At the End of the Day…A Good Indicator

A good indicator that I’m trying to get through each day on my own strength, power, wisdom and might is when I arrive home completely spent.  It’s an exhaustion that a good night’s sleep won’t remedy.  In fact sleep often evades me because my mind is constantly on the go.   I feel like I can’t turn it off. 

Along with other changes in recent months, I am not able to listen to my IPod and partake of good solid Christian teaching as much as I used to.  I desperately miss that.  It fed my heart, mind and soul.  Somehow I need to build that back into my daily life. 

I think I’ve let the busyness and demands of life…work, home and responsibilities crowd God out…or assign Him to a small place that I will get to when I have the time.  Ouch!  Not good…not good at all.

Like any relationship…my relationship with God grows when I spend time with Him and listen to Him and share what’s going on with me.  Trust Him with what I’m going through.  Trust His counsel and be quick to obey. 

It’s the time spent in prayer…or opening the Bible and reading with my ear inclined towards God. 

You know that feeling when you are in love…and you hang on every word that comes out of your loved one’s mouth.  You can’t wait to hear what they will say next.  You treasure and value their advice because their wisdom is combined with love for you. 

I feel like that’s what I’m missing with God.  And I want it back…starting tonight.  I want to hold on to Jesus and not let go. 

9/19/07 At the End of the Day…Reining In of the Holy Spirit

Today I experienced the unmistakable reining in of the Holy Spirit.

After a few days of inconvenience caused by someone who erred…I was tempted to dwell upon it and perhaps drop a well timed clever put down for the audience at hand. Thankfully that good old conviction of the Holy Spirit stopped me short of being mean spirited and speaking in a gossipy rude manner. Thank you Jesus!

Being that I fully understand when Paul said that “nothing good dwells in me”…the temptation to speak rudely did not go away entirely.

But when driving this morning…as my mind started to dwell on the situation…God reined me. Not only about not speaking poorly about someone…but He convicted me for even choosing think along those lines. He challenged me, “Susan…before you so easily complain, have you thought about praying for this person? Praying for the situation to be resolved? Offered to help make it better? What they did was not done intentionally and it went from bad to worse. Susan you’ve been there, done that…and you want to put this person down…for what? Don’t you think they are already getting hassled and snippy comments coming there way? I’d bank on it.”

With the Holy Spirit’s help…the desire to complain stopped and I knew that I had chosen what God would have me to do.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8

Complaining…while perhaps even justified or understandable…is very destructive, for both the hearer and the speaker. It’s lazy and prideful.

There is nothing good that comes out of that type of complaining. There is room to address genuine issues. However that really needs to be done in a one on one basis and in a straightforward manner. That’s a healthy way to address situations. But it requires thought, patience and restraint when it may feel better initially to verbally or emotionally hit back after being hurt.

Sometimes doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest or may not feel the best…at that time. But in the end…when I choose to do the right thing…I have peace with God and with people. I’m not left feeling guilty for saying the wrong thing and I’m not being kept up late at night wishing I could take back what I have done.

Today the Holy Spirit reined me in. My question is…does Jesus Christ reign in me? If not, why? What will it take for me to surrender to His power, guidance and direction in my life?

“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” James 3:3-12

8/8/07 At the End of the Day…A Gentle Answer

God counsels us in His word that a gentle answer turns away wrath. It is with that knowledge that I pray that God will work in the circumstances that concern me today.

When worried or concerned about a situation…my usual response is to confront the persons involved. Sometime diplomatically…but probably more often than not…stepping on a few toes in the process.

When I’ve done that in the past…God has worked in the circumstances and hearts of me and others involved. But I always feel quite anxious right after I leave that message or sending that email in my attempt to confront and resolve the situation.

I’ve learned that my view and perspective is quite limited…myopic. I don’t see the full picture. I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes in the life of another person. I may be inaccurately reading their actions and misconstruing it to fit my own insecurities and past experience. That’s not a good or wise course of action. Thankfully I am a work in progress and God is not finished with me yet.

The wisest course of action is to take my hurt, confusion, anger and pain to God. Forgive and ask Him for wisdom. If indeed I have been wrongly treated…I can be sure that God is working in the heart of that person if they are a Christian. God doesn’t let me get away with much without confronting me and brining me to repentance when I’ve acted wrongly. Why would I assume he acts differently in the lives of other believers?

If perchance God gives them a pass…it may be an area in which God is working on my character…or bringing to surface something that is quite unlovely in me. God frequently likes to use “sandpaper people” to work out those rough areas in my character. I must be mindful…that for someone else I am their sandpaper person. When I realize that…it brings me up short when I would rather take the easy road and be critical and condemning.

It’s funny…but I don’t know exactly how to pray in this circumstance. I’m puzzled, confused and a whole lot more. But I am assured that the Holy Spirit intercedes for me at such times.

So tonight…I will choose to follow God’s sage advice and not respond as I once would have. Hum…I wonder…will I ever get out of God’s spiritual kindergarten this side of heaven?

At the End of the Day…A Holy “No”!

Just a few quick thoughts or observations at the end of the day…before I in obedience and wisdom…and even a little common sense…head off to bed.

Time…sometimes it seems like a gift…and sometimes like an enemy. It’s an area in which the enemy likes to attack us.

As Christians…sometimes our best answer is “No”. It can be the most holy and right answer…when it helps us to seek God, follow Him and obey. Yet…there are times…it’s hard to discern when it is right to say no.

Some needs and demands to our time, schedule, commitments and money are very worthy…but they may not always be God’s will for us. Thus…we require discernment. A knowledge that comes from a close walk with God…and a listening ear and an obedient heart towards our Lord.

Sometimes it’s a holy “yes”…when it’s offered in obedience to God…when everything in us wants to shout “no”.

In thinking about wisdom…wisdom comes from God. Wisdom that He will make available to those who seek Him and the wisdom that He offers. Only those that obeyed God’s will and plan…truly received and lived out the wisdom that God provided. It’s a gift from God…that is available as we implement it according to His will and follow His leading.

In Bible study tonight…as Pastor Joe Rispoli taught us from the book of Thessalonians…it was jammed packed with great stuff. But there was one thought that hit me hard. The reminder that God desires that we love Him…and not just His word. That we seek to know Him…and not just His word. It’s a part of Him…but if I just seek Bible knowledge…without knowing and loving my Lord and Savior Christ Jesus…then I’ve missed the target, the end game…the most important Person.

Lord…help me to love You…and know You more. Give me discernment so that I might hear You and obey You first and foremost. Seek wisdom and discernment…and have a listening ear and heart to obey the One that I love. Amen!

