Friday, July 2, 2010

Remember Them...and Always Remember For Them!

Happy Fourth of July! Have I told you lately just how GREAT it is to be back in the United States of America? The words shared below were written on the Fourth of July while living in Jubail, Saudi Arabia last year. Oh, but this Fourth of July I am home! Yes, I am home on American soil, PRAISE GOD FOR THE LAND OF THE FREE AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE! I am so blessed and thankful to be an AMERICAN!!! GOD BLESS THE U.S.A.!!!

Remember Them...and Always Remember For Them!

Fourth of July, 2006, I wrote… "I just wanted to say thank you very much to each and everyone for all your genuine concern and prayers during my brother's illness. His fight with pancreatic cancer was one of the most courageous I have ever seen. Paul Perry DuBose arrived in Texas on February 17th with the news that Florida doctors gave him six months to one year to live. He was able to begin treatments at M.D. Anderson quickly and we anchored ourselves in prayer and rested in the assurance that all things were in God's control. They still are and we are not to ask why...but simply remain steadfast and remember...'not my will, but Thine.' Paul was 64 years old on May 4, 2006. He told us good-bye on Thursday, June 29th in momma's front yard in Brazoria, Texas. It was a very sad day when we waved good-bye to him as he began his return trip to Florida. We all realized it would be the last time we would see him alive this side of Heaven. Before he left, as he reached out his car door and said good-bye to momma in her scooter, he reminded her of months before when she had said 'I don't have long down here and I will be with your daddy soon...' and Paul had replied, 'don't say that don't know how long you have...none of us do...when or where...any of us might go before you do.' He also told her...'when his time came...not to feel guilty that she could not make the trip to Florida.' He ended his talk with 'I'll be waiting for you, mother.' Needless to say, momma still needs your prayers. Paul went to be with our Heavenly Father on July 4, 2006. If he had to leave us, then this was the perfect day for him...a day full of patriotism and celebrating our freedom, which he knew personally was so costly. It was also a day of his own personal freedom from suffering any longer. It was very befitting because if my brother had been well, he would have been on a run with his Vietnam Veteran Harley buddies to visit The Wall on such a remember those POWs, MIAs and all those who'd fallen. He was not at The Wall and he was not on his bike, but I am sure he got to see some of them today. I love him so much and I will surely miss him down here...for he was my voice with the National Rifle Association, my reminder to speak out and stand up for what I believe in. And he was my constant reminder to never forget those who gave their all so we could enjoy our blessed freedom. Please remember him...and always remember for him."

On Friday, July 7, 2006, in Gulf Breeze, Florida, Paul Perry DuBose's earthly body was escorted to Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida by a thundering mile of Harleys carrying some of our nation’s bravest men and women…who will continue to remember him and remember for him.

DATE OF BIRTH: 05/04/1942
DATE OF DEATH: 07/04/2006

DATE OF BIRTH: 05/07/1921
DATE OF DEATH: 06/22/2003

Fourth of July, 2009, I wrote… "Well, it is 3:45 a.m. and I cannot sleep. I am listening to the first of five prayer calls which will sound loudly over the speakers throughout Saudi Arabia today just as they do every day. The humming and singing of the monotonous praying chants from lost souls are vibrating through the walls and windows of this villa where my husband and I reside. My thoughts turn to my dad and my brother who are in heaven. This is the first time in my life I am not at home in the United States of America on the Fourth of July. Instead of enjoying a fireworks celebration proclaiming thankfulness for our freedom and participating in memorial services in remembrance of those fallen, I am listening, with very little freedom, to the lost who surround me in this foreign country. Most people of this culture despise the U.S.A., which I hold so dear to my heart. I so miss the celebration of my country today and what it stands for. I miss it as much as I miss jumping in my vehicle and driving to church to worship my one true God with my church family back home. I cannot comprehend the number of lost souls here…yes, some of the very souls Christ died to save. It draws my thoughts, in comparison on this day, to the number of people back home who have forsaken their freedoms which were bought and paid for, first by Jesus’ blood on Calvary, and secondly by the blood of our military. How can anyone take so lightly the cost that was paid so dearly for each of us? My oldest brother, Paul, lived his life to serve our country. He served in the Navy then retired from the Air Force about the same time they retired his C-130 Gunship, the SPECTRE. As I was re-reading one of his last e-mails to me (below), I am naturally thinking of him today, not just because he died on this day, but because he served my Country so did my dad, my two other older brothers, my older son and his dad…uncles, cousins, nephews, a niece and so many others I know and knew while living on Randolph Air Force Base and working at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas during the Vietnam war. I want to say to them and to you, again, I will remember you and I will always remember for you!"

Here is a video clip of the type Gunship Paul served on before retiring from the military.

