Monday, April 13, 2015

Can you hear that still small voice?

1 Kings 19:10 . . . and I, even I only, am left . . .


Do you ever just feel alone in this world?  Surrounded by people, but, oh, so alone?  Do you ever feel lost in this great big world? Have you felt as if you’ve lost your purpose? Do you often wish to flee from situations that make your life seem overwhelming?  I’d say that all of us have experienced one, if not all, of these feelings.  As I was reading the entire chapter of 1 Kings 19 this morning, I realized that I had a lot in common with poor Elijah.  And maybe you can relate to him as well. 

Overwhelmed by circumstances and fleeing for his very life, he found himself out in the wilderness, fearful, discouraged, probably anxious, and certainly depressed and begging God to take his very life.   Maybe he just didn’t have the energy to keep on living.  Maybe it felt too difficult and he just didn’t know how. Maybe he forgot that he could trust God to handle the whole terrible situation.  However, when asked what he was doing in that place, he did give the Lord a truthful answer. As the story unfolds, we find Elijah on Mt. Horeb after a grueling forty-day and forty-night trip.  The strength for that trip was provided by God thru a ministering angel who fed him before he started on his way.  Even though Elijah was running away, God never left him alone!  He was there providing for his every need and guiding him to that place he needed to be in order to hear the voice of God. When his journey is complete, God once more questions him as to what he is doing in that place. And once again Elijah is absolutely honest with God.  Shortly afterwards, he experiences terrible winds, an earthquake, and a fire, and though God is in none of those things, Elijah finally finds Him in a still small voice and receives instructions and purpose from God.

In Matthew Henry’s Commentary of the Bible, he says of this passage: Despair of success hinders many a good enterprise. Did Elijah come hither to meet with God? He shall find that God will meet him. The wind, and earthquake, and fire, did not make him cover his face, but the still voice did. Gracious souls are more affected by the tender mercies of the Lord, than by his terrors. The mild voice of Him who speaks from the cross, or the mercy-seat, is accompanied with peculiar power in taking possession of the heart.” 

How true!  God could have really let Elijah have it for not trusting Him and for failing to run to Him instead of just running away!  But He didn’t.  He used a calm and quiet voice to get his attention. When my own children were little, I had better success in discipline when I would use a quiet, gentle voice as opposed to an angry, thundering one!  I could always tell when I reached their hearts because the tears would fall down those little cheeks.

As I was thinking on how God finally calmed Elijah and was able to work in his situation, it occurred to me that when we are in a room full of noisy, talking folks, doesn’t a quiet voice make us stop and take notice? Don’t we lean in a little closer in order to hear what is being said? We can’t hear the words being spoken if we do not block out all of the noise around us.  The same is true when we are listening for the voice of God.  Do we not have to quiet the fears and anxiety in order to hear His quiet voice? The realization for me is that in order to hear God’s voice, I cannot focus on the trials and temptations that may surround me.   God is not in those things, but instead works THRU those things. 

He is peace when I am still.

Even though this is ONE chapter from one book in God’s word, it spoke so many things to my heart today:

  • God really does not leave us nor forsake us, no matter where we are
  • God wants us to be honest with Him about our problems
  • God doesn’t want us to run away from life’s trials but to trust Him
  • God will speak to us but we must be obedient and willing to be in a place that we can hear Him
  • God will send what we need if we will just stop and listen to Him
  • God pursues us and provides for us

Love in Christ to you all!


