Tuesday, June 30, 2009

An Easy Thing

Shut cabinet doors, both upper and lower. Shut all closet doors. Sit the laundry basket anywhere except in the floor. Slide dining room chairs back under the table when you get up. These were the unwritten rules at our house during the time that my niece, Jessie, lived with us. They sound sort of strange. However, they were necessary for her safety. Jessie has a rare, genetic eye disease called retinitus pigmentosis. She can only see what's right in front of her. Nothing out of the corner of her eyes. No field vision. Almost like looking through two empty paper towel rolls. Limited vision. Describes how I see God sometimes. His plan. His purpose. His working in my life. I speculate about how God can do the things that I ask Him to do. Like how can He save the lost? Family members for whom I've been praying. For years. And nothing has happened. As far as I can see. I'm skeptical about how God can change circumstances. In my life. In the lives of my friends and family. How can He provide a job for the one who just got laid off after working with a company for almost twenty years? In this standstill economy. How can He heal those who are sick? Sick unto death with cancer. How can He restore relationships? Husbands and wives who are discussing divorce. I don't see how God is going to handle all of these problems. But God sees. The salvation. The solution. I love what Elisha has to say about God's vision: This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 3:18a). When I see no way, God doesn't sweat it. He sees a way. He sees my lost loved ones. And yours. He hears our prayers for them. Loves them. Is drawing them to Him right now. He sees those who need jobs. Who need healing. Restoration. He loves them. With an everlasting love. Offers them hope. Eternal. Like me, do you suffer from limited vision when it comes to certain situations? Needs? People? Be encouraged. Our loving God sees the end from the beginning. Salvation. Provision. Healing. Restoration. Whatever our need. These things are easy in His eyes. Sweet dreams, Deb

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Underneath the Broom Tree

Elijah. Prophet of God. Man of God. Elijah's exploits: Face-to-face with wicked King Ahab, predicted a three-year drought for Israel. Hid by God and fed by ravens. Prayed and a widow's jug of oil and jar of flour lasted for three years. Prayed for the widow's dead son and God restored him to life. Taunted 450 false prophets and then had them killed after God consumed his sacrifice. Prayed for rain. And it came. Empowered by the power of God, he ran ahead of Ahab's horse-drawn chariot all the way from the top of Mt. Carmel to Jezreel. Not bad work for a Tishbite. From Gilead. Or for any of God's servants. But then Jezebel. Ahab's wife. Queen of Israel. Wicked woman. Wanton. Wayward. Sends a message to Elijah: You killed my prophets. You're head's gonna roll! By this time tomorrow, you'll be a dead man. How did Elijah take the news? Not too well. He ran from Jezebel. Headed straight to the desert. Ended up underneath the limbs of a broom tree. "I have had enough, Lord," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors" (1 Kings 19: 4b). What happened? How did he change from being one who ran ahead to someone who runs from? From being one willing to go out on a limb for God to being one hiding out under some limbs. Did God change? God didn't change. I think that Elijah--like many of us--became fearful. His focus got distorted. He felt overwhelmed. Felt that he was the only one serving God. Felt that God didn't understand the situation. Does this sound familiar to you? It sure does to me. Fear. Focus. Feelings. I can relate. When God doesn't do what I think that He should do. Like intervene on my behalf. Or for my loved ones. Like why did He let this happen in the first place. Like change my circumstances. Right now, please. I've done what Elijah did. Run away. Run to the desert. To a broom tree. Run from God. I'm so thankful that God heard Elijah us as he sat there. He encouraged Elijah. Told Elijah to go back the way that he had come. Gave him some new assignments. I'm so thankful that God hears us when we've had enough. Just want to give up. Things are way too much for us to handle. God encourages us. Through His word. Affirms that He's still in control. That we're still useful. Most of all, He assures us that we He's right there with us. Underneath the broom tree. But we don't have to stay there. He will help us get out of our desert. Back in union with Him. Sweet dreams, Deb

