Sunday, June 15, 2014

Matt and Charlie

Matt and I arriving at our son's  home for a visit.

The measure of a Godly Husband and Father 
Today as it is Father's Day, I am reflecting on my husband Matt, the father of our three adult children, Matthew, Amy, and Mark.  We have been married now for
35 years and I can only say I feel so blessed to have him as my husband and best friend.
He has blessed me and our children in so many ways.  Matt is not a boisterous, macho type of man.  He is more the strong but gentle kind of husband and father that makes his wife and children feel secure and loved. He is a man of integrity and godly character. 
He might be described by some today as old fashioned in his values.  He values God, his family, his work and his country. 
My husband is a praying man who daily prays for me and our grown children. As the children were growing up, he was involved in the everyday care of our children, helping with diapering, feeding, taking the children to the park, reading to them, helping with homework, driving them places, helping them with decisions as they got older and most importantly, he prayed for them every morning as part of his routine before leaving for work. 
Matt truly loves in a sacrificial way.  He often would make sure the kids or I had things we needed before he would get things he needed.  I would often have to "nag" him to get new shoes for himself during the years we had three growing teenagers who needed shoes all the time it seemed!  I remember many times Matt giving our young adult and adult children help financially as we were able to for things like instruments, schooling, help with cars, moving expenses and more.
His sacrificial ways extended to giving to the work of the Lord.  He grew to understand that everything is God's and he has no trouble giving generously and obediently to the work of the Lord in the churches we have been members of in our 35 years or to other ministries or missions that he feels the Lord leading him to support. If ever I came to him wanting to help someone financially who God was putting on my heart,  he always was ready to bless them.
Matt is generous with our home and our time.  He would help people move, help clean up floods at the church, be supportive when I had women over who were going through struggles and needed my time, be willing to give others a ride to church or pick up people from the airport. 
Recently I had my first ever surgery. It was for Achilles tendonitis caused by a bone spur in my heel.  It was much more than I anticipated and as I have always been very active, I found it frustrating to say the least!  I have been homebound and unable to walk or drive for 4 weeks already and am looking at another 4 weeks with no driving and going to rehab so that I can use the foot and walk again.  During this time, my husband without complaint has been a rock for me.  He has run up and down stairs doing our laundry, taken our dog, Charlie. for walks and to the vet, as well as helped with cooking and cleaning. He has done this while also working everyday and keeping up with things like mowing the yard and even grocery shopping, and did I mention without complaining! 
Our family has been so blessed to have as the head of this family such a loving, committed, and godly man.  He has shown us the love of God through his actions and life and blesses us richly every day. His actions speak louder than words.
My husband has exemplified to me and our family what the scripture says love is.
I Corinthians 13:4-7
Love suffers long and is kind, love does not envy, love does not parade itself, it is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked easily, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity buy rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

                        Acts 17:28 "For in Him we live and move and have our being"

            Philippians 3:8 " Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of things and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him not having my own righteousness...but that which is through Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings..."

    My life is in Christ and knowing Him as my Lord and Savior.  In him  I "live and move and have my being."  My life is not in my own attempt at righteousness, for without Christ in me I have no righteousness of my own.  My life is not about performing or putting on a mask to be acceptable to others or to God.  My life is not in the things I do or don't do. My life is not in titles I might be given, or the amount of money in my bank account. My life is not in my state of health and fitness. My life is not in the relationships I have.  My life is not in the home I have, the car I drive or any of the things I own.  My life is in Christ!  The Scripture says, "Christ in you, the hope of glory!"

Its so opposite of what the world says.  The world says our value or our life is in these tangible things.  The Bible says these things will all pass away, but one question will remain:  is my life in Christ?  Have I surrendered the driver's seat of my life to Him and submitted to His ways instead of conforming to the ways and comforts of the world?

As I have gone through various trials of life in my almost 60 years of life, and as I am currently even going through a bit of a trial after surgery that is pressing on my patience and frustration buttons, deep down I have an abiding peace.  Why?  Because of God's presence in my life I know that my life is secure in Christ and the grace He has extended to me. I do not have to fear the loss of anything because "indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ."  This is not mental gymnastics.  This is a real, living, vibrant relationship with Jesus.  One where he loves me, comforts me, guides me, teaches me,
equips me, walks with me, sits with me,  has compassion for me, disciplines me, cares for me, provides for me and much more!

