The Power of Praise




I have sparingly shared a story very tender to me that occurred during my days following my organ transplant. But it is one I believe will minister to your spirit as it did mine at a time when I needed it, as together we recognize the power of praise to our heavenly Father and Almighty God. 

Many have experienced the negative side effects of anesthesia and pain medications following major surgery. Though I had undergone numerous surgeries even before my transplant, I had never experienced the degree of mental torment I endured in the early days following my transplant surgery in August of 2001. Nurses told me it is common with certain drugs in particular, nevertheless, I want never to experience such horrific sights and sounds again. 

As the chemicals worked in my body, they began to do a number in my mind. When I closed my eyes to sleep, I would see horrifying blood red images shrouded in darkness. They were faces of the most hideous kind—evil, vile, and disgusting, and filled with a look of hatred, wickedness, and malice. So vivid were the images, it seemed I could even hear the hissing and smell the sulfur. 

I became wary of ever closing my eyes, as well as weary from lack of rest.

Prayer of Peace and Security



Father,

My ear is attentive to You. I will stand at attention and station myself to alertness to keep watch to see what You will speak to me. (Hab. 2:1) You, God, are in Your holy temple and I will be silent before You. (Hab. 2:20)

Draw near to me God, as I draw near to You. (James 4:8) Teach me Your ways God, after Your will and according to Your purposes. (Ps. 25:4, Romans 8:28)

Bring peace to the turbulence of my mind. Bring peace to the turbulence of my heart. Bring peace to the turbulence in my life. (1 Cor. 14:33) I will no longer entertain past failures or defeat which find their only glory in suppressing Your people, holding them hostage in the fear-filled death camps of the enemy, who is a defeated foe. (1 Peter 5:8) I walk by faith and not by sight or feelings. (2 Cor. 5:7)

As I fix my eyes on You, the Prince of Peace stands guard at the door of my heart and mind with the Sword of Truth. (Phil. 4:7) I will exult in the God of my salvation, who brings me victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:57) Your peace is greater than any tranquility the world tries to offer, therefore, I will not be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27)

The Sovereign Lord is my strength and gives me security and safety in my balance and footing. You enable me to walk firmly and confidently through the slippery slopes and jagged rocks of trials and temptations as You faithfully and lovingly guide me to higher places in You. (Hab. 3:19)

Thank you that You lead me by Your truth and teach me, for You are my salvation, and my hope is in You. (Ps. 25:5)

Blessed be Your name from this time forth and forever. (Ps. 113:2)

Hallelujauh! Amen. 


Where's Jesus?




Years ago, when the kids were small, Sunday mornings became something of a well-orchestrated exercise. It took two vehicles to get five people to church. I left early with my young daughter to set up for my Sunday school class, and my husband trailed a few minutes behind with the boys. After the service, we usually left in reverse order.


Following one Sunday morning service, I stayed behind arranging my classroom for something later in the week. My husband informed me he was going to take the kids home. I packed up my things only a minute or two behind my husband and headed for the house. Pulling in behind him in the driveway, I noticed the boys already playing with the dog but did not see our five-year-old daughter. My husband walked toward me with a jokey smirk on his face, while I sported the same.

"Where's Kaci?" he teasingly asked.

Thinking she had ducked down in the seat of his pickup, I answered, "Well ... I don't know? Where is Kaci?"

We exchanged this playful banter for only a couple more rounds, until it suddenly turned more somber.

"Seriously, where is Kaci?" we both anxiously inquired.

Immediately, I was sick to my stomach, realizing what we had done. My husband thought she had stayed with me; I thought she had gone with him. I raced back down to the church, expecting to find her little face and hands plastered to the glass of the front door of a locked church, screaming. Instead, she was calmly helping a dear woman empty the communion trays, but I still felt like we were the world's worst parents.

I wonder if that is how Jesus' parents felt when they learned they had left Jesus behind in Jerusalem


Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it (Luke 2:41-43)
Most likely, in the bustle of the feast and the crowd of people, they assumed Jesus surely was with someone in the large traveling group.

It would be three days before they reunited with Jesus; it was only three minutes before I found my daughter. They found Jesus in the temple speaking with the elders and teachers; I found my daughter in the kitchen sipping down surplus communion cups.

