Wednesday, July 1, 2015

To Hear Like A Robin

As I looked out my window I saw two birds foraging in the morning grass.  One was a starling, black feathers gleaming in the sunlight.  The other was a robin, with a chest round and red like an apple.  The starling moved at a steady pace, walking and pecking at the ground, constantly moving.  The robin, however, would take a few steps, and then stop.  His head would tilt and cock, intently listening, and then he would peck the ground quickly.  He would take a few more steps, stop, wait, listen, and peck.  I watched for a few minutes at the two birds and their completely different methods.  There didn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason in the starling’s walk, but there was intentionally and mindfulness to the robin.  Finally, the robin took flight, seemingly riding on a stream of golden sunlight into the nearby tree, where he rested, a flaming jewel against the jade leaves and cerulean morning sky.  The starling meandered over to a gathering of his friends and they all just kept walking and pecking, walking and pecking.

Jesus in Matthew 13:9 tells the people, “He who has ears let him hear.”  He tells us in John 10:27, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” 

The word hear is used over 360 times in the Bible.  How often to we stop to hear God?  I don’t mean a quick prayer as you multitask, commuting in your car or running on a treadmill.  How often do you stop whatever you are doing, and take time to be alone and listen with every fiber of your being, soul and spirit for God’s voice?  How often do we obey His command to be still and know He is God?

The psalmist writes in Psalm 40:6, “I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.”  How can we delight God if we don’t take time to listen so we know Him and know what delights Him?  How can His word be at home in our hearts if we do not hear it?  We are told in Luke 8:17-18 to take care how we listen, for whoever has, to him more shall be given.  God wants us to hear Him, to know Him, and the more we spend time with Him He promises to give us more of Himself.  He wants to be known, as intimately as a man and woman when they come together in one flesh.  He calls to us, sometimes in the thunder (Psalm 81:7), sometimes in a whisper (1 Kings 19:12-13).  The God who spoke and called all into being is calling us.  Stop!  Listen!




I want my spiritual life, my relationship with God, to emulate that robin.  I want to spend my first morning moments with Him.  To begin by stopping to be wholly in the light of the Son, then listen silently without motion or distraction until I hear His voice, His directives, followed by immediate, unwavering obedience.  Only then will I take the next few steps as He has led.  Only then… until it is time for me to fly away to find rest nestled in Him.Him.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Lent: Looking for the Cross Day 11

Photo:  Linda Cannon

Sadly, one area in which we lose our ability to truly see the Cross is in religion. We go through a myriad of spiritual gyrations, disciplines and dances in an effort to perform the dance of good enough until we drop, hopeless and exhausted, never really having any assurance that we got a passing grade. 

The simplicity of the Cross is hard to embrace. So we play connect-the-dots on our perceived path to salvation, hoping that if we can clean up, be good enough, say enough prayers, perform enough good deeds... Well, there you go, you'll be in!  But when is enough enough?

Jesus has told us, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life." (John 14:6). It is not what we do. But what God has already done in His unmeasurable love, grace and mercy. "For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him" (John 3:16-17).  God has already paid the price for our sin and condemnation -- all we need do is accept His free gift of salvation by giving Him our lives. 

Photo:  Linda Cannon
Religion is man's reaching up to God. But nothing we ever do will be "good enough."  So let go of trying. Instead, grab hold of Jesus, accept His gift to you. See the Cross in the field of your futile efforts of connecting the religious dots... And rest in the assurance of eternal and abundant life in Jesus Christ when you ask Him into your life as Lord and Savior. 


Friday, March 6, 2015

Lent: Looking for the Cross Day 10


Lent – a time of releasing, giving up.  I read a posting on Facebook that challenged the readers to give up their “gadgets and technology” from sundown one day to sundown the next (sort of like a technology Sabbath).  Giving up my internet, my iPad, and (gasp, she breaks out in a cold sweat as she writes this) my (dare she actually put it in print) attached-at-the-umbilical-cord smart phone?”  Seriously?  How will I live, breath, manage?????  I shake just visualizing this barren wasteland of unplugged!

This also got me to thinking (a dangerous endeavor)… how can I go about giving up not simply the toys/tools of my life, but the underlying disease for which I use these implements of distraction… yes, I’m going there.  BUSY-NESS.  How do I give up, release, let go of this lifestyle that is wearing me down, stealing my joy, and probably killing me softly?

