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Sunday, May 24, 2015

To My Girls: Loving the Process

I am so very thankful to all my daughters for their loving thoughts, wishes, and gifts for Mother's Day. Little do they realize that I am the one who has benefited from being their mother.  When I became a mom at the age of twenty, I had so much to learn. Being the youngest in a large family didn't give me much practice at taking care of infants!  But I loved being a mom.  I loved the challenge, the rewards, the opportunities.  Oh, I had my days, for sure.  But I never wanted to go back to work.  I knew it was God's call upon my life.

So thank you, girls, (and Ben!), for the chocolate, the flowers, the mug, the candle, the lovely wall art, the material (to sew something for myself!), the journal, the family picture, the knee pad so I can garden,the watch,  the phone call, the text message.  The gifts were thoughtful and appreciated, but it is the one behind the gift that is so special to me.

The process continues.  I have learned so much in the last three years about how to be a mother who asks for forgiveness, a mom who lets go of all her fears and worries, a mom who can pray with her daughters, a mother who prays for the hard things in her children's lives.  I have learned how to receive from you, too.

One of my greatest treasures is the grandchildren that you have given me, and the little one that is on the way!  What a joy to love these kids, even through their tough teen years.  It makes being a mother all the richer.  It took me years to realize all the sacrifices my mom made for me, and although she kept her feelings to herself, I knew that she loved me.  I know that you girls make sacrifices everyday for your children.  Don't worry; someday they will realize just how much you love them.  Today it seems like a lot of work, a lot of care, and so little time to yourself.  Understand that God is grooming you through the process. Whatever else He has for you, being a mom is so dear to His heart.  He even tells us that He loves us like a mother.  

My prayer is that I will finish well as a mother and grandmother.  I know that I am still mom, on call, day or night, for my teenage boys and for all my children and grandchildren.  I know that I am still mom to my children that are ten minutes down the road or in another time zone!  I know that being a mom comes after being God's precious daughter, after being my beloved's partner and helpmeet, but it is a huge part of who I am.  It is one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me.  Don't get me wrong; I haven't been the world's greatest mom.  I was selfish, I didn't want to get up with the baby at night, I wanted to be able to go somewhere without my kids, I yelled when I should have prayed, I withdrew when I needed to step up, I plunged ahead when I should have waited, I was inconsistent, overbearing, controlling and thought I was right.  But deep down I always knew that this was exactly what God intended for me: to love Him and raise a large family. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Turning 70

No, I am not turning seventy!!  But my oldest brother did on May 15th.  He always hits his next big milestone before I hit mine.  I will be 59 on September 10, 2015.

He wrote a poem reflecting on Psalm 90 on his birthday which prompted me to write my own paraphrase loosely based on the same psalm.  

Psalm 90 English Standard Version (ESV)

From Everlasting to Everlasting

A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.

90 Lord, you have been our dwelling place[a]
    in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You return man to dust
    and say, “Return, O children of man!”[
b]For a thousand years in your sight
    are but as yesterday when it is past,
    or as a watch in the night.
You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
    like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
    in the evening it fades and withers.
For we are brought to an end by your anger;
    by your wrath we are dismayed.
You have set our iniquities before you,
    our secret sins in the light of your presence.
For all our days pass away under your wrath;
    we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10 The years of our life are seventy,
    or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span[
c] is but toil and trouble;
    they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11 Who considers the power of your anger,
    and your wrath according to the fear of you?
12 So teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O Lord! How long?
    Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
    and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor[d] of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yes, establish the work of our hands!

My paraphrase:

Lord, I have dwelt with you my entire life. As a baby, and even before, I was brought to church—to every service. My parents' parents went to church and brought their children.

Yet you tell me that before you created this world, these grandparents, these parents of mine, before you created me, there You were—from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

You limit my days and say, “Return to dust, O son, O daughter of Adam."  For I have inherited more than family traits from my ancestors. I have inherited Adam's inclination to rebellion, to wanting to do things my way.

Even if I live to be a thousand years old, to You my life is just like a day that has passed and become yesterday, or like a night that has ended with the sunrise.

Or my life is like a branch that is swept away in a flood, or like the grass that looks so green in the morning dew but withers in the scorching sunlight and by evening is faded and useless.

I know I deserve your anger and wrath. The thought of what I deserve brings me to the end of myself. I see that the character of all my pride and rebellion, even my secret sins, are revealed in the Light of your Presence.

So my days end as insignificant as sigh, even if I live to be eighty. Yet the whole of my life can be summed up in working, striving and facing trouble after trouble. One day I will be gone like a bird that flies away.

I consider the power of your anger, your wrath towards all who are in rebellion and fear you who can kill the soul.

Teach me to consider each day as an opportunity to partner with You; teach my heart to be wise. Return to me, Lord, for I am returning to You. I am repenting of my pride and rebellion. You created me and I cannot live, I cannot find my destiny without You. Have pity on me for I am coming to You humbly.

