Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas

The play is now over and yet the messages keep coming. Through a week of sheer exhaustion, I have wept and wept tears of joy. My heart is so full I don't know what to do, but to praise Him and praise him some more, and weep and weep some more.

I grew up in tune with the church-year calendar. At Christmas, you celebrate Jesus' birth. At Easter, you mourn his death and celebrate His resurrection. Easter has always had more spiritual significance to me. I am always left humbled by His death for me, but I am made new in His resurrection just as spring is blooming forth with new life. The crocuses are popping through ground, the magnolia trees are exploding with their all-too-fleeting beauty. Certainly Easter has always had more of an impact than Christmas.

But this year, something has drastically changed. I can only believe that this was God's purpose in making me write the play. I needed to grasp this lesson. I needed to make the Nativity real to me. As much as I believe it was meant for others, I now know it was for me, too.

So bear with me as I share this new message, this new revelation. Maybe some of you have captured this lesson long ago. To me, it is new and exciting and it has completely changed the significance of the Christmas Story in my mind and heart. May it be for you also.

We are called to be every person in the Nativity story. Each character serves as a model for what is expected of us in our Christian walk. It is so easy to dismiss each one's significance. But now, more than ever, I get so annoyed when I see a Nativity figurine set missing shepherds or missing kings, or worse - missing Joseph. Each one was written about in the Bible. Each one was there for a purpose. Each one of them represents us.

Let's begin with Mary.

Luke 1:26-38 -
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord {is} with you." But she was very perplexed at {this} statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. "For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Mary is our model for Faith. How many of us has God spoken to, and we respond, "Surely you don't mean me, Lord." How many of us use excuses to get out of doing what God is asking us to do. God told me to write this play. There was a little kicking and screaming, but I had to submit to Him this time. I am the better for it. There are countless things that I have refused God, or am still procrastinating. Mary reminds us that when God speaks, we should listen. When He says "Do," we do; when He says "Go," we go. To strive to have this perfect Faith should be each of our goals in our walk.

Then there is Joseph.

Matthew 1:18-25
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US." And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

Joseph is another testament of Faith, but in a different way. To me, Joseph represents "the support network," as I like to call it. Our friends, our family and church members, even our spouses have stood by when we have been called to do something. They may have doubted us. They may have tried to talk us out of doing what God called us to do. We, ourselves, may have been in a position where God called someone else to do something and we doubted them. People tried to talk me out of doing this play, but I knew there was something greater at work. Let us be Joseph and remember his ability to have Faith, even though he and Mary were in a position to be targets of gossip and scorn. Let us remember to support those called to ministries, even when we don't understand.

Why the Shepherds?

Luke 2:8-20
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

We are to be the Shepherds, making the story known. We have been called to God through some miracle, just as the Angels chose Shepherds, of all people. We are to be guardians of "our flock," being sure that none of them should go astray. We are to bring more smelly sheep into God's presence, so that they too, may witness all that God has done for us and what's more - find what it is that God will have us do for Him. That brings us to:

The Kings, the Magi, the Three Wise Men

Matthew 2:1-8
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 'AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.' " Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him."

After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

We are called to be like the Kings. We are to continually seek Him. We are to find our way to Him and present our gifts. Our gifts are the talents God has bestowed on us. We are to use these gifts to reflect the Glory back on Him.

We can be the Angels, woven throughout the Christmas Story - proclaiming His message, just as the Shepherds, using the words God gives us to speak into the lives of others.

That stable in which Jesus was born, with all those smelly animals, represents the world and we the people in this world. We were not worthy to be in the Lord's presence, but He came. The Nativity story shows us all the work we have to do.

We must have Mary's Faith.
We must support one another, like Joseph.
We must proclaim the good news, guide His sheep to Him and guard His sheep in Him like the Shepherds.
We must present our gifts to Him, just as the Kings did.
We must continue to let God use us, like the Angels.

And beyond all of that, let us not forget that Christmas is not just a time of celebrating Jesus' birth. That is only half of the message. He was born to die for us. As my favorite Choir song says so eloquently, "He came all this way to make your heart His home."

May your hearts be filled with awe and wonder for our God, Jesus Christ, this Christmas.

Thank you for reading my musings and meanderings. Thank you for taking the time to comment and encourage me.

Merry Christmas to all of you.


Friday, December 15, 2006


Tonight, I cried until I ached.

For the first time in my life the reality of what Christ did for me and what He's calling me to be has brought me to the point of speechlessness. I can't even find the words to express the awe I have for Him. I can't even express the praise my heart feels for Him. It is so overwhelming, I just cry. And moan. And cry some more.

It is an emptying out of the old Self. I feel like an empty vessel, ready to be used. All the dings have been gently tapped out of me. I've been polished a bit. I am now ready for God to use me for His service.

I'm going to stray away from my usual format today. There won't be an excerpt from "My Utmost for His Highest." This message isn't really based on a certain scripture or text. It does have a lot to do with the Christmas Story, so it is biblically based. But right now, God has revealed some things to me and I know nowhere else to share them but here, with you - my dear friends and readers. And so I must. That's all I know.

Maybe you have heard this expression: "K.I.S.S., or Keep It Simple Stupid." Well I don't exactly like calling myself, or anyone else for that matter, stupid, so I just say "Keep it Simple."

I believe it was August or September when I felt God calling me to write a Children's Musical. I had never written a play before, so I didn't know what God was thinking. Really. Derek is the playwright, not me. But there it was - this plot for a play, stuck in my mind, refusing to let me go back to sleep when I got home from my three-hour paper route. I tossed and turned. I prayed, "Lord, I just need some sleep." I would close my eyes and the children of Revival Tabernacle would be having entire conversations in my head, laying the play out before me. I could see them move around the stage. I could see the set. Finally, I had no choice but to get up and feverishly write this play. Then came the songs. They flowed off my pen with little effort from me. I know this came from God. I have actually considered entitling the play: "'A Reason for the Season' by God," because I have had little to do with its creation.

A theme has arisen for this play - and for the bigger picture - Christmas itself. It is: "Keep It Simple." When I started out, I had visions of Paper Mache sculpted camels and donkeys; angels with wings and all kinds of artistic spectacle. But every step of the way, with fabric in hand, waiting for God to show me what the end product is to look like, I have heard His voice: "Keep It Simple, Danielle." Then, it was revealed to me: how to take a foil bread pan and turn it into a camel's head; how to take yards and yards of fabric and turn them into choir gowns without sewing one stitch; how to make a small church stage into three or four different places by only moving one set piece. God has layed out every step of the way for me, and the message becomes clearer: "Keep It Simple. Keep Christmas Simple. It is not in all the pageantry and excessiveness that the Christmas Story is found. It is in the simplicity of one truth: God made Himself into a tiny baby of lowly means to be born unto this world for the one singular purpose of dying for our sins." It is that simple.

And here I am. I'm still looking for a job. I applied to Weis Markets and K-Mart this week. Haven't heard anything. Bills are piling up. Cell phones are off. Satellite TV - disconnected. Between our two cars, we've had three flat tires this week. I find myself unable to buy a Christmas card - for anyone. I want to get a few gifts for friends who have brought me through some real struggles this year, but I don't have the means. Of course our children are taken care of - we bought early for them, knowing we wouldn't have it now if I still couldn't find a job.

And then I have this vision that I am the Little Drummer Boy standing at the Nativity of Jesus.
"Baby Jesus, pa rum-pum-pum-pum
I am a poor boy too pa rum-pum-pum-pum
I have no gift to bring pa rum-pum-pum-pum
That's fit to give a King pa rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum
Shall I play for you pa rum-pum-pum-pum
On my drum?"

I can write a play to bring God Glory. I can direct a play to bring God Glory. I can make Christmas cards to touch the hearts of those around me. I can make gifts for those who have changed my life.

It is not about the wealth, or the lack thereof, the over-abundance or the excess.

It is about that tiny baby - born in a barn - for US!

It is about spiritually stepping out of the way, becoming that empty vessel that God can use for His purpose.

It is finding, and I mean, really finding, those gifts that God gave you and using them to reflect the Glory back on HIM.

This Christmas, I challenge you to examine it all: The gifts you give, the money you've spent, the food you gorge yourself with. Where is Jesus in all of that?

He's lying in a manger filled with the straw the animals would have eaten. He's waiting for you to turn your eyes to Him this Christmas and present your gifts. All you have to do is remember three words:

"Keep It Simple."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Enter Into the Joy of Your Master

Matthew 25:14-30
"For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.

