Friday, October 20, 2017

A Halloween Haunting



The latest in my small town moving adventures has me in a suburb of Pittsburgh rich with village charm and grand estates. Early 1900's Victorians and 1890's Colonials abound on shaded streets lined with lush landscapes. Every neighborhood block in this little town is a feast for the eyes. At every turn there is a new reason to "ohh" and "awe." From impressive hand-laid stone walls to the unique woodworking framing stately front doors, each home displays the skills of a fine craftsman and decades of a homeowner's tender love and care.
With autumn's arrival I anticipated the beauty of the landscape transformed by the changing colors. I imagined the homes draped in gorgeous shades of orange, yellow and red. But when October came a very different kind of gore transformed this quaint village town: Halloween gore.
As it turns out, this town just so happens to love all things that scream All Hallows Eve, especially scary, gory scenes replete with open graves, fake blood, flying witches and vampires. Nearly every street has a few gigantic spiders hanging from homeowner's trees and windows are decked out with orange and black lights illuminating spooky scenes.There are so many tomb stones in garden beds it's a wonder there are any living residents left. In preparation for Halloween night the homes and landscapes I've admired have been transformed into frightful sites designed to scare and terrify.
The displays of death and darkness have draped an eerie pall over my daily neighborhood walks. Even though I know that the blood is just paint on a bed sheet, the gory scenes still disquiet my soul. The plastic tombs and empty graves taunt me and haunt me with the one death that still causes me to fear: the death of my own will.
The death of my will petrifies me. I am haunted by the very site of the tomb stone inscribed with my dreams and desires. With white knuckles, I've been holding on for dear life to my will that yearns to be made well and whole. Even while my body has been wasting away, my spirit has been afraid to surrender its own self-imposed will, lay down and die.
But this will of mine to be made physically healthy and well is failing fast. My way to be healed has been gasping for its last breath and not even life support can save it now. My spiritual lungs are giving out. I simply cannot run in fear any longer.
In the cemetery that is my will's final resting place there is a grave marked out bearing my name and Christ bids me to come lay down in it and die. In a place called Golgotha, Jesus invites me to surrender to the tomb of my will and ways.
Laid to rest in Christ's lush bed of redemption and grace I am covered with the peace of God's eternal providence. Hidden with Christ, I am freed from the haunting of the grave. By uniting with my Savior in His death I am risen again to eternal life in the center of God's everlasting will.
Death where is your victory?
Death where is your sting? 
Because Jesus is alive death has been made powerless. The empty tomb of the risen Lord has defeated death once and for all in order that I may live eternally unafraid in the peaceful presence of the everlasting King.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Wolly Worm




Every autumn, like clockwork, a furry creature returns to the earth. His name is the wolly worm.
While cold weather warriors prepare their wardrobes with sweaters and their feet with warm socks, earth’s crawling caterpillar puts on his own fuzzy coat of own. While the fur covered caterpillar prepares for the brutality of winter he enjoys all kinds of attention. Children make a game of catching him and farmers inspect his stripes for winter weather forecasts.
Then the seasons change and fall is replaced by a winter's frost and freezing temperatures. And, as suddenly as he arrived, the wolly caterpillar disappears from sight. He is no where to be found in the snow and ice. To survive the winter weather in his furry coat the wolly caterpillar goes into hiding. He escapes from the face of the earth to seek protection in the sanctuary of a log or a rock. He may even find refuge in a hollowed out tree stump. For many months and through many storms, the wolly worm hunkers down in his fuzzy cocoon and hangs on for dear life.
And then spring returns. The freeze breaks and so does the cocoon of the wolly caterpillar. As the season changes once again the caterpillar is released from the burden of his heavy winter coat, free to explore the earth. During the winter his furry stripes and fuzzy design has been transformed, exchanged for delicate wings that open wide in dazzling color. 
From nature’s bunker the lowly wolly worm emerges a beauty to behold. In winged exaltation he takes to the earth to announce the glorious arrival of spring. 

And so it shall be with me.

I am fragile, weak and small. I am no match for life's bleak winters. But I have an enduring, eternal hope for my survival when I cling to the rock of my salvation. 

To linger outside the protective will and providence of God I perish. Apart from the sanctuary of His presence I am crushed by hopelessness and despair. It is only by seeking the shelter of God's mighty hand that I am sustained and preserved till spring. 
When I rest in Christ and cling to the promise of His eternal life, I can survive the harshest seasons and the most brutal of storms. Even when the winds rage and beat against my bunker; even when the land is desolate and cold, I will endure by the blood of the Lamb. 
Then one day the deep freeze will break and the earth will thaw. The storms will cease and spring will come. Then, just like the wolly caterpillar, I will be set free. From my hiding place, my sanctuary, I will soar on the wings of new life. Transformed and renewed I will be set free to exalt and praise the glory of my God and my salvation, now and forevermore. 

As God's precious child, treasured and dearly loved, I have the promise and assurance that in every season and storm my Lord will cover me in the warmth of His mercy and grace to one day live in the glory of His eternal spring.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Small Town Living

I'm on the move (again) and this time I've landed in a small borough outside of Pittsburgh with village charm straight out of a Gilmore Girls episode. Welcome to the real Stars Hollow.
This adorable small town has a vibrant and active community with a lively events calendar. There is an annual dog parade and light up night festivities at Christmas time. In the town's center square the gazebo is decorated at every season with flags at the fourth and foliage in the fall. Pumpkins began filling the park in October and I'm told the horse drawn carriage will arrive in December. Every day, at the top of every hour, the bells of the local church ring like clock work and for every fire emergency, the fire department's siren roars, alerting the local volunteers.
And my new place is right in the heart of this made for TV village in an1890's barn turned apartments features historic charm and unbeatable convenience. I exit my front door and immediately I am greeted by the the hustle and bustle of small town life. My new home sweet home is a staggering seventeen steps from the grocery store (the local Doose's for you GG fans) and a twenty second walk from the best cup of coffee in town. This new housing arrangement comes with caffeinated perks.
But small town village living also comes with its share of quirks. Namely, its noisy quirks. Before the crack of dawn I hear the market workers arrive to ready the grocery store shelves for an eight o'clock open. All day long customers stream in and out of the parking lot pushing squeaky wheeled shopping carts across the cracked concrete. In the evenings my lively neighbors take to their porches and engage in spirited conversation. During the day light hours I can hear them above me walking on creaky wooden floor boards.

The first few days and nights of this non-stop activity and noise sent my nerves into a tizzy. The disruption to my quiet life was downright disquieting. I couldn't find my rest in the constant commotion. I could slip into stillness or sleep.
As I lay in bed one night, stirred by a sudden sound outside my window, God, my faithful Comforter, swept into my room to still my anxious heart. In the dark of night the very Spirit of God descended like a dove, wrapping me in His arms of peace and tranquility. With a work of holy transformation, He rearranged the sounds of chaos outside my window and rewrote them into calm serenades to comfort my soul. 

When I rose from my bed the following morning the busy village scene was unchanged but to my ear every noise was transformed.
Now, in the chattering voices, rumbling cars and squeaky carts I hear the activity God. At the sound of pitter-patter upstairs I hear God at work high and above my life orchestrating every detail in accordance with His flawless design. At the sound of the garbage man I am reminded that Jesus is constantly cleansing and purifying me with the sweetness of His new life.
In my new home, surrounded by the lively hustle and bustle of small town life, God is using the noise to make sure I never forget that He is always faithfully going about His Holy activity to bring about His good, glorious and eternal will for my life.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

(AB)NORMAL


What is normal?
I used to think I knew but then my normal got turned upside down. So, for the past seven years, I've been adjusting and adapting to an "abnormal" life but, once again, my "normal" is shifting. As of late, a new normal has taken over my daily routine and, I'll admit, it's taken some getting used to.

For seven long years I have been wrapped up in the abnormal world of a health saga. With the exception of a few months of relief along the way, most of my twenties have been spent under a cloud of mysterious illness. Even when the symptoms have waned, the inexplicable nature of their comings and goings has haunted me.
As "abnormal" as this life has been, my strange existence has actually become quite "normal" to me. Over time I've come to raise fewer questions and doubts about my limitations. I've even learned to be comfortable in the quiet life.
From my "abnormal" life I've fantasized from afar about what a life returned to full health would look like in reality. In my imagination I had visions and they were always glorious. In my mind's eye I would see myself running full of strength and vigor. I imagined community and friendships. I created a "normal" of physical restoration where my body would be whole and healthy with a full life to match.
But my vision of normal never included the trials and tribulations of making such a dramatic change from the "abnormal." I pictured a flawless and smooth transition from a life of sickness to one of health. Just call me Pollyanna, because I never foresaw a single bump in the road nor challenge along the shifting sands of normalcy. I simply assumed it would be a journey of pure bliss and, dare I say, ease.
But we all know what happens when we assume...we end up looking very foolish and, in my case, very wrong.

