A Mother’s Love

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These cuties are all grown up now…..

 

A mother’s love is deep and self-sacrificing. How I remember as young children, my siblings and I each took  $ 1.00 and went to the store to buy Mom a bottle of perfume for Mother’s Day. We wanted her to know how much we loved her. Each bottle had a different color lid on it—purple, red, yellow and blue. Daddy always purchased perfume for Mom—Chanel No. 5 and White Shoulders, so we just knew that she would love our choice of perfume for her.

She was so incredibly gracious and elaborate with her praise and gestures. We watched her lavish the individual fragrances on her arms and neck and exude, “Oh, it’s so lovely that you gave it to me. Oh, yes, Honey, I am wearing it.” And she did. We wanted her to wear our choice on Sundays, when we wanted her to smell really nice.  (What atrocious odors she wore for our sakes.) Years later as we reminisced, we all laughed until tears came out of her eyes.

How expansively she loved us. How many times did she lovingly drape a handcrafted macaroni necklace strung with simple yarn and proudly wear it to church because one of her children made it for her. She was a woman whose primary love language was “gift giving” and though our gifts were not expensive, in her eyes, they were indeed priceless, because they showed her that as our mother, she was loved dearly.

Fast forward to my life where my own sweet kids pondered what to make me for my birthday….several years ago when I was diagnosed with diabetes. They proudly served me a simple chicken breast with a candle and I can still remember the hopeful question, “Mama, do you really like it?” And, like my own mother, I sang their praise and delighted in their desires to bless me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baring My Soul

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This story is painful. I didn’t realize just what this will take for me to share it all, Jesus. Please hold me and help me.

(“Ruth, these precious women need to hear that they are not alone. I know how painful your life was…..I wept with you and over you….but that is the very reason I am sending you to speak. Don’t be afraid, My precious Daughter, I will not leave you….My Holy Spirit is helping you, even now, as you type these words.”)

God, this is excruciating.

“Yes, but you didn’t stay there. I redeemed you. I have healed you. I set you free.” The enemy wants you silenced but it is TIME for you to speak. It is MY time for you to speak.”

Reframe the Story

 

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So many of us carry memories of brokenness and pain, times when our world felt “upside-down” and we had no hope. We look back on those times and still feel the ache of the scars. But what if out of those places of despair we could see the strength, wisdom and confidence that we gained from those difficult years? What if we could re-frame the story to discover what God did in our hearts and characters in spite of what the enemy meant for evil and destruction?

Would that change our outlook and could we find Joy in the midst of sorrow, pain and conflict? What if the Holy Spirit enlightened us and showed us how much stronger our faith became, deeper our commitments to follow Christ and richer our compassion, understanding and sympathy for others? Could we see that we became less prideful, judgmental and arrogant?

As we heal this is the hope we offer to others from our own experiences in life. It is from this realization and recognition of our common struggles that God can restore us, reframe our stories and enable us to bring comfort to others.

Perfect Pastor’s Wife —Not Even

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I awoke with you on my mind. It was a deep, philosophical morning of thinking about years in ministry as a missionary and a pastor’s wife. We served in small places not large cities and those communities leant themselves to scrutiny and exposure. “Living in a Fish Bowl” is what I used to term it. Always wanting to draw others to Jesus Christ because He is worthy of their lives and they are so incredibly valuable to Him.

So I thought of you, my precious sister, fellow missionary who is out there today feeling forgotten, struggling and wondering “Has it been worth it all?” and to still be there again….simply living your life among the people in hopes that they will see in you the beauty of Christ, of forgiveness, joy and peace and the fulfillment that only God can bring to their hearts.

Let’s be honest. They won’t find a Perfect Pastor’s Wife, though some of them will make you feel that you should be beyond sin, mistakes, offenses, and to put it bluntly, beyond being human.

How I long to encourage you today, as one who was once in those very trenches, that the eternal rewards that await you far surpass the trials you are facing. Your present day faithfulness is all that God asks of you. Don’t pick up more burdens and responsibilities than He has asked you to carry….even though it is difficult to say, “No,” to people, you must learn to do it. I find it fascinating that Jesus set the example for us, in that He didn’t heal everybody or meet all the needs. He specifically only did what the Father told Him to do.

