Want To Give-Up? You’re Not Alone.

I don’t usually write a blog like this.  After a time of prayer, I had the sense that there is someone who will read this blog today who is just about ready to give up. Discouragement has settled all over your life.

Maybe prayer just isn’t happening for you and you’re tempted to think why bother.

I think a lot of people are feeling the same way.  We’re desperate for spring, but more than that, we’re desperate for a sense of God’s Presence.

Maybe church has even become the same old, same old.  Or, perhaps you’ve stopped going.

snowy wreath 1 Listen . . . you are not alone.  Many people are feeling this way, and besides the fact we’ve had a terrible, long winter, I believe there are two other reasons to consider that might help.

1.  The enemy is firing up his oppression 

Don’t believe for a second that the devil doesn’t have a plan.  He’s all about strategy.  We often approach spiritual warfare as if we’re running into an occasional bully on the playground when it is a long-term war.

Daniel 7:25,  speaking of the Anti-Christ says: “And he shall speak words against the Most High God and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change the times and the law . . .” (emphasis mine)

There is no doubt that the system of the Anti-Christ in operation today, and its goal is to wear us out.

In the Complete Jewish Bible, this verse is a little different.  It says “He will speak words against the Most High and try to exhaust the holy ones of the most High God.”

If we eat healthy, and get the right amount of sleep, and still feel exhausted . . .maybe we need to consider whether we’ve somehow bought into a lifestyle God never intended for us.

spring 1Everything in God’s Kingdom moves in seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall . . . it’s cyclical.  We have the rest of winter when plants are dormant and root systems deepen.  Spring is a time for new life, sowing seeds.  Summer is hot, hard work, when little benefits are seen, until Fall, when things cool down, and we enjoy the bounty of our hard work.

But if our lives are stuck in one season, like summer – summer – always hard work and seeing no results, we have somehow stepped out of God’s timing.

If we’ve made some wrong choices and allowed the enemy in to our lifestyle somehow, a good place to start is with repentance.

Repentance always throws the devil off. We repented when we accepted Jesus, but the lifestyle of repentance has just begun.  We need the continuous correction of the Holy Spirit to crucify our flesh and bring new life to our spirits.

This brings me back to the second point:

2. We’ve lost a sense of His Presence.

We can’t avoid times of worship, fasting, prayer, study, and devotion and expect to keep the awareness of His Presence.  (believe me . . .I’ve tried) We need these practices because they connect us to God, renew our minds and build up our spirits.

There is no substitute for dropping to our knees.

We must get back to the rhythm of Heaven.  Don’t let the devil kick you into overdrive.  God wants us to live each day with an awareness of His Presence, and leading.

Heavenly Father, please forgive us.  We don’t want to settle for a life below what was in the heart of  Your dear Son when He went to the cross.  Help us find the way back to the rhythm of Heaven.  In Jesus name, Amen. 

daffodiles 1

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Only My Grandkids Know My Secret . . .

quit faffing
I could feel something building inside me. Five of the seven grandkids were here, along with a few adults. We were just hanging out. Even though there was someone over four feet tall for me to talk to, the grown-ups weren’t holding my attention.

I should have seen it coming . . . Chapel is always cute, but today I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

Then it happened: he was busy coloring, but when he took a break, he stuck the crayon behind his ear like Fonzie with his cigarette. (Who taught him to do that?)

Well, it struck me funny, and I started to laugh.

Then I couldn’t stop.

This is how it goes down: phase one is just a few normal giggles, but then something mysterious happens. A switch. A weird chemical download in my brain, and I launch boldly into . . .

Phase two: This is when giggles turn to howls and snorts. There’s no stopping now.

The grandkids crowded around and pointed. “Look, she’s crying.”

Now I’m pounding the arm of the chair.

Phase three follows relentlessly: PAIN. Your stomach knots, you have muscle cramps in your face, and you can barely catch your breath.

