Wednesday, August 29

I Passed Your Way Today

Night? Day? I could not tell. A shroud of darkness prevailed.

The ground before me appeared to be a soft, sandy loam. About fifty feet ahead lay an unending area of burning flames, its origin unknown. The lapping flames were not the typical orange, yellow, or even white-hot flames. They appeared almost an invisible bluish-black, as ebony flames of hell.

Some figures stood at the edge of the flames, talking. A thick veil of evil filled the air.

I was frightened. So frightened, I could not move. I could only watch what unfolded before me.

Out of the corner of my right eye, I could see a figure in a flowing, white robe slowly walking along, moving from my right to my left, at a distance between me and the line of flames. He said nothing. Never turning to look at me or the others, he walked with his eyes focused before him.

I knew in an instant it was Jesus. Every ounce of me wanted to reach out, to call to Him, to have Him stop and wait for me. But some unknown force held me in place. My feet felt shackled to the ground; my parched lips stuck together.

As Jesus moved almost out of the scene, it appeared He would leave me behind. He was going on without me. I ached to go with Him.

“Stop, Jesus! Don’t go without me! Jesus! Jesus!” the words finally blurted out.

He stopped. He turned and looked at me. Never saying a word. I could hear my own sigh of relief. All was well.

That was all. I woke up, frightened, yet relieved. Saddened, yet overjoyed. Tears would come later in the recall of this scene.

How many times each day does Jesus pass our way and, yet, we do not call out to Him? We are too busy, too preoccupied, too self-centered, trying to do our own thing, to go our own way.

Jesus says...

I passed your way today. You heeded Me not.

My child, you’ve called on My Name, needing help, guidance, or supply. I draw near in your times of need, but My Presence goes unnoticed.

I pass by, My Voice unheard. You pay more attention to pressing demands without realizing those demands would be met so much the readier if you only came to Me first, trusting Me to have My way.

I draw near to speak when your ears pulse with the deafening sound of raging storms. But you do not quiet yourself to hear My Still Small Voice.

I draw near when you heart is overwhelmed with stress, grief, or disappointment.

I so long to touch your fretted brow, to take your trembling hand and gently guide you, to wash your tired feet, to whisper comfort to your hurting soul, to supply your every need.

I am full of tenderness and care, forgiveness and love, strength and comfort, provision and peace.

I drew near to share it all with you today, but you were too busy. I passed by, undiscovered.

Oh, do not miss Me, My child. I am always near. Only a whisper away.

Jesus of Nazareth passed my way,
Redeemed me by his pow’r;
Oh, hear the cry, “he passeth by,”
Give him thy heart this hour.

~chorus of the 1897 hymn
Jesus of Nazareth Passed My Way
by John J. Hood

May you not miss His presence as He passes your way today.

Hooking up today with...

Life: Unmasked
katherines corner
Reflections of His Grace


Saturday, August 25

Shhh! Listen! Can You Hear It?

Shhh! Listen! Can you hear it? 

Can you hear God’s voice in your surroundings? In things like...

* bubbling streams and surging oceans
* turbulent storms and calm, clear days
* glowing sunsets and breath-taking sunrises
* majestic mountain heights and verdant valleys
* the lives of ants, butterflies, rabbits, and squirrels
* the beauty of snow and ice and the desperation of droughts
* the melodies of birds and the rustling of breezes through the leaves
* the explosive hues of fall trees and the vibrant variety of spring and summer blossoms

What about your thoughts? What do they convey to you?
What do your eyes “say” to your brain about what they see?
What do your hands “speak” to your heart as they touch objects?
What do your feet “tell” you about where you walk? (And no, not that they hurt!)

God communicates with us in immeasurable ways, but our busy schedules, other interests, and circumstances numb us to them. We become inattentive to His voice spoken through others, our circumstances, His Word, and His creation. His voice is available to us every second of every day as He continuously speaks to us through all that He has created.

God created all things, commanding them to exist by His Eternal Word. The writer of Hebrews tells us that “the word of God is living, and powerfully working, and sharper than every two-edged sword.” (Heb. 4:12 Received Greek Text) The Amplified Bible states it this way, “For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective].”

By the definitions of the words in that verse, God’s Word is alive and powerful, active and working, keen and cutting. Not ordinary words, His words are unseen, living entities, actually working energy and living matter of the dynamic kind that creates.

