Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to All!

And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Luke 2:7


May the joy of that first Christmas fill your heart with great expectancy...as we await His coming again!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Word for Today


For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly moved.
Psalm 62:1, 2

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

AGAIN?!

Yes, I'm asking for your prayers again.

Having one of my worst days in a long time...worst weeks, actually.

It's not supposed to be like this! I am supposed to be brimming with joy and good cheer. We are about to celebrate our Lord's birth...and we are anticipating His return...

But there is no joy in my heart right now. Only great fear.

Lord, have mercy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Advent Anxiety

Most people worry over getting "just the right gift" or other Christmas preparations. For this anxiety-sufferer, it goes way beyond that. I worry about the gifts. I worry about forgetting to buy gifts. I worry about the trip to see family, and will the car be okay? I worry about how we're going to pay the bill for getting the car repaired. I worry about the weather. I worry about the list...have I forgotten to put something on it, so I won't forget to do something???

Do you see?

Advent is supposed to be a time of spiritual preparation. We are to take this four weeks and especially prepare, not only to celebrate Christ's birth, but, more important, prepare our hearts for His second return. (Let every heart prepare Him room!)

How can I do that when I am trapped in this misery of fear, worry, anxiety, doubt...? It's not impossible, but it is very, very difficult.

I will struggle through. Whatever you are facing, I pray that you will struggle through as well.

God bless.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mary, Did You Know?

"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born * will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:26-38

When Mary said "yes" (her Fiat--"Thy will be done"), did she have any idea what she was saying "yes" to???

As far as tradition tells us, we gather that Mary grew up in a small town. Her family probably did not have a lot of money. It was a simple lifestyle, definitely not in the limelight of society. Yet she said "yes" to giving birth to the Son of God. Talk about a change of pace!

A devotional I read this morning emphasized that Mary was "full of grace". The Scriptures don't say she was "full of faith". But, trusting in God's goodness, she simply said "yes".

Without knowing our future, when God gives us direction, do we say, "Let it be to me according to your word." ??? Or do we want to know all the particulars? Do we want God to give us all the details before we will agree to following His guidance?

May we, with Mary, simply say "yes"...and acquiesce (
submit or comply silently or without protest) to His will.



Tuesday, December 06, 2011

God Is Good!

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably know quite a bit about me! My husband's cousin, Dawn, asked me to write something for her blog, "You Are Not Alone". Today's feature is our story.

You can check it out here, and learn a bit more about me...and God's great goodness to my husband and me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

REQUEST 2


Asking for your continued prayers. I have a dr. appointment this Wed. In addition to the panic attacks/anxiety disorder, I suffer from white coat syndrome. (I get nervous when I have to take my kids to the dr., too.)

Please pray for me, friends. I want to be on the road to better things. This prison of worry, fear, and anxiety has held me captive for far too long.

God bless...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

REQUEST

Dear blog friends,
Please pray for me today.
The roller coaster has been in full swing for several days.
I long to be delivered from this prison of fear and worry.

Thanks so much...

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Heroes of the Faith

Our society calls people heroes for many reasons. Today, I'd like you to meet some heroes who are very close to my heart: Tricia and Emily. Tricia is my husband's cousin.

Rather than retell their story, please go to the link below. The blog is authored by another of my husband's cousins, Dawn. You will be amazed at God's sustaining power...

FOCUSED ON THEIR FAITH

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Ahh, Fall!


My husband and I have a favorite fall tradition: the fall drive. When we lived in the suburbs of Detroit, we would drive through Hines Park. When we moved to the Upper Peninsula, our drive of choice was along Lake Superior, ending at Tahquamenon Falls. If you've never been there--go! The drive along the lakeshore is incredible. I have pictures I could scan and post, but they don't really do it justice. (I got this picture from a website.)

When you arrive at Tahquamenon Falls, there are a few places you can view the falls (there are upper and lower falls). The beauty of it all is amazing. The drive back through the trees is spectacular. This is not a journey for the faint of heart, though. There is a long climb up and down stairs to get the best view. It's definitely worth it!

The one thing most people notice is the color of the water. It is an amber color. This is the result of leaching of tannic acid from the cedar and hemlock swamps that feed the river.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this with all of you today...and a reminder...

As you view the beauty of God's creation, and the detail with which He governs it all, remember: this is the same care He takes with the details of your life!

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Monday, November 07, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Update on Dad


Dad was transferred to a hospital closer to home this week. The plan is for his rehab to take place there. When the therapist did an evaluation, she said he could be out of the hospital within two weeks' time! Praise God! She added that it would take at least 6 months for him to get back to full strength. However, if you have ever had experience with stroke victims, you know this is truly an answer to our prayers!

Thank you for your prayers. Please continue!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Asking for Your Prayers


I'd like to ask all my friends from blogland to please keep my dad in your prayers. He had a light stroke this past week. He has a long road of rehab ahead. Please also pray for my mom. This is going to be tough for her, too. And, of course, for our entire family. We are close, even though we live far apart.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Feast of the Archangels


Today is the feast day of the archangels: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. If you want to read more about them, check here. Our family prays this prayer every day.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness
And snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray.
And do thou, oh prince of the heavenly host,
Cast into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits
Who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Behold, the Wood of the Cross


For blessed is the wood,
by which justice cometh.

Wisdom 14:7

Monday, September 19, 2011

Why???


About fifteen years ago, Dr. James Dobson wrote a book called, "When God Doesn't Make Sense." For some reason, that title is sticking with me today. Because, truthfully, there are seasons in my life (and I'm sure you can concur) that God just doesn't make sense.

