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Archive for the ‘Devotional Thoughts’ category

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This morning was the interval walk/jog day in my exercise schedule. I am supposed to walk 2 minutes then run 2 minutes. I take my iPod for a timer and just enjoy the crisp air and, in some cases, the stars. Today I got to enjoy not only the stars, but a full moon too! ‘Twas nice that I didn’t need to take a flashlight with me. *smile*

It is hard to be out in nature like that, with the starry heavens overhead, and not be at least momentarily awed at the majesty of God. And today was no exception; beholding the wonder of the heavens, I began to quietly praise God for His greatness and goodness.

About half way through my run, I thought of Psalm 19. It seemed so appropriate.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

So I recited it to myself, aloud but in a quiet voice. I have known this psalm for years, but something about being out in nature made it so meaningful, and I recited it slowly and with emphasis, savoring each word and thought.

And then I reached verse 12:

Who can understand [his] errors? cleanse thou me from secret [faults].

Secret faults (or errors, as the context implies, since “faults” is supplied). Suddenly something I had been reading from The Healing Code book came to mind. The book talks about cellular memories, the theory that memories are actually stored in ones cells, as opposed to in a certain place in the brain. Now, if you look that up on Wikipedia, you will read that it is a pseudoscience. Guess they forgot to mention all the transplant recipients who woke up with memories of the donor. But where memories are stored is really inconsequential. We have memories stored that we cannot recall. Secret errors? Oh my yes!

As I shared in yesterday’s post, I had been unconsciously rejecting God’s forgiveness. But He has cleansed me of that now, and I have a freedom to praise Him that I have not had for years.

Well, you should have heard me. I had been reciting Psalm 19 in a normal tone of voice, but suddenly, as the Bible put it, I lifted up my voice and recited the words of verse 12 quite loud, and then stopped reciting to praise God for giving me a deeper understanding of the verse. (You’ll need to read the book mentioned in yesterday’s post to fully grasp what I was comprehending–it’s just too much to dwell on here.)

All this made my exercise time more of an act of worship than anything else this morning. Praise God!

Now it’s your turn. What has the Lord shown you in your devotional time lately?

 

This post is linked with The Modest Mom Blog.

Direction

I woke up rather early this morning. It was partly the baby’s fault–he was hungry–sometimes he doesn’t sleep till 6:00 like the schedule says he’s supposed to. But I had asked the Lord to wake me up when it was time for me to be awake, and so I didn’t complain about the hour (though I didn’t get up, either, since Ralfie was in bed with me, and therefore it was easy to just nurse him there).

But since I was awake in the dark, I began to talk to the Lord. I sensed He wanted to give me a Bible study. This is where memorizing scripture is so handy! Even verses I haven’t made a specific effort to memorize sometimes come to mind.

This morning the first verse that came to mind was one of those verses I had heard several times, but I couldn’t remember it exactly. I did, however, remember the idea behind the verse.

A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps. Proverbs 16:9

I pondered how we make our own plans, but the Lord is the One guiding overall. But then I wondered, as I had in the past, where to draw the line between making our own plans and letting God direct where we should go. Then another set of verses came to mind:

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. Psalm 32:8

Suddenly it made sense. God directs, instructs, teaches us which way to go. But He doesn’t tell us which pair of socks to wear in the morning. We are not like a horse or a mule which have no understanding, who have to be told every step to take. God allows us to use the teaching and instruction in His word to help us make wise decisions, but He doesn’t tell us every step to take. He gives us principles to apply, and guidance as needed. For He said,

Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21

We may not hear God’s voice every second of our day. As we rise, exercise, eat breakfast, etc, we may be doing what is right, and that is fine. But then we are tempted to overeat–turn to the right or left–and God prompts us to keep going in the narrow way.

Lord, please direct my steps today. Prompt me when I am tempted to take a wrong path. Give me wisdom. Thank You for your guidance. In Jesus name, Amen.

Every woman’s wardrobe should have a black skirt–especially the wardrobe of a woman who never or rarely wears pants. I have several black skirts–long, short (ie, just below the knee), in between–but they don’t all fit me right now at 2 months postpartum. I had 3 that did fit: a jean-weave black skirt that I liked to wear for everyday, a black knee-length straight skirt, and a black and white stretchy knee-length skirt that has a ruffle of sorts on the bottom. The two latter ones were what I would wear to church, since they are the only nice skirts that fit and match the nice, church-quality blouses I own.

The stretchy skirt is almost too short for my tastes. When I sit down, it doesn’t ride up as badly as a non-stretchy skirt would, but it does tend to slide up over my knees when I’m sitting. I don’t like to show my knees, especially when I’m sitting, because it’s easier to see beyond the knees, if you know what I mean. But it was either that one or the straight one for church.

