Friday, August 24, 2007

The Burden

Why was my burden so heavy? I slammed the bedroom door and leaned against it. Is there no rest from this life? I wondered. I stumbled to my bed and dropped onto it, pressing my pillow around my ears to shut out the noise of my existence.

"Oh God," I cried, "let me sleep. Let me sleep forever and never wake up!"

With a deep sob I tried to will myself into oblivion, then welcomed the blackness that came over me. Light surrounded me as I regained consciousness. I focused on its source: the figure of a man standing before a cross. "My child," the person asked, "why did you want to come to Me before I am ready to call you?" "Lord, I'm sorry. It's just that... I can't go on. You see how hard it is for me. Look at this awful burden on my back. I simply can't carry it anymore." "But haven't I told you to cast all of your burdens upon Me! , because I care for you? My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." "I knew You would say that.

But why does mine have to be so heavy?" "My child, everyone in the world has a burden. Perhaps you would like to try a different one?" "I can do that?" He pointed to several burdens lying at His feet. "You may try any of these." All of them seemed to be of equal size. But each was labeled with a name. "Why there's Joan's!" I said. Joan was married to a wealthy businessman. She lived in a sprawling estate and dressed her three daughters in the prettiest designer clothes. Sometimes she drove me to church in her Cadillac when my car was broken.

"Let me try that one." How difficult could her burden be? I thought. The Lord removed my burden and placed Joan's on my shoulders. I sank to my knees beneath its weight. "Take it off!" I said. "What makes it so heavy?" "Look inside." I untied the straps and opened the top. Inside was a figure of her mother-in-law, and when I lifted it out, it began to speak. "Joan, you'll never be good enough for my son," it began. "He never should have married you. You're a terrible mother to my grandchildren..."

I quickly placed the figure back in the pack and withdrew another. It was Donna, Joan's youngest daughter. Her head was bandaged from the surgery that had failed to resolve her epilepsy. A third figure was Joan's brother. Addicted to drugs, he had been convicted of killing a police officer. "I see why her burden is so heavy, Lord. But she's always smiling and helping others. I didn't realize..." "Would you like to try another?" He asked quietly. I tested several. Paula's felt heavy: She was raising four small boys without a father. Debra's did too: a childhood of sexual abuse and a marriage of emotional abuse.

When I came to Ruth's burden, I didn't even try. I knew that inside I would find arthritis, old age, a demanding full-time job, and a beloved husband in a nursing home. "They're all too heavy, Lord." I said. "Give back my own." As I lifted the familiar load once again, It seemed much lighter than the others. "Let's look inside." He said. I turned away, holding it close. "That's not a good idea," I said. "Why?" "There's a lot of junk in there." "Let Me see." The gentle thunder of His voice compelled me. I opened my burden. He pulled out a brick. "Tell me about this one." "Lord, You know. It's money. I know we don't suffer like people in some countries or even the homeless here in America. But we have no insurance, and when the kids get sick, we can't always take them to the doctor. They've never been to a dentist. And I'm tired of dressing them in hand-me-downs."

"My child, I will supply all of your needs... and your children's. I've given them healthy bodies. I will teach them that expensive clothing doesn't make a person valuable in My sight." Then He lifted out the figure of a small boy. "And this?" He asked. "Andrew..." I hung my head, ashamed to call my son a burden. "But, Lord, he's hyperactive. He's not quiet like the other two. He makes me so tired. He's always getting hurt, and someone is bound to think I abuse him. I yell at him all the time. Someday I may really hurt him...."

"My child," He said, "if you trust Me, I will renew your strength. If you allow Me to fill you with My Spirit, I will give you patience." Then He took some pebbles from my burden. "Yes, Lord," I said with a sigh. "Those are small. But they're important. I hate my hair. It's thin, and I can't make it look nice. I can't afford to go to the beauty shop. I'm overweight and can't stay on a diet. I hate all my clothes. I hate the way I look!" "My child, people look at your outward appearance, but I look at your heart. By My Spirit you can gain self-control to lose weight. But your beauty should not come from outward appearance. Instead, it should come from your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in My sight."