Personally, this is the situation. Just last night, I was taking a walk in the cool evening. The neighborhood was quiet, but there were occasional noises of children playing and neighbors in conversation. The smell of grill smoke floated through the air. There were people out strolling, walking their dogs, and jogging. It was a beautiful evening. I spent my walk reveling in the beauty of God's creation, humming a hymn we sang in church, and basking in the feeling of peace I had. I even reflected on the fact that it had been several days since the panic and worry had invaded my inner calm. I spent some of the walk thanking God for that gift. I had some moments of rejoicing in the new energy I've been feeling from my times of reading Scripture and prayer. It was a nice walk!

This morning...it all flooded back in. The cynic in me wanted to say, "So, God, is this how I'm rewarded for being thankful? This is what happens when I make strides in being faithful?"

The truth is, God hasn't changed. Just because my feelings have changed today, doesn't mean He isn't paying attention or that He doesn't care. That He has somehow taken a backseat in overseeing my life. It just means...it's time to battle again and rely on His grace and strength in a new way today.

Last week, a family lost a very small child in a horrible accident. I won't go into the details. But I do know that it wasn't God's doing. People would say, "He could have prevented it. He could have protected that little boy from the actions of another." Well, yes, He could have performed some type of miracle. But I also know there are effects caused by others' actions and there are things we all suffer because we live in a sinful world. Sometimes, the consequences are tragic. God is still there with that family, even in the midst of overwhelming grief.

Betrayal is not one of God's attributes. He never abandons us in the storm. He walks through it with us...even when we can't see or feel Him, He is there.

I may not understand Him or His ways...but He is still faithful.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8, 9

(I recommend reading the entire chapter. A lot of good stuff in there!)

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Memories of 9/11


When I was a kid, I would hear adults talk about "Where were you when...?", usually in reference to the day President John F. Kennedy was shot. Since I had not been born, it was really hard for me to grasp the significance of that question and the answers that followed. The day of the assassination attempt on President Reagan, I got a bit of a glimpse into the magnitude of such an event. (I had just come home from school, turned on the TV, and saw the coverage, as the shooting had occurred just moments before.)

But nothing prepared me (or anyone else in our country--or world, for that matter) for September 11, 2001. It is etched in my memory forever.

We were living in northern Michigan at the time. My husband, who pastored a small church there, had left for Missouri two days before, as he was taking a week-long class down there. That Tuesday morning, I drove our oldest son to school--his second week of kindergarten had just begun. After returning home, I got busy with the usual "mom work" of the day (laundry, caring for our 2 yr. old, etc.). I didn't usually turn on the TV, but decided to turn on the CBS Morning News. A reporter was standing in the foreground, with a burning building behind him. He was letting everyone know that, just a few minutes before, a plane had struck one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. I remembered there had been a bomb there a few years before. I immediately called my husband. He was staying with my cousin and her family. When she answered the phone, I said, "Do you guys have your TV on?" She said no, and wondered why I asked? I said, "I don't really know what all is going on, but a plane just hit one of the big buildings in New York. Something is really wrong."

She put my husband on the phone. As we began talking and speculating about what could be happening, we saw the second plane hit the other tower. To say we were shocked is a major understatement. Then, of course, this was followed by reports of other plane incidents. Later, all airports in the country would be shutdown, as authorities were trying to prevent any more crashes from occurring.

As soon as we hung up, the phone began ringing. People from our church were calling, crying, asking what we should do. It was determined very early on that we were going to have an all-church prayer meeting that night.

What I wanted to do in the midst of all that chaos: go to the school and get my young son, and have him home safe and sound with me. Just huddle in our little apartment, away from the awful events occurring around us. I also wanted my husband home, but that wasn't possible. What I really did: left my son at school--away from the turmoil, and happily oblivious in the midst of kindergarten life--while I sat in front of the TV for hours on end, crying and praying, and trying to make sense of what was happening.

Our church prayer meeting that night opened with my husband calling, and praying for our nation and church via the telephone. It was quite comforting to know that similar prayer meetings were taking place all over the United States, and literally around the world, as other nations joined to pray for us.

I have seen websites and blogs today, in which the bloggers and writers clearly state: We will never forget or FORGIVE. I cannot echo that sentiment. No, I will never forget. That day forever changed our nation and the way we view our national and personal security. It reminded us all that "we never know when the end will come," so we should make the most of every day. It was a wake-up call: never fail to tell your family members how much you love them. It was also a reminder that we need to pray.

But not to forgive? To me, that is, in essence, giving up. It is as if we are saying, "Evil will always prevail, and I don't have to forgive anyone who does me wrong." I believe that things can change, and that GOD always prevails!

The key is that we, as a nation, cannot stop praying! The time for prayer didn't end when the search for the lost was called off at Ground Zero. It didn't end when a memorial was set up in Pennsylvania. It didn't end when the Pentagon was repaired. It won't end until Jesus returns.

Today, I pray especially for those left behind. For the children growing up without mothers/fathers. For the spouses left behind to raise children alone. For parents who lost children. For coworkers who will forever wonder, "Why was I late (or sick) that day, and wasn't at my desk when this all transpired? Why me?" For friends and neighbors who lost people very dear to them. For the FDNY and New York police department, which both suffered astounding losses. The list goes on and on. I pray for them all.

And I pray...never again, dear Lord. Please, never again.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

He Puts a Song in My Heart

We sang this hymn this morning at church. The title is "How Can I Keep From Singing." If you're not familiar with it, the hymnal says it is a Quaker hymn attributed to Robert Lowry.

In light of yesterday's post, and another post from a few weeks ago, I was just amazed at how perfectly this hymn fit!

Verse 1: My life flows on in endless song; above earth's lamentation.
I hear the real though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.

