A Legacy in Ruth Bell Graham

I recently spent some time at The Cove -- The Billy Graham Training Center -- in Asheville NC. While there, I got to deepen my appreciation for the woman behind Billy Graham, Ruth Bell Graham. I wish I had learned more about her before she went home to be with the LORD. Ruth seemed to embody a lot of the qualities I was seeking when my son was growing up. I would have liked to have known more about her, perhaps even written to her at some point. She appeared to have a handle on the day-to-day; I felt very much like I moved from one crisis to the next.

Part of that, I suppose, was the fact that I did not have Christ in my life until I was 28. In fact, my son led me to Christ when I was pregnant. The LORD had impressed upon me that I was indeed carrying a miracle; that He has plans for this child. The LORD's impression was so strong, in fact, that I immediately knew it was God, and He was serious. From that time on, my quest to know as much as I could about God took off like a rocket. My husband did not have any interest in a church--I had only the radio for my information. Late at night, a Christian radio station would come in clear, and I soaked up scripture like a sponge.

I had accepted Jesus (in words only) when I was 19 years old. It was a very matter-of-fact,"Yeah, so, what now?" attitude. I didn't think very much of it. But GOD didn't forget me. He took my decision seriously. (Even if I didn't.)

A divorce and a remarriage later, the LORD gently reminded me of my commitment and His words to me. God grew my husband and I in wisdom so we would be able to answer my son's questions, which came at a fast clip. Not having any godly family to look to for direction, I sought the Holy Spirit and a local church. God did not disappoint.

But I did wonder about the legacy I was leaving. I had those moments when I drove my son to exasperation. Those moments when I uttered hurtful words I can never take back. Sure, I'm better now, 20+years later, yet not near where I'd like to be. But what kind of memories did I create?

What legacy will I be leaving?

What will my son take away from his childhood?

Will he remember my joy in him? My delight in his antics?

I hope he remembers the laughter.

The Daniel Fast - Day 21 - The Final Day

Praise God from Whom ALL Blessings Flow! Today is day 21--the official 'last day' of the Daniel Fast. Technically, the fast ends at my church's covered dish meal after tomorrow's Sunday service. I'm not sure what I'll be eating at the dinner. We've gotten used to this list of foods and plan to introduce meat, cheese and eggs back in slowly so we don't upset our systems. It's been an interesting journey for me. God has shown Himself to me in different ways through this fast.

A stronghold has been broken; food doesn't have the same addicting attraction now as it did before. My tastes have changed. I can be satisfied with less and I'm craving different nourishment. God's Holy Spirit has been wooing me for almost a year with this scripture:

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)

I've read it, had it spoken to me, meditated on it, focused on it, and published an article on it.

God has indeed transformed my mind about how I look at food. Even food shopping today, buying the items I'll be preparing tomorrow morning for the dinner, I didn't slip into my old habits of picking up the same sweet treats. Oh, I looked at them. But I walked by without stopping. I even went the other way to avoid the donut case and the chocolate croissant bin.

A renewed mind. A different view of food. Changed perspective.

He has transformed my view of Him too.

Did you ever meet someone and just knew this person was somebody that you will delight in knowing? That you will be friends immediately? And after you met them, and talked a little, you were delighted to find you were right and they turned out to be even a more excellent friend than you thought possible? And the more you talked and shared, the more you wanted to continue doing just that? And then you feel like this person really understands you; they get you and words are not so important but the closeness is?

Yeah. Like that.

But more.

A renewed mind.

The Daniel Fast-Day 20

Today was a wonderful day. But by my former standards, it was lacking. You see, I like to feel productive. As an artist and writer, I always have a running to-do list. I have art projects in various stages of completion, things I can work on for anywhere from 15 minutes to 5 hours. My laptop is always at the ready, waiting for the next stray idea to be caught, fussed over and whittled into a coherent article. I've always needed to be able to check things off a list, then look back to view my accomplishments--a record of my productivity. However, today took a different twist. Today I had the opportunity to cruise along; go with the flow as it were. His flow, that is. God put people into my path today that needed to talk. And I got to share God's Word and apply it to real life experiences. Today I got to come along side and be in the trenches. My Bible study consisted of people, not words.

