"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Making Memories

My daughter and I just got back from Rochester Hills Michigan where we spent Christmas with my oldest son and his family. Everyone, including Melissa had the sniffles. Melissa drove the whole way...and I thank her for being such a wonderful chauffeur. We hit a lot of ice and snow on the way up, and the slowest interstate traffic both ways. But she was an excellent driver!
While in Michigan, I got to watch my sweet granddaughter sit up - I got to hold her and watch her amazement about everything from her two brothers running around and around to the glow of the Christmas tree in her eyes. I'm excited about watching who she is going to be. Her first Christmas and I got to love on her.
I watched my youngest grandson Thatcher, begin to grow up...a sweet, lovable, out-going personality who took me from wanting to pinch his cheeks because he's so cute to wanting to wrap him up in my arms and just love on him when he would be sad. He's begun to roll his eyes like his mom, and make the cutest faces. He loves to joke and is just now exploring a range of feelings and emotions that have started to make him be more vocal and independent. He worships his big brother and loves his baby sister. He loves games and loves to play. He loves unabashedly and sometimes gets angry the same way. At five, he is just learning what he likes and dislikes. And he likes Caesar Salad and doesn't like having to go to bed.
Jack, my first grandchild. I bought him a pair of jeans and almost cried because they were so big. I know children must grow up, but sitting by his side listening to him read a book perfectly, made me realize he's growing up so fast. Jack, like his dad, is a deep thinker, he assesses the situation, ponders and then aptly makes decisions. He loves his brother and he absolutely will push the same if he gets in his way...but one thing I do know about Jack, he is equally and fiercely protective of his little brother and will always stand by him...which is an attribute that is hard to find these days...nothing learned...just a knowing within him. Jack will be a great president of the United States one day. And whether he's that, a scientist in a lab, a magician or a school teacher, he will be the best of the best...the leader...because he's just that way.

My daughter in law, Amy is a beautiful woman, inside and out. She is a great hostess and a great mom. I warmly laugh as I have watched her be the mom of my three grandchildren. She gets so enthusiastic when they learn something. She is a consummate cook, mom, wife and friend --and she loves my son. She is protective of her family. She, like her youngest son, loves life. Her excitement is contagious and her love is so special. I am so lucky that my son chose her to be his wife...every mother in law should have a daughter in law like Amy.
My oldest son Chris has always been a very determined, stoic man. He sets goals for himself and achieves them. He is a deep thinker and has always been able to figure out how things work. His oldest son inherited the "remembers everything and has an eye for details" gene from Chris. I've always slept well when I'm at his home, because I feel very safe and secure. He is a good dad to his children. He gives them freedom to explore, he teaches them to think for themselves and he loves them. He seems to have been born to be a daddy to these three children. I also watched him do little things for his wife...most guys wouldn't even think of--and even she didn't see what he did sometimes...but I did. After 12 1/2 years of marriage, he still looks at Amy with respect and awe and I'm so proud that he does. He loves God and has a very healthy fear of his Abba Father. Wow...I'm not sure I had anything to do with raising him.
My baby...my daughter...who loves her family so deeply. She adores her oldest brother. She competes with fierceness that is only reserved for him. Melissa is everything a mother would want for a daughter. She stands tall, she is independent (yet still needs her mommy) and she has a standard of living that she demands for herself. She is a great businesswoman, a leader, a warrior when she has to be and she has such a soft heart that gets hurt with unkind words and actions. She has never seen herself as beautiful as she is, and never has had the confidence in her personal life that she has in her business life. A child can hurt her feelings so deeply that it takes a long time for her to get past the pain. And yet, she has learned to swallow that pain and it makes her stronger for the next battle. She loves to push herself a little harder, to achieve a little better and to climb a little faster. I only wish I could be more like her.
Rochester Hills Michigan brought out a lot of memories...forever memories for me. I'm grateful that God has blessed me with such a warm loving family--a family worth making memories with.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Magic

When I was a little girl, I heard sleigh bells one night and knew it was Santa. I often think of the magic of Santa, the promise of gifts and the excitement within me that would happily take root in my heart and there was the feeling of complete bliss.

When I was a young single mother I remember one specific Christmas when we lived in the "Pennsylvania" house as I fondly call it. That morning early, I heard my children trying their best to be quiet, ripping through presents. I walked in, and the intense joy I felt as they heard my door slide open--and they stopped and looked up at me-- I saw the awe that was in their eyes. For just a moment, I felt what complete happiness feels like, and the excitment within me took root in my heart and there was that magical feeling of complete bliss.

And now I anticipate Christmas with my oldest son and his wife and my daughter and the joy and anticipation that two little boys will feel on Christmas morning when they open their Santa gifts. I know for just that split second, within my heart will be that magical feeling of complete bliss...and I welcome it.

Merry Christmas my friends and family...and may this Christmas bring you complete and magical bliss.
Ouida Ray

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A poem I wrote in 1984..repeated for the season

Born Again Christmas
by Ouida Ray...1984

The children are in their squeaky beds
(And I thank God they are there!)
A cup of coffee and I have a long night ahead
Wondering how to afford toys, from who knows where.

My eyes are closed...my prayers are silent.
Through my thoughts, God speaks to me.
"The gifts you give your children this Christmas eve night
Is to live each day as a Christian family."

"I know Lord," I say, "but they want....things."
He says, "Be still my love and see the Greatest Gift to thee,
Look beneath the tree so shining
My Son Jesus, in the scene of the Nativity. "

Christmas Morn is here, and listen to the noise!
No, dear reader, not of Christmas toys,
But the hand sewn dress, stuffed bears, used bikes and some poems,
Have given my children their Christmas joys.

The gleam in their eyes when I read the Bible
Lets me know, the Lord is right.
Things are not the essential this day
Compared to His Gift of Eternal Life.

Friday, December 12, 2008

thank you God

At the end of each year I begin to think of what I have...what has happened and what I thank God for.

I thank God each morning for my children. Chris is so handsome, such a good daddy and a good husband to his equally beautiful wife, Amy http://www.creolecrew.blogspot.com/. I remember so many years ago, before he even married he told me he didn't think he'd want to have children, because he didn't know how to be a good dad. It struck my heartstrings and if I remember, I think I said he had the best example in God as his Father and an earthly mom who tried to make up for the lack of a father-figure in his life. And now...here he is with three children of his own and they love him, because he figured out a long time ago how to be a good dad...relying on his "heavenly Daddy" to guide him. He has fought many battles and with God's armor and his loving wife by his side, he has been victorious. He is in law-enforcement and sees things we only think we've seen on TV. And yet...his sense of humor will keep you laughing. Chris cut a new path in raising his children...and I tell him often in private...but in public I just want him to know how proud I am of him.

I thank God for taking care of my children each morning. Geoff is my absolutely good-looking free spirited, beats to a different drum son. Geoff has been gifted with beautiful sea blue eyes, gifted with 6'2" height and has always since I can remember paved a new way to do things. As a child, he figured out on his own that he could clean his fork by not licking it, but by wiping it under his arm. (I often wondered where those stains came from!) Geoff moved to Wisconsin about 6 years ago, no family there--just beating a new path, and has become independent, strong and sustaining no matter what life hits him with. He has become very acquainted with a snow shovel, too! Geoff has more compassion for the underdog than anyone I have ever met. When he loves, he loves completely...when he's sad, he's completely sad, when he's happy, it's infectious. Of all my children, he reminds me of me. He is a lovely man, with a lovely heart, and I get to call him my son! I am so proud of him.