Now the straight one, well, I just never felt comfortable or modest in it. I mean, I like how a straight skirt looks on my figure, being rather square as I am, but when I sat, it went up over my knees, and the side slit went up even higher up my thigh (though I usually tried to tuck it slightly under my thigh, but if I wasn’t paying attention, and the skirt had twisted, it would show skin.

But I was hesitant to part with either one, because these were the only two skirts I had that were suitable to wear to church. The rest were more everyday kind of skirts. My other dressy skirts are still too small.

Finally, though, after wearing the black skirt a week or two ago, I finally said, Enough is enough. I don’t care if I have to wear one of my nicer everyday skirts to church, I just can’t keep the straight skirt. The stretchy one has an elastic waist, so I can wear it low if I wear a long enough top, but the straight one has an at-the-waist non-stretchy waistband, so it has to go. I washed it and put it in the give-away pile.

Today I was at the thrift store, looking for anything that I could find on my thrift store list (yes, I keep a list of things to watch for at the thrift store–helps me stay focused, not buy needless things, and not miss things I do need when they are available). I had collected several things on my list, including winter pajamas for my older son, a pair of Sabbath shoes for him in the next size up from the ones he has (and is outgrowing), and a couple of office chairs, and I was on my way to the checkout lane when I remembered that I wanted to look for a new Sabbath skirt. So I detoured back to the skirt section and began to browse.

It didn’t take me long. They only had one rack of longish skirts (and one of knee-length and shorter–I didn’t bother with that rack). On the rack was a black straight skirt that looked just my size. When I tried it on, I found it to be exactly my size. It comes several inches below the bottom of my knee, and completely covers my knees when I sit down. The slit in the back is short–it will barely show the back of my knee when I walk, and when I sit, because it’s in the back, no one will see anything. It has pleats in the front and darts in the back, and fits like it was made for me! It even has belt loops, so when it gets loose, as it will (I am going to lose this baby weight, you know!), I will be able to cinch it up with a belt, so it will last for quite a while. Maybe even when I’m back to 125 pounds (which I haven’t been since I got pregnant with my first… I’ve never actually gotten below 133 since then, but I can always dream, right?). And even if it just is too big then, I’ll have 2 other nice black skirts to wear, and some other skirts that I can’t wear right now.

Which reminds me… there is a maroon skirt that probably will fit me now, hiding somewhere with my winter clothes, which I should probably be hunting for soon. Because this Indian summer isn’t going to last forever.

In any case, I was amazed when I thought about this: When I chose to let go of something that the Lord had been convicting me about, He provided a replacement that was better than the former one. (The former one said dry clean only, and though I machine washed it, it was lined and heavy and hardly suitable for summer; the new one isn’t lined, so it’s great for summer, and it’s machine washable.) That’s how He works. He waits for us to surrender, then He pours out blessings. May we never forget that!

What have you found lately at the thrift store? Have you even been thrifting lately? Have you experienced surrendering something only to get something better in return? Tell us about it!

 

This post is linked with Works for Me Wednesday.

Today I had a near-disaster with my iPod that turned into a blessing. Let me tell you about it.

Today was my shopping day. I had packed a lunch and planned to be gone most of the day. I took the baby with me, because he exclusively breastfeeds and I don’t pump, so if I’m going to be gone more than two hours, he goes with me. But that’s not really relevant to the story.

What is relevant is that I keep my shopping list on my iPod. It is so convenient. I use the ShopShop app, which allows multiple lists (I have 8 or 10), so I can make a list for each store. I like being able to keep a list of items I want to buy at the health food store separate from the items I will buy at the grocery store, and I keep a running list of items I want to buy at the second hand store, the dollar store, the pharmacy, etc.

My first stop was the chiropractor. My second was Whole Foods. By the time I finished my shopping, both my baby and I were hungry. So I found nice cushioned chair with armrests that had a little table beside it. I sat down with my lunch bag on the table, got the baby going, and pulled out a sandwich and my iPod. I wanted to check my email with the free wifi, then catch up on some of the blogs I follow.

For some reason, though, there was a delay actually connecting to the Internet. I connected to the network, but there was no wifi. Now whether there was simply a delay and I was too impatient, or whether the Internet had a hiccup, I’ll never know. In any case, I decided to try powering my iPod off and restarting it to see if it would work then.

That’s when the trouble started. The iPod wouldn’t turn on.

I held down the power button for what seemed like forever, but nothing happened. Or so I thought. Suddenly I noticed that the screen changed very slightly, as in it lightened almost imperceptibly. And suddenly, about half way through my lunch, I heard it make the sound that indicated that I had received a text message, which confirmed my suspicion that the screen was the problem, and that all my info was not lost. Worst case scenario, I might have to buy a new one and see if I could figure out how to move everything that was on this one onto the new one. That would be hard, though, since the laptop that is linked to this iPod is in the repair shop. And has been for over a month (meaning I haven’t backed up my iPod in over a month).

