A Place for All Women

Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Such a Good Friday!

I hope you don’t mind me re-posting this story from last year.

I recognize today, that I am just as much a sinner as I was one year ago, when this was written.

I need Him as much as ever.

I am as responsible, as anyone, for the price He had to pay.      

          Pounding hammers and cracking wood echoed through the old Catholic sanctuary.  It went on for only 15 or 20 minutes but it seemed so much longer.  I sort of knew what might happen when I first walked in and the man at the door handed me a nail.  But the longer we sat in the silent service, the less sure I was of what was going on.           

           The music playing was reminiscent of a Catholic Mass.  And I wondered if the nuns, who moved out of this former convent years ago, would be pleased with the ceremony now taking place, with people from many different backgrounds of faith.

            On the big modern video screen, hanging up front and to the right, were images of Jesus on the cross.  Silently, but together, we read his final words…the last seven things he said.

            Then it was time.

            A large thick dark wooden cross had been placed on a table at the front of the sanctuary.  We were encouraged to go forward, and by driving our nails into the cross, accept that our sins were as responsible for his death as the Roman soldiers who hung Jesus on the cross at Calvary.  When I picked up the hammer, my hands were shaking a bit more than I had expected.  I placed the nail where I thought his hand might have been if this were the actual crucifixion.  I hit the nail three times before I had to let go and walk away.  I felt sick and weak and very sad.  But, there, at the base of a driftwood cross hanging high on the wall in the center of the church was the welcoming invitation to share the Lord’s Supper. 

            It changed me.

            I thank God I will never be the same because that experience last night changed me.  I suspect it changed all of us.

            As we walked back to our seats, the sounds of cracking wood and pounding hammers continued for a few minutes and then, once again, precious silence. 

            We stood and sang the song, “Lord Have Mercy.”  Then, everyone ended the evening in silent prayer.

            When we walked out into the hallway, it was filled with the voices of families making dinner plans, talking about the weekend and the upcoming Easter services. 

            We left knowing we will sin again. 

            But we left free from the burden of sin and free from the price he offered to pay. 

The last seven things Jesus said:

“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:34  NASB

Speaking to the thief who had asked Jesus to remember him, “And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise. Luke 23:43 NASB

“When Jesus then saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, He said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, Behold, your mother!”

John 19:26-27  NASB

“About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying ELI, ELI LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”

Matthew 27:46 NASB

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” John 19:28  NASB

He said, “It is finished!” John 19:30 NASB

“And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.”  Having said this, He breathed His last.

Luke 23:46 NASB

As a woman and a mother, I think of Mary standing there and the helpless agony she must have felt watching her son die. 

But I also think of the lyrics to the song “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” by Stuart Townend and I recognize my role in all that happened. 

“Behold the Man upon the cross,

My sin upon His shoulders

Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,

Call out among the scoffers 

It was my sin that held Him there

Until it was accomplished

His dying breath has brought me life

I know that it is finished.” 

Yes, ladies, it is finished.  No guilt, no shame, no more penalties for our sins.  He has paid our debt.  And the debt is paid in full.

Happy Easter!

A Message in the Mailbox

     On our first official weekend away from the rest of the world, I noticed my husband favoring his left knee.  It was early fall, the leaves were just beginning to turn, the sun was shining and it was warm.  He’s a basketball fanatic, and so early in our relationship, I was more than willing to play along.  So was our dog.

     We had discovered a quiet outdoor basketball court near a lake and we were just shooting some hoops.  Each time he would run toward the basket, I saw him give a little to the left, before he went up for the shot.  He told me it wasn’t a big deal, just an old basketball injury and that he was fine.

     Over the next 17 years, it became progressively worse.  The first surgeon we saw said a knee replacement would only last him ten years.  We walked out.  The second surgeon said he should start thinking about living the life of a much older man.  We walked out.  The third surgeon, a young, healthy, active, energetic, top-of-his-field kind of guy, said he saw no reason my husband wouldn’t be able to play basketball again with our teenage son.  He da man!

