Honoring Women

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As the world celebrates women in general, I want to honor those who have impacted me. I have and still am being blessed by many so women of faith. There are too many to name, so instead I will reshare this poem (by one of them).

As you read this I pray that you will hear and recieve the Father’s love for you. Oh how He loves you and me!

Most Precious Treasure

Be encouraged, little Daughter:
Your God is on your side.
Draw near. Bask in My Presence.
Let My Love abide.

Allow My living waters
To wash away each thought
That counteracts My promises
And the life that Christ has bought.

You are My precious treasure
Purchased at great cost,
The sheep that I came looking for
Who is no longer lost.

Arise and shine right where you are.
Let’s join in harmony.
Your world awaits your entrance.
Through you, they’ll soon find me.

I find in you, great pleasure.
You’re the apple of My eye
I promise: I’ll not leave you.
I’m always standing by.

By Roberta M. Spinney; shared with permission.

If you do not know Jesus as your Savior and Lord, simply pray this prayer in faith, and Jesus will be your Lord!

Peace, Rest, Quietness, Strength & Confidence

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The last 16 months have been the most difficult of my life. I’ve been learning to live through what often feels like a storm with wind and waves. Some days it has felt like a roller coaster ride with wild twists and turns, and like going two steps forward and three steps back. With time flying both by or seeming not to move at all.

I haven’t always handled it well or right, but I take comfort that God knows. He knows me. He knew me in my mother’s womb and He is not surprised by any aspect of my life. At times I have felt so very weak, at others very strong – but in both cases I know He is carrying me. With uncertainty all around, He is faithful, and even reminds me of my dreams, and of His dreams for me. He isn’t surprised or worried. He has a plan, He’s always had a plan for me that includes love, redemption, forgiveness, grace, help just when I need it, and wisdom when I ask.

My part is to listen, trust and rest, to believe Him. To stay in faith even when I can’t see the way forward. To cast my care on Him because He cares, to live in expectation that He is working. Sometimes I must remind myself of what Jesus spoke to the storm, and that He is Christ in me, with me, always. I’ll close my eyes and say, “Peace, Be Still,” (agreeing with Him) and I choose to receive His peace.

I read in Isaiah 30 about the rebellion of the people and the graciousness of God, and this verse ministered to me… I am purposely leaving of the last 4 words (“but ye would not”) because I want Him to be able to say of me “and she did.”

For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: in returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength…” Isaiah 30:16

I pray that both you and I will always find in Him our peace, quietness, strength and confidence. Oh how He loves you and me!

Reminding the storm…

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired. [Heb. 12:1-3.]
Isaiah 40:31 AMPC

Things have been difficult recently with my husband Ed being ill. I find myself thinking of King David and what he went through and how, and reading the Psalms.

I am reminding myself to tell the storms how big my God is. It kind of feels like a David & Goliath moment at times. Other times I must choose to encourage myself in the Lord, remembering who He is, and that Ed and I are His.

Here are a few scriptures I have read, reminding myself who He is. I hope they encourage you too

He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my Defense and my Fortress, I shall not be moved. With God rests my salvation and my glory; He is my Rock of unyielding strength and impenetrable hardness, and my refuge is in God! Trust in, lean on, rely on, and have confidence in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us (a fortress and a high tower). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! Psalm 62:6‭-‬8 AMPC https://bible.com/bible/8/psa.62.6-8.AMPC

David was greatly distressed, for the men spoke of stoning him because the souls of them all were bitterly grieved, each man for his sons and daughters. But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God. David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray you, bring me the ephod. And Abiathar brought him the ephod. And David inquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them? The Lord answered him, Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.
1 Samuel 30:6‭-‬8 AMPC
https://bible.com/bible/8/1sa.30.6-8.AMPC

With my whole heart, with my whole life, and with my innermost being, I bow in wonder and love before you, the holy God! Yahweh, you are my soul’s celebration. How could I ever forget the miracles of kindness you’ve done for me? You kissed my heart with forgiveness, in spite of all I’ve done. You’ve healed me inside and out from every disease. You’ve rescued me from hell and saved my life. You’ve crowned me with love and mercy. You satisfy my every desire with good things. You’ve supercharged my life so that I soar again like a flying eagle in the sky! You’re a God who makes things right, giving justice to the defenseless.
Psalms 103:1‭-‬6 TPT
https://bible.com/bible/1849/psa.103.1-6.TPT

…and it’s hard

A couple weeks ago I wrote about how it’s easy to let the stuff going on in our lives get to us, and the choices we get to make. What’s been on my mind since then is what to do when it’s hard.