To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.

Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, 'Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'

Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, 'Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'

And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.' But his master answered and said to him, 'You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.'

For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

I don't want anything to do with a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth... and yet, it is what I deserve. Somewhere... and I don't know when... a Spirit of Fear came over me and bound me up, and the crazy thing is... I didn't even know it. Under the grasp of this fear I took my talent and buried it.

I used to FLAUNT my talent when I was a child... ask my Mom. I was so proud of my talent, if I were going to SHARE my talent, I stood in front of the room until all eyes were on me. If you chatted amongst yourselves, I'd stop and wait until you were quiet again. I wanted to show everyone my talent.

When did something I loved to share and teach become something I just wanted to hide?

In my last blog, which left many of you concerned, I wrote to you that I felt like I wasn't being given a place to share this talent of mine. I wrote that I had been encountering gossip and backbiting, not only in church, but also in my family and other networks.

I had been encountering gossip at church and in my family. I had also been experiencing some tension in my dealings regarding the Children's Musical. And yes, this was distracting me from my prayer time. But on Thursday evening, after a lovely Thanksgiving meal, I heard the most hurtful words I have ever heard said about me. My husband listened to my favorite Aunt, my number one fan, tell my daughter: "Ellen, you are so talented, just like your Mom. What a waste."

It is this statement that pushed me over the edge. It is this statement that became the proverbial straw on the camel's back and I was hurt - hurt beyond words. After weeks of feeling hurt coming from everywhere and only desiring Peace, I needed to use this blog to speak into some lives. But then, God revealed something to me: He needed to provoke me. He needed me to GET UP.

Well, I'm up now.

God gave me a Vision of a Center for the Arts over three years ago, and I've been sitting on it. I've kicked it around a bit... kicked it aside a bit.... denied its existence a bit. But it keeps coming back. And silly, crazy me has come up with every excuse not to step out in faith and do what I'm being called to do. God told me to write letters to wealthy landowners who may just donate a parcel of land to build this Center for the Arts. I kept saying, "Yep, God. I'll write the letters." He kept using Pastor Bond's sermons to open my eyes to what I needed to do: "See the miracle." How many times have I heard Pastor Bond preach, "You have everything you need." And yet, I refused to move forward. I kept telling myself, "When Perez comes, he'll be able to tell me what I need to do." Perez never revealed anything to me about my occupation in life, but God used Perez to release me from that spirit of fear. The next step was that blog in being able to speak into others' lives. All the while, I felt God saying "You need to be bolder."
When I read Sister Sarah Klugh's Blog, it hit home when she wrote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We are born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. Its not just in some of us, its in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Between yesterday's sermons, last night's concert and coming home and turning to The Word, my heart is FULL. I believe and see the miracle. Then, through an incredible prayer and devotional time this morning another great thing was revealed to me: I spiritually had to step out of the way. The Center for the Arts is not about me and will never be about me. It is for God and His Glory. I am just a servant who will carry it out. This is what was meant when Pastor Bond and Sister Cora both said to me : "You will encounter great success when you begin to Acknowledge Him in All Things." None of this is for me or for my welfare. It is God's.

The Letters have been written and I'm ready to send them. I'll keep you updated with Praise Reports. Right now, I gotta go get my shovel. I know I have a few more talents buried around here. God has shown me that I'm going to need them.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

God Called "Us" to Be

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly piled with contempt. Psalms 123:3

From "My Utmost for His Highest:"
"The thing of which we have to beware is not so much damage to our belief in God as damage to our Christian temper. "Therefore take heed to thy spirit, that ye deal not treacherously." The temper of mind is tremendous in its effects, it is the enemy that penetrates right into the soul and distracts the mind from God. There are certain tempers of mind in which we never dare indulge; if we do, we find they have distracted us from faith in God, and until we get back to the quiet mood before God, our faith in Him is nil, and our confidence in the flesh and in human ingenuity is the thing that rules.

Beware of "the cares of this world," because they are the things that produce a wrong temper of soul. It is extraordinary what an enormous power there is in simple things to distract our attention from God. Refuse to be swamped with the cares of this life.

Another thing that distracts us is the lust of vindication. St. Augustine prayed - "O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself." That temper of mind destroys the soul's faith in God. "I must explain myself; I must get people to understand." Our Lord never explained anything; He left mistakes to correct themselves. When we discern that people are not going on spiritually and allow the discernment to turn to criticism, we block our way to God. God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede."

Bear with me as it is excruciatingly painful for me to speak the truth in love. The Spirit of Fear that has been binding me is gone now and I must share this with you. I see no other way out of my distraction. I see this as my way of interceding without confrontation. I pray that God will convict those who are guilty of this spirit of contempt so that we all may begin to live a richer and fuller life before God.

I am exceedingly piled with contempt. I am distracted by my lust of vindication. In my dealings with people as of late, who shall remain unnamed, I feel an incredible amount of tension in our dealings. I feel like I am being judged. I feel like I am not being given room to grow - to put down roots in my church and community. I am actually being choked out as the flower is by the weed.

I go to my prayer closet every morning. I begin to pray. Instead of being able to sit with God for the few moments I have in one day when I am not surrounded by children, my thoughts immediately turn to:

"Lord, what did I do to offend this person?" "Lord, should I say something, should I email them... what should I do?" "Maybe I should stay away." "Maybe I should find another church." "Maybe I should skip Christmas with my family this year." "Maybe I shouldn't do the Christmas Musical, after all." "Maybe the Theatre Company should call it quits." "Maybe God doesn't love me anymore."

It is not initially my spirit of criticism towards others, however, that is distracting me from God. It is the feeling that I am being criticized. Be it a Spirit of Jealousy or something else that I have not been able to identify, I feel the affects of others' contempt for me and that is blocking MY way to God because I, in a total state of confusion, have started to develop contempt against those who seem mad at me.

Do you see the importance and reciprocity of our relationship here??? There is a Horizontal and a Vertical to the Cross. The Vertical represents our personal relationship with God. The Horizontal represents our relationship to one another. God calls us to be in relationship to one another:

Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltiness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another" (Mark 9:50).

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" (John 13:34).

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).

"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12).

"These things I command you, that ye love one another" (John 15:17).

"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law" (Rom. 13:8).

"And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you" (1 Thess. 3:12).

"But as touching brotherly love you need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another" (1 Thess. 4:9).

"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently" (1 Pet. 1:22).

"For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another" (1 John 3:11).

"And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment" (1 John 3:23).

"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God" (1 John 4:7).

"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another" (1 John 4:11).

"No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us" (1 John 4:12).

"And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another" (2 John 1:5)

"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another" (ROM 12:10).

"Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits" (ROM 12:16).

"Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus" (ROM 15:5).

"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" (ROM 14:19).

"Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do" (1 Thess. 5:11).

"Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God" (ROM 15:7)

"And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another" (ROM 15:14).

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Col. 3:16)

"Salute one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you" (ROM 16:16).

"All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss" (1 Cor. 16:20).

"Greet one another with an holy kiss" (2 Cor. 13:12).

"Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen" (1 Pet. 5:14).

"That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another" (1 Cor. 12:25).

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to be flesh, but by love serve one another" (Gal. 5:13).

"With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love" (Eph. 4:2).

"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Eph. 4:32).

"Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye" (Col. 3:13).

"Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God" (Eph. 5:21).

"Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" (1 Pet. 5:5)

"Wherefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thess. 4:18).

"But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Heb. 3:13).

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Heb. 10:25).

"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works" (Heb. 10:24).

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (Jas. 5:16).

"Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous" (1 Pet. 3:8).

"Use hospitality one to another without grudging" (1 Pet. 4:9)

"As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Pet. 4:10).

"Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brothers way" (ROM 14:13).

"But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another" (Gal. 5:15).

"Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another" (Gal. 5:26).

"Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds" (Col. 3:9).

"Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the low, but a judge" (Jas. 4:11).

"Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door" (Jas. 5:9).

If I am a member of your family and I have wronged you, tell me. If I am a member of your church and you heard that I was doing something wrong, bring it to my attention. But don't think for one minute that I am not sensitive enough to notice how curt your responses to my questions are; your inability to look me in the eye or even smile genuinely. Do not think that I am too spiritually dumb to see your condescension in your dealings with me. Do not fool yourselves into believing that God doesn't hear your gossip; that He doesn't know your heart.

And if you still don't care because it's me... think about when you do it to someone else. You may just stop another person from seeing your light shine. You may have just lost a soul that could have been won to God through you.