Verse 2: Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear that music ringing;
It sounds and echoes in my soul; How can I keep from singing?

Verse 3: When tyrants tremble, sick with fear, and hear their death knells ringing;
When friends rejoice from far and near, how can I keep from singing?

Verse 4: The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, a fountain ever springing.
All things are mine since I am his; how can I keep from singing?

Refrain: No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that rock I'm clinging.
Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?

(I found a few other versions, but this is the one in our hymnal.)

So, no matter what storms or disappointments we face, since "Love is Lord of heaven and earth," how can we keep from singing???




*Note: If you want hear a beautiful choir edition, here is a YouTube link.


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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Disappointment That Does Not Destroy

In some of my more reflective moods, I ponder some of the disappointments I have faced in life. What I consider even more deeply, though, is how those disappointments have shaped the woman I have become. The disappointments range from simple childhood issues to life-changing moments as an adult. I'm sure you can relate. Life isn't all rainbows and flowers, is it?

One incident that comes to mind occurred while I was in college. I was privileged to participate in three missions trips with our denomination's youth ministry. Each year, we formed a choir, and sang songs we had learned in Spanish. The leader of these trips would choose one of the students to be the choir director. After the first trip, I had entered college as a music major. Prior to the second trip, one of my friends encouraged me: "They'll certainly ask you to be the choir director on this trip. You're a music major, after all!" Honestly, I hadn't even really thought about it. But those few words put the idea into my head, which I dwelt on until I was convinced she was right. You can imagine my disappointment when a high school student was chosen instead. I had already spent a whole year of college feeling quite inadequate in comparison to the dozens of music majors I had met. This was kind of the "straw that broke the camel's back" in regard to how willing I would be to participate in campus music for quite some time. After all, the ministry leaders from my own home state knew me, knew my abilities, and obviously saw that I greatly lacked in talent.

I do have to say that my home church pastor encouraged me to use my gifts, though. In fact, during that same summer, he was put in charge of the music for a community-wide church event. He asked me to sing several songs as the "special music" portion of the service. I practiced and practiced. I invited my cousin to sing a duet with me on one song. We even bought matching dresses to wear! The day of the service, we showed up early to set up, only to discover there was no sound system. Therefore, no way to play our background music (cassettes, of course...). My brother-in-law offered to go to our church and bring back a sound system, but the pastor in charge refused. "Music isn't necessary, and we just don't have time." If the other disappointment was a straw, that was a whole wagon-load of hay on this little camel's back!

(I'm not sharing all of this to get your sympathy. What I most desire is that as you read my little sob stories, you will be remembering similar events in your own life.)

Those were temporary setbacks, however. Passing moments that, in retrospect, became learning moments...times of growing and learning to just "get over myself".

There have been some "big" disappointments in my life. One of the most prominent in my memory are the many years we spent hoping for a child. Day after day of praying, crying, and begging God to have mercy. The lesson I learned from this, after torturing myself for so long: let it go, and just trust God. We did eventually have two wonderful sons. I realize this is not always the outcome for childless couples. But I do have to say, I think the years of struggle truly came from God. At times when I am so tempted to just totally "lose it" with my kids, God reminds me very clearly of the years of longing. Talk about putting things in perspective!

So, you may be asking yourself, what is the whole point of all this "sharing" you're doing???

I truly felt led to post all this today. I have the feeling the Holy Spirit is walking some of you through some trying times. Maybe someone you love very much has disappointed you. Maybe you have depended on a job or family situation working out in a certain way, and it ended in the exact opposite manner you expected. I don't know what you're facing. What I do know is that, in spite of disappointing circumstances, or people who have let us down, God is still God. He is still in control.

British author Eliza Taylor once wrote, "Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it."

In the words of Job: "But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food."
(Job 23:10-12)

The lesson God wants to teach us all, no matter how big or small the disappointments we are facing, is that, when we hold fast to His ways in spite of "life"...we will become a stronger, more holy person. The fires of life burn out the inconsistencies, selfishness, pettiness, and whatever else is "dross" in our lives.

St. Paul said it best in Romans 5: "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (vs. 3-5)

We need to let the hard times of life form us into His image. We will come forth as gold, and reflecting the character of the Lord more and more. Let Him wrap you in His mantle and carry you through, dear friend.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

SIF--Scripture I'm Feeling


But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “ Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you, And people for your life. Fear not, for I am with you...

Isaiah 43:1-5a

*If you want to read the entire passage, go here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Musing

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.
Matthew 16:24-27

What does it mean to "take up my cross?" What does it mean to lose our life for His sake?

It means to embrace whatever comes into our lives and bear it through the grace He gives.



Embracing a cross is painful. There are all those splinters and things, you know? But since He did that for me, how can I do less for Him?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday Scripture


"I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
Ephesians 4:1-3

Thursday, August 25, 2011

LIF--Lyrics I'm Feeling



I know the traditional is "Lyrics I'm Feeling Friday"...but this is my Thursday edition! :o)

One of "Those" Days

Would really appreciate your prayers today, bloggy friends. Today is a struggle.

"And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
II Corinthians 12:9

I can't say I feel much like boasting today. I really do need His strength, though.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Road We Each Travel



I have been experiencing some real "poor little me" days lately. In addition to dealing with the anxiety issues, there was the humbling "head in the toilet" day on Sunday (I do hate having a stomach bug!) and the resulting days of recuperation. Nothing can take my mood down like being sick. (I often feel guilty, but that's for another post.)

Then, as often happens, I received a phone call. Someone I have known for many years recently lost one of their parents. But there was more to the story. I won't go into the details here, to protect privacy, but it's just a really sad situation.