Only You can satisfy me each morning. Only your unfailing, eternal, never changing love can save me. Only in this Love can I have joy and be glad, truly glad for each day no matter what it holds.

Lord, may I be glad to be in You for as many days as I have rebelled against you and experienced the affliction of my sin. You are the great Restorer. Show me as many years of Your goodness as I have seen years of evil that pride produced in my life.

Let me truly see the work You have done, the work You are doing, the work You will do. Show me Your glory and Your power by Your Spirit.

Let Your favor be upon me, the favor You bestow on Your Son in whom You are well pleased, whose life I have because He gave His life for me. Let the beauty of grace show up in my life. May those things I do here and now count up there and forever as You accomplish all things in my life. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done.
As it is in Heaven, as it will be in my life when I am in Heaven, so be it now in my life here on earth. And one day I will fly away to be with You forever. Oh glorious day!

Deborah Cawley, May 16, 2015

Monday, May 4, 2015

Jesus, My Advocate, Who Pleads my Case

May 4, 2015

Job 16

Thinking this morning about pain.  Last week when I had my teeth cleaned and the next day the whole right side of my mouth began aching.  Sometimes the pain would come in waves.  Eating has been difficult as any cold is extremely painful. Chewing seems to aggravate the pain and at times even talking hurts.  Pain killers bring some relief and it doesn't keep me up at night, but pain always wears me out.  

Physical pain seems to make other things in life so much harder to deal with.  Difficult situations now seem to loom as big as mountains I cannot climb.  It becomes almost impossible to stop thinking about myself and the pain.  So I thought about Job, the righteous man of old, who suffered the loss of all things, including the grief of losing all his children.  Maybe that would have been bearable, but then Satan inflicted him with tormenting pain in his body.The final straw was the condemning "comfort" and "help" of his friends.  

Yet in reading Job 16 I saw some things there I had never seen before.  In verse six, Job says:

“Yet if I speak, my pain is not relieved; and if I refrain, it does not go away.

He can't get away from the pain.  There is no relief

7 Surely, God, you have worn me out; you have devastated my entire household. 8 You have shriveled me up--and it has become a witness; my gauntness rises up and testifies against me. 9 God assails me and tears me in his anger and gnashes his teeth at me; my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes. 10 People open their mouths to jeer at me; they strike my cheek in scorn and unite together against me. 11 God has turned me over to the ungodly and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked. 12 All was well with me, but he shattered me; he seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me his target; 13 his archers surround me. Without pity, he pierces my kidneys and spills my gall on the ground. 14 Again and again he bursts upon me; he rushes at me like a warrior. 15 "I have sewed sackcloth over my skin and buried my brow in the dust. 16 My face is red with weeping, dark shadows ring my eyes; 17 yet my hands have been free of violence and my prayer is pure. 18 "Earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest! [Job 16:7-18 NIV]

Job recognizes that God has done this.  We all put the cause of Job's pain in Satan's hand--the work of the enemy.  But we know that God gave Satan permission.  So ultimately it comes from God's hand.  As I read this description of Job's pain, I realized how this could be a prophecy concerning the death of Jesus.  

my gauntness rises up and testifies against me...
God assails me and tears me in his anger and gnashes his teeth at me...
my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes...
People open their mouths to jeer at me;they strike my cheek in scorn and unite together against me...
God has turned me over to the ungodly and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked...
All was well with me, but he shattered me;he seized me by the neck and crushed me...
He has made me his target; his archers surround me...
Without pity, he pierces my kidneys and spills my gall on the ground...
My face is red with weeping, dark shadows ring my eyes; yet my hands have been free of violence and my prayer is pure..

Such a description fits the abuse Jesus suffered at the hands of men at his trial and crucifixion.  And like Job, Jesus suffered even though his hands were free of violence and his prayer was pure. Unlike Job, we know that Jesus suffered because of sin, suffered because of my sin and the sin of the whole world.   

But it is what Job says next that amazes me.  

19 Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. 20 My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; 21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend. [Job 16:19-21 NIV]

Job says that he has a witness in heaven, an advocate on high.  One who pleads his case before God.  And not only an advocate, but an intercessor; One who is praying for him.  And not only an advocate and intercessor, but also a Friend.  Only the Holy Spirit could write these words of prophecy!  

Later on in chapter nineteen, Job again describes his troubles and it reflects accurately on the sorrow that Jesus would bear. And again Job speaks words of prophecy: 

25 I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! [Job 19:25-27 NIV]

So, in the midst of my little, annoying pain, I will remember that I have a Friend in heaven.  He is my Redeemer and He lives!  He is coming again some day to stand on this earth and set all things right. He pleads my case before the Father.  He intercedes for me. He has borne all my pain and sorrow. He took upon Himself all my rejection, all my fear, all my sin and shame.  He was declared guilty so I could go free!  All this He did for me.  

