Saturday, December 31, 2011

When GOD "Wrecks" Your Heart ... Read On!

This is a fabulous, articulate, elegant, honest description of suffering and the God Who is ALWAYS present and accounted for NO MATTER WHAT!
I just got an email this AM that had shattering news. This is just what my heart needs for today! I'm sharing it because it just might be what your heart needs too! Thank you, Charity Keldie! God bless you!

When you’re wrecked by God
By on December 31, 2011
One year ago today, I sat waiting in a doctor’s office with my 4-year-old son William. He joyfully played with a dinosaur sticker book while I sat in silence trying to hold back tears and just breathe. We were waiting for results of a biopsy we had done on a large mass in William’s knee. It had been two months of him being unable to walk, doctors’ offices, MRIs, a biopsy and waiting.

Time had become my enemy. Just nine months earlier, my husband had died. In a lot of ways, those nine months had felt like nine years. Nine years of going to bed alone every night, raising our kids alone, and grief. But at the same time, it seemed like my husband had just died nine days ago. The grief was still so raw. How could there be more grief coming? Would I have to watch my little boy die, just like I had watched his daddy die? It just seemed like too much…
One year ago today, my little boy was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – bone cancer. Hearing the doctor’s words left me speechless. I didn’t cry, scream or really react at all. On the outside I was calm and strong. But on the inside, darkness fell. I couldn’t believe God was bringing more suffering and tragedy into our lives.
The doctor insisted on a second opinion. He sent all of William’s tests to the Mayo clinic and asked me to wait another week. Another week! Another week of not fighting this disease that was trying to steal his life. It made me angry. I did not want to wait. I wanted to fight. I wanted to do everything possible to save my son’s life. To me, waiting was like allowing death to move closer. And I wanted nothing of that. But I wasn’t given much of a choice…
Over the next three days, we would wait. The waiting was dark. I did not have hope. I would research bone cancer and cry. I would buy books on how to explain cancer to a child. I would begin making a plan on how to help my son through chemo, surgeries and lots of time at the hospital. I would try to make myself okay with the possibility of an amputation. And I would pray. My prayers were a mess. There were no eloquent phrases. In fact, all there really was was a deep groaning of my soul that the Holy Spirit took before God. And amidst the tears and groaning, there was a very quiet whisper of “Your will be done.”
One year ago today was the darkest day of my life. This widow was dealt a blow that she could not handle. And it was one of the most loving things that God could have done. Because God used the darkness to show me just how good the light was. After three days of darkness and waiting, God shone a light into my heart that brought me to my knees. On December 30, the doctor called. William’s original diagnosis was wrong. He did not have bone cancer. The mass was benign. He would need surgery and nothing more. No chemo. No amputation. There was no cancer.
Throughout this whole ordeal, God was so good. In the waiting, He was helping me learn to trust Him more. He was reminding me of His sovereignty over our lives. In the darkness, He was revealing the darkness of the sin in my heart. He was showing me how generous and faithful He was. He was reminding me that this life, this place is not my real home – He has something far better for me. And if there would have been no second diagnosis, if William did have bone cancer, God would still be good. He would show us His faithfulness to carry us through suffering and teach us to rely on Him. He would continue to strip our affections from things of this world and attach them to Him.
One year ago today, God wrecked my heart. He took me to a very dark place and asked me to wait in it. And I am so very, very thankful.
“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” John 12:46

Friday, December 30, 2011

Pay It Forward with My Heart in 2012!

