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BROKEN

Broken in Spirit
I find solace in walking the wooded trails behind my home. The sound of crackling branches beneath my feet and rustling leaves from the canopy of trees above seems to awaken my senses. Daily things that seemed so urgent are momentarily abandoned as I slow my pace and embrace my surroundings.

Yesterday, I needed the respite the trails offered. It had been a 10 hour wait in ER before mom was finally admitted to the hospital. Overwhelmed with exhaustion, I longed for quiet time to meditate and digest the events of the day.

My plan was to curl up on the sofa and do nothing; instead, I walked the trails. For whatever reason, I sensed there was something God wanted to privately share with me. And so, with walking stick in hand, I headed toward the trails.

I probed the ground with my walking stick in search of anything that might bring inspiration to my emotionally charged day. Frustrated, I bowed my head and silently prayed.

“OK, God, a still voice prompted me to take this walk; what is it you want to share with me? “

Immediately the wind seemed to whisper “look upward” and my gaze was directed to a pine tree with its trunk nearly broken in half; most likely, by an expected storm. The tree appeared to be in survival mode with signs of new growth just below the break as it struggled to find light. In that moment it was clear what God wanted to share with me.

The events of the last few weeks have left me feeling much like the pine tree that stood before me; broken and struggling to reach upward to the light. God understood the heaviness of my heart. My merciful Heavenly Father had directed me to this pine tree to speak to my heart that in my brokenness he was near.

It is our brokenness that attracts God’s attention and reveals our need for His mercy. When we acknowledge our dependence upon Him, the Holy Spirit shines a searchlight to help us find our way. New life sprouts as we reach toward the beacon of light.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Psalms 51:17
“The Lord is near those with a broken heart.” Psalms 34:18

To those who are broken my life circumstances and losses, I say look up. God is near and longs to cradle your heart in His Divine hands and breathe new life into your spirit.

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I DON’T KNOW ABOUT TOMORROW

WhoHoldsTomorrow

The past several weeks have been filled with heartache. I lost a good friend to cancer and a family member at age 59 to Alzheimer’s. I grope for words of comfort to share with those families torn with grief at the death of a loved one. Amidst this recent roller coaster ride of emotion, I received word that a cousin has been diagnosed with liver/colon cancer. The devastating diagnosis comes just days after her sister’s husband was laid to rest.

Nothing equips us for the detours of this earthly journey. We can prepare, plan and pray, but ultimately, we can’t control our future. For me, the reality of our human limitations was most realized as I watched my Daddy take his last breath. He was a dedicated minister, pastor and Bible teacher. His commitment to his faith was unquestioned; yet, he suffered a debilitating disease that led to death. He couldn’t control his future.

Did my Daddy pray for a miracle? Of course he did. Did he question or understand the earthly path God had chosen for him? If he did, he never shared those thoughts. Instead, he chose to accept those things he could not change and to live each day with hope and purpose.

Only God knows what tomorrow holds for us, our nation and our world. Satan continually deploys detours to keep us from following God’s divine plan.
His earthly arsenal includes sickness, disease, addiction, poverty, abuse, persecution and even death in his attempts to undermine our commitment of faith in Jesus Christ. Stand firm in your Christian faith; refuse to let the enemy compromise or have a stronghold on your faith.

This is a song my Daddy would sing in church when I was a youngster. It still seems very appropriate.

I DON’T KNOW WHO HOLDS TOMORROW
I don’t know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don’t borrow from its sunshine,
For its skies may turn to grey.
I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what lies ahead.

CHORUS:
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But, I know who holds tomorrow
And, I know who holds my hand.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”
Romans 8:38

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BLOSSOM OF HOPE

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This week has felt like I was navigating upstream without a paddle. The onslaught of business issues coupled with the loss of a dear friend to cancer had drained both my mental and physical energy. I needed a distraction from life so I went outside and pulled weeds.

The Barren Tree

The barren weeping cherry tree.