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Following the Leader

A herd of black cows. Twenty-five or thirty of them parade across the pasture. All following one solitary cow. Some in single file. Some in groups of three or four. Some meander in typical bovine-like fashion. Except the stragglers at the back of the line. Frisky. Energetic. Must have been the young ones. And not the lead cow. She walks with purpose. Like she knows what she's doing. Where she's going. To find shade from the sizzling sun. To find water to drink. She never looks back to see if the others are following. Head bobs forward. Her whole body thurst into arriving at her designation. I don't know if this leader knew what she was doing or not. Frankly, I've never seen a cow move like that. Watching these animals made me wonder about the herd. Did they know who they followed? Their destination? Their purpose? I began to ask myself a few questions: Who or what do I follow? Do I know my leader? Do I follow blindly? Or with purpose? Jesus set up some criteria for following the leader. Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24). In order to follow Him, we have to deny ourselves. Deny myself? Jesus can't be serious about that can He? I mean we live in a culture that encourages us to accumulate things for ourselves. Tons of things. Whether we need them or not. Just spend. Indulge. We're worth it of course. And the more things that we have, the more we're worth. Right? Well, I can't speak for you, but I can tell you that I've paid dearly. On more than one occasion. For believing this lie. The truth is that when we deny ourselves--put Christ first--we find a purpose that we'll never find in our possessions. Jesus also said that we have to take up our cross if we want to follow Him. Carry my cross! What's He talking about? I thought. You know. That He's the One who carried the cross. My cross. Yes, He did carry our cross. Was nailed to it so that we could have an intimate, eternal relationship with Him. Yet there's still a cross for us to carry. With His help. In His strength. As He abides in us. As we abide in Him. The world. Our culture. Cannot understand this concept. Ever. But that's no reason for us to excuse ourselves from obeying this command. In carrying our cross, we truly come to know Christ. His love. His truth. That He will never leave us or forsake us. Only as we deny ourselves and take up our cross, can we follow Him. With purpose. With passion. Jesus Christ. Our Savior. Our Lord. Master. The true leader. Sweet dreams, Deb

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fresh Fruit

From pick-up trucks loaded with sweet corn, not yet shucked. To chocolate mint that prefers morning sun. Don't worry about it melting from the heat. To gizzard plants. The foliage--dark brown. Fuschia-colored stems. Delicate, pink veins that run throughout the leaves. An unexpected combination of beauty. The Farmer's Market in Raleigh has it all. Spices. Herbs. Flowers. Fresh vegetables and fruit. Our mission while there. To find fruit. Red, juicy tomatoes. Not shipped from across the country. Not imported. Not from a greenhouse. We wanted home grown. In the dirt. The kind of tomatoes that if you're not careful when you take a bite, the juice will drip down your chin. We sampled some tomatoes. No fork. No napkin. Just stood in the aisle eating. Juice running from our fingers to our elbows. Wiped our hands on the bottom of our tee-shirts. Mission accomplished: we found the fruit. Biblical writers often discuss fruit. We read about the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We're told that we should produce fruit. In Hebrews, Paul instructs us to offer fruit as a sacrifice. He writes: Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess His name. (13:15) I don't know about you, but two words in this verse scare me. I'm ok with praising God. Offering the fruit of my lips when I feel like it. When it's convenient. When things go well with me. But to praise Him continually and to offer praise as a sacrifice. That's different. Much more difficult. Praise Him always? Even if I don't like my circumstances. Even if He doesn't act according to my agenda. Offer praise as a sacrifice? That's heavy. And hard. I mean give up something just so I can praise God. Like give up my pride. My sense of having been done wrong by Him. Or by others. Even give up my hurting heart. Yes. That's exactly what He wants. From me. And from you. He searches for that special fruit. The kind grown in His field. By His Spirit. The kind that lasts. This sacrifice of praise. Fresh. Fruit from our lips. Sweet dreams, Deb

Friday, June 19, 2009

To My Darling Husband

Ten things that I love about you: 1. Your good looks 2. Your charm 3. Your sense of humor 4. The way you hold my hand 5. The way you hug me...for no reason 6. The way you hold me...like you don't ever want to let me go 7. The way that you protect me 8. How you're the best daddy in the whole world 9. How you're the best husband ever 10. How you're my dream come true Happpy Father's Day! I love you. Sweet dreams, Deb