As my "normal" has been changing so has my fairy tale vision. My every miraculous healing assumption has been shattered on the long road to physical restoration. Instead of a smooth and steady uphill climb I predicted, healing has been a rocky ascent. Every time I think I am about to reach a peak, or at least tread on friendly terrain, a mountain ridge comes into view and I am reminded that my journey is far from over.
Even the transition into the new normal of friendships and community has proven to be far more treacherous a mountain to scale than I ever anticipated.

As it turns out, my highly-anticipated "normal," and the journey to get there, looks much different in reality than it did in my creative, and flawed, imagination.

While I've been busy envisioning the dream of what a new normal might be I missed the beauty of the "abnormal" life God's given to me. This life that I so long fought against has not been a curse. The quiet life has not been some form of brutal silent torture. Frailty has not been a weakness. Stillness has not been a death sentence.
"Abnormal" has been God's blessed gift wrapped up especially for me.

Now, as my body changes and my health grows stronger the "normal" of my daily routine will most likely change too. But it won't change according to my vision. It will change according to God's will and in His perfect time.
With the author of my life rewriting my "normal" I am free from the need to imagine what a different reality will look like because even in my wildest dreams I could never imagine the amazing future God has planned. I need not know or even see a glimpse of my body's physical restoration or the relationships He has awaiting me because I can rest in faith that it is all safe and secure in His hands.
Because God is faithful to His promises and true to His Word, I am assured that no matter what new "normal" He brings it will be gloriously, eternally good.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A prayer to His Beloved Son

There once were three men - Peter, James and John - who followed Jesus up a mountain called Transfiguration. At the top of that high hill the three ordinary men were made witness to a most magnificent, Heavenly sight of God's infinite and eternal glory.
Before their very eyes, the world was transformed by the everlasting Son of God. Radiant light enthroned Him and garments of majesty and honor enrobed Him. Then, with heavenly guests in attendance, God made His eternal proclamation:  
This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.
And just as suddenly as the vision appeared, it disappeared into the clouds. The men opened their eyes and saw their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, standing before them;  
the very object of the voice's vision. 
Coming back down the mountain, the men continued following Jesus. It was on the way down the mountain that He instructed Peter, James and John not to tell a single soul of the remarkable vision they had witnessed. They were told to keep it to themselves...
until the object of the vision be lifted up.
Once off of the mountain, back down on level ground, the three men heeded the instruction of their Lord. Although they could not yet comprehend the meaning of His timing or understand the reason for His command, they trusted and obeyed so that not one word of the vision was spoken. Peter, James and John put their faith in what they could not see.
They waited for God and His perfect timing.

Oh, Lord, may that obedient faith be true of me, also. When instructed to keep quiet I pray I do not question your ways. When you whisper, "stay silent," may my lips stay securely fastened. May I trust your voice when you say, "shh!" and have faith when you command me, "do not speak just yet." 
My Lord and God, I pray that I stay surrendered in humbled obedience to your every instruction. May I rest assured that your timing is always perfect and and your ways are always best. 
And may I have faith that when the moment is just right You, the Almighty God, will reveal Your holy visions bringing eternal glory and everlasting honor to your Beloved Son.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Overdraft Protection

 

Savings overdraft protection is a wonderful thing. It is essentially a banking "Get Out of Jail Free" card for checkbook accounting errors. The savings overdraft protection feature pairs a savings account a with a checking accounts so, in the event that the checking account should be overdrawn, it can get its money from the savings account without paying a penalty. Genius! 
I love this idea and have enjoyed its benefits on more than one overdraft occasion. Plus, overdraft protection provides me with peace of mind. I need not fear a of a hefty overdraft fee should I calculate my checkbook in error. Thanks to the concept of overdraft protection I've even been encouraged to save more and spend less.
There is, however, one critical catch with savings account overdraft protection. The checking account in distress must be paired to the right savings account, one that is active and has sufficient funds. Overdraft protection is only as useful as the account it's attached to.
In my case, on this particular overdraft occasion, my overdraft protection didn't do me much good as it turns out it wasn't paired to an active and filled savings account. When I over-drafted, a plea for help was sent out to my retired (and drained) savings account. My active (and well stocked) savings account never received the SOS for financial help and therefore it didn't provide me a cent's worth of protection.
After being assessed a hefty fee I made a trip to the bank where a kind teller set my account right. She graciously removed the overdraft charge and credited my account. Then she re-paired my active accounts to ensure my future protection.

You see, what that teller did for me was just a sliver of a glimmer of the grace of Jesus Christ who offers my soul eternal protection and salvation by uniting with His perfect account. It is by the blood of the Lamb that I am freed from every fee and charge. I am free from the condemnation of sin. I am free from the worry of overdrafting into eternal doom. Because Jesus has paired His perfect account to my sin, I am forgiven and free.
I wonder, dear Friends, have you paired your sin to Christ's perfect account? Have you made Him your soul's protection and signed up to enjoy His saving grace? Have you put your trust and belief in His all-sufficient funds? With Jesus Christ as your soul's eternal protection you will never need to fear the penalty of sin. United with Him in His death and raised with Him to new life, a new account with eternal security will provide you peace and security.

In His death and resurrection Jesus made His life the propitiation for our sins and the protection for our souls. He cleansed us of every fee and debt we could never pay and He continues to provide us with the all-sufficient funds of His grace that save us for now and eternity. 
So what are you waiting for? Bring your account to the foot His cross and take refuge in the eternal protection of God's saving grace.


Friday, September 22, 2017

OVERSIZE LOAD

The morning commute up the steep hill in the Pittsburgh hills was slow and tedious. It was well past rush hour so, being impatient, I wondered why the hold up? Around the next curvy bend in the road my question was answered in the bright yellow OVERSIZE LOAD sign flapping in the wind.
As I approached the back of a massive semi I understood why the truck was moving so slowly. It was carrying a gigantic load of precious cargo: a ranch style home with blue shutters and a white front porch. All that the house was missing were rocking chairs and the smiling home owners. The convoy of pilot vehicles all bearing orange flags and flashing blinkers were a sure give away that a major delivery production was underway.
On the steep and winding highway fellow drivers hesitantly passed the slow-going oversize parade. Each car hugged the inside line as best they could in an attempt to avoid a collision with the home's front porch. When it was my turn to pass I did the same, holding my breath as I whizzed past the precarious load. 
As I made my way past the semi's cabin I looked up to see a man seated behind the big-rig's steering wheel with eyes faithfully fixated on the road ahead. On his face he wore a look of determination and dedication to safely deliver his precious oversize load no matter how long and tedious the journey.
A moment later the semi driver and his load were in my rear view mirror. The caravan faded out of sight but Jesus kept it in my mind..."Do you trust that I can deliver your OVERSIZE load?"  In the oversize load Jesus lovingly reminded me that He has all the power and will to deliver me and my life's oversize loads.
With His spotless driving record and flawless steering, Christ is the only one capable of safely delivering my heavy burdens and carrying my most cumbersome loads. There is no OVERSIZE LOAD on earth too great for the Lord. He willingly and graciously climbs into the cabin of my life and ensures a safe arrival for all of my burdens, sorrows and pains. He treats each one as His most precious cargo.
As God takes my burdens along the journey of life's highway He employs all the forces of His will to guarantee a safe arrival. He will orchestrate a caravan of pilot cars, flashing lights and waving flags to secure His cargo and protect the fulfillment of His plans. Over hills and mountains, along windy ways and low valleys, God remains faithful and true to the  His word to take up my burdens and bring them to their destination.
When the mountains ahead look too steep and the road too twisted for me to maneuver I need not fret because God is the one behind the wheel. In His overcoming life that carried the heaviest load of the cross, my burden is lifted. In His victory that defeated death and rose in eternal life I am assured of its final, restful destination.
With Jesus Christ as my guarantee, I can boldly, confidently and peacefully proclaim, "Yes, Lord Jesus, I trust you to deliver my OVERSIZE load!"


Monday, September 18, 2017

BREAKING NEWS!

BREAKING NEWS!
...
I'm growing out my hair.

