“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:18

I am thankful that the Cowboys won, today.

I am thankful for the unitasker -- The Pie Crust Shield.
Worked Perfectly Today!

I'm thankful that we're beginning to see progress
because of all the hard work put into Visual Therapy
with Christopher over the past four months.

I am thankful that my friend, Elizabeth, is a recipient of a miracle.

I am thankful for A friendship restored.

ImageChef Sketchpad - ImageChef.com

I am thankful for all of your prayers.
I am feeling much MUCH better.

I am thankful for you, sisters.
You bring me such joy.

Blessed THANKSgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: Self-Control

Therefore, prepare your minds for action;
be self-controlled;
set your hope fully on the grace to be given you
when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:13 NIV

Depression is sneaky. It doesn't just show up one day unannounced with all of its garbage. It moves in one thought at a time. When you begin to realize that depression has brought its toothbrush over... you are beyond the point of denial of its existence.

Depression and self-control. What's the connection?

Today, as I was reading Day 4 of the book Conquering Depression, it suggested three things you should do immediately when depression comes knocking:
1. Make sure you are still reading your Bible and praying... (even though you don't feel like it.)
2. Thank God for loving you and bringing you THROUGH the depression... (even though you don't feel you'll survive it.)
3. Try to NOT make any major decisions. (Your feelings can cloud your common sense.)

Guess what? These actions take self-control. Having tasted the bitter-sweetness of depression, I know it takes self-control... and self-control takes submission. This time as I approach my unwelcome visitor -- I have decided ahead of time to trust God's Word as my authority... NOT my emotional outlook. I am submitting myself to God.

How we respond to depression makes ALL the difference. We can give in to it... or we can trust God to take care of us... to bring us through the bout safely... If we can do the hard thing... truly that believe God loves us... even when we don't feel loved... well, that is faith.

Now faith is
being sure of what we hope for and
certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1 NIV

And in this case, submission to this thought... this submission to God... gives life, sisters... and, trust me... life in abundance.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Symptoms

It became necessary for me to take a siesta IMMEDIATELY
this week because I started noticing the following symptoms:
  • Nervousness and trembling
  • Insomnia
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • GI upset
  • Noticeably tired around the eyes
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Feeling lonely
  • Moodiness or crying for no reason
Fear upon fear. I must be sinking into another Dark Night of the Soul... depression. Time to retreat and spend some heavy duty one-on-one time with God. Time to pull out my beloved book Conquering Depression. Time to cancel all commitments. Time to relieve all responsibilities. Time to gather my prayer partners... but was I being too extreme?

I asked Anthony. He had noticed the symptoms, too. I should call the psychiatrist in the morning.

One of my friends called the next morning to see how I was doing. "I'm fine," I said through the tears. "I don't know why I am crying. I'm fine, really."

She said she would pray for me, but that I was to get off the phone and call the doctor. And she would call back to make sure that I did. (God bless you, dear sister... you did the right thing!)

I spoke with the doctor and told him my symptoms, but I said the strange thing is... I don't have a feeling of hopelessness. My disposition was great. And, yes, actually, I had noticed that my appetite was increased... and then it hit me... it was hyperthyroidism.

My Thyroid Cancer had been detected in 1994 at the young age of 26. Because it was found to be malignant, the entire Thyroid was removed and I have been on medication ever since. There are times when my body absorbs the medication at a quicker rate... and I become hyperthyroid. (And the contrary is the same.)

And the symptoms... well, they look just like... depression.

So, I know... I know... I should have let you know, so you could pray for me. But there's a fear associated with depression... that you might treat me differently... which might seem confusing... but so is fear and depression.

And really, I thank God for this "little scare" because I ran right back into His open arms... and pressed deeply into Him. And He showed Himself as He always does.... God is greater than my depression.

What, then, shall we say in response to this?
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son,
but gave him up for us all—
how will he not also, along with him,
graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:31-32

Monday, November 17, 2008

Taking a Siesta...

Taking some time to hang out under a broom bush.
I'll be back soon...

"Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said,
"Get up and eat."

He looked around,
and there by his head was
a cake of bread baked over hot coals,
and a jar of water.

He ate and drank
and then lay down again.

The angel of the LORD came back
a second time and touched him and said,
'Get up and eat,
for the journey is too much for you.'

So he got up and ate and drank.

Strengthened by that food,
he traveled forty days and forty nights
until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.
There he went into a cave and spent the night."

I Kings 19:5-9

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: The S-word, Submission

I know. I know. I'm using the S-word, again! It's not that I want to... but I guess God is working something in me. Because trust me... when I write about a topic... it normally means that God is refining me in that area.

I didn't want to leave you wondering how my submission (oops! There it is!) to the spiritual authority placed over me turned out. See here for more details. I have to say in both cases... God knew what He was doing. Yes, it's true and I freely admit it. God had the greater thing in mind.

