Monday, October 14, 2019

Knit together in my mother's womb.





On this lovely Autumn day I've been thinking back to the early days of my life and precious times with my mother.                                                            We were both  young when this photo was taken. I didn't know then that Mom considered me a God-given gift, but as the years passed I grew to understand.


Mom is gone now, but the memories are still here with me.



Psalm 139 reminds me of how much God orchestrated all of it. In verses 13-17 it says,

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvelous - how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O'God. They cannot be numbered."

As always, when I read this scripture I am reminded of how precious I am to God and what a wonder is His creation. 

But today as I read, something more grabbed hold of me. My mother. She also knew me before I was born. I know how deep her love for me was because I'm a mother too. I've yet to travel the long journey she did, but I know that even on my last day my children will be my most precious gift in life.



 I feel loved when I think on those days before I was born, when I lived beneath my mother's ribs. She was aware of me most every moment, and I can imagine the hopes and dreams she had for her child. And though I may not have followed the path she had imagined I know she loved me just as I was because that's how mother's are. And she saw beyond the shell of me - she saw my heart.

The memories are bitter sweet as I think about my mom, first vibrant and alive, and then aged and faded until her last day. But what a blessing to have been loved all my life with a love that still shines today.

I thank the Lord for the days he gave us. And those glorious beginnings when I was lovingly carried in my mother's womb, chosen by God just for her and greatly blessed to have been my mother's child.

I don't pretend that all the days were perfect, that my mother was perfect. And I was certainly not a flawless child. But I always knew I was loved. 

I have many beautiful memories of my childhood. One simple moment stands out. It was a summer day when my mother gently washed and then combed out my long hair. When she was done I raced outside and climbed onto the wooden swing my father had built and pushed off gently, then lay back and let my long hair fall beneath me to dry in the warm sun and gentle breeze of the swing. Mom stood in the doorway and watched, her eyes warmed by delight and devotion.

My heart is warmed at every remembrance of that moment. Do you have a special moment too that you would like to share?

Grace and peace to you from God,
Bonnie

Friday, October 04, 2019

A Better Way?





It seems that society today believes it's good to judge others (according to our own set of values of course), to blast someone who doesn't agree with us without forethought or kindness, and to wallop them by whatever means seems appropriate to us at the time.

We see a lot of this on social media - Facebook, Twitter. We even see it on our streets. My daughter lived in Portland, Oregon for a while and she avoided any trips downtown because she was afraid. At that time, there were demonstrations on a pretty regular basis and sometimes they got violent. How sad it is to be fearful to venture out into our own town.

The meanness and cruelty I see in this world grieves me. It hurts my heart. And if I were to compare the size off my heart to God's ... well, mine is very small, which makes me wonder what does all this hatred feel like to him?

Do we truly believe it's all right to make a judgment about a person on the basis of race, creed, gender, or political position ... and any other number of groups? The point is judging by a category is small-minded and cruel. God is the only one who can judge. He's the only one who can see into a person's heart. He knows us like no one else can.

John 13:35 says this, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

When others watch how we live, would they know we are followers of Christ? Or do we look like the world? Do we pass the "smell test"? Actually, we never will. Even the apostle Paul recognized the evilness in his own heart. In I Timothy 1:15 he said, "This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - And I was the worst sinner of them all."

We are all going too fail. I mess up all the time. I get riled up or hurt and I lash out. I can be cranky and strike out at an innocent bystander. I can get passionate about something and say more than I should. 

We do need to be fair minded with one another. But that does not mean we can't speak up. Christ did. He spoke truth. He even got angry. Of course, where we go wrong is when we allow these emotions to fester into hatred and bitterness.

We're not going to walk through life perfectly. If we could then there would be no need for a Savior. What my heart is crying out is - Can't we try harder? Spend more time with the Lord, give the Holy Spirit freedom to work in our lives, Love the Lord above all others (including ourselves)? If we do that, our walk will improve. And the way we live may even speak to a lost and hurting world. We could make a difference.

Let's begin by praying for one another. I challenge you to choose someone who is difficult for you to love. Pray for them whenever they come to mind. You will see a difference, maybe not in them, but in yourself.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Monday, September 23, 2019

Forever His.




I've been feeling melancholy today. I learned this week that someone I  trust and love and very much admire in the faith has a starkly different perspective of eternal security than I do.

I believe Go has laid out a clear path too understanding whether or not our salvation is secure. In John He tells us several times that all we must do to be saved is to believe in the Son of God. Ephesians four reminds us that believers are sealed for all time. (powerful words).

When we believe we become brand new creations through Christ. We are regenerated and adopted as God's own children. And though a child may become disappointed, even angry with a parent they will always be His child. There are no give-backs in the Kingdom.. 

If one of my own children became so angry or disappointed in me that they felt they actually hated me and told me they would never have anything more to do with me, they would still be my child. We are bonded by blood, just as we are bonded with Christ by His blood. I would be heartbroken, but I would still be the mother of that child because the bond of blood cannot be broken.

