Vickie's Blog

Thoughts Along Life's Journey


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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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When Giants Arrive

Many of you will know that I returned to the States this week to care for my mother who had been very ill.  She’s weak on the outside, but still the spunky lady within.   Two of her grandchildren cared for her until my arrival.  For all of you who are praying for my mother’s good health to return, I thank you.

It became quickly apparent to me, that besides not feeling well physically, she was stressed emotionally.  Two stray dogs had decided to take up residence.  My whole family love animals.  My mother and her grandchildren were all feeling sorry for the starving, thrown away dogs.  They reported the dogs to the animal shelter, and waited.  Meanwhile, of course, they were feeding the pitiful animals.  I will never understand cruelty to God’s creation.

My mother was sorry for the dogs, but added to that stress, her cat, Blackie, had left home. He had been gone for a week.  Obviously, Blackie could not face or do battle with the two giants that had encroached upon his territory.  I took over the search for Blackie, going out at meal times, calling his name, but to no avail.  I walked over to the barn, calling his name, but no results followed.

Finally, men from the animal shelter arrived and took the dogs away.   The handlers were so kind.  My mother was comforted by this, but now, where was Blackie?   I continued my search.  Last evening, just as dusk was covering the earth in shadows of coming darkness, I went outside.  My gaze travelled over the fields around our house.  Suddenly, I froze to my spot, straining my eyes, focusing on something black and white in the distance.  Could it be?  Was it Blackie?  I began to call his name.  The black and white something stopped, also frozen to the spot.  I called again, and this time the black and white something began to run in my direction.  Yes!  It was Blackie coming home!  I kept calling his name, and he kept running towards me.  He ran across the field, under the fence, past the barn, and up the porch steps.  He rolled over, inviting me to tickle his tummy, I made a great, joyful fuss over his return.  He, too, was making a great, joyful fuss over being back home.  Oh, what joy!

Blackie had been frightened away by the giant dogs entering his world.  He could not cope, so he ran away.  That’s understandable for a little animal in its physical world.  However, it’s a greater sadness for us in our spiritual worlds, when we, too, facing giants in our lives, decide the best course of action is to run away.  Perhaps some seemingly insurmountable something has arrived in our world.  It’s big.  We feel there’s no way out.  We begin to vacate, choosing ways to escape.  Perhaps we withdraw from family and friends.  We become consumed with our problems to the point that we withdraw from our heavenly Father, too.  Now, that’s the real sadness.

You see, our heavenly Father is the only One who has the perfect answers.  He’s the only One who knows the way out.  When giants enter our world, it’s not the time to run away; it’s the time to remember, as it says in Isaiah 59:15-16, “The Lord looked and was displeased to find there was no justice.  He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed.  So He, Himself, stepped in to save them with His strong arm.”

Are you surrounded today by walls of difficulty, too high to climb over?  Are you running away from those you love because giants of impossibility have trespassed your peace and calm?  Do you feel no one truly understands?  Do you tell yourself that no one can really cares?  Then, please, look up to your heavenly Father.  I assure you; you will find Him looking back at you.  He wants to help you.  He has the strength that you do not possess.  Wherever you are today — will you listen to your Father?  He’s calling your name.  Run to His protection and guidance.  Run into His arms of strength and love.

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”  Hebrews 4:16

 


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Are You Imitating Anyone?

Earlier this week, a friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook of her husband with one of their little children.  They were outside; her husband stretched out in a lawn chair, and next to him, his little boy stretched out in another lawn chair.  What caught my attention — was the imitation.  The little boy was obviously attempting to sit in the exact manner as his father.   Of course, it wasn’t the same.  His little legs couldn’t stretch out as far, he wasn’t tall enough for his head to reach the top of the lawn chair, and his arms were not making the exact pose.  Nonetheless, the attempt to imitate his father was most obvious.

I stared at this very cute photo.  Something began to stir within me.  I began to wonder, as Christians, is it obvious to others that, we, too, are doing our best to imitate Jesus?  Are we trying our best to walk in the manner of His actions?  Are we making noticeable attempt to talk like Him?  Can others see Jesus in us?

Like the little boy, trying his best to copy his Dad, but not able to get it just right, you and I won’t get it just right, either.  But, oh, the joy that comes with the trying.  When we are doing our best to imitate Jesus, the smile on our faces, the inner peace in our hearts, the sheer joy of making the attempt, will be just like the little boy in the lawn chair.

Let’s remember the passage of Scripture found in Ephesians 4:32-5:2, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ, forgave you.  Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

Isn’t that amazing, to think that when we imitate Jesus, our attempts are sweet-smelling to our Heavenly Father.

It’s also a lovely picture to those who may be observing us.  Be assured — someone, somewhere, is watching how we imitate the One we claim to love so much.  Let’s try, with God’s own help, to make the  picture they will see, a sweet, touching attempt, like the little boy in the lawn chair.

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