Friday, July 16, 2010

Grandchildren and Other Stuff

Nothing profound or even witty to discuss today, well, we'll see. I've had my two youngest grandchildren with me since last Saturday night, and the rest came in last night. All week, Roland, at 2 1/2 has been struggling with jealousy of his baby sister, Marilyn, almost 4 months.

He had to sleep in aunt Karen's room instead of gma's bed. He had to let HIS gma hold baby sissy. He had to allow her to sit in his high chair. AND he was NOT happy. He adores his 'baby sissy nudder one', but he's not willing to give up his place with his grandma.

So, Roland, welcome to the real world. It doesn't take long for life to come along and start teaching lessons, and with the distorted thinking of children, it's a wonder we don't all turn out more screwed up than we are. Roland is learning that he has to share. I hope he's also learning that no one can take his place in my heart. Grandma's heart will just expand to include Marilyn, along with Roland and Klarissa and Kerstin and any others that come along.

Why is it that we, as adults, are often still learning the same lessons? Max Lucado writes in one of his books how God sees each of us individually. For example if I look at a large group of children, I see a large group of children. A couple of them may stand out for one reason or another and capture my fleeting attention, but in general, I will see the group and not the individuals.

Now take one of my grandchildren and put him or her into the group. Can you guess what happens? Suddenly this is still a group of children, but one of them captures my attention and holds it. No matter what the other children do, no matter how cute or funny they are, my attention always comes back to that one special child that belongs to me and has ties to my heart: my grandchild!

God sees us as that 'my child' in the crowd too. It's hard to imagine how He can do that, but He is bigger than our understanding and capable of much more than we. And with God, He sees each one of us that way - laughing at our antics, thinking how adorable we are, etc. - as each individual stands out from the crowd. God doesn't see us as just another person, he sees us as HIS! Wow! I just hope my grandkids can understand that some day - about me and about God.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Life Lessons from Exodus 3:2-8

2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

The refiners fire may keep us in the flames, but we will not be consumed. Just as the bush was on fire and yet not burnt, God keeps us in the flames of His refining process, so that we will come out burnished, clean and usable rather than scorched or destroyed.

3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

When we come out of the fire unscathed, it attracts the attention of others. They wonder how this person can go through such things and come out whole and better rather than broken and bitter. This gives the Christian the opportunity to share the God who took them through the fire and offer hope to those who don’t have God’s help in their own circumstances.

A friend recently had a man ask her how she could have gone through all the things that have happened to her in her life and come out without a bitter bone in her body. She had the opportunity to share that, even though there were times of bitterness, lack of faith and fear, God brought things, friends, Words, ect. into her life to grow her through it and bring her safely to a point where she can praise her God for everything, knowing He used it to make her the wonderful lady she is. He also used it to fashion her into an instrument of His, a tool for Him to use, to help many other people find the way through as well.

4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

When others become curious about the things they see that do not make earthly sense, God uses those moments to get their attention and draw them to Him. As you walk through the fire unscathed, others will marvel and seek to have what you have: Jesus!

5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

When we approach that place of wonder and curiosity, we are standing on holy ground, for this is where we meet our God. He uses, not just our life events, but our reaction to life events to bring others to a point where they can listen to Him with open minds and open hearts. What is more holy than a person meeting God?

6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

God’s name is I AM, and HE IS! The reason we can go through the fire is that we don’t do it alone. I Am is with us! I Am the protector, I Am the comforter, I Am the need meter, I Am.... Whatever we need, that He is to us: the great I AM!

7 And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;

The great I AM who takes us through the fire without allowing us to be destroyed, hears our prayers and knows when we are afflicted. He knows our sorrows and weeps with us when we hurt. He never said we would never be afflicted, in fact, He said we would face persecution, but He also promised we would never have to go it alone. He also made this promise: “28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) We can know He hears, cares and works all into His great plan.

8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey

God will deliver us. It will be in His way and in His time, but He will be with us and bring us through to the other side. This writer can tell you from experience that the other side is a wonderful place to be. It brings a firmer faith and a more intimate knowledge of God along with a host of other wonderful things.

While I have taken liberties with this passage, everything spoken here is found in God’s Word. He is all we ever need, and if we love and serve Him, We will go through the fire without being consumed. Instead we will find ourselves the object of wonder as others want to know how we made it through. And this is our perfect opportunity to tell them: we didn’t, God did!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Jesus: a human in the garden

When we think of Jesus, we often tend to think of His devine attributes and not his human ones. The garden of gethsemene is one place where we see Jesus humanness. He took three of his best friends with him and then went off alone to confront His own humanness in the face of His divine mission.

1. OVERWHEMLED. "...if there be any way, let this cup pass from me..." Jesus was overwhelmed by what He knew was coming, and He, very humanly, wanted to avoid it if possible. How many times have you felt absolutely overwhelmed by life or by a task you must complete? Jesus understands because He too, has felt that way. Fortunately for us, He was willing to do God's will in spite of His own human feelings.

2. LONELINESS. Another human emotion Jesus felt in the garden was loneliness. He knew He had to walk this path alone; no one else could do it for Him; no one else could do it with Him. It was for Him alone to face, and He must have felt a loneliness more intense than anything we have felt. Jesus understands our loneliness and our need for a "Jesus with skin on" when we go through hard times. He kept His friends close, but in the end, He had to do this alone.

3. ABANDONMENT. Jesus asked His friends to sit in vigil and pray with Him and for Him as He faced His biggest earthly challenge. All He asked for was prayer. But His friends, twice, fell asleep at the post. Have you ever told someone you would pray for them and then forgotten in life's busyness or fallen asleep on the job? Jesus understands our feelings of abandonment and the anguish of when friends don't come through: He experienced it.

There are many more examples of times when Jesus felt his humanness and faced these three emotions, but the intensity of the time in the garden and the knowledge of what was to come bring it home in a way we can understand. Jesus didn't have a sin nature, but He sure did have a human body. Unless we understand His humanness, we won't really be able to understand how he has suffered everything we have and survived to thrive.

Yes, Jesus was devine, but, thank God, He was also very much human, and He knows my distresses and fears. When I turn to Him, I don't turn to someone who has no clue, I turn to the one who has the only clue: Jesus.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Gentle Touch

As I care for my grandchildren, I am reminded of this poem I wrote. Each time I stroke a sleepy head or say 'I love you', I am embedding memories into the child that he or she will hold on to after I'm gone. Grandparents have a special role to play. They often give a child a sense of being loved unconditionally, an important component to any child's ego. We do this by spending time with them, loving them, and praying for them.

