Abba’s Promise

abbas-promise-bannerWhen I got the acceptance notice from Debra Butterfield, editor at CrossRiver Media, that my story, The Late Check Provided, had been accepted for an upcoming devotional anthology—I had to search my memory. When did I submit this work? The story confirms God’s perfect timing to provide a much needed resource during a time when I lived through a rough patch. Yet, the story had been submitted during another rough patch, the last few months of my mother’s life. Twelve years of dementia ended with a massive stroke and I cared for her almost continually during the last year of her life. Many of those months are a blur upon reflection but God had a plan to do once again as He taught me in my story. Sometimes He delays a blessing until the need is the greatest. The acceptance of the story came on a dreary, sad day after Mom’s death and the news of publishing a work brought a great lift to my spirits. As He had done before, the Lord saved the blessing of sharing in Abba’s Promise until a time when I really needed Him to fulfill one! I pray the readers will be blessed by all the authors and their stories. And appreciate not only the hard collective work of the writers but the long-suffering of our editor, Debra. I don’t think I’ve ever received an e-mail on the weekend from any other editor. She’s done an outstanding job and I know the writers look forward to the success of the book, shining a light on Ms. Butterfield’s dedication to publish our stories. But, ultimately I pray the Lord receives the glory for the abundance He offers to all who call upon Him. May these stories draw the reader into His presence and experience the blessing of His promises.

Advertisements

Bling Somebody

ID-100227003And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement.
(Acts 15: 31 NASB)

Death takes a bite out of the survivor’s spirit. In between the logistics of taking care of belongings, policies, paperwork, and memories, I’ve spent some time meditating on loss and grief. Mom’s hospice took care to distribute caring pamphlets for the bereaved but the one which I remember most is “Life after Loss” by Tim Jackson from RBC ministries. Almost anything associated with Discovery Series is a good resource and this little pamphlet was no exception. Mr. Jackson shared from his own losses of his parents and I easily identified with his emotions.

It’s a valley most of us will walk through. The silence without a loved one is at times deafening. But, the Lord has gifted me with His presence and grace to move forward. Mom is gone and I’ve got to get back to work!

Recently I had the joy of hearing from Donna Mynatt. Follow the link to her interview and book review of book one in my Cotton Springs series, Erased with Grace. (There’s a giveaway!) Find it at: www.donnasbookshelf.com. Donna and her daughter, Rachel Miller, are both authors and reviewers and belong to my AFCW group that meets in Middle Tennessee. Being around fellow writers inspires but fellowship with fellow Christians heals and soothes.

Blogging and writing have suffered in the past few weeks and Donna’s sweet words of encouragement have been like a balm to this weary traveler. My thoughts turned to good ol’ Barnabas, Paul’s companion during a missionary journey. During one Bible study I attended, the leader pointed out how initially the two were listed as Barnabas and Paul. Later, as Paul became bolder and stronger in his witness and presentation, the two became Paul and Barnabas. The presence of this son of encouragement prompted Paul to continue on without him and become a prolific author and church planter.

We all need a lift every now and then. More than an atta-girl, real encouragement works its healing through the power of the Holy Spirit. I’m convinced many times I’ve missed an opportunity to infuse a helping hand into someone’s dark day. I know I can’t solve someone else’s problems but I can help bear the burden by sticking just a little joy under their cart. The Holman Bible version says in Proverbs 25:11: “A word fitly spoken at the right time is like gold apples on a silver tray.” Is there someone close by who could use just a little bling at the right time today?

As you’re thinking of the person you will encourage, don’t miss a visit to Donna’s site and enjoy the scenery.(Read this.) She seems to be a positive, inspiring gal and I believe you’ll find an apple or two to snack on. Go ahead. Bling somebody!

 

Photo by mapichai. Published on 14 January 2014
Stock Photo – Image ID: 100227003, http://www.freedigitalphotos.com

Are You Nanoready?

nanoreadyLuke 9:62 King James Version (KJV Public Domain)
 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Jesus called followers on the spot and bid them to join Him at the moment of call. Luke relates a story about a young man who gave a myriad of excuses that prevented him from joining the movement. He had responsibilities, after all, things to do, people to see, and places to go. Someday…maybe he would follow after he got it all accomplished.

