SCARS

Scars

FullSizeRender (1)She sat down beside me in the dining room, running her fingers over a scar on her leg. “I love scars,” my 15 year old announced. I sat silently waiting for my deep thinker’s epiphany to tumble out.  She pointed from scar to scar and explained the memories they evoked.  She said, “Scars tell stories”.  From bike chains to dog fangs, spills and falls, she shared the cause of each.  The tales were part of my fair skinned girl’s story.

Scars make us wonder, they make us notice. Scars matter.  At the Dairy Queen a lady stood at the other window.  She was flawless from head to….ankle.  Her ankle bore the scares of what appeared to be several surgeries and her strappy blingy sandals did not hide them. I wondered if she was a runner or soccer player or if she injured her ankle skiing or biking.  What was the story behind her scar?

The scar conversation with my daughter weighed heavily as I pondered about the unseenIMG_1384 scars in our lives.  The wounds inflicted on our spirits, on our souls, on our hearts, on our minds.  We all carry unseen scars that are perhaps to painful to share about.

The scars on my child’s legs and hands are evidence of healed wounds.  What about unseen scars?  Have they healed or has the world picked our scabs so much that our unseen wounds continue to fester and weep? Does she have unseen scars?

Unseen scars manifest themselves in various ways.  People who lash out harshly, judge unjustly, withdraw, overmedicate, hibernate or live in fear might be the walking wounded, nursing scars that have yet to heal.
100_5805Recently, I encountered one of the wounded whose unseen scars compelled them to behave irrationally. The confrontation left me reeling and contemplating a well crafted, scathing and justified retort until my eyes fell upon a scar on my hand.  Swallowing the words and stuffing my anger, the path of peace seemed to be more important than proving my case.  Pondering the unseen scars that led to the raw anger gushed out took the focus off my wounds and put it on their unseen ones.

The bible says: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,” Proverbs 16:32a  Being slow to anger doesn’t come naturally to me.  “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression.” Proverbs 19:11

Ephesians 4:31 is pretty clear on how we are to handle others: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”  I’m still unsure of the fallout from the angry encounter but one thing is pretty clear when I pray about it.  “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” – Exodus 14:14.

“I see it on the cross
The nails You took for me
Scars can change the world
Scars can set me free”

Mandisa – “What Scars are for”

I see scars differently now.  I see them as reminders of healing and restoration. Like the FullSizeRender (2)scars Christ bore for us that we might be healed and restored. It’s the unseen scars, the scars still healing that I’m trying to focus on.  Scars tell stories.  When offended, I guess the important thing is to rest in our defense, the one the Lord promises.  To lay the offense at His nail scarred feet.  Let His scars change your world.

 

 

POINT TO PONDER:  Do your scars seen or unseen make you retreat or lash out?  Have you taken your wounds to the ONE who was wounded for us? His scars were for the sake of our healing and restoration what keeps you from laying them at his feet?

Catch us Monday thru Friday at 7:15am EST for #HOPEscope on www.periscope.tv Look for Connie P. Shoemaker or kissedbycreator   You can also watch replays on katch.me search for kissedbycreator .

 

From Wrecked to Reminded

DSC_0260Lately I feel like the ball on God’s ping pong table. As if I am bouncing from one tragedy to the next.  It would appear, if my Facebook page is any indicator, many of us share the same predicament.

On Sunday scrolling through my Facebook feed, I learned of the unexplained sudden death of a healthy sixth month old.  I was wrecked as I read of his mother’s anguished cries and aching arms.  I sucked air in as the tears squeezed4264164845_da35e12f33_z out. I uttered a small prayer for comfort and let the grief settle in for this momma I didn’t even know and the toddler she never would.

Scrolling a little further I read the news that a baby we prayed for regarding an encephalitic condition in the womb was born whole and healthy. I worshiped and praised sharing this answered prayer while weeping for the empty crib and childless mother.