And I was reminded, yet again, that my daily plans are not always in God's daily plan. He needed me to speak to people today for Him. Oh, there wasn't anything wrong with my plans--they are still needing to be done. It's ok with me when God rearranges my priorities. But I've stopped feeling disappointed when I don't get to check things off my list.

Besides, God got to check some things off of His list.

The Daniel Fast - Day 19

In reading over some older journals, I kept running across the phrase from Romans 12:1,2:

"...offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world..."

The world, if television commercials are any indication, says we must buy the bigger "extra-value" meal, buy the 48 oz. Super Gulp drink, eat at the "endless buffets" and even buy the cheap, filling $5 box of assorted tacos.

Eating the foods on the Daniel Fast has given me a new perspective on the meaning of these Scriptures. I truly am able to offer my body as a living sacrifice to God. This is a new concept to me. I have always been of the group that ate until they were satified, (versus eating until I was stuffed,) then asked God to bless my self-control. I would stop at the local fast food store and feel good about not supersizing my choices. My thinking was skewed.

I see now, God wants me to check with Him first. In doing things this way, I am able to discern if I am at all truly hungry at all. More and more often, the answer has been, "No My child. Come sit here with Me."

What a joy fills my soul in this new-found direction of fellowship with God!

The Daniel Fast - Day 18

I've had alot of people in my life needing prayer today. Between surgeries, stresses, and dear ones the LORD has brought to mind, it's been a busy day for my arthritic knees. As a prayer warrior, I am used to being called upon to pray. I count it a privilege--I don't have to pray; I get to pray. But it wasn't always so... Back when I first became a Christian, I asked the LORD what He wanted me to do for Him. In my own reasoning, I came up with the two things I felt most qualified to do at the time--cook and pray. Whenever someone needed a meal, I was one of the first ones called. I was also in charge of the 'nurture commitee'. I was the one who called the shut-ins on a weekly basis to let them know they were not forgotten. During my calls, I sometimes heard of prayer requests for family members, which turned into impromptu prayer chains. I remember some days when my telephone time turned into a very long day.

I would sometimes start to resent having to make these calls and having to sit and listen to these people go on and on about their children and grandchildren. It took Jesus making Matthew 11:28-30 come alive for me to remember why I was doing this:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (emphasis mine)

I was to learn directly from Jesus.

He is the reason I pray with and for others.

It is with joy I got to pray for my friends today.

The Daniel Fast - Day 17

I spoke to a friend today about the Daniel Fast. He couldn't understand how I could choose to give up the foods that are not 'allowed'. I started to explain that it wasn't for forever, it's only for 21 days, but I had to add that I felt very well and may continue the fast after the appointed time! He was shocked, and we parted, him still shaking his head.I later went food shopping. As I walked up and down the aisles, I looked at all the food items I used to buy. I felt a familiar tug, but it was a very tiny tug. I did not feel compelled to buy any of it for 'after'--even the things I used to buy because I had to have it.

Many of my favorites, ice cream, pizza, waffles, bagels and the deli section (I'm big on cheese) no longer seem to hold as much appeal. I wavered a bit around the steaks but found it easy to walk away without putting any of it in my cart.

I started to think about grace. His grace. That wonderful grace that passes all understanding. His grace truly is sufficient for whatever I'm going through.

And that's enough for me.

The Daniel Fast - Day 16

The peace continues!Today's post comes directly out of my reading in "Come Away My Beloved" by Frances J. Roberts

A More Glorious Way

You have read that "the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Corinthians 3:6). I have a deeper revelation of this truth to give you if you can recieve it. For the Spirit operates in a different realm than the Word. The Word deals with you on the plane of your everyday living. It governs your conduct in daily affairs...