My burden now seemed lighter than before. "I guess I can handle it now." I said. "There is more." He said. "Hand Me that last brick." "Oh, You don't have to take that. I can handle it."

"My child, give it to Me." Again His voice compelled me. He reached out His hand, and for the first time I saw the ugly wound. "But, Lord, this brick is so awful, so nasty, so.....Lord! What happened to your hands? They're so scarred!" No longer focused on my burden, I looked for the first time into His face. In His brow were ragged scars --as though someone had pressed thorns into His flesh. "Lord," I whispered. "What happened to you?" His loving eyes reached into my soul. "My child, you know. Hand Me the brick. It belongs to Me. I bought it." "How?" "With My blood." "But why, Lord?" "Because I have loved you with an Everlasting Love. Give it to Me."

I placed the filthy brick into His wounded palm. It contained all the dirt and evil of my life: my pride, my selfishness, the depression that constantly tormented me. He turned to the cross and hurled my brick into the pool of blood at it's base. It hardly made a ripple. "Now, My child, you need to go back. I will be with you always. When you are troubled, call to Me and I will help you and show you things you cannot imagine now." "Yes, Lord, I will call on You."

I reached to pick up my burden. "You may leave that here if you wish. You see all these burdens? They are the ones that others have left at My feet. Joan's, Paula's, Debra's, Ruth's..... When you leave your burden here, I carry it for you. Remember, My yoke is easy and My burden is light." As I placed my burden with Him, the light began to fade. Yet I heard Him whisper, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you."

A peace flooded my soul.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest". Matthew 11:28

"And upon his outer garment, even upon his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords". Revelation 19:16

By: Author Unknown

Monday, August 20, 2007

In the shelter of the Most High

As most of you may know, our area has had some flooding this weekend, and some areas have been hit hard. The boys and I were not home - we were at Vince’s for the weekend. I am thankful for that, because the roads leading to our town were closed and the phones were down, so we would have been stuck at our house with no way to communicate with anyone until today. We were planning on heading back home on Sunday afternoon, but ended up staying an extra night because the highways around town were closed due to flooding and mudslides. Bummer on having to stay an extra day, what a hardship =). We just got home this afternoon, and I had some water in the laundry room & storage room that seeped just under the wall by the basement stairs, but nothing major ~ PTL!!

Others have not been that fortunate. Some areas have major damage, roads were completely washed away, people have lost their homes. Over 100 families are homeless, and there have been six confirmed deaths. I know of four families from my church who had to evacuate their homes, escape to their roofs, and wait to be rescued by boat. Our church is rallying around these families to organize clean up efforts and donations, as well as places for them to stay while they are essentially homeless. Please pray for these families, especially my friend Lori, who just five months ago lost her husband in a car accident and now is dealing with the loss of much of her possessions and possibly her home.

It felt pretty unreal to me, being so far away and just hearing about what was going on. But that quickly changed as I drove home and saw a lot of the damage.

It's hard to imagine why this would happen. We Christians tend to expect to be protected from harm, don't we? Well, contrary to popular belief, the Lord never promised that we would escape trouble in this life, in fact He tells us to expect John 16:33 Jesus said "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
But He also promises to be with us and deliver us, as in Deut. 31:8 "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
Please join me in praying Psalm 91 four our neighbors:
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday....."
"If you make the Most High your dwelling—even the LORD, who is my refuge- then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone...."Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Engraved on the palms of His hands

I was just listening to Beth Moore's "A Quick Word" for today (see the link on my sidebar). She talks today about our need to recognize our dependence on God, and how going through trials reminds us of that (see my blog from you think God's trying to tell me something???)

She talks about healing and said that many times God seems to choose to heal over time instead of instantaneously. Why would He do that?? If He has the power to heal our bodies (or change our circumstances) in the snap of a finger, why would he drag it out? Or not do it at all? Maybe, just maybe, God is more interested in the condition of our hearts.... if we are immediately healed from sickness, or receive whatever we ask for, quite often we say "thanks God!" and then dash out the door. Don't we? Come on, you know we do. I do it all the time.