God seems to allow crushing tragedy into our lives or into the life of someone we love, that leaves us wrecked.  Speechless or reeling, grasping desperately at the whys?

  • Why did this happen?
  • Why did God allow this?
  • Why could something so bad happen to this good person?

Mozambique SunriseWhen I sink down and feel the weight of the sorrow or pain and slog through the mire of the unknown; I get to that part where my boots get stuck in the mud.  I can go no further, think no more, no words to say, save for one….Jesus.  I wait.  Much like Augustine when he penned these words:

“In my deepest wound I saw your glory, and it dazzled me.” ~ Augustine

 

I wait for the glory. I wait for the dazzle and it comes. Not always quickly. But it comes.

Just that one word.  Jesus.  It is the word when all others fail.  It is the white flag waving at the end of a battered or IV tethered hand or a shaking fist.  Jesus.

And then He does it.  He reminds us of Who HE is.  He dazzles.

It could be a totally unrelated answer to prayer or some miracle coming out of the current tragedy.  He never fails.  His glory is somehow revealed.

It’s like a small pat on the hand of a frightened child or the comfort of a parent waking a childOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA from a night terror.  He reminds us that he is there.  That he is on the throne.  He knows. He sees. He hears. He shapes.

The repercussions of the tragedy continue to unfold.  The tears are still cried and dried.  But the dazzling.  The glory reminds us that we are not walking it alone or unseen. The Glory gives hint to purpose.

While the mysteries of the Why’s may never be answered on this side of eternity.  The comfort of the Who comes.  It comes with dazzling glory.

Perhaps if we share more of the Dazzling with others, even just the daily dazzling it would offer hope to those in darkness – those still wrestling with the Whys.

See, we get prayer requests daily on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Periscope…the requests come in droves.  What about the Answers?  Maybe we need to start just posting our Answers to prayers, our praises for how God shows up daily. The dazzling of glory moments in our day, not just the dark ones.

“Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.” – Psalm 96:3

If you’ve followed the story of Joey and Rory Feek, you’ve witnessed the devastation of ovarian cancer on this little country music clan.  In his blog thislifeilive.com  Rory talks about their life quite candidly.  I admire his strength and his faith during this heart wrecking journey.  There is hope in his words…I think he sees the dazzling through his tears because his words bear witness and bring glory to God.  I pray for Joey and their family daily.  I pray for  Dazzle for them.

If you are walking through the darkness.  If you are prayed out, talked out, or tuckered out; say the name of Jesus.  Then wait for it….

The dazzling will come.  HIS Glory will shine.

 

POINT TO PONDER:  If you’ve felt the dazzle amidst a wound share it here, encourage others.  When we see there is a purpose to our pain it gives us strength to endure.

 

Catch us Monday thru Friday at 7:15am EST for #HOPEscope on www.periscope.tv Look for Connie P. Shoemaker or kissedbycreator!  You can also watch replays on katch.me search for kissedbycreator .

 

 

5 ways to Creatively Connect with the Creator in Prayer

folded hands“Our Father who art in Heaven….”  I remember our nightly ritual, brushing teeth and bed time prayers with folded hands.  I knew the prayer by heart. I could offer it up in my sleep, and often said it as my Father carried me to bed.  As I got older, those words became more powerful and the practice of prayer more personal. I began to learn about the value of personal prayer.  Coming from a charismatic background I’d seen prayers for healings yield lengthened limbs, and bid diseases away.  I saw doors of opportunity open and relationships restored as a result of prayer.

“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces

wonderful results.” (James 5:16b NLT)

Sometimes our prayer life can become routine or stale.  I felt like my prayers were becoming laundry lists of petitions lacking sincerity.  I decided to shake up my prayer life a little by reading some devotionals and old school prayer books and was blessed by how new the practice of prayer became.

Last Blog we discussed visual reminders to keep a focus on God’s presence, this blog I am going to share with you some things I’ve incorporated that keep me focused on prayer time and block out distractions

             My prayer beads were a gift from my ministry partner.  They are smooth and purple.