I’m not sure why, but when faced with life’s difficult moments, I find comfort in pulling weeds. I many not be able to control situations in life, but I can control the unwanted growth in my flower beds. And so, with garden trowel in hand, I walked through my flower beds looking for weeds. Every turn of the blade and scoop of dirt would help my plants thrive.

As I worked my way around the property, I approached the final flower bed. It is my favorite flower bed and home to a weeping cherry tree I planted many years ago. Every spring its pink blossoms cascade downward in an effort to kiss the ground below and has been the backdrop of my daughter’s many prom pictures. But today, there were no pink blossoms as it struggled to survive; it was slowly dying and its days were numbered.

Sadness overwhelmed me much like it did when I heard the news of my friend’s death. No amount of weeding, feeding or care would revive or extend the life of my beloved weeping cherry tree. There were a few signs of life, but for the most part, the barren branches told me its days were numbered.

I wrapped my arms around the base of the tree trunk and prayed silently. It wasn’t a prayer for a miracle and certainly not a prayer filled with much faith. It was more an outcry to God for assurance. I needed to know I wasn’t alone in the midst of the difficult moments and challenges before me.

It was a simple prayer,
“Heavenly Father, I am overwhelmed by life right now. I am broken, drained and barren just like this weeping cherry tree. I am being choked by weeds and need your divine intervention. There are no blossoms on this tree that I embrace, not one. If you are here with me, if there is hope beyond today, let me see just one cherry blossom on this tree. Amen.”

For me, one cherry blossom would signify hope endures even in life’s darkest moments. When I finished my prayer, I looked upwards. It was then, my eyes were directed to one lone cherry blossom and I knew God cared about every detail of my life.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Whatever difficulties and trials you face in this life, embrace hope in things eternal. When weeds seek to choke your hope and peace; when you are overwhelmed with sadness, anxiety and the uncertainty of the future, know this: God has a plan for your life.

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MORE THAN I CAN HANDLE

god_is_strong
If I were asked to pick one Bible scripture I believe is repeatedly misinterpreted, it would be 1 Corinthians 10:13.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

This verse is often misquoted as “God won’t give you more than you can handle (bear).” However, you won’t find that anywhere within the pages of the Bible. It simply doesn’t exist. The Bible is filled with stories of individuals given way more than they could handle and lamentations about their suffering.

For a start, take a look at King David, Apostle Paul and Prophet Jeremiah. They were all afflicted and burdened beyond what they could handle. Yet, in adversity, they learned to rely on the divine power of God to sustain them in their darkest hours.

We all will face trials and adversities in our lifetime, but it doesn’t indicate God doesn’t love us. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It is proof God loves me so much that He is unwilling to let us rely on our own strength. When faced with adversity, we need to know that our God will endure and persevere with us until the end; no matter the outcome.

When we face difficulties greater than ourselves God empowers and strengthens us to get through those moments that would otherwise break us.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – Philippians 4:13 NKJV

When faced with a heavy burden or situation, turn to God for strength. I know from experience God’s light is revealed at the end of every spiritual, emotional or physical eclipse. Just whisper His name; He stands ready to strengthen us in our moments of weakness and in times of despair.

The death and resurrection of Christ empowered Christian believers to call out to God in our time of need; it afforded us entry into the Throne Room of God.

Forget about relying on your own strength. Instead, rely on the strength of God and the Holy Spirit when faced with more than you can handle.

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Sending Positive Thoughts Your Way

positiveEnergyWhat exactly does, “Sending positive thoughts your way” mean? Social media is ripe with individuals posting positive thoughts/energy for someone going through a tough time.

There are hundreds of books on the market about the power of positive thinking. Plenty of those published authors who have profited from that mindset, but I am curious about what that mindset entail. If for no one other than myself, I feel the need to tackle the ‘positive thoughts’ comment head-on because it continues to raise questions every time I see it.