As for me, I will continue to pray for God's intervention. I will keep showing Love because my grandmother always taught me that "you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar."

I will pray for us, that our relationship may one day be restored.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A New Perspective

2 Corinthians 2:14
Now thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ.

From "My Utmost For His Highest:"
"The viewpoint of a worker for God must not be as near the highest as he can get, it must be the highest. Be careful to maintain strenuously God's point of view, it has to be done every day, bit by bit; don't think on the finite. No outside power can touch the viewpoint.

The viewpoint to maintain is that we are here for one purpose only, viz., to be captives in the train of Christ's triumphs. We are not in God's showroom, we are here to exhibit one thing - the absolute captivity of our lives to Jesus Christ. How small the other points of view are - I am standing alone battling for Jesus; I have to maintain the cause of Christ and hold this fort for Him. Paul says - I am in the train of a conqueror, and it does not matter what the difficulties are, I am always led in triumph. Is this idea being worked out practically in us? Paul's secret joy was that God took him, a red-handed rebel against Jesus Christ, and made him a captive, and now that is all he is here for. Paul's joy was to be a captive of the Lord, he had no other interest in heaven or in earth. It is a shameful thing for a Christian to talk about getting the victory. The Victor ought to have got us so completely that it is His victory all the time, and we are more than conquerors through Him.

"For we are unto God a sweet saviour of Christ." We are enwheeled with the odour of Jesus, and wherever we go we are a wonderful refreshment to God."

We are?

I am?

Did that passage just say I smell like Jesus?

Now you have to understand that a mother knows the scent of her child. Fathers do, too. How often have we seen it portrayed on TV that when a child dies, one of the first instincts of a grieving parent is to lift that child's pillow up, hug it and breathe in that scent? It brings comfort, somehow.

I am a wonderful refreshment to God?

My kids are a wonderful refreshment to me. I actually can get more done when they are home and in the way, than when they are not. When the kids are not home, I feel like something's missing. But when all four of my children are under one roof, there is a Peace that comes over me, even when all four of them decide to sing karaoke right outside my bedroom door at 7am on a Saturday. The sound of their laughter in unison stirs my soul and makes me feel like I'm doing something right because my kids love each other, which is rare among step-siblings.

Does God love me like that?

I need to take a moment and let that soak in. How much does changing our perspective of God's love for us then change who we are and what we want to become?

You see, I've been struggling with this whole "one foot in the world, one foot in the church" thing. I hate this world, and yet I feel the need to serve it. I feel the need to change it. I've been struggling, again, with what God's will for my life is. I want to know what I'm going to be when I grow up. I know what God has given me - the theatrical, musical and dance talents and a deep desire to educate others of the importance of diversity and social justice. Where do my God-given gifts, my deepest desires and the cause of Christ all intersect? It has to be a ministry, but it also has to pay the bills... or does it?

When I grasp the concept of God loving me - having the hairs on my head numbered, knowing my scent, it humbles me. I need only to praise God right now. I need only to stand in His glory, for His glory. I need only to let all those around me know that I am "captive to Christ."

It is when I stop the worrying and the fretting and the spinning of my wheels that God gives me words to write into a play, or a song, or this blog. My husband can tell you that I have never been able to write a play before, and the only thing I understand about music is the melody line played on a clarinet and the three-part harmony of an a cappella girl's group. But here I am, directing a Children's Musical that God put on my heart with the words and the songs coming from my pen. And suddenly, I know that, as Brother Jim preached the other Sunday, I'm walking in my Calling. I might not have a paycheck - yet. But the Lord has made me captive unto Him. He has blessed me with these gifts. I need only to continue to give Him the due praise. Now thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ. 2 Cor. 2:14

Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me...
the Bible tells me so.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Accepting the Change

Galatians 1:15, 16
But when God, who had set me apart {even} from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood...

From "My Utmost For His Highest":
"If Jesus Christ is to regenerate me, what is the problem He is upagainst? I have a heredity I had no say in; I am not holy, nor likely to be; and if all Jesus Christ can do is to tell me I must be holy, His teaching plants despair. But if Jesus Christ is a Regenerator, One Who can put into me His own heredity of holiness, then I begin to see what He is driving at when He says that I have to be holy. Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into any man the hereditary disposition that was in Himself, and all the standards He gives are based on that disposition: His teaching is for the life He puts in. The moral transaction on my part is agreement with God's verdict on sin in the Cross of Jesus Christ.

The New Testament teaching about regeneration is that when a man is struck by a sense of need, God will put the Holy Spirit into his spirit, and his personal spirit will be energized by the Spirit of the Son of God, "until Christ be formed in you." The moral miracle of Redemption is that God can put into me a new disposition whereby I can live a totally new life. When I reach the frontier of need and know my limitations, Jesus says - "Blessed are you." But I have to get there. God cannot put into me, a responsible moral being, the disposition that was in Jesus Christ unless I am conscious I need it.

Just as the disposition of sin entered into the human race by one man, so the Holy Spirit entered the human race by another Man; and Redemption means that I can be delivered from the heredity of sin and through Jesus Christ can receive an unsullied heredity, viz., the Holy Spirit."

On Tuesday, October 3, 2006 on a beautiful sunny day in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, my grandmother, Rita Gervais Murphy, was laid to rest. But oh so much more of me went with her, as God continues to make me into His servant.

My grandmother never really accepted me, or at least that is how she made me feel. One of the main reasons was that I was being raised Protestant and not Catholic as she was, and because she didn't understand the difference, nor seek to find answers, I may as well have been raised Jewish, or maybe even Atheist. She didn't understand that we worshipped the same God, believed in the same triune, but she never asked either. Instead, I was just, for the most part, ignored.

Growing up, I remember Christmases when she would call my dad to tell him all the great gifts she got the kids - fur coats and 10-speed bikes. My brother and I got nothing. I remember staying at her house, playing outside, and watching her run towards the car with my aunt and cousin and watching the car take off. I later found out they went for chinese food without me. I was left to eat cold cereal for dinner.

I could go on and on, but my point is not to drudge up the past, but to paint a picture for you as to where all the anger, sarcasm and cynicism came from that I wrote of in my previous post. I grew up not knowing my grandmother's unconditional love. I still worked for her attention and acknowledgment, but was time and time again turned down. The years filled me with all of this ugliness. I didn't like who I had become, and yet I felt powerless to do anything to change it. But as I wrote in my previous post, God took care of it. I find it no accident that on September 17, 2006 God took away all the negativity inside of me, and just eleven days later, He took the root of it away.

So there I was at my grandmother's viewing. I had gotten to a level of forgiveness where I wasn't angry with her anymore, but I wasn't going to gush tears over her passing. As I stood there, I listened to comments made by friends and family. "She was so spunky." People tell me I'm spunky all the time. My mom's not spunky. My dad's not spunky. I must have gotten that from her. "She loved her purple." Purple is my favorite color. "Oh, she could make you laugh!" How many times have I been told I should do Stand-up or go on SNL? And the night continued with me jotting mental notes of all that was good about this woman and all that I had received from this woman. And then it happened - my Aunt asked me if I would do the Eulogy.

In a moment, I will share the Eulogy that I wrote. But let me take this moment to tell you dear friends, if there is anything inside of you preventing you from experiencing all Christ has for you, please give it to God. Where that nagging in the back of your mind continues, search it and find out what God is trying to say. Then pray for Him to regenerate you. Don't try to do it yourself. Call on His holiness to make you Holy or else you'll be left in despair.

The priest who gave the sermon may not have known the impact of his words, but he actually took the time to say, "If any of you were hurt by Rita or bear any anger towards her for not acting Christ-like, remember that she was human and that we all fall short of the glory of God. Forgive her as Christ has forgiven you."

And there it was like a big "Duh!" above my head.

My grandmother was not God, but because she was my grandmother I expected her to be god-like all the time. How often do we expect God's level of love and commitment in our human relationships and when we are let down, never understand why or what went wrong? I have to tell you this, especially you RevTab members out there: there I was saying "That's Right, That's Right" out loud in a Catholic church. Too funny! But suddenly the forgiveness for my grandmother was there - all the pain of the past was released. I stood up to the pulpit and delivered this Eulogy. Praise God for the transformation He has just brought me through. I pray you will seek and accept the changes He brings about when they come to you.

She wore orchid, her favorite color.
And when she pursed her lips,
You knew it would be followed by a line in French,
Maybe understandable,
Maybe not,
But enough to make you pay attention -
An internal giggle always followed the words “Tete de pinoche!”