At the End of the Day…Obeying God in the Little Things

For one who is at times amazingly slow on the uptake…or painfully slow when it comes to learning lessons…I’m grateful that God continues to work with me. That He doesn’t give up. But instead He takes the time to pound home the message into this hard head of mine.

It seems as if one of the areas of frequent and successful attack from the enemy lately is with regards to time. Time…where I’m busy from the moment I get up bright and early…even before the dawn of the morn. To the moment my head hits to pillow much too late at night for one who rises early.

Six days a week…my alarm clock wakes me up just a little before 4 AM. Most days…I struggle with getting out of bed when I first hear the alarm. Due in part because I head off to bed, ever so late. That little sin doesn’t seem like much does it…in the scheme of things. When in fact…it’s quite impactful.

Not only with the obvious consequence of being tired all the time, but I find it hard to concentrate because I’m so tired. The time I do spend working on projects may take longer because I’m not able to give 100% …because I’m tired. I get distracted easily…led from one task to another simply because it catches my eye.

That’s the practical everyday consequences. More import than those is the consequence that impacts my relationship with God. By time I head off to bed…I find it hard to spend a lot of time in prayer or devote time to reading my Bible. That is why I think this time thing is an effective instrument of the enemy. He is quite crafty…and will do whatever he has to do to distract the Christian from what God has called them to do.

So even now…I will heed God’s to me…to obey Him and head off to bed. Albeit…a titch later than I intended. Nighty, night!

6/10/07 At the End of the Day…the Center of God’s Will

“God…I want to be at the center of Your will. Dead center…spot on. If this is not Your desire than I pray that You will close the door so hard that I can not mistake Your will. I pray that I will desire Your will for my life so much that I will hear only Your words and not my own desire. God…I would rather be on the road that You designed for me…a road not of my own choosing with you…than to be on the road I want to be on but without You.”

Those words were my prayer over the last few days and weeks as I applied for a new job and awaited word on the results. I found myself at absolute peace…and was comfortable with the thought of someone else getting the job instead of me. Yet…I desired a change and was hopeful that this would be what God has called me to.

But I knew…no matter what…if it wasn’t God’s will…I didn’t want it. I want Jesus walking with me daily…not me wandering off on some wild trek that looks appealing to my flesh.

So when I got the call and the offer I was at peace. Somewhat excited…but mostly at peace. It wasn’t something to boast or brag about…except to rejoice in God’s faithfulness to me through a difficult year.

I’m excited for a number of reasons…including the opportunity to learn a new area of the business. To continue to learn and grow. I also feel that God has a definite calling on me regarding this job. What exactly that call is…I don’t know…but He does and He will reveal it in His perfect timing. But I’m mindful that there is no greater risk of failure than now…right after I have had a success. I risk being prideful and believing that my success has to do with me and something that I did…instead of knowing that this was a work of God.

So it is with fear and trembling that I will step into this new role…cognizant that it is imperative that I walk in a manner that will bring praise, honor and glory to Christ Jesus. This group of people doesn’t know me…and it’s a place where I don’t have an established track record. I may have been employed for almost 23 years continually with the same company…bought out several times over…but these folks are new to me and I to them.

I give Jesus praise for the work He has done. I ask Him to help me to do excellent work and finish my current job strong. To leave with a good record as far as the work and people go.

I’ve learned a lot being in this place I didn’t want to be. It’s revealed things in me…both good and not so good. I’ve learned how important it is to have a good attitude…even in the midst of difficult times or when you daily have curve balls thrown at you. I’ve learned the importance of working diligently…no matter what my neighbor does. I’m accountable to God for me…not them. I’ve learned that stress will take it’s toll on my body…and that I need to take better care of my body, mind, soul and spirit. I’ve learned that while I may have a few health challenges…to be thankful that in the scheme of things…it’s minor and a condition that I can do something about it. I’ve learned to be thankful for having health insurance. In all my years of employment…I’ve gone to the doctor more this last year than the proceeding 22 years. I’ve learned that I’ve still got far to go. That it seems too hard and unachievable and that I’d better be on my knees in prayer seeking wisdom, guidance and strength.

I’ve been reminded about a core principal that I’ve had and known over the years…and that is to pray for my enemies. When I have someone difficult…that I don’t like or someone who has caused me a boat load of hurt…that there is only one remedy…and that is prayer. Not prayer that God will smite them…but instead to pray for them. Pray for their needs, cares, woes and concerns. To give over to God my hurt and bitterness over past hurts so that I might forgive. Do I walk a perfect walk…and struggle no more? Yeah right…uhhhh…not even. But I have improved and do work through this process quicker than before. Thank You Lord!

I’ve learned that I want to pursue God and follow hard after His lead in my life. I’ve learned that I need more sleep…thus an abrupt close to this article…as my body beckons that I arise and turn off the computer and head to bed…which I will do.

Good night to you all…wishing you evening grace as you follow in the wake of God’s will.

6/4/07 At the End of the Day…What a Difference a Year Makes

This year on June 1st, I found myself again at a crossroads…only this time…I’m filled with peace and a desire to follow hard after God and His will.

Last year…well that’s a different story. It had been months and months of uncertainty. Our company had been bought out and the team I was once a part of…most of the folks had job interviews and knew one way or the other if they had a job. Some received offers and others received a painful phone call that they would not be offered a job. They set their face forward and moved on into an uncertain future.

My exact fate was still uncertain. I had multiple interviews…and no answers. No thumbs up…or down. And then a phone call came and I was invited to travel far away for a big interview. I was hopeful. After all why in the world would they fly someone that far that they wouldn’t consider seriously for the job? The trip was your basic trip from you know where…but in the midst of it…God strengthened me, upheld me and enabled me to get through that day…and the many months to come.

As odd as it sounds…I never got an official word from those that interviewed me. The job remained open for months and months. Each time it posted…I reapplied. But it all came to naught.

During this time…I was emotionally torn up. I knew what I wanted…but I couldn’t see my way clear to make it happen. As I look back with the wisdom of hindsight…I can see clearly that God had closed that door. What God has closed…can never be opened. But I didn’t quite get that then.

I thought perhaps it was a test of perseverance…and God just wanted to make sure that I was going to trust Him…and believe Him…no matter what. That I wasn’t going to look at my circumstances but instead look to Him who would fight for me.

I guess that was indeed the test. But proving grounds were different that I could have ever imagined. I never got that which I had so desperately sought and desired. The question is…would I preserve in my faith and trust God in the midst of deep disappointment? Would I trust God…even as I asked why…even when answers were not forth coming? Trust God as He led me on a path I didn’t want to travel? Was I going to look to Him and not my circumstances to determine my love for God? Was I…did I? Uhhh…not exactly.

