Maid to be Still

Yesterday morning started out a little different than most mornings have lately. I woke up with some heartache from the night before so I talked to the LORD about it and saw He gave me more peace than the day before- probably because I asked.

I’m trying to become more dependent on Him instead of anyone else, looking to Him to be the primary supplier of my needs in every area of my life.

I grabbed my phone after praying and tried to read a devotion I’ve had saved on my phone for months now, but my eyes weren’t ready to focus just yet. Luckily there is an option to have it read to me so I opted for that. Afterwards I got out of bed.

I brushed my teeth and put on my pants. Not long after, I went into the bathroom. I remember making the choice to sort of bend to do something instead of leaning over and I coughed at the same time. It seems I heard a snap. I can’t exactly remember if I heard it or just felt it inside my lower back but there was intense pain that came along with it. I couldn’t move.

Thankfully my husband is on vacation and hadn’t left the house yet so I yelled for him. He helped me to the floor, per my request. I forced myself to move forward and I put my face on the side of the cold iron bathtub. It was as if something flashed before my eyes. Not necessarily my life but the thought of not being able to get up and walk again.

I’ve pulled a muscle or two in my day but nothing like this. My lower back has hurt before, putting me in tears at work, but nothing like this.

I was able to back myself out of the bathroom on my hands and knees and crawl into the bedroom. I painfully made my way down onto the floor and just layed there. My husband was there beside me but there was nothing he could do.

As I lay there in pain, silent tears began to roll down my face. After a few minutes, Jason helped me stand up and walk to the couch. He told me to straighten my body up and walk upright.

A trip to the Dr, some hours, shots and x-rays later, I was relieved to be told it was muscle strain.

When we got back home Jason had some business to tend to so my daughter stayed with me. She ended up falling asleep and I didn’t want to wake her so I got up on my own when I had to.

Some movements still cause great pain but I understand sometimes you just have to press on, be tough and suffer through it.

In these past 24 hours, I’ve been made to be still and know that God is God. He is the Great Physician and Mighty Healer – not just of our bodies, but of our hearts.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past month or so struggling to overcome deep hurt in my heart. Many nights of lying in bed with a lump in my throat that made it nearly impossible to even swallow. There is a saying about life being a bitter pill, sometimes hard to swallow. Maybe that is what the person that first said it was talking about.

Even though certain pain is seemingly unbearable, I believe the times we struggle, alone, is God’s way of wanting us to run into the arms of a (or another) man: Jesus Christ.

As humans we long for that tangible someone to care and be there, to heal our hearts from the hurt and pain we feel. The LORD longs for us to seek Him. He is the only One who can truly satisfy the heart and soul and help us more than anyone or anything else the world can offer.

The last time I laid in bed with silent tears, I noticed the lump wasn’t there. I paid attention to that and wondered, is the lump in your throat really you fighting the tears off? It’s hard to be vulnerable but that is what the LORD desires. I believe we often fight tears because it causes is to be aware and come face to face with our emotions and pain.

It’s easier to turn hurt into anger. We think of it as being strong, unshakable, but it really turns in to bitterness and hardness of heart. Anger gives a foothold to the devil. He’s then able to grab hold of us by the foot and lead us further in to sin.

“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:26-27‬ ‭KJV‬‬

I’ve passed by a church sign several times lately that says, “Humble yourselves and pray.” So many times things happen in our lives that show us we need to humble ourselves and so many times we choose to not. I hear a still small voice say

“…for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:5(b)-7‬ ‭KJV‬‬

The LORD has been bringing it to my attention how much pride I really have. He’s reminding me there is nothing I can do without His help. He’s allowed me to be broken in so many ways lately, but I understand why. He wants to put me back together properly.

Maybe it had to become physical for me as well. Maybe I had to become completely vulnerable, helpless, on my knees in all aspects- to the point of total reliance.

It doesn’t mean it’s easy to combine spiritual truths with my own life and current circumstances. It isn’t easy to walk upright when you’re in so much pain. Other ways are so much easier, but again, the Word says,

“He who walks in his uprightness fears the LORD, But he who is perverse in his ways despises Him.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭14:2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

When the chips are down and no one else is around, by choice or not, our faithful Friend is still there.

“And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.””
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭31:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

All too often we chase a love we want to have that really isn’t there. We search for unfailing love in all the wrong places. We run away from that good and perfect love that God is the supplier of. Sometimes it feels like He hurts us but we really hurt ourselves. Sometimes I think God allows us to feel the hurt so we may draw nearer to Him.

He is there in the midst of our pain and He doesn’t walk away. When the pain is more bearable, He still doesn’t walk away. He stays and helps us.