Now NO intelligible sound comes out, just a high pitched whistle emanating from my big, red face. It isn’t pretty.

The minute I’d muster a bit of control I’d look at that little crayon behind Chapel’s ear, and off I’d go again.

In the haze of my hooting I heard Chapel ask, “Wha’s so funny?”

When I couldn’t answer he said, “Mimmy stop that faffing.”

Avery explains to my guests, “She does this a lot.” Then she cradled my head and said, “shhhhh, Mimmy, shhhhh, calm down.”

hazel bendingHazel said, “It’s just like when we spent the night and Mimmy was the only one who couldn’t stop laughing at bedtime. She broke all her own rules.”

I finally got enough control and gasped, “Somebody, PLEASE, take that crayon off Chapel’s ear!”

Like magic I calmed down.

William said, “Look at it this way, Mimmy, it’s past 4:00! You made it through without getting grouchy.”

That’s when all the grandkids started laughing. The grown-ups were clueless. But, you see, only my grandkids know my secret: I’m really just a six-year-old who’s been swallowed by a senior citizen.

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I Don’t Want To Love My Enemies

sunrise by windowThe sunlight streams across the frozen snow, and lifts the pine trees into brilliance with touches of gold.  Your world is so beautiful, Lord.

Then I saw the news, and read about the capture of 200 + Christians in Syria.  They threaten to kill them all if the US doesn’t stop the airstrikes.

I don’t want to love my enemies.

While we look at the horror, we must be reminded what God has said through His word.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. “(Romans 8:18)

God will make this right . . . the plan is set.

I look into the faces of my grandchildren, five boys, two girls, and wonder about their future.  Will they have to go to war?  It turns my insides grey.

Here is a comforting conversation Corrie Ten Boom had with her father when she voiced her fear about the future:

“Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. “Corrie,” he began gently, “when you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?” I sniffed a few times, considering this. “Why, just before we get on the train.”

“Exactly. And our wise Father in Heaven knows when we’re going to need things too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need–just in time.”
― Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place

In this world, in this beautiful sun-tipped, golden world, we will suffer persecution.

Matthew 5:10-12  “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven….”

We must guard our hearts, because Jesus commands us to love our enemies.  Corrie’s father also said:

 “When He tells us to love our enemies He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.  (Heb 10:25)

Father, we lift up our brothers and sisters in Syria. We know that you are a God of all comfort.  Give them courage, and steady faith in the face of their persecutors. We ask, in Jesus name, that you spare their lives.  

Father, we also lift up their persecutors.  You can give them dreams and visions to reveal Jesus Christ.  Only You can turn their hearts, like Paul, and make them mighty servants of Jesus Christ.  Please grant them repentance.  Give our leaders wisdom to know what to do. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

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Picture May Be Disturbing – Mus Musculus Death Camp

 

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Well, ye Ol’ Farmhouse Saga continues . . . with another mouse episode.

As you know from my last blog,  the dishwasher is the current, and very active  Mus Musculus  death camp.  (You can relax now, there aren’t anymore bad pictures)

DSC03829I’ll have you know I’ve had to switch to a different dish-washing set up. Quaint, isn’t it?  It reminds me of the early days in this farmhouse.  I used to stand in the same place, only my bathrobe would blow in the wind from the cracks under the sink.  The only light in the kitchen was a swinging, pull chain, bulb in the center of the room.  My dishes never got that clean because I was washing them in the dark.

Anyway, I digress . . .

DSC03827Yesterday, I tried a different kind of trap, but I only caught my scrubber!

After catching FOUR, I thought for sure the battle was over.  But NOOOOO,  last night I opened the door and there was a BIG one.  It was fearlessly wandering around inside looking for more peanut butter.  The trap was licked clean!!

Scarlet, my rescue cat, was right next to me (clueless) so I picked her up and pointed her head in the direction of the mouse.  (I think I need to cut back on her food so she’s not so satisfied)

Scarlet zoned in like a flash . . . grabbed that fat mouse in her mouth, ran into the living room and DROPPED IT!