And I'm dealing with what? Anxiety?

I have another friend who is dealing with the loss of a child. About 1 1/2 years ago, one of her children committed suicide. She is trying to return to a "normal" life...which will never be normal again.

And I'm worried about "what??""

Another friend is experiencing complete helplessness as they watch a relative die of a cancer found in the late stages. This friend is a healthcare professional and knows many doctors who could have helped, if the cancer had been found earlier.

And I'm in a panic over some insignificant little daily life issue?

The truth is, we all have a different road to walk. The even greater truth is that God gives us each what we need to walk our road. Grace for each step, and each breath really is available for every single one of us. The key is accessing that grace.

Romans 5:1-5 says, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Those words give me such hope! I especially take note that we can "glory in tribulations" because of what they produce in us: some amazing spiritual fruit (perseverance, character, hope).

No matter what road you are walking today...God is walking there with you.

As always, please feel free to leave a comment or prayer request. The beauty of this life is walking alongside each other and encouraging each other on the journey.




Saturday, August 20, 2011

Grace for the Next Breath



You ever have one of those days when it seems you need grace for each and every breath? A new infusion of the Holy Spirit for the next millisecond?

It seems as if, from the moment I decided to bare my soul on this blog, Satan has been working overtime to make me regret it. The roller coaster has gone from fear, to guilt, to embarrassment, to discouragement, to rare moments of rejoicing... Truth be told, though, the down times have been winning against the up times.

I know that the "weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds". I know that God is greater and bigger than all of the shame--yes, shame--I feel for what I suffer. (I am a Christian, right? Not supposed to worry, fear, or doubt?!) But sometimes the knowing doesn't get from my head to my heart. There's a disconnect somewhere between having the Scriptures revolving through my mind and actually walking it out.

If you read my previous post, you may think I'm repeating myself. But this is really a different matter. This isn't about struggling one day and relying on my feelings to gauge where I am with the Lord. This is about beating myself up (not physically--mentally) for not being the overcoming, victorious, conquering Christian I have been taught to be.

And to be honest, even though I know we've been made more than conquerors (and that we have the victory through Christ), I also understand a deeper truth: that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10, 11) It is a true statement that our suffering is a means to redemption. What I mean is that through our sufferings, we draw closer to our Lord, as we identify with Him in that way. And, of course, suffering can serve as a flame does to gold: a purifying, refining process.

It's just that sometimes, I wish those flames weren't quite so HOT...


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

One Step Forward...Two Steps Back

This is often how my emotional and spiritual journeys feel. For instance, I'll have a really good day. Not worrying. No nagging, heart-pounding, adrenaline-rush, mind-spinning moments. And I'll think: "Wow! I'm doing so well. Maybe I'm past all this anxiety and panic attack nonsense." Then, I'll have one or two nights of less-than-refreshing sleep (read: insomnia or just waking up way too early in the morning), and the nagging, heart-pounding, adrenaline-rush, mind-spinning cycle floods in like a tidal wave. Rats.

Or, on the spiritual side of it, I will have a day of feeling so deeply intimate with the Lord and sensing the presence of the Holy Spirit in an almost physical sense, He's so close. And I'll think: "Wow! This is awesome! I feel so close to the Lord. I feel like I could move mountains today!" Then, the next day will be a day filled with feeling like God is trillions of miles away and doesn't hear a word I pray.

This is why we can't rely on our feelings. Because no matter what I am experiencing, God is still God. He hasn't relinquished His throne, power, or authority to anyone. He is still the same God who gave His only Son to die for me. He is still the same God who promised to never leave or forsake me. He is still love.

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."
I Jn. 4: 7-11




So, even though I feel quite a bit like Chicken Little today...I have to admit the sky is not really falling. And God is still in control.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

The King Will Greatly Desire Your Beauty



Listen, O daughter, consider and incline your ear; forget your own people also, and your father’s house; so the King will greatly desire your beauty; because He is your Lord, worship Him.
Psalm 45:10, 11, NKJV

This afternoon, I read an article titled, "A Reflection on Beauty: God's Chosen Gift to Women", by Jennnifer Hartline. You can read the full article at the link above. The summary is this: women desire to be thought of as beautiful. Any woman who disagrees with that statement needs to look at the reality of our world. The millions (billions?) of dollars spent each year on clothing, shoes, accessories, makeup, facelifts, botox, etc. etc. etc. are a clear picture of what women are looking for. They want to be viewed as beautiful.

I am very aware of the fact that the most beautiful part of a woman is supposed to be her heart. Her spirit, beaming through her face and actions. (I Timothy 2:8-10 and I Samuel 16:7) The outward appearance is not what is most important. A truly beautiful woman is one who reflects the love of Christ to all around her.

And the two are connected. I know some women at whom the "world" would look at as plain, homely, unattractive, overweight, etc. Yet they are the most beautiful women I have ever met. Why? Because they are true to who God made them, they rejoice in who He is, and they allow Him to live through them.

In the article, Mrs. Hartline said she asked her husband what he thinks a woman most wants her husband to think of her: that she is intelligent, or that she is beautiful?

It is true that I would not have married my husband if he thought I was an imbecile. True enough. But what I most long to hear (with love in his eyes) is when he looks intently at me and says, "You are the most beautiful woman I know." THAT is what I want to hear! THAT is what makes me feel secure in my relationship with him.

So, even more than that, I want to hear my Lord say that I am beautiful in His sight.

This passage in Psalm 45 gives us clues about the "how to" of it all: "forget your people and your father's house; and the king will desire your beauty." (RSV) When our eyes are focused on nothing more or less than our Lord, that is when we become like Him, and the more we become like Him, the more beautiful we will be.

