Listening to Abba: 2012

A Heart Stopping Moment


We stopped at the bookstore where my husband works.  My granddaughter Carly begged her Opa to buy her a new bible.  Opa will do anything for Carly, so she got to pick out a brand new bible. No sooner did we get home when I caught her drawing on the cover in permanent ink.  "Oh!" I gasped, then caught myself; a closer look melted my heart.  There on the front cover she proclaimed in first-grade fashion:

Name: Carly: a girl of God's word.

This she topped off with an illustration of her self. My heart caught in my throat as I whispered to God  "Let it be so Lord Jesus, let it be so."

Tickled PINK



I bolted upright in bed, heart pumping, adrenalin flowing . . . there were unmistakable bumps and thuds going on in the room next to mine. .I knew immediately that Rick was in trouble.  I jumped out of bed and ran into his room; as suspected, he was in a full blown diabetic seizure. He was jerking and convulsing so violently that I had to pin him down in order to protect him from injury.  It was like riding a wild bull.  He kept throwing me off and I kept throwing my body back over his to restrain him.

In the past thirty plus years I have witnessed countless seizures; they are usually over in about 8 minutes.  When it goes longer, we need to call for help.  This seizure was still going after 15 minutes.  I called 911 while attempting to keep Rick from harm. No easy task there.  Thirty minutes later the paramedics were on the scene.  Rick finally came around and was able to get his sugar stabilized.  Paramedics left, we crashed. We both felt like we had just been in a boxing match.

Rick has been a diabetic since childhood.  Over the years it has become increasingly difficult to regulate the disease. Eventually we found ourselves in a season of turbulent years when his sugar level was on a constant roller coaster; it seemed we were calling the paramedics weekly.  I remember that it got so bad I even shopped for a black dress, just in case.  My daughter was getting married at the time and I cautioned her that she may need to get a backup officiate to replace her dad.  Our days were clouded with uncertainty and pain.

But then a miracle happened.   God provided Rick with an insulin pump.  It gave him a brand new life.  It gave us a brand new life.  For the past 10 years or so he has only had a few seizures, a sharp contrast to the 3-4 we were experiencing weekly before. Hallelujah!  What a relief.

But just a few weeks ago we found ourselves once again standing on the edge of another dark dawn.  Rick’s insulin pump died.  We have no medical insurance to order a replacement.  He had to go back to taking shots.  In just two days we were back to the old life.  Oh God, we can’t live like this!  We must find a way to get a new pump.  (These are not devices you can buy on eBay.  They are strictly regulated by the manufacturers; a new pump costs around $6-7000).  We asked for prayers and surfed the web to see if there was any assistance out there; some sites looked promising.

Meanwhile Rick went to the doctor for his quarterly check up. 
The Doc walked in and said, “So your pump died?”
“Yes”
“How are your sugars?”
“We need to talk about that.”
“Well, before we talk, let me ask you, would you like a new pump?”
“Of course, I would love a new pump!”
“Well, it just so happens that one of my patients recently got a new pump. Unfortunately, she died two weeks ago. Her husband brought her pump to us and asked us to give it to someone who could use it.”

(Rick picks himself off the floor and gets back in his chair.)

Doc continues, “We thought of two patients who could use the pump, you and another girl.  We have called her repeatedly and she has not answered.  So I guess the pump is yours.”

(Rick. Understandably. Cries.)

 “Looks like God provided for you.  Looks like he has a sense of humor too,” Doc said with a  smile.
"How’s that?” Rick inquires.
 “Well,” she laughed, “it’s PINK!” (Assistant opens the box and shows Rick)

Rick laughs with surprise, delight, and gratitude.

God performed another miracle.  A PINK miracle this time. Hallelujah! What a relief.

Rick came home wearing his new pink pump.  When he told me the story we laughed, cried, hugged, and praised God together. (We pretty much did that the for rest of the day)

God certainly does have a sense of humor.  And He certainly does have an enormous heart. Love Him.

