Remembering Jenny Part 1

Reasons

Sometimes I wonder why I want to write a book about Jenny. I feel in my heart that I have to. Perhaps the book is just for me. But maybe there’s someone else out there that needs to meet Jenny too. I know I needed her.

How could Jenny become completely paralyzed at only 34 years of age, lose the movement of every part of her body, not even be able to breathe on her own, and have the joy she did and a continuing faith to believe God?

She told me, from the very first day when she didn’t even know what was happening to her, she felt God had told her, “You’ll be able to walk again.”

And she believed those words and held on to them when she couldn’t hold on to anything. But hold on she did. They kept her faith strong even after 5 years of loss upon loss. God allowed us to be friends her last year on this earth, and I witnessed faith in champion proportions.

Do you know what she told me the first time I visited her at her house, while she sat in her chair. She said, “The very first day I was paralyzed, I ask God to help me get out of bed every day.”

I guess that’s why I’ll write the book. Because I need to stop complaining about my nothing in comparison problems in the temptation to look at situations instead of God, and learn to think differently, keeping faith, believing God, day after day, trial after trial, the way Jenny so victoriously did.

Beginnings

Jenny couldn’t hug her girls anymore. She couldn’t do so many things.

The girls were young.

And no-one will know what the Lord did in-and-through her and, for the both of us unless the words are written. God let us be friends. We needed each other.

There were days when, just thinking of her and the extreme challenges she had to face every minute of the day, got me out of bed some mornings.

I had suffered great loss. My heart physically felt it was bleeding. Did we even know that the heart can feel like it’s bleeding.

I needed a hero, a champion. Jenny was all that, but don’t think for a minute that Jenny’s the hero I’m writing about. Right from the start, the hero is God. I cried out to Him and He heard me. He gave me a friend.

I started praying for Jenny years before when on the very same week, on a February of 2008 I had a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. But Jenny became paralyzed, from the neck down, without the use of her diaphragm, thus preventing her from breathing on her own, causing a continual use of a respirator.

Within 24 hours Jenny mysteriously became quadriplegic.

I had nothing to complain about. What is Rheumatoid Arthritis, swelling and pain when moving, to paralysis of every limb and chest.

Debilitating changes

It all happened so quickly. February, 2008 brought change for the both of us, but for Jenny, she couldn’t move anything.

Was sudden paralysis of the spine due to a virus? Did the medical team ever really know? There were so many questions for Jenny, her husband, and her three girls. Questions that couldn’t be answered.

I thought about Jenny every day even though I didn’t know her well when all the changes happened.

I would reach for a cup out of the cupboard after getting up and walking out of bed. Tempted to complain of difficulties of life and my RA pain, which seemed to come so naturally, but then I would stop.

Almost as if I was watching myself from the outside, I would fill the cup with water and give myself a drink, then. . .  I would think, “Remember Jenny.” A young mom from the Y, with her girls on the same swim team as mine, and all of a sudden, word goes out, “Jenny’s paralyzed.

I was cured. Perspective is everything. I had no problems at all. Zero. None.

I can’t even imagine being 34 years old and not being able to move anything. Prayers went up to God for Jenny everywhere for her girls, her husband, and family.

Day after day.

Month after month.

Year after year.

I am not sure how long she was hospitalized, 8 months and more. And then training and preparation for life as a quadriplegic. A special chair was needed as well as 24/7 home health care. The house had to be renovated for the chair to go up stairs. A new van was purchased. The entire dynamics of the household was forever changed.

And Jenny couldn’t hug her girls anymore.

The girls would always smile when I waved as they walked into swim practice. What a great thing to have a pool to kick off all the stress and hardship of life for an hour. The girls were precious.

I remember watching her blow into a long straw-type tube to move her special wheel chair into the Y. We would have chats now and again.

I asked her, “Jenny, what’s the hardest part of all this?” Putting my hand on her hand. With great effort to catch breath, she answered me,

“People put their hands on my hand. They think they’ve touched me. I can’t feel my hands.”

She couldn’t do anything. Not even breathe on her own. This is more loss than I can comprehend.

