Spontaneously Generous Toward Me

ordination flowers1Mark 1:39-41

“And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.  And a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “If You are willing.  You can make me clean.”  Then Jesus, moved with compassion, put out His hand and touched him, and said to him, I am willing; be cleansed.”

Mark’s Gospel is the only Gospel that includes a description of Jesus’ emotions.  He was “moved with compassion. . .”  What a dear window into the heart of Jesus.  He is moved, emotionally, with the sufferings of His children.  But, even more, He is “willing” to heal.

We define “willing” as eager, enthusiastically willing, “ready-to-go”, positively inclined, not weighed down by preexisting objections or resistance; hence, willing, spontaneously generous.

Let’s put this into a prayer of faith:

Thank you, my Father, that You are enthusiastically willing to heal me.  You are positively inclined to remove every sin and sickness (Leprosy often represents sin).  You never resist helping me.  You have no objection or reticence, You are always spontaneously generous toward me.

I boldly reach for You today, Lord, and I ask you to heal _____________ .

Be bold.  Make your requests known to Him.  List them.

Thank You Lord for letting us see Your heart.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Meditation for today:  Lord, You are spontaneously generous toward me.

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Scar-Lotta the Hit-Cat Scores Again

Scarlet n boxAt 3:00 a.m. I woke up out of a sound sleep with a sound like someone stepping on a squeaky toy!  I listened . . . Nothing.  Turned over to go back to sleep, and squeak, squeak, squeak. There it was again.

“Good-night nurse,” I muttered in sleepy disgust as I reached for the light.  Of course, the lamp was unplugged, so I tip-toed to the light across the room.

There was the crime scene.  Another mouse!  (emphasis on “another”)

Scar-Lotta, the rescue cat, queen of the mouse hackers, had another innocent victim caught in her gaze and graze.

DSC01107The last mouse Scar-Lotta caught was in my studio.  The thing ran straight across my feet running for its life.  The cat was in hot pursuit.  I hit the ceiling with one leap.  My friend jumped on a chair.

My friend, who I call St. Francis the animal lover, went into high gear.  “Marrrr-jeeee, its wounded!”

“Good.”  I snorted.

She got a waste-paper basket to catch it.  “Marrrr-jeeee, don’t kill it,” she pleaded.

What am I to do, reveal my lack of mercy?  No!  So, I comply by helping her pull all the furniture away from the walls.

I watch my friend fearlessly running back and forth trying to corner the trembling rodent and catch it in the waste basket.  I was still hanging from the ceiling fan.

“Got her!” she announced.  I climbed down and watched out the window as she walked to the hedgerow to let it go (and come back!?).

Suddenly she turns around and brings the mouse BACK to the house.  “Marrrr-jeeee,” she sang.  “Do you have any peroxide?”

“HUH?”

“Peroxide.  Look, it’s wounded.”

“No I don’t have any peroxide, and I’m not doing CPR on a rodent.  Let nature take its course.”

“Then, we have to pray,” she pleads.

I knew if I let her pray, we’d be standing there twenty minutes, so I jumped in quickly.  “Heal this little mouse.  In Jesus name.  AMEN”

This happened the very next day after my ordination.  I think the Lord has a great sense of humor, to make me pray for a mouse as my first ministry assignment.

studio:scarlet 2Back to last night:

“This is your lucky day, you fat rodent,” I sneered.  The waste basket lost all its contents in the middle of my bedroom floor as I scooped up the writhing mouse.

“Lord, heal . . .” NO, sorry, I couldn’t pray that.  “DIE!” I yelled, as I flung it off my front porch.

Our lack of mercy always shows itself.  This morning, guess what was on the door mat?Scar-face-Lotta, the rescue cat, had found it in the bushes, finished it off, and deposited at my door.

After that, I had too much adrenaline going through my system to fall asleep . . . That is  until right before the alarm went off.

Just had to share.   And here’s another 3:00 in the morning mouse story for you . . . click here.

Bless your day, friends.  I pray that the working of your faith will make you bold and courageous  to carry out all the plans of the Lord . . . Whatever they might be!

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A Worship Experience

A special friend of mine has a prayer ministry where she posts “Prayers for your week” every Monday.  This one especially made me think of you, my blog friends.  Enjoy His comfort today.  SUN IN LEAVES
I will sing of your love, I will sing of your love, I will sing of your love I will sing of your love….
I’m going to throw out the accusations that arise in my soul against you…..
I’m going to believe that all things work together for the good….

early morningOver the mountains and the sea, Your river runs with love for me
And I will open up my heart and let the Healer set me free.
I’m happy to be in the truth and I will daily lift my hands
For I will always sing of when Your love came down
I will sing of your love forever, I will sing of your love forever, I will sing of your love forever
Yes, I will sing of your love forever.