The Holy Spirit can also bring that gentle touch, that sense of peace, to the Christian soul. How often have I snuggled up with my God and felt this comfort that only He can give?

As we give away loving touches to others, we give them more than that; we give them a physical memory that can bring comfort in later years. Even when it is not remembered in the mind, the comfort brought can linger in the psyche and pop up in times of need. Passing on loving touches and words should become our passion, as our touch is the only touch from Jesus that many will ever feel.

A Gentle Touch

Remembering Mother and her gentle touch.

Soft fingers said, "I love you so much."

A touch that held me in her arm's embrace,

Her touch bringing smiles of joy to my face.

At night as she lay me down in my bed,

Fingers stroking the hair from my head.

Gentle but strong, on her touch I leaned,

Those fingers that sewed and cooked and cleaned.

She's gone now and each remembered touch

Oh, is missed, so incredibly much.

But oft' as I lie in my dark, mourning bed,

I still feel soft fingers stroking my head.

Her gentle touch stays, tho' she's now gone on,

Giving me peace as I face each dawn.

And as oft' as my hands gently caress another

I'll always remember, I learned it from Mother.

Angela Masters Young c 2009

Monday, May 31, 2010

Marilyn Matters

Last Friday, I attended the going away celebration of my dear friend, Melissa. God had given her 10 years, fighting cancer but living, to spend with her family. But last Sunday, May 23, 2010, He gave her ultimate healing by taking her home to be with Him.

During the open mike portion of the celebration, I had given a brief account of a story and poem I had once shared with Melissa as a segue to sharing how this dear friend had the gift of making others feel that they mattered. Later, the pastor read a testimony Melissa had given in a much earlier service during another bout with the cancer that would eventually take her. In that testimony she had shared the story and how it and others had impacted her.

I thought I would share that story to the best of my ability here today. Shortly after my brother’s death in 2003, my mother, Marilyn Masters, discovered she had a rare and aggressive form of uterine cancer. She had surgery, but later found the cancer had already metastasized. She endured chemo for a while and was eventually sent home to hospice and given 6 months to live.

She lived 11 months, and her story would take up a few pages, but we’ll save that for another post. For this one, I will point out that Mom had a period of time, in her grief for her son and her worry over what her own death would do to my father, she wondered if she really mattered. Did she really make a difference in people’s lives for the Lord? Was God pleased with her? Did she really matter?

During this time, showcasing God’s wonderful sense of humor, Mom kept receiving those address labels places send free with a plea for money. The odd thing was that each one of those labels arrived (from different places) with, not the name Marilyn Masters, but Marilyn Matters! One missed letter sent a message to Mom that she could not ignore: Marilyn Matters! Our God is so good.

The following is a poem I wrote for my mother during this time and later replaced the name to send to Melissa. I wrote this poem so that anyone could substitute their own name and hang on to the knowledge that they, too, matter very much to God.

Marilyn Matters!

My friend, I trust you to our Lord,
For I know: Marilyn Matters!
He made you special in His plan
For He knows: Marilyn Matters!
Each day, each pain, He chose for you
‘Cuz He knows: Marilyn Matters!
So as you rest beneath His wings,
Remember: Marilyn Matters!
As each loving detail falls into place,
Remember: Marilyn Matters!

By Angela Masters Young © 2005

Maybe you wonder about your significance in this world at times, but God and I want you to know that you matter very much. God has a plan for you; He created you for a special purpose, and He walks with you through whatever that plan entails, holding you, loving you, singing over you in joy as He works out His perfect plan for you – because you matter!

You may use this poem (changing the original name), but please give me credit for it if you do. May God richly bless you!

This poem was included in a blog post by Amanda DeCosta. Her post can be viewed here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Choosing blessings over consequences

Often, children determine they don’t want to obey, or want something NOW! The child ends up sitting in time out until the bad behavior stops, often with a spanking thrown in. So, he experiences much pain and wasted time in pursuit of something the parent wanted to give in the first place. How sad to the parent when he chooses consequences over blessing, never even realizing the blessing was lost.

How often do we miss out on God’s blessings through our own willfulness?

God loves us just as we love our children and want to give them good things.

I have often had to put something away I got for one of my grandchildren because of their behavior. I thought of them when I bought it; I imagined their face when they received it; I wanted to give it to them and give them pleasure. How sad it made me when I have to withhold a blessing from my grandchildren.

For example, I bought a new game for my "grandma bag", a bag of things I take with me for them to play with when we go to dinner or away somewhere. The kids love it, and they love finding new things in there. The kids know they are not to get in the bag. Grandma gets stuff out of it for them. They may ask for something specific (although I often trade out to have different things all the time) but they are not to get in the bag themselves. Recently, we were getting ready to go out to eat and one of my granddaughters said, "Grandma, can I play with the _______."

That was her undoing because Grandma knew the only way she could know that item was in there was if she had gone through the bag. Because of that, she did not get to play with it. In fact, it got put back in the box where I keep items for future use or things I have traded out to keep things 'new'. and it still hasn't made it's way into the bag.

Why do I care? I care because I want my granddaughter to be a good, godly woman some day. I want to teach her the right things. Because I care about her eternally, I have to sometimes say no. God sometimes has to say no to us as well, because He cares about our eternal souls, at the expense of our temporal and temporary feelings. Obedience is not just something we do to make our kids miserable, it is a safety net or a guide rail to keep us safe. When our children learn obedience, they learn the way of life. When we learn obedience to God, we also learn the way of life. Then God can give us all those blessings He's been holding in His "God bag", eagerly anticipating our expressions when he pours them out on us.

Those of you who have heard our turkey story, remember that as God was giving us turkey after turkey after turkey, I heard him giggle in fun at the blessings He poured on us that Christmas. God wants to bless us. Do we want to obey Him?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tears Fall

Today I find out my friend is no longer responding. Death hovers over her, awaiting it's moment. But death will have no sting because she is one of God's beloved children. Her body will remain here, but her spirit and soul will soar to the heavens to be with her Savior and all who have gone on before. We will weep our selfish tears, but underneath will be joy and the peace that passeth understanding, knowing the coming reunion and the joy she now feels, having left cancer and pain behind to dance in the light of God.

Tears Fall

Tears fall like rain from these eyes in pain;
Seeping out from the never-ending well.
And God collects them one by one,
Saving them with those that fell before.
I feel His arms holding me tight,
Offering His comfort and strength,
To His broken-hearted, hurting child.
Then I realize my tears are not alone;
The tears of God fall next to mine.
He weeps, not for me, but with me,
Not withholding the pain I feel, but
never leaving my side through the storm.
The pain will pass, my tears dry up,
And life will continue on.
But this time with my God will
Change me forever as I rest in
His faithfulness once again.

