Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Be Patient

Dear Readers, I am so very sorry that my posts are not being posted to you with the paragraph breaks I am making. I am needing to insert a special html symbol in order to make the paragraph breaks work. Unfortunately I forget until I see the post as seen by you.

Please be patient with me. I will soon learn to do this as I type and make things easier for you to read!

Blessings to all, Carolynn

Thunderstorms Coming

Early this morning the news has issued warnings of severe weather coming our way. Possibilities of lightning with the storms as well as tornado watches. So far nothing has been seen at my house except for overcast skies. The cloudy skies make me sleepy, the warnings of coming storms keep me alert.

In the same way, God has given us warnings in the Bible. A tribulation will come (See Mark 13:24-27). We may or may not experience the Great Tribulation described in scripture, but in life we will confront trials that will shake us and cause us to seek shelter from the storm. Will we heed the warnings? Will we seek shelter in the strong tower or in some hastily built faith or good works hoping to make it through?

Storms can come through our lives quickly or linger for years. They can also vary in intensity. Whatever the storm, Jesus has proven to be the One we can turn to. He is our strong tower, our ark, our peace. I can sleep through the warnings or I can stay alert and be ready when the time comes. Jesus has made it clear that He wants me to stay awake and alert. We may need to ride out the storm to the end, but Jesus always brings peace to us if we let Him.

Lord Jesus, Calmer of the storm and Prince of Peace, Thank You for being my shelter and covering. Forgive me for the times I fail to seek You for protection from the enemy, the world and even my own sinful nature! I want to run to You every time, but I sometimes get tripped up and fall into so many traps from which I cannot free myself. I need You in every storm of life. I need You

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Coming Home

Tonight at the airport, my sister, family and friends will welcome home my niece, Lyn, from her tour of duty in South Korea. Though I won't be able to be there, I can already see in my minds eye, the tears, hugs, smiles and cheering as Lyn walks off the plane. I imagine her being tired but happy to be home for now.

Lyn is in the Air Force. She loves it. It has been a place for her to shine and grow and find a future and purpose. Though she has been happy doing her work, she has also had to miss holidays and special moments with family. She has experienced homesickness and the rigors of working without the rest and comfort of a very familiar place. We tried to help her by sending a poster with all our hands traced on it with our names and little notes inside. We titled it "Reach Out and Touch Someone!" Lyn was missed and we are glad to have her home for a little while. I am pretty sure she missed home and is happy to have time to be here too.

Over the past few weeks my sister has counted down the weeks, then the days and now the hours til she will reach out and touch her daughter after such a long time. As I watched and listened to my sister, I wondered if Jesus waits as she does, to finally reach out and touch us? Does He long for the human touch of those He has saved? I think He must! I know from my own experience that I get homesick for heaven sometimes. I long to have Jesus wrap His arms around me and whisper "I love you" in my ear. I can only imagine, just like the song, what I really will do when that time comes.

Jesus knows the number of my days, but I don't. He knows, and yet, He encourages me to keep running the race with Him to the finish line. He does not want me to stop and wait for the minutes to catch up. He wants me to use every minute to love God, love people and serve.

Father, Thank You for bringing Lyn home for awhile. This is only a rest time for her as she continues on her journey doing her work and to be the best she can be. Let it be a time of filling for her. Allow her to be filled with all the good things she loves. You have made good plans for each of us. Forgive us for not accepting Your time and Your place and Your purpose for our lives. Thank You for helping us when we fall down and giving us the strength to keep running the race to the last breath! You are so GOOD!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Give Us This Day

Yesterday at Journey Christian Church it was Compassion Sunday. The speaker, Peter Habyakimana, was a child recipient of Compassion's ministry help. He now speaks to churches across the globe stirring peoples' hearts to help the poor children of the world.

Peter told us his story and over and over he emphasized that, growing up, he was never sure of his tomorrow. He lived in fear of dying and asking himself the question, "Do I have a tomorrow?" In my experience That question rarely comes to our privileged minds. We simply assume that we have many more tomorrows in which to do what we want to do, or to do what God has called us to do. Do I have a tomorrow? I don't know, but I have hope.

Hope is something Peter said most poverty stricken people need the most. Compassion gave him hope. Of course, we know that Jesus offers us a hope beyond this world. In fact that hope is secured through Jesus Christ, if only we say, "Yes." If our hope for a future life is secured then maybe we should not concern ourselves with that as much as receiving from Gods' hand our daily bread.

