Thursday, May 20, 2010

A New Life

Painting by Brian Jekel

Living at the end of one season and the beginning of a new season presents a new life. We are now at that place. The end of the former and the beginning of the next. At the onset of this season of transition all of us were apprehensive and fearful. God's word encourages us continually, "Do not be afraid!". Even so, we do fall into that pit and climb out once again only to fall back into it a day or two later. This is the human condition, also perhaps this can be found under the category of "working out your salvation with fear and trembling".

Sometime this week I stopped looking at "what's next" as a dismal prospect (no matter what) and began to become joyful and encouraged that we are standing at the Crossroads of Opportunities. Instead of feeling dread, I began to feel excitement! I lied to a man I witnessed to (I'm sorry to say). I was trying to encourage this man who is utterly defeated and discouraged and feeling as though God has completely forgotten him (he has been unemployed since last September). I told him (here's the lie) that my "dearest prayer to the LORD is 'what now, my Love?'". That should be the truth. Not just for me but for any one of us who call ourselves by His holy name! I have said that to the Lord before in prayer but it is not my "dearest prayer". That part was not true. I wish it were true! Oh, that I trusted Him with such reverent, joy-filled emotion. Not so. Sorry to say. It's not so.

However, here is the current state of affairs at Fort Morris. Rod, still has not been able to secure a job. (That's not good.) We have begun to dip into our savings. (That is good and bad. Bad: because I, like a protective mother hen, DO NOT WANT to get myself off that nest egg. Good: because we do have a nest egg available to us.) Rod felt the LORD told him to "Take care of your Dad, and I will take care of your family." Dear Kert is having some serious health issues. His care is daily. Not full time, yet. But, he needs daily attending to. Rod could not be able to do this if he still worked full time. (See why the door closed? We do.)

Secondly, the daughters both go to an expensive private school. Even though Rachel's education has been graciously paid for by my father (God rest his generous soul), Gracie's has not. (I think this makes my Dad sound bad for providing for one of my children and not the other, but to his defense...when he wrote out his desires for Rachel's education, Gracie's adoption was not yet finalized. He didn't know she was going to be ours forever. We did. But, he did not.)

We applied for financial aid to assist with Gracie's tuition expenses and we are so grateful to have received an offer from this outlet. However, when you have no income and what little you get from unemployment equals enough to pay just your living expenses and not a penny more, it seems obvious that there is not enough even to send her to ACA next year with that grant in place. This, my friends, sent me into a terrible lather for days. I have been in the pit of despair at the thought of my Gracie who loves her school more than any other child on earth (that I know of) may not be able to go next year. I have blubbered until my eyes were red and nearly swollen shut. I wore myself out crying one day so much that I had to go to bed at 7:30 at night. I schemed and crunched numbers and came to the grand conclusion that if we just gave up groceries each month, Gracie could go to school! (Oh, the depths of insanity are found in the pit of despair!)

Elizabeth Dickinson is a genius of sorts. She is my dear friend. She mothers and teaches two tiny children all day every day of her life. Her precious husband labors at his job of great responsibility for nearly fourteen hours a day, six or so days a week. She is alone with the children ages three almost four and one almost two. Her little ones are my Gracie's greatest playmates. Their mother speaks wisdom into my soul almost daily. She is one of those friends that we all need to reach down into the mire of our unrighteous, despicable, deceitful pity party and pluck us out with a word of truth.

"Home schooling is not the end of the world, Jenn. Home schooling Gracie is totally an option for you. Have you made ACA an idol? I think you have. Listen, she's going to be in KINDERGARTEN next year. You aren't going to be teaching her Calculus or American History. It's Kindergarten and it's only for a SEASON." I winced at that wretched word for a moment. At the time that she said the word SEASON it had become a wicked place to be for me.

But God, in all His infinite mercy towards me, used my friend's kind words to be a salve of sorts. It paved the road to emotional recovery from tragedy to anticipation. Homeschool Gracie? Homeschool Gracie. Home School Gracie. God, do You want me to home school Gracie? Are you telling me to do this? Are you using this "season" for lack of funds to back me into a corner and force me to homeschool Your girl? I looked up for a moment from the dark pit I had jumped into and considered the light of that possibility. Liz's son is already writing words. He is not yet four and he is BRILLIANT (like his parents)! Why? Is he gifted? Maybe. Maybe not. I don't know. All I do know is that his mother pours into his life from rising to bedtime. Every day.

