Sunday, June 23, 2013

Getting Ready!

Only 2  days left before we begin our journey to Costa Rica! I finished my last day of work for awhile on Friday, added more articles to be packed to the piles on the bedroom floor and went to church early this morning so our team could get prayer for the trip. Excitement increases!  The prayers were encouraging.  We will be a blessing to the people we work for and minister to. Our unity as a team is important and will be an example to those who are watching.  We're to pack Fun & Love and give it away. There were personal words to individuals that God would be changing their thinking during the trip and they would come back with new perspectives. Kevin and I will have opportunities to sit down with other couples and be able to share truth with them about life's experiences(didn't say we would have a download of Spanish to do this with, though...)

The next two days will be busy and a planning mind may interfere with sound sleep, but there is much good to anticipate.  One of our preparations is to share a devotional with the team some morning.  I've been meditating on John 9 this week and jotting down some things that I might share with the group.

Here are some of my observations from this intriguing story about a blind man and his encounter with Jesus.

 As the disciples and Jesus are walking along one day they see a man born blind from birth. The man was probably a familiar sight, a beggar who was part of the landscape.  The locals knew him and his history.  The disciples ask Jesus something they probably always wondered but never knew who to ask.  "Is this man blind because he sinned or because his parents were the sinners?"

Jesus says, "Neither sinned.  He is blind because God wants to display His work in the man's life."
Then he spits on the ground, makes mud and applies it to the man's eyes. He is told to go and wash in a certain pool. The man does, and he can see.

God's work is certainly on display! Neighbors, Pharisees, the whole community wants to know how he can now see. The man is peppered with questions and he repeats his story.  The Pharisees in particular want to know the details and who did this to him.  Even after he tells them, they ask again, because they are divided on whether Jesus who did the miracle can be from God.  Yes, he did it, but he didn't follow God's rules in the process!

The man's parents are called in and they acknowledge this is their son and that he was blind before, but they plead innocent of knowing how it happened, not wanting to be in disfavor with the Pharisees who were against Jesus. The blind man gains boldness as the interviews continue until he finally challenges the rulers to realize that if this man Jesus was not from God he could not do something like this.

The rulers get mad and kick him out, out from their presence, their favor, probably the place of worship where he had belonged before. Jesus finds him, reveals himself to the man and he believes in Jesus.

The things we suffer or bear in life are not always because of sin. Isn't there some encouragement in knowing that God may want to showcase to others his work of restoration or healing in our lives? As Celebrate Recovery would say, God doesn't waste a hurt.

But God's way of working may seem strange or a long time coming. The blind man waited a long time for his sight.  Before he knew he would be given sight, he feels pressure on his eyes from a stranger who tells him to go wash in a certain place. Our moment of freedom or healing may come after a time when things seem to be getting worse. I'm impressed that the blind man, submitted to Jesus' touch and followed his instruction.

For years I struggled with anxiety and panic. Even though my trust was in Jesus through all of it, it was a difficult time and I felt safest when I was with my husband who knew me best.  My best prop was kicked out from under me when the supportive husband died from a brain tumor, leaving me with 3 dependent children.  In that worse time, Jesus touched me and set me free from anxiety. I am so grateful!

But the blind man's freedom came with a price. He was thrown out of the place where he had always belonged. When Jesus hears this, he seeks for him, reveals himself to the man and he worships Jesus. I can't really say that my freedom cost me any great price, but I do realize that the years of fears kept me dependent on God's grace and mercy constantly and his presence was my survival. Being free of what kept me tethered to him so closely, presents the challenge of not becoming independent and losing that sense of desperate need for the One who paid the ultimate cost for my freedom. If your answer, your healing, your freedom hasn't come yet, praise him for what keeps you coming to him, for those times of heart rendering moments in his presence where he comforts you and gives you his strength to keep going onward.

It's interesting to notice the blind man's progression of faith after his healing. When first asked who had healed him his answer was the man they call Jesus.  Next time he says he is a prophet.  He's not certain of Jesus' identity, but there's no doubt of what this man did for him. And then the man reasons and testifies to those who are questioning him, that if this man was not from God he could not have healed him. His spiritual eyes were also being opened.

That Jesus searches for the man after he had been thrown out shows his compassion and tender care for us. In our times of rejection, Jesus will find us, in fact look for us and reveal himself to us.  This love causes us to worship him.  So watch for him, expect him in those times and worship him.