With the covid, many have had to be secluded. Many have been made to be still, no matter what the case may be. I hope if people haven’t, they will search Him out to fill the lonely void in their hearts, taking this opportunity He is allowing to know that He is God.

Dear Lord, help us to give you all the glory. Help us to place no one or no thing before you. Help us feel your living, loving presence in our lives at all times. Help us to give others the same mercy and grace you give us. Help us to remember You are near to the broken hearted. Please forgive us where we fail You. Help us to walk upright in the midst of our pain. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Nailed It

Since none of us are getting any smaller, the whole kitchen floor had to be pulled up and the dirt dug down and hauled out as we should have done years ago. 

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Over a year and a half ago we had a little run-in with some unwelcome guests: termites. When we found those unwanted intruders, we called pest control to come spray and assess the damage they’d done.

Since our house is an “antique”, when we bought it we had to replace almost every floor down to the joists. We even brought shovels, wheelbarrows and the teenage boys in the family in as reinforcements to help us dig up dirt close to the floor that had caused the wood to rot.

One room we didn’t dig much of the dirt down and haul out was the kitchen. The pest guy said we’d have to dig down so his worker could crawl underneath to treat for the termites.

Since none of us are getting any smaller, the whole kitchen floor had to be pulled up and the dirt dug down and hauled out as we should have done years ago.

If you’ve ever had your kitchen floor replaced, you know it is a dreaded job that is only done when necessary. The refrigerator, stove, cabinets and anything else on the floor must come out.

After the area was treated the floor was rebuilt but had a weak spot in it and was unlevel. We lived with it like that for quite a while… until this past weekend. I decided I was ready and it was time! My refrigerator has actually been in my dining room all this time because I wasn’t taking the doors off and moving it back in until the floor was completely fixed.

I pulled everything out of the kitchen Saturday morning. I put my daughter and niece to work and later, my husband too. When I found out the guy wasn’t going to be able to work on the floor until Monday or Tuesday of the coming week, I told my husband it was up to us and I couldn’t wait that long to get started.

Thankfully some friends came and spent their Saturday night helping pull up our floor, jack up floor joists and cut plywood subflooring and piece it together.

Sunday rolled around and me being determined to get the house back in order ASAP (Thanksgiving dinner will be at my house next week!), we spent time cutting, measuring, suffering.

When time came to lay what is called underlay that the vinyl will lay on, it called for staples. I’m a cheapskate and refused to buy a staple gun so we opted for nails.

My poor husband is constantly on call for work so when he was frustrated with the hammering and the phone, I grabbed my trusty leather gloves, the nails and hammer and decided to bend a few myself.

The night before, I’d hammered screws in to get them started and my friend (and reinforcement), Brandy, followed behind and screwed the plywood to the floor joists with the drill. I’d hit my fingers several times with the hammer so using my gloves the following night was a stroke of genius.

I’ve never been good at hammering so as I hit my thumb a few times I was thankful for the bit of cushion. I was bending nails left and right and throwing them across the floor (with an attitude). Suddenly I thought, “Why don’t I just ask for help?”

A simple “Lord, please help me,” and what do you know- the nail went straight through. I started saying “please” and “thank you” and found myself moving right along. Of course I bent some more nails along the way but as I started thinking about this I thought of how bad it must’ve hurt to have those nails driven into Jesus’ hands and feet on the cross. My attitude began to change.

As I hammered and the nails went straight on through, I thought of myself- my sins, causing those nails He had to feel. I began to struggle with hitting them as hard as I had to hit them. I am grateful for that act of love that was done for us.

I then thought of Jesus and how in Mark 6:3 it is written, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

It says He was a carpenter. How He could actually give me some tips on where to hammer those nails and how to get that nail in right every time, so I began to ask for that too.

It was quite the time I had down on that floor in the kitchen with Jesus. He was there helping me out while helping me remember what He did for me and how He continues to do for me.

When my husband came back to the kitchen he said “woah”. I’m not sure if he was talking about all the bent nails thrown across the floor or how much work I’d gotten done. He knelt down on the floor and asked me if I was ready for him to hammer for a while. Of course I had saved him some edges I couldn’t seem to get.

As I went for one more nail I reminded him that Jesus was a carpenter. I told him a few of my thoughts I’d been thinking and how I’d been seeking His help in there and had received it.

It turned out to be a good time, just me and the Lord. My time knelt down on the floor changed my whole way of thinking. It always does.

Thanks for reading!

The Mustard Seed

As I looked off to try to pull myself together, I just so happened to look to my right and there on a shelf was a nice, shiny glass jar full of mustard seeds!