She was Rita - Full of spunk, full of fervor,
And I laugh to myself when I realize
Why I purse my lips,
Why I love any shade of purple,
Why I speak in puns,
Why I call my children “bebe.”
I laugh when I realize -Though the years and the miles separated us,
She made her mark.

Rita made her mark in this world.
She made her mark on you, dear friends,
She made her mark on us, her family.
And each of us - through genetics -
And each of you - through chance meeting,
Or tried and true friendship,
Now carry a bit of Rita in this world -
And because of this,
Rita will live on.

She will live on in the beauty of her great-grandchildren,
She will live on every time we are served,
or serve,
hors d’oevres.

She will live on in my love of coffee,
Potato pancakes,
And each stitch of knit or crochet.
Yes, our Rita will live on.

She will live on in each blot
Of the Bingo blotter,
Her laughter will reign
In each of our ears.

And whether we called her Sister,
or friend,
We will live our lives knowing,
We will search our hearts knowing,
We will examine our souls, KNOWING,
We are who we are today -
Perhaps, we are better people today -
We know happiness the way we do today -
Because Rita lived - and oh she still lives -

Most of you may not recognize me. I was the grand-daughter who moved away twenty-two years ago, this past June. But I would like to think that because our visits together were too few and too far between, it made me soak in every second of the time I spent with my grandmother, my Memere - the remarkable Rita Ida Gervais Murphy.

Over the years, I have been a somewhat quiet observer in my grandmother’s presence. I have watched how she cared for my Gampa. I have watched how she showed love to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I have seen her children continue to honor her daily, and I have learned through her stories of her interactions with friends - as numerous as the stars - of the joy with which she lived and brought to the loves of all who were blessed to meet her.

My husband and I run a Theatre Company in a rural town in Pennsylvania, and although the ends don’t always meet, we live by the philosophy that when you die, there is very little that tells of your life on your grave marker except a birth date and a death date. But the most important detail on any grave marker is the “dash” between those two dates. My husband and I constantly remind each other and those around us that life is about “living the dash.”

My grandmother, Rita, lived the dash. She touched lives, mended hearts, created laughter, lifted people up and stayed faithful to her God and Creator Jesus Christ. She will not leave us sorrowful. Sure, we will miss her. Sure, our lives will never be the same without her. But I ask that you join with me in a spirit of celebration of her life as she has not only won the battle - hard fought - and found Victory in the arms of Jesus - but that she has lived that dash and left an eternal legacy of joy and laughter and spunky-spiritedness behind.

That spirit is found in all of us - Uncle Johnny, Auntie Donna, my father Rick, my mother, Gwen; Auntie Moe, Uncle Jimmy; Jay, Carrie, Nicki, Erin, my brother Kyle, and the latest joys of her life: Ryan, Lyndsie, PJ, Jason, Ellen, Lauren, Julia, Zoe, Brayten, and Jackson.
Thank you, Rita - Sister, Ma, Memere, friend, for leaving your imprint on all of our lives. We will learn to celebrate you everyday. Yes, Rita will live on.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The War Has Begun

It all began the week of September 11, and I don't see any irony in that. God had given me a message called "Speaking Into Your Life," and I was feverishly typing away - typing a message to You, dear friends, to let you know how much I long for you to surrender your lives to God - how much God longs for you to surrender your life to Him. I was typing away so feverishly, in fact, that I forgot to click "Save." Down the stairs came my cat - flying - as she was being chased by the dog. They both skidded around the corner into the living room - right across my phone line, disconnecting my Internet connection. I quickly reconnected to the Internet, hoping I had clicked "Save" at some point, pleading that the program had "Autosaved" at some point. When I pulled up the Blog - there was nothing - just a title and an empty page.

Saddened, I decided to quit for a few minutes, go take care of some stuff around the house and come back, hopefully finding the words to write to you once again. I walked back into the room and there it was - my extra large, styrofoam Dunkin Donuts cup, lying across my keyboard, the last drop seeping into the keys of the keyboard. It seems Miss Zoe didn't like the cup being in her way, so she just knocked it down, frying my keyboard and taking out my laptop. No more blogging. No more email. No more grantwriting for my Foundation. No more minutes and agendas for my Theatre Company. My laptop was taken out by my precious two year-old. Figuring out how to balance time at the library with the needs of this home couldn't quite get worked out.

So there I found myself, for three days in fact, clearing out the junk, defragging and stripping my dinosaur computer. Well, it is on this dinosaur computer that I type right now, so Praise God for this small favor. I could return to my varied work, albeit more slowly than usual, but who's complaining?

It was that Sunday that Pastor called "those who feel like they are under attack" to come forward to the altar. He related to us that he had heard stories of unexplainable difficulties mounting in the lives of our church members, like never before. Well my mountain at that time was just a molehill, but I walked up to the altar. We started singing praise songs claiming Victory in Jesus over all our troubles, over all our struggles. I don't exactly remember what was said, I don't remember what brought me to tears, but I remember crying - REALLY CRYING, sobbing before the Lord. It kept feeling like someone was trying to take out my knees. I, of course, kept fighting it. I heard the Lord say, "Surrender it all to me, Danielle." The next thing you know, I'm on my back on the floor in almost a seizure-like trembling, contorted position.

Messages from the Lord kept filling my ears: "Let go of the anger. Let go of the sarcasm. Let go of your cynicism. I want more for you. You are to be gentle and tender and loving in all of your dealings with your friends, your acquaintances, your children, even your dog. Let go Danielle. Let go." In my mind, I answered back. "I can't. This is who I am. I don't know how to live without sarcasm and cynicism. It's in my Irish/German/French ancestry." Then God said, "I want MORE." And for a moment, I gave in and a deep Peace flowed through me. But then, I got up and I immediately started to doubt if I was indeed "changed." The trembling started again. I found myself fighting against it until I felt as if I was vibrating the whole pew. Finally, Brother Brian came to my side and whispered "Accept the change." And I did. Once again, the Peace came over me. I sat in the pew exhausted, but content - in a way that I probably have not felt since the day I first accepted Christ as Savior on June 10 of 1990.

This is what I had wanted God to change in me for as long as I can remember. I was never happy being so... grumpy, for a lack of a better word. I kept trying to change myself. I took Zoloft to alter my mood. But I couldn't do it. He had to do it and He finally did.

I am happy to tell you that I have remained calm and content since that Sunday. I haven't resorted to yelling at my kids or sarcasm with my husband. But ever since that day, September 17, the attacks have become more intense.

September 20 - My grandmother on my father's side, with whom I have a strained relationship, slipped into a coma. I am now faced with the fact that I may never be able to resolve things with her, for we may never speak again.

September 24 - On my way to pay my cell phone bill, they disconnected my cell phone for which we had to pay 26.50 per phone to reconnect, and after having paid to have the phones reconnected, my friends are still telling me they can't always get through. They get a message saying, "This person does not accept incoming calls."

September 25 - The sheriff stopped by to put a levy on my van. Long story involving a woman who won't sign a paper, PennDOT who won't sign over a title and a lot of other insanity has now rendered my van useless to my family of six.

Later that night, I went to teach my dance classes. I had to move a piece of plywood for the tap dancing portion of my class when I got a splinter in the underside of my ring finger on my left hand. I pulled it out, used tissue to clot the bleeding and continued teaching. The class is made up of 3-5 year olds, I couldn't make a big deal of a "boo-boo." After class, I went to dinner with my parents, got dropped off at home and all the sudden my finger was really throbbing. I looked at it and found it swollen to the point that I could twist my wedding rings, but I couldn't get them off. By 9 pm, it was bigger. By 10 pm - it was gross. I drove myself to the emergency room where they CUT my WEDDING RINGS OFF. Then I had x-rays taken, a tetanus shot administered, a splint applied and pain relievers and antibiotics prescribed - all from a simple splinter.

September 26 - I got up, finished some work I had to do on the Internet and thought to myself, "I'm just going to do my blog quickly, and then I have to get to the phone company to pay our bill before they disconnect our house phone. I opened my blog page to begin blogging, and all the power went off in the house. It was the monthly generator test that they do here on the reservation, but they never tell us when it's going to happen. Sarah Klugh called me on my cell phone a little later - after the power came on, but before I was able to get out the door to pay my phone bill. The first words out of her mouth were "What's wrong with your phone? It says its not in service." There's another 25 dollar reconnection fee.