There is no one like you, Jesus! There is no wisdom or knowledge that compares to the wisdom and knowledge found in you. You are lovely, the work of your hands is beautiful and all your ways are righteous. You hold all things together by the word of your power. You are Truth and Life and Light. You are worthy of all praise. You are worthy of our hearts’ best affection and our best strength.

Praying for my brothers and sisters in the workplace in all spheres of influence from Colossians 1:8-10
” Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;”

Jesus, we bring you our hearts this morning – all of the thoughts in our minds right now and all of our plans for the week. We lay down our fears and apprehensions and anything that would exalt itself above you in our hearts or minds. We declare WE NEED YOU! We ask that we would truly be filled with the knowledge of your will today. We ask for the grace and power and resolve to obey your will. Let each one of us stand in the knowledge of your love today, secure in the calling in which you have placed us. Come to us! Come to us with power and revelation. Do what only you can do. It is our desire to love you today. It is our desire to love you in the midst of our assignments. It is our desire to do our jobs with a joyful heart and serve and give with excellence. It is our desire to walk with you today, to partner with you, to walk worthy of you and bear fruit. Lasting fruit. It is our desire to hear you say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Quiet Song3 72Blessings friends, Love Marji

A Quiet Place Of Song Vol. Three

This CD includes two albums full of my original recordings.   They were recorded years ago and only made available via cassette tape.  Now, we’ve taken these tapes and combined them in one CD.

To purchase click here

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Spiritual Road Work Going On

stop_sign_clip_art_13223 The road near my home has been under construction for months.  Argh!  It’s so annoying to be on your way somewhere and instead discover a road block, with a major detour.

At times I feel as if I’m sitting in my car, on a desolate country road, with orange road cones as far as the eye can see.  The only thing keeping me from progressing forward is a road crew guy holding up a single sign that says STOP.

Nothing is happening. You’re waiting, but you don’t know for what.

I’ve never favored those times in my life when it seems nothing is happening and I’m waiting for what seems like NOTHING.

Do you ever feel as though you’re just sitting with your engine running but the road ahead hasn’t cleared?  There’s no activity.  Everything seems torn up and there are warnings not to proceed . . . Yet, you KNOW God wants you to go that direction.

Sometimes the “stop” sign is simply emotional.  You don’t feel like doing anything.  Nothing is interesting and prayer is a test of endurance to see how long you can sit there and endure the lack of inspiration.

slow-road-sign-clip-art“God, I hope it means something that I at least show up.”

Everybody has times like this.  Everybody.  The most spiritual giants have seasons when progress seems to come to a complete halt.  I think many of us are feeling like this.  God has spoken, you have yielded, now you’re waiting at a stop sign.

Maybe that’s all you’re supposed to do . . . WAIT!  God isn’t lost, upset, bored, or turned away.  He’s still on His throne and the work continues even when we are sitting beside the road in the middle of nowhere.

These are hard times for a lot of people.  And the enemy does NOT want our attention to remain fixed on the Lord.  He wants us to get discouraged, and stop praying . . .  Get caught up in all the pressures of life, and stop coming for a drink from the River of Life.

“But church is boring.” or “I don’t have to go to church to be near God.” or “I’m just on the shelf. God isn’t using me anymore.”

yield signIf you feel, as I  have lately, that you’re under a cloud, and God has forgotten you’re waiting for the stop sign to change, let me tell you – He hasn’t forgotten you.  AND You’re not alone.  Many mature people in the Lord have been feeling the same way.

I believe I hear the Lord saying, “Trim your lamps.  Keep filling your lamps with the oil of personal relationship with Christ and His Word.  Watch.  Things will start moving again.  Wait and see. Resist discouragement.”

Lord, help us to be faithful.  Help us be obedient, to watch and pray.  Protect us from the fog of discouragement and introspection.  Remind us daily that we are in a spiritual battle and need our armor on.  We look to You, Lord.  You will lead us faithfully.  Amen. 

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A Lesson From The Katydid

green bug 2I was taking out the garbage when I spotted it on the hood of the car. Light lime-green, 3.5 inches long, silhouetted against the jet black hood of the car.  What a picture.

I dropped the garbage bags in  the driveway and ran for my camera.

It waited for me.  Posing gracefully, green fully, while I took pictures.

It was a special God-delight.  An out-of-the-ordinary treat.

green bugIt was not until I did some research that I had any knowledge of this delicate creature whose katy-did, katy-did song earned them their name . . .  the Katydid.