Pay it forward is kind of a new pop expression. I don't know what Google would say it means but I think I know that it means doing the right and loving and relational thing in the now for the benefit of then. I'm thinking - How can I significantly pay forward in 2012?
2011? One thing about this year that stands out is how much I've learned - how to use Facebook marginally, how to be more proficient with a computer, how to understand Latin grammar concepts better than knowing them but well enough to teach them (still working on that one!), how to focus more on important things than just on the tyranny of urgent things, how to forgive even egregious sins and to walk away assimilating God's grace both for me and for the offender and many others.
A year ago I had a Facebook page my son set up but not a clue how to use it. The why use it is entirely because one daughter-in-law communicates almost exclusively thru Facebook. I haven't come to that easily. I JUST found out the difference between "home" and "news" yesterday. I have been asking and asking and no one seemed to know the difference. I'm much less frustrated since that small but significant discovery. I'm still working on Klout. I'm tweeting and making great friends and connections on Twitter. In short, I'm a pretty "with it" grandmother!
In the years of my lifetime our culture has changed in huge ways. We live much more insulated lives. We don't know our neighbors - due to many factors: business, the tyranny of the urgent and air conditioning. Air conditioning? You betcha - no one sits on their front porch or back porch fanning, chilling and talking like "back in the day" (as Pittsburgers say). We prefer our cool homes. There is little or no comraderie in that!
People who go to church don't feel long term commitments to that church so the first wind of change or unease that blows - off to try a greener pasture! Instead of looking in a book or asking a grandmother, we look for advice to blogs and Google. Instead of meals seated with the family at a table set with silverware and plates we drive thru and eat on the way!
Wait! Before you accuse my of cynicism, let me quickly affirm that I resemble all of the above! I don't know my neighbors. I too spend hours at my computer writing, reading and researching rather than turning outward with open hands and arms. I too have too often settled for "friending" online or email instead of knocking on a friend's door or sending a card or note.
At this time of year we reflect on how God chose to send His Son into the world and how God chose to announce that coming. If Jesus had come this year, surely God would have used the internet and television to get the word out. Perhaps God's choice of WHEN He sent His Son sends us a message. Jesus spent the last three years of His life involved with people in hands-on, intimate deep relationships! God still chooses to relate to us and have us relate to Him in deep relationship! In fact, God created us IN HIS OWN IMAGE so that we have an inescapable need for face-to-face, heart-to-heart relationships! It is that true belonging with God and others that satisfies the longings in our hearts and souls!
My prayer for 2012 is that I will take the risks and do the time and invest the energy to build deeper relationships with God and others! O, I won't desert Facebook or my computer. Those things are good and almost necessary in our culture BUT I also want to pursue the main and greater things of building and maintaining relationship with God and others! I can pay forward in 2012 only if and when God changes my heart to find more quiet space far from the rapid pace that life is! May God make it so in my heart in 2012!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sometimes victory seems so far away because we measure it by the end goal. And end goals can seem overwhelmingly huge, daunting and just plain hard to reach. Instead, if we start measuring our victories by the smaller choices we make each day, victory won't seem so impossible.
Big things are built one brick at a time.
Victories are achieved one choice at a time.
A life well lived is chosen one day at a time.
Dear Lord, I know that with You, victory is indeed possible!

--Lysa TerKeurst

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Heart Hug for Always!

If joy is surrounding you today remember.....................
If sorrow clobbers you today.......................................
If all's right in your world today....................................
If the bottom is dropping out.......................................
If you feel loved and cherished....................................
If you feel abandoned and alone.................................
When all these things and more happen in your world, always remember Jesus' words: I am with you always, even to the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20) Think about how long "always" is - It's a VERY long time - like forever!
How's that for a heart hug today?

They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer.
(Psalm 78:35)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Prayer for a Christmas Heart

If our hearts be not rocks, this love of Christ should affect us . Behold love that passeth knowledge! --Thomas Watson

Lord, this is my Christmas prayer: Give me a living heart to love and serve the Christmas Savior always! Take away my heart of stone! Come to my heart, Lord Jesus! Come to my heart to stay!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Small Heart?

Remember the Grinch? He's the mean green creation of Dr. Seuss whose heart is several sizes too small. He tries to steal Christmas from all the Whos down in Whoville and is totally bummed when he discovers that just taking their stuff - Christmas presents and decorations and food for the Christmas feast - didn't take away Christmas at all! He stands in the snow and cold high on his mountain on Christmas morning just waiting for the BOO-HOOs to start. And, hark! What does he fear? Not sobbing but singing! The Whos are all gathered in the center of town in a huge circle all holding hands singing Christmas songs of joy!
That's when Grinch begins to discover that the problem all along has been inside his own heart - too small! The Grinch returns all the "loot" he stole and joins in the Whos' Christmas celebration and feast. Dr. Seuss concludes that the Grinch's small heart grew two sizes that day!
Wanna keep a small heart? Never be the first one to humble yourself and apologize!
(Scotty Smith)
Well, what goes for Grinchs also goes for you and me!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Heart Gifts

A sign you're growing in grace: You'd rather give & receive costly heart-gifts than expensive stuff-gifts! --Scotty Smith

Monday, December 19, 2011

Make Room in My Heart!