I homeschooled Rachel for two years when I first got saved. Yanked her out of a life of public schooling and decided to use the Bible as our main curriculum. I am an uneducated woman. Perhaps that is not a fair statement. I have dropped out of college three times. I have what amounts to about three years of college. (Towards what end, I could never figure out...thus the dropouts.) But, I do know the Bible. I love God's word with all of my heart (no lie, no exaggeration) and all that it implies. I love memorizing His word and seeking out new truths. I love talking about it and I love telling others what God has shown me. And I especially love teaching my children God's word. I love hearing His words falling from their beautiful lips. My ministry here on this earth is to teach these children (that God has given me) to love Him with a loyal and willing heart. I have the opportunity to pour my love for Him into and over this child who claims she wants to be "a great woman ebangelist". (Those are her words, not mine and in her own dialect.)

Now on most days Gracie is very receptive (eager, even) to hear the Word. There have been days when I have tried to get her to sit her five year old self down and listen and she has resisted me with a scowl. (Not in the mood for it, I know.) And I have said to her, "Okay. That's fine. You don't want to be a great woman evangelist. That's okay. You don't have to be that." She came back with, "No, no, no. I do, Momma, I do want to be an ebangelist." I went in for the hard truth, "Well, then, you must fill your heart with the Word of God. You must know it inside and out and be able to feed it to others because a great evangelist delivers the word that saves. Any evangelist who does not first and foremost bring the word of God is only in it for pride and vanity and does not really care about God or man, at all." She sat down there willingly and received the lesson I offered.

This child is teachable. That is a blessing. I see more light as I fantasize about the wonderful possibilities that God is showing me. Does He want me to pull this lamb out of the flock of her peers and give her special attention at this time? That is the question I have posed to Him and now I await His answer. Will you pray, too? "What now, my Love? What would You have me to do for You?"

The fear and despair are gone now. I see the encouragement of our current situation before me. My friend showed me the truth of the situation. Asheville Christian Academy is a wonderful school, filled with teachers and staff who love our Lord Jesus Christ. It is exciting for me to think about Gracie growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord under these people and alongside her peers. And therein lies my only problem, really. Peers. This was the absolute downfall of my homeschooling experience with Rachel. She was so lonely. So lonely. Lonely enough to get mad. You know who she took all of her anger out on, don't you? Her teacher. Yes. It got ugly. And it stayed ugly until we finally all agreed that we needed to close our school and allow this very social child back into the pasture with the other kids. That was a good thing and a bad thing. I have watched my Rachel, now in high school, battle this social agenda that tries to rule her life. This facebook, these outings, these chats and emails and phone calls all lead to dangerous places spiritually speaking. I see her rise to heights above all jubilation at the expectancy of some event and then sink to tear-shedding depths of disappointment and disillusionment when some expectation is not met...not even close. This is the price you pay for socializing.

The real danger in homeschooling Gracie is that I could care less if I see anyone other than the closest people around me. Last Winter, I spent five days in this house...only leaving to drop children off and pick them up at the end of their day. I don't care about socializing. It's painful even, most of the time. Oh, yes, I plaster a huge smile on my face and endure it silently. But, given the choice, I'd rather not. . I am one of those people that is perfectly content to stay in my own little bubble and never surface unless forced to. Thankfully, my husband has the same problem. It's a match made in heaven. So, the social aspect of homeschooling is really the only problem I foresee. I will have to change my ways and take my girl out. She will HAVE to have some outings. She has the same social disorder my Rachel has. She has to talk to anyone and everyone all the time. I have begged her to stop talking to strangers. "I like your dog!" People smile at her and say, "Thank you." She is a polite child, "You're welcome!" She dances gaily on as the person walks by with their entire face pierced and their pitbull reigned in closely. (Do you see how God has given her this desire to be an evangelist. She loves EVERYONE, just like HE does!)

