Things I Don’t Understand

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy- Proverbs 31: 8-9, NIV Bible

I admit that I had to look twice today when I saw the verse above in a Facebook post. Wait, I thought Proverbs chapter 31 was about the wife of noble character, I don’t remember this part. I squinted at the Scripture reference and yup, it listed Proverbs 31. Hmm, didn’t know this was part of it, let me check it out. And Yes, it is Proverbs 31: v 8 and 9. And yes it is important.

The post I saw today was referencing the 18th anniversary of the forced death of a young woman named Terri Schaivo. It was a great tragedy and injustice for her family. She was a woman who after an injury had been bed ridden, receiving her nutrients through feeding tubes. Her husband no longer wished to take care of her and won the right to withhold food and water from her, which ultimately ended her life two weeks later.

I remember this drama as it played out on the news. The parents fought for the right to continue care, but sadly lost the legal battle. I wish I could say that this is an isolated event, happening years before legal rights and inclusive rights became a buzz word.

But, it keeps going on, turning a blind eye to the rights of the loved ones involved in cases such as these. Parents of children with compromised physical and or intellectual health have little to no rights in protecting their children. It is as if we as a society have returned to the days of the Roman Empire, when unwanted children could be left out on rocks to perish to the elements.

I really have a difficult time understanding this lack of compassion, especially towards children. And those who are disabled or medically vulnerable. This hits me personally in many ways. I have learned that modern medicine is very much profit driven, rather than compassion driven. And I volunteer with a group of intellectually challenged adults, who amaze me everyday. To think that a court could decide whether they have worth or value is beyond my scope of understanding.

I just don’t understand. The cruelty of people. The greed of some. The heartlessness of others. Rules and legalities should be beneficial and protective, but it seems at times the only ones benefiting are the greedy, proud, and selfish. They turn a blind eye to the cries of the poor and helpless. They protect big business and the rich.

But as long as I am able, I will take the advice of Proverbs 31 and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Humans were created with value, purpose and worth. We are all made in the image of God. Let us not try to wipe out these images. They are loved as much as whole, healthy people. Let us speak up, protect, and support the families of those who are physically and intellectually vulnerable. Whether young or elderly. Let us not forget the evil being done, yet forgive. Let us pray for those who put profit over patients. I may not ever understand the depth of depravity or self deception it takes to purposely end a life, but I keep hope that someday this practice will end.- God Bless You- Nancy

When Should We Pray?

“In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3, NIV).

When should we pray? That might sound like a simple question with a simple answer, but if you have ever struggled to figure it out, then read on.

Most people, whether faith people or not, would probably answer the question like this; “When someone is sick, or when I need to make a big decision.” Just as some kind of good luck charm. So, we better ask for prayer in case there is really some cosmic power that can alter the events we find ourselves (or others we care about) are in. And of course those of us who are faith people and hold onto tightly and unswerving to our faith in God, knowing He does exist, would answer the question; “always”.

But, what I am really trying to find the answer to, is when, personally, should we pray? Is there really a better time to come before God with our thanksgiving and requests? Is there a better time of day to pray? Or read God’s Word?

I pose the above question because I have been struggling with it myself. And not because I do not want to, or because I believe it is unimportant (it is not unimportant!). On the contrary, it is because I know it is important, that I am struggling in the first place.

Here’s the deal; my husband recently changed shifts at his work. It has had a rippling effect on my schedule, and in particular, my devo time. (Devotional time- i.e. reading my Bible, praying, and reading a short devotional book).

I used to have a few uninterrupted minutes to read, reflect and pray as my day begun- always after my coffee though; I need my coffee before I come before the throne of God. It was a good time of day for me to focus and present all of my cares and concerns before God and lay them at His feet. The devotional book brought my worries and anxiety down as I listened to the gifted writing of a fellow minister of the Gospel.

I traded this time of quiet and pause for something as equally great; a chance to sit down at breakfast with my husband and talk before the toll of a long day at work stole the best of conversations. We found ourselves talking, eating and planning the day’s errands and chores. Before I knew it, the time had flown by and with it my devo time.

So, after all my work was done and I was completely tired from a long day, I tried to read and pray at night before I fell asleep. Let me tell you that midnight is not the best time to pray for me. But, I am sure Jesus knew what I meant as I fell asleep- note to self, avoid praying while laying down!