Maybe I'm not conveying this too well. But I can guarantee that the majority of women will relate to what I'm saying. And as much as we want our husband (boyfriend, etc.) to think we're beautiful, even more do we desire God to think of us as beautiful.

How do I get there?

As I allow Him to begin breaking each link of the chains that hold me captive, He will make me more beautiful...

In response: "because He is your Lord, worship Him." (Or, as the RSV says, "Since he is your lord, bow to him.")

It comes full circle: I submit to Him, He makes me more like Him, I am seen as beautiful in His eyes, and I worship Him...which makes me more like Him!

So the question I must ask this evening is, "Lord, do you think I'm beautiful?"

**Additional note: the book cover seen above is a book I read several years ago. Well worth your time. You can purchase it from CBD at this link.

Monday, August 08, 2011

When the Waves Roll In

Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
Matthew 14:25-33



This is one of those amazing stories in the Bible. A storm. Jesus walking on the water. Peter walking out to Him. Peter seeing the storm and calling out to Jesus for help. Jesus rescuing Peter from the waves. And the declaration by the disciples: You are the Son of God.

It's so easy to shake our heads at Peter and think, "You were a fisherman! Why would you be afraid of the storm? You must have gone through dozens of storms during your career. Why were you afraid of this one?"

I think it's a matter of perspective. True, Peter was used to storms. But he was used to weathering them in a boat! There was certainly a sense of security about that small wooden vessel. Directing the sails and working to guide his boat to safety would have allowed him some control, albeit very miniscule in comparison to the fury of a storm.

I often wonder how it is that the storms of life distract me so easily. I've been through many storms. Why do certain ones cause me such anxiety? And after I have passed through them, look back and think about the circumstances, I see that this particular storm was often small when compared to others I have experienced. I'm not sure why that is?

I do know that one constant has not changed: Jesus is in the storm with me. He has already "walked out onto the water" ahead of me. When my eyes begin to see the waves and wind instead of the One who walks with me, He still reaches out His hand to pull me into the safety of the boat.

One step at a time. One storm at a time. I hope to learn true trust. And to be able to recognize that He truly is the Son of God...

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Casting Crowns - Praise You In This Storm



For those who suffer from anxiety, depression, the loss of a loved one...whatever storm you are walking through today...praise Him in the storm.

"But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Tim Hawkins- Old Rock Star Songs



I love Tim Hawkins, and wanted to share this with all of you! Humor is often an amazing healing agent.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Whole Point


The reason I began this blog so very long ago was to journal our family's faith journey. Then it became a bit more devotional in nature, as I shared Scripture and occasional insights into things I was learning from God.

With yesterday's post, I have opened a whole new can of worms, as it were. Baring my soul like that did not come easy. I truly sensed that I am not the only one with these struggles, and there are others out there who may need to read this. If I can help someone else along the way, then the purpose of this blog will be realized.

God bless, friends. God is good...all the time!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Chains of My Own Making

I'm about to get very real in this post.

I battle with panic attacks. I'm not sure when they began. I know I had moments of "foreshadowing" when I was a kid. I had a pretty secure life, so those times were few and far between.

One of the worst episodes was when I was a small child. We had gone camping in the Rockies. At one point, we planned to leave our camper/trailer behind for a day and drive to a different area. For some reason, that trailer was my security--home away from home, if you will. Leaving it there scared me. I curled up in the floor of the car (days before seatbelt laws) and refused to look out. My sisters tried everything they could think of, but I was not to be swayed. I wasn't okay again until we got back to the trailer that evening.

That's probably one of the most extreme examples from my childhood. I didn't really have major battles with this until I was an adult. Faced with the uncertainties of new jobs (especially after being fired for the first time) were especially daunting. As I've grown older, the "list" of things that set me off are numerous. And embarrassing.

After all, I've been a Christian most of my life. I should be at a place of peace and trust in God that allows nothing to penetrate it. Trials and even simple events of daily life should simply bounce off me, as I bask in the truths of God's provision. Right? Wrong.

It is a prison I long to escape. For someone who has never experienced the anxiety, sensation of not being able to breathe, heart-pounding, mind-racing, feeling-like-I'm-going-crazy world of panic attacks...well, it's hard to comprehend, I'm sure. To try to explain it is really difficult, and almost impossible. And the older I get, the harder it seems to battle.

But it cannot be oversimplified. "Just pray more, Joni." I have never prayed more than when I'm experiencing the overwhelming fears of a panic attack. "Read your Bible more." Okay. True. But that alone will not drive the anxiety away.

And the list goes on and on. Very well-meaning people who love me and only want to see me set free from this prison. But who really don't understand.

Is this simply a cross I must bear? I honestly don't know the answer. I do know that I serve a big God. I do know that I will not stop praying for Him to heal me. I do know that some day, whether here or in heaven, I will be set free from the chains that bind me in such gripping fear.

I don't know what chains you have to deal with, friend. Pray for me. And I'll pray for you.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tomorrow's Manna

"Give us this day our daily bread..."

I pray the Lord's Prayer every day, sometimes two or three times during the day. Our readings in Mass over the past few weeks have taken us through the book of Genesis, and then on into Exodus. The story of God providing manna is so incredible. I mean, who but God would think of sending His people bread from the sky? Yet it did not come without guidelines. They should only take enough for each day. More would come tomorrow. Only on the day before the Sabbath were they allowed to store extra manna for the following day. Otherwise, the manna would rot and be filled with worms. And then God brought it all home to me...