Fully admitting it is my own hand which feeds this ever-hungering monster that I call my daily calendar, am I at a point where I can even stop?  Am I addicted to busyness?  To the maddening pace of rushing like a crazy woman from job to school, meeting to gym, office to client, lunch/dinner with friend to church activities?  Is living in such a manner that I am perpetually frazzled, frayed, tense and tired – and barely ever feeling 100% -- giving any glory to God, giving my best to my beloved husband, treasured family and friends, and all my varied responsibilities and positions?  Barely making deadlines, being so worn out that procrastination becomes my only guilt-ridden method of stopping, falling into bed only to fight through a night of classic stress-related, Technicolor, detail-crammed dreams where I find myself always late, lost or frantically not ready… I say I don’t want to live this way, and yet every call, appointment, and commitment is one I have chosen to add, selected to feed the beast of “just one more thing.”  I have struggled for years with this disease.  How often have I joked that my life is like a hamster wheel, and someone has fed my hamster crack!

Dear God, I crave YOU.  I am hungry and thirsty for your peace… I want so much to stop the thought fest in my brain long enough to pray, really pray and hear You.  I confess I have no idea how to be still before You in order to know You.  Yes, I read my one-minute daily devotional and listen to sermons on the radio and podcast, pray during my commute, catch a quick video on the internet and hear the Sunday sermons... but we both know that has nothing to do with spending quiet time just with You, reading Your word, just being still.

Be still, cease striving, the Hebrew word says to sink, relax, let drop, abandon, refrain, forsake.

Okay… I am clueless, Papa.  But I come before You and ask Your help because I do want to cease striving, drop everything at Your feet, forsake all else in order to gain You.  And yes, I am warped enough in my sick little brain to think, “Uh-oh, is He going to put me in a coma or break my leg so I will stop?”  Not that I would be surprised, because I realize in my rebellious heart sometimes You have had to take unusual measures to get my attention.  But as the Michael Smith hymn goes, I am desperate for You.  So take my iPhone, my tablet, my Google calendars, my multiple email address, blogs, my shattered and multi-tasked, wrung-up self and my 24/7s.  Teach me how to live each moment as You would have me live.  I pray for the eyes, wisdom and discernment to choose not the easy good-from-bad but the best from the good.  Whether this is a season of activity or a season of rest, help me live it so I know it is on Your time frame, and not my own. 


Instead of constantly looking at the clock, let me instead rest my gaze on the Cross.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lent: Looking for the Cross Day 9

Photo:  Linda Cannon

I am a very stubborn, independent, proud and self-reliant woman. I do not like to need or depend on anyone. I will do it myself, thank you very much. I will handle it and most of all control every step of it along the way. I will forge my own path in the darkest of nights, through the midst of any storm. That's just the way it is. That's just the way I am. Period. End of conversation. 

Or is it?

Tonight I drove for 90 minutes smack dab in the middle of an ice storm to get home -- normally a 15 minute ride over 10 miles of suburban side roads.  I don't freak about driving in bad weather, but my knuckles were firmly clenching the steering wheel the whole ride and, in the morning, I have no doubt whatsoever that I will probably find permanent indentations there. I pulled into the driveway and breathed a sigh of relief and a quick prayer of thanks for a safe ride. 

As the ice-encrusted driver door slammed shut creating a frozen symphony of shattering icicles, my eyes caught the first glimpse of it. There it was... the Cross. Covering the path I had taken to get into the driveway... shining and as big as life. The Cross was with me, every inch of the way. Through every red light, every turn, every slippery corner. 

Why am I so worried, fearful and obsessed with letting go? Giving the control of all life's issues to Him (like I ever really had control anyway)? Every mile of my path is covered by the Cross.

Today I give up control to You, precious Lord. Today I will trust in and rely upon You, acknowledge and obey You. Please direct my path this day. Amen. 


Lent: Looking for the Cross Day 8



Photo:  Toni Campbell (see note below)  
Is your Cross ever hidden by the "full" of your life?  Has the comfort, the plenty, the ease of a life with warmth and food and the general necessities met taken up all your shelf space... Yet still you find your heart barren, longing for more?

You look, but see nothing. You go through a closet crammed with clothes and shoes and jewelry and purses, yet proclaim you have nothing to wear. You stack your shelves (and credit card debt) sky high with your instantaneous "I'll feel better once I have this because I really need it" self-centric pleasures. But no sooner is it out of the designer bag than you weary of it (like a two-week old Christmas toy long forgotten) and are on to the next magic distraction that will momentarily fill your longing but soon gather dust on your heavy-laden "self shelf"

It is the season to strip away all that hinders you from seeing, hearing, and giving first place to The One Who was nailed to the Cross... Sacrificing all for You. 

Today, empty your self shelf. Unburden yourself, unchain yourself from whatever needs to go. For it is only when we empty our shelves of self that we will clearly come face-to-face with the Cross... and our Savior... THE ONE AND ONLY fulfillment of every need now and forevermore. 

