Thursday, December 22, 2011

I WILL Praise the Lord!

The Christmas season can bring out so many emotions. For some it is a joyous time to celebrate family, friends, and our Savior. Life circumstances such as broken families, strained relationships, lost loved ones or financial struggles can make it stressful for others. This past week, I found myself feeling discouraged and wishing the season was already over. God met me right where I was at! He brought to my heart several songs, verses and used friends and family to help encourage me.

“I hear the Savior say, thy strength indeed is small! Child of weakness, watch and pray, find in Me thine all in all”

Jesus Paid it All…Kristian Stanfill

My discouragement was a direct result of me not trusting my whole heart to God and focusing on the “seen” and the “felt”. Throughout my walk with Jesus, I have had to continually surrender my heart’s desires and seek the heart of God. Some things are harder to surrender than others. God began to gently ask me once again, “Do you love me most? Do you choose me first? “He went on to say, “I want to be your life, your joy and your all. Think about me more than anyone or anything else.”

“Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His LOVE, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:16-17

As I prayed, read, and worshipped, God began to quiet my heart with His love. He called me to be obedient even though my heart felt broken and I didn’t understand what He was doing. The peace I felt after surrendering and being obedient was indescribable.

"If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in ME as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."

John 7:37-38

I felt peace, but over the course of the week I had lost the insatiable desire for Jesus Himself. God challenged my heart to rekindle a thirst after Him, allow Him to be the center and to once again seek first the kingdom of God. Along with prayer and reading the Bible, God reminded me of the importance of thanking and praising Him throughout the day.

“To stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at evening.”

1 Chronicles 23: 30

“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! While I live I WILL praise the Lord; I WILL sing praises to my God while I have my being.”

Psalm 14:1-2

Talking to God all day long is so AMAZING, but often focuses on what I need from Him. Thanking and praising God throughout the day focuses on the gift of a relationship with Jesus Himself.

Jesus draw me close
Closer Lord to You
Let the world around me fade away
Jesus draw me close
Closer Lord to You
For I desire to worship and obey

Rick Founds

My prayer this Christmas season is to thank and praise the Lord throughout the day for His unconditional love and indescribable gift!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16

The nails in your hands
The nail in your feet,
They tell me how much you love me.
The thorns on your brow,
They tell me how, you bore so much shame to love me.

And when the heavens pass away,
All your scars will still remain,
And forever they will say,
Just how much you love me.
So I want to say,

Forever my love, Forever my heart
Forever my life, is yours.
Forever my love, Forever my heart
Forever my life, is yours, it's yours.

Richard Cimino

Friday, May 21, 2010

MABEL & My Dear Friend

“The state-run convalescent hospital is not a pleasant place. It is large, understaffed, and overfilled with senile and helpless lonely people who are waiting to die. On the brightest of days it seems dark inside, and it smells of sickness and stale urine. I went there once or twice a week for four years, but I never wanted to go there, and I always left with a sense of relief. It is not the kind of place one gets used to.

On this particular day I was walking in a hallway that I had not visited before, looking in vain for a few who were alive enough to receive a flower and a few words of encouragement. This hallway seemed to contain some of the worst cases, strapped onto carts or into wheelchairs and looking completely helpless. As I neared the end of this hallway, I saw an old woman strapped up in a wheelchair. Her face was an absolute horror. The empty stare and white pupils of her eyes told me that she was blind. The large hearing aid over one ear told me that she was almost deaf. One side of her face was being eaten by cancer. There was a discolored and running sore covering part of one cheek, and it had pushed her nose to one side, dropped one eye, and distorted her jaw so that what should have been the corner of her mouth was the bottom of her mouth. As a consequence, she drooled constantly.

I was told later that when new nurses arrived, the supervisors would send them to feed this woman, thinking that if they could stand this sight they could stand anything in the building. I also learned later that this woman was eighty-nine years old and that she had been here, bedridden, blind, nearly deaf, alone, for twenty-five years. This was Mabel. I don’t know why I spoke to her. She looked less likely to respond than most of the people I saw in that hallway. But I put a flower in her hand and said, ‘Here is a flower for you. Happy Mother’s Day.’ She held the flower up to her face and tried to smell it, and then she spoke. And much to my surprise, her words, although somewhat garbled, because of her deformity, were obviously produced by a clear mind. She said, ‘Thank you. It’s lovely. But can I give it to someone else? I can’t see it, you know, I’m blind.’ I said, ‘Of course, and I pushed her chair back down the hallway to a place where I thought I could find some alert patients. I found one, and I stopped the chair. Mabel held out the flower and said, ‘Here, this is from Jesus.’ That was when it began to dawn on me that this was not an ordinary human being. Later I wheeled her back to her room and learned more about her history.

She had grown up on a small farm that she managed with only her mother until her mother died. Then she ran the farm alone until 1950 when her blindness and sickness sent her to the convalescent hospital. For twenty-five years she got weaker and sicker, with constant headaches, backaches, and stomachaches, and then the cancer came too. Her three roommates were all human vegetables who screamed occasionally, but never really talked. They often soiled their bedclothes, and because the hospital was understaffed, especially on Sundays when I usually visited, the stench was often overpowering.

