To Ponder………..

Do you know what it means to ponder?   I guess it’s an old fashioned word, but according to the two dictionaries I looked at, ponder has a much deeper meaning than just to think about something,

Ponder: to weigh in the mind; consider or examine carefully; to meditate; to reflect seriously; to think upon.

We think about people and circumstances all the time, and that can be beneficial or not. I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying “stinkin’ thinkin'”. Even the Bible says  “as a man thinks, so is he.” (Psalm 23:7 KJV)

Philippians 4:13 says; whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable….if anything is excellent or praiseworthy….think on these things.  That certainly is a good way to govern our thinking and speaking.

However, to ponder is to go much deeper…..kind of like meditation, which I have written about before.  As a cow chews the cud, swallows it, brings it up again several times before taking it in for total nourishment.  That cow, or other cud chewing animal, is taking in a little bit of nourishment each time she swallows the juice or cud before she completes the “ponder, or meditation” with a swallowing of the whole.

I think we can ponder a subject, even the same one, our entire lives.  And if you have a one on one relationship with you Creator, pondering can be a way of communication or prayer with Him.

Imagine what Mary, the mother of Jesus, was pondering.( Luke 2:19) What an awesome responsibility she had to carry in her womb the Son of God and to nurture Him as a child to adulthood, and to know what He was going to go through to save the world.  That goes beyond my human understanding, and is one of those “God Things” I accept by faith!  There’s no way to figure out how God did that…..but I believe!

All I want you to receive from this writing today is to allow yourself TIME TO PONDER the works of God….not just His creation but also His work in human hearts and lives. It’s OK to sit quietly and look at God’s Creation, or to consider or examine carefully a matter, asking Him for wisdom so you see clearly the way to proceed.

Join me this week in reading the 111th Psalm, and ponder His works!  Ponder what He is doing in your heart and life, or in that of a friend or a family member…….in a situation that seemed impossible, and yet God is turning it around for good, as He promised.  It’s always amazing to me to look back and see why God “did it His way” and not my way!!!

When you ponder the works of God, you will feel like weeping, laughing, shouting, or praising Him.  When you ponder His works, He will speak truth to you!!!

Thy Word

Quitting Too Soon?

We’ve all done it at some point. Given up on something just short of a breakthrough. Is there something difficult, but good and big in your life that you are considering walking away from?

My Pastor made a point in his Resurrection Sunday sermon last weekend that stood out to me. The story was from Luke chapter 24 about Cleopus walking back home on the road to Emmaus. He walked with another, and their heads were hung low in defeat. They had believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but Jesus had died on a cross Friday night, and they were headed back home early on Sunday.

Jesus actually caught up to them and asked them what they were talking about. They told Jesus, whom they did not recognize, that they had seen Jesus die and they were disappointed that he was gone and that all they had believed was not true. HA! Their messiah and their hope was right there beside them, but they didn’t even recognize him!

Jesus had told them all that he would die and that he would resurrect, numerous times. Cleopus still gave up and started walking back home to his old familiar place TOO SOON! Shouldn’t he have waited around on Sunday to see Jesus resurrected as he had promised?

Cleopus gave up just short of the breakthrough and headed back to his comfort zone! Thankfully for him, Jesus pursued him on his wrong path anyway! He ALMOST MISSED the most important moment that could have ever happened to him!

Whatever you are doing in life that is worth doing and biblical – whether it be a challenging job, building and staying with a relationship, getting in shape, eating healthier – that you feel like giving up on because you are not “seeing results,” STICK WITH IT! KEEP GOING! You have been promised the results, and they will come if you keep on. They say 80% of the progress comes in the last 20% of the time spent on a project. Push forward and don’t turn back to your comfort zone and quit! As Dory would say in Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming!”

DON’T QUIT TOO SOON OR YOU WILL MISS YOUR BREAKTHROUGH!

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Are you Delighted?

delight [dih-lahyt]

1. a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy; rapture: 2. something that gives great pleasure:

When is the last time you were delighted? Reread the definition above and really think about that for a minute. Unfortunately it’s an emotion that may be in short supply lately.  It’s an emotion I truly didn’t enjoy very often until a toddler started calling me grandma.

There is nothing like having a little person in your life who brings joy and wonder. His enthusiasm for EVERYTHING is over the top.

And he DELIGHTS me.

“Watch dis, gramma!” “Gramma, let me show you!” “I wuv you, gramma.”

Such music to my ears.

Every time I find such joy in my little guy, God gently reminds me that he feels the same way about me. And I am amazed.