I had planned on trying out a new WinCo that was near to Whole Foods (new to me–I’ve never been there) and on my way home. But I couldn’t access my list. So I decided to go to the one near the Mac store, which happens to be only half a mile from the WinCo I usually go to.

The guy in the store was very helpful. He took the iPod and held down both buttons for about 20 seconds, and voila, the screen showed up again! I was praising the Lord in my heart right then! But he also noticed that it seemed a little slow. He told me that when I connected it to iTunes on my computer, if I hit the restore button after syncing it, that it would reset the iPod and would work much better. I had noticed that restore button but had been afraid it would wipe everything clean and that I would lose all my info (notes, to-do lists, shopping lists, and such were not something that would be easy to replace). Because it didn’t say that it would then restore the backup that I had made last time it synced. He assured me it would, however.

Now, having this minor problem with my iPod was worth it, since I was able to gain a valuable piece of information that will hopefully eliminate some of the annoyances I’ve been having, such as safari crashing while I’m typing a FB status, or not being able to listen to music while using certain applications that never used to crash before when I was listening to music. I’ve had the iPod almost 2 years, and I have never restored it. I’d say it’s time!

So I was able to do my grocery shopping, as well as stop at my favorite thrift store, where I found some much-needed items, including Sabbath shoes for Laine and a set of sheets for Manny–they have trucks and busses and cars and trains all over them.

Now if I could just get Ralfie to sleep in the baby seat on the shopping cart… But I shouldn’t complain. I didn’t lose my shopping lists! The Lord is good and worthy to be praised!

The Invasion

I have been invaded. Or maybe I should say, my kitchen has been invaded. The invaders come in swarms, too numerous to count. They make trails, devour anything tasty, and generally make a nuisance of themselves.

In case you haven’t figured out what they are yet, I’m referring to ants.

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Specifically, honey or sugar ants. These little critters love anything sweet, and seem to smell it from wherever their home is and come after it. Leave an empty but unrinsed bowl of cereal in the counter, and in an hour or two it will be teaming with the little critters. Spill a drop of juice or honey on the counter and fail to wipe it up, and soon there will be a trail of ants going to and fro, the drop itself obscured by their little bodies.

Lately, with my diligence to get the dishes done right after meals and leaving the sink spotless before bed, the tiny ants have not had much motivation to come into my kitchen. However, one night recently I was just too tired. I didn’t shine my sink and I didn’t wash all the dishes. When I walked into the kitchen, they were everywhere. Climbing in and out of dirty bowls by the sink, making trails on the walls and counters, and in general making a royal mess. But I had to get breakfast ready, and I was too hungry to wait until I had cleaned up the kitchen to begin. So I cleared an area near the stove to work on and began, trying to ignore the devastation going on behind me.

I took a package of tofu out of the refrigerator and drained it in the sink. I noticed that an edge piece was loose and decided to have a nibble (I love raw tofu). I have no idea how it got there, but suddenly the flavor of honey ant filled my mouth. If you have never tasted it, you have no idea how awful it is. It’s not the kind of taste that makes you gag, but it is extremely unpleasant, and totally unexpected.

Well, I just lost it. Somehow that taste in my mouth–which doesn’t just rinse out, by the way–was the last straw. I was tired, my husband had yet to come into the kitchen yet (I don’t know if he was up yet–probably, but just hadn’t come out yet), and the kids were already up, and ants were crawling all over me, and I just couldn’t take it. I called him to come help. I knew if the kitchen were cleaned up, the ants would disappear, but I had already started breakfast and couldn’t just stop and clean for 15 minutes. I did take a minute to spray a cleaner on the ants (which has a soap in it, smothering them and killing them instantly). My dear husband came in and washed up the dirty dishes and wiped down the dead ants and any other ones he found wandering around the walls or wherever.

I know I had been tired the night before, but honestly, 10 minutes to right the kitchen would have been much less traumatic than eating an ant the next morning! So lesson learned: Make sure the kitchen is clean the night before; and if I don’t really have the energy to wash the supper dishes, at least rinse anything sweet out of them! And take a minute to wipe the counters!

There is another lesson, however. Sometimes we allow things into our lives that seem harmless, or maybe it’s just a little neglect of duty, such as really taking the time to spend quality time with God. It wasn’t some big rebellion, saying “God, I don’t need You. I can do it on my own.” Just little neglect. But suddenly, life becomes overwhelming and we just can’t take it anymore. Everything is out of control, and we realize that we just can’t do it on our own after all. Then we must cry out to our Heavenly Husband to come help us. He will clean up the sin and the mess, and bring peace and harmony back into our lives.