The fact is, I am a worrier. There are many factors that go into that. Often, a lack of sleep is the cause. Sometimes it is circumstances that take me out of my comfort zone (read: areas that I can control). Sometimes it is hormonal in nature. But whatever the cause, I go into panic mode. What if...? Fill in the blank. If it's a situation in my life, I will probably find a way to worry about it.

And what does this have to do with manna?

The Lord showed me that worry is like being a disobedient Israelite: trying to take tomorrow's manna instead of just dealing with today's needs (manna). And it does to my emotions and inner person just what that extra manna did. It causes my "today" manna to be eaten up by tomorrow's worries and fears.

When Jesus taught us to pray for "our daily bread" that was what He was trying to teach us, too. Don't worry about tomorrow's provision. Pray for what you need TODAY.

And, ever faithful, He will indeed provide today's manna.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Quick Post

I have every intention of returning to blogging. Facebook is great, but my contention that it is less time-consuming than blogging doesn't hold water. It's too easy to sit for long periods of time, scrolling through status updates, looking at friends' pictures, etc. A few minutes on a blog post is nothing compared to that!

The only problem I've noticed is that, no matter how often I post...not much readership. Oh, well. I'll take what I can get! :o)

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Signs of Life



My tulips have finally bloomed!






Thursday, April 28, 2011

David Wilkerson

I learned the news of David Wilkerson's tragic death last night. He and his wife, Gwen, were involved in a headon collision with a truck. Gwen was injured as well.



David Wilkerson's life touched so many different people, from so many walks of life. He is best known for his book, "The Cross and the Switchblade," which told the story of his journey to New York to work with young men and women in street gangs. The ministry that grew out of that experience, Teen Challenge, has touched the lives of men and women around the world. My husband used to work at the Teen Challenge in Detroit, where we personally saw the life-changing message of the Gospel work in the lives of people who were addicted to drugs, alcohol, and whatever else Satan who ensnare them with.


More recently, our oldest son began an interest in the book, and the life of Nicky Cruz. He is currently reading Nicky's book, "Run, Baby, Run". The power of God to set captives free...


I am so thankful for that day when David Wilkerson said "yes" to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, took steps of faith outside his comfort zone, and allowed God to minister the love of Jesus through him to hurting souls.



Truly, this is what Easter is all about. The power of the resurrected Christ, working through obedient vessels, to help mend broken vessels...

I am so thankful for the testimony of David Wilkerson's life. May it be the testimony of our lives as well, friends. That we were obedient, and allowed God to use us in His ways.



***If you would like to see his last blog post (he posted it just yesterday), here is the link:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter, 2011



"He is not here; He is risen, as He said." Mt. 28:6

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Thursday

"Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. And during supper, when the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him." John 13:1-5


Notice that Jesus washed the feet of ALL the disciples. Even Judas, who had thirty pieces of silver rattling in his pocket. Even Peter, who would soon deny even knowing Jesus. All of them: each who would run in fear when He needed them most.


He took servanthood to a whole new level. And they would never forget His example.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

A Return

Will post more on my lenten thoughts soon. My kids are on spring break, so I'm focusing on my time with them. God bless!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Second Sunday of Lent

"But Jesus came and touched them, saying, 'Rise, and do not be afraid.'" Matthew 17:7

When He touches us, we have no need to be afraid. Yes, He is the Lord of all creation and the Ruler of the universe. And yet, we have no need to be afraid. For He is the One who became man, was tempted "in all ways, even as we are tempted, yet without sin," and suffered and died for us. We have no need to be afraid.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Feast of St. Joseph


Lent, Day 11


"...and all who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers." Luke 2:47


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lent, Day 9--St. Patrick's Day


In lieu of my daily Lenten posts, I invite you to learn more about St. Patrick.

Click this link to Learn About Saint Patrick!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lent, Day 8

"...at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here." Luke 11:32b



What does it mean to repent? Many people think that by saying they're sorry, the issue should be closed. I said it, so that should end it. Not exactly. Because sometimes we say we're sorry for the wrong reasons. We got caught. We don't want someone to think poorly of us. We want the "bad" situation to be done and over with, so just say "sorry". To try to lessen the uncomfortable feelings that come with whatever we have said or done.




The right reason--and true repentance--is saying, "I'm sorry" with a heart that longs to change. To have a true desire to never do the wrong again. To undo the damage as best we can...to make amends. To restore relationship.




The story of Jonah is full of comparisons between Jonah and the people of Ninevah. Most people know the story: God called Jonah to preach in Ninevah. Jonah ran the other way. Fish swallowed Jonah. Jonah said he was sorry for disobeying. Fish spit out Jonah. Jonah preached. The citizens of Ninevah repented in sackcloth and ashes. God spared them from His judgment. Jonah pouted! So was Jonah really and truly sorry for not having gone in the first place? I'm not sure. It seems that he almost hoped they would NOT repent, so he could see God bring some type of disaster upon Ninevah and punish them.




Amazing, isn't it, that Jesus uses those same Ninevites to show His own greatness? If those wicked people could repent at the preaching of the reluctant prophet, how much more should the people of Jesus' day repent at the preaching of the Son of God? Wow.




And this is where we stand today. If a wave of repentance could sweep through the populace of Ninevah, what is stopping us from bowing our heads and hearts and allowing the Holy Spirit to sweep us clean?




Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day of grace. Let us respond with hearts ready for change!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lent, Day 6

"Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of Mine, you did for Me." Matthew 25:40


Just a brief note tonight, as the day has almost gotten away from me.


If we read this entire passage (Mt. 25:31-46), it can seem a bit of a mystery. Sheep? Goats? And what does that have to do with feeding hungry people, visiting the sick, and going to prisons? I think it can be summed up this easily: If we want to truly be followers of Christ, we will show our faith by our actions!