I also felt a bit of guilt for not praying for others earlier in the day. I wondered if my lack of interceding for them had an effect. But, I quickly corrected myself when I realized it wasn’t all up to me, but in God’s hands anyway. But, still, I felt kinda bad for falling asleep while reading the Bible and praying.

So, I am trying to be more intentional in the mornings, now that I realize how much I missed praying and reading in the morning. As much as I want to spend time with my husband and enjoy this season of second shift, I need to make time for myself; for my own spiritual growth.

Maybe you can relate to this, especially if you have children at home. There is hardly moments of peace and quiet. But, I have been there too, and I remember the struggle is real. Hang in there! Remember it is a season and it will be over before you know it. When our children started school I really found a new sense of freedom as I could pray out loud in the empty house.

And that also reminds me of a recent conversation with my brother in law and he shared about his own prayer time; while driving his truck. I had to agree with him, as I too find drive time to be one of the best times to be alone with God and pray. It might seem that it would be a distraction with all the traffic, but I have found I feel free to raise my voice and share all my concerns with God, in my private car space. Are you with me?

Whatever the time that works best for you, just keep at it, not because its an item on a to do list, but because we need to present our requests before God, and also our thanksgiving. God cares and wants this communication with us. The time of day does not matter to Him. He is always there, waiting on us.

The length of time we read and pray does not matter either. It is not a competition with fellow believers. One minute or sixty minutes does not matter. Allowing God’s Word to settle into our hearts and minds, and giving our cares to God are what matters. We might only have a short time, or maybe it is all day long in little bites, but find the time to listen and to speak to God.

If you don’t know where to start, try Psalm 5. Break it into small paragraphs and let it settle. Think of one praise, or one thing you are thankful to God for. And one worry you can cast on Him. Find a quiet place- maybe your car, or maybe even lock yourself in the bathroom- heard that idea from a mom of toddlers! Make the time that works best for you. Anytime is best for God. He’s waiting.- God Bless you – Nancy

Keep Moving Forward

So, do you think God still speaks to us today? Or do you believe He just created the world, set the auto pilot, stepped back and let it run? Maybe, if you are like me at times, you begin to believe the latter. God seems to be silent. You pray and seek His answers to your requests. Maybe you ask for His direction. Or maybe for something you want desperately to happen- like a job, a healing, a home, a baby. Or maybe its for someone else. Maybe you just want to know if He is there and listening. But, it seems as if Heaven has shut you out.

If you are persistent, you keep on asking. I mean, that’s in the Bible, right? Knock and keep on knocking, ask and keep on asking. In your mind you might think; “I will pester God enough that He will answer with what I want.” Instantly. Or at least in your idea of the right time. We start to recreate God into what we think He should be; our own cosmic Santa Claus, or magic genie in a bottle. Our personal wish giver, or personal shopper.

It seems to me that part of our problem is not whether God is listening and communicating with us, but our own impatience. We just want to rush and get things done. We hate being still and waiting.

The waiting and the silence are uncomfortable. Like a blind date, or first date that isn’t going well. The silence is awkward. We make up things to say. Trying to spark a conversation with the other person.

In our asking, knocking and seeking God’s answers we can start out asking the “If you will just…., then I promise to….. for you God” As the time drags on without a return reply, we even offer to up the ante with Him. “I promise God, I’ll go be a missionary, or give all my money away, just please, please give me this one thing.”

Waiting is difficult. I’ve been there. Praying for the healing of friends and family. Circumstances got worse, not better. I’ve doubted my own prayer “worthiness”. “Maybe God is upset with me” or even “Maybe I’m not praying right” To the dreaded comparison trap that wonders why others can hear from God, or get their requests answered and I don’t.

To be clear though, I have also been the one with the answered prayers for jobs, food, pregnancy, and a home. And healing. But being true to my own human nature, flawed as it is, I remember the silence more than the answers. Why is it we tend towards the negative anyway?

The reality of it all, is that God does speak to us, but we are too busy to observe the answers. Sometimes it is as simple as rainbow in the sky, a sign on a business, a rock in the shape of a heart, or a kind word from a friend. Or a scripture that jumped off the page of the Bible. Giving us a confirmation that God is still concerned with what concerns us.