Time to say “Thank you Jenny”

Time went on. I had a cancer diagnosis. A cancer fight with the struggles of chemo, surgery, hormone block treatments, the ups the downs, the all-arounds. And I would “remember Jenny.”

November of 2012, and I was driving my kids to school.

This was first year of school for my elementary and middle school aged children. I was a home-educator for 21 years, however the stress involved and the weakness I was dealing with gave way to public education for my kids.

We were in the car and the radio announcer posed a question,

“Is there someone very important in your life, and they might not even know it? Let this Thanksgiving be the time to let them know.”

“Jenny” was my thought.

So I found Jenny’s phone number and I called. I remembered Jenny every day, and I began visiting her home periodically.

This was four and-a-half years after the paralysis began!

A friendship developed

The first time I visited Jenny was a bit uncomfortable as I waited at the door at 10:30 in the morning for what seemed like a long time. I stood at the door, but then one of the home-health nurses let me in.

They were blow-drying her hair. I can’t imagine the amount of work it is every day to tend to all the needs of a young woman who can’t move or breathe on her own.

Jenny seemed so happy to have a visitor. And I was happy to be finally visiting. I came with my guitar. She really didn’t know me at all except for a few conversations at the Y and the call for Thanksgiving.

I felt I needed to thank her for many things.

This woman got me out of bed. This woman gave me courage and perspective. This woman taught me to be thankful.

Quite honestly I wonder how many lives this woman actually saved? I know God used her to save me from my pitiful thinking. From thinking thoughts that would were faith-less and fret-full.

Jenny had a gentle spirit and joyful nature, even after almost five years of circumstantial loss. This was someone who couldn’t move a thing. She couldn’t pull her bangs down to fix them up. She couldn’t take a sip from a cup. She couldn’t do anything!

This is the woman that should be on the cover of magazines of what a “beautiful woman” is.

I brought my guitar for a time of worship and prayer. We sang. Jenny cried. Her respirator buzzer kept going off because of the extra air needed. And we prayed.

When Jenny spoke out of the abundance of her heart, you would think there would be bitterness, frustration, anger, and complaint. But I will tell you right here and now, out of the abundance of this woman’s heart, who had lost so much, was one thing, grace poured out.

Not complaint, but gracious words. She shared, “He’s going to heal me. He told me at the beginning, when this first happened. He said to my spirit, “You’re going to walk again.”

Jenny believed God. From day one to year five, completely paralyzed.

“The Lord has let my legs still have muscle tone. They aren’t supposed to have that. “I’m going to walk again,” she told me with complete faith.

I asked Jenny of her favorite memory verse.

“Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

She would joke how she spoke with God, “Lord, I’m not going anywhere!”

You probably think I’m writing nice words about a friend. No, I’m writing about seeing a miracle of God

This woman was overflowing with faith, and hope, and I haven’t even mentioned the love.

God did this.

He was present. I was a witness of a life filled with the Spirit and submitted to Him.

Jenny’s home health care ran out after a little over five and a half years. She found herself back in the very same hospital that she spent so many months in almost 6 years prior.

This was her greatest fear. At 40 years of age.

But God gave us time together in the hospital reading the Bible together and singing songs. The girls will never know what God did for both of us in opening His word together, I thought, unless I write the words.

So, letters for the girls were written. But they aren’t just for the girls. That’s why I’ll share them.

(to be continued, Part 2).

 

 

Changing Landscapes?

Soil, hard with clay and stone. Creates a landscape barren. Barren, dry, plain, and forlorn.

But with a shovel, some dirt, sweat and possibly tears – seeds can be fallen to bring about hope.

Planting seeds of promise. Promise of refreshing fruit.

“. . . unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (1)

“If it dies, it produces,” produces and multiplies. Life and fruit overcome. Life then, overcomes the weeds.

Soil prepared and seeds planted, required sun and water surrounded – the “kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies,” and a miracle springs up before our eyes.

Fragile, tender – however, life’s there!

Promise of a flower, a tomato, or pear. Fruit of self-control, and gentleness, and care.

“. . . unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies,” 

“Jesus, You see my struggle. May I determine to focus on Your eyes. On the cross, You, the Lamb of God, willingly laid Your life down for me – that I might overcome, and be made free.

The struggle, the strain. Who likes “to die?” But the promise of newness- the guarantee of life. I will fix my eyes upon Jesus, and ask that You be magnified.

Magnify Your splendor. Magnify Your grace. Magnify Your steadfast love. No longer barren, but now a beautiful landscape.

A landscape of hope. Earth filled with color. Land providing sustenance. Fruit in multiplication- spread to splash this world with color.

“. . . unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, . . .”

the fruit of love is spread all over.

(1) John 12:24, NIV

God Calls a Meeting

I wrote a piece yesterday for our Word Weaver’s (of Lexington) Meeting in the evening. I called it “A Child Can Teach Many Things.” After time with other writers and gentle critique, I share with you ideas in editing, so you might be encouraged to join us once a month that the words God has put on your heart would be written and shared. And God is in control of all that happens through the process.

God calls a meeting.

He’s tugging at my heart.

I’m hungry. I’m tired. My tapestry is unraveling.

I’m seeking, but not finding. There’s a Dead End again.

Where is this place of meeting? Does my heart yearn to go?

My thinking goes amiss. I think, “Before the meeting, I have to do this.”

“I have to get rid of that, but I can’t. I can’t. Or maybe, it’s more like, . . . I won’t.”

Is this how we think? Do we believe, “God doesn’t want to  meet with me, I’m way too lost. I’ve gone too far.”

God calls a meeting, time and time again. Do I continue to run the other way?

Do our minds spin out of control?

God saw me running. So He brought me a 3 year old. To simply watch and listen.

A child’s smile, the skip, the joy, the love. How we’re always changing, but some things never change.

As I was watching a child at play, it was like a first day of spring. It was like a sky with fun, puffy clouds.

I was running from God, so He brought me a child. So I could see with my eyes, something I knew of before. Of forgiveness and grace, gentleness, and noise. Of making a mess, but having a second chance – of two sides of a coin.

God called a meeting and I kept putting it off, until He brought a child in my view.

I heard the song coming from their heart during play, “A,B, C, D . . .” So accomplished and confident. So, I broke in and asked, “What’s your favorite song?”

She began to sing: “Jesus loves me . . .”

I watched a tender faith. I witnessed a confident trust. I knew these words. They were hidden deep down in my heart.

“Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.”

My heart was pierced, that very moment. I forgot what was true.

I forgot what I knew.

As sheep often do.

I left from following the Shepherd. I thought I had to “plow on through.” By myself. On my own.

I became like the prodigal. Hungry, far. With pig slop for food. It was when that child sang,  “Jesus loves, . . . ” That I heard, “Remember Me.”

The child sang, “this I know . . .”

My thought, “No, I don’t know anymore.”

The Lord kept His appointment. He spoke:  “Remember Me.”

Gentle and kind. God used a little child to remind. To remind me it’s not “Do this.” “Don’t do that.”

Simply, “Jesus loves.”

How I forgot.

So, I turned around that moment. That moment was new. Because, in my heart, instead of my back, I turned to face the Lord. Inside my heart was bursting.

I held it all in, but, if I didn’t I would have a face filled with tears.

Immediately, . . .

I felt hope.

Out of a child’s praise, I remembered God’s amazing grace.

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, declares the Lord, . . .” Jeremiah 29:12-14. 

See God's Hand

God calls a meeting.

He’s tugging at my heart.

I’m hungry. I’m tired. My tapestry is unraveling.

I’m seeking, but not finding. There’s a Dead End again.

Where is this place of meeting? Does my heart yearn to go?

My thinking goes amiss. I think, “Before the meeting, I have to do this.”

“I have to get rid of that, but I can’t. I can’t. Or maybe, it’s more like, . . . I won’t.”

Is this how we think? Do we believe, “God doesn’t want to  meet with me, I’m way too lost. I’ve gone too far.”

God calls a meeting, time and time again. Do I continue to run the other way?

Do our minds spin out of control?

God saw me running. So He brought me a 3 year old. To simply watch and listen.