What does today hold for me? Whatever may come I know God is good. He not only gives me hope for the future but He supplies me with grace for today. Oh, yes, God is good all the time! It is Gods' nature! Thank you Peter for making this real to me again!

Good God, Thank You for giving me hope and grace. You are enough and all we really need. I forget so quickly when things do not go as I have planned. Forgive me, Father God, and remind me when I forget. I do not know if I have a tomorrow. You do. Today I ask You Lord, to give me my daily bread!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Bridge Over Muddy Waters

Unresolvable conflicts that seem settled by the warring parties agreeing to go forward instead of drowning in the muddy waters can be a confusing victory. Neither side has resolved the issue to their satisfaction, but pleasantries are made and there is hope that the muddy waters will not rise up and flood the landscape again. It happens with individuals, political opponents as well as countries. Peace, peace where there is no peace.

I don't like settling for building a bridge when true resolution can take place with civil honest communication. Listening is a big part of this kind of discussion. Listening, not only with our minds and feelings, but also with our hearts, is crucial to the success of any peace talk. I am not perfect at listening but I am learning to be a better listener. I want to be better anyway.

Being a good listener requires discipline. Using our ears to hear words and inflections and our eyes to watch body language takes practice. Like driving a car there is much to think about but the most important is to watch the road, or in the case of listening, to hear with understanding. We may adjust our perceptions by asking questions. We may have to discipline our thoughts to stay on target, and not wander to wheat will I say when it is my turn. Again, I must say that listening is difficult to learn and even more difficult to perfect.

I am glad that God is a good listener. He hears our prayers and is always in tune with what our hearts are crying out. But what about me listening to Him? Taking time to learn to recognize His voice above the din surrounding our lives is worth the effort. His voice comforts, disciplines, guides, and sends messages of love. It is in hearing His voice that the bridges can be built and the two sides of a conflict can move to neutral ground and watch the muddy waters be healed and their hearts washed clean.

Forgiving God, Hearer of our prayers and our hearts that cry out from hurts and confusion, I open my heart to You and pour out all the muddy water that I have inside. Heal me, Lord, and bring those I've hurt to the place of healing as well. Thank You for Your kindness in listening to me, a sinful woman. Your love is greater! Thank You is not enough, i want to live my life within Your words. Help me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Weapon of Silence

My Dad was not much of a disciplinarian. He would mostly use one weapon against us. It has stuck with me as the most hurtful of any act of anger. Silence. If Dad became displeased with us, he would become silent. He would refuse to talk to us, and even our begging to be forgiven would be met with his silent treatment until he was ready to release us.

Silence is so very hard for me to deal with, even today. I perceive any silence as a punishment. If I don't hear from a friend in awhile or my children fail to share important events with me, I feel chastened and over think my actions and words, wondering what I have done wrong. I become desperate if I don't hear my Lords' voice either. His silences push me deeper into His word and quiet times of prayer where I can sit and listen intently for His tender voice. I am so very glad that his silences with me are very short lived.

Sadly, I must admit that I sometimes use silence as a weapon also. I clam up when I've been hurt or become angry. I can't stay silent long though. I know its power to injure. In my silence I try to find words to build a bridge or be a patch to repair what is wrong. I still don't know what to do when forced into a silence because another person won't open the door when I knock.

It must be very sad indeed for our Heavenly Father to bear our silences. He has let it be known that He wants us to converse with Him at all times(I Thes.5 :17). He doesn't like our silences either. How can He answer our cries for help if we never cry out to Him?

Heavenly Father, You sent Your word to tell us of Your love for us. Your Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts and reveals wisdom every time we ask. Your silences are only meant to draw us deeper into Your presence. Thank You for being that still small voice dwelling within me every day, all day. Forgive me for using silence as a weapon against those I want to hurt. Teach me a better way. Remind me to come to You when I am hurt by others silence. Your presence will heal all my wounds.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Bad Guy

I have found myself in a simple, turned complex, conflict with a family member. I am confused and uncertain as to how to patch things up. No matter how hard I try, things get more tangled and stressful. "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when once we practice to deceive!" (Shakespeare?) It does not matter what other deception is taking place. My deception is in trying to hide the truth so that everything would blow over. Unfortunately the tangled web is tightening around me, and I have become the bad guy in all of it.

