Even If

For the past five days, our son, Ben, has been visiting us. His diagnosis on the Autism spectrum makes change a challenge. This trip counts as his second visit to our new apartment home in Huntsville. Ben usually fills his time with eating, sleeping and trips to Walmart.  However, Huntsville is a new frontier for him with new things to see and do. His usual hesitancy about doing anything out of the norm was replaced with a willingness to explore his new environment…nothing short of answered prayer.

Ben was excited about a trip we had scheduled to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. It was  a miracle that he did not get bogged down in the gift shop just inside the entrance of the center. Ben was not interested in the written information displayed on exhibits throughout the buildings. His interests were strictly visual and there was so much to see!

On the second pass by the rock wall, Ben paused and said he wanted to give it a try.  Two very patient, kind Space Camp workers helped make this happen. Once he was in the harness, Ben shot up the wall with ease, his dad and I encouraging him every bit of the way.  Ben was so very proud of himself and the accomplishment. My heart was full because he had overcome his fear to enjoy a new experience which seldom occurs.

As we prepared to leave, Ben was combing the gift shop for a t-shirt when he had a seizure, probably due to overstimulation during our time there.  As usual, people stare as we explain we have the situation under control.  Ben has been having seizures since he was eighteen months old. On the outside we look calm and collected as we handle the few minutes involved, which seem like twenty, but on the inside our hearts break every time.

Ben’s life limited by autism and seizures has been the object of our prayers and the prayers of countless prayer warriors. We have prayed for mental progress, for healing from seizures, for a less combative personality.  Praise God the seizures have lessened, but the medications that bring that control also affect his mental acuity and impulsivity.

Doing the 29 years of Ben’s life, my emotions have ranged from anger with God, to deep despair, and now, finally, faith in God for every aspect of Ben’s life. But I am human. This doesn’t mean I have no grief and “mama’ pain in my heart, because I do. But God is sovereign, Ben is His child and He has a hope and a future for him. (Jer. 29:11) It is my job to trust and have faith in this plan.

My life experience is not unique. Each of you reading this most likely has an area in your life of pain and struggle that affects you daily, probably even more profoundly that Ben’s problems affect me. God is there for you in the very best and more importantly the very worst of times.  He sees your heart, knows your needs, and provides strength for every situation you face. The choice is whether you continue to focus on the situation or on God and His power to carry you through it. When your thoughts center on Christ and His promises, you will find it easier in the even ifs to say it is well with my soul. Please turn to Him, seek His face and hold tightly His hand. Enjoy this powerful song! To God Be the Glory!

Look Closer

With our recent move, my husband, Eddy, and I have come full circle.  We began our marriage in an apartment and, after many years of home ownership, we are once again apartment dwellers.      

Directly behind our building is a nicely paved walking trail. It was late Fall when we moved in and leafless trees didn’t make for the greatest scenery.  As a further distraction, either side of the pathway is littered with dead, fallen trees which seem to accent the absence of color and beauty.

As a photographer, I have learned that during the winter months, you have to search harder for subject matter.  A few days ago, I set off on the walking trail with camera in hand to look closer, past the drabness to capture something of beauty.

As you can see from these pictures, there was color and even a rock turned into a dining table for a squirrel. There it was. Life and beauty.  Have you ever felt as though your life was stuck in the lackluster months of winter? My hand is up! I know I have. The seasons outside my window were changing but my life felt stuck in a never-ending, lifeless winter.

God chronicles this so beautifully in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 beginning with, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” God uses whatever season we are in to mold and shape us into His likeness. After years of fighting the seasons to no avail, I have learned to embrace each one, all the while looking closer for what God intends for me to  and see and learn.

There is the beauty of His constant presence and love in the pain.  There are the sweet whispers of encouragement in His word. There is a wealth greater than gold in the lessons learned and maturity gained that takes my mind off the circumstances of my season and sets my focus on Him.

As a camera requires focus for the best picture, our lives require focus for the best outcome. We have a choice. Either we look solely at the dead trees littering our landscape or we intentionally focus on the beauty of the blessings we walk through every day.

In whatever season you find your life, challenge yourself to look closer, to see God all around you…by your side, on your side. See the beauty you have looked past. Ask Him to open your eyes.  To God Be the Glory!

 

 

Rest

The last five months have been a rocky ride.  It began with discovering my husband waiting in the parking lot for me as I left work one ordinary Tuesday.  I walked towards him with a big grin on my face because I thought we were about to go to Subway for supper and I wouldn’t have to cook! Yay!

As he rolled down his window, he said something usually benign…”Guess what happened today.” Before I could ask, a second sentence was on the way. “I lost my job.” Eddy, a physical therapist of 34 years, has given this profession his heart and soul. Loved by patients and respected by doctors, this just couldn’t be possible.

At that point I got into his truck and we, yes, headed to Subway for supper and to talk through the details of this crazy, unbelievable statement.

We encountered God’s daily grace and an extra measure of during this time.  The offer of a new job took us out of the state of Mississippi for the first time in our 35 years of marriage.  The process of finding a job and securing a professional license in a new state took three months. Those three months embodied some emotional stress.

Then came the move…the physical stress. Moving is not for sissies! I just kept thinking that soon this will all be over and I can rest.  I would not be working initially and that thought carried me through the packing and unpacking of every box. However, when things settled down and the time for “rest” arrived, I was unable to truly embrace it.  I even felt guilty having the coveted time to relax and unwind which is understandable because I am the poster child for Type A personality traits!