The source of the magical song of summer.  To see an insect this large was exciting even though I don’t like bugs one bit.  A little wonder of nature, created to blend with leaves until nearly invisible.

This splendid, viridescent creature suddenly appeared to charm my imagination with its beauty. Isn’t that just like God.

green bug3Here I am: bathrobe, which happened to be inside out, hair swirling forward, gold sneakers – a true middle-age wonder, camera in hand, leaning over the car photographing a BUG at 7:00 in the morning.  All for a good blog!

Do you see the little wonders all around you? ( last image excluded)  This is such a reminder of how important it is to become more aware of the little things.

The lesson I hear in the Katydid is: be interruptible enough to notice . . .

The screen door slammed. He was only seven at the time.  “Mom, Mom, I have to tell you something,” he said breathlessly.

The hamburgers on the stove spattered loudly.

“Honey, can you wait a minute, please.  Just let me finish this.”

He left.

At bedtime, I remembered and asked him what he wanted to tell me.

His response changed my life.

“I saw a hawk flying across the sky without moving its wings and I wanted to tell you how it made me feel,” he hesitated.  “But, now I can’t remember.”

green bug 4I was determined after that to be as interruptible as possible.  I know it’s hard when you’re trying to get the dinner on, but maybe I could have taken it off the stove for a moment.

I can hear God whisper: “I want to tell you how My heart feels . . . Are you interruptible?”

Nothing is more important than the moment because the moment is really all we have.

Just a moment.

Father, teach us to be in this world but not of this world.  Help us to see and hear and know what Your heart is saying to us through the miracles of life all around us.  May we never take one moment for granted but live it as in-tuned as we possibly can.  Amen.

 

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“But My Muscles Aren’t Awake Yet”

will's faceHis pleading blue eyes were hard to resist.  “Pleeeeze, Mimmy, I really want that Lego set.”

“I’ll tell you what, let’s look on Amazon to see how much it costs and then you can do some jobs for me.”

His face fell.  He wanted to go to the store and buy it TODAY.

“You’ll have to earn $15.”

“My muscles are a little sleepy today,” he said.

“Don’t worry, I’ll help.  They’ll wake up soon enough.  Let’s get working.”

Three windows = $1.00.

Empty all the wastepaper baskets and take the garbage out = $1.00.

Wash and dry my car = $6.00.

We worked together.  I encouraged him every step of the way.  Whenever he did something thoroughly I took special note of it.

“I didn’t know chores could be this much fun,” he said.

will in bucketWe carefully marked our progress on the blackboard.  Next, we tackled the porch.  It needed scrubbing, and rearranging.  The more I pointed out what he was doing right the more encouraged and thorough he became.

“Mimmy, you missed a spot.  I’ll get it for you.”

Praise is a powerful tool.  I watched his confidence and ability soar right before my eyes.

All need encouragement. . . the more detailed the better if you ask me.  I was never satisfied with a blanket “good job” I want specifics.

And that’s what I gave William – lots of specifics.  “William, I really like your willingness to help. ” and “William, look how clean that part looks.  You really scrubbed those railings well.”

I watched this little eight year old blossom with every bit of recognition.  To quote my wise mother-in-law, “Nothing breeds success like success.”

“Don’t you feel good about yourself?” I asked Will.

He nodded, “What are we going to do next?”

I seriously doubt the jobs would have been done as excellently done if we hadn’t been working together.  It’s too overwhelming to be left alone.  I think William’s muscles might never have gotten out of bed.

I like how Jesus set the woman free who was caught in the act of adultery. (John 10-11) After saving her from a crowd of legalistic accusers, He didn’t become one Himself.  He didn’t say, “Wow, I can’t believe you did that. How many guys?  Boy, girl, you have sure messed up your life.  You need to go to church and try harder to behave.”

He first released her with, “Neither do I condemn you.”  There’s nothing that breeds condemnation than having someone point out everything you’re doing wrong.

Then He pointed to the future: “Go and sin no more.” (John 10-11)  But wait, no one can perform the law perfectly.  Why would Jesus tell her to do something He knew she could never perform in her own strength.

I believe the moment Jesus released her from guilt she knew she’d finally found a man she could trust to always bring her higher. She’d met LOVE.  Nothing breeds healthy love like Healthy Love.

“Will, I’d like to see you do this railing just like you did that one.”  A command and a challenge.  Jesus doesn’t condemn us when we fail.  He frees us to do better through relationship with Him.

“Phew, you’ve done it!” I announced.  “Let’s have a popsicle to celebrate.”

