Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Little Good News!!

       Today the wind is very heavy and blustery outside. The skies are a concrete grayish color with clouds moving along, chasing each other as if to get to the end of some illusive finish line. I could be in a poor kind of mood today, but....
      I have been praying for a friend for awhile now that had a tough situation, much like the rough looking skies today, going on in her life. Every day my husband and I and many others have lifted her up to the Lord in prayer for healing, strength and wisdom. Whatever God had going on in her life, she needed others to pray for her.
      When we pray, God tells us to not only seek Him, but to believe in what we are asking for or seeking. Otherwise, what is the point? We are just wasting words and our time and God's if we aren't sincere in the pursuit.  I had worried for my friend that the news she would get would be frightful, but we started asking God to guard her heart, lift her spirits and minister to her needs and make her fearless. Today, I got a text that she will be fine! The Dr. saw her and told her that she was healthier than first thought and she will be okay! WOW! What GOOD NEWS!! I am thankful for her report! She has a family and is the "hub" of that family. Without her, I am sure they could go on, but it would be difficult. Her sky turned bright and sunny today! Good news is always so welcome to hear! Our God listens every time!
      If you listen to the news, they hardly EVER have a piece of good news to share. Everything is geared to the doom and gloom and to the sad and desperate things of life. I am sure there are many good things out there that could be reported, but for some odd reason, the news folks think all we want to hear is the scandalous and bad stuff!  I don't know about you, but I get kinda tired of the bad stuff and it only serves to make our society more cranky, unhappy and fearful. We gripe about others, we gripe about our jobs, we gripe about things that are not necessary.  Could it be that no good news makes us have bad attitudes? I think so!
      I try to start each day with a thankful heart, starting with my family and home. I am thankful for a husband that loves me and our children, I am thankful for a solid home. I am thankful for a God who leads and guides me but... I tend to gripe too much and know it is wrong, so I repent and try to do better the next time.  On the days where the "thankfuls" get swallowed up by the "gripes", my day is unhappy, heavy and stormy. On days where I keep my thoughts on things that are positive, joyful and thankful, I am still happy all the way to sleep at night.
       We have a choice in what we run to each new day, you do as well as I do. We choose to run to the "bad news" or the "good news". The ultimate good news is that Jesus died for you! I know that doesn't sound like a very good thing, but if He didn't, you couldn't make it to heaven. We can never be good enough to make it on our own. Our lives are sin filled, it's that simple. When Jesus climbed up on that dry rough wooden cross and allowed them to put spikes through His hands and feet, I KNOW it hurt!!!!!!!! When they placed the crown of thorns on his head, I am SURE the headache he got was massive. His face stung from the wounded flesh where His beard had been pulled out by the handfuls and sweat ran down, but he saw you and me through His pain. He saw you when they lifted his cross up and placed it in the hole of the ground. He saw you when they gave him bitter vinegar to drink because his mouth was dry. He saw you when people yelled at Him to get himself down if He was the Son of God. He saw you while he looked out at the people weeping and the people laughing and mocking. He saw us because He knew that by the shedding of His blood and being a sacrifice for us, we could get to heaven if we believed and recieved the free gift of eternal life that God wanted to give us if we would just take it and believe that God had sent His Son for US. How simple! What good news! It makes me feel small and unworthy that He would have done that for me and yet, this news is the BEST I have ever heard and I am glad he did that for me because one day I can personally thank Him in person myself!!
     The ultimate bad news then is this, if you want to walk through this life looking for your own way and if you want to think that when you die, you just die, go ahead. I PROMISE you that you are wrong and there is life after this one and if you don't choose to give your life to God through Jesus, you will spend eternity separated and in Hell. I don't like to think about this either, to my flesh, it seems harsh, but I know in my heart this is true. The God who made us doesn't want any of us to take the bad news to live by, but He allows us to make the choice, He doesn't make it for us. He won't push you, you're a "big kid" you can choose. He doesn't want the life you've lived or what horrific things you may have done to yourself or anyone else to keep you from spending eternity with Him. He wants to wash you clean and He will if you come to Him, seek His face and ask Him to forgive you. Doesn't it feel good when you are sweaty and dirty to get in the tub and wash off all the muck and mire of the day and feel clean! That is how your soul fells when God forgives you.
      Look for the good news! Look for it every day in your life regardless of your circumstances and look for it for eternity! I PROMISE, your heart will be much happier and your life will have more joy in it! God Bless you today! ~Lori

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Somebody's Watching You!