God’s Word creates because it is a part of Himself, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1 NKJV) and Jesus is that Word of God, “His name is called The Word of God.” (Rev. 19:13 NKJV)

John 1:3 says that, through Jesus as the Word, “all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” (NIV) He is “the Origin and Beginning and Author of God’s creation.” (Rev. 3:14b Amp)                                                                                       

Scripture also says, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17 NIV), that creation is “being held together by the word of God” (2 Peter 3:5 RGT), as Christ the Word is “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3 NKJV).

God’s Word is everlasting. It never dies, for “the word of God which lives and abides forever…the word of the Lord remains forever.” (1 Peter 1:23, 25 Received Greek Text)

David said, “What You say goes, GOD, and stays, as permanent as the heavens.” (Ps. 119:89 Msg) And Jesus declared it, “My words won’t wear out; My words will never pass away.” (Matt. 24:35 Msg)

Whether those spoken words were preserved as the written Word or preserved in creation, they are still alive. Therefore, if that Living Word never dies and echoes throughout the endless halls of eternity, then its power is continuously and permanently active in what it has created, being perpetuated from one generation to the next.

All atoms and molecules of living matter circulate in resonation, pulsating, as the dictionary says, with the same frequency as their source. Within that living matter is God’s voice imprint, His DNA, as the Source of all life, still resounding in the entire universe.

That same echo of the Living Word working in creation operates also in our hearts to create eternal life within us.

If God’s voice still resonates in creation and in us, are we sensitive enough to hear His Still Small Voice?

Oh, my sweet friends, God is speaking.

Do not miss His sweet whisper.

Shhh! Listen! Can you hear it?

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Beauty in His Grip Button


Tuesday, August 21

Beauty Injections

Do you know about Groupon? You probably do. It’s a website that offers a deal-of-the-day feature with a paid, discounted gift certificate for a specific amount of service or product redeemable at local or national companies. And when you sign up with them, they will send you daily announcements for your locality.

I got one the other day that made me laugh out loud. In the subject line was this...

Beauty Injections

Wow! Now, wouldn’t that be nice? We could all get shots and be beautiful! {giggle}

Isn’t that what the world tells us? Look like this celebrity. Look like this model. Do this, do that to renew your youth! Heaven forbid I should develop wrinkles or bulges!

That reminds me of a 1976 movie called Logan’s Run. It takes place in the year 2274, as the world has been decimated by some kind of holocaust and the remnants of civilization now live in a sealed, domed city, a utopia controlled by a master computer that manages all aspects of their lives, including reproduction.

On the surface, all seems to be an idyllic society. These survivors live a mostly hedonistic lifestyle. With little work for them to perform, they are free to pursue a life of pleasure and self-gratification.

They have been told that in order to maintain the city, every resident at the age of thirty must undergo the ceremony known as Carousel with the promise of being renewed.

Actually, thirty was as old as they got. There was no renewal. They just got zapped. Vaporized in the unknown.

The world elevates youthfulness and beauty with its pleasures and self-gratification. It offers renewal of youth to the sagging, wrinkling, and aging with its rituals of creams, lotions, hair dyes, lasers for all sorts of things, operations to enlarge this or diminish that, liposuction, nose jobs, weight loss, you name it! Oh, and, of course, don’t shots of botox.

Have you ever seen those who have endured too many plastic surgeries and other body modifications? They skin is so tight that, if they smiled, their skin would rip? Or those who have had so many botox injections that they have no facial expressions any more?

Some have gone to these extremes, being addicted to facial or body “corrections” that they no longer look like themselves. Their desire is to look like a real-life Barbie doll. And it’s not just women. Some men do it as well.

There is no sin in wanting to look our best, to be pleasing to our spouse or to others, by having some cosmetic surgery done. And of course, sometimes, it is essential to have certain types of operations done. However, there is a limit.

Where we get into trouble, where we lose our sense of self, our self-worth and our self-respect, is in comparing ourselves with the physical attributes of others. We begin to think negatively about our own outward appearance.

