Monday, February 28, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
3:46 p.m. Today's project was to reflect in amazement on the way God has blessed this short, wintry, sparse month called February 2011! I actually have been blown away the entire month, overwhelmed with praise reports.
For the last 25 years, I have kept a plastic 3-ring notebook (replaced a few times) with pages for prayer requests and praise reports. I write in my praises just before bedtime, and prayer requests as they come to my attention throughout the day. Two months are covered at a time. At the top I write a Bible verse, song lyric or phrase that I heard somewhere or just made up, that encourages me, like "My God is twice as good!" or in reference to the enemy taunting us with bad news, "A Christian doesn't take the first answer." It's whatever the Spirit leads. The upcoming page for March/April has two: "His gospel is peace," from the carol "O Holy Night;" and "God hasn't fastened your soul to a dead-end dream," by Dick Eastman in The Purple Pig.
I allow two or three lines each for each of the following categories:
- The Body of Christ throughout the world (including missions and crusades)
- Our church
- Steve (my husband)
- Sean and his family
- Kriss and his wife
- Heidi and her fiance
- Heather and Nick
- Myself (personal, household management, ministry)
- Extended Family
- My business
- Needs of others (healing, employment, etc.)
- National and world issues
- Other needs that come to my attention as the months progress
When I began keeping this notebook, I would put the prayer requests on about 3/4 of the width of the page, and the praises on the right-hand 1/4. Even using the most minuscule chicken scratch, I needed more space for praise reports. So I changed the set-up, devoting the back side of the college-ruled paper to two months of praises. A title for the praise side might be "My God is able to deliver me" (Daniel 3:17) or "Take no thought for tomorrow" (Mark 6:14).
Normally, the praise reports take up half a page for each month and remain within the margins. But for some divine and blessed reason (see above), February's praises for God's answers to both momentous and momentary prayers, overflowed out onto the sides. Then the praises went over the top of the page, crazily crowding out the title "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6)! There isn't a millimeter of space left to scribble on! But since February isn't over yet, I'll have to find a smidge of room before I go to bed tonight and tomorrow!
February was terrible for us financially, almost reaching a state of literal pennilessness after our big bills and car repair were paid. Yet God was so generous with His love, His gifts, family time, and fellowship. He blessed ministry endeavors and caused wedding details to come together. Through the Helping Hands ministry, I actually was able to help organize meals for invalids and even took a meal despite our own lack! I truly felt that He "opened the windows of heaven and pour(ed) out for us such blessing that there was not room enough to receive it" (paraphrase of Malachi 3:10). The blessings were not necessarily material, although groundwork was laid for future increase.
As promised by Jesus Himself, we felt the overflow of living water, the power of the Holy Spirit. And I by no means deserved one bit of it--God loves His children so much that there is no way to deserve it! Oswald Chambers' February 26 devotion in My Utmost for His Highest tells of the way we look at our circumstances like the woman at the well in John 4:11, and complain that Jesus can't possibly provide, because "Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep." When has Jesus ever had any lack whatsoever? But we humans can be so foolish, mentally dense and our perspective so limited that we just need to be picked up in our Father's arms and carried to a place of rest, peace and TRUST!
If the praise reports for the last two months were not down in black and white, a testimony to the greatness of God, I almost wouldn't believe it.
We serve an amazing, all-powerful, all-loving God!
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
It all began by doing business with God during my devotion time this morning, reading the exhortations of the Apostle Peter to the church, and sharing Psalm 119:98 on Facebook, a reinforcement of the value of studying God's word. Come what may, v. 98 gives me assurance that the scriptures are always with me. Then, as I journalled my worship, gratitude, confessions, prayers, and requests for direction to the Lord for the day, my trust in Him was built up even more. Ladies' Bible study was inspiring as ever, more reinforcement of the need to know and apply the Word to daily life. I prayed for a sister at the end, and then worked on ministry matters before heading out to do a facial nearby.
When we know the Bible, we know the heart of God. If we know His loving heart, we know Him. "God is love," 1 John 4:8 says. And His love carried me through my whirlwind day.
How wonderful it is to have a caregiver at home with Steve so I can take care of family business! When I came home for about an hour, Steve was fine, had eaten, chores were done, the guys had walked the dogs, and it was time for the two of us to get ready to sign our tax return. He got the dogs' food parceled out, I arranged with our daughter to feed them at 5, and then out the door we both went. Our tax returns were finalized in a time of fellowship with dear Patty from our church, and we now had less than two hours to go before I was due at Heart to Home, and Steve at Men's Bible study.