Prose by Angela Masters Young c 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Numbness arrives: God is still good!

From tears, tears and more tears to numb, the cycle of grief continues. Denial isn't possible for me, but I wish it were. I'd like to believe no one I love would ever die of cancer. I'd like to believe no one I love would have to watch someone he or she loves die of cancer. I'd like to believe a cure will be found in the next 24 hours. Yes, this is what I'd like to believe.

The reality, however, is that cancer strikes everyone sooner or later, either through a personal journey with it or watching a loved one go through it. Maybe it's just me, but it seems that cancer is on the rise. I don't know, but it is certainly in the rise in my relational sphere. Another wonderful lady I met at a support group passed away last month. A beautiful, godly friend passed away a couple days ago from brain cancer. A cousin is fighting the battle as we speak. Add these to the names in the last post, and you still don't have the full picture.

I don't honestly know how I am going to deal with the impending death of one of my dearest friends, a beautiful, godly ray of sunshine in an often dark world, but I know from experience that somehow I will. I may not understand it, but God always comes through, not when I want it, but when I need it.

Thank you, Father, for being the unchanging, merciful God you are! Because you have shown me your love, mercy, peace, forgiveness and more through the trials of life, I have learned that I can lean wholly on you at all times for all things. I thank you for those trials because they have brought me to a deeper understanding of your love and deepened my relationship with you. When I face pain or uncertain days, I take the time to look back and remember all those other times when I didn't know how I would go on, and there you were!

Sometimes you cried with me; sometimes you laughed as you heaped unexpected blessings in humorous ways; sometimes you just walked beside me, hand in hand, lending your silent support; sometimes you picked me up and held me in your comforting arms; always, you were there!

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When my way grows drear
Precious Lord linger near
When my life is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When the darkness appears
And the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I'm tired, I'm weak, I'm lone
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

--lyrics by Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1993), melody by George Nelson Allen (1812-1877).,_Precious_Lord

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cancer stinks, but God is good!

Today I found out a dear friend is going on hospice care. She has been fighting cancer for over 10 years, and her body is just too tired to fight any more. Another writing friend just lost her husband to cancer. My best friend from childhood is watching her father die of cancer right now too. I lost my beloved mother and grandmother to cancer. The list goes on.

In each case, the type of cancer was different, but it really doesn't matter what type it is. I hate all cancer, and I hate what it does to people, taking lives much too early. This insidious growth starts small and spreads, taking over until it gets a vital organ and takes its victim. Despite major loads of cash going to research a cure, it still claims lives every day.

Do I have a point? I don't know. I just know the grief is so overwhelming sometimes. But, this one thing I know: God is good. God didn't bring cancer, and He is always there to bring beauty out of sorrow when people turn to Him. My mother's death was absolutely beautiful, even though it was also horrible.

I may not understand it all, but I know the one who does. I rest in His faithfulness, knowing that He cares and He will be there for all. And in the end, He will scoop them up and take them home to be with Him where they will hurt no more. Then some day it will be my turn. Jesus will wipe the tears from my eyes, and I will see all those who have gone on before in Christ. This is what gets me through all the pain inherent in a sinful world. Come quickly, Lord, Jesus!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Wrath of Man vs the Righteousness of God

"The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." (James 1:20 KJV) This is one of my signature verses that I remind myself of frequently so that I can "be angry and sin not." (Ephesians 4:26) And yet I struggle sometimes with the difference between my wrath and righteous wrath.

When someone harms someone I love, the wrath flares up, and I have to hit my knees. It is only through an intense time alone with God, seeking Him and His mind, that I can determine whether my wrath is righteous or something else entirely. In my time with my Lord, I seek His mind through His Word, and through His Spirit. He often brings to mind some hidden (or not so hidden) sin in my life when I want to proceed in wrath, even when God says no. The following are some ideas that can help a person analyze and diffuse anger in a healthy, Biblical way. Read more

What's love got to do with it?

This week, we are learning more about God's plan for marriage. Specifically, we are learning what it means to "respect" and to "love". God commands women to respect their husbands and men to love their wives. These words mean so much more than the value our society attaches to them today. These words are not "feelings", they are actions, and the are COMMANDS from God.

So why the difference between men and women? Well, God knows that men and women are different and have different needs. Men need to feel respected. Women need to feel loved. No wonder married people have so much trouble! They often try to give their partner what they need instead of giving the partner what he or she needs.

Another problem we see in marriages today is that one spouse often expects to "feel" love or respect before offering it to the mate. This is not from God. God says to DO it, regardless of feelings. When love and respect become verbs that we act out in our marriages, we not only honor God's commands; we also set into motion a method of change for our spouse. As he begins to feel respected, or she begins to feel loved, the respective spouse will begin to act respected or loved.

Marriage is not a 50/50 proposition, it is give all proposition. My respect for my husband does not depend on my feelings or his actions. His love for me does not depend on my feelings or my actions. Respect and love are commands God gives us without conditions. Is it easy? No way! However, it is well worth it.

These are just some of the things we can learn about marriage, as God planned it. You can never begin to prepare for marriage soon enough. Ask God to help you learn how to treat the spouse He will some day give you, and begin praying for him or her today. The marriage of God's dream for you awaits. . .

Friday, May 7, 2010

Post from Colors Magazine concerning who I am:

I always say I have spent my entire life having my “identity” ripped to shreds by God as I went from believing one identity after another. God would say, no, that’s what you do, or that’s what you like, it is not who you are. I’m still in process, but I have learned that my true identity is only found in Christ. I am a child of God, and none of those other things really matter in comparrison.

If I lose the ability to sing, I am still a child of God.
If I no longer teach, I am still a child of God.
If I am divorced, I am still a child of God.
If I lose everything this world has to offer, it effects not my identity, because those are things I “have” or “do” or “like”. They may be gifts from God for me to use, but they are not my identity. My identity remains the same regardless of anything else, because it is fixed: I am a child of the King!

View the magazine and article this is in response to at:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Illegal Immigration: I'm just sayin'...

As we watch the battle rage in Arizona between the rule of law and supposed "compassion", I have to wonder how we decide which laws are worth defending and which are not. How can we say that any law needs to be obeyed if all of them don't need to be obeyed? We can't. Lawlessness is not compassionate because it leaves all in danger.

The premise of compassion, which is felt on all sides of the issue, is bogus. That's like saying we feel sorry for the thief that broke into our home, so we're just going to let him stay. I don't think so! As much compassion as I might have for certain theives that just "want a better life", that doesn't mean it's OK for them to take my things or move into my home.

