“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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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.😉).

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 Onus

Hello, there! I had jotted down the first few lines of this one quite some time ago but could not find a finish till now.

It is easy to despair the state of our world and allow these cares to distract us from the mission we all have as His children. I pray we do not abandon His call to share the gospel, especially in this season where hope and healing are so desperately needed. May these few simple lines stir our hearts…

Why should we be surprised

When lost people act lost?

When their blinded eyes

Don’t recognize Calvary’s cost?

It’s dismaying,

The things they’re doing and saying,

There’s no doubt.

Yet, these heartwrenching things

They are displaying?

It’s often the inclination they know

The most about.

Never to excuse, mind you.

God’s truth is in every bit of creation

Calling out to draw and to woo.

But, believers, I feel I must say,

The burden to share Jesus

Is on us;

The onus is on us to point the way.

And, then, it is for us to stay,

Not to neglect to disciple and to pray,

But, rather, with humbleness of heart

To be a willing part,

Of seeing His filling impart,

Springing new life out of the decay.

May we indeed be about His business, sharing the truth of Jesus with those in need! Blessings and prayers, dear friends! Thanks for reading! ❤

Updates

Hey, friends. A quick update. Our little community has finally felt the effects of this virus and we are back in remote land at least through the beginning of next year-all except our IEPers, including my sweet daughter. She will be able to continue on site with her para so she can get that personal attention that helps her succeed. Very grateful-as is she!

My college boy for his part has continued to do so well, constantly defying the stereotypes around his autism. He also has been able to continue in person, a rather important consequence of the hands-on learning in his engineering studies (can’t transfer use of 3-D printers to online schooling, for example.😏).

This leaves two at-home kiddos for me. One 16-going-on-42-year old boy who will likely regale me on his breaks with the latest oldie he’s learned on the bass guitar and one infinitely creative 8-year-old boy who could spend all day building and drawing me cool stuff, but will likely need a lot of mama coaxing on the paperwork side of things. So…there’s that. Again. Sigh.

In addition to that, we have been consumed with a lot of tough family business.

This prevailing illness finally hit not just our community but also brought my husband’s grandmother’s time on earth to a close.

She was 93, with a scrappy reputation for so long, but, in the last year or so, had been descending into a dementia we’d anticipated would take her soon as it was.

Where I would never dream to call such a thing as dementia a positive, it amazingly proved the way God could reach her heart.

How, if her mind was going? some might rightfully ask.

Well, you see, she spent most of her life not merely scrappy, but also bitterly anti-faith. A church had burned her once long ago and that had effectively shut down any thoughts of God.

Yet, as her mind had begun to slip, something in her countenance changed.

She became receptive to the family’s “Jesus Talk” as she once disdainfully called it.

She talked of the joys of being a child and remembered better Sunday School days learning of scriptures and salvation.

She became that child again in lots of ways and, in so doing, the door opened so she could receive Jesus as such, the resistance she harbored all those years melting away in recognition of His infinite goodness to her. I truly believe she was resting in that truth as she went.

We are no less sad to have lost her to this world, yet…

Now, we know we have not lost her for good. We will see her on the other side. The comfort of this lifts the sorrow and reminds us of the joy to come.

And that we should never stop praying for our loved ones to come to salvation!

His ways are so far above ours it defies description!

I guess that about sums it up at this point as far updates go.

I tend to come and go as able these days, anyway, but fair warning-I will be fairly silent on here for an extended time as I place my energies into guiding my youngest.

As well as helping my husband with the business, which has hit some huge time crunches in the last few weeks. That could certainly use some prayer…not only that we can see the work to completion, but also that a) my body stays cooperative to the task and b) I can be of some level of use to him.

It is safe to say being married to a handyman has expanded my vocabulary enough that I know what a flange and flashing are, but it really hasn’t changed my aptitude. 😏

Still…I can always hand tools as long as I know which doohickey he is after. 😁

Well…hope this finds you all well in your respective worlds, my friends. Keep the faith! Much love and many prayers! ❤

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!

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? 🤔

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!

Of Time Swiftly Spent

I am beginning my year-end pensiveness a little early. Bear with me as I ramble a bit…😏

Spring was barely budding only a few months ago.

Then, summer came with freedom and bare feet.

Before we could turn around, fall crackled and cooled the nights.

And, now, winter is settling in with its frosty mornings and heavy-coated evenings.

Already?

It couldn’t have been that long ago already, could it?