But in the Spirit, there is a life awaiting that would draw you out beyond the confines of the natural world. The Spirit of God operates in the realm of the supernatural and the infinite.

Do not hold back in wonder and disbelief. Accept My life in the Spirit as it is. Do not require Me to operate within the limitations of your life. I am calling you to give My Spirit within you the liberty to move out into the dimensions of the infinite.

Breathtaking? Perhaps. But how could you expect anything less of Me? Push open the door. In the dazzling light of My presence you will see much that is now obscure to you because you have chosen to walk in the darkness. I have better things for you--things in keeping with Myself. You have not truly known Me. You have been hindered in your comprehension by what you have read and been taught. There is very little more concerning Me that you can learn from human sources. You can know Me in the Spirit only when you go deeper in your worship. I am not found in textbooks but in sanctuaries...Only the heart that is melted in devotion is pliable in My hand. Only the mind that is open to the Spirit can recieve revelation.

Labor not to be wise but to be yielded, and in your attitude of submission to My Spirit I will instruct you in My truth. There will be death and there will be a glorious resurrection. The letter will convict of sin and prune away the old fallen nature, and the Spirit will bring forth within you a life that will never die. It will have faculties of perception not to be compared with the physical senses...It shall increase and develop as you move on into God, and you will...discover a more glorious way.

This passage best describes the difference the Daniel Fast has made in me up until now, but the possibilities are endless. It's a deeper, more honest relationship between my Savior and I. Words do not do it justice; it simply is MORE. Waiting...to see what's next.

The Daniel Fast - Day 15

God continues to be present. I mean, I know He's everywhere, but this is a little different. I feel as if I am in the company of royalty; almost like there's a celebrity in the room. There's an underlying thread of joy to every minute, like I can't wait to see what's next. God is getting me ready for something. There's an expectancy in the air. It's not a sense of urgency, or something being rushed. But it's a waiting to see how God will move; what He will bring to pass.

In the meantime, while I wait, I will hold on to these trustworthy sayings:

1 Timothy 1:15--"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst."

This is a basic truth. I am totally living in God's Grace.

1 Timothy 3:1--"Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task."

Whatever You have for me to do LORD-- leader, speaker, writer; however you want me to witness-- I will do it.

1 Timothy 4:7-9--"Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance"

These scriptures are from Pastor Tony Adamo's message today. They go right along with this feeling of expectancy I've had, that's building from the Daniel Fast.

Waiting to see the testimony from the test.

The Daniel Fast - Day 14 - The Epiphany

I had a sort of epiphany today. I realized that, for the first time in perhaps my whole life, food is not the main focus of my day. I hadn't even been aware that food was such a huge part of every experience I remember. Growing up, we even described our vacations and other significant moments in our lives by what we had to eat.

Food has played such a large part in my life that this realization is totally new ground for me. Food was used to show love when I was a child. Grandma's house was always stocked full of ice cream, jello and cheesecake. I was often given cookies or brownies to make me leave the room so the adults could talk without interruptions. I remember countless times of being given a grilled cheese sandwich when I came in from playing, crying, because my big brother had picked on me, yet again. Even a skinned knee warranted cookies. I can remember looking for sweets when my father was drunk again at every holiday meal. I stopped wondering why there were no family celebrations at our house, learning early that my dad was a mean drunk. But I would always eat, the richer the food, the better to 'satisfy' that need for comfort.

My family did not know the saving Grace of Jesus Christ. I never heard the idea of going to Him instead of looking to food to comfort me. I did not know His Peace, that passes all understanding.

In the last 2 weeks, God has gently been showing me that He is indeed enough--His Grace is indeed sufficient--for ANY moment in my life. As 2 Corinthians 12:9,10 (NIV) states: "but he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

This scripture has never been so alive for me as it has before today.

Oh thank You LORD, for Your unfailing faithfulness!

