Monday, December 27, 2010

Follow the Leader

Well, I hope y’all had a very merry and Christ-centered Christmas as we did. I really intended to write a few more Christmas-themed posts, but I’m still thinking about them, and sometimes my inspirations are like a crock pot—they have to cook awhile before they actually come out of my head.

But, here is something I‘ve been thinking about for awhile already: my cat—yes, my newly disabled cat. Please be kind to her.

So, here’s the deal; my blind cat is not only blind, she is deaf now too. Weird, I know, but both senses vanished in the same day, I think.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been mulling around: I have recently been reading Isaiah’s prophetic words about the Israelites, and basically, Isaiah describes these ancient peoples as blind and deaf –just like my cat. But herein lies the difference between Israel and Sandy: the Israelites’ “blindness” and “deafness” caused them to run from God—to ignore His commands; Sandy’s disabilities cause her to seek me out—to perceive my movements, my scent, even when she can no longer hear or see me.

She constantly wants me to hold her or to she wants to sit on my lap. She knows that I will catch her if she falls—if she is close to me. When she can’t find me, she walks around meowing in this strange, guttural way and sneezing. The strange sounding meow is the result of the deafness. I don’t know what the sneezing is from. She knows she is disadvantaged without direction from me and she does her best to stay close to me. It is obvious she adores me (it’s true) and takes great delight in my presence. I am truly her leader now since she knows she can’t see or hear.

I wasn’t always Sandy’s leader. In her full-functioning days, Sandy was rather independent and, like most cats, wanted everything her way. She could sense danger and fend it off. She could hike into the woods anytime she wanted a mouse for a snack. Now she can’t do those things. Now she is weak, but she knows I am strong. Now she loves me more because she knows I will protect her.

In reality, I have always protected Sandy. She just didn’t realize it. In reality, I have always been in charge. She just didn’t acknowledge my leadership. In reality, she has always been pretty small and weak, but she felt strong and independent because she could see and hear. In reality, she always needed me.

Now, she knows she needs me because she is so incapable of finding the right way herself. She shows more affection now because she is so grateful that I can “see” and “hear” for her. Her crisis drove her to me, rather than away. When the Israelites struggled, their natural tendency was turn away from God—to follow their own “vision”. It didn’t work out very well for them, did it? I need to remember that when I think I know what’s best. And when I think my life is bad. And when I’m blaming God for his decisions. Compared to God, I really am blind and deaf. I need to be more like Sandy, realize my weakness, and try to follow Him wherever He leads.

I can’t see Him, but I can sense Him. I can’t hear Him with my ears, but I can with my heart. And my words may be awkward and sound strange (with or without sneezing) when I cry out to Him, but today I choose to make Him my leader, because, really, He has always been just that.

The song I learned in childhood is as true now as it was then:

Jesus loves me, this I know

For the Bible tells me so.

Little ones to Him belong.

They are weak, but He is Strong

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lessons taught by Neo #5


God said to Joshua as he was about to enter the Promise Land: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5

Neo is always loyal to us. He will never desert us to find “something better”. Even if we tried to leave Neo, he would follow us and find us because he loves us.

If we are feeling far away from God, we have moved…not God. God will truly never leave us or forsake us. That is a true statement spoken by the Creator of the Universe. It is true whether we feel like it’s true or not; God’s Truth is greater than our feelings. Just as Neo would seek us out and find us if we ever left him, God will continually pursue us and press into us because we are his children. He loves us; this is the one thing in our lives that will never change. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Loyalty to God and each other produces:

· Focus on God alone

· Commitment regardless of circumstances

· A shared heritage and a strong foundation

· Security when life is changing

· A picture for others of a true “Christ-follower”

Father God, our Rock, You are incredibly faithful to us. We want to be faithful to you and others. We are lazy. You are loyal. We are fickle. You are firm. Thank you for never giving up on us.

We need you.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lessons taught by Neo #4


“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

Neo loves all the time—even when he has been hurt. He is always happy to see you even if you are crabby or have made lots of mistakes. You cannot make Neo not love you. He loves you because you belong to him. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, Neo thinks you are the best!