Amen. 

Photo Credit:  My friend Toni Campbell -- she wrote of this photo:  "I asked a volunteer to take a picture of our empty shelves in The Pantry to share online with our request for food donations.  Look at the pipes above the shelf.."  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lent: Looking for the Cross - Day 7

Photo:  Linda Cannon
One of my favorite old hymns is "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus."  The words declare, "the world behind me, the Cross before me... no turning back, no turning back."  It communicates a steadfast resolve to turn our back on our old, sinful ways and to look ahead to the daily glory of living with our eyes on Jesus, our hearts and lives given to Him. 

When I peer back in the rear view mirror of my life I can see the Cross - in mercy and grace, woven amidst each day, even when I was not living for Him. He was still loving me, seeking me.  Even when I didn't want to hear and ran with all my might to pathways far away... dark paths that left me empty and broken. The Cross was calling me even in those selfish, sin-laden days of disobedience and rebellion, extending love and forgiveness. 

Gaze turned forward... the Cross before me.  Communicating life, hope, the promise of now and forevermore with Jesus. Now I live for Him, now my life is His and my future is in His hands. And while the journey may have bumps along the way, and turns I may not anticipate or understand, my heart rests in the peace and confidence that I am in His will, and He is in control. 

So as I travel forward, no turning back, I can't help but think of the fitting lyrics of a modern song of praise:  "Jesus, Take the wheel!"

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lent: Looking for the Cross Day 4

Photo:  Linda Bush Cannon
This is my coworker and friend Bob.  He commutes by train, and on the first morning of Lent he was met by a priest at the Princeton Junction train station from Trinity Church, where they have a program called "Ashes to Go".  The priest was administering ashes right at the station. 

The church reaching out to people - and proving that God doesn't need a fancy sanctuary for worship - it can be as simple as a train station platform!

Finding the Cross on the station platform... beautiful.

Lent: Looking for the Cross Day 6

Photo:  Linda Bush Cannon
In the bitter cold of the darkness, as the moonlight turned the powdery snow into a shimmery blanket of diamonds, I took off my glove and drew a Cross in the frozen canvas.  I stood there in the silence and prayed, my breath carrying my frosty petition up to Heaven.  The near zero air hurt as it entered my lungs, so I gasped a hasty “Amen” and bolted for the warmth of my kitchen door.

Looking for the Cross –  God, am I so secure in my warm little world, enveloped by the creature comforts and affluence of my American Christianity, that instead of seeking You I choose instead to run back to what I perceive to be the easy safety of my daily existence?  Do I whisper a pious prayer of routine that I add to my checked off To Do List, then escape the possibility of discomfort, inconvenience… even danger?

Oh God forgive me.  Take it all, take it all… just give me Jesus.  Break my heart for all that breaks Yours, give me Your eyes, Your plan, Your will.  

Psalm 83:16  “Cover their faces with shame, Lord, so that they will seek Your name.

Deuteronomy 4:29  “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

1 Chronicles 22:19  “Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God.

Psalm 27:8  “My heart says of you, ‘Seek His face!’  Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

Lent: Looking for the Cross Day 5

Photo:  Nicole Portine Ott, taking a photo of her daughter Abigail with her Daddy, Curtis.
Looking for the Cross...

The simple act of a precious child touching her father’s hand.  Laying one chubby little soft finger over the strong, working hand of her daddy.  

God is that close to us.  Always reaching His hand, His heart towards us.  All we need do is respond, reach out to Him, grab hold tight. Our heavenly Father - eternally there, guiding, loving, seeking us.  Offering His unconditional love and strength.  Seeking our best, with plans for a life we can’t even begin to imagine… And when we seek Him with all our hearts, He is there… always.  It's a promise.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

Lent: Looking for the Cross Day 3

Photo:  Linda Bush Cannon
This morning I was getting gas at 5:30 and the temp was 4 degrees -- and I was feeling sorry for my little, cold self, UNTIL... the poor gas attendant came up to my car, looking like the little brother in the movie "The Christmas Story", all bundled up barely able to move. Suddenly I felt guilty for needing gas!

As I sat there in my warm, comfy car across the road a guy was riding his bicycle (I'm assuming to work) - complete with flashing lights and those glowing reflector stripes on his coat. This is obviously his regular mode of transportation.

Lent -I am looking for the Cross. I am seeking Christ and to be like Him and to clean out the mind/body/soul/space clutter.

Forgive me, Lord, for the clutter of being so self centric that I don't realize each moment all you have given to me. For when my eyes are on me, they aren't on You.

