Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Let the music begin

Don't you love, how the Good News of the Gospel, never changes?  It just goes deeper and wider into the sanctification of our lives. Into our hearts and our everyday living.  It helps us know how to live.  Many are talking today about, what the Gospel has done for us, made sinners saints, and we are children of God.  This is true but it is not the first reason, Jesus came to live here and incarnate with us.  Be tempted as we are tempted.  Completely obey God perfectly and keep the law completely.  Learned obedience through suffering.  But He came to please the Father.  The Gospel is about a love relationship between Father and Son through the Spirit to us.

When you think that Jesus, was the perfect sacrifice, to the Father.  How the Father sent the Son, to rescue us and how He pleased God in all that He did, you know...God is not going to reject me.  He is not going to change His mind about me, because, I blew it so bad.  He is not disappointed in me.  He knew it all, from beginning to end.  He is not angry with me ever, because Jesus took His judgement and wrath in my place.  He said it is "Finished" and He died and rose from the dead, proving the pleasure of the Father and that it is so.

Just as Abraham began to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, so did our Father offer His Son, for us.  God told Abraham, now I know you love me.  God also told us, the cross and the death and resurrection of my Son tells you, I love you, as I love Him.  His righteousness is ours.  His Spirit and the Spirit of the Father lives in us never to separate from us ever.  We are one with them in Christ and Christ in us.

As we lean and surrender to this new identity and this righteousness, we become more holy in our living.  Jesus says that is summed up by saying we love others as ourselves and God with our whole heart more and more.

This week is about the suffering and Passion of Christ and the Father, for each other and for us.  Can you imagine the pain, the Father felt in seeing, the suffering and the separation, He and the Son,  had never experienced, from each other.  Can we know more, of this kinda of love this week, as we precede, through the steps of Jesus and His love for His Father through our own suffering.  May we give God praise and worship, for what His plan that has been completed and all we have to do, is to believe it and live it out as the Spirit empowers us.  We trust Him and what He has done and not what we do.

Don't keep working, trying to prove to God, you are good, so He won't be mad or reject you.  Don't go to sleep, because you know you can't measure up?  Don't worry about the approval and pleasing of other people, because you are totally loved and blessed by God.  You are His.  Never to be rejected by Him.  Rest in His goodness and purposes of His glory.  If you are His, you are set and secure for eternity.  Know the joy of it and Him as you delight in Him, and His love for you this week.  Ask Him to prepare your heart to see Him more clearly and love Him more dearly this Easter...You are on stage and you have an audience of One.  He is the director.  He has the play written and all you have to do, is to live it out.  He knows the ending.  He pleasures to see you dance with the Spirit, even in the rain, in His Son.  So let the music begin.  Take someone who is hurting with you.  Weep together.  You will encourage each other in Gods love and provision.  Sing His praises together and be open to seeing His glory unfold, even when it hurts.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Don't sweat the small stuff

Some time ago, for some reason, I was looking through my jewelry.  I don't wear it anymore, insurance and the like. Use to my husband gave me some lovely things and I loved to wear it.   I looked here for several days and my husband.   I looked in the safe deposit box for my blue sapphire ring.  It was not to be found.  Plus a couple of other small ring guards, I had had made.  My husband and I had gotten the ring on a trip we had taken.  It was sentimental.

In the meantime, I found my high school initial ring and my wedding band that I had quit wearing because of gaining weight over the years, and it not fitting.  I was elated.  I had thought these too were gone.  I don't know what happened to the sapphire and maybe one day it will show up.  But I had wanted, to leave it to my daughter.

So after thinking and rethinking, I decided I would buy another one to leave to her.  I went to look at stones and rings already set.  I sent my daughter a picture of the ring and ask her opinion, which did she like best.  She said mom, don't do that.  It is just stuff.  Come to find out, another daughter wanted it also, so I called her.  Her reply was the same.  It is just stuff, mom.

