God is your helper

“Oh blessed by GOD! He didn’t go off and leave us!” Psalm 124:6 The Message

It’s Wednesday, December 7th! Pearl Harbor Day where 75 years ago our country was attacked by Japanese who flew bomber planes over Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and killed over 2000 of our country’s navy men. President Roosevelt told the nation over the radio that this day would live in “infamy,” meaning being famous for something not good. In-famous. A blight on our nation’s history. We honor those who served in World War II by remembering the sacrifice they and their families made from 1941-1945.

Dad was a pilot who flew bombers over Europe during WWII. The Germans had invaded Poland in 1939. America did nothing. Germans invaded the Netherlands. They invaded Denmark. Then they flew planes over the English Channel and attacked England. We were angry. We couldn’t sit this war out. Hitler was serious about taking over the free world. By this time we were involved in fighting against Japan in the Pacific.

On one particular mission as he and the crew were headed back over the English Channel from taking fuel to our military in France and part of Germany, they were hit by flack – the Germans were firing at them from the ground. Dad had to make a quick serious decision. Jump or try to land the plane. Dad prayed to the Lord he had trusted in when he was only eleven years old but had wandered away from in his devotion. “Lord,” he said, “if you help me get my crew safely back to land, I’ll serve you the rest of my life.” In the cockpit in front of him flashed a word over and over as a neon sign: “JUMP.” He knew it was a message from the Lord. He ordered his crew to jump and they parachuted down on English soil to safety. The plane crashed in an open field so no lives were lost. My dad did serve the Lord through his church and then in leading Bible studies to men in prison. He was a radiant Godly fun-loving man all his life.

The word this week is God is our helper. Psalm 124 says, “God’s strong name is our help, the same God who made heaven and earth.” The Message.

Praise be to God that you are my help! Even though I cannot see you, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you, God, exist and are walking alongside me all the way through the muck of my everyday life; through the joys, through the hurts and through the pain. You are beside me. I know. He’s invisible. This is where audacious faith comes in! “Faith,” says Eugene H. Peterson in his book The Long Obedience in the Same Direction, “develops out of the most difficult aspects of our existence, not the easiest.”

The other day I had the joy of sitting beside a friend in a school meeting for her child. I never said a word during the meeting. Just prayed. Listened. Heard. It wasn’t necessary that I say a word. It was necessary that my presence was there. And my friend knew it. Was comforted by it. His presence is with you. Be comforted by it.

So, believe and then just KNOW in your spirit He is there. Right beside you. And, like my dad in the hour of his greatest need, you call on Him. He will make His presence known to you in the ways that bring you His peace and comfort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


	

Simply touching the Soul

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40

Generally, I’m not a great shopper. I have to be “in the mood.” Especially in this season. For the better part of Saturday I was content to unwrap the decorations and place them around our home. I had Keith and Kristyn Getty singing their Christmas music at full throttle.

Finally, needing to just get out of the house, I made a short list and headed out to the store. Now, my lists are not necessarily accurate and rarely do I look at a list oncesmiling-shopper I’m in the store, because I can surely remember everything I need. Right. I got to one store and after a few minutes of looking at literally every aisle for something that was clearly not on the short list, but suddenly I was reminded that I would eventually need that item, I went about looking for it all over the store. It wasn’t long before I was overwhelmed at the materialism. Eventually, I found something (on my short list!) to go on the tree that made me smile. I did turn to the young teen beside me and wished her a Merry Christmas since she had helped me get the item off its hanger without knocking anything else to the floor!

Next stop, the Dollar Store where the cashier was actually smiling at each one who passed through her line! Suddenly someone rocked her merry boat a little and the smile slightly faded. I heard her tell someone she had only been there about a week. No wonder she could still smile! She hadn’t gotten jaded by the long hours of constant standing or the whiney customers or the endless stocking! As I took my bags I looked at her darling young face and encouraged her keep it up! You’re bringing some joy to these folks, I had said.

A smile costs nothing! It’s amazing at how the corners of the mouths of nearly every person I make eye contact with and smile at begins to turn up their mouth! And their eyes dance a little. This time of year can get even the most optimistic down! It’s hectic. It’s sometimes pointless. It’s endless. but……it’s what we Americans do this time of year.