Paul’s letter to me written January 8, 2005… “Sis, I actually took pictures from the open back door of another C-130 of exactly this scene. (Over the Gulf of Mexico) I was taking them for study of how the new "ALE-20" dispensers would disperse the flares. It was right after the Soviet development of a "seeker head" for surface to air missiles (SAMS) that would not recognize the first (lower) acquisition, then look up to find the engine exhaust. This method of dispersing would have the seeker look up to find the overhead flares. Of course at the time I couldn't talk about it, let alone have a copy of the pictures. This could very well be the same ones. (found their way back to me) We called it what it was "The ALE-20 " ....... don't know where the "Angel Decoy" came from. Love, Paul”

This is an Air Force C-130 releasing flares to repel heat seeking Missiles. The pattern formed by these “decoys” is how the nickname, Angel decoy, came about. It's absolutely awesome! Maneuvers are usually in remote areas and over water, therefore the general public does not get to view these exercises.




Captured in His reflection,

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Longing to Sit at the Feet of Jesus

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked. ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.’ ” Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)

A couple of weeks ago someone said to me, “I am proud of you trying to be a Christian but you do not know how to separate your spiritual life from real life.” I was shocked because that is NOT something I expected to hear from this person…not something one Christian would normally say to another Christian. I quickly replied, “I am not ‘trying’ to be a Christian. I AM a Christian and there cannot be any ‘separation’ of two different lives or lifestyles for a Christian. I have only one life and it is surrendered to Jesus and I am no different on Sunday morning than I am throughout the rest of the week.” This person then told me I needed to read my Bible with an open mind, and then turned and walked away. As I so often do in similar situations, I prayed for this individual then I sat there bewildered, perplexed and longed even more to seek Jesus and sit at His feet.

Are you attempting to live two separate lives…one spiritual and another deemed “real” or “large” by the world? All too often, people spend time with God at only specific times and in just certain places. They think “life” gets in the way and they become busy with other duties or interests. I have done this in my past and believe me; it does NOT work because you begin to leave the Holy Spirit and God’s presence out completely. You may be fooling yourself but you cannot fool God. It is very simple and the Bible is very plain about it. There are no gray areas. You are either a born again believer, saved by grace or you are not. You are either a Christian (a follower of Christ living in Christ’s likeness) or not. You are either totally His or not. There are no in-betweens or half-and-halfs. The qualities and characteristics of a Christian are not to be altered to fit a busy or worldly lifestyle. They are not to be placed on a shelf or to be put on hold in order to do something else. The Holy Spirit lives within a born-again believer and He intercedes for us so we may be in direct communication with God, our Father. The Holy Spirit also gives us Jesus' insight behind the words in scripture. We are to be ever conscious of the atonement for our sins and we are to remain focused and alert to the will of God throughout our entire life. In order to do this, we must spend time alone with Him. We must walk with Him. We must read and study His Word. We must talk with Him. We must listen to Him. We must pray. We must obey Him. That is how He knows we love Him. Yes, in order to truly KNOW Him and GROW in Him, we have to be in fellowship with Christ and this priority must be FIRST in our lives...EVERY DAY. We have to give Him our mind, commune with Him, seek His direction and follow His will. We have to slow down and live the life God intended. In other words, we have to give our Most High God what He deserves…our all. How? It is simple. We place Him first and we give Him our time and our solitude.

“Some of God’s children want to discover the blessedness of spiritual aloneness, to relearn the ways of solitude and simplicity. Retire from the world each day to some private spot...Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart and a sense of God's presence envelopes you. Deliberately tune out the unpleasant sounds and come out of your closet determined not to hear them. Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it...Learn to pray inwardly every moment. After a while you can do this even while you work.” ~A.W. Tozer

If you are too busy to give God time, perhaps you would be wise to contemplate A.W. Tozer’s words.

“Beware of saying, ‘I haven’t time to read the Bible or to pray’; say rather, ‘I haven’t disciplined myself to do these things.’” ~Oswald Chambers

Our Heavenly Father has supplied us with the Bread of Life and Living Water and He wants desperately to nourish us through His Word every single day. Some say, “I’ve read it, I know it,” and they pick their Bible up to carry to church on Sunday morning. Well, dear friends, God is a living God and He speaks new truths to us and reveals more of His true nature to us every day, as we read and study His Word. He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit, through other Christians and also through our circumstances. All we must do is slow down and give Him time. We must sit at His feet. Then He teaches us, guides us, redirects us, strengthens us and equips us for our journey each day.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom...” Colossians 3:16 (NIV)

The same person I mentioned earlier asked me today, “When are you going to be through with this writing?” I answered, “Probably never, unless God redirects me. I will not purposefully go against His calling another time in my life.”

Yes, I am guarding my heart to remain captivated in Jesus.
Yes, I am guilty of tuning out, throwing out and avoiding worldly things and attitudes which rob me of His presence.
Yes, I will continue to slow down and give Him my time.
Yes, I will continue to grow in Him.

“…mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13 (NIV)

Yes, I will continue to sit at the precious feet of Jesus, my Lord and Savior.

“…Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42 (NIV)

Captured in His reflection,

Monday, May 10, 2010

Remain Sure in Being Unsure

“…it has not yet been revealed what we shall be…” ~1 John 3:2

Isn’t it amazing how perplexing our English language really is and how narrow minded we really are sometimes? There are multiple connotations for so many words which we commonly use. The meaning may completely change depending on our tone, the word usage in a sentence, the subject matter involved or the surrounding circumstances. I have found this to be true with the simple words, “sure” and “unsure.” God has grown me to understand these words with a simple mind rather than a narrow mind. In Him, I now realize that I will always remain sure in being unsure!