Thursday, June 18, 2009


"Abba." The young woman referred to God as Abba when she prayed. Abba means "daddy." I couldn't imagine doing such a thing. So, what was she thinking? How rude. Disrespectful. Arrogant. I mean I knew God. Back when I was a little girl, I gave my heart to Him. Because God is God. Father. Holy. Righteous. But "daddy?" Surely calling the Lord God Almighty "Abba" was over the top. Bordering on the unpardonable. Years later, I realized that I envied that woman and the way she so naturally called my Loving God "Daddy." But God worked with me. Loved me. Showed me mercy. Grace. Compassion. That I didn't deserve. He just kept right on, though. Loving His little girl. I watched as my darling husband loved our children. Unselfishly. Sacrificiously. Unconditionally. Still does. Always will. God showed me that's how a daddy should love. That's how He loves. Finally, I realized the real reason that I couldn't say "Abba." Fear. I was afraid of Him. I guess fear of my earthly daddy carried over to God. In some kind of twisted thinking. I embraced the truth of Psalm 25:15: My eyes are ever on the Lord for only He will release my feet from the snare. God wanted me to look at Him. Not at all of my fears. When I focused on Him, He released me from the snare. From the bondage of the past. Because Jesus took all of my sin and all of my fear to the cross, I can call my God. The Holy One. The Righteous One. I can call Him. "Abba." "Daddy." Sweet dreams, Deb

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Baby Boy

I didn't shed a single tear when Daddy died. So different from when Mama. Then, I thought that I'd never stop crying. I was always scared of Daddy. His belt. The beatings that he could give. Without provocation, it seemed. So, I tried to be good. Did my homework. Did my chores. Stayed out of trouble. Stayed in my room and read. Stayed out of his way. Daddy worked hard. Even when he was a boy. Quit school in seventh grade to help his poppa farm. He took care of us, too. We always had food. And clothes. And shoes. Not many extras, though. Not much affection. Not much attention. One time when I was a little girl, he showed somebody--I don't remember who--something that I had written. He said, "She's got good handwriting." I don't think that I'll ever forget that compliment. Daddy got mad at me right before my Senior year. Didn't come to watch me cheer. Didn't attend my high school graduation. Didn't say a word to me for over a year. Then one spring not too long after that, he left Mama. Just walked out. On all of us. He could have been decent. Asked her for a divorce. She would have. But he didn't. He left. Scandalously. Broke Mama's heart. She forgave him, though. One time, I asked her, "Mama, how could you forgive him? After all of the awful things that he's done. How could you?" She said, "I learned a long time ago that me hating him wasn't hurting him a bit. But if I didn't let go of that hate and forgive him, it was gonna end up killing me." I guess I'm not like Mama. I mean he didn't know my children. He didn't even recognize me when he saw me at my uncle's funeral. I said, "Hello, Daddy." He just looked at me. With this astonished expression on his face. He said, "Well, who are you?" How could he not know me? Not know that the blue eyes looking straight into his were his own. But when he got sick, I tried to help him. Cleaned his house. Took him food. Drove him into Montgomery to the cancer center. That's what Mama wanted me to do. So, I did. During that time, Daddy told me. "I love you." I'd never heard those words from him before. I told him that I loved him. I meant it. I just didn't feel it. Then his other family--I use that word loosely-- came back into the picture. My brothers and sisters and I left him alone. At his request. Daddy spent the last two years of his life in a nursing home. I visited him once. To tell him about Mama. He didn't seem to care much. Made me angry. My cousin preached Daddy's funeral. Talked honestly about Daddy and our family and how things were. Talked about how my daddy while not the youngest child was the youngest of his brothers. And on this day we were sending a baby boy home to heaven. Something about that image of Daddy being a baby boy. Being somebody's baby boy. His mother's. God's. Moved me. But not to tears. Not pretty. Just true. Maybe someday. Sweet dreams, Deb

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Little Praise

Today, I just want to praise Him. Give Him thanks for what He's done for me. For what He continues to do. How He gave me a dream. How He's faithful to His word and to His promises. How He's working on my behalf right now. In reality, I should never have become a dreamer. Too practical. Too hung up on trying to be perfect. Too many problems. Flaws. Fears. Failures. But God, somehow, sees potential and promise. In me. In you. So, He makes some promises to assure us. If we give Him all that we've got, He promises to give us all that He's got. What an exchange! Our flaws. For His Son's righteousness. Our fears. For His strength. Our failures. For His perfect plan. That's why I want to give Him. Praise. Thanks. Worship. Obedience. Sweet dreams, Deb

