I Just Want to Be Where You Are

We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. 1 John 4:16-19

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Do you remember your big high school crush? You thought about him all the time, and you probably tried to learn everything about him that you could. You knew his class schedule, his locker number, his car, his address, his birthday, and many of his likes and dislikes. Your best girlfriends would run reconnaissance for you to find out what he was doing after school or where he planned to be Friday night. Am I right?

Why did you do all this? Because you were “in love!” (Insert heart eyes emoji here.) Maybe you truly were and maybe you weren’t. Maybe you married that crush, or he was the one that got away, or you were thankful that you were the one that got away. The bottom line, desire for him, feeling loving feelings, drove you to know everything about him. It also made you want to be wherever he was, what’s the use of knowing he’s going to be at the skating rink Friday night anyway if it’s not so you can happen to show up there to get his attention, right?

As you grew up you learned that whatever you love you want to be around. It’s baby’s first day at day care… sob… I don’t want to leave him…sob! Kids gone off to college… “Let’s go see them this weekend!” You live states away from your parents… “When can we go home for a visit?” When grandkids are born you may decide… “We need to move closer to the kids.” We humans just want to be near the ones we love.

It’s not just humans though. My little fur baby is considered a companion dog – meaning if I walk from one room to the next he follows. I never get to eat supper without a little beggar by my feet. I never go out the door without him scampering out with me. I can’t even go to the bathroom alone anymore; it’s much like having a toddler again. And if I have to leave the house without him I must command him to “Stay.” But I come home hours later to see him sitting up on the back of the couch waiting eagerly for me, and breaking into a spinning, licking, yapping welcome as soon as I am within range. He wants to be where I am.

It is natural to desire to be with those we love. To be in relationship. We were created that way. God is relational. He created us to be in relationship with Him and others and to desire relationships. But an issue arises. We focus on earthly relationships with other beings we can see and touch often at the expense of our relationship with our Creator. Those high school crushes captivated every corner of my mind and left little space for me to think about God.

So that brings me to the questions I need to ask. Did I love God or the guy? Probably both to some degree, but I definitely focused on the human one. Do I love God now? Does my focus in life reveal a true love for God or does it show a divided heart that is still going after other people or things first? I believe our actions and speech can reveal a lot about the health of our relationship with God. Do I talk about things of God or things of this world more often? What do my actions indicate that has captured my heart? My priorities will tell me what I love the most, and often that is self, not the Father.

If the answers to the questions above reveal something that bothers you, it’s time to get alone with God. Schedule some alone time to be with the Father. Grab His Word, a journal and a pen if you like, or just take a hike in the woods, whatever works for you. Allow yourself to communicate with God and start to re-establish that love relationship with Him if it has grown cold through the years. As you come to know Him better you will want to be with Him more. Let this song be the anthem of our hearts. I Just Want to Be Where You Are

What Did You Say Your Name Was?

“Hello. My name is Jesus and I’ll be your representative today. How may I help you?” (And yes, he pronounced it “Gee-sus.”)

What?!

Talk about doing a double-take.

Everything in me wanted to ask, “Did I hear you correctly? What did you say your name was?” but I refrained since this was a business call, the third to his company within an hour. Instead I jumped into my issue. My husband handed off this job to me after the extremely frustrating call number one ended when the representative (not Jesus) hung up on him. By accident I hope! The second call took 20 minutes and yielded only the phone number for Jesus. So I went into this call frustrated with the company I was dealing with. I just wanted to get my business done and get back to the other demands of the day.

For about 40 minutes I talked with Jesus. He responded with kind, helpful patience. (Would you expect anything else from Jesus?!) It took much patience, and time. He delved into computer records, updated info, and even made a trip to consult with a manager. I had a weird case!

Jesus was not only kind, but persistent as well, and he eventually got all our issues corrected. I was no longer annoyed with them. I expressed how grateful I was for his thoroughness and patience, and told him I loved his name.

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My chat with Jesus brought a smile to my heart and made me think. Jesus treated me well. Jesus was kind. Jesus took care of my needs. Jesus didn’t quit on me when things got tough. Jesus respected me and listened to me. Jesus went the extra mile to do what needed to be done. Jesus helped me. Jesus listened to me. Jesus asked if there was anything else he could do for me. With Jesus as my representative I was well taken care of.