It was much different than I would have ever imagined. I was ready to persevere to get that which I wanted. But I wasn’t ready…it never crossed my mind that I would have to preserver in my faith as I got that which I did not desire.

It was an awful time…a time of great loss…a time that I made all the worse because I didn’t fully trust God. I didn’t trust the God who created the universe and everything in it by merely speaking His powerful Word. I didn’t fully believe…with a deep down personal faith…that God works all things together for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. I valued my hopes and dreams over and above His plan for my life.

To quote Elf…I was a cotton headed ninny muggings! Here, here…I’ll second that.

Despite my roller coaster…wobbly faith…my God was faithful. He showed me His tender mercies…and poured out His grace upon me. Before my path…he brought people…who would help make the unbearable, bearable. Those who would share a kindness or two even as I bore the emotional wounds from that of a friend. It’s those wounds that cut the deepest…and take the longest to heal. But God brought the salve of friendship to heal those wounds. Slowly but surely…those scars have mended. On occasion they are a bit tender still…and if I choose to dwell on them…they are still visible. But when I’m busy and set upon the work God has called me to do…they seem so very distant, small and even unimportant.

So as this June 1st rolled around and I found myself once again waiting to see if God is would open up a door on a new job opportunity…I was pleasantly surprised to feel an absolute peace.

My prayer is not…God get me out of here…or help me get that job. Instead…my prayer is God…please make Your will known to me. If this is not Your will…please I beg You make it ever so clear…so I don’t go down that wrong road. Shut that door…with a load bang that even a slower learner like me can’t mistake for a no. Please God…reveal Your will for me in this situation.

I am not anxious…and would feel a genuine peace if someone else got the job I applied for. In looking at the circumstances…it looks like God may be leading this way. But I don’t want to read something into it that’s not there.

I want to follow hard after God. I want to be dead center in the middle of His will for my life. Better that I be on a path not of my own choosing with God…and on my own path alone.

So here I wait to see what God is going to do. Is this just a test to see if I will choose wisely? Will I trust God this time around? Or will I seek to bring about what I want no matter what God wants?

It doesn’t matter if this is a test…or if God opening the door to move me in a different direction. It doesn’t matter…because all I want is His will…not my own.

I do pray that if another person gets this job…that I will be joyful for them.

When I look back and see why I experienced closed doors last year…I know why He closed them. I understand now…I get it. Yet I’m mindful that while God may use our wrong actions to bring about His predetermined plan…He will also hold each of us accountable for our choices and actions. Just as He did on the nations he allowed to come up against Israel. It didn’t negate their responsibility and consequences…even when God used it as part of His plan.

There is no better place to be than in the center of God’s will. I wonder what this last year would have been like if God’s will had been my overriding desire and determined purpose?

If per chance God opens up this new avenue…I’m very aware that this is just a tool and a means that He will use for His purposes and plan. May I praise God…no matter what happens!

6/3/07 – At the End of the Day…The Sweet Spot

It’s hard to say…which is my favorite. Is it the worship music when we sing praises to our Savior? Or is it hearing the word of God taught uncompromisingly…and powerfully? Powerful…like a two edged sword, able to divide soul and spirit. Or is it the fellowship with this body of believers I’ve come to love so very much? The answer is yes…yes whole heartedly to all three. I can’t choose.

But I must confess…the thing that stays with me is when we as a congregation hit that sweet spot. When we’ve been singing songs of praise. Our voices blended together in sweet harmony…and suddenly the band stops playing their instruments. But their voices sing loud and clear as we the congregation join with them…unified in praise to our beloved Savior Christ Jesus.

That is the sweet spot…the thing I carry with me throughout the week. I may find myself humming the song…or even singing softly in unexpected places.

To me…this is a small reflection of what heaven will be like. In fellowship with beloved believers…part of the body of Christ…unified in love and praise for our Savior…our Alpha and Omega…King of kings and Lord of Lords…Christ Jesus our Lord.

Today’s sweet spot has left me singing “How great is our God, sing with me how great is our God. How great is our God…”

How Great is Our Lord
Lyrics by Christ Tomlin

The splendor of a King, clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice

He wraps himself in Light, and darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God

Age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end

Beginning and the end
The Godhead Three in One
Father Spirit Son

The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb
Name above all names

Worthy of all praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God

5/30/07 At the End of the Day…the Hope of Heaven

Tonight at Kindred Community Church Dave Dunn continued his study in the book of Revelation. We dove in chapter 4. Jesus had just finished giving His messages to the seven churches and now John seems to have an almost out of body experience as Jesus bid him to “Come up here and see what must take place”.

It was exciting and Dave has a way of bringing every nuance out of a passage or a verse. It makes it so rich and so very full. I tell you…when we study the word of God…I feel like the disciples on the road to Emmaus and want to shout “Didn’t our hearts burn within us!” The word of God is magnificent.

This lesson seemed to coincide with what God was impressing upon me today. I was interacting with someone…a non-believer…and was struck by how hopeless their life is….and I can understand why. If this is it…and I don’t know God…and if my earthly existence is messed up…then I would be utterly hopelessly depressed…in despair.

Without knowing in confidence that my sins are forgiven, paid in full…and that one day…I will go to heaven…how could I have peace? Peace with God, other people and myself? I couldn’t…plain and simple…it would be impossible. I would feel constantly on edge…wondering did I tip the scales enough in favor of good…so that God might approve of me. How much good is enough? And what happens if I die on the heels of a bad day…when I really blew it?

Or worse yet…that this world is it…and then I die. Yikes…don’t want to even go down that road.

I am so grateful that God by His predetermined plan…called me to be one of his own. I have a hope…and a future. Life down here…may be good…or bad. But at the end of the day…it pales in comparison to the hope and rewards that face me in eternity.

But the unbeliever on the other hand…has only what they have in the here and now. So what are they to do when problems abound? Problems at home, at work, in finances, with their health, in their marriage, with their children and with family. What’s a person to do when they can’t turn to God…because they don’t believe? How can anyone carry such burdens…burdens that they can’t lay down before a loving God? How do they make wise decisions…when they must rely on their own wisdom or the wisdom of the world? What books does an unbeliever consult? Whom do they esteem…and get wise counsel from? How do they know what’s right and wrong?

I guess I do know the answer to that after all. You see I came to Christ relatively late in life…at the age of 32. So I know first hand what a godless existence is like. I turned to myself for answers and wisdom and support…and what failing miserable existence that was. Now on the other side…I can testify to the goodness, kindness, faithfulness and mercies of my Lord…which are new every morning. Of rich graces that He pours out upon me daily.