Today, in the midst of my trials and troubles which go beyond the physical pain, I say with the apostle Paul that my light and momentary troubles are achieving for me an eternal glory that far outweighs all my troubles.2 Cor. 4: 17-18  Nothing is wasted in God's Kingdom, not even a toothache!  Job had hope that His redeemer lived!  He fixed his eyes not on what he saw and felt, but on what was unseen. That is faith!  Fixing my eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of my faith!  Heb. 12:2  Without faith it is impossible to please God. Heb. 11:6

I can know that my pain and my trials and my troubles are temporary.  Satan lies to me and says that the pain will never go away.  That I can't get through today.  That the trouble I see around me will ruin lives.  That here is a problem that Jesus can't fix.  That there is no hope; it's been too long, it won't end, it's all my fault, and I have failed.  LIES!  God is achieving for me an eternal glory!
I can even rejoice in my trials and troubles!  I can persevere!  I can ask God for wisdom in how to handle each and every one! James 1 I can keep my thoughts and my eyes on Jesus!  I can stop looking at what I can see and keep my eyes on what I can't see, on the eternal!

17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. [2Co 4:17-18 NIV]

Thank you, Father, for this perspective for my day.  Thank for Jesus, who is always the answer to my every prayer.  Thank you for this wonderful Friend, who has redeemed me and who is the pioneer who goes before me and is perfecting my faith!  

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Jesus, my Friend

Holy Spirit is my counselor, Jesus is my friend, so I am never without a friend or counselor.

Luke 5:20  When I put my faith in Jesus, He calls me His friend.

John 15:13 Jesus showed me how great His love is for me, His friend, because He laid down His life for me.

John 15:15 I know that I am Jesus' friend and not just His servant, because He has shared with me everything He learned from the Father.

John 14:26 The Holy Spirit comes in Jesus' name and teaches me and reminds of things I tend to forget...things that are true about Jesus.  He counsels me to stick to the truth and reject the lies.

Proverbs 17:17  As my friend, Jesus loves me...all the time, no matter what I do to mess up.  He sticks by me, more than my own sister, and He is there in my trials.

James 4:4 If all I want is my own way, if all I want to do is flirt with the world every chance I get, then I will no longer have Jesus as my friend; I become an enemy of God.  This will break His heart, for He loves me with a jealous love.  I need to stick with the truth that what God gives me in love, is far better than anything else I find.

Friend of God by Israel Houghton

When I was growing, I longed for a friend.  My best friend moved to a new town when we were about ten, and I felt so alone. I had brothers and sisters, lots of them(!), but I wanted a friend at school, and a friend to do stuff with after school.  A friend who went to church with me, because that was a very important part of my life.  

In high school, God gave me two very dear friends at my church, but they didn't attend my high school.  So I had church friends and school friends and it still felt like not enough.  

After marriage, I longed for that girl-friend that I could share things with and talk with.  You know, girl stuff.  I kept looking. Kept thinking, maybe she's the one, that bosom friend, as Ann of Green Gables would say.  I knew that I had my true friend in my husband, but often he didn't understand me. Who would ever truly love me and totally understand me?  I remember the day when I was reading in Philippians 4 and came to these verses: 

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! 
5 Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! 
6Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. 

7 Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

And the Holy Spirit whispered to me, Jesus, your best friend, is right by your side.  He is here!  Always here!  He knows you better than anyone else, and He is always beside you. You are never alone to face any problem, or worry, or pain, or disappointment, or struggle.  

So I claimed the promise in Isaiah 41:13  For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Jesus, you are my best friend.  You are the one who holds my hand all day long and whispers in my ear, "Don't be afraid; I will help you." You are my bosom friend, the One who fills the longing of my heart.  I love you, Jesus.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Unshakeable Confidence

Praising God today for the confidence I have because God is my unshakeable confidence, and nothing can shake me so much that I lose confidence in Him.

I will not be shaken because of the unfailing love that God Most High has for me, his daughter.  Psalm 21:7

I will not be shaken because I keep my eyes always on the Lord, and He is at my right hand. Psalm 16:8

I am confident that the One who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion, right up to the day that Jesus returns for me.  Philippians 1:6

I am confident in the Sovereign Lord, because He has been my hope since my youth. Psalm 71:5

Because I  fear God, I have a secure fortress in Him, and a refuge for my children--a place we can run to and be safe. Proverbs 14:26 

When I put my trust in the Lord and my confidence in Him, I will be blessed.  Jeremiah 17:7

With me is the Lord my God to help me and to fight my battles. This gives me confidence, and I don't have to be afraid or discouraged. 2 Chronicles 32:8  2 Chronicles 20:15

Though my world be shaken and turned upside down, God's unfailing love will not fail me and His promise of peace will not be removed, because the Lord has compassion on me.  Isaiah 54:10

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Coming home from Encounter also means coming under attack.  The enemy does not want us to walk in the freedom we have acquired and will tempt us and pull out all the stops to get us to walk in bondage again.

