Vickie's Blog

Thoughts Along Life's Journey


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Waves Of The Ocean

This week I had the pleasure of spending several days at Panama City Beach, Florida.  My mother and I took friends visiting from England.  It’s their first time to come to America; naturally therefore, their first time to set eyes on the Gulf of Mexico. What joy to watch their reactions to all they saw — dolphins leaping into the air, stingrays swam around us, a pelican did some fishing nearby, and of course, sea gulls filled the skies.

Each morning I awoke early, making my way to the beach.  Night had given way to daylight.  Only a few other people strolled along, enjoying warm waves gliding over feet.   I walked a while, then sat in the sand and stared in wonder at the beauty before me.  The vastness of this ocean always amazes me, reminding me again and again of the majesty of our Creator.

As I watched waves coming toward land one at a time, I was reminded that each individual wave, unique in itself, is still a part of the whole ocean.  The ocean gives life to the waves. The ocean is the source of strength and mightiness.  Storms may brew upon its waters causing waves to crash onto shore, but still they are one.  The ocean may be calm and still, sending waves gently pushing onto the shoreline, but they are one.  The waves cannot exist apart from the ocean.

It’s the same in the life of God’s children.  Storms may brew in our lives but we are one with our Father.  Our Father is our source of strength.  Our Father gives spiritual life to each one of us. We are one.  Jesus said to His disciples, “…apart from me you can do nothing.” How true. To attempt anything apart from God’s guidance and wisdom is like a wave trying to move apart from the ocean. It can’t be done.

I love the picture that is painted in the words of Colossians 3:3, “…your life is hidden with Christ in God.” How amazing is that! When someone becomes a child of God, they are no longer alone. Like the waves of the sea, they are a part of the family of God and of God Himself. You are hidden in Christ and Christ is in God!

What comfort to be reminded that, just as no wave can be separated from the ocean, neither can any child of God be separated from Father God. You are His and He is yours — forever.

Forever He will guide you. Forever He will give you strength to face anything. Forever He will love you. Forever He will fill you with peace in the midst of all storms. Forever you will grow stronger in holy confidence — as you understand more fully — you are in Him and He is in you.


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When God Shakes Up Our World

Many of you will remember the stories I have told of our partially blind cat, Kitty, who lives on the screened in front porch.  She’s happy in her little world.  She knows where everything is around her; all is familiar.  It’s safe.  She’s satisfied with her world.  However, I saw that it could be better.  Kitty’s porch needed a coat of paint.

Therefore, early one morning this week, I came out onto the porch with a gallon can of paint, some old newspapers to scatter around, and a paint brush.  I wondered how Kitty would react.  As I took the lid off the paint and dipped in my brush, Kitty approached cautiously.  I began to apply paint — up and down went the movement of my arm.  Kitty was doing her best to focus on my movements.  What was it?  What was happening to her little world where everything had been in order?  What happened to the  two rocking chairs?  Where was her bed?

Cautiously she came closer; then she jumped back.  Her anxiety was obvious.  I talked soothingly to her, calling her name, but I kept painting.  Finally, after much heedfulness, Kitty approached close enough so that  I could reach out and touch her.  Oh, yes, that was better.  Her body, rigid with fear, relaxed to my touch.  It was me, of that she was now certain.  She came even closer.  After more minutes, Kitty was walking with ease around the paint can, around me, and then — Kitty was helping me paint.  She walked between me and the wall.  When she emerged, she was no longer all black on her body.  She now displayed a side of white.  I brushed over the place where Kitty had helped me paint.

More minutes passed, and Kitty lost interest in what I was doing.  She went to her perch, jumped up, and even took a little snooze.  She still didn’t understand what I was doing, but just knowing it was me took her fear away.  Whatever I was doing, Kitty trusted me.  In truth, I was indeed making her porch, comfortable to her liking, even better.  It is now fresh and white.  The rocking chairs are painted, too.

