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The Shadow is Cast

August 24, 2017 at 12:38 pm

“The heavens are telling the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of His craftsmanship.”

( Psalm 19:1  LAB)

by Debbie Allen

The Dawning of Dusk in Daylight…these poetic words describe the Celestial performance of the century!  They are my own heart’s review of the Eclipse of 2017.  Truly a moving production that, for a few moments, drew the eyes of our nation heavenward, for a closer look into God’s great Theater of Grace! A periwinkle, sky doubled as a stage for what some deemed, “…an elegant dance between the sun and the moon.”

The eclipse in progress, all the preparatory chaos of anxious onlookers ceased; replaced by a unified awe, as the moment of totality (the shadow of the moon overwhelming the sun), arrived.  For a brief time, the extraordinary overwhelmed the ordinary. Dusk enveloped the daylight. Birds stopped singing and crickets began chirping. Instantly, sunny-morning temperatures dropped ten degrees.   For ninety seconds, a hushed audience shared the beauty and grandeur of this silent, yet Divine performance; most not able to articulate the unexpected emotions stirring inside of them.

A group of college students, cheering after the eclipse were asked, “Why does this moment mean so much to you?”

Shrugging his shoulders, one CU student honestly responded, “I don’t know…but, this is awesome!”

Literally hundreds across the nation, jumped before their cell phone screens to take selfies with family or friends standing in front of the eclipse.

The power of association has an irresistible pull on all of us as human beings. I believe God placed a thirst deep inside each of our spirits before we were born. It is this thirst that draws us into a much greater desire… the instinctive longing inside of us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

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“For ninety seconds, a hushed audience shared the beauty and grandeur of this silent, yet Divine performance; surprised by the unexpected emotions stirring inside of them.”

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Observing people after the eclipse certainly frames this thought well.  Speechless, yet inspired, one man who was interviewed by the Denver Post put it this way.

“When totality hits you…you almost feel what the ‘ancients’ felt!”

Though this man’s statement fails to capture exactly what the ancients felt; I know of one ‘ancient’ who spilled his feelings in great detail. The Psalmist, King David.  His eyes pointed skyward, David reminds us:

 “The heavens are telling the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of his craftsmanship.  Day and night they keep on telling about God.  Without a sound or word, silent in the skies, their message reaches out to all the world!”  (Psalm 19:1-2 LAB)

Our spirits are asleep in this nation, if after looking up into the heavens, and experiencing the solar eclipse, we still fail to see anything less than “…a marvelous display of God’s craftsmanship and His Glory, silently proclaiming a message that “reaches out to all of us.” A message that can quench the thirst inside of us to be a part of something…no, Someone bigger than ourselves!  The Heart Cries of God are infused in the silences of the eclipse moment.  I could hear His Voice reminding me that,

He is the God who made the world and everything in it…the Lord of heaven and earth.  He Himself gives life and breath to everything, and He satisfies every need.  He created all the nations throughout the whole earth.  He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall and He determined their boundaries.  His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him.  For in Him we live and move and exist.”  (Acts 17:24-28 NLT)

I sensed the pressure of God’s Hand on my shoulder, compelling me to drop to my knees and pray for our nation in the midst of this eclipse. Though NASA deemed this historical event as only “a celestial coincidence”, I sensed it to be more of a celestial warning.  Even the course of its path spanned our nation from sea to shining sea; something that hasn’t occurred in over a hundred years.  As I witnessed the moon’s shadow crossing over the face of the sun, it made me think of another kind of shadow that’s crossing over our land.  The shadow of sin.  This darkness is slowly covering the Face of God…the Light upon Whose promises our nation was founded.  If this Divine Eclipse ever occurs, we will experience darkness like we’ve never known here in America before. When I consider how many immediate changes occurred in our surroundings during the ninety seconds of the celestial eclipse, I can’t imagine the catastrophic changes that will take place if the Light of our nation ever becomes totally eclipsed by the shadow of sin’s deep darkness.

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“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him.  For in Him we live and move and exist.”  (Acts 17:28)

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      Long after watching the eclipse, my mind’s eye kept envisioning the moon’s shadow making its way across the face of the sun.  Though a beautiful image to ponder, it also brought to mind the eerie words of Chuck Colson, from his book, “Against the Night, Living in the New Dark Ages; published in 1991. Colson wrote this:

“Dark Age” is a strong term. I recognize that.  Yet, in recent years I’ve had a growing sense of storm clouds gathering on the horizon…The forecast is foreboding…We scan the horizon with unease.

We sense that things are winding down, that somehow freedom, justice, and order are slipping away.  Our great civilization may not yet lie in smoldering ruins, but the enemy is within the gates. The times seem to smell of sunset.  Encroaching darkness casts long shadows across every institution in our land…We do face a crisis in Western culture, and it presents the greatest threat to civilization since the barbarians invaded Rome.”

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“The times seem to smell of sunset.  Encroaching darkness casts long shadows across every institution in our land…We do face a crisis in Western culture…”

—Chuck Colson—

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So, my question is this. What are you going to do with the memory of the Eclipse of 2017?    Will you choose to view it through the world’s knowledge and the eyes of NASA, accepting it only as a celestial coincidence; or will you take a seat in God’s Theater of Grace, thrusting your eyes heavenward so your heart may perceive the silent message that’s on display there?  The eclipse is God’s Glory on display over our nation.  A Celestial Warning that brings with it a story of Light and darkness.  But, notice this.  In the end… the Light wins!

This can be our nation’s story, but right now, we live in a land filled with impinging shadows; a nation largely ruled by darkness and the knowledge of man…not the Wisdom of God.  The choices we make as individuals and as a nation will make or break us in God’s Eyes.  His desire for our nation is that “we would seek after Him… find Him,” and realize that the freedom, peace, and hope…the life we’re all seeking, can only be found in God.

As we all endeavor to play-out our roles in our Nation’s story of Light and darkness; may our hearts be flooded with the same passion that filled the heart of the ‘ancient,’ King David.  God looked upon David as a man after His own Heart.   King David trusted in God more than in human power.  David’s prayer for victory in the darkness of battle was always this:

“Some nations boast of power and weaponry, but our boast is in the Lord God.  Those nations will collapse and perish; we will arise to stand firm and sure!”  (Psalm 20:7)

And just like the Total Eclipse of 2017…there’s a night and day difference in the outcome.

HEART TRAPPINGS:

What are you going to do with  the “Total Eclipse 2017” experience?

Will you file it away in your memories under the heading, “NASA: celestial coincidence”?

Or will you take your place in God’s great Theater of Grace and see this Divine dance between the sun

and the moon as  a Celestial Warning to our Nation?

PRAYER:  Father God, Forgive us…forgive our nation for trusting in our power, wealth, technology and man’s knowledge more than we trust in You. This Story of Light and Darkness has eternal significance for us as individuals and as a nation.  Supply us with Your Wisdom and Perspective so we may  see the darkness surrounding us for what it is. Defiance of the God upon Whose Light our great Nation was founded.May we be found faithful in the days ahead as we take David’s prayer for our own:  “Some nations boast of power and weaponry, but our boast is in the Lord God!”  Enable us to rise and stand firm and sure in Jesus Name!”

AMEN

 

 

 

“Chair-iot Afire”

August 15, 2017 at 12:40 pm

“And now…just as you trusted Christ to save you,

trust Him, too, for each day’s problems;

 live in vital union with Him. 