Oh, that I may not neglect those little things!

I’ve been reading the book When God Writes Your Life Story, by Eric & Leslie Ludy, and I am just blown away. I’ve known for a while that the Christian life is surrender, but somehow the depth of it never hit me until last night as I was sitting in bed, waiting for my husband to finish an after-hair-cut shower, reading a few pages.

They went to the lives of several spiritual giants from the past–Hudson Taylor, Dwight Moody, Oswald Chambers, among others–and shared how these men had all come to the point of realizing that their religion was powerless and empty. At the point of desperation, they realized that they were still in control of their lives, that God was merely their hired servant, coming to fulfill their bidding, to carry out their plans. And they made the choice to give all, to surrender entirely everything they were.

I would like to quote from the couple of pages that struck me the most:

So how did this amazing transformation happen for these men and women of God? Just what is the secret to a victorious Christian life that each of them discovered?

It was an exchange.

An exchange of the most dramatic and life-altering proportions.

They gave up their very lives in exchange for the very life of God. They allowed their bodies to be taken over, like a town surrendering to the invasion of a foreign power. They allowed their being to be possessed by a Spirit so holy, so pure, so righteous, that any remnant of selfish sin was burned away with the fire of God’s perfect presence. They relinquished complete and total control of their lives to their King, for Him to dispose of as He saw fit. They invited the most divine Guest into the center of their existence and said, “Make this humble stable your princely palace, O holy Lord!”

They each made an exchange. . . . They exchanged life as they new it for life as God knew it should be.

They exchanged the right to do with their bodies however they saw fit for the life of a servant who only does what the Master requests.

They exchanged their dreams and ambitions for God’s great and dramatic plan for their lives.

They exchanged a life ruled and controlled by sin for a life victorious over sin, clothed with joy and triumph.

Such is the secret of every great man and woman of God. It’s the solemn exchange of a humble human life for His majestic holy life. 1

Listen to how Walter Wilson, a respected young Christian physician from the early 1900s, expressed his surrender:

Lord, I give you my this body of mine; from my head to my feet, I give it to You. My hands, my limbs, my eyes, my brain; all that I am inside and out, I hand over to You. Live in and through me whatever life You please. You may send this body to Africa, or lay it on a bed with cancer. You may blind my eyes, or take me with Your message to Tibet.  You may take this body to the Eskimos, or send it to a hospital with pneumonia. This body of mine is Yours alone from this moment on. 2

I finished the chapter just as my husband came to bed, and as he turned out the light, I rolled out of bed and knelt to pray. As I knelt there before God, the words I had just read started running through my mind, and I realized that the life I have been seeking had just been described–and it was a life of slavery. Being a bondslave of God forever.

In the Old Testament, there was a ritual mentioned about a servant who wanted to stay with his master and never be free. Normally a servant would serve for 6 years or buy his freedom. But a servant could freely choose to remain with his master forever–meaning until he died. As a sign of this, his master would take an awl and bore his ear through onto the doorpost of his house. This hole in his ear was a symbol of his submission for life to his master. See Exodus 21:2-6

There is no Biblical account of any servants ever making this kind of submission to their masters, but the story is there for a reason. You see, there was One whose ear was pierced, symbolically.

Mine ears has Thou opened . . . I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.

The Lord God hath opened Mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. 3

It is obvious from the context that both of these verses are speaking of Jesus. What is not obvious is the connection to the ear-piercing ceremony. Strong’s Concordance tells us that the word “opened” in these two verses means “pierced.” Do you see the implication?

Jesus was a slave of God. He sought only His Father’s will, not His own.

And He is our Example.

All of this flooded over me last night and I knelt before God. And suddenly I realized I had to get up and write in my prayer journal. I wanted to keep a record of what was going on in my mind. Here is part of what I wrote:

I am to be a slave, with no will of my own.

Paul called himself a slave of Jesus Christ. This is what I must be. A bondservant. My highest aim must be His will.

Wow. That means I consult Him about every decision. This doesn’t mean He will always tell me what to do. He is my friend and calls me a friend, not a slave. But I must make no decision on my own.

Am I willing to take this plunge?

I guess I liked the word “surrender” better. Slavery seems so final. But this is what I must do. I must have my ear opened, or pierced, as Jesus did, and learn to delight to do my Father’s will.

Am I willing?

I want to–but I am afraid. Why? Because it is so … final. Being a bondslave is not something one could ever get out of. It lasted until death.

But I should rather focus on the joy that this surrender brings. Especially when I consider that Romans 6 teaches that we are all slaves–either to Satan or God, sin or righteousness. We cannot serve two masters, but we certainly always have one.

Which means that when my master is self, it is really Satan.

And that means I am bound for hell.