Please don’t burn out on the mission field. We need you in the Body of Christ and if you need to take some time today, even if it’s just a cup of tea, coffee or hot cocoa, make some time for yourself. Be good to yourself and to your family. The demands of ministry will always be there. May you have wisdom and grace to know the difference between the need and the call.

Savor the peace that you have in knowing that in Jesus you are loved, forgiven, accepted, wanted and cared for. He walks with you and the Holy Spirit is there to comfort you, even as He guides you when you speak words of comfort over others.

Don’t give up. Though the spiritual battle rages, be reminded that Jesus Christ has already conquered everything that comes against you. Find some good, safe believers and let them in on your life so that you can be mutually encouraged, prayed for and loved. We all need to be strengthened and edified—that’s why God called us to be a Body.

 

Are You Struggling?

I had another profound weekend of stimulating, thought-provoking, challenging conversation that stirred in me the desire to gather the wounded, weary, broken, angry, confused, abandoned, neglected and disillusioned young people into the circle of mentorship, friendship and camaraderie to speak hope into their lives. To Listen to ache of their hearts, to be the “spiritual mother,” if you will, the “older woman” because someone desperately needs to take the Time to care for the ones who silently suffer.

I am seeking those who struggle with “Who is God to me?” The ones who say, “I grew up in church, I know the Bible verses, maybe even I’ve gone on mission trips and been actively involved and on the outside I look really good but on the inside I am hurting…but I can’t tell anyone because then it will look like I’m a fake. Like maybe, I’m not really a believer….I mean….gosh, if I don’t really have it all together, what hope is there for the ones I’m trying and hoping to win to Christ?”

If that is what you feel and where you are today, I want to be here for you. I want to take your hand, give you a hug, and not fill your head with a bunch of worn out “clichés” but to really Listen, to bear your burden, to offer you a heart of compassion, kindness and acceptance and to tell you that together we can walk through these dark places of pain and loneliness and isolation where church for you has felt empty and lifeless and all you want to know and be assured of is that You really do matter and that Jesus Christ really is Who He says He is.

So, if I can help you to draw closer to Him today and to His amazing love and forgiveness for you, dear Friend…that is my desire.

Fresh Manna

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The children of Israel were to gather manna on a daily basis, except for the Sabbath. They had to put forth some effort to acquire the manna. Daily, they needed to arise in the morning and discover the Lord’s provision for their families. The manna was a testimony of the faithfulness of God to His people and He supplied this food for 40 years in the wilderness.

We need to make some effort to discover the Lord’s provision in our lives on a daily basis. We need to hear His voice, read and listen to His Word, and commune with Him. The manna is there but we must make the time to gather it. A living relationship is necessary to growth in our spiritual lives. We serve a Living God and He longs to be vital to our survival.

Have you been feasting on worms and moldy bread? It’s time to change and taste and see that the Lord will meet you everyday, all the time, no matter what your circumstance or situation. Be reminded that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” The very God that parted the Red Sea has time for you and longs for your company. Meditate on that truth and allow the Holy Spirit to give you an eternal perspective.

 

 

 

Preparing for a New Year

Picture 226As you prepare for another year, take some time to reflect on the specific blessings that have enriched your life. Spend time in the presence of God and let Him grant vision unto you for the coming days ahead. Know that whatever you may face on this earth, and in this life, that you are being “groomed” (actually “brided”) for the life to come. You are being prepared so that you will be pure and spotless, holy and righteous and able by His grace to stand robed in shining garments.

Prioritize and remember this season of Re-dedication. Examine your ways and consider your plans. What road are you traveling? Where will your journey end? What reward awaits you? Oh my friend, do not sell yourself short of the plans and purposes of your King!

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He delights to bless you as you walk in obedience to His Word. May I encourage you to wait on the Lord that He may show you what He desires you to be and to do as this year begins anew.

Apple of My Eye

IMG_3425What does the term “apple of the eye” mean? It is the reflection in the center of the pupil, the dark circle inside the iris. To view the “apple of one’s eye,” you must look closely into someone’s eyes. In the “apple”, you will see a minute reflection of your face. Go ahead, try it. You must get “up close and personal” to see it.