     So we went forward to schedule the surgery.  A problem with insurance put it on hold.  A new policy with a larger deductible made us hesitant.  Time off work was a fear factor.  And another two years went by.  The favoring of his left knee became a noticeable limp, and then an obvious limp and finally strangers were walking up to ask about it.  We ganged up on him…his family, and friends…then his co-workers, and finally his boss.  If he wasn’t already convinced, the pain became so intense, money and time no longer mattered.

      But my husband’s knee surgery is not what this is about, not really.

      As I write this post, it is March 2012.  In September 2011 my husband attended a men’s retreat organized by our church.  It’s not the sort of thing that is in his comfort zone, but he felt like he should be there.  During the weekend, the men were asked to write letters about what God had impressed upon their hearts.   They were told the letter would be mailed to them later as a reminder and a means of encouragement.  (I can sort of see my husband rolling his eyes at the very idea, but he complied.)

      The knee was replaced on Monday morning March 5th and he was walking Monday afternoon.  We came home from the hospital two days later and stopped at the mailbox.

      The letter had arrived. 

      As I opened the letter and prepared to read it, I asked him what he had written. 

      He didn’t remember. 

      But God did.

“It’s time to stay on my knees more than I complain about them.  I feel physically spent…painful to walk…and I must dig deeper into my faith as well as my resolve for recovery…leaving fear of knee surgery and it’s cost behind me.

     Call it coincidence, good timing or just a chance occurrence.  But what are the odds of that letter being delivered on the very day he returned home from doing what he was so afraid to do for 17 years?

     Prayers answered.  Fears gone.  Bills paid.  And in the mailbox, a reminder, a means of encouragement, a simple little message.

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6


 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10

 

 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12

 

God knows your needs.

He hears your prayers.

Trust Him.

Lay it down.

Let it go.

And wait!

(I know, easy to say, hard to do.  But try it.  It’s not your only option.  But it’s your best!)

© Copyright 2012, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

Around the Web in 365 Days

“Sugar and spice and all things nice, that’s what little girls are made of.”

          Those  were the first words that came to my mind when I looked up the meaning of Keziah and was reminded the Hebrew name is synonymous with sweet-scented spice.

    “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ…” 

     The name Carrie, coincidentally, means joy.

     “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart…”

     As I prepared to step out on faith and start writing for this website last year, I absolutely knew February 2nd would be the day!  So, I hopped out of bed, fired up the old desktop and prepared to publish. HOURS later and many mistakes behind me, frustrated to no end, and rapidly running out of time, the first post finally popped up around noon.  I felt I had surely earned the right to sit back and chill out.

     But…

     I was  late for an appointment.  And then before I could even make it a mile down the road, my cell phone rang with news that was… let’s say… NOT GOOD!

     Romans 7:21 says when you would do good, evil is present.

     But thank God…

     Isaiah 54:17 says no weapon formed against me will prosper.

     And so today, KeziahCarrie is a year old.

     My hope, one year ago, and my hope now is that I can inspire you, make you laugh, make you cry and help you realize living a Christian life is hard for all of us. It’s why Matthew 7:14 says, the gate is small and the way is narrow. I have often thought if the world really wants Reality TV, watch someone walking with God!  The blessings are big but the tests are tough!  And I don’t know about you, but just when I think I’m about to walk on the water, I divert my eyes for a second and down I go.

    I tell my children that sin is often a whole lot of fun;  that being bad is easy, and temptations come our way almost every day. But the reward we get from a relationship with our Messiah (reminder to self) is SO MUCH MORE!

     I pray I never write one word He has not approved; and I pray KC never has a reader who cannot benefit from what God allows to be written. I’m not always anxious to share my faults, even though I do keep finding them.  I figure, if God can use something I’ve experienced, failed at, made a mess of, or succeeded in, then the glory is all His.

          I thank Him for the opportunity to write and do not take the privilege for granted. It’s not about money, so you don’t have to weed your way through any advertisements to see what God might want to say to us. It’s not about numbers, although it is nice to see subscribers.  And, it’s not about awards, although I’m grateful that other writers have nominated KC for the Kreative Blogger, The Versatile Blogger
and The Candle Lighter Awards.

     If you haven’t already subscribed, we would love for you to join us. Nothing changes except an email telling you there’s a new story. I have little KC cards if you would like me to send you some of those. It’s fun to leave them in places where women go and hope they will log on to the web address and find  “A Place for All Women.” If you feel led, please tell your friends, family and co-workers about KeziahCarrie. I promise I’ll try my best to never write anything that might embarrass you or make you regret sharing the website. If you want to know more about the “why” click on the About KC link at the top of the page.

