Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Last Sunday in March

We had a potluck after church today but I didn't stay. I had lots of reasons for not staying but I think the predominant one was because I had thought the potluck was for dinner tonight, not lunch today. So I didn't bring anything with me and to be truthful I had nothing to bring even if I hadn't made that mistake but that's beside the point. I hadn't told Michael I would be late. I had asked him yesterday if he wanted to go to the potluck tonight and I didn't want to worry him by being a couple hours late getting home from Church today. I really wanted to stay and help clean up afterward but I just kept thinking about Michael being worried. I should have thought to have had someone call him for me but I'm so used to not using the telephone because of my hearing loss that that option never even entered my mind. Well, maybe I'll do better next time. I just never thought about calling him. Even so, if I'd thought of it I could have come home and told him and then gone back being as how we're just a stone's throw from church. Shows I really wasn't thinking. But the Lord knows where my heart was. He knows I really wanted to stay and help. Sometimes I just don't think! Which brings me to the question of why the Lord didn't prompt me to have someone call. I don't have any answers; I just wonder what possible reason the Lord would have for not prompting me to call or come home and then go back. Any takers on figuring out the answer to that question??

It's beautiful outside today. Bright and sunny with lots of white puffy clouds floating around in the azure blue sky. But the breeze is chilly if you stand out in it. Yesterday had stayed overcast and cold all day. My Redbud is starting to leaf out in the corner of the yard and the oak out front that never loses its dry, brown leaves all winter is now beginning to drop them in the wind, making way for the new leaves of spring that come out in that luminous green color, glowing from within. My Easter lily in the corner by the front door now has 3 flowers blooming. Would have been two more if the wind hadn't blown the plant over and ruined the first blossom and the bud that would have blossomed next. There were 13 buds on the plant when Cathie gave it to me but now I have to make do with just 11 buds! That's a lot of flowers (buds?) for one plant to put out. These aren't cut flowers so the buds should all blossom out, shouldn't they? I'm thinking they will all eventually make it to full bloom. It would be breath-taking if they were all to bloom at the same time. Yes, it's spring and I love it!

I too want to go through positive changes. I want to make good use of this spring also. I want the Lord to teach me not only to believe on Him but to abide in Him as well; to take His cross not only as the ground of my pardon but also the law of my life! When I am crucified with Him, I enter into the closest fellowship with Himself. I want Him to teach me to yield myself wholly and singularly to Him.

I think of faith; ever changing like seasons. But faith, above all, is the ceasing of my own efforts on behalf of self along with all other dependencies I may have developed. Faith is my confessed helplessness casting itself upon God's promise and claiming its fulfillment. Faith is the putting off of myself quietly into God's hands for Him to do His work.

When Christ came in my place, He remained what He was, the Beloved of the Father; but in His fellowship with me He shared my curse and died my death. I am still what I was by nature, the accursed one who deserves to die. But united to Him, I share His blessing and receive His life. When He came to be one with me He could not avoid the cross and as I seek to be one with Him, I cannot avoid the cross either, for nowhere but on the cross are life and deliverance to be found. I must take His cross as my own. I must be crucified with Him. It is as I abide daily, deeply, in Jesus the Crucified One, that I shall taste the sweetness of His love, the power of His life, and the completeness of His salvation. I must yield myself to Him in an undivided surrender, begging to be admitted into an ever-closer fellowship and conformity to His death ... and His life. Spring is a time of renewal. The trees, grasses, and flowers all come together in newness to form something fresh and delicate, just as our lives and our faith go through similar seasons of change. Everything comes down to the cross, really; will I lay my life at the foot of the cross? Will I become more of what God wants me to become? Then I must yield. I must give up and give out that which makes me who and what I am so that I may have room for more of who the Lord is. As I give myself wholly to Christ, I find the power to take Him wholly for myself; and as I lose myself and all I have for Him, He takes me wholly for Himself and gives Himself wholly to me.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Weather's Great, You?

We're having very spring-like weather up here in the foothills. Calaveras County is a beautiful place to live and play. We have Angels Camp, Murphys, and Big Trees State Park up Hwy 4. San Andreas and Valley Springs. Moke Hill. Several rivers and lakes for water sports of all kinds. I am not a golfer but I'm told the courses up here are pretty good. My sisters play and seem to enjoy themselves. I'm not much into sports at all. Although I do have plans to take up walking again (if that qualifies as a sport). I doubt I will ever hit 6 miles a day again but I can shoot for a couple of miles. Any would be beneficial! I love to walk and pray. The world is in such need of prayer and none of us do enough of it.