I wonder  what  simple simple gifts that touch the soul look like:

a smile, eye contact, genuine

a song, sung outloud with abandon! Or hummed softly in the quiet

a prayer, a blessing

a touch on the hand, rubbing those gnarled hands with lotionrubbing-an-elderly-hand

an act of kindness,  a kind word in gentle tone of voice

a ride to the store, the hospital, the mall, or the doctor then…….going inside and staying with them til you take them home

a drive to see the Christmas lights!

hot chocolate and perhaps a plate of cookies?

extra tip, whether deserved or not

a phone call – my husband reached out to his 93 year old aunt just now who lives in another state. I could just see her smile on the other end of the line!

A Christmas card, personally signed with a note!

Forgiveness

Who would receive such simple gifts? Anyone. The folks in the highways and hedges; those in whom we’ve lost touch; not necessarily those regular Facebook folks. Or even those relatives who are “expecting” something under the tree. The blessings come from the unexpected. And the serendipity comes when we aren’t looking for it! Unaware.

These are simple thoughts for making our Christmas more. More than the commercialism  it seems to become whether we like it or not. More than laissez faire, but intentional in sharing the inner Jesus joy with whomever comes before us. More than staying in the safe places, but venturing out to those places where folks are struggling and joy is hard to come by. Even a smile. More. Together. You and me. sharing-christmas-with-a-homeless-man

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

 

 

Breaking Generational Strongholds

For I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Deuteronomy 5:9–10, esv).hands-of-generations

One of my moms mentioned that she finally reached out to her mom living in another state. Great, I responded. She said that she sent her pictures of her children. See, she added, I had to move away from her because she was so negative. She never told me she loved me. I thought to myself, how does a mom never tell her daughter she loves her? Ever?  At this, I leaned in close to her and whispered, I imagine you don’t let a day go by that you don’t tell your children you love them. She shook her head fiercely. No, I don’t. Even when I get angry with them, I quickly pull them to me and tell them why I was upset and that I love them.

This mom is breaking the generational stronghold with proactive steps. She distanced herself from the destructive behavior and has chosen to be loving and kind toward her children.

Hezekiah, one of my favorite kings, chose to break the stronghold that was in his country that his father Ahaz had created. King Hezekiah came into position after witnessing his father King Ahaz choosing to worship the pagan god Baal. He removed all the places of Baal worship and brought back the Levitical priests that had been established by the Lord and commanded that they clean out the Temple in Jerusalem. After they had thoroughly cleaned out the temple, restoring it to its beauty, he called all the tribes of Israel to come to Jerusalem to worship.

Many people gathered in Jerusalem and celebrated for days upon days! II Chronicles 31 describes how the Lord God responded: “And every work which he (King Hezekiah) began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered.” (Full story in II Chronicles 28-31:21).

King Hezekiah chose to return to the worship of the one true God of his fathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and King David.  He also encouraged all the people to return to Jehovah God. He broke the generational stronghold, even though not all the people chose to worship God.

This mom chose to break the generational stronghold of negativity, and the lack of communicating love. She had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ who told her the truth about herself. Told her she was loved. That her confessed sins were forgiven. That she could love back. She could express her love to her children and be free of the pain of not being told she was loved by her own mother. The story doesn’t end there. She has reached out to her mother in kindness and love. A hope of forgiveness is taking place. The Lord is using this daughter to bring about a change of heart to her mother so that she may know the true love of her heavenly Father and enjoy the fellowship of her daughter and her grandchildren. Halleluiah! Love how God works!grandmother-and-daughter

Freeing

birds flying free  There’s a freedom I really haven’t experienced in so very long until about 2 months ago. That’s when I finally decided to stand up to those dark, long-held grudges and anger toward some relatives. Down on my knees at the foot of my red recliner I cried and asked the Lord to forgive me for holding on so long and not forgiving and moving on to love unconditionally. I asked Him to  take away all that junk in my dark soul and then almost immediately,  like years of wax built up in my ears, finally being pulled out I heard the sound! Oh the sound of relief!  Of music! Truly! Of freedom, as the flight of the birds winging gracefully over the highways. Far above and out of reach of the chaos.