Look around you: who are the "least"? And what can you do for them that will truly show them Christ?


*check out the website for Operation Rice Bowl for ideas on how you can help "the least"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

First Sunday of Lent

I'm experiencing quite a mixture of emotions on this day, March 13, 2011.

First, the joy of having been at Mass this morning. Today was the Rite of Sending, in which we send those preparing to be received into the Catholic Church to our cathedral in Cleveland for the Rite of Election. It reminds me of the day 4 years ago when we attended the rite, shortly before our family's reception into the Catholic Church. A very special day, and exciting to see the hundreds of others who were on the same journey.

Today was also the sort of "prologue" for our church's annual mission services. Each year during Lent, a special speaker comes and conducts the mission services. The purpose is to encourage our parish to pursue our mission: living as God's people and reaching our community for Christ. Our speaker this year is Fr. Damian Ference, who teaches at the seminary in Cleveland. He is a man filled with energy and a passion for Christ. The words he spoke this morning rang so true: Satan's lure to us is to make us self-centered, rather than God-centered (I'm paraphrasing).

The other emotion I'm feeling today is one of melancholy. Today would have been the 44th birthday of my friend Denise (see previous post ). Denise and I became friends in Bible college back in the late 1980's. She was one of the best friends I ever had, and we had some really fun-filled times together. In fact, the first date I went on with my now-husband--Denise was on, too! You see, it was "Spinsters' Spree"--the girls did the inviting. She and I double-dated with two guys named Keith! We went to Branson, which was in its pre-every-celebrity-owns-a-theater days. We all played putt putt golf and ate at a small diner-style restaurant. It is a memory I will cherish forever. So much laughter! (Where but in Branson, heart of the Ozarks, will you find a mini-outhouse as part of a putt putt golf course?!) Other memories of her I will always cherish: working together in music theory class under the close eye of dear Sister Swaim (musician extraordinaire). Ministering together on the streets of Springfield, Missouri, as part of the street witnessing team. Singing together in oratorio choir, as well as taking part in the many recital groups. Laughing until our sides ached, as we sat on her pink bedspread (always pink for Denise!) or my blue comforter (always blue for me!).


One of my favorite memories was the weekend her twin sister, Erlene, and her younger brother, Bruce, came to visit campus. It was kind of eerie to me, how much Denise and Erlene looked alike!Same laugh, same smile... Yet, there was always the difference of clothing (always purple for Erlene!). I need to dig out the pictures from that weekend. It was a blast!
Best memory of all, though: just having her as a friend, and someone whom I never doubted when she said, "I will pray for you." She meant it with all her heart. Prayer warrior is one of the attributes she was definitely known for. Oh, and the all-night CMF prayer meetings! Having the chance to be in her wedding...and me wearing a PINK bridesmaid's dress, of course!

As I said, today would have been Denise's birthday, as it is today Erlene's. However, Denise's battle with brain tumors ended just a few short years ago on March 24, 2006. This is her brother's poem, which he posted on Facebook recently. It gives you a glimpse into the battle she fought. If you can't access it, let me know. I can re post the text here. Anyone who has watched a loved one battle cancer will be able to relate to his poignant words.
In summary, this is a reflective day for me. Reflecting on God's grace "in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Reflecting on my sinfulness, and thankful for that grace! Reflecting on happy memories of a dear friend. Reflecting on the brevity of life. Rejoicing in the privilege of having known Denise and having shared her friendship...a rare and shining gem.

God bless, dear friends. And happy birthday to Erlene...I know this is a joyful/tearful day.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday, March 12


"He said to him, 'Follow Me.' And he left everything, and rose and followed him." Luke 5:27


There are so many things we can learn from today's Gospel reading in Luke 5:27-32. I'll do my best to walk through it slowly here.


First, Levi (Matthew) was a tax collector. This meant that, though he was Jewish, he was an employee of the Roman government. Tax collectors in those days were wealthy men. Not that the government was such a generous employer, mind you. The main reason was that the collectors would collect the necessary tax required by the government, but then also add an extra toll for their own pockets. (Remember Zacchaeus?) So, for obvious reasons, the general Jewish populace did not have much regard for the tax collectors. Jewish they might be by birth, but the others saw them as traitors.


Yet, Jesus chose him as one of His followers. Just as surely as He called Andrew, Peter, James, and John...He CHOSE Matthew. The lesson to learn here? More than one, I'm sure. One I see is that God loves us, no matter how heinous our sins may seem to society. His love and His grace are able to set us free so completely that we will "leave everything, rise, and follow Him."


Matthew's response is amazing, isn't it? He left all. Wow. He walked away from certain wealth to...what? Follow this Man...to where? Wherever He went. Again--wow!


We see a parallel to what Zacchaeus did, too. Matthew gave a great feast for Jesus. Who else did he invite? Well, the only other people who were his friends: tax collectors. This is a great picture of what happens when someone has been changed by grace. They want others to have the same experience!


Well, then the Pharisees come along in their robes of righteousness, always judging everything Jesus does. How could he stand to eat with these totally unholy people? Tax collectors, sinners, and such, oh my! I do love Jesus' answer to them:


"Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." I'm sure that was one of those "you could hear a pin drop" moments in time. Ouch. To paraphrase, Jesus was saying, "You Pharisees think you are righteous, and in no need of forgiveness. I will not waste my time feasting with such. These men know they are sinners. They want to spend time with Me. That's why I'm here. To offer them forgiveness and new life."


What's interesting is to go beyond this passage to the next few verses. The Pharisees quickly changed the subject from "who" He was feasting with to the fact that He was feasting at all. Why aren't Your disciples fasting? Way to take the focus off yourselves, guys!


