My life has been a journey full of twists & turns, highs & lows. Honestly, I'm not sure I could really define where I'm headed. But one thing I'm learning, the journey isn't all about the final destination but more about how we travel. And fulfillment is found in all that we learn & experience as we journey, not just getting to the end of it. I can't even imagine making mine without Christ before me, behind me, and beside me...

Monday, June 28, 2010

1000 Gifts: Whispers and Promises

     Sometimes we hold on to those things which are tangible... mementos, valuables, and the necessities of life. They are considered precious because of the memories they conjure, the comfort, convenience, provision, and enrichment they bring to life. And sometimes the things we cling to are not tangible but they bring that "zoe" kind of life in living and the promise of that which is yet to come. 
     I hold on to words... Since I can remember, I have loved them. I'm not sure how to describe it but there are some words that have been the sustenance I needed when I didn't think I could make it. The treasure they hold for me is more than "definition"---it's the difference they have made in my journey. Their impact and value can't be taken away, or destroyed, or "undone." These words are uniquely mine in the way they have woven themselves among the threads of my life just as they may also be uniquely yours.
      In the past, I couldn't trust anyone with the secrets I held for so long so the secrets took hold of me rather than me taking hold of them. The solution could have been as simple as sharing them with one person...or one Savior. But I couldn't put my heart into words and I couldn't ask for help--not even from One who gave Himself up for my sake. Maybe I didn't think my words--my heart--mattered so much back then. In desperation, I searched for meaning in my struggle looking for a reason to press on.  As remembered unlovely spoken words created chaos within, I couldn't speak out or plead for help, or pray, or even journal my thoughts. I realize now there were a few who saw me--the me I tried so hard to hide. A few who reached out to me even though I turned them away. A few faithful who prayed for me even when I couldn't pray for myself. I couldn't see it or understand it then, but for those who never gave up, I am ever grateful because your words made all the difference as I searched for my own.
     Word study became a practice of survival in those dark and silent times. When I had none of my own and life was ebbing away, I would cling to words that spoke life and promise to me--words, I believe, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, each with its own merit. Then, I had nothing else to hold on to and His Word seemed to be all that I could grasp. So before computers or technology, I clung to those heartwhispers as I pored through chapter after chapter, book after book, in my Bible looking for Scripture that included those whispered words...I would write them down--all of them--pages upon pages. Writing them down on paper was like writing His word on my heart.  Obsessive maybe--desperate, no doubt--but the busyness of the task steadied my hand as His Word steadied my heart, carrying me through unbearable days. Those who have never struggled through deep depression may not understand it.  Even today, those very words--His words--still speak life and promise to me. They remain beacons when waves roll high and my way is dark. I have no doubt that when I couldn't grasp the vastness of His love, His Spirit whispered these words, knowing my unspoken need and confident that I would cling to life through them as He prayed in my stead. Romans 8 tells us how the He intercedes for us with groans that words can't express. I found truth and beauty in that assurance as Romans 8:25-29 became alive and real to me...

...If we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

For these whispered words--His spoken gifts in my most desperate times, I am eternally grateful. I've included only one of the hundreds of the promises He showed me with each word...

61.  HOPE - Lamentations 3:19-24  Because He is faithful and His mercy is new each day.
62.  GRACE - 2 Corinthians 12:9  His grace is sufficient.
63.  PERSEVERENCE - Hebrews 12:1-3  The key is to keep running HIS race, not my own.
64.  WHOLEHEARTED - 1 Chronicles 28:9-10  Wholehearted devotion and willing mind--HIS.
65.  REFUGE - Psalm 25  I give Him my trust and my shame as I seek refuge in Him.
66.  PERFECT - 1 John 4:18  Perfect love drives out fear.
67.  STAND - Ephesians 4:13  After you've done everything, stand.
68.  WAIT - Psalm 37:6-7  Be still and wait; His justice prevails.
69.  JUSTICE - Isaiah 1:17-18  Seek it...Receive it...Stand for it...
70.  FEAR NOT - Isaiah 43:1-3  He is with me through thick and thin.
71.  TEACH ME - Psalm 86:11  His way, His truth, His heart.
72.  UNDIVIDED - Ezekiel 11:19-20  HE gives me an undivided heart and bitterness is softened by grace.
73.  SEEK - Jeremiah 29:11-14  He will be found when I seek Him.
74.  KNOWN - 1 Corinthians 13:11-13  I may not know the way He leads but I am known completely.
75.  TOGETHER - Colossians 1:17  He holds ME together.
76.  PRESENCE - Psalm 16:11  Joy in His presence
77.  BELIEVE - Mark 9:17-24  Help my unbelief, Lord.
78.  NOT ASHAMED - 2 Timothy 2:12  I know whom I have believed...
79.  EVERLASTING - Jeremiah 31:3  His love knows no beginning or end.
80.  LIFE - Deuteronomy 3018-20  The Lord IS my life.