The Daniel Fast - Day 13

"Thy Will be done." These words were on my lips last night as I drifted off to sleep. I had that calm assurance, that peace, that only comes from fully trusting Jesus. I spent the day (yesterday) praying and fasting for a family member. Today, I recieved a telephone call, telling me an alternative project was found and is a feasible replacement for the original matter. I know the details aren't clear, but that's ok. The family member knows, and God knows, and that is enough.

You see, I had prayed and fasted for clarity in the situation.

I suppose I could have prayed for God to fix the whole situation; to provide the people and resources needed to make the requested reality appear. But that would contradict "Thy Will be done". This person needed clarity to truly see the situation as it was and take the next step needed, even if that step was to put the project on the back burner for now.

The LORD gave me the wisdom to know how to best pray over this. Fasting while praying does not change God's hearing, but it does change the way we pray. I know my faith is deepening, my trust is growing and my heart is full.

Even if I had not recieved a telephone call today, I would still be resting in His strength, content in His peace; trusting that He had indeed heard my prayer and is working those behind-the-scenes details out.

Yes. Thy Will be done.

The Daniel Fast-Day 12

I woke up early with renewed energy today. I felt led to fast totally for a family member today. I had been in prayer over this person, and felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to trust God completely. I wanted to be sure I was praying within God's will; that it wasn't just something I wanted. My prayer began to shift a little, that this person would be brought into alignment within God's desire for their life.

As the day progressed, I felt His peace. Later still, I was truly able to say, "Thy Will be done."

I believed it. Totally.

God affirmed it for me in my Bible reading. (He knows I need that.)

Psalm 147:11 in my NIV Life Application Bible states:

"...the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love."

The footnote for this verse reads, "It is our fear (reverence) and trust that God desires." My commentary reads, "To fear God is to be properly responsive to Him in awe and wonder."

I was able to complete my fast today, knowing that God is in control. He has already taken care of all my concerns and will continue to do so. I can breathe out that prayer, "Thy Will be done" and know it will be ok.

Such blessed peace. Only with Jesus.

The Daniel Fast -Day11

Today was a very peaceful day. I was not stressing about anything; I felt close fellowship with God all day.I also got to spent more time on art projects, doing little touch-up work.

Psalm 147:11 states,"the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love."

I certainly enjoyed this day, spending time in His presence. I wasn't reading my Bible or deep in prayer; I was simply being with my LORD.

I came away from this day feeling totally refreshed. I had no problem with cravings for food I chose to fast from during the Daniel Fast.

Peace. His Peace. That peace that passes all understanding.

I lift my hands in thanksgiving for His continued affirmation, as my faith deepens.

He hears me, and I am so grateful.

The Daniel Fast - Day 10

Today was a turning point for me. I had the wonderful opportunity to spend time with a friend visiting family in a nearby state. Linda lives in California and was my roommate at my first writer's conference. We got to spend time together, doing an art project. We were originally going to meet for lunch, but knowing I would be tempted to eat food that was not on the list, I made a pot of chili. Unbeknownst to me, Linda loves chili, so we got to spend more time working on our art project. Here is the interesting part--when I started this fast, it began as a means to strengthen prayer and a humility before God. I was seeking to grow my faith and seek more of Him. As we caught up and played with clay, I had an outpouring of peace. My fasting became a worship time, where I was able to be fully aware of His presence and His love for me.

My stomach was no longer the focus; the foods I could not have were no longer important.

Sweet fellowship and the peace that passes all understanding filled me.

What a MIGHTY GOD we serve!

The Daniel Fast - Day 9

I've been dwelling on what I've learned from the Daniel Fast so far. God showed me that I wasn't giving Him all of me. I wasn't keeping some secret sin hidden; no, I wasn't believing He would, or could, do all that He says He would do. I was settling for crumbs instead of whole pieces. Sandra Aldrich told a story where a couple prayed over what they needed for their meal. They prayed for chopped meat when they could have had steak!

Enough talk about foods that are not on the Daniel Fast list! I can have those things in 2 weeks!

