for we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus…

I think the most fascinating aspects of ‘man’ is the fact that he can create art, and music, and speak words that bring about change and of course the ability to read, and especially God’s Word, the Holy Bible. And the reason for all this wonderfulness in man is simply because we were created in the image of God! (Not your pets, or any animal at the zoo, for that matter!) GOD is the Master Artist in our lives, He is the Song to give us strength for the day, and He is the Word which gives us life.

But I think the hardest aspect of man is the fact that we all have ‘fallen bodies’ prone to sin, (because Adam sinned, we all sinned). And the result of the fall is  -death. BUT, to those whose hearts, minds and souls have believed on Jesus, because ‘the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’- there is a life- forevermore!’

There is a body that we  will have from God, a body not made with hands, eternal in the heavens! (2Cor. 5) The Master Artist has gone to prepare a place for us. The Master Artist is at work in each of us – but we can’t see the canvas. We can only feel the strokes of the brush- and sometimes they don’t feel gentle. What is going on? We ask because we can’t make sense of it all.

Today, help me trust that You know what You are doing in and through every aspect in my life, for we are Your workmanship. Be my Song of strength for today and bring color in my otherwise ‘pale’ life through Your word, this day. Be glorified.

1John 3:2-3) Dear Friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

SONG:.. “and on that day when my strength is failing, the end draws near and my time has come. Still my soul will sing His Praise unending,   10,000 years and then forevermore! Bless the LORD, O my soul…”

Today, I tell part of my cancer story…

Why do I write the things I write? Why do I write at all?

Well, I didn’t begin to write until after the cancer. But there is purpose in the words, even if they are only for me. The words are written to point to the loving, gracious, all patient hand of God. To be reminded of His presence in everything.Even great darkness.

My life was rudely interrupted by this very large mass on my right breast that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Only to find out that this size tumor can take up to 10 years to get that big. Wow, I guess that took me out the the early detection category. Anyway, my church family, (I love the fact the the church is the people!) My church family from everywhere started praying for me and reaching out during this time.  I truly believe that I was carried by the prayers of the saints.

On a side note, I was feeling pains ‘in’ my pelvic bone weeks before the cancer diagnosis, and was not sure what that was all about. So after the diagnosis, I grew strong through the Word of God, but at night , fear would come rushing in to envelope me.  I literally recited the scriptures that I had memorized and prayed the name of Jesus. But one particular night I felt compelled to get out of bed, literally fall prostrate before the Lord, and I prayed- “Lord God, I am afraid this cancer has metastisized to my bones. Please heal me, heal my bones.” I went back to bed. Do you know that I felt the Lord wanted me to pray in this manner-7 times! That is what I felt He wanted me to do- so I prayed on my face that night 7 times! Praying for the mercy of the Lord and healing for my body.  My bone scans were clear(!) but the large tumor remained. I truly believed the Lord healed my bones-yeah, now I only had breast cancer!

Many of you know that I am an alternative medicine person through and through and petrified of doctors offices! My father was an oncologist/surgeon of all things, and all I remember is THAT is an office I never want to have to go to. As I grew up,  Poloroid pictures of tumors that  he had surgically removed  that day lay on our kitchen counter.  (This can be a great encouragement to take vitamins and take care of your health, which I tried to do, somewhat.)
Well what was crazy about this situation was that I had no time even to think- first the tests, then the diagnosis, then the Surgeon and Oncologist  visit practically the next day!  ‘Wow, this must be bad for things to move this quickly’, were my thoughts as we walked into the office. But the woman behind the counter to sign me in was a sister in Christ that I loved dearly! And  the next thing I realized as we sat down was Christian music was playing, (Only in South Carolina! ) And then the  coolest thing of all happened as we were walking toward the room to meet the surgeon. I heard a voice from behind saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”  This is the way; chemo, surgery, the medical way, “this is the way, walk in it.”

So I knew from that moment on, we were going through the chemo!