In both cases, I didn't want to submit because I wanted to control the outcome. I thought I knew what was best. I was AFRAID of the choices and, therefore, consequences, that others were making for me. I couldn't see the outcome, so I dreaded it.

So, you've heard the before... but here is the after. It turns out that the pastor that was selected by our Board of Deacons... would have been my first and only choice. However, I thought that it would be impossible... improbable... that he would ever leave his current assignment to come back to Portland. I had given up on the thought. I wouldn't have even pursued it. But not our Board... they prayed... they submitted themselves before God... and asked for the desires of their hearts. And God answered their prayers. And mine, too.

The other instance I briefly mentioned had to do with the closing of Christopher's elementary school. How my heart was broken and torn. I fought for the school to stay open, but when it closed I tried to soothe my soul with the following verse:

Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.

He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him. Psalm 126:5-6 NIV

And so I comforted myself by thinking that wherever Christopher would attend school, I would be like a seed planted. Comforting others. Encouraging others. Little did I know, how the move to a new school would benefit me... and Christopher.

So, here's my challenge today, sisters... I want you to think of a time when you submitted yourself to God. I want you to think about the "before" and the "after" of your submission to His will.

I challenge you to use the S-word... today!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Finish Line

Therefore, since we are surrounded
by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1 NIV

Congratulations, Anthony! It's unheard of for anyone to have a personal best time at the New York Marathon... but you did it! It's been a long road... you ran the race... you persevered... and you crossed the finish line. Way to go!

And waiting for you at the finish line... were a crowd of witnesses. Including your beloved parents and brother, Tim. I am so glad they were able to see you around mile 17, too. To give you encouragement... something to drink... and you were on your way... on the race marked out for you.

Which is something for all of us to consider. We are running a race. Right now, we can't see the finish line, but it is there. And so we persevere. And we cheer each other on. And we help each other... with a cup of cold water. And when we can't find the way... we turn to God's Word for discernment on the race marked out for us.

Run Sister Run!!!

See you at the finish line!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: Submission

Meekness or gentleness is the power and strength
created from submitting to God's will.
Gentleness is responsibility with power.
- Beth Moore, Living Beyond Yourself

Lately, I have not been submitting to the Lord's will. I know this because posts are piling up in the "draft" category, again. The following post is the one that I mentioned here.

Over a year ago our church went through a pastor selection process. I remember struggling with the fact that our Board of Deacons would make a selection and I would just have to "deal" with it. Yes, I would get to vote, but most likely, I knew it would end up being the first selection of the Board.

I felt the Lord encourage me to make a decision even before I knew who the new pastor would be. That I would place myself under the authority (spiritual in this case) without knowing who would be chosen. I had NO clue of any of the candidates who were being reviewed. I did not know their names or anything about them. Just that I must trust the spiritual authority over me at that time (the Board of Deacons)... and pray for them in earnest.

God has a sense of humor.

At this same time, I had been given an opportunity to speak at our Ladies' Bible Study. On Miriam. How she criticized Moses. (Numbers 12) How she as a leader spoke against her leader. And the repercussions of her criticism. God did not take it lightly.

God used this story to help me encourage the women in our church to submit to their current spiritual authority (the Board of Deacons) and then ultimately, to our new pastor.

So, what's so funny? I am one of the deacons wives. Have you ever tasted humble pie? I begged God to let this unique opportunity pass. I wanted to run. But moreso, I wanted what the Lord wanted. So, I submitted.

The reason I was able to speak on this topic is because in another lifetime, I had struggled against someone who was in spiritual authority over me. During that time, I realized that I needed to make my decision to submit to the authorities over me BEFORE there were any "controversies"... Because trying to submit when you are already in the situation is just plain hard.

I know submission is not our favorite topic. I know that the word "submission" is extremely controversial. I also know that it is a word that is for the most part misunderstood.

But if we can learn to submit to the will of the Father... and not just to His will... but to Him, we may actually find the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control... that we have been lacking.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: Look to God and Be Amazed!

Dear sisters,

A word of encouragement.

We're in a war here, girls. We have an enemy. Sometimes, our enemy likes to make us vulnerable before the attack... it makes us easy prey. But not this time. We will not be vulnerable. We will stand strong.

I've also noticed that the enemy would like to divide and conquer the body of Christ. Are we letting him?

We will not look at circumstances and be afraid. We will look to God and be amazed.

Finally, be strong in the Lord
and in his mighty power.

Put on the full armor of God
so that you can take your stand
against the devil's schemes.

For our struggle is NOT against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers,
against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world and
against the spiritual forces of evil
in the heavenly realms.

Therefore put on the full armor of God,
so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to stand your ground,
and after you have done everything,
to stand.