For my faithful and longtime Pippy Love readers you'll recall that this is not my first breaking hair news. About a year ago I made a stunning announcement about a pixie cut and confirmed the news with a picture. (For those who would like a refresher on my hair journey you can read Pixie Perfect here.) The decision to cut off my hair was made in haste but I was pleased with the results and for the past year I have happily embraced my new look. So why the change in hair style direction, you may ask? The answer is quite simple...faith. After all, faith is what sparked the cutting of my hair in the first place.
Back last year I was living under the cloud of Multiple Sclerosis and a lifetime of disease management. I wasn't thinking about full healing or ever regaining the full functioning of my body. I had decided to accept the reality of a lifetime of downhill progression and choose joy in the face of sorrow. I would praise God in the face of pain. I would cut off my hair and rock a pixie cut in the face of dramatically thinning hair!
But then, six months ago, the heavy MS cloud full of healing hopelessness lifted from overhead. In its place Lyme Disease has descended with the hope of true and total physical healing, down to the very hairs on my head.
The hope of God's healing hair restoration has sparked in my mind's eye visions of my face draped in longer hair. I can see myself wearing a bouncy pony-tail again. With a renewed promise for healing has come the glorious hope of fuller, thicker, healthier, hair. Hair more lustrous than ever before! Health more abundant, vibrant and beautiful than ever before!
Right now my hair is at an awkward stage of growth and my body isn't at its most favorable stage of regeneration. But these stages shall pass. The uneven, split end stage of my hair's regrowth will pass. The aches and pains of my body's regeneration will pass. Exhaustion and an unattractive hairdo are just part of the healing journey but they are not the final destination.
Soon, very soon, I trust that God is going to make visible the reality of my body's inner restoration. I believe He is about to reveal His healing with weight on my bones, strength in my muscles and even hairs on my head.
My faith is in my Great Physician. My hope is in His will and power to heal and I'm declaring from the depths of my soul to the very hairs on my head:
I TRUST AND BELIEVE GOD IS WORKING IN MY BODY  TO BRING ABOUT TOTAL, FULL AND COMPLETE RESTORATION AND HEALING!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Yes, Jesus Loves Me

Joshua sat on the hard, wooden kitchen floor with his blanket covering his lap and a stream of gooey tears covering his face. The young child was inconsolable. His cheeks were a fiery red. He gasped for air between sobs. His shoulders quivered with sharp jerks up and down as he let out audible whimpers and cries.
Joshua was utterly traumatized. His mom was gone. One minute she was there and then poof! She was out the door and out of sight. It happened so suddenly. They had always been together, Mother and son, and then Mother took son to a foreign land and left him behind. Even when he tried to cling to her she protested his coming and left him all alone.
At least that's what the two year old crying on the kitchen thought when his Mom departed Grandma's house to run some errands for the morning. From the moment his eyes saw the troubling sight of Grandma's front door he was on edge. From previous experience he knew what was coming next. Trips to Grandma's, or church nursery, always ended with Mom walking away while Joshua stayed behind.
For some children this might have produced not a single tear but that was not the case for Joshua. He protested loudly the departure of his Mom and never fully recovered from the agony of her absence until her return arrival. In her presence his anxieties were calmed and peace was restored but until that blessed moment he refused to be held or comforted. Even a cookie couldn't calm him down. Joshua pushed away sugar and frosting as he flung himself down on the most uncomfortable floor in the house and proceeded to cry.
At a loss for how to ease Joshua's distress I knelt down on the floor before him and started to sing. I'm not a mother yet but my experience with many nieces and nephews has taught me that when in doubt, music is worth a try. And so I began with my personal favorite, Amazing Grace, and hoped Joshua would enjoy my musical selection. Two verses and three choruses later, Joshua was still crying.
I tried a few other songs. Each one met similar results. Joshua's shoulders were still rising up sharply in quiet quivers and his cheeks were still quite red. Convinced that music wasn't helping I was about to give up when Grandma made a request for Jesus Loves Me. Never one to deny a song request, I started in with the familiar children's song. "Jesus loves me this I know...for the Bible tells me so...Little ones to him belong...They are weak but He is strong..."
For a moment's pause after the first verse I thought Joshua had settled down but a few beats later I realized he wasn't any calmer. He let out one final throaty sob before he got up with his blanket to escape into another room. Apparently, Joshua did not want to hear that Jesus loved him.
I almost laughed at the irony of it. When confronted with the comfort of Jesus' love, Joshua wanted to flee. Surely this little tune with such a simple melody and the peaceful message should have stilled his stress and anxieties. It should have quieted his soul and put his heart at rest!
But the irony of Joshua's distress is the same irony of my own heart's refusal to rest in Jesus' love. Surely the good news of being precious to the Lord should still my own anxieties and comfort my own soul but how often do I flee from the God's love? In distress and trouble when I am crying out to God with laments and sobs that come from the depths of my spirit do I find my peace and serenity in knowing that Jesus loves me? Is the Bible's truth enough to steady my heart? Is belonging to Him and being upheld by His strength my rock and foundation, steadying me in times and trouble and delivering me from all fear?
Joshua crawled/staggered/stumbled away from my singing and eventually cried himself into a sound sleep. At least he had a good nap at Grandma's. Before long, his Mom pulled back into the driveway and peace descended on Joshua like a flood. All was right with the world again.

In Joshua's refusal to be consoled in his time of need I saw myself push away and against the comfort of God. Convinced that my hardships are too dire, my sorrow too upsetting, I have separated myself from His love and chosen instead to lay in the misery of my depressed heart's cold, bleak floor.
But no matter how hard I cry or how red my cheeks, God doesn't give up singing His truth to me. Even when I turn from the goodness of His presence He draws near to me with lullabies of His love. God's soothes my soul and upholds me in His grace. Jesus washes away my sobs as He sings, "I love you...this you know...for the Bible tells you so...little one, to Me you belong...alone you are weak, but with Me you are strong..."
Yes...Jesus loves me...

Saturday, September 9, 2017

I once was trapped...



The SUV's hazard blinkers were the first indication that the car I was approaching from behind was up to something unusual. I squinted into the sun light in an attempt to understand why the vehicle was parked at a stop sign. The traffic was practically non-existent so that couldn't be the cause of the delay and there was no smoke or flat tire to indicate car trouble.
I came to a stop behind the rusted out silver SUV just as the driver's door opened and a woman practically jumped out of her seat. She was a woman on a mission. At first I thought a Chinese fire drill was underway but a second person didn't appear to switch driving positions with the frantic woman. Instead she rushed to the back of the car, right next to the passenger rear tire, and crawled half of her body underneath the vehicle.
By this point I was bewildered. This was a first. Never before had I ever seen an individual crawl underneath their vehicle at a stop sign. I suppose I could have pulled my car around the parked vehicle to continue on my journey without delay but I was transfixed by what this woman was up to. It didn't take but a moment for me to find out.
The woman scooted herself out from underneath the car and popped back up with her hands clasped in front of her. She looked back at me, seeing me for the very first time. She must have known this was an usual scene because she raised her locked hands up towards the sky and nodded her head towards the feathers sticking out from in-between her fingertips.
It was a baby bird.
Amazingly enough the bird was alive. I'm not sure how, since it appeared that the woman had actually run over the fledgling fowl, but the movement within her hands was undeniable. There was life and breath in that bird.
The woman ran around to the driver's side of the car and opened up the SUV's back door. Carefully yet gingerly she placed the bird on the seat. With a wave and a smile the woman bid her farewell, hopped back into the driver's seat and drove off.
And that was it.
As quickly as the scene began, it ended and the bird rescuer was out of sight but ever since witnessing her bird rescuing mission I haven't been able to get it out of my mind. Her concern for the little bird was written in the panic on her face. She risked angering other drivers or possibly even being hit by a distracted motorist for the sake of a baby bird who, for all she knew, could have been dead. But she didn't let that deter her from trying to save the injured animal.

In the woman's act of devotion and determination I saw a beautiful picture of the ultimate rescue mission carried out by my own Savior, Jesus Christ. From His heavenly throne I must have looked as fragile and helpless as that little bird, trapped under a weight of sin so great it could never be measured in pounds or tons. I was as good as dead, crushed by eternal death.
What man would come to my rescue? Who would stop everything and come running to my aid? Who would make my survival their mission?
The Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The perfect Son of God looked down from heaven and saw me trapped in a state of sin that was chocking the very life out of me. Frail, fragile and helpless as I was, He looked down from the glory of Heaven, loved me and came to save me.
Christ knew I had nothing to offer Him in exchange for His redemption. I could not aid in my rescue or lend a hand in my salvation. Without a spotless Savior I was doomed. Without deliverance I was destined for eternal death.
But Jesus, full of grace and unmerited mercy, stepped down from glory to sacrifice everything and save a trapped wretch, like me. He came down from Heaven to the lowest place on earth sin order to reach me and rescue me from sin's entrapment.

Hallelujah what a Savior who came to save a helpless birdie like me! 
Once trapped, now free. 
Once doomed but now safe for eternity!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Warning: reader discretion advised!

