Monday, December 02, 2019

Turning North





I am weeping as I write and I wept as I read this devotional this morning. These are not my words, but they are my heart. From the book, Embraced by Lysa TerKeurst.

Turning North

    We all have messes in our lives. Financial messes. Relationship messes. Health Messes. Kid messes. Home messes. Business messes. Messes that leave us feeling stuck. Like we may be stranded in this place of upheaval and unrest forever.
    I can't help but think about the people of Israel as they were wandering through the desert. We read in the book of Deuteronomy about how they were stuck in a mess with no end in sight. God had miraculously set them free from the oppression and bondage of slavery in Egypt. But their unwillingness to fully trust Him and their blatant refusal to take possession of the promised land landed them in quite a mess. A forty-year, desert-wandering mess.
    In Deuteronomy 2, Moses reminds them of a time when they had been stuck circling the same mountain for too long. God spoke into their wandering and let them know it was time to head in a new direction. 

The Lord said to me, "You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north."
Deuteronomy 2:2 - 3

    It was a pivotal moment for them to remember. One where they had faced a life-changing choice. They could stay stuck, endlessly circling the same old place, or they could choose hope and head in a new direction with the Lord.
    They could turn north.
    I think this is the perfect time to pause and ask God if there is anywhere we need to "turn north" in our own lives. Have we been circling the same messes for years and years with no end in sight? Are there areas we know we need to change but we feel like it will require too much sacrifice?
    Here's a question we can ask ourselves right in the midst of our messes ...
    Am I letting this mess define me or refine me?
    The answer to this question is crucial.
    If I am letting a mess define me, I will feel hopeless.
    If I am letting a mess refine me, I will be hopeful.
    If the Israelites had looked at their forty-year track record of aimless wandering and defined themselves as rebellious failures, they would have lost all hope and kept right on circling. But because they embraced the correction and redirection of the Lord, they were able to turn around and move toward His promises with hope firmly planted in their hearts.
    It's time for our messes to stop defining us.
    It's time to embrace the refining process and turn north.
    So how do we begin to turn north? We replace our old thoughts with empowering truths from God's Word. I call them "Go-To Scripts." In other words, these statements can become our new patterns of thought. And these new patterns of thought will empower us for a new way of living.
    Here are some of my favorite "Go-To Scripts" for turning north.

    1. I was made for more than to be stuck in a vicious cycle or defeat. Deuteronomy 2:3, "You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north."
    2.  When tempted, I either remove the temptation or remove myself from the situation. I Corinthians 10:13-14, "God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee.."
    3. I don't have to worry about letting God down, because I was never holding him up - God's grace is sufficient. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11. "He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness ... for when I am weak, then I am strong."

    May we hear the Father's voice, filled with grace and free from any hint of condemnation, declaring over us today, "It's time to turn north, beloved." And may we be found turning toward Him and moving forward with Him.

__________


It is not customary for me to share an entire devotional from a book I'm reading, but today it seemed right. I hope this has blessed you. Take it with you and feel the love and grace of God, and live your life with hope.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie
    
    

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Not About Thanksgiving






I'm part of the "baby-boomer" generation and feel blessed to have been born when I was. Childhood came with the usual and even not so usual challenges, but for the most part it was full of fun and adventure.

As children, my sister and I could spend hours playing, together, with our Barbie dolls. We came up with all sorts of dramas. And of course Ken was part of the tale. I think the Ken doll belonged to me. Back then, Barbie was controversial.

My brothers and sisters and the kids in the neighborhood spent a lot of time playing together. If it was raining, which it often was in Kent, Washington, we'd play board games or games like "Hide the Thimble", or my sisters and I would spend an afternoon creating colorful outfits for our paper dolls. How many of you remember paper dolls? 

When the bad weather moved on we'd head outdoors where we challenged each other in baseball, tug of war, or hide and seek. There was also bike-riding, swimming, horse back riding, tag and games of Red Light - Green Light or Mother May I.

It was good healthy fun. We spent a lot of time with other youngsters, learning to live in a sometimes rough and tumble world. I remember a night time game of hide and seek where a neighbor boy sprinted across the field and then disappeared right in front of me when he fell into a deep pit (future basement of a house under construction). I nearly followed him in, but managed to leap across the corner of the pit at the last second. 

In the midst of the game-playing we learned about fairness, conflict resolution, competition and acceptance of defeat. It was fun and it was good for us.

So much has changed. These days, the young generation walks around with some sort of device in their hands, or they sit in a room alone communicating with someone via text, or playing a game where the opponent is a computer. It breaks my heart to think about all this generation and the upcoming generation is missing. They are being robbed of a real childhood by money-making tech companies and moms and dads who allow technology to babysit their kids.

This new technology was first presented as a helpful tool and at first that's all it was. But we have a wily enemy who knows how to use the tool as a weapon, a way to separate people and keep them alone. And he uses technology to expose our youngsters to things they shouldn't know about and absolutely should never see. We welcomed this weapon into our homes. And even now, I am engaging in the technology to share this message.