Stand firm then,
with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

and with your feet fitted
with the readiness that comes
from the gospel of peace.

In addition to all this,
take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Take the helmet of salvation and
the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit
on all occasions
with all kinds of prayers and requests.

With this in mind,
be alert and always
keep on praying for all the saints.

Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV

I'm praying for you, sisters. Pray for me, too!

The ING New York City Marathon 2008

Anthony finishing the JFK 50 in 2006 (Yes, 50 Miles!)

My heart is beating so fast that I think I will be sick! I'm tracking Anthony via Internet and cell phone while he begins The ING New York City Marathon this morning.

His parents and brother are there in New York to cheer him on... while Christopher and I wait "patiently" to get our text message that he has crossed the starting line (via timing chip technology).

Wow! Okay, he just crossed the 5k mark!

This is the first marathon that I have not been there as Anthony's support team. I had a lot of fun packing a surprise box of goodies and shipping it ahead of time, so that he would have it when he arrived in New Jersey.
  • Advil
  • Space blanket
  • Granola bars
  • A photo of me and Christopher
  • Extra small pins for bib
  • Extra batteries for watch and heart rate monitor
  • Band-aids (if you've ever watched a marathon... you would know why men actually need band-aids... it is amazing how rough fabric can be against your chest when you run 26.2 miles!)...
  • and amongst other things... a COWBELL... one of our favorite ways to cheer our favorite runner!

Baltimore Marathon 2005

Timberline Marathon 2006

Sauvie Island Half Marathon 2008
(See Christopher finishing hard with Dad!)

We're there with you, honey! All the way!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: Partly Inspired By Your Blog...

Today is my 200th Post. I cannot think of any better way to celebrate it than celebrating my reconciliation with a dear sister-in-Christ!

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and
there remember that your brother has something against you,

leave your gift there in front of the altar.
First go and be reconciled to your brother;
then come and offer your gift."
Matthew 5:23-24 NIV

What if you were a "stumbling block"... and didn't know it? How can you "go and be reconciled"?

On October 20th, I completed the last day of homework on the study of patience. Beth Moore ensured that we were well aware of the Greek word makrothumia which is the quality of patience found in the fruit of the Spirit. "The word means 'long-suffering in respect to persons' and is inspired by mercy. Mercy is fueled by forgiveness..."

She encouraged us to ask the Lord to "reveal the names of any whose hearts are hindered because of us" so that "fruit would result." I wrote a quick prayer in the margin. ... help others forgive me so that they can bear fruit!

Of course, I forgot about my little prayer. Until the other day...

On October 22nd, one of the gals I volunteer with shared that she had been weepy that day. Due to circumstances we could not finish our conversation. On the way home, I kept reminding myself to follow-up with an e-mail offering a compassionate listening ear if she was so inclined.

On the 23rd I did send the e-mail... and on the 24th... the Lord answered my prayer...

Here are a few excerpts from the e-mail I received from this dear sister... with her permission...
Please know that I’m not in any way trying to infer that you have caused me pain or problems. I just sense I’m supposed to break down some walls that keep me held back and laying myself out there seems to be the next step. My honesty is partly inspired by your blog, too btw.

...and I’ve spent time wondering, off and on (ok, pretty much whenever I have run into you, or something random brings you to mind, which is often enough to be called ‘regularly’) what exactly happened. So here I am pouring all this out, knowing that you may be feeling totally on the spot, as if you need to now reassure me of this or that. I hate that thought. So why am I going to push ‘send’? It comes down to 1) I just feel I was supposed to share without any expectation, 2) I believe I can count on you to be honest and 3) Just in case my insecurity actually came across as lack of interest, I wanted to let you know that was not the case.
And some excerpts from my response...
First and foremost... I treasure you! Thank you for trusting me with your honesty. All I can say is... "Wow!" I remember how we used to get together when you first moved here... we were building our friendship... and then something happened... and it was if we could not go back. Yes, unknowingly I did interpret your insecurity as lack of interest in our friendship.

And so Wednesday night when you were talking I felt a little jump in my spirit... maybe this is why I am here... for you. But I realize now... it is for me. I am sorry for the years we have been apart, but perhaps God had a reason in it all. Now, we can move ahead in honesty... and in security.

I am so sorry that I have brought you pain. I am so glad that you are such a strong woman... to risk it all... and put it on the line... and that we can trust God to bring healing to each of us individually and together.

I love you, sister!

And so, my dear bloggy sisters, I challenge you to pray the prayer... ask God to help others forgive you so that THEY can bear fruit. It may not turn out the way you think it should... but being obedient to the Lord is everything...

Be patient, then, brothers,
until the Lord's coming.
See how the farmer waits for the land
to yield its valuable crop
and how patient he is for
the autumn and spring rains.
James 5:7 NIV
Sisters, let us bear much fruit...