Sound of Freedom

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.” I Peter 5:8-9a (NLT)

Having spent most of my adult life around military bases I now can recognize the sound of commercial and military aircraft. In San Diego we lived under the flight path of the International airport. Every few minutes a plane would pass over us. It became normal for us. We also could tell the difference between the military helicopters, the medical helicopters and the police helicopters. It was our normal.

When we moved to our current home, Dale asked for a quiet location. No airplane noise, no traffic noise, just quiet. We have that. When the occasional airplane flies over our home we joke that we did not give them permission. On occasion we hear a military aircraft. We recognize the sound and one of us immediately heads outdoors to see what is flying over us.

It seems we miss the sound of freedom, which is what the sound of military jets is.

Our daughter lives in the same area we did as a newly married couple. There are several military air bases in this area. Often, throughout the day we hear and see the sound of freedom. I never tire of it. I love to see the jets in the sky practicing their maneuvers.The ability to fly jets through the sky, dipping and speeding across the expanse above us brings my heart a swelling pride in our military.

The young people with the ability to fly these awesome aircraft are also the ones who rush in to battle when there is a need. They practice so that at the first call they can defend our freedom, our country, our way of life. They give their life for ours.

Our Savior did the same thing. He willingly gave His life for our freedom, our way of life, for each of us personally. He is the mighty warrior, He is dressed in armor, He will defeat the enemy of our souls.

On this earth we can have many enemies, both human and the enemy of our souls seeks to destroy us by disease, broken relationships, and by others. Like our country can stand behind the warriors that defend her, we too can stand behind the Warrior, who died for us.

Bravery

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 3:16 (NLT)

Today I have seen several examples of bravery. People in my life standing strong and confident that God is in control.

For the past several weeks we have known that our oldest daughter is battling cancer. Today she had an extensive surgery to eliminate this wretched disease from her body.

As she left for the hospital this morning dressed in her “Sayonara Satan” shirt she smiled and was mentally ready to go. She knows the next few weeks/months are going to be a battle, but she also knows that God is with her each step of the way.

My son in law was prepared also. His devotion to my daughter is a trait that I have admired for years. He had his battle face on. This man who has seen the horrors of war, knew that the battle facing his wife wasn’t an easy one. He was prepared and ready to support and defend her in any way he could.

My husband, was doing what he could for our daughter. He too, was being brave. Pushing aside memories of our little girl who was prayed for and promised when we were told we couldn’t have children. He put on a brave face and was there for our daughter and our son in law.

Our granddaughter (Little Miss) was brave as she woke up to just Grammy and Grampy. A different feel to the morning for her, but she got dressed and did her normal routine with just a touch of sadness. We assured her that it was okay to feel sad because it was different, but, everything was going to be okay.

Our son in law’s mother, we talked for a bit. It’s been a while since we talked. She is a strong and brave woman, herself. She cares for an adult son and is navigating life as a widow. As I talked with her I realized that she lives a brave life daily. She prays and keeps moving forward, one step at a time.

Me. I guess I too was brave. Like I usually do in stressful times, I clean. I do laundry. I know how I felt inside, so although I may have given the appearance of bravery, I was jello inside.

Bravery comes in many forms and shapes. Today I saw many faces and forms. They all blessed me and gave me strength. As I prayed today, for my daughter and all that I was in touch with, I was grateful. Bravery comes from the Lord, and also friends and family. They hold you up by their prayers, their comments, their texts and messages. They help you be brave. So, I appreciate all prayers and good thoughts for my daughter and her family and I thank you for the prayers that have truly held us up today.

Title and Positions

 Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:2-4 (NLT)

There are three positions and titles that I cherish. These three define me. They are all answers to prayer. They make up my life. Nothing could sway me from claiming them.

