Good Morning

I recently moved from the city to a very new neighborhood that for now is in the country. There are no buildings, tall or otherwise as far as I can see out my back windows… just a clear view of the horizon.

My very first morning in our home, I woke very early. I was too excited to stay in bed. I got up well before the sun. As I sat in my favorite chair in the living room I noticed something happening outside. The pitch black sky with tiny little dots like diamonds set in it began to change. Black was slowly becoming indigo and a deep, deep purple. Slowly the purple began to melt into a rich red and brilliant orange, but the main attraction was yet to be seen. I saw the brilliant colors but the sun was still hiding just below my fence line.

As I watched this amazing display, I thought to myself I don’t remember the last time I watched the sun rise. I sat on the edge of my chair waiting for what seemed eternity for the sun to peek over my fence, but even as the colors kept changing, still the sun remained hidden.

I’m sorry to say that I began to get a little impatient. I had a house full of boxes that needed to be unpacked. I didn’t want to miss this first sunrise, but it seemed to be taking its own sweet time. So, I decided to stand up on something to finally catch a glimpse of the sun and just as I was about to stand up, I heard God the Father gently say, “Wait.”

The Love of my life had spoken. So I sat and waited. The colors became even more beautiful. As I sat and watched a few scriptures began to drift around in my heart and mind.

Be still and know that I am God… (Psalms 46:10)

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength… (Isaiah 40:31)

Just before God had spoken I was impatient to see the sun because I wanted to start unpacking. Slowly as the colors grew more and more brilliant, I found anticipation and excitement growing in my heart. I could hardly wait to see the sun now because of the joy bursting in my heart and then God said, “You can peek now.”

The sun shone so brilliant and bright my heart was thrilled, but I was only able to look for a moment and then had to turn my eyes from the flaming light. It was amazing. It was special. It was a very good morning spent with God.

We’ve been in our new home just short of a month now and I put temporary shades up throughout the house, but not on my back windows in the living room. Everyday I have gotten up before the sun. Every morning I sit with the One Who made the sun. Everyday as they sun rises I am reminded that He is God. Morning by morning I sit and wait as He renews my strength.

Practice Makes Perfect

I love hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. His words bring such peace, joy, faith, hope and love. With one word He can change my world.

So I sit in my prayer chair and I listen. I find myself in a situation where I need wisdom and instruction, so I stop wherever I am and I listen. Funny thing though is sometimes when I’m not consciously listening, out of the blue I hear Him speak and once again His words change my world. This brings me to something He said to me a few days ago.

I was riding as a passenger in a car. I was just watching the world whiz by. At one point I could clearly see the driver in the next car. His head was down and he was looking at his phone as he was driving. He looked like he was texting. I judged him for his dangerous driving behavior. Then I heard the Holy Spirit speak.

Don’t practice judging. Practice love.

I’ve meditated on this the last few days and studied the scriptures on judging. I don’t find that we are never to make judgements. For the many scriptures that tell us not to judge, I found others that instructed how to judge. What I found was that the manner or the heart with which we judge matters.

When God makes a judgement it will always be 100% from a heart of love. Love is not what was in my heart when I thought, “What an idiot.” The Bible tells us that Jesus only said what He first heard the Father say and He only did what He first saw the Father do. I didn’t hear the Father say, “Did you see that guy texting and driving? What an idiot. Judge him for Me won’t you?”

Practice makes perfect. Since that day, I have caught myself practicing some unloving behaviors on perfect strangers from afar. The texting driver. The parent letting their child run wild. So many opportunities in this crazy world to make a judgement. But each is also an opportunity to practice love. Choosing to love instead of judging with a prideful heart. Choosing to pray instead of complaining. This doesn’t just work for far off strangers, but it works with up close aquaintances too.

This may seem impossible, but it’s not if we continue to practice. What are we to practice? Practice hearing His voice and receiving His love. In His words and in His love is the power to love like He loves. In our own strength, our own ability, our own self-control, this IS impossible. But He has given us His Holy Spirit, His strength, His ability, His self-control and with God, nothing is impossible.

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control… (Galatians 5:22-23, Amp)

Praying for You

There are times when something quite silly suddenly propels me into a place of prayer for something quite serious. That happened to me today when a song from the 90’s began playing on repeat in my mind. It just wouldn’t go away and I was actually getting quite annoyed.

I decided that maybe if I played the song on Youtube it might finally go away. I began listening to it and the next thing I know, I’m praying. Here are the verses that had been in my mind all morning.

Tell me how am I supposed to live without you/ Now that I’ve been lovin’ you so long/ How am I supposed to live without you/ How am I supposed to carry on/ When all that I’ve been livin’ for is gone.

Yes, I’m a little embarrassed to say that all morning long I’ve had a Michael Bolton song from the 1990’s playing in my head.

