I don’t often perceive what might be happening in the circumstances I observe with my eyes. I think that is true of most of us. We tell ourselves a story about the things happening around us. How we perceive depends a whole lot on our inner attitudes, thoughts, how we have trained our reactions throughout our lives.  So our perception depends on what we feed our mind and spirit.

Romans 12:2 tells us… Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Having our minds trained in discernment according to God’s  “Thy will be done,” gives us an edge in perceiving what we may or may not understand. I think it’s giving me pause today in learning to wait to call or not to call, the situation. Being patient to see what is really going on. Listening for the voice of the Lord. You know that still small voice behind us that says, ‘this is what’s happening and this is what you should do or not do, say or not say!’  Isaiah 30.21 paraphrased.

Since our hearts are not always clear of prejudices or attitudes gathered through a lifetime, perception needs God’s wisdom. Sometimes we pray, sometimes we hug someone, sometimes we cry with them, sometimes we speak and sometimes not. Let God’s wisdom reign, as our perception is almost surely clouded by life.

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Being Present…

Our ‘presence’ can be the ‘present’. Yesterday was a day to be present for a friend visiting and staying at my sister’s home in Florida, for a break in the routine of life. My sister called me from Arizona to ask me to head over there and stay with her. I had to go home to get my keys to her home. In the 10 minutes or so before I reached her home, I was told that the friend’s son had been killed in an accident on the way to work at about 5 a.m. back in Indiana. She was finding out as I walked in the door. Needless to say it was a day when God ordained someones ‘presence’ with her, to walk with her and do what was necessary in a time of complete horror and grief. Being a Christian does not insulate us from sorrow. As most of us well know.

The case with this incident is, God used ‘Phyllis’ and her husband Dave to bring comfort to us when Rick ended up in the hospital with colon cancer. I had a friend already there, but I couldn’t leave him to even get a glass of water. They were staying at my sister’s, who I had already notified, and the next thing I knew they were walking down the hall with bottles of water and a bag of healthy and a couple not so healthy snacks, prayers, hugs and their precious presence.

I am grateful to God for letting me be there for Phyllis yesterday as she received the news. She was physically shaking and in shock. I was able to help her by hugging her until she quit shaking and  just being present. “Pack your bag.” “Make your phone calls.” “Your sister has already gotten your airline ticket.” “Come home with me until it’s time to go to the airport.” “I’ll close down the house here.” “There are more tissues.” “We’ll leave in plenty of time to get there.”

Having someone with you who understands and has been through the HARD STUFF of life is invaluable. I have over the last 3+ years found great comfort in those who have walked with us and more than grateful to be able to comfort others by God’s grace.

It’s 3:57 a.m. and I have been awake for about an hour praying for them. It’s cold and icy in Indiana and sleeping is fitful I’m sure, but my heart is with them and the whole family as they walk through this valley. Heavenly Father we ask to give grace, peace, comfort and Your precious ‘presence’ in this unspeakable tragedy.

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Soakin in the Word…

John Piper-solid joys 10/22
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son . . . (Hebrews 1:1–2)

The last days begin with the coming of the Son into the world. We have been living in the last days since the days of Christ — that is, the last days of history as we know it before the final and full establishment of the kingdom of God.

The point for the writer of Hebrews is this: The Word that God spoke by his Son is the decisive Word. It will not be followed in this age by any greater word or replacement word. This is the Word of God — the person of Jesus, the teaching of Jesus, and the work of Jesus.

When I complain that I don’t hear the Word of God, when I feel a desire to hear the voice of God, and get frustrated that he does not speak in ways that I may crave, what am I really saying? Am I really saying that I have exhausted this final decisive Word revealed to me so fully in the New Testament? Have I really exhausted this Word? Has it become so much a part of me that it has shaped my very being and given me life and guidance?

Or have I treated it lightly — skimmed it like a newspaper, dipped in like a taste-tester — and then decided I wanted something different, something more? This is what I fear I am guilty of more than I wish to admit.

God is calling us to hear his final, decisive Word — to meditate on it and study it and memorize it and linger over it and soak in it until it saturates us to the center of our being.

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Purge with purpose…

This morning I can hardly walk. The ‘spinal stenosis’ has affected the nerves all the way down my left leg. I had to walk backwards when it was most severe and now it wants to drag. The knee pinches in 3 or 4 different places. I hold on to walls and grab my cane or Rick’s walking stick at the worst of it. Can’t just quit living. What has this to do with purging? WELL, the less you have the less that needs attention. Who knew getting older would come to this?

When I was younger and first came to a knowledge of the Gospel and a true relationship with Jesus, I had to purge some behaviors in my life. For instance, lying. If you don’t lie, you don’t have to attend to keeping up a facade. It’s just plain easier to keep life straight if you tell the truth. Now, the truth may not always be pretty or easy, BUT in the long run a whole lot less for the mind to attend to.

Purging our home of things, you know ‘stuff’? I started a couple years ago, but now with more intention. Since taking care of final affairs has become a reality in the couple months since the passing of my mom-in-law, I realize how important it is to plan for the future. The future may be tomorrow, but I’m working on it today.

I have saved all the cards that were given to us since Rick’s stroke in October of 2014. I have picture of all the gifts and flowers on a tech file. I’m going to post a picture with this ‘blog’ if I can figure out how. The stack of cards is actually 2 large gift bags…FULL! If cards were actual physical healing, we would be able to join a circus as the ‘strong man and wife’! Your continued prayers are coveted as we heal and age. We are not alone in our circumstances, and we do pray for those whose lives are in much worse state than ours. We are blessed beyond measure in so many ways, the best of these blessings in friends, brothers and sisters in Christ who pray for us. We do not purge our friends and family…you are our priceless treasures for eternity!