Prayer Beads

Prayer Beads

Sometimes I will just hold them as I pray each stone representing a different prayer of thanksgiving and I’ll go through them again with petitions…helps me balance my conversation with God. Sometimes I will just sit quietly and thumb through them allowing for silence for God to speak.

“The LORD is near to all them that call on him, to all that call on him in truth.”

(Psalm 145:18)

Shower door prayer reminders

Shower door prayer reminders

2              I am known for writing the name on my hand of someone to pray for throughout the day. (YAY for Sharpies)  I also keep a dry erase pen in my bathroom to write on my mirror and shower door so that I can be prayerful while I am getting ready for work.  “A day hemmed in prayer is not likely to unravel” (Note: Do not confuse Sharpie w/dry erase. Much harder to get off mirror; lesson learned the hard way.)

“Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

             This past year, I have been making coloring part of my Sabbath.  I will sit on my

Coloring Book and pencils

Coloring Book and pencils

back porch with soft music playing and chose a picture, while I color it, I lift my prayers to God.  It makes prayers less rushed and more heartfelt. I find the contemplative quiet in between is so beneficial to the  “Listening” part of prayer.  It really is a two way conversation.

“Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue. Gods voice in response to mine is its most essential part.” ~ Andrew Murray

Prayer Journaling

Prayer Journaling

4              Journaling prayers has always been a part of my life, but I had gotten away from keeping record of answered prayer. Answers are such an incentive and encouragement to our prayer lives.  The bible is full of answered prayers which show the Power of Prayer.  Journaling our prayers gives us a gentle reminder that the God who answered us back then….is the same God we are seeking today.

 

5              These prayer stones were stones I intentionally

Prayer Stones

Prayer Stones

picked up on Lake Erie several years ago.  I wrote topics on them in sharpie and set them in a basket. Throughout the day I would take one out and pray about that specific need and lay it on the table. At the end of the day the basket was empty and I had some great unstructured conversations with God.  Often I will leave a particular stone out to remind me  to pray about an issue that burdens me.   It prompts me to be a “Prayer WARRIOR and not a prayer WORRIER”

I am super excited about the movie coming out called WAR ROOM – it looks fabulous and is centered on prayer.  Check out the trailer here :  http://warroomthemovie.com/

Prayer is part of a Christian’s daily walk.  Prayer is connecting to the Creator.  You don’t get to know someone by only spending one hour a week with them. Talking with God daily will increase your faith and your connection to him.  We are called to pray without ceasing in Thessalonians 5:17.

My prayer is that you will find a method that works for you and that as you grow deeper in your relationship with the Savior; Prayer will become something you crave.

POINT TO PONDER:  What can you incorporate into your prayer life to make it more meaningful to you and to the Lord?

What is a tzitzit?

I was sharing with my #Periscope* devotion group #HOPEscope* about how I often use visual objects to keep me focused on God during the day, and during my prayer time.

This particular day we were discussing how he is our firm foundation.  I mentioned that HE is our Rock. The lyrics “On Christ the solid rock I stand” were playing in my head.  I showed them a rock I set out as I reminder of this truth. I mentioned the variety of other ways that a visual person, such as myself, can use items to represent truths and remind us of scripture.

Rocks represent the Christ who is the Rock on which I stand

Rocks represent the Christ who is the Rock on which I stand

Sometimes it takes something to pull our thoughts back to our Creator.  In my ministry I often leave the audience with a token, a book or a bookmark to help them remember what was shared. I’ve gotten emails from people  even years later who mention they still use the token to remind them of a particular truth.

For a visual person, images are extremely powerful in processing the world.  As a lover of Nature and the Creator, I often see the fingerprints of God where ever I look outside.  My heart longs for the sea constantly as I feel HIS presence so strongly there.  My connection to the Creator is both enhanced and strengthened by the visual.