I hadn't written the devotional I'd be giving at the start of the "Low-Carb Cooking" class, something I usually utilize that day's blog post for! I'd looked through some prepared messages while we sat in the car waiting for our tax appointment, but nothing seemed to "pop out" at me. I knew God would give me a message, so we went to stock up on dog food and staples at Winco, filled up our gas tank ($42.00, more than the cart full of food!!!), and went to church. While there I realized that I needed to take a product to the customer I'd facialed earlier that day, so we took off again, thankfully, to a neighborhood near church.
Steve helped me carry my things up to the kitchen, and went to his Bible study. I joined the class instructor--head of a restaurant/catering operation at University of California Riverside--and four other ladies to chat for a while. I flipped though my binder, but couldn't find a prepared message while we were talking. What now, Lord? I silently asked. He faithfully led me to teach out of I Corinthians 13, the famous passage on love. I opened the class with prayer, and then by the Holy Spirit, taught verses 4-8, concept by concept. As I love to have happen, and what makes teaching the Bible so worthwhile and precious to me, is that we had quite a few supportive and knowledgeable comments and observations from the ladies. The class was a wonderful success, very educational as to the components of a healthy diet, and I brought home a lovely serving of "Pizza Stew" that was made for us. Next week, it's low-carb desserts!
I reflected on just when it was that the Lord spoke to me today, and thought of what the prophet Elijah found out in I Kings 19:11-12:
Then He (God) said, 'Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.' And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
All day I had been carrying out the responsibilities I am called to, in His will and timing, but was in a whirlwind of busyness, barely taking time to eat my pack lunch. I sought His guidance for each task, but was definitely not in a meditative mode!
When I finally sat still, just quiet in my spirit in the midst of our small pre-class gathering, not panicked by the lack of a written-out message, but seeking the exact scripture He wanted for those women and myself, was when God made Himself clear. I was to teach on His most prominent characteristic: love.
How He loves us! God even had one more "treat" for me this evening. Just before I began to write this, I listened to a message from my son in Long Beach, excited about a lecture he had attended at Biola with the Christian artists' group he belongs to, Derekstar. The most precious part of the message was Kriss' characteristic closing, "okay, love you, bye." We then had a marvelous talk about stewardship of the earth, the Lord, church, and true Christian fellowship when I called him back.
And I now I'll close this day by telling my Heavenly Father, "Love you!" But, you see, there's a difference in my greeting:
There's no goodbye, ever!
Monday, February 21, 2011
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
12:42 p.m. Today's project is to pray for urgent needs in our family. Of course I need to attend to Steve and to our home during the day, because I Timothy 5:8 says that if I don't, I "have denied the faith and am worse than an an unbeliever" (NLT). We truly need God to make a break in the rain for us, provide some relief to our souls.
A rainy day is a perfect setting for contemplation, prayer, and quietude. Thinking in matters of dollars and cents, today's gentle rain will save on our water bill by watering seeds in the garden and germinating them. The last several days the Lord has awakened me early to pray, and those seeds have already shown a harvest of provision for our youngest who's too far away for us to help directly. Other specific prayers in my journal have come to pass, or are well on their way.
- Helpers have been provided for Heidi's wedding
- Social Security has corrected a problem that could have stopped Steve's payments
- Much Mary Kay business has come forth, along with future event plans
- Steve did very well at the Married Couples' dinner
- Pavel (Heidi's fiance) just now dropped off John MacArthur's book Anxious for Nothing:God's Cure for the Cares of Your Soul
- Steve slept well and calmly last night--no Alzheimer-induced tremors or spasms
- Heather can stay with Steve so I can go to an MK meeting Thursday evening
- Meals have been provided for a sister from church recovering from triple-by-pass surgery
- I've completed the detailed form for obtaining much-needed funds in a retirement account
- Service providers are working very amiably with me and lending encouragement
- Wedding plans are firming up
And I am persuaded that the best is yet to come today! And it just did--Steven's financial aid check arrived, our car insurance issued us a $12.00 credit, a sauce I thawed out for an "enchilada" casserole that was to feature only cheese and corn tortillas turned out to have lots of meat in it; even the dogs have full dishes. On top of these blessings, I spent the drizzly, grey afternoon reading scriptures on trusting in God's love and providence.