The one thing I know to be true is that I am willing to lay aside being right so that the relationship can be restored. It is so very hard to do that. It seems that every day I have to beat down the pride in my heart that rises up to say, "I am right!" I do not want to be the bad guy! I want to be right!

The more I pray about it though the more I hear The Holy Spirit guide me to put all that is right aside and let go of the matter. God will take care of it all in His time. I must admit that Jesus did the same for me. He became the "Bad Guy" (sin) for me. He took the weight of all my wrongs and let me go. Was it as hard for Him as it is for me? Maybe. But then, maybe not. He is perfect in love and I have so far to go. His love goes beyond my sin. My love, even for family, goes only as far as the love they give back.

Father in Heaven, forgive my lack of love for my family. Forgive me for not following Your example of sacrifice. You are Love and Forgiveness, and I have received it all from You. You are perfect Love. Thank You for being the "Bad Guy" for me. Help me to be the bad guy for my family and anyone else You call me to die for. Make my sacrifice a testament to YOU and only You. Bring my loved ones and myself closer to You in the process. I trust in You and Your word that promises life to those who will not cling to life. Help me be strong for You.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bling is Bling

I've been invited to two jewelry parties. I attended one last Saturday and will be present for the next one in a few weeks. Though I don't wear a lot of jewelry, I do have a few items in my bling box that I wear with pride.

I have necklaces, earrings, bracelets, pins, and rings that adorn me, with not only beauty, but sweet memories of special times or special people. Beauty can never reside in gold, silver or colorful stones alone. The beauty of jewlry resides in its story to be or the story that was. The story may begin with the first wearer, but it is written over time with the emotions and revelations evoked.

I treasure some simple stories in hand-me-downs from my Mom. One such treasure is a locket she received from her sister. It carries still the tiny picture of her Dad, my Grandfather. When I became the proud owner of the locket it had a missing link on the chain. It was tied together with a green thread. I kept it there for many years, replacing it only when necessary, fearing it would break and the locket lost. The story? Mom doesn't remember how the chain was broken, but she remembers the love she felt wearing it close to her heart.

I have so many other treasures from women who have passed on their jewelry and its stories to me as well: Moms' Mother-of-Pearl cross she wore on her wedding day, a green broach from a dear friend who said it was one of her family treasures, an ornate bracelet given as a re-gift because she wanted me to have a piece of her heart. I have many others, too long to list them all, but all have been cherished because of the ones who gifted them to me along with their stories.

So, as I peruse the catalogs at the "Bling" shows, I think of all those old tarnished pieces. I see the beautiful new and shining bling and wonder what their stories will be in years to come. Will I buy? Will I wear a new piece with the same pride as the old hand-me-down? Maybe more importantly is to whom can I gift my treasured stories? And just maybe that is what God would want me to do.

My sister gives out pearl necklaces to young women she meets that are struggling with knowing how priceless they are. She shares her story and how God has considered each of us the pearl of great price. Sometimes our stories cost us a great deal. To pass on our stories is a precious gift. To add a bit of bling to our stories brings a smile, don't you think?

Father God, You paid a great price to add each of us to Your priceless and precious collection. You are the one greatest and priceless jewel. It is You with which we should desire to adorn ourselves, but so often we settle for plain old bling. I am sure that You love to see us brighten with the beauty of that which You have made. Thank You. Thank you for giving us rich and beautiful gifts. But help us all to let You shine brighter in our lives so that Your glory may be seen!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

He is Coming Again!

This mornings Bible Study reminded me that I am to be expecting and ready for Jesus to return to earth. He will come in power and glory and we all will see it when it comes. I don't want to be surprised! I don't need to be if I keep watch for the signs.

How do I know I don't need to be surprised? Simeon and Anna were not surprised when Jesus was taken as an infant to the Temple by Joseph and Mary. They were waiting for Him and recognized His coming through the working of the Holy Spirit. (See Luke 2:22-38) Having the Holy Spirit dwell in me, I too can recognize Jesus' coming. The questions I ask myself are: Am I looking for the signs of His coming? Do I expect Him to complete His promise to return?