The problem with this reasoning is that there is never a good time to change. There is never a convenient time to do something different. No time is a good time to take on a shift of focus. It is so much more comfortable to just stay the same.

Henry Blackaby teaches in Experiencing God we cannot go with God and stay the same. Change is part of the process. Not only a change in attitude and priorities, but many times a change in physical locations, relationships, or employment finds a way in to our new lifestyle following Christ.

Next month, many writers will put their hand to the plow and pray and write and pray and write and….not look back. Nanowrimo, national novel writing month, begins with a challenge to write fifty thousand words in the month of November. Such a challenge requires preparation.

I have prepared my work station (see attached photo mimicking Earnest Hemmingway’s stacked typewriter. It worked for him, right?) I’m praying for the protection of time to sit/stand and write daily. My fortitude to keep the path is being fed by currently finishing my second manuscript’s first pass. Book three hangs in my imagination and prayers but I hope to bring it into reality before December first.

What I learned last year from Nano was what the young man in Luke’s verse had yet to learn. As writers, we know writing is life. Having receptivity and faithfulness to imaginary friends and places can spill into our faith walk. Finishing something facilitates finishing more and more tasks. Done is good. Crossing a finish line builds confidence to find another race and run it.

As millions gear up for Nano, I’m praying many of us will apply the same diligence of meeting the goal of fifty thousand words to following the Master of Word. Fingers to the keyboard are like hands to the plow. Don’t look back. Follow the Master in all your ways and you might even produce a new novel!

BelieversPress Gets My Vote

IMG_20140930_101859_534

 

Philippians 1:6
6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ

King James Version (Public Domain KJV)

 

Opening the box of my proof to my new book, I exhaled a prayer of thanksgiving that I made it this far. I need reviewers! If you are interested in reviewing this title, contact me through the blog or my website: www.aynnecynar.com. I have a few paperback copies to send out and, if I can figure out how to send the e-file for Kindle, I’d loved to send out a few of those as well. My plan is to load both to Amazon in 2015. I’m editing book two now and hope to Nanowrite book three next month! There will be a fourth…

I solicited a slew of quotes for printing the advanced review/galley copies from several printers. I narrowed down to three and selected Believers Press as the winner. Meeting Andrew MacKay at the Writing for the Soul conference in Murfreesboro, Tennessee greatly influenced me but in the end it is strictly business. I mean finances. Mr. MacKay is a budding author as well as a publishing contact. His affable nature allowed me to quiz him personally and get all the information a starving author needs. For an Indie author to have had access to a professional resource like Andrew was invaluable.

BookMasters in Ohio was fairly priced, but the minimal quantity is one hundred books. At five dollars a book plus shipping, I would be living among books stacked to my ceiling for (probably) infinity. This POD company comes highly recommended by Peter Bowerman (The Well-Fed Self-Publisher). If you are Indie, buy his book. BookMasters’ response was timely and professional.

BookBaby also seemed like a viable choice and has favorable reviews by Joel Friedlander, the go-to know-it-all for self pubs. They will print a short run,  under twenty five books, but the cost per book with shipping is about eleven to twelve dollars. Not too bad if you are in a pinch.

I also communicated with a local Nashville printer that also prints short runs. Pollack printing was the highest of the quotes but being able to pick it up on site had advantages for me. Besides, the contact person, Harvey Hearn, was professional and enjoyable to correspond with. I’m keeping them on file in case…

At Believers Press, www.BelieversPress.com, you will be linked to www.bookprintondemand.com to set up an account. Be careful. There is a similar web address for a POD printer in the Netherlands and you will know it immediately if you don’t speak Dutch.

I think SnowFall Press actually does the printing. The finished product is as professional looking as any other paperback book on my shelf from a number of big name publishers. I chose a cream paper, which I prefer, and hope it pleases my readers. The drum roll is for a two hundred eighty page finished book with a full color cover, shipped and printed, for just under five dollars. I ordered a single copy as a proof and was very pleased with the results. My little order of thirty books should arrive in less than a week and I will have enough money left over to buy dinner and feed the animals.