Thank You for my blessings this morning as I sit in a warm car and a warm office, space heater fully cranked, drinking a hot cup of tea. I am humbled at how wealthy and privileged I am to have so much. Teach me to be more appreciative for the little things that really aren't! And help me let go of all the blessings that I have turned into "rights" or become so blinded to in my selfish endeavors of greed and comfort.

The photo is a picture of my car logo... Funny how I never saw the Cross until this morning.

Lent: Looking for the Cross Day 2


Photo:  Heather Bush
The Cross is humbling. The path of the Cross takes many turns, but is never more than one step at a time. It beckons us come, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and Christ will give you rest. Too often, however, we are so busy or distracted that we never see the Cross… even when it is before us at the very next turn.

Look down at the pattern of the Cross in this kitchen floor.

It is only when we lower our head that we can “see” the Cross. It is in the everyday, the mundane, the walking across the floor to get a cup of coffee, the mindless acts we perform without a second thought. The walking dead. We trample the Cross, walk right by, completely oblivious to its message and gift. Too proud to believe. Too weary to care. But there it remains, day in, day out, whispering your name. The Cross… ever before you, ever loving you, offering you life, abundant, eternal life.

Take time today to sit in your kitchen, the common room of most homes, often the heart of the home, lower your head, and spend time with the Christ of the Cross.

Lent: Looking for the Cross Day 1

Photo:  Linda Cannon
Lent Day 1

I am looking for the Cross. I want my eyes to be laser-focused to see the Cross everywhere I am, everywhere I go. Because we see what we look for in life. Look around and notice everything red. Now close your eyes and remember everything blue. See what I mean? You remembered what you were trying hard to notice.

This Lenten season I have challenged myself, and my friends, to find the Cross. In the obvious, and in the obscure, in the natural, and in the most bizarre. I’m doing this as a reminder to myself that all I am, every breath I take and every moment I am given life here on earth, needs to be built on Christ, and the Cross, and all He has done for me, on all His blessings and promises, and His return. I am basing this on Hebrews 12:2 – keep your eyes on Jesus!

Today I took this photograph of a handicapped bathroom stall. The symbols screamed out to me. First, you can see from the highlights (mine – the walls/floors were not stained in any way) that there are crosses everywhere. So even when I think my life is “in the toilet”, the Cross is there with me. And as a former bulimic, who was handicapped for so long in the chains of this eating disorder, a handicapped stall took on a whole new meaning for me. There are handrails in this stall – embedded in the Cross tiles – I know He will hold me up and help me in my weakness. There is water – dirty and clean – symbolizing how He washes me and flushes away all my sin. And it’s not polite to talk about, or politically correct to show a toilet – and I love that because the Cross was never meant to be polite or politically correct. 

And finally, there is the realization that the great equalizer in life is that EVERYONE, EVERYONE needs a bathroom, rich or poor, celebrity or common folk. Just like the Cross.

This is my gift of praise to Christ my Savior on this first day of Lent.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dr. Jeckyl to Mrs. HIDE!

In a recent sermon I heard by Dr. Tony Evans, he used an illustration of the Christian as a sponge.  He said (and I’m paraphrasing from my unreliable memory) that when you squeeze a sponge what comes out is what has been stored on the inside.  So when you are put in a pressure situation, what comes out of you in the process is exactly what has been hidden within.  That analogy has stayed with me, and sadly, hit home in a big way over the last few days.

I’ve been under a lot of little pressures building layer upon layer, and have felt them rumbling and bubbling and churning inside me like molten sewage, furious to erupt.  The more I felt squeezed, the higher it rose in my chest, and within the last week I have watched it gush out in muddy sludge, spewing negativity, eye-rolling putrid attitudes and a sickening 3-V vocabulary (vicious, vitriolic and venomous).  I have been ugly and sinful, embarrassed at the sloppy slurry of slime that is being squeezed out of me… ashamed and disappointed in myself that I am not who I had hoped I was at this point in my walk with the Lord.  This is not to say that I have to be little Miss Barbie Perfect 24/7/365, but I have so not been the example of Christ, and this above all is what saddens me.  Out of the abundance of my heart the mouth speaks, and the abundance in this heart has NOT been the treasure trove of that which is true, honorable, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent or praiseworthy.  The quiet and gentle spirit which I seek to cultivate and nurture has morphed into a spirit of grumbling, screeching, discontent from one hot mess of a person I do not like or wish to be around.  I have gone from the proverbial Dr. Jeckyl to Mrs. HIDE!!!  

So today, on this first day of Lent, it is time to start again.  I seek forgiveness for my words/attitude, from both Christ my Lord and those who have been caught in the shrapnel.  I humbly learn the lesson that my maturity level needs serious work, and ask the Lord to squeeze until every drop of me is gone, that I might then absorb His Living Water and be filled to a juicy, dripping overflow of His Holy Spirit.