Lord, if I do this, You will have to remind me frequently. I am not in the habit of seeking Your will moment by moment. But You have begun a good work in me, and if I cooperate, You will finish it.

All right. I am Yours. All of me. Take my body and do with it as You will. Take my mind and fill it with love for You and zeal for Your Will. Take my hands and use them to minister Your glory. Take my feet and send them where You will. Take my tongue and bridle it. Tame it, that it may only speak words that will glorify Your name. Take my heart, cleanse it, and come dwell in me. Take my eyes and ears, that they may only see and hear what will honor You. Take my appetite and subdue it. May I let only what You permit pass my lips. Take every last piece of me. I am no longer my own. I am bought with a price. Praise be to God.

Can you sense the struggle? I have surrendered so many times, but it seems that in the back of my mind, many times subconsciously, there was a caveat, a condition that I would have the option to go back to the old way if it didn’t work out. But I had tasted the old way, and I was tired of it. I wanted something more. But as I wrote those words of surrender, a peace flooded over me. I put the book away and quietly went to bed. And I woke this morning with a hunger for God. And I felt led to write out this testimony during my quiet time. I wasn’t sure why at first–normally this isn’t something I would do during my devotional time–I rarely use the computer and try never to use the Internet. But now I understand. Something about going over it again has strengthened my desire, deepened my decision. I have yielded myself to the King of kings, and I will serve Him from this day forward. Praise the Lord!

 

1. Eric & Leslie Ludy, When God Writes Your Life Story, 68, 69

2. V. Raymond Edman, quoted in When God Writes Your Life Story, 70

3. Psalm 40:5, 8; Isaiah 50:5

I decided yesterday that I would fast today. And I did. I drank water, but ate nothing.

There were several reasons for this. First, fasting strengthens the will. Second, it clears the mind. I wanted to have some time to really focus on God’s Word, and besides, it’s a good idea to fast once in a while.

But just because I was fasting, I realized that I couldn’t get out of every responsibility I had that day. I served breakfast to my daughter (thankfully, it was leftover frozen pancakes and waffles, so I didn’t have to actually cook). I made beds, picked up things that were laying around, cleaned the hen house and collected the eggs, etc. I showered and minded the children for a while. When my husband came back from the gym around noon, he took the kids to the playground for an hour or so, and I prepared lunch for them. Then I left home, telling my husband I didn’t know when I would be back.

The first thing I did was to go to a nature park. It has a couple miles of trails with benches scattered along some of them. It is shady and cool with all the trees, so it was the perfect place to be alone in nature with God–the best I can find in this area, anyway.

I had brought my Bible, my iPod (for its Bible program), a devotional-like book that I’m reading, a notebook, and my prayer journal. I spent some time praying, reading, and in Bible study. I was probably there a couple of hours–I didn’t keep track of time. It was a real blessing–away from the computer, away from the demands of the home, alone with God.

When I finished, I went shopping. Yes, even though it was late afternoon and I hadn’t eaten anything all day, I went shopping. They say you should never shop on an empty stomach, but I did it anyway. And I realized that the practice of saying no to food throughout the day as I worked in the kitchen today had strengthened my will to the point that I was able to say no not only to buying something to eat right there, but to also not buy unnecessary items. I guess that the habit of only buying what’s on my list unless I know for sure that we will need it within the next week paid off. That, and having a budget. (If you don’t have a budget, you should!)

But there was a side benefit to this experience. I learned a little something about the power of the will. As I was walking through the bulk section, buying lentils and cashews and such, I noticed a bin of what I think were probably miniature chocolate chip cookies. I say probably, because I didn’t look at them long enough to be sure. I knew that if I studied them or debated about them, I would be tempted to buy them. So instead I turned away and focused on writing the bin number on the tag for the bag of lentils.

As I went through the store, each time I was tempted to buy some snack-like item to eat, I would turn away quickly and focus on what I needed to get for the family for the week. I had resolved to fast the entire day, and I didn’t want to have the regret of eating something near the end. This resolve helped me stay focused on my goal and the task at hand.

And at this moment, it is a little after 9:00 pm, and I still haven’t eaten anything. I have drunk plenty of water, and shortly I will go to bed. I have succeeded in my goal!

But the principle I learned today will be valuable in the future. To resist temptation, I must refuse to ponder on it. If I am tempted to spend time on the computer when I really should be folding laundry and fixing lunch, I need to resist the temptation and go start on the laundry.

So many times in the past, when I was tempted to do something that I shouldn’t do, I would think about it, dwell on how much I wanted to do it, and before I knew it, I was doing it. Now I know that if I resist the first temptation, the second one will be weaker and weaker until the devil will have to come up with another temptation altogether, because that one will have lost its appeal.