WARNING: Reader discretion advised!
The following post comes with a "heads up" of sorts. The words that you are about to read might disturb you, trouble you, worry you and cause you alarm. You may be tempted to have doubts about the state of my physical being and question my sanity. But by the conclusion of this post I hope you will know one thing for sure: God is in complete control.

So it's time for brutal honesty. To put it bluntly, my body is utterly ravaged. This isn't a statement of opinion. This is matter of fact according to Body Mass Index calculations which bring me in at a "very severely underweight" reading of 12.3.
See why I warned you this might disturb and trouble some of you? I can't fault a single reader for being alarmed. In the opinion of the medically-minded I should be seeking admission at a hospital and be hooked up to an IV drip. At least I should be on bed rest at home but long-time Pippy Love readers will know I'm not one to let weight stop me from living. True that weight has changed my life and vitality but I've always pushed on to find a way to remain active and moving even while my weight has plummeted.
Low weight has been a hallmark of my illness from the very beginning but I'll admit I didn't anticipate to hit new weight lows on this Lyme journey. I thought I had already hit bottom but, obviously, I thought wrong. Turns out I didn't know how "low" I could go. When it comes to the weight limbo, I'm learning I can go low - super low. Despite my best efforts to halt the downward weight spiral, I have been unable to escape the latest reality staring at me from the scale's display screen: sixty-seven pounds.

This is about the time in the post where I anticipate reader's jaws will drop and soon demands for my hospitalization will  follow. I understand the concern and can't fault anyone for worrying but I must respectively decline any such suggestions for medical intervention. I also must heartily decline any recommendations to lay down in despair or give up in hope.
Although the numbers on the scale are lower than ever and my body fragile and weak, my soul is strong with the Spirit of God, filling me with joyful stamina to keep pressing on. As the pounds have flowed off my body, the faith and hope of Christ have been ever increasing in my heart. God has faithfully been infusing me with the power of assurance in His sustaining hand that defies all human logic or explanation.
Instead of being defeated and wrought with doom at the sight of the scale, God has been renewing me with eager anticipation for the healing that is to come. As I look ahead I see a remarkable work of transformation just around the corner. God has a new body designed and ready to be revealed in my flesh and bones for the good and glory of His eternal name.
Sickness and illness has ravaged my body but God has never let me go. He has preserved me body and soul so that, in His time and by His regenerative hand, He can bring me back to full health. By the redemptive blood of Christ who conquered death itself I am being upheld and preserved so that my recovery can give testimony to His power and will to heal. The lower the weight, the greater the miracle of restoration and all the more glory to God and God alone. 

Today, at this very moment, I am weaker than I have ever been but only in my body. In my soul God has been strengthening me with His eternal power and resiliency and He's not done yet - not with my heart and not with my body. I have utter and complete assurance that underway right here and right now in this little body of mine is a work of glorious and complete healing. By the gracious hand of The Lord God, my Great Physician, Savior and King this body is being made brand new and, soon very soon, will be full of more health than ever before.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Final Destination...Final Salvation



Most mornings I can't recall much about my dreams. They usually end up being some hazy fog of faces with no name; just a twisted story with no plot. But this morning was different. This morning I awoke with a dream fully formed and executed in my mind. Every detail was fresh, down to the feelings I'd had and the clear blue sky I'd seen during the vision that came to me as I slept.

This particular dream played out like a real-life drama. I was sitting in the driver's seat of my car, the very same black SUV I drive now. I was the first car stopped at the red light of a familiar intersection just a mile from home. The opposing traffic received their go-ahead first. I waited as cars whizzed past me to my left, foot poised to hit the gas as soon as my eyes saw the light up ahead turn green.
But I never got to see that light change colors. Before the opposing traffic's light turned red a deep metallic blue Silverado Chevy truck came barreling through the intersection in my direction. The man behind the wheel was traveling at a quick clip with a trailer attached to the back hatch. I watched helplessly as the truck swayed back and forth, crossed the center line and veered to the left, out of his lane and into my own.
Headed straight for the hood of my car I watched with no where to go as the truck got closer and closer. I can still see the emblem on the truck's hood as it grew larger and larger.
In those brief seconds I came into contact with an inescapable reality: impact.
As clear as can be, five words formed on my lips and filled those final seconds: "Alright God, lets do this."
Those final words were a final surrender. In the very last seconds, with five thousand pounds of metal bearing down upon me, five words declared a loud my declaration of faith, absolute assurance and unshakable trust in God and His sovereignty.
And then it hit.
The truck hood met with mine and threw my car backwards and to the left, passing over the opposing lanes of traffic and down a small hill. I could see glass shattering into a million pieces. I could feel the weight of my body flying straight up before the force of impact pushed my vehicle backwards. As my SUV went sliding down the hill I felt my back slam into the lumbar of my driver's seat and saw the air bag release into my chest. 
It should have hurt. I should have been aware of the blood covering me and the glass piercing me. But that's not what happened. At least that's not what I recall from the dream. In the cabin of my car, as it went careening down the hill to land in the empty parking lot below, a much different experience unfolded. My final salvation.
At that moment in my dream my body was ultimately destroyed. I died. The incredible force of the truck's impact was so tragic. My fragile body couldn't withstand the blow. Yet I didn't eel a thing. Not a single moment of pain.
As my car went air born, so did my soul. It was as if my spirit was lifted up and out of my body so that I could experience the accident and watch it unfold without enduring a moment of suffering, agony or pain. I could see the tragic earthly image but I couldn't feel it.

At that moment my salvation was made final. Transcended above the scene of my departure I experienced the glorious salvation of my soul. The physical world faded away without so much as a twinge of discomfort. I was carried away on a bed of peace and serenity as my spirit passed over into another world, the everlasting world. With a gentle, soft and loving hand I was transported out of my crushed car and through the golden gates of eternal life.
And then I woke up.
That was it. Impact and then, puff, salvation. It was painless. It wasn't even like pulling off a band-aid where the sting lasts for a moment. There was no pain in death. No sting at all. At the moment that my body met its final blow, all I experienced was the perfect peace of salvation and the eternal glory of Heaven.
When I awoke with the dream fully formed and fresh in my mind I noticed that I had a broad smile across my face. I had just been given a precious glimpse of eternal life, a peak into the magnificent promise of my soul's salvation.

I don't know if my dream will ever come to pass. I certainly am not here to make such a bold claim but I am here to declare that I am not afraid no matter how my final impact comes to pass. If it be in a car accident or after a long struggle with a devastating disease, I have no fear because no matter what end I meet here on earth I know it is just that; only earth's ending. When my body here breaths its last I will be breathing my first gasp of heavenly air. As my body gives out my soul will already be rejoicing in eternal glory.
From my dream I was given a glimpse of the life that lives on. It is the spiritual life that matters. Every earthly life will die and every body will fail. Some will succumb to an illness, others will be snuffed out in a tragedy. No matter what the cause, when the final impact hits the body's condition won't matter. Pain won't matter. Organs won't matter. Ability or disability. Ill or full of health. None of it will matter anymore.
All that will last is the soul. All that will matter is salvation.

Dear Reader my question for you tonight is what would happen to your soul in the cabin of your car if it all came to a final blow today? If this dream of mine became your reality, where would your salvation rest? On whose wings would you be lifted out of the destruction and saved from eternal peril?
I urge you, Friend, not to spend another moment behind the wheel of your car, or the wheel of your life, without the assurance of salvation. With Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you can know how your story ends. Tonight, right here in this moment, you can have the assurance of eternal life and eternity in Heaven.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Meet Milton