And that goes for all of us! When Jesus is your representative, you are well cared for.

When Jesus is your representative…

… you are treated kindly and compassionately.

… your needs are met.

… you are not abandoned when things get tough. He walks through those tough times with you to get it fixed.

… you are respected.

… your voice is heard.

… He is always looking for what else He can do for you.

… you are loved!

If the world seems mean, your days seem dark, you feel down or discouraged, or you don’t know the right answer, turn to Jesus. He is a kind representative in life. He is for you. He is your friend! Settle down and rest in that friendship and representation.

“There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

Sprint or Marathon

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

In this race of life, what are you – a sprinter or a marathoner?

This thought was triggered by something I was reading recently. I’d never really considered that the attitudes of the two were different. (I’m not a runner, could you have guessed that?) I started comparing and contrasting the two and how that applied to life. It’s interesting, If you google “sprinters habits” and marathoners habits” you get some thought provoking info.

A sprint is a short race you run at full speed. You go all out and give it everything you got. A marathon, on the other hand, being a footrace of over 26 miles, requires exceptional endurance rather than a short burst of speed. These two types of races require different training, different amounts of time, different settings, and a different mental focus.

According to speedendurance.com, the sprinter’s motto is “If you don’t have to run, walk. I you don’t have to walk, sit. If you don’t have to sit, then lie down.” This sounds like a good motto to me! But let’s examine how that works in life. It really sets up a life of doing only what you must do – the urgent. You may wake up, sprint to get ready for work, then get to the office and sit thinking “What’s next?” A sprinting-through-life mindset is full of stops and starts, short races to get one task at a time done throughout our day. Sprinting takes short bouts of focused attention. Sprinters may run many, many miles if you add up all their short races put together, but their races are round and round the track, and they end up at the same place at the end of the day.

Marathoners, by the nature of the race, have to be just the opposite of this. Their race takes endurance and perseverance. They also need periods of rest after a race allowing the body time to recover and repair, but theirs mindset is one of being in it for the long haul. They must exercise great mental self-control to keep their focus throughout the hours of a race. No stops and starts and resting every few minutes for them. When the going gets long, tough, and painful, marathoners must exercise not only their muscles, but their minds in order to power through to the end, which is miles away and takes them to whole new places.

So how does running races apply to the average person, to you and me? You’ve probably already picked up on some ideas you can apply to your life, but here are mine.

  1. Goals and focus are important. Years ago a study by a major college found that students who wrote down their goals out-performed those who did not. Baseball legend, Yogi Berra, once said “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” As we run this race of life that the apostle Paul talks about, are we running toward the right goal? A marathon runner can run his 26 miles in wrong directions and never finish his race. A sprinter can give it all he’s got and be the fastest one on the track but loose the race if He runs toward the wrong goal. So I ask you today, what goal are your eyes fixed upon? Is it getting that new house? Nothing wrong with a new house, but should that be the ultimate goal we are running toward in life? Is it beauty? Or wealth? Or physical health? Or friendships? Or jobs? All these things have a place in life if they do to capture our sole focus in this race.
  2. Focus on the right things. So what are the right things to focus our attention on? We turn to God’s Word to find those things. Salvation. Faith. A relationship with the Father. Love of God and our fellow man. Family. The Body of Christ. Obedience to God’s commands. … And I’m sure the list is longer than I can develop here. Stay in God’s Word and seek the things He would have your life be focused upon. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
  3. Exercise mental self-discipline. Often we are sidetracked in our life by faulty thinking. The arrows of the enemy shoot lies into our minds. Our prideful heart deceives us with good-sounding thoughts that when examined are contrary to what scripture teaches. Our own inner self-doubt makes us distracted and undermines our confidence in the Father that He will empower us to accomplish all He has called us to do. Let’s exercise self-control not only in body by in our mindset too. Let’s throw off the negative, untrue, prideful, doubting thinking that weighs us down so that we can really run this race. Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
  4. Pace yourself. Americans in general have a I-can-do-it-all attitude. Add one more thing to your already full plate? Sure! why not? One thing we need to learn is how to say “no.” We spend so much energy doing good things, that we have depleted energy for accomplishing the goal of our life. We must learn to pace ourselves – to weed out those good distractions and time-wasters in order to fulfill God’s purposes and calling on our lives. A marathoner doesn’t stop to eat lunch or text their boyfriend; they put distractions aside in order to finish the race even though it is long an arduous. Let’s “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
  5. Life is not a race to win or lose. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “The one who dies with the most toys, still dies.” But how often do we operate in life as if we have to have the most, go to the best vacations, achieve the highest goals, and be the best? We’re not on this earth to compete or to win, we are here to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” (The Shorter Catechism) THE highest goal we can ever achieve is to live our lives in a way that pleases God, whatever He calls us to do. In Galatians 2:2 Paul makes a comment that shows us even he evaluated his motives in this race of life. He said, “I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain.” Are you running your race in vain? Let’s get alone with God and do a little self-evaluation.
  6. Be faithful – commit to your life race. In 2 Timothy 4:7-8 Paul presents the attitude we need to embrace to stay committed to the race and finish strong. He states that when he dies he wants to be able to say with confidence, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