 (Colossians 2:6  NLT)


by Debbie Allen

      Do you remember the captivating, opening scene from the classic movie, Chariots of Fire? Beautiful, synthesized, music pulses to the rhythmic, running of barefoot athletes coursing through the gray sands of a British beach. Mud-splattered, a team of college runners makes their way in and out of the receding beach waters. Every athlete’s face reflects the competitive spirit goading him from deep within; urging him on with every stride.  Their grimacing expressions alert us to the level of intensity with which they’ve chosen to run their race!  Typically, most run to win; to gain both the prize and the victor’s applause at the finish line. But, there is one athlete among them who runs with the greatest of all motivations. Eric Liddell, 1924 winner of an Olympic Gold Medal (in the movie Chariots of Fire), runs for the sheer joy of it. He runs “…to delight his God.”

When I was a little girl, I can remember having a pressing desire to please.  Please my family…please my friends…please my teachers, and, yes… even to leave a smile on God’s Face at the end of the day. Because of this boundless childhood aim, I discovered early in life that pleasing hearts also brought joy to my own heart. This was especially true concerning the Heart of God.  I enjoyed feeling the warmth of God’s Smile radiating down upon me. In my little-girl mind, I already had life all figured out. Delight God’s Heart and live joyfully ever after.

Though there is a measure of truth in this childhood proverb, as I grew to adulthood, I found my level of trying to leave a smile on God’s Face was sometimes dictated by the difficulty surrounding my circumstances.  The desire was still there, but fear and doubt often stood between desire and difficulty. Eric Liddell ran every one of his races with passion, consumed by the fire within him to delight the heart of God. But, what happens to such passion in your real life when God enters you in a race you never wanted to run in?______________________________________________________________________________________________

“Eric Liddell ran every race with passion, consumed by the fire within him to ‘Delight the Heart of God’.”

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Recently, I found myself running in just such a race.  I underwent eye surgery for an extreme, retinal detachment in my right eye.  Nothing could’ve prepared me for my life, post-surgery. My head and eyes had to be at a ninety-degree angle to the floor; whether I was walking, sitting, or laying.  Face-down was my story for the first two l-o-n-g weeks of a several-month recovery. Knowing God signed me up for this event, it shouldn’t have surprised me that He also provided a way for me to run in this race. No…not a new pair of Nike running shoes!

Early, the morning after eye surgery, FedEx delivered a giant box to my door.  In it was the chair from which I would be running this race.  That’s right…a chair I believe was of God’s own choosing.  You see, in order to sit in it, you had to be on your knees!  Technology designed this chair with the face-down survival of recuperating eye patients in mind.  God used the design of this chair to remind me, what life really looks like, on my knees and face-down before Him every day.

Every day I straddled that chair, I saw life from a whole different perspective.  Because my head was bowed low, the unwiped counters and dishes stacked in the sink were no longer a source of irritation. Unannounced visitors became more to me than the extra dirt tracking in, or shoes piling up in my entryway.  No longer did I perceive unexpected phone calls or text messages as an inconvenience, pulling me away from my own important busy-ness.   From my face-down vantage point, all I could really see were hands and feet, but that was enough.  Though my sight was less than it ever had been, God was increasing my vision. Between the rest He was giving me, and the race He’d set before me, His Heart was teaching mine things I’d lost sight of in the midst of my own agendas. The Whispers of His Grace flowed deep into the hollowed-out places of my soul, reminding me,

“My Child…the people standing on your doorstep that you often label an inconvenience; are the hearts and souls My Son gave His Life for, to see them standing on My Doorstep.”

Had I not already been in my chair and on my knees, bowed before Him; the beauty of these words was enough to drive me there. It is a humbling thing to see even a little corner of your own world through the lens of God’s Perspective. Though it’s weighty, it’s oh, so worthy!

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 “My Child, the people standing on your doorstep, you often label an inconvenience; are the hearts and souls My Son gave His Life for… to see them standing on My Doorstep.”

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Following those beautiful Whispers, I began seeing the hands and feet on my doorstep as the hands and feet of Jesus, faithfully caring for me in my weakness.  I witnessed God’s generosity through family, friends, and total strangers that showered my husband and I with prayers, meals, Starbucks coffees, gifts, and get-well cards, even before a need was spoken aloud.  In the course of those two weeks, I began hearing God’s Love in the laughter,concern and conversation of those who took time to visit with me. I felt His Healing Touches every time my dear Husband kissed the top of my head, massaged my strained neck and shoulders, or removed my eye patch to put drops in the corner of a crusty, swollen eyeball.  Phone calls and texts from loved ones became God’s gentle reminders to my weary heart of how very much I am loved, and that I was not forgotten.

Enduring an unexpected race in a face-down chair I came to know as my Chair-iot Afire; allowed God to set my heart ablaze with a renewed passion to run races in the spiritual world, like Eric Liddell ran his races in the physical world. Eric’s passion to run fueled him with joy so deeply rooted in God that “delighting his God”, became his reason for reaching the finish line at every race.  You can bet God was smiling down on Eric at the end of every race he ran.

Though I am still unable to see the finish line in my own race, I will be forever grateful to God, for the time He’s given me on my knees, head bowed before Him.  The days I spent surrendered in my Chair-iot Afire, taught me volumes. My little-girl thinking was never meant to rule in my big-girl heart;and neither were doubt and fear.  Though pleasing God remains the highest desire of my heart, at the end of the day, I understand now in a much deeper way that true joy comes to us only at great cost.

Life is filled with unexpected difficulties.  We will  encounter fear and doubt. But, may we faithfully choose to run the difficult races God asks us to run; letting the grimacing expressions on our face become, instead, the triumphant indicators to a watching world, of the level of intensity we have chosen to run our race.  My prayer for each of us is that we choose to run our life’s races, consumed by an ever-growing passion inside of us to “delight our God” right up to the moment we cross the finish line.  And at the end of the day, when our hearts sense the radiant warmth of God smiling down upon us, remember this:

“Our Good God gives us Joy to warm our hearts; not in spite of the difficulties we encounter … but, because of the difficulties we face.”

HEART TRAPPINGS:

Have you ever considered what expression God might be wearing at the end of the day, when He looks down upon you ?

Are you running in one of life’s unexpected races right now? What drives your heart to the finish line?

Getting all you thought you really wanted…the victor’s applause?  Or getting all you really ever needed…God’s Smile?

The greatest prize…or the Greatest Reward?

PRAYER:  Dearest Father, You are a Good God, and a Loving Father.  As we run the races You set before us, may we do so with the greatest motivation of all…to ‘Delight the Heart of God!”  Strengthen us.  Increase our vision and set our hearts ablaze with passion enough to reach our finish lines, and step into the warmth of Your Smile, shining down upon us at day’s end!  Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Divine R.S.V.P.

July 21, 2017 at 10:40 am

“Let the peace of heart which comes from Christ be always in your hearts and lives

…let His Words enrich  your lives and make you wise.”

 (Colossians 3:15-16 LAB)

  by Debbie Allen

This was no ordinary Party Invitation.  It arrived on my heart’s doorstep via a doctor’s hand.  A wordless picture containing an unwritten message and a mandatory RSVP.  My elevated heartbeat pounded out the surreal implications of such an invitation.  What my mind refused to believe, my heart could not deny.  I held in my hand a Divine Invitation to a God-Inspired Celebration!

R.S.V.P. “Reply, if you please.”  It’s an uncomplicated process. Make a black mark on the calendar and send a simple yes or no reply back to the sender.  But, how do you respond when your heart is telling you the RSVP is a Divine one? I wrestled with that question for a split-second before realizing this.  God already knows what my answer will be.  After all, He’s God.  He’s already tuned-in to all of my heart’s reservations and is painfully aware of the barrage of lame excuses I have waiting to justify my preferred, ‘decline’ response to His unexpected Party . Perhaps that’s why He so graciously took the liberty of RSVP’ing for me.  In the time it took for His ‘YES’ reply to filter down into my heart, I realized I wasn’t going to just be attending His party…I was His chosen guest of honor!