God's thoughts of us outnumber the grains of Sand.  Psalm 139:17/18

God’s thoughts of us outnumber the grains of Sand.
Psalm 139:17/18

Today I was reading in Numbers 15:37-41

37 The Lord said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. 39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God.”

Even God saw that HIS people needed tangible reminders of his commandments or his words.

These reminders were called tzitzit [tsiˈtsit] the Hebrew name for specially knotted ritual 
fringes, or tassels, worn in antiquity by Israelites and today by observant Jews and Samaritans.  They were a tangible reminder ordained by God.

A collection of nature photos and verses.

A collection of nature photos and verses.

Now these were the same people who saw the seas parted and manna fall from heaven.  They “experienced” first hand (not just read about) intense miracles and blessings from the very hand of God.  They were first and second generation evacuees from Egypt…and yet…they forgot.  They got sidetracked from God and what he required.

God created us. He knows how we think. He knows how we can be distracted like the Israelites.  The world is a busy and noisy place and it causes us to be sidetracked much like the Israelites were.  If distractions were prevalent  back then before electricity and social media…flash forward.

POP up ads lure people into situations that are unholy. We have beeps/whistles/passwords and codes.  We are forced to remember so much other information that often what  God speaks to us gets shoved out or put aside.  While I have seen Social Media used for good and to positive ends, there is no denying that it can become a huge time waster and massive distraction.

It is prudent that as believers we utilize whatever means possible to remember the

Gifts from the sea inspire me

Gifts from the sea inspire me

commandments and promises of God. Having tangible reminders visible helps pull our focus back to our Creator.  It might mean setting our phone alarm to remind us to pray or study the word, or putting a Post-it note on our computer.  I don’t see many of us sewing tassels to our clothes. The word of God doesn’t change though our visual reminders might.

 

 

Sea Glass reminds me  that God can take Trash and make into treasure.

Sea Glass reminds me that God can take Trash and make into treasure.

39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God.”

The word consecration literally means “association with the sacred”.  I want to be associated with God how about you?

Next blog will be focusing on Prayer and Tangible ways we can stay focused or make it more meaningful!

POINT TO PONDER: What visual reminders speak to you about the awesomeness of God?

(*Periscope is app where my show #HOPEscope airs mornings after 7am and eves after 8pm I am over there at ” kissedbycreator “)

Our God REIGNS…even when it rains!

Weather has always fascinated me.  Currently I am dealing with Rain…did you know?100_5401

1: Rain can fall up to 22 miles per hour.

2: One droplet of rain stays in Earth’s atmosphere for about 10 days.

3: Rain isn’t a teardrop shape,  it’s actually ovular.

4: Every second, 16 million tons of water is evaporated from the surface of Earth.

5: Every second, 16 million tons of water precipitates back onto Earths’ surface (Water Cycle!).

( according to: http://explainers.nysci.org/post/72706480434/5-facts-about-rain-you-probably-didnt-know-1)

IMG_2422Scripture is fraught with references to weather.  There is talk of clouds, sun, storms, rain, snow, lightening, thunder, and of course, the famous one…the flood.  This is one I can relate to currently as the water rises in my basement.  It’s a combination of snow melt and spring rains and a situation that started when our township forced residents make mandatory changes to our septic systems.

The process took all the solid matter like clay, and years of packed dirt out of our back yard and replaced it with new gravel and porous material along with slanting the back yard toward the house, much to our dismay.

Now this current flood is not as bad as ones we’ve had in the IMG_2449past or as destructive because we’ve somewhat prepared for it by storing items in plastic and raising things off the floor and adding second pump. However the clean up is daunting.  Drying out and taking precautions to prevent mold…its all so draining (no pun intended) but as I sit waiting for the waters to subside I think about the fact that Our God REIGNS…even when it rains.

This entire situation reminds me that when we lose the solid – the bedrock firmness of our faith…when we replace the solid truth with porous stuff that is easily moveable our faith becomes ripe for the flooding of the world into it. 