Friday, July 12, 2013

Prayer and Peace

Y'all, sometimes I just don't know how much this mama's heart can take.  I have watched two of my children lose their jobs since December.  They have called me on the phone numerous times from hundreds of miles away, crying, leaving me feeling so helpless to help.  One had to have surgery.  And just this week, two of my girls suffered some hefty disappointments concerning the direction of their lives and it just pains me to see them hurting and, seemingly, not succeeding in their pursuits.  Thankfully, we know and have learned that His grace is sufficient in these times.  And, as a family who strives to trust and serve God, we know and firmly believe that "...ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."  I find it difficult though, if I am to be totally honest, to give thanks in every thing during these times as He has commanded us to do.  How can I give thanks when I see them suffering so much heartache?  It is so hard to be patient while the Lord works His perfect will in their lives.  Their burdens become mine.  I hurt when they hurt.  And it is overwhelming at times and I am left to feel helpless to do anything.  Anything but pray, anyway.  I believe that it is the most precious gift we can gift our children, aside from leading them to Christ for salvation.  It is the means by which we show our faith and trust in the God of all hope.  It is the way that we invite our loving, caring God to do His work in their lives.  I remember one particular time of trials a few years, when we prayed and prayed, and watched as God provided and answered those prayers.  It was such a relief and I thought, "Finally, some relief!"  But then a few days later, there were new trials and I just remember walking down the sidewalk, talking with Mister and thinking, “We cannot seem to catch a break!  Will there ever be a time when we're not praying and seeking God's face?  Will there ever be a time when we're not facing some struggle or another?”  And now I know that the answer is 'no'.  Why?  Well, Job said it best when he said, "Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble."  It’s just the way it is.

Truth be told, sometimes I just wish everybody could just get settled and I could rest a while.  I’m so tired.  Yes, they are adults now, living their own lives. But that doesn’t mean I have stopped being their mama.   I'm pretty sure that with five children, I'll spend the rest of my life on my knees praying for God's hand on their lives.  And that’s okay.  It’s something I’ve come to realize is woven into the tapestry of my life.  It is one of the single most important tasks I am faced with on a regular basis.  Honestly, prayer keeps me centered, keeps me sane, and keeps me from completely giving up.  Why?  Well, it’s like this.  I am a list-maker because it keeps me from feeling overwhelmed and it helps me accomplish many tasks in a timely manner.  It may seem a strange analogy, but when I have a lot of things on my mind, it really helps to write all of those things on a piece of paper.  And I do mean literally write them down.  I don’t do note-taking on my tablet or other electronic device.  It has to be written in ink on a piece of paper.  It’s how I de-clutter my mind, and thus de-stress.  It’s like I can just let go of it all if it’s written down, and by letting go, I’m prepared to do what needs to be done because it’s no longer a distraction.  I don’t have to keep thinking about it.  Somehow, by writing it down, order seems to come into my thoughts and actions.  Prayer is much the same.  God says that we are to be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  Essentially He is telling us not to be full of care, not to be distracted, and not to take thought for even one tiny little thing.  He also instructs us in “casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”  He’s pretty much telling us to deliberately throw all of our anxious concerns and all of life’s distractions on Him because we matter to Him.  Anything that causes us care or concern, He wants to take that from us at our offering and in exchange give us quietness and rest of the heart and mind.  In actuality, He wants to set the heart and mind at one again.  Think about what goes on in your mind and the anxiousness of your heart when faced with burdens and trials!  Such turmoil!  It’s like a war inside.  And, as we talked about last time, so much noise!  God wants to quiet that noise, be at the forefront of your battles, guarding and protecting you, and bring calmness into your life.  That’s like list-making to clear the mind.  When we pray, we are clearing the heart and mind of all the burdens that weigh us down.

Through all of our trials in the past few years, I have learned to pray like never before.  Having little ones around was nothing compared to having adult children, I can assure you!  Dirty diapers, clutter, and the constant hovering over them as they got into everything under the sun was nothing as I have witnessed them become independent from their daddy and me.  It is during these times, though, that I have learned to trust more, let go more fully, and watch God work in their lives.  I have to say that I have seen God do some amazing things during these difficult days when so much effort was put into praying for them.  So much so that one of the kids that lost his job now has a job in a great department and has been shown great favor by those he works under.  He is married now and is buying a house for his new bride.  A house and FIVE acres!  All of this has happened within about five month’s time and it’s amazing to look back at those days back in December when it seemed like his world was crashing down around him.  This brings me to fully realize what David so passionately declared, and that is yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.  The Lord has also provided for every need, every bill, and every bed to lay a head on.  And, sometimes, a little extra thrown in.  As my grandma used to say, they were never broke, just badly bent!  God did not, has not, nor will He ever retreat from them, leave them behind, nor give up on them.  He is not in the habit of giving over control of the lives of the righteous over to anybody or anything.  He won’t ever loosen His grasp on them even one tiny bit, fail them, nor leave them destitute.  