I need to close now. Thank you for sticking it out with me this far. I don't know that God is calling me to homeschool Gracie. If He is, then I will. I need to hear Him say so. I need to see the finances appear to send her to ACA, as well, if that is His desire for her. Either way, though, thanks to Liz, I can live with it. I will delight in whatever He chooses. (I won't delight in it if He asks me to put her into public school. I just cannot lie about that. So, LORD, please, please, please don't ask me to do that. Anything, LORD, but that! This is Asheville after all. Every sinful behavior is absolutely celebrated and rejoiced over and poured out onto the littlest members of our community and then they splash all the photos over the front page of the newspaper to declare to the world how "forward" we are in our "thinking". Help us, dear Jesus. Save us now!)

There's a new life on the horizon. I'd be remiss for not sharing this fabulous word the Lord gave me this morning. And I leave you with it:

"And therefore the Lord (earnestly) waits (expecting, looking, and longing) to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who (earnestly) wait for Him (for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship)!

O people who dwell in Zion at Jerusalem, you will weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.

And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide Himself any more, but your eyes will constantly behold your Teacher.

And your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way; walk in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left."

Isaiah 30:18-21 AMP

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The LORD is my Shepherd...

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His names's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Psalm 23

I have been whispering these words to myself for days now. I know they're true. I need to hear them and remind myself of those great promises over and over and over. God knows what we need and when. I just noticed in my Bible there is a scripture reference next to the first verse of Psalm 23. This referenced verse is what Pastor Mike Brown preached on this morning; "And my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

The title of his message was, "How to over come economic downturn" or "How to receive God's provision". I am denial about living the actuality of the first so I like the second title better. Pastor Mike gave us three points to remember about Philippians 4:19...first, don't be passive about this verse. Present your specific need to God and do it with expectancy - believe your need will be filled. Don't let your need distract your view of God. (Liz, are we doing this?) Are we letting our need distract our view of God? Remember that ALL things are possible with God! Keep in mind that fabulous promise in Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."

The second thing to remember about waiting on our need to be filled is: REFUSE TO FEAR! Pastor Mike declared this simple truth: fear produces NOTHING. Worry produces NOTHING. When you're choosing the right spiritual things in life then you're setting spiritual law in motion. Sowing brings reaping. If you sow honor, godliness and peace you'll reap them. If you sow dishonor, ungodliness and strife you will reap them. Honor God while you wait for your provision.

Psalm 55:16-17 says, "As for me, I will call upon God and the LORD shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice." Verse 22 adds, "Cast your burden on the LORD and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved."
Sometimes I don't feel very righteous. Pastor Mike read my mind, "YOU are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, if you belong to HIM!" He pointed at us with the fire of heaven in his voice.

He continued by reminding us that when we get into fear we get into torment. 1 John 4:18 teaches us that "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment." Following after the thread of fear leads us to the land of doubt. But, the LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, not on a bed of hot coals. He leads me beside the still waters, not throw me down a torrential waterfall. Amen. So, Pastor Mike, said, "Be confident and refuse to fear as you make your requests known to God."

The third thing to practice in order to receive God's provision is to know His covenant promises. The Bible is filled with promises from the loving God of all to His chosen people. From Genesis to Revelation they're all there. One promise after another. Psalm 23 is six verses of promises for me. I especially like verse four, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me." I smile to myself, even laugh out loud with God about this verse. He has given me His Rod. My Rod. My Rod comforts me. He did just that this morning with what the LORD was showing him in his Bible study. "For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." Philippians 2:13. Rod said, "God is working in us to do His will."

Needless to say, we left Crossroads Assembly of God this morning refreshed with the encouraging word settling down in its rightful place. I am so grateful for His word. I am relieved that as Pastor Mike put it, "every season of suffering has an expiration date". A year from now we may not even remember the dire stress of the current trials we are going through today. God promises, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." I love that.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Daddy, am I going to hell?"

These troubled words tumbled off of Gracie's lips last night after her Bible study and Devotion with Rod. He kind of laughed out loud and asked her a question, "Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? Have you asked Him to forgive you for your sins?" She smiled brightly, "Yes, of course!" He finished, "Then, you're not going to hell. Now, goodnight, I love you." He flipped off the light and began to close her door. Her small voice raised from the down comforter. "Are you going to hell?" He laughed again, "Gracie, you know I love Jesus. No, of course, I'm not going to hell. Now, goodnight. I love you."

