A Country Dessert

With living in a small community, occasionally we were given desserts from ladies in the congregation. One time after church, the entire family was ushered into the church kitchen and this sweet, simple country woman set a lovely, homemade lemon meringue pie in front us.

“Pastor, I made this for you.”

Then she said, “This is your’n. This is your’n.”

Mom watched the wheels in our heads spinning as we conjured all the puns we could think of…”this is urine.” Mom’s eyes pierced us and we could read the daggers….”Don’t any of you kids Dare laugh….or crack a smile.”

Mom received the pie with genuine gratitude and we were all dutiful to say, “Thank you.” But once we were at home sitting at the dining room table savoring the “Urine pie”….we broke into gales of laughter.

 

 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

A Mentor’s Memorial

A few hours ago I watched via the Internet the memorial service of one of my amazing mentors, Mr. Jim Kilkenny. He taught me Biblical Foundational Principles and how they applied to Education; specifically to every subject. How deeply enriched my life has been because of seeing these truths. Having been trained in public school and a secular university, God had to really expand and renew my thinking. I recall seeing a cohesiveness and unity when examining God’s view of Math, Science, History, etc. It made learning take on a whole new meaning for me.

But being mentored by Mr. Kilkenny was a personal experience for me, as well. He cared about me as his student teacher but treated me as a friend and a peer. I looked at him as a Father-figure and there were numerous conversations that we shared over the course of the few years that I worked with him. How much he encouraged me and believed in me!

After twenty-five years of marriage, it was going to be my great delight to share with him the achievement of a lifetime dream—my first published book, Broken Hearts Healed. He had a massive stroke just a few days ago and Jesus took Mr. Kilkenny home.

Mentors are people who invest in our lives and who have such an amazing influence in shaping our destinies. Sometimes, though, I don’t think they have any idea just how profoundly God has used them because they simply live faithfully and make the time to pour into our hearts and minds the words and actions that God directs them to.

These are two pieces of writing that were inspired during my training under Mr. Jim Kilkenny.

My God!

How vainly we flit from philosophy to philosophy

seeking desperately for that which we

cannot seem to grasp or find—

We are like a butterfly

that has been touched

and keeps flapping its wings

going nowhere

’til it dies.

 My God!

thousands of Americans, Europeans,

Bajans, Africans,

peoples of

the world

have no concrete idea why they are

even here

and books that tell the stories

sit on the shelves—

unresearched, unopened,

unquestioned & unanswered.

Truly life—in all its meaning

has become meaningless

in this day and age

of Humanism—

where You no longer exist.

My GOD!

This butterfly will never fly again

because the touch of man

unknowingly, in his inquiry to grasp its beauty

in ignorance of its design

Has damned its destiny.


O Lord when I consider the magnitude of the task, the challenge of delving into unchartered waters, every natural inclination within me rises up and screams (vying for attention) “Turn back! turn back! turn back!” But some small spark of indignant fire courses through my being urging me on to seek that “new world” of education and to discover once again that Lost Colony of Learning that will fill my soul with the vast wisdom and knowledge of God causing me to bow so humbly in my heart of hearts with tears so nobly streaming down my cheeks, and posture so reverently kneeling to acknowledge with joy, wonder, admiration and awe Thy great and powerful Hand in History and Thy mighty acts towards the children of men.

 

 

           

 

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.

Relinquishing

 

A prayer/poem composed within our first few months in cross-cultural ministry…

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Lord, empty me further

    though its painful to say-

In order to be effective,

    I can’t stay this way-

Wrapped in my culture,

    steeped in my pride-

You must break me and mould me-

    rip away my tough hide

Until I’m soft and I’m supple

    and easily led

Down a path that brings life

    as I choose “in Christ”

To be dead-

To my own ways,

    holding onto the familiar-

The comfort zone of my heart

    where no one else sees-

Oh Jesus, make me willing

    to die for You

By living a life

    that presently is so foreign,

So remote, so forlorn

    but if I long for Your kingdom to come,

Then again,

    I must be re-born

Transformed anew

    secure in Your love.

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.