September 27 - I woke up early, got Ellen off to school and decided "I really haven't caught up on this sleep deficit caused by doing the newspaper route. I'm going to lie down for a few hours." Suddenly, I woke up - my mind filled with things I had to do. I checked our bedroom alarm clock - 9:39 a.m. I went downstairs to feed the cat and dog and let the dog out. My cell phone rang to let me know I had a Voice Mail message. The computerized voice said "One new message at 11:33 am." "Hmmm..." I thought, "my bedroom clock must be wrong." I closed my cell phone to look at the clock. It was 12:44 pm. I had a 1 pm appointment to meet with Sisters Jill and Mikie. I made it there - a few minutes late, but I made it.

Later that night I had to teach my yoga class. Derek needed the car to go to work, so I had hoped to catch my friend Lisa on the way to class for a ride. I called and I called and I got her voice mail. I started walking towards the studio with my cell in hand. I kept dialing her number over and over - 5 bars - I should have a full-strength signal. The phone wouldn't even ring. I made it all the way to the corner of Fourth and Market Streets until I finally got a hold of Lisa - two blocks away from my destination and I ended up making it to the studio before her -about a 3-mile walk with no phone reception.

Today, September 28 - the hospital is taking my grandmother off of life support. She may live. She may die. Either way, I'm stuck here in Pennsylvania without anyway of telling her all that is on my heart.

Can you say "Under Attack?"

Despite all of this, you would think I'm ready to blow up. By now I should have punched a wall, screamed at my husband, kicked the dog, humiliated my children out of human anger, frustration and just plain "being sick and tired of it all."

But you know what? I'm resting. R-E-S-T-I-N-G - RESTING. For the first time in my life, I am not falling on the floor crying, "Oh, woe is me..." I'm resting in the Lord's power to take care of it all. I'm walking through the storm with my head held high knowing that I must be doing something right or Satan wouldn't be working so hard to get me down. I find myself, like Paul, writing letters to you, my church of Corinth, in a spirit of love and encouragement so you may also be able to hold your heads high though the attacks are everywhere.

2 Corinthians 10:3-8
10:3 - For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,
10:4 - for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
10:5 - {We are} destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and {we are} taking every thought captive to the obedience Christ,
10:6 - and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.
10:7 - You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ's, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ's, so also are we.
10:8 - For even if I boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be put to shame.
10:9 - For I do not wish to seem as if I would terrify you by my letters.
10:10 - For they say, "His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible."
10:11 - Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when absent, such persons {we are} also in deed when present.
10:12 - For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.
10:13 - But we will not boast beyond {our} measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you.
10:14 - For we are not overextending ourselves, as if we did not reach to you, for we were the first to come even as far as you in the gospel of Christ;
10:15 - not boasting beyond {our} measure, {that} {is,} in other men's labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you,
10:16 so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, {and} not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another.
10:18 - For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Lessons from a Cat

It was May when we had to put our beloved Pit Bull, Mugsy, down - he was only four. He had begun to get aggressive with me while disobeying my every command and one day snapped at me when I grabbed the newspaper to correct him. Then, one fine day, he decided to escape the kennel in our backyard, chase inmates who were doing yardwork around the grounds and get into a little scrap with a very aggressive Black Lab. Of course all the blame went to Mugsy, and we were asked to get rid of him.

We searched our hearts for a solution, but all available research pointed in one direction. The advice, as cold as it seemed, said, "If your Pit Bull has snapped - even once - don't give it to another family where someone else could get hurt." With heavy hearts we took Mugsy to be euthanized and then buried him through lots of tears.

I've had lots of pets over the years - dogs, cats, birds, fish, rabbits, lizards, and of course, a turtle. My turtle, Agape, was absolutely the best pet ever and I loved her for eight long years before one spring, she failed to come out of hibernation. The birds were too noisy and dirty. the lizards - escape artists that chose to bite the hand that fed them. Fish are still nice, but because I have a ten year old African Cichlid named Tommy who eats everything that moves and refuses to die, my 55 gallon tank is home to none but he.

There have been times in my life that I really did not like cats. They are so predatorial. I don't really enjoy finding dead birds and mice at my door. The feral neighborhood cats wreak havoc - breaking garbage bags open and spilling the cans all over the road and yard. But most of all, I never could find a cat who loved me. I seem to have a knack for picking the cat who would just look at me with that condescending, "Be My Slave - Feed Me" look. So, i made up my mind - stick with dogs.

Derek and I made up our minds we were going through a Rescue to find our next canine friend. We looked and looked. We attended adopt-a-thons and called places - only to find out the dog we wanted was already adopted. Then came Shadow.

Shadow's owner moved in with his elderly mother so he needed to find a home for him. The owner happens to be Ellen's cousin on her father's side, so I had heard about Shadow for months. It was love at first sight - part Cocker Spaniel, part Pug, pure black fur with a little white goatee stripe on his chin - Shadow was just what I wanted - a little fluffy dog with a touch of masculinity so as not to be too frou-frou. Even better - he is mellow. He's great at just hanging out with me outside and he doesn't chase a thing. But now the honeymoon is over.

Shadow will be two years old in October and is yet to be housebroken. When I take him outside, he lays in the grass and watches the world go by. When we go inside, he sneaks off to one of the bedrooms and does his business there - usually on some piece of clean laundry. I won't give up on him, but I have yet to understand how a dog can reach the age of 2 and still not understand that "Outside = Rest Area."

Anyway, two weeks ago it happened. Ellen comes walking in the house carrying the cutest little tabby cat and says, "Mom, can we keep it?" She went door to door asking our neighbors if they knew who's kitten it was, finally discovering the truth - the kitten was born to one of the feral cats in the neighborhood. Now was the time to save her. In another month, she would probably be too wild to be approached by humans.

We named her Victoria-Gwenivere after my godmother, Vicky and my mother, Gwen. They had been best friends since the sixth grade when Vicky lost her life to cancer two years ago in October. Vicky was also, in my best estimation, the Patron Saint of Stray Cats. She was always taking in stray cats and blessing them with a home.

I have to admit I wasn't expecting much from this cat, with all of my oh-so-joyous experiences with the species. But Miss Vicky, as we affectionately call her, has impressed upon me, an incredible lesson of God's love.

What kind of life would Miss Vicky have lived had we not taken her in? There she was, as Ellen informed me, all alone - wailing, crying to anyone who passed by. She was probably hungry, and soon would be living life covered in fleas and digging out of garbage cans for survival.

But we took her in. Every morning she comes running when I come home from my route and leads me to her dish where I lavish her with yummy treats. I fill Shadow's dish as well, and by the time my coffee's made and I am seated at my desk to start my day's work, there's Miss Vicky - jumping or climbing up into my arms - purring like a small airplane engine and giving me gentle "head-butts" of love and appreciation.

Strangely, but yet, not-so-strangely, when we would open the door to the outside, Miss Vicky would bolt upstairs. This week, however, curiosity got the best of her and she nosed around the yard for just a bit, and then quickly ran to the door and tried to open it with her paw. She seems to want nothing to do with the "outside world" but is happy to rest in our ever-so-humble, but loving, home.

How much is this relationship like that of ours with our Heavenly Father? He has rescued, and continues to rescue, us from a flea infested, garbage-ridden world. He provides for us (so much more than food) and allows us to rest in His arms. He continues to love us - and yes, I indeed, have come to love this cat. I was wondering if she ever got lost, how would I know that she's mine? She is a typical grey tabby with no distinctive markings. But something tells me I would just know, just as God knows every hair on our heads. Luke 12:7 says, "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows."

When I think of this overwhelming love I have for this cat, it awes me to think how God loves us. Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. It comforts me to think of myself as this poor little kitten resting in God's great arms and feeling the love He has for me. More and more, I don't want to know what's waiting outside that door. There is no need to stray when I'm safe in my Father's arms.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Being Called Out

Now that I am truly trying to "lose my self" you have to know
that God's calling me out, right? It's as if He's saying:

"Oh, you're ready to get serious now? Okay well let me point out this and this and this...."

All of my flaws are coming to the surface. What I hear on WGRC each morning while I'm on my route, what Derek and I have been studying in "The Purpose Driven Life," and the scriptures in my Inbox all week are like arrows piercing right through my heart. God's saying:

"Since you're finally letting ME be in charge, we're gonna work some stuff out."

I envision God and I in a boxing ring - gloves on, but before the fight begins, I scream "I forfeit! I concede! You win!"

But He retorts, "Oh Danielle. You are not getting off that easy. I've already scheduled you for the after-the-match talkshow circuit! Blog about what you're being taught so that others might be encouraged."

Here goes.