A life in Christ is one where we can have peace because we have his presence for anything that may come against us in this life.  I think of Joni Eareckson Tada and how as a young girl she had a diving accident that left her without the use of her hands or legs and yet her life was in Christ and she has had an amazing life of inspiration and help those who suffer many kinds of losses.  If her loss of the use of her limbs were not enough, she also struggled through various other health issues including double pneumonia and breast cancer!  But her response?  She glorified Christ for the life she has in Him and all that He has done in and through her to bring many into the family of God!  She travels, paints, writes, sings and encourages and speaks and God has blessed her in many ways even in the midst of her "loss". 

Lord that I might learn to keep in focus where my life truly is.  My life abides in YOU.
Strengthen me when the storms of life come to trust in what you have spoken to me through Romans 8:38

"For  I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor anything present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus."

He is my life.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

One day as I was walking through the Chicago Botanic Gardens through the Japanese Gardens, I spotted 2 white swans and their little brood of new baby swans with soft gray feathers and as I walked close to where they were on the bank of the little lake, the mother quickly spread her wings out as if to cover and protect her new babies.  Those wings were expansive and powerful and I had no doubt had I tried to come close she would have covered her babies with those powerful wings or come after me!  Needless to say I kept my distance. Even these ducks in the pictures I took at the Gardens have that same instinct when they have babies.  How meaningful then are the verses we read about the Lord protecting us under the "shadow of his wings" just as a mother bird or fowl would!
Today I was reading in the Psalms and these two verses popped out at me:

        "I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings" Psalm 61:4
         "Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings." Psalm 63:7

I was reminded of our Lord's loving protection of us and that we can take refuge under his "wings".
He has invited us to do so.  He knows that we will face many troublesome situations in this world
and He wants to make clear that we can depend upon him for his help and protection just as a baby bird or swan, or chick, or gosling can under it's mother's wing.  We are not meant to endure alone the battering of life's storms alone and unprotected. 

I love Psalm 63:7 ...."I sing in the shadow of your wings."  That speaks of peace and rest in the
troubles of life to the point where we can freely and joyfully sing!

None of us likes to go through trials, heartache, sickness, loss, or pain, but God's word is our comfort telling us that HE IS THERE, HIS WINGS SPREAD, READY TO HELP BLUNT THE STORMS OF LIFE THAT ASSAIL US and even give us relief to the point that we might, because of his nearness and strength, find our hearts able to praise him in the storm!

As I approach my 60th birthday this August, I can look back and see many trials and storms that God has brought me through.  I have dwelt under the shadow of His wings many times and found help and comfort and solace and provision and most of all, love and grace there.  In past years I have struggled with various physical issues such as a bladder disease, kidney stones, herniated discs in my neck, pneumonia twice, sciatica, a torn meniscus in my knee, and recently surgery in my right foot to deal with Achilles tendonitis and a bone spur.  I have also experienced loss...the loss of both my grandmothers and grandfathers, the loss of my mother when she was only 54, the loss of my mother-in-law,  I have also gone through other kinds of losses such as financial loss,  the loss of friendships and the loss of unfulfilled dreams and hopes.  But, through it all were and are and will be the wings of God, the everlasting arms sheltering me and helping me through!

We need to respond by being willing to receive his offer of sheltering wings over us. We need to surrender to his care over us  In Matthew 23:37 the Lord speaks to the Jewish nation saying he would have "gathered thy children together even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not"!  They wouldn't surrender and run to the shelter of his wings!  We must guard our hearts that we would not refuse the nurture and protection and grace of the "wings" of God by being self sufficient and too proud to receive from our Father.  Isaiah 30:18 says he longs to be gracious to us.

Today, if you are hurting, if you are depressed or despairing, if you are overwhelmed by your life, if you have health issues that have changed your life to something you don't recognize,
will you run and find cover under His wings and find rest for your weary, burdened soul?  He stands ready, wings expanded and ready to sweep you under as you draw near so He can provide a respite, a refuge, restoration and renewal. 

A line from a favorite song of mine from long ago says, "Said the robin to the sparrow I would really like to know why these anxious human beings rush about and worry so. Said the sparrow to the robin, friend, I think that it must be that they have no heavenly father such as cares for you and me!"
The sparrow was wrong, we do have a gracious heavenly father with expansive wings, but we must choose to seek our shelter there rather than in things that will never satisfy.

Hebrews 13:5-6 Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Psalm 89:15, 17 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence O Lord...for You are their glory and strength.