We were just finishing up first grade field day- and fretting on the possibility of sunburn on my sweet little freckle-faced boy.

Our summer vacation plans were just shifting like sand with the unwelcome intrusion of a blown gasket head…and, yet, being used of God for major hotel room togetherness and unexpected witnesses ( Don’t ask. Not just now, anyway. 🙂 Someday, this adventure needs a whole post of its own.).

Fresh pencils and crayons were just being procured and packed!

We were just nervously embarking on a whole new way of schooling/ interning with our senior. Oy. I have a senior.

That thought alone makes me reach for chocolate.😏

Shoot. On that note, October’s candy is still being finished! 😀

November’s musical was just coming to life on stage after months of teasers wafting up the stairs from basement practice sessions.

Now, it’s all just smiles and glories behind us.

A long chilly nap is firmly planting itself in our midst.

Yet, many things are yet to come on the calendar.

The one that says “2020”. 😬

Time slides away so quickly! One need only observe a row of yearly family experiences to see it is so.

I find myself asking how can it be?

And there steals in a wistfulness to hold on.

Especially as we prepare to really, actually launch our oldest into the world in a few oh-so- short months and the other three cluster rather closely behind, vying for their turn.

All in time. All too soon in time.

It makes me ask the serious question, What are we doing with our time?

That which the Lord graciously affords us. That which once spent can never return.

Ok. Yes, Lord. I will go back to the story of the vacation that never was. It does bear unique weight here. And it pays to heed Your prompting…😏

So… suffice to say, rarely was there a more frustrating situation.

We were supposed to go see edifying, faith-encouraging things-The Ark, The Creation Museum, historical sites.

What we saw mostly was a hotel room a state away from where we’d hoped to be, the free breakfast bar, (make your own waffles are admittedly cool. 😊) and the few sites that were in walking distance or a cheap Uber ride away.

We wound up waiting that entire week of our vacation-the little time and finances we could afford- for the family van to be fixed. By the time it was done, it was time to be on the road for home again.

The family purse agreed. 🙂

Yet, where time in a worldly view appeared robbed or misspent, in a heavenly view, it was infinitely valuable.

For, we were just coming off some particularly tough moments even prior to leaving, to be honest.

But, there in close quarters, intimate family conversation happened, needed words were said.

Laughter bubbled up despite our disappointment, a fascinating place or two was discovered.

Prayers and scripture flowed from our place of need.

But, best of all, was chance after chance to relate not merely our circumstances but also the Reason for our hope-from nearly every Uber driver to hotel staff to the awesome tow truck driver and amazing mechanic that went above and beyond to help us.

We saw grace both smile on us and pass to others and time, as always in the hands of He who keeps it, was beautifully redeemed.

As it always is, when given over to Him.

As I know it will prove to be again and again as the seasons-oh, so swiftly!- pass.

He’s got us through it all, from freckle-faced sunburns to blown gasket heads to tuning up for the big launch.

And all that comes before, after, and in-between…

Thanks for joining me on my reflective ramble here, friends! May we each think carefully on how we are using our time. Each moment is precious-and some that may seem misspent can turn out to have unexpected purpose! Blessings and prayers to you!

True Love

Rembrandt I’m not, but, this is a personal oil crayon doodling that seemed to suit. 🙂

So many things have been written or spoken on love.

I think of Shakespeare and his observations-both the tragic and the comic.

Gatsby’s everlasting vigil over the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock.

Or maybe some classics of film: Casablanca: “Here’s looking at you, kid.” or Breakfast at Tiffany’s: “I love you. You belong to me.”

In song: The Righteous Brothers’ soaring “Unchained Melody” or The Beatles’ beautifully simple “All You Need is Love”.

I will leave aside the more current views but to say where the wrestling with the definitions of love are old as time, they are certainly heading in more and more a bluntly defiant direction…

Yet, for all the aspirations therein, for all the carefully constructed phrases and sometimes astute, sometimes skewed examinations, we are but scratching the surface of love most times at best, mangling it at worst.

For, not a one can hold a candle to the words of He who is love.

Think of one of the most well-known verses in all of scripture:

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

God so loved the world. This world-a broken and bitter place, so riddled with sin and strife we’re drowning in it.

Somehow, He could look upon us and, instead of wiping us out as we fully deserved, offer His son as a sacrifice in our stead.

That’s true love. Unconditional. Irreproachable.

And His son, in complete keeping with His Father’s will, spoke this truth at every turn, teaching this essential principle:

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:3

And He was faithful to demonstrate that truth in life, death, and resurrection.