My next entry will fill you in on adventures from Costa Rica! Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 16, 2013


In less than two weeks, Kevin and I will be adventuring in Costa Rica! The church team we'll travel with has met together several times to discuss the details.  We received a packing list, had a mini Spanish lesson, handed over money to our leader, casually looked for our passports...then, frantically looked and tore the bedroom apart in search of the essential credentials (found them in an envelope-hidden in plain sight-whew!!), and heard about culture, taboos and large-sized insects! Armed with knowledge and Cutter with DEET, we are prepared!  Well almost...

There is the shopping ... I'm checking things off the list everytime I Walmart, Walgreen, Goodwill or Amazon. Outfits for hot humid weather, but long sleeves for the agressive insects, a hat, lip balm -sunscreen fortified, wet ones, anti-diarrhea medicine, laxatives, bandaids...Up to the hour we leave, I'll be thinking of the one item we missed or need to have, but when the plane takes off, there's no turning back and our packing will be over.

What if we lived our lives with more awareness of our final journey? How would it change our focus, what would we spend our time and money on in preparation? Do we possess the passport of salvation that will allow us to cross the border?  Are we keeping it up to date, paying attention to not let it expire?

I'll spray on a coating of kindness and gentleness to ward off the sting of rejection and the biting words of those who are hurt or insensitive. The anti-bacterial medicine of the Holy Spirit will anoint my skinned nerves and brusied feelings.

When those interruptions happen or the train crossing arms come down just as I'm about to cross the tracks,  I will whip out the wet wipes of God's Word to wash off frustration and grumbling. I'll drink from his water bottle of Love and Mercy. These wipes came in handy yesterday as I rushed from Walmart to  my car with 3 minutes to spare to get to my hair appointment that was just across the street.  As I returned the shopping cart to the end of  the parking isle, I recognized a woman who used to come to our church.  I didn't know her too well, but I wanted to be friendly so I said hello.  She had no "fine, how are you response?" to my greeting, but proceeded to tell me about the many trials of ill health, financial battles and hurts she was dealing with.  I really did care, but I also knew my hairdresser was waiting for me. I told her I needed to go, but I would be praying and suggested she come to special prayer time at church where she could be loved on and prayed for. She paused briefly, but then continued to explain why she doesn't get out much, but misses church...on...and...on.   I was  reminded that people are more important than appointments and I tried to expel the tension, silently asking Him to work it all out. I tried to get some current contact information so I could follow up, and left, still able to get my hair cut.

I'll be prepared for any weather or circumstance if I pack the following outfits:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.Co. 3:12. Show me where and how to get these, Father, no matter how costly they are to obtain.

Can't forget to pack the vitamins: G-ratitutde, J-oy, and L-ove. 

A flashlight charged with time plugged into his presence will chase away the darkness.  

I look forward to the times I spend with friends and family journeying with me. We'll stick together in unfriendly territory.  A suitcase mentality will help me know that adding one more piece of 'stuff' may be a zipper breaker and will make the load heavier. I don't want to get bogged down with heaviness.

In the last two weeks, on Facebook, I've followed the journal of a long ago friend who was posting her experiences with a mission team from her church in another state,  who were in Costa Rica. I was all ears to hear how things were going, what they were encountering, what they ate, what kind of service were they called to give, details, please!  I sent her a personal message and peppered her with lots of questions.  What were the sleeping arrangements like? What did she take that proved to be invaluable, what did she wish she had taken?  I asked everything I had been wanting to know, even things I had already been told the answer to on the handouts we had received at a team meeting,  because I wanted to hear from someone who was there, who had first hand experience. She gave me many helpful tips, and I'm packing accordingly.

Likewise, we have Someone who lives in the place we are headed. He gave some clear directions on how to pack and what to expect; he even offers himself as a personal guide. 

Here are some of the things he says not to be without:

Love for your neighbor
Listening ears
Gifts to freely give to others along the way
Constant supply of Holy Spirit oil
Expectation of suffering and persecution (I'd like to pack that on the bottom, Jesus)

And what not to bring:


Thank you for overseeing the journey, Jesus, and  promising your presence always. Teach me how and when to use what I've been equipped with.  I look forward to the adventures. 

Wherever you may be traveling this summer, pack wisely, and be prepared.  
Wherever you are in the journey to our homeland as believers, may you discover the amazing, sufficient Grace that your Guide will always have on hand.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Carrying On As Usual

Watering the hanging plants on the front porch is usually an uneventful morning chore. Lower the pot from the hook, water, and replace. A mundane task that  rarely involves heart palpitations, but when a startled bird alights from it's nest within the foilage, there are two hearts aflutter!