For me this week it has been headaches, depression, resentment building up in me, and a desire to quit.  I have been spending time with the Lord.  I have been praising Him, listening to praise music and putting on the "armor" before getting out of bed.  But I am still struggling.

But I've also been hiding.  Oh, I asked some ladies to pray for me, and they did.  But I haven't shared what I am struggling with.  So tonight I will pray with my husband.  I will let him know what I'm struggling with--even though part of it is that I don't really know!
Why am I so afraid to let others know that I struggle?  Like the talk I gave on Peter, I fail to live and walk in my new identity.  Under pressure, under attack

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Just home from another wonderful Encounter Weekend with a bunch of wonderful women.  God worked in mighty ways!  Made new friends and shared with old ones, too.

I wanted to post the testimony I gave on Friday night at Encounter.  Someone asked for part of it, but I think God wants me to share the whole thing.  I am an overcomer, and God's Word says that I overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of my testimony.  Rev. 12:11

April 14, 2015

Psa. 80:7 Restore us, O God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.

About four years ago I was burned out, worn out, weary, depressed, depleted and struggling in so many ways. I cried out to God. We were in a new church fellowship and every Sunday they had prayer time during the service where you could pray aloud (or silently) while the Praise Team sang a song; and every Sunday I cried out to God with tears. God and I communing, often without words.

I started a Bible study on my own with Beth Moore's book on the Psalms of Ascents and poured out my pain and emptiness to God and the healing began. I was scared to get my hopes up, scared of failing God—again. After all, I'd been a Christian almost all my life, a church leader—wasn't I the one who was supposed to have all the answers? But I came to God knowing that there was no other place to go. There had to be more answers than the ones I already knew. So I came expecting God to meet me somehow, to show me what was wrong. The more I kept meeting with God, the hungrier I got for His Word. I also began meeting regularly with a couple of friends who loved the Lord.

And then God gave me this dream of a couple of old hags refusing to get out of a room that I am renting. So I negotiate a price with them that they will pay me to stay there. But I don't really want them to stay so I find the landlady. She has some financial records of rent I have paid but there are missing entries and she doesn't have any answers for me. I tell her there must be more records and she points to a pile of papers. When I look through the papers, I find that these are a lot of family mementos and pictures. Then I look up and the landlady is coming down the hallway holding her arm in great pain, a look of grief on her face. And I am surprised that the landlady is actually one of my friends that I have been meeting with.

God showed me that those two hags were fear and pride. Two sins in my life that were grieving the Holy Spirit. I had been working on fear—memorizing verses and renewing my mind with God's truth about His perfect love casting out fear. But pride? I would have to work on that one. I was raised to be proud, I had things to be proud of. But I wasn't too proud, or was I?

At the same time I began seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I had been raised to believe that the charismatic gifts of the Spirit were not for today, especially speaking in tongues. It never made much sense to me, but when everyone you look up to, every pastor you've known tells you it is wrong, you accept it as wrong. I didn't necessarily think it was wrong for everybody, but it couldn't be something God had for me or He would have given it to me, right? I had good friends who spoke in tongues but no one in my family every had. Yet I wanted more of God. I was empty. I wanted power to actually live the Christian life. So I kept seeking, searching scripture and reading books on the Holy Spirit. And God was opening my eyes to the pride in my life.

I began memorizing verses on pride, like Prov. 11:2,  "When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with humility comes wisdom."  Or Ps. 10:4,  "In his pride the wicked does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God."  Or Prov. 8:13,   "To fear the Lord is to hate evil. I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech."  I began to see how God views pride: He hates it, it is evil and disgraceful. Then one day I read this poem by Beth Moore on pride:

My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
I cheat you of your God-given destiny…
because you demand your own way.
I cheat you of contentment…
because you “deserve better than this.”
I cheat you of knowledge…
because you already know it all.
I cheat you of healing…
because you are too full of you to forgive.
I cheat you of holiness…
because you refuse to admit when you are wrong.
I cheat you of vision…
because you’d rather look in the mirror than out a window.
I cheat you of genuine friendship…
because nobody’s going to know the real you.
I cheat you of love…
because real romance demands sacrifice.
I cheat you of greatness in heaven…
because you refuse to wash another’s feet on earth.
I cheat you of God’s glory…
because I convinced you to seek your own.
My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
You like me because you think I’m always looking out for you.
I’m looking to make a fool of you.
God has so much for you, I admit, but don’t worry…
If you stick with me you’ll never know.

That was me. God was breaking down my walls, my strongholds, my prejudices. Finally the day came when I decided I was ready. I had grieved over the sin in my life and repented as best I knew how. I had forgiven people. I had no idea what God was going to do, but I was ready to ask for His Holy Spirit to fill me. So I prayed with my friends and they prayed over me and I asked God to come and fill me and He did! I had such a sensation of joy in my heart! I humbled myself to speak out loud the “silly” word that came into my head and received the gift of tongues.