My first scripture that "hit home" was Matthew 3:11.
"I indeed baptize you with water . . but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire."

"My Utmost For His Highest" states:
"Have I ever come to a place in my experience where I can say - "I indeed - but He"? Until that moment does come, I will never know what the baptism of the Holy Ghost means. I indeed am at an end, I cannot do a thing: but He begins just there - He does the things no one else can ever do. Am I prepared for His coming? Jesus cannot come as long as there is anything in the way either of goodness or badness. When He comes am I prepared for Him to drag into the light every wrong thing I have done? It is just there that He comes. Wherever I know I am unclean, He will put His feet; wherever I think I am clean, He will withdraw them.

Repentance does not bring a sense of sin, but a sense of unutterable unworthiness. When I repent, I realize that I am utterly helpless; I know all through me that I am not worthy even to bear His shoes. Have I repented like that? Or is there a lingering suggestion of standing up for myself? The reason God cannot come into my life is because I am not through into repentance.

"He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire." John does not speak of the baptism of the Holy Ghost as an experience, but as a work performed by Jesus Christ. "He shall baptize you." The only conscious experience those who are baptized with the Holy Ghost ever have is a sense of absolute unworthiness.

I indeed was this and that; but He came, and a marvellous thing happened. Get to the margin where He does everything."

I am at this place. I have finally grasped the key to this understanding. "I indeed, but He." I might be able, but He can. I might, but He will. I should, but He does. I cannot stand on my own strength. I am nothing without Him. He is dragging "every wrong thing I have done" into the light. Wherever I am unclean, He is putting His feet.

One area where He is putting His feet has to do with one of my most taboo subjects: Money. You see, I have always had a "You can't take it with you" attitude about money. My hope was always for heaven, so why store up treasures here? When I had money, I spent it - plain and simple. Besides, I have struggled so much in life, at times in my life when I came into money, I deserved to have fun and splurge a little, didn't I? I lived by faith, and faith alone meant God would provide when I needed it. Well, like I said, God dragged this attitude into the light, and I couldn't have been more wrong.

While doing our Devotions from "The Purpose Driven Life," Derek and I were challenged by Rick Warren's chapter on "Seeing Life from God's View." In this chapter, Rick Warren brings to light that life is both a test and a trust. I am all too well aware about the test part. I have intimated to you that I have often seen myself as David. I have been tested over and over - some tests I have passed, some - not so much. But I do know that God has always been faithful to me, even when I've failed.

But life on earth is also a trust. Rick Warren states, "Our time on earth and energy, intelligence, opportunities, relationships, and resources are all gifts from God that He has entrusted to our care and management. Now I have had no trouble understanding the value of time, energy, intelligence, opportunities, and relationships. I know that God is Master of these, and had entrusted them to me. Even my children belong to God, not me. I have simply been entrusted to raise them for, and with the help of, God. I can honestly say when I look back on my life, I have done my best in the stewardship of all of these. Resources? You mean money and possessions?

According to "The Purpose Driven Life," money is both a test and a trust. God uses finances to test our faith in Him, as I'm sure we've all experienced. But God also entrusts us with money. The Bible says "If you are untrustworthy about wordly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?" - Luke 16:11. I had never realized the true meaning of this passage before, but it is so obvious. If we know that this life is temporary and we are simply preparing for life with God in heaven, this is the training ground. Managing money well, managing a household - even (wince) keeping our car's interior clean all impact how God sees us managing His resources.
The second scripture which called me out this week was Matthew 7:9. It states:
"Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?"
The illustration of prayer that Our Lord uses here is that of a good child asking for a good thing. We talk about prayer as if God heard us irrespective of the fact of our relationship to Him. Never say it is not God's will to give you what you ask, don't sit down and faint, but find out the reason, turn up the index. Are you rightly related to your wife, to your husband, to your children, to your fellow-students - are you a "good child" there? "O Lord, I have been irritable and cross, but I do want spiritual blessing." You cannot have it, you will have to do without until you come into the attitude of a good child.

We mistake defiance for devotion; arguing with God for abandonment. We will not look at the index. Have I been asking God to give me money for something I want when there is something I have not paid for? Have I been asking God for liberty while I am withholding it from someone who belongs to me? I have not forgiven someone his trespasses; I have not been kind to him; I have not been living as God's child among my relatives and friends.

I am a child of God only by regeneration, and as a child of God I am good only as I walk in the light. Prayer with most of us is turned into pious platitude, it is a matter of emotion, mystical communion with God. Spiritually we are all good at producing fogs. If we turnup the index, we will see very clearly what is wrong - that friendship, that debt, that temper of mind. It is no use praying unless we are living as children of God. Then, Jesus says - "Everyone that asketh receiveth."

Ouch. I am guilty of all the above! Ouch again! I have to turn up the spiritual index! When I ask for something, I can't boohoo when I don't get it if I'm not being who God called me to be! That's like my kids asking to go to Knoebels after they've played all day, dragging their toys all over the house and leaving them there! If I say "absolutely not" to them, how can I expect God to say "yes" to me?

In acknoweldging these faults, God has already begun to bless me. He blessed me with money yesterday. I'm not going to squander it. I'm going to manage it well, so that He knows I'm working towards being trustworthy. I'd also like to mention, (while also giving God All The Praise,) that Derek and I were really able to discuss this shortcoming of ours. It was a true blessing to me to be able to talk about this issue without it becoming a point of contention in our marriage.

Before I ask, beg, plead, wail before God, I'm going to take inventory of myself and my actions. If I'm not who, or where, I need to be, I should be ashamed to come into His presence, let alone, ask for something and expect to get it. And this inventory, I'm certain, will continue to cause more issues to be drawn into the light, which will challenge me even further to keep pressing on. But it's all worth it. There is Victory in Christ!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Losing My Self

Hello new struggle. Please note it's a struggle, not a storm. God has once again pointed out a flaw in me and challenged me to a wrestling match. He has drawn a new line in the sand and said, "Danielle, it's time to move up here." Gulp.

You see, the scripture I received in my Inbox on Saturday was entitled "Self-Consciousness." It quoted one of my favorite scriptures, Matthew 11:28 - "Come unto me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest." But interestingly enough, it only stated, "Come unto me..."

Now my first thought was "I've already given my life to Christ. I accepted Him as my Savior on June 10, 1990 at a Campus Life/Youth for Christ Summer Camp in Ocean City, NJ. After nearly fifteen years of taking too many exit ramps off my spiritual highway, I was baptized by immersion on January 16, 2005 and began what has been a truly intense, spiritual "schooling," so to speak, for the past twenty months. I experienced the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as evidenced through the gift of tongues for the first time on February 20, 2006. Surely I have "Come unto (Him)," haven't I? So why was it that while I read this message, did I feel so unsettled? What was it that God was pointing out in me?

So, Sunday morning I came home from my paper route and the next part of the scripture was in my Inbox: ".... I will give you rest." Surely God is trying to show me something. For three days, I've been chewing this text, mulling it over. Finally some realizations about myself are becoming clear, or should I say "some realizations about my Self."

From "My Utmost For His Highest":
"God means us to live a fully-orbed life in Christ Jesus, but there are times when that life is attacked from the outside, and we tumble into a way of introspection which we thought had gone. Self-consciousness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of the life in God, and self-consciousness continually produces wrestling. Self-consciousness is not sin; it may be produced by a nervous temperament or by a sudden dumping down into new circumstances. It is never Gods will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him. Anything that disturbs rest in Him must be cured at once, and it is not cured by being ignored, but by coming to Jesus Christ. If we come to Him and ask Him to produce Christ-consciousness, He will always do it until we learn to abide in Him.

Never allow the dividing up of your life in Christ to remain without facing it. Beware of leakage, of the dividing up of your life by the influence of friends or of circumstances; beware of anything that is going to split up your oneness with Him and make you see yourself separately. Nothing is so important as to keep right spiritually. The great solution is the simple one - "Come unto Me." The depth of our reality, intellectually, morally and spiritually, is tested by these words. In every degree in which we are not real, we will dispute rather than come."

When we say we "Surrender All," do we really? Can we truly say our carnal or human side has no influence on our actions or thoughts simply because we've come to Christ?

I've been thinking about the fact that I'm at a place in my walk where I am no longer tempted to sin. I'm not saying I don't sin, but I don't miss seeking out and finding wild times, places and friends to make life exciting. I'm much more satisfied knowing God's by my side while I visit with friends and family and share God as much as possible. But I am still plagued by a sense that I am dualistic in nature - that there is a way I act when I am around Godly friends and another way I act around those who are not Godly.

