And Yet …

Enjoy and allow the spirit of Christ to rest in you as you read this devotional written by my wonderful friend, Karen Rewerts. 

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This morning, I was reading my devotional and I came across this verse:

“I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” Ps. 13:6.

You know how much I LOVE music and singing, and I thought, “How beautiful!”

This was the King James translation, so I decided to look up the verse in my NIV Bible, and it said,

“I will sing the Lord’s praise for He has been good to me.”   

Isn’t that wonderful?!

As I re-read the verse, I realized this was the last verse in Psalm 13 and I thought, “This is a short Psalm.” So I decided to read it from the beginning and it starts with this:  “How long, Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will You hide Your face from me?”

Whoa.

Who goes from “How long,” to “I will sing,” in six verses?

As you might guess, it was David and for four verses, he cries to God.  Not only that, he demands that God look at him and answer him. Then in verse five, he says, “But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation.”  Then comes the beautiful verse 6.

David.

David the shepherd boy.

David who killed Goliath.

David the King, chosen by God to lead Israel.

David of the lineage of Jesus.

David, the special man after God’s own heart.

YET…David was human.  David was not perfect and in fact, David did some downright horrible things. And David suffered.  He cried out to God.  He felt terribly alone.  He wrestled with his thoughts.  He was so sad.  David demanded relief from God.  Read Psalm 13 and you’ll see what I mean.

For all David went through, (and he didn’t even know Jesus,) he still chose to trust God.  He chose to rejoice.  And he chose to sing.  Whatever we deal with in this life – this beautiful, tragic, crazy, stressful, amazing experience – we can trust and rejoice and even sing because we know that God is faithful.  We know that God loves us.  We know that God has been good to us.  We know that God is worthy of our song.   And praise God, we have resurrection hope through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Thanks for letting me share.

Karen, thank you for sharing!

Your lesson is livable and your writing is relateable. As well, your love of Christ is contagious! 

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The Perfect Punchline

 About four years after Samantha’s accident, I was asked to share my story in front of a group of ladies gathered for lunch. With a normal amount of trepidation, I accepted the invitation and immediately went to work.

For weeks my mornings were spent filtering through topics and praying about what God wanted me to share. There was so much wisdom gained to sort through, truths that were revealed to me that I could retell and healing that had happened to give others hope that hours of silence were necessary for me to discern what I was suppose to do.

Eventually, the swirl of possible subject matters to cover changed into confirmation of the wisdom I was to impart. So, I went about recording my experience with written words. Erasing, replacing and adding explanations defined my actions as I polished and punctuated  what I planned to say.

Paragraph after paragraph I wrote, weaving my experience together with the teachings of speechwriting1the scripture. The more I recorded on paper, the more I realized how much my life was healed and made whole by the Holy words written so long ago.  There were many influences that provided support while I recovered, but none more powerful and
moving than the passages left by the Holiest of Priests. Surely, they saved me from the graveyard of grief.

My speech was almost complete, yet it lacked the final punch that would bring it full circle. I ached to emphasize to those in attendance how powerful God’s word had been to my healing, how it told me the best way to respond to my own emotions, how it guided me when dealing with others and how it confirmed that throughout human history God’s people suffered, but were always saved.

So I sat down and scoured The Bible for a passage that supported my experience, to see if what had happened to me, that is finding hope in God’s word, was meant to happen. From past experience, my faith has always grown when I look back and see my life played out as the scripture predicts. I had always heard it would happen, but I sought written Biblical confirmation that the scriptures possessed the power to change a person.

Sitting Indian style curled in a corner of my couch, I scoured the thin pages of The Holy Book. Flipping and flapping and finally, I simply split the pages in half and started reading right there. That is when I found the perfect punch line to round out my written words. I chuckled when I read it because it was right on.

“My son, pay attention to what I say, turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.”

Proverbs 4:20-22 (NIV)

Bingo, there it was with instructions on what to do with the Holy Writ, as well as what kind of outcome we can expect when we obey.

May it be, that by hearing these instructions written by the wise King Solomon that you may be open and altered by the powerful force of God’s written Word. I certainly was!

 

In the Middle of Ordinary

 

Lessons in Everyday Life – part two

Three days, three lessons. Each time it occurred, I was engaged in an average activity. Then in the middle of ordinary, the Holy Spirit stood up and had something to say.