Have you ever felt like someone was watching you in a crowd? Have you ever watched someone out in public that you found amusing? Have you ever thought your kids weren't paying any attention only to have one of them do exactly what you taught them to do and showed them by example?
    People are watching all the time. Some folks watch for the wrong reasons, maybe to judge another or in hopes of catching one little tiny wrong to justify their  own feelings about a person.  Sometimes though they are watching you to see if you are real and if they can trust you to help them with direction. If you are a Christian, they may be curious about the God you say you serve and want to see if your actions line up with your words. I think this should be easy to relay to a curious heart, but it is sadly not always easy. I fall short many times. I cannot count the times that I know I have been a poor witness and an unworthy lead. Over and over I have had to apologize to the Lord for my actions when they were less than what I knew God wanted from me.
     Once, I had a friend that didn't know the Lord. I was a kid and would ask her to come to church with us each Sunday. She went and she now knows the Lord and is a Christian lady! When she came to know Jesus, I asked her what made the difference and she said it was all the times that my folks came and picked her up on Sunday for church! Wow! She was watching!! It was nothing we did,I just wanted to take a friend, but she was wanting to see something and I guess we got to show her and didn't even know we were doing it. Her heart was being drawn by God!
      I have watched people and wanted to be like them before. I have watched people and DID NOT want to be like them. Working at a school, I find that kids are watching how we adults do things all the time. When we are respectful to them, it comes back to us. It is very predictable because when we aren't respectful of those around us, they aren't either.  In our home, if one of us is grumpy, the kids pick up on it and sometimes the whole house becomes a grouch!
     The Bible says in Matthew 26:41, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation." Why is it important not to fall into temptation (to cuss, to drink, to lie, to cheat, to steal etc...)? Because, there are little ones eyes, coworkers eyes, folks in your churches eyes, critics eyes and your family's eyes watching YOU!  You never know what a difference that you can make by simply beginning to look at the words you are saying, or pay attention to the places you go for fun. If you are wanting to lead others to the foot of the cross where they can meet a Savior full of forgiveness and love for them, you have to begin to pay attention!  I had gotten away from that very thing. I was doing my own thing not hurting anyone (I thought!)  walking along and God said, "Wow, look at the words you have coming out of your mouth!" Those words were tearing down, not building up. That habit has been hard to break! I had always heard, "Words once spoken have a life all their own!" That is so true! Proverbs 16:24 says, "Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." If this is true, then the opposite is true also. If we speak harshly or crudely, it grows bitterness and sickness to the bones. When we do that, all of the folks watching us see that and turn away. After all, what do we offer other than the same old thing they are used to in the life they already live.
    As I write this, I am taking a look at myself even closer and it kinda hurts I have to say!! I want more than anything to please God and be a light to others and I  limp around like a runner with a sprained ankle. I do fairly well, but I am not taking care of my walk enough to make it stronger and make my run smooth....and certainly no one wants to follow a slow runner!!  Is this you too? Anyone out there feel like this ever? I think I will make a plan to work on myself this next week starting today! If you see me out and about and I am faltering, will you please, in love, remind me of who I belong to and that I promised to make a better effort this week?? I don't want you to watch me if I am falling repeatedly, I want help so we can together grow stronger!!! 
    Have a wonderful week and remember that there is somebody...maybe several somebodies watching you! What are you showing them? Where are you leading them? What are they learning from you? God Bless you! Lori

