you.can.have.it.all

In this world, can we really have it all?  I think about this as I wonder what should be on my ‘to do’ list today.

So before I jump into my day, I think it is appropriate to pay a little respect to someone’s life … while answering this question.  It’s moments like this one that make me stop and think…

So can we have it all?  As of right now my answer is this ….(but I am accustomed to changing my mind)…but here goes….

Can we have it all?

“Here” … probably not

“There” …. maybe

I hate to disappoint on so many levels, but… Here on Earth life is limited.  There….Heaven, it is not, so we’re told.

I don’t think I’ve ever written about heaven before.  Why?   Because I don’t know much about it.    I know a lot of people who have greatly impacted my life, that spent their last days either, knowing that is where they were headed….or making peace with God, so they were headed in that direction.   I’m also afraid that I may have misjudged some  others who made it in … despite their life here on Earth.

So I guess heaven’s gain….is certainly earth’s loss.   It is a void that is left behind.   But the void “here” may be what makes “there” such a great place.  All those things that we couldn’t have here….well maybe, just maybe, we get to have them there.

And so I pay my respects…

Here’s to Nanny….she wasn’t my nanny, but she loved the people that I loved…our family. She visited me in the hospital and made me take my meds. She sent soup to my home when I was sick, and she let me eat at her table when my life was truly a mess!

And here’s to all the great family she has left behind here on Earth.  You are here for a reason.  You are the happiness in this world, that fills the void.  Carry on – there are things left to be done here on Earth.  Be free to enjoy the life you have been given.

So Sarah (aka Nanny)… I know you, along with my mom, and so many other moms and grannies….are all having a great time too.  Maybe there’s a reason that John in the bible, had a revelation of “suppertime in heaven”  that went like this….

Revelation 19:6-9

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
    and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
    with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

… there must be a whole lot of cooking going on up there.

PS…. so, while you’re busy doing that …. I guess I better get busy here (on Earth).  I can’t lose sight of the fact that before you decided to go ‘there” … you spent a lifetime “here”, enjoying life with your family and friends!

 

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keep.on.digging

I’m jumping on here to quickly give a quick tip that will make you feel good about yourself.   Yes, you heard me…this will make you feel good about who you are.   In light of current health problems I continue to see lots of doctors.  I am under the care of a liver doctor who has been concerned about liver disease.  Yes.  It is something I have to think about every day of my life.   But after losing a very small amount of weight…(God is helping me to think about my weight)…I just received another message from her that my blood work is slowly but steadily improving.

Now here’s the thing ….  I can’t undo the damage that has already been done.  But I can do one thing today, that will help improve tomorrow.

Do something for yourself today….and see if you don’t feel better about yourself tomorrow!

 

Into.the.storm

I’m writing tonight on the heels of a weekend full of hurricane warnings, updates and massive flooding throughout our Carolinas.   Many with trees down and without electricity.   Interesting enough it was just 7 days ago we were in the very same area of the beach for a few days, and the weather was absolutely beautiful.  Calm ocean water, plenty of sunshine and  people relaxing and resting.   And it all changed in a matter of a few days.   

I started to blog on Friday…right before the storm.  But I have learned as it goes with storms … you don’t know exactly what is going to happen. 

But all weekend I was reminded of a little passage in Matthew 14 … Where we see Jesus sending his disciples out into a boat, to go ahead of Him, to the other side.  And I might want to mention that they also went without Him.    A boat, a few men, an ocean, the waves, the wind … and no Jesus.

This actually sounds like they were being set up for failure, if you ask me.

I can’t help but wonder if these men were just as fearful, as some of us were on Friday.  With our tv’s blasting..the storm is coming…the storm is coming…fear sets in.

But what about these men in this boat…and no Jesus.  What happens when the storm is great, and the wind is fierce, and the waves are high … And there is no sign of Jesus.   Fear grips, hearts pound, and tears run.  Yes, life hands us storms.  An open ocean, with big waves, howling high winds, and a little boat.   

What to do?

I think everyone does respond differently. There’s a huge part of me that wants to say … Get out of that boat and walk on the open waters…like Peter.  But today I want to bring light to what happened right before the water walking miracle.   

We see that Peter tested the waters (so to speak) by asking …. “Lord, if this is you”…   Let’s face it … He saw a ghost walking on the water … 

And so he tested the spirit?  

Maybe you’re thinking…who would dare to test Jesus? Peter wasn’t!   

He was making sure it was Jesus!   

And as we see … Jesus did not rebuke him.   I’m not into open rebellion by testing God.   But Jesus allowed Peter the grace needed to ask the question … Lord, is this you?  And Jesus answers.

1 John 4 mentions something similar, but we rarely talk about it.   “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.  By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God…”   Test, so that you can know the Spirit of God.

I need to stop right here for today.   But let me say this.   Jesus allowed Peter to test and see that He was the Lord.  The water walking, storm calming, Jesus Christ, who Peter knew in human flesh.  