Okay. Now to the point of this post!


Lent is a time of fasting, repentance, drawing closer to the Lord, and allowing the Holy Spirit to do the soul inspections we so desperately need. How do we respond? Do we "leave all and follow" and then make a way for others to learn how to do the same? Or do we look down our noses at those we deem "less holy" and preen in our own self-righteousness? For example, would we stand in line to make confession, wondering what we will ever say, because, really, our sins aren't that big, and we're sure that the guy ahead of us, who has been in the confessional for a very, very long time must have sinned more grievously and have much more to confess. So of course, we don't want to bore the priest with our piddly little problems. Hmm.


What I really love about Lent is the opportunity to really "come clean" with God. To allow Him to purge me of all the stuff that clutters up my spirit and stands as a gulf between me and Him. To shake loose the things that have so easily ensnared me so that I may once again run the race unhindered and unfettered.


Let us call out to the Author and Perfecter of our faith, and let Him do the housecleaning necessary, so that we may more easily set aside "everything" and follow Him without hesitation.


Today let us make this our aim: To pray for those whom others condemn.

Friday, March 11, 2011

And So, We Pray

Taking a break from my Lenten posts today, to urge everyone to pray for the people of Japan. Also, for the safety of those in Hawaii, Alaska, and the entire west coast of the United States.

May God watch over them, protect them, and sustain those who have lost loved ones and homes.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another Time, Another Lent

"Then He said to all, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.'" Luke 9:23

As anyone who has read my blog for very long knows, our family has been on a spiritual journey for several years. We first became familiar with Lent back in 2002. We had never practiced this in our former denomination, so it was very new to us. Honestly, I did not like the somber, minor key music very well. And boy, did I get tired of hearing about sin and repentance! We couldn't even say "Allelluia" for the entirety of Lent. What a downer! But I do have to say, when Holy Week came, and we celebrated Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and then...Easter...what a difference! I felt so much more ready to celebrate! My sins are forgiven because of the cross! I have victory because of the empty grave! Being able to say "Alleluia" again had even deeper meaning.


One of the things I like most about Lent (and there are many now) is Stations of the Cross. Every Friday, we have a time of remembering the Lord's progression from his betrayal, to the condemnation to die by Pilate, through each phase of Christ's journey to the cross...including His death and burial. It is powerful. Why? Because it is such a vivid reminder of the price of sin. My sin. Your sin. The world's sins. It is humbling to know that something we have done 2000 years later caused the suffering He endured. Yet He did endure, and willingly.


Yesterday, I watched a live broadcast of Pope Benedict XVI's Ash Wednesday Mass in Rome. This holy man, servant of God, allowing one of the cardinals to sprinkle the ashes on his head. The sign of repentance. A man who knows he has great responsibility and authority, yet knows he is a sinner just like the rest of us pilgrims. A humble man. A great leader because of his humility and acknowledgement of his need for repentance.


As we journey toward Easter, let us take every opportunity to allow God's Holy Spirit to do His work inside our hearts--examining, illuminating, convicting. And let us respond by repenting and allowing His grace to restore us and draw us ever closer to the Christ who died for us and rose again.

"Jesus, I believe that you are Lord! I choose to follow you and hold fast to you this Lent! Help me to be faithful to this choice in all that I do today."

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ash Wednesday, 2011

"'Yet even now,' says the Lord, 'return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. ad tear your hearts and not your garments.' Return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy...Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly;gather the people. Sanctify the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants." Joel 2:12-13, 15-16


And so begins another season of Lent.


There is often the question of "why does a priest smear ashes on your forehead"? It is a beautiful reminder that we are "but flesh"and, as the priest says upon imposing the ashes, "you are dust, and to dust you will return." We are fallible human beings in need of a Saviour. Yes, the ashes are not simply a smudge. They remind us of our need to repent.


Our assistant priest, Fr. Mike, encouraged us with this morning to make this Lent a season of becoming less selfish and more selfless.


So, if someone asks me what I'm "giving up" for Lent this year, I have my answer. Yes, I will eat less "junk". I will spend more time in prayer. I will fast, with the goal of drawing closer to God and becoming more like Him. But what am I giving up???


Me.


That's what I long to give up. With John the Baptist, I would decrease so that Jesus may increase. That others may see Him, and not me, in all my human-ness.


God, give us a blessed Lent.


"Lord, the trumpet has sounded, and I want to respond. Help me to rend my heart this Lent, so that it can be filled anew with your love and your Spirit."
from Five Minutes with the Word

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Ready for Another Lent?

Today is what is commonly known as "Fat Tuesday" or Mardi Gras. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. For those of you from a non-liturgical background, this may all seem a bit foreign. I was raised in that type of background, but have learned a lot in the past few years.

As I've said in previous posts, too many people have such an inaccurate view of Lent, what it means, and what it's all about. The simplified explanation is this: We spend 40 days (not counting Sundays) of fasting and abstinence, as we imitate the 40 days of fasting Christ spent in the wilderness. These 40 days should be used to prepare our hearts for Holy Week, Good Friday, and, ultimately, EASTER! The whole idea of "giving up" something for Lent is this: anything that is a distraction, stumbling block, or barrier between my Lord and me is something that needs to go! These are 40 days that should be used for reflection and drawing closer and closer to God. It's not like making a New Year's resolution. It's all about growing into a deeper relationship with the God who gave His Son to die for me, and who raised Him from the dead to give me victory over death and sin!

Some dread this time of year. It is actually a time to be embraced! God loves us and so desires for us to have more intimate communion with Him. I have several friends who do not attend liturgical churches, but still go through Lenten practices for this very reason.

God bless us all, and give us a wonderful Lent.