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Tribute to Our Oscar Cat

Six years ago, Heather made out her Christmas list at the age of 9. Everything on the list was "LIVE"! There was a bunny, a kitten, fish, a puppy and numerous other "critters"! My brother in law and sister in law called to say that they wanted to get her a kitten. Chris and I talked it over and decided that it was a good idea. They couldn't come at Christmas, but came in January. The kitten was to be a surprise and Heather was thrilled! When they opened the carrier they brought him in, out stepped a deep blueish gray kitten with eyes the color of gold coins. Under his chin at the top of his chest, was a dot of white and when he ran it looked like a tiny white bell swinging back and forth. He was a little skiddish around all of us, but went straight to Heather's lap. She was a good Mama to "Oscar", as he would come to be known. Our son always called him George and Heather would get mad, but he only called him that to make her squawk!
     Oscar grew and we realized that he was hard of hearing and even though he was happy, never purred. He never went far from home and was usually found curled up in the loft of our garage on an old blanket, on snowy or rainy days. On warm sunny days he would curl up in our willow rocker on the porch.  When Heather would come home from school, he would come running with a meow of welcome to her. He would usually want to be picked up for a minute and he would put his paws around your neck for a "kitty hug". Oscar was not a demanding cat or a "persnickety" kind of cat. He was gentle and loved to be held, but was also content to be let in and lay under an old cupboard watching the action of family feet going by.
     We pray for the protection of our animals out here in the country. We have often said that our outdoor kittys are disposeable. Sad but true! If a cat doesn't come home, it is usually assumed that a coyote found them while they were out hunting. Oscar was different in that we had him for 6 years and we depended on seeing him every day. Once in a great while he would go off for the day, but he was always home at night. 
    On Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, my husband woke from a nap and asked if I had seen Oscar lately. I commented that he was probably in the garage sleeping since it was really cold and icy that weekend. He wasn't though. He had fallen into our pool and drowned. We were all devastated.  We had put a cover over the pool, but we had heavy winds through the field behind the house and the cover had blown off.  Our poor Oscar! Telling Heather was the hardest part. She was heartsick and cried for several days if his name was mentioned.
    Now we have aching hearts that he is gone. In the coming months, we will look for another kitten to love, but there will never be one as sweet and loyal as our Oscar Cat. He could never be replaced, he was the BEST!

Monday, February 6, 2012

He's the ONE!