I chose to use a professional editor, typesetter, and cover designer. Lynnette Bonner at IndieCoverDesigns was a dream to work with. She is also an accomplished author and her advice along the way was outstanding. My editor, Betty Whitworth, belongs to the Kentucky Christian Writers. All mistakes are mine. Lynette and Betty gave me the confidence to complete my first book, Erased with Grace.

My goal is to reach women through entertaining inspirational fiction and introduce them to my Lord. My protagonist lives under the same trials most mature woman face and learns to trust the One who never fails. By keeping my financial investment low, I can afford to gift my book as the Lord leads and let Him do His work through the words He inspired me to write.

Indies: check out Believers Press! Readers, drop me a note if you wish to review. I hope you will be blessed to learn you are never invisible to God. Your relationships may change but can be erased with grace.

 

 

 

God Moves in Mysterious Ways

Deuteronomy 26:8
And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders:

Jeremiah 21:5
And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath.
King James Version (KJV)
by Public Domain

William Cowper is reported to have suffered from deep intermittent depression. A brief look into his life reveals the common temptations of man: loss of love, failed efforts, and unreached goals. Yet he is credited as one of the most beloved poets of his age. It has been several hundreds of years since he penned his hymns and poems but they speak to me today in fresh whispers and wisdom.

Out of the great depths of disappointment, he was able to garner tremendous strength and understanding. For many of us, this is the path to knowledge. Our trials teach us so much more about life, the Lord, and ourselves than prosperity and success.

The Lord’s mighty arm to save is always above us not only for eternal salvation but for the daily ongoing help needed to make it through each day. The same God who demonstrated His power to the Israelites in their ancient trials stands by to intercede for those who call upon Him for help.

Sometimes I forget this. I think I have to drum up solutions and resources from my own feeble reservoir and feel I am somehow outside the camp of God’s mighty army. Fatigue and despair can lead us to feel distant and outside of God’s outstretched arms. Failure and confusion keeps us from watching the battle plan unfold, and as I huddle in a bush for a moment of respite, I am tempted to doze off hoping it will all go away.

But, it doesn’t. I need a reminder to focus on a mighty God during the intensity of battle. Cowper says: “Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds ye so much dread are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head.” His hymn, God Moves in Mysterious Ways, penned in 1744, also encourages us to look behind a frowning providence to see His smiling face. The smoke of our troubles can hide the Lord who is reaching toward us for our deliverance.
My trials rage. Sometimes I think I can hear the blast of the cannon just before I am hit with another round of pain. I have to hold fast to the fact that He ever liveth to make intercession for me. I have to believe He is my advocate and will deliver. The hymn reminds me that “God is His own interpreter and He will make it plain.” I am alone in my confusion but only because I relinquish my standing as His cherished child.

In our day of great technology, the temptation exists to forget the majesty and strength of our great Creator. He walks on the oceans and rides along the storms. As fascinating as it is to be able to read an electronic submission from any where in our world, our abilty to call upon the One who created all is much more magnificent. And, He hears. Cowper encourages us with this:
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.
Enjoy this link and meditate on your position in the hands of a mighty God with strong out stretched arms:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtnapVDuPfg

 

Photo Credit: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot, published on 21 December 2010
Stock Image – image ID: 10024983

Unwanted Road

Image
By Stuart Miles, published on 19 May 2014
Stock Image – image ID: 100261532

 

John 14: 27 KJV

27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

I have spent the past two weeks at the bedside of my mom in the ICU. Returning home to a refrigerator of science experiments and cobwebs is no task for the faint hearted; I admit my passage through Stressdom has not been a pleasant one.

When I opened my computer for the first time in days, I saw an email from Roy Lessin’s site, Meet Me in the Meadows, http://www.meetmeinthemeadow.com. The ‘fretbusters’ tags drew me in quickly.

Of course, I had spent much time in prayer for my mom and my family and had received multitudes of prayers from friends and loved ones. Yet, it is easy to become weary after days of no sleep and closely watching someone suffer.

I was blessed by his admonition to “walk in His path even though you see a valley ahead.” I have stood at the gate of the valley of death with both of my parents and have trusted the Lord to usher us through in His time and in His direction. So far, they are both still with me.

I have learned to follow when the road ahead is dark and unwanted. You can read about my path with my Dad here:

http://journals.lww.com/journalofchristiannursing/Citation/2014/06000/Atypical_Presentations.19.aspx

The full story is recorded in this book under the title “When Sheep Fly”: http://www.amazon.com/Its-God-Thing-Stories-Experience/dp/1605875503/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403705221&sr=8-1&keywords=it%27s+a+go

Lessin has over a hundred fret-busters to encourage and soothe. Read them. They will bless you. I have a few of my own to add:

Go when you think you no longer can.

Love when it seems too difficult.

Hang on when you’re losing your grip.

Engage when you want out.

Keep believing when everything seems false.

Hold on to the prize when you think you’ve lost it.

It no longer amazes me when the peace of God that surpasses all understanding encompasses my soul. I have been trained and disciplined by the things I have suffered. There is no other way. It is the path our Sovereign Lord chose for his Only Son:  “though he were a son, yet He learned obedience through the things He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8 KJV).

One more thing.

Don’t give up even when you’re down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Signposts

Image
By stockimages, published on 05 November 2013
Stock Photo – image ID: 100215391

Joshua 1:7

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.

 

 

The ancient patriarchs relied on the direct word from God in their decision making. From Adam strolling with His Creator to Moses having his bushes burned to Christ making breakfast in His resurrected body, the Lord availed Himself throughout history to those whose hearts were completely His. He still speaks today. But, modern man has to drown out so much more distraction.

 

Additionally, contemporary believers have a plethora of resources to factor in to their divine listening. Several thousands of years of written truths, magnificent cathedrals and universities, and zillions of Bible translations and spiritual books all speak a cacophony begging for attention.

 

Leslie Weatherhead in his book, “The Will of God”, gives six signposts to consider when seeking a word from the Lord. His suggestion is that all of them must agree; there must be a cooperative consensus of convergent truth within them all.

 

With GPS and Google at our fingertips, these six signposts, and a favorite Bible translation, it should be a piece of cake to get it right. Right? I recently heard on a newscast that to become proficient in anything, ten thousand repetitions are required. If a pro-golfer needs that many putts to knock a little ball in a cup, why do believers think they can discern the will of God with casual attendance?

 

Many believers struggle with decision after decision, fearing a mistake, a shortcoming, or missing God’s plan or will for their lives. Most of us want to get it right, but do we really want to know what He says or do we want Him to bless our plan instead? Do we have the courage to forge ahead once we hear from Him or will we decide to look for a better offer?

 

We can trust our conscience. It’s with us always, so we can check it frequently. The problem with conscience is that it may become skewed, tainted, or corrupted. Perhaps it should be relegated to the bottom of the list.

 

There is such a thing as common sense. Another great portable resource, common sense is not found too commonly. Reserved for our wise grandfathers, this tool has to be sought, cultivated, and learned. Unfortunately, there is no gene for wisdom.

 

Stable Christian friends are great resources for counsel. This requires some long term observation with proof in the pudding lifestyles. The Lord told us we could know a tree by the fruit it bears, so we can also know a man or woman by the lifestyle they lead.

 

Researching a problem may be another way of arriving at a solid solution. If we read the life stories of admirable Christians and see how they solved their issues, we can be instructed by their examples. Since temptation is common to all mankind, we can be sure those that walked before us and won their race have something to teach us.

 

A neglected voice in the world today is the witness of the Church. Modern people resent being told what to do or having their wills thwarted. An institution, albeit ancient, such as the body of Christ offers solid, dependable, trustworthy and reliable counsel.

 

Finally, the idea of an “inner light”, embraced by the Quakers, can guide us in our path as we seek the Lord’s will for our life.  Weatherhead’s statement that “our mistakes, if made in good faith, will not result in our being lost” causes me to appreciate the grace of my Savior as He deals with my fallible soul. God will use our choices to reach His goal, because as Job said, no plan of His can be thwarted.