I praise God each morning and night that He gifted me with children. Melissa is my stunningly beautiful daughter. My baby. There are so many things she reminds me about when she was a child. She tells me things I don't remember...only because all I see is the purity and lovely woman of God she has become. I do, however, remember when she ran away from home. And I do, however, remember when at the age of four we had our first major battle of the wills and I lost. She is as stubborn as the day is long when she believes in something...and at four years old, she truly believed she didn't have to clean her room. After two weeks without dinner at night, I caved. Now, as a grown woman, you could eat off her ceiling. If you've ever heard Melissa sing, you know she has at least a 4 1/2 octave vocal range and can sing the blues, gospel, Celine Dion, Mariah, Cece Winans, Elvis and anybody else. I have a CD of just her music over the years. I listen to it often and still am amazed at the gift God gave her. I've told her often how I wish I could have been more like her when I was younger. She is out-going, loving and has friends all over the United States. I am so proud of her.

So when I start thinking of what I have to be thankful for I just remember...thank you, God.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Christmas Party

Tomorrow night I'm going to a Christmas Party. My sweet prayer partner and friend Gail and I are going to the 51+ Christmas Party at Bay Breeze in Hendersonville. We were asked to bring a mug to share (actually for someone to steal.)

Last year was my first year going to this party. My boss is the teacher of this class, and they had asked me year after year to come join them. I did last year and was shocked, surprised and delighted to see these people...all of them older than me, stealing mugs from people with laughing, sneering grins on their faces.

So this year I bought the BEST coffee mug I've ever seen. And am hoping that it will be the one everyone wants to steal. I think I'll just sit back and watch.

And if you know me, you know the one thing that is equal to a sack of coals under the Christmas tree is to give me another coffee mug. My cabinets are FULL of them. I have no idea what I'll do with the mug I'll bring home tomorrow. Maybe....regift it next year? :-)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

All Seriousness Aside

My blog has been so serious lately, I decided to bring a little levity into it. I was reading a story in the latest Redbook magazine, and I remembered something that happened in 1973...and I started laughing all over again. I hope I can describe it so that you will at least smile!

I was pregnant with my first child...mom and dad owned a "cabin" on Lake Bistineau (for those of you not from Louisiana it's pronounced Bist-in-no'). Dad had bought a "houseboat"...using that term loosely because only one person could fit in the "house" part. It was really a boat with a camper shell on it.

Dad, Mom and I decided to go fishing on a sunny summer day. (My husband had joined the military so he was in basic training.)

With my mom, it was either all or nothing. Several times while dad was guiding the boat through all the cypress knees, mom would get a dramatic 'nibble' on her line. Dad would scream "Jerk it, Wilda" and each time, my mom would slowly pull up the line to have no worm left on the hook.

Mom refused to bait her hook, so dad or I would have to bait it for her. Dad got so frustrated he refused to bait it anymore, so I started baiting hers and my hooks while dad kept running into cypress knees. Two times dad ran into the same trunk of a tree filled with bees...and I laughingly suggested to mom that dad was trying to get her stung. Well...she decided that was what dad was trying to do...and at the same time, she was getting another nibble all her hook.

Dad was yelling "jerk it &(*&(#^W&* (his favortie curse word) and mom did.

Now I was sitting on top of the "camper shell" house on the boat and this is what I witnessed.

Mom jerked her line so hard that as she did...there was a small piece of fish on her hook going over the top of all of us, and a huge part of a fish fell back into the lake.

From my eyes it looked like mom literally jerked that poor fish's head off. And I started laughing. It became so infectious, that Mom started laughing trying to get her line untangled from a bush behind her...

I was lying on the cabin shell by this time thinking I was LITERALLY going to die laughing...mom was laughing so hard that she couldn't see what she was doing...and my dad was trying to untangle the line and now the pole wrapped around a cypress knee while we ran back into the trunk of tree that had the bees in it...

which just got funnier. I don't think I've ever laughed that hard in my whole life...to the point of breathlessness.

Well...it turned out that mom had caught a tiny bream...just a baby (which she killed by slamming the poor thing into the tree behind us). A Gar had been trying to eat the little bream as mom jerked the line up out of the water....

for just a moment there... it would have been one of the greatest fish stories ever...and we all lived without one bee sting.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pride or Righteous Indignation?

When something bothers me to the point of anger...I know I must take it to the Lord. I need to find out if that anger is pride motivated or "righteous indignation."

If it is pride motivated...then "shut my mouth" I always tell my Father in heaven. If it is indeed righteous anger, please don't let pride come between me and the person that has caused me to be upset.

If the person who is telling me that God has changed her/him in such a way and I ought to follow their lead yet they are dilly-dallying in worldly practices, I question that they can teach me, show me or even convince me that what they are doing is "God-deemed". And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people. (Romans 16)

One of the things I try not to say is "The Lord told me to share this with you." I truly believe God speaks through His Holy Spirit through the Bible, Prayer, Circumstances and the church to motivate, change, encourage and reprimand us as individuals. (Thank you Henry Blackaby). Now people have asked me what I think God is saying...and if you know me...you know I always have an opinion! When someone comes to me with a problem and I pray with/for them, then that day or a few days later I read something in the Word or in my devotional that awakens the spirit within me, I will share those words with someone and say "This is what God told me and I wanted you to hear it because I think it will help your situation." But I need to remember to use caution in saying "God told me to share this with you." No...God was telling me...not the other person.

Conversely--I think of David's sin with Bathsheba --how God separated Himself from David because of David's refusal to accept responsibility for his sin. Nathan came and didn't accuse David...he told a parable. When David became aware of the horror of this suggested person's sin, that's when God used Nathan to say..."it is you." There was no slap on the face, no screaming at him to get his attention...no piousness on Nathan's part to be the deliverer of the message--I am sure Nathan did not want to go to his king and be this messenger. But notice, Nathan does not say "God told me to share this with you." Nathan allowed God to use his mouth...but did not allow pride to come between the words. This is a whole 'nuther' blog.

As fellow sinners, we need to use much caution as we hold on to our own causes, creeds and "God changes" in our lives. That's where God has YOU...not me. I may not be ready to accept the teaching that is so prevalent in someone else's life...and visa versa... the things I've learned through trials, hardships, quiet times of sitting in God's lap...they are for me. They are my lessons; and even though I feel that everyone needs to learn my lessons...that's my pride...making me a god in my own eyes. When God speaks to me He is telling ME that this is the change for MY life...and maybe perhaps as I change my wicked ways, people will notice, and thereby be changed. But telling people how they ought to change "like me" and receive the "blessings" I've received... THAT is pride...

Let God be God in my life...and let me learn the lessons in His timing...not in someone elses.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Words That Heal

If you know my testimony, you know growing up was difficult. I've been through counseling went to many Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings and had many friends who listened to me. I also wrote many of my frustrations out in diaries.

Thank goodness God is in the business of changing us. There's no way I would want to be that girl that had to deal with all the grief, sadness, rejection and abuse that took years to get past.

But this one thing I know...a phrase, a look, a touch and being real changes things.

Needless to say, my relationship with my parents was always slightly strained. God walked me through learning how to forgive them...many times I handed my parents my heart...many times I walked away empty-handed, many times I walked away in tears. Most times I walked away with my head up, knowing that I would never give up on either one of them.

I never stopped giving my heart to them. Not out of wanting it to hurt again, but out of the pure love that God poured into me as He continued to show me what I needed to change about me...what I could do different...how I could respond to the sometimes careless, thoughtless words and actions. God continued to show me that what I do with His love is even worse than what my parents did to me.

Through the years, my heart became so soft toward my parents, that it was easy to give it to them. Mostly, I could look beyond their words and see the pain that caused them to feel, react, or act the way they did.

In Dad's later years, he would come to the church I worked at in Shreveport and just sit there. He wanted me to just go about all my work. His words still echo softly in my ears, "Baby, I just want to be near you." My dad always called me his baby. I always thought my dad was immortal...I never thought he'd get sick...never thought I'd live on without him.

My dad's last words to me were "Baby, I'm so proud of what you're about to do." I didn't get it then. I smiled at him and told him I'd see him after he got out of the operating room. He never lived past the time they brought him out. And I think of those powerful affirming words my dad gave me. Words that heal.

