Thursday, July 24, 2008

I am listening...

Speak, for your servant is listening.
1 Samuel 3:10
As I checked and rechecked my list of last minute things to pack for Trinidad today, I was overcome with the urge to rest. I questioned, as ususal.
Rest? Are your sure, Lord? I have so much to do!
Of course He knows just what I need. He knows how to get my attention and in that sacred moment He spoke to my heart in such a tender way, reminding me that He is in control.
So many things pull me in so many different directions.
I often feel like Gumby, that dark green clay figure created in the 1950s.
Stretched and stressed.
But today, He took me in His hands and held me, molded me, smoothed me out, re-shaped me and spoke to me through His Word...
Your strength will come from settling
down in complete dependence on me.
Isaiah 30:15
He whispers,
Depend on Me,
Be still,
Depend on Me completely.
I listen.
I rest.
"God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply" - Hudson Taylor
"Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God" - William Carey

How Great Thou Art...

219. a prayer, an annointing, a blessing for our trip

220. bathing, feeding, rocking Malli

221. boiled peanuts

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Faith will not always get for us what we want, but it will get what God wants us to have.

orchid in Trinidad

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy five years old when he set out from Haran.
Genesis 12:1-4

What tremendous faith! God told Abram to leave all he had ever known...what he was comfortable with, pick up, and go to a new place. Abram obeyed God. He stepped into the unknown. What about me and you? Will we obey God and follow Him into unchartered territory? If we do step out, our faith in God will be increased and our dependence on self will lessen. God speaks to each of us in different ways. He has a specific design, a special purpose for each of us. Will we trust Him?

Faith will not always get for us what we want,

but it will get what God wants us to have.

- Vance Havner

A blessing is the infusion of something with holiness, divine will, or one's hopes.

215. Taylor home from Atlanta

216. watching Savannah-Jane search scripture

217. hearing Griff sing praise songs

218. my husband, a true help-mate

Thursday, July 17, 2008

G-Pa, Poppy, Gramps, Grandpa, Pop, or Papa...

214. an afternoon nap with Malli

We aren't sure what name he will be given, but for now he should be labeled "smitten." He can't seem to take his eyes off her. He thinks she is perfect, brilliant, beautiful (and she is). He loves to cradle her in his arms, pray over her, and whisper sweet blessings into her ears. I captured a precious moment this afternoon... just the two of them snuggled together, napping, stealing a moment, a memory, a treasure.
His name? The name she will call him? Not sure yet. For now though it's definitely smitten (and truly blessed).

God is God and I am not

You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.
Revelation 4:11

One of the many lessons God is teaching me over and over again is ...
He is God and I am not!
The words to the Steven Curtis Chapman song below remind me of the certainty of the uncertainty of life and at the same time the assurance and the hope that God is in control. I can not rely on my emotions, my feelings, other people, my health, my wealth (or the lack of it). It is temporal!
He is first and last before all that has been.
Beyond all that will pass.

And the pain falls like a curtain
On the things I once called certain
And I have to say the words I fear the most
I just don't know
And the questions without answers
Come and paralyze the dancer
So I stand here on the stage afraid to move
Afraid to fall, oh, but fall I must
On this truth that my life has been formed from the dust
God is God and I am not
I can only see a part of the picture Hes painting
God is God and I am man
So Ill never understand it all
For only God is God
And the sky begins to thunder
And I'm filled with awe and wonder
Til the only burning question that remains
Is who am I
Can I form a single mountain
Take the stars in hand and count them
Can I even take a breath without God giving it to me
He is first and last before all that has been
Beyond all that will pass
Oh, how great are the riches of His wisdom and knowledge
How unsearchable for to Him and through Him and from Him are all things
So let us worship before the throne
Of the One who is worthy of worship alone

-Steven Curtis Chapman

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Praise to God!

213. sharing hope with a discouraged soul
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel!
He comes alongside us when we go through hard times,
and before you know it,
he brings us alongside someone else
who is going through hard times
so that we can be there for that person
just as God was there for us.
We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah,
but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—
we get a full measure of that, too.
When we suffer for Jesus,
it works out for your healing and salvation.
If we are treated well,
given a helping hand and encouraging word,
that also works to your benefit,
spurring you on, face forward,
Your hard times are also our hard times.
When we see that you're just as willing to endure the hard times
as to enjoy the good times,
we know you're going to make it,
no doubt about it.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits...

211. morning devotion in the porch swing

212. a coolness in the air

Draw Near ... He Cares

Inasmuch then as we have a great High Priest Who has [already] ascended and passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him].
For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.
Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].

Hebrews 4:14-16

When I hear my newborn granddaughter cry out, I don't ignore her. I immediately spring into action to attend to her needs. Her messes need to be cleaned up, she needs nourishment, she needs to hear my voice, and she needs to be held and comforted.
I desire to provide all these things for her. I love her and I care for her.