It's interesting to me how we often learn the most about God's character, His nearness, His love, His grace,
His power and provision when we are going through some "trial" of life and are unable to "fix it" our self!
I come from a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" kind of childhood and spent many years unlearning that
mindset. Now, years later I continue to learn and embrace what a blessing it is to be in those rough times
when my world gets turned upside down or I am confronted with things I didn't expect and don't want in my life!  I've found that God tends to reveal himself to his children very clearly through the difficult, even painful times of life.  I believe it is because He knows what it is like to go through real pain, for as the scriptures tell us, Jesus was a "man of sorrows, acquainted with grief".  That is why He is so able to comfort us in our sorrow and be compassionate to us in our grief, to be our joy and strength and refuge in times of trouble.  He knows what it is to endure pain, hardship, ridicule, loss, loneliness, abandonment, rejection, temptation, testing and much more.  However, through it all, Jesus "acclaimed" (gave honor & glory to) God the Father and walked in the light of God's promises and presence and provision that He himself might be the first of many "sons" to know that God surely is his glory and strength for any situation.  

Father God, may I know today in all my circumstances your glory, power and love and be blessed that I
might also be a blessing to someone else who hurts or is in a painful place in their life. 
Jesus, you said, "In the world you WILL have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."  Wow, what an amazing declaration!  Yes, Jesus you overcame the system of this world by your life, death and resurrection, securing a place and our position as sons and daughters in the Kingdom of God for anyone who will humble themselves, repent of their sin, and believe in and trust that your death and resurrection truly is the door to a new life. You give us a new life where you are always there, never forsaking us and helping us find our way through the trials and tribulations we encounter on this side of heaven. I don't always understand why certain things, painful, hard things happen in this world, but I trust  your  love that was shown to me clearly by your sacrifice of your own life on the cross and your ultimate resurrection to make me and many others a son or daughter. That makes me want to continue to learn to acclaim you even through the trials of this life.  Truly, your grace is amazing.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

This October my husband and I adopted sweet Charlie from Chicago Canine Rescue and our lives will never be the same!  Neither of us really grew up having a dog so it was a little like having your first baby....a lot of excitement and trial and error! Charlie made it very easy on us with his gentle and loving ways. He had a slight limp from a broken leg that healed a little crooked. He didn't seem to be impeded or in pain and the vet said Charlie would have a good quality of life even with his little limp. He seemed to be so glad to have found a warm and loving home and family.
He made himself at home with us quickly, winning over our hearts and the hearts of our grown children and my grandson.  Only a year and a half old Charlie still has plenty of puppy in him and soon we were on a mission to make sure that his attention turned to his toys and not our furniture, shoes, socks or our fingers when he got into a chewing frame of mind, which seems to be quite often. 
He follows us from room to room almost like a shadow and when we go out of the house for any reason he jumps on a chair near the window watching as we get into the car. He greets us when we get back as if he hasn't seen us in days, putting his nose to our face and coming close for pets and cuddles.  He loves going out in the backyard and just sitting and watching the birds fly back and forth and runs to chase them off the fence when they land. It becomes a constant game between Charlie and the birds and I often watch from my back porch chuckle at his relentless endeavor to catch one. He continues to grow and now I feel like he takes me for a walk instead of the other way around.  He so enjoys his routine of a morning walk with "mom" and an evening walk with "dad".
He loves just sitting quietly beside me on the couch if I am reading or praying. He puts his  head in my lap and closes his eyes as I rub his ears. He lays on the floor as my husband practices his guitar.
He senses that I am not feeling well and climbs up beside me laying still and quiet and we both fall asleep.
As Christmas approached this year, we decided we'd better get a tiny tree to sit on the table since we weren't sure how Charlie would do with a big tree, but we needn't have worried, Charlie seems, like me, to love all things Christmas...the lights, the decorations, the smell of cookies baking or friends and family stopping by (new people to pet and play with him!), he even seemed to like Christmas music and laying on the couch to watch Christmas movies with us, even when we watched White Christmas twice!
Yes, my husband and I feel blessed we found such a good match  as first time dog owners. Charlie has brought us many days of comfort, joy and laughter already and we can't imagine our home or family now without him.  He charmed our daughter who came in from Indiana for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, winning her over with his bumbling, gentle ways. How fun it was to see our oldest son getting drawn in to play tug of war with Charlie or coming by to bring him a treat or a toy he had bought for him!  Our youngest son and his wife and our grandson fell in love with Charlie from the first day they went to the rescue shelter with  us to help us find a dog. They came over on Christmas Eve bringing  several toys and treats for Charlie too.  They invited us over for Christmas Day and told us to bring Charlie so he could get to know their two big Golden Retrievers, Biscuit and Rye and learn to be more "social" around other dogs. The three dogs figured out quickly who was the Alpha Dog (Rye) and soon were playing together nicely after a few warning growls from Rye when Charlie was getting too frisky! We all enjoyed a fun day together as a family; parents, grown children, grandson, and dogs. As we drove home afterwards with Charlie sleeping contentedly in the backseat, I had such a feeling of peace and all being right with the world.
Looking for some comfort and joy in your life?  We can tell you that adopting a dog from a rescue shelter may be an unexpected source of both at any stage of your life!  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