“AFTER I click “send,”” he chuckled.

will's eyesDear Lord, please help us to be encouragers. Amen. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shadows Fall

shaddowsShadows can be scary.  My brother used to stand in the shadows in my room and grab me when I least expected it.  Chances are if you had siblings you experienced the ‘fun’ of being terrorized by them.  When you were a kid did you race for the light in a darkened room?My heart used to pound every time I entered a dark room, until Jesus healed me.

I used to be afraid of losing my husband, because I didn’t think I could handle life alone.  Then I read Corrie ten Boom’s book, The Hiding Place. In one section Corrie tells her Papa she feared not being strong enough to face the persecution of her faith.  “My child, when do you get a ticket for the train?” he said.  “Isn’t it right before you get on the train? God won’t give you the grace until you need it.”

God’s grace helped me shake the fear of losing him, and God’s grace helps me to live without him.

Sitting on the porch this morning I noticed the shadows across the porch floor stretching longer than the actual spindles.  As I approach August 14th, the seven-year mark, I’m amazed at the length of the shadow across my heart as I live in memory of him.

Rev. Sylvia Evans explains grief’s duration this way:  the deeper the love the longer the shadow. I think of this often and it helps me embrace the lingering grief I feel seven years along.

Shadows visually define objects.  An artist trains their eye to see the shades of gray between the light and dark. Shadows bring dimension. Before you can draw the appropriate value you must first know the direction the light is coming from.  The sun was shining on the spindles and they cast the most dramatic black edged shadow behind them.

Walt Whitman says:  “Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and the shadows will fall behind you.”

Shadows are important, historically too, as they provided early evidence that light travels in straight lines. Our world would appear flat without contrast and shadow.

There are shadows that will always be present merely because of the existence of light.  These add texture, contrast and character.  I am a richer person because of the shadows in my life – even the shadow of grief.

Here are two statues I photographed at the Winchester Cathedral, Uk. Look how shadows enhance their beauty.angel statue 2 angel statue

I have to chuckle, one shadow I especially liked this morning was my own…look how long my legs look! LOLshaddows2

Shadows may be scary, especially when they hide secrets (or a sibling!),  but Jesus is the Lord of our shadows, we have nothing to fear.

Did you ever hear this one: One day Light woke up and said, “I’ve heard a lot about Darkness. Today I’m going to look and see if I can find him.”  But everywhere Light looked  he discovered Darkness had just left.

 

 

Lord, help us understand our shadows and shake off all the fear-filled ones. Help us reach for substance and truth.   Help us keep our face pointing Your direction so every shadow falls effortlessly behind us.  Amen.

 

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For This Purpose

SUN IN LEAVESAnd He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” ( Mark 1:38)

The key-note of Christ’s confidence: I know why I’m here.

I remember when I was asked to sing at the Crystal Cathedral in California.  Anyone with a music ministry would love to have this engagement on their resume’.  It was a huge  opportunity and might launch my music ministry to a whole new level.

The invitation was arranged by an Episcopal Bishop from Florida.  He was flying me to California to sing a song I’d composed for the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life – N.O.E.L.

“I’ll see if my friend, Rob, will book you at his church,” he said.  I didn’t know who “Rob” was so I said sure.  Then he told me it was Robert Schuller at the Crystal Cathedral.

What was I to do?  I was excited – and terrified. . . the Crystal Cathedral!!!!  I was glad to serve, but when I got there I felt no peace.

“Lord, I don’t belong here,” I cried.  Without His peace I have nothing but my own resources, and they are not enough.

First, I was scheduled to sing at the N.O.E.L banquet, then they were going to whisk me over to the Crystal Cathedral.  As God would have it, the clergy at the N.O.E.L conference took so long in sherry hour that we had to cancel my visit to the Crystal Cathedral!  They were not happy, but the Lord was in charge and He changed all man’s plans to suit His will for me.

There is so much power in knowing your purpose.  Why are you here?  What is the “good” God would have you to do?  It is our confidence to serve.

sun in leaves 4sun n leaves2I sat on my swing this morning meditating on this verse I was considering: Why am I here, Lord?

You meet those people who have a clear summary of their goals, a mission statement, a life phrase, a five minute elevator speech distinctly defining their purpose.

I was wishing for clarity in this season of my life when suddenly the sun came streaming through the tree in front of the porch and my attention was drawn to the exquisite beauty before me.

Each time the wind rustled the leaves, a different image emerged in the branches.  It was as if the skilled Craftsman, Himself, was showing off His creation just so I could delight in it.  Details.  Color.  Texture. Sun beams. Contrast.  Masterful design.