These few are but a small portion of His love notes and promises to me...and you.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  - Romans 8:35-39

holy experience

Monday, June 21, 2010

1000 Gifts: Simple Things

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:7

Sometimes we make life so if there has to be a specific reason for every emotion, every task. Too often, we don't take time to sit back and just breathe in life and accept it...appreciate it for what it is. But when I do, I find the most peaceful contentment in simple things...For these I am thankful....

37. A cool morning breeze coming through the bedroom window.
38.  The smell of rain.
39. The yellow of fresh.
40. A random text from my son, miles away from home, “Love ya, Mom.” It’s on my “do not delete” list.
41. The sound of little league games nearby and remembering years when my boys were those boys...I miss it sometimes.
42. Birds at dawn before anyone else in the neighborhood is stirring.
43. Anticipation that another Sunday is coming.
44. HOPE
45. Oscillating fans.
46. Hasting's raspberry white chocolate frappes & laughter with friends
47. Tiredness when a big task is completed...satisfaction.
48. Freshly mown grass.
49. Butterflies on the screen door.
50. few but their twinkles take my breath away...still.
51. An unexpected hug from Daisia.
52. Expectancy in the air…so many precious friends expecting little ones. The planning, the preparations, the excitement, and “glow” –not just expectant moms but dads too.
53. A new face--a new life rising out of baptismal waters. She smiles--it's very real.
54. A new sister in Christ calling just to ask why we have different Bible translations... “Can I write in it?” She makes my faith fresh in sincere and eager to know God.
55. A homeless man, beaten and robbed...weeks in the hospital but he doesn't give up. He smiles, laughs, so much love to give away yet some think he has nothing...He has more than many of us.  He renews my strength. I'm there to encourage him, yet he encourages me.
56. The washing of feet in remembering His words, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to Me.”  How precious this is….receiving grace.
57. A prodigal friend's voice--lost but now found again..."I wanna come home." Relief that she is safe.
58. Tears....long time coming as bitterness begins to dissolve. A heart of stone becoming flesh again. (Ezekiel 11:19)
59. Strength that comes only in relying on Christ…
60. Simple prayer answered, "I need You." And He is here...

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." – Philippians 4:12-13

holy experience

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

1000 Gifts: In Honor

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:12-13 NIV

Today is Memorial Day--a day to remember those who have given their lives or freedom. And for many of us a day also o remember those who have greatly impacted our lives but have gone before us. I am humbled and blessed by their giving. And I am so very grateful...