God’s methods and expectations of us in life are anything but conventional. When you are dealing with a heavenly Party Planner, sometimes the invitation feels more like a summons than an invite. You don’t find the typical who, what, where, when and why’s listed on the inside page.   My invitation arrived as a wordless picture. In my case, even the RSVP stood for something different.  Retinal Scan Vision Pending. When my Doctor handed it to me, she explained the picture on the front of it as being an image of the detached retina inside my right eye. My blind eye.  The eye no one could come up with a reason for its undoing.  Staring down at the abstract, peaks and valleys pictured on the front of my party invitation, I could see only mountains.  Mountains I never wanted to climb. Mountains, like arrows, ever-pointing my eyes up to the Sender.  My good eye already perceived that mountainous image as no cause for celebration.  Its pathways were too heavily peppered with highs and lows for my taste.  But, my blind eye wisely sensed the Maker of all Things offering me an opportunity to trust Him as the Maker of all Mountains…including mine.

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“GOD’S METHODS ARE SOMETIMES STRANGE, BUT HIS HEART IS ALWAYS GOOD.  HE CAN BE TRUSTED.”

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My Doctor scheduled my emergency eye surgery on her calendar and told me very explicitly, “You need to clear your calendar of everything   for the next several weeks.”  “And I mean everything.”

Her no-nonsense approach alerted me to one thing. My Doctor had to be working for God. When she spoke her words to me, I heard them back in God-Language.  “My Child, I have cleared your calendar. Now, Let the Party begin!”

Though I had a difficult time seeing major eye surgery as cause for celebration, I needed to focus on the One Who invited me there in the first place.  I was His guest of honor at a Celebration lavishly planned by His Hand.   Long ago I learned that God’s methods are sometimes strange, but His Heart is always Good. He can be trusted.

Part of my immediate recovery after surgery, was to lay face-down, around-the-clock, for two weeks.  My forehead rested on a unique, crescent-shaped pillow, placed at the head of my bed.  Some may have perceived this pillow as a prison. But, that hollowed out place of silent, darkness became for me a little mixing bowl from heaven. A place for my thoughts to spill out into and swirl around wildly until God stepped in and added His own Flavor to the mixture. The end result?   Something Sweet for my soul!

A timely slice of His Sweet Words to fill a hunger deep inside of me.   I yearned to know my pain would go away and my world would be ok again. I longed for peace of mind and heart enough to summon the kind of courage I never knew I had; to climb mountains I never knew I could.  In-between my anxious thoughts, God spoon-fed me one word at a time, from Psalm 125:1-2—

“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore.”  (NIV)

Though I’d sampled these words once before in my life, in my pain, each mouthful became a satisfying indulgence for my heart. Every spoonful carried my thoughts farther and farther away from my own mountains, to the beauty of the Hills of Jerusalem.  The Lord’s Mountains.

His Mountains are not random mountains that appeared out of nowhere for no reason. God hand-fashioned each mountain and set them in place, to envelope Jerusalem forevermore. Even the Hebrew names of these seven Mountains are the unshakable reminders of the amazing Heart of God and His incredible desire to be with His children. Though these mountains stand in silence on Jerusalem’s horizon, every peak shouts its own piece of God’s Love Story. Mount Moriah echoes the story of the place of God’s Presence. Bethsaida declares, house of mercy. Mount Scopus stands firm as a place of healing. Mount of Olives cries out of being pressed like an olive press and of bringing freshness and beauty. Mount Opel beckons to the world of a safe place, of being surrounded and fortified by a wall.  Mount Zion is a stronghold, a fortress, to show the way.  The seventh mountain is Ghareb (Calvary) meaning sacrifice, the place of atonement. If you were to physically hike these mountains, the only way you would be given access to Mount Moriah is through Ghareb…sacrifice.  What an undeniable picture of the Salvation Story!

These mountains truly magnify the heights and depths of God’s Love for His people. Zion (also refers to the whole mountain range) was the dwelling place of God.  God has chosen it, blessed it and surrounded it, but,  Zion’s true strength lies in the Presence of God Himself!

For me, leaning into these truths in the midst of pain still fresh from the surgeon’s scalpel, only heightened the intimate Whispers of God in my spirit.

“Trust Me, My Child… you are not just climbing mountains to reach a summit.  I am teaching you to become ‘like’ a mountain; an unshakable mountain.”

Sinking my forehead deeper still, into my pillow, and feeling more like a marshmallow than a mountain, tears of realization spilled into my heavenly mixing bowl. That picture on my Party Invitation was not pointing me to my mountains…it was meant as a sweet reminder of God’s Mountains… the Mountains of Jerusalem.  From those seven summits echoed a Message for my heart:

When I trust in my Lord, I will be like Zion.  I will be a fortress and a stronghold; a child set apart for His Glory. I am surrounded by the LORD Himself!  He is my Moriah, for it is in this place  He surrounds me with His Love and Mercy.  He is my Healer, physically and spiritually. He promises to bring Freshness and new Beauty to my life.  The LORD is my Fortress, my Tower, and my place of Strength.  He is my Protector and the Only One Who is able to show me the way.

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“When I TRUST in my LORD, I will be like Mount Zion.  I will be a fortress and a stronghold; a child, set apart for His Glory.”

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“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 125:2 NIV)

What a beautiful promise to surround yourself with when life’s mountains consume your gaze. When we walk through difficulty, His Presence is the difference between being filled with the “Wonder of His Mountains”, and being filled with the “wonder whys” of our own mountains.   Hear His “Trust Me’s,” and heed them like your life depends on it…because it does.  Remember, it’s only those who trust in the Lord who become like Mount Zion. Unshakable, both now and forevermore!

 

HEART TRAPPINGS:

What Mountains are you facing in your life?

Where have you fixed your gaze?  On His Presence…or your Mountains?

PRAYER:  Dearest Father,

I know that sometimes Life is filled with more hills and valleys than we ever thought we’d have to face.  Help us not to live in our own blind-spots, but to focus instead on the Wonders of Your unshakable Presence,Protection, and Permanence through every high and low.  YOU can always be trusted…

Amen

A Patch of Glory

May 8, 2017 at 2:47 pm

“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.”  ( Isaiah 7:9 NIV)

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written by Debbie Allen

From the sniffles of an unwanted cold to the post-trauma of an unexpected major surgery, all of us are well acquainted with the many faces of misery.  Weakness, vulnerability, depression, discomfort, sickness, pain, and fear; to mention a few.  Though none of  us would choose to befriend any of these, all of us have been chosen by some of them at one time or another.  I can’t imagine any of us rolling out the welcome mat and willingly embracing pain or anxiety when it comes knocking on our doorstep.  Our first instinct is always to run, not to succumb!  However, we tend to forget…these unannounced intruders come in anyway, with or without our permission.  From the moment they cross the threshold of our resistance, we become walking reminders to a watching world of the frailty of life. Fresh evidence of the broken world we live in. In light of this, is hopelessness the game and loser our name in all of this?  I can say with confidence,”Definitely not!”  Greater Purpose is the game and we call on God’s Name!