But that ocean, with those waves and winds … allowed Peter to meet Jesus Christ in the Spirit.  Remember, they saw a ghost coming toward them.  

And Jesus Christ, in the supernatural  … did something supernatural … He walked on water (and something supernatural happened for Peter).

Today, if you face your own storm … Trust the grace of Jesus to ask all the questions that you need to ask. And when you do … Know that Jesus is more than willing to meet you on your waves.

Walking on water isn’t the goal … Knowing Jesus, the water walker is!

Oh, and by the way, I do believe that on that day, the Lord gave those disciples a glimpse of a ghost….

The Holy Ghost.

walk.it.out

I always hesitate to talk much about the fact that it was just 3 years ago, that I was finishing up chemo and radiation treatments because of a cancer diagnosis. So today I bring it up because there are so many people in our lives with some kind of struggle. My heart goes out to people that suffer.  Suffer from something, maybe it’s a disability, illness, or maybe it’s something we can’t see like emotions, sorrow or grief.   I remember well that during my treatment, that every small obstacle, was a big obstacle. Every small hurdle, was a big hurdle. In retrospect, the opposite was very true as well.  Every small victory, was a big victory. Every small step, was a big step.

My doctors now want me to focus on getting into shape. Weight loss, exercise, eating habits. Now that’s also a big hurdle. Anyway, Every time I go into any one of my doctor’s offices, they say… “are you walking? How many times are you walking a week? How long are your walks? Is it fast or slow?” I realized they were not going to stop until …. I was walking. And we are three years out, and they still ask. On my last visit…I just went in and said to the doctor … “I’m walking 30 minutes, 3 – 5 times weekly, my blood pressure is 120/80 and my resting heart rate is 90-95 beats per minute.” Okay, so I may have exaggerated a little… but lets keep a positive attitude.

Now all of this seems very elementary and I know some of you are wondering – what is the big deal about walking?

Because it’s not just walking. It’s not just physical. It’s something very soulish.  It’s something coming from deep within my spirit.  It’s becoming something spiritual.  It’s becoming sacred.  It represents something of great value.

It’s walking away from the past…and into the future.  It’s walking away from sorrow…and into joy.   It’s walking away from sin…and into salvation.  It’s walking away from poverty…and into abundance.  It’s walking away from bondage…and into freedom.   It’s walking away from brokenness…and into healing.

You may not see the future yet, but it’s there.

You may not feel the joy yet, but it’s there.

You may not feel like you’re saved yet, but it’s there.

You may not see the abundance yet, but it’s there.

You may not feel the freedom yet, but it’s there.

You may not feel whole yet …but it’s there.

Remember …

Small steps are really … big steps

Small victories are really … big victories

Any step closer to where you want to be … Is one step closer.

But you ask…will there be setbacks? Yes.

Will there be steps back? Sure.

Will you fall sometimes? Absolutely.

Just fall forward.

Just Keep Walking. Just think… You may even stumble onto something great in your life.

I am so very grateful today that The Lord who watches over me has good intentions for me (and you). His intentions are to bring us into “a good land, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity” (Deut. 8:7-9) His plans for us are good plans, “plans to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us a hope and future” (Jeremiah 29:11). He came that we might have life, “life more abundantly” (John 10:10) We may have to get there by ‘walking’ or we may just stumble upon it.  But it’s there…right ahead of you.   Keep walking.  He is a faithful companion along this journey. Great is Thy Faithfulness. And don’t worry about tripping up and falling forward…Great is the one who goes before us and makes “the crooked path straight” (Isaiah 45:2).

 

dig.deep

So let jump back in … We were with Isaac, who was digging wells.  By now you know that Isaac finally found a place to settle, and it was a spacious place.  It was at the third well.  The Lord created space for Isaac to be fruitful and prosper.  Ahhhhh, and life is good!

So that concludes the first point on how to deal with circumstances that seem unchangeable in life.  But I haven’t forgotten about point number two.  What happens when … Where you are … Is … Where you are?  There’s no moving around, at least not for now.   What do we do?

We Dig … and

We Dig … Deep

In reality, that was Isaac’s first plan.   He was only going to dig that deep well….one time.  But look what he found.   He found a well of running water.  He found what he was looking for in the very first place that he dug.   Isaac really didn’t need to go any further.   He found what he was looking for in the first well.  But he gave it away and moved on.   I’m not sure, but Isaac had to be a little bit on the generous side to do this. Not just once, but twice, he gave up the well and gave up the water.  I’ve just imagined in my mind Isaac saying … “Let them have it…I will dig again, and dig deeper, there’s more water out there.” And he would have been right.  And he was right.   There was plenty of water to be found.  Although no one bothered to dig it out before Isaac got there.  But I digress…that’s another story.

I can’t think of a better story line … There are so many times when life happens to us, around us, through us, and in us.   And we look for the answers to some of the most complicated situations.   So we dig …. Or we can dig deeper.

But in looking at these two options, I pray that either way….

