Archive | January 2010

Between George Mueller and Medicaid..

Someone asked me once if I were to ever write a book what would I call it. Half seriously I laughed and said, ” I would call it between George Mueller and Medicaid”

For those reading who are blessed to not ever have to work within the outrageous bureaucracy of child mental health billing you will wonder what the heck is this about.  My goodness I almost have a post traumatic moment just pondering it! So here goes…. I will bravely soldier on talking about this.

Yes I used the word ” soldier” because if you work in this system getting paid is being pro-active  in a battle on the ready to anticipate what this system can do to the spirit of perseverance. It is at the least exasperating at times.. no logic just lots of layers of requirements and too often people in places that can by pure complacency hinder and stop the operational cash flow to pay the ministry bills.  The amount of people involved to “solve ” an error even when it is not one we made is staggering. So besides being required to be competent in what we do — we must develop perseverance.

I will not go into the “the dog ate my homework” series of events that have been a long time grind with all the outrageous situations we have found ourselves in on a regular basis for months.  It is like most “war stories” you would have to be there to understand it.  But it has had one upside and that is helping develop some of the fruits in the spirit in us so we can get paid for our professional treatment and work amid the ministry of trying to help at risk and abused children get on the other side of their pain.

There is great spiritual warfare around these children.  Not surprising if one considers what they have been exposed to in the care of adults, relatives even a system that is to keep them safe. We are talking major breeches in the laws of our Lord. A plundering into where the spiritual walls around them are so broken to the point of almost unbearable soul destruction but for the saving power of Jesus Christ!
What I have learned that is relevant for most readers ( is anyone still there or is this topic like got you reaching for more coffee )  is that when in scripture Paul is trying to share with a beleaguered camp of an the early church about not warring with flesh and blood. He was sharing critical information. Wow… do we ever see it being our battle cry to get on the wall of prayer.

For review he says in Ephesians 6

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[c]hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

This applies to all of us in every day living but I have to tell you in this ministry we are learning to be armed up.  Putting on the full armor means just that, it is a spiritual covering not just words that we toss about in our christian speak. The opposing side of what we are trying to do here does not want us to stand for these kids. Instead the weariness of so many mandates and regulation is to keep us off of the end game. Frustrated, overwhelmed, busy, distracted, interrupted in what is our mission baseline… hope, healing and restoration!

So what does another hero of the faith George Mueller have to do with this?

In case you donot know George Mueller left behind a legacy of perserverance and faith as a testimony for us to consider.

What he was known for around the world in his own lifetime, and still today, was the orphan ministry. He built five large orphan houses and cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. When he started in 1834 there were accommodations for 3,600 orphans in all of England and twice that many children under eight were in prison. One of the great effects of Mueller’s ministry was to inspire others so that “fifty years after Mr. Mueller began his work, at least one hundred thousand orphans were cared for in England alone.”

Mueller was know for his faith and commitment to go to prayer. He was perserverant through his utter dependency on Christ.

For example this is a sample of his struggles and faith to “give it to God”

He stated that at various times, not only at the beginning of the work, but also in later years, God had seen fit to try his faith to the utmost, but only to prove to him the more definitely that He would never be other than his faithful covenant-keeping God. In illustration he referred to a time when, the children having had their last meal for the day, there was nothing left in money or kind for their breakfast the following morning. Mr. Mueller went home, but nothing came in, and he retired for the night, committing the need to God to provide. Early the next morning he went for a walk, and while praying for the needed help he took a turn into a road which he was quite unconscious of, and after walking a short distance a friend met him, and said how glad he was to meet him, and asked him to accept £5 for the orphans. He thanked him, and without saying a word to the donor about the time of need, he went at once to the orphan houses, praising God for this direct answer to prayer.

b. On another occasion, when there were no funds in hand to provide breakfast for the orphans, a gentleman called before the time for breakfast and left a donation that supplied all their present needs. When that year’s report was issued, this proof of God’s faithfulness in sending help just when needed was recorded, and a short time after the donor called and made himself known, saying that as his donation had been given at such a special time of need he felt he must state the circumstances under which he had given the money, which were as follows:

He had occasion to go to his office in Bristol early that morning before breakfast, and on the way the thought occurred to him:

“I will go to Mr. Mueller’s orphan house and give them a donation,”

and accordingly turned and walked about a quarter of a mile toward the orphanage, when he stopped, saying to himself,

“How foolish of me to be neglecting the business I came out to attend to! I can give money to the orphans another time,”

and he turned round and walked back towards his office, but soon felt that he must return. He said to himself:

“The orphans may be needing the money now. I’m leaving them in want when God had sent me to help them;”

and so strong was this impression that he again turned round and walked back till he reached the orphanages, and thus handed in the money which provided them with breakfast. Mr. Mueller’s comment on this was:

“Just like my gracious heavenly Father!”

and then urged his hearers to trust and prove what a faithful covenant-keeping God He is to those who put their trust in Him.