I have no plans for the day other than to make a run out to the Post Office since it's Friday. I try not to run errands except on Mon., Wed., and Friday. It's silly to go out every day. It just uses up gasoline and that's a terrible expense for us at this time. If it were a little closer I'd be tempted to try walking to the Post Office. No, I won't be up to walking that far for quite some time. It's about 2 miles from here which would make a 4 mile walk, round trip, and I think I should shoot for less challenging distances when I first start out ... like around the block maybe, until my legs get accustomed to the strain. But when I walk it's just a private time for me and I try to spend it with the Lord. That's an added benefit of walking: Abiding.

Abiding is probably, by far, the most difficult part of my Christian walk. I so long and so often want to take control of my own life. Even though I know I'd just mess things up I nevertheless want to grab hold of it and not let my heavenly Father lead me with His Spirit. It's not so much that I would do things differently; just that I would feel better being in control. What is it that makes me this way? What's the big deal about being in control anyway? It's not like God has failed me at any point up to now. I'm a great deal like the Israelites as they wandered for 40 years. You know, God has not failed me yet for these 61 years but there's always tomorrow. No matter that He has never failed me nor left me during all this time. I still have to trust Him for tomorrow. Today. This hour. This minute. This breath. I know that if I take hold of His out-stretched hand he will provide for me. He will take care of me. I know that He's trustworthy, or I should know by now. I am persuaded that neither death with its fears, nor life with it cares, nor things present with their pressing claims, nor things to come with their dark shadows, nor height of joy, nor depth of sorrow, nor any other element of creation, shall be able, for one single moment, to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus my Lord, and in which He is teaching me to abide. To abide unceasingly in Christ is the portion of every believer.

The thought of living moment by moment is of such central importance to the Christian walk ... looking at the abiding in Christ from my side ... that I need to convince myself it's worth the time and effort it takes. Each time my attention is free to occupy itself with thoughts of Jesus ... whether it be with extended time to think and pray, or only a few fleeting seconds ... I must first say to myself: Now, at this very moment, I do abide in Christ. I am to take this stand: "I am in Christ;" This is the place God has given me. I accept it here. I rest; I do now, in this very moment, abide in Jesus. This is the way to learn the secret of simply abiding in Him. In every possible circumstance, every moment of the day, simply abide in Him. In difficulty and struggle I seek to rest in Him always. I consciously release my life unto Him as I abide. "I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him" (Phil. 3:8-9 RV).

So far today I have succeeded in getting my bed made. That's a good start, huh? Now I just need to press on with what needs to be done. I have a friend coming over tomorrow to see if maybe she can get a DVD to play in my player. She and her husband (both photogs) took a vacation to the Grand Canyon and around and she put their photos on a DVD. Everyone else has gotten their copy to play. But none of mine will play and we've tried several of them. We don't know if the problem is on the DVD, on the player, or with me. But I need to get some housework done today so I won't be too terribly embarrassed tomorrow when she comes. My house is a mess and I know it. It's just that housecleaning is not at the top of my list of things to do any more. I mean, it should be but it isn't. Ever been there? I seem to be stuck there. But I have to force myself to get up and get some things done and I will (I hope). Oh, I am just awful!!

I've about decided that my sciatic nerve is never going to heal. And I don't even know what I did to injure it. I just woke up one morning a week or so ago with a painful bum. It hurts to sit and it hurts to stand. It's not excruciating, just bothersome and I'm really quite tired of it hanging on the way it has. The only thing I know to do for it is rest. Any suggestions???

My beautiful Oriental Lily that my step-daughter brought me for Easter got blown over by the wind yesterday and suffered major damage. The one blossom that had opened up got smoosched and lost a couple petals and the one that was trying to open and would have been the next flower to emerge was broken off entirely. I have the worst luck with flowers and plants. I kill just about everything given to me (I no longer buy them for myself because I know my history) in one way or another. So now there are only 11 buds almost ready to blossom out. I've never seen a lily with so many buds (they look more like they should be called pods but I think bud is still the correct term for them). But I am heart broken that my plant suffered loss.