15.  For Jesus Christ who so willingly and lovingly gave His life so that I might be  that I might share eternity with Him.
16.  For the many men ad women who have fought so valiantly for freedom--in past and present wars.
17.  For the men and women who sacrificed their lives for that same freedom, paying the ultimate price  so we can live and worship and work as we desire.
18.  For the military men and women who come home, wounded or well. They go on but their lives are inevitably changed by their experience.
19.  For three sons who have sworn their own lives to duty, honor, and country whatever the cost. They are my own personal heroes. Semper fi...
20.  For Marine training. I can trust that my sons have been trained to be the protect, to serve, and to survive.  I've seen all three sons graduate from basic training, witnessing the intensity of their instruction and purpose. To see each one in their time stat at attention in full uniform as he received his Marine pin...Words can't describe it adequately. A mother's heart lodges in her throat as her boys becomes men because of the Marines.
21. That when I can't do anything else while my sons are deployed or when all of my children are making their own way wherever they are, I can still pray. How could I get through the worry if I couldn't place them in the hands of God each day? Knowing that He holds them gives me peace.
22. When my Marines come home from overseas. Seeing them get off that plane or the bus is an experience I can't explain, but if you are a mom, a wife, or a loved one left behind, you understand.
23. For God's protection through minefields, IED explosions, and dangers I don't even know about. I just pray that God will meet my sons where they are when they need Him most. I remember the call...Mikey and his men were crossing a bridge and an IED exploded..."He was hurt but he's ok." He chose to stay with his men. Overwhelmed by his courage and willingness to endure, with tears of relief, fear, and then thanksgiving that he survived streaming down, and still a mom's desperate need to see him or hear his voice so I can know he was really ok--not just his body but also his heart. Outwardly the scars are a simple reminder but no doubt he will never forget that fateful moment...Nor will I.
24. For the son and daughter who chose a different path--making their mark on their corner of the world in a different way. Their life purpose and impact is no less that my military sons. They are no less as patriots and my heart swells. I am so thankful that God designed each child uniquely and has given each one their own "assignment."
25. For the men and women who served and protect right here among us--on American soil. Policement, firemen, medical and emergency personnel... All those who put their lives on the live to keep us safe.
26. For Joe and Delores Burger. Joe served as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and died in a helicopter crash. When my own dad was in Vietnam and he was stateside, he came by regularly to check on us. He loved my mom's fruitcake and coffee, he played with us, and took care of little things that needed to be done around the house. They brought a lot of laughter and love to our house. I didn't understand ti so much then but they enriched our lives, understanding what my mom needed the most during my dad's absence. I especially remember their presence in a thunderstorm. I crawled in Delores' lap and he made me laugh taking away my fear. He was a good man and taken oo soon. He served and protected in Vietnam but also at home. I am blessed and honored to have known him.
27. For Memorial Stones and a pastor who speaks truth. As we honor those who have died, he reminded us that life is for living. That we are to make our lives monuments--testimonies to His life-changing grace in such a way that our life may be a memorial stone of faith for those who come behind us--a memorial stone that points to Christ.
28. For Life Change Sunday--a Sunday meant for Life not death. We witnessed 12 lives that have inevitably and eternally been changed by grace. Even as we honor those who have died, we can commit and celebrate life and legacy to that those who have gone before us have not died in vain.
29. For the living legacy of Albert Cadena seen through his family. No, he wasn't a soldier in a distant land but a life that was changed by grace and taken from us too soon. Sunday, we saw his legacy live on in his mother and sister as they followed him in faith through baptism. His life is a memorial stone to those left behind--as each one who 
remain strive for justice, seeking to stop the violence and start the love.
30. For justice. This year we have witnessed justice first-hand in the courtroom and we've seen healing truly begin. We continually pray for justice to become a way of life so that the men and women who have died or suffered in war in distant lands or war in our city streets. They will not be forgotten and their legacies meant for the good of men will live on.
31. For those whose lives have deeply touched mine in their living and dying. My my own life be lived as a legacy to whose who have made such a difference in me.
32. For Leisa, who came into my life a just the right time. I learned a lot about living as she fought cancer. Even in dying, she didn't let go of her dreams and I have been honored to see some of those dreams come to pass.
33. For Arnett, my father-in-law, who loved me not matter what. Throughout his life, he endured struggles most of us can't imagine but even in dying, he said, "Be happy in Jesus" and lived it every moment. We should all live that legacy.
34. For Lenora--sweet lovable Lenora who showed me a lot about joy--real joy. She never let life get her down. Even in tough circumstances, her smile and zest for life proved hat joy comes from within--the Christ within us. She had no reason to love me but she did, never failing to remind me every week as we sat side by side.
35. For Bill Pope, who was a rock in the building of my faith. He never wavered in faith or even in the depths of loss. He was staunch in what he believed and didn't back down, yet he had the courage to admit when he was wrong. Sometimes a can still almost hear his strong voice booming those old hymns, "The Comforter has come... Take Time to Be Holy... Just as I am withou one plea...
36. For Albert Lovell, a man who truly overwhelmed me with grace I had never known. I'm not sure I understood it until he became grace to me and restored me with his patience, his love, and his willingness to stand up for me.

Lord, thank You for those whose lived have been lived for You. . .For those who were
willing to give so freely of themselves so that others might live a fuller and blessed life.

holy experience