I am the daughter of an Assembly of God minister and pastor. My daddy walked the walk that he talked; I don’t think you will find anyone who would disagree. The same couldn’t be said of me. It took a ‘whole lot of’ hardships and life learning curves before I was able to align myself to God’s truth and defined my opinion about the “Sending positive thoughts your way” message.

For the record, I am not a protester of positive thinking. I just don’t believe we are empowered to change anything within the life of someone else without the power of the Holy Spirit working within us. Face it, God is God and we are not. You can hold your breath and wish all the positive thoughts you want but it is prayer and supplication before the Throne of God that moves the obstacles we face in life.

All the positive thoughts in the world are void compared to the power of supplication before God. Supplication is a request that calls God to action and as we bow before Him, He talks to us from the Word. It is in those moments, we discover what His mind is about the petitioned situation.

The positive thought message, in my mind, is an indirect way to bypass any belief in God, Jesus, Scripture or the power of the Holy Spirit.

Want to send positive thoughts? God has no problem with that if it aligns with His Word AND those things your petition is an outcry to God Almighty to intercede on the behalf of others, as well as ourselves. Supplication is a humble attitude that recognizes God’s Glory. It isn’t about generating positive mental thoughts into the universe with hopes our telepathic thoughts will awaken some unknown energy force and return positive vibes to the intended recipient.

 

“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.”
Luke 18:1
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4:16

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MY CUP OVERFLOWETH

PoppyJuice“NeeNee,” shouted my youngest grandson at the top of his lungs, “I poured too much Poppy juice into my cup and it spilled all over.”

The grand kids coined the term Poppy Juice when they were old enough to drink from a sippy cup. It’s a blend of red fruit punch that Poppy mixes in a big jug; should it spill, you have one big sticky mess with a good chance it will stain whatever it penetrates.

I’m fairly certain permanent wheelie marks were left on my office floor as I flew out of my office chair in the direction of the kitchen. What I saw was a panic-stricken six-year old on his knees with paper towel stretched in every direction in an effort to stop the trail of red juice that covered the floor.

“I’m sorry, NeeNee, I didn’t mean to put that much in my cup.” The remorseful and tearful way in which he spoke those words resonated with me. In that moment, I saw myself at the feet of Jesus asking for forgiveness.

I can’t count the number of times my life’s cup has overflowed and required heavenly intervention and damage control to mop up my bad choice messes. Like my grandson, I tend to ignore the voice that continually calls out to be slow and careful and I find myself saying, “I’m sorry, Jesus. I wasn’t slow and careful like you asked. and my cup overflowed.”

With love and a forgiving spirit, my grandson and I worked together to bring restoration to a chaotic and messy situation. That’s exactly what Jesus does for us. When we cry out for help, He comes to us with love, mercy and forgiveness to clean the stains of sin that overflow from our life.

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

Though we fall short of God’s glory, He made provisions to restore His glory within us through the cross of Jesus. He stands ready to restore our life messes and lead us in the paths of righteousness.

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JOY IN THE MORNING

27b005bc7bf41e519b0984870a90b2f0It was a sleepless night and the sound of the pounding rain only served to disrupt my much needed rest. As I twisted and turned to find a comfortable position, I would awaken to find my overly saturated mind silently singing Christian hymns or praise songs from my youth. How odd for someone who once wrote a paper in high school that vintage Christian hymns should be abandoned for the more trendy songs of the Jesus Movement in full force at that time. I am fairly certain the song I critiqued in my paper was Blessed Assurance. Strange how that was one of the songs I found myself humming last night.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Refrain: This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long; This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight, Visions of rapture now burst on my sight; Angels, descending, bring from above Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blest, Watching and waiting, looking above, Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

I knew the words to every verse of this song as well as many other hymns from my childhood. I can’t explain it, but as these hymns and choruses echoed in the night, I sensed the quiet embrace of God’s presence around me. I had an assurance that He was as close as my next breath and there would be joy in the morning.

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 KJV

Thank you to my high school friend, Carolyn Oswald for reminding me that God brings joy in the morning through His whispers of love in our little victories and echoes of mercy in our failures.