Four years ago, the encouraging words from a college professor propelled (and challenged) me to begin a blog. A blog that was intended to help others through the difficulties and challenges of life as a Christian. Life keeps moving forward and we must work through it all. Having faith in Jesus does not shield us from pain, sorrow, stress, anxiety, difficulty, or grief. And it is not a guaranty of happiness and joy 24/7. It gives us hope that we are not alone. And that this life with all of its difficulty is only temporary. We have an eternity that will make this life and all its problems a distant memory someday.There is something more we were created for. Someone more we were created for. To love and be loved by. Forever.

I have heard many of your stories of how the blog has helped you and encouraged you. I am encouraged by the stories. God always knows the right topic for me to write. I hope my own struggles will encourage you to keep moving forward. We are in this all together. “And let us consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds” as the author of Hebrews reminds us. We encourage each other as we grow and go through difficulties that we can share with others. I am definitely a work in progress and I too struggle to wait to hear from God. But my struggles can encourage you that you are not alone.

But just like I hope the blog encourages you, I too get my encouragement from others blogs and podcasts. And God reminds me to keep writing to encourage you in your faith. Keep going on and do not give up. God is listening. He cares. He knows just what you need to hear from Him and He waits until we are paying attention enough to hear. Be still. Even for a moment and listen and watch. And read His word. Let Him speak to you in His own words. God Bless You – Nancy

Show And Tell

Do you remember show and tell? It was a time set aside in elementary (or primary) school for the students to bring in an object from home and take turns sharing what the item was and a little bit of a description. Like the name says, first you show then you were supposed to tell about it.

Lately, I have been experiencing a kind of show and tell from God. He prompts me to notice people or situations and explains what I have been prompted to see. Every time He does this it also has required my listening to follow His promptings. When I do, I find myself being in the right place at the tight time. His timing for an amazing show and tell.

I will admit sometimes when God shows me something, it usually comes with a side of self – reflection. And conviction. God has been showing me my own shortcomings with judging others by stereotyping them. Maybe I am just the product of my generation and culture, but I didn’t really see it in myself, I was too blind to see my own blindness. That’s why God needed to show me my blindness and tell me about it.

But, to be clear, it hasn’t been to make me feel bad, per se, although I quickly repented and asked for God’s forgiveness, but rather it was for my benefit. To instruct me and open my eyes. To help me to move forward in my faith.

Has this happened to you? Are you listening to God’s promptings? Is He bringing you into situations and showing you truth about yourself and others? I pray He has and that He will continue to help your grow in your faith. God Bless – Nancy

Eyes Wide Open

I closed my eyes and placed my hands on my lap, carefully interlocking my fingers together. I opened one eye slightly and gave a side glance across the aisle to the other row of chairs. Was this right? I wondered in my twelve year old brain. It seemed to be the same as the other peoples’ hands. The people across the church aisle. My head was turned downward as if I was looking at my lap. This must be right I thought and firmly closed both eyelids once again. I don’t remember what was said by the minister, but I recall glancing up through a slit in my eyelids, just enough to see whether it was over or not. Do I open my eyes now? Is it okay to lift my head? Am I suppose to say amen?

Such was my predicament when I was a first time visitor to a church service at the age of twelve. I had not been to church before and really did not understand it all. I had never participated in a group prayer. But I watched and learned what to do.

Over time I learned to recite the Lord’s Prayer and became more confident in the whole folding my hands together, closing my eyes and bowing my head. Later in my life I would visit other churches and learn about more spontaneous prayers and lifting my hands in prayer and praise. I would also come to know God in a personal relationship of faith and understand what I was praying and to whom I was praying.

But, I still copied what I saw others doing at church. Standing up or sitting back down in my seat at the cue of others around me, or in front of me. Tell me that I am not the only one. Did you grow up in church from an infant? Or did you come to church as a preteen, teen or adult? If you can identify with the latter, was it all a new foreign language and customs to learn? It was for me. And I find that I am still learning. I adapt, depending upon the style and type of church.

Every church gathering seems to have its own style. And I follow the cues. I am a work in progress and while for some, it might not make any difference what type of service they are attending. They are confident and focused upon their own style of prayer and praise. For me, I follow the cues and adapt.

Over the some forty years of church attendance, I have observed style changes for both prayer and worship. Music styles have changed, as have prayers. Very rarely will you hear a pastor speaking King James Version prayers with “thee’s” and “thou’s”. Some prayers have become so casual to say “Hey God”. I’m not quite sure if I could handle any prayers that might say “dude” or “bro” when talking to God, but I guess that shows my age. I’ll learn to adapt.