My life should reflect my belief that Jesus will return. I should be ready to follow the Holy Spirit in all things. I should be studying Gods' word to not just know the signs of his coming but to know Him. I should be doing the work that He has called me to do. I don't know when the Master will return but I know He will. I can't worry over the signs but prepare when I see them. In all of this we have hope. We have a hope that when Jesus returns all things will be made right!

Eternal and True God, you are faithful to Your Word! You gave Your servant, Simeon what You promised. You will fulfill every promise and so I trust You to return and the appointed time. Till then i want my heart to be expecting and seeking. I thank You for reminding me in Your Word to do just that! You are an awesome God and worthy of Praise!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


My husband and I are reading through a devotion book for Lent. "Reliving the Passion" by Walter Wangerin, Jr. goes through Marks' remembrances of the Passion of our Lord Jesus. Mr. Wangerins' insights into the scripture we read are thought provoking. Today we read Mark 14:1b, 10-11 about Judas Iscariot going to the chief priests to betray Jesus. The question raised was, does a motive for a sin make it any less of a sin? Judas' motives are never revealed. If his motives were important wouldn't God have made sure they were included in the Gospel?

My answer to the question was decidedly, "No, good intentions do not change the sin." Unfortunately, I again say one thing and do another. Do I really believe that sin can be lessened when my motives are right? If my actions were to be the response to that question, I would be wholeheartedly agreeing. Sin is sin, but I am quick to make excuses. I want my intent to be weighed along with my thoughts, words, or actions. I can then make my sinful deeds to seem less hurtful. I can also point the finger at others whose actions or words have spurred my motives.

Thinking over these thoughts presented by Mr. Wangerin, reminded of the many times I have made light of my sin because of my good intentions.The truth that is revealed today is that God did not make light of my sin. Jesus paid the full price without excuses. when I stand before the Throne I can lay all my excuses at Jesus feet and still my sin will leave a scar .

Dear Lord Jesus, my Savior and Redeemer of my lost soul, I imagine bowing before You and seeing those scars on Your feet left by my sin. I imagine Your loving hands reaching down and lifting me out of my guilt by the scarred hands that bled for my transgressions. I want to take some of Your pain away so that I don't have to be reminded. But all my excuses will not change what my sin cost You. Forgive me Lord for making light of what You have done for me. Thank You for forgiving my sin and my trying to make excuses too.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Who Do I Believe?

Sometimes I am sure that my thinking gets me in trouble. I over think many situations, relationships, and my own abilities and failures.

I've been dealing with a situation recently that I really want resolved. I do not like being misunderstood. I want to be heard and I want to come to a mutual understanding with the other person involved. But I must admit to myself that it may not happen.

The hardest part about the entire conflict is that the longer the conflict lasts the more I think about my part. I analyze and work it over in my mind again and again. I try my best to be fair and honest but all too often I begin to spiral my way down into a dark hole. I begin to believe only bad about myself. I do not trust my motives or the truth. It is my belief about myself that will change my life for the better or for the worse.

What do I believe about myself? Do I believe the truth or do I believe a lie that seems to right? Do I trust all the things God has put into me, or do I trust the voice I hear in my head that heaps piles of past failures on me? Do I let the lies cloud my thinking? Sadly I must say "yes."

I want to believe in the person that God sees in me. I want to believe the truth He speaks over me, but I don't always believe. The truth I heard today from Beth Moore was that if I am ever going to change my life I must start believing God. I cannot change unless I believe what He says about me. I have to stop the pity party and take time to listen. I remember the times I have listened and changes have been made. Those are good times.

Who do I believe? God or me?

Sovereign God, You speak only truth. You know me inside out. It is You I must believe when I look at myself. You are my mirror. Thank You for revealing the truth to me. Even when the truth hurts, I know it is for my good. Forgive me for the times I believe my own thinking. It can never bring me change. My eyes can only see things as a shadow. Let me hear You speak into my heart and my head so I might believe what is true. Help me to turn away from my own thinking and let Your thoughts become my own.

Thinking about what I am good or not good at is one thing that can get me in trouble fast. It is never good to concentrate to long on yourself.

When I let my thoughts linger over what I do best, I can become prideful and sometimes judgemental of others. If I do something well then I have a hard time learning something new or changing my old ways. When trying to be creative, it is never smart to put yourself into a box and only do the same things over and over. Over thinking my positives can lead to obstacles that keep me from being all I can be.

On the other hand, focusing on my "need to change" habits will lead me down a dark and downward spiral that will halt any productive activity. Thinking about my self in a negative way is selfish and maybe even a cop-out for doing what I know I should do. Yes, I am convinced that my thinking can get me in a pit of quick sand that is hard to escape.

There is one kind of thinking that is always helpful and can lead to a changed life. When my thoughts are in unity with the truth of Gods' Word, I will begin to believe and act on that truth.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Die for Him?

I have made plans for my future. I know the house and neighborhood in which I'd like to live. I know what I'd like to be doing as a career for the next few years and I know what I want my family to be like. Of course all of these dreams are the best I can think of for me and my loved ones. I would never plan a disaster or sickness or dissolved relationship to be a part of my dream.

Today, I was daydreaming about the house I really really want to have. It is not big and fancy, but I love the feeling it gives me when I've walked through the rooms. This house has been on the market for a long time now. It is a little more than we want to pay, but it has also come down in price a little. Our house has not sold yet, either, and so my dream house remains a dream.

My dream may or may not be my Heavenly Fathers' dream for me. He may have other plans. The question that has haunted me today has been: Would I die to my dream in order to have His dream? This question makes me stop. I know God is good and all He does is right, but what if I don't want what He wants for me? What if I don't want to let my dream die?

My desires are deep within me and are so much a part of me that to let them go is a death. There will be mourning and sorrow. But, again, God is good and always right. He loves me and wants the very best for me. Maybe those things are not the best of this world, but they are the best of His heavenly world. Jesus has promised that letting go to my life will give me a greater life. God has promised that joy comes in the morning!

It all boils down to trusting in a good and righteous, loving God. How do I know He has my best interests at heart? I know because of the body wrapped in linen and placed in a tomb to be raised from the dead in three days. Jesus' death, burial and resurrection is my sign that He loves. He is trustworthy. He is Good.

Can I die for Him? Can I lay aside my desires to take His desires as my own? I cannot say it is easy. Over the years I have been tested with the little things in life. Some bigger things are being tested now. All I am sure of is that I do want Gods' best for my life. I may struggle in the dying, but I will do my best to always look into His face for the courage to let go and let Him raise me up!

Dearest Lord Jesus, You died for me. It was an awful, painful death. You suffered for me so that I might have the best You could give. Thank You. I struggle with letting go. I see my dreams and desires as the best for me. I don't want to let you or anyone tell me what I need. But that is wrong. You do know what is best. You will do the right thing if I let You. Help pry my fist open so that I can hold onto Your dreams: the plans that are best for me! I do trust You!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Miracle of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a God-like quality. It begins with God. We would not know forgiveness if God was never revealed to us through His interaction with people and through His word. His forgiveness of us makes possible our forgiveness of others.

Gods' act of forgiving began with a promise to send a Savior. He, himself, became our Redeemer and removed the remembrace of our sin. Sunday, Pastor John mentioned that Forgiveness is needed when we cannot forget. God forgot our sin when He forgave us. It is an awesome thought to think that God did it all. He did not ask us to pay the price and then we would be forgiven. He is the covenant maker and the covenant keeper.

The process of forgiveness can be a painful journey for the one who has been hurt. God also took a painful journey to rid us of our sin. It is said that forgiveness is not for the one forgiven but the one who forgives, but both are set free in the process of removing the wall of sin. The person forgiven may not know or receive the pardon, but he is no longer bound eternally by the accusations of the one setting him free. The one who pardons another will experience freedom in thoughts and emotions. It may take a very long time or a constant returning to the conscience act of forgiveness to find the freedom but it will come. In it all there is a miracle of new life; a life free from the past and ready to start anew.

The miracle of forgiveness is the intervention of God in our sinful lives. It is a joyous experience to forgive. It is a miracle to be forgiven and made clean.

Savior God, You are a miracle worker! You have taken our sin and made it disappear to the place where even You have forgotten! You set us free to receive Your pardon. You are Good! You have also given us the power and grace to free others when they have hurt us. Forgive us when we hold on to those hurts. Help us to relase our grip on those things that can only bind us to the past. Thank You for supplying all our need when we need to forgive!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bible Study

Bible Study on Saturday mornings starts early. By early I mean 7:00 a.m. Yes, I get up every Saturday morning to study the word with some incredible women. I didn't always enjoy getting up early for a time of study. I am not a morning person. Mornings, for me, should be quiet and never in a hurry to get out the door. Especially on Saturdays!