“Scarlet, you trader,” I shrieked. “It’s not time to play.”

The hunt began.

I went to get my son.  He just looked at me. “I don’t know what help I can be.”   Between you and me, I could have handled it, but I just get this sick little enjoyment watching this hulk of a man squirm over a tiny mouse. 

He came in with his broom.  I had mine.  The thing ran behind the cabinet.  Poof . . . gone. We poked and moved furniture. . . nothing.  However, I found two of Scarlet’s balls behind the cabinet.  tsk tsk . . . when I rolled them out across the floor, you should have seen Kyle.

That’s the most fun I’ve had in a long time!  Anyway . . .

DSC03821DSC03824I left Scarlet on duty.  She sat staring at that cupboard all night.  In the morning . . . there she was.  No mouse.

However, upon opening the dishwasher again . . . AT LEAST WE CAUGHT ITS BROTHER!

 

Mimmy 100Evidently, I’m not alone.  You’ll have to hear Mimmy’s Story.  She thought, this time, she had a raccoon in the house!

What’s That Noise?

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Mus Musculus – This Is War

DSC03812DSC03813Twelve deer congregated in my yard yesterday – eating my bushes, trees, anything they could find.

“Awwwww,” said sweet daughter-in-law on the phone. “Mimhead, you have to feed them.”

Right.  That’s all I need now.  Feeding flocked of animals, AND feeding flocks of grandkids.

The day was young, later I innocently opened my dishwasher and saw movement.

MOVEMENT ?

face of worryIt wasn’t difficult to figure out, from the appearance of poop-sprinkles, just what was going on. I am now feeding a flock of illegal Mus Musculus!  

I practically pre-wash my dishes, so before you think “rinse off the food, stupid,” I have to tell you.  The last time this happened (!!!) the repair man said they were after water, not food.  Whatever. They chewed through a hard plastic thingy at the back of the washing machine.  It cost me $100 to get replaced.

What’s a gal to do? Here I am in this old farmhouse, clad in three layers of  black socks, my bathrobe and two sweaters to keep warm . . . and now this?  (I don’t wear a hat because the fibers adhere to my hairspray, then I can’t get it off.)

Where’s the mercy, God?

I was NOT going to call my friend for help with the critters (you know who you are) because she’d want me to pray for them and put out food. “Maaaargggee, awwwwww, but they’re so cute. You can’t kill them, they’re just hungry.”

No way . . . I’m done with Mus Musculus. . . this is war! I’ll feed the birds, maybe the deer, but these guys . . . NEVER.

I put on my steel-toed boots, grabbed the broom, and slowly opened the dishwasher door.

No movement, phew. The coast was clear.  Just then my eldest son walked in.

“What’s with the boots and broom?”

I pointed to the poop-sprinkles.

“Put the trap inside, and close the door.”

“YOU put the trap inside.”

(I secretly hoped for the thing to reappear just to see what 300 lbs looks like on the ceiling).

I got out the old-fashioned spring traps, and peanut butter.

Forty-five minutes later . . . WHACK!

Two hours later . . . WHACK!  This one I removed myself! (audience of women squirm)

I put out another one before bed . . . the next morning, the dreaded Mus Musculus had figured out how to slid the trap under the heat coil so it wouldn’t go off.  It was licked clean.

With my plans spinning out of control – I could have sworn I heard:

“Hey Chewy, come chow.  This old bat uses organic peanut butter . . . go get the family.”

Now I wait.  Sadly, the deer, the Mus Musculus, and I . . . all have one thing in common: this cold makes us want to eat. . . anything!

I refuse to pay $100 for another plastic thingy – so I guess I’m washing my dishes by hand from now on.  I’ll use my $500 dishwasher as the strainer . . . . wait . . .

I just heard a snap.