But as Mom always said, “Beauty comes from within.” These people agree...
Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical. ~ Sophia Loren
Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Beauty pleases the eyes only; sweetness of disposition charms the soul. ~ Voltaire
People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. ~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

One of my favorite beauty quotes is by Audrey Hepburn...
For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.
Scripture tells us that “Our beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.” (1 Peter 3:3-5 NIV)

The best injections of beauty come from the Lord. He gives us beauty to replace our ashes. He gives us the beauty of nature to infuse our souls. He gives us beauty from His Word. His gives us the beauty of Himself, from being in His presence.

Your beauty comes from your soul, your heart. It is what you are; it is what you do; it is what the Lord makes you.

Whoever you are reading this – man or woman – you are beautiful! God doesn’t make ugly. Only man knows how to do that! You are a delight to the Lord, just as you are.

So, how is your beauty-self-worth quotient today?

“Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.”
(Ps. 90:17 NKJV)

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Life: Unmasked


Sunday, August 19

A Friend, A Book, and A Scary Story

Today, I’m sharing a friend with you, Lisa Buffaloe.

Lisa is an author, speaker, happily married mom, and host for Living Joyfully Free Radio. Her past experiences—molestation by a baby-sitter, assault, rape by a doctor, divorce, being stalked, cancer, death of loved ones, seven surgeries, and eleven years of chronic illness from Lyme Disease—bless her with a backdrop to share about God’s unending love and that through Him we find healing, restoration, and renewal. She is the author of Prodigal Nights and a contributing author of The One Year Book of Joy and Laughter.

At the end of the post, you can read about her new book, Grace for the Char-Baked. I know you’ll enjoy Lisa’s scary adventure and surprise ending. I hope you’ll leave her a comment.

Ice, Painters, and Angels
By Lisa Buffaloe

Gray-green clouds billowed on the evening horizon. With a quick goodbye to my co-workers, I hurried to my car. Rain fell and quickly morphed into sleet. The windshield wipers flapped at full speed, and I gripped the wheel as I drove the winding back roads to my parents’ home in the country.

Slowing down for a curve, my tires lost traction. The car spun out of control, skidded sideways and crashed into a deep ditch. Rattled but unscathed, I sat praying, wondering what to do. My car was stuck.

Thirty minutes from home and without a cell phone, I had the option to walk or sit and wait. If I waited, my parents wouldn’t know I was missing for at least an hour, and they wouldn’t know which country road I had taken.

Several farm houses sat off the road but even to reach them would be a long walk. The only person within walking distance was a young man who had his checking account at the bank where I worked. I didn’t know him well. I was a teenage bank teller, and he was a flirt. 

Thinking perhaps he might be my best opportunity, I made my way up the ditch.

A beat-up, old station wagon stopped next to me and the passenger window rolled down. “Can I drive you somewhere?” The driver was an elderly man wearing stained painter’s coveralls. 
The freezing rain picked up in intensity. I hesitated and glanced at the abundance of paint brushes, rollers, and paint cans spread throughout his vehicle. Cold and with limited choices, I opened the door and sat in his car. “I know someone nearby. He lives in a trailer up the road. Could you take me there?”   

He looked at me, his gaze unwavering. “How well do you know him?” Somehow, I could see my dad asking the same question.  

I squirmed at his fatherly scrutiny. “Not well, he has an account at the bank where I work.”
He shook his head. “I won’t take you there. How far do you live?”

“About thirty minutes. But you don’t have to drive me that far.” 

Again his gaze locked into mine. “Do you have anyone you know well, or your parents know who lives closer?” 

I couldn’t think of anyone for a few minutes, until I remembered a family friend. “Yes sir. One of my mom’s friends lives about ten minutes away.”

He nodded and we drove in silence.

The house stood nestled off the road in a stand of trees. The man pulled down the wet pine-straw covered driveway and stopped. I thanked him and offered to pay for his trouble. Declining my offer, he waited as I ran to the house. 

My mom’s friend greeted me with open arms. A breeze filtered through the trees. I looked back. The pine-straw was undisturbed. My rescuer was gone.

Life is full of unseen dangers. Thankfully, we have a God who protects, guides, and holds our hand through the storms of life. And sometimes, He even sends someone wearing painter’s coveralls to carry us safely home.

You can find Lisa blogging on her site and her radio program Living Joyfully Free

About Grace for the Char-Baked...

With “Char” as a nickname, Charlotte Wilson’s cooking skills are more incendiary than culinary. Charlotte is the last person on earth who should run a bake sale. But when her plans of running in a charity marathon are sidelined by a broken foot, her old flame’s suggestion becomes a challenge amidst her friend’s simmering doubts.