In Oswald Chambers’ MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST, he writes of “Gracious Uncertainty.” He talks about how “certainty is the mark of the commonsense life---gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life.” Oswald Chambers is always turning on light bulbs for me and rattling my senses! You know those questionnaires where you are asked who you would most like to sit beside on an airplane for a 24-hour flight. Well, you guessed it…I would definitely sit next to Oswald Chambers!

As I have shared before, I have battled with perfectionism in the past. My natural instinct was one of precision…yes, always striving for perfection…to be accurate and remain sure. I now realize those are NOT the characteristics of a spiritual life. Perfectionism possesses an underlying desire to please others, thereby receiving pleasure in the accomplishment of self…otherwise known as pride! And yes, we all know pride is a killer! Being sure was definitely my goal in everything. I wrestled with an unsure state of mind on many occasions only to know in the end, I had the answer and conquered it. Right! My track record in life totally disproves “my conquering” anything except hard lessons. Within my own strength I cleaned up messes, organized situations, sought and determined answers, weighed and made decisions, lead, took action and walked away with pride in having done my best…yes, certain of conquering the ability to present myself pleasing before God, to others, and to myself. You bet!

Needless to say, my interpretation of the following was way off base:

“If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.”

“Work as if working for the Master.”

A simple concept of striving for perfection was ingrained in my mind…yes, to the driving point of destruction and separation from God. My misunderstanding of the word, “sure” in being sure of myself was totally working AGAINST me. I realize I am not alone. I have known many Christians who attempt to live in surety or who attempt to control their own destiny without fully realizing it. Sometimes this trait is found in a provider where choices must be made and they are made based on how their own parents did something or according to statistics, someone’s proven track record or what is deemed as sound judgment. I have seen this trait in survivors…those whose circumstances call for immediate action and their decisions sometimes involve the livelihood of dependents as well. This trait also exists in a person of single-mindedness, where in their eyes they know best. They sell it to themselves, their right and correct solution to a given problem or in a particular situation and they take steps toward what they have concluded as the appropriate action. That is what I was doing for so many years. It only proved I was NOT depending on God, NOT walking in faith, NOT leaving tomorrow in God’s hands, and NOT truly expecting His MIRACLES or BLESSINGS in my life. I was, what I perceived, a right-minded Christian, yet I was in charge. Of course, I prayed. Yet without a sincere question to or an intervention of the Holy Spirit, I kept my timeframe in mind and determined what actions to take. When I prayed, it was as though I simply wanted God’s approval for my planned course of action within my own timeframe. I did not involve or turn anything over to the Holy Spirit. I did not wait, listen or receive His insight or His instruction. We DO live in a fast-paced world and we tend to take on the worldly attitude of commonsense actions while living within the realm of our Christianity.


“We totally leave the Holy Spirit out of the equation as we go through the motions of a life we presume is abiding in Christ and Christ in us.”

The questions at hand are:

“How long will we refuse to KEEP our eyes on Jesus?”

“How long will we KEEP making our own decisions without the realization that God is left on the outside of our life while we simply carry the Holy Spirit within us?”

It is no wonder we often hear:

“My prayers don’t seem to go any farther than the ceiling.”

“If God is real, why doesn’t He fix this?”

“If He hears my prayers, why doesn’t He answer?”

“I can’t believe a loving God would let this happen.”

The real question for each of us is:

“Is my relationship with my Father an intimate one and do I really KNOW Him?”

It is not about a religion…going through the motions, quoting scripture and attending the church of our choice. Our Christian walk or our continuing intercession with Him or abiding in Him…yes, truly KNOWING Him is ONLY made possible through the Holy Spirit. God will NOT respond based on the fact that we made a public profession of our faith once or simply because we are praying want-it-now prayers within our circumstantial timeframe. He will, however, respond to fervent and ongoing prayer and intercession through the Holy Spirit and He will answer us within His own timeframe based on our genuine and faithful expectation in Him. YES, WE CAN DEPEND ON GOD. Our God is a God of certainty, of true organization, precision, correctness, and divine order…He is a GOD of SURETY! If we are Christian, that is, if we have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior and we have the Holy Spirit inside us, then our life belongs to God and He graciously bestows within us, an unsure state in all other things. He does not do that for us to be confused or for us to make our own choices. He does it for us to be expectant in Him…to seek Him through the Holy Spirit and commune with Him and to keep our eyes continually focused on Jesus. If we have given Him our all, we can rest in His assurance and be sure of Him. Yes, we can be totally sure of God and it is right to be unsure in everything else. We are to cast all our cares and burdens on God and hold all our expectations in God. We are to remain SURE IN ONLY ONE THING…OUR GOD…AND HAVE UNSURETY IN ALL ELSE BECAUSE WE DEPEND TOTALLY UPON HIM.

Captured in His reflection,

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Angels’ Wings… Do they exist or don’t they?

Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." ~John 21:16 (NIV)

I lived in Al-Jubail Saudi Arabia for seven months in 2009. During that time I was not allowed to drive because of my gender. Prior to that, I would jump into my vehicle and go wherever I wanted and do pretty much as I pleased. What a blessing it is to simply leave your dwelling and travel down the road! Yes, it’s a freedom that we often take for granted and have even complained about on occasion…that is, until we find ourselves in a place where we have limitations and we face the realization that our “wings” have been clipped.

When my mother could no longer walk and had to stop driving, she could still run over your toes in her wheel chair, roll around picking up pecans in the yard, rearrange furniture and door facings with her motorized scooter and mow you down if you were in front of her at Walmart.

She fell in December, 2008, breaking her leg in two places. Though healed, she is no longer mobile since she can no longer stand up and support her own weight. For those of you who do not know, my mother is not only homebound, she is also confined to her bed. Yes, she faces the daily realization that her “wings” have been clipped.

I talked with momma a few days ago and she was upbeat and chipper. She will be 88 this year and her mind is very sharp unless you awaken her and then she may begin talking about someone or something that happened years ago, like picking cotton in the hot humid cotton fields of Louisiana when she was a little girl. During the last conversation though, she was alert and rational; however, during the previous conversation we’d had a week ago, she told me she was planning to go take a bath and was anxious for me to come see her new shower which my brother, Darold, had redone for her. I had a lump in my throat, my eyes welled up in tears and I held my breath as she continued, “You haven’t seen it yet.” Then she described it in detail and how lovingly her sweet son had renovated the bathroom “just for his momma.” In actuality, momma is no longer able to shower or bathe herself and has a nurse’s aide do that. Also, Darold did the renovation about five years ago with the help of my younger son, Neal, and it was done prior to my living with her for more than a year while my husband was overseas in 2006-07.

I have to remind myself that when someone is in bed every second of every day, it is very easy for them to doze frequently and become disoriented. Even though she has a clock with the date, day of the week, time and temperature on it, she still wakes in a fog of confusion at times. It seems dreams are more prevalent and many times she is still in the midst of them when she awakens. I often think those dreams are her livelihood right now since they give her the freedoms she once enjoyed. In addition, momma has had epilepsy since 1950 and the medications which keep her seizures at bay also make her sleepy. In saying all this, I wanted to write about something that is very near and dear to my heart…the wings which God grows for us when our own wings are clipped. They are “Angels’ Wings.” They are not like Biblical angels who had no wings but they are His special servants who have grown these miraculous wings through His mighty power in order to accomplish His love, care and service for others whose wings have been clipped. I affectionately and tenderly call these characteristics “Angels’ Wings.”

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. ~Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

The first set of “Angels’ Wings” which God provided momma now rests in heaven. Paul P. DuBose, my dad, died on his mother's birthday in 2003 and was buried in a small family cemetery in East Texas beneath the whispering pine trees he loved so much. Daddy not only cared for momma throughout their marriage of 65 years, he assured there would be excellent provision for her throughout the remainder of her life. Thank you, daddy, for your love and foresight in caring for momma all her days. She loves and misses you so very much…as do your children.

The second set of “Angels' Wings” which God has provided momma is strong and secure...and not at all what you might expect. This set is worn by a Vietnam Veteran who rides a Harley and loves to fish. His name is Philip DuBose and he is the second of my three older brothers. He was momma’s choice for her long-term caregiver and his life has never been the same since taking on this awesome responsibility of love and devotion. There are not enough words to describe all he does in 24 hours/7 days per week. The details of his job description would stagger your mind and fill a book. His book would be a redneck version but indeed, it would be filled. Thank you, my dear brother...such simple words...yet they come straight from the depths of my heart. I love you so much and I am praying for you daily. May God continue to bless you as you provide momma such loving strength and security.

The third set of “Angels' Wings” which God has provided momma is joyful, uplifting and inspirational and worn by First Baptist Church Brazoria’s Homebound Ministry Leader, Jackie Burke. I’m not sure I have the words to describe such a loving, gifted and devoted Christian sister. Her first calling is signing for the deaf and she has taught many others this special gift. Her second calling of service is living and sharing God’s immeasurable love, affection and care for the elderly. Along with her other homebound members, Jackie visits momma regularly, calls her from town to pick up something she might need, runs errands for her, remembers her on holidays and her birthday. She stops by with a meal or special treats on occasion and sometimes she brings her husband, George, along to visit also. Jackie even takes momma on vacations. By that I mean she will call her regularly while traveling and keep her posted on all the sights she sees. She sends her cards, post cards and photos along the way. Once Jackie and George were traveling through many states on a long extended vacation and Jackie called momma to share all the experiences she encountered as she traveled through each state. Momma missed her visits but felt as though she were traveling along with them. Thank you, Jackie, my sweet sister in Christ, from the bottom of my heart. I love you dearly and I am praying for you as you minister to the elderly. May our Father continue to bless you as you bring such joy and inspiration to others.