He came into the bedroom and asked, "Did you just hear all that?" He had an incredulous look on his face. I said, "It's good. It means she doesn't yet understand the gospel. She's giving you feedback on her spiritual condition without realizing it. Now, you know how to proceed with training her. She's the one who wants to be "a great woman evangelist". He still seemed troubled by it. "But, Jenn, how could she not know?" I said, "Rod, she's five. She needs assurance of her salvation. She needs to understand the scriptures. She'll get there. It's okay."

Gracie sings her own made up songs to God on a regular, if not daily, basis. And then she pounds away on her red lacquer upright baby piano as she belts out "O, God, You are my God and I will ever praise You! I will seek You in the morning and I will learn to walk in Your way-a-ays and step by step You'll lead me and I will follow You all of my days!" I have to admit it gives me great joy to hear her worship the Lord like this. She loves that song. She sings that song so much that I have it rolling around in my head constantly. (Praise God for Rich Mullins!)

Once upon a time Pastor Dennis McCutcheon made a prophetic remark to me when Gracie was just around two or three years old..."That girl is gonna be the lead singer in a Pentecostal worship band." I accepted it that moment as a Word from the Lord. Like Mary, "I treasured that thing in my heart". And I still do.

Many people who know Gracie think that I put this love for Jesus Christ into her. I disagree completely. It seems to me that she came home from the hospital with it. We met her on her one month birthday. She was four pounds and two ounces and for all appearances, abandoned by her mother. The foster care system had custody of her and we felt like we had prayed her into existence. This is NOT true, but it was something we felt. Seems like "everyone" knows our story. But, this is the world wide web and perhaps someone will read this post who doesn't know.

Rod and I have not been able to have children of our own. We became licensed foster parents. We prayed over a piece of paper that had these words hand-written in pencil "Please let us adopt a healthy baby girl born to a drug addicted mother." We wrote that prayer down on a Wednesday night and the following Tuesday afternoon we got the call to go up to the intensive care unit for premature infants at the hospital. The baby was one month old, tiny but healthy and beautiful. The doctors were baffled. The mother had tested positive for numerous illegal drugs and also for three different STD's. Gracie was perfectly clean. God had answered our prayer in seven days!

She was never fussy. She slept 12 hours a day for the first three years of her life. What a total blessing this child was. And now, she's blessing me with her worship of the Lord. When my father died I was beside myself with grief and this little four year old girl gently took my hand in hers and encouraged me that "Grampa Bob is with Jesus. Don't cry Momma. He's with Jesus, now." That child's words soothed me instantly. She was right. It was true.

I saw this painting on the internet this morning. It is by David J. Negron. I thought of Gracie and Jesus hanging out in her bedroom. Psalm 22:3 says, "But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel." And "From the lips of children and infants You have ordained praise..." from Psalm 8:2 comes to mind.

This young daughter of ours has asked us to pray that "God would let me be a great woman ebangelist" (that's how she pronounces it). We don't, either one of us, know where she came up with it. But, she's already there. Woman, no. But great evangelist, YES. And isn't it just like Satan to bring doubt even to a little five year old girl who knows JESUS is her Savior and is making Him her LORD?

Do you wonder, "Daddy, am I going to hell?" Please, don't wonder. You can know. There is no other person who could be a Savior other than Jesus Christ. He was without sin. And only a sinless, spotless sacrifice is acceptable to God. He was born through the Divine mix of a virgin womb fertilized by the HOLY Spirit. He is NOT made from sinful seed of man. Man's sin-gene did not initiate His beginning. Therefore, Jesus was born HOLY. He lived the sinless life. He died a sinner's death. Which sinner? Me. You. My mom. Yours. Gracie's, Rachel's, Rod's. All of us. That death He died on the cross was the only Supernatural exchange that could ever be acceptable to pay the penalty for our sins.

We, as believers, accept what Jesus Christ did on the cross (allow Himself to be murdered though He was innocent) by faith. We accept his resurrection by faith. We believe Him when He says, "I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Me." We follow Him daily and believe Him when He says, "If you love Me you will obey My commandments." We don't obey Him because it's part of the bargain. We obey because we love Him. Loving Him is essential to Him knowing you. If you don't love Him, then that is where your problem is.