Unlike like last time, reclined and relaxed in a beautiful beach setting, I was taught a lesson through everyday life while out on my bike.

Oh, it wasn’t a leisurely ride or one intended as exercise. Instead, riding the bikeit was all about the four legged furry animal that lives in our home. You see, I was riding my bike for the sole purpose of walking the dog. As unusual as it sounds; it’s absolutely necessary. You see, “Faith”, our family pet is a fast runner and has an abundance of energy.

Midway through our normal stunt, I began to perspire. Trying to ignore the heat, I looked down and peered at Faith’s sleek body and shiny black coat. With respect and resolve, I thought, “We aren’t going home, until I wear you out!” Around and around the neighborhood we went. I pedaled and she panted. The faster I went, the faster she ran.

On our third lap, we received a welcomed reprieve. “Hey Elizabeth! How are you today?” my neighbor calldogs-925701_960_720ed out as she walked into the street. As I slowed my pedal stroke, she approached the front tire. “I am well, how are you?” I asked, coming to a soft stop. Instantly, there were four of us squeezing in a visit on a muggy summer evening. My neighbor and I exchanged common pleasantries while watching her puppy, “Bandit” and my full grown mutt roll around.

“The girls have enjoyed watching Faith this summer,” she earnestly remarked. “I really appreciate their help while we are out of town,” I replied. “Elizabeth, she really is a great dog,” my neighbor added in gist.

My immediate response to her complement wasn’t expressed in words. Instead, all I could do was chuckle.

“Really?” I thought. I was sure she was totally unaware of the fact that Faith wiggles when she walks and runs sideways when she gets excited. Despite constant correction, she jumps on every person that walks through the door and has ripped through skin with her claws. On accident, thank goodness! As well, she eats her dinner at midnight and is traumatized when someone attempts to take her picture with a cell phone. Honestly, she hides under the bed for hours!

Regina smiled and nodded her head as I shared my laundry list of Faith’s downfalls. With the door opened to complain about our pets shortcomings, my friend added, “Yeah, I can relate. Bandit tinkles every time he gets excited. And, while out walking, sometimes, he just stops. He plops down and refuses to get up. We have to carry him home every time.”

I laughed, while I listened. After sharing faults as long as Santa’s scroll, Regina punctuated her statement, “It’s a wonder we still love them.”  “You know you are right! They make us crazy with all their antics.” I confirmed.

Jumping, barking, licking, growling and whining all of it can be annoying and difficult to deal with. People spend enormous amounts of time, effort and money trying to train their animals to behave.  Sometimes the pet’s behavior is corrected quickly.  Other times, the furry beast goes back to doggie school.

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Nonetheless, we love them!

 

 

 

As the perspiration beaded my brow, I pulled Faith’s leash a tad bit tighter, pushed back in my bicycle seat, and said my goodbyes. With each rotation of the wheels, Faith and I headed back home. However, I sensed the Spirit wasn’t ready to say, “So long …!”

“Elizabeth, there is more here to learn” stirred in my soul. Again, I felt like God wanted me to listen for His lesson. In a whisper of thoughts that wafted through my brain, I heard, “That’s exactly how I love you!”  “Despite your flaws and personality quirks, I love you!” the spirit of Jesus softly spoke. “In all your mess and madness, I will care for you!” delivered the spirit of God to the depths of my soul.

Certainly this isn’t new news. At the sweet age of two, I was singing Jesus Loves Me This I know, for the Bible tells us so…. By the age of 12, I could recite John 3:16, “For God so loved the world …” As an adult, I became aware of Augustine’s famous quote, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

However, at that very moment slouched in a bicycle seat, sticky from the moisture that hung in the air and wheeling my way back towards my house it was the mental picture that made the difference. “Lord, thank you for that.” I whispered while climbing the cement curb. “Lord, simple imagery reminded me of your unending love,” I continued to respond to the powerful truth as I rolled down the driveway. Parking my bike in jowls of my garage, I expressed my gratitude, “Lord, I’m so grateful you speak to me in ways I can understand.”

I’m learning  

~ When the Spirit of God mingles with the mundane one can expect to hear a magnetic and mighty message! 