In my quiet time this morning I thought about how my relationship with Malli is similar to the relationship God desires with me. He loves me and He cares for me.
He cares about my hurt, my discouragement, my insecurities, my anxiety, my fears.

God provided His son, Jesus Christ to be my High Priest. Jesus goes in to the presence of God and represents me. Because of Jesus, I have access to the Father and can approach the throne of grace boldly. He sits at the right hand of God the Father interceding on my behalf. While on earth, Jesus experienced everything I have experienced but never sinned.

The catch in this relationship is that I must boldly draw near (see v.16). Just like baby Malli, I must cry out for help! It is only then that I can find the mercy and grace I need.

Psalm 73.28 says, But it is good for me to draw near to God. I have put my trust in the Lord God.

James 4:8 says, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

My husband is compassionate, great listener, and a wonderful support for me. My family and friends can offer help and advice, too. But there is none like Jesus. He provides all the grace and mercy I need.

There Is None Like You

There is none like You
No one else can touch my heart like You do
I can search for all eternity long and find
There is none like You
Your mercy flows like a river wide
And healing comes from Your hands
Suffering children are safe in Your arms
There is none like You
There is none like You
No one else can touch my heart like You do
I can search for all eternity long and find
There is none like You
Your mercy flows like a river wide
And healing comes from Your hands
Suffering children are safe in Your arms
There is none like You

Monday, July 14, 2008


Stone Mountain, the largest known granite formation

When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Psalm 61:2

I spent a lot of time at Stone Mountain Park as a young person. Between 1972 and 1983 I lived less than five miles from the park and frequented it often on daily jogs. I also recall climbing the mountain many times with friends. Not an easy haul even when I was in good shape. The mountain rises approximately 780 feet above the land surface. To arrive at the top and see the skyline of Atlanta from a bird's eye view is absolutely breathtaking.
Now I have no desire to trek up Stone Mountain any time soon, but I do feel like I am fighting an uphill battle today, a mountain of responsibility.
I am just a little overwhelmed with all that I must do in the next few weeks. To keep this household running, I must be willing to hold several jobs .... a mother, a lover, a gardener, a disciplinarian, a cook, a secretary, a teacher, a counselor, a launderer, a nurse - just to name a few. My plate is full to say the least!
Then along with the blessing and opportunity for ministry in Trinidad I have added responsibility of preparing VBS for 200 children, planning a teacher workshop and a parent workshop at the church's Special Ed school, helping plan four Youth nights, and a visit to an orphanage.
With all of these tasks at hand I don't want to miss the joy of the journey. Jesus, my Lord and Saviour is the reason for all I do. I don't want to get stressed out and miss out on what He wants to teach me. I am keenly aware that even well-intended, godly acts can be disastrous if Christ is not in the center. It is times like these that put my faith to the test...just another test.
I asked myself these questions today...

Where does my strength really come from?

How can I keep Christ in the middle of it all?

How can I be joyful and delight in the Lord when there is so much to do?

Psalm 121:1-2 says I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
I must go to the Rock that is higher than myself and allow Him to be my source, my reservoir of strength, my wisdom, my peace, and my joy today. Christ the Rock will not be moved!

More Gifts...

210. fresh from the garden corn

In Christ Alone...

a flower in Trinidad

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence
to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,
by a new and living way opened for us
through the curtain, that is, His body,
and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
let us draw near to God
with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith,
having our hearts sprinkled
to cleanse us from a guilty conscience
and having our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,
for He who promised is faithful.Hebrews 10:19-23 (NIV)

When I fail, when I fall, when I sin, when I miss the mark I can draw near to Him, the one true God. He is faithful. He restores me completely. I can trust Him.
He is my hope, my light, my strength, my song, my comforter. The curse of sin has no hold on me. The blood of Christ has freed me. Nothing but the the blood of Jesus can do that! What power! He overcame! He is victorious! And to think He calls me His child!

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Thanking God

for these unmerited gifts...