My mother, when she got saved around six years ago...she read the Bible in four months. She wanted to believe it. She said with her lips, "Okay, Jesus. I believe You are Who You say You are, but I don't love You. If You want me to love You, You're gonna have to make me." And He did.

Saddest verses in the Bible; Matthew 7:21-23..."Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then, I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers." It's disquieting, isn't it. The prospect of Jesus telling you that He doesn't know you and shooing you away from the alternative place (hell). He tells those "evildoers" "I never knew you". This bothered me for quite some time. "Does He know me???" Does He know me? How will I know if He knows me? Will it be some terribly big drama at heaven's gate?"

I found this scripture in 1 Corinthians 8:3 and it brought me great comfort. "But, the man who loves God is known by God." It was the answer I sought. That is how you can know that God will welcome you "home". He knows who loves Him. Don't you? You know who loves you and who doesn't, right? It's simple, isn't it? When my mom first told me about her crass prayer to the Lord that day in the beginning of her walk I was appalled. But, God is big enough to take it. I was new in the faith, too.

You need another assurance of salvation scripture to hang on to? I'll give you this goes together: 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." That scripture was written to BELIEVERS in JESUS CHRIST. So, we blow it. Sometimes we think it's a little thing. Sometimes we think it's a big thing. Sin is sin with God. Let's just keep it simple. When we sin, confess...that's our part (not to a man, priest, etc.) but confess to God and do it when you're ready to really be humble. Sometimes we blow it and we're still in the hard-heart stage. We know we need to confess but we're just not ready yet. So, wait. Ask Him to forgive you with a softened heart. You've transgressed against the God of the Whole Universe Who gives you life, breath, vision, loved ones...all that stuff you appreciate. I'm not advocating that you wait like for days. I'm saying, give it a few moments. Invite the Holy Spirit to tenderize you and then when you feel sickened about what you did (no matter how big or small) that's when you know you're ready.

There's a lot about God in that verse. First, His character is mentioned: He is faithful and He is just. That's good. You want a Faithful and Just Lord. Not a wishy-washy bribeable, he winks at sin Lord. Faithful and Just. And also the verse says what His part is in this whole deal...we confess...He forgives and cleanses. Wow! All we do is confess and God, Who is faithful and just will forgive us and cleanse us from (how much?) ALL unrighteousness. Really, all? Pastor Bob Wilson loves to ask his flock, "How much is ALL, anyway?" Dear, all is ALL.

Here are the other verses...1 John 5:10b-13, "...Anyone who does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given him about His Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God."

Please, listen. God is not a liar. His will (as mentioned in Matthew 7:21) is that everyone would believe in His Son, Whom He sent. (Look it up in John chapters 14-17). That is God's first and foremost will for everyone alive! Now, if you do believe, then you can have assurance of salvation: Love Jesus. Confess when you need to. Believe God. He says you can KNOW that you have eternal life and that you should CONTINUE to believe in Jesus.

Now, I have to go teach these things to Gracie. Don't ask Daddy if you're going to hell. Just read the Bible and dare to believe Him. And you won't go to hell!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Just Pray

Today is the National Day of Prayer. Whoever you are, wherever you are in this Country, today is the day that is set apart for us to cry out to God in prayer.

The prayer that God accepts is one that comes from a humble heart; a contrite heart. It is a heart that understands how limited, how undeserving, how powerless we are and how in need, in desperate need we are of God's mercy. We need Him for everything...for life, breath, health, safety, provision and salvation. We forget these things or perhaps take them for granted on a regular basis. Especially the breathing part.

Jesus taught this parable, "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God I thank You that I am not like other men - extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I posses.' And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other, for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:10-14

So, our correct humble acknowledgment of ourself is essential to God hearing our prayer. He has given us everything we have, why should He be impressed when we recount those things back to Him as though we had something to do with it?