A marathon is long and difficult and takes more than just physical strength. Let’s start living like marathon runners, running our lives for a single goal that takes all our time, energy, focus, and patience to achieve. While we may have short sprints within our marathon, let’s make sure our long-team purpose is to finish this race well and be able to echo Paul’s words – “I have finished the race – I have kept the faith.” Persevere ladies! And encourage others to do the same. Get your running shoes on, let’s run for the prize!

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N!

An old song form generations past sings out proudly: “V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N in the summer sun!” Sounds like exactly what most all of us would love to be doing – vacationing somewhere in the sun. Whether you’re a beach person or mountain person wouldn’t you just love to take a little getaway right now? I sure would.

Why is it when we get busy and stressed and overwhelmed with life, we just want to escape? Perhaps we feel like we can run away from the problems and hope they will all solve themselves. Or maybe we’re searching for something to fill that emptiness deep inside us. If we aren’t careful we waste the days of our lives by wishing them away in half-hearted living, doing the mundane and longing for the thrill of the getaway to somewhere exotic.

As I’ve read more Christian writers from decades past, I hear in their messages a challenge to make the mundane moments holy, to live every moment with purpose and passion, to seek God wholeheartedly amid the everyday. I struggle with this, but I have found a few things that help. Maybe they will help you too.

  1. Spend 20 minutes a day, alone, doing nothing but listening. Sounds impossible, right? The first day I tried this I knew my attention span was so short that there was no way I could do 20 minutes, so I set my timer for 5 minutes, and you know what? Even that was a struggle. To just sit quietly outside, no phone, no agenda, willing myself not to mull over my issues or To Do list, but to just listen to God’s world and, more importantly, for Him to speak into my heart. From that day I’m developing the habit of listening. And it’s a good thing. My blood pressure is bound to drop, because of the calm that comes to me. God is faithful during these times and stirs my heart with whispers of encouragement and hope.
  2. Fill the emptiness of your soul with scripture. Reading, listening to, writing, or memorizing bits and longer passages of God’s Word brings His peace to my heart. Isaiah 55:11 tells us that God’s Word “will not return to [Him] empty, but will accomplish what [He] desires and achieve the purpose for which [He] sent it.” Holy scripture has a power we cannot comprehend because it is God’s very words breathed out onto paper. We can rest in the fact that anytime we take in scripture it is doing something active in our lives to fill in the empty, broken places and accomplish God’s plans in us.
  3. Have conversations with God. Many of us feel uncomfortable with the “thees” and “thous” of old-timey prayers. Or we feel we don’t know how to pray. So we end up just worrying and not even attempting to pray. I am still learning to pray continually. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) It’s a discipline of the mind to do it because we so easily jump out of prayer back into the what-ifs and worries of life. But 1 Peter 3:12 tells us “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.” So how do we maintain a spirit of prayer throughout our day? K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Silly! Just talk. Talk like you are talking to your girlfriends. If you feel silly, tell Him so. Nothing is too big or too small. “Hey God, I was just thinking…”
  4. Live each moment with purpose. There are no spare moments in life. The ones we don’t use well are lost forever. How many moments have we wasted dwelling on something that never even happened? Wasted moments. How many thoughts do we waste on jealously, bitterness, or anger? Wasted moments. How many moments do we let slip by with our thoughts elsewhere, on a future or past issue, not truly living that moment in time? Wasted moments. I have made it a goal to live in the moment. If my grandson is prattling on about a video game I care nothing about, I try to look intently into his eyes and truly listen. I might not really understand, but he comes away from the moment feeling heard and cared for and loved. I purposefully set my mind to listen to others, to engage, to try to understand. And I set my heart to savor, celebrate, and get every last drop of life out of any moment, even the sad ones. Because to fully live life, we must fully embrace even the sadness, shock, grief or fear.
  5. Make joy where you are. Laugh. Sing. Dance. Play pranks on people. Drink in the sweet aromas around you. Buy the fresh flowers. See the sunset. Get up for the sunrise.