For us.

That’s true love. Not a morsel left back for His own concern. All in for our sake, unworthy and fickle though we may be.

And if we could only fathom but a bit of that kind of love.

The kind of love that’s strong enough not to leave each other to our own devices.

The kind that sees us sinking in our own filth and lifts us up from it.

Honestly. Tenderly. Unswervingly.

Wow. What a wonderful thing that would be.

All I know to do is to keep striving for it, greatly treasure it, and be ever in prayer He can bring my heart right in His spirit, and thereby become a means to share this true love with others…

Prayers and blessings to you all! May we each seek to value the true love only found in Christ- in all its depth and breadth.

Revival Begins With One

Too often people of this world think in terms of the more.

More money.

More prestige.

More stuff.

We humans are sadly prone to this insatiable hunger.

And, since the church is, in fact, made up of us fallible humans, it stands to reason that this intense scratching in the gut spills over into the church.

Shouldn’t, of course. But does.

And what do churches generally want more of?

Well, some-not all-but, some want more state-of-the-art.

Veritable shopping malls for buildings.

The gift shop, the coffee shop, the three-story playhouse for the kiddies.

The smoke machine, the laser lights, the drummer on display behind plexiglass.

Always adding more fundraisers to add more things…

More cool trappings to add more bodies in the cushy seats.

Because more is always better, right?

Well, I hate to burst any bubbles or come across too harshly, but, umm… no.

But, but…

More means more people going to our church doing more awesome Jesus things!

That can’t be bad!

Yeah, but, it’s not necessarily a given that more are actually getting to know Jesus there.

For how many are there without the saving knowledge of Christ?

How many drift through without true discipleship?

But, but, there’s lots of people! That’s revival, right?

Wrong.

Oh, I know so many churches, even many fellow believers, that picture revival in huge waves of people, that if only we could get more numbers, that we could see more happening for Christ.

But substance sacrificed for more numbers isn’t what brings about revival.

Because, revival doesn’t really begin with a mass of people.

Revival begins with one.

But, but, Jesus preached and there were thousands!

Peter added thousands, too!

Billy Graham crusades! Thousands!

Yes, that’s so. But, there was still a need for each soul to experience that individual heart change.

And, then, to be discipled after.

Jesus always, always, even in the press of a crowd, took time for the one.

Just ask the woman with the issue of blood.

Ask the disciples He so often took aside to teach deeper understanding of His truth, to ensure they were getting it.

Ask countless others who met Him and had a radical change not because of some fancy happening, but because of the one on one.

For, without taking notice of the one, it’s just far too often a case down the road of :

Whatever happened to so-and -so?

I dunno. They came to the big get-together a while back, the worship was really cool, there were lots of people! So-and-so went forward to pray, I think, but, all of a sudden, they stopped coming.

We can’t, of course, reach all and keep track of every one.

But, in the quest for more numbers, it can be especially hard.

For the one can be much easier to lose in the mass when our heart’s not on the revival of that one.

Now, it behooves me at this point to note that I know these major revivals some speak of are not likely if we know our scripture, particularly end time scripture.

But, still-if we could all learn to care about the one, how much more change could we really see for the whole?

It’s worth more than a passing thought.

Lord, help us to not lose sight of the ones you put in our path for the sake of wanting more. I know times are not destined to improve in the here and now, but, still, revive our hearts. One by one.

Thanks for reading. Blessings and prayers, friends!

Be Excited, Be Still

Audio Adrenaline had a great tune way back when I was just graduating high school called “Man of God”. The lyrics were completely stripped of any sort of pretension, appealing to that starkly honest side of me.

The song as a whole is wonderful. So much to say about remaining humble and bound by grace. Highly recommend it. ☺

But there’s a particular small snippet of it that resonates with me to this day:

Sometimes, I don’t feel good. It’s hard to start the day.

It’s hard to climb the obstacles that sometimes come my way.

If I make it, I’m a good man.

Am I a bad man if I fail?

Yeah, I know… a really positive section, right? 😏 Why would I leave off there, of all places?

Not exactly uplifting, to be sure- that part comes in the chorus-but I highlight this piece for a couple of reasons today:

1. I feel the Lord told me to. And, well, obedience to Him should be a given, right?

2. It’s exactly where I am at many a morning. And I venture to guess I am not alone in that less- than-enthused/pain-free rise to greet the day. 😏

You see, I long to be excited in the Lord at the opening of my day. My body and my brain are often a bit more sluggish, however. The question is one I ask a lot, too-

Am I bad if I fail?