The existence of an unbeliever is kind of like trying to navigate a maze in a lonely, cold, wet, muddy and dark tunnel. You feel your way…but have no solid point of reference to move towards…you don’t know if you are making progress or even moving in the right direction. You don’t have anyone to coach and encourage you. How sad…how very sad. It truly makes me want to pray that they too will one day have forgiveness of their sins…and the hope of heaven.

Indeed…I do have the hope of heaven. Not because of any good work of mine. That hope is based solely on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. His atoning death…acceptable to the Father…a propitiation for my sins. More than that…I get the Holy Spirit who dwells within me…and marks me as one of His own. Sealed with an everlasting covenant. Nothing that Susan does…can change that or make it go away. So even after a bad day… I know I have forgiveness of my sins…and help for each day, each hour.

To top that I have the promise of heaven. Tonight Dave shared why he believes the interpretation of the rapture to be correct…and gave many scriptures to back it up. Just reading those scriptures brings a renewed sense of hope and peace. It is my prayer that those reading this may have that hope too. Need some assurance today? Need some hope…how about the hope of heaven? Read God’s word and be filled with hope filled to overflowing.

1 Thessalonians 4:16, 1 Corinthians 15:32, Revelation 3:7-8, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, 1Thessalonians 4:17 & 4:13, Acts 1:11, Matthew 24:27, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2, Genesis 5:21-24, Genesis 7, Genesis 19, 1Thessalonians 4:13-5:11, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, Acts 1:10-11, 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, Revelation 3:10, Revelation 19:11-14

To look up the passages…go to Bible Gateway…a most excellent tool in these extraordinary days.

5/22/07 At the End of the Day…Change is in the Wind

First I’d like to say thank you to Kim Beringer…my friend…and my encourager. What a wonderful thing to be known as…an encourager. Indeed she is that…and more. I’ve known Kim for a number of years now. When I reflect upon Kim what strikes me is that she is so very real in her faith and how she views life. Her faith runs deep…and it is a part of her. She doesn’t expect people or situations to be perfect…yet she always seeks to bring something to the table and make it better. Never will you hear a word gossip from her…but you will hear a tale of good that somebody’s done. She looks on the bright side of things…but doesn’t deny the hurt. She strikes a perfect pitch. Kim is my Yenta…and continues to encourage me in my desire to be married. Kim always shares a word of encouragement about my writing. I am most grateful to you dear one.

That day I was standing at the copier…about the last thing I expected was to see his face. After all he had left the company five years ago. I don’t remember him coming back to the building since then. Oh there was the occasional lunch and phone calls…but I never would have expected to seem him back here. In fact he and the family had just moved to North Carolina. Maybe that explains my surprise at seeing Terry Sullivan. But that doesn’t necessarily explain my tears.

I was shocked to seem him and felt like I was dreaming…even as I hugged him. He asked how I was…that’s when I started to tear up. I couldn’t hide it and I couldn’t explain it. Terry was passing through and just came in to say “hi”.

I think I was just overwhelmed with emotions…it made the losses of the past year seem all the more poignant. Terry asked how I was…and I said “I’m doing okay” and yet I cried.

Terry had been my boss for a number of years. Actually I remember him when he was but a young pup, up and coming…who went on to greatly prosper in his career. The thing I liked best about working with Terry…he’s a no nonsense kick butt…get things done kind of guy. Both for himself…and the team that he led. Terry was refreshing to work with…and he cared about people…and had a lot of courage. Seeing Terry…reminded me of how much I loved that which I had lost.

The past year has been a difficult one. Some ups and downs…an emotional roller coaster. Times when I let my faith fail me. It failed me when I got my eyes off Jesus and instead focused on me and my circumstances. But it was also a time to grow and ease into a place that I didn’t want to be planted. Even in the midst of that unplanned and undesired change…God brought people into my path…that made a difference for good. Without those people…I’m not sure how I would have made it through some very dark days. God used people to make a difference…a difference for good.

In short time we will be moving to a new location…the final step of being bought out will finally come to fruition. I will be leaving a building that I’ve been at for I don’t know how many years now…at least seven…maybe more.

I feel bittersweet about this. I will miss some of the folks that will remain with our old company. In some respects…I’ll just be glad to be done with it and have fresh start. The building holds so many memories…mostly good ones. But it’s kind of like having good memories of a wonderful marriage…only to have your spouse leave you. You are grateful for the good times…but thinking about them now only serves to bring you pain.

I had a job that I absolutely loved for so very long…and I’m grateful. I gave it my all…quality work…and continuing to improve was paramount with me. I wanted to continue to grow and better myself. I kept years and years of great records. Data that I had believed could be used to make the department and the company better.

But that all came to a screeching halt when we got word that the company had been sold. Instead now I was making back up discs of data…and sending away, throwing away pile, after pile, after pile…of my work. The work that I thought to be so very important…all of a sudden it was irrelevant. The time spent to make sure a report was accurate and picture perfect was now in trash bin. The work I had done…the goals I had came to naught.

I don’t think I realized it then…but after a year…I think I understand…it’s about the people. People who are loved by God and created in His image.

Don’t get me wrong. No matter what job I have…I’ll give I my all. I’ll work hard and give you my best. But at the end of the game…that work will one day just end up in a heap, in a pile of trash. What’s important…what matters is the people. If I get that wrong…if I’ve messed that up…then I’ve really blown it.

The job I had before I loved and was meaningful to me. I never, ever, wanted…to have “just a job”. But even now as I work…and reports that seem so critical and are needed yesterday…I’m cognizant…and at times overwhelmed…about how meaningless it is.

Recently I was talking with Beth at Bible Study Fellowship. Beth had just started a new job and was saying she liked it…that she found the work meaningful. She likes being able to do paperwork…it suited her and she felt like she was making a difference. I didn’t say anything…because I understand what that feels like. It’s nice when we have work that suits our skills, talents and abilities. But make no mistake…the work itself…at the end of the day will have no lasting value.

What’s it about? It’s about people. It’s about fulfilling God’s greatest commandment…to love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul and strength…and love my neighbor as myself. People are of eternal value precisely because they were created in the image of God. The means by which we interact with them may be through our work. That is the avenue that God may use…and if He throws in a job we like…so much the better. But it’s not necessarily the work in and of itself. Of course there are exceptions…perhaps in the medical profession or law enforcement…and of course the ministry. But what’s the focus? People!

As a Christian…I must be a good worker. Someone who does outstanding work…so that I may bring glory, honor and praise to my Savior Christ Jesus. It’s also a means by which I may be given credibility…and build relationships. So when that time comes to be able to witness to them with the Gospel message…so that the seed of the Word of God may fall on good soil. Or it may be building relationships…so when difficult times come…I can be there because we have a relationship already in place and they know I care.

It’s about the people. They may think they need this report or that report…but really it’s about building relationships with people. People…not companies…are of eternal value.