The Lord has reminded me of practical things. I love when He does this, because I understand and operate in the practical often. In my reading of Genesis 41, Joseph planned for the coming famine in the land. Planning is a responsibility, not an option. God expects us to do the practical, our part.

In my reading of Psalm 146, God instructs me to (vs3) not put my trust in men, who fail. I am to seek God who does not fail. This will deepen my faith- the very thing I am yearning to do. (Seek=Faith A practical step)

In Proverbs 11, I am instructed to speak life, not carelessly use words that will hurt or destroy. Practical steps.

In Matthew 9, starting at verse 2, we learn that God is not only concerned with physical healing. Physical healing must take a back seat to spiritual healing. Spiritual sickness is more serious than physical illness. Through verse 6, we read that we can say we love God or others, but if we are not taking practical steps to demonstrate that love, our words are empty and meaningless.

If you and I are willing, God will do whatever He has to prepare us to be best used by Him for His purpose.

Be prepared for God to use you to show another person the way to Him.

The Daniel Fast-Day 8

OK. Yesterday was a tough day. My husband was my best encourager though. He kept telling me, over and over, to stick it out; the seventh day is like a test; you can do this. And I did. Although, eating plain shredded mini-wheats is NO substitution for a juicy steak, the crunch did allow some aggression to be dispersed. I woke up this morning without the strong craving for meat, but very tired. I recognised this as an attack of the enemy. He couldn't get me to break my fast yesterday, so he'll try to get me to stay home and sleep instead of attending church. NOT WORKING satan!

You can't curse what God has blessed!

I knew there would be something I needed to hear in today's sermon. 2Timothy 1:7 -- "For God did not give us a Spirit of timidity(fear) but a Spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (sound mind)"

Being consumed by the fear, the doubt, the darkness is not healthy.

Galatians 5:22 -- Fixate your mind, your gaze on God- the fruit will come from your 'tree' (mind). (My translation) Want to see the fruit of the Spirit in yourself? The tree is identified by the fruit it produces. Fruit grows from a seed; the tree produces seeds.

Look at your fruit.

Surround yourself with godly people to recieve from. Be careful what you're meditating on; it will affect your fruit.

2Timothy 4:5 -- Keep a clear mind in every situation- don't be afraid to suffer for the LORD- work at telling others the Good News and fully carry out the ministry GOD has given you. (My translation)

Affirmation.

My ministry. Using sculpture to show biblical truth. Using object lessons to get His point across to all ages. Using the artistic talent You have given me to point others to You.

My eyes are being opened LORD, I'm getting it.

Thank You for showing me.

The Daniel Fast - Day 7

It's Day 7 of the Daniel Fast, and I've got to tell you, I'm missing meat. Any Mickey D's commercial, driving past Texas Road House Steakhouse (where the aroma of beef fills the air...even when I'm in the car!) is giving my resolution to stay on this fast a real run for its money. Thankfully, I know where to turn for the power to keep on with this fast. It was God's idea in the first place so I return to Him with each hunger pain. God is pleased to hear His people pray. He is also pleased to hear when His people choose to strengthen their prayers in a way He has ordained. In Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney,

The most important aspect of this discipline is its influence on prayer. You'll notice that in one way or another, all the biblical purposes of fasting relate to prayer....The Bible does not teach that fasting is a kind of spiritual hunger strike that compells God to do our bidding.....Fasting does not ensure the certainty of recieving clear guidance from God. Rightly practiced, however, it does make us more receptive to the One who loves to guide us.

For me, today, I'm seeing this day of fasting as I see other days I've fasted. I've done 1 day total fasts, taking in only water, as a way of overcoming temptation and of freshly dedicating myself to God. I have found my sugar addiction to be just as powerful, if not more so, than a cigarette addiction. I quit smoking on August 28, 1989 for the last time, so I have knowledge of this feeling.

Just as God still keeps me from cigarettes, He will come minister to me through these weaker moments.

He knows my heart.

The Daniel Fast-Day6

I was asked an interesting question tonight. What defeats me in my quest to be fruitful for the LORD?