 

Yet, all resources aside, a simple earnest approach to problem solving or will-seeking is to align with the big picture of God’s standards. The basic things He wants for us are clearly written: to love and follow Him, draw others to Him to do the same, and to love our neighbors. Before we sweat the details, His Big Picture has to be hung on our hearts. If we are living these principles, He will show us the job we need, the friends we desire, and give us the words to speak. He will supply all our needs. He will never leave us. His arms are always outstretched to us.

 

Are you puzzled where the Lord may be taking you? Implement the signposts and see what God reveals to you. Most importantly, know Him, love Him, and follow Him. We all make mistakes and those you have made in good faith or not, when confessed to a loving Savior, will not result in being lost. Take a deep breath. Trust. You have nine thousand-and-some attempts left to get it right.

A Sabbath Moment

Image
Winnie

 

Exodus 20:11

New International Version (NIV)

11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

If we read on through the many passages about the Sabbath, it is also stated that the one who ignores this command should be put to death. Don’t shoot me; I am just a messenger.

In my American culture, Sabbath is a loosely interpreted concept still greatly debated within the Christian community. Acknowledging the day (Saturday versus Sunday) as well as defining allowed activities divides the faithful. However, whatever camp we worship in, the consequence of ignoring Sabbath is almost universally experienced.

Being put to death, in the Old Testament, meant being put to death. Churches today have to dance around dealing with its member’s sins. Unfortunately, the definition of sin is also loosely interpreted from congregation to congregation, and the enforcement of church discipline is rarely enacted. In our politically correct society, murdering a church member for scrubbing their floor on a Sabbath would be implausible. As well as illegal…

Yet, we do suffer if the benefits of time of rest, reflection, and devotion are avoided. In our twenty four hour a day world that even runs on the weekends, the faithful do well to get to worship for a few hours on Sunday morning.

When I heard Beth Moore speak about a “Sabbath Moment”, my interest was piqued.  Maybe, Lord, I could carve out tiny bits of time to do Sabbath. Perhaps I could learn to seek Him continually as I worked through my day, pausing to meet Him for each brief moment I could find in between tasks.

Eventually, I learned to do it. Seek the Lord all through the day. Speak to Him at every turn. Take every thought captive to Him and receive the mind of Christ. Acknowledge His nearness continually and confess His presence. Scripture memorization brought Him closer than ever.

Yet, life gets in the way. I have learned to accept this interference and sometimes plan for it. Wisdom teaches us to count the cost, lay a firm foundation, and prepare for that rainy day to come.

My Sabbath moment recently brought me a great sense of peace and joy. It was so short lived but significant.

The sky seemed especially beautiful that day. Temperate winds blew through my hair and joy I had not experienced in so long welled up in my heart; I felt like a kid again, just for a moment. Thank you, Lord, for this brief visit to peace. Communing with the Lord seemed almost euphoric.

Once I returned inside, my dog nabbed my lunch off the counter. He swallowed it so fast that he nearly obstructed his airway, ran into the living room, threw up on my Oriental carpet, and ran into the study vomiting all the way, and completed his discharge on the rug in there. Fortunately, I could pop it into the washer.

I dragged out the carpet shampooer, cleaned up the Oriental, ran the washer, and returned to the kitchen to dig through the refrigerator for something else to eat. Unfortunately, since I had been gone over the weekend, there was nothing to fix and what was left had turned into science projects. So, I had to clean out the frig, put the rug in the dryer, and take out the dog that whined to go back outside.

It had now been over an hour since my moment of ecstasy and I was hungrier than ever.

After a can of tuna, I concluded in agreement with Henry Blackaby, that God is always at work around us. My encounter with the God of the universe lasted a few brief moments and it was my choice to pause and experience it. The lack of time to enjoy Sabbath is not His fault, it is mine. His reminder to me made the whole event significant.