Let’s not seek escape from life. Let’s live it. We have a limited number of days on this earth. Why waste them waiting for a vacation?!

Blessing for Mothers

The Lord bless you and all your little tribe.

Bless your babies and your grown ones, whether gone or by your side.

May your Mama’s heart take courage knowing Jesus is nearby,

And may your memories be filled with joys of days gone by.

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May God bless your perfect angels and your little rascals too.

And when one goes astray, may He hold and comfort you.

May your rest in knowing He has a plan, and it’s a good one too.

So never give in to those fiery darts sent to frighten and worry you.

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God bless you with holy insight not to judge yourself too hard,

And rightly see perceived failures, so your heart will not be scarred.

Humbly realize that your successes are not your doing either,

But God Himself, in giving grace, has given you a breather.

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O little mother, young or old, trust God and God alone,

To get you through those challenging times, you can’t do it on your own.

Receive His blessings with open hands and know He’s watching over

All the good times and the bad, and let His peace and joy take over.

Broken Dreams

Ask a group of 4-year-olds what they want to be when they grow up and you’ll most likely hear things like: a fireman, teacher, doctor, veterinarian, or a giraffe! Even at that early age little people have a picture of what they think their life will look like. Granted, these dreams change over the years.

At 10 they want to be a Youtuber, professional baseball player, ballerina or such. By the time they’re a college freshman they either have a definitive answer or no clue as to what they want to do and be. Four short years later, as they walk across that stage at graduation the blank canvas of life is wide open, yet the beginning of adulting seems a bit overwhelming – the wonder if they can be all they long to be. The plans of life seem at the same time exciting and daunting.

We’ve all had dreams. Some came to be. Some didn’t. The ones that come to be usually bring a sense of accomplishment and reward, they are positive experiences. No trouble there. The tough things to handle are those dreams that didn’t work out the way we had always planned that they would.

In scripture, Joseph had dreams that worked out. They were given to him by God, so of course they did. But his older brothers’ dreams didn’t. They dreamed of being in charge because they were older and higher in the pecking order. Some little rugrat brother was not going to rule over them, and they would certainly never bow down to him. But our plans don’t always pan out. And theirs didn’t. They one day found themselves bowing down to that little brother all grown up and in charge, because their life depended on his help, his authority, his position above them.

Have you found yourself in an I-never-dreamed-it-would-end-up-like-this-life? Perhaps it was youthful dreams of a Cinderella romance that didn’t pan out. Maybe it was a career that went off track and left you floundering. Possibly it was unexpected health or financial issues. It could have even been a derailing of your dreams caused by your own bad choices.

What do we do when that happens, when life takes a detour that wasn’t in our play book? Does it devastate us and stall us out on living? Do we become untrue to our principles and convictions? Bitter and resentful? Or do we find a way to rise above?

I want to encourage you today, that whatever path you find yourself treading, the Lord will bring about His purposes in your life. In Proverbs 19:21 God’s Word tells us, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

We need to lean on Him, to trust Him. But what we often do is try to manipulate and figure it all out with our own fallible wisdom. Or we “phone a friend” and get their answer (human & fallible) to our situation. The book of Proverbs tells us what we should do.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 16:3-4 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The Lord works out everything to its proper end…”

The book of Psalms reminds us where to look for guidance when our life goals seem squashed and our hearts are saddened because things just aren’t working out.

Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

Psalm 119:130 “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”

So, if today things seem like you’re at a dead end or you really wish you were in a different place, turn to the Father. Go to His Word. Seek Him in prayer. Pour out your heart’s deepest desires and trust Him to be the one to accomplish all that and so much more in your life. Then lay down your plans and look forward to the fertile pasture He will bring you to. You may not get to be the giraffe you had dreamed of being as a 4-year-old, but I guarantee, God is good, He does good, and He has good plans for your life. Sit back and enjoy the adventure. And don’t say “No” if He says he’s taking you to a new place.