“For the Lord takes delight in his people;
    he crowns the humble with victory.” Psalm 149:4

“the Lord delights in those who fear him,
    who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:11

“The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Rejoice over you with singing! Oh! Doesn’t that make your heart just sing?

Let’s take it a step further: If we also delight in Him, God says He will give us the desires of our hearts! What?

Just this morning, I was playing with my grandson Luca & things got really silly. Doing something as simple as throwing a ball back and forth had us in giggling fits. We were delighting in each other. And you know what? There is no desire of his heart I would withhold from him when such delight is going on.

“Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

God desires that two-way relationship with us. When we take delight in Him, it makes His heart sing and burst with joy. Remember, He actually rejoices over us with singing! imagine yourself as a child with a daddy who is so in love with you that he delights in every little thing you do!

Father and daughter laughing and bonding

Our lives are so filled with trouble and angst that I know it’s hard to think about taking delight in anything some days. But what if we did? Find the smallest thing to start with, and see it with new eyes. Begin to change your outlook. Take delight in God, and He will take even more delight in you. Don’t miss out on walking in that kind of freedom…

And see what happens to your life.

Broken.

God has a way of breaking you down in unexpected ways.

A few months ago I prayed for more intimacy with God and little did I know I would be stepping into one of the hardest seasons of my life.

I went into a downward spiral. I was exhausted all the time, did not feel like myself, I was unable to give to others what they needed, it was hard for me to pray for others because I felt broken inside. I was depressed.

Going through this was hard, but God was with me through it all. He provided a mentor for me whom poured into me, to help me identify the emotions I was feeling which I had never dealt with or allowed myself to feel before.

God wanted me to share my brokenness with other people and the more I did, the more I was released from the bondage I felt. The more I shared, the more I became relatable to others, the more vulnerable I became the more others opened up to me. I began to realize the more I shared my struggles, pain, and process, there have been many people around me going through the same thing. Crazy how God works in those ways!

I just met up for coffee with a friend who was going through a very similar season. I was able to sit and listen to her journey and encourage her. I spoke to her in a way I would have wanted to be spoken to. Because I had been there, she and I could go deeper and have deeper revelations for what God is doing in both of our lives.

It’s amazing to think we not only need God, but he created us to need each other. I can’t imagine going through all of this alone. I am thankful for my mentor, and the friends who walked with me through this struggle.

God broke me down and is building me back up to be stronger than ever before. In my weakness God is strong and HE makes me strong. And only because of Him I can sing and dance and be all who He has created me to be.

PRAISE HIM!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Cor 12:9-10

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WHAT???

When you cannot hear, clearly, the person who is speaking to you…..what do you do?

I know what I do…..I yell back…. WHAT?

A more respectful way to answer would be to say…..”Excuse me, would you please repeat that?”

I am living in a large home right now with a friend.  We both go about our individual busyness, sometimes speaking information the other person needs to know while one or the other is walking away to another part of the house.  When that happens to me I often yell loudly ” WHAT??? ”

It would be better for me to walk to where she is and ask her nicely to repeat the information or request.  That way we would have a face to face conversation and the information would not be misunderstood….because if that happens the outcome is usually chaotic… for instance…”I told you, blah, blah, blah, remember?”…..”No, I didn’t get that message.”   etc……you know the scenario!!

But, what about the message God is speaking to you?  Do you turn a deaf ear and pretend by your own social rules that you don’t hear Him clearly so that you don’t fully understand what He is saying to you?

Since I have been a follower of Christ since a young child I have learned to hear…not saying I always obey…but that’s another topic.  I know the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict and correct so that I will come to repentance.  Then He teaches and comforts me.

Life in Christ is continual learning.    (I was going to say curve….but there are no curves in God’s way.  He is straight….Absolute!)   Yah, I mess up, but God’s still, small voice through the Holy Spirit is constantly reminding me to check my motives.  He points out those sins that pull me away from wanting to hear Him clearly.

I really want to HEAR HIM CLEARLY…….don’t you?   Because His Word gives me life, and I want life more abundantly while I’m on this Planet.     Do you?

And God does not change.  It seems that society is changing the basic, God-given life rules.   What’s wrong is OK and right,  what’s right is up for individual interpretation.  BUT GOD HAS ABSOLUTES….AND THOSE DO NOT CHANGE, and the consequences of disobedience are painful.

I cry out to God often with a WHAT???    What is it God….what are you saying to me?  I want to HEAR YOU CLEARLY…..with no outside opinions or philosophies.