IMG_2391As the world seeps into the crevices we’ve allowed – often under the disguise of “tolerance” with the lies of “just this once” or “I won’t actually do it, just read about it” the leaking makes our truth dank, moldy and repulsive.

The foundations of our faith, just like the foundation of my house are vulnerable to penetration unless we are surrounded by a firm solid wall of protection.  Not only can our faith suffer, but our witness as well.

It’s hard not to get mired down in our soggy wet storms and take our eyes off the SON.  When we do that we are left with just soggy wet feet. Our trials or storms can lead us to grumble and complain which can breed bitterness if left unchecked.  If we keep our eyes on the Son ~ HE will give us the opportunity to turn our valleys into victories.

People are watching.  Unbelievers are watching.  Our children are watching how we navigate the flood waters.  Where is our higher ground?  What do we cling to as the waters swirl around us?  Will our actions encourage others to follow to where we’ve set our eyes?

IMG_2466Ironically or perhaps not I stumbled across this verse today:

The LORD sat as King at the flood; Yes, the LORD sits as King forever. ~ Psalm 29:10

Preparing for the flood starts in the heart. One of the ways we can stand firm as the water rises is to seek the LORD first.

As I listened to the rain and saw the water seeping in, despite two pumps working to keep it at bay, I had a choice.  I could let this destroy my attitude and my day or I could ask God to turn it into something that would bless others.

DSC_0090Hopefully this little “blessing” of a reality check will give you the incentive to check the walls around your faith.  How firm is your foundation?  Will it be ready when the flood waters come?

While writing, my playlist hit on this song by Jesus Culture:  Our God Reigns.  If your spirit is in need of a little revival you might want to take a moment, crank up the speakers and revel in the REIGN!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jpf7q4VnRU

Point to Ponder: Are you ready for the rain? How can you show God Reigning in your life to someone who is watching?



Frozen : The Lenten Challenge

We drive through the crowded parking lot, mountains of gray snow at the edges hogging up much needed DSC_0277spaces.  Rachel says, “look at that disgusting snow its so gross and dirty. I am so ready for spring. I hate wearing coats, hats and gloves.” 

Quietly I pray for a new layer to cover up the gray.  White to cover the black.  It was Ash Wednesday. I thought of the significance.  It was the ashes on the plowed lot that made the snow mountains gray and dirty.  Ash mixed with winter white.

Our denomination doesn’t celebrate Ash Wednesday but my Methodist roots and the Catholic neighborhood I grew up in filled me with memories and meaning of what that day commemorates.  Like advent…it is a time of preparing our hearts.

It’s been a long winter here in Western PA.  I heard someone say the other day it had been a long winter in her heart. blog heart ice

Ironically one of the hit movies this year is called Frozen.  I pondered all these icy metaphors and thought about the cold heart.

DSC_0260Like the tiny shoots of grass and daffodils beneath the layer of snow, the cold heart harbors tiny invisible seeds of hope.  What does it take to melt a cold heart?

Love. Forgiveness. Grace. Mercy.

These are all things we can give or offer to someone who  is frozen

DSC_0275

 

People ask “What are you giving up for Lent?”  I ponder is it really about giving something up or pouring something out?   What if we use the 40 days to try to thaw the frozen hearts around us? Bathe their hearts in the warmth of mercy. If they are brittle from bitterness … foster them with forgiveness.  Love the lonely and wrap the stumbling with grace.  Take a 40 day challenge to thaw the frozen.  What will you give up for lent?  A bit of yourself?  A bit of your time?

Is your heart the one that is Frozen?  Are you chilled to your soul, unable to pray, seek or ask?  Are you wrestling with the ashy dirty feeling of sin, fear, or regret?  Are you brittle from reaching out and being rejected? Are the windows of your soul frosted up ~ blocking out the SON ?  Do you long to bathe in the warmth of … something…anything?

James 4:8  “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Take a 40 day challenge to thaw your frozen heart. Write one thing each day that you are thankful for. Do one small kind gesture for someone else. A smile, open a door, … gratitude will help thaw the edges.

