Been There, Done That, Burnt the Tshirt

The Cross

My daughter’s eyes glistened with tears that were about to spill over. “I just feel like I’m never good enough for you!” She blurted.

My husband had just been chastising her for her messy room, but those words stung him to the heart. He gathered Katie in his arms and assured her that he still loved her, would always love her, no matter what. Then he helped her clean up her room.

Many of us feel that we aren’t good enough. The thought may come when we fail in some way, or when we see “friends” go off together, leaving us alone, or when we are passed over for a promotion at work or an award we felt we deserved. There are many circumstances in life that make our heads drop and our shoulders slump as our self esteem sinks to new depths. These feelings can lead to frustration, anger and even depression. The pressure to be perfect is self-defeating. You know you can’t do it. You know you never will. So what’s the point in even trying?

But, the good news is, as a famous theologian once said, God knows us best yet loves us most. He knows all our failings and weaknesses, all our bad motivations and self-serving decisions, yet He still, as my husband did with our daughter that day, wraps us in His arms and tells us he loves us, no matter what.

He can do that because, when we acknowledge Him as our Saviour and Lord we are able to receive His forgiveness. Then He wipes away all that is flawed and ugly in our lives. He took all of it away the day he was nailed to a cross in a faraway place called Palestine, over 2,000 years ago. In the moment we accept the forgiveness He offers us through that ultimate sacrifice, He clothes us in His righteousness. We become holy, not because of what we do, but because of what He has done. That’s why he was able to tell that thief on the cross beside Him that He would see Him in Paradise that day. The man was forgiven because of his faith in the One whose sacrifice tore the curtain in the temple and made the very ground tremble.

Once we grasp that concept, the self-deprecating feelings of never being good enough fade away. When we understand the depth of His love none of our failings can defeat us. When we know we are loved and accepted we are able to lift our heads and straighten our shoulders. We are good enough for God. Nothing else matters.

Jesus didn’t die for those who were already perfect and righteous. He died for the ungodly. He died for you and me.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

 

Wishing I Could Be Jesus

Angel & Carolllers

I recently attended a funeral for a young man who died too soon, leaving a wife and three young girls. The sadness overwhelms at times and it makes me wish I could be Jesus, just for a few minutes, just long enough to say, as He did, “arise.”

But then, I realize that He doesn’t need me to do His work for Him. He has already done it. He has already said that wondrous, mysterious word and brought that young man into His kingdom, given him time to have a productive, full life here on this earth, and then brought Him home, to the place where he has wanted to be, as a believer in Christ.

Often things don’t seem right to us. The world seems off kilter and full of so much pain and suffering it overwhelms us at times. And we want to be Jesus. We want to snap our fingers and make it all better. But He has already been at work. He has a plan for this earth, for each one of us, a plan that goes far beyond what we could ever imagine. He told the Hebrew people that when they were in circumstances that were full of pain and suffering – their captivity in Babylon. Living as slaves they no doubt often cried out to God to bring them relief from all the suffering and pain they saw around them.

This was His answer – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

At this time of year some of us are in circumstances that are made even more difficult by all the joy and/or jollity around us. And sadness overwhelms.

Here are a few things we can do when that happens:

Look up. When we see all those decorated Christmas trees, look up. Look for the star or the angel on the top. And know Jesus is with you.

Look around. There are others who are struggling. Is there something you can do for them that will lighten their hearts, and yours?

Look ahead. Jesus has promised a bright future, and given us a way to know we are secure in his hand.

Yes, there are times I wish I could be Jesus. But then I remember – He is the Messiah, the Living God, our hope and our comfort. We don’t need anything else.

The Spur – A Defining Love

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“I think you’re my pastor’s wife.” The elderly woman smiled up at me from her wheelchair. I nodded and chatted with her for a moment. When I looked up, I saw her husband brushing away tears. His wife had days when she recognized hardly anyone. It was only a matter of time before she would not even know him. The tears were brushed away quickly and he kissed the top of her head as he told me she’d been doing very well lately. Then, as always, he told me how much he loved his wife. “More every day,” he’d say. “More every day.” As he wheeled her away I stood in awe of such love.

It takes a special kind of love to care for those who are not able to respond, like patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. That kind of love is described in the Bible this way:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

When we see such love lived, we stand in awe. How can this be done? How can we love this way, consistently, when it takes so much courage and strength and pure will to focus completely on someone else?

There is only one way, by relying on the One who is Love incarnate. His love flowing through us gives us the courage and strength and will. When we turn to Him and ask, “how can I do this?” He answers: “And now I will show you the most excellent way.” His love is pure and unconditional and totally other-focused. To demonstrate it, He gave his life for ours. He is the source of a pure and defining love.

Indeed, He is love.

Care giving for a person who has Alzheimer’s is one of the most difficult things anyone could attempt. To do it, one needs the kind of love only Jesus can provide. With Him as our source, anything is possible.

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This post is part of a blog tour honouring those who suffer with Alzheimer’s disease and those who care for them. Click on the links below to follow the tour.