Another fallacy we see is the "well they're here now and there are so many of them" argument. OK, millions of people are breaking the law by "breaking and entering" into the US, why not just forgive them and not give any consequences. Now suppose the 20 million people start killing their neighbors. Are we going to forgive them all just because so many are doing it that prosecuting would be a nightmare?

Have you ever observed the following scenario in your or another's children? Little sissy walks up to big brother and takes his toy. Big brother tries to take it back and little sister screams at the top of her lungs until the exasperated parent tells the brother to just give it to her. This is like giving in to fit-throwing children who think they are above having to follow house rules. Is it compassionate to teach a child that fits will give him/her what they want when they're adults? It's certainly not compassionate to those of us who have to live with these drama mongers!

Our rule of law is either followed or not followed. There can be no exceptions or the whole thing is invalid. It's not about race, it's about the law and the breaking of the law. Hey, Mr. President, I'm going to move in to the White House, and if you don't like it, I'll scream until you let me have my way. I'm just saying. . .

One article about the Arizona law: Readers may also want to look at articles about how Mexico treats illegal aliens.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What does real love look like?

I just finished reading a beautiful blog post by an old friend. It described her last days with her husband in a very moving, yet hopeful way. You can read her post here:

In thinking of this type of death, I always think back to the great love of my parents. Their love was a God story from the beginning, and her death was as beautiful as it was horrific. We knew she was going to go for 11 months before the time finally came, giving us opportunities to love one another and tie up loose ends. This too, was a gift from God.

Mom and dad were unable to sleep in the same bed, so we moved a twin in beside her. The spent many long hours in the night, alone in their own room, just talking and reminiscing and loving one another.

Each morning, my mother spent in her room, studying her Bible and listening to music and coming closer to God with each breath. I often think of this time with envy. Maybe her closeness to God was because she knew she would meet Him soon, but she was a godly woman from early on, and I aspire to be like her some day.

One of the songs she listened to was a tape of me singing. One day, about 3 months before the end, she called me in and said, "Angie, I want you to sing this song at my funeral." How I did it, I don't know, but God gave me the grace, and it was the least I could do to honor my blessed mother.

She was at WalMart a couple days before then end and sang in church the Sunday before. I had gone home for the weekend when I got the call. She woke up in horrible pain and they had taken her to the hospital. A tumor the size of a football had grown in her stomach and broken in two. Even though she had hospice and planned to die at home, her pain was too much. She was placed in a large room away from others where we could all stay with her all we wanted.

This time is one of my worst memories, but it is also one of my best. In many ways, it was the completion of a love rarely seen. It took three days for her to leave us, but dad stayed by her side the entire time, talking, loving, crying, praying, and eventually, letting her go. A couple of times we all left them alone in the room so he could express his grief in private.

I've never seen my father sob before or sense, and it was an experience that effected me deeply. He told her repeatedly how much he loved her as he sobbed over their clasped hands. At one point, he said, "Marilyn, if I had it to do over, I would marry you all over again." Then he asked, "Would you marry me?" She squeezed his hands to say yes, giving him something to hang on to during the long, lonely days of his widowhood to come.

November 11, 2005, with almost all her family standing around her, she left to be with the Lord. This date again showed the love God had brought to these lives. November 11, was the day he finally met her for the first time after writing letters back and forth from Ohio to Germany for a year and a half. November 11 was also the day he had surrendered to preach.

She followed him willingly through the good times and the not so good times, leaving behind family and much more to be a helpmeet to him. Thank you Lisa for reminding me that real love doesn't cut and run when the going gets tough. Real love loves through it all, to the very end. My husband and I have experienced this type of love, the love that shows up, and I thank God for the legacy my parents have given, not only to me, but to everyone who knew them.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Family: On Pride and Showing Up

My father has been in ill health his entire life. He has a genetic form of pancreatitis, and I have watched him suffer, in and out of hospitals, many, many times. Because of his pancreatitis, he eventually developed diabetes as well. He recently had another accident because of a sugar drop, and life has changed for all.

I spent a year going back and forth from my home to my Mother's when she had cancer, spending the majority of my time with her. I helped her physically when needed, and we leaned on each other emotionally and spiritually until her passing.

With dad, it is more difficult. He is harder to live with, and he will be the first to admit that. Trying to regulate his sugar and keep him from hurting himself further keeps us all hopping.

My point in telling you this? Dad sat with his family Saturday as I was giving instructions to my sister to take over his care for a while, and he told us he should not, did not want to, be a burden to us. What he doesn't understand is that God created us to need others and to need him. We take care of him because we love him, not because we have to.

Someone once told me that family "shows up". When we have a need, our family is there for us. They don't leave us to their own devices just because they have another life. They adjust. They sacrifice. They come through if at all possible.

Sometimes that "family" is a friend with no blood ties or a church member (a different kind of family) but those who 'show up' are family. The following are some things we need to know about needing others.

--When we don't allow others to help us, we steal their blessing! In my case, God will honor me for honoring my father and taking care of him as he ages. I don't do it for that reason, but I'm so glad I get to do it. How will I ever have this honor if I am not allowed to sacrifice?

--When we don't allow others to help us, we are full of pride. When someone feels that others may have to have help, but not him or her, he or she is really saying, "I am special. I will never be old, need help. I will always be able to take care of myself, and I don't need help." Pride, plain and simple, keeps us from accepting reality and allowing the inevitable to come with dignity and grace.

--When we don't allow others to help us, we probably stubbornly resist God's help as well. God wants us to depend on Him, completely and wholely, and often we try to make it on our own, only calling on Him for help when we become desperate. God wants us to walk with Him every day and depend on Him for everything - even those things we can handle on our own.

When we don't watch our strengths, we open a door for the devil. We tend to turn to God for help in our infirmities, but think we're good in our strengths. This makes our strengths the prime target. Realizing we cannot go it alone in anything we do is a big step in our walk of faith.

All of that to say that we need to depend on others in the same way we depend on God. Others can't "show up", even family, if we don't allow it. God,the sin of pride is so invasive in all we do. Help us to step aside and accept help when we need it, allowing others the self-esteem and blessing that comes from showing up. In learning to submit, teach us to submit to you as well. You: above all, in all, for all.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves...
Ecclesiastes (paraphrase)

Sunday, April 11, 2010


My pastor, David Frasure, preached about 3 things Christians long for more and more as time passes, titled "Three Great Longings of the Christian Heart". I so needed to hear this tonight, and it is so true.