It has been a surprise for me to discover that I really enjoy this special meeting with God and friends. Though it is hard to roll out of bed and make myself somewhat presentable, I have come to find a slight spring in my step, and an eagerness in my heart to open the bible and learn from each woman what God has shown her throughout the week. I believe the draw is in the adventure of finding treasure hidden behind each word and in each precious heart.

When the alarm goes off and I finally put my feet to the floor, I begin to think of the passage designated for that days' study. I review in my mind the revelations God has given me throughout the week. I am in awe. Then, I walk out the door into the morning air to be amazed at Gods' glorious creation. Lately the morning is crisp and the sky is just beginning to brighten with the sun. Next week I will see the stars still twinkling with one last effort to make their presence known before the sun reigns over the day. I am awed again by the hand of God which created this beauty and delight! I am full before I even walk in the door!

We begin with a simple prayer of praise and request for understanding. Then we listen to His story. Next, we tell how our story has been changed by His. Time sharing our hearts desires and concerns with each other and our Father closes our time together. We are fortified to not only face the world but to embrace our day with arms full of love, the first of which is given in hugs for one another. A simple start to the day filled with beauty and riches.

I have learned to receive Gods' message whatever time of day it might be sent. That is a lesson I learned from this mornings study of Luke 2:8-20 when the angels came to the shepherds to announce the birth of Christ. The shepherds were startled to receive the Good News in the dark of night. I might be surprised to hear Good News early on a Saturday morning. The truth is that Gods' news is always good no matter what time it is given!

Good News Maker and Giver, you have filled my heart with good things every Saturday morning that I meet You at Bible Study. Thank You for letting us sit in Your presence! Thank You for being faithful to show up every week! Forgive me, Lord, for the days I come with slow feet. Certainly You are worthy of my attendance with joy. Open my ears to hear Your Good News every day and at all times! I love to hear Your voice!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquakes and Tsunamis

This morning I woke up to the news about the earthquake in Japan. The scenes of destruction that were shown were horrific. The tsunami wave flooding the streets and washing away buildings, boats, and cars was just as bad or worse. The fires and threats from the nuclear plants all added to the drama of the day.

My mind was not on the hundreds or thousands affected by this disaster today. Of course I thought of all the people who were caught up in the tragic events of this day, but one name kept coming to me.

Yukio Yamaguchi was a foreign exchange student years ago. We were her host home and we fell in love with this amazing young woman. She was very open to learning all about us and our culture. She worked hard with us to communicate. Yukio became very dear to us. Though she was not required to attend church with us, she insisted that we let her come. She was so intrigued by the Good News of Gods' love for us in Jesus, that she asked for a bible. Later a friend from church provided her with a bible in Japanese.

It has been many years since we have heard from Yukio, but today her name was in my prayers. I thought about all the other people and wondered if anyone cared for them by name? Certainly their loved ones did, but was there anyone from far away that cared? The answer most assuredly is "yes." Jesus cared. Jesus prayed to His Father for all the lost and broken people who were calling out in their terror. Jesus knew their names.

I enjoy a special song that speaks of "The King who remembers my name." I love that thought. no matter how many Carolynn's come to Jesus, He knows my name. He knows me. He can pick me out of a crowd and call my name with just the right nuance so that I know it is me He calls. Whatever part our Yukio had in this event, if anything at all, Jesus knows her name. He knows each person who had died, lost a loved one, or has had their lives turned upside down. I can pray for the people of Japan, but only one soul by name. God is more than enough for each and every person there.

Father, You are still in control. You are aware of every life and every name that has suffered today. You have loved each of them. You have always been there for them if they asked. Though I do not understand it all, I know that You are good. I believe, Lord, Help my unbelief! Thank You for being present even in the disaster. Help those who would call for You to find You quickly and believe wholeheartedly. Lord, if our friend Yukio was touched by the earthquake and tsunami, please help her, be with her. Thank You.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Shot in the Arm

Today I went to the allergist to get my monthly shots. I get one in each arm. It takes very little time and the needles are very small. However, sometimes they can hurt worse than at other times.