In all honesty, if God allowed me to pick the name of my own life’s game, it would be called Comfort Zone, and Pampered would be my name  at the finish line!  The very first rule in my game would be this.  On my front door, there would always be a sign posted that read,

NO SOLICITORS…in the Name of GOD, GO AWAY!!!

to shoo away any unwanted intruders like sickness, pain, fear, and anything else undesirable.  Even as I write these words, I sense a Holy Eye Brow being raised in my direction.  You see, I know better.  My Father has taught me well over the years, that His Game of Greater Purpose will always supersede my preferred game of Comfort Zone where I  get to live out my life as Lady Pampered.  The boundaries to His Game are limitless.  His purpose for me throughout His Game is to come to know, love, and believe in Him; to deepen me to His highest purpose for me…a relationship with Him.  My Heavenly Father longs for me to more fully understand that He is to me, personally, the answer to ALL of my life’s questions. And believe me…there are plenty of them throughout the course of His Game!

Easter Morning this year, was one such day for me.  When I woke up to get ready for church, my head was filled with questions because my eye was filled with darkness!  I was suddenly nearly blind in my right eye.  What began on Friday as what I perceived to be the beginnings of tunnel vision and the onset of a migraine; progressed to the unthinkable.  Blindness!  I never envisioned myself ever having to step into Helen Keller’s shoes in my lifetime. Even if I was only being asked to wear one of them, my world was already w-a-y out of balance!

I walked into Church that morning wearing a new dress and a brimming smile.From the outside, I looked like I had it all together.  But, on the inside I felt like the storm clouds were gathering.  Before the service, portions of Hillsong’s Oceans song filtered into my spirit.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders…Let me walk upon the waters…take me deeper than my feet would ever wander,,,an my faith will be made stronger…in the Presence of my Savior.”

I swallowed hard, every word piercing my heart a little deeper.  With each note, God was transforming those very  familiar words into something deeply personal for me.  “Trust without borders.” What these words reflected most to me was that I was standing right in the middle of God’s Game Board once more; and the next move was going to be mine.

Monday morning I called the Ophthalmologist, who promptly sent me to the Retina Center to see a Specialist who dealt with eye trauma daily.  Forty pictures of my eye later revealed I had experienced a separated retina with multiple tears and a hole in my macular.

“A veil has torn inside your eye; it’s the curtain that is blocking your vision.”

The very moment I heard the word, veil,my thoughts tip-toed back to the Easter Story.The day Jesus died on the Cross, He entered into His Own deep, Darkness for my soul’s sake.  God says in His Word, “At that moment, the veil in the Temple was torn in Two from top to bottom.” (Matthew 27:52)

When Jesus’ veil in the Temple was torn in two by the very Hand of God that day, it meant that nothing would ever again keep me from seeing Jesus face-to-face!  Because I was standing on God’s Game Board, I was beginning to understand that in some strange way  my tiny ‘torn veil’ story was uniquely linked to His Eternal ‘Torn Veil’ Story.

Within three days of my diagnosis, I underwent major surgery to remove the veil in my eye.  Covered in gauze and concealed by a patch now, I had no idea what to expect at my next-day Doctor visit.  Because the surgery came with no promises, when the bandages came off I held my breath with my eye still closed.

“Open your eye and tell me what you see,” the Doctor spoke in her monotone, Romanian voice.

Before I responded,she asked me with anticipation, “Do you see light?”

“Yes…I DO see light,” I spoke calmly. I knew she would never approve of the cartwheels and back flips going on inside of me so soon after surgery!  In the words of my Doctor, seeing light was a “good sign.”  But after having my eye wrapped in total darkness for a time, the light I saw was like seeing a little patch of Glory!  As far as my own heart was concerned, my torn veil was gone and I was standing face-to-face with the Light of the World Himself!

Standing on God’s Game Board guarantees us we will encounter His trust-without-borders moments all along life’s way.  But, remember, God named His Game Greater Purpose for a reason.  Those who call Him, Father, have the unspeakable privilege of seeing Him Face-to-Face every move we make, and calling on His Name until we reach the end of the Game!

Jesus’ Story speaks of the ultimate Love and Redemption; of Light conquering the Darkness of this world.  My story is one of restoration and of His Light coming into my own darkness.  Through all of this, I experienced how very real the darkness is.  And if you do nothing about it, how that darkness will consume not only your vision but, your life.  Jesus told His Disciples,

“I have come into the world as a Light, so that none who believe in Me should stay in darkness.”  (John 12:46 NIV)

 

Heart Trappings:

Which Game Board are you standing on right now?

Greater Purpose……or Comfort Zone?

The Light of the World……or the darkness of your own world?

Which will you choose?   Triumph…..or Tragedy?  It’s your move…

Prayer:  Father, I pray that You, out of Your Glorious riches, would strengthen me with Power through Your Spirit to battle the uncertainties of this life that come knocking on our door.  Help me to remember the words of the Prophet Isaiah, ” If your faith will not stand, then you will not stand at all.”

Amen   

 

Operation “Under Cover!”

August 24, 2016 at 6:26 pm

  Cell Boy” Sometimes you just need to talk to a three-year-old so you can understand what life is all about.”      -unknown-


written by  Debbie Allen

Brandon, stretched a dimpled hand anxiously toward the cell phone his Mom was about to hand down to him.  Nothing to this three-year-old was quite as special as FaceTime with his Grandma!  Whenever Mom’s cell phone rang,  in Brandon’s mind, Grandma was on the other end of that call waiting to FaceTime with him.  From the very moment her face was in his sights, he claimed her as his virtual, personal playmate. Off to his room he’d run with her!   Sometimes Grandma admitted this part of the journey made her a little sea sick; trying to keep up with all the blurred scenery and swift motions of a a three year old’s arms, sprinting up the stairs to his bedroom!  However, in the spirit of all  Grandmother-hood, she took this little rough patch in stride, claiming,

” I can’t think of a better reason in this world for taking a little Dramamine before a trip! “

Nearly every day Brandon showed Grandma nearly every toy in his room. He was always eager to share the things  he loved most in his world with her.  She, too, was more than receptive to hearing the enthusiasm that overwhelmed his voice during these exclusive Show-and-Tell times.  Though no actual pictures could ever be taken on these little trips she took with Brandon; the scrap-booker in Grandma opted for posting memories instead.  She placed them in  Grandma’s Book of Memoirs; a book tucked safely away in her heart.  It’s endless pages are now bulging with memories highlighting unforgettable moments with Brandon on their Dramamine-driven, FaceTime journey’s to his room!

Though Hollywood would never approve of the quality of these  FaceTime pannings of his room, Grandma treasured them!  Every shot was uniquely enhanced by the little-boy fingers that framed it!   Why…some of her greatest adventures lay at the end of those little fingers!  There was the time she watched as he built a Lego castle around her; and then had to knock the castle down just to retrieve Mom’s phone (and Grandma’s face!).  One of her scariest trips was the day Brandon needed both of his hands to climb up on his desk and retrieve a book from  the shelf above it.  Without warning, Brandon shoved Grandma in his back jean pocket and started climbing.  That was a dark, dark day for Grandma…literally! Maybe that was God’s way of sparing her from seeing the Mt. Everest heights Brandon had to climb to retrieve “Hansel and Gretel!”

Brandon’s FaceTime trips more than filled Grandma’s sense of adventure. He allowed her to experience numerous,  once-in-a-lifetime perspectives.  How many Grandmas do you know who have actually seen life from the metal seat inside the cab of  a yellow Tonka dump-truck?  Brandon put her there one day, and then climbed on top of the truck to drive them both over to his bedside.

“Brandon…where are you taking us today?”

“Going camping!” Brandon stated with exuberance.

Grandma smiled at the very thought of it.  From her spot in the cab of that truck she watched Brandon shove a giant stuffed bear under his bed covers to form a makeshift tent. Then he pulled her from the cab, slid her into the tent, alongside that bear ; and crawled in on the opposite side.

“Time for night night!” Brandon whispered, giggling at the snoring sounds already coming from Grandma’s side of the tent. Making special sound-effects was another of Grandma’s many areas of expertise in life!

Five minutes into that camping trip, Mom’s voice broke into the fun.

“Bran-don!  Time to eat dinner…tell Grandma bye-bye and come down!”

Unfortunately, Brandon did exactly what Mom said to do.  He leaned over and kissed the screen on the phone…told Grandma “Bye-Bye”… and went down to eat his dinner. Scooting out of the tent, Brandon dragged the bear out with him, unintentionally, which left Grandma laying under a pile of collapsed covers.

“Brandon!  Brandon! Don’t forget to take the phone back to Mommy!”  Grandma shouted out,  seeing the spontaneous darkness descending on her once again.

“Brandon…Brandon, are you still there?

” Brandon…I know you can’t hear me, but…I love you so!”  

Smiling  down at the darkness she viewed now on her own side of the cell-phone screen, Grandma pushed the “end call” button and took a moment to treasure the trip she’d taken with Brandon today.   Though most might look upon her dark screen as only an imperfect ending to a perfect day…she saw it for what it really was. Two new ‘firsts’ in Grandma’s life.  Her first time  ending the day as an under-cover agent. And the day she slept next to a bear…and lived!  This trip would go down in her Book of Memoirs as “Operation-Under Cover”.  The perfect title for a perfect day!

A good family friend shared this little story over coffee with me one day recently.  As one Grandma to another, her story touched me on so many levels.  You see, her FaceTime trips with Brandon, were born out of both necessity and a Grandma’s love.  Brandon had been undergoing cancer treatments for many months and  his weakened immune system kept him home for long intervals of time. FaceTime spared both their hearts the anxiety of a total but, necessary separation.

As I sat across from my friend that day, listening between the laughter and the tears,  my thoughts wandered from Grandchildren to God.  I couldn’t help but wonder what my relationship with God might look like if  He were to FaceTime Me?  Would it be anything close to Brandon’s FaceTime with his Grandma?  I pray… even more so. For the Face that would be looking back at me would be infinitely more than the  Face of just a heavenly Playmate.  I would be looking into the Face of  my Heavenly Soul-Mate…The One Whom my soul was created to love and be loved by in return.

“In the light of His face there is life, and His favor is like the clouds of the spring rain.” 

( Proverbs 16:15 NET)

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Heart Trappings: Imagine with me for a moment, what your life might look like if God FaceTimed you right now. Would you ignore His attempts to connect with you while you finished sipping on your latte?  Or would you step in front of your cell screen with the excitement of a little child, wanting more than anything to see what adventure might be awaiting you? Do you trust Him enough to want to share your whole heart with Him? As you lift your cell phone to pan around the corners of your life…what would be the first thing on a list of ‘favorites’ you’d want to share with God in your own exclusive Show-and-Tell time with Him? What are you reluctant to share with Him. Have you ever left God lying in the dark while you ran off in response to ‘other’ voices calling out for your attention?  Do you believe that there is ‘life’ standing in the light of His Face?  Why or why not?

Prayer: Dearest Father, as much as I’d like to think I’d respond to Your FaceTime Call to me with the enthusiasm of little Brandon; if I were honest, I know I’d be the one sipping on a latte some days.  Truthfully, the thought of the Creator of all things ever choosing to FaceTime me is a thought too big for my finite brain to process.  Help me to remember that when You call Your children, it is because You Love them and You want to connect with us, to be an active part of our daily life.  Remove any fear we may have to answer Your Call, and replace our reluctance with anticipation and joy!   May the light on our own earthly cell phones be a daily reminder of this Heavenly Truth:  “In the Light of Your Face…there is life to be found.” May we continually seek Your Face.    Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heaven’s Yellow Stoplight!

July 23, 2016 at 5:36 pm

Nightstand Pic “GRANDKIDS fill an emptiness in our hearts we didn’t even know we had.”


written by Debbie Allen

Most mornings when I wake-up, I am facing the same night-stand, lamp and picture frame I placed by my bedside over five years ago. Because these bedroom artifacts are such familiar scenery, I rarely take time to focus on them anymore.  One particular morning, however, as I opened my eyes; I was strangely drawn to the pictures in that picture frame.  Not only that, I could hear the sounds of one distinct word resonating inside my head over and over again.    “Honor…honor…honor…honor.”

Now, I’ve heard  God’s Whispers in my life enough to know I needed to pay attention.  When my own life’s seemingly  ordinary ho-hums combine with God’s own Holy-Hums… something is about to change.  Usually, it’s me!

This persistent echo inside my head was enough to interrupt my heart’s silent, morning prayer-time before rising.  Though I had no idea how the word, honor, related to the picture frame filled with snapshots of my Grandchildren, I realized something else.  I wasn’t just lying in bed anymore.  Without having moved an inch, I’d managed to enter into my own Heavenly Intersection!

Yielding to the sights and sounds of that intersection, I treated it like a yellow stoplight in a busy crossing.  Yellow stoplights caution those approaching, to slow down and consider stopping for a moment; instead of just speeding through and never looking back!  Applying what I understood about yellow stoplights, I knew I needed to be looking in all directions for anything that might be  coming at me; then proceed with caution.

Ever-so-slowly, I mentally proceeded through that heavenly intersection.  About the time I did so, something hit me out of the blue!  No, not a crash; more of a break-through!  My eyes locked on the picture frame once more.  The frame formed a geometric triangle.  Each of its three, 5 x 7,  rectangular sides contained a picture of my Grandchildren.  Two smaller triangles sealed off both ends.  Inscribed on its top were these words,

” GRANDKIDS fill an emptiness inside us we never knew we had!”   (No truer words have ever been spoken! )

As I studied it further, I noticed things I hadn’t seen before.  The pictures didn’t change…but, my perspective had. For the first time in a long time, I was seeing those pictures …not just looking at them.  Makayla, a three-year-old Building Engineer, was making a Lego tower as tall as a mountain.  Wrapped in climbing gear, three-and-a half-year-old, Ryan, was attempting to climb his first mountain.  Brendan, sixteen-years-old, just reached a mountaintop on his dirt bike, after a day’s-worth of hard riding. Building a Mountain…Climbing a Mountain…Reaching a Mountain.  All of these moments captured my heart enough to frame these precious, loves-of-my-life, give them a special place in my heart and on my nightstand; and then to honor their sweet memory daily!

Still hearing the Holy-Humming going on inside my head, it didn’t take me long to make the connection between my picture frame and the word, honor. As a Grammie who frequently loves and admires her Grandkids, I quickly realized just how little it takes for us, as Human Beings, to bestow honor on our own.  We do it every day; one picture, one moment, one accomplishment at a time.  Yet…there is One (Jesus), Who is so much more  deserving than anyone on earth when it comes to receiving honor.  Too often, however, we shortchange Him and even stiff His outstretched Hands.

After all, when it comes to Building a Mountain…Jesus is the Maker of all Mountains!  How about Climbing a Mountain?  Jesus climbed the tallest mountain anyone will ever climb!  He did it shouldering a wooden Cross; dragging it up a steep and foreboding path.  Reaching a Mountain?  When Jesus reached His mountaintop, the world honored Him with a Crown of Thorns and nailed Him to the Cross.  He died there for you and me.