     Many blessings on your life this day, I look forward to our next year together as women.

     And for the few guys who have come along for the ride…

“Snips and snails and puppy dog tails, that’s what little boys are made of.”

     Until we meet again, Shalom!

     (Google it :-)) 

References: 2 Corinthians 2:15 & Proverbs 27:9

© Copyright 2012, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

A New Beginning

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

          He does that, you know, He makes all things new.  He gives us endless second chances.  He gives us new weeks, new months, new moons, new years.  He removes our sins, “As far as the east is from the west.”  He is patient and kind, “not willing that any should perish.”  He is our Shepherd.  And when we get loaded down, messed up and stressed out, He “makes” us “lie down in green pastures.”

         
          All around us are the expectations of a New Year peppered with promises to do better, live healthier, and try harder.  But we’ll fail, not at all of it, but probably at some of it.  We’ll find a good excuse to gossip… a logical reason to overreact…another celebration that will invite us to overeat…and then we’ll wake up one day feeling less motivated than we thought we would feel back on January 1.

          He will still be there making all things new.

          Some of us will venture into new opportunities. There will be new relationships, new houses, new cars, new furniture and new families. 

          He’ll bless us and favor us and wait patiently for us to see Him.  That’s who He is.  It’s what He does.  He provides for us “out of his glorious riches.”

          And even though our New Year will eventually be old, He’ll not change.  He’ll be there to see us through, “a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

 Jehovah-jireh, our Provider.

 (Bible references: Revelation 21: 5, Psalm 103:12 NAS, 2 Peter 3:9 NKJ, Psalm 23 NIV, Ephesians 3:16 NIV, Proverbs 18:24 NIV)

© Copyright 2011, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

Just A Story

     The prison doors slammed shut and she knew the price she would have to pay was more than she could give.  Even death seemed a better option than being stuck in this pit with the other prisoners.  She had definitely done some things wrong… not just once or twice, but day after day, month after month, year after year.

It got easier.  Eventually, she didn’t even feel guilty.  Her family had tried to intervene… had tried to talk with her about her choices.  But every time her self-destructive behavior would win over.

She had been taught at an early age that placing yourself in the hands of others will get you hurt.  And, at some point, the drugs and alcohol she used to self-medicate, kept her from caring.  The harder she had struggled the more powerless she had felt.  And it had all ended here.

As she sat down on the cold metal bed, it was almost hard for her to believe she had fallen this far.  She was caged like an animal and suspected she would be treated even worse.  But then she heard the distant sounds of all the prison doors unlatching.  She kept her seat, not knowing what was going to happen next.  As the sounds swelled and her cell door swung open, she couldn’t see anyone, but the voice she heard was clear.

          “There is a way for you to get out of here.  But there is only one way.  It will require you to believe.”

           “And what if I don’t believe?” she said in her typical characteristic, cynical tone. “Why should I believe you?  Why is there only one way?  That doesn’t make sense. There has to be more than one way out of here.”

          “Not this time,” came the response.  “But it’s your decision and yours alone.  No one is going to force you.  The door is open and this is the way.”

She sat there and thought about it…thought about how her parents had tried to raise her…remembered the one Bible verse she had heard so many times in her life she could quote it, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Yep, she had heard that one a few times.  Every Sunday when she wanted to sleep in, those days when going to the lake seemed a bit more fun than sitting through another sermon, or when Sunday morning television was more tempting than a trip to church.

But here she was.  Her life was a mess and, on her own, she was powerless to climb out of this pit.  She was afraid.  So she sat a little longer.  She could hear some of the other prisoners laughing and scoffing at the invitation they had received.

She looked down to see her hands trembling.  She tried to drown out the voices in the other cells and in her mind…so many conflicting voices.  While her parents had tried to raise her right, her friends had been more than willing to show her another route; one that seemed like a lot more fun.  But where were they now, her friends?