A child’s smile, the skip, the joy, the love. How we’re always…

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I’m Changed, Daily

“The garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit.” Isaiah 61:3, Amplified.

Changes are necessary.

A change of clothes is a natural occurrence, for everyone, hopefully, at least once a day.

We begin clean and fresh but through the course of time, we can acquire smells.

My fragrance changes from healthy to pale when words arise in my ears and eyes. In a moments time a report can bring down great amounts of torrential rains.  Be it news, an assignment, the correction, the debt owed.  The diagnosis, the prognosis, the dropped ball, the “no show.

How sudden everything bright can be enveloped by sighs.

How quickly anxiety and fretfulness wrap around like a weed and there’s no clarity of thought – only thoughts reckless and headstrong. Yielding no peace.

I’m guilty of fear, which brings on regret. I speak unkind words that I can’t retract.

Escape I must, so I run to a place, . . .

of hiding and silence and God’s quietness. He waits for me and makes me lie down on pastures of green, so familiar in sound.

And God speaks to my soul: “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” (1). For the “spirit of heaviness,” let Me change your clothing and help you put on a  “garment of praise.” (2).

Lord, I cry, in my weariness, I’m weak. I have no strength. I can’t find a thankful thought. Trouble has clouded my eyes. There’s pain of blood dripping from my heart, and the only language I seem to speak, brings confusion to the ones closest to me.

“Don’t try to figure it all out. Don’t worry about all the “stuff.” That’s an unknown future that you can trust Me with, you know. Let Me take this garment of heaviness from your mind and your heart. Let me remind you that each past failure, has been a teacher bringing about great growth. Let Me help you put a robe of “thankfulness” on. Let Me remind you of good things with amplified reports.

“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” (3)

“Read aloud My word, Amplified, in whom, the Son that I did send opened the Book and read aloud in the hearing of man:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me
To bring good news to the humble and afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted,
To proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives
And freedom to prisoners,
 
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance and retribution of our God,
To comfort all who mourn,
 
To grant to those who mourn in Zion the following:
To give them a turban instead of dust [on their heads, a sign of mourning],
The oil of joy instead of mourning,

The garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit.
So they will be called the trees of righteousness [strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice, and right standing with God],
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Remember Me. Let me lift your heavy heart. Sing a hymn, I will change your garments to Praise.”

The garment of Doxology will be my starting point. Thank you God, that You know my name.

 “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen. (The Doxology).

(1) Romans 12:2.

(2) Isaiah 61:3.

(3) Hebrews 12:12.

 

 

 

Let’s be gloriously changed – Let’s choose to Praise

Let’s make the choice now, no matter the story. No matter the pains, the loss, the new worries.  To start the day with God and giving thanks is fine, but to end it in praise is victory, power, and brings a sound mind.

We be changed through the praise. God draws ever near, as we draw near to Him. Let our voices (aloud) ring clear.

“You are the LORD God Almighty. You are worthy. You are worthy. You are worthy to be praised.

You are Elohim, strong Creator of all the natural beauty we see.

We worship You God. Jehovah, I AM, (YHWH) self-existent, un-change-ing.

The Most High God, El-Elyon is worthy of our praise. There is none like You. Too much, too high, to great for our minds to comprehend and know.

But the Bible tells us, You loves us so.

We worship You Lord, for You alone are worthy. “The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”(1) Worthy and  powerful – O so wonderful is Your Name.

We choose to think on things that are noble, right, and true, and altogether lovely. Yes, I choose to worship You:

Father, Son, You are Savior. We worship You Lord, You are Beginning and the End, the Lamb of God, and Friend.

We worship You Lord, for You alone are worthy. You are Eternal and Guide, You are King of all kings. You are Shelter. You are Judge. You are for us,  Cleansing.

You are Powerful, Faithful, Sustainer and Prince.

Majestic and Tower and Everlasting.

There is none like You God. You alone are worthy. I worship Your name, may nothing else take Your place.

You are Wisdom, Faithful, Merciful, Glorious.

You are Peace, Counselor, Healer, and Guard.

You are my Shepherd.

My Deliverer.

My Comforter.

