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.

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.

 

 

 

Solitaire

I had no choice but to go back and work on myself, by myself, in complete solitude. To be able to continue on, I had no choice but to do so.

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Since my job of cleaning houses requires very little brain power, last summer I decided to download a solitaire game on my phone. I’ve heard people say it is a good activity to keep your mind active. It didn’t take long for me to become addicted to this pastime.

As I played the game, I learned more and more. I paid attention to the cards I needed and tossed the rest aside, moving towards the prize: winning the game. I stayed focused on all the cards around me. I soon developed a strategy to help me move swiftly through the game. I watched for the opportunity to make the right move, constantly moving forward. At times I became discouraged, but the more I played, the less I quit. I was determined to finish the game.

On this particular game, I also had the option to play in tournaments. As I began doing so, I saw others and looked on them with pity as they trailed behind. Even though I wanted to win, I felt bad when others didn’t. The cards they were given just weren’t played right. There was the option to end the game before it was finished, but if you quit, you had no chance. If you could hold up and place in the top three, you could move on to the next level. 

At times I would see players begin to gain points rapidly toward the end. Sometimes they would end up winning, but sometimes they still lost. I would watch the one in last place and I knew their struggle. I would see their hesitation to press “END GAME”. I knew that feeling from my own experience. You don’t want to give up when you’ve come so far, yet sometimes that’s exactly what we do.

I started winning many tournaments. I spent way too much time on this habit-forming game. Once I’d won so many times, I started relying solely on my strategy. Eventually there came a time when it wasn’t working for me anymore. Maybe it would even be considered cheating to the experts, yet that loophole had gotten me so far. I began to lose at the game. My option to enter tournaments had closed due to my many losses.

I had no choice but to go back and work on myself, by myself, in complete solitude. To be able to continue on, I had no choice but to do so.

As I have lived the Christian life, I’ve made use of the cards I’ve been dealt. I’ve stayed focused and I’ve lost focus. I’ve seen the enemy (aka the devil) hit me where it hurts. I’ve seen me struggle to “stay in the game”. I’ve seen my strategy fail. And I have found myself completely removed from the tournament. 

As I sit here typing, the house is quiet. Everyone is back to work and school and I have the day off. I’m trying to spend my time wisely, staying busy doing things that need to be done. Only the sound of the keys pounding on my keyboard, the dryer and the occasional vehicle passing by break the complete silence, yet the silence is deafening. I am alone. I have a lot of things on my mind and I can’t fix them. I hear the Holy Spirit whisper, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10 [a] NKJV) In my stillness, I am made whole. And the silence? It helps me to better hear God’s still, small voice. I know I need to study His Word, I need to pray and I need to do these things alone, by myself, in complete solitude with my Father. I listen, by reading, what He has to say and even if I don’t understand now, I know that He is God and I am not and that is reassuring to me.

Be encouraged, be still and don’t quit the “game”. (By the way, it IS NOT a game- just an analogy.) Thank you for reading and God bless!

 

Patina

I was literally sick to my stomach. I rehearsed my apology speech in my mind until I heard the truck pull in the driveway.

I had been cleaning houses for several years when I received a call to clean for a certain couple. I accepted the job and became friends with them as well. They were usually there every time I cleaned but one day they left to run errands. I went about doing things almost as usual, only I sprayed the bathroom down with cleaner to let it soak. Usually I didn’t let it soak as long so it would be ready for use at any time. After several minutes, I walked back into the bathroom to begin cleaning. I noticed the faucets that were normally darker appeared more bright to me.

I began to get upset. I thought, “Oh my goodness, what have I done!” My mind was racing. This was exactly why I’d prolonged doing this type of work in my earlier years. I was always fearful I’d mess something up or break something. What if this was irreplaceable? I was literally sick to my stomach. I rehearsed my apology speech in my mind until I heard the truck pull in the driveway. I heard the doors shut. My heart began to pound. What would be their reaction? How much would this cost to replace, if it even can be replaced?

I waited for them to call a friendly “Hello, we’re back” as they walked through the door. I walked towards the kitchen as they were unloading the grocery bags onto the counter. “OK, well, I apologize,” I began. “I will replace what I’ve messed up. I let the cleaner soak on the bathroom fixtures longer than usual and now they’re lighter.” I walked towards the bathroom, trailing behind them a bit. In a carefree voice the lady said, “Oh, no, that’s just patina. That’s supposed to do that. Over time, a copper-like finish shows through. That’s what we want!”

Contrary to the slogan of a popular antacid, this time relief was spelled P-A-T-I-N-A! I told them I had been so sick about it. I thought I’d really messed up. It wasn’t my plan, but apparently it was theirs. It was the way it was supposed to be. I saw tragedy, they saw progress.

Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV says 8) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9) For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Just as the people I worked for, our Father in heaven has a plan for us that we may not understand. We may not know it, but we can trust that He knows what He’s doing. We don’t think like God, we don’t know the future but God does. His ways have much more meaning than we can even imagine. So when things seem dark and dull, in time- His time, a bright finish will shine through.

Thank you for reading and God bless!

Toys Picked for Me

I am my parents’ 5th child and am the baby of the family. By the time I was 3 years old, my oldest sibling was of legal age. A few years later, my brother next in line was graduating high school so the majority of my childhood years at home were with my sister and my  other brother- the third son of the family.

We were tight-knit long ago, as we lived in the country and were around one another the majority of the time. My brother and I were actually babied by our older sister.

At the age of 4 years old, kindergarten wasn’t quite ready for me yet, but I was becoming bored at home. I remember wishing I could go to school like my siblings, Becky and Keith. I’m not sure if I expressed my feelings, or if it was just their good idea, but that year they started leaving toys out for me to play with during the day.

I remember a particular morning when I woke up and checked that special spot. They had a purple and white airplane laying out, among other things. I was so excited and felt so loved that they had taken the time out of their morning to hand-pick specific toys just for me! I remember thinking, “Wow! They really want me to play with this today!”

Although these were toys I had full access to on a daily basis, it was the thought that counted. Even after 30+ years, I can still feel how special and important that act made me feel. It also made me feel as if they were with me during the day.

The memories of those plans they had for me still bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.

They cared about me and wanted me to have fun and enjoy my day.

Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Even when life doesn’t seem as joyful as having toys laid out for us to play with, our Father in Heaven has good plans for us. It doesn’t mean we won’t feel lonely at times or wish we were somewhere other than where we may be, but He thinks good things of us. He wants us to have a future and a hope, but that hope can only be found in Him.

When we walk with Him, He picks out our plans and lays them out specifically for us, just as my sister and brother laid out the toys they planned for me to play with each day.

What an act of love from our Father. He cares about our days and longs for His presence to be present in our lives. With Him, our future is far better than we could ever plan for ourselves.

I pray this will be a reminder of the hope we have in Him through Jesus Christ. Thank you for reading.