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So you see we have a spiritual template in the Word of God and in the example of a man who put all his trust in the One who loves us most.

Today when those huge overwhelming battles loom in my path,  I hope that the knowledge of who we are in Christ will be my foremost armor and with joy and prayer enter into the fray knowing … we are more than conquerors even with NC Medicaid!

01 What Faith Can Do

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Seasons of strengths amid seasons of sorrow

Today has been a wrangling process with this particular post… maybe it’s the topic which has taken me to a ” selah ” time for about two weeks.  Having seen dear people I love, know and know of… lose loved ones, or relationships, their lives forever changed has put a “quiet, be still now in my spirit”. Anyone who knows me well, will understand that itself out of character for me to be so “quiet”.

The eyes have seen in our world  and culture, I fear too much death, tragedy , and devastation of historical  magnitude “right up and personal ” in their home, office, or coffee house peripheries . My concern is around if this will ( does )  lead to a  a kind of de-sensitization.  I am pondering this.

In the last couple of weeks, via the technology of our day ….great tragedy has been presented in our view on either the internet, on our radios, cable news or in our daily reading about the horrific events in Haiti.

Such magnitude of loss, grief and suffering touches all of us in some way unless one no longer has a heart that can be touched by such events.

Can that be happening too? Concerned for a bit then head down not looking, hearing anymore?  Believe me, I know people who are not doing that but unfortunately there are many more things taking center stage and missing what this “shaking ” means for the believer…  ( more on that later here )

It became real for us through many who are closely tied to those in and around Haiti. The connections to many ministries are vast and the blogs of the daily suffering that I have read touched me to tears and gratitude for those who are alive giving testimony.

It led me to prayer for the Christians on the ground in the trenches who are in their greatest hour of walking out their faith. It makes me ask myself.. how would I do there? Would I stand in strength? Oh Lord … would I? Someway, I know this is an altar call for the “remnant ” bride of Christ to internally see if we are intimate with Him to be ready.

This great cataclysmic tide of sorrow has rolled in with a reminder of the strengths of people who manage to show a testimony of survival against all odds. For those who prevail …their faith seems to rise amid the seasons of sorrow. For faith is the sustainer of those who reach for Him in the midst of so much pain. ” The Lord is near the brokenhearted and those crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

It takes me to a song by Addison Road… “Everything rides on hope now, everything rides on faith somehow… when the world has broken me down, Your love sets me free.”  You’ve become my hearts desire, I must sing your praises higher”… Could I sing my praises higher when my family is buried under rubble?

How about if, the only hope in the “camp” is the Bible verse that is my head when all is shaken? Or there is such surreal incoming of events that the mind is swamped. What would I do? I am asking myself that while being in the real company of people who  have in a different set of circumstances battled grief, sorrow, loss and shaking all around in another sort of way.

The first time loss really hit my life was on Christmas day during my early childhood when our little dog “Pepper” crawled up on my lap. It was while I was looking at a new gift in the form of a book… he simply died. It shocked and stunned me. At age 4, it broke my heart.

This was a great sadness and came with a sense of betrayal and injustice since I had prayed for Pepper. A tiny dog who had gotten into a scrimmage with a German Shepherd who grabbed him by the neck.   My early encounter with deeply talking things over with God grew from this moment.

Walking in farm fields when bringing up the Holstein cows.. much time to talk to the Lord.
There was no shortage of these types of things .. beloved animals that would perish on our dairy farm.  Early life lessons about death and the feelings of loss when a cow, lamb, cat or another pet was  no longer part of my daily joy. Baby calves who did not make it in the cold winter barns or a favorite cow who was struck by lightening when drinking from a pond. These were events of life on a farm that is based on seasons.

I lost my grandparents and my dearest adopted grandmother whom  I deeply loved and held on to the fact they knew the Lord and were in His place now.

Fast forward.. to my early young adulthood. Now a mother of an 18 month old, I get the word ( the dreaded phone call )  that my younger and beloved brother was killed instantly in an accident on a beautiful June day … my parents world blew apart.  We traveled quickly home to the family, farm, funeral and the questions that would come.

My question was to God, as I was not sure if my dear brother was saved. My husband and my last conversation with him in our North Carolina home was about Jesus and a candid discussion about Him as Savior but I still did not know.

So I prayed and prayed for God to show me the answer to that question and in His grace and mercy, He did.  Two weeks later in the quiet of my home, our little girl had woke up in the middle of the night and I said to God ” Oh please let her go back to sleep because I don’t want to think about Doug ( my brother ) because it hurt so much.