Lord, You are my Hope.

You are my Joy. 

F-o-r-e-v-e-r, You are my Love.

You, God are gloriously magnificent.

You, “so loved the world,” (2) that Your Son You have sent.

I lift up Your name and proclaim with my voice  – “You, Lord God Almighty, are my Lord. You are my heart.”

I love You Lord Jesus, that You first loved me. Forgive me when I forget all that You are, all You did, and do:

Jehovah-Roi, the God who sees me. Jehovah-Shamma, Who promises to be there. Jehovah-Jirah, the LORD will provide.

O God, be my Adonai. My Lord, and Master, that I serve You -always.

I worship You Jesus. You have given me life. Today, this moment … for the rest of my life.

Amen. Amen. Let all the children say again,  “Amen.”

Praise goes before the battle and fight. Victory is won when I see God in all His might. Lead me Good Shepherd, as a sheep I often forget, to speak these words aloud and be transformed again, and … again.

(1) Proverbs 18:10, NIV.

(2) John 3:16.

 

 

Where is love?

Here is love: The Man was taken. Condemned. The people’s cry, “Crucify!” Wrists tied.

The hands that fed. The hands that healed, served, and prayed. The hands that lifted as His Word proclaimed, and “it was so.” As the story goes.

From long ago. And the song is sung, “Jesus loves me this I know.”

Do I know? Do I consider? Do we even think of the rejection, the pain? And yet, He was w-i-l-l-i-n-g?

If we become confused, and forget where to find love. We must stop looking outward, we must “set our eyes above.”

A purple robe, a crown of thorns. The mocking, the laughing. It all could be heard. Stripped, then whipped. And this was only the beginning …

I gave My back to those who struck Me,
And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.

 “For the Lord God will help Me;
Therefore I will not be disgraced;
Therefore I have set My face like a flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed.”  The prophet Isaiah proclaims in chapter 50. Who is the Me? Can you and I see?  “Jesus loves me.” Do I even come close to knowing?

Obedience to His Father who sent Him to die, on the cross that the Lamb of God might make complete sacrifice, for you and I. Even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly. (1)

All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah the prophet in chapter 53:6. 

The Scriptures proclaim. The Good Word speaks. How could we want to put the Truth out on the street? If God was waiting for me to get it right, He would still be waiting, because I fail every time.

We love Him because He first … loved us. (2)

” ... He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.” These are the words the prophet reveals. (3)

God loves the sinner. The guilty. The lost.

We don’t.  Naturally, we don’t (period.)We love “justice.” The human race doesn’t love the “unloveable.” But God does.

God is just. And God is also grace. How can we even think to turn our back to His face? Do we really love God? What is love anyway?

God demonstrates: He laid down His life for all of the human race. Whoever turns from the world’s disgrace, to look and seek for the Savior’s face will find forgiveness poured out. Guilt departs. Peace floods the broken heart. A new day dawns.

There is rest on green lawns. The sound of bird’s singing can be heard once again. Fluffy clouds in the sky abound in joy to our eye. “Today” is all that matters in this moment of time.

He’ll take the sin, the ugliness.  And He gives – His love and His righteousness. We do one thing, turn and trust. He does it all, that we might know …

Love.

Lo! glad I come; and thou, blest Lamb, Shalt take me to thee, as I am: Nothing but sin have I to give; Nothing but love shall I receive.” C.H. Spurgeon.

(1) Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

(2) 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.”

(3) Isaiah 53:5, “But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.”

 

As the ducks go by, my vision came clear

The world is a whirlwind of motion and time. The needs are great. Energy is given.

Babies held. Toddlers taught. Children learn what’s right what’s not. Schools full. Businesses open. Roads busy. Food prepared, and food being eaten. Time ticks on.

Are our thoughts all our own?

The pond in the park by the big oak tree sings. The still waters speak to halt my reasoning. My heart is calmed, my pace is slowed, my vision is expanded, and my mind’s thoughts echo:

“Maybe I’m confused. It’s not all about me. Maybe what I think is actually hurting me.

And somehow in the park, when the ducks go by “quacking,” I come to the conclusion: I’m not the center.

