“The Message – 4Him

Firstly, let me thank you, dear friends, for the prayers and support after I shared my struggles here last time we met.

There are things yet to sort through and only time will tell how my situation will progress, but I am seeing breakthroughs and finding avenues to express my concerns while keeping in mind the desire to minister.

Ok. So…onto what my title refers to. Here comes yet another group that anchored me in my teens and twenties…

Safe to say, if you haven’t figured it out already, I have always listened to a LOT of music-each with its own flavor. πŸ™‚

4Him captured my attention from the first time a cassette tape of “The Basics of Life” was played for me by a high school acquaintance. I just had to have my own copy, along with everything they produced thereafter.

The authenticity and passion combined with these four beautiful voices inspired my hunger for more of Christ. Every tune seemed to point the way and I eagerly followed.

I can well recall being up to wee hours devouring one book of my Bible after another while their music played in the background.

Sometimes, I could even be caught singing along. 😏

I still remember a time my dad was home from the road one night and embarrassed me to no end knocking on my door to tell me how neat it was to hear me singing along with those guys. Maybe it was also a kind hint I might dial down on volume, but, at any rate, I think it was the compliment that threw me. πŸ™‚

Oh, it’s a nice memory, to be sure.

I think it just felt like a very private session between me and God exposed for a minute there. My relationship with my folks was beginning to mend by then, but was still often uncertain, almost awkward.

Anyway…we did wind up having a brief but good chat about where my faith was heading. And I turned back to my music further bolstered ( and turned down the volume a touch.πŸ˜‰).

And so, I continued on. Grew up. Sort of….

And, over the years, through the numerous hills I climbed and valleys I found myself in, there were my many 4Him cassettes and CDs to hold onto, usually put in and cranked over the uglier noises in my world to stir my heart on (Maybe that accounted for my fixation with the volume…😏).

Now…when it comes to choice of song to best represent my love of 4Him to you, I am once again in such a quandary.

So many of their songs speak so much to me.

In the end, I went with what convicts my heart most at present.

For, in the end, whatever I am dealing with now and whatever comes down the pike later on, my heart is to live a message.

One of faith.

One of truth.

To make my life stand as this group’s name testifies to…

For Him.

Listen, be stirred, be inspired to live such a message.

Blessings and prayers, dear friends! ❀

The Better Ground

Hey, dear friends! Last night was another Wednesday, another gathering with our youth.

We managed a little pizza making, a bit of fun, a precious piece of worship, and a life-giving morsel of challenge to persevere in walking upright and in gratitude with the Lord.

And, for myself, I even experienced a slight expansion of tolerance for some of the situations weighing so heavily on me.

It’s not major shifts in my world or circumstances, but, rather, a step by step sort of journey, as I highly suspected it would be. In other words, God is beginning to move as I begin to allow His hand on me in this season of rebirth. A few words of pondering on the process…

The Better Ground

It’s a tough and a tender surrender,

A slow ache in the soul

Of the careful pretender.

Yet, there is a deeper goodness to be

Found

As I learn my Keeper always guides to

The better ground.

Not to say there is a sudden absence

Of pain in the climb

Nor that I don’t weary of

Drumming rain and the dull drag of

Time.

But, as He ministers lifebread along

The way,

Calling out both rest’s sweet

Deliverance

And the urge to seek the crest

With feet of forebearance,

I am gratefully discovering

I am sustained yet another day….

May we each allow the Lord to keep us and guide us in the climb. And may we seek both the perseverance and the gratitude needed. Blessings and prayers, dear friends! Thanks for reading! ❀

The Becoming

This poem grew from a comment I made the other day on a post on Heavensreef, a very encouraging blog I recently started following. πŸ™‚

Now, it’s not what you’d call a traditional valentiny sort of piece, but, truly, what better love is there demonstrated than in His redemption of our lost souls? ❀

Query:

What were you before Jesus?

Answers circle, haunting truths

So heavy to carry.

Surprisingly daunting task, this-

How to describe what I was

And not lose sight of what now is?

Well, best to just begin, I concede-

Filthy hands had I,

So foolish and full of sickening pride,

Pawing desperately

After a love I tried to define.

Hardly kept a head above

Quicksand most days;

Crackling lungs scarcely held

More than shallow breath;

Fingers curling over

Broken strands of impending death,

Numbing to my own rapidly

Increasing decay.

Ah, but, one word could I rasp to the skies:

“Help.”.

In that moment, stretched out the Lord’s clasp to mine,

Pulling me free of my self-made muck,

Suddenly to solid ground I found myself,

Startled near to being thunderstruck.

Brought me to His river then,

And washed me pure within.

New garments was I given,

Royal robes fit for heaven.

And after?

Well, we’ll call that the becoming.