I am trying to keep this story short; remember in  teaching my kids, they give me 10 minutes max!, so I am the queen of the 5 – 7 minute devotion/story.

So part of the  chemo I had to endure was nicknamed, ‘the red devil’ because it was red and it kills everything in it’s path- the good, the bad, and it sure made me look ugly! Anyway, to make a long story short, I thought the chemo was going to kill me- it was the hardest thing I had ever done, (and I had birthed 11 children natural!)

But here is what happened after my third treatment, (this moment has forever changed my life, and I will never live my days that I have here on earth, the same).

My dear friend drove me home after I was loaded up with all that chemo that day. (The nurses  were always surprised that I was sick right away. Most people wait a day and a half to be sick, but not my body. Within an hour I was sick.) But I laid down after Andrea had prayed for me and reluctantly left me to have some rest while my sweet neighbor Estelle had the kids for a bit. With my eyes closed, I could FEEL the death in my bones, (for this stuff kills the red and the white blood of the cells in the bone marrow). Anyway, I started talking to God.  “Lord, I think that they misjudged the amount of the stuff- but aren’t I supposed to see lights when I’m dying?” (Yes, this is how I talked to God on that day. I truly thought I was going to die.) Anyway, that Presence that we sing about and read in the word-His Presence was there! And I saw darkness, but there was a door, and it was open, and there was light shining out of the door, and all I saw were His hands, palms side up. And the only words that I heard were from a little story I used to read to my kids, over and over again:”Not all know Me as their King.”

I knew right then that I was going to live and that He, God, wanted me to tell others about Him. You see, those hands still had the scars from the nails. Jesus knows all about scars… because He laid down His life for me. And, as best I can, being in this fleshy human body, with many weaknesses and temptations, I would like to lay down my life for Him.

So the battle began, emotionally, physically, spiritually. But God, He brought me to the hymns. I finally was ‘still’ enough to hear the words. the first Hymn that literally lifted me from the dust and changed me on the inside as ‘wings on eagles’ was the old 7th century Hymn: Be Thou My Vision. Meditating and singing this new song strengthened me everyday. This song became my story, then and even now:

Be Thou my vision, Lord of my heart. Not be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought by day or by night. Waking or sleeping, Thy presence, my light.

Be Thou my wisdom. thou my true Word. Thou ever with me and I with You Lord. Thou my great Father, and I Thy true son. Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battleshield, sword for my fight. Be Thou my dignity, Thou my delight. thou my soul’s shelter, Thou my High Tower. Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise. Thou my inheritance Now and Always!  Thou and Thou only, first in my heart, High king of Heaven, My treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, My victory won. May I reach heaven’s joys, bright heavens sun, heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

still be my Vision, O Ruler of all!

Give us clean hands, give us pure hearts…

God comes into the temple. John chapter 8 in the Holy Book. He, God, begins to write in the dirt.

“God writes in the dirt?” you might ask. “When was that?”

Well, actually, even before this moment in time, a couple of thousand years before, the finger of God wrote on stone tablets: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

But God comes into the temple, just as the religious leaders of the day came as policemen requesting the “just” punishment for a woman they caught in adultery, “in the very act.”should receive.  Jesus spoke: “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

So one by one, they slipped away, beginning with the oldest even to the last. (vs. 9), ‘And Jesus was left alone with the woman standing in the midst. “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

This is the voice of the Lord.  And she answered, “No one, Lord.”

“Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”  Do you think the woman lifted her head to look in His eyes?  Jesus comes today to forgive our sin.

Am I willing to hear Him and lift up my head? Am I willing to receive his forgiveness and go – and walk in the light? No more hiding in the night.

Adultery? Are we all guilty? We, believers in God through the Son He has sent- we are the  Bride of Christ. We are the Church. If Jesus is the Bridegroom, then aren’t we guilty of adultery as well, putting so much attention on stuff in this world and not giving our Husband, who is Christ, first place in our heart?