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Just One Of Those Days

WM shrunk my clothes 72It’s not only snow that’s been piling up around here. It’s a lot of little things.  The storm door won’t close, some unexpected bills came in, there’s an ice jam of glacier proportions over my living room window so I’m worried about a leak on my new ceiling . . .

What’s worse . . . I discovered my entire wardrobe has shrunk in the wash. . . even my shoes!

It’s so cold in this old farmhouse I’ve had to drag out my sleeping bag to sit at my desk.

When things really pile up I avoid it all by leaving the house. Well, it was becoming one of those days, so I bundled up and started my car.  But, when I tried maneuvering around the six foot snow banks and other cars in my driveway, I backed myself right into a snow drift up to my running boards (or whatever they’re called).  I had to climb out the passenger side (which isn’t easy to do when your pants are too tight).

I thought I was in control until my sweet, unsuspecting daughter-in-law workout 72called.

She read my mood at “hello”.

“What’s the matter, Mimhead?”

That’s all it took! It was as if she’d pulled on one of those preverbal loose threads . . . and the unraveling began.

“Well, my car . . . and then this bill . . . and I’m so fat . . . and I miss my husband . . . Bwahhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

As I blubbered like a loon, she said exactly what I needed to hear: nothing . . . she just listened.  (That always works for me.)

Soon I was cracking jokes.  We both went into hysterics and I was on a happy-roll.

After we hung up, it occurred to me that I was living my next blog. So, I ran outside to take a few pictures of my car in the snowdrift and OMG, my camera wouldn’t work!  It registered no light source at all. “Do camera’s stop working in the cold?” I asked my son who’d just arrived and was digging me out.

“The heck with your camera, you need to learn how to back-up.”

“I will not let this ruin my better mood,” I told myself as I went to google camera troubleshooting. That’s when I discovered the lens cap still on my camera.  (Now you know what stupid looks like).  My car was not the only dingus not working.

Isn’t it amazing how tiny a single snowflake is? Yet, once accumulated, they can shut us down completely.

There’s nothing like piled up stress to hinder your get-up-and-go.  We all need to learn how to deal with stresses when they’re small, because once they compound they can ruin more than a good mood.

snowplow 1I just had to laugh and give thanks for a cleansing cry, a good sense of humor, and someone to help shovel me out.

 

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Is Our Gospel Incomplete?

Forget not His benefitsI woke this morning thinking about the healing ministry of Jesus; and the single word on my heart was: ALL. I went to my Bible.

“Psalm 103:2 -4  “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons ALL your iniquities, Who heals ALL your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion.”

“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing ALL manner of sickness and ALL manner of disease among the people.” Matt. 4:23

I couldn’t find any place where it said,  Jesus went out and healed some.

It makes me wonder if we’ve settled for a gospel of some.

If we are following Jesus, have His Spirit living in us – and we have His directive . . . what’s the matter?

Matthew 10:1  “And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal ALL kinds of sickness and ALL kinds of disease.”

Matthew 10:8  “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

Have we spent too much time with introspection, guilt and shame, that we’ve taken our eyes off the words of Jesus? The best way for a prayer to go unanswered is never to pray at all.

Have we been determining what we believe by our results?

(Luke 10:8-9 NKJV) “Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.  “And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.” (The seventy were sent out)

Healing and deliverance are a part of the Kingdom of God drawing near.

Jesus modeled this: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”Luke 4: 16-21

Give thanks WC-tangle 72The “good news” is incomplete when limited to preaching.

Why aren’t we seeing more healing in our midst?  Could it be we have built our theology around our disappointments instead of around the Word?

If we don’t see results, does that change God’s Word?

What hinders us from stepping out?  Embarrassment?  The fear of giving false hope? The fear of offending someone’s theology? Unwilling to take a risk?  We don’t feel ‘led’?