In my mom's later years, I had grown up a little, realizing that she was not strong enough to be immortal. I knew one day she would leave this world. I would listen to her words of condemnation about my brothers my sister, her one friend, the neighbors. She was so very unhappy. However, within me there was a knowledge of her deep core of woundedness. I learned to listen between the bitterness and hear a little girl just wanting to be loved, wanting to be accepted and wanting to make a difference in someone's life.

The last time my mom clearly spoke to me, I was sitting on her bed. Just her and me. She spoke in an unknown language---every once in a while I could glean a word. Realizing she was speaking the Lord's prayer, I started saying it with her and she said "YES! YES!" After we were done, I told her that she could go be with Jesus anytime she wanted. In a clear, concise voice she looked at me and said, "I don't want to go."

My mom always me told that she hated that I didn't have any family with me in North Carolina. She didn't like the fact that no one would 'protect' me if someone broke into my house. She didn't want me to not have a husband to lean on when times got rough.

I asked "Why, mom, Why don't you want to go be with Jesus? There will be peace and no pain. You'll be happy and God will be there."

At that moment, she looked square in my eyes and said, "I don't want to leave you alone."

True words spoken from a mother's heart. Words that heal.

God welcomed my mother on October 7, 2008. No more pain, no more sorrow, praise God she has broken free.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

honestly

Could I let go of all that you've given
If it meant that it all would be yours
Could I sit at your feet? And forget about me
And remember what I’m here for?

Honestly I need to be broken
Honestly I need to fall down
Go ahead and shake my foundation
Cause honestly I'm figuring out
That out of all that I have
All that I need is you
Honestly

If I leave behind all that’s familiar
Can I do what has never been done?
If I believe in you like you believe in me
Can you finish the work you begun?

Honestly I need to be broken
Honestly I need to fall down
Go ahead and shake my foundation
Cause honestly I'm figuring out

That out of all that I have
All that I need is you
Honestly

You’re all that I want
You’re all that I need

I heard the words to this Carl Cartee song about 3 months ago. I've got the song in my CD player in my car...and I keep listening to it.

My heart's desire is to be honest in front of God. Listening to these words makes me realize still how far I have to go.
~O~

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pondering

Two mornings in a row I've woken up at exactly 4:52 a.m. Both mornings pain has woken me up.

You see, I was rear-ended in my car two weeks ago tomorrow . . . and even though my car wasn't damaged much, my body has taken a toll.

My chiropractor said I was 'askew'. My neck and back have hurt in ways I would have never imagined...and if that wasn't enough...

My right wrist has begun to 'tingle.' There's a certain way I can move it that causes a pain to shoot down through my fingers and up through my shoulder. It causes me to tear up and stop everything, stand in one place and say "ow" very loud all by myself.

My doctor says it's a 3 word something. We're using some kind of sonor treatment that puts deep heating down into the very nerve fiber of the area...and then I sit like a little old lady with an ice pack on it in the evenings....

But these last two mornings, the annoying pain has woke me up...

and it's so quiet outside. All I hear is the humming of my refrigerator...but other than that it's so quiet.

Slowly as it closes into 6 a.m. I can hear people stirring...the mother and daughter who live below me start their morning slamming doors and anything else they can slam. I believe they live with a lot of frustration... if anyone has ever been to my condo they know just how hard these women shut their front door.... it shakes my whole condo.

They like to check to see if the paper has come...at 5:45 a.m., 5:50 a.m., 5:55 a.m. until it usually comes around 6:30 a.m. The paper has arrived at 6:30 a.m. for the past four years...they don't seem to know that...I don't understand why they don't.

Then I think how alone I am. No, I'm not lonely...I'm just alone. Sometimes I am so happy that I can be at my leisure...but sometimes I wish someone else was here to hear me say 'ow'.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I cannot believe that in two weeks my baby will be 30 years old. I remember when I was 30 and my mom was 54...she seemed so old to me. I wonder how old I seem to my daughter (and even my two sons!)
I don't feel 54 in my mind. I shudder to think in about 13 years I'll be "retirement" age, and I haven't succeeded to made a mark ... I haven't had my 15 minutes of fame for helping someone, for being a good citizen, for making a difference in my part of the world... and yet...
All three of my children know Christ. That in itself is something I should proclaim from the mountaintops.
When my children were young, I remember them thinking I was "one of those crazy, zealous Christians." I remember one evening taking each one of them separately into my bedroom and anointing them and giving them to God. I had olive oil and my NASB Bible that is still so dear to me---and I prayed.
In my Bible on May 15, 1988 I wrote "My children's anointing" at
Hebrews 12:12-15 "Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."
I prayed that my children would have godly wives and husband. I prayed that they would make wise choices and I prayed that they would never ever forget the prayers that their mother sent up each night for them.
"God sustain the roots that my children have been raised with...remind them Who they belong to. Give them wisdom to make the right decisions and remind them how safe they are in your everlasting arms. Help my children to stand firm in what they know about You. Help them to seek Your face dear God as they make life decisions. In Jesus' name I ask, Amen."
Some of my prayers have been answered... some of my prayers have been repeated over and over as satan dealt his vicious blows when my children were weak. Some of my prayers were reminding God what I prayed for so many years ago when I wept over my children's precious heads.
Today, I read about God's amazing grace in Joel 2:25-27, "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm —my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed."
I trusted God with the hearts, minds and bodies to my children then and now I pray the same prayer for my grandchildren. I adore God's choice for my godly son... a wife who is strong in the Lord...and my grandchildren are being raised by a daddy and momma who depend on God.
I cannot wait to see what God will do with the unanswered prayers that are still out there. I wait with 'tiptoes of expectancy'.

Friday, October 24, 2008

My Favorite Time

It's 12:45 a.m. . . yes that's 45 minutes past midnight. This is not my favorite time. I should be sleeping, but that's sporatic for me. One night a great night of no movements, just sleep...then the next night, lying in bed feeling every twitch of muscles, feeling and hearing my heartbeat and wondering why my body is so busy and noisy.

I was in a car wreck last Friday. As I approached the cars in front of me, realizing they were all getting out of the way of each other, I did the same. As I stopped I leaned forward turned my head and part of my body to the right to try to get into the right hand lane to avoid the apparent 'pile up' and then WHAM my car is hit... I feel my car go up in the air and then back down again and I'm thinking CRAP. That was not my favorite time.

At work about an hour after the accident, my head starts hurting. My neck is aching and I'm thinking 'oh no I think I'm hurt.'

I call my chiropractor Dr. David Arpin, he is able to see me that afternoon. We do all types of tests to make sure my head is still attached to my body and I don't have breakage, and then he does what he does best and relieves the pain by pushing, shoving and adjusting .. then electrical stimulation to my neck and back muscles to help the healing process. This is not my favorite time.

After several calls to the other's insurance company, I'm finally getting my car looked at on Saturday. The agent doesn't know the name of the business and he doesn't have a phone number, but he told me the address on Patton Avenue...and who in their right mind wants to travel down Patton at any time of the day. Not me. But I'll go and it won't be my favorite time.

Then the agent wants to meet with me to discuss 'closing' the physical aspect of this claim. And I'm thinking the way my body feels right now, I'm a far cry from closing any thing. And that won't be my favorite time either. I am really hurting and I'm not quite ready to let someone dismiss my pain just so an insurance company can keep their money so the top execs can go on a round the world cruise.

I'll try to go to bed in a little while...just took a pain pill hoping it will take the edge off this uncomfortable ache from the top of my head to the middle of my back... and this is not my favorite time.

My alarm will go off at exactly 6:11 a.m. this morning, and I would be wakened up from a drug induced sleep, not wanting to get up...but knowing I have to. The coffee maker will start brewing my coffee at exactly 6:12 a.m., which will entice me to get out of bed. I'll get my clothes that I'll wear to work, slide myself into a nice warm shower... dry off, get dressed, pour my coffee, 2 spoonfuls of Xylitol, about as much cream as coffee, a glass of orange juice, my calcium and multivitamins slide down my throat. I pour my Chex cereal into a bowl pour the hormone free 1% milk on top and sit at my table.... and read God's word. What does He want to tell me in just 5 short hours from now? What will I glean from His wondrous words? What will I begin to ponder the rest of the day?