The fourth set of “Angels' Wings” which God has provided momma is compassionate, loving and full of empathy. This set is worn by one of her closest friends...who, like momma, is also a widowed member of First Baptist Church Brazoria. Her name is Ruby Netzel and her phone calls, visits, prayers and genuine concern and love for momma are above and beyond that of a close friend. Ms. Ruby, as we call her, is always a phone call away and I thank God for what she has meant to my mother. God bless you, Ms. Ruby, and thank you for everything. You are such a good friend and such good medicine for momma. May God continue to bless you with such compassion and love.

The fifth and sixth sets of “Angels' Wings” which God has provided momma provide her fond memories, giggles and grins all covered with love and devotion. They are worn by her two younger sisters, Rita Martin and Frances Brevell. My sweet aunts visit, call and check on momma frequently and I appreciate how very much they love and care about her. Thank you, both, so much. I love you more than mere words can say. You are both treasured and always in my prayers. May God bless you both with good health and many more years to giggle as sisters.

The seventh and eighth sets of "Angels' Wings" which God has provided momma are coated with sugar and spice. They are worn by the two secretaries at First Baptist Church Brazoria. Becky Vernor and Carolyn (Sissy) Moffett are momma's links to answers "from the horse's mouth" regarding spontaneous questions about church or church members' health, etc. Becky and her own sweet mom have been so kind as to keep momma supplied with Christian romance novels to read and both Becky and Sissy check on momma regularly, visit and readily stop by if she calls. Thank you both so much. I treasure your friendship with and for momma and I appreciate and love you for caring about her in your busy lives. May God continue to bless you with sweetness and such a caring attitude toward everyone.

It is amazing how our Father has blessed my mother with such awesome “Angels’ Wings” to replace her clipped ones. I thank God for all the people in her life but especially these I’ve mentioned…they mean so much to me because they care so much about her. I know there are many others who have shown love, affection, care and provided for various needs or requests but these are steadfast and true blue. God has given her these “Angels’ Wings” on earth and she is richly blessed…as are her own children.

Thank You, Father God, for my mother and for Your watchful care over her. Thank You for all the people in her life who make her smile each day, cause her to laugh and see You reflected in their love. May You continue to bless her and bless them in their service for You and may You keep momma and her “Angels’ Wings” in your watchful care, dear Father. Thank You and Amen.


Captured in His reflection,

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

God Hears Our Melody… ♫ ♫ ♫

"In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." ~1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV)

When I first surrendered to God’s call into special service, the Music Ministry is where I knew He wanted me and I wanted nothing more than to serve Him for the rest of my days…singing praises to Him and for Him. Looking back, it is no wonder to me now why He let the course of events happen in my life as He did…in order to break me and remake me…yes, to teach me. Oh… “Rabboni,” what limitations I had placed on Your calling! You wanted to hear melody from me yet I had to learn the music You treasured.

Isn’t it a GRAND thing that God not only collects our tears but that He hears our melody? Sure, He hears gifted musicians and singers praise Him with melodious tunes and trained voices. He hears joyful noises from others, as well, and they all please Him. After all, they are blessed with the very gifts He, Himself, has provided. I am alive in Jesus today to testify that these pleasing sounds are nothing to compare with the melody He hears when we pour out our heart and soul to Him in brokenness and humble ourselves before Him. He sees and knows the REAL in every one of us…yes, the good and the bad, the happiness and the misery. And in His eyes we are deemed most beautiful and sound most pleasing to His ear when we are broken for Him and submit to Him our all. There are so many scriptures in the Bible which tell us of the trials and turmoil we will endure if we belong to Him. We are molded by the Master Potter during these times…yes, so we will become pleasing to Him...and grow more in His likeness. It is a hard concept to celebrate our trials, especially in the midst of them. Yet that is exactly what we are instructed to do…KNOWING God is using them for His divine purpose. Hallelujah!? No…even BETTER than that!!!

Captured in His reflection,

Thursday, April 1, 2010

He Collects Our Tears

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” ~Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

The hardest things to endure in life are the things that pierce us, scar us forever and yes, agonizingly hurt us to the core of our very being. These things usually bring forth an abundance of tears and much remorse as a result of our suffering. What is an awesome fact is that our faithful Father collects all of our tears…yes, every single one. None are lost and not one tear is cried in vain. God also understands the language of our tears…that language with meaning which no words can convey.

I can identify with Beth Moore when she says, “If it’s out there, it’s either happened to me or it’s touched my life in some way.” Yes, like Beth, some things just happened to me and some things I, myself, caused to happen. The latter would be a hard pill to swallow outside of genuine repentance and forgiveness in the light of our Father’s amazing grace and mercy. It is also difficult to understand that the bad as well as the good has molded us into the very person we are today. If some of our experiences had not happened, we may not have chosen God. Does it ever boggle your mind that God knows the things that will happen to you before they actually happen? It’s a hard truth to grasp, yet He knew and He knows.

Then comes the inevitable question, “Why?”

Why was I molested as a child?
Why was I forbidden to follow God’s calling?
Why did I rebel and marry thinking it was an escape?
Why was I a bad example before my children?
Why have I married and divorced multiple times?
Why did I allow the world to influence my life?
Why did I fall in love with a married man?
Why did I continue to make wrong choices and in the process, hurt others?
Why did family members and close friends have to die?

