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Back Handsprings

1 Samuel 16:1-4 – “And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the LORD. And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee. And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem.”

My daughter is trying to learn to do a standing back handspring. She almost has it, but she just needs to have the confidence in herself to get the task done. Yesterday, I took her to a private lesson to help her overcome. The coach was great. He encouraged her. He instructed her. He led her through a series of exercises to warm up. Yet at the end of the session, she still didn’t have the confidence to do the back handspring. It is hard seeing your child face these challenges. But I know, this is more than just learning to do a back handspring. This is about life. This is about believing in yourself. This is about trusting what you know. 

Samuel was faced with a difficult task. God had told him to go and anoint another king while one was still on the throne. Now then, put yourself in Samuel’s sandals for just a moment. Samuel was watching the one that God had chosen to be the first king in Israel fail. Saul was walking away from God and His statutes at an alarming rate. Samuel was sad. He was hurt. God said to Samuel, “Enough with the mourning. Get yourself up and go anoint the new king.” And Samuel responded just like I would, “But God, Saul could kill me for this!” Yet, does God coddle Samuel and act like the warm, squishy God that society today makes him out to be? Nope. God offers no words of encouragement, no sentiments of comfort – God says, “Take your heifer and go do what I told you to do.” Now, to us, that may seem harsh and unkind. But you know what, sometimes we have to face reality and get out of our pity party and do what God has called us to do. 

God didn’t need to tell Samuel that He would protect him. God didn’t need to tell Samuel that everything would be okay. No, Samuel already knew that. Samuel had experiences in his life to remind him that God was already at the end of the situation. Samuel had the knowledge that God had already seen this thing through and knew how it would turn out. All Samuel had to do was follow it through, do what he knew to do. 

My daughter knows how to do a back handspring. She has been spotted while completing a beautiful back handspring so many times that I have lost count. She has the knowledge. She has the experience. Now all she has to do is follow through and do what she knows to do. 

I know that very soon she will stand up and flip right over safely and beautifully. But until then, I just have to support and encourage her. That is my job. That is my part. It is my turn to be the cheerleader for my cheerleader. 

This week, you may or may not face something of extreme difficulty in your life, but you might know someone who is. Either way, remember, use your experiences to apply what you know. Trust that God knows what He is doing. Don’t be afraid to face the new and difficult challenges. Sometimes you just have to pull up your pants and get the job done. 

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Gray head

Proverbs 20:29 – “The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.”

Yesterday, I had a patient that was a young teenager in Munich during World War II. I had a million questions to ask her, but since it was our initial meeting, I kept them to a minimum. 

As I was laying in bed last night thinking and praying about my day, many of the people I have treated in the past came back to my memory. I saw their faces. I remembered their story. I remembered our story. It made me smile. 

I have been so blessed to have had so many truly amazing and history filled people in my life. I treated a man who survived the beaches of Normandy. I have treated people who have overcome significant medical incidents. I have treated many completely ordinary people with extraordinary personalities – beautiful souls with hearts to share. I have treated people who have challenged me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have cried in the bathroom because they passed away. I have listened to them cry and have laughed profusely with them. I have been there when they did something they never thought they could do. 

So as I was thinking about all of this, this verse came to my mind. The thing that I have right here and right now is my strength. Oh, I’m not ready to compete in any competitions but I can hold my own, so to speak. But I try to be strong emotionally and spiritually too. Sometimes people need that just as much as they need my physical strength. I do this because one day, I will be the gray head. I will be the one telling stories and crying with some poor soul that has to try and teach me how to get in and out of bed. Truly, I hope the Lord comes back before then. But if He delays, I know He will send me someone like me to laugh and cry with. 

My point is this, our aging population is vitally important. They have so much to offer. We can’t neglect or forget about them. They need love and compassion and respect. God has them here to teach us and nurture us and love us in a way that we don’t yet comprehend. So reach out to that person that is struggling to get their groceries in the car. Reach out to that neighbor who can’t easily bring in their garbage cans. Take some time to listen to their stories and hear the desires of their heart. God has them here for you. Love them. Happy Friday. 

