Numbers…

I received a number today for a young man I’ve known since birth.  It broke my heart.  It was a prison number. I wept looking at the number after his name.  I thought of the significance of this number and what it meant in Jail and what it will mean moving forward.

I pray he lives beyond that number.  I’m praying prisonfor the number to become a memory.  Praying that number which represents a mess, will become part of his message.  This child I held as a baby, who grow up with my kids side by side, diverged and now  he isn’t a name, he’s a number….for this season.

What are numbers?  They are a symbol or word in a series  for identification.  For now, he will identify and be identified by this number.  But God calls him still by name.  God sees him as son, not number #31-68734.  His family still calls him by name but where he lives, they shout out his number.

450px-NumbersBookCover.svgNumbers play a major role in our lives.  From our chromosomes to our vertebrae to the number of bones in our hand and the muscles it takes to frown, our bodies are connected and identified by numbers.  Here in the United States we are issued a Social Security number at birth that is used for a variety of purposes like taxes, insurance and education, that number defines and unlocks information we need.

Phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers are all crucial to defining our communication with each other and our wealth.

 

Numbers are used in the bible from the 10 Commandments to the days 40 days of the floodBundesstraße_40_number.svg
and 40 days and 40 years in the wilderness and the 12 tribes of Judah…all of these events and issues defined by a number.

Numbers-Chapter-SummariesThere is even a book with the title “Numbers” in the Bible.  Ironically or perhaps not, the book of Numbers explains how Israel prepared to enter the promise land, but sinned and was punished. The title refers the two population censuses Moses took during that period.

There are four themes in Numbers.  The beginning depicts the preparation for the journey  to the Promised Land. The second portion talks about the Israelites travel and grumbling and how God continued to provide for them.  numbersThe third portion discusses their disobedience and severe punishment for being unfaithful to God. The final theme addresses the new generation and their victorious conquests, more disobedience and finally the entry into the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering in the desert.

The book of Numbers recounts God’s unfailing direction in the lives of his people. It shows the ways God tested their endurance and their faithfulness. Though they sinned, God remained faithful to guide them on their journey with the pillar of fire by night and cloud by day.  God never left them alone in the desert. He never ventured far from them in the wilderness.

barbed wireI pray this for number #31-68734.  May this wilderness experience be his NUMBERS moment.  May he come to see God and feel His faithfulness and sense a new direction in his life. My prayer is that if you are experiencing a Numbers moment, you to would feel God’s presence and recalculate your destination with HIS help.

 

POINT TO PONDER: Are you called by a number? Are you experiencing a Numbers Moment? Call on the Name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus.  Struggling? Turn it over.  Here’s some inspiration about God’s ability to take your Number and give you a name.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upLBLppWTj0

 

 

A matter of the heart.

Did you know?

* The average adult heart beats 72 times a minute; 100,000 times a day; 3,600,000 times a year; and 2.5 billion times during a lifetime.

* You have 60,000 miles of blood vessels in your heart

* The heart begins beating at four weeks after conception and does not stop until death.

* More than 2,500 Americans die from heart disease each day, equaling one death every 34 seconds

The topic of the heart is near to mine after the past two weeks.  Recently, my father in law collapsed at home and died before he reached the hospital. He was 71 “apparent heart attack” reads the obituary.  My husband’s life is forever altered as dad was his friend and golfing buddy all rolled into one. 

I lost my father when he was only 54 due to his 3rd and final heart attack. When I was pregnant with my first child, my mother suffered a heart attack.  My brother in law died at the age of 24 of an Arrhythmia of the heart. And my own brother merely 15 months older than I,  just underwent a heart cath on Tuesday.  To say I have a “history” with matters of the heart is an understatement.

As my daughter and I were driving from my mother in law’s house in Ohio  back to ours in Pennsylvania on Wednesday after the funeral, my husband called me with news that he had been taken by ambulance to the hospital for chest pains. I was 2 hours away still from our house, another 45minutes from the hospital. My own heart sank. I first called on God then the people who needed to manage my life and kids for at least the next 24 hours.

I came home dropped off the dog and the 11 year old, funeral flowers and food, and headed to the hospital where I found an indignant husband anxious to be released. My husband is an athlete. He is in great shape physically working out about 4x a week and competing in triathlons and races via running and biking all year long, and he always has. 

His resting heart rate is 52. His blood pressure and cholesterol levels are amazing and the envy of most of his doctors…yet here he was in the care of cardiac specialists.  After a stress test which he nailed and a night of observation he was permitted to go home.  Apparently the stress of a broken heart can wreak havoc on even the strongest of bodies.  It was diagnosed as an esophageal spasm due to stress. We were given a prescription for Prilosec and sent on our way. 