Guess I should go and get the rest of my chores done. Then I'll go to the P.O. and come back and do more to my house than just the basic chores. I have morning chores, and nightly chores. I should say "afternoon and nightly chores" since I never seem to get to my morning chores while it's still morning. Oh well, I just keep plugging along.

Abide in Christ.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hump Day

It's hump day, Wednesday, the middle of the week. Everything from here's all downhill as I used to say when I was a member of the workforce. Michael and I had small group this morning. We usually have it on Mondays but something came up this week and we had to postpone it until today. As usual, we had an enjoyable time with just the eight of us there. We are looking at the minor prophets. It's a really loose look at them, nothing in depth. I did my regular, personal Wednesday Bible study yesterday (Tues) so I wouldn't get behind on it. (Like it really matters what day of the week I study it.) I'm using the book To Serve with all Your Strength by Fran Sciacca and it is a deep, time-consuming, sometimes exhausting study. I'm always studying something. Sometimes I will have 2 or 3 studies going all at the same time and of course I always have my never-ending Bible reading (although I must confess I'm not always faithful to that ... I usually remember it AFTER I've gone to bed and I don't always get back up to read it).

I love to study but while I study much to know the written Word, I study more to know the Living Word that speaks to my heart and spirit. Sometimes the best study we can have is that fleeting moment when something touches our spirit and we see how inseparable we are from Christ, our head and heart. It's taking those mini-studies in Christ and implementing them into our daily walk that we fail to do sometimes. It seems that we're always in such a hurry any more. So many things to do and so little time really to do them. But I know if I make the effort I will be blessed. I have only to abide in that which I have received. But I keep reminding myself that I must remember to take advantage of the time when I have it. I try always to let my confidence in Christ teach me to lay myself and my time and my services on the altar as spiritual sacrifices, holy and acceptable in His sight ... a sweet smelling savor.

I must not look upon a life of holiness as a strain and an effort, but simply as the natural outgrowth of the life of Christ in me. Thus will I understand and prove what it is to abide in Christ. It is a life of busy-ness and a life of stillness all rolled into one. To live, above all, day by day in the truth that He Himself, the living Christ Jesus, is my wisdom, my first and last care must ever be this alone ... to abide in Him. The living Christ Himself is my righteousness. The entire point is to take every tiny moment and apply it to our relationship with our God and Savior. To walk with Christ, heartbeat by heartbeat, and taking every thought captive for Him. I mustn't waste a single time or the smallest occurrence by failing to capture each one. Walking in the spirit with my head down and my heart open, receptive to what He teaches me with every step I take. I must take in the food that He supplies me at any given moment. Too often we regulate our time to His time and Mine time. I study from 9:00 - 11:00 then I do this or that. No, it's studying AND doing this or that and wrapping it all up together inside our walk with the Lord. It's wasting not a single moment. My joy should be that at any moment I can be found walking with Him. If I'm not in conversation with anyone else, I should be in conversation with Him. That is taking every thought captive.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Day After

Easter is over and it's a fantastically beautiful day in the California foothills with a vibrant blue sky. The fruit trees are in bloom all over. I can look out my sliding glass door across town and see splashes of lavender and pink and white. My step-daughter brought me a beautiful lily when they came up Saturday and it's just beginning to open up and it's going to be absolutely beautiful when it has bloomed out. And even though it hasn't bloomed yet it already smells so sweet and wonderful by the door. What a blessing that flower will be. We had a great Easter with the kids here. They left for San Francisco this morning and Michael and I are getting accustomed to the quiet again. I confess it's nice. I love my kids but I so enjoy the quiet. John says we're turning into vampires not only because we're quiet but because we keep our house so dark in the evenings. It's just the way M and I are accustomed to living. But I must confess, I miss the laughter of little children hunting for brightly-colored Easter eggs in the spring grass. I wish I could reduce my grandchildren to the small ones they once were but they are all adults now (just ask them, LOL) and we have to hope and pray that we were as good at parenting as we tried to be. God is so gracious to give us kids and grandkids and now for me (when and if it happens) great-grandkids.