I WANT TO ALWAYS ” HEAR HIS VOICE BEHIND ME SAYING, THIS IS THE WAY; WALK IN IT.”   Isaiah 30:21

Ear

VALUE and the Loss Of My Friend

What is it that we all want in life? How do we want to feel? What do we want from people, places and things?

Is it Love? Security? Respect? Sure. All of that. But those things can vary in meaning depending on the individual.

In light of the recent sudden and shocking passing of my dearest and deepest friend, I have been evaluating my priorities. My decisions. The way I spend my time. The people with whom I spend my time. My goals, my dreams. The way I treat myself and others. My relationship with God….

You get the picture.

Death somehow focuses us on life. Our mortality, and our immortality. Our legacy. It makes us present and focused on each moment.

When I think about my friendship with Amy, I think of all those things. But, encompassing them all is: VALUE.

I think that may be the word that sums up what we all want out of life.

TO VALUE and TO BE VALUED.

VALUE is both a noun and a verb. It’s a state of being AND a way of being. It is:

  1. the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. – worth, usefulness, benefit, gain, good, help, merit, importance, significance.
  1. considering someone or something to be important or beneficial; have a high opinion of. – think highly of, rate highly, esteem, appreciate, respect, prize,         cherish, treasure.

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8

“Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:31

My dear Amy was an example of all these perspectives on value in my life. She made sure I felt valued and valuable – both by her and by God. She reminded me all the time. In fact, I know by the stories I’ve heard, that she made everyone she met feel this way. She gave love unconditionally to all, and had enough to go around. What a gift.

Let us all remember the importance of value – in every sense and use of the word. Placing value on ourselves the way God sees us, and treating others as valuable will change our lives. There is no greater charge in this life.

Let’s all do it the way Amy did it.

Don’t let a day pass without knowing YOUR value, and showing the ones you love how much you value them. For you are never promised tomorrow.

Amy 2RIP Amy Mohler Brooks, 8-22-76 ~ 1-18-17

We sure do miss you. <3

Twenty Candles

20 candles.

20 babies.

7 women.

All loved equally by their Abba Father.

I was honored to attend a memorial service for babies who had been lost to abortion, but quite honestly, I was also a bit uneasy about what I was about to witness. As we gathered together in the pastor’s office in love and reverence, I heard their stories.

“I didn’t know it was a baby”

“I thought it was the right thing to do”

“I was forced to do it”

After being together for several weeks in the Post Abortion Support Team (P.A.S.T.) recovery group at Fellowship Monrovia, they have cried together, they have grieved together, and they have loved each other through painful memories. Now these precious women were gathering together one last time to acknowledge their mistake in giving up the life of their child or children for the sake of convenience, and to lay their children to rest in the arms of the Father.

They were sorry. So deeply sorry. Many had not been able to move forward in life, even though it had been years. Some carried the physical scar of not being able to get pregnant after multiple abortions and not knowing exactly why.

The medical community had no answers.

They tortured themselves with whys and what ifs.

Their friends and family said to get over it.

But they couldn’t.

These women are part of the beautiful few who have chosen to come to Jesus with their post abortion pain and accept healing and wholeness. Each one wearing white and lighting a candle for each baby.

Previously unnamed, each child was given a name by their mother. One young mom even brought a box of baby things to lay on the altar of forgiveness and grace.

I heard them, one after one, say “I now know I can still be a woman of God and move forward into my calling even after having an abortion.” And “I’m so comforted to know I will see my baby in heaven.” So profound. So heartbreaking. And so beautiful. As God forgave them, each one had to work through the process to come to a place of forgiving themselves. And that is the hardest thing.

There were tears. Oh yes, there were tears. This night showed me the messy beauty of God’s love. He loves us in our mistakes. He loves us in our mess. And he brings people alongside us to help us out of that mess. Also part of the group that night were women who were many years beyond a similar program of healing. Now they were turning their pain into purpose by leading these women to the very throne of God where they could lay down their past and be renewed in His spirit and His truth to walk in forgiveness and healing.

20 candles.

20 babies who will never be forgotten.

7 women who are now walking forward in wholeness and with hope.

“For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
    and I will remember their sins no more.”

Hebrews 8:12 ESV

 

DON’T LOSE HEART

Have you ever gotten so discouraged you feel you can’t make it through another day?  I guess if you’re part of the human race you certainly have had moments or even days like that.

As I was watching the Patriots play against the Falcons during the Super Bowl,  I really gave up hope.  I thought there was no way the Patriots could catch up….let alone win the game!