She contemplated what her life would be like in confinement.  She thought about all the wasted years.  She wondered how things might have turned out differently if she had followed a different path.  But it was too late for regrets.  The tears drained down her cheeks as she buried her face in her hands.  She remembered a time sitting next to her mom on the couch when she was just a little girl.  Her mom was reading a Bible story to her about Peter and Jesus.

          “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 

She remembered her mom telling her what Jesus had said to Peter.  “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”   Her mom had told her, no matter what she did, no matter how bad, no matter how many times, God would always forgive her, if she asked.

Surely her mom had not anticipated this.

But if there was only one way, then there was only one choice.

She stood up on wobbly legs and very slowly walked out.  It wasn’t easy.  As bad as she wanted to leave that small cell, it still seemed safer than walking into the unknown and following the voice of someone she could not see.

There were only a few women walking in the same direction.  She heard those who stayed in their cells claiming there had to be more than one way.  They weren’t quite ready to leave yet.  And, they were convinced, if they waited, other doors would open.

She kept moving forward, forcing one foot in front of the other and, eventually, she walked out the door and into the light.

The price she had been asked to pay, to remain in this prison of hers, was more than she could give.

But the price had already been paid…one debt, one price, one death, one-way.

 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.   No one comes to the Father except through me.”

                                                                    John 14:6 NIV

 “There are people who complain about the exclusivity of the Gospel. They ask why there has to be just one-way. The more aware I am of the depth of my own sinfulness, the more I look at the subject a bit differently; the more I wonder why there is even one way. I mean, why should there be a way at all? When it gets right down to it, what is it that we think God owes us? How is a holy God in our debt? If God were to offer us two ways, we would want three. If God offered ten, we would want eleven. No matter how many ways God offered, we would always want one more; we would always want our way.”

 Pastor Jim Thomas/The Village Chapel/Nashville, TN 

© Copyright 2011, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

Taking the Time

          Time is money.  We know this.  We have heard it most of our lives.  
We have seen it in action.  A doctor who has to see dozens of patients in a day to pay high insurance premiums, a lawyer offering legal advice to as many defendants as the court system can handle or a single mom working two jobs to feed four kids will all tell you that time is money.

          So the idea of stopping long enough to spend time with God, when we can’t see Him, often can’t hear Him and who doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we would like, is sometimes asking more than we are willing to give.  After all, time is money, and if we have enough money, everything else will run smoothly in our lives. Right?

          How much is enough?  For one of the wealthiest men in history, John D. Rockefeller Sr., it was “Just a little bit more.” 

          But we’re not really talking about money here; we’re talking about time.

          Where do we spend most of our time, our quality time?  Is it possible to invest in time and reap the dividends like a savings account or stock portfolio?  I bring this up now because I’ve been spending a lot of my time lately fighting the clock.

          There are people in my life, people I love, who need my help, people who want things, projects on deadline, a house to clean, laundry in piles, dogs to feed, horses covered in cockleburs, holidays coming quickly and I can’t seem to stop long enough to do the one thing that would actually save me some time, if I would just take the time.

          The go-to quote, in times when I need more time, comes from a friend’s grandmother.  I’ve shared it before.

“Now you come on and get up out of that bed.

You know any time you give to God, he will give it back to you”

~Myrtle Alexander, 83

                It’s so true!  But it still didn’t get me out of bed any earlier.  I was already getting up before the sun.  However, a couple of days ago, I forced myself to try and re-focus on what God wants.  I prayed every time I realized I wasn’t praying, or hadn’t prayed, or really didn’t want to pray.  It didn’t get any easier.  I still didn’t feel His presence, or see any signs of the stress lifting from the load I chose to carry.  One of the biggest projects I’ve ever encountered was coming up on its first deadline.  I needed time a lot more than I needed money, although, money was sort of the reason I needed time.  So, I kept going before God.  I kept waiting for a breakthrough.  And still nothing was happening.   I did notice my husband taking extra care to keep the kitchen clean. 
Like a tiny little ray of hope darting out from behind a clump of ominous clouds, things seemed different.

          The project made deadline, the dogs were fed, the horses brushed, there was extra time to spend a couple of days with my Dad, and a significant holiday gift just popped up while I was out doing routine shopping; and it was a fraction of the price I would have expected to pay at Christmas.  When I quit running around chasing the clock, God reminded me of all that had been done, and then, He just gave me this post.