After jumping off the worldly merry-go-round…tossed, bruised, broken, scarred and bowing before Jesus at the foot of the cross in genuine repentance…

Why was I then victimized by spousal drunken abuse, verbal abuse, extra-marital affairs, pornography and sexually transmitted disease?

Why? Why? Why?

Sometimes the simple answer is that we have sinned and fallen and in retrospect, we stand in disbelief that we were capable of making such wrong choices. Yes, that answer is born of Satan and horribly simple. We separated our self from God. Sometimes we cannot see the answer so clearly though, because we are walking with God. In this case, rest assured, God is bringing us through something to bless us on the other side.

As I contemplate the things that have caused me so many tears and such deep personal pain, there are still many things that others have endured which do not even compare. For example, I still cannot compare my pain to that of starving children, or to Corrie Ten Boom’s devastating life experiences. I cannot compare my pain to that which my husband endured when accidentally dropping a firearm and having it discharge on the ground resulting in his dad’s death. I cannot compare my pain to that of my brother and sister-in-law who lost their son during the summer before his senior year in high school. His mother was the school's secretary and she watched her son’s class parade through their last year’s events up to and including graduation. No, I cannot compare my pain to a parent losing their child. I have cried many tears with and for family and friends who have lost children; but still, I cannot and do not KNOW the depth of their personal and individual hurts. I feel helpless wanting to provide comfort and peace to those hurting so deeply. My prayers, my hugs, my tears, my words all seem so inadequate when compared to their anguish and suffering…yet I know that my Father knows every hurt and collects every tear. He has allowed pain and suffering in our lives so that we may turn to Him, choose Him, lean on Him, exemplify Him, grow in Him and provide that same comfort to others which He has bestowed on us.

“God comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” ~II Corinthians 1:4

We can also read in the Bible about Joseph’s life and had we been him, we would probably have asked “Why, Why, Why?” As we read, though, we can identify with Joseph and know that God was and is in total control despite how things often seem to us. The very ones who sold Joseph into slavery were suddenly at his mercy as he became the second highest ruler over the Egyptian kingdom. He wasn’t bitter. Instead, he recognized God’s hand throughout the course of his life and testified:

“Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” ~Genesis 50:19-21

Some may find it difficult to comprehend but even though God does not condone our sin or the sins of others which are inflicted upon us, He will use them in His master plan for His Kingdom’s work. He never wishes hurt and pain for us but He does know the road we will travel and He wants to bring us through it for His purpose. In His divine process, He is constantly growing us in His likeness. It is difficult sometimes, but just as Joseph reminded, we would be wise to remember that often times Satan means to harm us but the Lord will prevail and use it for our good. Yes, Jesus has suffered all our hurts…every fall…and He is collecting all of our many heartfelt tears.

Oh Father God, thank you for sending Your own Son to suffer and die for us. Thank you, Father, for KNOWING each one of our individual hurts, for UNDERSTANDING our deepest pain and for COLLECTING every tear that we shed. Thank you, Father, that Jesus rose again and then sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us so that we may grow in His likeness. He took all my sins, Father. He knew name, my thoughts, my tears and He's always heard me when I called on Him. He was always thinking of me. May we always walk with You, praise You, honor You, serve You and worship You forevermore…for You alone, Father, are worthy of our all. Amen.

Captured in His reflection,

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Honor and Submission…Characterized by Integrity and Light

"For the Lord gives skillful and godly Wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He hides away sound and godly Wisdom and stores it for the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with Him); He is a shield to those who walk uprightly and in integrity, that He may guard the paths of justice; yes, He preserves the way of His saints. Then you will understand righteousness, justice, and fair dealing [in every area and relation]; yes, you will understand every good path." Proverbs 2:6-9 (Amplified Bible)

Do you honor Christ? How? By calling yourself Christian? By attending a church? By preaching? By leading the music? By teaching Sunday school? By stating, “I am a believer?” By wearing a cross or a Christian T-shirt? By writing your denomination on a form or questionaire? By displaying a Christian symbol on your vehicle? How do you honor Christ?

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with the things mentioned above, these things in and of themselves are not how we bring honor and submit to Christ. For example, when we attend church, God is indeed honored by our presence, but only if we are there for the right reasons. He is honored if we are there in the right frame of a worshipful mindset and exhibiting submission to Him with humility from a right heart. The Bible tells us that we are to assemble together in worship.

