Category Archives: Friends

Life Together

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I found the perfect spot in the library, away from all the bustle. I was thirty-one with two little boys at home and badly needing a day away to think.  I can’t quite remember if my second relapse had hit me yet, but I knew I was in much need of rest.  I found the perfect spot next to an enormous glass window overlooking the pond.  While sitting on a little couch tucked under the stairwell, I asked the Father to please guide me to do the right thing. “Cause, I desperately want to do the right thing.”  I took out my journal, my pencil, my Bible, and Bonhoeffer’s book, Life Together.

The book had been on the shelf for years, but I hadn’t ever read it, thinking it was too “theological” for me to enjoy.  It’s not a very big book but, as I found, it is chock full of truth and wisdom for the church body to discern what living this life together “should” be like.  It’s a book that radically changed the way I understood I am to “be” in the body.  Practical spiritual wisdom for everyday life together.

God was faithful to guide me.  I understood the admonishment from scripture, “as much as it depends upon you, be at peace with one another.”  With tears streaming down my face, I wrote out the apology, understanding a heart-rending-deep-cleansing had been done.

God made it clear to me what the next step would be.  The apology was sent and now it was time to hope for reconciliation.  It was time to release the situation in order that Christ might deal…

“…spiritual love proves itself in that everything it says and does commends Christ. It will not seek to move others by all too personal, direct influence, by impure interference in the life of another. It will not take pleasure in pious, human fervor and excitement. It will rather meet the other person with the clear Word of God and be ready to leave him alone with this Word for a long time, willing to release him again in order that Christ may deal with him.”
~D. Bonhoeffer, Life Together

It might be time to read that little — powerful — book once again.

His Promise of Peace

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“One of the great wounds in life is the shattering of relationship — having a friend who turns on us and reverses shalom or what the Bible calls peace.  Betrayal is the experience of being set up, violated, and then discarded.  It is being used by someone who violates our dignity and then is unmoved by our pain.

Such betrayal, for whatever reason, isolates us in loneliness, doubt, and shame.  The connection we once assumed and enjoyed becomes a web of awkwardness.  We don’t know whether to speak to the estranged friend when our paths cross, or simply pass with eyes averted.  To the degree there is avoidance, suspiciousness grows.   If there is conversation, it is constrained and tight, marking the contrast to the way it once was.  This is the soil where blame shifting and slander can grow like robust weeds.

The memory of how-it-once-was burns a deep and hollow spot in the heart.  Memory haunts and self-doubt grips.  Why did it end?  What did I do wrong? Why does my friend no longer like me? The intense shifts between angrily blaming the other and cutting oneself with the shards of self-doubt are exhausting.”  ~Dan Allender

Allender speaks clearly of the chaos in the heart and mind when betrayal has been experienced.  It is a lack of peace in our deepest parts.  How…how, in those moments, do we consider Jesus?  How do we stand firm on the Rock when our minds are haunted with memories and self-doubt?  The constant cutting of oneself with the shards of broken relationship is not only exhausting…it leaves one bloodied and crying out for relief.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Jesus says I can live light and free.
Jesus says I can walk in unforced rhythms of grace.
Jesus says I can have a real rest and recover the life He wants me to live.

These are the promises Jesus gives to those who will follow after, and learn from Him.

Who is Jesus?  He is a true friend.  He does not “set us up, violate, and then discard” us.  He does not make promises He never intends to keep.  He is the one who sticks closer than a brother.  He is a husband to the forsaken bride crying in the wilderness.

He loves with an everlasting love and He gives an unshakeable peace.

Betrayal is soul-wrenching.  Its never-ending shattering peace gives way to many doubts and unanswerable questions, unless…

Unless…

You turn to Him.

Go to Him.
Lay down your burdens and confusion,
Your pain, and your doubts,
Your fears, and all your tears,
Your woundedness…

All of it.  Lay it down…at His feet.
Bow down and consider Jesus.

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
Says the LORD who has compassion on you.

“Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy-laden,
And I will give you peace.”

That I May Be Like Jesus

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I saw this on Facebook and had to post it here.  😀   What is normal, anyway?

Jesus was NOT normal.
He was God in the flesh.

A Lover of Souls.
A Healer for the Hurting.
A Friend to the Outcast.

I need to keep my eyes fixed on Him.  Not others’ opinions.  Not this world’s idea of normality.

If I give, even in my poverty, am I more or less like Him?
(He didn’t have any place to rest His head.)

If I love, even when my heart is broken, am I more or less like Him?
(He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.)