          What about you?  How are you spending your time?  Who is getting the most time?  Does God get any time?  Or is time just money?

Hebrews 4:16

“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

 

I have often heard the story of Rockefeller’s money comment and just assumed it was associated with greed.  But when I read about his life, I discovered he was a believer, tithed from the very beginning… and the more money he got, the more he gave away.  In that case, how much would be enough?  A little bit more!

 © Copyright 2011, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

What a friend

          The Sunday morning worship team’s rendition of “What a friend we have in Jesus” was all it took for the tears to start falling.  I just couldn’t help but remember the days when I stood next to my Mamaw, singing that same song in a little white wooden country church.  As we held hands, and I looked up at her, my heart was full of Jesus and I was happy

            A tap on my shoulder brought me back to my balcony seat in our large red brick church building where I now stand, feeling all alone, despite the capacity crowd. 

            I don’t know if a “walk in the wilderness” is ever something you really expect, but ours was most certainly a summer surprise.  We were grateful for God’s providential provision, yet caught off guard by how easily our regular routines could be uprooted when I returned to an all-consuming work schedule.  My freedom to be flexible for our family was temporarily placed on hold, and it was harder on all of us than we ever imagined. 

          I quickly confess that I began to stray away from God like the sheep we are described in the Bible to be.  I was headed for greener pastures… one bite at a time…both eyes open.  There didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to eat right, exercise or get a good night’s sleep; and that added to the rising level of stress I brought back into our home.  But we knew it was a necessary season of sacrifice, so we all moved through the motions.

            In two shorts months, the morning quiet time I covet with God went from an hour to 20 minutes to five minutes to none at all.  Our family prayer time became a quick drop of the knees to recite The Lord’s Prayer, and pop back up in order to get on with the days demands.  Even as it was happening, I knew better, and I knew what the end result would be.  It was like grasping the hand of someone trying to save me as I was falling away all on my own.

             As the tears fill my eyes, I fasten my gaze on the trees outside the big sanctuary windows so no one can see me.  I know I can regain my composure quickly, but at the moment, I just feel empty.     

           I turn to respond to the tap on my shoulder, and there stands our pastor’s wife, like an angel of light, letting me know that God has sent her to the balcony, that He is near…that He sees me…that He knows what has happened…that He is still my refuge and strength.  And, although I have felt alone out in the dry dusty desert where I chose to walk, the rains are on their way, and I will once again be able to stand before Him and soak up His living water. 

“Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” 

          It was only a few weeks later when I was blessed to be able to attend a women’s retreat where we were encouraged to stop for a time in order to immerse ourselves in God’s goodness.  I have to admit, I still walked through most of the weekend telling myself,  “Been here, done this, made the necklace.”  Despite my desire to feel God’s presence and hear His word, I was much more in the mood to hang out with my roommate, walk in the woods and soak up what remained of the autumn sunshine.  The “mountain-top” experience I have come to know and love at these retreats just wasn’t happening for me. So, I turned my attention to some of the other women.  First timers were finding they could leave this retreat with stronger convictions to stand confidently at their crossroads.  Tears were flowing as some women realized they had just come through a season of testing but had stood firm and would return home with even more determination.  Women, who knew no one when they arrived, were exchanging email addresses and cell phone numbers with their new friends. 

            I sat in the front row wishing I knew exactly why I was here.  It was almost over, and like a much-needed vacation, it had gone way too fast.  Then a young woman stepped forward with these words: 

My soul is a dry parched land

and my mind is a shattered piece of glass

I cough out the dust

and kick the broken shards to the sky 

Oh Lord, Gather me up

Oh Lord, fill my spirit

Oh Lord, Gather me up

Oh Lord, Quench my thirsty soul 

My feet won’t move toward you

and my hands are fists swinging wide

I scream out your name in pain

and cry out for healing rains 

Oh Lord, Gather me up

Oh Lord, quench my thirsty soul

Oh Lord, Gather me up! 

          She was like another angel of light delivering the message again.  He is near… He sees us…He knows what has happened…and He is still our refuge and strength.  Although we often feel alone, out in the dry dusty desert where we choose to walk, the rains are on their way, and we will once again be able to stand before Him and soak up His living water. 

What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and grief to bear! What a privilege to carry
 Everything to God in prayer! Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer! 

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged—Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; Take it to the Lord in prayer. 

Are we weak and heavy-laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge— Take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer! In His arms He’ll take and shield thee, Thou wilt find a solace there. 

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised, Thou wilt all our burdens bear; May we ever, Lord, be bringing All to Thee in earnest prayer. Soon in glory bright, unclouded, There will be no need for prayer— Rapture, praise, and endless worship Will be our sweet portion there. 

            No matter where you are, no matter how worn out, weary and spent you must feel, God is faithful to deliver you.  We are the ones who get out on a limb, stand at the edge of a cliff and allow ourselves to empty out into the lives of others and the demands of our days. 

But Jesus is always there waiting for our return.

          It seems the more I write about Him, the more I return to thoughts of my childhood.  I wonder if it has anything to do with the way God wants us to come to Him.  

I pass on to you the words our pastor’s wife left me with that Sunday morning.  

“Stand in the rain, sister, stand in the rain!” 

 

(Gather Me Up/2011-Melissa Duckworth)

(What a Friend We Have in Jesus/1855-Joseph M. Scriven)

© Copyright 2011, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

Faithfulness

          When you get a group of crusty, cynical old reporters together in one room, someone is bound to become the victim of bold and brash banter.  I remember well, Drue Smith, a senior member of the Tennessee Capitol Hill Press Corps, who would sit silently while all the cub reporters took turns trying to ask the one question that would tip the scales in their favor. She would always wait until the end of the news conference, and then in a long southern drawl, she would inevitably ask, “Gov-en-uh, what’s the bottom line?”

          Frequently, laughter would erupt in the room as we were all certain the topic of the day had been tossed about, sliced, diced and served up in every direction possible.  But, more often than not, the last laugh was on us as the Governor summed up his responses to all of our many questions in the single most concise quote of the day. 

          It’s sort of funny how the topic of faithfulness could bring that story back to my mind.  I remembered it after asking my husband what he thinks first when he hears the word “faithfulness.”  He didn’t give it much thought; he just said:” The bottom line!” 

          “No matter what, the other person is there for you…no matter what, that person is true to you…no matter what, that other person is honest and loyal to you…no matter what!” 

          Isn’t that what we really want?  Someone who would be there for us no matter what?  Someone we could trust completely, lean on totally?  

          In the Old Testament, no matter what the Israelites did to turn their backs on God, He was true to them.  He was honest and loyal to them.  He was there for them.

          In one of the world’s most majestic miracles, God parted the Red Sea allowing the Israelites to cross on dry ground in order to escape their enemies.  But, only three days later, they were miffed with Him because there was no water to drink

          In the New Testament, Jesus was just as faithful.  He stuck by His apostles even though He was doubted, denied and left to fend for himself.  In fact, you might remember, it didn’t take the apostle Peter as long as it did the Israelites to fall from faith.  As Jesus was about to be arrested, Peter declared his allegiance to him.  But that very same night Peter denied the Son of God three times. 

          What was the response?  

          Jesus was faithful to forgive. 

          Moses became angry and struck the rock when God had clearly told him to speak to it.  God still gave him water. 

          David had both eyes open when he turned from God and let his lust take the lead.  David was disciplined but then comforted by a loving and loyal Father.  

          Jonah ran from God, but God provided transportation to bring him home and give him a second chance. 

          Paul executed Christians, yet Jesus blinded him temporarily to help him see.  You don’t get much more of a “no matter what” example than that one. 

          And even after his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus stood still, so a doubting Thomas could reach out and touch his nail-scarred hands in order to believe.

          I could keep going but I suspect you get the point. 

          I’ve always thought if we had lived “back then,” we might have been a bit more faithful.  After all, the Israelites got to follow a cloud by day and a fire by night. 

          God was their GPS! 

          But then I remember He actually gives us an instruction book and we still try to come up with our own plan.  Even then, He understands and is faithful to all of us.  No matter what we do, no matter how hard we struggle, no matter how many times we mess up, how often our quick tongues or tempers get us into trouble or how unfaithful we become…it does not change the fact that He is faithful.