206. a prayer and a phone call from a friend

207. napping with Malli

208. home-made mac and cheese

209. photos of Malli with great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents

Friday, July 11, 2008

Faith that is sure of itself is not faith; faith that is sure of God is the only faith there is. - Oswald Chambers

God will surely do this for you,
for He always does just what He says,
and He is the one who invited you into this wonderful friendship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:9

July, 2006....With her penetrating dark eyes and her face aglow, a dear sister in Christ asked me, Sister Gina, please come back to Trinidad one day soon to help Faith Academy, the Special Ed. help the teachers and minister to the parents. I agreed that I would pray about it. I was willing, humbled though, wondering what I could do to help. We prayed. We believed. We agreed.
August 2007....A phone call from a stranger. She said, I just can't seem to get Trinidad off my mind. I remember hearing Brother Hamid preach in Douglas years ago and I ran into someone at the grocery store and they said you and your family had been there recently. Tell me about it.
I shared that we had helped with VBS, visited an orphanage, and that the church has started a new school for children with special needs. She was interested in how she could help Faith Academy.
Aren't you a teacher, she questioned. Can't you go and help the school?
I shared with her what the lead teacher at Faith Academy had asked and prayed for me to do that very thing. She said, Well, that's why I couldn't sleep. I now know what I am supposed to do. She went on encourage me to plan a trip and that she would pay for the airfare for everyone in my family so I could go and help the school.
July 2008 ....Exactly 2 weeks til we leave for Trinidad. Prayers were answered. I will be teaching a parent workshop and teacher workshop at Faith academy.
A trip we are certain is ordained by God. We believe He orchestrated it completely. No question. He supernaturally intervened to provide this opportunity through someone who "couldn't get Trinidad off their mind." Isn't Our God amazing?
As I sat down today, checking off things on my to-do list and adding more to the list, I was tempted. Tempted to panic. Tempted to listen to the enemy and his lies. He is so lame!
Oh Father, thank you for reminding me about the miraculous provision You made for us to return to Trinidad. You gave me three oportunities to share about Your faithfulness today. What a joy! All for Your glory!
You are yet to reveal all the reasons for this trip, but certainly I am humbled that You want to use me to help this precious school, these teachers, these families.
Forgive me when I begin relying on my energy, my strength, my abilities. I am nothing without You. I want to know you intimately. Keep me focused on You alone. As I am busy checking off my daily to do list, planning, preparing, remind me that I need to commune with You first and foremost. I am not alone. You walk beside me. You alone empower me, you fill me till my cup runneth over. I want to sit at Your feet, in Your presence. I put my faith in you! The only faith there is! Be still my soul.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Blessing...

Malli - 3 weeks old

205. twenty-four hours with Malli

A Relationship

How precious are your thoughts
about me, O God!
They are innumerable!
I can't even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
Psalm 139:17-18b
I would venture to say that you have at least one thing in common with millions of other people in the world. That is, you are most likely in a relationship of some sort with someone....a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend, etc. If it is a healthy, thriving relationship it probably involves spending time with that individual, being concerned about what concerns them, giving of your time, sacrificing yourself, finding out what pleases them, and thinking of that person often.
To think that God desires a relationship with me and is constantly thinking of me just blows my mind. The Message says, "Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I'll never comprehend them! I couldn't even begin to count them— any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!"
He showed how much he loved you by sending his only Son into the world so that you might have eternal life through him. He created you. He knows your name. You are in His hands.
I have a maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hand
He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call
I have a Father
He calls me his
never leave me
No matter where I go
He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call
- Tommy Walker

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sooooo.... thankful for

197. a week of memory-making with my daughter

198. home sweet home, safely

199. my sweet husband

200. my two sons

201. a washing machine that works

202. sleeping in my bed on my pillow

203. listening to testimony of Pam Stenzel

204. reading the Word
Christ's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lewisburg, PA

196. worshiping with Lutheran brothers and sisters
some notes from worship service...

The Lord is gracious and full of compassion. Psalm 145:8

God has poured out his love into our hearts... Romans 5:5

We gather in God's presence from our homes, our labors, our struggles, and our joys. We are gathered as God's people in worship. The promise of Jesus is: Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20) We gather to be refreshed by Christ's invitation: "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying burdens."

God's word is like the rain that waters the earth and brings forth vegetation. It is also like the sower who scatters seed indiscriminately. Our lives are like seeds sown in the earth. Even from what appears to be little, dormant, or dead, God promises a harvest. The mystery of God's ways is sometimes hidden from the wise and intelligent, Jesus associates with the lowly and those often excluded from the religious community.

195. Pennsylvania coneflowers
194. viewing fireworks in a convertible

193. Washington, D.C. with Savannah-Jane and Burke
192. beautiful Amish countryside

191. Amish boys enjoying a simpler life

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A good quote...

Francois Fenelon, a French Roman Catholic theologian, poet, and writer said, God prepares a cross for you that you must embrace without thought of self-preservation. The cross is painful. Accept the cross and you will find peace even in the middle of turmoil. Let me warn you that if you push the cross away, your circumstances will become twice as hard to bear. In the long run, the pain of resisting the cross is harder to live with than the cross itself.


187. Arriving in Pennsylvania safely

188. Laughing

189. Driving a rented convertible

190. Cool nights in Pennsylvania

A Prayer

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
exalted for you or brought low for you;
let me be full, let me be empty;
let me have all things, let me have nothing;
I freely and heartily yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven