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.

Attempt at Productivity - Step 1

These cookies are my undoing.I'm blaming hormonal changes at this point, but I realize this is too much information.

Pardon my digression.

I started out today fully intending to leave my home office--(where a thousand things are waiting to be done) and sit at my local coffee/sandwich place of choice to get some serious writing done.

After running 4 errands, I arrived, starved, ready to get busy. Only 2 more errands after this and I could check all those "to-do's" off today's list.

And you know God laughed.

Sigh.

I set myself into a corner table near an outlet to finish my devotion before the writing session. As I'm finishing up my reading from Proverbs, a young couple sit diagonally behind me. Fine. I can tune them out.

Then the conversation started in earnest and got louder. Apparently they are not going out; he is 17 with a 16 year old drama-queen girlfriend and she is 18 or 19, with a penchant for drinking every night. The conversation escalated to their individual sexual prowess.

I really don't want to listen to this.

At this point I was really glad I carry a pair of earplugs in my purse. Yes, really. They are invaluable when one is faced with a situation as described above, having to be a patient in a hospital, or finding oneself at a fireworks show--(my husband is a licensed pyro-technician, so this is not as much an isolated occurrence as one might think).

But I digress.

Earplugs installed, I concentrated on Mark 4 and the parable of the four soils. I use a life application NIV Bible, because I find the footnotes helpful. Verses 18 and 19 caught my eye.

"Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful." (Bold letters mine)

The footnote went deeper still. "The four soils represent four different ways people respond to God's message. Usually we think about four different kinds of people. But he may also have been talking about a) different times in a person's life or b) how we willingly receive God's message in some areas of our lives but resist it in others. For example, you may be open to God about your future, but be closed about how you spend your money. Or respond like good soil to God's demand for worship, but be rocky soil to his demand to give to people in need.

We need to be like good soil in every area of our lives."

A life packed with materialistic and carnal pursuits deafens us to God's Word.

I wish I could tell you I spoke to those young people and shared the gospel with them, but I didn't. I prayed they would be receptive to the person who would, whenever that time came. Here at Panera, at 4:30 PM wasn't the time.

Memphis - Part 5 (Conclusion/Graduation)

Sigh. Our Memphis trip is over; life is back to the somewhat normal of our routine. I've had nostalgic moments running through my mind. I'm not thinking, "where did the time go?" kinds of thoughts. When my son was small, I remember reading Erma Bombeck's quote about if she had life to do over, she would laugh more and scold less, say yes more than no, among other "Bombeck-isms" in her own unique style. I took these suggestions to heart.

I hope my son remembers the fun.

I hope he remembers the laughter.

I hope he remembers me praying for him.

I asked myself, why was I so worried about how he would turn out?

All through his later years of high school, he got himself up and out of the house, without my assistance.

He waited until he was 18 (not legal age of 16) to get his driver's license and immediately drove an hour to see his then-girlfriend --all on major highways.

He did all the applications and financial aid to change colleges after 1 semester at the local community college.

Two years later he did the same to attend a college more suited to his passion for music. He got an e-mail on Wednesday, stating his application and financial aid were approved. Move-in day was Saturday. He packed up his car and drove, sight unseen, from Pennsylvania to Tennessee, with a GPS and our blessing.

He graduated last month from that college, with honors.

Within the span of 10 days, he established residency in Tennessee, transferred his car, and got an apartment.

Really? I was worried about this kid?

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)

Thank You Jesus.

I'm So Tired of the Crap.

I've been the recipient of an awful lot of crap lately. The last few months have been instance after instance of bad manners, thoughtless gestures, health issues and a general feeling of I-say-what-goes-and-there-isn't a darn-thing-you-can-do-about-it.

You may have gleaned I don't do well in this environment.

I brought my concerns to the Lord. I know He has only good planned for me. (Romans 8:28)

I pleaded for Him to show me His wisdom and comfort through these trials. I got more trials.

I I held onto His promise that He would not forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6,7) Verse 8 says

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." [bold letters mine]

But I was discouraged.

I cried out to the LORD, about the unfairness, the injustice; the crap I've been handed.

He listened.

He forced me to look at my hand in the incidents; I wasn't getting off scot-free.

Some mistakes were mine; I had not had all the facts. But I am not responsible for the actions of others.

As far as it had depended on me, I had done the right things. And it was affirmed to me.

Matthew 5:37 (NIV) states it plain--

" Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No', 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

There will be friendships lost; those seasons are over. Feelings may be hurt.

That's too bad.

I want God's approval, not the world's or the enemy's.

And His grace is sufficient for me.

Friday...Finally!