But as I listened to that chorus my heart suddenly ached for everyone dealing with loss this holiday season. I prayed as my heart ached for the husband spending the first Thanksgiving and Christmas without his spouse by his side. My heart ached for the wife lost and alone because her best friend, her husband is gone. I prayed for the mother and father who lost a child, young or old. I prayed for those who should be holding a new baby this holiday season, but whose hearts ache with grief because of their empty arms, the empty crib.

I’m praying for you today. I am praying for His peace that passes understanding. I’m praying for the comfort that only He can give at this time. I’m praying for the healing of your heart that only He can bring.

You are not alone. You are not forgotten. I’m praying for you today because you came up in my heart. I’m praying for you today because He put you there. I’m praying for you today because you are on His heart today.

Life be, Love be, Peace be in broken hearts today. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen

To Love is to Pray

I’ve shared in the past about well-known people such as celebrities that were tabloid train wrecks, always in the news for the wrong reasons. I’d pass the magazines at the checkout and see their picture with a shocking headline. I’d see the headlines and photos of on-line articles that I never read, but there before me was presented their steady decline. Then finally the headline stating what we all knew was coming, that this celebrity train wreck had tragically died.

I’m so very sorry to say that many times that was the moment that I realized that I had watched this person’s decline and had never once thought to pray for them.

Lord, Help me to truly see them and not judge them but pray for them!

So this morning I was thinking about a person in my life. I won’t say who it is but I will say it is not someone I live with. This person seems to make a lot of careless decisions and their decisions always seem to be made to their benefit without regard for others. I’ve often had the thought this person is irresponsible and selfish. I don’t think thoughts like this often, but somehow when a person is directly in our lives or related to us we seem free to make judgements on them and their behavior. Probably because their poor decisions can have an affect on our own lives.

So as this person came to mind this morning I suddenly felt convicted. I have seen this person and his/her actions. I have judged this person and his/her actions. But I don’t recall praying for this person.

Maybe they’re not a train wreck currently on the road to a tragic death. Maybe they are just really annoying friends or family. But do I really see them? Do I see them through His eyes? Am I seeing them to judge them or to pray for them? Am I praying for their peace and well-being for their sake and not my own?

How do you see your spouse? How do your see your family members? How do you see your in-laws? How do you see your boss or co-worker? How do you see others? Do you judge or do you pray?

 Lord, Help me to truly see them and not judge them but pray for them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

PS… Thank you to those who truly see me and pray for me!

Love & Marriage

My husband and I have been married for 23 years. Like all couples we’ve had great times, good times, and not so good (bad) times in those 23 years. I sign us up for lots of marriage conferences and classes. Not because I think we have a bad marriage, but because I want us to have the best marriage possible. We recently started our latest marriage class. It has stirred up a few things in my heart regarding love and marriage.

We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19, NIV

Our latest lesson was entitled “Radical Love”. I believe to love radically we must first know that we are radically loved by God. Our love, security, identity are found in a loving God. But love is not idle and stagnate. Love moves and can’t help but flow. When we receive it, we then find ourselves having to give it. Our spouses should be the first to taste of this love. It’s good to love our neighbor, to love the widow and the orphan, to love the lost and broken, but sometimes the one closest to us, our spouse, is not shown this great love. I know from experience and there were many times I was the one not showing His love to my husband.

It’s great when you have two people receiving and giving this great love in a marriage, but that’s not always the case. I think it’s very important to realize that you are not responsible and cannot change the other person. The person you can choose to change is yourself. It can start with just one and you are the only one you can change.

Now, let me also mention that you can’t change you. God never intended for you to transform your own heart. He is offering to do that for you. You can’t make that decision for your spouse but you can make that decision for yourself. Choose to let God work in your heart and mind through time spent with Him and in His word.

…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Romans 12:2, NLV

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16 NLV

Here are two scriptures that I have found change my heart and mind allowing me to better love my spouse.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Galatians 5:22-23, Amp

I have read these scriptures. I have studied these scriptures. I have meditated on these scriptures. I have taken time to let God talk to me about these scriptures. What was the result? When my husband and I disagreed or argued, when I was tired and hungry and not in a good mood, God’s Holy Spirit would tap me on the shoulder as I spoke or raised my voice to my husband, as I defended myself or my point and simply said, “Was that patient or kind?” “Was that gentle or peaceful?” “Was that love?”

I then had two choices, harden my heart and press my point or yield my heart and simply say, “I’m sorry.”

These two scriptures First Corinthians 13:4-8 and Galatians 5:22-23 tell you who you are and can be because of God’s work in your heart. Read them, study them, meditate on them. Let God talk to you about them. Look into the mirror of God’s word and let it transform you into His image. He is love.

Little Foxes

Big: large, as in size; of major concern; important… Little: small in size; tiny; not big; not large… (dictionary.com)

Recently, I shared that I had been struggling with my emotions for a few days. I found myself being impatient, unkind, sad and angry. While there was a situation I was grieving over, I also knew that there was much more to it than that. I knew it was bad when I exploded in anger over something a person connected to our neighborhood had done. Thankfully, I didn’t explode at the person involved. Unfortunately, my husband had to hear me rant and yell about something this person had done that actually was the last straw after months of little issues with them.