Then it happened the feeling of going into a warm room from a cold one.. it felt like it lasted for a long time and a voice said to me

” Do not let your heart be troubled, he is in a safer place than you can imagine”.  I was awake during this time and I woke my  husband to ask him if he had heard it.

He had not but I knew that I knew that our Lord in His great mercy and love had told me what I needed to accept my brother’s death. I called my mother and father but my mother instead of being happy to learn this said to me ” why would God tell you and not me”?

Exactly .. because I was desperate for the knowing and I believed Him when He told me. This was my first really true  voice of God experience of Him speaking to me audibly.  ( I have only had two out loud ones , the rest are to my spirit ).

This grace of this revelation I see now was also preparation for how I would learn to experience a relationship with God in a growing way.  When we are weak, He is strong.

Fast forward again to the present where it seems that the walking out of ones faith is evident in the lives of so many around me and yes even the strangers on TV or the blogs posted where believers in Haiti are pouring their hearts out.

For those around me, our dear receptionist at my work ministry has been an incredible testimony of strength in sorrow. For those who have read my blogs.. her mother,  ( whom we were praying for ) Dianne went on to be with Jesus on January 8.  Not only did she lose her mother but a little over a year ago lost her son to a great tragedy and has fallen on her faith in Jesus Christ to come through these hard times.

It was this “season of sorrow” that has fashioned a great woman of faith. She humbles me. When at her mother’s wake, she absolutely glowed in the peace of the Lord. Not to say there was not sorrow but the triumph of the joy of the Lord being her strength was her countenance, manner and speech. A testimony in an offering of faith in sorrow.

Then there is my friend via email ministry who lost a relationship that was hard to walk away from. She has done it, is doing it and is faith in motion as she daily adjusts to this loss. Strength I can feel through heartache on the pages.

Then there are the children who are healing from abuse, neglect and a childhood of loses who are receiving residential care and treatment in our ministry. The children who get up each day with a smile on their face but not yet in their eyes.. those who long, crave, need to belong to an adult, a family who is just over the moon for who they are.. but they are not in sight. So they are holding on to the Word of God in scripture . Jeremiah 29:11 ” For I know the plans I have for you , not for evil or calamity but a hope and a future…

That they are “fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalm 139 and they slowly transform through childlike strength in seasons of sorrow. They amaze me each day.. these tiny towers of strength wrapped in the arms of staff, with songs of deliverance from Christian radio to be the lullaby in their heads.

One little boy broke my heart this past couple of days as his sadness was enveloping him to a place of despair… not unlike the children anywhere who are suffering.  Just a mission field ( stateside ) in my daily life instead on the news or in the lives of missionaries I know. He is floundering in deep sorrow trying to find the inner strength to hold on. We are praying!!

Corrie Ten Boom

Perhaps one of the best examples of strength amid seasons of sorrow is the life of Corrie Ten Boom who found the strength to be an encourager of her faith in Jesus Christ despite the loss of her sister Betsy and much of her family in Nazi Germany’s death camps.  I had just read yesterday her account of the following.

When I was in a concentration camp during World War II, we had to stand every day for two or three hours for roll call, often in the icy-cold wind. Once a woman guard used these hours to demonstrate her cruelty. I could hardly bear to see and hear what happened in front of me.

Suddenly a skylark started to sing high in the sky. We all looked up, and when I looked to the sky and listened to its song, I looked still higher and thought of Psalm 103:11: “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him” (RSV).

Instantly I saw that this love of God was a greater reality than the cruelty I experienced myself and saw around me. “Oh the love of God, how deep and great, far deeper than man’s deepest hate.”

In His mercy, God sent that skylark every day for three weeks, just at the time of roll call, to give us an opportunity to turn away our eyes from the cruelty of men to the ocean of His love.

God’s love is both a protection and a weapon. It guards us against impatience, against bitterness, against gloating. It is also a very strong weapon in the battle to win souls, for it never gives in.

It looks for a way of being constructive, it is glad when truth prevails. Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope: It can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that stands when all else has fallen (see 1 Cor. 13).

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Are we being prepared as we journey in this life as a believer to be able to have the strength to tell a suffering world of His great love?

I believe the Lord is crying out to His children in these events to arise and come closer.  Coming closer now, daily, deeply is going to make all the difference.

When we are weak He is strong and is its our abiding hope to share with a broken world. Oh Lord help me to grow in you so I maybe a witness.

04 There Will Be a Day

By Jeremy Camp who has found strength in seasons of sorrow…

Selah~

Trying to be a “Mary” in a Martha world..