His truths started in to humming,

New and strange beats on my heart drumming.

Set out to learn this different rhythm,

Untried feet sometimes skipping,

Sometimes stumbling.

Yet, the travels with Him,

Dear companion God,

Are ever onward tumbling…

Oh, this becoming has been quite

A journey for me,

And He’s not done with me yet,

By any means.

Yet so grateful to see

Just how far His love’s brought me-

Long miles streak out behind

Like light-years of shifts and sighs,

From the life that really wasn’t life

To the life He intends there to be.

And one day, this becoming will

Become a became

And, at journey’s end, all the rest

Will fall away,

With nothing more left to do than

Simply bless His name…

Oh, friends, the wonder of the journey from the depths of sin to becoming like Him! There’s nothing like it. May you feel His love on this day and always. ❀ Thanks for reading. Blessings and prayers to you. πŸ™‚

All the Ways We Try to Fix the World

Desperate people,

Desperate cries…

Drowning in the seas of their

Own sin.

Yet so unable to see

All they need do is let down their

Guard

And let You in…

There’s so many fruitless ways we try

To fix this broken world.

There’s new theories every day.

We fret and fume

All for the sake of elbow room

At the drawing table of our

Largely pointless planning,

Rarely glancing

To He whose hands are ever there,

Ever spanning

To cradle the whole

Of His creation,

To show us the error of our

Meandering days,

Heal the breaches of bleeding

Nations.

Like a parent seeking to soothe

Fevered brows of a tortured

Brood,

He is reaching out to us for our

Good.

If we would but stop fussing

And tussling

Long enough let Him!

Ah, but war-torn we are,

And, scripture says, war-torn we

Shall be…

To the very end.

Desperate people,

Desperate cries,

Drowning in the seas of their

Own sin.

Yet so unable to see

All they need do is let down their

Guard

And let You in….

Oh, Father,may they see and run freely

Towards Your open gate,

Surrendering to Your loving will

Before it is too late!

Blessings and prayers, dear friends! Thanks for reading! May we continually pray for our world and, especially, for the lost!

Cluttered Sinks and Fresh Starts

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19

Love that verse. ❀

Even put it in my wedding vows 8 years ago come March. ☺

I pulled it out here originally seeking to pen a more standard thought on this New Year’s Eve.

But, the exhilarating freshness to a new beginning puts me in mind of rather an odder thought today.

So…bear with me while I rustle up a mother’s analogy πŸ˜‰:

A year’s end is like watching a cluttered sink of sticky plates and seemingly endless cups diminish at long last to none. We get a glimmer of satisfaction in the shiny and clean.

(By the way, how do we go through so many cups in such a short time?! πŸ€”)

Anyway….

New Year’s Day is like the wow of empty stainless steel staring up at you for a moment!

Note the word “moment”. πŸ˜‰

For, all too soon, here comes more cups out of the woodwork to create a new version of the old tower…

Some very familiar cups, naturally… the chipped one, the cartoon-adorned, the industrial- sized coffee mugs… but, maybe in a different order this time.

Or, there could be that stray you know you haven’t seen used in an eon.

The one you’re pretty sure crawled out from under the depths of your son’s bed. 😏

Much like another day layering itself on another day.

Some will look like the ones gone before.

Maybe not so bad.

Maybe yucky-but survivable.

Or, maybe, something is in a different order.

Something goes an unexpected direction.

The Lord shifts you into a place you’ve not been before.

Or, perhaps, even considered.

It could look daunting-like dishes multiplying in a sink unabated.

Or, it could be something far more thrilling than wielding a scrub brush, when we can lean on His scouring power to help us perceive it as such.

A way in the wilderness, a stream in the wasteland even.

Tasks may be completely unknown in some cases. Odd or clumsy at first.

Or, in fact, they may not change all that much in other cases. Maybe seemingly routine. And yet, even then, there’s still a something new….

But, the point is, in whatever He asks of us, whether new or familiar, He is there, providing a pathway, equipping us for the call.

Carving out twists and turns to grow us, steadying passages to shore us up, pouring out places of refreshing to gladden our souls.

For, where these days will be ones we’ve never lived before, He has been the forerunner of our journey, lovingly mapping all that is to come.

And, so, as a new year dawns shortly, He beckons us on.

Go ahead. He says. Fresh start. Trust me.

Add to the tower of cups.

You and me- we’ve got this.

Bright blessings, much love, and many prayers for you, my friends! Thanks for indulging an odd analogy this New Year’s Eve! May we enter 2020 embracing all He has for us, knowing that sink will be added to, but also knowing He’s got the stuff to help us scrub it clean! πŸ˜‰

Guarding Our Lamps

Hello! Hope everyone’s Christmas was a blessed one! We’ve had a good deal said about lights in this season, but, I feel inspired to a bit more, in perhaps a different form than we traditionally explore at Christmas….