A friend once shared that patience and kindness are the gauges that let you know how you are doing in your ‘love walk’. Love is patient and kind. I’ve studied God’s love for years. I taught classes on love for years. How did I get here?

God reminded me of a scripture.

…Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. [So I went with him, and when we were climbing the rocky steps up the hillside, my beloved shepherd said to me] O my dove, [while you are here] in the seclusion of the clefts in the solid rock, in the sheltered and secret place of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. [My heart was touched and I fervently sang to him my desire] Take for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards [of our love], for our vineyards are in blossom. (Song of Solomon 2:13-15, Amp)

God reminded me of the part that speaks of the little foxes that spoil the vineyards of our love. I once heard someone share that because foxes burrow underground, they can do much damage to a crop without any evidence that it is happening. It goes unseen and unnoticed until the plant starts dying above ground due to the damage caused below ground to the roots.

Little foxes. Not big foxes. Little foxes.

God spoke to my heart and told me that I am someone that is very quick to forgive when someone has wronged me. If someone does something obviously wrong to me, the first moment I feel hurt and possibly angry, in the very next moment I choose to forgive them. Lately though, while I was still quick to forgive the ‘big’ things, I hadn’t realized that daily people were doing ‘little’ things that I didn’t even realize bothered me. But they did bother me and I didn’t even think to forgive them over something so small. Little foxes were starting to burrow.

This person I was angry with had done one unkind and ungracious thing after another. Little things. I noticed. I let them bother me yet I didn’t think to forgive. The foxes were slowly, silently spoiling the vineyards of our love.

I repented. I forgave this person. I started forgiving every person I could think of for every little thing they had done. I forgave politicians I don’t even personally know.

During a marriage class on forgiveness, the instructor shared that it’s not only important to forgive your spouse for the things they had done, but to also forgive them for the times they disappointed you. Forgive the big things. Forgive the little things.

As soon as I ‘slipped away’ for some time with God, He started exposing and taking away those little foxes. In the safety of His Presence I let it all go and forgave all men their sins against me. My emotions calmed down. The peace came. I’ve been much more patient and kind again. I’m once again enjoying the vineyards of our love with my God.

1 Corinthians 13 ~ Love is patient and kind… Love takes no account of the evil done to it… It pays no attention to a suffered wrong… Love is ever ready to believe the best of every person… And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 John 4:19 ~ We love because he first loved us.

Slip away with Him. Let Him tell you of His love. You won’t be able to help yourself, because of His love, you will love too.

You Are Invited

Over the last three days, I have struggled with my emotions. I’m sad one moment and suddenly angry the next. Sadness is something that I experience every now and then, but anger is not an emotion that I am used to. I can tell you that there is an element of grieving involved, but there were other reasons too. I planned on blogging about that today, but then a conversation with a friend brought this post about instead.

I shared with my friend about my emotional struggles over the last three days. She too has experienced emotional struggles. Hers are due to the loss of a loved one, the loss of a child. She spoke of having to choose to press through each day. I too have sensed that need to choose to press through the emotions and it’s physical effects. As we spoke, a past experience came to mind. It was the memory of my grandfather’s passing.

To this day I clearly remember his funeral. At God’s instruction I sat next to my grandmother, held her hand and meditated on His peace, the peace that passes understanding. I had this sense of her and I being encased in a protected bubble, encased in a ‘bubble’ of His peace. About a week later when my grandmother came for a visit, she mentioned the sense of peace that she felt at the funeral, a sense of being in a bubble. She had felt it too.

It suddenly became clear to me that the choice we make each day isn’t to press through emotions or struggles, but to choose to enter that ‘bubble’ of His protection and peace, choose to enter His Presence and abide there.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him will I trust”…He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge… Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you… (Psalms 91, Amp)

The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.  (Proverbs, 18:10, KJV)

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30, KJV)

…Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. [So I went with him, and when we were climbing the rocky steps up the hillside, my beloved shepherd said to me] O my dove, [while you are here] in the seclusion of the clefts in the solid rock, in the sheltered and secret place of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. (Song of Solomon 2:13-14, Amp)

…How often would I have gathered your children together as a mother fowl gathers her brood under her wings… (Matthew 23:37, Amp)

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings… (Malachi 4:2, KJV)

…I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (Psalm 23:6, KJV)

Daily there is an invitation. Come away. Abide in Him. In that place we experience His healing, peace, restoration, and love, Then we have healing, peace, restoration and love to take to others. You are invited.

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD… (Psalm 27:4, KJV)

For those experiencing grief:

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows… (Isaiah 53:4, KJV)

The Comforter (the Holy Spirit) wants to wrap His wings around you and bring comfort and healing. In Jesus’ Name, amen.