The Lord declares that we who follow Jesus are the “apple of His eye.” God desires intimacy. When He looks deep into the eyes of  His believers, He expects to see a reflection of Himself. He longs for His Bride to look into the eyes of her Bridegroom and see herself reflected there. As we embrace the privilege and joy of being Christians, we are now the Lord’s special people. May our love for our Beloved Messiah deepen as we draw closer to Him. May we long for Him to see in us a mirror image of His love and character.

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Are You…His Mother?

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I have had my signature silver hair for a very long time and Ross has always been “baby-faced.” Of course, that fact that I am the older one of us, by 6 1/2 years only adds to that “difference.” That’s what comes from falling in love with a younger man. Thus, I insisted that he must always have a beard and a mustache because if not, people would really think that he’s my son and not my husband…. as has happened on more than one occasion.

After only a few months of living in our new remote Alaskan village of 200, it was time for the high school graduation. It is an honor for the elders to receive their food first and in this case, dessert. As the entire village was milling around the school gymnasium, a young 10-year-old girl looked at me.

“You can go get your dessert now.”DSC05996

Quizzically, I looked at her. “Why?”

She promptly responded, “Because you’re an elder.”

I smiled as I was just in my early 40’s and one needed to be 55 to qualify for that status.

“What makes you think I’m an elder?”

“Well, your hair.”

I burst out laughing, leaned down gently and said, “Honey, I’m not an elder. My hair might look really old, but I am not.”

Later when relating that story to some of my new friends in the village, they started laughing in embarrassment. I was puzzled and they finally told me why they were all so embarrassed.

“We all thought you were older. We all thought you were his mother!”

DSC06002So, our first Christmas in the village, we were debating what to do for the church
program and our oldest daughter, Rachel Joy, chuckles and looks at me, “Well, Mom, you’re too old to be the Virgin Mary.” So, Ross and I goofed off and teased about being Simeon and Anna…..which became reality.DSC05997

Ross purchased theatrical make-up and a bald cap and beard but then in order for it to be applied correctly, he realized that shaving might be the better route. Now you can see for yourself how young he looks. That’s Dad posing with his two sons and oldest daughter. He was nearly 39 in those pictures. The last shot is us, as Simeon and Anna.


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Lesson of the Forget-Me-Not

Consider this devotional a God moment in which He is speaking to you.

Forget-Me-Nots

I have not forgotten you. Can a nursing mother forget her child? Yet, I have not forgotten you. I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. You are precious to me. I created you for My glory, for companionship so that we would walk together throughout this life. Many things have happened to you that have caused you such pain and heartache. I know intimately all that you have carried. I desire to take the burdens from you and to fill you with joy. If you only knew how very much I love you.

Circumstances and broken relationships have damaged your ability to trust. I am aware of all that satan has done through people to keep you from believing Me and surrendering your heart and life to My care. It is the enemy’s desire to rob you of relationship with Me. The thief comes but to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that you might have life, and that life more abundantly.

Your fleshly desires for more materialistic possessions will never satisfy. Even if you gained all the wealth you long for, but have not found Me, the essence of Life itself, all would still be meaningless. Can you not look at the tiny forget-me-nots and recognize that in spite of blistering winds, trampled ground, months of seeing no sunshine as they are avalanched in snow, every summer they are still there, clinging to the rocks? Do you not yet understand? If you cling to the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ, there will be nothing that can rip you out of My hands. There will be no difficulty or hardship that will be impossible to endure if you only cling and trust in Me with all your heart. This is a great life lesson. Few will ever see the forget-me-nots, yet I know exactly where they are, every season of the year. Oh, precious one, if I care so much about tiny tundra flowers, how much more I care about you. You are made in My image. I loved you so much that I willingly gave My life for you on the cross.

I died because of My great love for you. I died in hopes that one day you would repent of your sins and turn to Me and we would be friends and no longer enemies. I took the risk that only true Love would take. I gave all not expecting anything in return. I gave freely in hope that My love demonstrated on the cross would be so profound that it would melt your heart of stone.

I will never leave you nor forsake you. That is My promise and I am not a man that I should lie. I Am the Almighty God. Will you come to Me? I have not forgotten you. Have you forgotten Me?