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


"Turn right. Turn right." My GPS talks to me. But I can't turn right. I'm in the left lane, trying to work my way over. Too much traffic. No one will let me in. Absolutely no one. The GPS tries again. "Turn right, Now." I'd love to turn right now. I can't. "Turn Right! TURN RIGHT NOW!" I know I hear an attitude in her automated voice. I miss the exit. I have a lousy sense of direction. Still, I'm somewhat skeptical about trusting this sassy little device. Much prefer to have someone--my darling husband, for example--to sit beside me and help me to find my way. Or even better, chauffeur me to my destination. Sometimes, I find that it's just as hard for me to trust God and to follow His directions as it is for me to trust the gadget in my car. Is God reliable? Can I trust Him to get me to where He's called me to go? Yes! We can rely on God. His knowledge. His wisdom. His plan. His way. His word. Yes! We can trust God. His love for us. That He knows when we go out and when we come back in. He knows us. When we sit. When we stand. He knows exactly what He's called us to do and where He wants us to go. God doesn't give bad directions. David writes, "As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the the Lord is flawless," (2 Samuel 22: 31a). He won't lead us down a road that He can't handle. We learn this truth daily as we read His word. Study His word. Meditate on His word. Our God is perfect. Holy. Righteous. Just. He does not disapoint. When we miss our exit or turn or way, He goes to the ends of the earth to find us. When we trust God's way and God's. word, we will be like the people about whom Isaiah refers. "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "'This is the way; walk in it'" (30:21). He will get us to our destination. Sweet dreams, Deb

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Guard Your Heart

Running along River Birch Circle this morning, I noticed something strange. Emerging from a tiny aperture in the asphalt. A single strand of weeds stretching for sunlight. Only a sliver of space. Without the weeds' testimony, invisible and undetectable. A sliver. All that satan needs to launch a frontal attack. More than enough room for him to land a few fiery darts into our heart. We know the heart's nature. Deceitful. Vascillating. Wandering. And if we're honest, at times stone-cold. Evidence that we're vulnerable. We need protection. But, how? Consider Solomon's instruction, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" Proverbs 4:23. How can we prevent ourselves from being caught off guard? Our precious Lord is the only One who can help us. We must go to the One who searches, examines, and tests our hearts. Gently--a few at a time--like a loving father, He will reveal our weak points. Next, we confess and repent. We don't have to fear God. He wants to forgive and to restore us. He has our best interests in His heart. Then we ask Him to circumcise our heart. To give us a heart like His. To see, hear, and love like He does. Our loving God will not fail us. He can't wait for us to ask Him for His help. His resources. His strength. His promises. His protection. The evil one will probably always probe, searching for silver pinpoints. But he's going to find something strange. Hearts stretching toward the Son. Make a much tougher target! Sweet dreams, Deb

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Don't Swim Alone

We saw dolphins swimming. Every morning. Early. From the balcony of Big Sis's condo. They glide through the water. Rising to the surface. Fins showing shiny and slick. Smooth dive under. Back to the top. Sensational swimmers. Spectacular show. Once, we counted eight dolphins. They travel in schools or pods for protection from predators. Their motto: Never swim alone. Sounds like good advice for us as well. Never attempt to walk in faith alone. Whenever we try to go it alone--without God--without Christian friends--we fall prey to the enemy of our souls. That roaring lion. That roaming lion. That liar. The one who says, "You don't need God to help you in this situation. Don't bother God with the little things. You can handle this one by yourself." Yeah, right. Or maybe he says, "Aw, come on now. Don't dump on your friends again. They're busy. They have problems of their own. Don't drag them into your junk. Just be a big girl." Anytime that we hear those lies, let's remember the dolphins. The Creator designed these animals to rely on each other. And on Him. He made us in a similar fashion. We need one another. And we need Him. Galatians 6:2 helps us to understand God's design. "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." What a precious plan. A perfect plan. God helps us. We're to help each other. Like dolphins, we weren't created to make it efficaciously. Our Savior died so that we would never have to do life by ourselves. He sent His Holy Spirit to teach us. Fill us. Encourage us. Our precious Savior also says that it's ok for us to need the support of others. It's ok to ask for help. And to ask without being embarassed. Because He created us to be dependent on Him and to desire the support of other believers. I'm afraid to swim the tide alone. I need Him. And you. Sweet dreams, Deb Why