I have some furniture that my mom left, when she died.  There was two bedroom suits.  My house is full of furniture, but I was using as much as I could.  My sister told me how much one suit meant to her.  I thought, if it means something to her, that is what is important.  It is just stuff and I want to bless my sister.

I had a friend over and she found out who my husband was.  She was wide eyed.  We talked about seeing several Presidents and the favors we had, in my husbands profession.  I told her.  It is just stuff.  When I die it will all be gone.

God has been showing me to keep my eyes on the eternal.  Things are nice and we can enjoy them, but it is just stuff.  I have also seen, when I am tired or spent, things mean more to me than people.  I am more open to my weakness of sin, when I am tired, don't eat right, don't spend time alone and with family and friends. Jesus was tempted while He was weak and was hungry, but did not sin. When I am thinking of me and not of others, I am tempted.  The more we try not to sin, the more we sin.  The cure to sin, is to love.  Perfect love cast out all fear.  When we are fearful of loosing something, we want more and more.  It never satisfies.  Love is eternal.

I read the other day a quote where Corrie Ten Boone said she knew when satan was speaking to her because it said, "Poor Corrie".  I need my friends to remind me of the things eternal.  Of what Jesus has done for me.  I need the Spirit to be reminded of eternal life and my sonship.  I need to be in the quiet and joy of my Lord.  I heard the Spirit within is better for us, than Jesus without.  The Spirit within is Jesus within.  Jesus said I must go to leave you a Helper.  We are not alone.  The Spirit can help us in our time of need.  We ignore the workings of the Spirit in our heart and what He can do within us.  We can be Jesus to another.  We have His power and authority and inheritance and love and faith.  We are already rich.  Only our sinful nature and satan and the world, make us long for things to fulfill us. It is our desire to be desired and important.   Jesus is glorified as we are fulfilled in Him and love those in our lives.  He says you are valuable.  So much so I sent my Son to rescue you and bring you to me.  Receive what I have for you.  As you enjoy my blessings to you, let them point them to me.  Worship the Creator, not the creation, but you can be blessed and be free to give of yourself and not crave what you do not have, lust and envy.  Keep it light and don't sweat the small stuff.

So reach out, out of abundance and not out of need.  Jesus is all we need, Father, Spirit.  Ask and you shall receive.  It is like magic, how the Lord answers our heart cries.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Happy Birthday Jennifer

Just when you thought life couldn't get any messier it just does.  The things that would have put you to bed for days makes you roll on the floor.  just kidding lol.   I have had many struggles when I was sick.  It makes me throw up the things I have thought in my mind.  It has caused me to depend on Christ in ways that I never would have apart from the illness.  Just when I thought my family couldn't get closer or I couldn't love my husband any more or my children and grandchildren I do.  Just when you think God can't get any bigger or closer He does in ways you never imagined before.  Life is simple, life is complex.  What are you living for?  Your reputation, material things, success, peoples approval, addictions, sex?  What is it that make you tick?  What makes you respond and over react to things that you have to give to God anyway?  Just when I think I am getting closer to sanctification and holiness I get a close up glimpse of God and my family and friends and I am stunned at their love and compassion and free heartedness and mercy.  I could not have made it for them all these years through the think and thin.  They never judged me and knew some of the most difficult things to accept about a person.  They were just there loving me, correcting me if need be and pointing me to Jesus.

Today is our oldest daughters birthday.  Real tears flood my eyes when I think of the happiness and life she has given to us.  Yes there has been heartache when she ached but the joy far out weights it all.  She is beautiful, strong in the strength of the Lord, determined, diligent, caring, wise and so much more.  She is one of the best mothers I have ever known and I am proud to call her my daughter.  She is always there for her family no matter what the cost of money or her strength and time. God has showered us with 4 different personality children and I wouldn't change one of them for anything.

So happy birthday my dear daughter of mine.  Thank you for the joy, the care, and all the love you have brought to each of us.  I hope this is a most wonderful night for you and yours.  Sing, be happy and celebrate but most of all don't every, no matter what happens, forget that God has put you here for a purpose and don't back down no matter what the cost.  He has had a plan for you and Jordan and cared for you since day one until today and on I know.  So keep on keeping on my dear.  Wish mother was here to see you now.  She loved and was so proud of you too.  Keep your chin up when you don't feel like it, keep smiling and don't loose your mind lol.   You want just teasing.  Love, love, love you my dear, Happy Birthday Jen, Jen.  We all thank God for you and pray for you so go get 'em girl.

The pastor prayed for me to know my authority Jesus gives His brothers and sisters, that we are under His.  I think I am getting it.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Not about giving up but receiving.

There is something I have struggled with most of my life and that is smoking.  I hate it and am ashamed of it. I don't think I should be but it is like a thorn in my flesh.  I have held a rotten, black lung...been hypnotized...I have had acupuncture...I have worn patches and chewed gum...I have cut back and taken medicines...

It is like the more I tried to quit the worse it got.  You know like when someone decides to go on a diet, all they do is think of greasy food and sweets.  They gain back more than they lost, in a vicious cycle over and over through the years.  The law can do this if it is over you conscience.  It is written on our hearts, not over our conscience.  Jesus is over our conscience and He says there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

I was so embarrassed over the smoking, I would hide and sneak to do it years ago.  I have come to the conclusion that I smoked to give relief to the shame and guilt I was feeling.  We are born with some of the guilt and shame because of being born of Adam.  He and Eve sinned and they were ashamed and they covered themselves.  It was pointing to the way of Christ, our covering.  We are no longer guilty and ashamed.  We hear it everywhere in our every day walks of life, the world, the flesh and the devil and our own guilt.

I see a pattern in me.  When things are going my way I stuff it and suck it up and pull my boots straps up to cope.  Then when they continue and I can cope no longer, I smoke to cope.  I also over react or panic instead of trusting Christ.  This is huge for me to see where my lack of faith is from the very beginning.

I once heard from a study I took, that satan condemns with guilt and the Spirit convicts our conscience and it is quick and clean and joy follows.  Many times I would feel the guilt and never come to a place of accepting the forgiveness of Christ and the joy of being forgiven and of being His. This happened without me even realizing.  I would say I am sorry all the time.  I finally quit apologizing and ask the Lord to change me.  People were tired hearing my sorry's and never changing.

I think I would sleep and be depressed because of the noisy conscience, that told me I was a failure and if people only knew me. If something makes you feel guilty, talk with a friend to see if it is true guilt and don't do it.   Again I had no idea this is what I was thinking.  I think that is why I have struggled with peoples approval.  If people liked me that meant I was ok.  I didn't have to feel the guilt and shame, for awhile.  We all struggle with the approval of man. My cousin said to do to an audience of One.

I look on my goodness, when I am feeling guilt and shame.  Tedd Tripp said, you are loved not because of your goodness but because of Jesus.  My life is more built on Jesus than ever and not what I do but, what He has done for me.  Oh I cave in.  I did last night.  I cried myself to sleep over nothing.  I can think so hard things become big in my life.  Danny says I do everything to the extreme.  I said Lord thank you for loving me and your mercy over me.  Why can't I be normal?  Please let it be for your glory.  It came to me this morning my doc has cut my meds trying to get me at a good dose.  So I ask is this magnified because of my meds, my heart or both?

 Jesus is my comfort and my peace.  Ask the Spirit to show you, where do you run to quiet your conscience.  It maybe work, exercise, a clean house, a harmful addiction, ministry, buying, anything you tun to when you ache and you want to quiet the noise in your head.  You may not even realize it now, but spend some time,  quiet with the Lord and the Spirit will show you, where you run.  These things God created are to be enjoyed, while we enjoy Him.  We are not to be mastered by anything but Christ.  I do not say this for anyone to feel guilty, but to have the Lord search your heart, to set you free from guilt and condemnation.

I do not think it is a wrong worship, as many say.  Oh that maybe what happens, but it is not a cure.  It only piles on more guilt and shame.  I use to sit and talk to the Lord while I smoked.  I love the Lord and you probably do too.  The answer is to get with a friend and ask them to listen to you and help you unpack your conscience, ways you know you are struggling.  We all need each other in this walk of faith.  What is the pull of your heart for comfort and peace?