Since my conversation with my Christian brother, I've spent many hours studying applicable scriptures. And I've been reassured that my salvation is secure. Though I may lose heavenly rewards, I will never lose my place in eternity with my Father. Praise Him for his mercy!

So, what now? I've prayed. My husband has prayed. We wait.

Our Heavenly Father has whispered, "Seek me, Trust me - Do you trust me?"

"Yes. We trust you."

"All right then. This path is not too difficult for you. Remain in m e and see what work I have for you to do."

We will do our best to follow God and His will for us. Each day, each step is about what He wants, not just for us but also from  us. We ask for His wisdom and when we should speak and when to be silent. And when it is time to speak, we seek guidance from the Holy Spirit in what we should and should not say.

Christians are never going to agree on all things. We're just people and that's okay. But, there are some lines we cannot cross. Those things that are stronger than personal convictions, the truths that come straight from God's Word. Those we must stand on. And we will stand ... though with gentleness and in love.


Grace ad peace to you from God,

Bonnie




Thursday, September 19, 2019

Consumed by Cravings





I love to begin my mornings by spending time with the Lord in a devotional. I've been reading from a book called Embraced, 100 Devotions to Know God Is Holding You Close, written by Lysa TerKeurst. It was a gift from a group of women at the Church on the Mountain in Welches, Oregon, where I spoke at a retreat in 2018. They loved me well, and I am enjoying the devotional they gifted to me.

This morning's reading was especially moving for me. When I feel overwhelmed and tears come I can't help but share. So that's what I'm doing, sending off these precious words to you. Here they are:

 "A few years ago, a weight-loss company came up with a brilliant advertising campaign. Maybe you saw some of their ads. A little orange monster chases a woman around, tempting and taunting her with foods that obviously aren't a part of her healthy eating plan. The ads perfectly capture what it feels like to be harassed by cravings all day long.
    While I've never seen this orange monster chasing me, I've felt its presence. I've felt it for food cravings, but I know that we all feel it for something. Sometimes, many somethings.
    Attention and satisfaction. Like me. Approval and appreciation. Follow me. Money and power. Give me. More, more, more. Sometimes it feels like the chase will never end, the cravings will never be filled ... that nothinng will ever be enough.
    While the orange monster is a great way to visualize cravings, those ads fell short in their promise to really help a woman. The weight-loss company's theory is to teach what foods are more filling and encourage consumption of those. But does that really help overcome cravings?
    We shop and spend  money on things we don't need. We still eat the chocolate pie when we're full from our dinner. We scroll through social media, checking our pages and counting our likes and comments. We indulge in our guilty pleasures, hide our secret sins, and lie in bed wondering if this is it. Is this it?
    What is actually going on here?
    I believe God made us to crave. Now before you think this is some sort of cruel joke by God, let me assure you that the object of our craving was never supposed to be food or the many other things people find themselves consumed by.
    Think about the definition of the word craving. How would you define it? Dictionary.com defies craving as something you long for, want greatly, desire eagerly, and beg for. Now consider this expression of craving: "How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God" (Psalm 84:1-2).
    Yes, we were made to crave - long for, want greatly, desire eagerly, and beg for - God. Only God.
    Sweet sister, does this resonate with you?
    Have you chosen to pursue God, to follow Jesus? He created you to know Him, to be fulfilled more deeply by knowing Him than by any other experience or pleasure this world has to offer. When we admit our need for Him, when we humble ourselves and confess our sin and ask Him to be Lord of our lives, that's where the journey begins. He saves us in that moment, and then we can begin the process of allowing Him to fulfill our cravings and make us eternally, completely, and wholly filled.
    Is it easy?
    No.
    Is it worth it?
    A thousand times yes."


It is my prayer that these words will uplift and encourage you as you walk the path laid out for you by God.

How lovely is the Lord's dwelling place where he waits for us and then welcomes us into His presence.


Grace and peace to you from God.

Bonnie



Thursday, August 29, 2019

Prisoner for Christ?





Is it another one of those days? Nothing's going right. You're not feeling well. You wake up and all you know is pain, or remorse from  a wrong you've done. Maybe a friend betrayed you and you're heartsick. Or did you mess up at work? There are countless situations in our lives that get us down, hold us back, sidetrack us. Sometimes we even feel imprisoned by our circumstances. I feel like that a lot.

We are just people. So disappointments, travails, frustrations and fears are part of life. I'm right there with you. Too often, in the midst of a struggle I falter. I'm not the kind of friend I should be or the mother I should be, or Christian I should be. I become weary, angry, and sometimes I feel sorry for myself.  Ugh. I hate that.

When everything seems too hard or even impossible, friends are good and helpful, but the only place to find the right answers every time is in God, His Word. If only we will listen to Him. Sorting out troubles in my own power will lead me astray.

The apostle Paul spent long periods of time imprisoned and yet he wrote more books in the Bible than any other man, some of the most powerful words were penned from within the confines of prison.

Did he get angry or frustrated? Was he ever afraid? Did he struggle to carry out his mission? What do you think? He was just a man, after all. 