And that was just the beginning. There is so much I could tell you of my journey. God has broken me over and over again at the sin in my life, but each time He has brought healing to my soul. He healed me of a deep, hidden grief over the death of our stillborn baby, Zebulun. He healed me of a spirit of rejection, of being fearful, of pride, of idolatry, and more. He is still healing me!

I wrote this in my journal on Jan. 28, 2013....

Lord Jesus, I kneel at your feel.  I humble myself before you, head bowed, not daring to lift my face.  I am no longer prideful, but pride threatens to try to worm its way back into my life.  I am no longer fearful, but yet not as bold as I should be.  
Before you filled me with your Holy Spirit, I thought the core of my life was to be righteous, yet I was still serving myself, opposed to You in my prideful way.
I was fearful of the rejection and wounds of man and built up walls of silence around myself.  I knew only a little of your grace and mercy and forgiveness.  I worked and worked to please You and everyone around me, but I was really working to please myself.  I never showed my true heart to anyone.  I couldn't look upon my own heart, afraid to see that I was unclean, scarred by the leprosy of my fear and pride.
Slowly, gently, lovingly, as I sought Your face and the light of Your glory, You revealed Yourself to me.  And as I saw You in your mercy and love, You began revealing my heart to me.  I came to that moment--actually several moments--when I confessed and repented of my pride.  Then you delivered me from all my fears.  Oh that glorious vision of removing Zebulun from his "grave-box" at your prompting and holding him and feeling the warmth of his little body.
But again, Lord, I am prompted by your Holy Spirit as I read the encounter of Simon the leper in the novel, "Second Touch" by Bodie Thoene.  I weep as I echo his words as he comes to Jesus.

     "This is my true heart: I am a leper!  Inside and out, I am unclean.
      There is nowhere else for me to go,"  Simon concluded simply.  "I..
       I need to be forgive.  Oh, Lord!  Clean the inside of the cup as well
       as the outside!  You can heal me if you want to!" 

 And then the Yeshua's words:  "I want to."  As I study your Word about healing and as I ask for healing for my arm, my headaches, my gut, I realize that what I really want is for your Word to heal my insides.  Take the leprosy out of my heart--all of it.  Continue to reveal my heart to me that I might purify myself.  Show me how to change the thoughts and intents of my heart.  Renew a right spirit within me.
I could never than you enough for the punishment you suffered for me.  I will never fully know the depths of your love for me to take my sin upon yourself, to carve my name on your palm.  I accept your righteousness, your forgiveness, your love and mercy and grace.  I welcome your Holy Spirit in my life.  May He dwell in me richly and bring the very fullness of your life into mine, until I  am fully hid in Christ.

God heals. He restores. He longs to show you who you really are in Him. He longs for you. You are the pearl of great price that He was willing to give all that He had to buy you back—to buy me back.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

It's Me

March 26, 2015 I decided to start up my blog again and realized I had a lot of posts that never got published.  In looking over these drafts, I see that maybe at times I was afraid of putting my thoughts out there, some were unfinished, and some about personal struggles.

But my Father is calling me to honesty and to the person He is creating me to be.  So all the old post are published today with the original date that I wrote them.  May someone be encouraged and helped along the way in their own journey with Jesus!

April 9, 2014

So much happened in February.  It was a bittersweet time.  But God tells us there is a time for everything.  I wrote this shortly after Susannah went back to Colorado.  

February 20, 2014

She came home and it was like she never left.
She smiled, and talked and I recognized it all.
The hugs were passed out, over and over again
We shared meals, the tuna fish and blueberry muffins,
homemade macaroni and cheese and scotcheroos.
I didn't want to say goodbye,
I didn't want to let her go.
But she had to leave.

I should have said, “I love you” fifty more times,
no, a hundred; because it's true.
I should have told her how beautiful she is
and how proud I am of her.
I'm so glad she came, even though the
occasion was sad. So often hellos mean we
must say goodbye.
I'm so glad she could meet her youngest niece,
and reconnect with all the others.
I'm so glad that she has this special
place in all our hearts.

You are so precious to me, daughter.
I loved braiding your hair, going out to lunch,
shopping together, seeing you with the kids, laughing
together with your sisters, sitting on the couch and talking.
Thank you for being my Suzy, our Suzy.

I love you.  
February 25, 2013

A paraphrase of Psalm 130

Out of my weakness and weariness
I call you, Lord.
Lord, can you hear me?  
Does my cry for help reach your ears? 

Lord, if you thought about my sins 
there is no way 
I could even talk to you, 
let alone expect you to help me!
But you have forgiven all my sins,
(I John 1:9) 
so that you may be honored and worshiped.  
You not only forgave my sins, 
but you cancelled the written code that I broke. 
(Col. 2:13-14)  
You took it away and nailed it to the cross 
when Jesus poured out his blood 
that washes away all my sin.

I wait for you Lord; 
I want to fall in love with you 
all over again.  
I put my hope in your Word.  
I meet you there, in the pages of your 
love letter to me. 