Getting Real

On this stormy day I’m anticipating the warm breezes of summer. Flashback with me to a summer a few years before Covid… Grilled burgers. Watermelon. Homemade strawberry ice cream from my Mom’s 50 year old secret family recipe. It was a typical summer holiday cookout – yummy and very laid back with just the family.

So after a day full of old movies, Nertz, and being totally lazy, it was wonderful to have a couple of friends that we hadn’t seen in a while drop by in repsonse to our Facebook post about the homemade ice cream. We enjoyed the frozen goodness and had a wonderful conversation, ranging from light-hearted catching up, to corny inside jokes, to deep, gut-level honest sharing that you only do with REAL friends and family.

It was 30 minutes after they left – probably 7:00 p.m. or so – that I went into the bathroom and noticed myself in a mirror… Yikes! I had not combed my hair after I got up that morning! But then… I smiled. And I thought how wonderful it was to have people I could be REAL with! They didn’t care. They loved me anyway.

Don’t we all long for that?! We want to know and be known at a deep, gut level and to be so comfortable with friends or family, someone, anyone, that we can smile, relax, and not sweat and fret and fear what they’ll think. We don’t want those insecurities to rise to the surface. We want to be accepted for who we are, they way we look, and the mistakes we make. Not for who people want us to be. Not for who they think we are because we are keeping up pretenses and hiding the REAL us every time we are around them. We long to be accepted… loved… just as we REALLY are.

Some of us will have the rare pleasure of experiencing that with a few select friends, but for many of us even family seems to be unable to know us, accept us, and love us as we long to be loved.

But there is Great News! There is Hope! We have a Heavenly Father, our Abba, who knows us intimately, accepts us totally, pursues a relationship with us relentlessly, and loves us unconditionally! Psalm 139 reminds us “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely…. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be…. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”

God sees you! He knows you – the REAL you! And you know what? In spite of all your self-condemnation, fears, hiding, and not loving yourself – God loves you! He REALLY loves you! Come to Him. Just as you are.

“He Knows” by Jeremy CampEvery Heart That is Breaking” by Twila Paris

The Best Gifts

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 

James 1:17

A trip to the bank to deposit a paycheck on a Friday – simple, right? That simple end of the week task began an adventure. I daresay that you probably had an adventurous week that week too if you are one of my fellow Alabamians. The day in question March 12, 1993 – the beginning of the Blizzard of ’93.

Nine months pregnant with a 5 and a 2-year-old in tow, I headed off to the bank expecting a normal errand run. The next day the 5-year-old would turn 6. Grandparents were coming for a cookout. Groceries had been purchased, presents wrapped, just a couple of business things to tie up so we didn’t forget them during this very busy birthday week. After tomorrow’s celebration, the 2-year-old would turn 3 on Thursday, and baby number 3 would arrive on Friday if she landed on her due date. It was looking to be quite a week.

As we walked in the bank, the atmosphere felt peculiar. Lines were the longest I’d ever seen, and the normal hush of the lobby was a buzz of people talking. Stepping to the end of the shortest line with the little ones in hand, I heard a snippet of a conversation, “snow… they’re saying 6-12 inches…”. A bit of shock overwhelmed me in the moment.

I had been too busy caring for kids and gearing up for the new arrival just around the corner; I hadn’t had time to turn on the news! Snow? Real snow? We never get anything but a dusting in Alabama. And besides the temps weren’t that cold, were they? I interrupted the men chatting. With great gusto, they poured out the latest news to me as our line inched toward the teller.

By the time the teller handed me my receipt I was in hurry mode. I rushed the kids to the car. Flakes began to fall as we headed home. Then heavier snow started coming down. Ten minutes later pulling into the house, bushes and trees had a dusting on them already.

I unlocked the door and tossed my purse inside without stepping in. Grabbing the wheelbarrow, I told the kids, “Come on.” We loaded logs from the wood pile and pushed a few wheelbarrow loads to the house just in case we lost power for an extended time; we would need firewood. “Don’t overdo it and go into labor early,” rang I my head. I called my husband and the grandparents, started a pot of soup, and finished up decorating the birthday cake just as my husband arrived home from work and the grandparents showed up with suitcases. Spending the night for the big celebration the next day “just in case we get snowed in” seemed to be the wise thing to do.