My friend said, “Don’t worry…be a Fan!!!  The Patriots have plenty of time to win this game if they stay calm, play smart, and don’t give up.”

The Patriots were down by 28-3 (25 points!) at half time.  By the 4th quarter the Patriots were scoring!  They tied the game in the last few seconds by scoring a field goal.  The Fans went crazy!  The game went into overtime (first time in Super Bowl history) and the Patriots scored the first touchdown to win!  It was awesome!

I learned a life lesson from that game…..don’t give up hope, keep trying to do your best, and DON’T LOSE HEART.  Because hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12).

The Apostle Paul tells us in II Corinthians chapter four of the struggle he and his fellow ministers had in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ.

Paul says, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed….to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us!  Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

So….dear friends, DON’T LOSE HEART in your life troubles.  God’s got this!!!  You will come out a winner in the end!!!

Rest

Why do we run ourselves into the ground?

Why don’t we ever stop?

Why don’t we rest?

What is rest?

Rest, I believe, looks different for everyone but there is an element that remains the same, we all need it! It doesn’t matter how you rest as long as you take the time to do it and it refreshes and restores you.

God continues to tell me to slow down. If you know me you know I always have a million things going on. I am involved in so much and I am very active. So slowing down is hard, but I came to the point of complete exhaustion and was running on empty. I was pouring out my energy in all aspects of my life including into other’s lives and in return I depleted myself. I was not myself and did not feel right.

I realized I have never fully taken a Sabbath. A day of complete rest without working. I have taken partial days, a few hours of rest but never a full day.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he RESTED from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he RESTED from all the work of creating that he had done.” Genesis 2:2-3

It’s biblical! God rested! He rested the whole day. Not part of the day, not half of the day! THE WHOLE DAY! God did this as an example for us. He wants us to rest. He did it so we would follow suit. So why don’t we? Why do we fill our days with work, work, work and feel like there is always more to be done?!

I always have a “to do list.” I think of things that I need to do and let it consume me, even on the day I should be “resting.” I have a trick for that if you are like me…have a note pad with you and when you think of something that you need to do write it down. This way it gets out of your head and you have space for rest. Try it and let me know if it helps you! : )

Let’s all take a Sabbath day. It doesn’t have to be on Sunday. Pick a day, any day of the week!

This week, I chose Sunday because it worked best for me. I slept in for the first time in a very long time with no alarm and got 11 hours of sleep!!!! Obviously my body needed rest. I had been neglecting it for too long. Then I made some coffee and sat with Jesus in my living room, journaling, and reading the Bible. And then He and I decided to go for a prayer walk. I got in the car and started driving towards the coast. I walked along the beach talking with God. It was so rejuvenating! I let go of some things, revelations were revealed to me, and God reminded me how much he loves me. I felt at peace and very calm. I had no distractions. I had my phone off the whole time and WOW! That was freeing!

And now I feel like I can take on the week and pour into those areas important to me. Look what a day of rest can do! 

What are you doing to rest?

We all need it. One day a week. Stop trying to push it aside. You will only make it worse.

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Little Shoes for a Big Purpose

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“What’s the story about your favorite pair of shoes?”

Kind of an unusual question for church, but every week the Question of the Day provokes some interesting getting to know you conversations with those sitting nearby. It’s a tradition at Fellowship Monrovia, where I attend services.

I turned around to chat with the woman behind me, thinking about mentioning the snow boots I bought in college more than 30 years ago and still own.

With a huge smile, she shared her shoe story:

My favorite pair of shoes was my very first pair, when I was 10 years old. I was in an orphanage in Greece during the war, and needed shoes. They traced around my foot on a piece of paper during my birthday in July, and then asked my sponsor in America for the money. That Christmas, I received my first pair of shoes. They were so precious to me! I polished them every night before putting them away in the box. I loved those shoes!

Oh.

Yeah, I had no shoe story after hearing that.

During the rest of the service, I couldn’t stop thinking about that precious Greek lady and her shoe story. I knew I needed to know her.

We met for coffee last week, and through tears she told me of her heart for the Greek orphans, even now. There is no public money available for them. If an orphanage is no longer funded, those little ones are in the street. What she told me is a story repeated countless times in countries around the world.

Meeting someone like this, who has lived a good life because a family cared enough to adopt her is inspiring. Her work now is dedicated to the children in Benjamin House, and she carries on the work that one person inspired in her by providing a pair of shoes.

Small beginnings for very big things. It all started with a pair of shoes for a 10 year old little orphan girl, provided by someone who had never met her.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”   James 1:27