Luke Hammond has spent the last five years studying and preparing to travel overseas as a medical missionary. When his high school sweetheart unexpectedly comes back in his life, Luke wrestles with what he feels God calling him to be and what he wants to do. His reappearance rekindles an attraction that could char Luke and Charlotte’s heart or cook up the perfect romance.

Lisa's book can be found at Amazon and CreateSpace. Her other book, Prodigal Nights, can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and CreateSpace.

Wednesday, August 15

The Sweet Aroma of Crushing

Have you ever experienced a devastating circumstance in your life? At one time or another, we all go through trials that attempt to crush us, squeeze us, bruise us, or set us on fire. Though these difficulties strike us, many times their impact will bring beauty out of chaos, if we allow it.

Some things only achieve their greatest design through crushing blows…

*The squeezing of grapes produces sweet wine.
*The pressing of olives extracts their delectable oil.
*Only when wheat is ground is it useful for making bread.
*The crushing of flower petals releases their oil for fragrance.
*Incense is useless - its purpose not fulfilled, its odors not set free - unless touched by fire.
*Only through great pressure, heat, and time does coal produce the gemstone of a diamond.

Just as all of nature suffers contrary conditions in order to be expanded, strengthened, or enhanced, so, too, do we. Crushing, squeezing, and suffering remove the unnecessary things in our lives, allowing the fragrance of holiness and sweet graces to be released.

But during these trying situations, how do we behave? Do we whine, kick, scream, question God, or tell Him it isn’t fair? Or are we still before the Lord, allowing His power to work in us, as we bow to His divine purpose by submitting our will to His and as we offer Him praise from lips of thanksgiving?

Which behavior do you believe is the sweet aroma to the Lord?

Did you know God has sensitive sinuses? During those times of adversity, do we present Him with a pleasant aroma in His nostrils or a stench stuck in His throat? Are we like Estee Lauder’s Beautiful perfumery or a men’s locker room? Like a flower shop or a machine shop? Like a bakery or a fertilizer plant?

Some of God’s children in the Bible were stinkers and others were sweet-smellers. How did they each react when they experienced crushing blows or fiery circumstances? Many times, Israel was a stinky bunch of whiners. Others who experienced great trials came out smelling like, well, like a rose.

One is Paul. Of the multitude of afflictions he experienced, he said, “We were really crushed and overwhelmed, and feared we would never live through it. We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us, for He can even raise the dead. And He did help us and saved us from a terrible death; yes, and we expect Him to do it again and again.” (2 Cor. 1:8-10 TLB)

One group is the Three Amigos. You know, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. While they were in the fiery furnace, they believed their God would deliver them, and, even if He didn’t deliver them, they believed He would still save them from Nebuchadnezzar.

As those flames lapped up around them, God walked among them and rescued them. The smell of smoke did not even cling to them when they came out. Their sweet aroma of faith had not changed.
When trials linger incessantly, lapping their flames around you, do you reek more of the smell of smoke or the sweet aroma of faith?

Is your trust and devotion as that sweet aroma of the alabaster passion box, lovingly poured upon Jesus’ head, which seeped into His beard and gently trickled down upon His shoulders, saturating His garment?

I pray that the things attempting to crush you will release that dormant, precious fragrance lying deep within your heart.

Prayer: Lord, may each burden of my life work as a weight to crush my disobedience, my instability to stand on Your Word, and my inability to be used by You.

Crush me, for then am I made useful. Crush me as flower petals are compressed for their fragrant perfume. Crush me as olives squeezed for their valuable oil. Crush me and let my life overflow with that delectable wine.

Crush me for my rightful purpose that I may be useful in Your hands, that I may be that readily available vessel for Your use, that passion box ready to be broken open and poured out with the sweet-scented oil of Your Holy Spirit.

I pray that the things crushing each reader’s life right now will only work to bring out the holy aroma of obedience and sweet-smelling graces of Your will. Amen!

 *A rerun remixed
 **15 more posts 
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Life: Unmasked

katherines corner


Saturday, August 11

Did You Ever Hear a Memory?

The house is quiet; silence reigns.

I listen. I hear... the distance, birds serenading and a lawn mower whirring its seasonal buzz.

I listen more closely. I hear...