How thankful I am  for Heaven’s Yellow Stoplights on earth! When you enter into these Intersections in life, you are never the same by the time you reach the other side (Unless you’re one who speeds through yellow stoplights and never looks back!).   This is what happens when Heaven’s Divine Perspective intersects with the puniness of our own earthly thinking.  Though I will continue to love and honor my Grandchildren for the unique and precious gifts they are to me from above,  I will never see the picture frame on my nightstand quite the same.  I see two frames now. One is real and tangible, and  filled with pictures of my Grandkids. The other one is  a virtual Picture Frame.  It is both geometric and triangular in shape;  but, this one is filled with Snapshots of Jesus on every side.  Pictures of Jesus Building His MountainClimbing His Mountain… and Reaching His Mountain.

Every morning I open my eyes and see these Frames, I am reminded that there is a vast difference in the way I am to bestow honor on those being celebrated in those picture frames.  Honoring our own, and Honoring Jesus looks eternally different.  It is the difference between placing our loved ones up on a pedestal…and hanging God’s Only Son up on a Cross.

“O Lord, You are worthy to receive the glory and the honor, and the power…” (Revelation 4:11)

mini heart fpHeart Trappings :

How many of Heaven’s Yellow Stoplights have you rushed through without ever looking back?  Ever wondered how much of God’s Wisdom for your life you’ve missed by doing so? Think of your own loved ones and how you choose to honor them for who they are and what they’ve accomplished in this life.  Do you see them from a Heavenly Perspective?   Ponder Jesus for a moment now. When is the last time you sacrificed time and effort to honor Him?  Worship Him? Adore Him?

Prayer :  Precious Father, please forgive me for being so short-sighted when it comes to Your Heavenly Perspective.  I know Your Word tells us to “love and honor each other” (Rom. 12:10).  Teach me how to honor my Children and my Grandchildren in a way that honors them from Your Perspective. Help me to remember to love them for the precious gifts they are to my heart, and for what You are accomplishing in and through their lives for the Glory and Honor  of Your Son, Jesus. Thank You for Heaven’s Yellow Stoplights and for the Beauty yet to be discovered on the other side of those Heavenly Intersections in our life.  Amen

 

“Seas Life’s Moments”

July 7, 2016 at 1:41 pm

Beach Shell 3
“Memories made at the Beach Stay in our  Hearts Forever!”


written by Debbie Allen

While sifting through the comments on my blog awhile back, I came across one remark which had absolutely nothing to do with anything I’d written on my post.  Truthfully, I’m not even sure she read the story. For some strange reason, I held off pushing the delete permanently button, allowing this person’s words to wash over my heart again and again. I marveled that a total stranger’s  words, randomly shared on a blog she accidentally stumbled upon because she just “…had to share her story  with someone”, could connect so deeply in my heart.  I sensed God’s Fingerprints all over this!

A young, single mom, living on the California coast went on to explain how she’d taken her four-year-old daughter, Emmy, for a walk on the beach  that day earlier. As they strolled along, kicking up loose sand with bare toes; Mom picked up a shell lying on the beach nearby.  Reminded of her own childhood, she showed it to Emmy.  Mom explained to her how God had hidden the sounds of the ocean’s crashing waves down inside of the shell.  Delighted, Emmy reached for the shell and pressed it up against her ear.  Just as quickly, Emmy dropped the beautiful shell, screaming and holding her ear, crying out, “Ouchie!  Ouchie!”

Puzzled by her daughter’s reaction to what promised only to be a beautiful, Mother-Daughter moment on the beach, Mom picked up the shell again.  Cautiously, she examined it, soon discovering a disgruntled sand crab, the size of a quarter; hiding down inside of it!  Mom laughed until she cried while Emmy just continued to cry!  What had begun as only the  shell of a past experience for Mom, ended for little Emmy as a very crabby beginning to her day on the beach!

Every new day holds its own promises for each of us.  Sometimes, without warning, those bright promises can turn into questions and speculations  that number the grains of sand on the sea shore. Life is a lot like this mother and daughter’s walk on the California beach that day.  One moment you can be walking in the sands of time, content with the promise of the familiar and the beautiful up ahead of you; and the next you are crying out in pain, wincing from the unexpected…or the unwanted.

Though this Mom couldn’t foresee what little Emmy never expected…the same is not true of us  in our own life. You see, we walk with a God Who Sees our life before we encounter it; even those unexpected things hidden in the darkness.

“He [God] changes times and seasons, He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.” (Daniel 2)

We walk through the sands of Time with the God who promises His children this:

“I have created you and cared for you since you were born. I will be your God throughout all your lifetime…”  “I will carry you along and be your Savior.” (Isaiah 46)

What better promises than these are there for the  moments, days, weeks, and years up ahead of us?  After all, we know Who holds our hands…Who Directs our hearts and Who Lights our darkness. Now, let’s just choose to let Him do it… while we kick some sand, walking with Jesus along our own beaches, blanketed with the  Sands of  Time.

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Heart Trappings :

Have you ever seen  the Finger Prints of God in your own life?  Where, in your own life, have you encountered people, stories, or circumstances so unusually placed, perfectly timed, or profoundly simple, they captured your attention long enough to change your heart’s thinking forever?  What will be your response the next time you encounter the un-expected in the middle of your life’s beautiful?  Who’s Beach are you walking on?  Who’s Hand are you holding?  Who’s Light is lighting your way?

Prayer :  Heavenly Father, countless times I’ve walked the Sands of Time with You. Too often,  I confess that when my hopes have been dashed, plans abruptly changed, the un-expected tramples me,or death snatches a loved one away; I am prone to behave more like little Emmy on the beach with her Mom .  I turn loose of Your Hand and run away from You, crying and wincing in pain.  Help me realize I have turned loose of the only Hand that can Help me…the Only Eyes I can trust to Guide me…and the only Light I have in my darkness.  Thank You for seeing my life even before I encounter it.  Teach me to trust You more and to Seas the Moments I spend with You in the Sands of this Life!   Amen

 

 

 

 

 

“O Say,  Can You See?”

July 4, 2016 at 3:44 pm

silhouetted flag  “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD…”                  (Psalm 33:12)


written by Debbie Allen

During the War of 1812, The ‘Washington Post’ headlines were, no doubt, plastered with bold one-liners like these; following the unbelievable, deadly, British attack on American soils:

“The White House is Burning!”  “Casualties on Our Own Shores!”  “Washington on Fire!”

No one expected this unwarranted attack on our young Nation. Even so, America scrambled back to her feet on high alert!  By the time the smoke cleared and the shock subsided, our Nation, along with the help of it’s growing and determined militia, was again about to engage in yet another battle for her freedom.  This time she faced another attack by the Royal British Navy  on the shores of Baltimore, Maryland.  While most of us remember the historic battle that took place on land that night; few of us know to look  beyond these same shores where we discover another intricate piece of history in the making!

A man called Frank, propped a rain soaked boot up on the polished side-rail of the British ship, detaining him against his will now, for over 20 hours.  Somewhere, stowed below deck on that same ship, was Dr. Beanes, Frank’s friend and the man he’d been commissioned by the President of the United States, to intervene for in a hostage-recovery mission.  Though a well-respected attorney back in Washington D.C., here on the water-logged deck of this British ship, Frank, too, was just another hostage now. For no other reason but taunting, the enemy shoved a brass spyglass into Frank’s hands, and then forced him to watch the ruthless, attacks on Fort McHenry in Baltimore.  After peering through the rain-washed lens of that spyglass for the duration of a 25-hour British bombardment ; silence finally reigned. No more red glare from rockets streaming through the night sky…no more bombs bursting in mid-air. No more trying to decipher whose casualties were greater. Frank dropped down on one knee and prayed silently.