Comment to me or message me and I will commit to pray for you during lent. Let it go.  Allow God to resurrect your life before Easter Sunday.  Are you up for the challenge? Your Creator is waiting to make your story HIStory and your time of testing, your Testimony. Remember, you were worth dying for…that is what Easter is really all about.

100_4001

One of my favorite Easter Hymns: For Those Tears I Died.

You said You’d come and share all my sorrows,
You said You’d be there for all my tomorrows;
I came so close to sending You away,
But just like You promised You came there to stay;
I just had to pray!

And Jesus said, “Come to the water, stand by My side,
I know you are thirsty, you won’t be denied;
I felt ev’ry teardrop when in darkness you cried,
And I strove to remind you that for those tears I
died.”

Point to Ponder: Seek out the Frozen. Look in the mirror. Is your soul ready for spring?DSC_1006


 

 

 

I Forgot My Phone: missed by the creator?

The other day I was about 5 miles from home on a mission of a day full of errands.  I was at a stop light and I thought, “I should call my mom”.  I reached into my pocket for my cell phone.  I gasped, it was not there.  After frantically patting all of my pockets and a quick look into my purse, I realized my phone was at home.  I thought of going back, but the light turned green and I pressed on!

I was mad at myself as there were calls to make, people to connect with.  But then I decided to make the best of it and realized, I couldn’t be interrupted, asked for anything, or otherwise bugged.  So it freed me up to connect with my Creator all day without interruption.

It turned out to be the best day of errands in years.  Totally stress free and wonderful.  I didn’t forget one item on my list because of talking on the phone.  I didn’t have to hurry to get home to deal with something instead of completing all my errands.  I was at peace all day long.  I let people in front of me in line because by not being on the phone I was AWARE they had fewer items that I.  I struck up conversations with those around me because I was not distracted with a call or text while waiting in line.

When I thought of calling someone I prayed for them instead.  I prayed for many people that day. It was freeing physically and spiritually to leave the phone behind.  (Ironically the model name for my phone is EXULT)  I truly felt “missed by the creator” and he blessed me all day long.

DSC_2296Connecting with our creator is so crucial to our well being.  Our prayer life depends on the connection.  So much in our daily life interrupts that connection including our communication devices.  The techno-distractions of today rob us of time around the altar with God that Abraham, David, and Moses enjoyed.  I wonder how much God misses those intimate connections?

It is easy to hit LIKE or type the word “Praying” under a Facebook status that is requesting prayer…but do we REALLY pray?  We tweet prayer requests but do we tweet answered prayer?

I am not knocking technology because I have seen it initiate prayer, donations, help and support…but we need to be mindful NOT to let it become a distraction for true communication with our CREATOR.

OH and by the way…. I plan to leave my phone behind a lot more.  So if you are trying to reach me,  leave a message because I might just be busy talking to the Lord…perhaps it’s about you!

POINT TO PONDER:

Do you find yourself distracted by the contraptions that were supposed to make our lives easier or better?  If you lost electricity and internet do you think the quality time you spend with God would be different?  Would you consider a cyber Sabbath of sorts where you’d refrain from social media to reconnect with your Creator?  If so, why or why not?

 

What I learned at Camp

Seneca Chapel1.Bring several warm layers even in April

2.The “Heavenly Storehouses Laden with Snow” can pour out…even in April

3.Don’t forget the sleeping bag or the camera.

4.Camp food is tasty –  don’t start a diet before you head out.

5.Women Rock at Paintball.

6.Lack of outward appearing response has no bearing on INWARD Impact – YAY God!

7.A Zipline can make your age 40 + body, feel older the next day.

8.God not only calms the storms in your life, but your stomach as well.

9.Audiences love a good Super Hero story…especially when it involves BAT GIRL!

And the best thing?

10.GOD SHOWS UP AT CAMP!