Mabel and I became friends over the next few weeks, and I went to see her once or twice a week for the next three years. Her first words to me were usually an offer of hard candy from a tissue box near her bed. Some days I would read to her from the Bible, and often when I would pause she would continue reciting the passage from memory, word-for-word. On other days I would take a book of hymns and sing with her, and she would know all the words of the old songs. For Mabel, these were not merely exercises from memory. She would often stop in mid-hymn and make a brief comment about lyrics she considered particularly relevant to her own situation. I never heard her speak of loneliness or pain except in the stress she placed on certain lines in certain hymns.

It was not many weeks before I turned from a sense that I was being helpful to a sense of wonder, and I would go to her with a pen and paper to write down the things she would say…During one hectic week of final exams, I was frustrated because my mind seemed to be pulled in ten directions at once with all of the things I had to think about. The question occurred to me, ‘What does Mabel have to think about-hour after hour, day after day, week after week, year after year not even able to know if it’s day or night?’ So I went to her and asked, ‘Mabel, what do you think about when you lie here?’ And she said, ‘I think about my Jesus.’ I sat there, and thought for a moment about the difficulty, for me, of thinking about Jesus for even five minutes, and I asked, ‘What do you think about Jesus?’ She replied slowly and deliberately as I wrote…:

‘I think about how good he’s been to me. He’s been awfully good to me in my life, you know…I’m one of those kind who’s mostly satisfied…Lots of folks wouldn’t care much for what I think. Lots of folks would think I’m kind of old fashioned. But I don’t care. I’d rather have Jesus. He’s all the world to me. ‘ And then Mabel began to sing an old hymn:

Jesus is all the world to me,

My life, my joy, my all.

He is my strength from day to day,

Without Him I would fall.

When I am sad, to Him I go,

No other one can cheer me so.

When I am sad He makes me glad.

He’s my friend.

This is not fiction. Incredible as it may seem, a human being really lived like this. I know. I knew her. How could she do it? Seconds ticked and minutes crawled, and so did days and weeks and months and years of pain without human company and without an explanation of why it was all happening-and she lay there and sang hymns. How could she do it? The answer, I think, is that Mabel had something that you and I don’t have much of. She had power. Lying there in that bed, unable to move, unable to see, unable to talk to anyone, she had incredible power. Here was an ordinary human being who received supernatural power to do extraordinary things. Her entire life consisted of following Jesus as best as she could in her situation: patient endurance of suffering, solitude, prayer, meditation on scripture, worship, fellowship when it was possible, giving when she had a flower of piece of candy to offer. Imagine being in her condition and saying, ‘I think about how good he’s been to me. He’s been awfully good to me in my life, you know…I’m one of those kind who’s mostly satisfied.’ This is the twenty-third Psalm come to life: ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.’ For anyone who really saw Mabel- who was willing to “turn aside”-a hospital bed became a burning bush; a place where this ordinary and pain-filled world was visited by the presence of God. "

Case Study written by Tom Schmidt published in, "The Life You've Always Wanted" by John Ortberg

The timing of this story in my life is incredible. I LOVE that God knows how to meet me right where I'm at. Over the course of the last 11 days, I have wrestled with God like never before. He has been asking me over and over, 'Do you love me most? Do you choose me first? ' As I read this story about Mabel last night, I could hear God saying, 'I want to be your life, your joy and your all. Think about me more than anyone or anything else.' It makes me sad to think how easily my heart can become distracted, but yet God never gives up on me. I spend so much time thinking about the things of this world and myself. God continues to find ways to pursue me and get my attention. He is jealous for me! The God of this Universe thinks about me and wants to spend time with me.

'I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him.' 2 Corinthians 11:2

Just last week, I found out that someone dear to my heart has cancer. The people around her would never know. She continues to smile, bless, and love everyone. Her mission on a daily basis is to make sure the people she comes into contact with know that they are loved. Not once have I heard her complain, but yet I know she feels extremely sick from her treatments. Her strength and perspective comes from God. Mabel's strength and perspective came from God. My heart is challenged and inspired by these beautiful ladies. My prayer is that God will continue to do a work in my heart. I long to think more about Jesus and for Him to once again be ALL the world to me.