The crunching of the cereal is gone. I sit for just a moment and just be quiet. Teach me God, show me Lord, help me to hear You.

This is my favorite time of the day.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

changes are changing

There are so many thoughts jumbled in my head lately. The biggest thought is that I can't seem to get organized at home. I have boxes all over my living room where I've packed stuff from the guest room so I could paint it...over 2 months ago. Still haven't finished painting the ceiling.

I have boxes of stuff I brought home from my mother's storage shed (now, why would my mother pack rolls of paper towels?) Everything is in disarray in my living room.

I have rolls of calendars that my mother kept journals on (from 1971 and up.) I'm trying to get everything into the computer so I can make a "diary" of sorts for my siblings along with a scrapbook of pictures that I also brought home with me.

I love order. (My daughter used to make fun of me when I'd go to the grocery store...my grocery cart was always so organized.)

And yet...everything is so out of order in my life and I can't begin to put things in place. My mind is going in too many directions and I can't seem to complete a task.

In 1996 I remember the last 6 months very well. I prepared to sell my big house that I had raised my kids in--painting, cleaning the yard, cleaning carpets, wallpapering...

...my son went to live with his grandparents (Oh please...he was 21) and my daughter graduated and two days later my oldest son got married then just a few months later the house sold I bought my two youngest children and myself cars...

and then my father died. I know he was 82 years old... but he went so suddenly we didn't have time to prepare.

And my apartment got messy. I couldn't find a place for anything. Everything bothered me and I felt so unsettled.

I think I'm at that same crossroads again. I'm unsettled. Trying to get my condo ready to put on the market is taking longer than I ever wanted. I can't seem to get anything done and I'm just downright tired...

The only constant in life is change... I welcome change... I just wish I could organize my life a little better while it changes.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Diary of a Blessed Woman

Coffee has brewed and I'm drinking my first cup. Sitting at my daughter's house, early on Monday morning October 13, 2008 I have been pondering.

Life happens in slow motion so quickly. Do you know what I mean? Seems time stands still, then it's time for bed and we wonder "Where did it go?"

Just trying to relive these last three weeks is a blur...yet it seems like it's lasted for years. Driving quickly down to Shreveport the last of September. Looking at a shell of a woman who was my mother...seeing the pain in her eyes. (Just a side-bar here... my mom should be the "poster-child" for every woman who doesn't take calcium to keep her bones strong. My mother's bones deterioated through mis-use. She refused to take care of herself. She ended up with osteoporosis... and was in so much pain, just turning her head caused her to wince.)

My mother was also in so much pain through no fault of her own. She had three types of arthritis...as if osteoporosis wasn't enough...she had psorio-arthritis, rhuemtoid arthritis and osteo arthritis. These last few years she has lived have been years of constant, chronic, never ending pain.

The last time I saw her alive, the pain was etched in every pore of her face. I wanted to pick her up, take her out of the nursing home and care for her so she'd quit hurting. I wanted to scream at the nurses, LPN's and the other people coming in and out of her room, "Can't you see she is in pain...please give her something for her pain!"

I got the call this past Tuesday evening. My mom had died. My first thought was a Job thought... The Lord gives, the Lord takes away...blessed be the name of the Lord. My second thought was, my mom is no longer in pain...she is resting. I knew that my mother was now in God's hands and I could quit worrying about her....I could now quit being angry at her care-takers for the lack of sympathy I perceived.

I saw my mom on Friday, October 10. She had a stern look on her face....but not one of pain...a look of determination...the look I grew up with. My mom was a task-master. She was hard on her two daughters, cleaning, scrubbing...dressing a certain way...acting a certain way... but she was so much harder on herself. She expected perfection from herself...knowing she would never achieve it (which made her more determined than ever to be perfect)... she was so very hard on herself, she became miserable.

She never thought she was good enough. She never thought she was pretty enough, she never thought she was nice enough...her house was never clean enough, her speech was never proper enough....she never thought she was enough. When her children failed, she believed it was her fault... when the paperboy didn't bring the paper, it was her fault. When people talked among themselves in her presence she knew they were making fun of the way she looked, the way she dressed, the way she talked....and she became harder on herself.

She expected perfection...she never achieved it in her own eyes. To my mother, she was a failure.

And even though she never felt that she achieved that perfection in her life, I think her children reminded her often that she achieved something that most mothers can only hope for.

Her four children...warts and all...were Kingdom Kids. Her four children loved the Lord. Her four children had nine children of their own, who loved the Lord. She had three great grandchildren who are being raised to love the Lord.

Isn't that what really matters?

My mother was a blessed woman...and I think at this moment...for the first time in her eternal life, she is getting to see that her life and her death were not in vain. I think now, this moment she is kneeling at the feet of Jesus.... The crown she wears has 4 large jewels on it---and eventually there will be hundreds of jewels...for generations to come...and that's enough. Those four large jewels are the souls of her children...who will continue living the rich heritage of something our mom did right.

The gift will keep on giving.... my mom was blessed beyond measure. And we, her children will think on these things . . .

Monday, September 29, 2008

Two generations

As I was sitting with my mom on one of her last days on earth, my daughter was holding her grandmother's hand. It's the only picture I took...sparing my mother any more indignity.

My daughter's hand is so young, so ready to work...my mom's hand is worn out...rheumatoid arthritis took over many years ago, age spots, hard work and lots of wringing has taken its toll.

I wish I had the fore-thought to put my hand in there too...then we would have had 3 generations...but nevertheless...this is probably the last picture my mom will ever have...and that's okay...I will always remember the moment she brought that crippled hand to my cheek and told me "I love you too."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Born Again Christmas...1984

Born Again Christmas

The children are in their squeaky beds
(And I thank God they are there!)
A cup of coffee and I have a long night ahead
Wondering how to afford toys, from who knows where.

My eyes are closed...my prayers are silent.
Through my thoughts, God speaks to me.
"The gifts you give your children this Christmas eve night
Is to live each day as a Christian family."

"I know Lord," I say, "but they want....things."
He says, "Be still my love and see the Greatest Gift to thee,
Look beneath the tree so shining
My Son Jesus, in the scene of the Nativity."

Christmas Morn is here, and listen to the noise!
No, dear reader, not of Christmas toys,
But the hand sewn dress, stuffed bears, used bikes and some poems,
Have given my children their Christmas joys.

The gleam in their eyes when I read the Bible
Lets me know, the Lord is right.
Things are not the essential this day
Compared to His Gift of Eternal Life.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hello Now

After all the heartaches, toil and strife,
I decided to take a look at my life.
Even though the down times seem to abound
I can't help but think goodness is all around.

I took another glance at the past
And am so glad the pain doesn't last.
Every once in a while a memory will spark
A feeling I had when my life was dark.

But now, through divorce and redefeat
I can proudly say I'm standing on my feet.
Sometimes, you know, it's nice to be alone.
Someone elses problems I don't have to bemoan.

Then I smile as I think of tonight.
The children were laughing, to my delight.
They are settled after these long years
And have oneness with each other and their peers.

So when I begin to feel lonely and sad,
I try to remember when things were really bad.
The greatest aspiration I have in looking back,
Is that I am alive, well, happy and all intact.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Four poems

CHANGES
When thirteen came around
My little clown
Turned into a body full of anger
Full of happiness
Full of mixed up unhappy feelings
That made the whole family
Step Back.

When thirteen came around
This young boy
Turned into a body full of emotions.
Full of different words
Full of mixed up feelings for girls
That made the whole family
Hold our Breath.