If the nurse moves the needle when it has pierce my skin there is quite a bit of pain. It can also hurt if she nicks a nerve. I know the nurses do not mean to hurt me, but I really want them to take their time and hold their hands steady. I want the least amount of pain. The allergy serum can make my arm swell, and if the shot giver adds to the trauma, I can find myself with tender arms for days.

Today's shots reminded me of Jesus. He was pierced with nails large enough to go through his hands and feet and then into the plank of wood. I imagine they must have been huge! The soldiers that pounded the nails were not sympathetic, nor did they care about anything other than getting the job done. I'd like to think that they detested their job, and so did it as quickly as possible. In the end it would not matter if they held the nail carefully, or tried not to hit a nerve. The man on the cross would be dead soon, and so they just did what had to be done.

Just what did have to be done? Jesus had to die in order for me to live. He had to suffer the punishment for my sin, even the sin committed just today. Jesus was pierced for my sins of thought, word, and deed. My tiny needle in the arm is nothing compared with what Jesus did for me, but it can help me to be grateful for what my Savior did for me.

Dearest Lord Jesus, You are my hero! You saved me from myself and from the Evil One! You gave me a chance to be free from sin and death! Thank You for enduring the pain that You did not deserve. Thank You for loving me that much! Forgive me all my sins, Lord. I have many. Teach me how to fight against my sin so that Your suffering would be worth it in the end. I bow my heart and my knee to You.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent Begins

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season for Christians. It is a time of preparation for the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am deeply moved when I focus on the passion of my Savior. I want to draw closer to Jesus in the coming weeks. To prepare, many give up some pleasure they enjoy frequently. Others set out to do something that gets them out of their comfort zones. For me, I enjoy a little bit of both.

When I think about giving up something I enjoy, I try to remember that Jesus gave up His heavenly home to come and be one of us. He did not hold onto His right to be God. He gave it all up so that He could take my place on the cross. Giving up my little guilty pleasure is really nothing compared to his sacrifice. Giving up something does not make me holy or give me salvation. Putting aside my enjoyments allows my mind to be free to sense God's presence as my ultimate pleasure.

Stepping out of my comfort zone is never easy. It, too, will not save me or make me holy. It serves to give me opportunity to be more Christ-like in my dealings with others. It makes me aware of others' struggles. It is then that I can understand what Jesus did to put Himself into my place.

Whatever I do or give up I want it to be lead of the Spirit of God. Through Him I can be sure that a change will be made in my heart.

Holy Spirit, fill me with Your wisdom. Take me to the place You want me to be. Lead me into the path that will draw me deeper into understanding the sacrifice of Jesus and the power of His resurrection in my life. Work in me to be alive in Christ. Thank You for being with me always.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Call to the Prodigal

Today I came across an item I wrote awhile back. For some reason I see it as very appropriate for Shrove Tuesday. Shrove is the past tense of Shrive which has the meaning of confession and repentance. Shrove Tuesday is the day before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday.

I hope my letter to those who have been hurt by the church will reach a heart or two (or more) and healing will begin. I also hope that those of us who have remained in the church, though hurt, will also find healing. Finally, for those of us who are the instruments of hurt, I pray we will return to the cross, seek forgiveness, and be renewed.

Dear Brother and Sister in Christ,

Please come back! We miss you!

Forgive us our trespasses. We understand that no apology can turn back time and change what has happened to hurt you so deeply that you felt you had to run away. We want you to know that you do not need to carry the hurt and pain any longer. We cannot promise that we will be any better than we were before, but Jesus is our healer and reconciler. He is teaching and disciplining us. We want you to find His comfort and peace.

Forgive us because we didn't know what we were doing. We had no idea that we were hurting you so much. We thought we were doing what God wanted us to do, but we were wrong. We didn't know how much we hurt ourselves when we treated you as we did. Without you we are incomplete. Our failures are multiplied and our successes are not as great. We need you just as our body needs all of our parts to work together.

Please come home! We wait in expectation of our reunion. You are welcome anytime!

In Christ,

The Church

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Don't Let Go

I collect handkerchiefs, children's books, and Christmas books and music. I keep little treasures like my Great Grandmothers' lace collars and refrigerator magnets that were bought on special trips with my husband. I like to collect friends too.