The stress, the strife, the fast pace of life, halts as the sun’s reflection sparkles the water. The smells of fresh air, and birds chirping everywhere. All my senses come to life. There’s something special about this moment, this moment in time.

In an instant my vision is expanded to include, not just me, and my world. My woes and and my goals, but to think about God. The Creator of all.

That’s what I need. I need more of Him.

I need God. Bottom line. Period.

As I needed the still waters of this pond, to bring vision to my broken heart. I need God to bring alive what’s died. I can’t look back I must move on.

And suddenly I’m saddened. “I’ve been lied to. Been made to believe that with my own reasoning and actions, I can achieve. That the course is simply A then to B. Then each step of the way, it’s all mine. It’s up to me.”

Oh, the lies I believed.  The whirl of the world and it’s hum of pride: “Yes, there’s a God. He’s “love” and all that. But look at this world. Can you really believe He’s in control? Be reasonable. Use your mind. You must wear your own hat!”

And the sun hit the water and the breeze sang a song, and the duck went by slowly with his “quack, quack, quack.” And my heart stopped singing it’s sad, mourning song.

I looked up, and blocked the intense light of the afternoon sun just by lifting my tiny, wrinkly thumb. I decided right there, in that very moment of time, that the “thumb” of pride and unbelief was going to be set aside.

I was going to use my “reason” and remember my need. I need God. Right now, today. Front and center, no longer me, but He.

If God says He sent His Son to set me free, from myself and the rest of the ugliness, (as I learned as a child, and then unlearned by the world), then that will be my vision. “For God so loved the world that He gave …” who was I to change God – to be what my mind says.

“Jesus, can You see me? Today, I accept Your love. Somehow, as the ducks “quacked” in the still waters of this pond, my vision was changed.”

“You became my vision, and I remembered Your blood. It has washed me clean. But I forgot. I was taught by this world that I didn’t need washed.”

“Wash me again, and again. O God, I’m so sorry. Will You forgive me?”

So I went home and read Psalm 139 aloud, to be reminded again, that in fact, He is the center of all I see:

“O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me. 

You know when I sit down and when I rise up [my entire life, everything I do];
You understand my thought from afar.

You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And You are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
 
Even before there is a word on my tongue [still unspoken],
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.

You have enclosed me behind and before,
And [You have] placed Your hand upon me.
 
Such [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high [above me], I cannot reach it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead), behold, You are there.
 
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
 
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will take hold of me.
 
If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me,
And the night will be the only light around me,”

 
Even the darkness is not dark to You and conceals nothing from You,
But the night shines as bright as the day;
Darkness and light are alike to You.

 
For You formed my innermost parts;
You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb.
 
I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

 
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was being formed in secret,
And intricately and skillfully formed [as if embroidered with many colors] in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were appointed for me,
When as yet there was not one of them [even taking shape]. 

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

If I could count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You …

Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts;

And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139, Amplified.

“Yes, Lord, You see me. Help me grow in You, each day, please.”

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When the counselor is hidden in a devotional

So I wake. I sit with coffee and thoughts. But on the table is a devotional.

‘Beside Still Waters’ by CH Spurgeon, sits there with it wooing title, ‘Come, and sit beside still waters . . .’
So I pick it up and open it to a random page: “No Smell of Fire.” (Daniel 3:27).

I read on: “When you cherish Christ, the things of the world are of little value, and their loss is not heavily felt.”
‘Cherish?’ The word stops me in my tracks.

I think of traditional wedding vows,  to love and to cherish. Spurgeon incites me to think, “When you cherish Christ . . .”

“Do I cherish Christ?” for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer? Can I? Do I cherish Christ? as long as I live?

But then it hits me – Death will never part us, if we have received the gift that God has given us, with our personal names written on His Son’s sacrifice on the cross. Instead of a bow on the greatest gift to the world, His blood was shed that we would be washed, white as snow. This is what the Good Book says. The Lord loves me so.

“My beloved is mine, and I am his. He feeds his flock among the lilies.” This is the Song of all Songs, Song of Solomon 2:16.

