Friday, January 19, 2018

I will not fear - even if my hair falls out.


My hair is falling out and I have to admit, I'm scared. Thinning hair I could handle but falling out? This is just too much.
When my not-so-golden locks became noticeably finer, I embraced that part of my "healing journey" with a pixie cut. A short hair style I could pull off, but not bald. That's a hairdo I simply cannot do.
To be fair, I don't have fully developed bald spots just yet but what I do have is a dramatically receding hairline. My hair line's retreat occurred so quickly I didn't even get to say goodbye. One night the thin strands of my bangs packed their bags and fled the scene of of my head. I hoped they were just going on vacation but that was weeks ago and they haven't returned. In fact, my departed hairline has done just the opposite of reappear. It has enticed more hair follicles to follow.
Like strands of hair to the slaughter, the hair on the tippy-top of my head has fallen right in line with my hairline and frizzled right out. It is as if my hair were being scorched, beginning at the very end of each strand. Without any heat, the strands sizzle and sear until they are so fragile they snap off entirely, leaving behind charred hair debris and a much more exposed scalp.
The severe frizzling and falling out of my hair scares me. It petrifies me. I can't imagine my head without hair. Already on my journey for health I've experienced looking like a teenage boy thanks to my curve-less frame and super short cut. What's next? To look like a balding old man?
The thought of a hairless fate for my head taunts me. I have disturbing visions of a vanishing hairline, patches of exposed skin and a tender, vulnerable scalp. I've tried to run and hide from my receding hairline by wearing hats and avoiding the mirror but it has been futile. I have been unable to escape my fear. 
While I've been looking at the receding hairline on my head with fear and concern, God has been looking at the receding trust in my heart. He knows how truly frightened I am of the future. He sees how scared I am by each scorched strand.
But I need not be fearful of what will become of my hair because God already has it planned. I don't need to know how many strands I'll have in the future because God already has them counted. As I've looked in the mirror I have tried to face my fear by imagining what I might look like bald but even with my most vivid imagination cap securely fastened I can't picture it. And the good news is I don't need to.
God has already plotted out every step of my life's journey according to His will and graciously lifted from me the burden of knowing the future. Whether or not my hair continues to retreat or if it miraculously returns with increased thickness and volume, I can rest assured that God is in control. If my health continues to sizzle or if I gain strength and vitality, I trust and know that God is always in control.
Today, with this head of receding hair, is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice in it, no matter what lies ahead for my locks. Because I trust and believe in the perfect will of God, I can cast off worry and live free of fear. Today, in this balding moment, I can concentrate solely on the goodness and glory of Christ and leave the future of my hair, my health and my heart in the All Mighty hands of God. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Winterforce Love