Certainly, a bath was required before I climbed into bed. The residual of a steamy evening spent outside needed to be removed from my skin. As I refreshed myself in the warm water, I soaked my spirit in the love of Christ.  In all my mess-ups, He is going to love me. Through all my failed attempts, He is going to love me. Regardless, of my crazy characteristics and annoying habits, He is going to love me. And, when I finally get it right, He is going to love me.

Who would have thought, I could relearn so much while out on a walk.

~ In the middle of ordinary, it is a blessing to seek and see the Almighty! ~

 

This is the way God put it:

God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will.
    Expect love, love, and more love!

Jeremiah 31:3 – The Message 

 

P.S. – stay tuned for Lessons in Everyday Life – part three

 

 

The Doorbell to Heaven

I sat on the sofa, my face contorted from crying. I didn’t have the scripture memorized but, I knew it existed and was well aware of the general gist of what it said. Statements stirred inside of me like, be glad you suffer, give thanks in every circumstance. There, sitting with my friend, I confessed I wasn’t able to, didn’t know how to, didn’t know if I  could ever keep the commands God gives us in

1Thessolonians 5:28

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

even more so as stated in Romans 5:3-4

Be thankful in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. 

Sitting together, I believe my friend saw herself sitting as me. Realizing, it impossible to bear the unbearable. Altogether impossible to be grateful for the grief. Samantha and her daughter were friends, sharing the same age and the same interests. Always compassionate and slow to speak, she gently said, “Oh, Elizabeth, I think it is a process.” I remember relaxing, having been given grace. She might not have known it but she gave me the gift of time to get to where I needed to be. The point where God calls me to be, for Him and for myself. In that moment that I mentioned, I was sinking in neck deep grief. The waves of emotions lapping all around my jawline often with salty splashes leaping into my mouth, making me choke and gag on the truths that I knew.

For me, the storm has settled from what it was, the ebbing of sad emotions have subsided and the flow of laughter and life have begun. Oh, definitely, there are still those stormy clouds that drift through but, the dark thick all covering ones have begun to break open to new light.

As Thanksgiving approaches, my thoughts turn toward a story I jotted down in my journal several months ago, noteworthy to the point that it needs to be retold and no better time than this.

I was asked to be the stand in mom for a sweet young little one. Her parents would be traveling for the weekend and they asked if she could spend some time with me. I accepted, looking forward to the life of little ones in my home as well, accepting the task to provide transportation for all of her outings.

My special overnight guest had awoken early, eager to share the day with me. When her sister arrived to spend a few hours with us, they really got involved in figuring what there was to do. I gave them free reign of the closet in the hallway that stored the treasures of childhood. They were in and out the door all morning, front yard, back yard, pantry and all over again. All the while, I enjoyed the familiar but almost forgotten sound of the constant opening and closing of doors. The traffic in my house is definitely not what it used to be.

Finally, the sidewalk chalk that sat unused in my closet was now being pressed into the concrete by sweet little fingers on my front driveway. Oh, how I missed these kind of Saturday mornings, uninterrupted, simple, imaginary play. I had my fair share of these times to enjoy but, that had come to a halt when the unimaginable happened.

Those first few sweet hours of freedom stopped when it was time for the first activity. Anna Kate headed to dance class and I was responsible for getting Shelby to school to rehearse for First Communion. This would be the tender part. It required a trip to Samantha’s school, Our Lady of the Lake. Nothing would have stopped me from doing what I was asked but, I knew I would need to shake off some emotions as I stepped into the gymnasium to ensure Shelby got to her proper seating assignment so she could practice.

Often, while out cycling, I consider about stopping at the school. My thinking causes me not to go, wondering whether it is a good time, will the children be outside or the gates closed? What will I do when I get there, cry, stare? Not sure of myself, it was safer not to stop. Up until this time, I hadn’t gotten there.

Knowing I was bringing Shelby, I surrendered to visit the fountain that is there in memory of Samantha.

With Shelby in the backseat, I drove the familiar carpool path, parked the car and begun  my journey to the gym. I know they looked like simple steps, one in front of the other, then the next and then another.

My steps led me to the front doors, but my mind, replayed the day we dedicated

the

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fountain to Samantha’s memory. We were gathered with family and friends, faculty and staff. Protected by white tents and prayed over by priests. I was in awe at the love and care that surrounded me by those at Samantha’s school. For the most part, I was without words.  Until, someone asked me if I had anything I wanted to say. My focus was on the fountain and the dynamic flow of water and what that represented to me. I went on to testify that God’s word was living water to me. I was, in fact a recipient of what it can do for an individual. That scripture saved my soul. Grateful for the words Jesus left to us after His resurrection that filled my heart with hope for the future and to offer peace for the present. I prayed, before those present that the fountain, what it represents and the constant flow of water, would bring life to any that passed by.