Only once before have I indulged here in any of my gold standards from my daycare teaching years.

But, lately, I keep humming “This Little Light of Mine”.

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…

Most of you likely know the lyrics, so I will leave off including the rest, though I do love two sections: 1. When they get to “hide it under a bushel? NO!. The “no’s” are so adorably emphatic.

And 2, and, perhaps my favorite: “Ain’t gonna let Satan blow it out!”- with the word “blow” replaced by a whoosh of air enthusiastic enough to put out dozens of birthday candles. ☺

Anyway…

Maybe it’s just in my head because it made that delightful sort of appearance in my littlest boy’s Christmas program recently.

Or, maybe, it’s meant to be a gentle tug on my heart for a purpose beyond the cuteness of a group of children belting it out complete with hand motions and sound effects…

For lights are something rather delicate, truth be told.

It doesn’t take an awful lot to extinguish them.

Before some major power line reworking in our occasionally wild and wooly midwest town, all it could take sometimes was a day of particularly stiff wind and whoosh.

Lights out as fast as my grade school friends demonstrate in their song. 😳

Flashlights were fumbled for.

As was the phone as we swiftly called the electric company to alert them of the issue and anxiously awaited the intrepid heroes of their field to come make things right again.

All that flurry of immediate concern and coming to attention…

But, do we do the same with our spiritual light?

Do we even immediately recognize the loss of illumination?

Is it even necessarily as sudden a switch from on to off as a power outage? πŸ€”

Well, no, I really don’t think so.

It’s a far more gradual dimming than that.

A bit of darkness creeps in here, a bit more shadow there.

The lantern’s glow grows smaller and smaller by contrast.

We begin to squint to see. It may take some time to realize we even are squinting to see. ( Much like what happens when I am due for a change in my eyeglass prescription!😏)

It puts me in mind of the other great toddler tune about this subject:

Give me oil in my lamp,

Keep me burning.

Give me oil in my lamp,

I pray.

Give me oil in my lamp

Keep me burning, burning, burning.

Keep me burning till the break of day!

Of course, this is based on the parable of the ten virgins found in Matthew 25.

Some had guarded their lamps well and were ready for the bridegroom (Jesus).

Others were not so prepared. Their lamps were going out. They had nothing on hand to renew their light.

And, of course, the analogy here concerns those who persevere in their faith in looking for the return of our Lord and those whose faith has sagged with neglect.

It emphasizes how vital it is that we as believers hold dear His Light, that which He has granted to help us keep watch.

As we prepare to enter a new year within days, may we also be mindful to stay prepared for His return for us, His bride.

May our light be maintained daily, burning bright in this dark world despite the devil’s attempts to whoosh it out.

Not only that we may be able to see clearly, but that others may be drawn to the light of His truth.

Blessings and prayers to you, my friends! Guard your lamps well!

Peace Personified

I was going to save this for Christmas Eve, but, much as I love the fellowship I have found here, I honestly want to be more mindful in the moment versus being on WordPress as the special day draws near, so I thought I would slip this in a little early…

Anticipation.

Air is hushed with it tonight.

Every limb lays still.

Moon provides a gentle glow, yet bright.

Starry hosts pinpoint velvet heights,

A gathering of God’s light upon the silent fields.

Creation to the moment quietly builds,

Humming all the truth it knows.

Festivities there have been;

Festivities are yet to come.

Busy buzzes as only busy does.

But, when I pause, I join in the knowing…

I can hear the whispered

Reminder of

A promise fulfilled,

A cover over my wretched owing.

And darkest deed comes undone.

Redemption’s born,

Peace is personified.

Veils tremble, ready to be torn,

Word in flesh nestled in a manger,

Wholly humble,

Wholly king,

Wholly unable to be

Denied.

The whole earth sighs relief

As an answer arrives at long last

For its grief, and

Fresh chance for belief

Is birthed at last to the broken

Soul.

Christmas, a celebration:

Christ inhabits a newborn babe

To inhabit us anew

And in us let His peace unfold…

Merry Christmas, dear friends! May we be filled with the wonder of anticipation, the celebration of Jesus come to earth, the joy of redemption, and the promise of peace fulfilled. Much love and many prayers!

Weakness Tops Strength

I have a bigger, fancier nativity scene thanks to one of those awesome garage sale buys, but this tiny one predates it, taking me back to the struggling days of single motherhood. We had a little apartment, therefore little decorations suited. I still put it out as a reminder of what He can do with small things. Thought a picture of it here also suited perfectly. ☺

I have recently been dealing with one of the really not-so-thrilling sides of my physical woes.

Not that any are thrilling, mind you. 😏

And, oh, how I hate talking about it!