But through it all, I know that I cannot do this without God. Sure, there are times I can resist temptation on my own, to a point. But the Christian life isn’t about just not falling into sin. It’s not just about keeping the commandments. The rich young ruler did that. And he still had a nameless longing that he didn’t know how to fill. The Christian life is about putting God in first place in my life and developing a relationship with Him. As I do that, He will empower me to make the right choices. And I will be motivated to do the right things, not just because I have to or because they are the right things to do, but because I love God.

Oh Lord, You know how weak I am. Please take my will, refine and ennoble it, and give it back to me. Give me a tender heart, open to the voice of Your Holy Spirit. Help me to be so sensitive to Your voice that the lightest whisper of Jesus will move my soul. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

As I was driving to church last Friday to practice for the Sabbath music service, I was listening to this CD by the the Stewart Family from the album “Satisfied,” and singing along. Then it came to this song:

It Is Finished

Long ago I saw my Saviour
Bearing shame upon a tree
Then my heart was touched with sorrow
For I saw He bled for me.

“It is finished,” loud He cried
Oh what love, for me He died
In my stead He bled on Calvary
Once for all Christ rescued me

Lo the sky was veiled in darkness
Sudden trembling shook the ground
As the angry crowd was cheering
Mocking Jesus all around

Then my Saviour called to Heaven
As I saw His love anew
Oh my Father, please forgive them
For they know not what they do

“It is finished,” loud He cried
Oh what love, for me He died
In my stead He bled on Calvary
Once for all Christ rescued me

Free salvation now He offers
Take His gift, oh hear His plea
On the bloody cross behold Him
Join His shout of victory

“It is finished,” loud He cried
Oh what love for me He died
In my stead He bled on Calvary
Once for all Christ rescued me.

As I reached “Then my Saviour called to Heaven,” suddenly it was as though I had a vision. As the song set the scene, suddenly I felt like I could really see it. In my mind’s eye, I saw Jesus laying on the cross, the crown of thorns on His head, His torn back pressed against the rough wood. The crowd around mocked and jeered. And then the Roman soldier grabbed a hammer and nail and began to nail Him to the cross. In an instant, everything I had ever read about the gut-wrenching pain caused by the nails came flooding into my mind. And at that moment, the song reached the part where Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” My heart was touched, and I had to hold back the tears as I drove along in the dark. My heart just overflowed with love for the One who gave all for me!

How could Jesus say that, while enduring such excruciating agony? What kind of love can prompt such amazing words in the midst of such horrendous circumstances? Only the love of the one who is love at the very essence of His being.

As I continued on to the church, I meditated on Jesus’ love and sacrifice, hoping I could get there with enough time to write them down before everyone showed up to practice and I lost the impression. Amazingly, I was the first car there. As I typed away on my iPod, someone came and opened the door, so I went in. Three guys showed up–to operate the PowerPoint, the lights, and the sound. But no one showed up to practice. One of the guys made some phone calls and found out that the leader for the week was singing at a vespers somewhere else that night, and that practice would be at 8:00 am the next morning.

Now, you need to understand something. We have been going over budget every month for gas. My husband works an hour away, and gas prices are going up. I don’t mind Friday night practice–indeed, I have seen the stress of trying to do it Sabbath morning–but if there isn’t going to be a practice, someone should notify me. At least, that is the theory.

The whole situation was frustrating, especially since it was the second time this had happened to me–showing up for a practice that wasn’t. So I left the church rather upset. I didn’t want to drive all the way home with such sour feelings, however, so I stopped at the pastor’s house, since it was near the church and not really out of my way. I wanted to pray with someone and didn’t have a cell phone anymore. The pastor came out and prayed with me, and that prayer helped to calm my feelings and change my thoughts into better channels. Thank you, Pastor Jim!

As I drove home it dawned on me. If I had stayed home, I wouldn’t have heard the song on the CD in the car. And even in the unlikely event that I turned on my iPod and heard it that evening, the chances of life being quiet enough to meditate on the thoughts in the song would have been nonexistent. So in spite of the fact that I wasted gas on going to a practice that didn’t happen, I had a precious experience with God, and that made the whole trip worth while.

If you are interested in buying the song or the album, you can purchase them here (Disclaimer: these are affiliate links).

Buy the Album: Buy the Song:

Note: My Adventist friends will want to know that the last song, track 12, has a little error on the length of hell, but the rest of the songs are lovely.

Yesterday was not a good day. At least, that’s how it started out.

First off, I woke up late. Not terribly late, mind you. Probably only an hour late. But on a Friday, that’s just asking for trouble. Sundown shows up at the scheduled time no matter what time I rose in the morning.

Not to mention that I have been making a commitment to spend time with God each morning. Now, if I get up early, that isn’t so hard. But if I get up late, then I am under pressure.