It doesn't seem possible that I am that old. I'm not really THAT old (I had my boys when I was very young) but you'd never know by looking at me. Old age and I are not friends. I hate what age is doing to my body. But I do need to make friends with the process. You could pray for me in this regard. I just don't like the fact that I can no longer do all the things I used to do. And what I still can do is done with much greater effort and time! But we are to take each day as God gives it and with His grace we continue on day after day. Why is it that we fight against our lives? Against change? Or is it just me? Am I the only one to dig in my heels in protest and say, "No, no, no aging is not for me"? I should take delight in the whole life experience and I do, but yet I don't. There are so many aches, so many pains and everything has become more difficult.

It's just hard for me to remain focused on the fact that God has ordered my life and if I plan to move into intimacy with Him, I must abandon my whole existence, offering it up to Him. I must believe that every circumstance of my life ... every moment of my life, anything and everything that happens to me, the going ins and the going outs ... has come to me by God's will and by His permission and it is exactly what I need for that moment. The only way for me to know that God's will is "good, acceptable and perfect" and to accept day by day the conditions and circumstances He permits, is to lay down my life and my will and my determination moment by moment as I move through this life ... age, to say it better ... and to relinquish total control over to my Lord and Savior and that, dear friends, is a difficult task for me because I so much want to rule my own experiences and circumstances. I want to be my own master. The "old man" hangs on tightly and I find that I must constantly and deliberately lay him aside and submit to Christ as my true Master. Why do I kick against the goads? It serves no purpose. Yet I continue to do it. Sometimes I'm like a two year old throwing a tantrum, or wanting to throw one anyway. "I want my way! I want my way," I cry. Yet I lay it aside and say, "Come, Lord Jesus, Come. Break me if you must. Make me and mold me after Yourself. Remove every last root of 'self' left in me. Be Thou my life. Revive my spirit and refashion me into the shape that pleases You. Teach me to lean on You, and not just in times of trials, but also during the everyday workings of my life. Search my heart and make me after Yourself. And may I ever yield to Your design."

Well, I have decided that I am as overweight as I'm going to allow myself to get. I'm going to stop eating so much. I don't really believe in diets because I believe that portion size is what really matters, not so much what I eat and when I eat it. If I only eat half as much as I'm used to eating I'm going to lose weight. Maybe not as fast as I'd like to but, hey, I didn't get to the size I am overnight either.

LazyDRanch8 is still struggling and sadly she will for the rest of her life. It will get easier for her in time, but for now she has such a terrible weight to carry. Please keep her and her six children in your prayers and thoughts. Eric's sudden passing is a difficult thing for all of them. The kids miss their daddy and Heather misses her soulmate of 20 years. It is just part of living this life. But death is not the end for Christians. It still hurts. We still miss them. But we have hope. I don't know how people make it through this life without God. I feel bad for them because they have no hope, no promises, no future without our heavenly Father; just this wretched life with all its pains and sorrows and frustrations.

I had better get to the post office before it gets any later. Michael has a card he wants mailed to a friend today and he's not feeling up to going to the post office himself. I think the kids wore him out while they were here. As difficult as I find aging to be, I can't imagine what it must feel like to him, being 16 years my senior. He's just really tired so I'll do the errands today. We try not to go to town every day because of the price of gasoline but I'll make an exception to get his card mailed on time.

I am really happy to be back blogging and I will try to keep it going but I probably won't post every day. But I don't know. Since coming back without all those self-imposed restraints and obligations, it's back to being fun for me again. Just keep checking my blog occasionally if you feel the urge. If there's nothing new today; check tomorrow! It's that kind of a blog. Closer to what everyone else has, I think.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Day After

The Lord spoke to me last night as clearly as if He had been sitting right beside me on the pew. He has spoken to me in the past but not with that kind of clarity. His voice brought me up short and I sat there barely able to move. My heart began to race and I had to take a few seconds to get my concentration centered again on the Maundy Thursday Services. His voice was so loud and clear that I looked around to see if anyone else had heard Him speak. What a sweet and precious time, one of those rare moments when nothing else seems to matter. Sometimes in the past I have heard the Lord speaking to me and I have had my doubts and reservations. It wasn't like that last night. Last night I knew. Praise God for talking to me and praise Him for giving me His peace with His message. What is that Scripture in John? "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you"? I sat there and realized I was smiling. Thank You Lord Jesus, Creator of heaven and earth, Sustainer of every people and system in all creation. All things continue by the Word of Your mouth. You hold everything in the palm of Your hand and You put into motion everything that is in motion. You alone are God most high! You alone know the future and what is yet to be. I don't know why You have said this to me but I cherish that You did. Thank You, Abba Father.