I have a fullness from the love of Christ one minute, and will then catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. "When did I get so fat?" "Why are my arms so short?" "I wish I could do something with my hair." "Ewww! Look how straggly my eyebrows have become." "I hate my voice." "That last blog post was not one of my best."

Self-consciousness eats away at my spirituality and hinders my ability to serve. I used to love to sing for God. Now I don't even want to speak. For someone who has always wanted to preach, hating one's voice is quite a stumbling block.

More and more, I am realizing I have two writers in me - a spiritual writer and a carnal writer. When I feel full of praise, or maybe even woe, I write in a certain voice here. When I'm feeling cynical and wry, I post my poetry at another on-line journal location. These "voices" demonstrate to me that there is a stark contrast between my "Self" and me - child of God. This is very unsettling to me when I KNOW that God wants ALL of me. Nothing less.

The second part of the scripture, ".... and I will give you rest" was entitled "Completeness."

From "My Utmost For His Highest":
"Whenever anything begins to disintegrate your life with Jesus Christ, turn to Him at once and ask Him to establish rest. Never allow anything to remain which is making the dis-peace. Take every element of disintegration as something to wrestle against, and not to suffer. Say - 'Lord, prove Thy consciousness in me,' and self-consciousness will go and He will be all in all. Beware of allowing self-consciousness to continue because by slow degrees it will awaken self-pity, and self-pity is Satanic. 'Well, I am not understood; this is a thing they ought to apologize for; that is a point I really must have cleared up.' Leave others alone and ask the Lord to give you Christ-consciousness, and He will poise you until the completeness is absolute.

The complete life is the life of a child. When I am consciously conscious, there is something wrong. It is the sick man who knows what health is. The child of God is not conscious of the will of God because he is the will of God. When there has been the slightest deviation from the will of God, we begin to ask - What is Thy will? A child of God never prays to be conscious that God answers prayer, he is so restfully certain that God always does answer prayer.

If we try to overcome self-consciousness by any common-sense method, we will develop it tremendously. Jesus says, "Come unto Me and I will give you rest," i.e., Christ-consciousness will take the place of self-consciousness. Wherever Jesus comes He establishes rest, the rest of the perfection of activity that is never conscious of itself."

Self-pity. This is the end-result when I struggle to do it myself and forget to put God first. "My Utmost For His Highest" calls it Satanic. Ugh. Me? Satanic? I shudder when I think that I am putting my soul that far from God to be called Satanic. But yet, if it is not Godly, than the opposite must be - gulp- Satanic.

And this, dear friends, is like a flashing neon sign in front of a cheap motel that I keep passing time and again, because obviously I keep making a wrong turn somewhere and never progress forward in my spiritual journey. I am being much like my two-year-old, Zoe - throwing tantrums when I don't get my own way until I come to a place of self-pity and finally call on God to give me rest. And I imagine that God is standing there like a stern parent with His hands on his hips, saying, "That's all I was trying to give you in the first place!!!"

Self-consciousness is the opposite of Christ-consciousness! I cannot grow into what God wants me to be if I am so humanly aware that I pick myself apart so there is nothing left to grow.

To take a piece from Pastor Bond's sermon yesterday - good things do come from dirt. God will make me into something good if I would just step back and let HIM!

God can use a woman who is overweight with short arms, with straggly eyebrows, with crooked teeth, who needs a haircut. He can take her raspy voice and her nodule-covered vocal cords and not only bring beautiful songs from her lips but also powerful preaching of the Word of God!

Who am I (carnal self) to get in the way of what this child of God is to become???

Father God, I cannot be your true child if I'm too stubborn to let go of the human-natured, carnal-living, sinful Self. I have no right to let my Self hinder what you will have me be. My sense of Self must die, Lord, and make room for this child of God to grow - truly mature in the knowledge and Grace of you, Lord Jesus. I pray this prayer for me, Lord, and for all who need to come, are coming, or who are at this place right now in their walks with You, Lord Jesus. Your intention was always, and still is, to give us rest, Lord.

He still calls, "Come Unto Me."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Time of Transformation

I have often heard it said, "Nothing is certain in life, except Change". Well, I'm here to tell you there is nothing as awesome in life, as Transformation.

As most of you have read my posts in recent weeks, you may have noticed that God keeps pounding one major theme into my ever-so-thick head. Easily summarized, that would be: "Put God First."

Sometimes, after having gone through the struggles and the puzzles of the past few weeks, I wanted to kick myself for being so dense. Sometimes, I would let myself off the hook and giggle for a moment when I thought of God being the ever-so-frustrated parent wondering when I would "just figure it out."

But God is patient. Oh, if I could only have that kind of patience! Not only am I being brought through an incredible transformation personally, but my husband and household are also learning the true joy that comes when we make God the reference point in our lives.

As I intimated to you before, I at least read a scripture lesson each day. I attempt to blog about the scripture or some other lesson God is putting on my heart as often as possible. I am trying to really hear God's voice as whether to "blog or not to blog". Laundry and housework are not good enough reasons to put off "God Time".

Sunday evening, my husband and I really wanted to go to our church's Evening Service. Since I had to do my dad's paper route at 4 a.m., and we had no money, we couldn't part with the gas that was in the tank, so church just wasn't a possibility. My husband and I were upset that we couldn't go, but we made the best of it - we decided to do Devotions together. We started on the 40-day quest that makes up Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life". Four days into the study, Derek and I have been able to put God at the center of our lives in a deeper sense. This has also given us time to really talk and share God with one another. We even feel a deeper need to talk of God in our conversations with our children. It has been amazing.

While my dad is in Ohio becoming a Truck Driver, my mother and I are fighting our own battles at becoming "Morning People". By 4 a.m., we are at the Dollar General store in Milton, to embark on our individual 2-hour treks delivering the Daily Item to still-sleeping households. Now, most of you know, I love my bed, only second to God, but slightly more than my husband and kids. (Just Kidding!) I LOVE my bed. Love it! It is quite a physical and mental challenge for me to get up at 3:30 in the morning all for the sake of delivering the newspapers. This challenge, however, has been a complete joy. This burden has become two solid hours of listening to my favorite Christian radio station, while I drive through the darkness. Soundbytes of some of my favorite evangelists speak right to my soul. Wildlife scurries across the road and through the fields. The farmers' harvests stretch further towards the sky. The rain was refreshing. The morning sun washes everything in pink. In these two (what-should-be) dreadful hours, God is Everywhere.

And He said to them, "Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?" Luke 2:49

From "My Utmost for His Highest":
"Our Lord's childhood was not immature man-hood; our Lord's childhood is an eternal fact. Am I a holy innocent child of God by identification with my Lord and Saviour? Do I look upon life as being in my Father's house? Is the Son of God living in His Father's house in me?

The abiding Reality is God, and His order comes through the moments. Am I always in contact with Reality, or do I only pray when things have gone wrong, when there is a disturbance in the moments of my life? I have to learn to identify myself with my Lord in holy communion in ways some of us have not begun to learn as yet. "I must be about My Father's business" - live the moments in My Father's house.

Narrow it down to your individual circumstances - are you so identified with the Lord's life that you are simply a child of God, continually talking to Him and realizing that all things come from His hands? Is the Eternal Child in you living in the Father's house? Are the graces of His ministering life working out through you in your home, in your business, in your domestic circle? Have you been wondering why you are going through the things you are? It is not that you have to go through them, it is because of the relation into which the Son of God has come in His Father's providence in your particular sainthood. Let Him have His way, keep in perfect union with Him.

The vicarious life of your Lord is to become your vital simple life; the way He worked and lived among men must be the way He lives in you."

Is it any wonder why I have been cleaning the house this week and the old song, "Let the Lord have His way in your life every day..." has been echoing in my head? It is a time of transformation.

"Thank you Lord for bringing me to this time. I pray that You will bring each of my friends and family members in perfect union with you. Oh, and thank you for your patience. I don't know how you do it!"

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Giving Thanks

Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me. John 11:41

As you saw at the end of my previous post, God came through, as He always does. Thank you, Jesus. And thank you, my dear friends, for your prayers. After posting "My Legs Are Asleep," and receiving the phone call from my father, I continued to feel uplifted by prayer, and God continued to move.

First of all, that afternoon, my husband came through the door with the biggest smile on his face. Whatever had been troubling him was gone. I can only believe that God, with the help of your prayers, took care of it.