The humility of the cross is the only answer for the hubris in my heart!
--Scotty Smith

O, come to my heart, Lord Jesus! Make room in my heart for Thee!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Courage In!

I love the word encourage–when you do it,you literally put "courage in" to that person. Someone may be more battered than you know,closer to going down or giving up than you could imagine.You never know when your encouragement might be the difference in that person's life.When you're bruised& hurting, it's that person in your corner who can get you back in the ring for another round! - -R Hutchcraft

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why the Grinch Tried to Steal Christmas!

It was a heart problem - plain and simple! Mean, green Mr. Grinch hated the Whos, their singing, their sparkly trees, their Christmas feast, their fun and what he hated, hated the most was their joy! Quite mistakenly Mr. Grinch thought the Whos joy in Whoville came from the trappings of Christmas. So he hatched a diabolical plan to steal Christmas from Whoville and put to death forever all the joy in Whoville.
He rides into Whoville in the dark of night and absconds with every present, decoration and morsel of the Christmas feast he can choke down his mean, green throat or carry away in his buldging bag. Then he stands high above Whoville just watching and waiting for the cries of "BOO-HOO"!
"He stared down at Whoville! The Grinch popped his eyes! ... What he saw was a shocking surprise! Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, was singing! Without any presents at all! HE HADN'T STOPPED CHRISTMAS FROM COMING! iT CAME! Somehow or other, it came just the same!"
Mr. Grinch just didn't get the heart part! Mr. Grinch had an epiphany of sorts high on his icy mountain: "How could it be? ... Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more."
Mr. Grinch finally started to understand. Without radical surgery on every Who in Whoville he couldn't steal Christmas as Christmas comes from the heart.
It started long before the world began in the heart of God. It was thousands of years before God dropped the greatest Present of all into our world! God had been watching and waiting for just the right time and then "Kazaam!" Jesus came and Christmas was and IS in the heart of every man, woman, boy or girl who understands that Christmas comes from within the heart no matter whether there is a tree, a gift or a treat when Jesus lives in that heart! That's why Whos in Whoville can sing when it doesn't seem possible - because the joy is heart deep! AND the Whos down in Whoville say, "The Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day!" (with apologies and thanks to Dr. Seuss!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An Amazing Heart for God!

A number of years ago I met a pastor and seminary professor who didn't impress me much at first. He was kind of scrawny and had a weird kind of voice and weirder laugh when he spoke and taught. BUT my first impression was so far off the mark! Jack Miller and his wife RoseMarie were two great servants of the King in His Kingdom!
Jack left many wise and wonderful insights carved into my heart and worked into the warp and woof of my life. He was a man of incredible humility who once said, "If people could really see into my heart, they'd be even more critical of me than they already are." Jack Miller wasn't into building his own kingdom. Jack Miller didn't care what people thought of Jack Miller BUT Jack Miller cared with all his life and heart what people thought about Jesus and he spent his life teaching people about God's amazing grace in very practical ways!
Jack Miller taught me so much about grace and joy and living in the love of Jesus! He taught me that the single most important thing in life beside loving God and others well is to "preach the Gospel" to my own heart every day!
God took Jack to heaven a number of years ago. Jack left a legacy of many hearts and lives changed forever as God used Jack to be His instrument to impact hearts with God's grace!
Thank you, Jesus, for your servant Jack Miller and the ways God used him and RoseMarie to impact my life!

Scotty Smith
Jack Miller, the man who taught me the most about grace, was the most missional, prayerful & joyful man I've ever met.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Love that Holds Onto Me!

O Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe that in Thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be!
O Light, that followest all my way, I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray that in Thy sunshine's blaze its day may brighter, fairer be!
O Joy, that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to Thee;

I trace the rainbow through the rain and feel the promise is not vain that morn shall tearless be.
O Cross, that liftest up my head, I dare not ask to fly from Thee;

I lay in dust life's glory dead and from the ground there blossoms red - life that shall endless be!
--George Matheson, 1843-1906

Saturday, December 10, 2011

God Wins with Weakness!

Christmas reminds us of the truth that God wins with weakness! God sent His only and deeply loved Son to earth in human skin precisely to deal with weakness, pain and loss - in a word, the effect of sin ravaging nature, culture and our hearts! Jesus came as a baby so He could live just like we do. He came to die and live again to take care of our sin problem!

The peculiar mark of God’s majesty is not just that he stoops to listen to or take thought of or care for infants, but that he makes them the means of his triumphs. God conquers his foes through the weaknesses of the weak—the speech of babies. When you think of God as a warrior, remember: He wins with weakness.
--John Piper,
The Peculiar Mark of Majesty, Part 1, delivered April 1, 2007.

Thank you, Babe of Bethlehem - the Messiah of God!
Thank you, Emmanuel - God with us!
Thank you, Savior of the world - Jesus!
Thank you, Risen Conquering King!

Friday, December 9, 2011

End of the Rainbow for Searching Heart!

Better than a pot of gold!

Your searching heart will only rest when it looks one place for life, that is, to God and God alone. -- Paul Tripp

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Two Horses - Walk by Faith!

Just up the road from my home is a field, with two horses in it.
From a distance, each horse looks like any other horse. But if you stop your car, or are walking by, you will notice something quite amazing.....
Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind. His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him.
This alone is amazing!

If you stand nearby and listen, you will hear the sound of a bell. Looking around for the source of the sound, you will see that it comes from the smaller horse in the field.
Attached to the horse's halter is a small bell. It lets the blind friend know where the other horse is, so he can follow.
As you stand and watch these two friends, you'll see that the horse with the bell is always checking on the blind horse, and that the blind horse will listen for the bell and then slowly walk to where the other horse is, trusting that he will not be led astray.
When the horse with the bell returns to the shelter of the barn each evening, it stops occasionally and looks back, making sure that the blind friend isn't too far behind to hear the bell.
Like the owner of these two horses, God does not throw us away just because we are not perfect or because we have problems or challenges.
He watches over us and even brings others into our lives to help us when we are in need.
Sometimes we are the blind horse Being guided by the little ringing bell of those who God places in our lives.
Other times we are the guide horse, helping others to find their way....
Friends are like that... You may not always see them, but you know they are always there.
Listen for my bell and I'll listen for yours.
And remember...
Be kinder than necessary - - - Everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
Live simply,
Love generously,
Care deeply,
Speak kindly........
And leave the rest to God!

Angel Comfort

In a world that puts limitations on God’s power, the reminder, to quote John Page’s letter to Thomas Jefferson, “that an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm” is not only very comforting – but also very true. --Jim Daly, Focus on the Family

Protect Your Heart!

“Don't be reckless with other people's hearts, don't put up with those who are reckless with yours.” -Mary Schmich

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Waiting Heart

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. --Psalm 27:14

Thank you, Joni, for this wonderful blog today!

Worth the Wait

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. --Psalm 27:14

Waiting on the Lord means putting his desires before our own, believing that he will meet our needs with generosity and love in his good time. But it's difficult sometimes. You may find yourself mightily tempted to do something on the spur of the moment. It may be an important decision. A desire you want gratified. A choice you don't feel like putting off, or something you just want now. Your itchiness to have things your way has you ready to settle for something of lower quality or less value. It could be a special purchase. Or a choice in jobs. Or a relationship. It could be a crossroads in your ministry. And the truth is... you really don't want to check in with the Lord, discern his mind and his desires, and wait for his green light.

Ah, but while we may regret a hasty decision a million times over, we will never regret waiting on the Lord. You can never go wrong as you wait and pray and still yourself in his presence, seeking his mind and heart. He'll end up giving you something better. He will give you wisdom as well as himself. And when you have apprehended him in a new, fresh way, it will all come clear. The choice will be obvious. The waiting will be worth it.

