Monday, October 24, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- Walking a Tightrope--Do You Dare?

This week, while working on a Bible Study I was reminded of an inspiring incident that took place years ago while at a retreat. There were four speakers scheduled that weekend, with the last speaking on Sunday morning. We had a great three days filled with fun, words of wisdom, tears and laughter. We had a front row seat at God's production. I love retreats not just because it's an opportunity to build friendships and to grow in our faith, but God always surprises me in some way. That particular retreat was no exception.

On Sunday morning my sister Myrn was the speaker. She stood before the group, notes in hand. She'd worked hard to prepare--spent hours in prayer and more hours crafting just the right words. As she stood there a smile broke out on her face and then she shocked us all by tossing her notes over her shoulder where they fell to the floor. Wearing a playful expression she looked out at our surprised faces and said, "I had something prepared, but that's not what God wants me to talk about this morning."

I want that kind of faith and courage--to listen so closely to God that I hear Him even when He asks me to do something that makes me quake, to do what I know is beyond my own ability. He'd been speaking to Myrn throughout the weekend and by Sunday morning she knew He had another message to deliver other than the one she'd prepared. She did just that and quite eloquently. When we hand ourselves over to God He shines.

Often we rely on "us" instead of Him. I'm not saying we should always expect something dramatic, nor that we ought to ignore the wisdom and knowledge God has given us. But there are moments when God has something greater for us to do than what our small minds have conjured up--times when we have to toss away our grand plan and exchange it for God's.

Do we have the courage to move out of our comfort zone and take a risk? It may feel as if we're stepping onto a tight rope. But we have no reason to fear. Even if we fall, God will catch us.

I'm a planner. I rely on notes and calendars and lists. Letting go isn't easy for me. And yet, God has honored me by including me in His plans many times. The apostle Paul said to the Corinthians in the book of 1 Corinthians, "I came to you in weakness--timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied ONLY on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this SO you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God."

God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise. We don't have to be wise or strong in ourselves, we only need to believe in The One who is wise, who is powerful. He will give us strength and the words to speak so we can tell others of His great love.

Try stepping out onto the tight rope of faith and see God shine.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Topic of the Day--Gal Pals

This is my last evening in Bend. I've spent a weekend with my future daughter-in-law's (Brandi) friends and family. Her friends wanted to do something special for her upcoming wedding to my son (only eleven days away) and so they arranged a time for Brandi and friends to lounge and pamper themselves at a local spa. Last night Brandi prepared a delicious meal for my husband and I, our son Paul, and members of her family. This evening a group of friends and family shared a meal in downtown Bend, followed by more revelry.

This has been a weekend of fun, relaxation, memories, laughter and good food. Best of all of all has the company. I got to spend time with quality people and dear women who are true friends to Brandi. Friends are a special gift. But I sometimes think we take our friendships for granted and don't realize how important it is to pour time and love into one another's lives.

I witnessed healthy friendships this weekend and I was inspired by them. There was a time when my friends and I regularly got together. We were gal pals who used to shop together, go to the gym, walk, saw movies and joined for Bible study. Years passed and we became bogged down in parenting, careers, church activities and a multitude of other responsibilities. We're still friends, but sharing the celebration of sisterhood has slipped away. We rarely get together these days.

I think it's time for a change. We need each other. We need to share our joys and sorrows. We need to laugh, cry and get silly and remember life is a great big adventure to be shared.

If you feel like me and want to rebuild some of those friendships jump into the fun and share your ideas about how you're going to do that. I'd love to hear.

Maybe it's time to make a date with a gal pal.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Topic of the Day -- A Little Bit of Sunshine

Mom made it through surgery and though the days following were rough she's getting better and better. Today she was released from the hospital and will spend several weeks in a rehab center. I'm thankful.

The strange thing is that when I should be smiling and doing a jig, I'm feeling down in the dumps. I chatted with my sister today and we talked about how I'm feeling. She knows quite a bit about the human psyche and explained that while I sat with my mother as she went through her trauma I went right along with her. And so I've had my own trauma I'm working through.

God knows all things even "down in the dump" days. And so He sent me a little bit of sunshine today--my granddaughter, Olivia. She spent the afternoon with me. As always, she was full of smiles and hugs. We baked cookies together and when it was time for her to go home I felt better. I'd found my smile again.

I'm grateful for my sister's helpful words. And especially thankful my little sunshine girl, Olivia, was here with hugs for her grandma. And thank you, God, for loving me even though I don't deserve it.

Grace and peace to God.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Topic of the Day -- Suffering

I don't know anyone who likes to suffer. I certainly don't. But because God created us and because from time to time pain and suffering is part of our life I figure there's a purpose for it. In fact, I can come up with a long list of reasons fairly quickly.

However, several days ago while sitting with my mother after she'd had open heart surgery I couldn't think of one. All I wanted was to release my mom from the agony. Instead, I sat beside her holding her hand feeling helpless. That night I cried myself to sleep.