And He whispered, “See the beauty in each moment. Create. Follow after devotion.”

Could it be, our highest purpose, greater than job and ministry, beyond the family and homestead, is this?   Enjoy Jesus.

I’d originally sat on the swing to pray, but no words came.

“Read my heart,” I asked.

“Enjoy Me,” He answered.

daisies in morning daisies in morning 2 sun in leaves 3Jesus came from the presence of His Father. . . to serve.  This is our confidence and life message: Remain devoted to the Artist Himself – then see what He’ll have you create.

Father, I lift up my friends who are struggling in this season of their lives to understand what their life purpose is.  Bring clarity and a delightful, unsolicited token of good.  Point them to see, and hear, and serve.  Bless them so deeply and sweetly, I ask.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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The Treasure of Our Company

everett with hat

I wasn’t in the soccer mom era. Our boys played in the yard, rode bikes, hung out on the land.  I had a huge organic garden, canned, made bread, filled holes in the old farmhouse to keep out the critters, and spent hours painting and wall-papering. It was our homesteading years.

Our boys weren’t in umpteen extra curricular activities, they’re weren’t that many available.  Besides, we had a massive, gold, Suburban carryall that got six mile to the gallon!

We had no electronics, no color TV, cell phones, i-pads and video games. It was a simpler life I think.  I stayed home most of the time, maybe worked a part time job to buy the occasional hot water heater. We were too poor to go on vacations, and it was okay.

james and kidsBill was home all summer.  Every day we worked on the wood pile and gardened, then in the afternoon we’d go to Mendon Ponds to swim.  That was it.

Even still, I felt the strain of wearing too many hats as a mom.  “Somebody is always looking for me,” I’d complain.  “I can’t get a break!”

Then, it happened.  Years went by, life changed.  The kids left home.  The husband died, and suddenly, I’m in a season when at times, I feel as if nobody is looking for me anymore. (Maybe it’s a widow thing.)

After my delightful whirlwind trip to London, things seemed very, very quiet.  I really missed Bill not being here to greet me and listen to all the details.

train london 2 street in winchester

I was beginning this blog on a low note when I heard the screen door slam.  In came my son, Kyle.

“Got breakfast?”

“Eggs, toast, coffee okay? ”

I warmly watched him push his eggs around the plate, his massive hands dwarfing the fork. “So, how’s life treating you, big guy?” I asked.

He shared the stress and pressures of being in business for himself.  I could feel the weight on his shoulders.

winchester cathedral 8Moments later he was gone,  and I settle on my swing to pray for him.

“It feels good that he still looks for me, Lord.”

Though sadness comes to sit with me once in a while, I’ve learned it’s foolish to let it stay too long.

Every season requires adjustment,  and acceptance, and grace.  Every season also comes with new  treasures to uncover. Much more profound and lasting than a whirlwind trip to London, are the little things I grown to love so dearly like eggs and toast with my son.

Lord, open our eyes to see the blessings in every season of life. Help us cherish the little things.  Thank you, Lord, that You treasure our company.   Help us never take Your love for granted.  Bless my friends, dear Lord.  Amen 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. . . Just Looking For Jesus

open door into garden“And in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” (Mark 1:35 NKJ)

It’s so simple, we often miss it . . . the key to powerful living.  Jesus escaped from the masses, to commune with His Father, to hear His Father’s voice, to be in His presence.  His ministry in this world was dependent on the fact that He came out from God.

grape vine tunnel

Simon was searching for Him, “Everyone is looking for You,” he said.

I wandered through the crowds in London, bumping into every nationality, shuffling through visitors from every corner of the world.  Bustling masses of people, and I couldn’t help but wonder. . . Do they know they are looking for Jesus?

Buckingham palace 1Do they know the One who will consume their life with just one taste of His?

Do they know His invitation to fall in love?

Do they know that it is not a philosophy, a tradition, a denomination, or laws to keep . . . but a call to the kindest Person they will ever meet?

We have so messed up the original message of Christianity, with mega marketing and the big business of religion.  We’ve too often trampled the simplicity of the Gospel and ignored the call to live in the gift of His presence.

We’ve settled for dry obligation, forgetting the call to fall passionately in love with Him.

We perform, instead of living saturated with the River of Life.

winchester cathedral 1

 

winchester cathedral 2

Winchester Cathedral, Winchester London

“If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.”  We too often hear this verse with the wrong tone of voice, as another set of standards we have to live up to prove we love Him.  But, I believe keeping His commandments is not the primary focus of what He is saying, it’s the fruit of of what He is saying.