We should give each other unconditional love like Neo because God loves us unconditionally. God chose us as his children and he loves us because we are HIS! We can never be so bad or make so many mistakes that God will decide to withdraw this love. God is Love and we are his dearly loved children. He died for us…shouldn’t that make us all grateful…and humble…and unconditional with one another?

Why should we give unconditional love?

· It is like God—remember the story of the Prodigal son?

· It is not based on works

· It builds others up

· It gets our eyes off ourselves and onto God

· It makes us non-judgmental and frees us from bitterness

Father God, Lover of our Souls,

Thank you for modeling unconditional love to us. We want to love others like you love us. Help us hide ourselves in you so that your Spirit shows through our actions and words. We delight in you.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lessons taught by Neo #3


“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:1-2

Neo yearns to be with us, his family. When we go on a trip, he wants to ride in the car with us.When we go to the lake, he wants to come along. He even learned to like the water because he wanted to be with us in it! When we are at the lake and in the boat, we have to tie Neo to a tree because he will swim to his death trying to join us. So…he sits…chained to the tree, crying, whining, whimpering because he longs to be with us. He loves to be in our presence. We are his joy!

Do we yearn for God like this? Do we long to be with Him? Is God our joy? As the Psalmist says, we should pant and thirst for our God. Being in God’s presence should be our goal.

Longing for God produces in us:

· A motivation to pray and stay in His Word

· A yearning to be with Him in Heaven

· A Godly—not worldly—focus

· A hunger for more and more of His Spirit

Father God, Our Joy,

Create in us a longing to be with you.

Show us your living water and guide us to drink.

You are our Sustainer. We yearn for you.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lessons taught by Neo #2


“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

Isaiah 30:18

Neo doesn’t like to be told “Outside!” because it’s not what he thinks is best. But he trusts us enough to intently watch for an answer and then obey us when we give it.

Neo’s favorite days are the ones where we let him be with us in the house (or invite him to hike with us on the trail!). Yesterday, we learned to watch as Neo watches at the door. Often, when we are unloading groceries, or the bunny is out running around, we will make Neo sit by the door as we say, “wait…wait...wait…OK!” Neo keeps his eyes on ours as he watches and waits—all the while he is ready to pounce at the sound of our “OK!”

Neo always waits until he gets an answer from us, and we should always eagerly await God’s answer. He will answer us. It may not be the answer that we want or that we think is best, but we need to trust God enough to keep our eyes fixed on Him and obey him when He gives his word to us.

Why should we wait on God? Waiting produces:

· Trust

· Submission

· Watchfulness

· Prudence, not rashness

· God’s timing, not ours

Father God, our Deliverer,

Help us to wait on you patiently. We know

your ways are right and your decisions are always best. May we be obedient when the waiting seems

long. We trust you.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lessons Taught by Neo #1

Since this is a busy time and my posting has been lacking, I have decided to share with you a devotional that I wrote for my family to use on one of our backpacking trips. This five day devotional (I will be posting one entry per day) was inspired by our loyal dog, Neo.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!


“It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.”
Luke 12:37

When Neo has been outside all day and he sees us come home, he will run into the garage and watch patiently, tail wagging furiously, at the door leading into the house. As we stand with the door open, Neo locks his deep brown eyes on ours and awaits our decision. Will we let him in and make his joy complete? Or will we say “not yet…” and make him wait until next time? He watches us intently, staring into our eyes because he knows his next move depends on our word. If we say “OK!”, he will bound into the house, happy to spend time with his family. If we say, “Outside!”, he will walk outside with his head low and his tail hanging limply—knowing that he needs to watch and wait a little longer for our next decision.

In the same way, we need to keep our eyes locked on God to await his direction for our lives. Only He knows what the future holds. He wants us to look to Him—trusting that his decisions are the best. Are your eyes fixed on the Master? When he says “OK!”, will you bound into his will?

We should be constantly watching God so that:

1. We can obey Him

2. We can see what He will do

3. We can emulate Him

4. We can know when to “Go!”

Father God, our Master,
Please keep our eyes firmly planted on You and on and your movements. Keep us poised and ready to obey.

We love you.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Blind Trust

OK. I have finally accepted it. My cat is blind.