But, rather than hold that in as if the doubts and the draggy feet don’t exist, I find just being open with it all gives me untold strength.

For there is surprising power in the truthfulness of our struggle.

As long as we don’t just sink down and stay there!

Psalm 46:10-11 AMP says:

Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!

The Lord of Hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold (our refuge, our tower).

That is one amazing declaration right there!

The Lord of Hosts is with us.

With us.

Puny little, joint-crackling, bedheaded, grumbling us. 😊

Our stronghold. Our refuge.

All He asks of us is to be still and know it.

Now, be excited because of it, yes!

But, not a phony, put-on-a-happy-face, grit-your-teeth-privately sort of excitement.

That is just a recipe for a crash-and-burn.

Rather, it’s an in-spite-of-it-all joy from these tired bones that simply spills over wherever you are.

That rubber-meets-the-road, genuine faith is what the world needs to see, more than anything.

Because that tested and tried comes of knowing Him. Really knowing Him.

And the stillness?

That’s not about being inert, huddled down in your pillows, giving yourself permission not to greet the day period.

God doesn’t pat your head and then just let you bury it.

Nope.

Rather, that stillness is the peace found in residing in the tower of God, recognizing that, yes, we cannot do it in our own pitiful strength.

That we need to take it all to Him.

Doubts, draggy feet and all.

Desperately.

And then, trusting Him to do what He will with it all.

Staying in that level of truthfulness is what lends to us the ability to scale one obstacle after the next.

And, best of all, the chance to direct the downtrodden to the Source. ☺

Prayers and blessings, dear friends. May we take it all, both the good and not-so-good, to The Lord of Hosts, every day.

We’re Fighting the Wrong Enemy

I feel like I might be harping on this issue, but it’s what He’s placed on my heart…

Even in my somewhat limited scope of living, I hear and read so many things from fellow believers:

“If only so-and-so group would stop doing this, we (Christians) wouldn’t have to do this.”

“If that wasn’t happening over here, we wouldn’t have to do that over there.”

“We have to mobilize ourselves.”

“Fight fire with fire.”

“Get stirred up for a cause.”

“Take down the enemy.”

Wait…what?🤔

Now, which enemy is it that you refer to?

“Well, the other side, of course.”

Ah. The other side.

The nameless, faceless amalgamation that stands for everything you do not.

That enemy?

Yes, keep them in that clumped up category to make it more palatable:

The liberal.

The neo-Nazi feminist.

The tree-hugging, seal-cub-saving, vegan toothpick.

The hateful Atheist.

The snowflake millennial.

The lisping fruitcake.

I could go on tossing out cruel, pointless stereotypes, but, that’s belaboring the point.

Which is that every one of those groups, the groups we as Christians often deride and label oh-so-conveniently are not just collective groups across the divide.

They’re people.

Individual people with names and hearts and dreams and vulnerabilites.

Created by the same Creator as us.

Souls for whom Jesus died, same as us.

Souls He expects us to care about, even when they answer with vigor.

And it’s not our job to fight them, no matter how much we might disagree with them.

They are not our enemy.

That designation belongs to he who is in the world.

Remember? The one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy?

The prowling lion, seeking to devour?

All too often, we believers forget that, standing idly by, hurling our useless words at the ones being devoured instead of addressing he who devours.

And don’t you think the devil loves that?

For he knows it does nobody any good to stand there stomping our feet and shouting at these misguided souls to stop letting the lion devour them.

Especially if we get so busy on that particular bent that we lose sight of sharing the way out of the lion’s jaws-the truth found in the Word and the grace Jesus provided through the blood He shed on Calvary!

Satan delights for us to forget that key!

Now, this is not at all to give the tired, off-the-mark argument of “judge not lest you be judged.” That verse gets misused way too often to excuse all sorts of rampant, ungodly behavior!

No, we must remain firm in our stance for Christ and in the Word.

But, that stance must always, always be in love or we’ve lost our foundation.

It isn’t to say all will answer our love with gratitude.

Most assuredly not!

But, it isn’t for us to fret on that score. Do we really think God does not have it all in hand anyway?

Of course, He does!

All we can do is prayerfully, humbly tell the good news of salvation as He instructs us and then leave it in Hands.

If we could only use our desire to mobilize for that!

Another thing to pray for, I guess.😉