After getting Shelby situated, I tucked out of the building and headed towards the fountain. Sneaking down the side steps with my back towards most of the people in the parking lot. I felt somewhat safe. If I fell apart, I had scoped out an alternate route, one not straight throughout the throngs of parents. Avoiding the possibility of others seeing the stream of tears down my cheeks.

Certainly, I could see the fountain in its entirely before I approached up close. I was doing ok as I walked. Shortening the distance, my eyes fixated on the dates. A plaque marked a beginning and an unexpected ending. A name all to familiar. When the water

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in my eyes began to well, and the stinging was to much, to distract myself, I fixed my gaze on the flow of water. Immediately, I lowered my neck, closed my eyes, tucked my chin and rolled my shoulders, positioning myself for prayer. With this stance in place, I began to personally communicate with my Savior. Trust me, I hadn’t planned for the visit to go this way. A quick stop in and see how it goes was what I signed up for. Instead, I found myself in complete, shut out anything else, prayer. Asking God, for all those touched by Samantha’s life or death, that each of them have a closer walk with Him. Thanking Him and offering praise for the gift of the Living Water left to each of us.

At the very second my prayers were said, the bells of the church tower rang as never before. They pealed. The vibrations rung inside of me in such a way that everything about what had just happened became very special. With my head still lowered, a smile began to spread across my face, lifting my cheekbones high and causing my eyes to squint. I lifted my head, snapped a picture and walked away with a skip in my step, knowing my suffering was known to my Savior, I had been heard. Thinking, I had just rung the doorbell to Heaven.

On hindsight, a few months later, I believe that is exactly what happened. When we give thanks, in any and all circumstances our eyes are turned from our problems and ourselves to the Lord, that we might focus on Him. Being grateful delivers us from the domain of darkness.

I hope I don’t get a grade when I get to Heaven, wondering if I’ve done all that I am to do on a timely basis. I don’t have many answers nor, have it all memorized. I only know it works.

May all hearts be full of gratitude, opening the doors to Heaven in each of our lives. Giving thanks and praise to He who saves. Amen

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

 

 

Liz’s Library

Liz's Library 3Still trying to find my voice on this blog, I’m searching for ways to share what I know, where I learned it and how it helped me. Thinking, it is one of the things, I’m suppose to be doing.

There is a passage of scripture that has stuck with me about who to watch and how to walk. It wasn’t one that I was familiar with until I was aware that I needed to learn how to live all over again. What once was, was no more. Samantha was gone and I had to go on.

By God’s grace, I was introduced to a beautiful soul in my own community that had suffered the loss of 2 children. Unbeknownest to her, their first son would be born with a genetic disorder; for the second son, she knew early in utero that he would be born with the same circumstances’ which had the same result. With 2 sons in Heaven, she stood before me, beautiful, bold, tender, compassionate and Christ-like. We were at  a birthday party and she was actually in a celebratory mood. Me, not so much, it was too early in the process. Nonetheless, I took note of her smiles and lighthearted nature. She spoke to me, sharing her story. Telling me she had watched and learned from others that had walked through the fire. Stressing the importance that she do the same for me. Citing Jeremiah 31:21 as her eternal instructions to do so.

Set-up road signs; put up guideposts. Take note of the highway, the road that you take.”

Jeremiah 31:21

Reading is a tool I have in my “trauma” toolbox. Many, many personal stories sit upon my bookshelf. The authors write about their unique circumstances. However, the stories are similar because of the “pain”component; loss, tragedy, sadness, sickness, grief, death, divorce.  Those aren’t the reasons I chose to let their lives enter mine. Trust me, I had enough of that in my own home. What was causing their strife was not what attracted me. Instead, and more importantly it was their hope and healing that I longed for. I knew I wanted to get better, had to get better. Knowing, I needed help to get there. While I was reading, I was working. I gleaned information on how these families handled their loss  and what happened along the way. How they responded in certain situations and reacted when they were asked questions. What they thought and where they placed their trust. Looking forward, how they would live and what would be important. At that time in my life, the families in the books were my personal friends. Those were the people I was sharing similar emotions and experiences with. All of us grasping everlasting promises to enable us continue on. Honestly, by exposing their experiences, they placed their guideposts for me to see.