Sunday, March 29, 2009



From glass alabaster she poured out the depth of her soul
O foot of Christ would you wait if her harlotries known?
Falls a tear to darken the dirt
Of humblest offerings to forgive the hurt
She is strong enough to stand in your love
I can hear her say....
I'm weak
I'm poor
I'm broken, Lord
But I'm your's
Hold me now, hold me now
Let he without sin cast the first stone if you will
To say that my BRIDE isn't worth half the blood that I've spilled
Point your finger and laugh if you choose
To say my BELOVED is borrowed and used
She is strong enough to stand in My love
I can hear her say....
I'm weak
I'm poor
I'm broken, Lord
But I'm your's
Hold me now, hold me now


As I read the lyrics to this song, my heart is encouraged by just how much Jesus loves me...that I can stand in His love. He is crazy in love with me!!! He knows every detail of my past and He loves me still. In fact Psalms 45:11 says, "He is enthralled with my beauty." He longs for me to call Him Papa :)

In John 8, the teachers of the religious law and the Pharisees bring a woman caught in adultery in front of a huge crowd to condemn her. Jesus starts to write in the sand and says, "Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone." He continues to write in the sand. One by one the accusers leave the scene. He tells the woman that he doesn't condemn her and says, "Go and sin no more." At times it would be great to be able to flip a switch and always do exactly what God wants us to do. The reality of our human nature is that we will continually try to find ways to satisfy our own selfish desires. Because God loves us, He continues to convict our hearts and welcomes us back with open arms. The condemnation from the Pharisees in our lives can hold us back from the healing that God wants to do in our hearts. We serve a God who convicts not condemns.

No matter how far God feels from us at any given moment, we can seek His forgiveness and be restored to a right relationship with Him. No matter what sin we have committed, Jesus wants us to repent, turn from our sins, and be restored to His presence. Only in His presence will we find fullness of joy. He died for ALL sins...and thinks we are worth the price He paid...YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!!

"My Father, something inward tells me I have been living scattered.. Sometimes anxious. Restless. Distracted. Wandering inside. I fix my eyes on the cross now- upon the post and crossbeam which becomes my one bridge back to your side. And I lift my eyes beyond the cross, to the one who sits beside you-to Jesus, the Risen One! My Lord, my brother, with arms outstretched in welcome: "Come home." I come Father to hide myself in you."

Amy Carmichael

Today is the day to run to the arms of Jesus!!! Oh how He LOVES us!!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Divine Appointments

Last Saturday I met Marshall for lunch at Quiznos. As we were standing in line, a lady asked us where the line started. We stood there for a minute or so and I asked her if she was going to do anything fun for the day. She shared that she just brought her mom home from the hospital. She was running on very little sleep because the hospice nurse wasn't scheduled to arrive until that morning. Her mom had screamed in pain the entire night. Within the last 5 years she lost her husband, sister, and now her mom is dying. The last 10 years of her life have been consumed with care giving. On top of everything, she took an unpaid leave of absence from her job to take care of her mom. Needless to say, she was EXHAUSTED!!! We both promised her that we would pray. She asked me if I was from Spartanburg and I told her that I moved here from California. (She said she didn't think people from California went to church LOL) She knew God had a plan but wasn't sure what it was. As we were talking, I shared with her how my grandma was on hospice last year. In her last days, she lead worship on her keyboard for the family for a 2 hour period and then permanently slipped into a semi-conscious state...Marshall shared that he has been taking care of his dad. As she left, she stepped back in to tell us to look her up if we were ever at Clemson University.

As we sat there eating our lunch, it was so apparent that God made this appointment. We had originally planned to go to Panera and I was late...If we had been in line 10 minutes sooner or at a different restaurant, we would have completely missed her. Sometimes things don't go
quite how we planned. So many of us have been placed in situations that alter our original plan... lost car keys, been stuck in traffic, the doctor is running a hour behind, unending demands to complete tasks without enough time or energy to get them all done ...The list could go on foever. It is easy to get frustrated, but do we take the time to look for God's divine appointments??? I know that I am often so wrapped up in myself that I miss opportunities for God to use me. I am convinced that God wants our lives to be filled with His divine apppointments!

"O My children, there is the sound of the turtledove echoing throughout the land. It is the voice of the Bridegroom calling His Bride. It is the wooing of the Spirit bringing forth a people for His Name. It is the Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ Himself, drawing people together who are His. It is the call of love, and those who truly love Him will respond. Like attracts like; and love has always been the test of true discipleship. Those whose hearts are fixed on things above will not be held by worldly entanglements (even thought they may be within the organized church). Those who are listening to the voice of their Beloved will not be deafened by the cries of men. In a world filled with noises, each demanding attention, they will hear Him." Frances J. Roberts

So many things in this world are trying to grab our attention. Our worlds can get so noisy that we miss the Bridegroom calling us...At the beginning of most romances we rush to the phone every time that person calls. We hang on every word they say. The time spent together is never enough. Jesus tries to woo us...His Himself. He wants us to rush to answer Him in the midst of all the noises in our lives that are demanding our attention. He longs for us to hang on His desire to spend time with Him more than ANYONE else. As time goes on in any romance, it is easy to become selfish or distracted by other things that demand our attention. The test of true love is whether or not we slow down to hear each others words and make it a priority to spend time together. Are we ready for God to fill up our days with Divine Appointments?... Short conversations with people in line, the waitress who is overworked, the boy bagging the groceries, sick patients at the doctors office...

"We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. " 1 John 3:16