There are still many needs facing our children and I am certain that as they continue to mature into responsible adults and, more importantly, spiritually mature Christians, the trials and tribulations they face will continue and may become, well, more severe.  But that’s something to address another day because we are told to take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Regardless of what tomorrow may bring, I know that I can trust the lives of my children to His care and that is why I pray for them. 

Love in Christ, 



Saturday, July 6, 2013

Turning Off the Noise

On a recent evening, I got tired of the noise from the television and clicked the red button on the remote to turn it off, mostly because I wanted to read a magazine and could not focus.  When I did, I made a startling discovery.  There was a bird singing a beautiful song in the woods at the end of our street.  I had not heard it with the TV on.  It was a sweet sound indeed and brought me back in time to summer evenings spent outside playing as a child.  I lay there lost in my childhood for a few minutes, and then I began to wonder what the bird has singing about.  As time passed and I sat in the quiet of my room, the bird’s song gave way to the sound of peepers and the critters that only come out at night.  It was then that I realized I would have missed that bird’s song if I hadn’t turned off the television.  I sadly realized that I don’t often take the time to sit in the quiet and listen to those sweet sounds.

Noise.  It’s something we live with every day of our lives, from the people around us to the radio to the television.  A phone ringing, the toilet flushing and the dishwasher running, even the buzz of an electric toothbrush!  The hush of a pen as it brushes across a piece of paper is a sound I love to hear.   There are important noises in our lives, though, not just the irritating ones.  The cry of a distressed child allows us to know they need comforting.  Hearing someone we care about tell us how much they love and miss us when they are far away.  And, of course, hearing the word of God preached brings the sinner to repentance and strengthens the believer.  But we have grown so accustomed to the noise around us that we tune most of it out and do not realize that we have little times of quiet in life.  We live with lots of noise and little quiet.  It’s as if the noise absorbs us and we become a part of it.  Sometimes it is as if a great swirling ocean of waves surrounds us, sucks us in, and just becomes “how it is”.  Other times, life is a constant crashing of waves on the shore that becomes a part of life,  making us soon we forget that there ever was anything such as quiet, causing us to miss too many beautifully peaceful moments in life.

Sometimes, though, it isn’t just the constant sounds around us that keep us from enjoying peace and quiet.  Our minds become a cacophony of things to do, problems and situations well beyond our control that we are trying to solve, and the overwhelming realization that we are just TIRED and, sadly, there is no end in sight.  No rest.  No peace.  Nothing but a busy, noisy, life.  Things of life just swirl round and round, like a whirlpool, constant motion and roaring, always pulling us downward, drowning us.  And if we scream for help, no one is there to help us because they are caught up in their own noisy whirlpool.  How many of us go to bed every night and cannot sleep because our brains, like the whirlpool, “just won’t stop”?  The noises of the mind are worse than any outward noises we deal with every day.  Most of those we can walk away from, turn off, or unplug.  Too bad we can’t do that with the noises in our minds!  Or can't we? 

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

If you read this entire Psalm, it begins with the Psalmist telling of his trust in God, even if he were surrounded on all sides by turmoil, the world crashing down around him.  He declares that God is a refuge, strength, and help in trouble.  Twice he proclaims that “the LORD of hosts is with us”.  And in conclusion is a commanded to come to a state where we let go and realize just who is in control.  God commands us to cease from our worry, let go of fear, admit our weakness and dependence on Him, and to acknowledge that He is in control of everything.  We have the choice of being consumed by the noise of our thoughts and lives or living in complete and total trust of God. 
This verse does not mean that we stop and just sit.  It's an invitation to enjoy the calmness and quiet that accompanies a familiar, trusting relationship with God.  Notice the order the command:  be still and know.  We can't know what He is capable of until we let go and allow Him to work.  If we were to know before we let go, what kind of faith is that?  It isn't.  Some people call it blind faith.  I don't know about all that, but I do know that it's when we are blind that He allows us to see.  Those who think they must see to be able to know are truly the blinded ones.  When we can admit that we know little or nothing is the time that we are best able to learn.  And when we can admit that we don't have the slightest clue about how to fix all of the problems in our lives, that is when we come to know that we can truly trust God.  In other words, being still leads to knowing we can trust Him.  Without all of the fear and worry making all sorts of noise in life, we are able to focus on Him.  We are able to recognize that He is there because the distractions are gone.  Just as I could not hear the bird singing until I turned off the television, we cannot notice God at work until we quiet our minds.