I've fallen in love. It just happened last week but already I'm completely smitten. I simply cannot contain my excitement or conceal my affection. I want to shout my good news in the city square and proclaim it from a mountain top, "I have found the one who my soul loves, a my new set of four Firestone Winterforce Snow Tires, size p235/55r17!"
(And you thought I actually had met a man and gone on a date. Silly Reader, dates are for kids.)
My beloved tires and I were introduced on a blind date arranged by my local mechanic and car's specifications. From the very first moment my eyes beheld the thick, three-dimensional tread of the Winterforce's high density rubber tire I knew we were a match made in traction heaven.
When we set out on our first date, I mean ride, the roads were clear and there wasn't a snow flake in sight but even in the mild conditions I began to fall for my dear Firestone tires. The ride they provided was so quiet and comfortable that even on rutty side roads I couldn't feel a single bump underneath my wheels.
By our second date/ride the road conditions had changed drastically. A winter storm covered the earth in a sheet of ice and a dense layer of heavy snow. Driving looked to be treacherous and I contemplated calling off the date but the mighty tread of my Firestone tires convinced me to take a chance on love and go for a ride.
By the time I had reversed out of the driveway on that second ride, I was officially in love. When my foot hit the gas and my vehicle plowed effortlessly over a mound of snow I knew this was a blessed union. Winterforce's power in the snow exceeded my expectations. Traveling on the un-plowed streets of my neighborhood proved to be no trouble for my mighty tires. Even on slick roads, they never once slipped a bit.
It has now been a week since the Firestone Winterforce tires and I first met and with each ride I fall further in love. At every patch of ice and pile of snow my tires prove their faithfulness and display their unwavering strength by overcoming every obstacle. On the rims of the Winterforce, I can drive with confidence, knowing that I am safe and secure in the grips of their powerful tread and traction.
As you can tell, my tires and I are enjoying a blissful, beautiful union but I know that our love affair is bound to come to an end. Even though the roads are covered in snow today, I know that spring will come and my beloved Firestone tires will take up residence in storage until the snow flies again.
But don't worry about my life being left loveless. Even without my Firestone Winterforce Snow Tires, size p235/55r17 I know I will not be lonely because when my tires are removed from my vehicle's rims, I will still have glorious tread and all-powerful traction to fill my life with everlasting love.
It is Jesus Christ's risen body and redemptive blood that provides the tread and traction I need to travel safely in every season and on every street. No matter what the conditions of my life or the future forecast, I am held in the grips of the All-Mighty. It is His perfect love that sustains me. Held in His outstretched arms I travel safely, without skidding or slipping even when the roads are treacherous and the paths have yet to be plowed. The Lord softens the bumps and ruts in the road, making my journey one of comfort, peace and rest.
As I ride on the powerful wheels of Jesus' victorious life, I do so with the confident assurance that I will conquer every obstacle and survive every storm because I am held in the grips of His perfect love and overcoming life.
It's true, I have fallen in love. In fact, I fell in love years ago and still to this day, I am completely smitten. I cannot contain my excitement nor would I ever want to conceal my affection. No, I am so in love that I want to shout it from the city square and proclaim it from every mountaintop. "I have found the one who my soul loves, the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ." 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Purified

 
For the past two months every family member residing in my home has been battling a cold or a flu - or both. We've all tried to attack our sickness with our tried and true, go-to weaponry. NyQuil has been enlisted. Kleenex have been on the front lines. The essential oil diffuser has been working over time, as has the hot water heater which has been employed to assist in an outrageous number of epsom salt bathes.
Despite our best efforts to defeat our vicious virus enemy, sickness has still been winning the battle and our household has yet to claim victory. Everyone is all still coughing and sneezing and feeling downright defeated. But after two long months, the future of my family's collective health is finally looking up because we've enlisted reinforcements. With a quick, two-click SOS purchase on Amazon, more powerful weaponry was deployed and two days later, Prime delivered a warrior to aid in our sickness fight: the mighty Air Purifier.
With our new weaponry drawn (read: unpacked and plugged in) the impurities in our home are being beaten back and the sniffles are on the run. The unseen particles and molecules floating through the air are being stripped of their evil contaminants and pollutants. The mighty little purification machine, set to its most powerful setting, is fighting hard to filter out the invisible enemies sabotaging our sickness recovery efforts.
Without first purifying the air the fight for health in my family's home was always futile. While going to battle in an un-purified state we didn't stand a chance of defeating the enemy's coughing and sneezing attacks. Without first attacking and removing the impurities of our air, there was never any hope for beating our sicknesses and claiming victory.
And the same goes for the battle being waged within my heart.
Keeping me from having a healthy heart is a nasty virus of hate making my spirit sick. The germs and bacteria of rage and anger have infiltrated to the very pit of my soul like an infectious cough. Frustration and displeasure have made as ill as the flu. With my best efforts, I've tried to beat back my enemy but even with go-to weaponry I haven't been able to claim victory. Fighting with prayer has been futile when the words are spoken with this malicious cough. Scripture has convicted the sin in my spirit but hasn't conquered and killed the hatred of my heart. 
It is in the battle for my family's physical health that I have discovered the missing weapon in the fight for my spirit's health. The war of sin and hate underway in my heart will never be won without first purifying the air.
Apart from the mighty weaponry of the Holy Spirit deployed in my heart to clear the air and remove the contaminants of sin and hate I have no hope of victory. I need Christ's reinforcements to come to the aid and beat back the vicious enemy that has been keeping me sick.
Thankfully, victory by the all-mighty work of Christ arrives faster than Prime and is easier to access than Amazon. The moment I call to the Lord requesting His mighty reinforcements, God deploys the Holy Spirit to purify the air of my heart. The perfect lamb of God, my Savior who suffered and sacrificed for sinners, filters my heart and cleanses it of the anger and hate that has been making me sick. With the mighty weaponry of forgiveness, the Holy Spirit removes the contaminants of sin polluting my heart. He employs love to kill the nastiest germs full of malice and rage.
In the presence of my Savior the enemy doesn't stand a chance. With the reinforcements of Christ's Holy Spirit on the front lines of my heart's fight, the illness of hate is defeated.and the victory in Jesus is won.