Friday, August 8, 2014

Epic Fail

Did you ever want to duct tape your mouth shut within a micro millisecond of your ears hearing the syllables you spewed out?

Yup.  Guilty.  Soooo guilty. 

Yesterday I wasn’t having the best of days, but I opted to try and make the best of the late afternoon/early evening.  I grabbed my two new furry stepchildren (okay, step doggies) and ventured out with them solo for the first time to a local dog park.  It was beautiful weather, and I thought it would be just what we all needed.  

I parked and they excitedly bounded out of the car (after I had grabbed their leashes with superhero speed), and off we went for a bit of bonding in doggie heaven.  There were two other doggies in the small dog area, and everyone seemed to be doing well as I unleashed them to socialize.  All good… 

until…

two (cough, cough) older gentlemen walked right by the big dog fenced-in area (not three feet away) and brought in their dogs to our area.  The one dog was quite old (as was his owner), and then there was… the OTHER dog.  The alpha dog.  The dog that immediately ran after the smaller dogs like they were appetizers.  My two pups jumped up on the bench with me, and Scooter (my alpha pup) began growling and barking with all the bravado (masking fear) that his little body could muster.  I’m sitting there, watching all this, and none of the other small doggie owners are saying anything.


 I spoke up, feeling quite the Joan of Arc champion of all dogs small, telling this guy that this was the small dog area and the large dog area was right other there (and pointed with raised eyebrows for dramatic effect).   The alpha dog alpha owner smarmily proceeds to tell me that his dog is right in the middle, and… yes… and that “you can complain all you want.”  He then informs me that they don’t like aggressive dogs in the park… as Scooter continues to growl, which seems like a great thing for me to begin doing as well.  I add a bit of a grrrr as I spit out, “Well, he wasn’t aggressive until your big dog came in here and scared him!”  He laughs, this big bully man with his big bully dog, and then arrogantly says, “Oh, you probably don’t even have a permit to be here.”  Ugh… okay, I need a permit to be in here?  Seriously?  My brain feels like it’s about to explode and about a million “comebacks” fly through until I land on this one and it comes out of my mouth dripping with venom, “Oh, why don’t you just shut up?”  Now there’s a snappy, intelligent response.  He just laughs again, and after a few minutes decides to leave. 

Needless to say, I left shortly thereafter, chalking up this foray into the world of dog park politics as an epic fail.  But more importantly, I am most disturbed about my own attitude and behavior.  Okay, this guy was a real dork, but I didn’t have to be.  I just can’t imagine Jesus telling His enemies to shut up.  Hmmm… godly woman attitude and “quiet and gentle spirit”… epic fail.

It has bothered me ever since, even though I have asked the Lord to forgive my attitude and dishonoring and disrespectful words.  This little momentary snippet of my life has revealed some “ugly” that I don’t want to have in me… a chink in my character.  It revealed the nasty nature that I don’t like to admit having, with an aroma not of sweet perfume, but more of something that I might have trekked through on my way out of the dog park.  As I was driving into work today, two separate sermons on the radio addressed the use of words (uh-huh, yes indeed, no co-winky-dink here, God was sending a lesson to me LOUD AND CLEAR – with loving grace, but nonetheless, a lesson that pierced my heart, which I need to hear and put into practice).  

The first was from Truth for Life’s Alistair Begg in his message “The Use and Abuse of Words”:  http://www.truthforlife.org/broadcasts/2014/08/08/the-use-and-abuse-of-words-part-2-of-2/

The second from Adrienne Rogers is entitled “Tune In, Tone Down, and Sweeten Up” and can be found at http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/love-worth-finding/custom-player.  

Both pastors spoke from James chapter 3.  And it doesn’t surprise me that both men quoted the same poem below (author unknown):
If all that we say in a single day,
With never a word left out,
Were painted each night in clear black and white,
It would prove queer reading, no doubt.

And then just suppose 'ere our eyes would close,
We must read the whole record through,
Then wouldn't we sigh, and wouldn't we try,
A good deal less talking to do.

And I more than half think that many a kink
Would be smoother in life's tangled thread,
If half that we say in a single day
Were forever left unsaid.