As I spent the morning painting, I contemplated how we often respond to God when He sees that our worlds need improving.  He enters and shakes things up.  What is He doing?  We like things the way they are; nothing needs changing.  We become fearful because we don’t understand what God is doing or why He is allowing something to take place in our lives.  Like Kitty, we approach cautiously, distrusting.  Fear grabs hold.

However, also like Kitty, when we choose to come close to our heavenly Father, in spite of the fear; in spite of the fact that we don’t understand why He is allowing certain things to take place in our worlds — then like Kitty, we sense His touch.  We know it’s Him.  We can trust Him.  Maybe we even try to help God paint.  We might mess up, but He will fix the smudges.  Our heavenly Father delights when we come close to Him.  He loves it when we desire to take part in what He is doing; when we trust that all will turn out just fine, because He is in charge.

I made Kitty’s world better for her.  I would never hurt her even though I knew she would experience some fear at first.  It’s the same with our heavenly Father.  He would never hurt us, even though He knows that we may experience fear when He begins to change things around.  He has our best interests in His own heart at all times.  Isn’t that amazing!  What pure love.

God is always working things to our good — even when it hurts.  We can trust Him with everything that we don’t understand.  God will always paint our world to His glory and to our good, and He will do it in perfect time.  The Psalmist says it well in the  following:

Oh Lord my God, You have performed many wonders for us.  Your plans for us are too numerous to list.  You have no equal.  If I tried to recite all Your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.”  Psalm 40:5


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Dad’s Words Echoing In My Heart

I’ve had some blasts of energy the past few weeks, channeling it into some fruitful work.  I’ve painted the bathroom, the back porch, and our cat, Blackie’s house.  If  I do say so myself, it has all spruced up nicely — lookin’ good.  Tomorrow I plan to paint the front porch, and on Saturday it will be time to saddle up on the tractor lawn mower.  How I love being in the outdoors.

As I’ve gone from one task to another, a flood of memories began to fill my mind and touch my heart.  You see, many times over the years, it was with my Dad that I painted things, or cut grass, or trimmed trees.  We would work side by side, and in our working, all sorts of conversations arose.  Sometimes we talked of very serious matters; sometimes we talked of things that made us laugh long and hard.  Often we talked about the things of God.

This week, I was surprised at the recollections that came back to me; things we discussed that I haven’t thought about in a long time.  It felt good and warm to my heart to recall my Dad’s words.  Sometimes they made me smile and even laugh.  Other times, I reflected thoughtfully as memories of our conversations played in my mind.

I thought about the deep joy and sweetness that comes to me when I recall my earthly father’s words.   Continuing in my pondering, my thoughts switched to my Heavenly Father.  When I recall His words — words that I have hidden in my heart over the years — those words are also sweet to recall.  The words of my Heavenly Father bring me comfort when I hurt; they bring me peace when I am troubled; they bring me guidance when I don’t know which way to go.

I had such joy when I talked with my earthly Dad.  When I engage in conversation with my Heavenly Father, my joy is doubled as I share with Him a thankful heart for all His goodness to me.  You see, the words of my Heavenly Father is what I need every day of my life, because, as it says in Psalm 119:105, “Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

Therefore, it stands to reason, if I ignore my Heavenly Father’s words — words that are a light to guide my way — then I may find myself walking in darkness.  In the dark, I will lose my way; I will lack confidence to move as fear paralyzes me.  Joy will fade away as anxiety and worry fill the space where joy once resided.

My personal prayer is:  “Dear Father, help me to remember, whether in the best of times or  in the most troublesome of times, give me your own sweet reminders to choose light.  It is in the light that I will always see clearly.  The darkness is blinding.  Help me to remember, dear Heavenly Father, the sweetness of Your words.”


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“I Hate Myself,” she cried.

