Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Life on Earth is Seldom Easy

Someone that I know and love is going through a very difficult break up. Engaged to be married since Christmas, his fiancee announced last week that she does not love him and is moving out of his apartment.

I sorrow for him. And I grieve his loss.

She does not have a relationship with God, in any way. At this time in his life, neither does he. He sees the relationship that exists between my husband and myself and thinks that he can have that for himself. And someday he may, if he once more chooses to walk with Christ.

Unfortunately, he has walked his own path for many years now. I have always thought that he feared asking Christ to be his Lord becasue he wants to live his life his way and thinks that God won't let him. So he lives in the world and he looks to the world to provide him with a life mate.

I know that he was raised in the knowledge of the law of natural consequences. ie: if you behave in a certain way, you can expect a certain outcome. But love, as they say, is blind, and he did not see this consequence coming.

I cannot tell him this. He will not hear it. But I continue to pray that he may, someday soon, come to the realization that he cannot run his own life successfully and that he can trust the Lord to see him safely through all trials and tribulations.

Life in Christ is a joy. That's not to say that it's often easy. Life on earth is seldom easy. But the desire for God's will in my life takes a great portion of the sting out of lifes disappoitments and sorrows.

I hope he comes around soon.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

From Prison to Praise

From Prison to Praise

I have a friend. She’s been a Christian for all of her adult life.
For the past twenty five years she has been a stay home mom making sure that her children were raised in Godliness and safety.

She’s incarcerated now, for a violent crime. I will not tell you what state she is in or what her conviction was for. Suffice it to say, she does not say, “ I am innocent.”

I’ve been to visit about a half a dozen times. I try to bring her youngest son as often as I can.

When she first went to prison she was terrified
Her transfer to a state facility was no improvement. Yes, there were fewer people in her cell. Now she only had three “bunkies” And there was a bed for her.

For the next 3 ½ years she knew that she would be in danger and that she had absolutely no control over any part of her life. But, she knew that she carried Christ into that place of fear and loathing. And she knew that if she were to survive with her life and sanity intact she must never forget that. Christ became, indeed` her hiding place, her fortress, her shield. In the very beginning she told me that every moment, Every moment, she clings to Jesus, so closely that she can hear his heart beat.

Even before her incarceration date she knew that, after entering into her new life, she would have be a woman of integrity. She must hold her head high, speak only truth, follow only God’s leading when wanting to interact with other prisoners. She must never lie, never be proud, never interfere.

And from the very first day, other prisoners watched her. Would she be a woman of integrity? Could they trust her? Should they trust her? Some have. Many others have not.
But she has been scrutinized, set up and monitored, not just by the prisoners but by the guards as well.

She involved herself in every kind of work that she could find. She became a chaplain’s assistant, joined the choir and became a worship leader. She applied for and was accepted into a paralegal course. Now her spare time is spent answering prisoners legal questions. She has passed an algebra course, at the top of her class. She has learned the “genteel” art of reupholstery, as well as carpentry and plumbing. She sets up the gym for visiting days, plans and monitors exercise programs, works out herself and is learning computer office skills. Basically, every waking hour is taken up with industry. At night she writes long letters to her husband.

But the circumstances of the lives of those around her are living nightmares. Several women she has come to know and support have committed suicide. Fights often end with boiling water being thrown into the face of the loser.

Yet, no one molests her. No one troubles her. She is held in high regard. Everyone knows that she is a Christian. And since her actions back her words, she has many friends and very few enemies.

The last time I spoke to her she told me how the prison guards ask for her prayers. She says they call her, as they would call any prisoner. But when she goes up to one of them she listens to their concerns and prays for them, but in a way that appears as if they are having a conversation. He speaks, she answers, and quietly prays and no one knows. Even the guards themselves do not know that she prays with several of them. They each think he is the only one she prays with.

Never think that her life has been easy. Each day is a huge struggle. And every day she fails in some way. She’d be the first to tell you that.

She still has many months of time to serve. But she is strong in the Lord. Daily, she says, she “presses herself into his palm.” And the lessons I have learned from her are so overwhelming. After she calls, I cry! I tell people at church about her and how well she’s doing and I cry!

I feel so privileged to be a part of her story.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Terror I May Never Know

The Terror I May Never Know

The television is filled with images of people in desperate despair in China. An Earthquake measuring 7.9 struck that country, in the middle of the morning, on a busy week day. Many of the buildings that collapsed crushed thousands of school children. The populations of entire towns are sleeping out of doors, some, even camping out under umbrellas, for fear that more quakes will happen and more misery added to their lives.

