Elegant Invader

Last week my daughter and I were talking about her cancer. She told me that one of her friends had called it the elegant invader. This resonated with me and I told her I knew that I would blog about that.

The definition of elegant is of a high grade or quality. Usually when we see someone who is elegant we are taken aback. We watch them to see how they move, which is usually dignified and effortlessly.

To invade elegantly, means, (to me) to come in by force with a quiet calm. Taking something by force with little to no notice of what is happening.

Cancer is vile. It comes in to rob and steal and maim. It is a thief. It overshadows. It tries to hide itself while it grows and takes over, until it is revealed and exposed.

Cancer touches most families. It is a rare family that isn’t exposed to it’s harshness.

In the same way, sin carries the same qualities of a cancer. It too, can permeate every crevice in our being. It grows in darkness and overtakes and spreads silently. It too is an elegant invader.

“This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.” I John 1:55 (NLT)

As evil (both disease and sin) loves darkness, so our God is light and in Him we have life.

I know that my Lord is going to touch my daughter’s body with His grace and healing. This is a season of victory for her, but as with all victory, there is a battle to be waged first. She is prepared for battle, strong in her faith in facing this elegant invader of her body.

Likewise, I turn to God for my spiritual battle, as we are all sin factories.

Mothering

“Little kids, little problems, Big kids, big problems” Evelyn McCarthy (aunt)

When I first heard my aunt say this, my kids were little. I thought to myself, how could anything I was going through be bigger? I was in the midst of little kids and little problems.

I was blessed to have never had big problems with my little kids. Many cannot say that. They have had to deal head on with childhood cancers and childhood serious illnesses. Thinking back, I can see the blessings that I had when my kids were little.

Last evening I was talking with a friend. We talked about our children and I quoted what I wrote above. We agreed that it was a true statement.

We talked about various times in our life where we realized that mothering never stops. As mothers we often have to deal with stomach issues. Not illness or virus’ or indigestion. But the feeling of being hit full force in our stomach when it comes to our children. Each mother experiences it at one time or another.

It is a feeling of having the wind knocked out of us. It is quick, like falling off the monkey bars when we were little. The fall happens and when you hit the ground, it hurts and takes a minute to catch your breath.

The difference between childhood and motherhood is major. As a child, we cry. As a mother, we breathe deeply and continue on. We check our voices and blink and keep talking, keep moving and pray hard.

The past few weeks people have been concerned about me and how I am doing. I am a mother. Like all mothers, I have taken big breaths, stood a bit straighter, and gone on.

When women become mothers our Lord issues an upgrade to our body. He implants in us the ability to cope with little sleep, little time, little everything. Our eyes open and although we promise ourselves a nap later on, we go through our day with little sleep and little energy and little,to no naps. We function tired. We look tired. We move tired. Our emotions are raw at times. But we carry on. We aren’t saints, but we are mothers.

It is a job with few perks. Except for the arms wrapped around you that are sometimes sticky, sometimes muddy, and sometimes just weary because they are mothers themselves.

Yes, problems are always there. It is life. Yes, sometimes those “knock the wind out of you moments” come one after another. Sometimes they are rare. But, as mothers, we are equipped, it came with the after market upgrade.

So, this day, if you are struggling as a mom, take heart, we have all been there at some point. Take a deep breath. Clear your throat. Stand a bit taller. Pray. Lean on a scripture I often turn to, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NLT) God will be with you each step of the way, giving you courage and strength.

Quiet

“Be still, and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10 (NLT)

I have just come into the house after dropping Little Miss off for the bus for school.

It is a darker, rainy Monday. The kind of Monday where you truly wished it was the weekend and stay in the nice warm bed. Little Miss struggled a bit as she woke up, hesitant to open her eyes and move. But, she did.

By time we were waiting for the bus to arrive, she was full of conversations and questions. It was wonderful, and to me, it was a sunny day because I was with her.