Self harming is on the rise.  Those who self harm, cut themselves, hit themselves, and burn themselves, among other things. The actions come about as a result of something deep seeded within; it’s not only self-loathing, but can be a coping mechanism for great sadness, distress, or regret.  Self harming, as a way or coping, or as a way of self punishment, is a call for help.

Do you know someone who self harms?  Do you self harm?  Perhaps you haven’t told anyone.  You may feel no one would understand why this happens.  May I introduce you to someone who can help?  Perhaps you already know Him, but haven’t considered that He would want to help you.  When one loathes themselves, it’s hard to believe that others wouldn’t loathe them, too.

I’m talking about Jesus.  Jesus is the One who can reach into the depths of our pain, pour in His love, and gently pull us up.  Oh, I know it’s more than just a simple prayer for help, but that’s the beginning.  When we begin to ask Jesus to please help us; when we acknowledge that we are sinking in despair, and can’t get out of the quicksand of misery, that acknowledgement itself is the very rope that we can grab and hold onto.

I encourage those in despair to look at the life of Jesus.  Learn His ways.  Think about the things He said.  Observe how He related to people.  When you do that — focus on the life of Jesus — it helps one to begin to realize that you are included among those He loves.  You are included among those that He longs to change their lives.  Jesus is the most radical person who ever walked this earth.  He not only accepted the lonely, the unlovely, the miserable, but He sought them out.  He was always on the look-out for people who counted their lives as not much.   Then, He reached down, pulled them up out of the pit of hopelessness, and set them on a path of joyful aspiration.  That is not an impossibility with God.

Most people know that Jesus died on the cross for our sins; few understand that He also came to shake things up.  He came to challenge injustice.  He came to uncover hypocrisy.  He came to expose things hidden in the depths of our souls; things that chain us in despair; freeing us instead to walk a path of joyful living.

I love the Bible verse in Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”  Here’s another beautiful and very meaningful verse, filled with truth, love, and hope that is found in Psalm 145:14, 18,  “The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads. The Lord is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him in truth.”

Whatever your difficulty in life; whatever you may despise about yourself, Jesus has the answer — Jesus is the answer.  I hope you will try Jesus and see for yourself.  Blessings to all who seek Him, because you will find in Him, all you need.


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Early or Late — The Cats Always Wait

I have a morning routine.  I  get up and dress for the day.  Then I put on my coffee.  I love that smell first thing in the morning, wafting through the house.  While my coffee is brewing, I go outside to feed our two cats.  You may recall the numerous stories I’ve already told about Kitty, our partially blind cat, who lives on the screened-in front porch.  Then there’s Blackie who is free to roam where he chooses.

It never fails; I open the front door, ready to begin my feeding of the cats routine, and they are always there.  Kitty is peeking around the rocking chair.  Blackie is standing on the top step of the porch.  Both are looking toward the front door.  They know it will open.  They know I will have their breakfast.

Although I have my morning routine, there are times when, for some reason or other, I am either early or even a bit late.  It never matters.  I open the door, and there are the two eager faces of our cats — waiting for what they know is coming.

When I pour their food into their respective bowls, they look up at me with their cute, little faces.  They pause while I rub their heads and tickle under their chins.  I like to imagine that their pausing is their way of saying thank you.  Of course, all pet owners know  exactly what their dogs and cats are saying to them at all times. :)

I go back inside to my waiting cup of coffee, and I enjoy it all the more, because of the attitude of my cats.  I love that they trust me.  It makes me feel content, too.  I love that they know that whether I’m early or late, I will have just what they need.  They will not go hungry today or any day.

It’s the same in our spiritual worlds.  Our heavenly Father loves us deeply.  Daily, He provides what we need, to get through every hour, no matter what it holds for us.  Even so, there are countless times when we find ourselves in distrust of our Father.

I wish we could all be a lot more like our cats.  I wish that, like Kitty and Blackie, we would know that the door to what we need will open, and that we will be given everything we need to face the day.  I wish we trusted God’s timetable; it is always perfect.