          And, I’ve got to tell you, I really believe even a crusty cynical old reporter might agree that is the Bottom Line! 

“Our confidence rests not in our faithfulness but in His!”

~Priscilla Shirer

 Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed 

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9

To whom are you faithful? 

What about when they make you mad, disappoint you, sin beyond what is acceptable in polite society, embarrass you or make themselves look foolish?

  Who are you faithful to, no matter what? 

             What is your bottom line?    

 **Until I wrote this post and contacted Drue’s daughter for a photograph I had no idea all that Drue had accomplished.  She was a faithful woman whose colorful life story is definitely worth reading**  

  http://www.publishedbywestview.com/FullerDSmith.html

© Copyright 2011, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

Silver Wings

           Light brown pigtails whipped in the wind as she sat in the backseat of the old ’66 Chevy Impala.  Dust from the gravel country road flew up in a cloud behind them, and the car outran it.  She had the window down, her arm propped up on the ledge, and a big smile on her face.  The backseat was all hers, and, from big rear speakers, the unmistakable voice of Merle Haggard, singing Silver Wings, drowned out all other sounds.

            She had never felt better.  She was still a kid, yet a little grown up.  In the company of her aunt and uncle, yet feeling she was out on her own.  She was a good girl, but, away from her parents, she was allowed to smoke and sneak a peek at a True Story magazine.  It was summertime and she was eleven.           

            It’s been a few decades since that day, but all I have to do is hear the sound of Merle’s voice, anytime, anywhere and the memories come flashing back.  Tears will always well up in my eyes, as I remember a time before life was tainted.  A time when I was innocent and full of wonder…where the world looked like a wonderful place from my eleven-year-old eyes. 

            The 8-track tape switched to Mama Tried and Merle told the story of a life so sad she couldn’t comprehend it; although she sensed what seemed like some sort of soul connection.  She empathized with his plight and she hurt for him.  But in that moment, while he sang of a “rebel child on a freight train leaving town”, she was still sitting safely in the backseat.  

            It was only a few years later when other people’s decisions would change her life.  She would go on to make poor choices of her own wishing, then, that silver wings would take her away. 

            Despite all I have done, I can’t comprehend the pain Merle Haggard pours into his music.  When I hear him sing, my heart still hurts for him.  

            Turning “21 in prison doing life without parolewas obviously not the end of his story.  He was paroled and went on to live a life, “…most men only dream of.”  He even received a presidential pardon.  But, apparently, none of it has ever been quite enough. 

            “There’s a feeling in my gut that says you haven’t written that one song yet, the one that’s going to live forever.  I’ll be satisfied only when I feel like I’ve written that song.” 

            Some might think a signature song like Okie from Muskogee would have been enough to fill the hole in his soul.  I used to think a successful career, the right award or the perfect person could do it for me.  But only God can do that for any of us.  He created us for relationship, and nothing will satisfy us, until we surrender to him.   

            Besides, Merle already sings a song with a message that transcends time.  He tells of a man named Leonard, who was… 

 “On his way to having what he wanted, just about as close as one could be, hey once he even followed Elvis Presley and he wrote a lot of country songs for me. But he laid it all aside to follow Jesus, for years he chose to let his music go, but preachin wasn’t really meant for Leonard, but how in the hell was Leonard supposed to know?  Well life began to twist its way around him, and I wondered how he carried such a load.  He came back again to try his luck in music and lost his wife and family on the road.  After that he seemed to bog down even deeper and I saw what booze and pills can really do.  And I wondered if I’d ever see him sober.  But I’d forgot about a friend that Leonard knew.” 

          It is never too late, we are never too lost.  God is always there waiting. 

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 

            All that we have done, no matter the magnitude, no matter how many times or how great the sin, all can be forgiven.  And, even after a life lived in rebellion, we can still come to him as innocent as that eleven-year-old child. 

He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     “Silver wings shining in the sunlight…silver wings, slowly fading out of sight.”

         

 

 

Quote taken from PBS American Masters Documentary: Merle Haggard “Learning to Live with Myself.”

Bible verses:  2 Peter 3:9 and Mark 10:14

 

© Copyright 2011, KeziahCarrie. All Rights Reserved

Behind the Firewall

Job 29:24

“When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it;

the light of my face was precious to them.” 