It is Saturday morning and very cold outside for coastal North Carolina. I woke at my usual early morning time to come down brew some coffee and welcome the day. On my counter is a flood of dishes ( really bugging me ) and Christmas tree decorations still on the wing back chair in the ” parlor or as my son in law says the ” pink” room.  I am waiting for the coffee to finish and so with forced discipline walk to the utility room and put in a load of clothes.
Now.. an argument begins in my head.. the dishes are waiting.. almost it seems having their own communication to me. But no ( don’t worry I am not really hearing them) it’s only my own pressure to go ahead and as I refer to it

“unload/reload”.  But alas an valid excuse not to pops in my head. It will cause rattling and banging and wake my husband Tony blissfully upstairs asleep. Oh good .. I have a reason not to be an “immediate” Martha.

What has happened to us, the women of the American life? We have become conditioned creatures of the ” do” .  Don’t we all love to come into a house that has everything picked up, clean counter tops, fresh flowers all about ( at least summertime when these are free in the garden ).

As I have drifted forward in life my desire to be a “Mary” in Martha world is picking up momentum. Working in a very busy ministry that is like a bible story everyday as events seem, and aging to the number of the speed limit. Don’t you want to know what one? smile .. I feel some internal and spiritual draw to prioritize everything.
How do I sort out what will be the best choices when there is so very much to do. At work this is much easier for me. I pick the things that matter the most to being done for the overall good of the ministry regardless of what I might have planned. Oh I am not so saintly it is just proven to be the wisest thing to do when so many things demand my “immediate ” attention. So being able to go with the flow.. has kept me from frankly going over the edge on the stress meter.

Not sure who runs that meter but it definitely has a some sort of regulator that applies penalties when the stress goes over the limit. That might be the enemy of our souls who is the worst type of traffic cop and monitors relentlessly for when “Mary ” has become too Martha and ya run out of deposits. No grace there..

The goal is not to let the stress meter have any room for running out of coins. For me the coins are prayer deposits, encouragement tokens, and a parking pass already stamped in the daily Word of God. I am also in 2010 going to get back to a longtime ago habit of daily exercise. Oh goodness, I have dared put that in writing.

Here I fail very miserably at being a Mary. Taking better care of myself.  The desire to be a Proverbs 31 wife, mother , friend etc. can compete hardily with taking the time to read a book, soak in a long bath, walk in the neighborhood when daily household task of dishes, vacuuming, fluffing the home, and grocery shopping beckon.

You see I want to drink my coffee,  see my family and those grandchildren  and watch the birds take off and land at the bird feeder outside the porch and one  at the kitchen sink window.   I also want a home that looks like I used to be able to seemingly easily keep it (  when younger and yes even with little ones  ) and also feel like I have unplugged.  This is much of the essence of the female conflict for Christian ladies as well as secular..

Add to this the continual availability through technology by cell and email.. well WOW it is the fodder for feeling “conflicted” or is it?

So I go to the source of all sources the Bible to see what it says about all of this.  It is our playbook for life so the answer has to be there.

This is what I found..

Luke Chapter 10 ( Kings James Version )
Mary and Martha Worship and Serve

38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Here Jesus is clearly saying that Mary has chosen well by picking “that good part” which will not be taken from her.
I have been pondering this this morning. Not only did she choose spending time with Jesus but it will not be taken from her.

My view of this passage is that by choosing the “good part” time with Jesus both in relationship and hearing His word.. it will sustain her. Not too be taken away. Beats the stress meter, hands down because Jesus said so.

Then wanting to see where Martha fits in.. I went to Proverbs 31 ( NKJV) and oh my take a read…

The Virtuous Wife

10 Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
15 She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,

And a portion for her maidservants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.

18 She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.

21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.

27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “ Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

Enlightening these verses where in my view Mary and Martha merge…

I have highlighted in bold the verses that literally jumped out at me.

  1. She is an early riser preparing for the day feeding her household
  2. She girds herself with strength (  I believe the strength here is time with Him and then building up her arms “exercise” ) Oh yikes my new mission cause the body is the “temple  ” comes to mind  and yeah it’s  here.
  3. Her lamp does not go out by night.. I see this as not only working a long day but radiating His light again her thoughts on Him )
  4. She reaches out to the downtrodden on the “ministry trail” of daily life as she looks for opportunities
  5. She make a tapestry for herself.. she takes the time to look good and takes care of being well presented ( oh relief on that one ) who knew?
  6. She opens her mouth with kindness .. taking the time not to take her family for granted in words and deeds. ( Got to work more on that one  I think the ” love dare applies here “) see link to it on my blog roll.
  7. By doing these things her family relationships are strong…

It is a balancing act this Mary/ Martha blend.. and for today I will seek to find more Mary to counteract my Martha.

Right now I am sitting with my spouse having coffee and a awesome BLT which yes I rose up and made when I heard his footsteps on the stairs…

For now a mix I am enjoying so much. Oh Lord help me to learn to continue to balance in your wisdom…

Stopping to smell the roses but blended ( see the order too) a Mary in a Martha world

Stones of rememberance .. and the spirit of self control..

You’ve seen them.. the fish emblems that are on cars or vehicles .. a sign that the occupants or let’s say at the least the driver is a “believer” or Christian.

I don’t have one on my car because of the things that happen in traffic and driving that somehow can bring out the worst of ourselves when thoughtlessness, distractions and the need to be somewhere NOW just take over. Or we are listening to some praise songs, happily going on our way with a song rising to the day.  We are just full of a good heart…then some guy cuts us off , or a driver is on their cell phone and makes us miss a light we have been waiting long for. So.. although I handle such things by muttering under my breath, rather than other ways of sharing displeasure, it would be upsetting for  my mistakes in traffic or any other poor example to be what is remembered by those seeing the “fish”. Can I get a witness?

The fruit of the spirits which are to grow and exude in us as we decrease while He increases just amazing get so lost in traffic. The spirit of self control is is one of the fruits than can only grow, I am convinced by the “remembrance “of great favor and blessings..

Stay with me.. this is not about driving stories but the challenge of keeping in the fruit of His spirit when things are not going my ( our ) way.

I love how the Bible shows us in shadows and patterns the victories and failures of the human story.

In reviewing the “Hebrew ” children,  the Israelites continual falling into lacking self control.. came from a lack of remembrance of the great things, the incredible miracles, the “Red Sea” moments. One can read these scriptures  and think what is wrong with those people! God just whacked the whole nation of Egypt and took down the most powerful man in the known world. We would not doubt , nope not ever. had we been there. Come on already people you gotta step up. Admittedly I have thought this in the past..

How could they go from these incredible victories to grumbling so much they wanted to stone Moses. To erect idols to other gods.  This went on as they went “round that mountain’ over and over clicking off the years and a whole generation lost. So when they get to the promised land FINALLY.. ready to cross the Jordan….the Lord instructs Joshua very clearly about marking that moment.  After they are in obedience and awe inspiring faith carrying the Ark of the Covenant into the water,  when they had gotten into the middle of the river, and the priests feet stood firm ..then the waters rolled back so the people could cross over.

Joshua 4

4 Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; 5 and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7 Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”

I had lots of reasons to be thinking of these two things,  self control and blessings or stones of remembrance these past couple of months.
They really seem to tie together in the daily walking out our faith in the Christian life.

If you have been reading my recent posts, then you can imagine and likely empathize with the plight of people managing the times of financial stress, combined with practical demanding needs of our daily realities. Like paying the power bill or knowing God will  make a way when their is no evidence, zip, nada of anything to the contrary.Then there is the ministry.. a place full of some broken hearted children who need adults around them who have the range of the fruits of the spirit. Abundantly so. Threshing floor moments.

Such stresses will cause some to funnel all that anxiety to a focal point and as a leader, well some of that frequently will come my way. In other words these calamities must be my fault or there must be something I can do to fix them. So I see how people want to stone the leader. ( Not talking about these stones as ones of remembrance )
Some less than kind things can things can ramp up under those conditions. It happens really hard to absorb and other times not so bad but it is my response that matters.
God has me in a real test here in another way doesn’t  He?  Do I fall back on the numerous stones of remembrance of the truly amazing and miraculous ways He has delivered, provided, protected time and time again.   Oh I wish I could say yeah I am there.
Not without the spirit of self control… letting Him have it all. I mean all.
This is so hard sometimes I just don’t think I can do it at anymore… this whole ministry thing, the increasing pressure coming in so many directions. It is so seductive to have a pity party and go there… right where the children of Israel went, into grumbling and discouragement then despair.  The other side of  things in the spirit world is counting on that, because then we aren’t hearing God. We quit seeing the blessings, those glorious stones of remembrance.

Then only  do such test get passed.  Oh how I want not to keep going round that mountain! Also like the “fish” that is not on my car.. opportunities should not be missed for  encouragement and speaking out our faith in words, example and prayer or yes sometimes in a smile or touch.

Email is a wonderful tool but it can also be used in a flash of emotion and when one hits send... oh boy it can be a wrong move. Email also does not always provide the whole substance of what is written so the receiver has to use subjective reasoning about what was received.  Enter the spirit of self control. Subjective reasoning will get one in a whole peck of trouble.  The fruit of the spirit of self control gets back to a sound mind which can only come from when the Holy Spirit is allowed access.. I must decrease so He can increase.  Also the power of prayer allows for the laying down of the flesh for what He can change in hearts. It has to start with mine!