Could it be that God uses (not necessarily causes, but uses) trials in our lives to draw us close to Himself? His greatest desire is to be close to us, to love us, to provide for us, to be our everything (Andy Gibb? anyone? anyone?)

"Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me."

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands..." Isaiah 49:13-16

I can personally attest that the times in my life where I have drawn closest to Him, where my faith and intimacy in the Lord has been strongest, have been in times of brokenness. When there seemed no way out, no end in sight. Where I have been lost enough to let myself be led.

It doesn't take a huge tragedy to reach this point of dependency (and I pray that it doesn't!) because the more I pay attention, the more I realize that I wake up every morning in a state of complete and utter dependence on God - whether I recognize it or not. But the greatest growth and blessings come when I do.

"This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence
Living in me
This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very Word
Spoken to me
And I, I'm desperate for You
And I, I'm lost without You"

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A breath of fresh air

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". ~ Philippians 4:6-7

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." ~ Matthew 6: 25-34

Why am I sooooooo prone to worry? Don't answer that! I don't want to know. That's a psychological mine field that we may not want to traverse. But I do know never serves me well to give way to worry. So why do I so often let worry consume my thoughts and overwhelm me? As my dad would say (and think he's quite funny saying it) 'worrying works because most of the things I worry about never happen!'

It is so hard to let go of the illusion of control I have when I worry - and it is just that, an illusion. We never really have control of anything, and sometimes it seems that God doesn't either. But His Word tells us differently, and so does His track record - both in the Bible and in my personal life as well. In times where I have felt completely overwhelmed and my life has seemed like a dust storm, and all of my efforts seem to mess things up even more......that's when God has come through, everytime. He calms the winds, and as the dust settles I can clearly see His hand at work making all things new. I take a deep breath of fresh air and realize again how completely dependent on Him I truly am. With my life, my decisions, my very breath. And I find myself oddly grateful for the storm I endured. Hmmm.....maybe that's the whole idea? Ya think?

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

Monday, August 13, 2007

Welcome to the family!

What a GREAT weekend ~ I went down to Cedar Falls Iowa with Vince and the kids to meet the "Howard clan" and I just have to say that, as shocking as this may seem, they are even crazier than I am =) I know, it's hard to believe, but true! Vince tried to warn me, but they just took crazy to a whole new level. Seriously tho, they are truly wonderful and we had such a great time! It was fun to see Vince sparring with his nutty brother-in-law (you know who you are), and getting picked on by his sisters. But beyond all the goofing off (and there was alot of it!) I witnessed and felt the closeness and love between all of them that is really something.....something wonderful. They have a bond that is quite incredible, and I know it is rooted not only in their deep love for one another, but in their common faith in Christ. Everyone seemed to go out of their way to make me feel comfortable and welcome, and even like part of the family already. It was really fun to see the family resemblances, the personalities, the inside jokes, and especially their feirce love and devotion to their "baby brother" (that would be my honey =) ) Even the car ride down & back with the kids was great - lots of conversation, music, and laughs. I am SO looking forward to the next time we get together, and subjecting - er, I mean introducing my boys to the "Howard clan"!

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:14-19
All this talk about family reminds me how thankful I am for my own family as well.....thankful for the love & close bond I have with my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews....thankful to have parents who know the Lord and pray for us regularly. But it also got me thinking.....what about those who are not fortunate to have a family like this? What if your idea of "family" brings to mind more pain than joy? More heartache than happiness? More loneliness than togetherness? Well I've got good news for you....God promises to provide a family for those who ask. He is:

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing..." Psalm 68:5-6
You have the opportunity to belong, to be loved, to be cherished, to be welcomed and included in a family of God's design - a family of believers in Christ. You have a Father who loves you beyond measure, who will never EVER let you down, who always has your best interests at heart and acts on them (as much as you allow), who holds you in the palm of His hand and will never EVER take His eyes off you. You have brothers and sisters in Christ, who are waiting and eager to extend a hand and a heart, and love you as you are. Who will laugh with you, and cry with you, and help bear your burdens. And most of all, you have a Savior who will knit and weave your lives together with an eternal bond that will never unravel. Ever. You are precious and beautiful and just so you know, your eternal family needs YOU as much as you need them!