I've heard people ask (and have asked the question myself long ago), "If God knows what we are going to pray before we ask, then why do we pray at all?" After all, Jesus said that our Heavenly Father knows what we will ask before we ask it. Here's what I discovered: Jesus needed to pray and God wants fellowship with us. Those are two separate issues. God wants to hear from us. What if you only got a text message from your loved one and you never got to hear their voice? What if you couldn't hear the REAL meaning behind the message on the screen? What if you couldn't discern the love in their hearts from letters on a page? Could you ever really KNOW they truly loved you? We were made in the image of God, in His very likeness. We desire heartfelt communication because our Creator desires it Himself. We are like Him in that manner. He designed us for communication, not only with each other, but also, just as importantly, with Him.

Think of God visiting Adam in the garden. He walked with him in the cool of the day. Before the fall, the companionship between Creator and Created was perfect and in place. Sin erected a chasm and God promised a bridge. He placed a warring, dangerous angel to guard the tree of life, lest his dearly Beloved children should eat from it in their fallen state and be forever removed from redemption. Now, that's a God who wants His children. Don't you want to talk to Him? Don't you want to tell Him everything you're feeling? In Isaiah the Lord is referred to as the Counselor. Why would you entertain the idea of going to fallen man for counsel when the God of your whole life is there for you 24/7 and absolutely free? And He tells us again and again to come to Him and cast all our care upon Him because He cares for us. That's prayer. A human counselor cannot fix your problems, God can.

IF Jesus needed to pray, then how much more do we? Think that through for a moment. It was my main inspiration for purchasing the painting at the top of the page. My Lord and Savior needed to pray. He was so desperately in prayer at one point that he sweat blood. I've never been that desperate in prayer. But, no one will ever ask me to do what He was asked to do. He was going through the motions in the garden that night. It was the beginning for Him. And my Savior begged His Daddy, please, let it pass from Me. If there's any other way, please, make it happen. I don't want to go through with it, but Father, I will, if You will it.

God the Father said "No" to His Son's plea there in Gethsemane. He said No because of you and me. He knew there was no other way for redemption for any of His other children to happen. He wants us all to be restored unto Himself. And, Oh, I am so glad my Jesus is obedient, even unto death. Aren't you?

Today is a day to pray. So, is tomorrow, and the next day and the one after that. It is a Divine and Supernatural gift to be able to communicate with our God and be heard. It is a precious offering and a wonderful benefit to being His.

Just pray. He's listening.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Quinoa Success and a decadent Coffee Date!

I told you that the Quinoa issue would be revisited. I had to get crafty to get my family to down this stuff. The other night I mixed a half cup of rinsed Quinoa with a half cup of rice and sauteed them in olive oil for five minutes. I added a cup or so of chicken broth, a tablespoon of butter and cooked it up to a beautiful perfection. I fried a couple pieces of real bacon (not that Turkey stuff I feed my people each morning). I crumbled the bacon and added it with salt and pepper to the Quinoa-rice mixture.

I served this up with green beans sauteed in butter and a peppercorn pork loin I baked in the oven. Rod said, "Jenn, this is really delicious." Rachel and Gracie ate it up and asked if there was more. I doled out that last bit of what was left and my friends, this is what is now known as Quinoa Success!! (I do love a challenge!)

And now about that decadent coffee date...Rod and I are pretty dedicated to our weekly coffee date. We have been at this now for around two years. Our marriage has flourished since we began taking one night a week after dinner with the girls and heading out on the town alone somewhere for coffee and conversation. Over the years, this has turned into a walk, coffee and conversation and usually a nice drive around town. Monday night we went for a walk at our favorite park first. Then, we decided we would take our drive next and finally, we decided to stop for coffee. Both of us were craving a sweet treat to go with the java. This is not the norm for me. I usually watch as Rod eats one of those vile (stale, hard, tasteless) "Old-fashioned" cold doughnuts from Starbucks with his Decaf Americano. Bless his heart, he knows not to offer me a bite anymore. I think after fifty "no-thank-yous" he's finally got the picture. YICK!