Upon receiving some recent negative chat back. I had to get still and wait. Struggling with thoughts, things that were just ready to jump out to be said or written. So I prayed and prayed and ask God to show me how to respond or not. When I am weak He is strong. God blesses that so much when we lay it down and say okay Lord, I cannot do it but You can. Show me, hold me,take my hand and give me the mind of Christ.  Infill me with self control. Sometimes like in the movie Bruce Almighty we want to smite them, not really but you know what I mean.

So, I pulled the covers over my head.. literally and asked God to handle it.  Oh my how He came through…

Galatians 5

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

So now I must share some blessings,  testimony, some stones of remembrance.

Yesterday:

Allowing several situations for prayer between people where HE showed himself strong. Situations where people were truly hard pressed and desperate for Him. During prayer turning the situation around so much a phone call came in that was an immediate answer to prayer. It happened over and over.

My knowing a  critical bill had to be paid for the ministry and not having one clue how to pay it but praying with others , alone with Him too and then laying it on the altar knowing it was out of my hands and into His. Speaking faith with others about it. THEN going to get the mail and finding how  a refund on past over payment for insurance came in and completely covered this need.Tje funds were almost a literal match.

How a fund raiser that had been held for our ministry results  came in today to cover another need. How someone literally dropped off funds in an envelope at the very gate of our property to a staff and said here take up to Carla. That felt very prophetic to me.

That a couple of men who have very generous hearts are donating a professional volley ball court in full construction, sand the works, to us and began work yesterday. The one gentleman told me with tears in his eyes that he wants to do it for our ministry as  memorial for a young woman who died at the tender age of 22 while in childbirth , a friend of his family. A literal stone of remembrance in physical and spiritual ways.

We prayed over the mother of our dear receptionist still speaking life and the Holy Spirit was so strong it was if the breath of Jesus was right there in the room.  ( please join us in Psalm 27 for Diane ) I watched the spirit of self control in the eyes, prayers and face of this amazing woman who keeps in hopeful faith with stones of remembrance during this very hard time.
He made a way for us in speeding up a process from the state of NC tied to our opening our second psychiatric treatment cottage that others said have taken them two- three months. I was told it would be 7-14 days.

A blessing but also a true “stone of remembrance”

Amy Carmichael who as referenced in my first  detailed post here says this about putting that Ark in the water:

The priests had to walk into the strong current of a  flooded river and stand still there.  What an order to scoff at and what a sight it would pose to other men. But it was not till they obeyed without a particle of  visible proof that they were doing right— and carried the ark right into the river that the water rolled back before them.  So may it be with us as we go on with God.
You and I maybe called again and again to walk right into our own “rivers”. whatever, they may be–to wet our feet in them. We maybe called to do what nobody understands, except to those whom the word of guidance is given and with it, His promise too.

She goes on to say ” But understand this:

The word must come first, and also His promise. You and I must be sure of what we are called to do. and with inward conviction that absolutely nothing can shake. In my own case, again and again, I have had to wet my feet in the water… Only God and those who have to walk in that path know how hard this kind of faith -life can be. But He does know. And when the people around us don’t hear the words and the voice we have heard, and only say it thunders… then He comes near and we know Him as we never knew Him before.

God direct me ( us ) today for seeing the stones of remembrances in our lives and using these  as a guidepost and mile marker in developing the spirit of self control.

Oh yes Lord help me not to forget your manifest benefits with a stone of remembrance.

Joshua 4

8 And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the LORD had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. 9 Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day.


Looking up when others want you to look down

It is dark outside as I contemplate yesterday. As days go .. it was one that will be remembered in either one or two ways. I guess it depends on how we chose to think. We  do have choices about such things and what power is in that~ The choice to choose, review, ponder and set our thinking in what occurs around us.

So back to yesterday so you can see what I am talking about. Yesterday I went into work with a plan. I had spent time, quite a bit actually seeking Him, listening to praise music and “putting my armor on.” So, things should have rolled off, right? Here is where the rubber meets the literal road. My agency’s ministry was hoping for more in year end giving. ( It is still coming I just know it ) but on Monday when a payroll was to be given to our hard working team. ..there was  simply  not enough to do it. Reality  of the funds that were not yet in our system because ” the government ” checkwrite system for our professional fees for service in treating at risk and abused children took a hiatus for 3 weeks  and not providing payment till January 13th.

What to do?
We could pay for one week of our staff’s hard work instead of two till we could get through this. This would mean of course redoing the whole payroll, and then calling each staff ( we have 3 shifts ) to help them understand why were had to do this.