These titles and positions are:

  1. I am a child of God. In April, I can say that for 46 years I have called God my Lord and Savior. This is my favorite position and title. To be my Lord’s is the greatest gift of my life. I am His. “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15 (NLT) and “But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1 (NLT) Being God’s child is humbling and exciting.
  2. I am Dale’s wife. We started dating in high school. We were a typical high school couple, we’d date, we’d fight,we’d break up and vow never to get back together. We’d date again and so on and so forth. There came a time when I started to pray that someday, somehow I could become Dale’s wife. Obviously, we did marry. Our life has not been idyllic, but it has been worth each and every trying time. I am proud to be in the position to call my title, Mrs. or wife.
  3. In 1977 I heard that there was only a slim chance that I could have a child. I truly wanted a child. Dale and I talked about adoption. But, the doctors forgot to tell God that I couldn’t have a child. We had the ultimate blessing of having two beautiful daughters. Hearing my name, Mom, is beautiful music to my ears.

As I have thought about my life and titles and positions, the three I mentioned above are the greatest positions/titles I could ever hope to attain. Holding positions/titles demands respect for those around you. A title or a position does not make you greater or different from anyone else. Years ago I yearned to have a position/title, I thought that would make me feel accomplished and in tune with the Lord. When I stepped into a position of leadership, it humbled me. There was a weight that was put upon me to not embarrass those who put me in the position. There was a weight that was heavy that I not disappoint the Lord.

Positions/titles come with a cost. Are you willing to give that extra bit when you don’t feel like giving anything? Are you willing to do the dirty work that comes with a title? Are you willing to wait? Are you actually ready to give, serve?

I often joke that when I get to heaven I will have nursery duty for the first millennium. I love babies and little ones, but I really don’t like nursery duty. For a few years I had the nursery. At first I grumbled. Then I complained to the Lord. Then, one Sunday as I was sitting in the rocking chair with a fussy child I heard very clearly, “Let the children come to Me. They are precious in my sight.” I sat crying with the child and told the Lord that until I had learned each lesson He had for me in the nursery I would be content to stay there. After that, my attitude changed, I saw it differently.

About a year ago, I was released from the nursery. What surprised me is how much I missed it at first. I had seen the beauty of that ministry.

Sometimes we are so anxious to get that title/position that we neglect to see the importance of it. We desire the title, but God wants us to learn what He desires for positions. He has a perfect plan for each of us. He has a gift for each of us. We need to stop and wait to see where He would like us to be.

In San Diego I led prayer groups, taught on prayer, prayed for people. I do love to pray. As we left our church there before moving, giving our final hugs to everyone, our pastor leaned down and spoke to me. What he said was this, “Do not expect to do and be involved with prayer in South Carolina. The Lord may have something different planned for you.” At first I struggled with this. I was out of my comfort zone. I felt lost. We are starting our fifteenth year here in South Carolina. I am just becoming confident that I am getting ready to do something. God’s timing is the best. In all things He deserves the recognition, the praise and the glory for what HE is doing in me.

As a dear pastor once stressed to us, a call to salvation is a call to ministry. We can minister no matter what, no titles, no positions are needed. Just a willing heart to serve our Lord wherever we may be.

Prayer for Peace of Mind

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

Lord Jesus, You are the God of Peace and Calm. Minister to those today who are not experiencing Your presence. Where there is turmoil, bring calm, where anxiousness resides, blanket with peace. Father for those struggling with hard decisions to be made and worry is flooding their minds, be a very present help to them.

Let those with troubled hearts and minds reach out to you today. Restore them and keep them close to YOU. Thank You Father for all the You give and provide. It is in Your Name I pray, Amen

Gifts

“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” I Peter 4:10 (NLT)

There are several programs that have tests to find your strengths, your gifts, the way your personality is and how you act or react because of this. I find these tests fascinating and I have taken several of them, although I do not remember exact terms that were assigned to my personality.

The Bible also talks about gifts. Gifts from the Lord. They are perfect and we need to share these gifts with one another.

I have heard about gifts that are obvious to many, and although I can see why they are spoken to me, I don’t always see the gifts themselves.

 For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.” Romans 11:29 (NLT)

When I see this verse, I feel both comforted and challenged. Comforted because the Lord gave me a gift and it can never be taken away. Challenged because I question if I am truly using this gift and calling to serve others.