But, the thought of a GOOD doughnut on Monday night was quite appealing to me so I suggested we go out to West Asheville and have our coffee at Krispy Kreme. You see that picture at the top of the page? You see that doughnut that's not the chocolate one? That is Krispy Kreme's new "S'mores Campfire Treat" doughnut. Today is Wednesday. I have been trying hard to shake the thought of that delicious pastry ever since it crossed my lips on Monday night. It was stupendous, marvelous, amazing and I can't wait to have another one. Thank YOU, JESUS we don't live in West Asheville. Oh, Lord, I say, Hallelujah! I'd be as sick as a goose and as big as a house if we did. Please, go get one of these beauties and enjoy it before they stop making them. They really are worth the calories (however many of them there are...I don't know/care.)

So there we have Quinoa Success and a decadent Coffee Date! I keep thinking about this scripture verse to go with it:

"He has filled the hungry with good things..." Luke 1:53

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I can see...

This lovely painting is by Brian Jekel.

The oppression of darkness falls at odd times. Sometimes, no matter how close we are to our LORD, we are under the spell of it and we don't realize it's happening. This nasty phenomenon happened to Rod and me yesterday and lasted through much of the day.

Now for those of you who live in the Asheville area, wasn't yesterday just about the most beautiful day you can recall? The air was warm, the breeze was even warm, everything that was gray and black is now being overtaken with GREEN, glorious and wonderful! The dogwoods are full of flowers and the grass is littered with their beautiful blossoms. The robins, cardinals, sparrows, blue jays, mockingbirds, and even the elusive but gorgeous goldfinches were flittering all around us yesterday. The skies were a deep blue and nearly cloudless all day long. The sun shone brightly and for all of these things I've just mentioned our souls should have been refreshed by the goodness of God. Yet, we walked around in an ignorant stupor as though blind. Blind.

Think of this from Mark chapter eight..."Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when he had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him. He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, "I see men like trees walking." Then he put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly."

My favorite prayer is, "Jesus, save me." If I feel the oppression of the enemy coming on, I walk around saying it until the oppression lifts. That prayer requires KNOWING that I am being oppressed. On a day like could I be oppressed? And by seven o'clock in the evening I was thinking about Jack Daniels, and red, red wine and a benadryl. Me. I was thinking about those things as I listened to my Gracie splash around in the tub. I even spoke it out to Rod, who lay there next to me in the darkness of our room. He reminded us of our dear friend, William Mayhew's, profound reason for his continued sobriety, "And then what?". And then what? Yeah, I can get drunk or high and check out for awhile but when I sober up...all of my problems will still be there. Plus, I'll probably feel horrible physically and even more certain: spiritually.

My Savior hung there beaten to an unrecognizable pulp, bleeding and naked suffering unto death and for what? So, I can stop trusting Him when oppression comes? So, I can be a fairweather friend? Well, actually, yes, He would take me back if I did decide to check out for awhile. But, sometimes we forget. Yesterday, I felt like we were hidden from Him under a coconut shell in a game of hide and seek. I said, FELT LIKE. Feelings lie. Praise God, it's true.

I heard the faint voice of my husband rise to my ears in a memory, "Are you gonna trust God, or not? Is He a man that He can lie? Is God a liar, Jenn? Is HE? If you're gonna trust God, then trust Him and stop wallowing in fear! So, I'm asking you again, are you gonna trust God, or not?"

I'm doing Beth Moore's Esther Bible study. On Wednesday we watched the video session where she confided that our whole lives can be derailed by fear. She disclosed what the game of "What IF" really means: What I Fear...see that? What IF. What I fear. Then, she opened the truth and declared, "more than any other command from Genesis to Revelation, God and His messengers command us: DO NOT FEAR! DO NOT FEAR! DO NOT FEAR!" It's a command, not a suggestion.

By eight o'clock I put my little one to bed. Read her Bible story, the devotion and prayed over her in spite of the spiritual funk I was in. I kissed her sweet face goodnight and Rod and I made our way outside to enjoy the last bit of the gorgeous day the Lord had made. Then, we rejoiced and were glad in it.

He whispered to me, "I didn't leave, you know. I've got this all under control. Hang on and trust Me. Hang on. You can do this." I remembered His goodness to us: we're all well here, housed, clothed, fed and taken care of by His faithful, loving and gracious nail-scarred hand.

I said it again, only louder now, "Jesus, save me." And then He lifted the veil of darkness. He whispered, "I already have."

I can see.