But, we’ve established I go where He directs, so…

We’ll start here:

There are so, so many components to EDS, several of which I deal with to varying degrees. And every case has it’s own face on it.

But, this particular struggle I am most coping with presently begins with a rude awakening in the night. My head has somehow shifted from its much needed, princess-and-the-pea style propped position and plunged itself into a violently swimming vortex via my inner ear fritzes.

It’s really but a few moments of vertigo. It feels a little foolish at times to be so frightened of it. However, it is intense enough I find myself scrambling for something stable to grab onto.

Usually it’s my dear slumbering husband who has been through this with me enough times to respond with tenderness, even in his half-awake state, along with a tight grip of his own to let me know he’s got me.

In this way, he also lets me know that I’m not really falling off the edge of the world, even though it feels like it at the time.

It’s much appreciated, let me tell you! Everyone needs a solid rock to cling to when the earth is shaking.

And, as I sit here in the aftermath of day-long malaise, weak as a newborn colt, body and brain still unsure of my every movement, I am reminded of how much this reflects the Christian life.

Didn’t necessarily feel like writing, but I’ll use it.

Scratch that-I’ll allow God to use it. πŸ™‚

There are times-lots of times-when we feel like we are about the weakest, silliest thing in creation.

Powerless to make a move.

But, that is when we must remember He who chose to come down to earth to inhabit a fragile newborn vessel.

To further inhabit us with His perfect wisdom and strength when ours is gone.

It’s not a Christmas verse, per se, but I think on it now in that He didn’t come in the imposing frame anticipated by us finite folks, a fact which I love:

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 1 Corinthians 1:27 NIV

If ever a verse lifts my scrawny little soul, this is one.

The truth we cannot do it in our own pitiful power sounds so negative to the pull-it-up-by-your-own-bootstraps world, but, truly, it’s just… freeing!

Because, to acknowledge we aren’t supposed to be able to do this on our own is what can ultimately provide us with authentic, lasting strength.

And the realization He can yet use us if we but take all these pathetic scraps we possess to Him is nothing short of incredible!

It’s a marvel, but, you know, the more I know the Lord, the more I see it is to His express delight to take the outwardly unexceptional and breathe the breath of life into it.

To reach out His steadying hand to those of us who wobble.

And speak the comfort that needs no words:

No, my child, you aren’t falling off the edge of the world. I’ve got you. All you’ve got to do is hold onto Me.

Blessings and prayers, friends! May you rest in His strength this season and always!

Puffed Up

Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

A familiar verse. Seems cut and dried.

Don’t be proud. Don’t look down on others.

Destruction follows.

Right?πŸ€”

Well, yes, but, there’s a bit more to it than that.

Because there’s different lights to take the word “pride” in.

There’s pride in our work-that which can cause us to excel and bring forth a product of highest integrity.

Pride in our children. This lovely shaping of another human life can spur on such smiles in a parent’s soul as they watch their loved ones blossom and grasp truths.

There’s also pride in our home, our service, our country…

Not all of this is necessarily bad.

I believe the Lord joins us in joy over something gone well. Zephaniah says He sings over His creation, after all.

If the Creator does that over us, might we conclude He extends a piece of such delight to our hearts as we see our endeavors come to fruition?

I tend to think so.

But, where this can go off the rails is in this-

When we go from glorying in what He has done for us and through us to self-congratulatory ego-stroking.

Then, we are in danger of swelling up like puffer fish, button-busting with what we start perceiving as success in our own power, growing so used to that feeling that we scramble for a convincing front to keep it going.

Our views consequently skew floating around in our own inflated sense of being. We forget to regard others as we ought around our expanded girth.

And, in that state, we are bound eventually to topple.

We see it in all walks of life.

From the neighbor prone to braggadocio to the social media darlings of self-promotion.

From our government to our entertainment to our churches.

Not to mention our reflection in the mirror, to bring it back home.

Ouch. πŸ™

Something to think about for sure.

For the balance between joy in success and pride in ourselves can be precarious.

This is why everything- victory and struggle alike- must rightly and quickly be laid at the throne of God.

Not to be forgotten, of course.

Rather, to be brought into proper perspective.

To recall the phrase “Look what God has done.” over “Look what I’ve done.”.

Or, in the case of a struggle laid bare, “God’s got this problem.” versus “I’ve got no problems.”😏

For, when we are leaning into and celebrating with the heavens, our hearts are naturally centered, appropriately shaped and lifted in Him, rather than ourselves.

James 4:10 bears witness to this:

Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up. emphasis mine.

May we recognize we can do nothing in our own strength. Rather, may we lay ourselves before Him in complete humility and let our joys in life rise through Him and Him alone.

Blessings and prayers, dear friends!