 

This weekend was the Anchor of the Soul:  Women’s Retreat at Seneca Hills. Anchor Prop I continue to be blown away by the awesomeness of God and how he can take willing and broken vessels who serve and pour into them until they overflow on others.

We explored who God is and How he loves us.  We examined how the hurts we go through grow us. We looked at things that can harden our hearts which hinders our relationship with God and we learned about how essential hope is to our prayer life and how to be a hope giver.

We UNTIED the knots in our lifeline which keep us from being tethered to the Anchor of our souls and we became UNITED with the only sure thing to keep us from drifting in this crazy mixed up world.

Several ladies came to the true and life saving knowledge that they are daughters of a King.

We sang, journaled, prayed, pondered…did zumba, PraiseMoves and Paintball we ate and learned how to eat Biblically…we shared…we cared…we chatted…but most of all…we worshipped.Worship at Seneca

It was a memorable weekend. Thanks be to God!  If you were there comment on what you took away from the weekend.  Hope to see you again soon!

If you missed it.  Learn how you can schedule the An Anchor for Our Souls Retreat for the women at your church by leaving your query below.  We look forward to serving you!

 

The Pressing

The sun was barely up and a hint of Fall was in the air.  Geese passed overhead in shifting patterns. The crickets continued chirping their good night song, the air was still and the mist hung. And I began that last walk of vacation.  It had been a week of food, fun, friends, laughter, waves and just God showing up big in Michigan.  This was the final day of our last adventure before number one son headed some 12 hours away to a Military school in Vermont.  My heart was heavy with that “after the holidays” feeling ~ when all your anticipation is spent and the trimmings lie in tatters. 

Part way around the misty lake I found the perfect spot to begin my quiet time.  A wonderful warm rock invited me to sit and watch the business of the lake and the awesomeness of my Creator in action.  As lovely as it all was, I couldn’t shake the heaviness, the looming sadness of the last day of vacation and the future that was poised before me.  In the next week my oldest would be a college freshman and my youngest would begin Middle School and one of my dearest friends would embark upon the toughest chapter of her life.  Change was anything but sweet for me.

My mind had already begun to transition from the tranquil lake setting to my “to do” list which made entering into worship a challenge.  To my left was a pretty purple bush, I bent to sniff it.  Nothing. The feathery branches were soft and lush and inviting to the touch, so I ran my fingers through them gently and sniffed.  Nothing.  I looked again because it looked like lavender.  I thought it should smell.  I pinched off a finger-sized stalk and I rolled it in my hands. Instantly the aroma of lavender burst forth and immersed me in a cloud of delightful fragrance.  Of course, I thanked my Creator and with the lavender in my hand I continued around the lake.

The more I pressed the purple flowers, the stronger the smell became.  I walked and prayed as the lavender wafted and when it waned, I pressed harder. As I prayed I felt God showing me that many of his beautiful creations only become beautiful or useful in the pressing.  Olives, Grapes and even apples become even more of blessing when pressed.

Recently I was reading about flax seeds and while they are healthy to digest and act as fiber, it is only when they are crushed or pressed that the hard hulls release their powerful Omega – 3 ‘s.

My sweet son is going to be pressed as he faces the rigorous challenges of military life.  My (sometimes) sweet redhead is going to be pressed into her public school experience with new friends, new teachings and ideas that are in opposition to what she’s known.  And I will be pressed in dealing with a dear friend who is being wrung out by the choices of her mate. 

My prayer is that in the pressing, may the true beauty and purpose of the Lord be revealed in our lives.  That enduring the pressing can bring a sweet aroma to those around and they will see Jesus in us.

Point to Ponder:  Are you being pressed, does it feel like you are bearing more than you can stand? My prayer is that the aroma, the fruit of that pressing, though you can’t see it now, will be a sweet aroma to someone who desperately needs immersed in HIS delightful fragrance.