But God's Word says, "Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character and character, hope."

Mom is better. I thank God.

As to pain, well it will continue to be part of life. Physical pain protects us from injury. Our lives would be short if we never felt the weaknesses in our body. Suffering is a teacher. Travails of the soul draw us closer to God where He waits to catch us and pull us into his embrace.

Though I sometimes rail against it, I cannot deny that pain is good. I am grateful for it.

Praise God in all things.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, October 09, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- Living Out Our Faith

I want to introduce you to my mother--an incredible woman. Though she often felt as if she lacked faith she has lived a life full of faith. During my growing up years, she was the neighborhood savior--always willing and able to help in a crisis--she was steady when it counted. And to this day, I don't think I've ever met anyone who has a more grateful heart. Though she's had her share of tragedy and lives a simple life with few frills she's thankful for each day and never fails to thank God for her "wonderful" family.

Tonight Mom waits in a hospital. She's having open heart surgery in the morning to repair or replace a valve and to repair an artery. She's eight-six years old and understands the risks, but as always all she can talk about is how blessed she is. When she set off for the hospital earlier this evening, all I saw was faith and peace. She knows God has her in His hands and no matter the outcome of tomorrow's surgery all is well.

I am blessed. She lived out her faith and that faith changed my life.

In the days to come would you please pray for my mother and for the family who loves her?

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Topic of the Day -- Sarah Palin Says No.

Sarah said it's a no-go. She's not going to run. There have been several "No's" recently--Sarah, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and others. Palin and Christie both sighted family as part of their reason for not running. Is there something that's keeping good people out of the race? Could it be intolerance, unfair practices by the press and a toxic public atmosphere? Could it be ambushes, assaults and outright lies that hold good candidates back?

What happened to Sarah Palin from the day she stepped into the race as the vice presidential candidate in 2008 until this day is abuse, plain and simple. Where were the voices of reason and honor? Why was the brutality allowed?

I don't blame Sarah Palin for staying out of the fight this time around. But it makes me sad that someone who could have brought another dimension to the election was bullied out of it. Frankly, the fetid atmosphere in American politics makes me sick to my stomach.

We've all watched it blasted over the television news and listened to it on the airwaves. Bashing others seems to be the new normal. I understand how it happens. We think we're right and they're wrong and we get so wrapped up in our own view that the end justifies the means. It's easy to be dragged into the fray and start blasting others. No one is immune.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm all for peaceful protests and showing up at town hall meetings where we can ask our questions or share our perspectives. Honest disagreement and discussion of real issues is good, in fact we need to do more of it. But when we wade into the cesspool of deceit, verbal brutality and treachery we become the enemy and that is not the way to win a war. We need to be smarter, more determined and committed to what is right.

We must hang on to our integrity.

Our job is to pray, be informed, pray, discuss the issues, pray and then pray some more. 1 Corinthians 3:18-19 says this, "Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a 'fool' so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written, He catches the wise in their craftiness."

Be wise in the spirit. And then on election day cast your vote. It is the reasonable thing to do and it is one of the greatest privileges we possess as Americans. I'm proud to be an American. How about you?

Grace and peace to you from God.


Saturday, October 01, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- Fight. Fight. Fight.

I love the movie, You've Got Mail. One scene in particular stands out for me at this time in my life. Meg Ryan is speaking to Tom Hanks (who plays her nemesis) online. She tells him she's losing her business. His response--"Go to the mattresses", which is a term from the movie the God Father that means go to war. Meg cutely punches the air and says, "Fight. Fight. Fight".

She goes to war, fighting to save her small bookstore from being eaten up by a large chain store. In the end, she loses the battle. It's sad. She's loved the bookstore, which had once been her mother's.

There is a lesson here. What is it? That we don't fight? I don't believe that. However, we do need to question what's worth fighting for and, if we choose to fight and still lose God may have a special purpose for the loss. Perhaps it's something as simple as learning the lesson of acceptance and yet being thankful. I've recently been contemplating these concepts. Acceptance can be a hard pill to swallow. But sometimes we can't move forward until we accept where we are.

In the movie, the character of Meg Ryan grieves the loss of her beloved bookstore. Of course she would. It's what she knows and so much of her life has been about the store. However, another life awaits her and if she hadn't been forced to relinquish the old she'd never have discovered the new--one richer and fuller than she'd known. The key to discovery, for her, was a willingness to release the past and move forward.

I do not have this all figured out, but this story encourages me. Though I've been in a battle, I am presently doing all I can to open my arms and accept difficult circumstances and to be thankful for them. God has not lost sight of me. I know that. He and I have been close for a long time. He knows what lies ahead. I've laid down my arms for now and am learning acceptance. I may be called to battle again, in fact I'm certain of it. Until then I am resting in my Lord.

What are you fighting for or relinquishing or accepting? Whatever it is, trust in God's greater knowledge and wisdom. He truly knows what is best for us.

Grace and peace to you,