I think this weekend I will spend time memorizing the following verses, in the hopes and prayers that next time I find myself in a similar situation, my words, however necessary, however, justified, will be filled with grace and will honor my Savior.  




and my prayer will be that of King David: 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I'm currently taking "New Testament Survey" at Liberty University Online, and I wanted to encourage any Bible readers to pick up a copy of "The Essence of the New Testament:  A Survey", by Elmer L. Towns and Ben Gutierrez.  It is a wonderful book that provides a fascinating, readable, practical view of the New Testament.  I am learning so very much and it truly is helping me see many new things.  I am recommending it as our book of the month.  You can get it at Amazon for $19.99 as a Kindle edition, or as a hardback book for $25.68.  A must read and have for your library! And do take the class online at Liberty University if you have an opportunity as well.  Blessings!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lent Challenge Day 2: "GIVE"


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lent: Looking for the Cross Day 4


Photo:  Linda Bush Cannon
This is my coworker and friend Bob.  He commutes by train, and on the first morning of Lent he was met by a priest at the Princeton Junction train station from Trinity Church, where they have a program called "Ashes to Go".  The priest was administering ashes right at the station. 

The church reaching out to people - and proving that God doesn't need a fancy sanctuary for worship - it can be as simple as a train station platform!

Finding the Cross on the station platform... beautiful.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lent

Lent... a time of reflection, a time of looking forward, a time of renewal and praise to our Lord Jesus Christ for His sacrifice for us that we might have eternal life through Him.  

It is only in the last few years I have honored this season and I am happy to see it receiving more recognition.  There are several wonderful options to take time for Lent this year, and here I will share some with you.

http://www.aholyexperience.com/ = Ann Voskamp's website where she is offering a free Family Lent and Easter Devotional.  You can create an Easter tree, read as a single, roomie, family, coworkers... invite others to join you!

Read the New Testament over the next 40 days - here is a video from National Community Church.  Here is the video.

I have decided to accept Laura Humphrey-Dohmann's Instagram Lent Challenge of taking a representative photograph a day and I will post each day here.  I have also invited several of my very talented photographer friends to join as well.  You can find Laura's challenge at:

http://instagram.com/p/lH7blCmQps/

So... I am planning on reading the New Testament over the next 40 days, select an item or activity from which to fast, and to take Lent photo challenge.  I pray the Lord will be honored and glorified by these offerings to Him as I seek His face and draw closer to Him.

Blessings as you prepare your heart for the Savior.









Friday, February 14, 2014

A Few Thoughts from a Single On Valentine's Day


Valentines Day. Ah yes, that hyped-up Cupid-infused Hallmark-created reminder to many that their left-hand ring finger is as empty as their bed.  That there are no card-giving, roses-toting, candlelit-dinner-taking romantic-words-whispering heartthrobs ringing their doorbells tonight. And if you're in the 50+ singles category you can add the icy-fingered despair that your shelf life is expiring with every passing minute and if God doesn't send "him" (cue sunbeams and the angelic chorus ) soon, there won't be much left to be swept away to happy ever after-ville!  Oh, where IS that bottle of wrinkle cream?!?!?

Yes I'll be the first in line to admit sometimes it stinks to be alone. But God's been working with me a lot on this very subject for awhile now. He has asked the hard question when I've cried and told Him I'm lonely and I didn't think I'd be where I am at this stage of the game, and  I have so much to offer and how come...

"Am I not enough?"

Whoa. 

"Am I not enough?"

It stopped me dead in my tracks. 

How do you answer that? "Well yeah-uh, but... Uh... Well..."

That question has haunted me ever since... And then I realized that, if I let Him be enough He could fill the emptiness.  He could calm my longing heart. He could help me get my eyes off what I didn't have and fill me with all I did have... And all I could give away. 

I can take this love and pour it out on others, just love on them and bless them and bring them joy. I can use this time and energy to spend with The Lord, cultivating our relationship and growing and maturing as a godly woman. Instead of whining I can be shining, radiating His love to others... 

So okay, it's still not having a flesh-and-blood someone to romance and hold and cuddle up next to all warm and sleepy in the middle of the night. 

But before me is my holy Bridegroom, the Lover of my soul. The One Who gave His life for me. The One Who loves me unconditionally in spite of my past and ugly heart and sinful selfish self. The One Who always has time to listen to me, Who will never hurt me or lie to me... or abandon me. He will never leave me - He has promised me that. And I believe Him and find comfort and contentment in that. 

Does it mean I'm never sad or lonely, or don't hope for a lifetime of love with that special "someone"? (Cue sunbeams and chorus again). Of course not. 

But... I have found me... in Christ. I am finally, fully myself in/with Him.  I have found joy and contentment in my singleness. I don't know what The Lord has in store for me. We talk about it, and He knows the desires of my heart. I place them all in His capable hands.  I surrender them to His will for my life. He will give me strength and wisdom to walk whatever journey is around the corner. I'm done worrying and fussing and fretting about it. I'm gonna live each day with everything I've got, every drop of love I can give --regardless of whether I'm a Ms. or Mrs.  Because at the end, whether it's been with someone I can call "the Hubs", or whether it's been with family, friends and others, I want to know I loved deeply and fully and completely in His name. 