As I shared with you that the BIG BILLS were mounting, and I lost my job AGAIN, it wasn't enough that God gave my dad a great job and that I will be able to make some money doing my dad's 78-mile paper route while my dad's gone. God continued to bless me. On Tuesday, August 15th, I have an interview at 9:30a.m. at a local Technical School to become their High School Recruiter and Admissions Counselor. The woman on the phone said that after Tuesday's meeting, if I am still interested, the job is mine. Back to a Professional salary AND a Company Car. Please continue to pray with me that all goes well, and that if this in God's Will for my life, I can use this vocation to serve HIM.

What am I forgetting? Oh! The housework! I'm pacing myself, but it's getting done. With this break in the humidity, I don't need to worry so much about clothes getting mildewed, so that makes everything much more manageable. But again - I thank God for your prayers because I truly feel uplifted and strengthened. When I look at what is left to do in the dining room, I feel no sense of being overwhelmed. The "woe is me" attitude is gone. God is so good. All the time.

From "My Utmost For His Highest":
"When the Son of God prays, He has only one consciousness, and that consciousness is of His Father. God always hears the prayers of His Son, and if the Son of God is formed in me the Father will always hear my prayers. I have to see that the Son of God is manifested in my mortal flesh. "Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost," i.e., the Bethlehem of the Son of God. Is the Son of God getting His chance in me? Is the direct simplicity of the life of God's Son being worked out exactly as it was worked out in His historic life? When I come in contact with the occurrences of life as an ordinary human being, is the prayer of God's Eternal Son to His Father being prayed in me? "In that day ye shall ask in My name. . . ." What day? The day when the Holy Ghost has come to me and made me effectually one with my Lord.

Is the Lord Jesus Christ being abundantly satisfied in your life or have you got a spiritual strut on? Never let common sense obtrude and push the Son of God on one side. Common sense is a gift which God gave to human nature; but common sense is not the gift of His Son. Supernatural sense is the gift of His Son; never enthrone common sense. The Son detects the Father; common sense never yet detected the Father and never will. Our ordinary wits never worship God unless they are transfigured by the indwelling Son of God. We have to see that this mortal flesh is kept in perfect subjection to Him and that He works through it moment by moment. Are we living in such human dependence upon Jesus Christ that His life is being manifested moment by moment?"

Oooh. That was powerful. If Jesus Christ dwells in us, and God always hears the prayers of His Son, than surely God will hear our prayers. God finds, no brings me to my Poverty - to the end of my self-sufficiency. "When I come in contact with the occurrences of life as an ordinary human being, is the prayer of God's Eternal Son to His Father being prayed in me?" In my Poverty, how long does it take until I cry out for God - the only one who can save me.

Oh, and let me assure you - I didn't pick the scripture for today. It just "popped" into my Inbox. I bet you're thinking "Oooooh, Spooky!" Nope. Just God.

I can't say this scripture enough. Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me. John 11:41

Monday, August 07, 2006

My Legs Are Asleep

Once again, I've hit a storm in my life.

Bills - we're talking BIG bills have started flying into my mailbox. You know those bills that the insurance company was supposed to have paid four years ago, and somehow, through some mix-up they're being forwarded to you - unpaid by the insurance company, and you're being told it's too late to re-submit them? Yeah those bills.

Housework. Okay, I have four kids. I know my house is going to be messy MOST of the time. But why, when I am in the middle of sorting through clothes in my dining room - as in having washed and dried them in the basement, hauled them up to the dining room, folded them and was in the midst of sorting them to make one box for the Salvation Army, one for the Pregnancy Care Center, and three more boxes for what I call the hand-me-down-trickle-down-effect, i.e., Ellen gets Darianne's clothes; Julian gets Ellen's unisex t-shirts and shorts, and Zoe might possibly get all of the above if they last long enough; must my toilet spring a leak directly above the table where I was sorting all of these, may I remind you, CLEAN clothes, and send water crashing through the ceiling all over said clothes???

Hubby. I'm going to be real upfront and honest with you on this one. Derek will never read this because he's afraid of computers. My Husband needs Your Prayers Right Now. I won't even try to explain it. Let's just say he's miserable, which makes me miserable, which makes our family life MISERABLE. Something is at work in him and it is having quite the effect on our marriage. He needs to be lifted up and only the power of God and Prayer can achieve this!

My Parents. I know my Mom will read this, but I know the Power of Prayer! My Parents need your PRAYERS! There I said it, and I'm not sad that I did. God bless Mom, she's put up with my dad and his addiction for 33 years - and still nothing is getting any better - in fact, its getting worse. My dad lost his job a couple of years ago due to his drinking. No one will hire a soon-to-be fifty-five year old man. My dad needs to come to the waters of Baptism and fully surrender his life to Jesus Christ - and in that surrender, he needs to be delivered from the power of Alcoholism. Satan's work in my dad's life has affected the rest of us for far too long. We ALL need to be LOOSED!

Oh! And did I mention that I started waitressing at a local restaurant? Yeah, I did. I thought a little money in my pocket might help out. Soooo, I walk in there Friday night and am told the restaurant is closing. I'm out of a job - again. Oh, and I won't be paid for the hours I've worked so far either.

So, in the midst of my storm, I'm feeling, well, stormy. Lots of water coming out of my eyes... lots of wind coming out of my mouth.... but in the eye of the storm, I know God. In my very core I have a sense of calm about me. I know God can and I know God will. And yet more tears... less wind.

So I went to church yesterday as my heart felt that's where I really needed to be. The songs were uplifting, yet I remained not uplifted. I just kept crying with this "Woe is me" attitude. The preaching spoke right to me, but I was still too busy feeling sorry for myself. When Brother Brian was speaking about "Three Little Words: Arise and Walk," my eyes again filled up with tears. Yes! That's what I need to do. I need to Arise and Walk! But deep down I felt myself say: "My legs are asleep".

And so my humbug attitude continued until this morning. I made a conscious effort to sit on my back porch and pray before the Lord. I put all my needs before Him and told Him I was now going to do my Devotions, as promised. I would blog about all of this turmoil and I was going to do anything I could to find Him so that I might "Arise and Walk"! I searched some scripture, I read my previous posts and of course, it was all there.

My own lessons: "Let the Son Shine In," "An Oasis in the Desert, not a Mirage," "Sometimes it's So Obvious," and 'Learning Lessons" all -- ALL keep bringing me back to the same lesson that God is trying to instill in me. And then today's scripture brought it home:

Luke 18:31-34
Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished."

"My Utmost For His Highest" states:
The bravery of God in trusting us! You say - "But He has been unwise to choose me, because there is nothing in me; I am not of any value." That is why He chose you. As long as you think there is something in you, He cannot choose you because you have ends of your own to serve; but if you have let Him bring you to the end of your self-sufficiency then He can choose you to go with Him to Jerusalem, and that will mean the fulfilment of purposes which He does not discuss with you.

We are apt to say that because a man has natural ability, therefore he will make a good Christian. It is not a question of our equipment but of our poverty, not of what we bring with us, but of what God puts into us; not a question of natural virtues of strength of character, knowledge, and experience - all that is of no avail in this matter. The only thing that avails is that we are taken up into the big compelling of God and made His comrades. The comradeship of God is made up out of men who know their poverty. He can do nothing with the man who thinks that he is of use to God. As Christians we are not out for our own cause at all, we are out for the cause of God, which can never be our cause. We do not know what God is after, but we have to maintain our relationship with Him whatever happens. We must never allow anything to injure our relationship with God; if it does get injured we must take time and get it put right. The main thing about Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the atmosphere produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to look after, and it is the one thing that is being continually assailed."

God wants me at the end of my self-sufficiency. He can use me not in my feeling of "being equipped for God" but in my Poverty. "We must never allow anything to injure our relationship with God; if it does get injured we must take time and get it put right." How long must I continue to let God down when I begin to get all upset when the storms blow? When will I be mature enough to stay calm and know that He is in control?

I am walking now. I have gone through the "pins and needles" stage, however painful, and my legs are beginning to walk - however humbled. I must also look deeper into today's scripture and see ".... all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished." This world is temporary. These problems are beyond microscopic in the scheme of God's plan for this world, in the blueprint of God's plan for me. And you. And Our God is Bigger and Greater and More Powerful than all of the problems in this world.

Today, let HIM blow your storms away.

P.S. Moments after I posted this, my father called me to tell me he got a job, which means I get to do his job of delivering newspapers for awhile, which will certainly help my situation. Praise God for again delivering "A Cup of Instant-Answered Prayer". Please continue to pray for my family's spiritual and emotional healing.