So here I go. Arrive at the campus to find the walkways  to our Administrative Clinical building are covered in ice which is a phenomenon in eastern NC. It is not normally that cold. As only it could happen one of our volunteers who was kindly helping with some landscaping must have put our sprinkler system back on automatic. Viola.. instant ice and lots of it.  This seeming small thing became a big thing. I got out of my car and went on the grass to avoid falling which proved to be a good decision and even the grass was slick too. A colleague who just had come back from being out with surgery gingerly joined me and we made it in.  Now as only it could happen our sweet spirit filled gatekeeper of the front desk had to come in late as her Mom was in the hospital and the Doctors wanted a word.
I take the weekend mail put it on her desk and run upstairs to let another colleague know we have a major”ice ” problem and expressed concerns about someone falling. The words were no further than out of my mouth than we thought we heard someone cry out.. yup the ice had caught up with a dear new staff who works in accounting ( her second week) .  She had seen the ice went around front but the door was still locked which would not be the norm

Do you see where this is going?

( receptionist out at important meeting about Mom ).  Our new staff did not have a key to the front door. She went around back and decided to try the sidewalk.. she fell and hard.  Our HR Director who does our payroll and I were rapidly catching up about the need to flip the payroll checks as one of our male leaders went outside to assist our fallen staff member. We are suddenly finding ourselves in the vortex of a washing machine of one event to another. Round and round we go being stuck on spin or are we?

We call for one of our RN’s from the Psychiatric treatment cottage to come up and she does and we are packing our wounded staff in ice

( irony in that ..hmm) . We also are praying and trying to get her some help. Mind you this person holds the keys of knowledge of how to integrate our software system to accommodate flipping this payroll. We utter nary a word to her.. pain and concern dominates that need. We are praying over here while doing the practical first aids things.
We get the outside  sidewalk ice covered in table salt and sand ( play therapy sand ) and get our new staff to the Doc. Whoa… she has broken her arm in two places. No expertise coming for our system not today… however she is choosing to believe she will be back to us in time that only the LORD can provide. Extra quick favor and healing Malachi 4:2

2 But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings;

We also realize the software for our payroll system has to be updated ( New Year ) and without doing that we mess up everyone’s tax tables and blow the system.  As only it can be at this point to add to the incoming  event calculator,  our IT Director has called in sick as a dog and cannot help us navigate this urgent need.  These checks had been written in 09 to plan for the upgrade.. we did not think we would have to be facing this particular collision of events. There are so many other events that also begin to spike but if I shared those this would become a novel instead of a blog. Trust me these were also formidable and confidential as we run a treatment ministry. Let’ suffice to say there was a lot on my mind and plate.

back to the story…

Then our dear receptionist returns with a very heavy “bad report’ from the Doctor. She is choosing not to receive it.

We immediately convened for prayer in my office and begin to pray out our faith.. choosing to look up when others want us to look down. Her mother is choosing to look up and not down picking Psalm 27.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2027&version=NKJV#

We read this Psalm out loud when shared to the group that this is what her mother wants to be prayed.
Amazing connectivity and power in that Psalm.  Choosing to speak life

What about that armor ? I choose to believe that the Lord gave me a “sound mind” in the midst of this.   Otherwise the “voice that torments” would have gotten in to whisper fear, and anxiety.  We also had  people praying outside our walls that morning..  I had sent out a prayer alert at 6:30 AM to a select group of prayer warriors. The Lord told prompted me to do that … HE knew what was to be needed.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:6-8

Score for the home team… PTL

We are still in the game with the main Quarterback directing our plays..
So where is the testimony to support looking up and not looking down:

  1. We prayed for favor and understanding from our staff and we got it (well most everybody )
  2. The Nurse who came up to help our wounded staff was the perfect one on duty for encouragement and walks in the power of choosing to look up and not down.
  3. The person in Raleigh who has the regulatory power to push for quick review on our cottage being upgraded for licensing with a higher per diem pay rate and a critical need for these children.. gave it and we set it up with all the stakeholders ( no minor thing .. this is huge )
  4. Supporters called in to check on us. .. prayers going up.
  5. Our IT Director persevered and chose to look up instead of down and got on line covered in quilts etc ( he really was feeling bad ) from his home and found the software needed it, purchased it, and got our back ups going.
  6. Our HR Director got creative and found other supports to help her overcome what is needed..
  7. We were ” hard pressed but not destroyed” and the encouragement which I am convinced is a survival tool in these last days for the body to one another was being spoken more than the words of discouragement. So it “spiritually ” multiplied itself with the power to look up and not down in faith…
  8. We got to practice joy in tribulation. We took captivity of the spirit of infectious fear. ( Amy Carmichael’s word for it )
  9. The children were and our team were prayed for more in a focused way.
  10. I ( we )  learned a lot..

As my faith hero in real life living Amy Carmichael has written

You can refuse the spirit of fear which never comes from God.

( and if He does not send it to us, who does ? )

Instead open your heart wide to the spirit of “power and love and a calm well balanced mind, and discipline and self control. Second Timothy 1:7 amplified

Because  fear is so infectious, let us for the sake of others and ourselves, refuse it.