...a light bulb and my computer humming in unison.
...the refrigerator joining in the harmony.
...the fan on the furnace making it a quartet.
...and the tinnitus in my right ear? Well, the usual droning makes it a quintet.

Quiet? Silence? As close as it gets.

Again, I listen. A wave of nostalgia overwhelms me as I hear...

...the sound of two teenage brothers arguing over who knows what.
...groanings from sucker punches.
...laughing and sounds of slapping on backs.
...the “Hullo” of smiling son #2 as he blasts through the back door.
...the heartwarming sound of sweet giggles from a young girl playing games.

Where are these sounds coming from? This is an empty nest.
Those teenage boys are now 43 and 39. That young girl is now 36.

Those sounds come from reminiscent echoes within the walls, the cherished sounds from days long passed.

My heart fills with the overwhelming joy of precious memories.

I listen again. This time, I hear...

...sadness, the sobs and weepings of heartaches from hard times gone by, of broken friendships, of mournful news, of jobs lost, of lack of necessities.

Afraid to but I listen once more. I hear... heart say...You didn’t do it right! You failed so many times!

But the precious sounds of children echoing from the kitchen to the family room, down the hall to the bedrooms, and down the stairs to the basement, and I know I did some things right.

With bittersweet memories echoing in the halls of my heart, I choose to listen to the laughter and the giggles, the good sounds of the past. Maybe, just maybe, I did some things right.

And now, new memory sounds of future wall-echoes come as two little and one not-so-little grandgirls run memories up and down the hallway.

What memories will I hear years from now? What happenings will bring laughter? What happenings will bring tears?

Will those left behind hear the memories?

Did you ever hear a memory?

*I'm hooking up with the monthly blog chain on the topic of memory. Check out the other participants in the right sidebar.

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Tuesday, August 7

Bury Me With...

If you read my last post, Hold Onto Your Fork...The Best is Yet to Be, then you know about the fork I hung on the refrigerator with a red ribbon. (You can read it here if you missed it.)

In a comment on that post, my friend Carol said that she had heard the same story, but the version she heard ended with the man being buried with the fork in his hand. I don’t remember if the version I heard had that ending or not. Too long ago.

It didn’t occur to me until I read Carol’s comment that I should have included something I told my husband. I told him that I wanted to be buried holding onto that beribboned fork.

I mentioned that to Carol in my comment back to her which triggered one of those idea bulbs: what else do I wish to have buried with me?

Is it another object, like the fork? Or is it something more intangible, like the good thoughts of others? If that’s the case, then how did they see my life?

I made this little image and have it on my site (if you’re reading this by email):

So, am I living a parrot life? Will I be buried with others’ whispers of animosity or words of a life well-lived?

A couple of years ago, I wrote another post called Dash Days: Wasted or Worthwhile? I wrote about that dash between the dates on one’s gravestone. In part, I wrote this:

Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians is also for us. He pointed out that their “daily lives should not embarrass God but bring joy to Him Who invited you into His Kingdom to share His glory.” (1 Thess. 2:12 TLB)

How, then, do we make the right decisions to honor the Lord within us? What will keep us within His safe borders? The answer? Knowing the Lord, staying rooted in His Word, and trusting Him to help us make the right choices.

Scripture tells us how to make our days worthwhile through the words of Solomon, “I, Wisdom, will make the hours of your day more profitable and the years of your life more fruitful” (Prov. 9:11 TLB), and Isaiah, “I shall walk carefully all my years.” (Is. 38:15b NKJV)...
The effects of the decisions you make in your lifetime leave telltale signs of your character, and that is what people will remember about your dash days.

That thought prompts this thought: How do I live my life now? What does my life say to others? What telltale memories will I be buried with? Will others remember me as selfish or selfless? Loving or unloving? Honoring God or honoring self?

Paul told the Ephesians how to live, “So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.” (Eph. 5:8b-9 NLT)

He also told the Colossians to “walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Col. 1:10 NKJV)

I know I fail at times but that verse is my life’s goal. May it be your life’s goal as well.

* What is your life’s goal?
* Are you living a parrot life?
* What memories do you wish to be buried with?

*Twenty more posts to go!
**Today, I’m hooking up with the monthly blog chain through on the topic of “memory.” Check out the rest of the great posts by the chain gang in the right sidebar.

Life: Unmasked