Do I cherish Christ? This is the question. And so continues CH Spurgeon: “When you cherish Christ, the things of the world are of little value, and their loss is not heavily felt. If you feel your losses and if your trials are so ponderous that Christ’s love cannot lift you from the dust, then you have made too much of the world and too little of Him.”

“I see a pair of balances. I see on one scale the loss…, but I perceive on the other scale the great love of Christ. Now we will see which weighs the most. If Jesus lifts the light affliction, all is well, but if the trouble outweighs Jesus, then it is indeed ill for us.” (Spurgeon, beside Still Waters, pg. 161).

The devotion counsels with gentleness. Yet, kicks me hard in the midst of the world’s darkness: “If you are so depressed by your trials that you cannot rejoice, even though your name is written in heaven, then I think you do not love Jesus as you should.”

“Get delightful thoughts of Him, and you will feel as if you lost a pebble but preserved a diamond. If you have a high sense of your Master’s preciousness, you will rejoice in the deepest distress. The sweet love of Christ, when placed on the deepest wound the soul can ever know, heals at once.”

I will repeat words perhaps this sheep forgets: “The sweet love of Christ, when placed on the deepest wound the soul can ever know, heals at once.”

Beside Still Waters, has spoken to me, and even given words of the prayers we must pray: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Be within us, and we will make no choice of situations. Put us in Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace (Daniel 3:20); if Jesus walks the glowing coals as a companion, the fire will have no power, the hairs of our heads will not be singed, our garments will not be affected, and even the smell of fire will not be on them ” (Dan. 3:27).

So I pray for myself this morning as well, “Bring to remembrance, bring revival in my heart. Dear Jesus, mold me, and make into a new lump of clay and create in me a loving heart as I walk through my day. Teach me what it means to ‘cherish You, Lord.’ That I might be a blessing this Christmas. Help me spend time in Your word.” In Jesus name, Amen. and Amen again.

 

Struggling to see light this Christmas . . .

“O soul are you weary and troubled. No light in the darkness you see. There’s a light for a look at the Savior and life more abundant and free.” (1)

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, a hymn quite familiar to many, speaks compassion and comfort for the brokenhearted and lonely. God says, “Speak of the hymns,” in His Book of Ephesians. So, speak we will, seeking a light for a look at the Great Physician.

Others are praying in this time of great pain. Prayers going out during this dark of night. But greater still – Jesus is praying – He, the giver and keeper of Life itself.  The King greater than all other Kings, He’s praying for us. The prayers, “Through these tears – “O Lord,Give us sight, through this  darkness and night.”

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. (2)

“Behold the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, And His arm shall rule for Him, Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him. He will feed His flock like as shepherd; He will gather His lambs in His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.” this is Isaiah Chapter 40 verse 10 and 11. These are words breathed out straight from heaven.

Chapter 30 verse 5 in the Book of Psalms:  “For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

“Oh Lord God, give us sight. Give some relief as we wait and are tempted to wonder, ‘why.‘ Open our eyes for spiritual things. We are weak, our mouths are so dry . . .

“The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.” The LORD speaks, He is our Immanuel, yesterday and today. He is near, forever.

“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God. “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the LORD’s hand Double (forgiveness) for all her sins.” (3) This is the word that will not fail, this is the Word of our Immanuel.

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, And every mountain and hill shall be made low …” (4)

Oh, how we need to be reminded that God, the Creator of the Universe – He’s in control.

“The crooked places shall be made straight, And the rough places smooth; The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”(5)

These are promises given for our hearts to take hold. When there’s darkness and pain and endless oppression, we must remind ourselves, ‘the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’

All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, …but the word of our God stands forever. O Zion, You who bring good tidings, Get up into the high mountain, . . . You who bring good tidings, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities, . . . “Behold your God!” (6)

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!

“Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” (7)

There’s a light for a look at the Savior . . . His word shall not fail you, He’s promised . . . Over us sin no more hath dominion – For more than conquerors we are!

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (8)

The light has been given, the weak hands that hang down, are strengthened to hold the sword of God’s word. Nothing has changed, save the spirit inside us, now transformed and encouraged to hope and have faith and to love – Victorious!