I have company coming in tomorrow for the Easter holiday so I won't get back to posting for a few days. I've always stayed home on Easter morning because of our guests but this year I'm going to try to slip out for an hour or so. I don't think it will hurt their feelings if I do. If I get the feeling that they'll feel bad I will, of course, stay home. I cleaned on my house today, even changing our bedding, in preparation of their visit. John is allergic to cats so I had to vacuum really well for his sake. And I mopped all the floors and did two loads of laundry while I was at it. Now I just need to spiff up the bathrooms and clear off the kitchen counters and I'll say that's good enough. I pulled my sciatic nerve though and it's giving me fits! Hurts to sit and hurts to stand. If it isn't one thing it's another.

Heather is forever in my thoughts. She's going through so much pain having Eric just up and die on her like that. No warning at all, he had just finished shopping at a store and made it back to his vehicle and then handed his cell phone to his daughter who was with him at the time and told her to call 9-1-1. She is such an inspiration to me. This is God's will or it wouldn't have happened but we can't help but wonder why there has to be so much pain in our lives. Jesus didn't look forward to His pain either, that part of Him that was fully man. And even He knew death would NOT have the last say in the matter. But still the suffering was there for Him, it couldn't have been avoided. "Father, take this cup from me, yet not my will, but yours." Should it be any different for us? But be assured of this: our pain will not be a fraction of a second longer than it must be. And we can draw comfort from knowing that God goes every step of the way with us. He will not leave nor will He abandon us. And He isn't asking us to go anywhere He Himself hasn't already gone before. We are to share in His sufferings, yes, but let us share in His joy also because "... for the joy set before him endured the cross ..." Joy and suffering. Sometimes it seems they go hand in hand. Where will your heart be on Sunday morning?

Happy Easter.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I know I said I was going to quit blogging and I did until now. But now I just feel a need to say something about the love of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. With this being Maundy Thursday and Sunday being Easter Sunday, my heart is going to burst if I don't write something about my Lord and what He did so many years ago. He hung from a cross in my place. I'm the one deserving of such a painful death. I'm the one with all the sin and error in my past. It's my blood that should have been shed. But Jesus, in His great love and mercy, took my place on the cross so that I could live forever with Him in heaven. How do you thank someone for doing something like that? The words sound so empty and insignificant but I say them anyway: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for bridging the gap that separated me from my heavenly Father. Thank You for taking upon Yourself all my sin and shortcomings. Thank You for leaving me a model to strive for: perfect forgiveness and perfect love. But You know me. I don't forgive and love perfectly. I try but I fail every time. That's why You came to earth and died in my place. Because I deserved the sacrifice of death but I couldn't provide that sacrifice for my own sake so You came and died in my place. Your perfect sacrifice saved my imperfect self.

Thank You, Lord, for saving my soul once for all time. Forever bringing the two sides together. We were living apart but now, thanks to You, I have Your Spirit within me to guide me and direct me in all the things I do to bring glory to the Father. It is Your Spirit that supplies me with all I need to be accepted by a perfect God. Your blood bought my salvation. Your grace is sufficient for me. You paid the price, setting me free to love You, worship You, and glorify You every day of my life. Easter is the anniversary of Your risen life ... ZOE ... "Life as God has it." Eternal. Perfect. Plentiful. Thank You. Short and simple. Two words. Bathed in the crimson of Your blood. Two words white as snow. Thank You. Abba, Father. My love for You abounds to limits as yet unknown. Thank You, precious Jesus. Because of You I can stand before the Father's throne and receive love and forgiveness for all time. I have eternal life ... ZOE ... because You died and rose again. Dying was only half the work. You had to rise again and You did. Amazing love, oh, how can it be, that You my King would die for me. Amazing love, oh I know it's true ... in all I do, I honor You. Amazing love, how can it be, that You my King would die for me. It is an amazing love. The words of the song don't lie. But how can it possibly be true? That You would die for me? Thank You, Lord, thank You. And now let me honor you in all I do. I love You, Lord. I really do, It seems so meager but it's all I have. Thank You.