When Thirteen came around
My oldest son
Turned into a wonderful man-boy
Full of different actions
Full of mixed up love for family
that made everyone
Swell up in Pride. written in 1987

ARMS CONTROL
He knocked down a picture
When he walked through the door.
As he turned around to pick that up
The bookcase fell on the floor.
He said "excuse me" as he picked up the books.
The rest of the family just gave him exasperated looks.

He finished picking up the books
And sat down with a sigh,
But when he did that
His long arm hit his brother as he walked by.
He said "excuse me" as he got hit upon the head,
Then decided he'd be safer snuggled up in bed.

So, my youngest son climbed the stairs
(Only falling up them one time)
As he opened his bedroom door
We nearly lost our minds.
Even though he tried his best to not make a mess
He hit the chest of drawers...which is now drawer-less.

Mind you, he tried hard not to be careless,
It's just that at this age
Parts of him seem out of proportion...
Maybe he should be in a cage
Until we believe this growing has slowed
Or at least until he can prove he has arms control. written in 1987

MELISSA
My daughter you remind me of a butterfly
You are neither here nor there.
You flutter around seemingly aimlessly
I don't think you even know where.

My daughter you remind me of a lion.
You are untamed and loud.
You stalk around your room...trapped
Your one voice sounds like a crowd.

My daughter you remind me of a cricket
Your voice goes on and on
You jump from one subject to another
And you always think you're being stepped on.

My daughter, you remind me of me
Your insecurity and your doubt.
You have grown up so much this year
But there's still so much to talk about.

My daughter you remind me of a dream
I had once when I was young...
You have the ability to make dreams come truth
And this one...I want to belong.
written 10/18/1986


HOPE AFTER HELL
In my life you reared your ugly head.
I felt I would be better off dead.
You took every emotion I ever had
Mixed them with waste and everything that is bad.

You took my heart and broke it in two
You took my eyes and made them blue.
You took my breath and left me void.
You took my emotions and with them you toyed.

In my life I fought you tooth and nail.
And I am around today, my story to tell.
How I went from heaven to utter hell
Then from hell to heaven...now I am well.

I took my heart and gave it to God.
I took my eyes and read the Word.
I took my breath and used my voice
I took my emotions and recovered from divorce.
October 1984

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Who I Am...written around 1984

My talent is hereditary.
My hair is colored by a leading manufacturer.
My teeth are owned by the bank.
My eyelashes belong to Aziza.
My face belongs to Mary Kay.
My lips are miscellaneous pink.
My body is molded by Whitman Samplers.
The bounce in my step is Reebok.
My personality has been tempered by divorce.
The love in my heart has been nurtured by three children.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Stuff

So, I fasted yesterday. I know...we're supposed to fast in our closets. But all my closets are full of stuff...and there was no place to be quiet.

Actually, I fasted for some dear friends...fasted for health and healing for Cody and Amy. What did I fast? Most people fast meals... And I guess I could have done that...but instead I fasted something that has become a habit to me....and a bad habit I might add....almost like an addiction...so I fasted for one day...away from the Internet and from the TV.

It was a day of cleansing....not only cleansing my mind of the mindless crap...but also cleansing ....

I found myself cleaning closets. Going through memories since 1960. Wondering why I had kept some for so long. I found a letter I wrote to my oldest son...WAY before I was a Christian... and it was obvious by the way I wrote. I had written little things he had done as a child. I'm sure he's the only one I had time to do that with...since two more children came in 4 years...and it seems I tend to let thoughts pass without writing things down. I wish I had written more things....as I read the note I had written to my son, it brought back memories that somehow have been locked up in the nether regions.

I'll put the memories in a scrapbook...because the letter just isn't written well...and there are some things I wrote that don't make any sense....and then the feelings of anger I felt over my crumbling marriage are entwined within the lines of this letter written to a little child. And none of my children...even as adults... need to read about the death of their parents' marriage.

But going through some other papers, I found poems I had written. Poems I wrote as I was healing from a childhood that never existed....poems of anger as memories began to emerge....poems of resignation and renewal....poems of of mediocrity, of hope.

As I read the poems that came from deep within the abyss of an emerging woman, I cried. I cried for the little girl lost in a woman's body. I cried for the deep-seated anger of someone trying to understand....and I rejoiced as the pages of words became full of hope, forgiveness and honor.

Was that me....did I really pen all these words? Yes it was me...and as I read each poem, I knew exactly where I was at the time...the place I wrote it....the mindset as I allowed the pen to draw my emotions into words.

In later blogs I will share some of those poems....poems of a sad woman/child...poems of a woman who had not yet found the Love of her life (Isaiah 54) and poems of her Husband's redeeming love. Some of the poems are very revealing as a young woman of 28 or 29 watching a man 10 years younger....and silently wishing..... :-)

Some poems are full of anger for a mother whose bitterness and fury cut like a razor through the soul of a woman looking for love in all the wrong places.

and poems of humor.... such as:

I have three children
who often have battles
One is quiet...one is loud....one rattles.

(each of my children know exactly which one they are!)

God allows us to fast to come closer to Him....to partner with The Mind of Christ. As we fast, He reveals not only the needs of those we fast for...but also...our needs. Rejoice...He ain't finished with us yet!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Awake

I woke up too early this morning.
In my mind, words and thoughts run like a gerbil on an exercise wheel.

I'm not sure what makes my mind work overtime like it does. I cannot change the world...or even change someone's mind with my thoughts that keep me awake.

I worry about people I love.

I grow concerned about decisions made---and decisions not made.

So I sit here in the early morning...really not wanting to drink a cup of coffee just in case sleep wants to join me...but on the other hand, the sun is rising...and maybe I should just act like it's any other work day.

Coffee is winning out. Now all I need is a maid to fix it for me....

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sistas

Circumstances beyond our control, dictated a separation of sisters over twenty-two years ago.

I know it sounds mysterious...yet it is the unfortunate foundation of generational sin that caused my sister to make the ultimate sacrifice.

A mother's first priority should be the protection of her children. My sister and I were not afforded that privilege.

Forms of abuse never delved into; ignorance on my mother's part; her disdain for the female sex, and major conflicts in raising two girls and two boys, caused four children to drift apart....as sisters and brothers and ultimately as friends.

Fortunately in my life, God has placed some wonderful 'sisters in spirit' to walk alongside me as I dotted the pathway that has been before me. Fortunately there is Kerma, a forever friend. She and I met in 1981, and throughout several moves to several states, throughout death, divorce, vacations, phone calls, robberies, nursing school, vet school, jobs and my children...we've remained very close.

Sometimes it will be two months before we talk on the phone again...and yet, our conversation begins where it left off the last time we talked. I had the privilege of introducing Kerma to Christ several years ago....and we are truly sisters in spirit.

Denise, or as I lovingly call her "Benise". She lovingly calls me Quita Juanita Ouida....Denise and I became prayer partners in 1985. We were both new Christians. Me and my three children...she as a single woman with no children. She worked in an attorney's office, me in an auto repair shop. We had nothing in common but our love for the Lord....and yet He strategically placed us side by side...and we began a "ministry" of intercession that has continued for all these years.

She married and moved to Charlotte, NC while I stayed in Louisiana. And yet...God in His loving wisdom, brought me to Asheville, NC...and now she and I are two hours away...and just a phone call, email or text away. I love her as if she and I were born in the same family. She is definitely my sister...in spirit... and I love her as if she were my own sister.

I had been 'thrown to the wolves' employment-wise in 1992. While on vacation from the 'shop' as our family lovingly called it...my dad sold the business and I came home with no job, a mortgage, car payments, three teen aged children and absolutely no employable skills. I went to "Job-Link" and got my first church-lady job. I was the financial assistant for the Business Administrator of a large UMC in Shreveport. Neecee Blackwell was the graphic artist for the church. She was an ADHD untamed totally throwing caution to the wind woman. Under normal circumstances you would think a cautious, scared mom of three....being thrown into a 'lions's den' of the unknown and a spunky freedom loving married mom of a 2 year old would never have a thing in common....