 There’s a light for a look at the Savior. A light, so abundant and free : God’s love never fails … For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. (9)

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.

 (1) Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

(2) John 10:11

(3) Isaiah 40:1,2.

(4) Isaiah 40:3,4a.

(5) Isaiah 40:4b,5.

(6) Isaiah 40:6-9.

(7) Romans 8:34.

(8) Romans 8:37-39.

(9) 1 Corinthians 13:8,12).

Where’s the App? Directions? … God’s word

Where’s the App that will let me know what’s ahead? Where’s the GPS to guide me through the next step?

“Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth! For the Lord has spoken:” Make no mistake, the prophet reveals,  this is the word of the Lord, and He bids all to hear.

This is the voice of God’s Holy Word.  He seems to call aloud to everyone. Exclamation points in place, New International Version, Isaiah, chapter 1. 

Breathed out by the breath of God, the One who made us, not we ourselves. He sees, He watches, He’s ever present and powerful. He knows our name. He has a plan, He knows what He’s doing. His thoughts are not ours. He is God Almighty, He’s the great I AM.

Do we hear? Do we remember? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Psalm One Hundred, eleven. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning,” found again, in Proverbs 9:10.

At this time, do we care? This is important to ask. Who’s voice do we hear?  Oh children of the world, “Wake up, fast!”

“I reared children and brought them up,
    but they have rebelled against me.
 The ox knows its master,
    the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
    my people do not understand.”  The Lord speaks to he who has ears. Words printed in Isaiah 1.

These words came off the tongue of the Lord. His heart speaks. There are no contractions. Do we take time to see for ourselves, or do we simply think we know it all too well?

 “Woe to the sinful nation,
    a people whose guilt is great,
a brood of evildoers,
    children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the Lord;
    they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
    and turned their backs on him.” These are the words spoken by the prophet, Isaiah chapter 1. 

The Book is living water. Are we thirsty for the well?

Where have we turned our backs, is the question. Have we turned them on God? Let’s stop and have reflection.

  “Why should you be beaten anymore?

    Why do you persist in rebellion?
Your whole head is injured,
    your whole heart afflicted.
From the sole of your foot to the top of your head
    there is no soundness—
only wounds and welts
    and open sores,
not cleansed or bandaged
    or soothed with olive oil.” Isaiah 1: 2-6.

Which direction? Is there a remedy? Where is a reliable fix? If peace is what is desired, the accuser is not the Lord. The accuser is the devil- sin is the reproach.

But God has made a way. He is the Way, you know. He sent His Son – His blood poured out. To atone us, everyone.  To make us at-one with Him. His blood was shed to redeem us. His arm is not short, His ears hear. His name is forever, to bring hope, and peace and salvation, to all the children everywhere.

“Wash and make yourselves clean.
    Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
    stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; …” Isaiah chapter 1:16,17. But don’t think for a minute, that this is about you! The only righteousness in you, can be in be-liev-ing.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.

“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
    they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18.

It is time to seek the Lord.” …seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1 proclaims,  but the power behind all of this – 

is in the name of Jesus.

Remember the angel and the words proclaimed: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Luke 2 verse 10.

The Messiah is born, and a sign was given: A baby in a manger. The shepherds, the star. Have we forgotten? Are our hearts far?

Let’s turn around as John the Baptist suggested and see,  “… the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:9. 

Instead of our backs, let us turn our face – to the Lord. Acknowledge Him. Believe He came for us. Call out His name,seek His promises to guide us.

His name is Jesus, sad hearts weep no more. He has healed the broken hearted open wide the prison doors, He is able to deliver – evermore.”

If you need help with the praise part, open Psalm 111. Read aloud and watch your mind be transformed:

“Praise the Lord.

I will extol the Lord with all my heart
    in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

Great are the works of the Lord;
    they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
    and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
    the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him;
    he remembers his covenant forever.

He has shown his people the power of his works,
    giving them the lands of other nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
    all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established for ever and ever,
    enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.
He provided redemption for his people;
    he ordained his covenant forever—
    holy and awesome is his name.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
    To him belongs eternal praise.” Psalm 111. Amen.