Recently in the evening, and even some afternoons, an welcomed visitor has been dropping by my family's house. He's small, brown and fuzzy. Plus he's quick as a whip. The unwelcome visitor, more appropriately classified as an intruder, is none other than Milton. At least that's what I've named the ordinary house mouse that has decided that my home's living space would be a cozy place to spend his evenings.
Milton has good taste. My family's home is cozy. Cozier when a mouse isn't darting across the carpet and hiding underneath TV cabinets, which is precisely what Milton was up to last night.
Molly spotted Milton first and she went nuts. Her reaction was silent at first. As Milton went speeding from one corner of the kitchen to another he caught Molly's attention. She popped up from her relaxed position on the ground and took to all fours on high alert.
It didn't take but a moment for the rest of the family to catch up. Milton must be in the house.
Molly ran towards the right corner of the cabinet, precisely the place where she had spotted Milton but that sneaky mouse must have seen Molly coming. At precisely the right moment Milton darted out from the back, left corner of the cabinet and went speeding across the carpet, in the direction of a short set of steps leading into the living room.
Molly took off running but she was no match for Milton. Before she could even get a paw near the crafty mouse, Milton was under the largest piece of furniture in the whole room which also happens to be the one with the worst doggie access. The TV cabinet proved to be Milton's safest hiding place and Molly's defeat.
Since Molly couldn't reach the mouse she proceeded to sit by the cabinet and stare at it, willing the visitor to come out and play. Three hours later, when that hadn't worked, she started barking at the cabinet. If Milton wouldn't come gently then maybe "yelling" at him would work.
Maybe mice have terrible hearing or maybe Milton actually enjoyed teasing Molly. Either way, to Molly's great displeasure, Milton never reappeared. And, to the great displeasure of everyone else in the house (including Pippy), Molly wouldn't stop barking.
Finally enough was enough. Milton wouldn't come willingly. Molly wouldn't stop barking. This situation required human intervention. With an elaborate, and someone comical, scheme, Mom decided that she could create a blockade around the cabinet with one exit route leading straight out a nearby door. Using chairs, books, brooms and upended tables, Mom put her plan into action.
"Okay, now watch down at that end and I'll move this broom around down at this end. Milton will have no where to go but that way and straight out the door."
 Fool proof, right?
Wrong. For half an hour Mom tried to perfect her strategy and maneuver the broom in different ways. She utilized the aid of a spray bottle full of water. No dice and no Milton. Although through the open door a number of mosquito did make their way in, our mysterious mouse visitor never did materialize again.
The evening's mousey escapades ended with a "To be continued..." Milton was never spotted again and eventually Molly's alert status returned to normal. Troubling as it may be, we may never know how Milton sneaked in. We certainly don't know how, or if, he sneaked out.
Heaven knows I'm not thrilled with the addition of an evening intruder to the nightly sequence of events but when it comes to rodents Milton isn't too threatening. He's kind of cute and the way he scurries is too funny to be all that upsetting. I can put up with Milton. I can even find humor in Milton. What I can't put up with, the intruder I can't tolerate, is another more destructive and far more troubling unwelcome visitor. 
Worry.
Worry is a sneaky, crafty, pesky intruder that does more damage than a whole colony of mice ever could. When worry gains access into the house of my heart its presence is undeniable. It doesn't even try to hide. Worry comes right out in the open and taunts me. Worry scurries across my spirit, snatching up my peace and rest. From the dark corners of my heart worry resides, refusing to come out and release my concerns. Worry takes pleasure in stealing my serenity and holding in hostage.
Worry, much like Milton, doesn't go willingly. Barking at worry won't make it go away and staring it down doesn't seem to defeat it. I've tried my own tactics and devised my own schemes to push worry out the door but it never works. Worry always outsmarts me.
There is only one solution to worry, only one extermination method that is fail-proof. Only One trap that worry can't outsmart.
The Truth of God.
When worry sneaks in and steals away my comfort and rest, God's Word provides the trap that captures the uninvited guest. Once in the grips of truth, worry's most cunning tricks are powerless. From the very darkest corners of my heart, the unreachable places, God takes hold of worry and sends it right out the door. In the light of God's Word, worry doesn't stand a chance.
What's more is that God doesn't just remove worry, He patches up the places of my heart that were prone to letting the intruder in. God sees my vulnerable places, the gaps in my faith that need mending and the broken spaces that need repaired. With more precision and far better results than the carpenter who tried to find the secret entrance employed by Milton, God cuts off the entry ways of worry. He steps in with peace and faith that block worry and deny it access.  
God not only casts worry out. He keeps worry out.

In my family's home Milton is still having his way and making his visits but in the home that God has made in my heart my unwanted intruder isn't having its way. God's truth found that intruder in an instant and cast him out in a hurry and it didn't take a single bark or upended chair. By the power of God's Word and His Holy Spirit He sent my worry fleeing for the door.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Psalm 30 Victory




Hold your breath, here comes another wave....
That was all I could think, the wave was all I could see, as I threw back the latest in Lyme killing treatment. As I swallowed the liquid antibiotics my mouth pursed and my throat recoiled. Within seconds the antibiotics were tossing and turning in my fragile stomach.
As the queasy aftermath overtook my body I could practically see the white caps of a massive wave forming out in the distance of my healing sea. It wouldn't be long before that wall of exhaustion, pain, and surprise symptoms would make its way to my shore. The air shifted and dark clouds formed overhead, announcing the imminent arrival of the coming storm.
As I braced for impact the enemy began snickering and whispering in my ear. He taunted me with threats of the onslaught to come. "This is going to be a big one...Good luck holding tight.." He employed the violent winds to join in his lies, tempting me with defeat in every gust. "Just give up now... Abandon joy and lose your faith.." From the midst of the angry sea the devil's deceptive tongue questioned me, "Where is God now?... Is this what you call healing?" With each word of trickery my enemy plotted to take me down in the coming healing wave.
But as the wave made its way closer to my shore a force more powerful than evil whipped through the wind. On the sea's the unmistakable voice of truth roared louder than all of the enemy's lies. The glorious light of truth penetrated the gray skies above.
From the throne of God, Truth thunderously proclaimed: 
This wave is not the enemy's victory. This wave is his final defeat.
And so I held my breath and held on tight, declaring David's words as the wave came crashing down on me...
I will exalt you, Lord,
    for you lifted me out of the depths
    and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
(Psalm 30:1)

The wave had its way with me but God has His hand on me. He put in my heart a song of praise even while my body was pounded against the shore line. He refused to leave me. He wouldn't forsake me. Satan did his best to upend my faith but God upheld it with the truth of His word and the power of His promises. 
God delivered the enemy his defeat and claimed the Lord's victory. 


Dear friend, if you find yourself in the path of a wave of destruction, bracing for the next healing wave, the next trial or the next crisis, do not listen to the words of the enemy. He will tell you lies and project them in the winds. He will try to overtake you with waves of worry and defeat you with questions of doubt.
Beloved, do not become defeated under clouds of darkness. Do not listen to the devil's lies. Hold fast to the promises of God for He has established your ultimate victory and He will meet you on the shore to claim it and proclaim it.
Call on the name of Jesus and unite yourself with His Holy Spirit. Take up the Word of Truth and read your enemy the announcement of his defeat. Proclaim it in a Psalm. Sing it in a song.
This wave is intended to conquer your enemy, not your faith. This wave is going to capsize his evil schemes, not your peace.
Hold fast my friend because by the power of God and for His eternal glory, this wave is about to deliver a mighty victory.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Father, forgive me...

Father, forgive me, Your daughter, Your child.
Oh Lord, I am so sorry for pain I caused you in my disobedience and rebellion. Please Abba, forgive me for disregarding the care and protection you've shown me since I was a child. Forgive me for dishonoring the safety of honesty and denying your principles of righteousness. 

Father, I know I broke Your heart. With Your perfect love You created me and blessed me. With tenderness, gentleness and sweetness You knit me together beautifully, then looked and said, "Yes, this is good. She is good."You breathed the fullness of life into me, Your special creation. You, Lord, bestowed on me all of the bountiful, blessed gifts of being a woman created in the image of your Son.

Father, I am filled with shame as I look at what I did with those precious gifts. Shame convicts me when I look and see what I did to Your radiant gift of life woven into my very being and established by the work of Your hand. God, I mutilated it. I destroyed it. I dishonored it and discarded it as trash. 

Why Lord, did I rebel against You? 
Why did I flee from the protection of Your principles? 
Why did I choose sin over the safety of a life sanctified and surrendered to righteousness? 
Why did I trade your love and care for a lie? 

Father God, I was a fool, a treacherous, heartless, demonic fool. With every sinful, hurtful, foolish action, thought and deed I see the scars of where I hurt you. My recklessness and rebellion pierced you. I slapped you with my indifference and beat you with my deception. I was a fraud, a fake and a liar who treated Your commandments like dirty rags and mocked Your principles. 

Oh, Father God, forgive me! Forgive me and cleanse me of who I once was. Draw my eyes to visions of my past and let me see where I have gone wrong. Illuminate the places in need of repentance and forgiveness. Reveal to me every stain so I can deliver it to the foot of Christ's cross. 

Father, I do not deserve your mercy and I cannot merit your forgiveness. I have no justification for my sin and, yet, you have offered to remove it from my past. In perfect grace and inexhaustible pardons, You faithfully forgive me of every hurt I've caused you. 
Lord, you so beautifully, generously, lovingly welcome me back into Your arms and cover me with the cloak of Your glorious redemption.  

Oh, God, you are my good, glorious, gracious Father and I love you. 
Oh, Lord, how I love you and desire to live with you and for You all the rest of my days. 
May my repented, surrendered life bring honor to Your Holiness and glory to Your Great Name. 

Amen.

Friday, August 25, 2017

What's in a bark?