I know the freedom now  and what it means to just LET IT GO! I got on my bicycle and rode down the track – my get-a-way retreat. And my heart soared for love of my precious family who so long ago “meant well” when one sweet relative asked me if there was anything she could do for me when I came home from having given birth to our first-born. Came home with empty arms as he was so early. Well, I stammered, running through my muddled mind, “some diapers”? After all, I hadn’t thought to purchase diapers six weeks early. “Well, you can get those at the store,” was her not so warm reply. Well, then. Yes, I thought. So, what were you thinking to do for me, then? I mean, okay. I’ll go to the store. Thanks for your offer “to help.” And never again, did I ask her for help. But I had held on to the hurt……and other things from time to time. Those memories are now scattered in the air.

The proof. Thanksgiving Day at my brother and sister-in-law’s lovely home on the other side of town. The usual family. The usual spread of delicious home-made dishes atop the usual lovely table decor. Gone, though, was the usual grudge and inner resistance to totally love from the depths of my soul. The love for my family – all of them – this year was deeply genuine. I love them. Each of them and harbor absolutely no animosity, jealousy, ugly guilt. Nothing. Is this then, truly the love of Jesus from me to them? Oh, how light and joyous I felt all day and into the evening. Was it the letting go? It was. It was also the confessing and leaving that hurt right at my Savior’s feet. Sigh. Yes.flying birds

But there was still some deep down pain inside coming from something or someone else. My precious cousin and college girlfriend. There was that time when we were close. Weren’t we? I mean, I remember each of them on an occasion saying, “Best friends forever!” Being the Amelia Bedelia minded, I took that literally. Forever. Always. But, like mine, their lives are so busy in their far away towns with their own families.

Why have I held on to the expectation that they write???? That they call and just say hello? I don’t know!! Is it because it’s not a two-way street? And I’m tired of always initiating?  Do I particularly enjoy this feeling of gravel in the pit of my stomach? This “I’m owning this relationship and you’re not and I want you to and it’s painful and still why don’t you write. Was it something I said? I feel so INSECURE about our , well, is this still a relationship? Has it truly gone sour?”

I stood in the middle of my den and out loud proclaimed, “I let you go, sweet cousin. I let you go, sweet girlfriend from so long ago.” Go. Be free. And I will too. You who are so very far away from me and seem to choose to be. You who have so much on your plate. Always have. Always will. but no where on your plate is there room for me. It’s all okay now.  I let you go and I will clean out my belly of hurt, emptiness over a lost whatever this was and like you, move on. Oh, I’m still here. In the same house I’ve lived in for the past 18 years. Going nowhere soon. You have my address and phone. But you no longer have my heart. If you never bother to call it’s okay. If you don’t ever text or email, no problem. May the Lord continue to take good care of you and your family. Love you. Bye.

I do have some very precious friends right here in front of me and I know now that the enemy of my soul has been successful in making me feel less content, less fulfilled because two very precious folks are not in the forefront of my life right now.  Their presence in my life was rich and I am grateful for what we had. But now I choose to focus on the friends I have here. In my life right now. I choose to encourage them. Love on them. Treasure them as they are but having held too tightly before, I know now to always, always hold my friends loosely. With air to breathe. With freedom to come and go and be real and up close and far away and to know that from me, it’s okay.

bird in handRecently, in prayer group, some were discussing some long-ago friends who had been a part of the group (long before we came in) and had moved on. But there had been some small degree of dissension.  You know, one quipped, we can be Believers and not all agree on everything and it will be okay! Consider Paul and Barnabus; Paul and John Mark, I responded. Not even the early Christians got along with one another! We’re all human, she returned. And we’re going to have some strife and struggles along the way or, we’re going to move away from some friendships and that’s okay, too. We’ll all sit at the feet of our Savior one day! And then, it won’t matter anymore if we got along on the earth or not!

Holding tightly to anything will bring hurt and a stabbing pain. Open the hand and the joy will be everlasting! Because of the first Love. His love. Deep inside, wanting to be free and expressive. Loving this flight! I believe it’s time to take another ride down the track by the gully!

May you go out with JOY and be led forth in His PEACE!