The plant usually hangs from the left hook. My unannounced presence caused the momma dove to make a dive bomb into the window and then u-turn and fly away from the house, leaving white streaks on the window marking her extreme stress from my surprise visit!  As I lowered the plant to the porch floor I discovered two creamy colored eggs bundled in  a perfectly built nest.  The sight is always awesome and my thoughts immediately pondered the nano-ness of the builder, the quality of work, the quick fabrication (between waterings), and the dedication to family preparedness. A time of unexpected reason to worship the Creator.

I rotate the plant at each watering, so now the sitting fowl was perched facing away from the house. We would see her faithful attendance to her little home every time we left and came back.  A few days later I tried to shoo her away to water her environment. She would not be dislocated until I threw a small pebble onto the plant beside her. After watering, the plant was rotated and placed back on the hook. I anticipated watching the action now from inside the house as the nest hung a half turn from where it had been before. We soon drove off for another appointment in our busy schedule.

As we pulled into the drive later, I was surprised to see the momma roosting in my fern, facing us, sitting as though she was on top of the nest, when the unprotected eggs lay in her nest, just on the other side of the greenery. How odd! Surely, she would know how to find her home just around the corner from where it had been before. Wouldn't instinct, smell, something lead her to the eggs she was incubating?  Apparently not. As I approached she flew away and I changed the plant back to it's former orientation. The next time we looked she was back on the nest and all seemed fine. Visitors came by shortly after that, scaring her away and she never returned. Her home and future offspring abandoned; the embryos most likely died during her prolonged absence.

This is a bit like a trick I once played on my brother.  Someone had said, if you serve hot water in a black mug, the recipient won't realize the water isn't coffee.  Sure enough, my brother had drunk at least half the water before I told him it wasn't coffee. I have serious doubts whether someone could fool me when it comes to a cup of joe. I like mine strong and hearty and there is no way hot water could be a stand in for the real thing and me not notice. But...given the circumstances...who knows?  

We don't see the change happen. Everything looks the same, feels the same, and we carry on as usual.

What's the point here, Father? Anything I can make a spiritual connection to? Habits die hard? We get set in our ways and miss moving with the changes you bring? Pretty serious consequences if you make the comparison to momma dove.  I want to move with you, Abba. Even if it means a time of searching for where you are calling me to be. May I not assume my job is over, when it ends in one place, and you have decided to carry on my mission in a different setting.  I don't want to pretend I'm hatching something for you when in reality it is no longer there.

Galatians 5:25
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Song

His eyes  twinkle,
His smile is wide
"Well done! Beloved",
The Song is joyful.

Zephaniah 3:17
The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

The loved one
Smiles back,
Delight draws her near,
She hears The Song.

Psalm 16:3
But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.

Aware that He watches,
She works with confidence,
The Song gives her strength.
She whistles along.

Psalm 65:8
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.

Dark thunder heads roil,
She seeks His shelter,
Strains to hear The Song
Of strength, behind the static.

Psalm 28:7
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

Other songs allure her,
She embraces them; The Song slips away
But stands guard, ready to rescue
When she awakes from the siren’s stupor.

James 4:4 & 5
…Don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?

Loss wrenches her away from
His right hand of pleasure,
The Song fades,
Grief is deafening.

Angry, The Song betrays,
She spits away the promises,
Maybe in another world,
But not Here in the hurt, the sorrow.

What she remembers of His Song,
Haunts her, longing is stirred,
Perhaps He did mean forever,
Not just later, but now, Here.

She asks to hear it again,
Even a Hum would be enough,
She craves His presence,
Does He hear her desire?

Isaiah 51:3
The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

The Lover hastens to her,
His arms gently embrace,
The Song is still on his lips,
She is satisfied earlier than imagined.

Psalm 90:14
O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

The Words of The Song,
Tell of his joy in her,
Pledges his heart to wed,
Unspeakable secrets make her blush.

1 Peter 1:8
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

The Lover still sings,
Will always sing,
She hears Him, Spirit to spirit,
One day Face to face.

In that day she will know the Words,
Sing The Song,
Along with the Choir,
The Bride with the Bridegroom.

Revelation 19:6 & 7
Then I heard the sound of massed choirs, the sound of a mighty cataract, the sound of strong thunder:
Hallelujah! The Master reigns,
    our God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Let us celebrate, let us rejoice,
    let us give him the glory!
The Marriage of the Lamb has come;
    his Wife has made herself ready.