“God, p-l-e-a-s-e…it is only by Your Grace our nation is here today; and only by Your Grace will it remain.  Amen

With exhausted arms and trembling hands, he rose to his feet, lifting the dreaded spyglass up against his bloodshot eye one last time. Frank pointed it in the direction of a smoldering, Fort McHenry. Great billows of smoke and ash rolled out into the silent harbor. By now, the rain too, subsided; only deepening the silence now threatening to smother him. The rhythmic beating of his anxious heart became the drum roll for what the spyglass was about to reveal to him. There in the dimness of dawn’s early light, Frank could see an American Flag being hoisted up onto the only thing left standing in Fort McHenry…the flag pole!

“Our flag is still there!” he shouted hoarsely, to anyone who might be listening

Turning to see the reaction of the soldiers on-deck; Frank spotted a British Officer fast approaching him with his friend, Dr. Beanes, in tow.  Cutting the ropes laced around Beane’s wrists, the Officer nearly knocked Frank overboard, shoving the Doctor towards him.

“Take your hostage and go back to your precious America… England deems you both as worthless as the soils you walk upon !”

Unscathed by this British Officer’s angry words, Frank was relieved to see his friend in good spirits.  Handing the spyglass to Beanes, he pointed it toward Fort McHenry. Still basking in the miracle of answered prayer and the beauty of the stars and stripes, Frank  pulled a damp envelope from his jacket pocket and began to pen these words,

“O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming.

O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

 

“Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!

Then conquer we must when our cause it is just.

And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

by Francis Scott Key (Frank) ———- September 14, 1814

The sight of those “broad stripes and bright stars” on the flag being hoisted over the shores of Fort McHenry  inspired Frank to write these fitting words; which eventually became the song we recognize today to be our National Anthem.  Nothing embodies a vision of freedom quite like the American Flag. Frank experienced it while looking through the spyglass back in 1814. You and I  sense the same pull it has on our own hearts today when we stand before ‘Old Glory’ with our hands cupped over our hearts, singing the National Anthem.

As we celebrate our own Freedom on Independence Day this Fourth of July; may we be reminded of the fearless courage and integrity, self-sacrifice and devotion of Americans, past and present; who willingly laid their lives down in defense of the freedom we walk in today. Dedicate your lives to the principles for which it stands.  Read between the stripes and see what Frank really saw when he looked down the shaft of that spyglass  back in 1814…

“One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!”

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HEART TRAPPINGS :

O Say can you see…that Frank is perhaps reflecting a much bigger picture of His-Story (God’s Story) than you or I ever imagined?  O Say can you see…the spiritual implications concerning your own heart and the price of freedom, whether on an individual basis or a national level?  O Say can you see…and consider these words from the Old Testament, pointing us to a different set of “Stripes” from our past ?

“…the burden of our peace was upon Him [Jesus] and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

What will you do with these heavenly”Stripes”? Turn away from them…or consider the high cost of the Freedom they bought for you?

PRAYER : Father, Thank you for the freedom we both celebrate today on Independence Day, and experience so freely every day!   Bless this nation with both victory and peace. May we never forget that America is a Heaven-Rescued land!

Christ and Flag

 

“And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave!” 

Amen

 

 

 

Clinging in a Cling-Free World

June 22, 2016 at 2:25 pm

Clinging 2

“God Loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”
–St. Augustine

 written by Debbie Allen
When my boys were just toddlers, their daily lunchtime also marked the end of their Daddy’s workday.  Every day, the jingling sound of his keys unlocking the front door had the same effect on the boys as a starter gun sounding-off at the beginning of a school track meet.  They took off running the instant their toes hit the ground; fingers still crusted with peanut butter , and lips smeared recklessly with grape jelly!  Jim peeked around the edge of the front door, always wearing a surprised look on his face at the sight and sound of so many little boys’ feet smacking the linoleum and bounding straight for him.  Both boys strained for all they were worth to see who could reach the finish line first!  If you haven’t already guessed it…Daddy was the finish line.
I stayed behind in the kitchen with baby brother, Trevor, perched on my hip.  He and I played the part of the roaring crowd in the background, cheering Mike and Brian on to the finish line.  By the time both boys reached Daddy, they wrapped their spaghetti-like arms around his legs while  burying twenty bare toes securely under the laces on top of Daddy’s work shoes. This was the moment they’d been  waiting for!  So there they stayed…clinging tightly, each one holding onto one of Daddy’s legs.  With every step Jim took, the boys laughed hilariously; moving when he moved and stopping when he stopped.  My heart always melted at the sight of all this boy commotion.  The joy of seeing my children interacting so freely with their Daddy (and Daddy with his boys) still touches me to this day.  This is what  love looks like when it flows freely and naturally.
I believe God had a picture much like this one in mind for His own children and how they are to interact with and love Him in this life.  Unfortunately, sin has distorted this picture.  Just look around you.  The Family unit lacks unity.  Marriage has become a relationship with no time to relate anymore; to each other, or to God.  Its evident we live in a cling-free world.  A world that promotes dryer sheets that cause even laundry to free-fall into a laundry basket, minus static.  Today’s cookware is Teflon-coated to ensure a stick-free cooking experience.  There is even a brand of motor oil designed to keep pistons in a car engine friction-free!  Our world capitalizes on making things stick-free…cling-free…and just-plain-easy for us!
God, on the other hand, capitalizes on making things more real to us…especially when it concerns His Love.  God’s greatest desire for His children is for them to have a heart devoted to loving, serving and obeying Him fully.  Not because we have to, but because we want to.  Wild horses couldn’t have held back my boys when they heard their Daddy coming through the front door every day at lunchtime. They tried to out-do each other in their passionate pursuit of him.  After all, when you love someone with all your heart and soul…it shows!
When it comes to loving our Heavenly Father in this life, He desires this same response from His own children, too. Looking back in the Old Testament,  Moses paints us  a vivid picture of this very idea  when he tells the Israelites standing at the threshold of the Promise Land, “Choose to love the Lord your God and to obey Him and to CLING to Him, for He is your life and length of days.”
That little word, CLING, means “to hold fast, to resist separation, to display extreme dependence.”
“Cling” is an action-word depicting how we are to walk with our Father, God.  It’s a beautiful word-picture of us (His children), running to Daddy, climbing up on His Feet, wrapping our spaghetti-arms around His pillar-like Legs…clinging so tightly to Him we sense His slightest movement!  This is unbridled Love…the kind of Love that flows freely when you love Someone with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul!
“I cling to You;Your right Hand holds me securely.” (Psalm 63:8)
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HEART TRAPPINGS:  Where in your own life do you find evidence of this world’s  cling-free thinking/ lifestyles?  Perhaps in your own laundry basket? Under the hood of your car? Maybe your marriage relationship?  What about in your own heart?  When your Heavenly Father stands peeking around the door of your heart at you, what will be your response to His Presence?  Will you run…or hide?  Will you cleave…or leave?
 PRAYER:  Father, God, teach me what it is to truly cling to You .  When I hear you turning the key and see Your Face peeking around my heart’s door at me, may my pursuit towards You always be passionate.   As I climb upon Your Feet and slip my bare toes under Your sandal straps, strengthen me to hold fast; to cling to You so tightly that Your slightest movement becomes mine too.  For only then will I begin to understand what it is to love You with all of my heart, all of my mind, and all of my soul!    May You always be my Finish-Line at the end of each day’s race.