So I want to challenge you for the next time you are tempted to let the noise of life take over.  Remember that life and the mind do not have to be whirlpools of constant thought, filled with the noise of fear and worry and dread.  You have the power switch to turn off all of that noise and enjoy, like I was able to, peace, quiet, and a beautiful song.  It's just a matter of being willing to be still and know.
Love in Christ,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

God's Book

I love, love, love antique books, especially books of a religious nature.  Over the years, I have collected numerous volumes and often use quotes from those books here and on my Facebook page.  There is much wisdom to found of that generation of authors and Christians.  Don't get me wrong.  There are several Christian women authors of today that I enjoy reading, but there is just something about the lives and writings of late 19th and early 20th century authors.  I especially enjoy reading Margaret Sangster, not to be confused with Margaret Sanger.  There could be no two people who were as different as these women were. 

Anyway, I didn't grow up reading a lot.  In fact, I think I must've been a fairly poor reader in school, even through my high school years as I was put in special classes during English to help improve my reading skills.  But after graduation, I began reading a lot for pleasure, not just because I was being forced to.  Over the years, I've become an avid reader and my skills have improved.  I still don't like having to read directions or learn some new skill from a book, but I do enjoy reading to increase my knowledge about things.  I have bookcases full of books on crafts, sewing, history, autobiographies, biographies, missionaries, religious themes, cooking, baking, poetry . . . and on and on it goes!  Books have become a big part of my life.  I love to go to the book store and just browse and pull titles off the shelves to flip through.  There is so much to learn about!  There are so many stories to read and be touched by!  And it's kinda fun looking at pictures, too.  I especially like the picture/coffee table books about other counties!  Amazing photographs of places I would love to visit.

My very favorite book is a novel by Christian author Francine Rivers.  It is called Reddeming Love and is a love story based on the book of Hosea from the Bible.  I have read it numerous times and I always come away rejoicing in the fact that, like Hosea (in the Bible) and Michael (the main character of Rivers' novel), God's love is a redeeming love for those who did not love Him first.

This morning it was quiet around my house as everyone had gone off to . . . somewhere!  When it's quiet like that, it gives me time to just think about things and one of the things that was running through my mind today was that God has a book that one day will be read to us.  It's the Lamb's Book of Life.  In this book is written the name of everyone that Has ever been born into His family.  One of these days, this book will be opened and He will read from it.  Those whose names are not there will be cast out of God's presence and into the lake of fire.  I believe that many will be shocked and saddened that their name will not be found there. 

There is a congregational song that we sing at church and it never fails to bless my soul.  It is called I know My Name is There.  The second stanza says:

My name once stood with sinners lost,
And bore a painful record;
But by His blood the Savior crossed,
And placed it on His roll.

Oh how I rejoice and praise God that my name is on that roll!  My name is written in that Lamb's Book of Life!  God has my name written down in Heaven in a book!  That means He knows my name and one day He'll call me out of that book!  On days when I'm down and discouraged, all I need do is reflect on that simple fact . . . I know my name is there!  He wrote it down the moment I received His dear Son as my Redeemer.