If I reach for the hurting, even when the pain in my soul doesn’t subside, am I more or less like Him?
(A bruised reed He will not crush. He said, “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.”)

I want to be like Jesus.

I won’t be considered “normal.”

But that’s quite all right with me…

He was an outcast…to the Nth degree.

So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is–not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This “insider world” is not our home. We have our eyes peeled for the City about to come. Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name. Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship–a different kind of “sacrifice”–that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets. (The MSG)

So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city  which is to come.
Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God,
that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Hebrews 13:13-16

1
I have one deep, supreme desire,
that I may be like Jesus.
To this I fervently aspire,
that I may be like Jesus.
I want my heart His throne to be,
so that a watching world may see
His likeness shining forth in me.
I want to be like Jesus.

2
He spent His life in doing good;
I want to be like Jesus.
In lowly paths of service trod;
I want to be like Jesus.
He sympathised with hearts distressed,
He spoke the words that cheered and blessed,
He welcomed sinners to His breast.
I want to be like Jesus.

3
A holy, harmless life He led;
I want to be like Jesus.
The Father’s will, His drink and bread;
I want to be like Jesus.
And when at last He comes to die,
“Forgive them, Father,” hear Him cry
for those who taunt and crucify.
I want to be like Jesus.

4
O perfect life of Christ, my Lord!
I want to be like Jesus.
My recompense and my reward,
that I may be like Jesus.
His Spirit fill my hungering soul,
His power all my life control.
My deepest prayer, my highest goal,
that I may be like Jesus.

What is Our Purpose?

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Artist: Itokashi

I saw this on Facebook (thank you, Princess).

I’ve believed this for many years. Even when living in difficult circumstances and not-so-desirable surroundings, I knew I was there for a purpose. He must have a reason for placing me, at this point in time, among these people.

I do believe He ordains our moments. And, in that, He must be concerned about those who cross our paths. I think He does as He wills among the inhabitants of the earth and He is greatly concerned for our well-being and character development (Psalm 139; Dan 4:35; Psalm 33:14; 1 Pet 5:7; Psalm 55:22; James 1:2-4; Hebrews 12:6; 1 John 4:20).

These beliefs lead me to understand I am not to live for self.

I am not here for me.
I am here for Him.

He leads me down the path He desires.
He determines the people who will cross my path.
How, then, am I to live?

In love.
With love.
Through Love.

The waitress with the attitude?
The neighbor with the pit bulls?
The friend asking, once again, for money?

How am I to live with all who cross my path…and with those He has placed in my life…for a lifetime…for a season…or…only…for a moment…?

With kindness.
With patience.
With humility.

Without arrogance.
Without rudeness.
Without counting faults.

With grace…
For the moment
And a lifetime.

Bearing.
Believing.
Hoping.
Enduring.

ALL. THINGS.

It seems outrageous.
It’s too much to ask.
It’s more than any of us can do.
On our own.
But, in Him…

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

It’s called Love.
God, in me,
Loving others, through me.

Oh, what a purpose-filled life!

Grace and the Holidays

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Be open and honest about your failures. Let God’s grace wash over you. It  completely transforms you. It lights you on fire and sends you blazing. That’s  where the power comes from. It’s not from you and your ability, it’s from grace.  God’s children need to see it. The people need to see that there is hope for them, too.
Nobody goes through life without knowing they’ve been saved from something  that had every right to destroy them. Don’t set yourself up as someone who is so  far away from that, that it steals the hope of grace from everyone else. Use the  moment of someone’s failure to rejoice about the vibrant display of mercy,  grace, and restoration that God is about to show. That’s when you can really see  Him. It’s the rainbow after the storm. It’s in the eyes of someone who believes  with everything in them that God has a plan for this, too.
~The Follower, Serena Woods, Grace is for Sinners

The holidays are just around the corner.  I haven’t yet decided how to spend any of them.

Our family is broken, due to much sin.
I suppose all families are to a certain extent, it’s just that this is raw for me…
I haven’t made any sense of it in a way that can be told.

I know what I did.
I know what he did.
I know what the consequences have done to us all.
I just don’t have it all compartmentalized… it’s not neatly packaged… yet.

(Will it ever be?)

And I’m afraid of family being judgmental.
I don’t think I can handle anymore judgment.

It’s good to know the One who matters is full of grace and mercy.
It’s just those pesky people He’s created us to live with that are the problem!!  😛
(Tongue in cheek… I know I’m one of the pesky ones, too!)