The Fleece-Maker’s Daughter

May 27, 2016 at 9:26 pm

Sheep Farm“Shearing Day on the Farm leaves a permanent

   mark of shear joy on little girl’s heart!”


written by Debbie Allen

Most of us would agree, there is simply nothing like being a child.  It should be no surprise then, to discover that after we grow-up; we often just wish we were a child again.  Somewhere along the way, as adults, we lose sight of the simple joy that characterizes childhood. We lose touch with the wonder that God has tucked into the folds of our days.  We begin to wonder “why?” concerning our circumstances instead of being filled with the wonder of The One Who controls those circumstances.    It is in this breach between the wonder-filled  hearts and our wondering minds, that we begin  to push joy and Truth  through our own filter of circumstances and logic; ending up with only  a strained version of  true faith.  Let me show you what I mean.

A few months ago, Billie, the librarian at the middle school where I work; shared with me the little bits and pieces of her childhood; growing up on a small sheep and cattle ranch in the middle of windy, Wyoming.  She spoke fondly of the brazen, fun-loving Dad she loved so dearly; and the staunch, God-fearing, Mom who she adored.

She remembered watching her Dad and Uncle back a flatbed truck up next to their barn on Shearing Day.  Then, they hung a lengthy, burlap, fleece-bag down over the truck bed.  To me, a city girl, Shearing Day sounded like anything but fun. However, Billie’s expression told me otherwise. Her eyes danced while she spilled the specifics to me.  She was like a child reliving every moment again!

Shearing Day took place on the farm, in Wyoming, in the heat of summer.  This day was also characterized by scorching winds dancing across sweat-drenched brows, while swift and sweaty palms worked shear magic to transform the wild and wooly into the scraped and scrawny.    Sheep bleating, clippers clipping, and fleece flying!   All of this sounds like more than enough exhilaration to rate “extremely-high” on a child’s joy meter.  Billie’s face reflected this as she proceeded to act out her part in this scene from her childhood.  While still sitting in her rolling desk chair across from me, Billie threw both arms out to the side, lifted her feet straight up, and began to re-enact the dance that little four-year-old Billie remembered dancing on Shearing Day; after being placed down inside of a fifteen foot tall, burlap, fleece-bag dangling from the barn loft high above her.

“I can’t remember how I got down inside of that bag”, Billie pondered, grinning “…I just remember being there; laughing and giggling for an entire day, while endless fleece rained down on top of my head!”

Now…like every other task performed on the farm, Billie’s Dad did not just place his precious, Baby Girl down inside of that stuffy, burlap, fleece-bag without a much greater purpose in mind. She was given a very specific job to do for her Daddy.  She was his own, personal fleece-stomper!  He was to her, the fleece-maker.  He sheared and sheared…Billie stomped and stomped.  At the end of that day, pounds and pounds of sheared fleece became bags and bags full of compressed wool to take to market.  I’m sure each bag brought a great price, but, do you know what I consider to be the most valuable take-away from the farm at the end of Shearing Day?  The expression of joy that Billie still wears on her face nearly five decades later. Shear joy!  It comes from the heart of that little farm girl inside of her who, even now, looks back on all her stomping…and sees dancing.  She remembers her sweaty, pint-sized brow…and still calls it fun.   She ponders growing tired…yet, still draws strength from her Daddy’s simple words of encouragement to her that day, “Just keep stomping, little Bill, keep stomping!”

“Just keep stomping, little Bill, keep stomping!”  These words continued to resonate in my own thoughts.   They were simple, yet wise.  The expression of joy Billie wears on her face today, might have been very different had she not heeded her father’s words that day.

What if four-year-old Billie woke up on that hot, windy, Wyoming, Shearing Day on the farm and said, “No!” to the joy awaiting her in that day (As we adults too often do)?  She could’ve chosen to dwell purely on the facts surrounding her.  She was too little…too tired…too busy…and the job was too much for her littleness to comprehend.  But, she didn’t!  Instead, in the way of a little child, she sought her father out and without questioning him, accepted her small part in his BIG world.  Grasping her Daddy’s hand in total trust, she went willingly down into the burlap, fleece-bag which swallowed her up whole and then kept her from seeing him at all.  Little Billie could’ve felt trapped or even alone in this unfamiliar place.  Fear might have won.

But, looking up, instead of giving up, she cried out, “Daddy?”

“I’m here!” Daddy reminded her…and fear was done!

Quickly, she learned that just because the fleece-maker was invisible to her; didn’t mean he wasn’t still standing there beside her.  And when the clumps of fleece from her Daddy’s hands tumbled down upon her head, she didn’t wince or cry out, “Why?”  She simply remembered her littleness…in light of his nearness; and joyfully danced to the sounds of her Daddy’s voice.

“Just keep stomping, Little Bill’…

Keep dancing for me!”

“And let joy teach your heart

to really see!”

 Most of us forfeit the chance to really see because we become paralyzed by, or choose to focus only, on the circumstances falling down around us.  If Little Billie had chosen to do the same, she would have been buried alive at the bottom of the fleece-bag on Shearing Day.  However, she didn’t.  She chose wisely to heed her Daddy’s words and responded with obedience.  She stomped and stomped, tromping the fleece falling on top of her head, beneath her feet.  In time, with both diligence and fortitude, she rose steadily to the top of that bag; climbing out into the arms of her Daddy’s treasured, embrace.  Though hard work and difficult circumstances abounded in this day, joy overwhelmed it.  Joy enough to teach a child’s heart that trust and obedience brings both treasure and reward at the end of any given day.  Shear joy, so deeply infused in a little girl’s heart; it is still worn on the adult face of that little fleece-stomper today.

The story of the Fleece-maker and his Daughter speaks loudly to my heart about the kind of relationship each of us is meant to live out before our Heavenly Father.  Shearing Day emulates waking up each morning and saying, “yes” to Joy.  It is seeing past the obvious; I’m too tired…too busy…and the job is too much.  Seeking our Father out, without question, we are to accept our small part in His BIG world.  Grasping our Father’s Hand in total trust, we are to go willingly, as He slips us down into the unforeseen circumstances surrounding us each day.  And yes…they swallow us up without reservation and keep us from seeing the Face of our Father at all!  Feeling alone down in these unfamiliar places; Fear fights to win!

But, we look up and cry, “Father?”

He answers, “I AM here,”

And Fear is done!

Quickly, we learn in such secluded places, that just because our Father is invisible to us, doesn’t mean He isn’t standing right there next to us.  And when the circumstances that fall from our Father’s Hands come crashing down upon our heads; our Father’s Love has taught us we don’t wince and cry out, “Why?”

We remember instead, to ponder our little-ness in light of His Near-ness and joyfully dance to the sounds of our Heavenly Father’s Voice…

“Just keep stomping, Little Child,

Keep dancing for Me;

Let Joy teach your heart

To really see!”

 “For in Your Presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11 NKJV)

mini heart fp

HEART TRAPPINGS:  How many of your own childhood memories still flood your heart with deep-seated joy?  How willing are you to accept  your small part in your Heavenly Father’s BIG world? How do you react to the circumstances falling down around you?  Will you choose to keep dancing…or will you succumb to being buried alive by your circumstances?  What in life is hindering you from seeing your own little-ness… in light of your Father’s Near-ness?

                        PRAYER:  Father, I pray You help me learn to trust You more like a little child, concerning the circumstances falling down upon my         head.  Tune my ears to hear Your Voice and may I never doubt that just because I fail to see You…doesn’t mean You are not standing right there next to me.