It was a difficult cull…in the bags, in the pile and the keepers! Found my birthday card from Mom Hoover. The one she gave me 3 days before she went to see Jesus.


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My Egyptian Tardis…

I have been mulling this over in my mind for several days, so it needs to get written. Since May 8 of 2017, I have been on a restricted diet for Lyme disease. It’s nutritional and not at all bad tasting, but it precludes (does not include) things to which I had been accustomed to eating.  I thought about the Israelites wandering in the desert because they decided that they couldn’t do what God wanted them to do. They did not believe Him and were scared to go ahead with the plan. Only Joshua and Caleb said, “We can do this, with God’s help!” But there were “giants in the land”, so the rebellion of the masses brought them wandering in a desert until the older generation died off.

One of their first complaints was no water to drink, then they didn’t like the ‘manna’. They got bored with God’s provision for them and complained that the food in Egypt was better and had better flavor and they would rather be slaves then to go without their leeks and onions. Then they complained because they didn’t have any meat. By that time God had had His limit of patience. He sent quail, on the wind and it was deep. They killed and ate their fill. Then they got sick and some died. If it were not for God’s mercy and Moses intercession they would all have died in the desert.

During the end of November and December I have been an Israelite. Although the food on the prescribed diet is good and tastes good and I can fix it myself easily, I craved macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, pizza, candy, soda pop, bread, cheese, milk, hamburgers, french fries. All of these things in and of themselves are not bad, but they are not good for me. So I started to whine and use the ‘Egyptian Tardis’,  going back to old habits and cravings that could bring me back into slavery and bondage to the microbial bacteria which is working in my body. I am not waiting until the New Year to hop back, repent and begin again with a thankful heart that what I can have is delicious and easy and I can change it up if I get bored, even if it is limited.

So now I am going to be a ‘giant killer’, lose the Tardis plan, walk out of the desert and praise God for my doctor who got me this far and feeling human again at nearly 70, with God’s help.

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I woke this morning feeling like the Apostle Paul. Not really imprisoned, but confined to quarters. Do not mistake me, I am not comparing myself to him. His imprisonment was a great benefit to the church and he recognized that his confinement was the Lord’s doing. All the ‘stuff’ he went through was for God’s glory at every turn. Not the most fun.

2 Corinthians 11:24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. 26 In my frequent journeys, I have been in danger from rivers and from bandits, in danger from my countrymen and from the Gentiles, in danger in the city and in the country, in danger on the sea and among false brothers…

For 3 years our circle of circulation has become smaller and smaller. We have become more dependent on the grace, mercy and kindness of others. For someone who has been ‘in charge’ for most of their life, it is a humbling and challenging turn of events. Not unlike Paul’s situation though, we have friends visit and support us in every way. I don’t think we’ve had a ‘Demas’. (2 Timothy 4:10)

I am grateful and rejoice to be awakened in the night and be able to pray for friends and family around the world. If life were as it was before, I would need every moment of my sleep. In the quiet of this confinement, there is peace and an ability to hear, that wasn’t an option when I was in control, never missing a step, constant in motion and purpose. Now the purpose has changed. No longer in control, we do as we must and leave this life in God’s purpose and providence. We are blessed beyond measure because of His great love and having letting go of the control to Jesus has been a real eye-opener. We can relax, still doing as we must daily, but at peace and joyful in His presence and each others.

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This morning my thoughts and prayers are turning to those who have gone through a storm and some multiple storms in this life. Many are dealing with the disorientation of starting life completely anew. Even if their insurance covers the damage, what about the memories and the loss and the time it takes to rebuild or repair. Again, we were asked to pray for someone who has lost everything in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Hurricane Irma knocked us about and Hurricane Maria gave a concluding whack to Puerto Rico. We know full well this family is not the only one. Those who have lost everything may appear to be functioning, but there is a definite disorientation in the loss. Then we have the madness of the attack in Las Vegas, which has affected many families throughout the country. Major crises tend to disorient us for a long time. When Rick had the stroke, I was disoriented and still am. Dealing with the stress of the dispossession of all our worldly goods can be freeing in a sense, knowing we lived through it, but how in the world are we going to recover our balance.

Everyday we still pray for God’s guidance and wisdom in the endeavor to recover. This morning one of my neighbors was out raking the lawn of debris left behind from the trucks picking up the major downed tree debris. It took 5 huge trucks to gather the debris on our block (most of it anyway). 14 homes on this block, 6 on one side of the street had a huge mess. Our side of the street, just 2. The neighbor who was raking was doing another neighbor’s yard because they are elderly and didn’t need to be cleaning up what was left. Everyone has pitched in to help one another. Thank God we are not dispossessed of our friends.

We have made it this far by God’s grace, and the gracious loving care of God’s people. I don’t know how to thank them all. In the beginning I started writing thank you cards and went through about 10 boxes or more of them, but it’s not enough to express the depth of our heart’s gratitude. (We have received several hundred cards in the last 3 years) Caring for one another and praying for one another helps the sense of loss and the reality of loss.

Let us in our disorientation, turn to the Lord and find rest and peace and healing for our emotions, minds, spirits and our bodies, for others and for ourselves.

Psalm 107:20
He sent His word and healed them, And delivered them from their destructions.

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