The first item we long for is the rapture of the church. As the world grows increasingly wicked and we become more aware of it in our growing wisdom, we realize even more that this world is not our home. We long for that day when Christ comes to take His bride, the church, back to the place he has prepared for her. Just as the bride anticipates that day she becomes the wife of her intended, we look forward to that day our bridegroom comes to get us, and we get to be with Him for an eternity. We can know that this is the beginning of a new life and a new world for those who are saved.

The second item we long to see is the Almighty God. Can you imagine that day when we finally get to be with God in a way we understand for an eternity! That alone will make heaven heaven, but He has even more than we could ever imagine prepared for us. Just as the bride longs to see the face of the bridegroom on her wedding day, we too long to see the face of our Savior and groom. Why? Because we are in love with Him, and we want to be with Him!

The third item Christians long for is the experience of worshiping the Living God by all. Often, as I lift up my soul to God through song or prayer in the midst of other Christians, also focusing on worship, my soul explodes with wonder inside me. Sometimes I sit or stand quietly and listen to the voices rising up all around me, glorying in the sound of others worshiping God too. Some day we will all be in a giant worship service with glorious music and a wonderful God to worship. There won't be any missing someone who didn't make it to service, splits, back-biting, just worship in its purest form - GLORY!

As I anticipate this future time, I also think about all those around me who do not have this hope. I know God will wipe away all tears at some future date, but in the meantime, I have to stand before Him and tell Him why I didn't try to pull more into the boat with me. Excuses won't cut it when I stand before Him. It doesn't matter if I'm busy, or shy, or not good with words, what matters is that I took every opportunity to share the gospel of Christ with everyone in my sphere of influence and beyond. I want all to stand there with me that day, worshiping God and drinking in the bridegroom.

Yes, we long for the day when we are raptured up to meet our bridegroom and spend eternity worshiping God, but we're not there yet. While we're here on earth is the only time we will have to share this hope with a lost and dying world. God didn't call us to selfishly hoard the good news, He called us to share it, to go and witness, to bring this hope to all who would believe. Wouldn't it be great if we could have many people standing there beside us, also believers, instead of having to watch them judged and cast into hell while we are helpless to do anything about it?

Even so, Lord, Jesus, come!!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

How many people do you have in your life that you can actually say are worth the pain?

The question is how many people do you have in your life that you can actually say are worth the pain?

Everyone I keep in my life is worth the pain! All relationships involve pain at some time, and all good relationships have gone through a great deal of pain. It is through conflict that we discover one another and learn about ourselves.

Right now, my father is at the point of his life where he can no longer live alone. He was a pastor till last year, but his health is deteriorating. This means I travel 2 1/2 hours south to his home to take care of him and make sure he makes his doctor's appointments when needed. It also means bringing him to my home and taking care of him by feeding him and monitoring his insulin intake and sugar.

Now, my dad is an extremely stubborn man, and taking care of him is not the easiest thing I've ever done. In fact it's downright painful at times. However, this is my father, and he is worth any pain that might come my way to help him out, even if he doesn't want helped.

This is an extreme example, but if you are truly a friend, you will endure pain when it comes. If you don't know how to have deep relationships, you will jump ship when the pain comes along and find yourself alone in the end. Caring for others involves pain and risk, but it's always worth it in the end.

Keep reading after this statement, I have a bit more to say. This is my reply to the above question posed by "Colors Magazine"@

Arent we glad Jesus never asked that question? He went through the greatest pain imaginable for us because He loved us and thought of us as worth the pain!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Trading Spouses

No, I'm not thinking about trading mine (at least not seriously); I'm thinking about the episode of "Trading Spouses" I just watched on Television. In this show, mothers from different (and I mean TOTALLY different) families trade spaces with one another. There are so many things we can learn from watching these experiences, but here a a few I've discovered today.

1. Why do we always think our way is the best way? It never fails that each mom goes in feeling like their way is the only way and looking down on the other family for its differences. Some never learn a thing and go back to their old way of life when the time is up. Other's make a wondrous discovery; they discover that different can be good sometimes. All of us have good and bad things about our lives, and we can all learn from others. When we pigion-hole others, and set ourselves up as the "experts" of what is "normal", we lose out. Those that try the good things from the other family and learn their lessons are the ones who are blessed.

One mom today was a control-neat-freak. The other family had lots of fun and this mom saw them playing with army men and made the statement that these kids are the ones who shoot people in high schools. Sadly, while that family has issues too, I imagine the lady's kids who are not allowed to have any fun or do anything for fear of making mom mad, are the ones who will be shooting.

2. Why are we so resistant to change? The above paragraphs cover this pretty well, but it amazes me as I watch these people try to fit the other's family into their mold. What happens? The family resists, sometimes refusing to try anything new at all. I always wonder why they signed up for the show in the first place. Didn't they know they would have to live by the other mother's rules for a short time? Hello!

Often, those that give it a go and try to live by the other mom's rules learn a great deal about themselves. It's good to experience more than just what we find inside the walls of our own home with our own family. It teaches us not to judge others based on our pre-conceived notions and opens up a new world. Sometimes it's not good, but even those times teach us something.

3. It's not about your house; it's about your home. The houses of those in these shows vary widely. Some are so clean and controled that the children and husband walk around on eggshells for fear of messing something off and setting off the control freak. In that home, it's all about the responsibility and none about the fun. That is not good for a family and does not make a home.

On the other hand are the ones with filth every where. It's all about the fun with none of the responsibility. In that house, the kids and spouse never learn that life comes with responsibilities and they are often disrespectful of rules of any kind. This too is not good for a family and does not make a home.

A home should be filled with love, fun AND responsibility.

Maybe we can't go live someone else's life for a week, but we can all open ourselves up to the possibilities of walking a mile in someone else's shoes. God created diversity because He loves it, and He wants us to learn from everyone we meet. While He wants us to follow His laws, for our safety and our good, he doesn't want us to live in a bunch of made up laws for our home. The chance to walk in someone else's shoes is always a life-changing event.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fight to Win!

If you know the school bully has targeted you for a "whooping", do you just show up and let it happen? I don't know about you, but, knowing I have an enemy who wants to hurt me, I would take steps to make sure I won the fight! I've had a few people try to fight me in my earlier years. As a person who does NOT want to or like to fight, I had a plan. My plan? Bring along the little sister. Yes, she's younger (only a year), but she's mean, and I knew she could do some serious damage if provoked.

In one instance, a girl kept bothering me as I walked home from school. She was dating a boy I had previously dated, and I guess she didn't like me walking down the street. Anyway, when the fight came, it wasn't with her and it wasn't me doing the fighting. My sister beat the crap out of the other girl's sister. Yes, it's a girl thing, but you should have been there. The other girl was flopping around like a fish, able to do very little against the wrath of my little sis! Neither girl ever bothered me again: fight won!