Needless to say, we are humbled, grateful, amazed, and . . .

                                                             tickled PINK!




He's Your Savior

There were two young women selling “Dead Sea” beauty products at the mall. As I was walking past the display, one of them put lotion on my hand and lured me to her Kiosk. She told me right away that she was a Jew. My heart skipped a beat. I felt like I was on holy ground. Here was a real bona fide Jew! The apple of God’s eye.

Without even pausing I asked, “Do you know Jesus?” “Sure,” she replied, “I’m a Jew, I believe in God.”

“No, I’m talking about Jesus,” I explained. “Do you know Him? Do you know who He is?” Without hesitation she looked me dead in the eye and answered, “He’s YOUR Savior.”
“Yes,” I replied, “but he’s also YOUR king!”

Interestingly, my question and comments did not offend either lady. They continued to talk about their beauty products and I continued to interject my enthusiasm for the Messiah. The whole time I was with themI felt my heart growing larger. I seemed it would explode with God’s love for these two Jewish women. I wanted to gather them in my arms . . . the way Christ ached in Matthew 23

  "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones to death those who have been sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling!”
 
I know God sent me to these women. I know because His love just spilled out of me toward them. I hugged them, talked with them, bought some of their products and encouraged them to find Jesus. They were so receptive to me and to my joy over Yeshua that they wrote down their names for me on a sales receipt. I told them I would be praying for them.

They were beautiful women. Open, friendly, warm. . .but blind. Steeped in tradition. Stuck in darkness. It broke my heart. It breaks God’s heart.

I walked away feeling sad for their lost-ness, but hopeful that maybe God had used me to arouse their interest in Jeshua.

That one phrase keeps echoing in my mind . . .”He’s your Savior. He’s your Savior. He’s your Savior.

Yes! He’s my Savior. I love Him.

I love His people.

I love to tell the story.

God save Tali and Nitzan.

Admitting my shadow side

"To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, 
the light side and the dark. 
In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am 
and what God's grace means."

Brennan Manning

My shadow side
Recently I made a commitment to practice living Philippians 4:8, “Whatever things are true, lovely, good, pure, honorable . ..think on these things.

I wasn’t long before I blew it.  Two people where sharing about little signs of growth in another person and I interjected, “I don’t know, last week she did this and that.”  Inward groan. I devalued what they were saying and cast a shadow on the one they were talking about.  I spoke truth but it wasn't truth that needed speaking. My dark side was exposed.   I felt immediate remorse.

On the way home I lamented to God, “Oh Papa, I didn’t follow Phil. 4:8!” I held my head in my hands, my heart felt soiled.  

“Make it right.” 

Was that His voice or mine?  Did I want to make it right in order to salvage my reputation? Or, did I want to make it right to honor my God.

“Abba, if this is you speaking, keep prompting me.  If it is from me, help me let it go.”

After a restless, burdened-conscience night, I concluded that God was indeed the one prompting me. “Okay, Lord, I will do what you say, but out of curiosity, what good will it do?  I hardly know her and she probably thought nothing of it.”

God:  “Here is why Kinsey,  I want my children to confess their faults to one another and pray for each other so they will be healed.  When you admit your brokenness and obey, it encourages others to admit their brokenness and obey.  Your step of faith will move others to pursue holiness. Furthermore, if you must make it right every time you fall, you will be more careful of what you say going forth.”

Kinsey: “That’s for sure. I see, so this is about the body of Christ - keeping it pure.  It is about having conversations that are seasoned with salt, wholesome talk that benefits all who hear.  It is about Phil. 4:8 - being conscious of and committed to thinking and speaking about those things which are true, and lovely, and honorable.  I’m all for that Papa, you know I am.”

G: “You are dear girl, and I am very proud of you.”

My light side
I humbled myself and made the apology.  As soon as I did, the burden lifted and my conscience was clear.

I wish no one would see my dark side.  Shoot, I don’t want to see it myself.  Sadly it’s there and it trips me up.  But God in His mercy forgives, cleanses, and sets me back on the right path.  I love Him for that. His mercies are new every morning.


Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, 
we have confidence before God (1 Jn. 3:21 NIV)

They don’t tell shameful things about those close to them. (Ps. 15:3 ERV)

He who covers over an offense promotes love, 
but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends (Prov. 17:9, NIV).

I saw Jesus today . . .

I saw Jesus today. He was wrapped in wrinkly skin with a balding head, crooked nose and a hunched back. He was teaching from the book of Revelation to a crowd of about 20 ragamuffin people in a little country church. He spoke with kindness, conviction, authority and power. His name was Ralph, age 73.

I saw Jesus today. He was wrapped in pale sagging skin, thinning gray hair, dingy teeth and compassionate eyes. He wore a dress and supportive shoes. His arm was broken and held together by a metal brace. He spoke with kindness, interest, and warmth. His name was Elaine, age 69.

Ralph and Elaine Gardner are pastor and pastor's wife of Grace Fellowship Church in Oneonta, AL. They invited us (Sharon and me) to share about Discovery Clubs at their church today. They have a passion for Christ, the church, and the lost. The instant I met them I felt at home.

Ralph and Elaine took us to Taco Bell after church. Over tacos, we learned more about them, their family, and their lives. Ralph is a retired Chaplain, Elaine a retired nurse. Upon retirement they sold their house and spent 6 years touring the country in an RV ministering to other Pastors and Pastor's wives.

Two years ago they were asked to be interim pastor of the church in Oneonta. They said yes and are still there. They are still living in an RV.

They don't have much by way of this world. They don't want for much. They pure and simple are sold out to Jesus and offer their weak, aging bodies to His service and to His glory. I'm confident they will do that until He calls them home to glory.

I wish you could have met them and experienced what I experienced today. When I got back in the car after lunch, I laid my head on the steering wheel and cried. Not because I felt sorry for them, but because I had just been in the presence of Jesus. I had just stood on holy ground. I was humbled.

Through my tears I said to Sharon, "These are the hall of fame people that Hebrews 11 talks about."
Hebrews 11 says, "This world is not worthy of them." I agree.

Yep, I saw Jesus today. I got to hug Him too. It was very, very sweet. His presence still lingers.

Another day in the life of God . . .

An excerpt from Kinsey's journal 


K: So, how are you Father? What have you been up to today?

G: I’m great Kinsey girl.  I’ve been very busy.  I adopted some more children into my family today.  I welcomed some children home into my arms.  I breathed life into all newborns as they made their entry into your world.  I celebrated the natural births as well as the spiritual ones.  The angels get very excited up here about regeneration.  They create quite a stir with their rejoicings- heaven is a very “happening” place.  I can’t wait until you get here Kinsey girl.

K: Me neither!

G: Many of my children called out in distress to me today.  Some of them had very bad news – sickness, financial loss, shattered dreams, innocence stolen, abandonment, jobs lost, lives lost, marriages ended . . .I listened to their cries for help. I held them as they wept.  Some of them are very angry with me.  I wish they could see what I see.  I wish they would trust me – that I will right every wrong, mend every heart, bring healing and restoration and glory from their woes.  I spoke words of comfort to those who would hear.

I also fed the birds, watered the earth, calmed the seas, brought forth the sun, kept everything spinning in space, gave breath to every living creature, stopped Satan when he pushed his boundaries, held the ocean in place, watched the whales frolic, gave fishermen big nets of fish, kept a toddler from injury, brought healing to bodies, refreshment to souls, doled out forgiveness in mega doses and so much more.

But in the middle of all my doing – I’ve been watching you, as you – set up your new printer, defrag your computer, watch the stock market, work on homework, exercise and plan. . .

__________________________________________________

Whoa! My journals are full of back and forth conversations with God; this is one of my favorites.  It makes me want to throw my arms around Him and tell Him how much I love Him.It makes me want to kneel before Him in awe and worship.
 