We continue to have more and more changes. Even as we plan our move and pack boxes…more people have announced they are retiring or are leaving the company. People that I have known for years and years. Before I would have felt much sadder at their parting…but this year I almost feel numb…and tell them “good for you”. I think it’s a self defense…that way when they leave…it hurts a little less.

Well I say all that only to add that I’ve put in a bid for job within the company. I think I might like it…but don’t know for sure. It seems like God is opening doors. But at the same time…I feel absolutely at peace even if I don’t get the job…which is a pleasant surprise. After last year…and feeling absolutely torn up when I failed to get the job I wanted…I feel at peace and am trusting God in this one. If I get it great…if I don’t that’s okay too.

I feel a change in the wind…and I pause and feel like I’m putting my face into the wind. I contemplate and wonder…what would it be like to go into the ministry? Into a job where I was doing work of eternal or lasting value? Would I find it more meaningful…knowing my work was impacting the kingdom of God?

I guess in some respects…all work can impact the kingdom of God. Either for good or bad. Will I choose to be mindful of the truly important things? Will my focus be on that which is of eternal value…the souls of men and the Word of God? It can be my focus right now…will it be?

5/16/07 At the End of the Day…Random Reflections

Tonight…was another wonderful night at Bible study. Dave Dunn is going through the book of Revelation. We’ve been going through the letters to the seven churches…one a week. Dave just jam packs the study. First he paints a historical word picture of what that culture would have been like. He’s so effective…there are times I swear I could step from the pages into the city. It makes understanding the passage so much richer and fuller.

Tonight we studied about the church at Philadelphia…the one church that God commended…and held no charge against. We learned that Philadelphia had been known by two other names…Neocaesarea and Flavia after Roman Caesars. So when Jesus says to he who overcomes that Jesus “will write on him the name of God, and the name of the city of God and I will also write on him My new name” that meant something to them.

Bear with me…not sure if I can explain my thinking on this. But to me…it spoke of love and marriage and a deep abiding love…so much so that you want to be identified with and connected to the one you love…and have it known to all. And Jesus says that He will write it…a personal touch. Our Savior will write that name upon us.

You see…for as long as I remember I’ve wanted to be married. When I get married…and want to take and bear my husband’s last time. To be known as one. What a wonderful thing to do…bestow upon your bride your last name…and what a wonderful loving thing that bears witness to.

In the New Testament…the church is referred to as the “bride of Christ”. So having that new name bestowed upon us by our Savior Christ Jesus…seems such a rich extravagant love. He cares for us…and makes it known by giving us His name.

Well what’s in a name? A whole heck of a lot…especially when you read the Bible. The name of the people often described their character. So much so that when they had an encounter with God and He changed them…he gave them new name to reflect that change.

When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior…we take the name Christian. What we do is reflection on Him….for good or bad. When I grasp that…I realize that if I act unbecomingly…it reflects on Jesus. It makes me want to be cautions and bring glory to my Lord…not reproach. Bring glory to the One I love.

At the End of the Day…Convicted

As I was driving to Bible study tonight…little did I know that God had prepared a message for me. As Dave Dunn was teaching out of the book of Revelation, chapter 2…I found myself very aware that this message was directed to me. I felt that good old conviction of the Holy Spirit…tugging at my heart and saying, “Listen up girl…time to remember and repent.”

1“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” – Revelation 2:1-7

If you were to watch my life from afar…you probably wouldn’t think that I had forsaken my love for Jesus. After all I’m in church every Sunday and attend Bible studies each week. With the number of years in Bible study…I’m pretty well grounded in the Bible. I can spot false doctrine and can usually mount a defense or offence when I feel it necessary. My car stereo usually has a sermon coming from the speakers as I work my way though CD albums. If not a sermon…then you’ll likely hear worship music cranked up loudly…as I drive by. If you were to examine my book purchases and DVD’s you would find material that is in keeping with my Christian faith. Sermons, music, books and movies meant to build me up in the faith. Keep me rooted and ground in the word of God. And indeed it does.

However…as Dave taught tonight…I found I have forsaken my love for my Savior Jesus Christ in the midst of all my pursuits. Without Jesus…it’s all for naught…whether it looks good or not.

The church of Ephesus had a solid background…with great leaders and solid teaching. With the likes of Paul, John, Timothy, Priscilla and Aquilla, Apollos, Onesiphorus and Tychius…how could they go wrong? I guess they struggled with the same things that I do today. They left their first love and exchanged it for a theology that became mechanical. Church was routine…and they stopped walking in love. They lost sight of the person of Jesus Christ. They opted to be purpose driven, not Person driven. Jesus became secondary to them. And I’m afraid to admit…He has to me too.

But thankfully my Savior is the Good Shepherd…and He walks among His flocks…tending them and protecting them. He is holding out His staff and stopping this little lamb from straying in thicket where untold danger lurks. He calls me and tells me that I need to remember. Remember where I came from and that I’m only here because He chose me. Not out of my worth or good works. I must call out to my Savior and confess that I have forsaken my first love. I must repent…and indeed I do.

Coming from a household where the words of “I love you” were not uttered and hugs and kisses were few and far between…if not non existent…I struggle with that thing called love. At times…I wonder if I truly know what it means. That struggle…impacts my ability to know or feel the love of God. Recently I posted some scripture verses talking about the love of God for each us. I think I need to read that daily.

Jesus knows my frame…He knows I am but dust and weak. I cry out to Him and ask Him to “Take me back, take me back to where I first believed.”…as the Andrae Crouch song says.

The Bible tells us that nothing is impossible with God. So that gap that seems impossible for me to bridge is not only possible for God…but it is certain. For He is faithful.

So it is my prayer…that God will do whatever He has to do…to help me know the heights and depths of His love for me…and that I might love Him in return. That I might walk in love toward others.

3/11/07 At the End of the Day…A Pure Voice

As I sit here this evening…I’m sleepified and ready to nod off. The air smells of smoke as wild fires burn in the not too far distance.

It’s pledge week on PBS and during this time they have great specials. Earlier today I watched a production of South Pacific. When listening to the lovely music…I was transported back to an earlier time in my life when I had a love and passion for Broadway musicals. I guess I still do hold a special place in my heart for that music. All kinds of music really. Eclectic would be the best description of my taste in music. Everything from Rock and Roll to classical, from Gospel to Broadway music, from country to swing and jazz and the classics from Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and oh so many more.

I love music…and thank God daily for the gift of music. Just think of the ability of songs and music to transport you…to transform your mood and your thoughts. Rather miraculous when you think of it. What a lovely gift it is.