Parents stand on the edges of the rubble that was once their child’s school. They cry and scream out their children’s name but hear only silence. Rescue workers stand nearby, with nothing to do but watch and add their tears, because they must wait for other workers to remove as much wreckage as possible before they can climb inside to pull out the bodies.

I saw footage of Chinese people standing on a train platform. They were experiencing another aftershock. The look of terror and dismay on their faces said more to me than any news commentator could.

I see their fear and can imagine it in my mind. But I cannot know it and I probably never will.

My life has had its share of devastation. I have lost loved ones and seen my children suffer. But there is a difference. I place my faith in a God who loves all people. I believe that each one of those grieving parents brings sadness to my God’s heart.

Because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, because of his death, I can come before my Father. I can stand in the throne room, beside my savior and know that my Father hears my prayers and desires only good for me and those I love and even those I have never met and yet have included in my prayers.

I cannot reach out to people in China, or Myanmar, or Columbia to bring help and comfort. But there is no doubt in my mind that my prayers, and the prayers of countless others reaches God’s throne and that he hears and acts because we have boldness to come and ask him.

Someday I may be caught in a tornado. I may have the world collapse beneath my feet. I may be caught in a flood that sweeps away everyone I know and love. But if I am the only one left, although I am sure that I would feel terror, loss and uncertainty, I know that I would not be lost. My God is my sun and my shield. He will protect my mind and see me through until I reach past this life and enter into Heaven where he will wipe away my tears and fill me with such gladness that I will no longer remember the devastation of life lived in a fallen world.

And so I pray. And I ask the Father what I can do. And I do what I can. I pray that there will be those who can and will.

I am safe. No matter what happens, I am safe.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Painting the Corvette

Every other Tuesday I volunteer at our hospital. I paint pictures for oncology patients. I've painted everything from the cliffs in Spain, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea to the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen Harbor to a fondly remembered park in the city of Newark in New Jersey. I've also painted dogs, cats and horses. Today I painted my first Corvette. It was gold metalic with black trim.

The gentleman that I was visiting with had brought all his paper work and several magazines depicting his beloved car. It obvious that he loved his car! And he was a very pleasant and interesting person.

About halfway through the painting session a volunteer from Pastoral Care stopped in to give him a book of prayers and scriptures and to ask if she could do anything to "meet his spiritual needs" He acted embarrased as he explained that he really hadn't been involved in church for years now.

This is why.
He said that he was a Vietnam vet and that he had started having flash backs. He went to his church and told his priest, asking for help. The priest told him he couldn't help him. That was when he stopped attending church.

As I was finishing up the painting a housekeeper entered his room and I felt that what I had wanted to say should no be spoken in front of her. So I packed up, shook his hand, told him I would be praying for him and then I left.

But I had to go back! I wrote down the names of three different services that I have used in my trip through life. I walked back in to his room and handed him the list. I told him, "It's not the church you go to, or the priest you see. It's knowing that God loves you and that he cares enough to send someone like me to offer help. Feel however you want to about the priest, but don't forget that God loves you." And then I left.

I felt better, exhilarated! I'm so glad that I can be used by God to bless folks! That's what life is all about!

Mother's Day

Mother's Day
There is a blended family that attends my church. There's the handsome youngish husband, the pretty wife and the six teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18, four boys and two girls. They all live together, most of the time.
Today is Mother's Day. This morning, as I parked my car I saw all eight of them disembarking from their two vehicles. Being a friendly person, I walked over to say hello. Halfway across the street it occured to me that Mom was crying. I take that back She was sobbing. Dad has his arm around her and the kids were grouped together several yards behind.
I decided it maybe was not the best time to go over and say," Happy Mother's Day!" Intead I veered back to my side of the street and started to pray.
Dad was trying his best to comfort her and get her to stop crying before they got to the church. She was pretty much too upset to say anything, but I did hear something like, "Does Mother's Day mean nothing?!!"
Later, as worship was beginning to wind up, I walked to the vestibule and found her there, still sobbing. Dad was greeting and handing out bulletins. I put my arms around her and said, "Mother's Day can be such a curse!" I truly did understand where she was coming from. I still don't know what exactly it was that the kids (or kid) did but I can remember when my own offspring totally blew it on the one day each year that I believed should and maybe would be perfect.
I think we moms set ourselves up for failure. A card is nice. A dinner that I don't have to cook is fine. (especially if I don't have to clean up either.) But it really does seem as if it's the one day that the kids will be most selfish, most nasty, most cutting. It's a lot like small children behaving the absolute worst on Christmas Eve.
I will continue to prayfor her. I cannot imagine what it must be like to live in that family situation. But they are a family of faith. Dad and Mom are solidly planted in their Christianitly. The kids attend church, Sunday School and youth group. Of course, I mean that I will be praying for all of them.
And tomorrow? It'll be so much easier to get through, just because it is not Mother's Day.