Luke 17:5-6 NKJV    5) And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” 6) So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

I never knew what a mustard seed looked like when I first read this verse  long ago, but could only assume it was a very small seed. It never seemed to affect my understanding until years later when I actually saw one. It was quite an encouragement to see how small a mustard seed really is and know, if I have at least that much faith, big things can happen.

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A lady I used to clean for once a week never had me doing the same thing as I did the previous week. One day she wanted me to help her clean her spice cabinet out. As I reached and retrieved different bottles and containers, I handed them down to her. When we got to the container of mustard seed she said it needed to be thrown away. I quickly spoke up and asked if I could have it. Of course she didn’t care and I gladly brought the jar home.

Since I spend a great deal of my time in my own kitchen, I decided I’d put it on the counter beside my stove. It would be a good reminder for me.

Reminders can sometimes be overlooked when we see them day after day, but when we see them in places other than our own kitchen, they remind us, as well as revive us, in a special kind of way. The reminders we’re blessed with seem to come along just at the right time.

It was the night before Christmas (just kidding, but it was close!) and my husband and I were out doing some last minute shopping. We decided to eat at a restaurant close by that we’d never been to (Outback Steakhouse).

As we sat at the table, we talked about some things that were heavy on our hearts at that time. As I looked off to try to pull myself together, I just so happened to look to my right and there on a shelf was a nice, shiny glass jar full of mustard seeds!

The shelves weren’t near every table but they were by ours at a perfect time: a time when all the faith I had was surely as much as at least one tiny seed in that large jar.

I believe He hears our hearts say to Him, “Increase our faith.”

Can you think of a time when He gave you a reminder?

 

Messy Monday

I feel as if I’m being held captive within the walls of my own home, but in all actuality, my captivity stems from the walls of my own heart.

Today, once again, the house is quiet: everyone is back at work and school and I am home alone. The only noise I hear is the sound of raindrops lightly beating on the rooftop.

Mondays always make me feel a little detached from the world, but with the much needed rain falling today, that feeling is magnified a bit more. I feel as if I’m being held captive within the walls of my own home, but in all actuality, my captivity stems from the walls of my own heart.

Today, in the quietness, I have no choice but to recognize this reality. The issues I can pinpoint, even try to justify, yet I know the loneliness I feel is the result of separation from my Father.

Today, as I wander around the house aimlessly, I remember something I’d once written many years ago. I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be song lyrics or a poem, but nothing else came to my mind to go along with it. Those words, much like me today, stand alone:

“I only come to You when it’s raining outside; I only run to You when there’s nowhere else to hide.”

So often I’ve been known to call on others instead of first communing with my Father.

As it so happens, our home phone has been having problems for quite a while now and seems to worsen with any sort of moisture, so with the constant rain, a conversation with anyone today is not a viable option.

One thing I have learned is when it comes to matters of the heart, there is nothing anyone can say or do to change it’s condition except my Father.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 KJV  12) Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13) And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 14) And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.

On a day like today, He leaves me no choice but to commune with Him, and for that I am grateful. 

Now, please excuse me as I prepare for freedom once again.

Thank you for reading.

 

The Speeding Ticket Part II

I’ve been to court with people and was treated as if I were the one that was guilty; I certainly didn’t want to go knowing I was.

Once I acknowledged and admitted to myself, and others, that I was guilty of the offense, I had no choice but to move forward.

I’ve heard some say, “They’re only sorry because they got busted.” I say maybe sometimes we need to get busted. What better way to bring us to our senses?

Regardless, I now had to deal with the consequences of my actions- how I regretted them.

Not only the possible increase in insurance premiums, but having a mark on my driving record, as well as pay an almost $200 ticket was quite a price.

Since I wasn’t given the option for driving (traffic) school on the citation, I called the city clerk’s office. They said I could go before the judge and ask for the option. Would that also mean paying court costs? And to stand before the judge? That doesn’t even sound good to me. And to volunteer to do it? Court really isn’t a place I want to be. I’ve been to court with people and was treated as if I were the one that was guilty; I certainly didn’t want to go knowing I was.

As time went by, I would occasionally contemplate my choices with my husband. At first he made jokes and laughed because he had warned me time and time again about going too fast. When time drew near he said, “Oh Cill, don’t worry about it. I’m going to pay the ticket for you.”

The thing is, I’ve been with him the majority of my adult life and he has paid for whatever the majority of my adult life. This time it just seemed different. Maybe I’m not as immature as I seem but I just couldn’t think of him paying for this, especially after he’d warned me many times to slow down. It wasn’t his wrong; why should he pay for what I did.

