be loved and accepted by them.  Even corrected when necessary, with the grace of our Savior.  Or we may just need someone to listen and care.

These friendships point to the greatest of all relationships.  The friendship of Jesus Christ.  I can lay my heart and mind bare before Him.  He is my very best friend.  No matter what I tell Him He will not reject, leave, or stop loving me.  He is closer than a brother.

Christ is jealous for me and is relentless to have my whole heart.  Not part given to Him and part to some idol such as in an adulterous relationship (like the woman at the well).

Christ opens His deep drawer full of His endless, eternal riches, and I just drown myself in the sea of His grace.  Sometimes we just listen to the silence, remembering His love for me.  The rest of the world grows dim.

Lord, sometimes we fail each other.  Your love never fails.  You were the sacrifice we could never be.  Only through spending time with You can we know selfless love. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Update on Deborah!

Hello!

I just visited with Deborah.  She wants all of you to know what happened about six weeks ago.  She had a psychotic episode.  This means that her brain needs rest from the computer/phone/ipad  to repair. 

One of our grandsons recently received a concussion.  His treatment was a dark room and no technology.  According to a specialist, any kind of electronic/digital technology is very taxing on the brain.  But Deborah has made a turn recently, and is doing better.  What this means for you is that it may still be another few or several weeks before Deborah returns here. She is very thankful for your prayers and friendship.

I've told Deb that I can still share writings with you that she wrote before the blog began.  And she says she has been hard-copy journaling and will have much to write to you about later. 

Since I share a devotion from Deborah each Monday on the Whispers of God site, you can also scroll through older pages if you like, and find her writings there:.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Whispers-of-God/196450807031815

Thanks and Blessings!
Martha Langley