            When you pray for God’s provision, you can’t always predict how He might provide.  I am partial to those times when money just unexpectedly shows up in the mail.  But as soon as I start counting on that happening again, of course, it doesn’t.  If I am still able to muster up the smallest measure of faith, I eventually find that I am fascinated by God’s plan and so glad He didn’t follow mine.

            Thus, I recently found myself in a situation I had not expected.  Our city was just about to recover from historic flooding when tornadoes, straight-line winds and more flooding hit many of the surrounding areas.  It was one of the largest scale disasters ever recorded here and resulted in multitudes of rescue and recovery missions.  Federal and State disaster officials moved in and set up shop.  It wasn’t like setting up camp, but more like creating a major corporation.  It takes a massive machine to process the paperwork when thousands of people have lost everything they have ever owned. 

            But after several weeks of working it all out, the relief operation begins winding down, and that’s where this part of the story starts: 

            We needed money!  Not your normal bill-paying family financial infusion, but a big chunk of extra cash to pay for a new contractual commitment. 

            So I needed a job…or a check in the mail…and I got the job. 

            As the disaster workers began to wrap up the details in order to leave our area, a few locals were hired to come in and help out during the temporary transition.  What I expected to see inside the secure facility were a few hundred worn out and weary workers limping along until the last leg of their journey.  What I actually saw were some of the happiest people I have ever encountered. 

            “I think it comes from the top,” one employee suggested when asked for an explanation.  She must have been right because it wasn’t long before I witnessed the big boss walking around each room, calling every person by name and, not only allowing them to forgo all the official titles, but letting them use his nickname.  He was smiling, laughing and making sure everyone was having a little fun.

             It seems happiness is contagious and smiles apparently spread.  🙂 

            There is a passion in this place to help those who can’t help themselves.  And it comes with a sacrifice.  In order to assist survivors, the employees have left homes, husbands, wives, children and pets.  Most all of them are from out-of-state and have been on the clock for 12 hours a day… seven days a week… not just for a few weeks, but  for months.  

          They still smile big smiles; happy smiles…the kind where your eyes work into the equation and you can tell a genuine smile from a forced or fake one.   This secret society of public servants comes in all ages, races and religions, and I think they prove that with properly placed priorities there is provision.

            In the natural, their mind-set doesn’t seem to make sense.  How could they really be happy under these conditions?

               But, remember, they believe it comes from the top.

              They all take an oath of office to faithfully uphold the Constitution.  And, regardless of how quickly our country appears to be forgetting, they all still believe in serving “one nation under God.”

          In a world plagued with rising unemployment, they know their jobs are only temporary.  In fact, it is their mission, upon arriving at a disaster site, to work their way out of a job.  It’s how they help.   It’s how they measure success.  When the people no longer need them, they move on.  

          They can’t predict how God will provide for them the next time, but they trust He will have another assignment.  When they get the call, it will likely mean homes have been destroyed and lives have been shattered. They will drop everything they are doing and rush in to an area that everyone else is trying to escape.  

          When I took this job, I thought it was about money. We had prayed for provision and we believe God is answering our prayers.  But, now, I am far more intrigued  by God’s plan to provide a new perspective.

          I have learned that is it is not unusual for these people to be publicly criticized or ridiculed for what doesn’t happen in the recovery of a disaster zone rather than what does happen.  Hurting people sometimes lash out and hurt other people.  But these public servants seem to understand.  And, they keep going from one location… to another… always looking for the next person to help…still smiling…still happy… because it does come from the Top.  God has created us to find joy in giving, to find joy in serving, and to find joy in knowing we have made a difference. 

          At the end of the day, happiness is contagious and smiles spread.  When you pray for God’s provision, you can’t always know how He will provide. But you can always know that He will!   

Proverbs 15:15

“All the days of the oppressed are wretched,

but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.”           

Romans: 12:6-8

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.  If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage then give encouragement; if it is giving then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”   

 “The word joy is sprinkled all over the New Testament, not as something topping the cupcakes of worldly lusts or entertainment, but falling upon the hearts of men and women whose lives are caught up in who God is and what He is doing”  

~Kelly Minter, The Fitting Room

 

© Copyright 2011, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

 

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