Weird story: On Friday, I noticed as I watched out my kitchen window, that Sandy—our 16 ½ year old gray calico—was walking uncertainly in circles in the backyard and randomly bumping into things. First I thought she might be smelling out some small rodent, but as her circles continued, I suspected something was wrong. So, I put on a coat and went outside to watch her some more. She was disoriented, weak, and acting very strangely. I called to her and she answered with a strange, guttural, un-Sandy-like meow but she kept on walking in circles. I brought her inside and proceeded to put her on the screened porch where I knew she wouldn’t hurt herself. She seemed so agitated and nervous and she couldn’t seem to stop long enough to sit down. When I put out a bowl of water, she downed the bowl as fast as she could, then she drank another entire bowl of water, sticking her paw in the water, then drinking the liquid off of her paw—she had never done this before. She also acted ravenous, so I gave her a leftover salmon patty (I make these with canned salmon) and she ate the entire thing. By this time, though, I could tell that she could not see because she couldn’t find the food and water until I showed it to her, and then she realized she could smell it. She was also very weak and wobbly.

I thought maybe she was just dehydrated and that was causing her difficulties. But, even though the food and water eventually seemed to strengthen and stabilize her, it did not improve her sight.

I then went out to the garage and looked to see if any antifreeze was present to poison her since I knew antifreeze can cause sudden blindness. I found none.

I looked at the worming medicine that we had mixed with her water that morning, but found nothing listed on the side effects that mentioned vision problems.

I went on the porch and got her and looked at her eyes. They were fully dilated even though she had been in bright light. Something was very wrong.

I called my vet and he mentioned that blindness in old cats in not all that uncommon and that it is usually caused by high blood pressure—which is usually caused by another condition—and that I could bring her in if I thought she was uncomfortable. Since I have a background in healthcare, I contemplated trying to put my blood pressure cuff on her tiny little arm, but I didn’t think I could make it small enough. I knew that taking her in the car to the vet would probably drive her blood pressure sky high, so I avoided it and decided to take the “wait and see” option.

So, now I have been “waiting and seeing” for three days, and she seems like she is feeling better. She is more relaxed, able to sleep, much less thirsty, and very affectionate. But she still can’t see. Her eyes are still unnaturally dilated. And she is still running into walls. I have been trying to keep her stress level very low—that means keeping Cole and Neo out of her presence. (Sorry, Cole, but you can be a little scary.)

I did go down to the storage room where she has been hanging out and lay hands on her, though. I thought maybe God would heal her. I told Him I knew He could.

He didn’t heal her.

I thought about making some mud and putting it on her eyes and having her wash it off, but I then I decided against it.

Every day now, I wake up and check on her and I keep thinking that maybe she will be able to see. But she can’t. Yet. And I don’t know if she will ever see again. I could probably have the vet put her on some blood pressure meds to see if lowering her BP would help. But the medicine is expensive and she is old. And my dog was very expensive recently, but he is still young.

Is it wrong for me to make these judgment calls based on the age of my pets? I don’t think so. I think forcing a pill down Sandy’s throat two times daily would most certainly be miserable for her—and for me.

As I write this, she is sleeping soundly in a chair beside me. I wonder if she can still see in her dreams?

I wish that Sandy could see. She can’t. I wish that God would heal her. He might, but probably not—not because He is not able—but because I think He is trying to teach me something with this.

I think that God is showing me that things happen unexpectedly in this life that I don’t like. They come on suddenly and surprisingly. I don’t understand why and I can’t do anything to change them.

I can pray a lot and hope a lot. I can even wake up each day and see if the problem has gone away. But God might just let me deal with this so I can learn how to trust Him more. I don’t need to understand His Sovereignty; I just need to accept it. I just need to trust that He has my best in mind and that His decisions are always Right. Why do I try to argue with a God who is Supreme? Why do I doubt a God who chose to send His Son to die for me? I shouldn’t, because it is an insult to His character. And I won’t because I want to preserve His reputation. This is hard for me, a worrier.

So Sandy remains imperfect and unhealed. It’s not what I would have chosen, but God is the Chooser and His Judgments are always right. Sandy is just a cat, but God is the Creator of cats…and of me.

I will trust Him—blind cat and all. Maybe my eyes are the ones He will open.