Life can be hard, painful, confusing and exhausting. At times we must deal with and do hard things. We don’t have all the answers, so we must do hard things the best way we know how. And as imperfect humans we make mistakes

It’s hard. My husband of 46 years suddenly became very ill last November with a rare disease and I found myself in the completely unfamiliar role of a caregiver. It felt like I went from a happy marriage with a loving life partner to caring for someone with special needs. Responsibility for his care 24/7, all medical and financial decisions, doctor and hospital trips, bills, housework, laundry…and working full time. I didn’t/ don’t know how to do it all, it was/is hard.

So it’s hard Now what? This is where “the rubber has hit the road” in relation to my faith in Him as “the God of ALL GRACE.” Did I believe the things I had spent years learning about him, or not? The answer is a resounding YES! By God (literally) I refuse to let go of my faith in Him and I am praying and fully expect Ed to be restored to health. Psalm 23, 91 and 103 are where my faith is anchored. Until that happens I am asking for and expecting God to provide all that is needed as we walk through this jouney.

Yes I have cried, questioned, been angry at times but… He is faithful! When I have been too tired or overwhelmed to even know what I need, He is Jehovah Jireh, my provider — He ministers to our needs through family and dear friends in very practical ways — I seriously don’t know we could walk thru this without them! He is Jehovah Shammah, the God who is there – he lets me know he is with me, by written or spoken words and the prayers of others. He is our shepherd and he is leading us through this valley.

What I am learning. I make mistakes – He forgives. In Him I have strength available to do whatever I need to do. In everything to ask for His wisdom, help, leading, answers, favor, and expect it. Not because I am good, but because HE IS GOOD. I must consistently choose to cast ALL of my cares on Him. He wants me to rest — and it’s not possible to rest and worry at the same time. To be gracious to receive help from others — always with a grateful heart.

Whatever hard thing you may be experiencing, I pray that you will know that God is for you, He is with you, He will never leave you, He loves you and nothing is impossible with God.

But after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus, will restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

Finding Joy in Christmas (Past + Present)

2018ChristmasTree

For me, Christmas is a time to show people they are loved, and that they matter to you.  It’s what the Father did — to show His love He sent his precious, beloved son to be Emmanuel – God with us (Matthew 1:23).

As a child of divorce, Christmas was always a multiple-stop experience for my family, and I loved it. I had extra grandparents, and more aunts, uncles and cousins than most kids. I might have complained a little about leaving my new presents at home, but I really enjoyed spending time with family.  My family also visited nursing homes with our church groups each Christmas when I was young.  We sang Christmas songs and gave hugs to the seniors we met, doing our best to show them love.

When my husband and I had kids the tradition continued.  We packed our little ones up and made as many as 3-4 stops at Christmas to spend time with our grandparents, parents and extended family – which for a time even included great grandparents.

We’ve been married 45 years, so over time things changed, naturally. The kids got married and some had kids, grandparents and in-laws moved to heaven and we started just getting together with our kids and grand kids (the best part!)…   We tried to plan around their schedules, and usually Christmas day worked as many had other plans on Christmas Eve.  And, for several years now we have also gone Christmas Tree “shopping and chopping” together, enjoying the horse drawn rides at a local tree farm.

And as a couple, we have also hosted a Christmas Eve open house of sorts for several years… inviting extended family and friends – whoever else could or wanted to come. We made and decorated cookies together, played a white elephant game, played games…just hung out together.  Plus, for all holidays now, we always make sure to invite my mom. She is a treasure that I want to honor and enjoy!

I have great Christmas memories, and this is a favorite – it’s a card from my grandson Dominick a few years ago. It blesses me so!

This year is different. My husband has been ill and quite weak since early November. We are continuing to trust God for a diagnosis and plan for his healing/recovery.  The result though is no tree farm visit or real tree, and no hosting of Christmas events for us this year.  I am grateful our son and daughter-in-law are hosting Christmas this year, but sadly not everyone is coming.  Perhaps its time for a change and perhaps our kids/grand kids will start inviting us (and my mom) to participate in their Christmas celebrations from now on. But I hope we can at least do our Christmas Eve party next year.