You find water.

Running water.

And I pray you find so much water…that you keep digging.

And the deeper you dig, the more generous you become.

And the more generous you become, the more people are drawn to your wells.

And your generosity to give away running water … lead you to spacious, fruitful places

Because you have something that they need, and don’t have…

You have water…

Running water…

Living water.

John 7:38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’.”

Oh, just in case you didn’t pick up on who the main characters were in this story …

The Well …

Is you.

The Water …

Is the Holy Spirit.

He’s alive …

Running deep inside of you.

Grab your shovel.

Start digging.

dig

Along the lines of working out our salvation found in Phil 2:12 … I want to send you to a little story that I pray brings encouragement.

There are a couple of things about working out our salvation while dealing with some difficult situations in our life at the present time that are unchangeable.  That’s right.  They are not changing and for the most part – they may not change.  Hold on with me here….I’m not trying to fall into the abyss, and I’m not being a pessimist this morning.  Because I know that Jesus Christ has the ability to do far more above what I can think or ask.  But we’re on this journey together … of just working some things out.  So what do we do with (temporary or permanent) unchangeable things.  I’m not sure that I have the answer.  Here is the only thing that comes to mind today.

I am reminded of Isaac in the bible (Genesis 26) who attempted to redig the wells of his father Abraham (he was working some things out).  I’m sure redigging wells was not a simple task, and the more wells Isaac dug… it seemed, the more he encountered conflict.  And we all hate conflict.  It’s distressing and exhausting.   With Isaac, people around him kept letting him do a lot of hard work but then they would step in to claim his territory.

Now I must admit that my first response to this was … why did Isaac not stay at the first well and just fight for what was his?

But he didn’t….he kept moving.

To the next well…

and the next….

Isaac keeps moving … and the Lord provides.  I’m going to stop right here.  Why, because I don’t want to give away the end of the story … I want you to go read it.  I’ll go ahead and tell you, it’s in verse 22.  (and I love this verse!)

I hope to pick back up on this topic later … but for now “that’s all folks”!

Tiny.little.broken.pieces

Have you ever opened a puzzle box and dropped all those tiny pieces onto a table. I like to begin by sorting all the pieces according to shades of color. After I have all the colors separated into stacks, then I start looking for straight edges. Straight edges must go in place first. Because straight edges are the puzzle border … always. I’ve never seen a puzzle piece, with a straight edge, that eventually found its way to the middle of a puzzle. A straight edge on a puzzle piece …. is always a border. Always. So I start putting together the border….first. I never try to piece together a puzzle working from the middle. I start with the border. Why? Because I like clean straight edges. After all the clean straight edges are in place, I can begin to see where the odd shapes and colors will match up.

If you’re not seeing the picture here….let me be a little clearer. Many times, life will hand us a puzzle. A puzzle on a job, a puzzle in a family, a puzzle of a friendship, a puzzle at church, a puzzle in your wallet, a puzzle in your health, a puzzle in your ministry, a puzzle with your marriage, a puzzle in the home, a puzzle down the road to retirement. It’s all a puzzle. 

And when you first open the box, it looks like all these tiny, little broken pieces. Pieces of unemployment, pieces of broken families, pieces of scarce friendships, pieces of bills and debt, pieces of sickness, pieces of empty investment accounts. Pieces. That’s all we get, is the box full of pieces. So sorry to let you down. That’s not my intent. My intention is to let you know …  

That God is at the table. God has never left you alone with a puzzle. He pulls up a chair and takes a seat at the table with you …. He never leaves you alone to piece it together all by yourself. He doesn’t. That would be the equivalent to you going to visit the doctor because you are sick, and the doctor leaves you in an examination room, by yourself, to diagnose yourself, and write yourself a prescription. It doesn’t happen that way. And so it is with God. He gave you life. He didn’t anticipate that you would know exactly what to do with it all. It’s a puzzle.

And He’s at the table to help you piece it together.

He may ask you to start laying the borders first. All the straight pieces…..the pieces that you know exactly where they fit together, and then build on those things. But I assure you, those pieces will start to come together. It’s not simple. No puzzle ever is. It’s work. It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of sitting still and just looking at the pieces. It takes asking a lot of questions … Where does this piece go, and how does that piece fit the picture.  

But the truth is … you can start piecing together something beautiful from something broken. It sounds cliche, I know. But it is the truth. Some of the most broken things come together to make some of the most beautiful things in life.

So the next time you are handed a puzzle, with tiny, little broken pieces …. just ask Him for a little help in putting it together.   

Then pick up the first piece, 

The straight edge, of course…

and the next, 

and the next, 

and the next.

If you have all the pieces … You know the final picture is going to be beautiful.
Okay….I know someone reading this is thinking….what happens when I’m missing a piece. Trust Him to help you find it. Because we know when life hands us a puzzle …. A peace …. is usually what you’re looking for anyway.
Ecclesiastes 3:11. “He has made everything beautiful in its time”