Out of love he was willing to pay the cost.

Hmmm. You see where I’m going with this?

Isaiah 53 tells of Jesus giving His life for us. I encourage you to read the whole chapter, but I will pull out verse 5. It says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”

There is no way I could ever pay for my sin as I did my ticket, instead God sent His Son in my place to pay that price. I was the guilty one, yet the Innocent One took my punishment.

This ticket is a lesson for me. I now watch my speed. I don’t want to pay a hefty fee for doing wrong. I work hard for the money I make.

As far as the debt that was paid for my sin, it’s not something I would never be able to afford, nor is it something I can work off by my good works. The only payment method accepted is the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross.

HE worked hard. HE carried that cross- the same one HE died on. HE knew HE had to suffer the persecution, yet HE did it out of love and obedience so that we could join Him and the Father when our time is over here on earth.

He gives much grace, yet He wants us to learn here. To realize the things in our lives tie in spiritually. He doesn’t enforce the law, but gives grace time and time again.

At the closing of Part I, I had to admit I was guilty. Spiritually speaking, to be able to come to the my Father through Jesus Christ, I had to admit I was guilty of being a sinner. I had to drop that pride and rebellion and humble myself in the sight of the Lord. In Part II,  I see mercy and grace offered out to me even during the consequences from my rebellion and my poor choices. I see He paid the ultimate cost for me, yet through all parts, He continually loves me and is patient with me.

What a wonderful and forgiving Father He is to love even me, in spite of me, and He loves you too!

Thank you for reading!

Carry Me

As the years passed and I grew older, it occurred to me that I was no longer that little kid that could easily be carried. I was in a place where I realized I needed Someone stronger. No human could carry me with all the heaviness I had found within.

My youngest brother (of the 3) is a little over two and a half years older than me so we were pretty close growing up. He may have inflicted much pain into my life but he would also stand up to anyone that tried to hurt me. From early on, any time I got hurt, I remember him carrying me home.

I had to have been about 4 years old because our grandmother passed away when I was 5. We were playing down by the creek and my brother, Keith, picked up a big round rock. I always wanted to do what he did so I decided to pick it up too, only I wasn’t as strong as he was. I dropped it on my knee and I began to bleed. Thirty-four years later and the scar is still there. Keith was not only strong enough to pick up the rock; he was strong enough to carry me all the way to our grandparent’s house. When we arrived, my grandmother cleaned my knee and put a bandage on it.

One day we were riding the school bus home on our bumpy dirt road. I was sitting in the back and let me tell you, skinny kids don’t belong in the back of the bus when you’re on a road with potholes. The bus driver showed no mercy and hit a few of them in a row. I bounced up off the seat and the breath was knocked right out of me. Thankfully it happened about a minute away from our house. Again, Keith carried me home from the bus stop.

Another time I recall is when my brother built a ramp to jump his bicycle. I watched him fly through the air, carefree. I decided I was going to do it too, only I didn’t go near as fast. After the fact, he told me I didn’t go fast enough. I rode my bike slowly up the ramp, singing a song from a perfume commercial (yes, I still remember the song haha). I flipped right over the handlebars of my bike. Guess who carried me home. Yep, Keith.

It is not often I see my brother anymore but I remain grateful for all the times he took care of me. As the years passed and I grew older, it occurred to me that I was no longer that little kid that could easily be carried. I was in a place where I realized I needed Someone stronger. No human could carry me with all the heaviness I had found within. It was no longer my brother that I needed- it was my Father.

Isaiah 46:4 NKJV says- Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.

In life there are still times when I pick something up that’s too heavy for me to hold. Just because He (God) is big enough to lift it doesn’t mean I am. I end up dropping it and scrape myself up, yet He’s still there. He picks me up and carries me.

When the bumps along the road of life knock the breath right out of me, He picks me up and carries me.

When I try to do things my way, the wrong way, I flip right over the handlebars and land in the gravel. Still, the Lord is there. He picks me up and carries me.

Although I have some scars from life, and although I’ve endured pain, I’ve always been picked up and carried. I believe He was giving my brother the strength to carry me until I figured out I needed more than he could offer. What I needed was a Savior- I still do.

So if you’re reading this and you feel something lacking in your life- you need someone to carry you- reach out to the Lord. He will fill that void that none other can fill. He is strong enough. It doesn’t mean you won’t cry while He is carrying you in this life, but His Word is true. One sweet day, He will carry you home to be with Him: a place where there is no more sadness, no more suffering, no more pain and your tears will be wiped away.

Revelation 21:4-5 NKJV- 4) And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. 5) Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

Thank you for reading. May God bless you, for He will help you through.