My niece and her husband were surprised to discover their flat was on the fourth floor over a sex shop in SoHo.  I watched young and old men streaming from its doorway – even a young teen with his dad.  And at night the clubs lining the streets roared with thumping, grinding music until just before dawn.

“Relax, they’re only having fun.  What’s wrong with that?  They’re young,” some might say.

But, do they know they are looking for fulfillment only Jesus can bring?

Sweet thirteen month old Savannah slept in the room with me.  Smoke and rancid nightlife seeped through the tightly closed windows in our room.  It made me think of the verse in Genesis 4:7  “The enemy crouches at the door and it’s desire is to have you. . .”

She slept, protected by her loving parents, sweet purity sparkling in the midst of such darkness.

Protect this precious life, Lord.  Keep her safe from harm.

soho1Around the corner were more “adult” shops.  We were in the heart of the gay district and the windows of many stores boasted products from their world.

Do they know they are looking for Jesus?

Today people say, “If it’s what they want to do with their life who are you to judge.”

Judgement is not the focus here – it’s missing the opportunity to know the One who changes what is broken in your life and mine.

Don’t you know we are ALL just looking for Him?

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Beware the “Smooth Patter” Corrupting Simplicity

stone-jewelJesus has been impressing the message upon my heart that it’s all about intimacy.  He’s calling us to intimacy.  He’s calling up to ferocious, radical, heart bending love.

“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3 NIV)

The New Living Translation says it this way:  “But I fear that somehow your put and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted . . .”

light my lamp 72The Message says it this way:  “The thing that has me so upset is that I care about you so much – this is the passion of God burning inside me!  I promised your hand in marriage to Christ, presented you as a pure virgin to her husband.  And now I’m afraid that exactly as the Snake seduced Eve with his smooth patter, you are being lured away from the simple purity of your love for Christ.”

Wow… it’s so easy to drift into performance.  IF I only can obey this Christian practice then Jesus will love me.  IF I don’t do all the right things – then He’s mad at me and  . . .

I’m guilty of measuring myself . . . Let’s see:  I read my Bible five extra minutes each day this week so I’m a good girl and God loves me.  So, if I don’t read my Bible at all this week that means I’m a bad girl? . . . and God doesn’t want to talk to me now?  But my righteousness is as dead as a stone in the picture above.

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished.  And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:32-5:16)

This is the best witness. This is what we need today.  The boldness and wisdom that comes through being with Jesus. Religiosity is subtle, sneaky, deception trying to slither its way into our holy intimacy with the Lord.

Show me your ways 72I’m hearing this for you and me this morning:

Don’t struggle . . . run to Me.

Don’t try . . . run to Me.

LET ME BE  the solution to every problem that you face.  

I measured up . . . so you don’t have to.

It is by MY righteousness, not yours, that the way is open to you.  Run!  Quickly!  Run to Me.

I love you friends, but BEST OF ALL, Jesus does.

If you’d like to hear a wonderful message, listen to this young man : Jefferson Bethke

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Happy Birthday . . . Humbug!

Happy Birthday, Senior Citizen!  Humbug.

Well, I know I just wrote – but this is too good to pass up.  I know God has a sense of humor or He wouldn’t have invented a senior citizen.  I don’t mind being reminded by God that I’m getting old, but that’s where I draw the line.

My birthday is not until the 19th of August, but I guess these folks wanted to be sure I got their “best wishes” in case I croaked before the actual date!  This came in the mail today:

happy birthday Senior

Whhoo-hooo!  You KNOW you’re old when the only Birthday cards you get in the mail are from your financial advisor and your healthcare provider! (No, not Obama)

This “Happy Birthday”greeting came with instructions: if you smoke – quit.  Examine yourself and decide where you need to improve (?????) and, if you’re not smart enough to come up with your own answers you can call the Health Coach hotline and some lady in India will read to you over the phone.

But the kicker was on the second page…

colonoscopyHappy Birthday, Marjorie… now let’s talk about colorectal cancer!  “We just want to take this occasion to remind you of the fun plans we have waiting for you – it’s colonoscopy time!”  Sweet.

In case you haven’t gone there yet, there are two fun things about a colonoscopy you can look forward to: 1. As soon as it’s over you don’t have to go back for ten years, and 2. the drugs they give you make you forget everything that’s just happened!  I can remember my poor husband got looped.  They must have given him too much.  He came weaving his way out of the colon clinic declaring, “THIS is how I’m meant to feel ALL the time!”  And he repeated that five times before we got to the car!

Wow, where’s the respect.  If you have to remind me of the more unpleasant things of life,  don’t do it under the pretenses of my birthday . . .  send chocolate.