This evening’s PBS show featured John Denver. Being that I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s…John Denver was a singer I was very familiar with. Loved his songs…and his sweet and gentle spirit. Tonight while listening to John’s songs…I felt such a profound sadness. What a loss…made particularly poignant by his demise at such a young age.

I was struck by how pure his voice was. Clean and pure. The other singer that comes to mind when I think of the pureness in their voice is Karen Carpenter. Another singer from my youth…whose tragic life and death make memories of her seem so very sad.

It seems so sad to think that people whom God had gifted so generously…that their voice would be stilled.

I do believe I’ll have another I-tunes album to download…this time it’s John Denver. Even in the sadness of his death…his music still brings great joy and happiness.

2/28/07 At the End of the Day…A Listening Ear

A few thoughts…observations from the day…with a listening ear towards God.

As I stood in line at El Polo Loco the sight of two guys praying before their meal really stood out. Not something I see at most restaurants…especially with guys. Unless of course it’s a men’s Bible study or prayer group. It was so refreshing…seeing godly men bow their head and give thanks to their Lord on a normal day, in a regular place.

Seeing these men praying got me thinking about prayer. Sometimes I really struggle when it comes to prayer. I struggle with praying regularly…and sometimes with what exactly to pray about. I’m sure to some degree this stems back to the fact when I was growing up…the Bible, prayer and church were not part of my family’s life.

Now as a grown up…it’s an area I find most challenging. In thinking about prayer…it’s talking to God…a conversation. One of talking, listening and sometimes just being together, but silent.

When I know a person really well…talking to them is not a struggle…it comes with ease. When I see them…I desire to sit down and talk or when I think about them…I want to pick up the phone and call. When it’s someone I like and respect…have a relationship with…I don’t have to think about what I’ll talk about or how to phrase things. It comes naturally. When I know someone well…I know what will tickle their fancy or make them laugh…or even get their dander up. It flows…its smooth…its give and take.

It would be ludicrous to think I’m good friends with someone, or know them well, if I don’t talk to them. I’d be fooling myself.

Shouldn’t that be kind of what it’s like with God? The more I know Him, the more I have a personal relationship with Him…won’t my prayer life, my conversation with God become more natural? I’ll desire too talk to Him more and more?

I wonder…do I make that conversation with God too complicated? Am I more concerned about how I say things rather than the actual conversation itself? And how do I get to know God better? Well…this side of heaven I won’t see Him face to face. So to know Him, to know His character, Who He is, what He’s all about is accomplished through the reading of His Word, the Bible and through prayer. The more time I spend with Him, the better I will know Him. The more I know about Him…His character…the more I will be able to trust Him. The more I know and trust God…then I will be better able to take Him at His Word and trust what He says. I’ll believe that He loves me. Whether it’ll be in the Bible or in prayer…or the Holy Spirit bearing witness to my spirit…I’ll want to be in conversation, in relationship with my God.

2/16/07 At the End of the Day…Random Thoughts

When you don’t feel good physically…it can be hard to think…or at least think clearly. It’s hard to focus and follow through. It’s hard to put two coherent thoughts together…thus some random thoughts. Perhaps it’s because I’ve had so many ideas I’ve wanted to write down this week…but haven’t done so.

You can tell it’s been a slow news cycle the last few weeks…with all the news channels focusing the bulk of each hour on the Anna Nicole Smith story and before that on the astronaut that went crazy. Disasters of a personal nature…but not something effecting the nation or the world.

Yet…I can’t help but think with all the voyeuristic coverage of Ms. Smith…what does this obsession reflect about our nation…our values? What does it say about what we esteem? It’s not good. It reminds me of Romans 1 where Paul warns us that God has given sinful man over to their degrading sinful desires.

More than seeing Anna Nicole as a victim…or her death as a tragedy I see it as someone who wasted their entire life and whose death has become nothing more than nightly entertainment until the next big new story bumps this circus off the TV screens of American. She spent her life in pursuit of that which was base, degrading and that which leads people further into sin and it continues to be inflicted upon our society even after her death. She did not seek after that which is good, holy, righteous, pure and of eternal value. Precisely because she wasted her life…spent it on nothing of eternal value that her life and death were a tragedy.

I should examine myself and ask in what areas do I waste my life, my thoughts, my time, my resources, pursing that which is frivolous instead of that which is of eternal value?

I can only pray for God’s mercy upon her child. That He will intervene and place her in the arms of a loving mother and father who know God and will raise her in a godly environment.

That’s not to say that Anna Nicole was beyond redemption. Because God desires that none of us perish, but all come to repentance. The problem is…we don’t know when our end will be. Will it be at the ripe of age of 89 after living it up…but repenting in the end? Or will it be at the age of 39 with no warning of impending death…and no time to repent?

Her death story is kind of being played out like she lived her life.

The one thing this story has done…it’s made me turn off the news. Normally I have Fox News on in the evening. But with this non-stop coverage of an irrelevant story…I escape by turning off the TV and doing anything but watch TV. There is not a lot on TV these days that will not offend. So the better option is the off button.

When driving in my car…I’m normally playing a CD from one of my beloved former Pastor Chuck Obremski’s teaching series. Right now…it’s 1st and 2nd Thessalonians. Even though he’s been gone for soon to be eighteen months…in some respects it feels like he’s quite near since I hear him preach every day. It’s wonderful, wonderful teaching. Not something that tickles my ears or builds up my self esteem. In fact there is many a time that I feel the strong conviction of the Holy Spirit when the Word of God is presented in a bold, non negotiable manner. It doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room…and when I measure my thoughts, words and actions against God’s Word…I realize I have ever so far to go. I’m even more grateful that I have the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ sacrificial death and resurrection resting upon me.

Through the study of God’s Holy Word and through the teaching of His humble servants, Bible Study Fellowship, Chuck Obremski, Charles Stanley, Joyce Meyer and Beth Moore…God continues to work on my heart…and sanctifying me this side of heaven.

Some insights this week as I have a listening ear towards God. Now this will sound terrible coming from a Christian. But I struggle with comprehending or believing that God loves me. Loves me personally. I know what the Word of God says. Intellectually believe it…but it hasn’t worked its way into my heart. I know that “God so loved the world”…but have a hard time making the transition to “God so loved Susan”.

Having a hard time believing that God loves me personally makes it hard to trust God. I’m getting better…I’ve improved. But still have a ways to go…it’s a learning game. It’s also faith…and I just need to make that leap and believe. Will I?

Also part of this week’s lesson was the realization that I work too hard because I substitute work for relationships. I wonder how much of that is out of insecurity. Feeling like I need to earn or prove my worth…by turning in a good performance. Without doing so…I’m not worthy or lovable. Not loveable to people or to God. So what has all that effort got me? Not a lot in the end.