I put my hope in the life changing power 
of your Word.
I wait expectantly and as surely 
as the sun rises every morning, 
I know I will see you 
working in my life again, 
restoring me with strength and joy--
buying back every moment 
of despair and hurt, 
every day of pain and tears.

Your love is not able to fail!  
Your love is always there 
and is new every morning. 
(Lamentations 3:22-24) 
Your redeeming process is complete.  
It flows over me in abundance.  
I put my hope in you!

Psalm 34 2012

Sometime in 2012
Psalm 34

A journey began quite a few months ago, actually almost two years ago.  I began seeking God.  Tired and worn out, struggling to keep up, overwhelmed and feeling lost, I sought God.  Oh, He'd always been a part of my life but maybe the key word there is "part".

Ps. 34:4 I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.

And He showed up.  I poured out my heart to Him through a Bible Study and His words began to seep into my dry desert.  He lifted up my head, and I started seeing His love again.  Finished that study and started another.  Here, He directed me to start meeting with a couple of friends to join me on my journey.  I remember the day I said to them, "I feel like I'm falling in love with Jesus all over again."  They were called alongside to encourage and introduce me to the Holy Spirit.  

Ps. 34:8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.

Oh, He is good!  Blessings poured over me.  There was joy instead of emptiness and peace instead of frustration.  He filled me with His Spirit and I saw things I had never seen before.  As the journey into the heart of God continued, He brought my husband along and filled him with His Spirit, too.  

Ps. 34: 11-12  Come, my children, listen to me; and I will teach you the fear of the Lord.  Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

As I journeyed with God, He began revealing my heart to me and the sin that was residing there.  First He showed me my fear and began to deliver me from it as I repented and turned to Him.  He healed my heart concerning the fear that surrounded the death of our stillborn son, Zebulun.  He healed the rejection in my heart from my childhood as I repented of my pride and of seeking man's approval.  He showed me people I needed to forgive and walked me through the process of continually seeking His heart for healing of past offenses and wounds.  The Ladies Bible Study I joined worked through another Bible Study that taught me how to renew my mind and take every thought captive.  More fears were revealed, repented of and healed. I gave up control of my children, surrendering them to Him and trusting Him with the outcome. 

It would take too long to write out the story of each one of the fears, lies and wounds He delivered me from as I repented of my sin.  Yet each time I faced a fear in my life, as the Holy Spirit moved, I felt a lump in my throat.  As I repented and released each sin to Him, the lump would diminish.  Yet I always knew that we were not done.  Each time it got easier to repent and release the fear to Him. Each time I thought I might be done with fear.

Ps. 34:17  The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.


Last night Cynthia, Noah and I decided to play a game of Clue. I decided I wouldn't try too hard to win so that Noah would have a chance. After a few turns around, I realized that something was not quite right. Maybe there were cards missing? Noah had mentioned at the beginning that one thing he didn't like about Clue was how many cards you had to hold, yet each of us only had 5 or 6 cards in our hands. We counted up the rooms, the people and the weapons and realized that there were cards missing! We hunted around in the Game Closet and sure enough, we found the envelope that is the "confidential case file" and in it were three cards (obviously left over from the last time the game was played). We passed out one card to each of us (without looking!) and decided to go on with the game. After a few more turns, something still didn't seem right. According to my Clue sheet, all the people were accounted for. Who could have committed the crime if we all had them in our hands? Cynthia began saying "something didn't seem right". Then I realized that maybe Nathan hadn't put the right cards in the middle of the board when we started our game. So we asked Nathan to look at the cards for us. Sheepishly he told us that he had put 3 weapons in the middle instead of one person, one weapon and one room. had we missed the clues?! What a laugh!

Life is often clueless. Just when you think you have something all figured out, the rules change. Your granddaughter comes home from the research program at NIH in Maryland and has her worst episode ever. You realize that the time has come that you have been dreading forever, the day she must be admitted to the local psychiatric hospital. She goes to the emergency room and after five hours she is sent back home again because there is no bed for a girl child in a psychiatric hospital in the state of Maine. Who changed the rules? How can she be in the throes of bipolar mixed-state and there be no safe place for her? How much longer can she and her family hold on? Are we on a Clue board, running from the Kitchen to the Study to the Ballroom in a crazy, mixed up race to end up nowhere?

And then you find the secret passageway through the back door into the Acadia Hospital. You (as the parent) call the Access Center at the hospital and ask for an evaluation for your child to be admitted to their Day Program. It probably doesn't hurt that her psychiatrist called ahead the day before, but who knows in this Clueless game where their are no set rules. You take your child to the appointment, screaming almost all the way in, and bring her grandmother with you for help and moral support. It also helps that she can drive the car while you tend to the upset child. After all the twists and turns, she ends up admitted to the hospital and not the Day Program.

Our Cluless Clue game ended up being pretty fun--and funny! It didn't turn out the way we expected but we laughed a lot and had a good time. Acadia's hospital admission didn't go the way we planned, but she ended up in a safe place when she needed to be there.