I know the same set of biblical instructions apply to me. Show and share with others what has been given to me. Liz’s Library will allow me to remember and recall what I learned, from what I read. I imagine each entry to be a book report of sort; outlining the circumstances of other’s stories but, more importantly what I learned from as I read and walked through the fire with them.

Following in their footsteps, I pray I will end up on the other side, just as they did. Able to talk and teach about the fire I walked through. I’m working on that, not quite having arrived where I’m can see “in full” what that will look like or be. As of yet, His complete plan for JustDoToday.org hasn’t been revealed to me. Each day I wrangle, wondering what I’m to do next. Shame on me, I know all I need to do is rest and watch where He leads me. In the meantime, what I can do is pass on what I have read and how it has touched me. Furthering my own progress to peace. As well, following the eternal instructions given to me.

david jeremiah

When Your World Falls Apart ~ Seeing Past the Pain of the Present

by Dr. David Jeremiah

Drawing on his insightful sermon series, renowned pastor/teacher David Jeremiah shares the comfort and hope of the Psalms and how these truths can guide believers through life’s greatest challenges. He includes inspiring real-life stories of people who have struggled with terminal illness, the loss of a child, or the imprisonment of a spouse. Jeremiah interweaves his own journal entries, revealing his battle with cancer and how the Psalms helped to sustain him during the fight of his life. When Your World Falls Apart is an invaluable source of help and encouragement for people facing major obstacles in life.

This was one of the very first books that I read after the accident. The title, “When Your World Falls Apart” caught my attention. A book title exactly explaining my life. The subtitle, “Seeing Past the Pain” gave me hope for the future. I believe I ran out of ink having underlined so much. When I was finished, I remember thinking this is the goal of my thinking. Honestly, my thoughts weren’t there yet but, I was being taught where they should be. Peace was the prize. David Jeremiah laid before me how to label the struggle that comes with suffering and who I could become if I allowed myself to see my story with a heavenly perspective. Some of his thoughts that captured mine:

“His hand gathered me up through the Scriptures and pulled me into His powerful embrace. In the late-night loneliness and lack of sound mind, i found blessed hope.”

“Trials put us in place for that to happen. They are for our benefit, as unwelcome as they are at the time. They make us better men and woman, which makes us more influential men and women who can make a difference for God’s purposes. When you have walked through the fire, people begin to listen to you. When you have the wisdom borne of suffering, you begin to have the tools to accomplish something in the world.

I have let earthly comforts fail you, that, by turning to me, you may obtain everlasting consolation (Thessalonians 2:16, 17)

Depth and wisdom can only come from shadowy valley of tears, sickness, loss, disappointment and broken dreams.

But we are stubborn creatures who struggle to learn. And we learn the least when the sun is shining and when the winds are crisp and life feels good. Peace and prosperity have never provided effective classrooms. Crisis and catastrophe, on the other hand, offer master’s degrees. By the way, that accreditation makes you a Master of Disaster.

“When we begin to praise God, not in response to prosperity but in defiance of misfortune, we align ourselves with the deepest truths of the universe, the place where God dispenses deep wisdom and spiritual maturity. We unleash His victorious power in the world of pain and suffering. We create environments where miracles occur.”

“As terrible as the time was, it was also filled with irrefutable evidence of the presence and grace of God.”

“If a candid journal can be a healthy thing, how much more can an honest prayerful expression be, when we bring our concerns before the Lord?”

“A devoted believer will pray for God’s deliverance from problems, but a wiser one will pray for God’s use of them.”

“The Lord reminds us that the mind is a powerful element in our armory-both weapon and shield. Our thought patterns are crucial in the midst of our difficulties. In the spiritual realm, we must go into battle with our thoughts fixated on Him.”

“Never forget that He has offered us a storehouse of guidance in the field of adversity. We have the answers for how God’s people can face heir trials with courage, faith and hope. That storehouse can be found between the covers of your Bible.”

I could list so many more lines. But, I will stop. So, that others will read the words on their own. Allowing their thoughts and hearts to be healed by the signposts and guideposts laid out before us by others.

Thank you, Dr. David Jeremiah