“Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him,
and said to Him: “I am willing; be cleansed.” Mark 1:41
Sometimes we think God only helps other people. He answers specific prayers and shows Himself strong to people we know—but not to us.
Perhaps the leper in Jesus’ day felt the same way. He had heard stories and seen the results, but was quite sure Jesus wouldn’t give him what he wanted. What the leper wanted most was a touch. He longed for a warm embrace from his wife and yearned to pull his sweet young daughter on to his lap. But he couldn’t, because no one touched a leper. No one. Not the Rabbi who officially labeled him ‘unclean’, not his friends, or even his family.
If they did touch him they stood the risk of catching that dreaded disease. The disease that made the hands and feet curl into short nubs and distorted the face into a sickening sight, causing people to pull back in horror. No one wanted that terrible disease, so no one touched a leper...
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
I was listening to a familiar old hymn today, and noticed the phrase “In the Night Season”. When I was young I thought those words meant night-time. You know, when the sun went down, and it was night. But today I realized the author of that song meant hard times, dark valleys, or total heartbreak.
It’s easy to praise God and give Him full credit when we’re experiencing shady days, and cool, quiet nights. The breeze of life’s happy events fluffs our spirit, and puts a spring in the step. We can’t imagine life any other way. For sure, God is SO good, He’ll get us through anything, how can we possibly question the future?
But then hard times hit: The spouse calls it quits, the cancer is terminal, the accident victim doesn’t survive, or the baby who was longed for doesn’t arrive...
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you." Isaiah 43:2
This is the first time I have blogged this year because many things have happened in the last couple of months to keep me busy:
* I contracted a humdinger of a sinus infection in the middle of December that lasted through Christmas.
*Just as I was starting to feel better from the sinus infection I acquired a case of food poisoning that demanded my undivided attention.
*My digestive system had finally quit reeling when on January 4th Maine got it's first big snowstorm of the year. It snowed for twenty-four hours, leaving my area with twelve inches of white beauty...
I have always loved to work with fabric. I like to picture a creation, find a pattern and the perfect fabric, then try to make the beautiful garment I saw in my mind. Many times the project has come out like I had hoped, but there have been times when the creation didn’t come out right at all. I was deeply disappointed, but not deterred. I tried again, and over time I learned from my mistakes.
God did a perfect job with creation. He knew what he wanted to make when he started from nothing, and He did it perfectly the first time. He didn’t need a pattern, and He didn’t need to re-do His mistakes, because He didn’t have any.
Many people are willing to accept the idea that God made the earth correctly. However, they have decided that He didn’t make people right. Most importantly, He didn’t do a good job with the person in the mirror. They might say He did a good job on the muscles, major organs and membranes, but He totally flopped when it came to ‘looks’. He made the height, color of the eyes or the size of the nose all wrong, and forgot to include a coveted talent or ability. Which leaves the question: “What was God thinking?”
"...behold, I am will you always, to the end of the age."
I was looking for my favorite brand of healthy chips to go with the sandwich in my cart when a young woman came around the corner. She was talking into her cell phone while steering the grocery cart through empty aisles. At first I wondered if her stifled sobs were quiet chuckles, but then I saw her eyes were red-rimmed and puffy. She was crying into the phone saying: “Yeah, but I don’t want to have to do it alone!” Immediately my heart hurt for this young woman who couldn’t stop crying in the grocery store.
Alone. Oh, how I understood the feeling of being Alone.
I have been Alone so many times. Alone in a church service with people all around me. Alone in the mall while hunting for a perfect gift. And yes—I’ve been alone in the middle of the night, lying in the bed that I once shared with my snoring husband. But he wasn’t there any more, and never would be again.
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11
My first three children were each born during the summer, which meant I wasn’t very far along in the pregnancy at Christmas time. But with Benjamin I was 35 weeks along on Christmas Day. I had been in my twenty’s when I carried the first three, but was thirty-six years old while carrying Ben. Age made a big difference in the comfort of that pregnancy, because I carried him for thirty-nine weeks, and was sick thirty-four of them.
Ben was also pushing against a nerve in my back that resulted in unexpected stabbing pains in the front of my hips. I would be walking along in a store when suddenly the stabbing pain would hit, causing me to double over and moan in pain. (If you’re looking for an attention-getter, this one works.)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55: 8 & 9
This is a chaotic world and sometimes it is hard to believe God is in control of everything, but He is. He is keeping gravity on an even keel so we won't float away, or so we won’t be pulled into the center of the earth.
Even when the weather is wild He is controlling it. He is holding the nine planets perfectly in place, controlling their moons, and the galaxies beyond them...
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday
and today and forever.
When my husband died the children and I had no idea how we would make it through our first Christmas without him. He was killed on the twenty-fifth, a fact that hadn’t escaped any of us. How could we celebrate Christmas, or anything at all if he wasn’t there?
God directed me to do things differently that first year, and we found solace in change. So here are five suggestions on how you can make it through your first Christmas (or any other big day) without your precious loved one:
I was privileged to join Tom Obey on his radio program called "Ministry in My Back Yard" which was featured on WHCF.
This interview covers how my speaking ministry started and what I offer through that ministry. Please watch this video that highlights the radio interview and then feel free to contact me about speaking at your event.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
Call me wimpy if you like, but I have a night light in my bathroom, which is located right off my bedroom. The light is there because my dreams are always in full-color HD, but when I wake up in the night, the bedroom is black. If the nightlight isn’t on I immediately panic, because I can’t see the light. Hence, I have a nightlight that I walk toward in order to make it safely to the bathroom.
Sometimes we find ourselves walking toward situations that we know are going to be dark. We sense it before we get there, and we dread our own arrival. We know there will be pain, suffering, or emotional anguish. We don’t want to go there, but we know we must.