I’ve been guilty of thinking those things, and I’ve shrunk back at times.  But, I’ve also stepped out and seen people healed.  I hate to think someone stayed sick because I didn’t have the nerve to step out and pray for them.

He sent us out to preach the Gospel . . . heal the sick  and cast out demons.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.”  John 14:12

I want the greater things . . . don’t you?

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Have You Met Flo?

Mimmy 100Mimmy just called me all excited.  She said her best friend is coming in from Brooklyn for a week.  They will finally be together after almost a year.

Flow  and Mimmy are very different.  Mimmy is your more ordinary Grandmother,  a cutie, with a rather puffy, chipmunk-like face

(Flo has her all dolled-up, see left).

Flo is snazzy, from the big city.  She knows make-up and hair. (pronounced “haay-yuh”) Flo is really impressed with how her friend is stepping out on the internet. (“in-nuh-net”)

They are a pair, for sure.  Mimmy asked me if she could share her friend with all of you.  Especially because she read my last blog and commented, “Woo-who, that was a heavy one, Lovey.”  She wanted me to lighten things up a bit.

She told me, “Laughter is like a medicine and everyone needs a little bit of that to calm their nerves.”

I have to agree.

So, here is a word from Mimmy’s best friend, Flo.

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They Will Think They Offer God Service

. . . And He led them along the sea.

beach-at-monomoy-national-wildlife-refuge-cape-cod_w725_h544God led His people through the wilderness and along the Red Sea. It was God’s circuit of training to give time for the nation to be “gradually accustomed to fatigues and hardships on their tiresome march - to learn obedience to their chief and finally to be “trained to military discipline.”

Jesus healed the multitude by the sea (Mark 3)

It was by the sea Jesus meets Peter and Andrew and says, “Come, follow me.” (Matthew 4)

He silenced storms and the wind ran out of breath. (Matthew 8)

Again and again, God displayed His Kingdom through the model of His Son, Jesus, on the shores of the sea.

The sea is often used as a symbol of instability, confusion, and commotion, frequently signifying the ungovernable nations of the earth in opposition to the Church of God (Revelation 17:15; Revelation 21:1). (Pulpit commentary)

 It is a symbol of the power of the world which is directed towards the persecution of Christians.

They’re not sure of the actual date, but recently, twenty-one lives were taken along the sea.  Twenty-one “seeds” were scattered along the sea that day, and it was videoed for all the world to see.  Why?  Pure evil is making its move because the end is near.

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” (Tertullian, 1st century AD)  Their lives will not be wasted.  God’s hundred-fold return on their offering of faith, will bring glorious increase to His church.

“The time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. (John 16:1-4)

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“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out the sea . . .and they worshipped the dragon which gave power to the beast… and it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them . . . ” (from Revelations 13)?

“No time to sleep,” echoes in my mind.  “No time for ease,” comes the warning.

It is time to tune in with full obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  It is time to digest as much of God’s Word as possible – to get the word IN us before the Bible is taken FROM us.

It is time to posture faith, to listen, to learn, to prepare, to KNOW our Leader, and the voice of His Spirit.  It is time to watch and be fully acquainted with the slightest hint of instruction from the Spirit saying, “Turn left . or. . turn right . . .”It is time to be sure our lamps are full and our eyes are watching.  It’s an hour to remember:

No matter what we face: He says, “Fear not,” because we stand in the victory of the Lamb.

“But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me . . .” (Psalm 3:3)

“He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne . . .” (Rev 3:21)

Father, wake us up.  Tune us in.  Don’t let us sleep or become complacent. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

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CRASH-BANG!

Marj in bathrobe 72CRASH! BANG!

“Oh Scarlet, not in the middle of the night.”

Another mouse flees for its life under my bed just when the pillow got r-e-a-l-l-y good.

I have no inspiration to share this morning. I’m in a mouse-n-cat-fog.  But maybe this video will give you a chuckle…

Stories with Mimmy - in her bathrobe at three in the morning!

 

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I HAVE HAD IT!