     With Valentine's Day coming up, I wanted to talk a little bit about L-O-V-E and some of my thoughts on the subject! I am no expert, but I have been around awhile and seen some things in life.
       How does it happen?? How do we find that "One" that we are to share our life with?  When I was a young girl, I dreamed about what "Mr. Right" would be like. I was quite the romantic heart and my teachers always wrote on report cards, "Lori is a good student, but tends to daydream way too much!" That is probably true!
      I wasn't looking for someone when my husband came into my life. I had married right out of high school to someone much older. I think, looking back on it, it was more of just wanting to grow up too fast and get out on my own. That seems to have been the driving force. Nevertheless, it wasn't a happy marriage at all from the start and we divorced.
      I had always prayed for the Lord to bring "Mr. Right" into my life. I shared with God all of the qualities that I wanted him to have and when I was 19 and divorced, those qualities that I had prayed for were a strange, seemingly unattainable and distant memory. I just wanted to know that God still loved me, I didn't care about finding anyone else to share life with.
      It was not long after that I met "The Love of My Life". Now, we didn't either one of us know that then, we just became  friends and had many things in common, plus we were the same age and most importantly, we both loved the Lord! He lived in another state and so the visits were few and far between, but the friendship was the BEST! A few months after meeting, he asked me to go to dinner with him and he would drive the 500 miles to take me. I accepted with some fear. I didn't want to ruin our friendship, but over time love grew instead. We have been together for 26 years this Valentine's Day, and married for 25 years coming in May. I cannot imagine what my life would have been without him!! He is every bit of what I prayed for, daydreaming out on my parents front porch swing when I was about 14 years old. God was listening all the time!! I have often thought that if I would have just been patient and waited on God's timing, the scar and pain of divorce would not have ever happened. I hope to convey how important the "waiting" is to our children.
     Our kids are getting to the age where they will soon be finding that "Miss Right" for Jordan and those "Mr. Rights" for Lindsay and Heather. I do not know all of the qualities that they are looking for in a mate, but God does.  Chris and I have prayed for God's guidance on each of our children's lives and the lives of the ones they choose to marry since they were babies. Somewhere growing up in the world today are those kids! We have prayed for them and their families, for their upbringing and for the Lord's hand to be on their families and in their hearts, as well as bring them into our children's lives when the time is right for each of them. I have full confidence in this!! Their is so much sadness and disillusion in the world today over what marriage is and what a true commitment to another human for life takes. We have raised our kids to know that their are going to be amazing days of joy, hard times of grief and sorrow and mediocre days of just getting through. They have seen us argue intensely, love immensely and support unconditionally. They know there have been rough times, but they have seen a marriage grounded by God's presence at every meal, in conversation, in illness and job change. We have tried to cover all the bases we can. There will be things that they encounter in their own walks, but that is the "stuff of life" and it colors our story. 
     Our son (in college) Facebooked me the other day and told me that he was ready for the "bag" over his head to come off and for God to bring his "Miss Right" around.  He has been praying for her for a long time and looking forward to the day! I facebooked him back and told him 3 words...SHE IS COMING! I don't know when and I don't know who, but I know God is getting them ready to meet. That is exciting! He is a wonderful young man and I know will be a great husband and father one day. He is attentive and compassionate, Loves God wholeheartedly and has a great smile!
     Our oldest daughter is a Junior this year and Prom is around the corner. She has the dress and the shoes and looks beautiful in it! She does not have a date though. Her reaction? It is fine if she doesn't get one, she will have fun with her friends anyway. She is beautiful and a very responsible young woman! She loves the Lord and is also praying for the time when God brings along her "Mr. Right". Our youngest daughter is just getting started praying for her "Mr. Right". She has a tender heart and I know she will take her time. We stress to them to let God do the looking and for them to be patient while they wait.
     I do not know if there is a "Magic" way to know if someone is "The One", but I do know that if you trust the Lord to bring them, He will do it for you or if you have them, for your children. Don't ever be afraid to bring your wants and desires to the Lord, (Psalms 55:22 says, "Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you." That verse doesn't say maybe, it is a promise!)  If you have "The One" that God blessed you with, thank God for them and lift them up in prayer every day! We are our Best when God is at the center of our lives and the lives of our spouses or loved ones. I know....we pray for each other every day, won't you pray for yours!?!  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Change IS a Good Thing...even if it Doesn't Feel Like It!