By More Good Foundation on Flickr

Another problem with getting up late is that it seems whenever I sleep in, I feel more tired than if I had gotten up earlier. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that I have more time to really connect to God’s strength when I get up earlier, but all I know is that for the past few months whenever I get up late, I have a worse day. Of course, if I go to bed late, it doesn’t help at all!

So I was tired. Really tired. The I-can’t-focus-on-anything kind of tired. I found myself not knowing what to do next and grabbing my iPod to check email or my to-do list (usually both) more often than I really should have. That made me get more and more behind, until I realized it was 10:00 am and the breakfast dishes weren’t even done. At that point, I began to slip emotionally as well.

Of course, emotions are harder to control when one is tired. And mine were just all over the place. I fought hard to control my attitude and not fall into negative thinking, but it was so hard. I would find myself saying things like, “Why am I so tired today of all days? I mean, I got to sleep in this morinng. Why am I always more tired on days when I sleep in a little?” Or, as I lumbered up the stairs to change a diaper, “Why am I sore? I’ve been exercising at least every other day for the past couple of weeks, and sometimes more. I shouldn’t be sore. It’s not fair.” Or, “What is my husband doing on the computer on his day off? Why doesn’t he come help me?” [I knew the answer–he was working on essays in his attempt to get some scholarships to get his Master’s–but you know how the mind tends to focus on the negative anyhow!] Then something would go wrong, and I would whine to myself about it.

But as I sensed my spirit becoming negative, I also sensed God calling to my heart to surrender the feelings and thoughts to Him and to focus on something positive instead. Several times I turned my thoughts away from the negative direction they had been going toward something positive, claiming a promise or counting a blessing.

Finally, a little after noon, I just couldn’t go on. I had put Manny down for his nap, and I decided it was time for me to take one too. My husband was planning on going to town soon, and said he would take Gislaine with him. So I went to try to take a nap. Manny wasn’t asleep yet, so I put in earplugs, just in case.

I had just started to drift off–I know because my thoughts suddenly made no sense when Manny’s crying woke me up. Glancing at the clock, I figured I couldn’t have been asleep more than a couple of minutes. As his cries escalated, I decided that I might as well feed him; it was a little early (he’s on a two-meal-a-day schedule right now, partly since he takes his nap around noon and wakes up late in the afternoon, and partly because it gives his irritated digestive tract a bit of a break). So I got him up, much to his delight, and tried to fix him a lunch.

I say tried, because I was only slightly refreshed from the 2-minute nap. I still couldn’t focus. I had cooked him a sweet potato for breakfast, and planned on giving him the leftovers for lunch. But I needed a little more to make up the meal, so I cut a few slices from an unused sweet potato and started to cook them. Then I started toasting rice in a dry pan to make Spanish Rice for today’s lunch and seasoning beans I had pressure cooked earlier. Those two things took all the focus I could spare, until suddenly it dawned on me that the sweet potatoes were not bubbling in the pan behind the rice anymore. So I lifted the lid.

Sure enough… the pan was black inside.

And since I had sliced them thin–only about 1/4″ thick–I was able to salvage very little.

I forgot to mention that I had burned his sweet potatoes at breakfast too–not as badly, but still, the pan had blackened.This time was much worse. And I still hadn’t cleaned the pan from the morning. So now I had two blackened pans to clean.

It was just too much.

I didn’t think I could take it anymore.

Not to mention that my husband still hadn’t gone to town. Was he going to go or not? I had forgotten to put a book I sold on eBay in the mail box, and now it was too late; if it didn’t get to the post office, it wasn’t going out that day. And it was supposed to go out that day. Of course, I didn’t bother to consider that what my husband was working on was something he wanted to go out in the mail that day too.

Then the pile of dishes was starting to look overwhelming. And they were all dishes that had accumulated after the breakfast dishes had been washed. Sure, a few things hadn’t been washed after breakfast–my daughter had helped and hadn’t been able to handle them. And I had made teff milk and soy milk and still needed to make nut milk with the nuts soaking in the window…

I had a sort of headache, and noise was bothering me. I found myself starting to snap at the kids. Knowing that I needed divine strength, I dropped to my knees behind the kitchen island and pleaded for help. I actually did this several times throughout the morning. When I found myself dwelling on negative thoughts, I made a point to stop and ask for grace to change, and more than once I had knelt to pray. Somehow, those prayers gave me strength to fight back the tears  that would come up and helped me change my focus.

But after the sweet potatoes burned, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I went down to the office where my husband was working and my iPod was charging and sent a text to one prayer partner and a Facebook message to another, briefly describing my exhaustion and out-of-control emotions and asking for prayer

.