Recently, at a church service I was visiting, God began to show me something that I had gotten too used to following. At first I was taken aback by the suggestion. But, when God points out something, its best to listen to Him. He showed me that people were all trying to copy the worship team. He made me think about my own sincerity in my worship. Was I just copying others to fit in with their style of worship, you know peer pressure, or was my heart bent on true worship? While I was thinking about it, He also pointed out the worship team. Their eyes were tightly closed. God began to impress upon me that “They are focused on loving me, but they can’t see others when their eyes are closed.”

Now, I will be the first to tell you that I close my eyes sometimes in worship. It shuts off the distractions and lets me think about the words I am singing. But, that was something God was trying to tell me. That we close our eyes to focus on Him in worship. To sing our love for Him. But, we fail to open them back up when we leave the service. We forget that while God commanded us to love Him with all our hearts, minds and spirit; the second command is as equal. Love our neighbors as ourselves.

Now, please don’t get mad at the messenger here, just sharing some thoughts. Maybe it is what we need to think about. What if we, as modern worshiping Christians, are too focused on this experience and this following the crowd, that we fail to notice if someone visited our services? What if corporate, church worship was focused on the group, rather than each individual shutting out the distractions of those around them?

I do remember a time, when we worshiped with our eyes wide open. We sang upbeat old fashioned hymns, and no I’m not suggesting we go back to old style music, but just that we acted like a group. Like a team. I cannot imagine closing my eyes and singing a team song at a sporting game. Tell me if I’m wrong, but we keep our eyes open for that.

But, somehow, we now have worship team idols who have taught us how to project an image of bliss in worship, that includes closing our eyes and lifting our hands. It might be a reflection of our selfie driven culture that cares more about social media views than authenticity. I mean, let’s be real here for a sec, does it make the singer look more holy, closer to God even, as if they have found this perfect moment of worship of God? I think it might. Maybe because we want that too.

Let’s be honest. There are times when we are hurting. Times when we are tired. We cannot always be in the mood to praise God. God knows our hearts and He knows our hurts. He knows when we are being sincere, or just following the worship team and imitating them.

The Psalms give us many examples of sincerity in worship. Here’s the short version: The psalmist is feeling down and then recalls the goodness of God and ends the psalm with praise.The psalmist starts out with an honest reflection and assessment of his circumstances, both physically and spiritually. He is authentic.

Let’s open our eyes and be authentic. Be real. See others as God sees them. And while I cannot claim the worship team was not engaged in an amazing worship moment, God perhaps was asking me to be real in worship myself and not just take the cues from others. Do not just go though the motions, imitating what we might have seen in worship videos or from the stage, but just authentic, corporate worship.

I recall attending an outdoor Christian concert once and observed a woman standing in front of me. The song began and she immediately raised her left hand, keeping it raised, as she texted with her cell phone in her right hand. Her head kept tilting down to look at her phone as she texted. Distracted driving is dangerous, but I have wondered about distracted praise.

I have also been at a different concert, praising God, hands raised and in an amazing moment, witnessed the presence of the Holy Spirit fall on the concert. I stopped singing, because I realized there were no words suitable for that moment. My eyes were opened. At the same time, I also realized the lead singer had stopped singing too and had dropped to his knees on stage, completely silent. There were just no words adequate for that moment in an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It was not for show. The music kept playing in the background, but we were all silent. It was a beautiful moment I won’t forget, maybe this is what Heaven will be like.

Either way, silent praise or joyous expression, let’s focus on true worship and not on ourselves as worshipers. Let us worship God, who calls us to love others and demonstrate a pure religion that looks after the widows and orphans (James 1:27). Let’s keep our eyes wide open to see others. Love is not blind at least it shouldn’t be as demonstrated in our love for God and for others. Keep your eyes open and let God show you amazing things -God Bless, Nancy

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”– Mark 6:31

A Quiet Place In The Country

Some people seem to thrive on the busyness of life. They are always in a constant state of movement. Running to the next scheduled event and always running behind just a bit. Their schedules are overbooked and overfilled with barely enough time to stop for a lunch break.

And it is not just busy CEO’s who cram every second of their busy schedules. Sometimes it is moms or dads or even the children who barely have time to breathe. For many of us, regardless of our jobs or titles, we can, at some points in our lives, just get over busy, over planned, and over worked. And while some people seem to thrive on it, too much of busyness and rush can take a toll on us. We need a break. We need a vacation. We need a quiet place in the country.