I don’t know about you, but I’m being inundated with hearing aid advertisements, real estate brokers who drive slowly past my house like hungry bears at a barbecue: “she’s getting up there, fellas,  she’ll have to sell soon.”

Then there’s the AARP cards that started coming the minute I turned 50!  That’s a lot of trees wasted over the last 17 years!

In the bookstore nowadays, I’m automatically asked if I want the LARGE PRINT edition.  This comes from clerks young enough to still wear undershirts.

Coupons for denture cream, medi-alert necklaces, bathtubs you walk into, and recently an ad announcing a sale on SCOOTERS!  I want to scream: I JUST RODE TEN MILES ON MY BIKE AND NEVER BROKE A SWEAT, YOU MOROON.

Well, I say, fake it as long as you can, people.  You’re only as old as you feel . . .? or is it “only as young as you feel?” or . . .? oh what the heck, I forget.

 

 

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I don’t Want To Make You Jealous

 

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I’m not telling you this to make you jealous – but I’m going to London!  England!

Yes, the passport has come (though I don’t recognize the person in the photograph), I’ve saved my money for scones and pubs and . . . well, bye, bye.

A vacation.  FOR ME! I’m traveling with my older brother, Bill.

It’s amazing to me with all the excitement ahead, I’ve been all weepy-creepy this week.  The conversations have gone a bit like this:

Anxiety: “I wish I was going with my husband.”

Girl with big girl panties pulled up:  “Face it, if he was alive, he wouldn’t want to go.”

have I got everything 2Anxiety: “What if I need something I didn’t pack?”

Big Girl:  “Relax, they DO have stores in London.”

Anxiety:  “My kitty will be sad.”

Big Girl:  “Now you sound like your mother-in-law!  That same kitty kept you up all night looking for her, and it didn’t bother her one bit.”

Anxiety:  “I feel more comfortable when I stay at home with the same routine.”

Big Girl:  “YOU’RE NUTS!”

have i got everythingAnxiety:  “Where’s my list?”

Big Girl getting annoyed:  “IN YOUR HAND, STUPID.”

I don’t know if it’s a widow thing, a getting-older thing, or I’m in a serious fruitcake . . . but making myself do this is taking some work.

Pushing through anxiety is a challenge, but a challenge we all must conquer.  If I let my life be ruled by what is comfortable, I’d never get my face out of the ice cream container.

Recently I bought a bike.  The biggest hardship was figuring how to get my helmet off.  Then anxiety tried to squelch that fun too:

Anxiety: “What if you fall down?” and  “The trails are isolated, maybe a serial killer will be lurking in the shadows?”

That’s when I’m reminded of  words from my beloved husband who used to roll his eyes and sigh,  “I don’t know HOW you live with your brain.”

You could say, anxiety driven stinkin’-thinkin’  is just the downside of a vivid, over active imagination.  Or, it’s just a part of walking in the brave new world of widowhood.

Big Girl:  “Who cares where anxiety comes from?  It’s not from Jesus so don’t hold on to it.”

gasp . . . I forgot to pack some Bandaids  . . .

 

 

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Oh The Stories We Concoct

Scarlet n box

scarlet closeup w web

Should I seem a bit off , it’s because I’m working on two hours of sleep choppily executed over a very long six hour period.  Scarlet, the mitten-toed rescue cat, squeezed between my feet when I opened the door last night and disappeared into the night.

I never let her out in the evening because of the coyotes and fox in the back fields.

She escaped, fearlessly into the evening’s lure.

By 10:00, when she had not returned, I got in the car and drove over to the farm.

“Marj, what are you expecting to see?  A charcoal cat in a charcoal night? Not smart.” I told myself.  But love looks.

When I got home, the comforting crunch of the potato chips I had hiding in the pantry seemed the logical choice for the hour. (I’d bought them for the grandkids’ lunch visit today)

A half bag, and a stomach ache later, I called her for the umpteenth time.

“SCARRRRRRR…LET,  Here kittttteeeeee…”  Seriously, how many times can you do that before you annoy the neighbors?  Now I was really annoyed because she made me eat all those potato chips!

Finally, I surrendered to the pillow at 12:30, after one last drive down the road with my head out the window.

Oh the stories we construct when we’re worried.

She’s hanging by one of her extra toes from some branch in the field, and she’s surrounded by yellow-eyed, drooling, snarling coy dogs waiting  to devour my . . .

“SCARRRRRRR. . .LET, Here kittttteeeeee…”  I screeched from my porch at 1:30 in the morning.