“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17 (NLT)

All I can do is my best through prayer and service. I try to utilize what I feel is my gifting/calling and to give the glory to my God. He alone is who deserves all praise, all glory. It is for Him that I live.

Joy

I have a friend named Joy. To me, she is the living example of what joy is. She carries with her a peaceful and strong faith and hope. She has many challenges in her life and yet, when talking with her, I come away with a feeling of joy. I have often said her mother named her correctly.

Yesterday while I was walking I had the phrase, “Joy comes in the mourning”come to me. I saw the word mourning and thought, well, I spelled that wrong. I was impressed to think about that statement.

I immediately thought of the last part of Psalm 30:5 which says, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (NLT)

This morning, this was in my devotions. I hadn’t planned it that way, it was just what came up. Once more, the phrase, “Joy comes in the mourning” came to mind.

As I have pondered this the past 36 hours, these are the thoughts I have stumbled on. Joy, true joy is a result of difficult situations.

There are several seasons of mourning in our life. Some, in retrospect may seem tiny, but while going through them, they are anything but small.

We mourn broken relationships. Losing a friend is heartbreaking. A part of you that trusted and confided in, is gone. Gone also are those things shared with someone you trusted. Things spoken in confidence only to have that confidence shattered.

A death of a parent. We mourn what we have had taken from us. A part of who you are is lost. There is a void there that cannot be refilled. It is like walking with a gaping hole in your being.

A fractured marriage. The intense isolation that comes with this. The questions that plague you.

Loss of a spouse. I have no idea how this is. I do know that I have witnessed through friends this unbearable ordeal. It is worse than loss of a parent, this is truly losing part of your heart.

But, I believe, through the midst of all of this, joy comes. It may not be the laughing, jovial type of joy, but it is joy nonetheless.

A synonym for joy is comfort. In times of mourning, there is a time where comfort resides. It’s not that overwhelming feeling of laughter, but there is a comfort, an acknowledgement of life being better, richer because of that friend, that spouse, your parents.

These people who are lost are truly gifts in your life. They have given joy, love, truth. We learn vital lessons from them. Our lives are changed because of them.

I am still trying to think through the phrase of joy coming in mourning. I had to get them down so I can remember.

Teflon

“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Psalm 91:4 (NLT)

Recently I prayed with a friend and as I prayed I had the image of an old commercial for teflon pans. The pans that you can fry an egg without any oil or butter and they show the egg gliding easily out of the pan onto a plate.

I thought it was a weird thought, but before I could ponder it, I heard the words, “May the Lord cover you in teflon”.

We both sort of chuckled at that.

The image has stayed with me though. There are seasons in our lives where we do need to have our Lord cover us in teflon. The seasons that we are weak, vulnerable, and exhausted. When things are like arrows attacking us, unrelenting things. Those times when we are more than overwhelmed. These are teflon times.

The Lord promises us that He will be our protection. He will be our shelter. He will be surrounding us with His perfect peace. Difficult times will always happen. There will always be times when we just want to cover ourselves up, curled in a blanket. The Lord wants to be our blanket, our security. He wants us to allow Him to cover us in teflon. It won’t change situations. We may still feel like we are in the middle of a fiery furnace. But, in these times, God wants to cover us in teflon, so nothing else will stick to us.

Comparisons

“Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” 22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” John 21:21-22 (NLT)

I am terrible at comparing myself to others. I have done it my whole life. I wish I was shorter (I just had to wait on that one, you know…gravity and age). I wish my hair was that color. I wish I could dress like that. I wish I could write like that. I wish I could teach like that. I wish I could pray like that.

I think, like most people, my life has many desires that I wish for.

The thing is, though, my life is exactly how the Lord created me. Yes, I pray differently, I write differently, I dress differently, I do what I do. I do me.

Often I go to Psalm 139:13, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (NLT) My youngest daughter is a knitter. I have often watched her take a ball of yarn and turn it into a work of art. She patiently works the yarn in her hands, pulling stitches that don’t work and re-doing them. She measures and calculates exactly how many stitches to place here and there. The end result will often bring about ooh’s and aahhs. Most of her work are gifts to others. I have seen reactions from those who have received gifts from her. The joy in the faces, the appreciation of her work, the details that she never fails to put into place.