Thank God~ Courgage is “infectious” as discouragement. Haven’t you often felt the cheer and strength that seems to flow from a person whose mind is fixed on God? I have.

And I have been thinking of another, a greater reason for refusing the spirit of fear.

When we are downhearted or fearful or weak we are saying to everybody( by the way we look and our timidity , if not by our words), “After all , our Lord can’t be absolutely trusted.”

Somewhere near us, though we do no seek them are otherwise. Men and women who we can see; and also good angels and evil spirits who we cannot see. To all of these , when we give into fear, we say the same dishonoring things.

We have a Savior who has never once failed us. He will never fail us. He has loved and led and guarded us all these years.

Look to Him now, and pray from the barren bedrock of your heart, if that is the ” ground” you are standing on. Lord give me courage.

~ From the Edges of His Ways. pg148.

Oh what a way to say it Amy! I am pondering it in my heart determined to choose to look up and not down. How will you choose today?

Off to see the choices of the day..

The pilgrim’s progress on the road  looking up and not down.

Moutains to Molehills.. parables in the night seasons

Maybe some of you have been there. Sound asleep to awaken to a sense of foreboding.. the things that are on ones mind but jump to the front of the thought life and “right there” and to be dealt with.

It happened to me last night.  People that know me well understand I do my ” closet God time” at the 4th watch hours  like 3 AM or so. Yeah I know, it seems extreme but these have been the best of times to communicate with the maker of the stars.  My Jeremiah 33:3 time “ seek me and you will find me with all your heart“. Those times are bliss, the best.. hard to describe and likely the long ago echo from a childhood where getting up early on a dairy farm was the norm.

That is not what happened last night.. I woke up troubled and feeling well .. yes “afraid”.  So I got up feeling a momentary panic coming from very real serious ministry related issues.  These are not tiny ones either.
It was cold. For eastern, coastal North Carolina, very cold in fact.. 23 degrees. So here I come to seek the “parables to be learned in the night seasons”. Too big… to hard, inescapable but there.

So what to do… look out at the stars and remember the One who made them and softly comforted to remember He is there.

One of my heroes of faith is Irish born missionary, Amy Carmichael who  arrived in India at a tender age (late twenties )  to never leave.  She grew into life despite  India’s religious culture to  rescuing children; primarily young little girls destined for the sexual pleasure of Hindu Temple priests.  It did not make her popular not to mention the spiritual warfare.
Amy said once that the mountains at night become molehills by day.
I have loved  quote of hers, and clung to that thought as it has served me well time and time again.  Something else I hunger for from from Amy’s life experiences is what she learned to acquire. She developed the spiritual secret that caused her spirit to light up the place , to blaze bright in the midst of great calamity… that friends, other missionaries, churches  would misunderstand. The lonely result that a many would fail to support her work.

She even ended up having a bad fall that put her in bed to endure much suffering– the cup of His suffering , really.

Anyway how I see it .. her triumphs form an ordinary woman who came to lead an extraordinary life.

Through it all she held fast to what was inexplicable hope. She was ridiculed, put in danger, unjustly criticized and found a way as she put it to ” tuck into God” in the surrounding discouragement and dangers.  Through perserverance she shared her vision that became contagious and fortunately others joined in the support of child rescue. Amy gave her whole life to this calling. Amazing she was,  and her legacy remains in India to this day.

http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/bios/b3carmichaelAmy.htm

Me.. I am definitely hard pressed at times to separate myself from the ministry I founded and love . However, I have a family that blesses me each day.

Amy learned the art of leaning.. Oh how I want to get that in my deepest spirit for the indwelling and abiding faith and high hopes abiding.

That is my quest… to learn how to not leap to the mountains but focus on the molehills that come when I read His word and inhale His promises.

To listen for His voice and as in ” Isaiah 8:11 ” The Lord spoke to me, like a firm grasp of the hand.

Amy had a prayer for this that I find uplifting and hope it will bless and encourage you.

My Father, you welcome me into your presence– and that’ a wonder in itself. More than I can imagine. Then you invite me to lean against you…  and a bolt of self -reliance in me resists.
But I want to trust you. To relax the weight of my fears and anxieties against you. To rest, to know how fully trustworthy you are. Help me , Father.

I reach for your hand , feel your firm grip… and I lean my weight against you now.

So there you have it.. my plan for 2010 to be better at leaning. The night season parables then will soon be the sound of my heart rejoicing in the praise He is so worthy of.

Time to pray and then have some coffee and bring in the day…. my radio playing softly the local Christian radio station and all is well and He has me in the palm of His hand.

Venturing Out…

Hello! I am following a New Year’s resolution of mine and that was setting up a blog page.. so after trying to figure out the technology of this site, I am almost ready to launch. Stay tuned….