He is always there, offering the fellowship, if we will only pause and receive it. I should not be surprised to find Him nor should I be led astray by the stuff of life, like a dog that is a thief and led me down a detour of distraction.

Grab your moments. Underneath the layer of your trials and worries exists a secret place to steal away with the One who loves you most. By all means, be in church Sunday, share with a Sunday school group, and take a nap in the afternoon. But, don’t miss those Sabbath moments that will sustain you and affirm His love for you in between your next detour of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chariots of God

Image
By bigjom, published on 24 December 2010
Stock Photo – image ID: 10025270

 

Psalm 68:17

New International Version (NIV)

17 The chariots of God are tens of thousands
    and thousands of thousands;
    the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary.[a]

 

Until I had re-read Hannah Whitall Smith’s “A Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life”, I thought of the chariots of God as a metaphor for the power of God. A recent re-visitation to this classic written in 1875 gave me some new, fresh insights.

 

Her chapter, Chariots of God, introduce something I had missed reading this book in 1983. My copy is a Whitaker House publication, and some sources say there has been millions of this book sold. The pages are yellowed and aged, yet I was beckoned to read them once again upon the recommendation of another.

 

Is it possible that thirty some years ago I had not the capacity to understand her metaphor? In the bloom of a young marriage and with a heart full of hope for a blessed future, I think my naïve and inexperienced mind was incapable of comprehending the depth of what Hannah W. Smith said.

 

She tells us God’s chariots do not look like the biblical buggies one might imagine, with Charlton Hesston riding and thrashing a whip behind a fine set of prized Arabians, but look like enemies of our happiness and success. They could be trials, sufferings, disappointments or even misunderstandings or unkindness encountered from others.

 

Yet, she beckons us to open our eyes and see these thorns as God’s invitation to higher living. We must make the choice as to how they will be perceived; “We can either lie down under them and let them roll over us and crush us, or we can view them as chariots of God and make them carry us triumphantly onward and upward.”

 

Unlike the chariots of transportation or a metaphor for God’s power, these chariots of God are invisible, internal, and many times unlovely. She says “they may be a nasty friend or relative… the result of human malice or cruelty or neglect.”

 

The explanation is given that our chariots, our earthly chariots, are tangible and real. She gives the examples of having a trusted Bible study group or pastor, and then being unable to participate any longer or interact with those individuals due to changes in circumstances. Having our rugs pulled out from under us, like losing our jobs, marriages, or health, causes us to see how fallible the chariots we cherish really are.

 

Encouragement is given to release these foibles and turn to the “unseen chariots” of God. She assures us that they are always sent in love, because God is love. As hard as that may be to imagine in some of the most dire situations, Mrs. Smith says: “Perhaps He doesn’t command or originate the thing, but the moment we put it into His hands, it becomes  His, and He at once turns it into a chariot for us.” Of course, she follows with Romans 8:28, which reminds us that no matter what has come into our life, God can bring something good out of it.

 

No, in 1983 I had not the capacity to understand what she meant. In the past thirty years, I have ridden in many of those chariots of God, my ride at times being grueling, painful, and devastating. What I have today that I didn’t possess then is the knowledge, assurance, and overflowing presence of a Sovereign God who never fails, is always present, and assures me of His Eternal companionship.

 

Is it a coincidence that the year this book was published is the same year her husband was involved in a scandal of sorts? She says: “That irritating member of your household, who has, up to now, made life a burden to you and who had been trying to crush your soul into the dust, may from now on be a glorious chariot to carry you to the heights of heavenly patience and long-suffering.” Could she be referring to an unfaithful mate, whose sins visited tribulation throughout several of their children’s lives, causing loss of faith and falling away from their mother’s cherished beliefs?

 

As Christians involved in the Quaker faith, the Smiths did not divorce, although some sources say they never reconciled after his indiscretions. Hannah Whittall Smith continued to write, giving her secret to a happy life, even though she did not possess one in an earthy sense.

 

Reading this chapter again, thinking of the broken heart which penned these words, I can now see what she meant. As a woman who has traveled in God’s chariots, I understand that each trial has been an invitation to trust God more deeply. Each pain has been a bridge to the arms of Christ. Every place of disappointment has been has been shared with a Savior who, as my High Priest, is able to empathize with my every weakness.

