Stand Strong and FIGHT FORWARD

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One day last summer I found myself singing an old song by Helen Reddy, “I am woman.” I triumphantly pushed forward to finish unloading the second truckload of planting soil into the raised bed. I had just completed the bed using 3000 pounds of landscape blocks the day before – all by myself – a single-handed feat to begin with. As that last wheelbarrow was emptied I was overwhelmed with the goodness and presence of God. The reality of His healing stunned me. As tears ran down my face I surveyed what had been created by a woman living under a diagnosis of debilitating strength, yet here it was. My God had been continually pouring His faithfulness and healing over me as I fought forward every day during the past 3 1/2 years.

I was diagnosed with an inflammatory disease that affected my heart and all of my joints 3 years ago. Over those three years using a small hand shovel to plant flowers in a pot was a huge challenge, filled with severe pain. Side effects of chemo meds as well as assorted other trial medications kept stealing my life from me throughout this process. My faith that God was in control never wavered but there were days that I wondered if my life was done and I had done all that God had called me too. But one day my Rheumatologist suggested another trial medication, one that was a weekly injection in my stomach, I went home and had a real “on my face” discussion with Jesus – if He had more for me to do – then I was going to stand on the promise that HE IS MY HEALER not another awful medication. I had a perspective adjustment that day and chose to FIGHT FORWARD – I knew that He had this, no matter what the symptoms looked like.

I began standing on scriptures that I had known for decades:

Be still and know that I am God – Psalm 46:10

The Joy of the Lord is my strength – Nehemiah 8:10

In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge – Psalm 36:7

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness –

II Corinthians 12:9

So, as I stood there, that afternoon holding a shovel in my hand, the reality of how much God had done in my body overwhelmed me.  I had continued to FIGHT FORWARD and trust that HE IS MY HEALER all the while He was quietly restoring my cells, strengthening my muscles, and shrinking inflammation in my joints – bringing freedom where the enemy had been stealing.

Those years were extremely difficult but I have learned to walk in a depth of faith that I wouldn’t trade for anything. If He had not chosen to bring me to the place I stand in today – I would still FIGHT FORWARD and still stand on the truth that HE IS MY HEALER.

No matter what I face – His presence, His love, His grace goes before me.

If you find yourself struggling through life’s overwhelming circumstances, don’t give up, stand strong, and FIGHT FORWARD! Take one day at a time, always believing that He goes before you and know that He is your God, your refuge, your strength and your joy.

Where is Your Trust?

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     Fear has become a constant whispering companion as destructive acceleration surrounds us…global warming, earthquakes, famine, increased hate and violence as well as the rumors of a possible approach of nuclear war. It is so easy to “buy in” to that fear and panic, that “be prepared” mentality that is erupting all around us. Here – in the midst of this chaotic surge – is our place to walk in a different spirit.

     It is now that the LOVE of Christ is needed to dispel that fear. It is now that FAITH in Christ can shine in the darkness – teaching and building hope in the confused. It is now that the HOPE in Christ within us must stand firm, declare and encourage in the midst of what is seen.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.              Psalm 91: 1-6 (ESV)

     Let these words infuse in you today the strength to stand firm. Find rest under His wings – find peace in His refuge as you trust in Him. Remember in HOPE the goodness of your God, remember in FAITH you are called to proclaim that goodness, and remember in LOVE all that Christ did for you and those around you.

     Fear not what you see with your eyes and hear with your ears – look only with your Spirit to the promises of His faithfulness. Breathe easy today as you walk in peace in the midst of this storm, finding refuge in Christ – for there is where your trust dwells.

A Sanctuary Within

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Walking through my yard this morning with birds and butterflies swooping and fluttering by, an unexpected peace settled over me as the word “Sanctuary” dropped into my heart. Thankfulness grew within as I looked at our little paradise – a not so big home and a way to big yard that has matured over our 18 years of care giving.

     Our home has been filled often to the bursting point at family gatherings. Family has been added and grown to include so many who have truly become “family” though not by any reason other then our love for each other.  As well as the times when we have opened our home to house those in need of a place of refuge. We have often questioned – why us? But we too, have matured as the house and yard have. Now, realizing it has been His love that has drawn the broken, needy and just those who needed a little TLC into our home – this sanctuary. We have simply said yes to His request and invited them in and watched as in some small way we have helped to heal, restore and release people onto the next steps in the journey that God has begun for them.

     Our yard with it’s enormity overwhelmed us many times over these years but my vision of what it was to be has slowly evolved as many hours of work have created our little oasis. I researched and chose many plants and flowers that would draw hummingbirds and butterflies – planting and often re-planting. Every year has brought more work; more plants, more flowers and more ways to creatively landscape. By creating less grass to maintain yet producing our slowly materializing park the vision has slowly come to pass. Today, I look out and see a plethora of birds of all species as well as my hummingbird friends who fill the skies throughout the day. And now joining them butterflies swoop in and out to nibble on my flowers. What began 18 years ago has become an amazing sanctuary for birds, butterflies and me! The peace of God surrounds every area we have lovingly created.

     Paralleling this long-term creation in the natural to my spiritual walk I realized that to truly see and experience the sanctuary that God has created within me and around my life requires TIME. As we continually turn construction over to Him – He digs, plants, moves things in and out – and suddenly His peace is reigning and we begin to SEE the fruit and are blessed to enjoy it. It is always after much has been done and all of the hard work and mess has been cleaned up that the beauty presents itself and fruit is flourishing.

    As we allow the loving hand of Christ to create His sanctuary within us we are allowed the great joy of being part of the same process of creation in others. In love we pour out His healing, His restoration and encourage the release of His children into who He created them to be.

   Our lives then become a place that is filled with love, peace, and refuge, which draws those in to this “God” place of sanctuary.