    Let me tell you...I am not big on change! Change the room around...okay, but change my routine in life and that doesn't feel so good! Have you ever been happily bumbling along in life and WHAM! something unexpected happens to you? I am sure we all have had a few of those times, maybe a job loss, or a baby on the way, or the death of a loved one. These things are unexpected and sometimes quite hard to get our heads around as well as our life back on track. I  have had a few "whoppers" myself and let's face it, they are just plain hard!
   I always have thought immediately, "Why Lord? Why did this have to come my way? I wasn't doing anything to bring it on. I was just minding my own business." I remember when I was 19 and getting a divorce. Yes, I have had one of those. I am not proud of it by any stretch of the means, but I would go through it again if it meant that I would learn the change and raw dependence on God that it brought me. 
         I remember coming home from the convenient store that I worked in (I had to move back in with my parents, which was SO hard!). I would come in and my little brother and sister as well as my parents were all sleeping because it was usually 1-2:00 in the morning. I smelled of cigarettes, lunch meat and Mr. Clean, even after  a shower, it faintly smelled! I would be so tired, but couldn't sleep. I would lay in my bed and just weep because it wasn't the way it was supposed to be. I was a Christian girl and God loved me, how could this happen?!? I remember listening to a song on my cassette walkman (a long time ago huh?!?) called "The Warrior is a Child", by Twila Paris and saying to God, "Why? Why me? Why do I have to come home reeking of smoke at night and be going through a divorce of all things! I am a Christian!".  I soberly could hear Him say, "Why NOT you? Who do you think that you are above anyone else?" Wow! That was cutting, but so true. I needed change!
       It was during this time that I began to understand that God loved me, but knew I would be able to grow from this hardship. He began to turn me inside out!! When I was in High School, I thought I was somebody special because I was a Christian. I was a hypocrite and therefore, I didn't have too many friends. You know how it goes! I was so heavenly minded that I was no earthly good! So when the Lord told me that I shouldn't think I was any more worthy than the next person to go through divorce, He got my attention! It broke me to the core and I was so ashamed to think I had thought more highly of myself than I should have. THIS CHANGE WAS NECESSARY FOR ME! Yes, it was humiliating at the time and hurt terribly to be torn down in my heart and in my mind, but the Lord was sweet, He began to restore me and change me! (Psalms 23:3), Gently, He began to lead me, through reading and listening to my Bible and listening for the Lord's prompting to humble my thoughts and repent of my sin of haughtiness and selfishness, He changed me. Praise the Lord!! I was not and am not the same anymore! I don't mean to sound arrogant, I am truly thankful I am not the same today as I was then.
      Yesterday the pastor spoke on change and how we need to embrace the changes even when they don't feel good. He said, "Change is fine when it is your idea, but not when it is God's usually!" I thought how true!!
       I probably won't ever like change, but it has never failed to show me how I can be a better person. I need to keep that in mind each day. Maybe you are someone who likes changes! If so, I am not trying to sound "catty", but God Bless you!! I wish I was better at it! You will have less struggles in life because of it, or maybe the Lord will find other ways to get to the heart of you and create what He desires for your life. Today, I hope this little bit of sharing my story is a help for you. I do not boast in any of it, I am still a work in progress, that will keep changing until I go home one day. I only want it to be used to help someone and point back to my heavenly Father who loved me...and immensely, undeniably and personally loves you too!!! (0: Have a sweet week, Lori

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just Say What You Need to Say!

    There is a popular John Mayer song called "Say What You Need To Say". I know it isn't a Christian song, but it is true just the same. If you have something that needs to be said to someone, maybe you need to say it! 
   I am a talker, always have been, probably always will be, unless I feel sick or tired, then I am quiet! I can't help talking, it just bubbles out of my heart and then my mouth! Problem is, not everybody wants to hear me talk or cares what I have to say.....I can almost hear the "Amens!" to that one!! Hee-hee!
    There are things in life that need to be said, like "I love you" and "I am sorry". These are sometimes very hard to say. Maybe someone isn't very "loveable", or you know that your friend won't say they are sorry back.  That is okay, it really is! Your heart needs to say these things for Y-O-U! It needs to be said to them, but if you can dig down deep in yourself and do it for someone else, you will benefit the most! I have been there. After many years apart from my Dad, the "I love you", and the "I am sorry", was so healing for me. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought I could say that, but I let God lead me. I put my trust in Him to help me. My flesh felt stupid, but my heart knew it was the right thing to do. I needed to say that to him, I needed to drop all the baggage that I carried. You see, we build up perceived notions in our heads and hearts that pile and pile until they are mountains and seemingly impossible to climb. Usually they are not nearly as rough as we think they are though. Dad and I have a good relationship now, I have grown up and he has grown also. We see the value in "saying what we needed to say".
       Sometimes, we need to jump out there and ask someone if we can help, if we can pray for them, if they need to talk. Then we need to take the time to listen. Listening can be a gift to a hurting friend or spouse. It can open a heart that has been shut by pain. It can show that they are worth enough of your time to be heard and it can show something as simple as love for that person. When my kids come to talk to us about a problem or a funny experience, we stop and give them our attention, knowing that it will teach them to listen to others. We occasionally are busy and miss a few parts of the situation, but we always try to listen to them because they are important to us.
       I haven't always been so good at listening, I would rather talk. I hear God's voice in my ear though as I get older saying, "Listen Lori".  I am learning alot by listening! I always wondered why some folks were so quiet! Maybe it is because they are better listeners. To the quiet ones out there though, we don't know where we stand with you and would like to get to know you better!  I will continue to be a talker. Do I always say what I need to say? No, sometimes I cower at what someone might think or just don't do it, but I try to.
       Finally,  I am going to say one more thing.  I don't want to be a "preachy" kind of girl, but I do want you to see a most beautiful thing here! Is there anything you need to talk to God about? Anything that you can't see a way to fix on your own? Anyone that has been in your life and you would like that relationship restored? God is bigger than anything we can EVER come across to trip our lives up. The simple act of just confessing with your lips that you sin and have hardness in your heart brings God up on his feet and He reaches out to pull you into His arms! You just need to say what you need to say to Him, ask His forgiveness and ask for His help to fix it! Can that really be all that scary? He has helped me with so many many things in this life that I cannot question His very existence!
      Just "Say What You Need to Say" can move mountains and heal hearts! Have a sweet week everyone! 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Prayer?!? Sounds Boring huh? NOPE!!