My daily quiet time includes a passage from “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. The most recent offerings have focused on rest and seeking God’s face.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn for me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, will I seek. (Psalm 27:8)

There is rest for us regardless how insurmountable our circumstances seem or how exhausted we are.  There is emotional, physical, but most importantly spiritual rest found in Jesus.  Time to find a quiet place away from the frenzy to seek His face. Trade the cumbersome yoke of burdens you have chosen for the yoke of Christ…a yoke offering rest for your soul…a rest that extra sleep, a vacation or anything this world offers can come close to touching.

I will leave you with a song and a prayer that we (myself included) find this spiritual rest so graciously offered us the through love and sacrifice of Christ!  To God be the Glory!

Satan Is Hard At Work

“Be sober, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a hungry lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

By simply watching a few minutes of the news or reading an article on your smart phone, the discord permeating our country is obvious. The 2017 Presidential Election and the months leading up to it have been a major breeding ground for this unrest. The battles have not only been Republican against Democrat. The war has infiltrated friendships and family relationships as each person fights to prove their views the most correct.

Property has been destroyed, people have been injured, arrests have been made. At this point in time, we are not “One nation under God.” We are a divided nation slowly tearing itself apart, and for what…to change what cannot be changed, to gloat over victory.  To me, it is clear that Satan and his minions are having a party stirring up this atmosphere of dissension.  The roaring lion is on the prowl!

I totally understand that people on both sides of the political parties have their hard and fast ideas of how this country should be run.  I witness everyday on the news that these same people are fearful and angry, and these emotions are spreading like a cancer.

Our Constitution validates the president who is in office, but more important is God’s plan for this nation. If people could rest in the knowledge that God is Sovereign and in charge of the results of this election, the count, whether popular vote or electoral college, would not be the topic of endless arguments.

If we as a nation converted the energy consumed in battles precipitated by fear and anger into trust and faith in God, perhaps the war would cease. Perhaps Satan’s battle plan would fail instead of our success as a nation.

For everyone tirelessly fighting for your cause on either side of the fray, there is an answer that can bring you peace. God and God alone!  Whatever your concern, your fear, your discontent, take it to Him. Despite the unrest surrounding your daily lives, you can find peace in Him. Maybe the world isn’t what you think it should be. However, remember there is a much higher authority who had a plan before the beginning of time for you and this country. And all will go as He planned despite our thoughts on the matter. And His plans are good because we are his children and He loves us.

Perhaps we could take that which rises up inside of us with the next news cycle and give it to God, the creator of the universe. What rest and peace would be found for our minds and bodies. Defeat Satan with that peace.  He knows his time on earth is drawing to a close. Stop him in his tracks. “Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face continually.” (I Chronicles 16:11)

Remember, we can’t share the love of Christ with those who need it when we are weaponized with hatred, self-absorbed, and fighting to win no matter the cost . “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you.” (John 13:34) Defeat this distraction of the enemy. Time for each of us to be a part of the solution. Reach across the aisle and rekindle relationships before the divide is too great. Put politics to the side and see a person created by God who deserves your love and prayers.  Time for mending. To God Be the Glory!

What Will Your Answer Be?

IMG_5104

While in a dressing room at TJ Maxx, the labels above the hooks for hanging clothes screamed, “You must post this!” These words are familiar answers we all, at one time or another, have given to God when He has revealed a specific direction for our lives. God loves us and has only good plans for our lives. In our heads we know this, but in reality our faith falters. The “what if ” questions plague our minds.

Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:21-22)

An acrostic for faith is this…Feeling Araid Trust Him. God accepted no excuses from the prospective disciples.  How many of them would have even been disciples if they went home and made a “pro/con” list and discussed it with their families. Jesus said, “Follow me,” and they walked away from life as they knew it into the unknown.  Most assuredly they had doubts and fears, but faith won the battle and God used them mightily.

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34)

Sometimes we try to pacify ourselves and God with the answer “possibly” to buy some time. And perhaps we do ponder and play out in our minds what “possibly” would look like if we changed it to “definitely.” Then fear comes creeping in because our human minds try to imagine what saying “yes” to God might actually look like…how our lives would change. Yet again, we forget to factor in the most important aspect…faith in the goodness of our Heavenly Father.

Faith is saying “definitely” instead of “tomorrow” when God reveals His plan for us. Praise God He has a plan for us to carry out…a plan to do our part in carrying out the Great Commission and take as many people to Heaven with us as we can!

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

The time to follow Christ and do His will is “definitely” today because quite “possibly” our Savior could return “tomorrow!” Are you ready? Which hook will you hang your hat on! Prayers that you will not put off accepting, following and honoring Jesus another day. He died to save you…now is the time to die to ourselves for Him. To God Be the Glory!

For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2)

 

God’s Beauty In Every Day Things

IMG_7282As you can see from the photo, I have not mastered the art of nighttime photography, but I had to share this moment with you. The weekend is ending.  Time to go to bed and wake up to a new week.  The reflection of the full moon shining off the lake behind my house lured me outside to check out the night sky as I was locking up for the night.

The moon is at peak fullness and the clouds drifting in the sky seemed to purposefully frame the beauty of its brightness. From the reflection off the water, I could see the silhouettes of two deer eating the corn left behind by the ducks earlier in the day. It was just one of those moments in time when everything stops for a moment and you drink up the beauty of God’s handiwork, feeling as though He had planned this scene especially for you.

That beauty is present every day from the moment you open your eyes until you close them at night. Tonight God had this beautiful masterpiece finished just in time for me to see His hand-crafted beauty at the close of my day.  Don’t miss this in your daily lives.  These are the moments that calm our souls, that enable to experience God in such a real and beautiful way.

Prayers that your week will begin well, that you will make time for God, and that you will see His beauty throughout your day. To God Be the Glory!