But wow...did we ever . And still do. I needed and need her love of life. There is NOTHING boring about anything she does. She finds the exciting in grains of sand... a shard of color from a prism ... a hummingbird... Even now as she closes in on fifty years old, she still finds the excitement and wonder of life and living. She lives life abundantly and unabashed and unashamed. She grasps life like we gasp for air after running a marathon. She is a free spirit and totally opposite of me.....and yet....

Neecee needs my stability....she needs my ear when decisions need to be made. I taught her how to balance her checkbook....she taught me to love life. I taught her to ponder....she taught me to trust. We started a conversation in 1992, and it continues today. We are never far away from one another...thanks to the age of communication. I love her...and need her...and the comfort of our 'ya ya sisterhood' continues after all these years.

Christy... another 'church lady'. She and I met in 1999. We really did not know one another well, until she was thrown into a black cauldron we unaffectionally call "FF". Since that time, she and I have relied on phone calls, cards and her infrequent visits to "home." She respects my opinions (and I always have one) and I admire the fact that she loves the Lord constantly, continually and with a passion most people only dream of. I love Christy...because I can be totally honest with her. I know I can trust her with the deepest darkest dankest secrets of my soul...and she prays for me and loves me. She knows she can be 'real' with me...no hidden emotions....and we both carry these burdens for one another ... with love and affection.

Jill...sweet loving friend. She trusts God and lives like He's her husband. She prays and I know God listens. She and I met several years ago at work. We've become friends....good friends. We've have the type of relationship that is one of comfort....ease....we're happy just being together eating, shopping, driving, hiking. She loves me and I know it. She accepts me and I feel it, she cares and nurtures. I know I can call on her at anytime...day or night...and she'll be there for me. And she knows the same about me. She loves God with a fiery passion....I love her because she stabilizes me. She keeps me on my toes spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally...I suppose that means she keeps me well-rounded. We can talk about anything...and have. I have shared raw emotions with her...and there's a picture in my mind of two women...one has her hand on the other's shoulders...that would be Jill...she has my back...there is comfort in knowing she is there.

Janie....we met in 2004. Just a few short years ago...and yet...it continues. I knew we'd be instant friends when I met her. She has so many attributes I only hope to aspire to. She is classy, sassy, bold and loving. She and I share so many of the same life-stories. Thrown into single-parenthood while our children were so young. Janie laughs. She laughs and loves life. And then she laughs again. She is sanquinelly happy, too....and I enjoy being in her presence just because she allows me to see things a different way... with the smile of God. She has moved to Texas...and just like my other forever friends...we started talking when we first met...and we still continue the conversation today. I love Janie...she has wisdom that is the glue that keeps me together. And I know that I too have the same affect on her.

And as I think of my friends...I have the privilege of adding my daughter into this mix. A loving, beautiful woman...almost 30. My youngest friend. Our relationship still is mother/daughter...and yet it is so much more than that. We can walk around in underwear together and not think twice about it...something none of my other friends have ever been afforded...(and please.... no pictures in the mind!) Mel and I have laughed so hard together that it blinded us...and yet we have been so angry at one another it blinded us again... and I love her. I think that my life would have been so empty without watching her grow into the woman of God that she is now. I worry about her in a way that is only afforded a bonded relationship. I try to nurture her and guide her in a bold way ... and sometimes in a pushy way...and yet she still loves me...because she knows I only want the best for her. We are comfortable with one another, and I believe she is the only friend that I would truly die for. She is my precious gift from God.

Each of these ladies, Kerma, Denise, Neecee, Christy, Jill, Janie and Melissa push me to be a better person. Each of them has an attribute that I desire to have in myself. And with each phone call, text, email or card...I think "I want to be like her when I finally grow up."

And now, God has allowed me to be reintroduced to my real sister. Norma. She and I met again for the first time in twenty two years on August 28, 2008. Between us, we have raised 6 children. She two girls and a boy, me two boys and a girl. She started having children late...me early. I'm not sure that we have anything in common except our love for Christ and our birth parents...but this one thing I do know... I want to begin today to have another forever sister...my real sister....

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wuv...twue wuv

I absolutely have loved the few days I've stayed at the Ray's home in Rochester Hills, MI. This morning the air is crisp, the grass is green and little Thatcher has a boo-boo. And when he gets hurt...he runs to mommy, daddy...and this morning...to whomever's arms were first...this morning it was Nana's.

Trust... I remember two years ago when Thatcher was just 3 years old. I had just come to Shreveport to watch the boys for a week while their parents flew to Rochester Hills to find a home. We went to my mom's home and as we walked toward the door, Thatcher reached his hands up for me to carry him. He hadn't seen me in months...yet he knew who he could trust.

Jack at age seven...handsome, full of energy and questions. We looked at a "secret hideout" that he had found underneath a huge tree. He climbed the stair steps of limbs as far up as he could. Trusting that the limbs would hold him. Then yesterday, he climbed a "new tree." As his daddy stood under the tree, Jack began his descent. Attempting to take the last step down, he asked his daddy to catch him. "Now don't drop me daddy" he said.

My son looked at his eldest and said, "Have I ever dropped you, son." Jack shook his head no and climbed down into his daddy's arms.

Beautiful, adorable Margaret. She trusts that the person holding her will feed, burp and hold her. She trusts that the person holding her will take total care of her every need. Her bottom lip quivers and pokes out when she believes her needs are not being cared for. And even if she cries to fight the sleep that overwhelms her, when she awakes from a nap, she loves and trusts that the same person who put her in bed will take care of her, change her diaper, feed her and cuddle her.

My sweet daughter in law cooks for us, cleans and nutures everyone in the home. My son makes sure all his family is secure and warm (or cool.) Both my daughter and I have felt so comfortable with the love and security afforded us....

...and then I think of Jesus' words in Matthew..."Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

How blessed I am to see this verse in action at my son's home. How blessed we are to see Jesus...with skin on.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What is perfect?

It's very quiet this morning, Monday, August 25 at 8:11 a.m. There's been a bit of stirring here in Rochester Hills, MI, but everyone has apparently climbed back under the covers for one more peaceful time of sleep.
I lie in bed pondering yesterday.

Pondering the smell of a freshly bathed baby girl named Margaret.
Pondering two rambunctious boys that never stop.
Pondering my oldest and youngest children playing computer games together and laughing.
Pondering 'scrappin' with my delightful, talented daughter in law
Pondering the delicious meals

And I believe right now.... this is perfect.

I hear four little feet pattering down the stairs and smile.

Another perfect day has begun.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Warning

When we get messages from God, we need to take them so seriously that they become a part of what we eat and drink, sleep and think.

I've been reading through the book of Isaiah. God continues to warn Israel that if they keep sinning, ignoring His commands, not obeying what He has distinctly told them, then He will back away and allow the enemy control.

And that's what happened. Israel heard God's command not to entertain their neighbors but to go forward...they were told not to marry those who honored foreign gods, they were told to be clean and pure and not live as the world lived; they were told to worship God only, and it was God only that they should seek....they heard God's voice, they said they understood, kind of like us saying "Yeah, I know"....and yet, they did what they wanted.

I read chapter 10 today. God is allowing Israel's arch enemy to conquer them. He's turning His back on HIS beloved people's sinful ways and allowing them to have the life they believe they wanted.

Their excuses?
Well, there's no one else around we can hang with.
Their lives are so exciting and ours is boring.
Their worship is so much more exciting than ours.
Well...at least they worship....maybe not the right way, but they worship.

As I have read these chapters these last 10 days, I began to remember a verse in Psalm that has always "put the fear of God" in me. If nothing else would make me want to change my wicked ways, Psalm 106:13-15 always gets my attention.

"Yet how quickly they forgot what he had done! They couldn't wait for His counsel. In the wilderness, their desires ran wild, testing God's patience in that dry land. So He gave them what they asked for, but he sent a plague along with it."