Does that mean that starting tomorrow…I’ll become a slacker? No…that’s not going to happen. It’s not in my nature. However…I do hope that it will translate into a more balanced life. Work more on the personal side of life…and keep work in perspective.

I’ve got a long way to go…but thankfully God is not through with me just yet.

Tonight’s Friday night…and that means it’s time for “What Not to Wear”. Love that show. I watch it…and wonder “Now what would Stacy and Clinton have to say about what I’m wearing? What would Nick do with my hair?” Sometimes I think of folks I’d like to nominate for the show…but gee wiz…wouldn’t that be an insult if your friends nominated you? Yeah…that would be a bit awkward now, wouldn’t it?

Well…it’s getting late and going to be a busy weekend. I do believe…it’s off to bed I go. So nighty night…see you in the morning light.

2/6/07 – At the End of the Day…Exhausted Reflections

Being that this girl is exhausted…and quite ready to drop at the end of two exceptionally busy days…I’d better keep this short and sweet and pray that it is somewhat comprehensible.

The last couple of days have been an intense crunch time…a time where we had to hit the mark and get it right the first time. I came away from this experience with the insight that crunch time reveals a person’s true character.

When you see a person that needs help…will you pause and lend a hand…or walk on by? Will stand behind that which you committed to…or go fishing for an excuse? Will you strive for excellence…or settle for a passing grade? Or worse yet…hope that they just don’t look under the rug? Do the words thank you come easily off your lips to praise and encourage another’s efforts…or do you turn a blind eye?

My dear beloved former Pastor Chuck Obremski…use to say that as a Christian…you’ll know what kind of fruit you are bearing when you are squeezed. What comes out when you are squeezed? While the impetuses may be different for a Christian…non believers also bear fruit.

It’s vitally important for Christians to be ever mindful that their actions will be held under the microscope by atheists and agnostics. They want to see if your life…actions, thoughts, words and deeds line up with that which you purport to believe.

It’s critically important that we be aware of that. May that truth motivate us to work with excellence. Our work and our lives are reflection not only of being a Christian…but of Christ Himself. And when we fail and fall as Christians…the non believer has another reason to note why living the Christian life makes no difference compared to the rest of the world.

When I see a fellow Christian…someone who has a genuine saving faith in Jesus Christ behave in a manner towards others that is blatantly un-Biblical…it pains me. Something that is none of my business…but I see and hear of the lasting impression that is being made.

Dear Christians… It’s vital that we as Christians regularly ask ourselves…do my actions, thoughts, words and deeds reflect Christ? Do I draw people to Christ or repeal them?

In some respects…we Christian’s have it easy. We have the pattern to hold ourselves up to. And when we fall short…it will be readily apparent. Whereas unbelievers…act according to their feelings or heart. The Bible tells us that the heart is deceitfully wicked above all things. I don’t want my heart being the final arbiter of what’s right or wrong. I want a set standard and not one of my own making.

Anyway…I’d better draw this to a close…as my eyes are growing sleepy. Please pardon any spelling errors…or major gaffs…I’ll have to correct them on the flip side.

See you in the morning light!

1/24/07 At the End of the Day…Regrets?

Tonight while studying the book of Ezra in Bible study…I was surprised by the verse that I found thought provoking.

At Kindred Community Church on Wednesday night one of our Elders, Dave Dunn teaches a Bible study. Dave is a wonderful Bible study teacher. His knowledge of the Bible, history and his heart for God help him to paint memorable pictures that remains with me each time I hear him teach. Sometimes listening to Dave teach…I feel like I could step right into the passage we are studying and be there. He makes the Bible come alive and the people of the Bible seem real, not just characters or names on a page…but real people.

For a couple of months now…we have been studying the book of Ezra. While I’ve read it before…it now means more to me as we’ve gleaned spiritual nuggets along the way.

Tonight’s passage was from chapter eight, verses 24-36. From this passage…the verse I want to remember and take with me is from verse 31b, “The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way.” To always remember and never forget…that our God, my God is faithful…and He is good and He loves His own and provides for us.

But the verse that struck me was verse 31a, “On the twelfth day of the first month we set out from the Ahava Canal to go to Jerusalem.”.

Why that verse you might ask? Well when I read that…I started thinking about what we had studied earlier. When the call went out to the Jewish exiles living in Babylon…not everyone wanted to return to Jerusalem. Some had grown use to and were comfortable staying in Babylon. So instead of returning to Jerusalem…they chose to stay in the foreign pagan land of Babylon.

But what I really wonder about…was on that day that the Jews, about 8,000 in number, chose to set out and return to Jerusalem…what were the Jews that remained in Babylon thinking? After all the preparation leading up to their departure was quite visible as they assembled by the Ahava Canal. It was obvious that God’s hand and favor was with them…even moving through King Artaxerxes.

Were they relatively oblivious to the Jew’s leaving? Or were there any folks looking on with a feeling in the pit of their stomach realizing that they made the wrong choice. That they missed their shot to return to the land that God had given them? And now it was too late. Or was it too late? Would Ezra have accepted anyone who made a last minute decision that they wanted to return with the rest of the Jewish exiles?

I think of the phrase that Charles Stanley frequently uses. “I can choose to obey God and see what He will do, or I can not obey God and spend the rest of my life wondering what God would have done in my life.”

It seems like the daily obedience in life prepares me to be obedient to God in the big decisions. I must have a listening ear towards God…with a mind, will and spirit willing to obey. That means trusting God…even when things don’t seem to make sense…from a human perspective. Leaving room for a work of God…not always planning everything out according to my handiwork.

I think one of my biggest challenges is having a listening ear towards God. I fill my days to overflowing. I love Bible studies, church and meetings…and listening to podcasts from my favorite pastors. Goodness knows there is enough of the everyday chores to eat up any remaining time. I find it hard to just be still…and listen to God.

I think there is something patently different about reading God’s word…than meditating on God’s word and waiting for God to speak. God doesn’t always do things quickly or on my time frame. It would also require me to choose to tune out some of the other distractions…some that are even quite worthy. I guess this is one that I will have to ask God to help me and guide me on.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10

What would my choice have been if I had been one of the Israelite exiles in Babylon? Would I have stayed in Babylon…or returned to Jerusalem?

1/15/07 At the End of the Day…Questions

I’m very tired after a long day in which I was on the go from beginning to end. In part from fatigue…and in part from studying God’s word and contemplating God, my life and so much more…I have many questions swirling around in my head. On some…I have a glimpse of insight, but others…I have only layer upon layer of questions.

What does it mean to be conformed to the image and likeness of Jesus Christ?

What does that look like in mind, will, emotions, attitude, actions and behavior?

As I grow to be more like Jesus…how and in what ways will I change?