So there you go......welcome to the family!! more post 'til I earn my blog counter!!! Yay, go me!!!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Deep thoughts....

"If you think a weakness can be turned into a strength, I hate to tell you this, but that's another weakness."
I love's one of my favorite "Deep Thoughts" quotes - remember those from old SNL days?? Those usually cynical, generally stupid quips on life....too funny. If you try to make any sense out of them at all your brain will hurt and it ruins the funniness, so you just have to listen, laugh, and let it go.

My only purpose in writing today is to earn my blog counter. You see, when I have 7 blog entries I will qualify to have this counter thingy attached to my blog that tells me how many "hits" I get and what cities the viewers are from - how cool is THAT?! I hope this doesn't deter anyone from visiting, as I won't be able to know who you are or email you any spam or anything. It's just fun to know, "Oh, I see someone from Zimbabwe has viewed my blog!"

"To me, clowns aren't funny. In fact, they're kinda scary. I've wondered where this started and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus and a clown killed my dad."
- Sorry, I couldn't resist =)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Who said my sons could grow up????

Last night I took Nick to sign up for his first year of football........TACKLE football, mind you. You know, where other boys - many of whom will be twice his size - will have as their primary goal to attack and maim my first born. Hmmmph. The fact that I willingly signed him up for this has me a bit puzzled. My goal in life since the day of their births has been to protect my sons from harm, and those who know me well know that I can quickly turn into "mama bear" at the slightest smell of danger where my kids are concerned! The only explanation I can think of for allowing him to participate in this deathtrap is that somewhere deep in my psyche I realize that he is growing up. He's going into 5th grade, which here means he enters middle school. Wow. How did THAT happen? But he's pretty excited about playing football, and can I just say how CUTE he looks in his shoulder pads & helmet?!

The boys both just finished baseball - Kyle played his second year of Tball and Nick played "10 & under" Little League. Nick did an excellent job pitching and covering first base for most of his games. Kyle did great wacking the ball off the T and working on his 'form' in the outfield. He has a great arm and can throw far. Both boys concentrated very hard and did their best, I was very proud! I was especially impressed with Nick and his teammates this past weekend, as they played an all-day tourney in pouring rain!! Not one of them complained, as they played on through the rain till the end. (I can't say the same for those of us parents who were watching the games - I must say there was quite a bit of whining and shivering going on.) Note to self: watch the weather report in the future so you don't wear a sleeveless shirt and shorts when it's going to be 60 degrees & rainy ALL day : /

So now, here we are approaching the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year in just a few weeks. Kyle, my "baby" will be in 1st grade, and as I said Nick will be in 5th. Sigh. Who said my boys could grow up????

Monday, August 06, 2007

~ A new day has come ~

Here I am, starting a new blog.....fitting, since I am in the midst of embarking on a new chapter in my life! A new day has come for filled with hope, contentment, exhilaration, and above all - love. An incredible, amazing, dream come true kind of love that blows away all of my expectations. It's been a long wait, but worth every moment.

Through this blog (which Vince so graciously created for me with his plethora of techy knowledge - he's like my own personal "geek squad"!) I am excited to be sharing about my experiences, insights and observations (however wacky they may be) along my life's journey. So, welcome - and I hope you enjoy your flight!
~A New Day Has Come~
Celine Dion

"I was waiting for so long
For a miracle to come
Everyone told me to be strong
Hold on and don't shed a tear
Through the darkness and good times
I knew I'd make it through
And the world thought I had it all
But I was waiting for you...

I see a light in the sky
Oh, it's almost blinding me
I can't believe I've been touched
By an angel with love
Let the rain come down and wash away my tears
Let it fill my soul and drown my fears
Let it shatter the walls for a new sun
A new day has come.

Where it was dark now there's light
Where there was pain now there's joy
Where there was weakness, I found my strength
All in the eyes of a boy."