BUT FOR NOW… regardless of present circumstances I WILL REJOICE in the birth of my savior, Jesus Christ. And, I WILL BE GRATEFUL for the love and kindness that has been show to us. This includes counting my blessings like:

  • Kids who took the night shift while he was in the hospital – so I could get some sleep in my own bed while they stayed with their dad
  • Pastor’s Keith & Judy who came to the hospital, sneaking communion in with them, and praying with love and compassion for healing
  • Several family, friends and co-workers who provided meals, cleaned our house, hung Christmas lights, raked our yard, and one who took me on the fastest most productive Christmas shopping trip ever (with my favorite coffee included)
  • Neighbors who left Christmas cards, came to visit, volunteered to shovel snow, rescued packages from rain… and are “here when we need them”
  • A boss and work team who have supported my need to work “wherever” and have helped when needed.
  • My mom, son Jon and brother-in-law Jim who have been there for us every week, for one or more days as needed, whenever we needed them.
  • Amazing friends (Shirlee, Cindy, Judy, Lori and others) and my EMIC eGroup who are strong in faith and praying for us, encouraging us with the Word. I can be real with these people – and know that whatever I share, they will always point me back to HIM, to His faithfulness, His truth, and to His love for me and my family.

Truly, because of Jesus, I am blessed to be living a grateful and grace-full life. And, I pray that you will find your joy in Him too this Christmas. Oh how He loves us!

 

Israel 2019: Part 8 – Bethlehem, The City of David, and more

I have found the afternoon of June 1st is the hardest to share. There is much I’d like to say… but I feel the need to be very sensitive.

After leaving the Garden Tomb we drove toward Bethlehem, first stopping for a tasty lunch at an Arab restaurant. Outside of it is where the cute photo with the lamb was taken.  I was surprised to see some large buildings that are part of a Palestinian refugee camp, and to see that Bethlehem is such a large city — not many fields in sight, but I understand the Shepherds Field was there somewhere!

I can’t share about the people we met that afternoon or what they said, because it might put them at risk. But I do ask you to pray for them, for protection, godly wisdom, angelic help — and to pray that more and more Arab and Muslim people are ministered to and come to know Jesus through their ministry.

We started our next day out with a visit to the City of David, seeing the grave sites (including very ancient ones which are in caves at the very bottom), the archaeological finds and then visiting a lovely shop there. You can learn more about the City of David and the shop here.

I’ll share more about June 2nd in my next post. I think its the day I walked the most steps. My fitbit recorded 27 flights of stairs, but it was so worth it.

For now I will close with I Chronicles 15:1  and I Corinthians 6;19-20

And David made him houses in the city of David, and prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched for it a tent.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

It is amazing that this God, the only true God, whose presence filled the temple in Jerusalem with glory has chosen to make all those who come to Him through Jesus Christ to be His temple, His dwelling place. Oh how He loves you and me!

 

 

Part 2: Israel 2019, Memorial Day and the Sea of Galilee

This year my 1st full day in Israel was on Memorial Day for the U.S.  We started in Ceasarea and ended at the Sea of Galilee. But in the midst of it, we stopped to remember… to remember that freedom isn’t free, and to be grateful for all who paid the ultimate sacrifice for us.

MAY27009As on every day of the tour, we began by reading Psalm 91 out loud together (on this day Pastor George and Terri were on our bus and led us). Then we prayed and thanked God for his protection and leading.

 

Next we visited Ceasarea on the Mediterranean, saw some ruins (including an aqueduct) and other parts that are still in use (like the amphitheater).  We also visited Mt. Carmel and saw the Jezreel Valley (a.k.a, the Valley of Meggido).

We planted trees! It’s a big deal — over 2 Million have been planted since they Jews returned to the land in 1948. It was truly an honor to remember those who gave their lives by planting trees. Several leaders and guides shared, and then we got to work in the hot Israeli sun. Our trees will be irrigated for 2 years, and then grow on their own. I like to think of how big they’ll be in ten years – and the part they will plant to make a difference in the land. I am thankful for Albert who helped me plant it too!

On to the Sea of Galilee, with our next stop on the Mount of Beatitudes for a teaching from Matthew 5. I can picture the people sitting on the hills and hearing Jesus with the wild grasses and the wind softly blowing and the sea below. It seems so wild in spots, I think it probably looks pretty much the same as when He walked there with his disciples.