Is it all bad? No. Of course not. There are parts of this new technological world that I enjoy and appreciate, but if I had the power to step back and keep it from infiltrating our world I would. Yikes! Yep, it's true. Please don't hate me. :-) 

There are safeguards, if only parents will use them. And parents, one of your roles, is to protect your little ones. The Lord placed you in that position. You can do it. Many of you are (Way to go). If you're having trouble saying "no" to your kids, dig down and find the courage. They will thank you later.  

And then, get them outdoors, engaging with other kids in our big, beautiful world. There is so much for them to discover. Jump in with them.

The next time you look around the room and see that the people in your life are all staring at their phones, help them make another choice, at least for an hour or two. Put those devices away and do something else. 

Have some real fun. 

And may you all have a  blessed and happy Thanksgiving. I'm going to pull out some old fashioned board games. 

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Best Things in Life






Some of the best parts of our life are the simple things. Sometimes I get to thinking that if only I could do something spectacular, like make a trip to Paris or be part of the crowd in Times Square on New Years Eve that life would be better. But that's not true. Of course those things would be fun, but life is made up mostly of the simple things. We just need to remember how much they mean to us.



A few weeks ago I heard about a musical production that a friend of mine, Kristen Johnson, was part of. It sounded like fun. However, in order to attend it meant that my husband and I would have to travel four hours north to Vancouver, Washington. I'm the kind of person who likes to plan events way in advance so this would mean I'd have to be spontaneous. But, since my husband and I had recently decided that we needed to do more fun spontaneous events this seemed a perfect way to jump off into a less structured lifestyle.

So, a week later we loaded up our travel trailer and hit the road. 




Once we arrived in Vancouver we stayed in a rather non-spectacular RV park, but it had the basic necessities. After a short rest we dressed for the show and headed to a place called Beacock Music. It was the most spectacular music store I've ever seen. On the upper floor they had a small theater for musical productions.


We settled into our seats, not sure what to expect, but glad we had come. The program was heart-warming and impressive! There was a small band, Kristen Johnson, who played the part of Patsy Cline and Laurie Campbell-Leslie who stepped into the role of Patsy Cline's friend. She was perfect - talented and so funny.

The production was extremely well done and the actors and musicians were extraordinary. Kristen sang twenty-one of Patsy Cline's songs. What a lovely and powerful voice she has. I had no idea she was so gifted.

We laughed and cheered and even cried. By the time the play concluded my face hurt from smiling so much.

We had the best time and it didn't require taking a plane to Paris or standing among crowds in Times Square. We only needed to look around at the fun and talent in our own part of the world, and then be willing to get out and enjoy.

Life can be wearisome if we get stuck in a rut of "do-nothingness". As we age, it takes more effort to explore and taste life. But it's not as hard as it may seem. There is a lot to enjoy in our own back yards. 

Greg and I were gone only a couple of nights, but we were left with memories that will last a life time.

Thank you Kristen and all those who took part in the production, which was a fund raiser for local music programs. I know it required many hours of rehearsal and lots of hard work, but what a blessing for all those who attended, like Greg and me. 





I only got to spend a few minutes with my friend, Kristen, but we did manage to get in a hug and a photo. God bless you for warming my heart.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie



Monday, November 04, 2019

Christians and Politics?






From time to time I post political news or commentary on my Facebook page. I did just that a few days ago. The heated and ongoing discussion sparked this blog. 

As I read through the comments I felt sorrow, disappointment, anger, and pride. There were mean comments written to intentionally hurt an opponent, lies intentionally written to malign someone's character, plus well stated arguments on both sides, and sadly all kinds of evil statements cast about to create destruction.

We people are divided, angry and determined to have our way. We have forgotten that we don't have to agree to be agreeable. We've forgotten that it's okay to disagree. And we've forgotten that we are stronger when we stand together, if not in ideology then at least in purpose. 

I'm a passionate thinking person. And I believe in speaking up about ideas and beliefs I hold dear, and that includes politics. It's not a thing I take lightly. When I post something on my page, especially when I know it might stir up controversy I try to present thoughts with clarity and accuracy It's not always easy to accomplish and I often fall short of my goal. There is so much misinformation "out there" that it's easy to be deceived. And yet, I am compelled to step into the fray from time to time.

When any of us does this, we are sticking out our necks. It's an emotional risk. We can almost count on getting piled on. It can get so bad that we vow - never again. But then there is that tug of the Holy Spirit saying, "speak up, but remember you represent The Father." 

I don't want to become what I detest - a reckless and malicious finger-pointer. May God forgive me when I allow weakness to draw me into such a despicable state.

I sometimes wonder what God thinks when he watches our wobbly efforts to share truth. He sees the larger picture, of course, and I'm sure many times he shakes his head and wishes we wouldn't get so riled up. Certainly, he is sometimes disappointed in us. But that does not mean he wants us to be apathetic or too fearful to stand up for truth and for one another.