"I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content." Psalm 131:2

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:12-13

Monday, February 10, 2014

Terrors in the Night


"Tonight I will sleep securely on a bed of peace because I trust in You, You alone."
Ps 3:5

I wrestle awake, heart pounding out of my chest, mouth drought dry, practically gasping for breath. I fumble as trembling fingers flail for the safety of the lamplight on my nightstand. Struggling to sit up, the horrific video of the nightmare washes over me like an unwelcome sea wave. My body shakes as I try to convince it that what just happened was a dream, not reality... 

I have struggled with nightmares my whole life. Dreams that pierce my sanity in the darkness - so vivid and detailed I can tell you the patterns on the wallpaper, describe the scents, and recount each scene as if it were a recently watched movie. And here I am again, lights ablaze, fully awake to fight against the monsters not under my bed... but in my head. 

Once more, however, I find my refuge in God's Word. My sleeplessness finds solace in His truth, my rest in His reality. Like a loving Papa comforting his young child, He wraps His love around me and whispers tenderly, "Shhh... there now, rest securely, I'm here... I'm here.  You're safe in My arms."

My heartbeat and breathing rest. Terror subsides. Peace replaces panic.  My Father is here at my side and will not leave me. I snuggle down as I almost feel Him tucking me in. I cradle my Bible as a babe clings to a teddy. My heart calms as His lullabye of love blankets my sleep. 

Fear not, my soul, for He is with me. 

"The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will... rejoice over you with singing."  Zephaniah 3:17

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You wi not fear the terrors of night,,," Psalm 91:4-5

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Day Star... Morning Star

2 Peter 1:19  We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 

I love stars, sparkling like diamonds in the velvety blackness of the night sky.  There is nothing like being out in nature on a clear night when the only light is that from above, the moon and stars.  I can breathe deeper, think clearer… gazing at the miracle of the twinkle, twinkle from a little star.  

When I read this verse in 2 Peter this morning I looked up the word star.  In the original Greek it is phosphorus, from which we get the word of the same name – phos meaning light, and phoros meaning bearer.  Phosphorus is in every cell of our bodies.  It is light-bearing, bringing and giving light.  White phosphorus glows in a darkened room when exposed to oxygen.  

Most importantly, when you find the phrase morning star or day star in the Scriptures, they are all a metaphor for Christ Himself.

Christ, the Star rising in my heart, setting the darkness aglow, brilliantly glittering and shimmering and flashing life-giving illumination to every corner.  Taking my breath away, restoring it again.  I inhale deeply as I think of Him in His majesty residing in me, this dark, worn vessel.  My hand reaches up to my chest as if to hold Him there, feel His energy, longing to experience His splendor.

I lift my face to the morning sky, to Him, the Morning Star… the Day Star… the Star that lights my world and my soul shadows.  A Star that shines more intensely vibrant than anything He has created.  A Light that shows the way to eternal life.  A luminescent Lover of my soul.  Encompass every cell in my being, my Star… radiate in me Your love, Your light that I might glow from within bearing witness to You. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Meaty Reading

In a post from my Coach Linda Bush blog yesterday (click HERE) I mentioned I was reading Andrew Murray's devotional on John 15 regarding Christ's parable on the Vine and branches.  Well today a friend told me about this website: 

http://www.worldinvisible.com/library/bookcat.htm

where you can read FOR FREE many wonderful books by classic Christian authors including Murray, Hannah Whitall Smith, Karl Barth, E. M. Bounds and many others.

I am seeking to be "Frugal in '14" this year, but that doesn't mean just saving as much $$$ as possible.  I want to be very careful how I spend my time as well, which is priceless.  Let's face it, in time you might be able to earn millions of dollars, but millions of dollars won't buy you one second more!  Okay, maybe you can hire people to do all your work, but you get my meaning!!!  

As I think about how to achieve my Frugal in '14 goal, one thing I am being very mindful of is the use of my rare moments of down time, which I often use to catch up on my reading.  Instead of spending it on "fluff" (certain magazines, books, mindless internet surfing, TV, etc.) I want to make my time count, especially for eternal value.  This link above to literature that  I call "meaty reading" (as opposed to fluffy sugar-candy spun reading that isn't worth the paper it's written on, including a LOT of fiction so-called "Christian" books out there, but that's a whole 'nuther topic), will give me a lot of great and FREE reading this year.  Please understanding, I'm not saying I won't ever watch a TV program or pick up a magazine... but like choosing the most nutrient dense and healthy foods for my optimal physical health, I want to be sure to select solid food for my brain and spiritual health as well. Frankly, I also want to do everything I can to walk strong and close to Jesus, and something I ask myself often is "How would I feel if Jesus came back today and I was reading this? doing this? watching that?" It's a question that certainly convicts me to spend my time with more of a kingdom-focus!