The River

Job 28:7-12 – “There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: The lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it. He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots. He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing. He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light. But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?”

Yesterday, we hiked The Narrows in Zion National Park. It was incredible! Words cannot describe it!

I remember walking around a bend and just stopping with tears in my eyes while my heart cried out – Oh Lord, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalm 139:14)  

All along the way, though, I kept going back to one thing – the power of the water. God had sent the worldwide flood upon the earth many, many years ago which created this marvelous beauty that I was experiencing today. The water was rushing in places, shallow in others and chest deep in other places. (We avoided those places by watching the brave souls, or stupid souls, attempt them.) There were rocks strategically places to create bends in the canyon. There were walls hundreds of feet (probably more like thousands of feet) tall that sheltered us from the blistering desert heat. The water was chilly but not too cold. There were birds soaring in the canyon. There was a waterfall (tiny) that cascaded into the river. I’m telling you, it was amazing! And all because God created beauty from tragedy.

So today, if you find the river cutting into your heart, if your day feels like it is dividing you asunder, remember this – maybe God is trying to make something spectacular in your life. God just needs you to hold onto Him and let Him create a masterpiece in you. Happy Friday. 

Strong children

Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

It has been a long school year. But at the same time, it has flown. It has been a process of encouraging my children to succeed and guiding them through trying times. 

Yet through all of it, it has been the goal of our family to grow strong children. And I think we are. They face so many situations at school and in their “recreational” time that sometimes life seems overwhelming. 

My son is the strong, silent type. You know what a first child typically looks like? Flip it around, shake it up and cover it with a cloak and you have my son. My husband and I laugh that he is an enigma. But he is courageous. He always has been. His speech was delayed as a child and that made him shy. So overcoming is almost second nature to him. 

Now my daughter, on the other hand, well…there are very few words to accurately describe her. She is definitely strong. She is courageous – she rarely lets things keep her from speaking her mind. (Not sure where she gets that from!)   But she is joyful. She is fun. She is determined. She is mighty and fierce. 

They both are such strong and amazing children. I hear of other people worrying about their children and their future. Not me, I know God has placed these two on this planet for amazing things. I’m excited to see what it is!

But we need to encourage all of our children, whether we have them given birth to them or not, to thrive. Be successful. Be brave. Be courageous. They have a Mighty God who will NEVER leave them and He has something in store for them that we can’t imagine. 

Monday night, I heard a speaker challenge a group of students in this way – What was the promise that God made to the world when He brought you into it? Live every day with that in mind and see what God will do. 

Get off the porch!

Exodus 32:1 – “And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.”

I read a quote yesterday. “If I only trust what I can see with my eyes, I commit idolatry.” Simple, yet profound.

The children of Israel had just finished committing themselves to God. They had agreed to follow His instruction and guidance. They had committed themselves to Him. Moses goes up on the mount to chat some more with God. While he is gone, the people give up. They don’t know what has happened to Moses and they aren’t waiting around to find out. So they go over, grab Aaron by the arm and say, “hey, make us a graven image. We know what God said about idols but this guy, Moses, is gone and we need something to worship. Something we can see. I can’t believe in this God without Moses around.” (Melissa paraphrase, of course)

What about you? Is your faith in God tied to someone or something? Do you follow Him only when you can SEE Him working in your life? Does it need to be a minute by minute conformation? Can you only have faith because your grandparent is around? What happens when they are gone? Do you only believe in the power of God only when the pastor is around? If you were blind, would you still believe – even though you can’t see the works of God around you?

If you only trust when you can see, do you really trust? If you only believe when the one that teaches you is around, do you really believe? If your not at church, do you think God can speak to you?

As followers of Christ, we want to believe that we have this idol thing under control. “We don’t have idols set up at church or in our home. We know that worshipping something made with our hands is wrong.” But what if our faith is tied to someone or something?