My Relationship with the Holy Spirit

My relationship with the Holy Spirit
Scripture says that after Jesus ascended into Heaven, his Holy Spirit became the indwelling of God in all people who believe in Jesus as redeemer and Lord.
I believe that every person who has made that leap of faith has the Holy Spirit living in them. And that is that aspect of God that we deal with on a practical level. We pray to the Father, through the mediation of his son and our daily walk is informed by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
The fruits of the Spirit listed in the book of Galations reveals the ways our understanding of God and his purposes deepens as we learn to trust in God as a perfect provider. These fruits, when evidenced, are the visible signs of our maturity.
I was baptized in the Holy Spirit when I was 14 years old. I began to speak in tongues, and to prophesy in tongues. I prayed over people with infirmities and injuries and watched with joy and assurance as they were healed, sometimes right before my eyes, other times gradually. I found that I was able to sense the presense of the Holy Spirit in others and also to sense unclean spirits.
But! None of these supernatural events was anything I did on my own. Each instance, each occurance was the Holy Spirit working through me. I have learned that wonderful and fearful things alike can happen when we desire to see him working in and through us.
Lately I have begun to viualize just how it is with us and the Holy Spirit. Our pastor talks about calling down the power of the Holy Spirit. But if we are Christians, it seems to me that when we enter into worship and fellowship the Holy Spirit is already there. To call him down is unessesary. What I visualize is the Holy Spirit welling up in each of us and overflowing out of the tops of heads to flow among us and fill the room to overflowing with his presense and power.
The Holy Spirit is with me all the time. There is not a second when he is not in me and with me. Sometimes I like to think about how he looks out through my eyes and I see his holy power streaming out of my fingertips. It's a cool thing to picture.
Power! That's what the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is all about! The gifts he gives enables us to live righteous lives. They are the tools we need to succeed in doing his will on a daily basis. If it were not for the sin that creeps in on a moment by moment basis then it would be possible to use those gifts on second by second basis.
Life is hard! But it would be so much harder without the knowledge of God's presense with me, in me every moment.
How Cool!!


Today I start a blog on my relationship with God. That's becasue I have a feeling that things are going to be changing for me, that I will be heading down a new road.
Here's what happened;
I have been a member of our church's intercessory prayer team for several months. Terry our team leader has prayed over me a few times and the same theme seems to pop up. She has prophecied that God intends to use me now and that I need to be ready. (I had been sick for several years with Lyme disease and chronic pain but God performed a miracle on Friday, Oct. 29, 2006 and lifted my illness and pain from me.
So,after the second time Terry pronounced that word over me I started to look for the way God would choose to use me. I believe that I am being sent out as a speaker of hope and encouragement. I believe that I am to become a public speaker, giving my testemony to womenn's groups in my area.
But I have had, all my life a problem with seeing things through. Like I said to my husband last night, "All my threads are hanging out and none of my seams line up!" I'm a person who sews. As opposed to being a sewer. 80)
Today, at Terry's house I told what I said and she told me about the dream God had given her six months ago.
Terry saw a very large peice of beautiful cloth hanging on a line, flapping in the breeze. She noticed that the end was frayed and that the threads were unraveling. She was concerned becasue she thought that the beautiful cloth would just unravel until the design on it was ruined. So she thought, "What can I do to save this beautiful blanket? I don't sew and I don't know what to do." Then the Lord answered her and said, " You have two choices. You can cut the threads away. That will make it look neat but it will not solve the problem. The fabric will continue to unravel. Or, you can take the threads, one by one and tie them together. That will stop the fraying and save the beautiful artwork."
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up! Here is an answer! Somehow, all my ends will be tied together. The beauty of the work that God has for me to do will be preserved and I will know what to do
So now I prepare a presentation. There is so much I can talk about, about a loving God who has walked me through so many dark valleys. When I know what the Lord wants me to say I will pick a date and give my testimony to the ladies of the IPT. Then we'll see where the Lord leads me from there.