In preparation to sell our house, I have been going through allot of things that I have kept for sentimental reasons. Some things are easy to part with, but others will move along with me if the house ever gets sold. Some of the things that will travel with me are my old address books. They are a link to my long ago friendships. I may never use them again because they may have moved long ago, but their names will go with me.

Once someone is named as one of my friends, I never want to let go. I want to protect the memory of our friendship from the severing of time, distance and lack of contact. Childhood friends, long time friends or those who have stayed for only a short while, all hold a special place in my mind and heart. Names and faces of those who have connected with me are glued into my memory like a scrapbook filled with photographs, ticket stubs, and handwritten notes. Memories are little treasures reminding me of the love of my friend. I could never forget or throw a friendship away.

A few years ago I tried to write down every person that had touched my life. Even when I limited the list to just close friends, I found it to be a daunting task. Thinking about all the people over the years that have made an impression on me was overwhelming. I have been blessed!

There are some bittersweet memories, however, of friendships that could not go further. These friends took a different path far away from my chosen road. Still I cannot let go. It is so hard to say good-bye for good. I hold on to them in prayers and gentle thoughts of times past. Though we grow apart now, I hope to have a future with them again someday, like the few delightful reunions with long lost friends in recent years. Reunions remind me that finding anything that was once lost is worth a celebration!

Gentle Shepherd, Jesus, You celebrate every lost soul. You hold tight to those God has given to You. You may set us free , but You never let us go from Your heart and love. Thank You for remembering every name and face. Thank You for never letting go. Forgive us when we forget Your love. Forgive us for taking the path that leads far from You. Call to us and lead us back into Your loving arms. Find us when we are lost!

Friendship Gallery

Memories in the winding hallways
Of years gone past
Carry images of
People, places, and things
That will last forever
In my mind.

Faces and portraits of those whose
Impressions are so deep
In my heart,
Are fingerprints of friendships
That will forever
Touch my life.

Carolynn J. Scully

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Parenting Class

How did I end up in a parenting class? For nearly 38 years I have been a stay-at-home Mom/Auntie/Grommers to 12 children. I not only have experience, but I have a B.S. degree in Child Ddevelopment and Family Relationships with and emphasis in Preschool Eeducation. I have read books, participated in classes and generally believe I have a pretty good handle on the child care and raising of children.

Don't get me wrong. I am NOT perfect. I have made many many mistakes that have proved my need for seeking out the experts. But, I did not really want to take another parenting class. So it surprised me when I walked in on my own free will.

The class is held during the Sunday School hour that my husband teaches the middle school boys. I had done my time sitting in the cafe and reading my bible, or chatting with friends. It was a few months ago that I felt the tug to join the class where young parents congregate during that hour. The back row of chairs held my place. I was determined to sit quietly and just listen, but I often had something to share and did so.

The new series began a few weeks ago. (Paul Tripp's Getting to the Heart of Parenting) The video grabbed my attention for a couple of reasons. Most of what the teacher said should be done, I had learned by trial and error. Some of those things he said should not be done, I had done. It was interesting to listen and sit in my back row praying for all the families represented. Then it hit me!

The last few lessons have been an emphasis on authority and how important it is to teach the child how to submit to authority at a young age. I heard the parents share about their struggles with all ages of children who rebelled against their place as the authority. And then I began to hear that wonderful still small voice that I know to be my Heavenly Father. He quietly said, "Carolynn, I am your Father. You are My child. It is my authority you must submit to." Hush.

I heard and I understood. Like all of the children I have cared for and taught, I still had areas of rebellion living in me. God, my Father, parents me. He is the parent, and I have no right to question His authority. A parenting class for God's children? Yes. I've discovered that I needed to know God as my parent. Going to a class on parenting gave me insight as to how God parents me. Reminding myself that I am God's child is a good thing.

"Let the little children come to me," Jesus said. He also said that the Kingdom of heaven belongs to little children. I want to be His child, protected, taught and disciplined by Him.

Abba Father, You have made me Your child. You have made me into Your likeness and then You have helped me to be born again through Your Son, Jesus. Thank You for being my Father and parenting me with love and goodness that I need. Forgive me, Father, for wanting my own way and rebelling against Your plan for me. Turn me around by Your Spirit and lead me in the paths of Your choosing.