We are approaching perilous times. We need to affirm our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. There are people around the globe, right now, that are being killed for their profession of faith in Jesus. There are people being persecuted by their neighbors because they refuse to deny Christ. If someone came in today and took away your Bible and took away your right to go to church, would you still believe? Would you still pray? Would you still have to courage to share Him with others? What if your family was threatened?

My point today, princess, is that we need to make sure that our faith in Jesus does not hinge upon someone or something – that our faith lies solely in Jesus. If everything was taken away – our Bible, our church, our family – and we were put in a cell with only the walls to keep us company, would we praise God for giving us life that day? Or does our trust and our faith rely upon our eyes?

This is a hard subject. But it is time to step off the porch and run with the big dogs. We need to stop with the warm, squishy feelings and hit home. God doesn’t want robots that go to church and routinely worship and serve Him. He wants people to be tough, be ready and be willing to show others a faith that is solely in Him and not dependent upon anyone or anything else.

My strength

Exodus 15:2a – “The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation”

I read a saying the other day, “Jesus doesn’t give you strength; He IS your strength.”
That got me to thinking. I know that Jesus is my strength. But isn’t the strength that I have from Jesus?

So I looked up all these verses. What I found is that in each of the Old Testament references, some type of trouble had been going on and the person in that trouble was recognizing that the only way they got through was because of the strength that God had provided to them. He was their only way out. He was the strength in their choices and in their muscle.

One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” For so long, I have looked at that verse as I have strength and God gives me more. But when I really stop and look at it and remember how I truly am (weak and easily swayed), I realize that any strength I have comes from my Savior.

These last few days, I have neglected to read and study my Bible. I had a hundred and one reasons why I didn’t have time. And then I was wondering why I didn’t feel like I had any momentum. I had strength to do my everyday activities, strength to get up and work out, but spiritually, I was drained.

Physical strength is different than spiritually strength. I learned that the last few days. And I know that somewhere inside I have always known that but sometimes it takes a walk in the forest to appreciate the sunlight.

So this week, princess, let me encourage you to remember who and what you are on your own. You may get through your day and do all that you need to do, but are you complete? Do you feel like something is missing? Well, maybe, just maybe, that something is your time with your Savior. Don’t neglect it. Make time for it. Choose to tap into your unlimited strength source today.

A good look in the mirror

1 Corinthians 6:19,20 – “know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 1:2
Last week, we started a workout program. We saw it and thought, “Twenty five minutes. I can do 25 minutes.” Little did we know that some guy on the tv would be trying to kill us for 25 minutes. None of us have died, yet. But we have definitely done a lot of sweating!
Why? Why are we putting ourselves through this torture? Do we want to look good? For what? For whom? Why do any of us start a fitness program at some stage in our life?
Most of the time the answer is for health reasons. We want to be healthier. But let’s look deep. Deep, deep down, the answer is probably vanity. We don’t want to look like a fat slob. We are tired of shopping in the big girl section. The old lady clothes are starting to look appealing. Yuck! So we decide to get it off the couch and start moving.

There is nothing wrong with this train of thought, to a point. When you start desiring to look good for anyone other than your spouse, you have problems.

You need to examine your motives behind exercise. Me, I want to look good for my husband and feel better about myself. I would also like for my clothes to fit a little better. I’m fairly healthy, but everyone could use some improvement in this area.

But let’s look at all this from a spiritual standpoint. Now, I know what you are thinking, “What does exercise have to do with my spiritual life?” When you look in the mirror, do you know what you are looking at? That, dear princess, would be the “temple of the Holy Ghost”! Yowza! How’s that temple doing? Is it in disrepair? Does it function properly? Can it do everything that its Creator is asking it to do?

Today, I just want to encourage you to look at your body. See if there is room for improvement. Ask God to show you where and how you need to change things. Maybe you need to lay off the sugar or wheat for a while. Maybe you need to start walking around the block every night after dinner. Maybe you need to join a gym. Or maybe all things are a go. Then, dear princess, get out there and do it! It doesn’t matter if you are 9 or 99, God has a purpose and reason that you are breathing today. It is your responsibility to go out there, figure it out and do it.