The Battle written January 4, 2009

January 4, 2009

It never ends. It doesn't get easier, no, but seemingly harder. Maybe I am wiser because of the passing of time and the experiences of life, but the struggle seems to intensify. The enemy of my soul is certainly like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour in my own home.
I pray. At times my prayers get shorter and shorter, just simple requests. "Rescue her. Open her eyes. Rescue him. Keep him from evil."
I no longer have the confidence that I know what's right for my children. I realize they must choose their own way, and ultimately decide if following Jesus is worth the sacrifice. But oh how my heart breaks and everything within me wants things to work out for them.
The enemy knows when to strike. When my husband is tired and not himself. When life is busy. When I am struggling with my own depression and that of my son's. When there seems to be no place to turn for help and encouragement. When I am stressed and burnt out.
I turn to my God, my Savior. When some of Jesus' disciples were leaving him because of his teaching, he asked the twelve if they also wanted to leave? And Peter replied, "To whom shall we go?"
There is no one else. There is no other who understands me and the struggles I face. There is no other battle worth fighting. I have chosen whom I serve and as a family we have chosen to serve the true and living God. Now I need to remember the Lord's words to Joshua..."Be strong and of a good courage."

Hard to believe I wrote that back in April. Here it is almost October and it seems that the struggle hasn't changed. Circumstances have changed: we put Nathan in public school. He seems to be adapting well and enjoying it. I have had bronchitis for two weeks and still not feeling all that great. Is it depression? How do I know? Why do I feel like I belong nowhere? Like every little decision is overwhelming? I no longer even know what I want.

We also have left Stetson Union Church. I thought that would bring me a lot of freedom but I feel like I've jumped off a cliff and am still falling. Where will I land? Why, if the body of Christ is really one body, does it feel so strange to be in another church?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tears of Joy- written May 05, 2008

May 5, 2008
I had about 20 minutes in between trips. We were putting groceries away, stuffing sandwiches in our faces, and getting ready to head out to Bangor for therapy appointments. The phone rang and I didn't recognize the cell phone number. It was my daughter-in-law, Sarah, and she wanted to let me know that "they" are pregnant. I knew they were trying. I knew she was almost done work and that house renovations were in the plans for this summer. Yet I was still overwhelmed with joy so deep that the tears came and I told her she was going to make me cry!

There have been worries that it would be as hard for her to get pregnant as it was for her mother. There are still worries that she could have a miscarriage. But for now, we revel in the joy of anticipating another baby, a precious life, a girl or boy, my son's firstborn child. I know Sarah's parent's are probably more ecstatic than I am as this is their only child having their first grandchild. Yet I find myself thinking about her, wondering if the morning sickness has arrived yet, counting on my fingers the months to see when this child will be born.

This Mother's Day is full of joy. Joy for the coming of Spring after a long, hard winter. Deep, abiding joy for the grace of God daily in my life. And a mother's joy as I kiss my children and grandchildren, with an extra kiss for Sarah as she carries a new life within.

Suffering and Submission

 I have struggled all my married life with the word "submission". I think some of it comes from wrong teaching on the biblical meaning of submission, but mostly from a strongly independent spirit which is definitely not biblical. And I have struggled with suffering; it is not something I want or like to do. Yet in I Peter 2  we are told that we are called to both these things! 

1Pe 2:21 NIV  To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

Jesus is my example.  He always submitted to the Father and the Father's will, and the Father's will was for Jesus to suffer greatly for me and I should follow in His steps.  So what does this submission and suffering look like?  

1Pe 2:22-23 NIV "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth."  When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

It means not lying, not pretending.  I have to be myself, open and honest before people no matter how they might react.  I cannot speak deceitfully, covering up my true feelings out of fear or rejection or judgement.  If I get insulted, I must not retaliate.  If I suffer, I cannot make threats of getting even.  Why?  Because I must entrust myself to God, the One who judges justly.  I need to start seeing myself as "hid in Christ".  I need to believe that I am accepted, chosen, and dearly loved by my Father and that nothing--absolutely nothing can separate from His perfect love.  This is something I am just learning.  I have hid myself all my life.  I feared being rejected by someone's words so I was careful to say what they wanted to hear.  I tried to become the person they would accept instead of being who God made me to be.  I even tried to be who I thought God would accept, not realizing that He had already accepted me as a hopeless sinner, yet in His love He saved me and gave me a new life.  I don't have to live life as that hopeless sinner, trying to please God and others, fearing rejection and disapproval.  God has literally given me a new heart to love Him and others. He has made me alive to Him.  He has given me His Spirit inside my very body so I have power to live this new life.  