“I HAVE HAD IT,” you say.  I hear you.

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DSC03719 DSC03718Lately, it seems there’s a lot of  opportunities to say,        “I have had it.”

The weather, taxes, colds, disappointments, the winter blahs, a little depression perhaps. There’s a lot happening around us to get us down.

The other day, I was following a dark rabbit trail of discouragement, when this thought invaded my bad mood: Are you saying that I am not taking care of you?

Suddenly a light bulb went on in my head. I didn’t mean to think that, but as I examined my thoughts I had to admit -every one of them were implying just that.

After asking for His forgiveness, I remembered another recent revelation: that the enemy often harasses us in the first person.

For example: instead of the thought “You’re alone.”  He’ll plant the thought this way: “I’m  alone.”  This way I’m much more inclined to own them.

I was really on my way into a lousy, depressed mood, but as soon as I saw it for what it was and applied what I know to do – things turned around instantly.

We have to hold our thoughts up to the Truth of God’s word.  For example: I may feel alone, but the truth is I am not alone.  He will never leave me or forsake me.  His Holy Spirit lives inside me.

Now, if I need to seek fellowship because of feeling lonely, that’s different.  But we have to be mindful that we don’t cloak ourselves with lies, because they ultimately will say, “God is NOT taking care of me.”

Remember the 3-Rs in elementary school?  Well, here are 3-Rs for handling our thoughts:.

1.  Repent

Yield yourself to God.  Ask Him to forgive you for entertaining thoughts that say He isn’t taking care of you.  Any thought that says Calvary wasn’t thorough enough, has to be cast down.  Any thought that evokes fear, anxiety, or harm to the Body of Christ (of which you are a part) has to be dealt with.

2. Rebuke

no moreRebuke the devil in the name of Jesus.  Use the spiritual weapons God gave you to cast down that thought.  Take ownership of your mind, in Jesus name.  Use the sword of the spirit, put on the helmet of Salvation, and the breastplate of righteousness, and girdle yourself with truth.  Stand firm.  Declare a bold NO!

3. Replace

We can’t just rebuke, we must replace it with truth.  The Christian life is a life of exchange.  I give Him my will and take His.  I give Him my unrest and receive His peace.  I give Him my poor self-esteem and believe what He says about me.

There are wars and rumors of wars all around us, but the one we are called to steward is the battle for the renewed mind in every “I HAVE HAD-IT” of life.

Father,  open our ears to hear what we are thinking. Give us boldness and conviction.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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Reaching Out To Our Widows

lol business card 1 72Our next widow’s event is this coming Sunday, February 15th from 2:00-5:00.

We’re very fortunate to have as our speaker,    Sylvia Evans of Creative Word Ministries.

We will be meeting in the Rush Park Pavilion, behind the Town Hall and Library.  The address is 1900 Rush-Scottsville Road.

The pavilion is brand new, with plenty of heat (!), snow removal, and parking.  What more could we ask for.

DSC03570 DSC03572Please bring a dish to pass, and we’ll share our Sunday meal together.

If you are interested, and don’t want to drive alone, you may bring a friend. (widow or not)

Our goal is fellowship, inspiration, and a time for fun and encouragement. This is for widows of any age, new widows or widows years down the path.

Please spread the word.

When I was a new widow, it would have taken more courage than I had to drive, by myself,  to a group where I didn’t know anyone.  But, I had a wonderful friend who offered to pick me up and take me to a program at church.  With her, I was comfortable to try.

If you know a widow who might need fellowship and encouragement, maybe do for her what my friend did for me.

You don’t have to be a widow to bring a widow. You might be making a huge difference in that woman’s life.

You can visit our website: www.livesovercomingloss.com.

If you need more information, you can email me: stevens.marji@gmail.com

Your prayers are appreciated.

Love Marji

 

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Peering Into The Dark

DSC03608I just finished working on a challenging chapter for my new book and took a breather.