Cleansed by the Savior's boundless grace and merciful love... indwelled with the reinforcements of His Holy Spirit... the heart's air is purified and the spirit made truly healthy and well.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Tis the season!

Move over Christmas and New Years. Tis' the season for Girl Scout Cookies and, just in case you hadn't noticed yet, the happy holiday is already in full swing.
Girl Scout Cookie Season celebrations begin each year in January. Interestingly, the holiday kicks off at precisely the same time that fitness facilities are at their height of the busy gym membership sales season. Coincidence or new year's resolution sabotage? The world may never know.
But back the cookies.
In Girl Scout Cookie season, young scouts dawning badges of distinction and the signature sashes hit the pavement (and family functions) selling copious numbers of their boxed cookie delicacies. Enthusiastic scouts knock on the doors of neighbors bearing pictures of Thin Mints and promises of Do-Si-Dos. Even parents join in the festivities by taking order forms and cookie catalogs to work.
For cookie lovers, Girl Scout Cookie season is time for rejoicing. For the young scouts themselves, this season is one of the most wonderful in the entire year.
But not so for me. I haven't participated in the Girl Scout Cookie holiday for years. Ever since I began limiting my sugar, cutting out cookies entirely, I haven't taken part in the seasonal festivities. It has been over a decade since I've indulged in the coconut, caramel combination of a Samoas. So far removed from my memory is the taste of a Taglong that I am no longer even tempted by its rich chocolate and creamy peanut buttery goodness.
I know you must be thinking, "What a sad holiday!" Without boxed sugary sweets to celebrate you probably think my Girl Scout Cookie season is a drag. But, rest assured, dear Reader, because even without cookies - not even a single Shortbread - I have a gloriously sweet reason to rejoice.
With the spirit of a Girl Scout at the height of the cookie season, I'm enjoying the sweet faithfulness and satisfying love of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is the richness of His grace that gives me cause to celebrate even after Christmas has passed. All throughout Girl Scout Cookie season the presence of Christ fills my life and heart with the abundance of His goodness.
In every season of life, whether it be filled with Christmas cheer or cookie sales, God's gift of Salvation gives me unending reason to rejoice. It is the sweetness of the Lord's faithfulness and love that fills my life and heart with cause for celebration all throughout the year.
No cookies required.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Danger: Downed Wires Ahead