I am so glad I had my sister there to fight for me, because I have no fighting skills and she has more than enough. If we won't face a human enemy without a plan, why do we go about our lives fighting with our spiritual enemy (satan and his crew) without making plans for the battle? Do we expect our troops to head into battle without guns and other things they need to tip the battle in our favor? Absolutely not! Guess what? We shouldn't do that either.

In Ephesians 6:13-17, we learn that God has provided us with armor to wear as we go into battle with Him. The biggest thing we do is make sure we're on His side. I was soooooo glad my sister was fighting FOR me and not against me! Then He gives us armor and expects us to use it. It is arrogant to go into battle against the devil without the full armor of God!

Every Christian will face spiritual warfare: it's inevitable as the devil attempts to attack through deceit and outright warfare. We can stand strong in the battle if we suit up, put on our armor, make sure we're on the right side and be aware of the enemy's tactics.

In studying the armor of God, we need to:

---"LOOK OUT" (Eph. 6:10-12) Are you prepared and aware that spiritual warfare will and does happen?
---"GEAR UP" (Eph. 6:13-17) What is the armor of God and how do I get it?
---"THINK STRATEGICALLY" (2 Cor. 10:3-5) Plan for battle, know the enemy's tactics and outsmart him by wearing your armor in battle.

Clip art:
Headings for studying" " - Life Focus, Bible Studies for Life Leader Guide, WINTER 2009-2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Create in me a clean heart....

Why is it that whatever I teach in my Sunday School class is stepped up in my own personal life? That was a rhetorical question; I already know the answer. God has been using these lessons as well as other things in my life to point out some of my issues where I still allow the old self to pop up.

I think one reason I keep returning to the sin of pride is that it underlies so many of the sins we commit as human beings. Anger - how dare that person hurt me....; Greed - I deserve those things....; Gossip - I know something you don't know....; Backbiting/slander - I deserve to get even/hurt that person.... Whenever we have a reoccuring sin, it almost always boils down to pride or the sin of rebellion in the end. After all, that's what pride is: rebellion.

When I lose my temper, I am rebelling against perceived injustice; etc. I, like everyone else I know, am not real fond of looking at the sin in my life. In my rebellion, I want to see myself as perfect or at least "not as bad" as the other guy. But, in God's eyes, sin is sin is sin, and even if I perceive myself as "better than" others in some way, it is an illusion and must, inevitably, come crashing down if I am shining the light of God's Word upon my heart. For many of us, the idea that we have pride or the "at least I'm better than that person" syndrome is far from our conscious mind unless and until God points it out to us.

I read recently that a survey of convicts in prison showed that not one of them really believes he or she is a "bad" person. No matter what crime was committed, they justify their actions and still consider themselves to be good people who maybe did something wrong. I'm guessing this even applies to murderers! All humans have this tendency to justify their own actions, beliefs, etc. while condemning others for theirs. We magnify the sins of others and minimize our own sin. When we ask God to cleanse our hearts and show us the wickedness therein, we can often become overwhelmed by what He shows us.

I have learned never to rest on my laurels and never to think I've arrived and vanquished sin from my life. Every time I do, God bursts my bubble and shows me how a sin is not quite dealt with or a new way it pops up in my life. This is one reason I love my God and my Savior so much! He saw the wickedness of my heart before I was born, and provided a way for me to be forgiven and have renewed fellowship with Him.

But God commendeth His love toward me, in that, while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me!!! (Personalized Romans 5:8KJV) No, taking an honest look at the sin in my life is not a fun thing to do, but I'm so glad I can deal with it by placing it under the blood of Jesus Christ - FORGIVEN!!!!!!!

"Amazing love, how can it be?
That you, my King, should die for me?
Amazing love, I know it's true;
It is my joy to honor You, in all I do!"

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dangerous Minds

The show, "Dangerous Minds", is one of my favorites. One of the themes of the show is that the unsub starts out with small stuff and escalates until he or she is caught, becoming even more and more vile in what he or she does.

Today I was thinking about this, and realized that's how all sin is. We all have 'dangerous minds'! Our sin starts out small, a candy bar stolen from a store, a small bit of gossip told to a friend, or a dislike of another. It tastes sweet in the beginning, but soon, we become immune to the caliber of our sin and have to escalate it. Soon we find ourselves delving deeper and deeper into our sin, unable to stop.

One current example is Tiger Woods. I'm sure he never intended to have so many affairs when he met the love of his life and settled down to raise a family, but the pattern had already begun, and he couldn't stop himself until he was caught.

Only time will tell if Tiger will change his ways, but it will not be an easy road. His sin has left a wide swath of devastation behind him. Maybe you didn't get caught having multiple affairs, but your sin, whatever it is, is just as devastating. It harms you, true, but it also harms all those in your path. Sin is destructive, and it always escalates if left unchecked.

The battle with sin doesn't begin with the sin; it begins in the mind with a thought. Now thinking something is not a sin, but dwelling on it is. Our potential for action begins in our thought life and escalates until it becomes action. That's one reason God tells us that hatred is the same as murder and lust is the same as adultery. It is by controlling our thoughts that we control our actions.

This is why the battle for the mind is so important. In the flesh, we have dangerous minds that tend to sin and death. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we gain a new mind: the mind of Christ. Unfortunately, even though the dangerous mind is dead, it still fights with us as we seek to gain the mind of Christ. Paul puts it well when he says he does the things he doesn't want to do and doesn't do the things he wants to do. If Paul struggled, who are we to think we will not?

One way we put to death the dangerous mind and attain the glorious mind is to keep our focus on Christ and the things above. In Colossians 3:2, God tells us to "Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth." In other words, don't allow things into your mind that will feed the dangerous mind.

We put the dangerous mind to death in our lives by starving it to death. Which ever mind we feed, whether our dangerous mind or our glorious mind, will be the one to grow. Which one are you feeding? What are some things in your life that "feed" your dangerous mind?

In Colossians 3:12-17, it says "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all those things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful." These are the things that feed the mind of Christ in us and allow us to put the dangerous mind to death.

PUT ON: A heart of compassion,
A heart of kindness,
A heart of humility,
A heart of gentleness,
A heart of patience.

Bear with one another; forgive one another; and above all:

PUT ON: LOVE, unity, thankfulness and

let the peace of Christ RULE in your hearts.

There is no room for two minds; one will destroy the other, the cannot coexist. Letting God's peace and love grow in you puts to death the dangerous mind and grows the Christ mind. Every time you choose compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, love, forgiveness, love, unity and thankfulness, you feed the glorious mind.