Reality is that even the country can be busy and noisy, (animals, farm machinery, etc) but compared with the constant noise and rush of urban areas, it does appear quieter. And many people seek out places in the countryside to visit at or even to purchase. It becomes a getaway from the hustle and bustle. A place to rest. A place to finally breathe and make room to think and relax.

I have found that I am especially sensitive to too much noise. I like visiting cities and do enjoy the fast pace of them. I actually like airports too, because I get to observe all the people coming and going in a hurry. It can be energizing for me. But after a awhile, I too, am longing for some peace and quiet. Too many loud voices, sirens and car horns can get to be too much.

Especially loud people in otherwise quiet restaurants, where I am trying to relax and enjoy a nice meal. Anybody agree? People, please use your inside voices when inside a restaurant and no, we, and I am speaking for my fellow diners, do not want to hear your entire phone conversation on speakerphone! Nor do we like listening to a one sided, blue tooth conversation as you appear to be talking to yourself.

Okay, so now that we have cleared that up, let’s look at the verse above. Jesus called the disciples aside and told them to go and find a quiet place. To eat. To rest. And to get away from the crowds. A secluded place. A place in the country.

Why? because they apparently did not have time even to eat. The crowds were demanding more and even following the group. They had recently come back from a ministry trip that must have been exhausting and had recently gotten news of John the Baptists beheading. For which they also went and retrieved the rest of his body for burial.

As Mark writes this Gospel, he records this event right before the feeding of the five thousand. Makes sense to me then that this was important. This rest before the gathering of the large crowd to feed. I wonder what this would have looked like if the disciples hadn’t had the time of rest. To refresh their bodies and their spirit. It would be like trying to run on empty. The very thing we often find ourselves doing. Just pushing through it, grabbing a protein bar or fast food, instead of finding a quiet place to relax and enjoy our meal. Or maybe it is working through all our vacation days. Maybe it is failing to say no to others, even though we know our schedule is already too full.

We cannot run on empty. We, like the disciples need to rest in order to prepare ourselves for what God has next. We need seclusion and quiet. The English Standard Version bible replaces the word quiet (found in the NIV Bible) with a desolate place. It is an interesting choice of words, but maybe carries a greater meaning. A desolate place gives an image of nothing else around. Completely secluded. No internet, No cell phones.

Jesus himself often went away to secluded places to pray to the Father. He too, needed to separate Himself from the busyness. If Jesus found a quiet place in the country, why should we think we are being more spiritual or more holy when we try to press though our schedules and sacrifice our quiet time with God, or with just the simple act of eating and taking care of our physical bodies. Let’s follow Jesus and find that quiet, secluded space. – God Bless, Nancy

Calling On Help

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia.We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.” -Paul 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, New International Version Bible.

So, two things I wanted to share with you today. The first are my thoughts about Paul and the second about going it alone in our faith walk.

I’ve always thought of the apostle Paul as this powerful, strong Christian. He had difficulties in his ministry- shipwrecks, beatings, arrests, and ultimately death. Yet he kept a good attitude. He was strong, fearless, you might say. Yet, as I read the above passage from Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth (his second letter), I saw something new that I hadn’t noticed before. Paul admitted he felt defeated at times.

Perhaps it was in the translation from the newer NIV, but nonetheless, I thought it was interesting. He wanted to inform the church just how bad things had been. To share with them. Just what they might expect also. No glossing over it. Just honesty. Paul, the strong man of God shared that he felt that he couldn’t endure. It was beyond his ability. He felt like he was going to die. He sounds depressed even. Yet, he shared this with the church. Further on Paul mentions his focus on God and the help of the prayers of the church in verse 11. He specifically mentions “As you help us by your prayers.”

This really spoke to me this past week, as I found myself in a stressful situation. I felt overwhelmed. Desperate even. My mind was a wreck and I just could not remain calm or think clearly. But, in one moment of clarity I reached out to an online prayer group I belong to, asking for prayer. No specifics, just to pray for me. Later I realized as more and more fellow prayer warriors began to comment on my request, I began to sense God’s peace in the situation. Bible verses began to pop up in my email from other sources I follow that gave me the direction I needed to handle the situation. Including the above passage.