“Do good to your servant, and I will live;
I will obey your word.

Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.”

Psalm 119:17-18

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Rear Guard

I’ve said it before and I will say it again; GOD’S GOT YOUR BACK. He’s watchin’ out for you.

Do you believe it?

I love how another one of my heroes, A.W. Tozer, puts it. Check it out:

To believe actively that our Heavenly Father constantly spreads around us providential circumstances that work for our present good and our everlasting well-being brings to the soul a veritable benediction. Most of us go through life praying a little, planning a little, jockeying for position, hoping but never being quite certain of anything, and always secretly afraid that we will miss the way. This is a tragic waste of truth and never gives rest to the heart.

There is a better way. It is to repudiate our own wisdom and take instead the infinite wisdom of God. Our insistence on seeing ahead is natural enough, but it is a real hindrance to our spiritual progress. God has charged Himself with full responsibility for our eternal happiness and stand ready to take over the management of our lives the moment we turn in faith to Him. …God constantly encourages us to trust Him in the dark.

Amen Brother!! What else can I say?

May it be so.

“…for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

Isaiah 52:12

Monday, November 29, 2010

Overwhelming Sufficiency

Two stories for you today since it has been over a week since I posted anything.

First Story: My Christmas Tree Fell Down

My Christmas tree fell down today

It all was very scary

The balls were shattered, ornaments ruined

It made me quite contrary.

I called my big strong husband

And told him of the mess;

So he rushed home to help me out

Now all is happiness.

(BTW, that really happened today, as I was innocently addressing my Christmas cards. And I felt like crying, but I didn’t because I had too much glass to clean up)

Second Story: Burrs All Over Me

A couple of days ago I went into the forest in the back of our house to pick up some garbage that had blown there. As I was walking into the brush, I walked directly into a burr plant. I’m not sure what kind of burrs these were, smaller than a cocklebur, and PROFUSE. Neo followed my lead—poor dog. We both emerged from the forest completely covered in burrs. I’m not talking a few burrs here and there—I probably had 2000 little burrs on my coat, my gloves, my pants, and my dog. These are the kind of burrs that stick to the inside of your sock if you try to wash them before removing the buggers. These are the kind of burrs that hurt your fingers when you remove them—but remove them you must because they will not just fall off—ever. As I removed my clothes and changed into burr-free ones, I felt overwhelmed by the task before me. It would take me hours to clean the “ouch” off of the affected items. I tried removing them with my fingers, but that hurt too much and the one-by-one method began to drive me crazy. Then I tried the fuzz-eater that I use on my sweaters: unsuccessful. I also tried the credit card scraping method: this only removed tops and left the painful pokiness intact. After several other experiments involving duct tape and the Ped Egg, I finally emerged successful by using the cat’s flea comb. I pulled the pants tight--remember, I was not wearing them now-- ran the flea comb over the burr covered areas multiple times, and slowly my clothing lost all its “parasites”. And it didn’t take me hours. End of story.

So, you ask, why are you telling me these frivolous tales? I tell you them because they have one thing in common: They both made me feel overwhelmed.

When I looked at the big mess of my fallen tree, the shattered balls, the water from the stand, I felt like it was much too big to clean up. I would never be able to fix it. The problem looked too massive.

When I felt the burrs poking my skin from all directions and I realized the enormity of my navigational mistake, I shuddered at the thought of removing all of them. I thought I would never be able to wear those pants again (I secretly considered throwing them away). I couldn’t imagine sitting for hours with some tweezers picking the burrs out of everything. There’s no way it could be done.

But guess what? I made it through both of those situations even though I couldn’t see the other side clearly. The jobs of making those things right looked so big at first that I didn’t know where to start, so I just started with the most obvious things. When I finished the big, obvious jobs, I did the smaller ones, and on and on until the job was done. Even though the work was tedious and slow, I was capable of doing it. And these are small things.