It's been one of those weeks. I was flying high on the heels of a great long weekend of dynamic church services--and then the enemy struck. He was throwing disappointment and bad attitude around like it was candy at a Christmas parade. I almost succumbed to it, a few different times, until I remembered..

I remembered my anointing.

He has called me to make art, to write, for His Glory. He has blessed the work of my hands.

"I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it has taught you, remain in Him." 1 John 2:26-27 (NIV) (bold letters mine)

Get thee behind me satan. I'm not for sale.

Got Baggage?

Baggage. We are on day 5 of a 15 day vacation and I'm pretty well fed up with my baggage. In my haste to remember everything, I find myself needing to search through various nooks and crannies of each suitcase to find the needed item. Thank you technology--but so many WIRES! So much STUFF! I missed worshiping with my home church, but I went on the website and was able to catch last week's sermon--(I had been leading God-Tham City kids, our kid's church so I was pleased to find the sermon I missed.) If you would like to view the sermon, please visit KLFC.org .

The visiting Pastor, Dr. Bez, spoke on the fourth chapter of Jonah--"Jonah and the...(I won't give it away)", but my mind wandered a bit back to a day I had a "Jonah" experience--back in 1997. My mom was suffering with cancer and was about to start on the grueling chemo/radiation regimen that may or not save her life.

Now, please understand, I was an unruly teenager once upon a time (yes, I know it's hard to believe--but maybe not for some of you). The daughter my mother remembered was not a very nice person, but given mom's health concerns, this was the only possible alternative.

I, on the other hand, also remembered the rocky times--the difference was I had accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior since then and knew taking care of my mom was the right thing to do.

BUT--in remembering our past and our 'baggage', I copped a Jonah attitude. Why should I show her my Jesus? After the way she treated me? I'm the first to admit, I really didn't want to. I was a lot like Jonah with the Ninevites, deciding myself that they (mom) didn't deserve salvation...well, maybe they (she) did, but it wasn't gonna come from me!

God's pruning/growth spurts HURT!

Knowing the caretaker role I was embarking on, God started to show me my mother through His eyes, not the woman I remember, but a lost soul who needed saving, carrying her own baggage. I was suddenly able to see clearer and do for her as if I were doing all for Jesus, despite my own baggage (which I noticed was getting a little lighter each day.)

Like Jonah, I had to learn the tough lesson by being willing to accept and trust God for the outcome..

My willingness, plus seeing the relationship between my husband and I, helped to show Jesus to my mother. Four months before cancer took her life, she did accept Jesus Christ as her Savior. We still had our moments, and some unpacked luggage, but we both knew that peace that passes all understanding.....the kind that can only come from Jesus.

Prayer Sabbath - "I'm Still At It!"

We had an interesting sermon at church yesterday. Pastor Tammy reminded us that we are growing wiser; we seek revival and God is indeed moving in the hearts of His people. When we grow in the LORD, who else notices that growth? That's right. The enemy.

He is not concerned with the Christian stuck. When we are being stretched and growing in God's Grace and Holy Spirit fire; these are the times when the enemy shudders. These are the times when he does his darnest to get us off track, to get us to take our eyes off of God and the work He has for us to do, and focus on the landslide blocking our path.

The enemy doesn't give a second thought to us, once he has gotten us to look away from our goal.

The enemy of our souls will rape and beat us, and leave us broken and bleeding by the side of the road.

I've been there. I've heard him laughing as he walked away.

(The enemy would like you to think that's the end of the story.)

BUT!

Jesus is there to pick you up, apply balm to your wounds and help you back to your feet. As you turn to face Jesus, your eyes full of fear(will He be mad at me?)/hope(will He forgive me?)/regret(i'm sorry LORD)/wonder(Oh LORD...i have no words...)/(insert your emotion here)

You see His eyes are filled with love.

Only Love.

You search...yes, only Love--for you.

This is why I pray.

Do Not Be Troubled

I can't sleep. I recieved a telephone call about a young man who took his own life tonight. This led me to pray for my son, who is about the same age. A scripture kept coming to mind...

Do not let your heart be troubled...

Where was that from? I pulled out the 8-lb exhaustive concordance to look up the reference. No reading glasses. Looks like it's from John 14:1.

The New International Version has "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me."

The Living Bible has "Let not your heart be troubled. You are trusting God, now trust in me."

My Bible commentary has "After announcing Judas's betrayal (13:21), His own imminent depature (13:33) and Peter's denial (13:38), Jesus told His disciples not to be troubled, but to trust Him."

Ok Lord, I get it. I trust you with my son's life. Bad stuff happens and You tell me to trust You throughout it all. But I still don't feel like I can sleep...

And then I read The Message:

"Don't let this throw you. You trust God, don't you? Trust me."

Yes LORD. I do.

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.