 

Let me encourage you to read this classic as well. Put it on your shelf for a few years, and read it again after you have been driven in the chariots of God sent to you to bring you closer to Him. Chose to enter, willingly and fully—”these are chariots waiting to carry you to the very heights of victory you have wanted to reach for so long.”

 

Watching Cardinals

medium_3336811446

Psalm 71:18

Amplified Bible (AMP)

18 Yes, even when I am old and gray-headed, O God, forsake me not, [but keep me alive] until I have declared Your mighty strength to [this] generation, and Your might and power to all that are to come.

My 80-year-old-plus relatives are living in their own homes. My father’s youngest brother, age 87, is a widower who cares for his brood of school-aged grandchildren each day after school. He picks them up after school and brings them home until their parents get off work.

A visit to my uncle’s home is like going to a daycare center. Kids are every where and toys line his hallways. However, I have friends who live in residential care. They live quiet lives of solitude and their hallways are lined with carts full of medical supplies.

My lady friends, in their residential homes, find safety and security within the walls of the monitored living arrangements. They are entertained by the activities of care executed by the staff, the birds kept in a large cage in the foyer, or the flurry of activity around the outside bird feeders strategically placed in front of the windows of fortunate residents.

These women I knew from church cooked and served at banquets and functions. They participated in every civic club in town. All of these women were wives, and many of them are mothers and grandmothers. But, the pace of their lives has come to a standstill. Their adult children visit daily; it’s not the same as having a blood relative live under the same roof.

My friends have been Christians since childhood or their teen years. Their late husbands were deacons and faithful church members. They served along side of their men for decades. Now, they spend hours each day sitting alone, eating alone, or watching the television alone, usually not paying attention to the program. Their vision has dimmed and it is difficult for them to read even a large print Bible.

It is hard to visit these friends who were once so active and lively, full of laughter and great wisdom. Several ladies are still sharp-witted; sadly, a few of them have succumbed to levels of dementia. Each visit raises a question in my own mind: will I still have one, a mind that is, when it is my turn to move here?

A family of one of the women shared that their mother now feels useless. She wondered what she can contribute to her world any more. A Sunday school teacher, a mom and grandmother, and wife to one of our most beloved and active deacons, her life has been spent telling others about Jesus and His wonderful ways.

As long as we have any life in us, God still can work His purpose through our lives. The verse above from Psalm 71 tells us that our purpose is to proclaim His wonderful story until our last breath. I have no doubt that my friends who are still capable to do so are telling the staff, their grandchildren, their doctors, and every visitor about how God has worked in their lives. They may appear to be sitting mindlessly in their chairs as they watch the cardinals, but they are engaged in active warfare on the behalf of all those they love and know. They are doing some of life’s most important and difficult work in their time of greatest infirmity.

Of course, my church has ongoing ministries to our residential members, but they are still in a position to minister to us through their prayers and support. The church can benefit from the unbounded love of their shut-ins. Their prayers can be the fuel of ministry. Their petitions can intercede for the lost and the burdened.

We who love the gift of life have a great opportunity to support and love our elderly friends. I realize how important it is for me to develop friendships with younger women; someday I will be the one receiving the birthday parties, singings, and free manicures that I am handing out today.

A few years back at the Southern Book Festival in Nashville, Tennessee, I purchased a book from Missy Buchanan. Her words of encouragement to an elderly aunt have been made into a book.  Living with Purpose in a Worn-Out Body is available through Upper Room Books. Just shy of 100 pages, Missy writes in large print a selection of prayers and poems to encourage those who feel they may have stayed beyond their welcome.

Ms. Buchanan’s book will be the perfect gift for my friend who wonders if God still finds purpose in her life. I plan to tell her that I wrote a blog post about her and that her story has reached an audience around the world. I hope at 90 she can comprehend, and will find comfort that she has declared His mighty strength to this generation.

And they thought she was just watching cardinals…

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevewall/3336811446/”>Steve took it</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;