When life gives me bigger “crashes” and bigger “burrs”, when the unexpected happens, I am going to recall my feelings of insufficiency to complete these small things. Then I am going to remember that I am capable of completing the work God gives. I am capable of enduring the suffering He allows. Because I am an overcomer and His Spirit enables me (1 John 4:4), I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Romans 8:35 and 37

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Miniature Memories

When I was little, I lived in a big, old blue gray house with a covered patio on the front and a huge, telescoping, triangular TV antenna in the back. Ask my Dad about that one. Our house sat about a half a block away from the highway and on the other side of the street, right next to the highway, was an ancient abandoned house. My sisters told me it was haunted. But I didn’t believe them because they lied to me about a lot of things—like when they told me to never drink anything anyone gave me because it probably had poison in it—of course, Mom and Dad were excluded from the “anyone”. Anyway, one summer, a man with a big trailer came and parked his car in the empty lot by the haunted house. And the next day he opened up that trailer and in it was a miniature carnival! For Real! My husband thinks I’m lying.

Anyway, I loved this miniature menagerie and I begged to go see it often. I’m not sure why my parents trusted my 7 and 9 year old untruthful sisters to accompany me to this attraction run by a scraggly, bearded, and most probably homeless man, but they did, so we went. I don’t think the carnival was there all summer, but it was present long enough for me to be mesmerized by the little merry-go-round, the tiny boardwalk with its many games and wee prizes, and the realistic looking cotton candy. As the music played and the lights blinked, I would visualize myself high in the diminutive ferris wheel-- even though I was scared to ride the ferris wheel in real life. I would hear the little people beneath me laughing and enjoying the carnival and all its charms. And I was little too—like a tiny fairy. It was a goal of mine to become tiny like that some day. It never happened.

When I think of this memory, it always makes me happy. Most probably, the magical carnival that I remember was some guys attempt at making a dime. It was probably gaudy and cheap and made of a conglomeration of children’s toys and glue. Probably the ferris wheel was jerky and unimpressive and run by a 9 volt battery. But to my eyes, to the eyes of a child, with a new mind unfilled with notions of what is “junk” and what is “beauty”, to my eyes, it was beautiful.

Isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder? In my 5 year old mind, I saw that miniature carnival as beautiful and dazzling, and so in my 43 year mind, I still see it that way. It makes me happy just to think of it.

That’s all. I just wanted you to know. And to share my joy. Because joy is good.

“A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.

Proverbs 15:13

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Insulation Overhaul

I love my cozy life. I like my routine, my schedule, and my regular trips to Panera. I look forward to my comfy bed at night and my workouts in the morning. I love sitting by my fireplace with a book when it is cold and walking with my dog when it is not. I am very content with the comfortableness of my blessed life. I live a very tidy and predictable existence--just the way I like it.

And that, my friend, is called INSULATION.

Until this morning, until I sat by my warm fireplace, after my morning workout, I thought I was doing OK with this whole God-thing. I was spending time with Him regularly, studying the Bible, listening to great music, reading good books. I was trying to walk in holiness.

Then I read the Intersect magazine that I got at church this weekend. Intersect is a publication of our church full of the God stories of its members. It is named so because it highlights the ways that God has "intersected" people's lives and changed them forever.

As I read story after story in the magazine of people's pain and hardship and suffering, I was humbled and saddened. Humbled, because these were people I knew--people I saw every week sitting in the seats beside me at Cornerstone--and I hadn't taken enough time to really get to know them so I could be an encourager during rough times. And saddened because I was so caught up in my own life--my own coziness--that I had allowed little time to minister--to even care about--these people that might mess up my tidy routine.

This realization made me look at my life and re-evaluate. And this realization made me apologize to God with wrenching sobs. I was so alarmed at myself and so ashamed for the insulation I had placed around my life. Yes, I have reached out when it has been comfortable. And I have maybe even done a few things outside of my comfort zone, but when it came to MY SCHEDULE and MY ROUTINE and MY COMFORT, I was definitely in the driver's seat--not God. I was allowing God to be my co-pilot, but not my pilot (and for those of you who know how much I dislike that bumper sticker, I hated being the embodiment of it!)

As I poured out my regret to God, I couldn't get a certain song out of my head. The song is called "Give Me Your Eyes" by Brandon Heath and it just kept playing and replaying in my head. Here are the words I kept hearing:

All those people going somewhere

Why have I never cared?