 
The power line whipped in the winter wind, swaying precariously on the brink of total collapse. Before the ravaging winter storm that dumped six feet of snow, the roadside electrical cables had been suspended high up in the air, held taut between two strong utility poles. But the crushing weight of snow and ice was more than the wires could bear. They drooped and sagged for days until they couldn't endure one more single snow flake. With a mighty gust of wind, the cables snapped in two, sending severed ends of live wire dangling dangerously in the street below.
As I observed the scene I felt compelled to help but how? I couldn't put the wires back up again. Unable to lend any aid, I reached for my phone and dialed the township authorities. After relaying the details of the dangerous scene, the woman on the other end of the line assured me a maintenance crew was on their way to address the problem.
A few hours later I passed through the same intersection and was pleased to see not a single dangling wire in site. The crew had already been to the scene and had completed their work of fixing the downed cables and re-securing them in their rightful place. Thanks to the speedy work of the maintenance crew, order had been restored. Drivers were out of danger because every wire was returned to its safe and proper position suspended high above the street.
Ever since the scene of the downed wire I've taken note of roadside cables and cords. What I've seen has troubled me, ounce again compelling me to call for help. 
The danger I've seen is laying all across the landscape of my heart. The emotional cords and cables running along the pathways of my spirit are swaying precariously in the wind. The ravaging storm of sickness has caused my wires to droop and sage, crushing them with heavy weight of depression and despair. The precious, delicate cables connecting me to God are so greatly burdened by inescapable pain that they are on the verge of total and complete collapse. 
Observing the dangerous scene of my heart I can do nothing but cry out to God for help. I am desperately dialing His number, begging for His mighty maintenance crew to come quickly to my aid.
The voice on the other end of the line is one of sweet assurance. The Lord my God answers with soothing Words of peace and rest. In His love, He assures me that His maintenance crew is on the way to address my every pain and problem. He promises that His salvation is already enroute to the scene of my suffering. 
In His infinite power, God comes to my aid and fixes my every downed wire, restoring them back to their rightful, holy place. At the scene of my sorrow, God's healing hand lifts my sagging cords and droopy cables. He suspends my emotions above streets of trials and tribulations so that I can travel safely underneath. He re-secures my spirit to His perfect love and grace.
By the work of the Lord, my Heavenly Maintenance Crew, my every wire has been rescued, my every danger removed because I have been redeemed and restored to the everlasting source of God's infinite power and strength.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Skiing Retirement

I used to be a skier, a true lover of the outdoor sport. I loved the thrill of gliding along mountains of packed white powder. I found pleasure on the wide open slopes and hidden trails blanketed in crisp white snow. With polls in hand and goggles securely in place, I relished the wind whipping my face and even enjoyed frost's chilly kiss. As I whizzed past trees and across ice, I embraced the joy and thrill of adventure.
On top of snow covered mountains, buckled into my skis, I felt liberated and set free. By skiing I could escape my worries and troubles. I discovered that I could leave my cares and concerns on the wind swept mountain top and then ski away so fast they couldn't catch me. With my skis I found a way to cast off my burdens and claim carefree independence from their power.
But I don't ski anymore. I can't ski anymore. My body has forced me to go into early skiing retirement, keeping me from the sport I love, not to mention my favorite way to escape.
Being kept from the slopes has made me angry and sad. I miss the thrill of flying over jumps and carving my way through hidden trail. I miss the feeling of being carefree while sailing across the snow with the wind, and my worries, whipping at my back. I miss hopping on my skis, speeding away from my struggles and leaving my every care behind.
But I need not miss the feeling of freedom because my days of liberation are not over. On the slopes of God's grace, my independence can still be claimed because by His salvation I have been set forever free.
From the comfort of home I have discovered that God has made his mercy into a gloriously thrilling hill hidden within my heart. On the slopes carved out by His Holy Spirit, blanketed in His love, I am liberated from my cares and relieved of my worries. I no longer need a chair lift or a snowsuit to experience the freedom of escaping my troubles because God can set me free any time, in any place.
My skis are retired - at least for now - but God has never (and will never) retire His grace. The slopes of His merciful salvation are open wide and the powder is more glorious than the freshest fallen snow. It is at the top of Christ's holy mountain, covered in the pure white redemption of His perfect love, that I discover true liberation from my worries and everlasting freedom for my soul.