"And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." Hebrews 10:25 (New Living Translation)

When our attendance is merely a result of obligation, however, or we harbor ill feelings toward a brother, or we are otherwise distracted from truly worshiping God, He is not honored by our presence at all. You’ve heard the labels, “bench warmer” and “Sunday-morning Christian,” well, this is where they are derived. Those labels signify people who are simply there…taking up space. If someone comes to visit you and they are uncomfortable, insincere or anxious to leave, do you enjoy their visit or would you rather they just not waste time pretending to care about you or pretending to enjoy your company? God is no different. He wants and deserves so much more than a simple outward expression of our submission or casual gesture of honor. He gives us freedom of choice so that we may selflessly and freely always choose Him. He is honored when we place Him first and foremost...not second or third…but FIRST all the time and in everything we do. He is also honored when we humble ourselves and express a personal and inward evidence of faithfulness to Him. That characterization of honor and submission is called integrity. This means we are living as children of light, in that Christ is continually the focus of our thoughts as well as our actions. We do not have to be at church, with a fellow Christian or with anyone to exhibit integrity. When we are alone, there also is our true test of integrity. We honor Christ by exemplifying Christ-likeness. Yes, we are the children of light and we are to be like Him. We honor Him with our love by keeping His commandments and desiring His presence in our lives. We honor Him by filling our hearts and our minds with pure and holy thoughts. As Christians we have the fullness of God in us because of the Holy Spirit.

“And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.” ~ Ephesians 2:22 (NIV)

When we wrap ourselves around Him, He changes us and we are characterized by integrity and light which always brings honor to Christ. In Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, he says…

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name, I pray that out of His glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” ~ Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)

Paul goes on to write about living as children of Light…

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of Him and were taught in Him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. ‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. That is why it is said:

‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’

Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” ~ Ephesians 4:17-5:21 (NIV)

How do you honor and submit to Christ? We honor and submit with integrity and light…focusing only on Him and remaining…

Captured in His reflection,

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tidy Procrastinating Mess??? His Answer Was "NO!!!"

From my tiny human perspective, a “tidy procrastinating mess” was the best description I could give myself on certain days. Being a compulsive perfectionist who wanted nothing more than to get on with what God had called me to do, I also pictured myself completing the task to the absolute best of my ability. Focusing this way, I began to grow weary in my present state. Simply said, Satan was attempting to make me believe this stage was a very stagnant place to reside, so I was tempted to become anxious and to engage myself in larger things…looking at schooling, conferences, speaking engagements, directing music again, teaching, busying myself, etc. You know, “serving.”

“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” ~Romans 8:31

Satan made me feel as though I was about to run a race yet I was left on the track perched in a holding pattern. ”On your mark, get set,” and where was the loud “go” in the form of a starter pistol? The gun wouldn’t fire and start the race! But not only was I prepared to run this race; I also knew that I would win victoriously if I could just take off! After all, God was not only my Trainer and my Coach. He was my Physical Therapist, my Mental Therapist, my Source of Energy, my Total Concentration, and along with my foundation of faith in Him, He would lead me on to a vast victory in His name and for His glory!

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” ~Isaiah 40:30-31

What am I talking about? Well, I’m certainly not talking about saying “no” to God’s call ever again. I’m talking about seeing things from a worldly viewpoint versus God’s view. Sometimes the Holy Spirit intentionally causes us to pause, to halt or detour and yes, to wait. It is even then when our well-intentioned friends, family and self urges us to take that next step and get on with it, through a worldly perception of our gifts in regard to God’s calling, that we must WAIT! Then Satan attempts to cause confusion and a question as to where we are and what we’re doing. And yes, I’m talking about my perfectionist-type character of organization and prioritization being all wet in this respect and I’m also talking about seeing and placing God’s perspective foremost in our mind's eye thereby having a clear understanding of His calling. Sometimes He just wants to walk with us, to talk with us and sometimes He wants us to be totally still. I’m talking about praying without ceasing and listening intently to Him and clearly understanding His call...DAILY. And yes, I’m also talking about waiting on Him, for He not only supplies every breath we breathe, He guides us in every step we take or don’t take, but ONLY if we will consciously wait on His instruction and follow Him that closely. I continually pray, I listen and I do desire to serve Him in a larger-than-life way…yet I am waiting on His direction minute by minute, day by day and guess what? Waiting, in this respect, is an active verb! He’s keeping me right here, studying His word, seeking His face and giving me quiet time to spend with Him. He has equipped my heart with a constant burning passion to write and engulfed my mind with His commission. So I continue to ready myself according to His guidance. Yet He causes me to prioritize sweet time with Him and to simply write about Him. I have scripture verses and notes tucked everywhere on subjects the Lord has placed on my heart to share. I certainly don’t want to postpone the race. I don’t want to cancel the race. I don’t even want to take a break and let someone else take my place in this awkward and strained-looking stance. For this I know. He likes me in this readied, yielding-yet-waiting-on-Him stance. As I wait in this position on the track, my focus is entirely on Him and on His calling in my life...yes, on His instruction which He gives to me each and every day. So you will find me on my knee, leaning forward and yes, at times I do want to scream…

“…HERE AM I, SEND ME!” ~Isahia 6:8

…but He quietly causes me to be still and listen as He holds me steady. The miraculous thing is that I never tire of the position He’s holding me in and I never fall as long as my focus is entirely on Him. My strength no longer falters and my mind no longer wanders in spite of waiting for the gun to fire so I can run His race. For I know God has me right where He wants me. And as to my previously mentioned narrow speculation, seeing only a “tidy procrastinating mess,” well, He is causing me to realize that He, indeed, is humbling me and using me this very minute to simply write about Him, His undying love and the strength only He can provide. So as I burn with desire to serve my risen Savior in a bigger way, I will remain steadfast as I continually say “yes” to Him on bended knee and lean forward into Him…

“I press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 3:14

…willing, waiting and writing while He holds me.