Which mind will you feed today?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

hOOters: Undercover Boss

Last week on Undercover Boss, the head guy at Hooters went incognito to some of his stores. Despite the fact that one of the managers was totally exploiting the waitresses and the statements of several women who said Hooters exploits the women, el bosso just didn't get it. He hired a couple of the girls for PR to help improve Hooter's image in the eye of the public as they have been losing business.

I don't have a problem with the outfits these girls wear if there was just a bit more of them. I know I'm probably different, but I do not like to look at other people's personal body parts as I'm eating! Butt and sandwich do not go together in my book. Wear them tight if you want, but for pete's sake, cover up the boobs and butts!

The women said Hooters exploits their waitresses, but what they really mean is this: No woman in her right mind wants her man slobbering all over the waitress while he's with her (or any other time). If you want good wings, sorry, but Hooters is not the only place to get them.

I personally think the boss would do better if he would faze the "sex" out of his business and concentrate on the food. You can't build good PR with half of the world's population when you continue to exploit women and male lust as part of your restaurant.

I've never been there, and I never will be if they don't get the point. No loss on either of our parts, I guess, but if the guy is sincere in his desire to build clientelle, he needs to understand why women feel as they do. Put your bottoms and hooters away - leave a little mystery - and maybe Hooters will fare well in the future.

Thanks to a couple of my wonderful facebook friends, I realized the consequences of Hooters are much more widespread than I even thought. Males, especially teenage males, are visual creatures with a quick trigger. To bring them to a place that makes it easy for them to lust, encourages them to sin. The Bible tells us that to lust after a woman is to commit adultery. You get my point?

Another thing is the influence on girls. Would I want my daughter working there? Absolutely not! Would I want to bring my girl there? Nope to that as well. I'm sure there are more reasons Hooters needs to reconsider and desexualize the help,but this gets us started. Civil comments are welcome.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I'm dreaming of a white ...

As I sit in front of my computer, looking out at the white wonderland of my back yard,I have to wonder at how God made something so incredibly beautiful that also has such a dark side. As long as I'm looking out the window, I can appreciate the beauty. If I have to go out in it, my attitude changes just a bit as I struggle with the downside of snow.

This reminded me of several things that have two sides to them. First, let's look at sin. As long as we're sitting and looking from our comfort zone, some sins look very attractive to us. It calls to us to come and experience the wonder.

So, we go out into the sin. At first, we're having fun making sin-angels and playing in it, but soon the chill and danger begin to creep in. We realize our defenses (coats, boots, etc.) are not enough and the reality of the cold and downside of sin begins to creep in to our very bones!

Just as a person who stays out in the snow and cold for two long with not enough protection will suffer frostbite or even death, sin has a deadly side that is often hidden by the "beauty" of its inticements.

From an evangelistic standpoint, if you saw someone freezing in the snow, wouldn't you want to offer them a warm place to go? When we see people suffering in the throws of sin, God wants us to offer them a refuge in Him. Of course, the snow analogy doesn't compare that well with the flames of hell in some senses, but death is death, and we need to be about the business of rescuing others from certain death.

In that light, if you go out to offer help to someone trapped and freezing in the snow, you wouldn't go out with no coat, no boots, no way of helping that person out of their trouble. To do so would be extreme foolishness, for soon both of you would need rescued!

A close walk with Jesus and making no provision for the flesh help keep us safe from falling ourselves into sin. Putting on the armor (coat, gloves, etc.), keeping close to the fire (a relationship with Jesus), and taking the tools we need to help (Bible, fellowship, prayer, etc.)help us stay safe as we seek to rescue those lost in the bitter cold of sin.

A last analogy: Do you remember the soup commercial where the child comes in as a snow man and melts into the child as the soup warms him? We take the "soup" of God's love and provision to sinners trapped in the "snow man cold" of sin.

Thank you Father for a warm, safe haven in You, even as the blizzard of sin swirls around us!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The beam and the sawdust

One of the hardest people to help in this world are those who have a huge beam sticking out of their own eye, to which the are totally blind, as they tell those with the sawdust in their eye how they can get better if they would only follow beam girl's advice. How in the world do you approach someone who sees others' problems so clearly and yet remains blind to his or her own glaring faults? Agghh!

As a person who often judges herself much harder than anyone else would, this phenomenon causes my brain to hurt. All of us have blind spots, after all, we're human beings. We do not, however, all have blind spots that cover our entire view except for the microscopic hole we look out of to tell others how they can fix their life.

By now, you may have guessed I know someone like this, and I'm frustrated. You would be absolutely right! As I try different things and try not to let my own anger get in the way, I just wind up shaking my head. Is there hope for someone like this? Of course there is. With God, there's always hope, but this is a tough case.

The first thing to do in dealing with this person is to recognize that I am not in control. Fixing the person is God's job, not mine. God may use me to plant seeds or water, but the crop is in His hands.

The second thing to do is pray, pray, pray and pray some more. This person needs God's help to get out of a life-long pattern learned in childhood and not forsaken in adulthood. Prayer is not just for the other person, either. It is very difficult to stay angry at someone you pray for. Prayer works on the prayer's attitude, giving the prayer patience and insight as they surrender all to the Lord.

A third thing to do is love. Loving someone who often drives off everyone by pointing out how they could change if they would "just...", is not the easiest job in the world, but it's doable if you stay in a good relationship with the Father. God never said we have to like everything, but He does command us to love. This person probably needs love more than many because they drive off everyone who tries to love them.

Remembering not to burn relationship bridges through anger, pride or hurt is difficult. We don't like it when people talk about our family or constantly deflect all fault to others, but the only way to make the world a better place is to keep after this person through surrender, prayer and love, planting seeds of hope that can sprout up and remake the person. God can whittle down that beam into sawdust if we ask. Maybe that's why Jesus came as a carpenter, so He could help all of us remove those beams or specks from our own eyes.

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be meeasured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? . . . . first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." Matthew 7:1-5 (KJV)

Father, open my eyes to the blind spots in my own life. I surrender them to you to remove that I may see clearly to do the work you have called me to do. Then give me wisdom to help my brother with his/her vision problems. You know the needs much better than I do, and you know the things that have brought this person to this point. You also know the needs this behavior masks. Be the need-meeter of this person and give me wisdom in knowing how to deal with the issues. Also give me insight into the hurts underneath this person is trying to meet in ways that don't satisfy. Bring your child to you. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Clip art from :

Monday, January 25, 2010


This is a word that strikes terror in the hearts of many, and yes, often with reason. When someone is a part of a clique, it makes us feel left out, unwanted, and insecure. No one wants to feel that way!