Now, to the second part; I need to admit that I kind of cringe every time I hear the “lone wolf”, or “can’t do the Christian life alone” sermons. They tend to guilt people into getting involved with church groups beyond Sunday mornings. Don’t get me wrong, these groups are necessary. Small groups help us to grow in our faith. Small groups keep us accountable and I have led many of these groups. So, I don’t criticize them, just the tactics of some pastors to use the lone wolf sermons to fill their groups, or find volunteers for children’s church. They really should focus on how much we need to support each other. Welcome people to join, not guilt people to join.

Which brings me to my stressful week and how I realized we NEED each other. But, most importantly, we also need to be free to share our struggles. Not gloss over anything. We need to be informed when one of us is hurting. We also need to feel to feel we can share when we are hurting. Too often, we smile and fake it at church. We need to follow Paul’s example instead. Be open about struggles. Be accepting of those struggling. Ask for prayer. And to actually pray for others instead of promising we will and forget all about it later. This is doing life together. This is welcoming others to share their requests for prayer.

Paul admitted his weakness and his struggles that others would know what to expect in the Christian walk. We need this transparency in churches today. We need this authenticity. We also can be encouraged that prayer does change things. We can offer up prayers for one another in support. God Bless- Nancy

At A Loss For Words

She passed. Two words with the power to break me to my knees. I knew it was coming, but the words had interrupted my dinner and I pushed back my plate. My stomach began to tighten and I no longer was hungry. I tried to calm myself enough to respond to the person on the other end of the phone. My voice was shaky, but I managed to utter “Okay”.

No matter how long someone has graced this planet, death still hurts. It leaves an absence in our lives. Certain people touch our lives to the point where they have been a part of who we are, of who we have become. They inspire us and mold us, acting as a foundation, a pillar if you will. When they die, we feel the foundations of our lives shake and wobble, like a tremor. We can no longer seek out their advice or tell them of our latest accomplishments for which we are proud. There is an empty place now that they use to fill.

We can’t go through this life without feeling this emptiness caused by the death of someone we were close to. We know it and understand the finite quality of this life. As Christians who believe in eternal life, we know that this is not the end. If those who died had accepted Jesus as Savior, we will see them again. there is hope and yet, still; we will hurt. We will miss them. We will grieve. This is normal and how we are hard- wired by our Creator God to feel grief. It is okay to cry and grieve over our loss.

But, if you are on the other side of grief, the person who has not experienced the loss, what do you say? Your friend, spouse, neighbor, co- worker has lost someone and you find yourself at a loss for words. We have all been there. A simple “Sorry” doesn’t seem right. But, it is actually perfect.

My Aunt died this week so this hurt is fresh and raw. I have been jolted back to a place of sadness that I felt a few years ago when my mom died. Those familiar feelings of an empty space. Of sorrow. Of grief. And I find myself wanting to be comforted. A hug, kind words and asking me how I’m doing is what I really want.

Her death and my loss, have brought me to a place where I wanted to share what to say and not to say, when someone is grieving. I hope it will help you to know what to say. First, say sorry. Please ask how I am. Please ask how did she die. Please ask what she meant to me. Please ask if you can pray for me and what to pray. Please ask if I need anything. Please ask me to share a memory of her, and listen as I cry, laugh, and vent. Please spend time with me and not rush off because it feels uncomfortable for you; it’s uncomfortable for me too. Please ask if there is anything you can do.

And for the don’t s. Please don’t tell me she is in a better place. Don’t tell me she was old, as if it is comforting. Please don’t say as least you had a long time with her. Please don’t tell me I’ll see her again. Please don’t tell me she is at peace.

These are all true. I know it, but it is not what I need at the moment. She is fine. It is me who is grieving. Grieving takes time. It is not a quick thing. It isn’t easy. Tell me it is hard. Tell me that death is not good. Tell me it sucks. Come along side me and grieve with me. And you will not be at a loss for words. God Bless You- Nancy

Constant

Do you like change? Or do you like consistency? I admit I am torn between the two. I like to travel and visit new places, but I still resist changes to my schedule or to my comfort zone of my home town. I enjoy new shops and restaurants, but do not like to see the land cleared to make room for these new places. I like the wooded empty lots with the beautiful shade trees. I like my smaller easy to drive back roads instead of the newer widened streets with too much traffic. I like my routine, but at times I get bored and want change.