Entering the house there was little light and there was a hushed feeling to the house. Quiet. No video games, no conversations, no television, nothing. Just the quiet.

As I sit here, I realize that we all need some quiet. A time to renew, to think, to pray, to ponder. There are so many references in the Bible that urge us to be still. To sit beside still water, to be slow to anger, to wait on the Lord, to stop.

Lord, today, quiet my mind, my body, myself. Let me remember this quiet time this morning and keep that quietness with me throughout this day. When I begin to get anxious, whisper to me and return me to this time. Thank You for allowing me to see You and hear You in this moment. Amen.

Love

“Long ago the Lord said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
    With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)
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A couple of nights ago as we watched an episode of one of our favorite shows there was a quote that caught my attention. It went something like this, ” There are many kinds of first love. I have wondered if our love was a fleeting thing or something more.”

We have all experienced many first loves. Not just in personal relationships, but all areas.

As I thought on this quote the past couple of days, I have thought of my first loves. Ginger, a miniature collie, my first dog. I never thought I would love another dog like I loved her. I did. Shugo. There will never be another dog like him. My heart could not take being broken again.

My first car that was mine. I loved that car. I was so sad when we sold it. I remember the pride I had when I drove it off the lot. The pride and prayer that I didn’t crash it on the way home.

I know every person I could talk to would tell me of some first love that will never be matched.

Thinking of all of this, I realized there is another kind of first love. That love when you have just accepted the Lord into your heart, allowing Him to guide and direct your life. I was giddy when I accepted the Lord. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone about Him. My life was changed and I felt it. I was different inside, I felt whole.

But, first loves can grow dim. I thought I never would have loved another dog like Ginger, but, there have been many dogs in my life since then. That first car? Well, it didn’t have what my current car has. It is dull in comparison. My first love as a young teen? I have to think about the sun and sparkling water of Hasson pool.

So true, is my first love of Jesus. This has been a lasting love for me. I am comfortable knowing that Jesus is number one in my life. I am secure knowing He cares for me and is with me. But that new, exciting feeling? It’s faded many times.

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!” Revelation 2:4 (NLT)

I don’t need to rekindle the other first loves in my life. I do want to strive to always feel that first love of God. Such a simple quote in a television series and it led me to many days of thinking about it. That’s great writing there.

Wind

“The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles.” Ecclesiastes 1:6 (NLT)

For the past 18 hours the wind has been set loose on the area surrounding our daughter’s home. The trees are bending and creaking. The flag hanging on their porch goes straight out one way and then to the other. It has not stopped flapping in the wind. The chair cushions had to be retrieved before they flew down the street. The porch rug is flapping and shifting away from it’s normal place. It is windy.

Along with the wind has come a cold snap. The wind makes the temperature feel colder. It is a winter’s day.

I have listened to the wind throughout the night and today.

“The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going,” John 3:8a (NLT)

I love reading about wind in the Bible. I was reminded last night of the above scripture. I cannot tell which direction this wind is going. I see it whipping things and one direction and immediately it reverses itself. This is a powerful wind.

How often do we think we can know what nature does around us? Many times we say the damage from nature is an act of God. Technically it is, but what I have had on my heart is the story of Elijah. I Kings 19:11-13, ““Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (NLT)

Elijah was a mighty man of God, but he was so human. I truly love to read about him. He did great things for God and then he hid and cowered and got depressed. I cannot wait to meet him.

We think many times that we will see God in the mighty and prominent things going on around us. We sometimes expect that we will hear the booming voice and lightening ramming the earth with a message attached to it from God. We pray and think that we will see immediate and jaw dropping miracles. When all God wants us to do is to be quiet before Him and hear the still small voice that asks us what we are doing?

Yes, I love to hear the wind rush by the house, shaking the windows and upsetting the dogs, but I yearn to be still enough to hear God whisper to me. I will know that I will have arrived when, instead of searching for the flamboyant expressions, I will hear and see the small cloud, the soft voice.

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

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.