On the other hand, what about the person who always wants to include everyone? Can that ever be a bad thing? I am one of those people, and I know it can backfire on that person and others in his or her sphere of influence.

Let's take a look at Jesus and his friends. Did Jesus have a best friend besides His Father? I believe He did. His "bestie" was John, the "diciple whom Jesus loved." Jesus and John had a very strong bond that was different than his bonds with the other disciples. Then he had the three friends that were closer than the other disciples: Peter, James and John. These three went with Jesus to the Garden during his darkest hour before the trial and crucifixion. Even though they let Him down on that occasion and others, this was a very tight group.

Outside that group, we have the rest of the disciples, Mary, Martha, Lazarus and Jesus' mother, Mary. Jesus had unique relationships with each of these men and woman that was different than other relationships He experienced. So, was Jesus cliqueish? Not at all. This difference in relationships is absolutely normal!

The difference between Jesus and us is how He handled these relationships. When Jesus was with a group of his disciples, He was with the whole group, not one or two individuals. His behavior or words included everyone present. When He spent time with His "besties", He drew them aside. Even though I imagine there was definately some jealousy somewhere that Jesus had that special relationship,the problem was in the hearts of the observers, not in Jesus' actions.

When we show obvious favoritism to one or two people when we're in a group of people, this is sin. We need to leave certain BFF behaviors for when we're alone with our special friends. This does not mean we must include everyone in everything we do, it just means that we are sensitive to the time and place, allowing ourselves to relate to others when the situation warrants it. The BFF will be there after youth group or after school or after wherever to hang with on a more intimate level, but when we cling to that person in every circumstance, we hurt others by our actions.

On the other hand, if you've done the best you can to include others in group activites and they still exhibit jealousy, the problem is in their own heart. This brings us to that aspect of trying to include everyone all the time. When we try to do that, we overwhelm ourselves. It is not possible to be close friends with everyone. It is not possible to always include everyone in everything.

That's one reason Jesus drew his closest friends aside, even as He also went to be alone with His Father on a frequent basis. But, when Jesus was in a crowd, He did not single one out for favoritism. He did, however, occasionally single someone out who had a need. He met that need, giving that person individual attention, and then moved back to allow others in.

Not only can we not expect to include everyone in everything, we also cannot expect ourselves to be included in everything. Life just doesn't work that way. Often we need to look into our own hearts for this root of jealousy and bitterness. Then we need to give the benefit of the doubt and forgive. Then, when the opportunity presents itself to spend special time with this person, it is not clouded by resentment.

Believe me, even Jesus didn't please everyone, so how can we expect to make everyone happy all the time? We cannot do it! Instead, we need to develop a sensitivity to others around us and seek to meet the needs we can, just as Jesus did, while reserving some of our BFF behaviors for another time. If we cling to our BFFs all the time, we will lose out on the opportunity to get to know some pretty amazing people.

One person you can have all to yourself any time you want (and yet not) is Jesus. He longs to spend intimate BFF time with us, as we seek to spend time with others, leaving Jesus out. Imagine the hurt He may feel when we ignore Him. Life and relationships are complicated, but time spent with our ultimate BFF sorts out those tangles and keeps us in the right frame of mind and spirit to deal with them.

Remember: Life isn't about being with our BFFs, it's about bringing others to our ultimate BFF and introducing them so they too can become His BFF. When we put our focus on meeting the needs God points out to us and equips us for, our own needs will be met to overflowing.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The finishing touches

I came to post something else, and started reading through a previous post of many moons ago. The following is a paragraph (or 2) from that post:

"I'm almost finished with my purse! My last purse broke and I was frustrated trying to find one I like. I thought, "You know what, I can just make one!" That was like the "Duh!" moment. So I got some black yarn and some denim grey yarn, decided how I was going to do it and got busy. I need a BIG purse. Anyway, I just put the finishing stitches in the liner, so sewing it in is the finishing touch.

I love completing a project. I love every part along the way, but there's something about putting that last touch on and knowing you made that. Well, time to get ready for the gkids visit. "

As I read, it hit me that God must have felt something like that as He finished each of His creations. He had a plan in mind, executed it, and put the finishing touches on it. Then He stood back and admired it, saying, "This is good!"

When God created each of us, He did the same thing! He designed me; He created me; He put the final touches on His "project"; then He stood back and admired what He had done. He looked at me, Angela, and said, "This is good!" When I consider that I am His workmanship, and I consider it in a way that makes it personal, I must stand in awe of the God of the Universe who cared enough for me to not only send His Son to die for my sins, the mess I made of His workmanship, but created me as a unique individual with love and care and precision.

Whatever life throws at me, I can know God created me knowing I would face this challenge. Whatever person comes into my life, I can know God created something in me that this person needs. I can know that each person I meet is also God's workmanship and also uniquely suited to meet some need in me. I can hardly wrap my mind around that.

We aren't ready-made, cookie-cutter, off-the-shelf Barbie dolls; we are God's unique, one-of-a-kind, specially made for a unique purpose, masterpieces! If the God of the Universe created you with such special care, you can bet that He loves you with a unique, powerful love that can only come from this kind of creating.

I may come back to this theme at a later date, but for now, it is enough that you and I can know we are God's workmanship, created for a relationship with Him. I stand amazed!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


It seems that every time my children have problems, I have a tendency to review all the things I did wrong as I raised them. Even though I did many good things, I still want to dwell on what I could have done differently. My middle child always tells me "it is what it is" and thinks I should get over it.

Guess what? Please don't tell him, but he's right! Driving today, lost in the fog of self-blame, God hits me upside my head. He forgave me; my children have forgiven me for not being perfect; who am I to withhold forgiveness from myself? Who am I to say that I have so much power that I am solely responsible for my adult children's poor choices?

God also reminded me that I trusted on Him every day of my children's up-bringing. I always asked Him to be their need-meeters, knowing I couldn't possibly meet all their needs. So, when I do that, I'm saying that God made a mistake. That is not to belittle my own poor choices, but to say that I am not God!

What a relief! Today (and this is often a repeat process) I let myself off the hook and allowed the forgiveness to come. It's amazing how we are often our own worst critic.

I surrender my children to God, to do with as He wills. I am no longer in charge of them; they have to make, and live with, their own choices. When their choices bring me pain, it is not the pain of holding myself responsible, it is the pain that always comes when we sin. God brought them this far, I surrender them to Him, knowing he will bring them the rest of the way.

For my part, I am to pray and stay out of the way so God can work. When I claim responsibility for other's sin, I rob them of the ability to take responsibility for their own choices. God never said life would be easy, in fact, He told us to expect tribulation. He did say He would walk with me through it, and I can tell you from experience: He always has!