Give me your eyes for just one second

Give me your eyes so I can see

Everything that I keep missing

Give me your love for humanity

Give me your arms for the broken hearted

The ones that are far beyond my reach

Give me your heart for the one's forgotten

Give me your eyes so I can see

Why had I never cared about the people surrounding me each week? Why did I feign interest while shaking their hand, but secretly harbor judgment because of their sad looking face? Why did I insulate myself so effectively that I couldn’t hear their cries?

Their stories are there. In the magazine. And God has brought them victory. It’s not that I would have wanted to help them escape from the flames that threatened their lives, I just wish I had known that there was a fire. I just wish my eyes had been focused on helping and healing—on Jesus and His agenda—rather than on me and mine.

So now that I have seen the pain that my brothers and sisters have suffered, I want to keep on seeing. I want to keep on seeing with Jesus eyes and keep on showing His love. I want Him to give me His arms for the hurting ones and His heart for the ones forgotten.

I want to get a little chilly because my insulation has been ripped away. And I want to continue to hide more and more in the warm reflection of my Savior. May it be so.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:34-40

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Forgiven Forgivers

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. This is hard; can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night, 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.' We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it means to refuse God's mercy for ourselves."

--C.S. Lewis

Forgiveness is hard.

God is Good.

Do the unnatural thing.

Show others what God is like.


Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:4-6

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Precious Trust

Yesterday, before leaving, Tess asked me if she could run the 6 mile route home from school. I've done it several times and she's done it a few times with me, so I decided it was a relatively harmless endeavor. The idea of her running alone--past the old homeless guy who told her she was beautiful--scared me a little, but I thought,"Hey, she's 17. She can make wise decisions." So I told her "OK, but don't get close to that homeless guy on the corner!" and she was thrilled. So, when Shay arrived home around 3:45 or so (yes, Shay can drive to and from school ALONE now--and believe me, that is scary too!), I asked her when Tess had taken off. Shay estimated that Tess started out about 3:30 from the parking lot of Ames High. I then looked at my watch and knew that Tess should be home within an hour--estimating that it took me about that much time to cover the distance. She, I theorized, would probably be running down our lane in even less time than that since she is speedier than I.

Like the pensive mother I am, I dutifully watched the clock and the driveway looking for my long legged daughter. As an hour came and passed, I started to become increasingly uncomfortable with her absence and decided to take my invalid dog on a walk down the lane, thinking "Surely, she will be arriving any minute. I will just go and meet her."

I walked the dog just as far as his newly built knee would take him, then with my heart pounding in my ears, I took him back to his kennel and yelled into the house saying I was going to drive the route and look for Tess. I had tried to call her but she did not answer and I figured she probably didn't have her phone with her anyway.

As I entered the highway from our driveway, I was beginning to panic. I was visualizing the homeless guy grabbing my beautiful daughter and dragging her away. And then I said, "Tori, get a hold of yourself! She is probably fine. Maybe she got lost." But in my mind, I knew she wouldn't be lost since she had run the same way with me just the week previous.

I got about two miles from home and still did not see her running along the road, on the sidewalk, or anywhere. So I just yelled to God, "OK. I don't know what to do now, God. What do I do now, God? What do I do in this situation, LORD? You know! Help me! Help me!" I was now in full panic mode and ready to call in the SWAT team to rescue my baby.

Then my phone rang and a sweet picture of Tess showed on the display. I answered it shouting, "Where are you?!" Her familiar (and unconcerned) voice said, "Hi Mom, I'm almost home. We just passed you." She was unaware of my near heart attack state as she nonchalantly replied, "Yeah, a friend is dropping me off. I decided to stay at school and run with some friends instead of running home." As my heartbeat normalized, I said, "Next time, Tess, you must call me! I didn't know where you were! You scared me!" "OK, Mom", she replied and promptly hung up the phone.

When I got home again, Tess had already arrived and was sitting in the office waiting for me. "Here I am!" said the almost-missing person. I approached her with my unshed tears, put her face in my hands, and whispered, "Tess, you are precious to us, and we don't ever want to lose you." And as tears started to well up in her eyes, she said, "I'm sorry, Mom. I won't do it again."