Remembering 9-11

When tragedy struck on 9-11, I was a homeschool mom of 3. Since then I have met survivors, victims families, and taught about 9-11 as history. That day I turned on the computer and recorded in real time my feelings and thoughts. My kids were ages 7, 5 and 10 mos. Below is that journal entry simply cut and pasted here. We read it each year to REMEMBER. (photos are not mine, I tried to find credits where I could~see below)

 My dear sweet ones,                                                                           Sept. 11, 2001

 Today was the worst day in the history of America since I have been born.  We watched with grave disbelief as terrorists forever changed my country.  They brazenly hijacked 4 planes filled with fuel and set out to destroy.  Their first target was the World Trade Center Towers in which nearly 50,000 innocent people worked daily.  They struck at around 9 am, just as their workdays were starting.  Then they struck our center of nations defenses, the Pentagon, and one attempt was thwarted to attack the command center and retreat of the president, Camp David.  That plane was downed about 60 or so miles from here in a clearing in the mountains.  Close to 300 people were killed on the hijacked planes and a total body count can’t even be speculated. 

The thought these terrorists were so close to us, even though it was our airspace is quite sobering.  I have a feeling that this is not the end, but a beginning of testing for America, which used to be known as a super power.  Now, our vulnerability has been shown to the world. 

Praise God that so far, all those we know and love are safe and sound.  

The prevailing feeling of dread and sadness is quite oppressive this evening as we await a State of the Union address from President Bush. The state of the union is pretty bleak at this point. 

You kids watched the disaster today on CNN but I am not sure how much of the magnitude of this disaster you are processing.   It is history in the making and the worst day in the history of our United States.  I pray that it will be only a memory for you and that in your lives you will not experience human casualties such as we are facing. 

We are a nation in mourning.  Well over 200 Firefighters are dead and 78 Police are missing and presumed killed.  The confidence in our nation has been shaken.  TV reports are calling this a second Pearl Harbor.

 President Bush just spoke and quoted Psalm 23.  He is a Godly man and I pray his wisdom will prevail and he will be sensitive to the leading of God as the details of this tragedy are sorted out. 

I put you both to bed tonight and read to you Psalm 94.  It speaks of God’s revenge upon the wicked and of how HE will be our refuge in times of trials and fear.  He is the rock upon which we stand and our mighty fortress.   At times like these I am so thankful for the legacy my family has instilled in me – The legacy of a powerful and just God who is our defender and friend, comforter and convictor, our rock, our fortress our haven and our healer.  I pray that you will also carry that legacy forward and hold fast to it at times when faith is so easily and brutally shaken. 

This day, September 11 will be one I will never forget.  It is a day I never thought would come.  I picked up our precious baby Rachel and I feared what was in store for her sweet life down the road.  As I tucked each of you and touched your soft skin and hair I ached for your safety and assurance horrific things such as happened today would never touch your lives. 

I shut out the light and walked away with a renewed determination to work at instilling the scriptures and the values that are found in the bible.  God forbid that one day you live in a world that prohibits bible ownership, you will have the truths in your heart and the hymns of praise will be on your lips.

 I love you my little lambs, my gifts from God.  I go to bed tonight with a heavy heart for all those kids who will be waiting up for parents that will never come home.  For all the promises made by parents who will never return to fulfill them.  I go to bed feeling thankful though somewhat guilty for our safety and our life.  May God continue to protect us all and keep us together as a family until His return.

 Love,

Mom 

9-10-2011: I hope we remember how we felt the next day also. The soar of patriotism. Pride in our country, unabashed praying in public, compassion for neighbors and strangers who were grieving.  We can’t go back to 9-10-01 and undo the tragedy.  But we can go back to 9-12-01 and revisit and renew our hope in a country of people who were united and prayerful through loss.

Point to Ponder: Were you more patriotic in 2001 than you are in 2011? Do you trust God more or less now than in 2001?

PHOTO: Ariel  (Det. Greg Semendinger/NYC Police Aviation Unit)

Prayer at crosss http://saintmychaljudge.blogspot.com/  911 Praying photo

Skyline New York Mag . com

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