When Paul began his ministry, Christians did not trust him. They turned him away. Can we blame them? He had been the chief persecutor of Christ followers. Still, Paul persevered. He was hunted, beaten, jailed and ultimately gave his life for his faith. A man doesn't walk that walk without disappointment and even despair. But by the strength and power of God Paul kept on going. He didn't give up. He continued to preach Christ and offered wisdom and  knowledge and even encouragement to believers ... even while in prison.

When I think of this man who loved the Lord so much that he gave his life for him I have to look at myself too. I don't like what I see - weakness, fear, frustration ... self. 

But I'm not without hope. 

It is God in the midst of the difficult things of this earth that help me grow stronger. I am thankful for spring because there is winter. And the heat of summer makes me long for fall.  

What a privilege it is to serve the Lord. I can depend upon Him. He provides all I need. He never forsakes me. But if I am to live confidently rejoicing my gaze must rest upon Him.

The Lord's plans are perfect. I pray we recognize the beauty in His purpose for us, no matter what the circumstances. And may we rest in His peace, understanding how deep His love is for us. 

We do not walk alone.

Grace and peace to you from God.

Bonnie


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

God's Creative Lessons





My dog, Henry, is special. He's intelligent, full of fun, and courageous.  However, Henry is also full of mischief and although he's been easy to train he is not always well behaved and it has been a daily challenge to teach him good manners. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that he is a seven-month-old Labrador Retriever with all the energy, strength and mischief that is common to the breed at this young age. Some days I wonder if it was unwise to have chosen to adopt a lab puppy, especially at my age.

One recent morning, he was up to his usual mischief. He'd stolen my television remote and thought it was great fun to destroy it. And even more fun to keep it away from me. He wasn't about to give up his prize. After much effort on my part to rescue the remote, I was near tears and pleading with Henry to take pity on me. I tried to reason with him and told him, "Henry, I love you. Why are you doing this? I picked you from a whole litter of pups, knowing you were the one for me. I've loved you. I've taken good care of you and made sure you are well loved and well fed. I've spent countless hours training you, and I've been patient with you (most of the time). I know you are special and I have great hopes for you." 

And then ...

I heard the voice of my Heavenly Father. He said, "Bonnie, I created you and I chose you. I have loved you, watched over you. I have given you everything you need for health and life. I have great hopes for you. And yet, sometimes, just like Henry, you go your own way. You refuse to listen to me."

I stopped trying to convince Henry to cooperate. My frustration melted away. As my countenance softened, so did Henry's, and he gave me the remote.

How often I'm like Henry. And as he trusts me, I also can trust The Father. If only I will listen to Him. He loves me and always wants what's best for me. And even when I'm being stubborn and willful He doesn't give up on me. He always forgives me. 

How wonderful is my God. 

If I am willing to listen, He teaches me, sometimes in creative ways, even using my mischievous puppy, Henry, to help me see what is real in life and to help me better understand how deeply I am loved.

Is He speaking to you in a creative way? Be listening. 

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Cursed?



God reminds me of His truth, often in surprising ways. For instance, a few nights ago I clicked onto Netflix and scrolled through the movie selection and came across one that had never before appealed to me. But on that night I felt like something lighthearted and decided to watch a  movie called Penelope. To my surprise I enjoyed the story. But it's something one of the characters said at the end of the movie that caught my attention most.


"It's not how powerful the curse, but how much power you give the curse."

That statement got me to thinking.

In the movie a witch had placed a curse on a family centuries before and that curse destined a beautiful child to be born with a pig snout. I won't say more about it because I'd hate to give away too much of the movie in case any of you might want to watch it. 

The curse theme got me to thinking about all sorts of curses, or what I'd rather refer to as lies. Lies that we bring upon ourselves or accept from the mouths of others, or simply come to believe because of circumstances, or an idea we accept rather than God's truth. 

I'm certain we all have lies we believe about ourselves rather than the truth. I have a bunch. Some I've come to see as lies and others I still drag along with me. 


  •      I'm not intelligent. I listened to that one for many, many years. 
  •     I have reason to be afraid. I still struggle with that one. However, when I look back over my life and remember the many risks I've taken, the times I stood up when no one else would, and when I've stepped out because I was sure it was what God wanted even when I knew there would be consequences to pay ... I see the lie. I'm only fearful when I give power to the lie.    

There are others that try to keep me down, keep me isolated or stuck. 

  •      I can't do that.
  •      I'm never going to be capable of ... 
  •      When my vision is gone I won't be able to write.

     And more.

Lies. All lies. 

We need to see them for what they are, destroyers from the enemy, satan, the author of lies, who wants to see us fail, relishes in keeping us weak and afraid, and powerless to serve the Lord. He wants us to believe he has the power. But he only has as much power as we give him. Because in Christ we are powerful, and all things are possible. Christ gives us insight to see the lies and courage to stand up to them. He helps us see that we can be more than we believe we can.


Out Father gives us all that we need. And tells us how to battle in Ephesians 6: 10 - 18 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power . Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand, Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers for all the saints.

We can shut out the lies and listen only to truth. We are able because we belong to The Father. We are His. 

Never forget. Do not live under a curse.


Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

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