Molly's bark was heard before the cause for its sounding could be seen.
Now, before we go any further and get to the cause of Molly's barking, let me give you some historical context.
Molly has two distinct barks. Well, three, but for the first part of this story only two need to be addressed. First is the "Alert Bark." It is a lower pitch bark sounded in short bursts to receive the attention of nearby humans. In the past Molly has employed this bark in the dire circumstances she has faced when inadvertently trapped behind a closed door.
Molly's "Alarm Bark," the second in her sounding repertoire, is her attempt at being the family's security system. Beware UPS Man, my house is guarded by a fifteen pound Schnoodle. If only he could see her cowering and shaking during thunderstorms then I don't think her
Alarm Bark" would alarm him. Or anyone else for that matter.
But back to our story.
On this particular barking occasion Molly sounded her "Alert Bark." Both Mom and I came to attention, assessing the location of the sound. There was a pause the two more alerts. We both assumed she was stuck out on the back deck behind a closed door or maybe standing at the top of the steps on the other side of a mountain of dirty towels. After checking all around we still had no sight of Molly.
"Roughh...Rough..." From her hidden location, Molly increased the frequency of her "Alert Barks."
"Maybe she's out on the front porch." I suggested.
For more story context, Molly has discovered holes in screens all around our house and freely maneuvers her way through them at her leisure. She never travels outside of the yard. Well, except when the meter-reader comes near the property. Then she takes off like an alligator out of a mote on a mission from the queen to protect her castle.
But Mom and I looked out on the front porch and Molly wasn't there either. Perplexed she went walking back around the front of house and through the side door and that's when I heard it. Mom's "Panic Scream."
"Oh my golly, there is a squirrel in the house!" She yelled out from the living room.
Turns out it was not a squirrel. It was a chipmunk. But the panic was still warranted.
This was one instance where Molly's "Alarm Bark" could have come in handy but apparently she didn't find it alarming when a furry intruder comes sneaking in through the screen door. According to Molly, chipmunks are welcome, especially if she can play with them.
This is the scene in which Mom discovered in the living. The poor chipmunk was barely breathing, laying on her back underneath the shadow of a very satisfied schnoodle. Molly looked up and practically smiled at my horrified Mother. Apparently Molly was not alarmed by a chipmunk perishing on the living room floor.
Mom, on the other hand, saw something very alarming. After scolding Molly she was, deliberately,  placed in a bedroom with the door shut to serve time for her murderous actions. Back in the living room Mom escorted the chipmunk outside, praying that some sunshine and fresh air would revive the innocent animal. On her way out the door Mom made more whimpering sounds than the cardiac arrested-critter.

There wasn't a single scratch on our furry intruder and not a drop of blood but, I'm said to report, the chipmunk didn't survive the run-in with Molly. Mom is convinced she died of shock.
To honor the fallen chipmunk she was placed underneath some trees in the front yard. No service was held.
In lieu of donations we are taking any offers for a new security system - one that sounds for chipmunk intruders.

Back in the house, on the other shut of a closed door, Molly employed her third, most pitiful bark. The "Remorse Bark." It is sounded slowly, with the lowest pitch of all Molly's barks and it is downright pathetic and sad. It is more of a whine than a bark really; a canine plea for forgiveness.As Molly cried on the other side of the door, barking to be released from her place of punishment and welcomed back into the family fold, I heard my own desperate cries for forgiveness.
Just like Molly, I have made fatal missteps that have resulted in spiritual death. My carelessness has trampled on life and squashed beauty. With reckless rebellion I have destroyed the vines of God's good fruit. I've been careless. I've been thoughtless. I've been heartless.
The sins I have committed have put me on the other side of a shut door, separated from God and all that is glorious about His presence. Trapped away in the torment of my sin I have missed the peace and serenity of being united with God. And I've cried. Oh, how I've cried. In tears I've fallen to my knees, longing to be set free from the punishment of my sin and released into the freedom of forgiveness.
From the other side of the door God has heard my plea. My cry of remorse has met His ear and He has come to set me free by the blood of Jesus Christ. His sacrifice has released me from the bondage of condemnation so I am not doomed for eternal punishment.
Once and for all Jesus died a death He didn't deserve to free me from a guilty verdict I did deserve. On the cross He opened the door, freed me and welcomed me back into His loving arms.


And don't worry, Molly's been forgiven and released, too.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Made New

For months my life's vessel has been on a journey across the sea of Lyme Disease. On this vast ocean the storms come in quickly with a devastating ferocity. Traversing these open waters I have experienced rains riddled with hail stones and winds that have brought me to my knees. But this morning it wasn't a storm with winds and waves that rocked my vessel to its very core.
It was an iceberg.
Impact with the iceberg sent me crashing into a devastating pain buried so deep within me that it reached to the very bottom of my soul's ocean. On the surface of the glazier all I could see was loneliness floating on a snowy cap of singleness but underneath the surface an agony far more devastating ripped me apart. It split me in two, sending me below the surface of the waves where the depth, width and true breadth of the iceberg was revealed.
Right beneath the loneliness, the singleness and the yearning for companionship I saw a broken engagement from seven years ago and the aching pain of rejection. I'd been rocked by this iceberg before but never like this. This time the pain was different, more intense.
The iceberg went deeper, plunging me into the darkest depths of my heart's ocean, all the way into my seven year femininity famine.
Seven years ago my womanhood began disappearing. It began with the loss of my menstrual cycle and weight before quickly robbing me of my hormone balance and hair. It even snatched away my voice. For seven long, painful years I have helplessly watched my every womanly feature and characteristic disappear.
This devastating iceberg ravages my heart as I think about the long, golden hair that once fell down my shoulders and kissed my tan skin. When I remember the shape and muscle that used to cover my frame it brings tears of morning to my eyes. With every memory of feeling pretty, desirable and attractive my soul sinks further into the deep. Every thought of the woman I once was, the woman I believed I was becoming, destroys me with depression, grief and sorrow.

I ended up battered, beaten and broken, utterly shipwrecked at the bottom of my life's ocean. And that's when I saw it, a light from the water's surface, illuminating my deep darkness. In the light there was hope. Hope in God to bring me back to life again. Hope in the restoration my femininity. Hope in the one and only God to make me whole again. Hope that God is in the process of transforming me into a lady more beautiful, radiant and feminine than every before. 

At that moment something began to happen to the iceberg. It started to shrink. The bottom began to disappear and the top started to melt. With hope I watched as God took up a chisel and began to demolish the iceberg. With His powerful hand God obliterated my iceberg with the resounding triumph of His promises. God utterly devastated the evils of the icy glazier and cleared the way for my soul to be restored.

Praise God that He is seeing me through every storm and conquering my every iceberg. Because God has my healing in His hands, I can rest in the hope of restoration and renewal knowing that He is making me and my femininity brand new.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Eclipse of the...



The world is all abuzz about today's historic total eclipse of the sun. As you can imagine, I have my own thoughts on the astronomic obsession taking the globe by storm. And since I have thoughts I imagined you might be curious to hear them because who wouldn't want to hear thoughts on astronomy from of an obscure young woman with no background in science or any relating field?
But don't worry. I'm not here to make a point about all of the hoopla you've been watching on TV. My point has nothing to do with the excitment transforming entire towns like the remote community of Madras in Oregon. The quiet town, population 7,000, welcomed over 93,000 visitors this week for the big event.
Nor do I intend to make any point at all the elaborate camps set up by these eclipse enthusiasts. Pop-up towns have been established all along the route of the famed path of totality. In fact, I don't even intend to discuss their portable hot plates or any of the supplies they've packed for the journey that might possibly be left over from Y2K.
Believe it or not, I don't even have much to say regarding the ISO safety compliant glasses recommended by optometrists and NASA to be worn when viewing the solar eclipse in all of its blazing glory.

The point I do intend to make is about a totally different eclipse.
The total eclipse of the SON.
This eclipse requires no travel, no specific destination and no special "Path of Totality" map.
The point I am here to make is that you don't need special glasses to see something special today. You don't even need to fear looking at the total eclipse of the true Son because fixing your eyes on his glory won't do damage to your retina.

The greatest, most life changing total eclipse is the one you feast your eyes on when you look up and into the face of the Son of God. That is when you step onto the true Path of Totality. It is before the throne of the Almighty, the one and only Holy God, that you witness the total eclipse of His beautiful Son.

So where goofy glasses or don't. Look up at the sky at noon or don't. But don't miss the total eclipse of the Son of God for He alone is the eternal light capable of illuminating every path. The Almighty Lord God is the very brightest light, visible to every set of eyes that will bow before His throne and look up into His glory. 

And there you have it, the totality of my thoughts on the total eclipse of the Son.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Where credit is due

Are you trusting in ME, or are you trusting in your remedies?

I'm ashamed how long it took me to answer.
I could hear God's voice loud and clear but I did my best to plug my ears as I cursed the nausea that had suddenly returned to my belly. When the queasiness set in I immediately blamed a lull in my latest treatments, convinced that was the cause of my setback.