As I was praying and trying to find a “good” or “GOD” part of ending this exhausting week in the Emergency Room I pondered God’s heart.  Everything we endure has a purpose.  He is so gracious and walks with us through trials. 

In my heart, I felt like GOD allowed this to happen in order to assure Brian’s mom and me that his HEART was PERFECT so that his mom and I wouldn’t even have to worry about him following in his father’s footsteps.    

How like God to know my fears and concerns even before I did and assure me that “all is well”.

Point to Ponder:  In what ways has God given you “Blessed Assurance” about something to alleviate your worries?

Mirage – Tasting sand or tears?

Still working on my class about Connecting with our Creator through his creations and I am exploring how the Bible mentions weather as teacher and consequence.  While looking at an old homeschooling resource about weather, I stumbled on a section on mirages.

 “A mirage is defined as: a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce a displaced (distorted) image of distant objects or the sky.

It is a real optical phenomenon which can be captured on camera, since light rays actually are refracted to form the false image at the observer’s location. What the image appears to represent, however, is determined by the interpretive faculties of the human mind.” (yeah its wiki but its right and in plain English)

“Peary could clearly see the mountain tops of “Crocker Land” across the polar ice pack, but it was only an Arctic Mirage.” (Copyright Lee Krystek, 1998)

Looking at images of mirages and reading stories about people fooled by them, either in the deserts, on mountain tops or even on deserted highways, something sparked in my mind.

  www.lindajackmanphotography.com

To have a mirage you must have heat and pressure.  Satan dwells in hell which is a hot place.  How often does he use a “mirage” of sorts to make something sinful or wrong seem acceptable? The father of lies  turns up the heat and distorts our view pressuring us to stumble.

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This happens when we take our eyes off where God wants us to be like when we don’t seek him before we leap into a new direction, relationship or ministry. 

A mirage may fool us into believing  that person seems way more kind and Godly than our spouse, that promotion way more lucrative, that opportunity way more inviting.  Perhaps the mirage makes us think that movie or TV show or that music is way less offensive and vile.

We are tricked into a distorted image of reality.  But we are ripe for it, if we’ve let our vision stray from the truth and the source of light – God.  Even NOBLE deeds can be mirages if they are NOT in accordance with God’s plan for our lives. Pursuing them, leads to disobedience.

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And like a thirsty soul in the desert uses his last bit of strength to fall hard over the hill to the oasis below, we fall hard into sin and the lies of Satan.  And for us, just like that thirsty soul, the reality is ugly when we hit the bottom and see the miragefor what it really is – a lie.  Heartbroken the desert dweller gasps sand and we who’ve broken God’s heart and possibly the hearts of others taste the salt of our own tears.

Point to Ponder:  Are you sucking in sand or tasting salty tears due to chasing a mirage?  What steps do you need to take to for a reality check. How can you fix your eyes on the true source of light?

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Erosion of the heart

Photo Courtesy of Linda Jackman Photography
http://lindajackmanphotography.com/

The other day I watched rivulets of water from melting snow trickle down my driveway creating ruts. Today in the freezing temps, those water filled ruts have frozen and widened. I watched my daughter navigate these obstacles trying to avoid them on the way to bus.

According to the dictionary….. Erosion is the natural process of weathering and transport of solids (sediment, soil, rock and other particles) in the natural environment or their source and depositing them elsewhere.

Recently, I used the following analogy about erosion to draw a word picture of how our hearts can be eroded by our loved ones, specifically our family members.

Often our loved one never “intends” to hurt us. Reality is though eventually they do actually wound us. They do things over and over which causes ruts to be carved on our hearts. Rarely do we bring this up. We just react. We pull back, hurt back or just ignore both the issue and the offender. We get over it and move on, but the rut grows deeper with each hurt.

Gradually all their stuff (words/actions) washes over our heart and trickles down the eroded grooves widening them. So we hear or feel things based upon it washing over the grooves and picking up remnants of the hurts that are deposited in the troughs.

Eventually everything they say or do…is covered in baggage and offensive. The result is defensiveness which is divisive.

Watching flood ravaged areas, one sees sandbags to prevent erosion and trucks backfilling things as earth is washed away. I pondered how to fill the grooves in my heart left behind by others whose words or deeds have gradually etched my heart and wounded my spirit. People I am forced to interact with daily.

Backhoes would destroy my heart. A sandbag would squash it. Avoiding people is not an option especially when you are related to them or even live with them. How to fix it?

According the Mayo Clinic: “Generally, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you may always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.”

Our Creator’s word says:

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:13
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.
Proverbs 12:25

Forgiveness is an act we do without any action on our offender’s part. It is giving up our right to revenge. It’s our choice and it would seem forgiving is heart healthy for us.

Point to Ponder:
Does the erosion of my heart affect my relationships? What can I do to heal my heart? What choices do I need to make and whom do I need to forgive?


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