Snowed in we were! March 13th dawned bright and snowy. Nine inches worth where we were. Of course, the party plans were pretty much scrapped for the rare option of playing in the snow instead. What a birthday present for a 6-year-old! How could any present top that? Five days later we topped it. Baby sister arrived on big sister’s Big Day! We’d hit a parenting homerun – snow and a baby sister, the two best birthday gifts we’ve ever been able to give!

But those are only faint shadows of the gifts God gives to us. Our Heavenly Father is the giver of all things. The perfect gift-giver, because His gifts are always the Best. Best for us at least. Everything we enjoy and celebrate comes from Him. Let’s rejoice with gratitude to Him and thankful hearts for all His gifts, big and small, expected and surprising, perfect and… things that were not on our wish list. Thank God for your good times, your bad times. Your children or lack of children. You husband or your singleness. Your material goods or the freedom that comes from not having to worry about lots of material things. God is good. He has His purposes. Trust Him. Enjoy Him today and His perfect provision for you, even if it doesn’t seem to gel with your plans. Unexpected blizzards and early babies are wonderful treasures once we adjust our mindset. We may find those things not on our wishlist are the Best.

Note: Today just happens to be the birthdays of those babies. This is my favorite story to tell. Thanks for listening as I walked down memory lane and gave my tribute to those two godly young women who fill my heart with joy. Thanks for indulging me.

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.

Psalm 127:3-5

“What Do You See?”

We’ve probably all heard of ink blot tests (Rorshack tests) that psychiatrists use in diagnoses. The way I understand it these inkblots test your perceptions. Doctors show you the sample and then ask, “What do you see?” Psychiatrists aren’t the only ones who ask this question, God frequently asks this as well. However, He asks it not to diagnose us, but to get us to see the world through His eyes.

Years ago my husband’s company went through an improvement campaign as they tend to do once every few years. This campaign focused on having a paradigm shift and being able to see from another’s perspective – a good thing to be able to do. My Sweetie came home with the tag line of the training: “Things are not as they are, but as they are perceived.” There is truth in this statement. We humans tend to see what we want to see. (That is obvious from the recent American political campaigning and election.) We look at the world through our own individual, mental lens which is just as distinct and varied as our individual eye glass prescriptions.

We each have our own world view. We can generalize and call it a Christian world view or a secular world view, but those are broad categories. Getting more specific within a Christian world view you find many differences of opinion in how an individual views life, God, people, and the society around him. But if even Christian world views vary, which one is correct?

I have an answer?

The one that looks to Jesus for all answers and is open to being corrected if we misinterpret.

As I was reading through the Bible last year something caught my attention. Jehovah God frequently asked His earthly prophets that question I mentioned: What do you see?

God understood the human paradigm didn’t always see things clearly or accurately. Of course, He does! He made us! He knows how we see the world only from our own point of view. I think that may be why He asked Isaiah and Amos and Zechariah those questions. And why He asks us, if we listen, What do you see?

Isaiah 55:8 states, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” As Creator to the universe, God sees our world in total truth and accuracy. Therefore, His thoughts are always correct. He understands and knows all the intricacies of any situation. We, on the other hand, are not always correct; our thoughts and ways are not His. We see things from a skewed perspective through the lens of sin and selfishness. Mentally I’ve always equated it with those “drunk” glasses – you know, the ones that simulate the effects of alcohol impairment with lenses that cause visual distortion. Our perceptions are just that, distorted perceptions, not truth. Scripture tells us this, it says that we don’t see clearly. Hidden away in the love chapter is this verse: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. ” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

We see in a mirror dimly. … We only know in part. … Do we realize this? In any given situation, humanly we can only see dimly as though looking in a foggy bathroom mirror and we can only know a partial truth. I tend to think I know the answer. (If you don’t believe me ask my husband!) And he thinks the same thing about His answer even when our answers are polar opposites. It’s not possible for us both to be right, but we are both convinced we are. My husband’s favorite line to say about himself is, “Not always right, but never in doubt.” Is that not a true statement about most of us? So if we see dimly, and if we are not right when we think we are, yet we confidently assert ourselves, would it not be best to listen to THE ONE who does know? The One who is right? When His still, small voice asks us “What do you see?” we need to look and listen.