I told myself that it had been the remedy aiding and calming my volatile stomach. Those treatments were making me better me and without them I was falling apart...again....
But God's voice wouldn't keep quiet. When I tried to tune Him out, His voice became louder. As I laid on my side holding my aching stomach God's voice was so loud, so powerful that even with plugged ears I couldn't escape it.
 
When will you stop giving credit to the remedies and give credit where credit is due? I am the one who is I making you better. I am the one who is keeping you from falling apart. Not your remedies. Not your treatments. I alone am the one who is healing you.

Then He went silent and it was my turn to speak. With God's ear faithfully attune to my voice my heart broke before His throne in prayer.

Father God, Forgive me for relying on remedies and trusting in treatments...
...Forgive me for giving credit to herbs and homeopathic medicines...
...Forgive me for withholding from you the glory and the honor and the praise you are due...
 Because God,
You alone are worthy. 
You alone are my Healer.
 Every step of progress, every damage healed, every single victory over Lyme is Yours.
Yes God it is all Yours and Yours alone. 
 Amen.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Purging of a Purse Problem

I must confess I have a problem.
A purse problem. I simply like them too much. Which explains how I've managed to accumulate a purse/tote/wallet/bag collection in excess of thirty items.
See a problem? I do.
I don't use all of these purses. Some of them I've barely looked at in years. And heaven knows I certainly don't need all of these purses. What I need is a good purge of the purses.
So today I vowed to rid myself of my purse problem and set out on a mission to prune my collection down to half. What I didn't expect was to have my past made whole in the process.
While clearing out the the pockets of my purses I discovered treasures that led me right down the center of memory lane. The first few purses brought back memories that were recent and still quite fresh in my mind. I found a gift list from this past Christmas and a few grocery lists. "Spinach...apples...zucchini..." Oh so many things change over time, I thought to myself, but this list has stayed the same.
The deeper I reached into the chest containing my collection the further back my memory traveled. In a blue paisley wallet I found an old driver's license from back in 2013. The smiling face on the picture wore her hair long and her address read Chagrin Falls, Ohio. In an instant I was four years in the past, sitting on a screened-in porch on May Court. The library card from the Chagrin Valley Library and dog license took me back to the walks Pippy and I used to take down Main street and up the riverside path.
Another purse took me to Florida in 2015 on a hot September Sunday morning. The church bulletin tucked in my floral-print purse pocket transported me straight downtown to Fifth Avenue Naples.
A moment later I was further up the Gulf Coast in Sarasota. A shopper's club card reminded me of life at Lakewood Ranch. Immediately a scene of an exploding sink followed by fits of laughter shared between my Mother and I brought a smile to my face.
It was a glorious walk down memory lane. And it wasn't even over yet.
At the bottom of my chest the purses took me all the way back to 2012 and placed me at the very beginning of my health journey. Seattle, Washington. The last purse was a Fossil treasure I purchased at the Macy's in downtown Seattle. I remember wandering the isles of the department store and coming across the delightful penguin pattern. The purse's whimsy and fun beckoned me to buy it.
As memories of years spent searching for health answers came flooding over me I held the first purse of my journey and let the past come washing over me.
Moves...trips...adventures...
Hopes...disappointments...dreams...
Experiences...mistakes...regrets...
Joy...peace...faith...
With great anticipation I cracked open my penguin purse, excited to see what token of the past I would find within its zipped up pockets. And there it was.
Nothing.
Inside my first purse of the journey, the purse purchased on the trip to see a "specialist" and be made well, I found nothing, the same nothing I had discovered on the trip.
Opening that empty purse was all at once disappointing and freeing. Nothing. That's what this illness and sickness are to God. They are nothing to Him because He can take it away in an instant. Lyme is nothing to God because He can eradicate it with a thought. My struggles are nothing to God because He can conquer them without lifting a finger. This saga is nothing to God. What is something to God is me, the person I am inside, and the person I am becoming through the saga, through the struggle and through these seven years of sickness.
I've held onto thirty some purses for seven years and let them take this journey with me but I'm ready to purge them. I'm ready to purge myself of the need to purchase my healing by finding the right doctor, the right remedy and the right trip. I am ready to cut out all of my searching so I can be restored to complete, true, lasting, eternal, total health.
Everything I still need to be made whole is in that first purse. Nothing. Because I have everything. I have everything I need to be made well. I am well. It is well with my soul and, glory be to God, it is  well in my body.
But I'm keeping the penguin purse.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Novel

In memoirs and biographies I have read that writers lead interesting, often solitary, lives. I've read accounts of authors who sit for hours and smile at blank pages as the hours tick by as if they were mere minutes. Writers must live in the real world but they flavor it with a hearty helping of fantasy. They are present yet absent; engaged yet disconnected.
This view of the writer's life is one I used to have only from afar but not anymore. Not since I became a writer. Well, not a published and printed "writer" but still a writer. I haven't sought the input of a literary agent for confirmation on that status. I haven't needed to. My writer's designation has been God-given, flowing from the thoughts He has pouring into my mind and nurturing my spirit. He has given me this duty to put a pen to paper and it is an honor to fulfill that call.

It has taken seven years for me to release my need to "be" something and someone according to the world and let being a writer be enough. It took the schooling of life and the experience of struggle to shape me into a writer. Patiently, God has been molding me for this position by teaching me how to listen, obey and follow. I've far from mastered the art of these principles but God is faithfully honing my writing skills, and, more importantly, honing my heart to be fixated on Him alone.

As God has been teaching me, pruning me and perfecting my writer's hand (a process that is destined to be life-long) He has entrusted me with little projects to work on along the way. It began with telling the story of Pippy and her training. Or, more accurately, my training. When I look back on the revelations experienced in those writings, the truths found in teaching a puppy how to sit, stay and refrain from peeing on the carpet, I see how God had a much bigger plan for Pippy and I than I ever imagined. He used my Pippy Love to train and discipline my heart, not just my Schnoodle puppy.

Over these seven years my writings have numbered into the thousands and an overwhelming number of them have been born out of sickness and illness. So many of my writings have been laments of physical anguish. My pain poured out on the page. Writing as been the avenue in which I've been able to best explain the unexplained and process the confusing. God has transformed writing into an act of spiritual renewal where I lay my burdens down and pick up His truth, His faithfulness and His promises.

Over the past seven years my hand has scribbled with ink in countless lined journals and written every thing from one-liners to entire (unpublished) devotional books. On my computer I've typed in the morning, in the evening and occasionally in the middle of the night. In writing I have exposed my heart and been witness to glorious glimpses of God's.
In all of this writing, over all of these years, I've explored writing in many forms but never fiction. The very thought of writing a novel has intimidated me. How does the novel writer ever come up with a thought that will capture a reader's attention for hundreds of pages and dozens of chapters? How does the author keep a consistent voice and weave story lines and character plots into one cohesive book? How do they remain dedicated to the process? How do they know where the novel is going to go? Do they know where the novel is going to go?
Overwhelmed by the thought of such a literary endeavor I never even contemplated writing a novel. Little did I know God would hand me a pen and tell me to get going on the task during year seven of my never-ending writer's education.

As I've heeded the command the most remarkable truths have been revealed as I've embarked on this writer's journey. More significant than the answers to my questions about writing a novel, God has been answering questions of my eternal spirit and heart. Questions about following Him, walking with Him and making it to the end of His story.

That is so like God, isn't it? He doesn't come right out and answer our questions with points A, B, and C. He gives us a task, a challenge, and promises to help us complete it. Meanwhile, in the completing of it, He assures us that all of our questions will all be answered in the end. We don't get the answers at the start. In fact, we usually begin with absolutely no idea where the story is going. The plot and course of our life's journey is revealed much the same way a novelist's story is revealed as they put pen to paper. Novel writing, like traveling through life with God, requires dedication, trust and faith to see the process through to the end.
God is writing a story with each of our lives and He has filled our pages with the unexpected. He's written for each of us a page-turner to keep us on our toes, captivated by the possibilities of what's to come next. Is a new character about to enter our plot? Is the scene about to transition into an entirely different place? Is there a climatic chapter up ahead or is the next chapter simple and sweet? Will there be a lull in the action or a predicament on the next page?
God doesn't give us hints. He likes surprise endings. He likes twists and turns. He likes to include the unexpected. He takes great pleasure in filling the pages of our stories with riveting tales that give testimony to His goodness and honor to His great name. 

When God is given the pen and entrusted with every line, we can rest assured that the plot is going to be riveting and the ending is going to be glorious. With God as the Author we need not know how we get to end. We can simply rest in the journey and let it unfold, page-by-page.
That's how novels are written, one page at a time, and that's how life's journey with God is written, too. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Happy National Bowling Day!