Until we deal with the issues of our heart, we will not have a clear conscience so we can hear the leading of the Spirit illuminate our heart.  It is all about us being set free to have a personal relationship with our Father, Son and Spirit.  Until we know God is for us.  That we are His joy!  Until the magnitude of His love seeps into our very soul and we have an abundance of joy and peace and thankfulness we will struggle with guilt and shame.  Until the truth of why Christ died moves beyond our head to our heart we will not know just how abundant this life in Christ can be.

This is Lent and sometimes I think about what I can give up, to have the Lord better show me my heart of repentance.  This year He is doing it for me.  I am just along for the ride.  Lent is not always about giving up, it is about receiving....  All Christ has for me...

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

From a Control Freak!

Thank you all for your prayers and concern.  Danny's niece Kristi and I brought Danny home from the hospital today.  He had a serious blockage but he had great care and doctors and did really well.
Last week he went to Wyoming snowmobiling and ended up in the hospital for two days, for test.  He came home with the test and saw his heart doc and they told him he would have to go to the hospital for a heart cath.  Immediately they did the stent surgery and he did great.  Lots and lots of good attention.  I don't know what I would have done without the staff, the girls and Jordan sitting with Pop, Ash supportive calls and Lee taking care of the farm last week and this.  Our children have been with us through thick and thin.

When we got home Danny drove twice  I got scared.  He said, Deborah I know my limits and my instructions.  He is an active man and was tired laying around and sleeping.  It is just not his way.  He is a type A worker. We both were appreciative of the care he got at the hospital.  

When we got home from him driving to Walmart, we ate the vegetable soup he made.  He went to bed and I went to the porch.  I needed some time just to sit in the presence of the Lord.  Have Him search my heart.  Something was going on and I needed to know what it was.  I was so blind.  I have had too much coffee and sleeping has been off.  It came to me, I am a controller. I was angry.  People weren't cooperating like I wanted.  I was fearful not trusting God with Danny.  I was loosing my control and therefore my comfort.  When he wouldn't do what I thought he needed to do to keep him safe.  He said Deborah I know my limits and my instructions. I didn't listen to my husband.  My leader and protector.  When I am tired and things are going wild and out of my control you can see my weakest point.  I went into the bedroom to apologize and confess to Danny my heart of not trusting God with things, with him.  To apologize to him for the way I had acted.  It was not the time.  He was asleep, but tomorrow I will humble myself.   Because I too was worried and fearful and so, I grabbed and clinched my hands around my whole family as tight as I could.  When I couldn't, I just wanted to give up and go take a nap.  My restraints of struggling because I wasn't getting what I wanted I thought, had worn me out.  I think when we were told, I wanted to gather you under my wings but you would not.  The Spirit has a way of opening blind eyes of self righteousness and self reliance.

Confession is good for the soul.  Once I repented to the Lord, I feel better.  Sorrowful but peaceful with gratitude for Gods precious gift of my family and my husband.  Just a broken heart over my sin to my family at a special time, I should have understood them all.  They had been so wonderful and helping.  I couldn't have made it without them.

So here we are again.  What is normal these days for anyone.  Better yet, what does God do but reveal my lack of trusting Him with my family, something I thought I had gone through years ago.  When we are the weakest or strongest I should say, our idols raise their ugly head.  Apart from these two difficult days I wouldn't realize I still struggle in the very same way.  I don't think I get any better but just hand over to God sooner.  How could I so quickly forget what God had just done for us and the help and care of my family for me and their dad.  I feel like the Israelites who got the manna and the grumbled and complained.  Moses ask, what do you want me to do with these people you gave me?  That is being ask about me.  Yes I am broken over it.  How can I be so blind.