Captured in His reflection,

Saturday, January 30, 2010


“Consecration is the act of continually separating myself from everything except that which God has appointed me to do. It is not a one-time experience but an ongoing process.” –Oswald Chambers

Where have I been for the past two months? I have been dealing with and coming to grips with the depth of this awesome word, “consecration.” I have no problem with its clear meaning. I have no problem with a very strong desire to be consecrated. It is a destination that is foreign to many…one that was oblivious to me most of my life. The problem with genuine consecration resides in all the barriers we must constantly overcome and choices we must continually make in order to remain consecrated. This is very difficult in the midst of life’s uncertain circumstances. For instance, as I type these words, the TV is blaring in this small camper, and all that is within me is crying out for quiet time with the Father. I am not one to simply turn on a TV for noise; in fact, God was my teacher concerning selective viewing. There was, however, a time I didn’t even comprehend such a thing. There was also a time when I lived alone and was going through a very hurtful period in my life. I had neither television provider nor computer. I was totally alone with God and I devoted many hours to prayer and reading His Word because my faith remained strong and I knew He would turn ashes to beauty in my life. During that time I came to experience and know the clear meaning of consecration. What a gift! It was something I thought I already understood and possessed but didn’t until then. Also, though my circumstances were bleak and hurtful, God was teaching me so many wonderful things which I thought I already knew and understood. During this first experience of consecration, not only did I become focused only on Him, it was through that means that He also taught me patience, unconditional love and true commitment. All of these things were previously viewed by me through worldly eyes, so my understanding was not through His insight.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. –James 1:2-5

A friend recently asked me if I was ok because she hadn’t heard from me in a while…in blogland. I feel my reply to her sounded vague since she’s got a great ongoing blog and seems to be on top of her game. And knowing her the way I do, I’m sure she found the time to whisper a prayer for me. She upholds an outstanding balance in her life between family, writing, speaking events and leading the Women’s Ministry in her church. I admire her greatly but I don’t ponder the success of people like my friend any longer because I know where her source of strength and perseverance lies. I know she places God first in her life in order for all those other things to acquire such balance. I also know that she has traveled a road, much like me, where as a prodigal daughter she was broken and transformed by the Master. She knows well that she could not do all these things under her own strength so she walks closely with Him and He supplies all her needs for His appointed tasks. That is the answer to everything and I am so aware of it…however, life enters in and it is very easy for us to conform to our daily routine or the demands placed on us by our circumstances. Such were the busy happenings surrounding me upon my return from Saudi Arabia. Everyone’s circumstances are different and what we tend to forget is that most often that is the very place God speaks to us…through our circumstances. And what do we most often do? We react or make decisions without consulting Him…much less listening to Him…and we miss His lessons entirely. We miss the very opportunities He’s provided us to ask of Him and be supplied His provision and blessing, the very opportunity to grow in Him and learn His ways...yes, the very opportunity for consecration. When you come to experience true consecration, you understand the fact that God wants all of you, all of the time and you want nothing more than to give your all freely to Him in order for His will to be complete in your life. You want nothing more than to serve Him in every aspect of your life. That means in everything you do…not only in your actions but in every waking hour of your life. Yes, that also means your thoughts…and this requires quiet time in order to study, pray and listen to Him. Living in this world, yet being consecrated in God, you will find He is insistent in a very personal way to keep you actively in His presence. You will become acutely aware of all the barriers which attempt to keep you involved and your mind occupied including the choices of others which ultimately affect you as well. These barriers continually present themselves in the circumstances of your life. You can live frustrated and beneath your circumstances or you can resign yourself to give God His first and foremost priority in your life and He will raise you above them. Yes, there is a cost to follow Him…to make a commitment to Him…and had I truly understood this the first time He asked me, like Peter, I would not have had to be asked again to follow Him.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law --- a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” –Matthew 10:34-36

I could go into detail regarding the past two months…about the holidays, the ongoing construction of our house, the inability to use my computer, church activities, the brutal murder of a friend and active member of my church, a January Bible study, two Beth Moore Bible studies and yes, even the fact that this 5th wheel camper (which I am so thankful for and which provides our only warmth) is no place for quiet time…but the fact is that all my personal circumstances of late have only taught me how strongly my calling is to do what God has appointed me to do and how desperately I continue to maintain consecration. I have only been strengthened and have become much wiser in the understanding of true consecration.

So, what has been going on for the last two months? God has been teaching me how consecration in my life is ultimately “L-I-F-E…living intentionally for eternity,” no matter my circumstances…and reminding me He has said again to me,

“Follow Me” –John 21:19

So Father, I am Yours…consecrated and waiting…for Your appointed tasks in Your appointed time because I believe all the pain and difficulty I have felt cannot compare to the joy that is coming. I will hold on...yes, I will press on and wait for the joy in the morning. Amen.

Captured in His reflection,