What you might provide for yourself by your effort, in your wisdom, and in your timing cannot be compared to what God has for you in his plan and in his timing. Are you at a crossroads of decision in your life? Are you dealing with a desire that's pushing you to hurry? Fight the temptation to run ahead of him. Lay your desires and petitions at his feet, and wait for his peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

Father, how could I not trust you-you who gave your own Son so that I might become your child? I bow before you today, yielding up my hopes, dreams, desires. I know you will give me what is best.


Joni and Friends

Saturday, December 3, 2011

What's Up with the Grinch?

Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot ...
But the Grinch, who lived just North of Who-ville did NOT!
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, plese don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be that his head wasn't screwed on quite right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small! --Dr. Seuss

Over 50 years ago Dr. Seuss created his wonderful villain the Grinch - that is, if villains can ever be wonderful! In fact the cultural connection with the Grinch is described as: "The term Grinchy shall apply when Christmas spirit is in short supply." (quote from the Book of Who also by Dr. Seuss)

The Grinch appears in Seuss' children's book "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" The Grinch is an evil, self-absorbed, greedy thief of joy in any season! The Grinch is willing to go to ANY lengths to derail joy for the entire generic town of Whoville.

The Grinch is ugly green with uglier yellow eyes. He lives in an isolated cave on a rocky slope high above Whoville. He despises Christmas simply because his heart is "two sizes too small" and, I might add, rotten to the core! Grinch hatches a plan to steal Christmas and all its trappings from the Whos in Whoville. He dons a skinny Santa suit as disguise.

Christmas 2011 will soon be here. If the stores are to be believed Christmas came sometime around September 25th this season! Dr. Seuss wrote clever stories to entertain children. Like C.S. Lewis and others, Seuss' stories have grown-up lessons hidden beneath the story for children. The Grinch has some lessons for us:

  • It's Christmas! There is a REAL Grinch who tries to steal Christmas - Satan. AND his heart is MORE than 2 sizes too small! It's totally twisted much worse than the Grinch's! The Bible describes the Satan Grinch as one who prowls around looking for ways to destroy and people to fatally attack much like the Grinch plotting against Christmas and the Whos of Whoville.

  • Our hearts are twisted by sin and brokenness! NOTHING works the way God intended when He set the stars in place and created man to live in a perfect place!

Because of sin and brokenness there is desperate need for Christmas and for the Christmas Savior! God looks down from His heaven (high above the Grinch's cave and the village of Whoville) and sees a world irretrievably broken. And the only hope for this kind of brokenness is the Christmas Savior! O, come let us adore Him! (from O Come All Ye Faithful carol)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. --2 Cor. 4:16-18

The magnificence of this promise is stunning in such a broken, sin-stained world!

  • Why God would choose to set His love upon me is astonishing and radical beyond comprehension!

  • Why God would care about my heart "losing heart" after all my acts of rebellion against Him is only due to His utterly amazing grace!

  • Why God would plan for eternal life and send His one and only deeply beloved Son to accomplish that plan is the marvelous message of the Gospel!
Think of the rest - "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
A week after His resurrection Jesus appeared to the disciples as He had a week earlier. Thomas was missing the first time and he doubted that Jesus was really alive. Jesus encouraged Thomas to put his finger into the wounds in His hands. Thomas proclaimed Jesus as "My Lord and My God!" Then Jesus makes a statement that is perhaps keyed to these verses from Corinthians. Jesus said, "Thomas, you believe because you see. Blessed are those who have not seen but have believed." --John 20:19-31 Jesus is the unseen eternal One in Whom we have believed! He had me (and you) in His heart when He spoke to Thomas! He knew that God would draw us to believe in His Son and that we would fix our eyes on what is unseen but eternal! Therefore, we do not lose heart because our focus is on Him who walks with us thru every trial and difficulty and knowing HIM makes ALL the difference!

Dark Night of the Soul

There is a dark night of the soul! I know! I've been there!

I read recently that Mother Teresa describes the pain of the soul's dark night: "I am told God loves me—and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul …. What tortures of loneliness. I wonder how long will my heart suffer like this?"

Pray for men and women in ministry especially. Pray for those groping thru these dark nights of the soul! Pray that every one will feel the hug of God in the darkness!