May I encourage you to select at least six of the books offered, and take a month or two to read each one. I know you won't regret it!  And if you have any recommendations on books that you have found helped you get deeper into your Christian walk, please post your comments here or email me at westudyGodsword@gmail.com.  Just FYI, a current author that I enjoy and recommend is Mark Batterson, and my January book (which is also our book of the month here on this blog) is his newest, "All In".

Thanks and blessings for a day walking close to the Lord, filled with love and laughter! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Free Beth Moore Book

Today I'd like to start off the new year by sharing with you THREE FREE Kindle edition books by Beth Moore's book, "When Godly People Do Ungodly Things:  Finding Authentic Restoration in the Age of Seduction", "To Live Is Christ", and "The Beloved Disciple".  Here's the links: 

Beth Moore is one of my favorite authors/speakers.  Over the years I have done many of her studies, watched her DVDs, and I highly recommend her! 

One of the things I'm doing this year is to keep a list of books that I want to complete (as I'm usually the one with the 6-7 books on the nightstand all about 1/3 read!), and I am not allowing myself to spend one red cent on any more books until I have completed reading the ones I already have in my hot little hands or on my Kindle!!!  So this was kind of a fun way to get THREE FREE BOOKS from an author I love!!!  Plus, I am going to replace three on my list with these instead, so I'm saving money and decluttering at the same time.  Ahhhh.... frugal and organized - today's baby step towards two of my 2014 goals.  Not too shabby - the first Monday of the month and I saved about $60 in freebies - woohoo!!!

For more info on organizing, you can go to my website at www.coachlindabush.com where this week I'm featuring blogs about organizing.

Enjoy these books, and I wish you every blessing and joy as you begin a new year in your journey with our Savior!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Okay, I'm putting it out there - this independent, strong and content and usually incredibly busy and happy woman...

This is the hardest time of the year for me to be single.  

It's the time when everyone wants the Norman Rockwell fantasy family.  And when you want someone to snuggle with on the couch while sipping a glass of wine or hot cocoa while staring dreamily at the lights on the Christmas tree.  

It's not about exchanging big fancy gifts... 

but sitting together in church and singing Christmas carols.  Holding hands and praying together as you celebrate the birth of your Savior.

It's about watching old Christmas movies, being with family and friends.. and sharing love and laughter.  

It's about falling asleep next to the one you love and feeling all warm and cozy just as you drift off to have sugarplums dance in your head.

But my couch is empty... and my bed is cold...

There's no special Christmas card, or eyes to gaze into... no one to corner under the mistletoe...

And while most of the time being single is fine and dandy and I don't equate marriage as the be-all end-all status to solve life's problems... and I know you can be just as lonely wearing a little gold band and having the houseful of kids and a dog and all the yada-yada that goes along with every two-hour sappy Christmas movie ever made...

it's especially hard this time of year.

Just sayin'...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Oh Come Let Us Adore Him

Matthew 2:11
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary His mother, and fell down, and worshipped Him:  and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

The wise men had been watching and waiting for Him.  They had been actively looking, scrutinizing the skies for signs, and when they saw the star they got up and pursued Him.  They travelled a specific path until they found Him they fell down and worshipped Him.  Only then did they open their treasures before Him and lay them at His feet.

On this third day of December, do you find your heart searching for Christ?  Or are you distracted with the tiring trimmings of hurried and harried holiday demands?  Is your mind and calendar already diverted from the path that seeks the Sacred?  Are you prematurely preoccupied with plans, pushed by people and poor from present purchases?  Already find yourself disenchanted, looking not so much for the Savior, but for the end of Christmas when all the madness will cease and you will be able to “get back to normal” (whatever that is)?

Weary one, drop everything now and fall down at the feet of Jesus.  Worship the Babe in the manger Who has come to give you life.  Let all else fade and focus on Him and Him alone.  Then, like the wise men, open your treasures to the Savior – your time, your talents, your day and all the intentions, arrangements and preparations therein.  Kneel and seek His face… seek His guidance… come to Him and He will give you rest as your priorities align with His will.  Seek first His kingdom, His righteousness… The well-worn phrase means so much more than just some seasonal saying on a bumper sticker in holiday gridlock – He really IS the reason for the season.  

Oh come, let us adore Him…refreshed and renewed and centered on the Savior.