There are those who believe we should never get involved in political discussions or causes. I don't agree. Believers have a duty to stand for what is good and right. God's Word gives us cause and permission to do so. I'm not trying to guilt anyone into doing something they do not believe they are called to do. We each must choose for ourselves. But I know there are many who remain silent, some who are gifted and who care enough to take their place in the political field or to become part of the press. We need more voices. 

At the very least we all need to pray, especially for our leaders. If we are praying for someone, it will be more difficult to hate them. First Timothy 2:1-4 says, I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests plead for God's mercy upon them, and give thanks. Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, for he wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.

These are powerful words. How different the world would be if we committed to pray for one another and our leaders every day, and pleaded for God's mercy to be upon them.There is such earnestness in the word plead. 

The Lord hears our prayers. He wants us to live in peace and godliness. 

When we pray we are better able to speak with dignity and fairness, with strength and clarity, remaining respectful. When I am in the midst of a passionate exchange I must intentionally slow down and ask God what I should or should not say. Still, I sometimes fail miserably, but I won't give up.  

We need to be a positive influence in our world. And as difficult as it is to do, we are to place ourselves under the authority of those God has chosen to lead. 

But we are first to obey God. A clear example is in  Acts 4:18-19. So they called the apostles back in and told them never again to speak or teach about Jesus. But Peter and John replied, "We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we have seen and heard."  

I love the statement, We cannot stop. I want to have that kind of heart.

We are able to remain steady in the midst of political storms. We are in the midst of one now. Daniel 2:21 says, He determines the course of world events; removes kings and sets others on the throne. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.

God has a plan.

May we encourage and pray for one another. God knows the beginning and the end of all things. We do not need to fear. 

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Monday, October 21, 2019

Miracles Don't Happen Every Day






The definition of miracle is, an extraordinary and astonishing happening that is attributed to the presence and action of an ultimate or divine power. 

By definition a miracle is not something that happens every day. Granted, just the fact that we are alive and living on this extraordinary planet feels like a miracle and all the beauty around us reminds us of God and his miraculous power, but these things can be explained. What I'm talking about are those exceptional events that cannot be explained.

Six years ago my family came face to face with what looked like a tragedy (and in some ways it was and is), but foremost it was a miracle.  My grandson Ezra, who was eleven years old at the time, was at a friend's house and he was riding a side-by-side ATV when the vehicle tipped over. Ezra did not have a helmet on and was not wearing a safety belt so when the ATV went over he was thrown out and the four-by-four came down on his head and neck, 1200 pounds cut into his skull and ground his face into the rocks.

Ezra remembers coming out of unconsciousness and realizing he was trapped. It was a horrific moment. He could hear the engine running and smell the odor of gasoline. He feared the vehicle might explode. He could see a nearby highway and prayed that someone would see him. His friend ran for help and soon sirens were wailing and emergency crews arrived, along with an ambulance.

It took special equipment to cut Ezra free, but when he was loaded into an ambulance and then headed for the hospital he was alive. Some who watched prayed. 

I heard from many of the emergency crew and the doctors who cared for Ezra that night - none of them could explain how he had survived. But Ezra knew. He told me later that it was God who had saved him. 

Ezra was life-flighted by plane to Portland where he underwent emergency surgery, the first of many surgeries, which included a craniotomy to relieve pressure on his brain, repair deep lacerations to his face and skull, a partially dismembered ear, a jaw broken in two places, and an injured cervical spine.



He was a mess and in terrible pain. But we were so thankful that he was alive! 

Here are a few photos taken after the initial surgery just to give you an idea of his condition. I will spare you those taken before.







The doctors did their jobs well and saved his life. We and so many others prayed. God was with us and with Ezra through the ordeal and all the days, weeks and months following. 

As Ezra healed it became apparent that he had sustained injuries to his brain. His face and skull could be mostly repaired, but the interior damage was going to be a more difficult matter. Ezra had a traumatic brain injury. It has changed the course of his life, and he has had to battle to move forward. But he's a fighter and hasn't conceded. He knows God has a plan.

Here is our miracle kid today. He is now seventeen and a senior in high school. He's beautiful on the inside and out. He has a lot of life ahead of him. It's not going to be easy. The accident left him with life-long deficits, but he's facing the challenge courageously. I have no doubt that God will use his life to enrich others. 





When I think about all that has happened and all that is still to come I am reminded of these verses. 

Ephesians 3:20  Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.


2nd Corinthians 12:9  Each time he said, "My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses."


On that awful day, when I was called to the ER, I was afraid and a weight of hopelessness lay over me like a heavy mantle. But God had not left me or my family alone. On that day when we prayed for a miracle, God was merciful. We all are exceedingly thankful.

It is good to be reminded of God's goodness, but to also remember that God is sovereign. We can't know when or if a miracle will happen when we cry out for one, but we can be assured that God will always do what is best. And that we can be assured that he will be with us and uphold us with his mighty power and love.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

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

ShareThis