We stayed at the Sea of Galilee Hotel in Magdala (remember Mary Magdalene? – she came from there). The scenery was breath-taking, and as evening came the winds increased making the palm trees sway. We slept with our door cracked open, again… enjoying the gentle breezes and sounds of the Galilee.

I am grateful for every moment. and I for now will leave you with these words from Matthew 5:

“What delight comes to you when you wait upon the Lord! For you shall find what you long for. What blessing comes to you when gentleness lives in you! For you will inherit the earth. How enriched you are when you crave righteousness! For you will be surrounded with fruitfulness. What bliss you will experience when your heart is pure! For you will see more and more of God.”

And I say, amen, so be it Lord.

Scripture quotations marked TPT are from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Two Weeks Ago I Was Waking Up In Israel

IsraelDay1-003

As I sit on my couch enjoying the early morning sunshine in Michigan, I am so grateful that just two weeks ago I was waking up in Israel at beginning of a wonderful trip. It was a great joy and blessing, so I want to share it with all of you. We did so much and my heart is so full that I’ll need to share it in “bite sized” pieces.

Days 1 and 2 were travel days where sleep was hard to come by since we were all so excited to get to Israel. We were at the airport by 8:30 am on Saturday and did not arrive in Israel until Sunday evening.  It wasn’t easy, but it was so worth it! First there was a short flight to Chicago, a delay of the flight to Newark, a force in change of planes due to issues with plane 1. We arrived in Newark, NJ and had to collect our bags very quickly, change terminals and then check in at El Al. But 1st we had to go through interviews with El Al/customs that were very rigorous, I had to answer questions for 30 minutes. IsraelDay1-001

The flight left at 11:30 pm and finally, on Sunday evening we arrived at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel. We got through customs, collected our bags, met up with the rest of the tour and our four buses headed to The Western Lagoon Hotel in Netanya. We had a lovely dinner and went to bed.

 

The next morning we awoke to a beautiful view of the Mediterranean.

IsraelDay1-004

I’ll share more soon, but for now I leave you with this encouragement from Jeremiah 29:11-12 (Good News Translation)

“I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for. Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me and i will answer you.”

Oh how He loves us!

A New Perspective

ancient art black and white close up
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I watched The Passion of The Christ last weekend, but not because I enjoy it. I felt compelled to remember the price that he paid. This time, I found myself viewing it from a new perspective.

I was struck by the wide range of people in the story, and how they seem to represent all of humanity – the good and the bad, all walks of life – and that for all of these, Jesus was willing to give his life. I saw that it includes:

  • Religious leaders like the High Priest, Elders and their false witnesses – some who were misguided, acting out of fear and/or wanted him dead (they spit on him and beat him). Along with some who believed in him, like Nicodemus.
  • A friend who betrayed him: Judas – Jesus fed him, washed his feet, drank with him, and let him betray him with a kiss (wow!)
  • Military men, hardened soldiers who it seemed had no problem scourging and beating him, mocking and spitting on him, crushing a crown of thorns into his head
  • Political leaders like Herod who was looking for a miracle, when he didn’t get what he wanted, he and his men of war mocked and despised Jesus. And Pilot who really didn’t believe he had done wrong, but he allowed himself to be bent to the “will” of those demanding crucifixion.
  • An insurgent (terrorist) – a  known robber, thief and murderer – he was released instead of Jesus. Isn’t it interesting that the meaning of his name, Barabbas, is “A son of the father”?
  • Followers of Jesus, some faithful and some who fled or denied him out of fear – for example: Peter, John, Mary and Mary Magdalene.
  • The unnamed crowd, some crying crucify him and some who probably cried Hosanna earlier that week, but thought he would be a conqueror, and when he wasn’t what they thought he should be, they turned on him. I suspect this crowd represented most of us —  people who were Jews, Gentiles, young, old, rich, poor, religious and non-religious, free and slave.

Oh what an amazing love. Jesus knew he would die so that we would be be saved. He saw how they acted, how they treated him. How we’ve acted and treated him, but still He willingly gave his life for us.

But Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly. And there is still so much more to say of his unfailing love for us! ~ Romans 5:8-9a TPT

Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered it’s humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2b

Scripture quotations marked TPT are from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ThePassionTranslation.com.