God has so much wisdom and knowledge and understanding to reveal to us, yet we go on our merry, prideful way thinking we know it all. Let’s stop. Let’s look to Jesus for answers. Let us try to see through His eyes. Let us humble ourselves before Him and seek His ways and thoughts. Let us listen when He whispers – What do you see? and then open our spiritual eyes and ask Him to show us truth.

20/20 Vision: Detached Retina

It was a normal day, maybe a bit more strenuous, with hours of heavy house cleaning followed by a hot shower before planning to run errands and prepare supper. Then suddenly there were arcs of light flashing in my eyes, and that normal day became anything but normal.

I immediately started blinking hoping it would go away. But I knew instinctively it wouldn’t. Somewhere in the back of my mind I heard the words “flashes of light before the eyes” and “blood pressure” in the same sentence. Where did I know that from? The thought then made me question, Do I call the eye doctor or my physician? Is this a medical or eye issue?

I sat down to cool off and rest to see if it would go away, but to no avail. So I made the decision to call the eye doctor first. Maybe they could refer me to who I needed to see if it was not them. Trying to look up a number when you’re having eye issues is challenging. I finally got through to my ophthalmologist, and my inquiries to the receptionist were followed by an immediate, “Come on. We’ll work you in.”

After a short drive, several bright lights, and drops in the eye, the verdict came. A possible detached retina which would send me immediately to the retina specialist across town. By the time I got there the flashes of lights had stopped, but lack of a symptom did not mean I hadn’t experienced a problem.

The retina specialist was young, but exceptionally kind and knowledgable. He did more thorough testing as I emotionally held my breath and prayed that this would not end in eye surgery or loss of vision. A good hour after the normal close of business for most medical professionals, my new friend and retina doctor gave me good news and sent me on my way home with instructions to return if I experienced the symptoms again. Much to my relief, it was not a detached retina, but a condition of aging which cause the vitreous fluid of the eye to dry up a bit, shrink, and pull on the retina causing symptoms similar to a detaching retina.

I learned several things that day.

  1. When something weird happens with your eyes, get to a doctor quickly.
  2. Dryness in the eye can be dangerous.
  3. Not all things are what they appear to be. Consult one who is an expert and follow His instructions.
  4. Our vision is very important. We should do whatever is in our power to keep it healthy.

Scripture tells us that spiritual vision is very important as well. Proverbs 29:19 (KJV) says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he.” Spiritual sight is as crucial as physical sight.

When our spiritual vision is not functioning correctly, we see ourselves, other people, and situations in a skewed fashion. What causes an impairment of spiritual vision? Anything that does not line up with God’s Holy Word and the example set by His son, Jesus.

  • Pride. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5 ESV) These verses instruct us to have the mind of Christ, a mind of humility.
  • Selfishness & Judgment. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5 NIV) Let’s spend less time pointing fingers at others and deal with our own sinful, selfish hearts first.
  • Lack of the Spirit of wisdom/enlightenment. “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.” (Ephesians 1:16-19 ESV) If we lack spiritual wisdom, how do we get it? – First, as Paul demonstrated here, we ask God for it, for ourselves and for others that we pray for. – Second, we seek to know God, the source of all wisdom. Job 12:13 ESV says “With God are wisdom and might; he has counsel and understanding.” – And finally, we stand in a healthy awe and fear of God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.” (Psalm 11:10 ESV)
  • Sin. Any sin. Sin separates us from God and obscures our spiritual vision.

So when you find your spiritual vision flashing and failing on you, remember these things.

  1. Get to the Great Physician quickly!
  2. Realize that your spiritual dryness can damage your ability to see with God’s eyes. Make your relationship with Him a priority. A vibrant, healthy relationship.
  3. Things aren’t always what they appear to us to be. Stay in God’s Word daily for wisdom. Follow His instructions from His Word.
  4. Do whatever is in your power to keep your spiritual vision healthy. Repent. Pray. Memorize the Word. Journal. Study the Word. Gather with believers. Apply God’s Word. Teach. Disciple. Learn. Obey.

No detached retinas or eye diseases for us. Let us seek clear spiritual vision. Blindness is dangerous spiritually, but impaired vision that we become satisfied living with can be just as dangerous. “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped.” (Isaiah 35:5 ESV) Let us seek spiritual eyes to see and ears to hear.