Have you ever wondered how Mary and Joseph could have possibly left Jesus, the Son of God, behind? How could they have traveled for so long before missing Him, but do we not do that ourselves? How often have we become so engrossed in the acceleration of our hectic lives that we really had not thought that much about Jesus for several days? It is easy to forego personal Bible study or Scripture reading because of a busy schedule, assuring ourselves that we will get back on track as soon as things settle down.

Perhaps we temporarily neglect our calling and leave the responsibility of keeping track of Jesus to a spouse or Sunday school teacher, assuming He surely is with him or her. Eventually, almost without notice, we lose focus and fear takes over. Finally, in a moment of chaos and panic, we recognize that we have walked away from Jesus.
 "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us" (Hebrews 12:1).
"Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV).
Praise God, Jesus will never leave us or forsake us, even when we walk away from Him.

He longs for fellowship with us every day, not just on Sundays or holidays. When Christ is our focus, He blesses us with the peace that surpasses all understanding.
"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you" (Isaiah 26:3 NLT). 
Father, You are so holy. Worthy are You, Lord, of all glory, honor, power, and praise. Thank you for the strength and encouragement we receive from those who bear witness to Your goodness and mercy. Forgive us for taking our eyes off You for even a moment. Keep us in perfect peace as we set our eyes on the author and finisher of our faith. In Jesus' name, amen.


Read this story, along with others on the book site by clicking here. 

The Nest is Suddenly Empty . . . Now What?


I remember the day I held our firstborn in my arms, and suddenly our lives were changed forever. We weren't really sure we even knew what to do with this new blessing. But like all parents, we learned. In fun, I remember calculating the year of his high school graduation. At that time, 1999 sounded eons away. But then--we blinked--and it was here. We blinked again…and our middle son left in 2002. One more blink…and our daughter left in 2006. 

And as quickly as we became new parents, we became empty-nesters, and suddenly our lives were changed again. And again, we weren't really sure we even knew what to do with this new blessing.

Wings of Change






 (This began as a letter for our daughter on her high school graduation in 2006)

 ~~~~

To our daughter upon her high school graduation:

          Oh my, how history repeats itself!  

          Do you remember “Delvin”, your second grade project of nurturing a caterpillar?

          We called it the Butterfly Wannabe. 

          You watched carefully everyday for small changes taking place in God’s creation that was now under your care. You grew impatient, as the caterpillar seemed oblivious to the orders nature had given him. Eventually, a cocoon formed and at times you even wondered if it had died, as the cocoon appeared motionless and unresponsive.

          Then, after what seemed an eternity, but was only a couple weeks, you awoke one morning to see that while you were sleeping, a beautiful monarch butterfly had finally emerged. 
We shared in your excitement of this “nativity in a jar” and we rejoiced like proud parents, calling family and friends who were aware of your project.  However, the reality now struck. You knew what it was time to do. 

           The final stage of the assignment was to tag and release him from the school parking lot. As you removed the lid from the jar, Delvin seemed to hesitate, as if he was comfortable where he was.  Nevertheless, as the fresh air made its way into his snug surroundings, his wings began to flutter wildly. It just seemed he needed a little help to launch. 

          Tears fell from your eyes as you reached in and lifted him from the jar, releasing him into the wide open space.  But the tears turned to laughter and cheers when you observed the power and strength in his wings as the breeze lifted him higher and higher, until he flew out of sight. 

          We now come to the moment I have dreaded since the day they laid your warm body, wrapped as tightly as a cocoon, in my arms. My dear child, I’m sure what seemed an eternity to you, feels like only a few short weeks for me.  But, as the winds of change stir your soul, may they lift you ever higher into the wide open space of your future.            
          
          The memories of your childhood will always warm your heart, but it will be your vision and dreams that will propel you forward. Let your mind be stayed on Christ, your Way, your Truth, and your Life, and your paths will be straight.  Moreover, know we are proud of the beautiful young woman who emerged before our very eyes.   
     
          May God bless and keep you and may His grace shine upon you as we release you into the plans He has for you, now and forever. 

Love, Mom & Dad

          Dear Lord, How amazing it is to compare our life to the caterpillar that is surrounded by the cocoon and struggles until it emerges a beautiful butterfly. I pray that as we all struggle through life's challenges, that we learn to lean on You and allow the cocoon of Your love to surround us and that the circumstances and trials help mold each of us into the beautiful creature You want us to become. Thank You for all You do. In Jesus' name, Amen.