Why do we get impatient at times?  It’s not like God has ever failed us.  Why do we get agitated because nothing seems to be happening?  Why can’t we trust God’s timing?  Why can’t we rest in assurance that He is never too early; He is never too late — He’s always right on time.  Why do we fret when He doesn’t open the door when we want Him to do so?  Why can’t we rest in the knowledge that He will open it,  and give us what we need at the time that is best for us?

Kitty, nor Blackie, are in any doubt that I will take care of them.  If cats can be so trusting in a mere human being, can’t we be more trusting of our perfect heavenly Father, who holds all His plans for us in His loving hands?  Never forget how mighty is our God; never forget how He loves you beyond measure.

“O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!  Your glory is higher than the heavens…What are mere mortals that You should think about them?  Yet You made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor…O Lord, our Lord, Your majestic names fills the earth.”  Psalm 8:1, 4-5, 9


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Regrets Of Yesteryear

Everybody regrets something at some time in their lives.  Some regrets are without great consequence; things like — I forgot to buy milk and bread when I was at the store, or I haven’t yet returned that phone call, or I still haven’t cleaned out the garage.  We may regret all of those things, but none of them will cause anything more than some aggravation.  We may be annoyed with ourselves, but we won’t feel that our lives are ruined.

There are other regrets that cause us to be somewhat disappointed.  Perhaps you didn’t take that job offer, or you opted out of college, or you passed by on an opportunity to move somewhere you’ve never been to before.  We may regret we didn’t take those chances.  We didn’t step out on a limb, and now we feel stuck in a rut.  Again, we may be annoyed with ourselves, but usually, we get on with life and make the best of the decision we made.

The above regrets are things that everybody faces.  It’s life and we just move on.  However,  there are regrets that can definitely strum  deep chords of pain.  These regrets have lifelong results that affect us all the days of our lives.  Perhaps we married the wrong person, and we are stuck in an unhappy marriage.  Perhaps we were unfaithful to our spouse.  Perhaps we were so busy with our jobs that we ignored our children when they were young, and now they want nothing to do with us.  Perhaps we dipped our hands in the office funds jar.  Perhaps we embarked on the wrong career path, and we don’t know how to start over.

I have actually talked with people in my travels, who have confessed to all of the above.  As I would listen to their tales of regret, I could see the depth of anguish etched on their faces; their eyes lacking peace.  There was a sense of hopelessness about them.  They regretted the choices they made, and told themselves that, to live in misery was what they deserved.

Here is some wonderful news.  Jesus died to give you victory over your regrets.  If it’s forgiveness you need, He longs to pour forgiveness into the blackened areas of your life.  He desires to lavish His love upon you.  He waits with baited breath to ease away your pain.  If it’s hope for tomorrow that you need, He wants to put you on a new path that leads to inner peace and joy.  He loves to see His children happy, walking in hope.   How do we get what we need from God?   Ask Him.  Tell Him how you feel about the regrets that live in your heart.  Ask Him to take them away.  Tell Him that you resolve from now on to seek His leading before setting out on a path of your own making.

Many times in my talking with people, they have shared their regreets, and then they have continued to tell me that they won’t ask Jesus to forgive them; they won’t ask Jesus to help them, because they feel they don’t deserve it.  If that is you, may I remind you, that it doesn’t help to be your own judge and jury.  You don’t have to give yourself a life sentence.  When you do that, you’re not helping yourself or those around you.  If regret has dumped you in a hole of gloom — don’t dig deeper!  Crawl out!  Look up and see the hand of Jesus ready to lift you up!  If you do this, I absolutely, positively, no doubt about it, guarantee — Jesus will make the gloom of regrets fade away, and He will make all things new.  It’s a speciality of His — all because He loves you with a passion.  So, come on — look up!  See Jesus reaching down to pull you up and set you onto a good path.