Why do we do this to one another?
We’ve ALL sinned. Every one of us.
None of us is good, no not one.

I suppose it’s because not all of us believe we’ve sinned “like that!” So we label and categorize and separate one from another. We whisper behind each other’s backs and decide what one must’ve done in the dark… although we have no idea, because we weren’t there and we weren’t told. And we’re shocked! “How could she?!?”

Unfortunately, it was way too easy.
Maybe that’s the issue… ?
Maybe others know how easily they could fall and don’t want the reminder (me) too close to home.
Or maybe… I’m the judgmental one… ???  😯

Whatever may be the problem for the lack of acceptance —
Sin, gossip, fear, judgmentalism, factions, anger, unforgiveness, grudges —
Whatever we may call it, remember, we are to fulfill the law of Christ:  Grace for all.

Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone in need, you are only fooling yourself. You are really a nobody. Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.
~The Apostle, Paul, Galatians 6:1-5

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.
~The Disciple, Peter, 1 Peter 4:7-10

I’m FIFTY!?!?!?!

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How did that happen???

One day at a time.

It seems like only yesterday I was 49! (lol)  Honestly, these years have gone by so quickly and yet, at times, they’ve dragged.  Babies grow too quickly.  Before you can blink, they’re graduating.  Then college…and they’re on their own!

My twenties came and went in a flash.  The thirties slowed a bit, trying to keep up with the kids.  My forties moved at a snail’s pace.  So…what will fifty bring?

One day at a time.

In my twenties I wanted to be “teacher of the year”…

In my thirties I desired “the world’s greatest mom” award…

In my forties I prayed (and searched for doctors) to get my health back…

One day at a time.

Now, here I am, at the beginning of the next decade…

Divorced.

Living alone.
(Well, I still have my dog.)

Most relationships are strained, at best.
(Except those friends who stick closer than a brother.)
(Thank you, Heavenly Father, for friends!!)

One day at a time.

I’ve lost most everything I ever believed I wanted:  The love of my life (or so I thought).  “World’s Greatest Mom” award.  The house in the ‘burbs with the swimming pool.  My reputation.  Being a bible teacher/leader.  Relationships I thought were real.

And, I can’t blame anyone but myself.

I did it.

It happened because was  am a fool.

One day at a time.

And I can’t go back.  That’s not what I’m to do, if the scripture is to be believed.

I did repent.  I did return.  But, I was rejected…

And now, I must move forward.

One day at a time.

Forgetting what lies behind,
Reaching forward to what lies ahead.
I press on toward the goal:
The upward call of Christ Jesus!

The sanctifying process…

One day at a time.

I’m leaning on Him…

One day at a time, Sweet Jesus,

I’M FIFTY!?!?!?!

Where is Your Sting?

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The sting of death seems to permeate my existence these days…

The death of a marriage.
The death of a friend.
The death of a family member.

I suppose, with all the grief, it only makes sense for me to spend time in 1 Corinthians 15 and the 23rd Psalm. You see, I homeschool my nieces and a nephew and death has hovered around them for a few months now. Their beloved uncle, Andrew, has been suffering from melanoma for about a year. He went home to be with our Lord early Friday morning. As with Gitz, Andrew was very young.  Only 33.

I have always had a longing, a deep-seated desire, to be with Jesus. I’m not sure why, other than my love for Him. However, it could be the picture on the front of my childhood New Testament. Jesus is walking, holding hands, with many children — smiling — it appears He’s answering questions. As imagined at ten years of age, my mind takes me to the wonderful assurance of That Day when I will get to walk with Jesus. I will see Him face-to-face…on The Day He has fixed in His book.  The faith of a child…

I believe that with my whole being.
I believe I will walk with Him.
One Day.

He will call me Home when the time is complete.
When my days have been spent and the job I have to do on this earth is over.
I, too, will be with the Lord.

However, for now, I will continue to teach.  I will ask my little family members to read the 23rd Psalm with me.  I will describe Heaven in biblical terms.  They will understand that a river flows from the throne of God with trees growing on either side.  We will talk about the fruits that change every month and the leaves which are given for healing.  We will imagine what our rooms will look like and what questions we may have for Jesus.  And we will come to understand where our Hope lies. 

Our hope is not in this world, this life, this existence.

Our hope is in another place and time.

We can endure this momentary light affliction:

Ravishing cancer,
Ripping divorce,
Scraped knees,
Devastating loneliness,
Aching limbs,
Torn families,
Chronic fatigue, 
Hard labor,



The abuse of a world gone mad…

The results of sin run amuck…

We can endure, for as long as He determines.