And having ended this day of reflection, prayer, and praise with the completion of Anxious for Nothing, I now have a refreshed perspective on our trials!
Today's finishing touch will be watching the live podcast of tonight's service featuring the Potter's Field ministry, based on the picture of God as the Potter and we as the clay. Isaiah 64:8 brings the realization of safety and a contentment that only knowldge that God has a plan for my life and will carry it out, can bring:
But now, O LORD,
You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all we are the work of Your hand.
Do a work, Lord, in me, for I know it will be right, and righteous, if it is Your doing!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
1:31 p.m. Today's project was to attend the Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley Married Couples' dinner at the Conference Center in Murrieta. We'll be riding with our good friends Ron and Gretchen, who've never been there before.
If it weren't for them, I might have let my worries about Steve's dining difficulties get the better of me and would not have registered for the event. I'm glad Gretchen called! Tonight's dinner will be extra nice, because the entree is steak. It sounds delicious, but cutting up steak in public will be a challenge for Steve, whose Alzheimer's is now causing some loss in small motor control. So, in the last two weeks we have been reviewing knife-and-fork eating, a few times on chicken, and then last night, we practiced on pork chops. I'm standing on God's word in Psalm 138:8, "He will perfect all that concerns me."
My friend Paige Philpott wrote this a few months ago:
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
The young man got stuck in bad traffic driving in from Moreno Valley, so I didn't even leave for the session until 10:00! Momentarily, I toyed with not going at all, so late, but that ploy of our enemy the "roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8), fell flat, because it's just not my way to miss Bible study! I slipped in around the side and sat in the front row where I can pay the best attention, contribute to the discussion as the Lord leads, and be ready to step up to the front in case any ladies need prayer.
Beth Moore's lesson concerned God's unfailing love, and how it is evinced in the lives of those Christians who truly believe and live in the light of that love. Because I had arrived with a heavy heart over a faith matter with one of my children, my tears of joy and renewed realization that I must trust the situation to my Father just plain overflowed. (But my waterproof mascara and foundation held firm!)
From the discussion time and all the way through the video, the Lord impressed upon me that I must speak with a particular pastor right after Bible study. I needed to clue him in on the matter, and ask him to pray, especially, and speak or do as he sees fit, as a pastor and a dear friend. I assented, but stalling, and coming up with excuses, I said to the Lord in my mind, "What if he says, 'Let's pray right now?' I'll disintegrate in a pool of tears and all the pent-up fear and heartache will flood out!" The Lord reiterated what I had to do, and I realized that it was a chance I'd just have to take. Period.
At the end of our video, questions were asked about our love for God, such as, Do I think about God regularly? Am I eager to spend time with Him? Does my life demonstrate love for God? Do I enjoy God? I was comfortable in answering on a scale of often, sometimes or rarely, "often."
But the kicker was question 5: Do I ultimately find relief or satisfaction in obedience? As I answered "often," quite truthfully, I knew that this opportunity to obey God was no different than in times past: I would severely regret not speaking to the pastor as the Holy Spirit had directed. This area of immediate and exact obedience is one I am growing in this year. When God tells me to call someone, I do it. When he told me to sit right down after I came in the house just now after errands to write this post/devotional, I only took a minute to put things away, and I am writing this in His timing. There truly is no satisfaction in our Christian walk better than knowing we have shown our love to Jesus by obeying Him!
The Bible study and prayer time ended, and I needed to answer some questions about the Heart to Home classes we are offering, and one lady asked me to wait a minute, but she went all the way down to the front of the church to talk. The Lord said, go on! Since I was compelled to go seek that pastor, I went up to the office to ask for him. And do you know that within 30 seconds, he came right around the corner before the receptionist could even call for him!!
I walked outside with him and poured out the situation, we shared for a few moments, and he said he'd take care of it. As I went on my way, I knew, that, even if the pastor's intervention rubs my child a bit the wrong way, that's the chance I had to take--and because the Lord set it up, I can trust that He will heal, mend, strengthen, encourage and bless all concerned.
That's His way!
Any time God speaks to you, obey WHEN He says to, not WHENEVER you feel ready! Because trust me, the voice of 31 years of experience, that time will never come. And neither will your blessing!