Coming to Christ as a child, I always thought the Gospel was admitting I was a sinner and accepting the free gift of eternal life so I could go to heaven.  That was it; the four spiritual laws.  God loves me, I'm a sinner, Christ died for me, I need to accept Jesus as my Savior. But if I didn't really believe others loved me unconditionally, how could I believe God loves me unconditionally?  Oh, He loved me like He loves the whole world and so sent His Son to save me.  But now I need to please Him by being obedient and loving and kind and finding His perfect will for my life.  You know, find God's plan A so I don't have to settle for plan B.

So surely submitting to that kind of God would be difficult.  I never doubted my salvation and I knew He loved me, I just never realized how much.  I kept part of myself from Him.  I had to work, to perform to keep Him loving me.  And I had to perform to keep others loving me which often leads to resentment because they don't always recognize my "work" and may at times even criticize what I do.  I have to stop trusting in myself and my ways because I am deceiving myself if I think that will get me anywhere.

Job 15:31 NIV Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless, for he will get nothing in return.

I must trust God, who does love me unconditionally with His unfailing love!

Psa 13:5 NIV But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.

There are not enough words to declare all that God has done for me or all that Jesus did for me on the cross alone.  He bore my sins so I might die to sins and live for righteousness.  By His wounds I am healed.  It was costly.  He paid the price and I receive all the blessings. Before I was a sheep going astray but now I am returning to the Shepherd and Overseer of my soul.  I can trust the perfect Shepherd; I shall not want.  

As a wife I am called to submit to my husband.  How do I do that?  By submitting myself to my own husband.  I give him myself.  I trust him with "me", with my feelings, my dreams, my likes, my thoughts, my body.  I've already submitted my whole self to Father God and He asks me to now submit my whole self to my husband.  This isn't about "obeying" my husbands every command.  Certainly I don't go out and disobey what he desires or expects, but that is not what submission is.  The one I obey is God and He has placed my husband in authority over me.  So if there is a difference of opinion and a decision needs to be made, I can defer to my husband.  But trusting my husband with my very self means I share all my opinions and thoughts with him.  Yes, it takes sacrifice.  It takes faith in God that His ways are good and perfect.  God says that the "unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit" is of great worth in His sight.  Do I believe that?  What is the opposite of a gentle and quiet spirit?
A woman who wants her own way and makes sure she gets it.  A woman who rides roughshod over her husbands feelings and needs to make sure her own get met.  A woman who loudly proclaims her own opinions and ideas and doesn't give her husband time to talk. And a thousand other little ways she can be quick to demean, disrespect, question, criticize, judge, ridicule, and persist in her own ways.

Oh Father, forgive me for how often I have withheld myself from my husband.  Hid my face in a book, not been willing to share my feelings with him, worn myself out doing other things in a day so there's no time or energy left for him.  I may have submitted to him on the outside but inside I was withholding my very self from him.  I may have accepted his authority over me, but never gave him the gift of who I really am.  I repent of hiding, of being "unsubmissive" is this deeper way.  I renounce the lies of the enemy that I am protecting myself by keeping things back.  I renounce all the power of the enemy in my marriage by my ungodly belief of submission and break the "curse of submission" that was handed down to me. I renounce all the sin of my ancestors in not submitting to their husbands in a truly godly way.  I release this sin to the cross and die to this sin in my life and I will now choose to live for righteousness.  I will truly submit to my husband more and more every day.  I will choose to share my very self with him, not in some romantic, idealistic way, but in godly way, with the gentle and quiet spirit of my inner self.  I choose to do this because You say it is right and I will not give way to fear. The enemy will tempt me to fear, but I do not have to give way to it. 

 1Jo 4:18 NIV There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Our love can be made perfect in You, without fear.  I can know and rely on the love You have for me.  You will not punish me; for Jesus brought me peace by taking my punishment and I am healed by His wounds, healed from the very wounds of sin. I receive Your forgiveness for this sin in my life and I forgive myself for not trusting You.  I repent of holding and hiding myself from You, Father.  For not truly putting my all on the altar, for not being the living sacrifice that you ask, that you beg me to be in light of your great mercies.  I renounce the lies of the enemy that You are not safe, that You do not love me unconditionally, that I must please You somehow in order to deserve and receive Your love.  I renounce all the power of the enemy in my life because I held myself back from You. I tear down the stronghold of "protection" and of "hiding in myself".  I renounce all the sins of my ancestors in believing in these strongholds, of hiding themselves from You and thinking they were protecting themselves.  I renounce the stronghold of resisting the Holy Spirit and being "safe" and I renounce the sins of my ancestors in resisting Your Holy Spirit.  I yield myself totally to you, Jesus.  I offer myself up as a living sacrifice.  I release all these sins to the cross where the shed blood of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior cleanses me from all my sin.  I receive Your forgiveness and I receive Your total love and acceptance of me just as I am.  I forgive myself for withholding myself from You and from my husband.  I receive the life of Christ, the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the unfailing love of Abba, my daddy.  I receive the freedom to be myself, the person You created me to be, the real authentic Debbie.  Alive to God!  I surrender my whole self, my body, my dreams, my desires, my plans, my life to my God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  My all truly is on the altar of His love.