“The strong right arm of the Lord is raised in triumph.  The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things.  I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the Lord has done.”  Psalm 118:16-17

 

 


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Lessons Through Robin Williams

The suicide of Robin Williams has made headlines around the world this week.  Revelations of his battle with depression, which led to his manner of death, has been a shock to many.  As a result, mental illness has been given a fresh highlight.

Depression is a serious issue that affects so many around us.  I have often found, that those who laugh the most, are often the ones who hide the most inner pain.  As Christians, it’s a natural question, in regard to this subject, to ask what Jesus would do, to help a person suffering the silent plague of despondency.

Therefore, let’s look at how He dealt with the hurting around Him.  There’s the example of the woman caught in adultery.  The culture of the time was to stone her to death.  The crowds were focusing solely on her outward act of immorality.  What did Jesus do?  He looked beyond the outward action, and saw into her heart.  There he found someone who was lost.  Jesus offered this woman  love and hope.

There’s also the example of the crowds of people, more than 5000, who were tired and hungry.  The task to be fed was an impossibility; that is, until Jesus took over.  He asked for a boy’s lunch.  Then, taking just a little bit of bread and a few fish, Jesus fed all the 5000 and had 12 baskets of food left over.  The crowds looked at the outward circumstance and saw impossibility.  Jesus looked beyond to His Father; there He found everything He needed to accomplish the task at hand.  He gave the people love and hope.

What about the woman who had dealt with a hemorrhage of blood for years?  How awkward that must have been for her.  How weak, physically and emotionally, she must have been on a daily basis.  She was just one person in a crowd.  To those walking with Jesus, this woman would not have been anyone special to notice; but Jesus stopped to look at her.  She had touched the hem of His garment; Jesus noticed, and He stopped.  The crowds must have wondered why Jesus was taking time with this woman.  Why, He had other important things to be doing.  Jesus, however, looked beyond His schedule of the day, and He took  time to reach out and touch this woman.  He gave her love and hope.

If you and I are to live like Jesus; if we are to imitate Him, then we must also look beyond the outward appearance, and zero in on the heart of the matter.  Ask the Holy Spirit to give you His own wisdom and insight.  Ask Him to make you aware of others around you.  Ask Him to use you to give someone love and hope.

Do you know someone, and you sense they may be hurting inside, but you’re not sure?  I encourage you, don’t make the mistake of telling yourself, “they’re probably okay.”  Don’t make the mistake of telling yourself, “if I’m wrong, they’ll think I’m really stupid.”  I encourage you, go with your gut feeling.  If you’re wrong, the person will simply know that you are a person who cares.  If you are right — well — you might just save someone’s life.  Who knows, your kind words today, could be the life raft, that saves someone sinking in an ocean of despair.

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to notice those around you.  You don’t have to give someone all of your time.  Jesus didn’t do that, Himself.  What exactly did Jesus do?  Everywhere He went, He was looking for opportunities to seize, in order to make a difference in someone’s life.  Then, very often, He moved on to the next one.  Don’t make the mistake of telling yourself, that you’re busy, you don’t have time for someone you think is hurting today.  Even a smile, or a card arriving in a mailbox, can go a long way to lift someone’s spirits.

If you’re the one who is swimming in a sea of despair today, and you have told yourself that no one notices, or even cares, I encourage you — don’t listen to that lie of Satan.  He loves for you to be in the doldrums, and He wants you to stay there.  Focus on the fact that Jesus loves you passionately.  He is an expert at offering hope.  Sometimes He touches you through someone around you.  Sometimes, it’s just you and Him, and He whispers His words of love into your troubled soul.  Call out to Him — and don’t forget to listen.

Jesus, quite simply, loves to give lasting love and hope to the hurting.  Sometimes, He uses you and me to be His words to soothe, and His arms to hug.  Let’s always be ready to see with Jesus eyes, looking beyond the outward appearance, and into the heart of the matter.

Jesus said, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other.  Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  John 13:34-35

 

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