  You have a need and someone tells you they will pray for you. You get a phone call from a friend with a broken heart, you tell them you will pray for them. Sounds very simple and small huh?! 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, "Be joyful always; pray continually". Prayer is quite powerful even though it sounds so meek and helpless.  I have been praying since I was a small child. Our parents taught us that God wanted to hear from us , so, I remember when as little girls, before my parents would put us to bed at night in our blue and white polka dot nightgowns we had to kneel by our bed and pray,"Now I lay me down to sleep..." We blessed everything from our family to the little neighbor lady down the street (little did we know until several years later, that she was praying for the salvation of our family every day!), our dog named Rags and our 2 parakeets. It was sweet and cute but what it really did was teach us to pray early. It taught us to take our concerns to the Lord and put our young trust in Him. My parents didn't know what they were instilling then, but it has been something that has grown in me from year to year and is a daily, sometimes hourly, part of what I am learning to be today. Do I always remember to pray first before something BIG, not always. Would I always want the answer to be favorable, well sure! I am human, but I am also spirit and I know God hears and I know He listens.
      We want all of our prayers to be answered with a resounding "YES!" immediately or at least in the next day or so. God is the BEST parent though! Sometimes the answer is "NO!" and sometimes, it is just not an answer at all for the time being. If you have kids, you know what I mean about God parenting us. We have to sadly say "No" sometimes to our kids when we know what is best for them and it is always a delight to say "Yes" when we know it is a good request.  God is such a wonderful parent and knows our every need or desire. He knows what is best and when we pray about something, he knows the answers better than we do, He loves us so much! I have had many requests to the Lord over the years and here are a couple of memorable and life changing ones:
     I prayed for the chance to be a Mama for 6 years  and heard nothing. After 6 years, I said "Okay God, if you don't want that for me, just show me what to do next!" He gave me the words in my heart "Isaiah 12" ...then came Jordan, Lindsay and Heather! He wasn't saying "No" for all those years, it was just "not right now!" His timing is PERFECT!

     When my Mother died, I came home and found her, she was babysitting my little ones that day. I remember standing in the doorway of our living room while the EMT's were working on her and I prayed, "Lord! Please don't take her away from me now!" (We hadn't had a very close relationship while I was growing up and in the last year of her life it finally blossomed!) I felt a calm wash over me and a peace knowing the answer was indeed "No", she had to go home to the Lord. At the time it was so hard to comprehend. I couldn't help but trust God though, I knew He was there and had heard my prayer, He just knew what was best. Now, I look back and I love the relationship I have been able to forge with God when I thought I needed her.

    I could go on and on about many times that prayer has played a part in pivotal moments of my life, but I hope you can think of some yourself! 
    I got a call from a dear friend of mine today. She was calling because another sweet friend of ours asked her  to call 2 more of us and pray for her. She has been away from the Lord for a long time. Life has been pretty hard on her. She loves the Lord, but has drifted so far away. I have drifted many times and you may have too, so I feel for her heart tonight. My friend and I prayed for this lady and asked God to draw her close tonight and meet her where she is at. He will do that, I know He will, prayer is so strong and never boring!  Ephesians 6:18, "Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for the saints" ~God Bless You, Lori