I want to know…I mean really know Jesus in a deeper and more personal way. What exactly doest that mean? What will I have to do to know Him more?

No easy answers…but oh what an adventure. If life’s not a grand adventure…then what’s it all for?

I am done…I’m finish…I’m no longer willing…to live a settled for life!

1/14/07 At the End of the Day…Mixed Bag

Being that it’s Sunday…I almost feel obligated to have a post of a more spiritual nature. Indeed God was part of my day…as He is every day. Church was most excellent today. As I close everyday…I thank God for brining me to such a loving and wonder church as Kindred Community Church. Also I give thanks for living in this amazing country…in which we are able to freely worhsip and study the Word of God.

However…my post this evening may seem relatively frivolous. Each Sunday after church I go to see my mother and we watch a movie. Some old movies…some new. It’s the one time during the week…where I may actually sit down and rest for an hour or two.

This week…I chose to watch “The Goodbye Girl” dating all the way back to 1977. It’s one of my all time favorites. (Good golly…that’s 30 years ago. Jeepers creepers…I’m getting old!)

The Goodbye Girl is a charming, funny, touching romantic comedy. Richard Dreyfuss’ character Elliot is ever so cute and charming. Who could resist falling in love with one so fun, whimsical and romantic…okay, okay and sexy too? What a charmer he is. I find that I still identify with Paula, Marsha Mason’s character…one who has been hurt and is vulnerable…but covers it up with her quick, witty attitude…hiding her softer side for fear of bearing more scars.

I find that old movies that I once loved have become like comfort food for my emotions and soul. All too frequently I avoid romantic movies…since they seem to act as a painful reminder of my single status. But every once and while it’s nice to wrap around the thought of a nice romance…try it on for size. Boy oh boy…it feels ever so good. It reignites the hope that one day that deep longing and prayer will one day be answered.

Despite sneaking in a short nap…watching “The Goodbye Girl” was just what I needed.

On an uglier note…have I ever told you how much I hate Alzheimer’s? I hate it! Well my mom has Alzheimer’s as do all the residents of her section of the assisted living facility.

One of the ugly things with Alzheimer’s is how it robs you of your dignity. It’s wretched. There are days…when time with my mom is reduced to me reminding her to chew and swallow or wipe her nose when it’s running.

But that was the least of today’s ugliness. In the middle our time together in walked Floyd. Normally he is the sweetest man around…with his smile and easy going disposition. It’s not uncommon for the patients to get confused and disoriented and forget which room is theirs. So I gently try and steer them in right direction.

However today…Floyd would have none of that. He was quite agitated and wouldn’t cooperate. Something as simple as taking his hand and showing where he needed to go…wasn’t working. It’s amazing…for an elderly person who is quite frail and unsteady…how strong they can be. So I was surprised when not only did Floyd resist me leading him back to his room…but he was pushing me away.

It was a rather disconcerting situation. Alzheimer’s patients don’t always listen to reason. So trying a normal tactic like speaking in a soft, calming voice, taking his hand…didn’t get me anywhere. There’s no telling what Floyd was actually agitated about. The whole situation left me with a pit in the middle of my stomach…and a prayer that this won’t go on much longer. Somedays I feel like I can’t take much more of it…someday I just don’t want to take much more of it.

Not a pleasant day visiting my mom today. More and more…she is loosing her ability to relate. She doesn’t speak too much…and regular conversations are a thing of the past. Right now it’s mostly time spent together…hopefully doing something she enjoys.

To end on a good note…she does enjoy her Frappuccinos or Ice Blended drinks. I do have fun trying to select a new or different flavor to bring her each week.

1/13/07 At the End of the Day…Rooted and Grounded

During the school year…on most Saturday nights you will find me working on my Bible Study Fellowship lesson. Tonight is no different. This year is my most favorite because we are studying the book of Romans. If one can say that they have a favorite book of the Bible…I would say Romans is my favorite…and this week’s chapter, chapter 8 is my favorite. But to narrow it down ever further…we studied vs. 28-39.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

‘For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:28-39

I do believe that out of the entire Bible…if I could fully lay hold of these verses, comprehend them and live by them…they would transform my life. I’d say that this last year has taught me more about the truth of these verses in a more personal way…than ever before. As I reflect back…I now know God in a more personal way…as He stood with me and walked with me through every trepid and lonely step.

I must confess that many a time during this process…I did not feel His presence or His ever present help in times of trouble. But looking back at the wake my ship that sailed…I can see God’s presence and help along the way.

At times…the seas I sailed on were stormy and tumultuous and at other times peaceful and smooth as glass. There were many days…that felt like torpedoes…one after another were coming my way. Little did I know it but my lifeboat was at hand. Many a time…I was resting comfortably and safely in it as the storm assailed my tiny boat. But the Master was at the helm.

At times…my ship sailed ever so close to treacherous shoreline…when the storm threatened to dash my ship upon the rocks. However…oh Captain, my Captain with ease brought me safe into a calm harbor.

I found two questions in this week’s lesson most compelling. 1) We were to read through chapter 8 of Romans and tell which two statements we most wanted to remember and why? 2) What difficulty has Christ’s love helped us to conquer this year?

Reviewing chapter 8 and writing my responses…was both moving and difficult in the fact that it brought back painful times in my very recent past.

To the first question…there were two scripture verses that stood out to me the most.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31b

The obvious answer is that if God is for us…it is insignificant and it pales in comparison who stand against us…because God and His love is so powerful. In essence their opposition amounts to nothing. As much as some stood against me…more so, there were those people who did not stand with me. Even in that…I had the one Person…the One who matters most that stood and remains standing in my corner. He never left me, nor forsook me.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18

It surprised me that this scripture verse meant a lot to me when reading chapter 8 this year. Normally vs. 8:28 is my favorite. In fact I consider it my life verse:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

But right now…verse 18 means a lot to me. To know that even though my present burdens seem very heavy that one day…I will look back and see that they were very light indeed. That God will repay me more than I can ever imagine or deserve for the troubles I’ve endured.

To the second question…what has Christ’s love helped me to conquer this year? Well…I guess all of the above is what He helped me to conquer. That which a year ago…I could never have imagined and I am most grateful to have not known beforehand was coming my way.

In some respects…it kind of scares me…because I know today is preparation for tomorrow. These recent difficulties were meant to help me grow stronger and prepare me for tomorrow.

That is why it is essential that I be rooted and grounded in the Word of God and be ever mindful of His work and presence in my life.

If any of you are in need of a good, strong, foundational Bible study…I would highly recommend Bible Study Fellowship. You will grow in wisdom and knowledge through God’s Word…and you will know God in a more personal way through the study of His word.

“But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].” – Hebrews 11:6 Amplified Bible