There are many, too many, people in this world who cannot say that there name is there.  Or they will tell you that no one can know for sure.  I don't know which saddens me the most . . . those who are not written there or those whose names are there but do not have that assurance in their hearts because they think that keeping their salvation is all dependent on their works.  Those works do not matter when it comes to finding your name in the Book.  Christ told some of His followers in Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.   Anyone can do works in the name of Christ, but not everyone has their name written down in His book . . . and that is all that truly counts.

Reader, God wants to write your name in that Book.  He wants to read your name out of that Book one day in the very near future.  Do you know that your name will be read aloud on that day?  That's food for thought in your quiet times.



An Ode to Dick and Jane

See Julia.

See Julia coughing.

See Julia coughing in her bed.

Julia is mad.

Julia is mad at her cough.

Julia is mad at her cough for keeping her in bed.

The end.

(Thank you Dick and Jane)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A terrifying discovery!

Help!  I'm in a midlife crisis and I can't find my way out!

Eccl. 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
I am beginnng to realize that middle age, that time in life when you're not really old but you're not really young either, is just a rerun of that horrid time in life known as adolescence, all while dealing with any adolescents that live at your house.  It's a double-whammy, triple-dog-dare-you trick life plays on you.

At least after adolescence the first time around, you came away with a perky body parts, beautiful hair, and smooth facial skin.  When you reach your 40's, you're figuring out how to survive the changes of life while dealing with forgetfulness, wrinkles, white hair, muffin tops, and drooping, sagging body parts.  You've lived and experienced life, but now you're practically being forced to reinvent yourself because life as you knew is not the same . . . and you're trying to figure exactly who you are, who you thought you were, or who you should have been in the first place.  It's a time full of questioning, fears, and doubts.
  • Who am I?  Where have I been?  Where was I going?
  • Where did I put my medicine bottle?  glasses?  remote?  keys?  car?  children?
  • What was I going to do next? 
  • Which doctor am I seeing next week?
  • Uhhhh . . . why did I come into this room?
  • OMGosh!  I've turned into my mother!  (Love you, Mom!)
  • Life is passing me by and I'm on some old slow horse that can't keep up.
  • I am the old nag that can't keep up.
  • I doubt these bottoms are going to fit over my bottom!
  • I swear I wore I size 12 last week!
  • I doubt I can stay awake through this entire two-hour movie. 
Truthfully, I'm just an old(er) version of a teenager.  My poor husband.  He's having to deal with a 40-something adolescent and a 'real' adolscent. She's angry all the time; I'm crying; and he's wishing he could take a vacation to Mars.  Living in a lion's den would be safer than living at home some days.

Seriously though.  I'm forever fussing at my youngest daughter because she sometimes won't try new things if there are people participating that might perform better than she can.  It pains me so to see her struggle with self-doubt and self-acceptance.  I'm always telling her that she doesn't know what she can do until she tries; that even if she doesn't 'win', her life will be richer for trying; and she might be sorry one day if she doesn't give it a shot and with all she's got.  Those words of encouragement finally paid off on a recent Saturday.

We had a dairy show a few weeks ago, our second of this season.  It was a big state show and I know she came into it with so many doubts since our first show (a much smaller one) didn't turn out as well as she would've liked.  She seriously thought she'd picked out the worst calf in the bunch to work with this year.  But I knew that day when we first saw her that she'd be a great one, and I think Baby Girl did too.  But then she had begun to doubt her ability to know a good calve/heifer from a not-so-great one.  She'd been doing this going on two years.  Why was she doubting now?  On the day of the weight class competition, I told her she had a great heifer and that she had made the right choice.  And I prayed like crazy . . . not just that she would win, but that God would bless her with wonderfully good things that day.  Amazingly, she won first place that day in her class and went on to compete for division champ.  It was her first blue ribbon in showing dairy heifers and what an encouragement that was to her!  It is something she will never forget and it would've been something she would've missed had she given up.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude when I think of what God gave her that day.