Happy National Bowling Day! How are you celebrating this special holiday? Throwing a few strikes at the local bowling alley? Sending pins up into the air like party balloons? Reminiscing about your history with gutters and your preference for bumpers?

I've chosen the last option and taken a trip down gutter ball memory lane. My bowling history is truly pathetic pathetic. In my youth I resorted to the squat and roll technique. I would approach the lane, kneel down and push the ball down the lane. Throwing the ball would have been an option had I not been so woefully inept at the concept. I couldn't throw the ball straight to save my life - or my score. I was a doomed gutter girl. Without the help of bumpers I was completely hopeless at getting a strike or even enough pins to maintain a credible score. My numbers were so pathetic they were ridiculous, not a serious player in the game. So when I bowled I took my turns with silliness and rolled in 50 points purely for fun.
Suffice it to say, I never became a very regular, or skilled, bowler. When I've bowled I've always needed bumpers to keep me out of the gutters and a lot of grace to let me stay in the game.

...Funny how things haven't changed much...

It has been years since I've stepped foot in a bowling alley, let alone attempted to take down a pin, but I'm still in need of bumpers to keep me out of gutters. I'm in need of merciful grace to keep me in the game, playing on God's glorious team to claim the ultimate prize.
Along this alley way of life there are gutters that lead straight to destruction, ruin and devastation. Much more than points are at stake. Now eternal life is on the line. The alley isn't a part of some silly game. This is the way to eternity.
I've made so many bad throws and pathetic pushes to get down my alley of life. I've taken throws without proper form or preparation and without the help of my bumper. On my own the ball always goes for the gutter. A few times its course has looked promising enough. It goes straight for a few feet but the fate of my ball - my plan, my agenda, my will, my way - always ends up right where my bowling balls did in the bowling alley. The gutter.
The truth is I am in more desperate need of bumpers now than I ever was in my occasional bowling days. I am in desperate need of God's bumpers that keep me out of life's gutters. I need God to put up His hedge of protection around me to keep me on track. Without His steady hand leading me I have no hope of a strike. Apart from God keeping me on the straight and narrow path I am doomed to end up in the gutter of defeat.

The good news is God provides bumpers. He has not set me in front of this slippery, slick alleyway and left me to take the pins down alone. He's come along to not just help me, but to guide me. He isn't just going to teach me how to throw the ball, He is going to protect it once it gets rolling. When I bowl with God He gives me the protection I need to make it safely to the end of the lane. His path comes with bumpers that keep me steady, stable and safe all the way to an eternal strike.
Now that's a holy-day I can celebrate.

Truth Wins

Another morning, another day for the Devil to tell his lies. Did you hear him like I did this morning, whispering such ugly slander and wicked deceit? ... This is hopeless... You're never going to overcome this... Uh, oh, you've slid back down the hill of progress again... God didn't answer that prayer and He's not going to...
Lies! Every word, complete and utter lies!
Who is the devil to say anything is hopeless? What would he know about hope? He wouldn't know hope even if it hit him in face.
And overcoming? The only overcoming he enjoys is when he comes over life with death. His type of "progress" leads right to a hellish grave - the very same place he'd like to send every heart broken prayer sent to God on high.

Dear Friend I hope you didn't listen to that serpent, that snake, that cunning, evil, deceitful, father of lies. I hope you didn't give him a moment of your ear because he's a liar. He knows not a single word of truth, let alone how to speak it.
The Devil knows nothing but dishonesty, destruction and defeat - they are his devastating trifecta.
The Devil is the teller of lies and the twister of truth. He's a faker and author of falsehoods. He is the deliverer of darkness, depression and doom - he is the devastating trifecta.
The Devil is the enemy. He stands in opposition to all that is good, beautiful, peaceful, restful, beneficial and eternal. He fights to tear down; never to build up. He tricks and loves to deceive. He takes pleasure in stealing, killing and destroying.
The Devil is pure evil. If a word is hateful or a thought is damaging you can be sure the Devil had his way in its making. If an act is hurtful or a deed is deadly, you can be sure the Devil is wearing a smile. He loves a good scene of destruction.

But God is the Father of Truth...
God is the Giver of Life...
God is the Author of Beauty...
God is the voice of love...
God is the Light who illuminates the darkness...
God is the King who claims victory over every enemy and sends evil into retreat...

This morning the Devil showed up with his trickery and vile words. But God showed up, too, and silenced the lips of liar. The truth of the Lord spoke and sent my enemy fleeting for the darkness and evil running for the hills.
The Lord our God has claimed the victory.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Praise Report

Every now and again God puts chains on my hands to keep them from writing. He freezes my fingers and presses pause on my mind so I can step back, raise my arms and just simply praise Him.
Right now in my life I am in one of those blessed times.

You may have noticed that lately my fingers haven't been hitting the keys to share stories, observations and lessons learned on life and faith. But don't worry, these fingers haven't given up. They've risen up in joyful, exuberant praise and gratitude to God.

So, naturally, you may be wondering, what have I been thanking God for? What praise has captured my hands and my heart?
Life.
Being alive.
Having breath in my lungs and a beat in my heart sustained by the very hand of God.
Having hope because I know and have full in confidence that God's plans are perfect and His ways are always good. The future that God has in store is so brilliant and glorious that it fills me with unspeakable joy and peace. And thanks, so much thanks.

In my Lyme journey the praise report continues. In just four months amazing victories have already been won in my body. The muscle spasms that plagued my daily life for years have been slashed in their frequency and intensity. My blood sugar swings are in retreat. The coming and going of the "claw foot" has disappeared entirely. The episodes of optic-neuropathy that taunted my vision are no longer having their cruel way with my eyes.
The war being fought in my body is being waged one life and death battle at a time. But praise be to God because life is winning every one. God is claiming every victory.

To all of my prayer warriors, thank you for going to battle with me. Thank you for taking up arms on the front lines and fighting alongside me. I am abundantly grateful and thankful for each of you and your support.

As challenging and trying as the last four months (and entire seven years of health warfare) have been, I am overcome with thanks because God has sustained me every step of the way. It is only by His power that I have survived and only by His power that I am right now, in this very moment being made well.  

Tonight friends I encourage you to pause and offer God your praise and your thanks. Praise Him for the journey. Praise Him for life. Praise God because the battle is already won and our Lord, Jesus Christ has claimed the victory!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Healing Poultice

Natural remedies have long been my medicine of choice. I regularly take homeopathic antibiotics instead of pharmaceuticals and apply essential oils instead of chemical creams. I believe in sweating out a fever and that most any skin ailment can be cured by either Manuka honey, Apple Cider Vinegar, Coconut Oil or all of the above combined.
Given my affinity for natural health sites and books on the subject I thought I was well versed, or at least semi-versed, in nearly every healing protocol. I thought wrong. It turns out my natural remedy arsenal has been missing a key component of the ancient medicine cabinet. The herbal poultice.
These incredible, and simple, compresses made of clay and herbs have been natural medicine stand-bys for centuries, known to heal practically every ailment from burns to hernias and everything in between. Hippocrates used them and so did my Great Grandma. Bottom line, if you have a problem, you need a poultice.
Given the rich and successful history of the poultice remedy I decided to employ the practice for my own stomach ailment. Each night I lay down in bed and affix to my stomach a sticky, slimy compress made of herbal powder, silver, water and various kinds of bark. With plastic wrap, an ace bandage and a silent prayer for healing, I secure my poultice and settle in for a night of internal repair.
The first few nights with my poultice were a struggle. The ace bandage poked me and the plastic wrap kept slipping out of place. I was up and down all night like a yo-yo, aggravated with my poultice. Annoyed at being woken up, I admit I even cursed the ancient poultice practice. This is so ridiculous - sleeping with clay on the stomach! How could this be healing me? Hippocrates can keep his poultice!
But each morning, as the sun has flooded my room with light, a renewed hope in the poultice has flooded my heart with hope. As strange as it is, I've come to cherish the sticky, slimy, clay poultice and not just because it has internal healing properties. I've become a believer and lover of the ancient poultice remedy because it draws me to an even greater, more powerful poultice - the one covering my heart. 
Jesus' Holy Spirit is the poultice that has healed my heart and gives me new life. I was damaged and broken, in need of repair and His love brought me eternal restoration. The hand of Jesus has been laid on me, healing wounds only He could ever see or touch. Because Christ's Spirit has saved me and dwells within me I am made eternally well, healed from the inside, out.
With a prayer in my heart and a poultice on my stomach, I am drawn back to the Great Physician who has made me new by breathing His life into my dead soul. In His medicine cabinet I have everything needed for healing, from a poultice for my damaged stomach to the everlasting, glorious redemption of my lost and failing soul.