I glanced outside to see if it was snowing.  It didn’t look like it, until I looked at the black-green bank of pine trees. Looking at the dark surface made it easy to see the snowy mist.

A thought came to me: Don’t be afraid to look into the darkness, I have hidden treasures for you.

Writing about my  journey as a widow can feel, at times, like I’m going backward.

“I’m not sure this is good for you,” one friend said in reply to my melancholy.

Inspiration fell softly on my heart every step of the way, but they didn’t have the full impact they have now looking back.

I can see His unfailing love so much clearer now.

It’s taken me years to work on this manuscript – and I’m only half done – but the process of recalling God’s tender hand is worth every fresh tear and difficult writing session. I’m more convicted than ever I must write this story.

When I can’t sit at the computer one minute longer, I’ve been tackling another project – emptying the attic crawl space.  ARGH!

It was dear, Harold Spaulding, who ventured into that spider invested dungeon thirty years ago to create a place for storage. He studded an area first, then hung just insulation for walls, to keep the cost down. I remember how he’d emerge from the rafters with thick, dusty spider webs hanging off his ears.  What a saint.

The insulation has ripped and fallen over the years so I’ve held it up with trunks and boxes.  But the infestation of birds last summer proved it was time to face the music.

DSC03702It’s hard work because you can’t stand up in there.  The bent angle makes every move back-breaking, but slowly I’ve been dragging things out into the bedroom.

Peering into the dark (no lights either), all I could see was stuff piled and thrown.  It’s so easy to just open the door and throw things in rather than cramp your back by actually going inside.  Hence, the mess.

DSC03705 DSC03706As I pull things into the light it’s easy to see what needs to be tossed,  and delightful to find so many old treasures.  “Oh, that’s where that thing went.”

In the process, I found a box full of all the cards that came after Bill died.  At first, I wanted to toss them, but I felt God saying: Don’t fear looking into the dark, there are treasures there.

I came downstairs with my box, grabbed some tissues, and nestled on the couch.  First, I was amazed at how many cards there were – I’d been saying I got less than a dozen.  There were almost a hundred.

“We are so sorry for your loss” . . .” know that we will be praying” . . . “Bill was such a treasure” . . . “I had Mr Stevens for Social Studies.  He was my favorite teacher ever.”

The tissues remained untouched.  Maybe I’m healed. 

It also occurred to me, you can’t assess things accurately when you’re in the center of grief.

I saw encouragement after beautiful encouragement. Before, I would have focused on how many didn’t send cards.  Now I noticed: I have more friends than I knew I had.

Tear by tear, He has restored my soul.

Papa, give us the courage to peer into the dark only to discover the riches of Your mercy and see clearly Your hand.  Help us not to fear hidden things, for they are brought into the Light for healing.

 

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All-the-way-through Excellence, and Simply Delicious

il_570xN.670810600_8rjdPreparing salad is not my favorite thing to do, especially paring the carrots! In the 40 years I was married, I figure I pared 2 carrots 4 times a week for salads. That’s 8 x 52 weeks, 416 carrots a year, x 40 years equals 16,640 carrots since I said, “I do!”

Plus, I packed 160 school lunches a year for 2 boys, 320 lunches, for 20 years. That’s 6400 lunches x 2 carrots per lunch, which adds another 12,800 carrots. This totals 29,440 carrots, approximately 5200 lbs! Excluding picnics!

Allowing 15 seconds to pare each carrot, that’s approximately 7,326 hours. Therefore, I have spent almost two years out of my little life paring carrots!

I think a time investment of this proportion deserves recognition!

To help buffer boredom during carrot duty, I used to keep memory verses and a list of prayer needs on the shelf over the sink.

One day, my mind wandered from the task at hand as I meditated on “being rooted and grounded in love…” (Ephes. 3:17) When my thoughts returned to salad preparation, I’d scraped the poor carrot clear down to its middle!