We’ve all failed to be faithful! We’ve all missed the mark. What are we to do? We must hear the voice of our Lord:

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

Are our ears open to hear His gentle and compassionate voice: “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

I pray for myself, I pray for you, that we lift up our chins and make this very choice.

 

 

God comes to us each and every day…

The words of that very old song by Keith Green, ‘Rushing Wind’ continue to come to mind for me:
‘Rushing Wind blow through this temple, Blowing out the dust within.
Come and breathe Your breath upon me, I’ve been born again.’

So this morning, I was reading John 8:
“Now early in the morning He (Jesus) came again into the temple,”

“and all the people came to Him, ” (So He came first, then all the people came!  I like that, they all weren’t sitting there waiting for Him, then He showed up- No, ‘He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him!’) then the verse continues: “and He sat down and taught them.”

These words are amazing to me. Today, this is what we need- we need our eyes opened to see that He has come today,  for each and every one of us! We then have to choose to come to Him. Then He He will sit down and teach us.
He has come, and we have come, and He speaks: “I AM the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”… You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free!” (John 8)

“Open our eyes Lord, that we may see- that You are here.You are here and we simply need to come, we need to come to You.
There is great trials for some, and for others, great pain. For some of us great mystery and we have need to ‘wait and trust’.
Many of us have great need of love. There is no love apart from You. Rushing Wind of the Holy Spirit, cleanse us, make us new. God, will You take us, who are without love, without joy and fill us with the fullness of You, so in this day, we can magnify all that You are simply by yielding to Your gracious, and merciful Spirit.
An ‘undeserved filling’ of You is what we ask. The joy of You and Your willingness to love us no matter what is what makes all things new in us today. So we choose to sing, in surrender to the One who ‘makes all things new’ and the One who loves us with an ‘everlasting love’. Fill us Lord, with the fullness of You.”There’s a light for a look at the Savior, and life more abundant and free!”

“Rushing Wind, blow through this temple. Cleansing out the dust within. Come and breathe Your breath upon me. I’ve been born again.
“Holy Spirit, I surrender. Take me where You want to go. Plant me by the living water, plant me deep so I can grow.”
“Jesus, You’re the One, who sets my spirit free. Use me Lord, glorify, Your Holy Name through me.
“Every day You’re drawing nearer, trials come to test my faith. But when all is said and done Lord,
it’s been worth the wait.”(Song by Keith Green, Rushing Wind).

“Take away the stone.”

So, in John 11- two sisters sent word to Jesus saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” When Jesus heard that, He said, “this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  So after a course of DELAY, Martha, (one of the sisters) said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever You ask of God, God will give it to You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha responds, “Yes, I know that he will rise in the resurrection at the last day…”  But Jesus was talking about healing and restoring and helping  THAT DAY! In the TODAY!

“Take away the stone.” (Jesus’ words)

“Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead 4 days.” (Martha’s words)

“Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (Jesus’ words) Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” (from death to life!)

FOR TODAY:’ Lord,I hear You saying that these troubles are not unto death- but for the glory of God that the Son of God may be glorified through it. Lord, be glorified, in me. Take away the stoney heart of unbelief, today , in me. You are my Savior!’

Trusting God at all times? Keep Calm and read this Psalm…

A Psalm of David: “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make it’s boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.

I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing…”Ps. 34:1-10. ‘A Psalm of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimalech; who drove him away, and he departed.’

David is a mess at this time- running for his life from King Saul, so he ran to the King of Gath, (also known as Abimalech)-(wait a minute- Goliath was from Gath!) What is David doing there? David realizes he is not safe-so,he pretends he is crazy and begins drooling and clawing at the gate! On the outside David is a mess (literally!)

However what was going on in David’s heart?  “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth…” David didn’t always LOOK too great on the outside, especially on this occasion, but he is known as the ‘man after God’s own heart’. His heart was praising God in the fire.

 

Keep calm in the madness. This Psalm of David instructs: “They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed.