Are you having a desert experience right now? Are you not hearing from God, so you entertain those God told you to stay away from?

I walked in that desert several years ago...allowed my thoughts to override God's thoughts.

I still have the scars of disobedience.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Snares

See Prayer Essentials For Living In His Presence, Vol 2, page 290-291. © Sylvia Gunter 2000. Available at www.thefathersbusiness.com There is an archive of previous devotionals on the website.

We had a plague of chipmunks at our house. They were making our yard "hole-y," gnawing wiring, and making a general nuisance of themselves. When one family moved into the house for the winter, I took great offense. Something had to be done! I baited my Hav-a-Heart® trap with irresistible morsels-- sunflower seeds. Within minutes, I had my first victim, and my re-location project began. Thirty-six chipmunks later, it seemed the colony had been de-populated.
However, the next year, I had to exercise the same due diligence when I saw those cute little critters scurrying around again. I had to keep alert to re-invasion. That season, more chipmunks were dispatched to another place. This year, I know what they can't resist, and my snare with the irresistible sunflower seeds keeps watch near their runs.

The analogy is clear. If the chipmunks had assessed the danger of the snare as being more important than the instant gratification, they would not have been caught.

The Bible describes Satan as a hunter who sets traps (Ps. 91:3, 1 Tim. 3:7). His traps take us by surprise (Eccl. 9:12). Snares are hidden and catch us unexpectedly (Amos 3:5, Obadiah 7). They hold fast their catch (Job 18:9). It takes someone else to get us out, in our case, God.

Can God's covenant people be captured? The obvious answer is "Yes" (Ps. 140:5), and we are oblivious to our captivity. What are the snares that hold us captive and hinder us from going on with God? What prevents our freedom in Jesus? What is keeping us from liberty in His Holy Spirit? What does the Bible say about what entraps us?

What snares tempt us and entrap us?

Alliances, making peace with the world Exodus 34:12
False gods, idols, serving other gods, or serving God like others serve their gods Deuteronomy 7:16
Desire for riches Deuteronomy 7:25, 1 Timothy 6:9
Enemies of God Joshua 23:13
Relationships not ordained of God 1 Samuel 18:21
Good things Judges 8:27
Leaders Job 34:30, Jeremiah 5:26, Hosea 5:1
Prosperity and security Psalm 69:22
The wicked Psalm 119:110, 141:9, Proverbs 22:5
Proud men Psalm 140:5
People Psalm 142:3
Words of our mouths Proverbs 6:2, 18:7
Sexual seduction Proverbs 7:23, Ecclesiastes 7:26
Sinful talk (transgression of our lips) Proverbs 12:13
Ill-gotten fortune Proverbs 21:6
Our own sin Proverbs 29:6
Fear of man Proverbs 29:25
Reliance on religious tradition and wisdom of man instead of the word of God Isaiah 8:14-15

How do we avoid being captured by the snares of wickedness? By being warned by the Word of God and not straying from it (Ps. 119:110). To get out of the trap of the evil one, we must ask God to grant repentance, so that we can escape from being held captive to do the devil's will (2 Tim. 2:25-26). Then we cry out for his mercy, receive God's forgiveness, and ask him to empower us by his Spirit to obey from a heart that is totally his.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Words from a Friend


"God will never call you from something unless He's leading you toward something better."

I just got off the phone with a dear man who is like a brother to me. He and his wife are pillars of our church. As I was bemoaning this and that (martyrism showing through) the above quote rolled off his tongue.

I thought...how many of us when God leads us from something...someone...some place...just sit and wait instead of brushing ourselves off and continually going forward. We just stop doing the things we've been commanded to do through His word...and we just sit and wait.

My heritage....my heritage is one of waiting. Years and years of waiting...for what? I don't know. How many blessings have been missed because I waited? How many times could my blessing be right around the corner, and yet I wait? How many times have the gifts God has given me been wasted....because I wait?

There are times of silent waiting that align themselves to the Word of God...but if we are waiting and it goes against what His Word tells us, then we are enveloped in a lie from Satan. We need to tear down those strongholds and start moving forward.
Acts 22:16

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Psalm 51

As I was doodling with http://www.wordle.net/ I copied in Psalm 51. What powerful words.

But have you have REALLY wondered why David says “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.”?

Walk with me through a word study.

Transgression:

1. action violating law or code: a crime or any act that violates a law, command, or moral code
2. commission of wrongs: the committing of acts that violate a law, command, or moral code
3. overstepping limit: an act or the process of overstepping a limit

Iniquity:

1. injustice or immorality: great injustice or extreme immorality
2. immoral act: a grossly immoral act

Sin:

1. transgression of theological principles: an act, thought, or way of behaving that goes against the law or teachings of a religion, especially when the person who commits it is aware of this
2. shameful offense: something that offends a moral or ethical principle
3. estrangement from God: in Christian theology, the condition of being denied God's grace because of a sin or sins committed


One teacher I had many years ago described the three words like this:

Transgression is shaking your fist at God as you sin.
Iniquity is twisting God’s word to fit your circumstances and actions.
Sin is falling short of the glory of God.

Now what did David say?
Wash away my immoral injustice and cleanse me from my shameful ungodly offense. For I know that I overstepped my authority and broke the law and my estrangement from you is always before me.

No wonder God called David “The Apple of His Eye.” So repentant of his sins, his iniquities and transgressions that in God’s eye…David was sinless.

Prayer

There was a man in my past whom I always wanted to be like. His name was Norman Sutton. He was a small man in stature but a giant in the world of praying. I knew if I asked him to pray for me or someone else, he would. Why did I know that?



Anytime anyone would ask him to pray, he would stop everything he was doing, and pray. He literally would stop walking and stop talking...grab the person's hands who asked him to pray, and he would. It was a powerful testimony to me even then and especially now, when so many people are asking for prayer.



Almost all the time when someone asks us to pray, we say we will. Most the time we do. Some of the time we forget until days or even weeks later when we see them again. GUILT sets in and satan takes hold and begins to hammer us with our inability to be the "Christian" we thought we were.



I have discovered a "lightbulb" in my own prayer life that probably everybody else has thought of ... maybe I'm just slow.... but I've realized I can just lift their name at that moment...not their problems...not their troubles....not their needs... and just say "Dear Jesus... [their name]"... God knows their problems...God knows their troubles...God knows their needs...I just need to lift up their name. Being able to do that keeps satan from getting a foothold in that part of my life.



Norman died this year. I think of the many jewels that man had in his crown...jewels of love, sacrifice, prayer and devotion. I can just see him grabbing that crown off his head and running to Jesus' feet and laying it down in front of His King... and Norman's happiness in being able to say, "Jesus, you answered every prayer I prayed. Thank you for being my Savior." I believe Jesus looked at Norman and said, "Well done my good and faithful servant."



I want to be more like Norman....Jesus' example for me on earth.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sleep


Here I am again. So very tired and yet cannot sleep.

Who created menopause anyway? I had become so hesitant to continue the straight estrogen I've been on---that with my dr's permission I finally quit taking it.

I had a hysterectomy when I was 25 years old. Taking straight estrogen causes one to be susceptible to uterine cancer. Well...I haven't got one of them. I asked my Dr. where all those cancer causing agents go if they can't plant their tiny destructive cells in the uterus. His answer was there wasn't enough studies done to answer my question. So I told him, I only wanted to take it long enough to get past the "shoot them before they speak" stage.

That is past. Now I just have the frustration, sleeplessness and anxiety that goes along with the big M. So what do I do on these nights that I am so tired yet cannot sleep?

I've started thinking of everyone I know whose name starts with A...living and dead. I pray for them if they are living...I pray for their families if they have died. I find that prayer helps me fall asleep...and getting my mind off of me is one of the best things I can do. Then I go to B, C etc.

Let's see...I think I am on N now. There's my sister Norma and my Aunt Nellie...and and and...

yawn.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Shack

If you haven't read the book "The Shack" yet, I would recommend you find a copy.