But, one thing I have learned with all the change from the past two plus years, as the world has been reeling from one crisis to another, I need some change, but also crave the known and consistent. I cannot take too much change. I feel uneasy. I feel anxious. I know the world keeps moving forward, but I need some kind of constant. Something familiar to comfort my anxiety.

It is at these times the Holy Spirit reminds me of the unchanging nature of God. He does not change. He is constant. My relationship with Him is constant. I need not fear His ever abandoning me, or leaving me to fend for myself. He holds me in the palm of His hand and no one can snatch me away. He loves me despite my errors in judgement. He has called me His child. I am His daughter.His perfect love drives out any fear.

The fear that originates in my own mind that somehow I don’t measure up. When my prayers aren’t answered in the way I want them to be answered. When He is silent. When He doesn’t seem to be listening. When He doesn’t see how all these changes to the world, my world, has made me anxious. Or when I want Him to change a situation, that He could easily change.

But then I remember to trust. He does see and know all the turmoil around me. He knows my anxious thoughts. He knows my fears and says “Fear not”. He has called me His own. His child. His sister. His friend. Not because of my goodness. Not because I am special or better than anyone else on this planet, but because He loves me, just as He loves the whole world. He sent His Son to reconcile my broken relationship with Him. He sent someone to tell me about the awesome good news, that I did not have to fear of whether or not I measured up to His standard- I don’t- but that He would take on all my missing the mark, and make payment. He loved me enough to take on my sentence and allow justice to be served. I am free of trying to pay for it myself or worrying whether I have done enough good, or whether the good outweighs the bad.

I trust Him, not myself. I am His. I am now a daughter of the King. And although my world is full of changes that make me anxious, I can relax and know He has this. All of this. He has a plan for this world that is still being worked out, that in the end will set all things straight. He is an unchanging God who knows it will all work according to His plan. -God Bless You – Nancy

Listening For God

How easy is it for you to listen for God? Does Heaven seem silent at times? Do your prayers appear to hit the ceiling and just stop there? I struggled a bit to decide on this week’s blog title on whether or not I should substitute the word for with the word to.

When we get right down to it, sometimes God is speaking to us, but we just don’t like what He’s saying. We want Him to speak with neon signs or billboards or maybe in this time in history; Instagram posts or Facebook. We are waiting for these big moments in our lives that will answer our questions and prayers. We seek God for answers of what we should or should not do. What person to marry. What job to accept or decline. What home or car to buy. What to say to someone. What not to say to someone. Everything. And most of the time we hear the Holy Spirit nudging us in one direction or another. Or giving us the right words to say at the right time.

That is usually how we hear God’s direction. But sometimes for the really big decisions it just seems quiet, too quiet. Have you been there? Me too. And it can be frustrating.

I am a bit of a perfectionist, and I just wanna get it right. Not step out and find out, but more like shoot a dart and have it land perfectly on the bullseye on the first try.

Today I was reminded of the Prophet Elijah’s encounter with God. Elijah was hiding in a cave awaiting God to pass by. Reality was, he was hiding because he was scared. And lonely. He felt like he was the only one left who was following God and serving him. He was discouraged and complained to God. God told Elijah to wait and He (God) would pass by the opening to the cave. And then we are told, “A great and terrible wind tore the mountain apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.After the earthquake came fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.” (1 Kings 19:11-13, NIV).

After all that, in the end God says to Elijah “What are you doing here?” Like get up stop fearing everything and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Wow.

I mean I would be done after the earthquake and wind. But yeah fire too. And then the whisper. I suspect all the other natural phenomenon was to simply get Elijah’s attention and bring him out of the cave. But, also I doubt if there was much cave left after God broke apart the mountain with wind. And poor Elijah thought he was scared of what people could do to him.

We all have those moments in our life when it does appear that our whole world is falling apart and we need God so desperately. And then something happens to us. When we get rid of all of our distractions and reduce down what really matters, when our lives are shattered and our protections are removed, we are forced out to the entrance of our own caves, and there in that moment God whispers to us. The earthquakes, windstorms and fire of our lives, get our attention and prepare us to draw nearer to God and listen.

I would prefer to do without all the storms of course to hear God. I can sometimes be stubborn like Elijah though and want the billboards and neon signs, but most of the time I am only waiting to hear from God what I want Him to say. And I always want the message on my time table, not God’s. It is at those times I have to still my soul and be quiet to listen for that gentle whisper of God. And then get up, leave the cave of waiting and go where He leads me. God Bless You – Nancy