You may not understand this but I have been struggling with why do I think I have to be so right about everything.  I don't argue with Danny or the kids but it is what goes on in my heart that troubles me.  I don't do it for acceptance.  I do it for value and worth.  I feel like something is missing if it is wrong.  The self righteousness of that is evident.  Knowing who I am in Christ and that He gives me value and worth.  That the gospel is about God and not me.  I thank God that He does not leave me to myself.  I pray that sometimes.  He is there loving us in our humiliation, saying it was my humiliation for you that brings you to the Father at times like this even with a broken, grateful heart that says I am your hope.  Begin again tomorrow.  Learn, change, cling to me and love those I have graciously given you.  Anyway I think I am over trying to be right.  How can you think you are right when you blow it so bad.  Somehow I hear God whisper...I knew you would and I love you anyway.

Nite all.  Blessings and safe keeping.  Count your blessings and if you can't remember why, call a friend and ask them what you need to be thankful for.  Be still and wait upon the Lord until there is peace in your soul.  Let people love you and God too.  It is one of the grandest gifts the Father gave us in His Son, His love.  Spread it around and I will too.  Those around you and God, loves the unloveable.  Can I love the lovable?

Monday, March 2, 2015

We stuck together like glue.

I want you to know what I am about to write is my opinion.  I have come to this conclusion from words from many knowledgeable people and my own life.  I don't want to repeat myself, but for the cause of many who do not know, I want to share a little of my background, for your knowledge and I hope education, if you chose to believe it.

I was a first born.  Very independent and confident.  My parents adored me and my sister.  I had  wonderful teenage years and years as a child.  I had great friends and didn't have trouble talking to anyone.  I was not a really smart student, average.  But I had lots of friends and I valued them tremendously.  I had friends from all walks of life and they supported and cared for me beyond anything I deserved.

Danny and I began dating when I was in the 10th grade.  I don't think I dated but about 3 guys.  All great young men.  But over time, I thought,  Danny was who I was to be with.  We were alike, but oh so different.  We got married when I was 20, the day before my birthday.  We were suppose to get married that summer, but his good friend, another player, drown and he was to be married that weekend, had just finished college football his senior year.  Danny said we don't know when will be our last day.  I want to get married during semester break and we did, two weeks later.

I loved being married to him and being a mother.  That and loving my family and friends and the Lord was my life.  Our family did not meet a stranger.  We lived at the University of Al, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Arkansas and back at Clemson.

While we were at Arkansas, we had lots of great friends.  Our pastor adopted us.  He did a bible study for the coaches.  Danny came to a place, in his faith, I had never seen.  Many coaches and players noticed.  We kinda, recommitted ourselves to each other, our children and the Lord.  Then the bottom fell out of our fairy tail life.

Mr and Mrs Ford, Danny's parents, died.  It seemed all of us, Danny and I, all our children were struggling in some way.  I had 3 surgeries in my ear with tumors that were like parasites and could have paralyzed my face, as it was, a sheet between the tumor and my brain.  I had a hysterectomy and could not take hormones, which through me into unstoppable migraines and the middle of the change of life.  My doc dropped me and I didn't have the sense to know what to do.  I began using hormone cream.  It was clear we were leaving Arkansas and Danny was deciding, what we were to do and where we were to go, as Colonel Blessing and his wife, were living at the farm and we didn't want them to have to move until they were ready.  My life was falling apart and I couldn't hold it together any longer.  I knew Jesus was my answer and I clung to Him the only way I knew to, at the time.  But I didn't know how to respond to the events that were taking place or my health.  I didn't know what to do but exist.  Looking back,  God was spending the next 18 years showing me, about trusting Him and walking by faith.  I isolated and prayed and studied the gospel like I had been doing, but I did it alone now and went off to myself, in mind and body.  I think it was self protection mode.  I didn't even realize what I was doing.  Danny didn't know what was wrong with me.  I didn't either.  I did weird and crazy things, worrisome things.  We sold our house and moved to an apartment until the kids got out of school.