I don't really know why I am telling you this story. Maybe it's therapy for me. But really, what would have I done if I hadn't found Tess? What would I have done had God not graciously answered my request with lightening quick speed? What would have I done if Tess really had been missing? Would I still trust the God that allowed that to happen? Would I still call on Him for help if my prayer had been seemingly ignored? Would I still abide in Him if He let something bad happen to one of my precious ones?

I hope that I don't have to find out the answer to this question. I hope that God chooses to protect my children from the evil of this world. But bad things happen. And sometimes God allows us to suffer. We don't understand the purpose of this because we can't see the big picture like He can. We can't really see the end goal. We have an idea of what God wants us to be like, but we aren't fully aware of what it will take to get us there. The making of a holy life sometimes involves great sorrow.

I know that God is Good. I know that He is Trustworthy. I can feel it in my bones that He is Real. I must spend time at His feet daily, hourly, second by second until I can do nothing else but trust His judgement. I must do this now, when normality is bliss, so that when the tide threatens to drown me in it's fury, I can hold onto my Rock of Salvation.

My old buddy O.C. says "I need to believe God is always the God I know Him to be when I am nearest to Him." I will take his advice. I will abide in God's Sovereignty now. I will learn to trust Him when the going is good, so when things turn sour, He remains sweet.

O Lord Jesus, may it be so.

"The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him."

Psalm 28:7

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Holy Holes

"But if I obey Jesus Christ in the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God."

from My Utmost for His Highest --Oswald Chambers

Last week at Bible Study, I spoke on obedience to God and why it is so important. I also mentioned the above quote that I often think about when I am making the decision to obey or rebel. When I fully embrace it's truth, it makes me want to obey because I want to see more and more of God's face. I want to see what He looks like and what He acts like and what He thinks. I want to see what He smiles at and what makes Him sad. I want to see Him, someday, looking right at me saying "Well done good and faithful servant."

To really see Him, to gaze on His wonderful face, we must keep making pinholes in the foggy veil that covers our eyes. Every time we say yes to Him and no to ourselves, it is as if we have created another tiny hole through which we can see more and more of our Heavenly Father. Soon these many pinholes create a large open area so that we can peek through and gain more knowledge of the Holy. As we obey--every day, every hour, every second--our vision clears more and more.

In the day that we meet Jesus--either at His return or when we finally fly to Heaven--we will finally see Him clearly; there will be no more peeking through holes! We will see Him as He is and we will be satisfied because God will be more beautiful than we ever imagined.

And we will be with Him.
And we will be Home.

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

True Love

Hey folks, I don't have a lot of time, but I wanted to share an excerpt from my D6 curriculum this week that I absolutely loved! Read on:

"...when God revealed Himself to the people in the days when the Old Testament was written, He chose to speak to His people and dwell among them--in the form of fire in a bush or in the tabernacle at the Israelite's camp. But this was not good enough for God; He wanted to be closer.

When Jesus came to earth as a man, God ate with us, hugged us, and wept with us. But this still wasn't good enough for God; He wanted to be closer. So, God sent His Holy Spirit to fill us--mind, body, and soul. He wants to be closer to us than our own breath!"

God wants to be close to us because He loves us! We are His children! Isn't that incredible? But it's true! Let that fact resonate in your soul this week.


"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"

1 John 3:1

Monday, October 25, 2010

Measuring Our Love

Since I speak on the topic of obedience this week at Bible Study, I have been doing a little study on what obedience really means. Here are some tidbits:

  • Obedience to God is the only way. The only reliable means of measuring our love for God is to examine whether we obey Him.
  • If you are not keeping the commands of God, you cannot honestly claim to love Him.
  • Actions speak louder than words.
  • Each act of disobedience is a step away from God. Likewise, each act of obedience is a step back towards Him.
  • "I was not born to be free. I was born to adore and to obey."--C.S. Lewis
  • "Partial obedience, delayed obedience, and surface obedience to impress others are not acceptable to God. He is looking for men and women who will respond with instant, complete, wholehearted, and joyous obedience each time He speaks."--Del Fehsenfeld Jr.
O LORD, that I might be obedient, not just right now, when it is easy and things seem clear, but especially when I am threatened and my vision is foggy--especially when I feel wronged--for that is when I can show the sweetness of Jesus in my humble response. May it be so.

"We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands."

1 John 2:3