The Lord of All creation, how majestic is His name in all the earth! The birds of the air and the flowers of the field
do not worry or fret. He is our hope, our faithful and trustworthy Lord who will provide for us what we truly need
in any and every situation at just the right time!

Are you facing a struggle in life that blindsided you, are you in a situation you never saw coming, are you weary and tired of a long standing situation where you have been persevering by faith to see God's answer come?  HE KNOWS!
The Lord knows what we have need of and his hand is not short that it will not save.  We need to press in and rest in
his amazing love and the peace that passes all understanding and wait for His answer and His timing.  He loves us and is always faithful to His children to do what is truly best for us.  Jesus knows better than we do the high calling of allowing God's perfect work be done and going through pain, sorrow, and even suffering.  He did just that for us and provided the POWER and the HOPE we would need to perservere the trials of this life.  When no one else understands what we are going through, or sees our pain, He Knows! Find in Him, child of God,  all the comfort you need and press on!

                         HE KNOWS
                by Teresa Jobst
Even when it seems like all is upside down
your life storm-tossed with trials
and all around you see the pain
etched in the faces and situations
of those you care about deeply
He Knows

Even when you feel no energy left
so drained and weary.
can you fight the good fight again today?
confront the lies with truth?
do what you know you must?
He knows

Even when those you can usually count on
seem to be preoccupied, unavailable, afraid
leaving you alone
to face challenges that seem overwhelming
He Knows

Even when you'd like to give up
throw in the towel,
Walk away from the pressure
Have someone else do the right thing
He Knows

He Knows
because He felt all of those things
when he prayed
forsaken by his followers,
who chose to sleep
in the garden,
with a commission
weighing on his heart
to save you and I
at great pain
and high cost to Himself
He pressed on
thinking of us
with love and mercy
to the
"It is finished"
to purchase eternal glory for us!
Yes, dear one
Trust in Him, He's not forgotten you!
He knows!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

As I celebrate these late March days leading up to Easter, I am reminded just how much the love of God truly brings about new life. Just as the changing of the season here in Chicago from Winter's long, dark and cold days to the hopeful peeking sunshine and slowly rising temperatures declare March's promise of new life in our Spring, so too my heart feels once again the wonder of the resurrection as a memorial of the amazing love God has for me, for all of us who receive His precious gift of new life, free to us but at great cost to Him.

  Each Spring here in Chicago we receive the gift of new life as plants and animals give birth and we see a picture of resurrection before our eyes day by day. Trees that looked stark and dead all winter suddenly displaying buds that will burst forth with life into new leaves or blooms and some green blades of grass begin to appear in our lawns after laying brown and covered with snow. Outside my window I hear the symphony of life as birds return and build nests that contain tiny eggs that carry new life soon to be hatched.  As I opened my door last evening to go out, I was stopped by a flash of movement, a tiny bunny hopping across the lawn. I smiled at God's reminding me that resurrection is taking place, new life all around us; a seasonal reminder of a spiritual truth. 
II Corinthians 5:17-18 (Amplified) says "Therefore if any person is in Christ, (the Messiah), he is a new creation (a new creature altogether), the old (previous moral and spiritual condition) has passed away. Behold the fresh and new has come. But all things are from God, who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself (received us into His favor, brought us into harmony with Himself)..."

As God is making all things new again in this season of resurrection, may I see and know the deep, deep love of Christ for me. He gave me new life, He restores my soul, He transferred me out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.  God so loved us that He gave his only son, that whoever believes on Him, would not perish but receive NEW LIFE EVERLASTING!  (John 3:16) 

Thank you Lord for the daily reminders I witness of the work of love and grace you have done for me to bring renewal to my life.  Let me be filled with gratitude and praise each Spring day as I am reminded of the wonder of the new life you have created in me, "the former things are passed away, behold all things becoming new!"  May I live and move and have my being in your resurrection power!