"For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving"
1 Timothy 4:4
Maine is a beautiful state year round, but it shouts its glory most in autumn. The trees flame with bright reds and oranges while yellow and rust colored leaves nod their approval of the shorter days and nippy nights. Apple trees bow low with their red, ripe fruit and pine trees obligingly throw their cones to the ground for fall decorations.
Many times I have grumbled to God that I don’t like autumn because it reminds me that winter is coming. A couple of years ago He reminded me that He had created each season. That gentle rebuke stopped my complaining, but did not increase my enjoyment of cold breezes, lower temperatures and shorter days.
"I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Psalm 27:13
I got out of the car and forced myself to stop beside the flower garden. A gentle breeze caressed my hair, while warm sunlight kissed my face. I took a deep breath and looked around as if seeing the green grass and bright blossoms for the first time. Goodness was all around me.
I had taken my feverish four year old daughter to the hospital the night before, and had made a quick trip home to snatch a few clothes before going right back...
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
We all have those mornings when our heart is heavy before our feet hit the floor. We wake up struggling with life’s hurts, heartaches and horrors. Even though we know God is in control, we still wrestle with whys, worries and wonderings. Again and again we force our heart to face the Savior, instead of letting it wander off to find answers elsewhere.
Many people quote Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” But they miss verse 7: “Do not be wise in your own eyes.”
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don’t lean
On your own understanding. Prov. 3:5
We have all had disappointments in life. By the time you were a year old you had probably cried over a disappointment. You might have been told you couldn’t have any more candy, or you might have been stopped from running into the road, and you cried about it. You didn’t understand that too much candy isn’t a good thing, and running into the road could end your life early...
“Blip.” The sound of the dying battery in a smoke detector bugs me. I suppose that is what it’s meant to do-- bug me so badly that I’ll jump up to change the battery.
“Blip.” Today it happened. The kitchen smoke detector started telling me it was time-to-change-the-battery.
“Blip.” I grabbed the detector off the wall, laid it on the counter and started hunting for another battery...
I am writing this post on September 20, which is a day of reflection for me because it is my older brother Floyd’s birthday. Next month Floyd will have been in Heaven for two years and I miss him terribly.
When my husband died Floyd stepped up and held my hand through thick and thin. When he couldn’t visit me he called, prayed for and supported me in every way possible...
What if every prayer we prayed was answered exactly the way we requested? What if every person with a day off enjoyed sunny weather and every farmer received the perfect amount of rain? (Now there’s a quandary.)
What if every trip was safe, no children were ever hurt, and every person was healed from their disease, just like we prayed?...
I couldn’t bear the thought that I might never see her again, yet the stark reality was that my precious friend was dying of cancer, and only the closest family members were allowed to visit her. I was beyond myself with a sense of loss—loss in the present, and loss to come.
I tried to think of ways I could show up even though I wasn’t welcome, but soon realized that behaving like that would only make things harder for my friends’ family. With hot tears of disappointment I resigned myself to the heart-breaking situation...
I can still see his face wrinkled in disdain as he mocked me—he used my last name to create an unkind rhyme, which he chanted over and over in front of our 2nd grade school mates. I still remember his name and I have forgiven him.
I wore eyeglasses at a time when few others wore them. Schoolmates called me ‘four-eyes’, but I couldn’t see without the glasses, so I chose clear vision and endured the taunting...
She had been through eighteen months of cancer treatments and was declared cancer free. But after a few short months the cancer was back with a vengeance.
Her children were five and eight years old and my heart was paralyzed in the tight grip of fear. What if my brother lost his high school sweetheart and had to raise their broken hearted children alone?
When Michael and I started dating I decided early in our relationship if we got married and had a son I wanted to name the baby after his father.
We did get married, and we did have children—two beautiful girls. I wanted a son next, and read a book about choosing the sex of our child. I took my temperature and studied hormonal charts with intense interest...
Her heart was beating so fast the nurse couldn’t count her pulse. Our four-year-old daughter mumbled incoherently while the medical staff raced to set up an IV. We watched as her arms and legs broke into hives, causing her to scratch incessantly. Stephanie was going from bad to worse right before our eyes.
It was Monday night, and Stephanie had been vomiting at home for more than twelve hours. Earlier that day our pediatrician had prescribed an oral anti-vomiting medicine...
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
It’s a twenty-six foot travel trailer that has been perfect for our family, but I decided earlier this year to sell it. I’m only using it once a year, and I discovered there are other camping services available at the annual family destination. So I planned to use it one more time, then sell it...
May, 2011. It has been pouring for over a week, but the trash is piling up, and is bugging me. Ben and I have to get our teeth cleaned, so we will leave early and take a load to the dump before we go to the dentist’s office. We have another appointment after the ‘tooth cleaning’, so we will use the time in between to buy groceries. There, that is a nice, little plan isn’t it?
The weather was unusually warm on Friday, May 25th, 2007. I opened all the windows in the house, and thought about how warm the church building would be for the Patriotic Program that night. Our ten year old son, Benjamin had been practicing with the Christian School, and would be...
My mother was nineteen years old the first time that Mum and I met, but I don’t remember the events of that day. (By the time Mum turned twenty-one she had already given birth to three children, and fifty-nine years later shes still married to our Dad.)...
Sometime between the accident that killed my husband and the day of his funeral I wandered out to check the mail, and there on the ground beneath the mailbox was a clump of flowers with the roots attached...
Early one Saturday morning I was on my way to speak at a Ladies Conference, and decided to stop for a cup of coffee to ward off my sleepiness. I knew there was a gas station that served coffee a few miles ahead...
June 11, 1983 is a date that will never go unnoticed in our family, because that was the day Michael and I got married. Today someone asked if this is a sad day for me. The answer is yes. And no.
Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.