We (I) am knit together. In my mother’s womb the Lord took two pieces and knit me together. The details, the height, the hair, the eyes, the brain, the speech, the type of walk we have. The Lord knit us together.

His artistry was unique for each of us. He did not compare us to His other work, that did not matter. What mattered was us, each individual.

The apostles learned this afresh when they asked about John. What about him? It was the same as us saying, “I wish I could, or did, or have….”

This lesson hit me today during my quiet time. I am me. You are you. A perfect artist knit us together to be exactly who we are. Likewise, we need to follow Him. That is the perfect response we can give our Creator. He made us and knows us intimately. To follow Him, allowing Him to work in this creation that we are, gives Him the ability to work in us. We, then, will see the freedom to be who we are and what we were created to do.

When Decorations Come Down

I do love to decorate. I love fussing with little things and placing them in the exact place they fit. I love seeing the transformation of our home.

I really do not like taking down and putting away decorations. Especially the putting away part. It’s tedious and frustrating.

Yesterday I finished un-decorating our living room. It looks bare. Empty. Plain. Our banister going up the stairs is empty. No garland, no ornaments, just a handrail on the steps.

As I look at this, I remind myself of when we first looked at our home. It was really empty then. No furniture, in need of paint (still is in many rooms), but we fell in love with our home. It was perfect! It was an answer to our prayers. It was our dream home. It still is.

There is a spiritual lesson here for me also. When I came to Jesus, I was in great need. My marriage was crumbling. I was in a foreign country. I was away from family and friends. I felt alone and lonely. Sometimes the Lord allows you to get to the bottom of yourselves so that all you have left is to look up.

In this state, plain, empty, lacking any hope, I looked up. The Lord was there, ready to transform my life. I came to Him empty and plain. He gave me decorations. First, He gave me hope. He gave me peace. He cleaned my insides and decorated me with His Holy Spirit. My smile returned. I was renewed, washed in His presence, in His love. He decorated me for His kingdom.

Since that time, there have been seasons where I have tried to hide things in my life, like He isn’t aware of my every action and thought. I have decorated myself in self righteousness. I have placed pride in just the right spots. I have boasted of things that were petty.

Eventually I realize the season is over and I allow Him to un-decorate me. He removes the pride, the boasting, the world from me, but instead of carefully wrapping it up and placing it in storage, He takes it and throws it into the deepest pit, where I cannot retrieve it.

God is faithful, even when I am not. He is always there beside me. Each day is new. Each day I attempt to keep the day focused on Him. Some days it’s a cinch, others a fleeting thought will remind how little I have been in touch with my Creator. No matter what the day turns out to be, I know that He is decorator and He is also the One who will remove the extra garland and tinsel I have put on to cover up my bare spots.

” Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Hebrew 13:8 (KJV)

A Tree Named Arthur

I am a huge fan of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I love the allegory. I love that trees talk and move.

When I go into our woods, I think of Narnia, and also of Hobbits. My imagination flourishes when I go walking about.

Last week, my grandson, daughter, son in law, Dale and I went walking though our woods. We were down by our creek, walking along side of it. I pointed out a tree on the hillside. The roots were bare and the tree was growing out of the side of a hillside. One root was strongly in place. It held the tree up, it seemed.

I looked at it closely. It looked like a foot, it’s toes embedded into the soil and almost on tip toes the root went up into the tree. We talked about it. I mentioned it was like a tree from Narnia, where it had been frozen and could no longer walk or talk. I asked my grandson what the tree’s name was.

Without hesitating he told me the tree’s name was Arthur. We told a story about Arthur and we talked about him. The following day we went down and spoke to Arthur again.

I never thought I would ever meet a tree named Arthur. But, here, Arthur lives in my woods. His name fits his personality and his feet. They look to be a size 13 or 14. He has a ‘good under standing’ even if we can only see one of his feet.

Arthur was stopped from moving up from the stream. He looks as if he meant to keep moving to the edge of the woods, but, alas, he is stopped by the creek below him.

Maybe some day Arthur will start to walk again.