‘pray to your Father who is in the Secret Place…’

First thing I read this Saturday morning: (Matthew 6:6) “When you pray, go to your room, and when you shut your door, pray to Your Father who is in the Secret Place; and you Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

So,  today, that is what the Father was saying, so I took the time. I have been doing so much ‘crying out’ to Him, that today I was silent and I could hear Him in this quiet place. I could hear Him today,  “Shut the door and meet Me in the secret place.
“I AM the Almighty God. Do you believe this?”
“Lord, it’s true, I truly act as if I don’t BELIEVE this at all. God forgive me!”
“I AM your Wonderful counselor. Do you believe that I AM?”
“Yes,Lord, but I don’t know what to do.”
“Do you believe I AM here to commune with you about everything because I AM your Everlasting Father?
“Because I fret and worry at times, I guess I really don’t live a life like I do believe.”
“Do you believe that the One whom I have sent came to lay down His life for you? And because He did and His blood was shed, your debt is paid in full? Your sins are covered in Him.Can you put off the heaviness? Can you wipe your tears and learn to dance in the storm, because I AM the Prince of Peace.”

Maybe I learned for the first time what taking His yoke  and learning of Him really means. I need to ‘think on these things’. Yes, even in THIS I can believe, because my Father is with me.

facing our giants…

So, 2 Samuel chapter 21 ends like this: “Now it happened afterward that there was again a battle with the Philistines…”vs. 20 “Yet again there was war at Gath…” (remember Gath? That is where the giant Goliath was from) vs. 21. “So when he defied Israel, (you would have thought they knew better than to fight the armies of Isreal after a teenaged boy simply throws a sling shot at their other champion and chops off his head!) Jonathan, son of shimea, David’s brother killed him…”

And when we are challenging ourselves to read through our Bibles, we read through many battles, then we go off and have to face our own giants for the day.  I just have to remember that they are the little ‘g’ giants compared to my Big ‘G’ God just like David did.  Here is how chapter 22 begins: “And David spoke to the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies…(I really like the word ‘all’ here!) and he said, ‘The LORD is my rock, and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in Him I will trust; He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my Savior, You save me from violence. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised. So shall I be saved from my enemies.”  And I love this about God, this is also Psalm 18- so we can read it again, just in case we forget that our giants are nothing next to God!

Planted by Streams of Water – a forward by Jared Rypkema

“He [the blessed man] is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers.”  -psalm 1:3

If there was ever a time a son could say, “my mom is the greatest woman I know,” this is it.  It may have taken me years to get out of my teens and realize it, but I have.

I’m so glad you’re here.

My mom would never write this post herself, so this is my forward and my encouragement to the woman who has meant the world to me, my father, and every one of my 10 brothers and sisters.

This passage in Psalms is one of her favorites.  I’m pretty sure I was five the first time she had us memorize the whole thing.  And when I sat down to write this first post, it’s the only thing that came to mind.

It was a little over 25 years ago that my mom was happily expecting her first child.  Little did she know how many  lives she would be intricately a part of at that time, and the things life would throw her way.  But she did know then that Jesus could do anything, and that if she planted herself by his stream, she would be ok.  Today, after successfully  raising 5 children, marrying 2, continuing with the last 6, surviving breast cancer, and many more things we’d call accomplishments, she knows more than ever.

Of course, nothing’s really been easy.  But if you know anything about Toni Rypkema, it’s that she’s always been patiently planted by that stream. Even when at times there has been no fruit, the water has felt like a trickle, and her way hasn’t seemed prosperous.

But that’s the greatest thing about her. She still knows it’s Jesus that holds her, and so she patiently waits.

If you’re looking for what it means to sit by the river of living water, you’ve come to the right place.  Here my mom will share with you her story.  Through the days, you’ll see what has shaped her in this life, but I can promise you one thing, you’ll always find Jesus in her posts and encouragement in her thoughts.

It’s just who she is.

P.S – Follow her on facebook to read many posts from her pre-blog days and see pictures of her family.