I share this because it is good to stop and reflect on what the Sovereign Lord does. Naturally, the list could go on, and on, and on.  I didn’t want to dress it up for the blog, so I copied it straight from the journal. 

What does it stir in you?

Kinsey


Brokeness

I’m broken. Not the humble kind of broken, but the defective kind of broken.

I wanted to have it all together. . . do all the right things,be a good wife, good mother, good Christian, good toastmaster. . .a model woman. I applied myself to self improvement books, expanding my mind, learning about human nature, and improving my relationships.I tried really hard to put other’s needs above my own.

For many years, even though life wasn’t perfect, it did seem rather charmed. Rick and I had good, fruitful ministry. We had nice homes, cars, schools, and opportunities. The children were well behaved and showed character.

I never really saw our brokenness. My brokenness. I realized I had faults but it’s not the same. Brokenness –defectiveness is different.

Acknowledging my brokeness is humbling because it says I’m not good enough, I’m not strong enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not consistent enough, I don’t have what it takes, I need help. Ouch. I need help.  Needing help is like admitting to a handicap, a limitation, a deficit. It makes me dependent on others, and that frightens me. The bottom line is, I thought if I were defective then maybe I wasn’t loveable.

The realization and owning of my brokenness has given me a new pair of glasses. Now I see! Broken people are some of the most loveable people in the world. They’re not intimidating; they’re humble and grateful.  Broken people work better with others; they realize their idea is not always the best and that their thoughts or assumptions are not always right. They realize their advice is not always wanted. 

Broken people are learners. They are quicker to offer encouragement or apologies, and they aren’t full of excuses. Being around broken people is comfortable and freeing; there are no pretenses or facades. They give space for error and growth. It’s a much more gracious way of living.

“I’m gloriously broken,” I recently said to a friend. I’m safer to be around, less critical. Who am I to point a finger? Look at what a mess I am. I’m a mess! Even as I write that I smile. I’m so okay with being a mess right now. I am a mess.

What made brokenness okay for me? Jesus.

When my marriage of 30 year crashed and burned I was forced to do some real soul searching. What had brought us to this point? Where did we go wrong? Where did I go wrong? What was my role?

Who better to do soul searching with than Jesus. “Oh Jesus,” I cried. “Help me! I’ve made such a mess of things!” I spent months sitting at the foot of the cross letting Jesus deal with me. He pointed out my sinfulness, my bondage, and my defectiveness. 

But Jesus doesn’t point out my flaws with the intention to show me how rotten and unlovable I am. No, he wants to show where the problem lies and reveal Himself, and His truth as the answer. He wants to set me free. And so Jesus and I have been doing rounds of revelation and healing at the cross.

The most wonderful thing about seeing my my defectiveness, before him – is that just when I see how utterly hopeless I am, he scoops me up and lavishly loves me. He loves me in my brokenness, and because He loves me, I’m okay.

I wonder now if it’s possible to own God’s love without owning my brokenness? I think not.

I think the next half of my life will be lived differently. It already is. I don’t have to do everything right; I’m still loved. I don’t have to be the smartest, prettiest, skinniest, most organized, extraordinary woman out there. I don’t have to strive to be better in order to be found loveable. Now I want to be better because Jesus loves me. What a relief.

I don’t have to hope my kids behave a certain way so I look good. I don’t have to explain my broken marriage (which is slowly mending). I don’t have to justify actions or lack of action. I can just be still in Jesus and let him center me. I let him provide me with the reassurances that I matter and I’m significant to Him. It’s all that really matters.

I’m not saying other people don’t count. I want to be loved and respected and admired as much as anyone. However, if that does not happen (because everyone around me is broken too, and can only offer a broken kind of love) then it’s okay. Because, Jesus is safe. Jesus is love. Jesus is truth. Jesus is King. Jesus is my friend.

In my brokenness I discovered Jesus in a way I had not known. Jesus has been waiting all these years for me to come to the end of myself. “Now,” he sighs with relief, “I can really start using you.” I’m blessedly broken.