The dark night, lighted eerily by a full moon, surrendered not my beloved.

I tried my pillow and prayer again only to be met with more stories.

Oh no, she’s on someone else’s roof, hovering about the gutters, peering into the darkness. Afraid.  Too high to jump, especially with the spiked, poison tipped branches set below.

2:00 a.m.  “SCARRRRRRR. . .LEEETTTTT!”

Nothing.  I retreat to my bed again.  Lord, please bring my baby home.

Worry is draining, and oh, what stories we tell ourselves.

At 4:00 a.m. I hear a tired, “Meeeeeee” at the screen door.  (feline mantra)

Lunging from my crumbled bed, I dash to the door.

“Where have you been young lady?  Do you have any idea what time it is?  I’ve been up all night worried sick.”

(Ever hear that one before?)

She strolled confidently past me, her tail high, her motor running, brushed against my bare leg and strutted into the kitchen.

cat window“Is that all you have to say? Young lady, you’re grounded!”

I return to my scrunched and wrinkled nest. was near sleep when my boarder’s radio alarm slowly increased in volume until it was blasting out K-Love’s canned, and redundant songs.

My ears began bled annoyance until I surrendered to the day at 5:00.

Now, Scarlet sprawls peacefully on my desk, her butt on the edge of my keyboard like nothing happened, cleaning her most beautiful mitten toes.

God bless YOUR day.scaarlet 1

 

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Negotiate the Rugged Terrain

fawn w verse 72

Agility: having the ablity to move quickly and easily; able to think and understand quickly.  It means nimble, light-footed, sharp, perceptive and quick-witted.  It’s the opposite of clumsy, slow and dull.

“He gives me the agility of a deer . . .”

“An adult white tail deer can really jump. In fact, the average white tail deer can jump over an obstacle that is not 5, 7, or 8 feet high but 12 or more feet high– taller than virtually any barrier deer fence. In fact, to the astonishment of deer control experts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rates white tail deer as being able to jump 15 feet high.”

Deer jump the highest when they’re in danger. A deer is not inclined to jump high unless they have to, because what goes up must come down, but chased by coyotes or dogs, they have amazing agility to jump whatever is necessary.

I love the quote by Emily Dickinson, “A wounded deer jumps the highest.”

I think what she is saying in this poem is that those going through suffering are often able to do remarkable things.  God gives us the agility of a deer “to negotiate the rugged terrain.” (Psalm 18:33)

A white tail deer, or any other type of deer, usually don’t take the trouble to jump high if they can go around, through, or under an obstacle, but under duress, it has amazing ability.

What is your “rugged terrain?”

For me, writing my book has been a journey requiring strength beyond my natural ability, just to stay focused and not get distracted. I’ve had many false-starts to this book as I’m wobbled through an emotional and wildly new terrain, but I sense a new agility.

fawn 5

These little fawn were right outside my window next to my desk.

It was amazing to watch them leap when they sensed my presence.  “My lover is like a swift gazelle or a young deer. . . Look, here He comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills . . .”  (Song of Solomon 2:8 NIV)

“The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.”  (Habakkuk 3:19 NIV)

When Joah, Abishai and Asahel, the three sons of Zeruiah, were among David’s forces, God gave Asahel the ability to run like a deer. ( 2 Samuel 2:18)

The name Asahel means: made by God or made of God. One source defined Asahel:  God did.   I love that because we know for a man to run like a deer it has to be something that God did.

I also studied out Asahel’s mother’s name, Zeruiah.  The definition of her name is controversial.   Some sources define it: stricken of the Lord.  Zeruiah was a widow.  Her three sons were some of David’s mightiest warriors and were in close relationship with David.  Others say her name means: the Balm of God.

I put them together.  Even with the difficulties of being a widow, and watching her sons go into battle, she raised a son who had the agility of a deer, swift and sure-footed, a warrior of courage and stamina.  Perhaps she was “stricken of the Lord”, but she also knew the comforting, soothing and restorative balm of God.  She grew faith and courage through the rugged terrain in which she travel.

Christ invites us to arise from sloth and discouragement, leave our sins and vanities, to leap on the mountains with Him.  This is an invitation to run, like one of David’s mighty men, in close fellowship with Him.

fawn 6I watched the little fawn walked clumsily across the grass, so vulnerable, and magnificently camouflaged by God.

The next day, four BIG BOYS lumbered onto my lawn.  They walked proud,  sure-footed, courage full-grown, and wise.  What a thrill to see.

buck

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Are you facing rugged terrain?  Take comfort in knowing that Your God calls you to leap with Him – over whatever mountain you face.

God bless you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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