I didn't have to dwell on this for long; the Lord had already spoken to me about this very subject in my reading yesterday.

In Matthew 8:3, "Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. Be clean! Immediately he was cured of his leprosy."

It's a promise. Jesus keeps His promises. He IS willing to do what we ask.

What's holding me back? What people will think? My pride? Doubt? My false sense of 'not enough time'? My self-sufficiency? Am I afraid of failure? Of success? My feelings of inadequacy? I suspect a bit of any and all of these excuses.

Jesus does not hesitate to demand complete loyalty -- nothing should be placed above a total commitment to living for Him.

As I continue this Daniel Fast, I pray the LORD will continue to reveal more of Himself to me.

He loves me so very much!

The Daniel Fast - Day 5

As much as yesterday's devotions dealt with rest, today's inbox messages and my personal devotions seemed to have the same thread of TRUST. God has been revealing Himself, little by little, to me--showing me He CAN be trusted. Let me explain a little further... As I read more and apply God's standard to my way of living, it becomes increasingly clear that I am not trusting Him as much as He is asking. I seem to settle for His good gifts--and that's great--but not enough.

Yesterday's reading included Matthew 7:7-12. In my paraphrase, I have not asked, sought or knocked; I've waited to see what God has provided and I go from there. I have been content with what He has given me, but I have not sought more. I seem to be ok with the extraordinary things God has provided, but I don't have His WOW.

Oh Father forgive me. I've been making do with a little, and You have honored me in that.

But You have so much more for me.

The affirmation of that came in the mail today. I recieved a beautiful poem from a fellow author and I cannot describe the feeling I had as I read it; I could hear God's voice, not condemning me, but gently taking me to a deeper faith. I felt His Presence as I thanked Him for His forgiveness after I confessed my sin and repented of my holding back, my not giving Him 100%.

Keep me hungry for more of You LORD.

The Daniel Fast - Day 4

Yesterday, my inbox was blessed with devotions about resting. I found this a bit odd, as I am beating myself up over resting too much instead of getting things done. I discovered today, yet again, that GOD--

a) Knows me better than I know myself, and b) Knows what's coming in the day ahead.

I was unable to fall asleep last night. I stayed up, reading, writing a bit, doing those little things that always seem to end up on my 'to-do' list, no matter how many 'to-do' lists I make. It was 4:20 AM when I finally lay down in bed, tired enough to drift off to sleep. I awoke briefly when my husband got up, but fell back asleep, thinking, "this must be the rest I needed". Usually, when I go to bed late (or early!) I end up sleeping until noonish. I then berate myself, feeling I wasted another day being unproductive. And on the cycle goes.

But I noticed something different today. All those little things I wanted to get done, like sending out a note to a friend God had placed on my heart, or sending a book to a friend, got done. Those were the things I was finally able to get off of my 'to-do' list and place on the 'to-done!' list.

I didn't have that nagging voice in the back of my mind today either.

Could it be that I did today exactly what God had planned for me to do?

The Daniel Fast-Day 3

Today started out kind of strange. I recieve various blog posts and devotions in my inbox and today I read 3 separate ones referring to REST. Now I am all for not overdoing it, as I seem to not bounce back as well as I used to when I was younger, but I've been battling with being borderline LAZY these last few days! My first thought, when I read these posts was, "if I 'rest' any more, I'll be asleep!" Then I looked a bit deeper. Rest certainly has its place in our lives; we need to balance between work and play. But I saw something different pertaining to me. I have a tendency to be complacent and not push myself to write or work on art projects as often or for as long a period of time as I could. Throw in a headache and/or some back or knee pain and I could very well waste a whole day doing nothing.

This complacency has spilled over into my relationship with God. While I believe His Word and His promises, I admit I am not giving Him 100%.

I'll willing to settle for the good He has for me instead of the extraordinary He's willing to give me.

I want His WOW!

GOD can do more than I could ever imagine -- I don't want to settle for good enough.