After that, I went back to lunch prep. I soon had Manny fed and sat down to eat myself. By the time the meal was over, I was feeling better. I got everything done just in time for Sabbath, and after worship went down to walk on the treadmill, reading a chapter from The Gift while I walked. This refreshed my body and my spirit, and I felt so much better the rest of the evening. Of course, I made it a point to go to bed early!

What did I learn from this day? Several things. First, our thoughts direct our emotions. The things we allow ourselves to think on affect what we feel. If we think negative thoughts, we can work ourselves up into tears very quickly. By the same token, if we resist the negative and focus on the positive, we can change the course of our emotions.

The second thing I learned is that it is important to firmly resist temptation. I had to choose to change my thoughts. Of course I asked God for help, but He couldn’t choose my thoughts for me. He could only point me in the right direction. The choice was up to me. Refusing to break down in tears–even when they were welling up in my eyes–was very hard and totally foreign to my nature, but I did it in Christ’s strength. And when the devil realized that I was determined to choose Christ, he got tired of trying and relaxed the temptations–no doubt planning the next one, but at least giving me a break for a while.

The third thing I learned is that I need the prayers of those I love. The temptations didn’t begin to lessen until my friends started praying. Now, I know they pray for me every day, in a general way, but on days like this if I ask, they can pray specifically for the trial I am in, and that is even more powerful.

So thank you, prayer partners!

Have you had a trial lately that you found victory in? Do you have a prayer partner that you exchange requests with? Please share how this has been a blessing to you.

By decatur library on Flickr

During my mom’s last visit here, we decided to take a few hours and go shopping on Monday while my husband worked (instead of Sunday like I normally do). We had several stops to make, and were looking forward to getting a lot of things done.

The trouble began at our first stop. Mom had to go to the bathroom, and just as she came back and found us, she remembered that she had not picked up her purse on the way out. She rushed back, but it was gone.

Thankfully, she uses a wallet–the size that holds her checkbook–so she didn’t lose everything most women would lose when they lose their purse. Her keys and cellphone were in her pocket. The only important things were her checkbook, debit card, and license. She wasn’t carrying a credit card in her purse.

The next blessing was that she had a GPS in the car, and it informed her that her bank was only one mile down the road. So we went there to get things straighened out on that end and get some cash. By this time it was lunch time, so we ate and then went to the mall to buy her another purse. The library was behind the mall, so we went there next to find out how to get her a new Idaho drive’s license.

I figured it would take only a few minutes to find the information we needed. With my iPod, I wouldn’t need to wait for Internet access.

Or so I thought.

For some reason, the wireless wasn’t working–and the guy who was in charge of it was out to lunch. When I tried to get a computer, I found out there was an hour and a half wait time. Nobody told me how the express computers worked. I didn’t know the wait time for them was much shorter, if there was any weight time. While I was trying to figure out what I could do, another patron misunderstood me, and started to give me a lecture about waiting my turn “like everyone else”. I tried to explain my situation–that I shouldn’t have to wait since I had my own wifi access device–but she wasn’t listening.

I was tempted to get frustrated at her, but then I realized, she just doesn’t understand. I wasn’t trying to cut in front of other customers, just trying to find some WiFi. Her misunderstanding was getting her all worked up. It didn’t have to get me all worked up too. So I quickly gave up trying to explain things to her, and went to ask the librarian where I should wait for the tech guy to get back from lunch. She pointed to his desk and was about to walk me over there, when the irritated lady got her attention and began to try to explain why I should have to wait like everyone else.

Letting her have her say, I went over to a different librarian, told her the WiFI wasn’t working, and asked if there were any other hot spots nearby. She said I could try Barnes & Noble. I thanked her and headed over there. After all, it was just on the other side of the mall from where we were (practically in the mall’s back parking lot). So we drove around and I went inside and got signal instantly. There I found out that getting a new Idaho license when out of state was as simple as faxing in a form with a temporary address to send the new license to. So off we went to the library to print out the form. Which, of course, would require a computer connected to a printer.

This time, though, I wasn’t in a hurry. If there was an hour and a half wait, I would just sign up and then go off and do my thing until it was time for me, then go and get it done. But then when I explained what I wanted to do, I was informed that I could use one of the express computers, and in fact one was available right then! So I was able to get on right away; 5 minutes and 10 cents later, I had the form printed, ready for my mom to fill out and fax. We found a store to fax it at nearby, and she got her license a couple of days later by FedEx.

Looking back on it, I realized that it was better to be misunderstood than to get into an argument. Arguing with that lady would have just wasted my time and brought my stress levels up. By choosing to be calm and let it go, I was able to keep my focus on finding a solution.

Jesus was one of the most misunderstood people on earth, yet He didn’t let it affect His life. Sure, it hurt. But He rose above the hurt of misunderstanding and focused on His goals. He is our Example, and I am thankful that I had a chance to imitate Him in this small way.