I haven't been touched by a fiction book since "Gone With The Wind" so you know it's been a LONG time. Of course...there are those Christian naysayers who want to condemn the author of blaspheming God when William Young's portrayal of God is an Aunt Jemimah type of person.

And as I read the book, I truly began to think that the story was true. How could anyone write with just detail...without it really happening.

But let me tell you what touched me about this book....the truth of the character of God...and the message that will touch millions of people who have never thought about believing in God. This book, in my opinion, is an evangelistic book, being used by God to bring others closer to Him.

I'm not one to get so immersed in books I become part of them, but in this book, I felt the pain of Mac's heart when his daughter was kidnapped and murdered. I felt the agony of his soul when he was faced with the truth.

In one part of the book, God....had cooked up a wonderful breakfast for Mac. After the breakfast, Mac is so confused about God's love. Mac cannot believe that God would love the man who murdered his daughter. Mac cannot believe that God would allow his daughter to be murdered. In this exchange of words, God allows Mac to become furious, angry, hurt and despondent.

Since I don't have the book in front of me, this is the exchange as I remember it.

Mac: How can you love this beast who took my beloved daughter?
God: I love.
Mac: Why did you let him live and my daughter die?
God: I have given men freedom of choice.
Mac: You are God. You could have changed the outcome ... but instead you let this beast roam free, still roaming free, and my daughter is gone, we've never found her body, we've only found her blood. Why did you chose my daughter to die?
God: Mac, I love all. I cannot separate my love in levels for what they do and do not do. They are my creation. I cannot choose one over the other.
Mac: I don't understand.
God: Okay, let's look at this another way. I will give you all your children back to you... you choose which one dies. Any of them...you choose which one you want to allow to die.
Mac: I can't do that...I love them all...I can't do that.
God: I know. Mac...every person on earth is my child.........now...choose Mac...think of your three children and choose which one you want to give as a sacrifice for the others.

Mac has fallen on the ground, sobbing and screaming "I cannot choose any of my children...why didn't you just take me instead. Why did you have to let my baby die? Why didn't you let me die instead. Couldn't you have allowed me to do this instead of one of my children????

God said...I think you're beginning to understand. I cannot choose any of my children to die...so I died for them all. My love for all of them is equal... I think you understand now, my son.

Toward the end of the book, you see Mac's character change. The message of the book is real. God is love...God's love gives us freedom...because God is love.

It's a powerful fiction book. None of it is true. But WOW.... the feelings are amazing.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

God Calling--Keep Close

Our Lord, guide us. Show us Thy Will and Way in everything.Keep close to Me and you shall know The Way because, as I said to My disciples, I am The Way. That is the solution to all earth's problems.

Keep close, very close to Me. Think, act, and live in My Presence.

How dare any foe touch you, protected by Me! That is the secret of all Power, all Peace, all Purity, all influence, the keeping very near to Me. Abide in Me. Live in My Presence.

Rejoice in My Love. Thank and Praise all the time. Wonders are unfolding. And He said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. Exodus 33:14

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Loopy


Beginning in 1998 I have suffered with MAJOR bouts of vertigo. Not just the light headed stuff, but the fall on the floor because the room is spinning stuff...crawling where I needed to go because I couldn't walk.


I have control issues anyway...and then not being able to stay balanced just about does me in! I struggle to drive...I make jokes of it...but if I'm at a stop sign...I slowly have to look to the right...then slowly to the left...then slowly to the right again and once more to the left...because I have to do it so slowly who knows what's coming 'round the bend as I'm slowly looking the other way!'
Recently I have felt like my brain was shifting in my head and I couldn't move my head much without getting off balance. So finally after years of wondering why I had these bouts, I got my trusty little Neti Pot and started using it again.
Sure enough, this morning I awoke for the first time in a week without dizziness and light-headedness. I guess I'm destined to use it forever...but that's better than ...as my chiropractor calls it "being loopy."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

But God.....?

I wonder why some of us won't obey God even though we know we ought to...because we want what we want---and feel like if that's what we want, it must be God's will, because why would we want it?

When will we understand that sometimes God's best doesn't resemble what we see in our head?...His best sometimes leads us into places we didn't think we wanted to be.


Sometimes God's best is right around the corner...we just refuse to go there---because THIS IS WHERE WE WANT TO BE.


So we stick to what we believe to have been God's voice...even when it doesn't line up with His Word... with fingernails screeching, thinking that God will eventually let us have our way (we think that HIS way would NEVER be something we don't want.)


and all along...the gifts that He freely has given us go to waste...because we want what we want.... and call it "In the name of Jesus".

Monday, July 21, 2008

More Than Enough

I ponder a lot.

Ponder...to reflect...to consider with depth. Pondering seems to come to me in retrospect. After an ordeal is over...I ponder.

I have been in the throes of wondering (or in my case wandering in my mind aimlessly!) about events of my personal life these past few years.

I had prayed for 19 years for someone...a person very dear to me. I had prayers I wrote 'out loud' to God and I had prayers tucked deep within my heart. When events didn't turn out the way I assumed they should because of my prayers, I got angry, irate and inconsolable. I called a dear friend a couple days after the event. I don't even know how he could understand what I was saying, but between my anger and sobs he said, "Just come home, Ouida. Just come home."


I was so tired of crying. So tired of being angry. Angry about what? As I would sit in my prayer chair, I would ponder my anger. Who and what was I mad at?

Then it came like a revelation. I was angry at God for not listening to my prayers...for not answering my prayers the way I thought He should have. I was angry at God and I told Him so. So there! Take that, God.


That evening after my 'revelation', my daughter told me that I needed to hear a song by her favorite group, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. The angelic voice began to sing,

"Jehovah Jireh My Provider You are more than enough for me
Jehovah Raepha You're my healer By your stripes I've been set free
Jehovah Shammah You are with me to supply all my needs
You are more than enough More than enough You are more than enough for me"


Suddenly there was a stirring within me. Tears filled my eyes and I told my daughter I needed to go home. I wasn't going to allow those feelings to come out. God had hurt my feelings and I was...I was really mad.

The next day, my daughter and I had some retail therapy (Commerce, GA.) On the way home, she said, "Mom, there's one more song you need to hear!"

Uh oh...I didn't want to go through that again.

"Since the last time I saw you
God has moved another mountain out of my way
Led me to green pasture turned my midnight into day
Placed my feet up on a rock to stay
Since the last time I saw you
God has calmed another raging storm in my life
Led me into safety turned my darkness into light
Now I stand in the power of his might

You would have thought that God already done enough for me
When he took my place at Calvary
But he's done so much more and more
Right before my eyes
And I have no other choice
But to stand and testify, stand and testify

Since the last time I saw you God has worked
another wondrous miracle for me
Led me into triumph
Now my blinded eyes can see
that Christ the Lord performs victoriously

You would have thought that he done enough for me
When he took my place at Calvary
But he’s done more and more and more every day
He makes a way and he’s made a way
Since the last time I saw you things have changed
I’m not the same... since the last time"

As she sang, all I could do was think...
my mountain had not moved ....the event had happened and that mountain was still a lump in my throat.

But I kept hearing......"You would have thought that He would have done enough for me...when He took my place on Calvary...."

I held in my emotions until I got home.
In my bedroom, I fell to my knees in sorrow. Sorrow that I had made God 'ouida-sized.'

The God of the Universe, the Great and Mighty I AM, My Jehovah, Creator, Master, My Maker...my Husband.


So what if He didn't answer my prayer the way I wanted Him to. Wasn't it enough that He had died for me? Wasn't that enough?


I lay prostrate on my floor and asked The God of My Salvation to forgive me for my pride, my arrogance, and my ignorance.


My friend's words came back to me, "Just come home, Ouida. Just come home."


It suddenly didn't matter about the past events...because it was enough that Jesus had died for me...more than enough for me.


I'm home again...Pondering.

-Ouida Ray 6/12/03