Friday, December 20, 2019

Merciful God

In early June of this year an inner clock was set off in my head and in my heart, as it has been for the last two summers. In June of 2017 I got a call from my sister and she told me she had been diagnosed with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. She said, "Do not look it up online." But of course I did. The prognosis was bad, but I hoped for better.

And then the clock ticked on into November, as we approached the holiday season. I couldn't push aside the memories of my sister's battle - excruciating days for Myrn and all who loved her. 

And now as we approach December 22 the day is coming - the anniversary of my sister's death. And I can't help but think, If only she were still here.

I cry easily these days. She is close to me all the time, but not close enough ... for a chat, shared prayers, or a hug. Every night I tell her I love her, cry a little, and then I tell her goodnight.

So, why am I sharing this? It's been two years. I shouldn't be missing her so much, right? Who can say how long grief will linger. My father died when I was only 23 and I still miss him, and grieve the many years we didn't get to share.

It seems to me that mankind was not created for this kind of loss. God gave us a perfect and eternal life, and then we messed it up. In our selfish demanding way we accepted the lie of the enemy and rebelled against God. And now we pay the price.

But God is not without mercy. He sent a Redeemer, Jesus Christ. And as the day approaches to celebrate His birth, I am reminded that God made a way for us. I miss my loved ones who have already moved to heaven, but I am promised there will be a grand reunion one day. Praise God for His goodness. We don't deserve such mercy and love, but He offers it anyway.

The only catch is that we need to reach out and accept the gift. We have to set aside our own arrogant pride and determination to have things our way and say, "Yes. I believe. Father, please accept me into your family." Immediately God pulls us into His arms and holds us close. He will never let go.

What follows our decision will be unique for each of us. There will be trials as well as great and beautiful moments, even triumphant moments. It won't necessarily be easy to walk the path God chooses for us, but we are promised that He will join us on our journey and in the end welcome us home.

Today I mourn my sister's absence and so many others, but my heart is comforted because I know our farewell is not forever. I remember her rejoicing over all the precious moments we shared and I look forward to our joyful reunion.

I pray for all of you who grieve and whose grief is intensified during the holiday season. It's okay to weep. But in your sorrow reach out to The One who promises to one day wipe away every tear. He will comfort you.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

A New Christmas

In years past there were so many things about Christmas that I loved being a part of. I have many wonderful memories - Caroling with family and friends, trudging through mountain snow in search of the perfect tree, baking all sorts of goodies with my family, Christmas shopping, and of course decorating the tree.

These days it's not quite the same. I'm older, much older, and some of the delights of the past are just too difficult for me to do now. But the memories are precious and I've discovered new beauty in this winter season of life. I still do a little baking, and this year I wore myself out by doing almost all of my shopping in local stores. It was worth it, though. I loved the displays, and being able to choose just the right gifts for my loved ones. But there were very few Christmas cards sent and I let my husband pick out our tree with our daughter's help. And sledding? No way. 

However, I've spent extra time with my family, some of that remotely since my son and his family live in France now, and I'll be watching several traditional movies. Christmas carols and hymns have filled my home with nostalgia and spiritual renewal. I am looking forward to Christmas Eve services with my church family. This year it will be the highlight of my season - a time to reflect and rejoice about the coming of our Savior, which is really what this season is all about.

Christmas holiday fun has changed through the years, but Christmas is still a precious time to remember loved ones, some who have graduated to heaven, and those who are still here to celebrate with me. It is a time to remember the most incredible birth ever on this planet. The birth of Christ, the son of God, our Redeemer in the flesh.

It's easy to get caught up in all the merrymaking and forget the reason for our rejoicing. I hope you will take time to reflect on Christ and how amazing it is to be included in God's family.

Merry Christmas.


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,