I remember the day Danny said, Deborah, we have got to go to the doc.  I was delusional, but still didn't know what was happening.  My dad had mental illness, but I still didn't know much about it, as it happened,  after I had left home, later in life, like me.  I said ok, Danny.  I had resisted for so long, while so sick,  I think he was surprised I agreed so easily.  He took me to a doctor and I was admitted to a mental hospital.  Locked behind close doors.  I remember talking to the people about Jesus and playing the piano and singing hymns with the patients.  I remember a pastor visiting me and we discussed his sermon that Sunday to come.  Jesus was my focus.  It was all I knew to hold on to.  I began to remove myself from a life, I could not control, even more.  My parents came and helped Danny pack and I got out of the hospital and off to Clemson we went.  I seemed better at times, but not really.  Thinking back I was more like the person on the corner, preaching a sermon and handing out pamphlets.  I am not defending myself but merely trying to give insight to the illness.

Back and forth out of the hospital, taking a lot of meds and sleeping.  I had the support and help from family and friends.  I don't know how Danny did it.  I would come in and out of being sick.  I remember giving my testimony at church and a lady came up to me afterward and said she would pray for me.  I said oh, thank you.  She said for the demons to leave me alone. You could have blown me over with a feather.  The reason it was so hard for me to come out in the open about my illness was the view many people have that mentally ill people are crazy, they are afraid and don't know what to do or say and that the church had, that it is caused by sin.

Danny and I decided to take a stand and be an advocate for the mentally ill and come along side NAMI and do what we could for those, just like me.  We did interviews.  I taught educational classes to police and medical teams and led support groups.  Danny did golf tournaments.  I wanted to fight the stigma.  I wanted to help people feel like, they could come out of the closet and get help they needed, like I did.  I saw the tragedy it could be.  People who got beyond help and afraid to tell.  Many are on the streets and prison and beyond their family being able to help, or worse take their own life.

I could see how God had used this illness, for my good, as I prayed before doing most everything.  I couldn't even make a decision what to wear or what to eat.  God was my constant companion.  I was no more self reliant.  Worship was a part of my life.  I knew my failure and depended on God for everything.  I couldn't function on my own.  Poor Danny had so much to deal with and explain for me.  I did a lot of studying about meditation and solitude with God.  A lot of reading and isolation.  I had to educate me and my family got educated too on the disease.  My children were pretty much on their own.  This is where a lot of my regret came in.  Oh, I was there, but not there.  Danny was there and did all he could, but we were in a tough spot and he was worried about me and where do we go from here.

We have come to a place to see Gods faithfulness in our family, in unbelievable ways.  I don't live in regret any more.  My kids, God and Danny have forgiven me and understand more than I do.  It has been, a journey lonesome journey at times.  Although 1 in 4 deal with MI, we didn't really know anyone else at the time.  No ones tells their story, maybe because we pour on the guilt and shame to them.  Until you are educated and set free from secrets.  Sometimes it was God hanging on to us and us to each other, with a string, but we love each other and appreciate each other in a way, we never would have, apart from, all God has done and we have done for each other.  We are a loyal group and Gods grace kept us all together.

Are people with mental illness sinning?  Maybe.  Is that the reason people get sick?  No.  We are people who sin, just like everyone else, but if we are His, we are His beautiful creation.  If sinning would make you mentally ill, everyone would be sick.  I don't think apart from the mental illness, I would know and depend on God, as I have had to, to make it or have the love I have for  my family without it.  I see it as Gods grace in my life.  Is it still hard on us all?  Yes.  Is it good?  Life good?  The best.  By His grace, we have stuck to each other like glue and grown to care about others more than ourselves.  Oh I still struggle with sin and pride and self righteousness but I know the way back home.  Let me put it this way, mental illness was Gods rescue to me and I think I can say for my family.  It took me out of the center of their world and we all reached for God to carry us through.  I would have never been able to deal with the issues of my heart, my fears and doubts we all have, unless they had been magnified, by a brain disorder.

I am sorry this is long.  It was just something God planned for me to do.  I have no doubt.  You see we are to proclaim His greatness.  "We are trophies of His grace."  Tim Keller.