And then…

We’ll go home.

    We’ll see Jesus.

Just like Gitz.

    Just like Andrew.

For we know…

Andrew playing with Twelve-Twenty Four

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable….For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen,

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

 

 My deepest condolences to Don, Esther, Pamela, Betty, Burton, Katie, Emily, Zachariah, William, and J.T.  We have this assurance, we will see him again.  And, for now and evermore, he is wholly complete.  Thank you, Jesus. 

In Him

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I feel I’ve been in a strait place for quite some time. 
A narrow, difficult passage has been my path for a few years now. 

Some may say it’s by my own doing, others will see I may have been pulled along, and still others could care less…saying, “she gets what she deserves!”

I am so thankful, in these difficult years, that I have found the Source of my strength. In Him.

In Him. 

I know I am where I am because God is sovereign.  And in His sovereignty, He will test me for His glory.  However, the fires of sanctification can become so painful that, sometimes, I seek an escape from the heat.  Usually it only means the melting was stifled and I must start again from a cold, hard place.  In that process I am learning to remain in the fire.  It’s much less painful in the long run. 

In reality (vs. fantasy) I can rest in Him instead of worrying what “others” may think.  If He is sovereign then He is in control.  It is by His will I am in this place.  Strait or wide open…HE directs my path.

I found this passage awhile back. 

I think Murray makes my point…or I made his (since he wrote in the 1800’s)… 

“In time of trouble, say, “First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest.” Next, “He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.” Then say, “He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.” And last, say, “In His good time He can bring me out again. How, and when, He knows.

Therefore say, “I am here

(1) by God’s appointment,
(2) in His keeping,
(3) under His training,
(4) for His time.”

~Andrew Murray, 1895

Trusting in God’s sovereignty today.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to Him. Let your roots grow down into Him and draw up nourishment from Him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all He has done.  ~Colossians 2:6-7

Her True Colors Shining Through

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Mourning Into Dancing…may she rest in peace.  September 24, 2011…

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.  ~ The Message – James 1:2-4

I think, for me, it has been about learning to want what He wants for me more than what I want for myself. It’s a tall order and I don’t say that flippantly. But my joy has truly come from Him finding His joy in me rather than me finding my joy in what I desire. It doesn’t mean I don’t long for different, it just means I find peace in fulfilling rather than understanding.

In the knowledge that this life isn’t about me, it’s about Him.

The thing I try to remind myself of, as I am without all the things that I wish I had to make me happy, is that my biggest need is Him. More than I need to be outside in the fresh air, more than I need to move without pain, more than I even need Dad… I need His will to be done in my life whether it is comfortable or not. There is not one thing that feels comfortable about my world right now, but I need Him more than I need to change my circumstances.

It’s still brutally hard. I have to remind myself of these facts every day. It doesn’t always come easily.

But it doesn’t make the truth any less true.

And the truth is that I can choose the joy.

~Excerpt from “How Do You Stay So Happy?” by Gitzen Girl

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
And let endurance have its perfect result,
so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4

Choose Joy

When I’m Weak

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Gitz was a consistent help to me during some very difficult days in my life (Sept ’08 – Nov ’09).  Her comments spoke truth, but most especially, her posts taught me how to praise through suffering.  She reached out and spoke beautiful, uplifting, encouraging words to me.  I am so thankful she will be able to see The Love of Her Life soon…

A link to Sara’s post, At Peace, is at the end of this post.

When I’m Weak
Original post published January 9, 2009:

It’s an overcast morning.  I must get to the doctor today.  I was out all day yesterday helping a wonderful friend.  But as is usual for me, too much activity one day causes much fatigue the next.  I would like to stay in the comfort of my home, but…

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 
~Philippians 4:13

True?  True.

Somedays it feels impossible to move.  Somedays I’m not sure how I’ll get through.  Somedays I need my pillow and blanket to feel the warmth, to bring comfort to my stiff, aching body.

Today is someday.

I’m asking for His strength.  When I am weak, He has promised to be strong.

“My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. 
~2 Corinthians 12:9

Heavenly Father, help me get up.  I need Your help to move.  You have been my source of strength for many years.  I know You are the One who gives me breath.  You sustain me.  I need more of Your sustenance today.  I will boast in my weakness for I know it is Your power that gives me strength.  Thank you, Father.

An encouragement for me this day: At Peace by Gitzen Girl