But then, there is me.   I've had kids at home with me for twenty-two years and have been married for almost 25 years!  But now . . . now, things are changing. When I was younger, way before I met Mister, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life.  And I went after it with gusto!  I got married, had a houseful of youngin's, and quit work to take care of my home and my family. Three are on their own, Little Mama graduates this year, and Baby Girl in just over a year.  Where does that leave me?  The answer to that would be the blank, confused look you see on my face.  You know the one; it's what you get when you ask your kids why they didn't clean the kitchen after supper last night, why they didn't do their homework, or when the dog was last fed.  Nobody, but nobody, told me that the years would pass by like a whirlwind and that I would doubt my ability to do . . . anything . . . my value as a someone other than 'mama'!  Nobody ever told me that I'd question who I am now that my role in life is changing.  I'm.  Not.  Ready.  Where is the 'pause' button?  And, NO(!), I'm not talking about menopause.   But if I believed that God could and would bless my child and help her through that difficult show, then why can't I believe that He'll bless me, too, and help me through this difficult change in life?  If I believed Him enough to trust Him to help me raise all these chldren, why am I full of doubts during this most difficult change in life?

Why is it that I can encourage my children in their life pursuits, pray for their success, and believe that their dad and I have done a pretty decent job at raising them . . . and yet, when it comes to me and my dreams and hopes for myself, I am so afraid to even try?  Why do I feel 'not good enough'?  Forget dying from old age or anything like that.  Fear is killing my life!  And while I say this almost jokingly, there is more than a tinge of truth to it.

Learning to navigate this midlife crisis is a frightening sometimes overwhelming journey and it seems like I'm only in the beginning stages.  I still don't know where I'll be going from here, what my purpose is, or who I'll be when it's all over.  Truthfully, I'd rather deal with a sullen, discouraged, frustrated teenager than with . . . well, my middle-aged, cranky, frustrated, unsure self.  But just as I survived my own adolescent years, and the ones I survived with my five children,  I'll make it through this season in life as well all the better for the wear and tear on this aging body.  And when I come out on the other side, there'll not be a 'new' me, just an improved continuation of the woman God wants me to be.

Now where did I leave my . . . ?



Friday, February 25, 2011

A Letter to Young People Everywhere

Dear Young People Everywhere,

Today I am writing on behalf on parents everywhere who, I believe, want young people to know a little about this process of being 'grown up' and 'on your own'. Believe it or not, your parents know that it is difficult being a teenager and a young adult. Would it surprise you to know that it is just as difficult for the parents of you young people? We have raised you for 18, 19, 20+ years . . . and  suddenly, you're on your own, making your own decisions, and you don't really need us that much anymore.

It may surprise you to know that moms and dads were once in the same place that you are in now.  But you should know that mom will ALWAYS be mom and, by nature, is loving and territorial when it comes to her children. Just because you don't live at home any more doesn't mean that you stop being her children . . . nor does it mean that she just let you go. . .completely. She doesn't have these stretch marks on her body and scars on her heart for nothing. She's invested too much of herself to ever stop caring. And while that doesn't give her the right to dictate your life, your mom will always be a part of your life and is, very likely, the reason that you are the wonderful person that you are today.

Your lives are changing, but so are hers. Yours because you want it to, and hers because it's just the way life is. She's never been at this point in life before, allowing each and every child go out into the world to live the life God has planned for them. Watching each of you make mistakes.  Sitting back while y'all discover a whole new world.  She just wants you to remember this when you get really frustrated with her and think she's butting in.  For your mother, this change is  like going 60 mph to 0 mph in about 2 seconds, trying avoid hitting the car in front of you.  The heart pounds, the hands shake, and the mind is forever thinking "what if".

You have never truly loved a human being until you have loved your own child, whether he or she grew within your womb for nine months or if they were specially chosen by to be your very own child. So, naturally, there will be pains of separation. Just as you would cry when you were separated from mom, even for just a few hours, your mom will cry and often mourn for the days that will never be again.

Thankfully your mom has a weapon for those times when she can't be there, can't fix a situation, or doesn't really understand what's going on in your life.  Or maybe mama sees you making some pretty questionnable choices.  If things starting happening in your life that YOU don't understand, maybe your mama has been praying for you.  Cause, you know, if mama can't be there, you can bet God will always be because of your mama.


All Moms Everywhere