Nov. 6th –Ruth L. Snyder- http://ruthlsnyder.com/

Nov. 7th –Sheila Seiler Lagrand- http://sheilalagrand.com/

Nov. 8th –Giovanni Gelati- http://gelatisscoop.blogspot.com/

Nov. 10th –Ruth L. Snyder- http://ruthlsnyder.com/

Nov. 10th –Cindy Noonan- http://www.cindynoonan.com/

Nov. 11th-Sue Badeau- http://suebadeau.webs.com/apps/blog/

Nov. 12th-Peggy Blann Phifer- http://www.whispersinpurple.com/

Nov. 13th-Sandy Sieber- http://pahistorybooks.blogspot.com/

Nov. 13th– Joy Ross Davis- http://joyrossdavis.com/blog/

Nov.14th –Karen Gass- http://www.cottonspice.net/

Nov. 17th –Patti J. Smith- http://gridirongrannyfootballfanatic.blogspot.com/

Nov. 18th-Tracy Krauss- http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com/

Nov.19th –Melanie M. Jeschke- http://melaniejeschke.blogspot.com/

Nov.21st– Andrea J. Graham- http://www.christsglory.com/

Nov.22nd-Linda Wood Rondeau- http://lindarondeau.blogspot.com/

Nov.24th-Diane Huff Pitts- http://dianehuffpitts.com/

Nov.25th –Mark Venturini- http://markventurinijourney.blogspot.com/

 

Almost by Marcia Lee Laycock

“Tell me your story,” my friend said.

I smiled and warned her that we might be there for a while, but she said she wanted to hear all of it. And I was excited because I love telling it, not because it’s my story but because it is, from beginning to end, God’s story. It becomes obvious to those listening and even more, to myself, that God’s hand of protection has been over all of my life. There were so many times when I could have/should have had disastrous things happen; times when I almost died.

As my husband has said, “You walked into the fire and right out of it again with hardly a scratch!” Well, the smell of smoke often lingered, but he’s right. I can relate to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

There was that day I should have drowned but was saved, that night I could have been raped and even murdered but was left alone, that time I ingested a poison but it left no effect, the times I trusted strangers who could have been demons but turned out to be angels. Over and over again God protected me.

Oh yes, I have had my share of tragedies and trials, but even in those circumstances, God was there. There was the moment when I heard those mind-numbing words, you have cancer, the days when the chemo treatments were almost too much and others when I almost could not make myself walk through the doors of the clinic where I would lay on a table and allow radiation to burn my body. There was that day I was almost overcome when I realized the child I carried would not be born alive and the day I got the phone call telling me my father had died. There were those years when the pain of the circumstances almost drove me to curse God.

In all of those times it was God’s presence, and above all His love, that kept me sane, kept me going, and kept me in the shelter of his wings. It was Jesus who kept me from going beyond ‘almost.’

I love that old song that says, “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and they are safe.” The words are true. The name Jesus keeps us safe, even in the midst of the fire or in the midst of a raging storm – not always safe from pain, but safe from separation from Him. And that is the only agony we would not survive.

These words are also true: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed” (2Corinthians 4:7-9).

That is our testimony, our story as believers in Christ Jesus. When we have Him we will always have that word, almost.

 

Just like Him by Marcia Lee Laycock

Smiley Barbeque

My eyes fluttered open to the sound of howling wind. More snow, I thought, and thought about slipping deeper under the covers. But I was awake so I headed to the kitchen to make my usual cup of coffee and start the day. I expected there would be another few inches of snow on our deck and the thought didn’t make me happy. Coffee in hand, I wandered to our back door. Yes, there was another thick layer of the white stuff, but there was something else that caught my eye. A smiley face, grinning at me. There, on the side of our barbeque’s cover was a perfect smiley, eyes and all.

It made me laugh out loud. And then tears came to my eyes. You see, I’d been feeling a little blue lately, a little “under the weather,” as they say. I’ve been chalking it up to the grey days we’ve been having lately, combined with the fact that I’ve had some health issues that haven’t been fun to deal with over the past while. I tried to talk myself out of the ‘funk’ by reminding myself of all that I have to be thankful for. That helped, but the grey mood still lingered. So I asked the Lord to lighten my spirits a little. He knew just how to do it.

As I stood there grinning back at our barbeque, I thought of all the other times He has done something similar. The time he made a tiny flower glow with the promise of hope in my living room as I lay on our couch aching from chemo treatments; the day he showed me a perfect rosebud that had just bloomed in a Papua New Guinea garden when I was struggling to walk after being hit by a debilitating virus; the day he showed me the delight in my three-year-old nephew’s eyes when he saw a cluster of blue irises for the first time; the morning my mom woke my brother and I so we could see the marmot that had taken up residence in a pile of logs beside our house. These were all ‘smiley’ moments – moments of delight sent by the hand of God. It’s  just like Him to know exactly what we need at exactly the perfect time.

We shouldn’t be surprised. The scripture tells us He delights in delighting us. “For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory” (Psalm 149:4).

The Scripture also says “because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam.3:22,23).

And “great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them” (Psalm 111:2).

Are you a bit “under the weather” these days? Ponder the works, the love, the faithfulness of our Lord. And don’t be afraid to ask him to lighten your spirit. It’s just like Him to find the perfect way to do it.

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flatecover(98) Marcia’s novella, An Unexpected Glory is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo

 

 

Missing Christmas 1600

Marcia’s short story, Missing Christmas is available on Amazon