Without warning, a fresh idea invaded my thoughts with the promise of transforming this annoying little task into a marvelous moment.

“I want you to be like a carrot.”

IMG_2151Being nudged to attention by such a totally unexpected notion, I replied, “A carrot? Lord, are You talking to me?”

“Yes, like a carrot …Orange-all-the-way-through!”

I examined the concave carrot.  Sure enough, it was the same color and texture on the inside as it was on the outside.

The same color and texture all the way through so if someone take a ‘bite’ out of your life they’ll find consistent excellence.

This ruddy root now gleamed with significance! As I pondered these thoughts, I remember hearing the back door slam as my husband dragged wearily into the kitchen.

“What a day!” he moaned opening the refrigerator.

“Honey, guess what!” I blurted out, way to chatty for a weary teacher.  “I was making a salad and the Lord told me He wants me to be like a carrot. What do you think that means?”

“Well, for starters, carrots don’t talk!”  With that, he went upstairs for a nap.

I was still chewing on this new inspiration when Sunday rolled around. Since it was my turn to share in children’s church, I decided to tell my carrot story.

“God can turn the most boring jobs into marvelous adventures in learning.” I expounded. “So, He wants us listening to Him all day long. You never know what He will say to you.”

I told them my story, then asked, “Why do you think Jesus wants us like a carrot?”

One little boy leaped up, waving his hand enthusiastically in the air, and announced, “Because He wants us to be delicious!”

Instead of worrying about all the parts of us that still need paring, let’s focus on His faithfulness, “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work (in us) will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”(Phil. 1:6) 

The Delicious-One will wants us to be just like Him . . . all-the-way-through-excellent, and simply delicious.

Here’s creativity in high gear . . . click here.  Jesus wants to play music through our lives. This video is amazing.

 

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Friends With The World Enemies of God.

DSC03697I’m sitting at my desk beside the window.  It’s still snowing.

My yard looks much bigger, buried in snow, because you can’t see where my yard ends and the neighbor’s yard begins.

As I watched the snow pile higher, I thought about James 1:26-27 again.

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widow in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

The last part of the verse jumped out at me.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it’ but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)

DSC03699I worry that our boundaries in Christian culture today are becoming buried.  It’s harder and harder to know where the world ends and the Christian life begins.  There is such a mixture, it’s often challenging to discern the difference. That’s why it takes faith and vision to walk in obedience.

If sound could be eliminated, and someone off the street looked into a church service today, would they feel God’s Presence, see His people deep in worship?  Or, would they be moved by the dark, the smoke machines and the volume and think they’ve stumbled upon a rock concert?

I don’t mean to pick of worship leaders, but their job is such an important one.  They are not performers.  They lead the church into His Presence, they are warriors, forerunners, like musical intercessors, skilled in the ways of God’s Holy Spirit. That’s why the enemy works to blemish their ministry.

Sometimes the boundaries are difficult to discern because it is a matter of the heart.

James 4:4-5 says “Friendship with the world makes us an enemy of God.

I don’t know about you, but verses like this cause the hair on the back of my neck to stand up.

To be spotted means to be affected in a negative way.  Stained.  Blemished.  We know that the blessed blood of Jesus cleanses us from every guilty stain, but we also must turn away from that which put the stains there in the first place.

When my son was little, he had a favorite sweatshirt. I could hardly pry it off him in order for it to be washed.

“It like my shuwart,” he’d say, stomping his foot and folding his arms across his chest.

There were stains all down the front, and it was much to small.  I loved my son, but I hated that “shuwart.”

We can no more blend the Kingdom of God with the world, than we can get by wearing old, stained garments when the Father is preparing us for a wedding.

Father, please don’t let us wander from You.  Show us where our boundaries have become obscured and unclear. Grant us repentance, Oh Lord. Forgive us for treating our sins casually. Show us how to live in this world and not be of this world. We want to love you wholeheartedly.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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