Coffee and a Journal

I have the day off, so I’m spending some quality time with some coffee and a journal. Anne Frank found she could only confide in her beloved Kitty. I sometimes feel that the only one who truly understands me are the pages of my journal, my blog, or whatever scrap of paper I can find to jot down the thoughts swirling through my mind.

Writing gives me an outlet to release some of the inner pressure I feel as the tumultuous sea of life tosses me from wave to wave. Writing enables me to throw off excess weight so I don’t sink in the storm. Writing is therapeutic and brings comfort to my soul. Writing is an effective method of prayer.

One of the most powerful lessons I learned while in Bible school was that it is not who I am in the public arena that matters but who I am and what I do when I’m alone and no one can see. I learned the importance of the secret life, the inner person, the things hidden. These are what I cultivate and develop in times like these when only God can see. It is during these times that I lay my heart open before God and allow Him to reveal secrets.

So, here I am with my coffee and my journal alone in the food court of my local mall. Please don’t feel sorry for me. And for goodness sake don’t interrupt me. I treasure times like this.

These times alone with God, my coffee, and my journal are invaluable to me. This is a beautiful quiet time when I can think, pray, write and be who I truly am.

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Putting Together the Puzzle

It is no secret we’ve had challenges with our son’s behavior. I would describe him as bright, intelligent, talented, and a bit quirky.  There are aspects of his behavior that puzzled us, but we weren’t too concerned because as he matured those puzzling behaviors would cease.

When he first began to have tantrums, my husband brought him to a pediatrician who told him it was normal behavior for our son’s age. Before preschool we had early childhood people come to our house and assess him. They told us then that he was perfectly normal. I took him for his early childhood screening. He was one point short of passing, and I was told that since he was so close to passing it would be perfectly okay to decline services. I did. Preschool teacher #1 raised a concern about his communication skills. We discussed this issue with our family doctor, and our doctor told us it was perfectly normal; he would grow out of it. He did. Preschool teacher #2 was concerned that he wasn’t joining in with group activities or playing with the other kids. Two weeks later his teacher reported that he was joining in with group activities and playing with the other kids on the playground.  All of us wondered why we were so concerned.

Now our son is in Kindergarten, and more issues and concerns have been raised. We were accused of being in denial that something could be wrong and that we ignored red flags. I disagree. We have never been in denial that there are issues, and we didn’t ignore anything. We sought help and advice, but we were told there was nothing to worry about. However, to assuage his teacher’s concerns, we agreed to contact our family doctor again and explain the issues happening in school.  Our doctor referred us to a social worker who met with us along with our son.  She suggested that we should attend parenting classes, and perhaps the teacher was inexperienced if she couldn’t handle our son (not so—the teacher is very experienced), then just to make sure, she suggested we have our son undergo a psychological evaluation, and we consented.  After meeting with a psychiatrist, our son was diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). We began meeting with a behavioral therapist for PCIT (parent-child interactive therapy), and we experienced tremendous improvement in his behavior at home. Sadly, his behavior at school escalated. The therapist suggested that she have some 1:1 time with our son to see if she could dig into what is going inside him. 

Prior to the 1:1 session last week, during time in prayer I felt strongly that it would be a key week. My husband, during his own time of prayer, felt that truth would be revealed.  Something important would come to light. We were not disappointed.  What came to light is that the ODD diagnosis was incorrect.  However, as often can be, the truth was painful.

The therapist strongly suspects that our son has something in common with Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Isaac Newton, Andy Warhol, Bill Gates, Al Gore, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Charles Schultz, and his creation, Charlie Brown–it is suspected that he has Asperger’s Syndrome.

Two days later we met with a school psychologist, his teacher, and the principal to discuss plans to determine if our son is eligible for special education, and this week begins the arduous task of formal evaluations, tests, and assessments to determine an accurate diagnosis.  This process will take a couple of months before we have any concrete answers.  The results of all this testing will be released to our therapist who will confirm a diagnosis which she feels will turn out to be Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)-Level 1 (as of May 2013, diagnostic guidelines changed, and the term Asperger’s Syndrome is no longer used).  This means that although he is very high functioning and can talk in complete sentences, he has some difficulty initiating social interactions and there are atypical responses to social overtures of others.  Additionally, he has inflexibility/rigidity in other areas.

For those reading this, I wanted to let you know what is going on, but please understand that we are only beginning to put this puzzle together.  We are in shock, and we are grieving, and we have many more questions than we have answers.  We have wonderful friends and a church family who are supporting us through this.  Additionally, we are pursuing nutritional remedies that have proven successful for many in reversing autism. 

Thank you for reading this, and thank you for keeping our family in prayer during this difficult time.  I truly believe that our son will continue to amaze us, and we have high hopes for a wonderful and abundant life for him.

His dream?  He wants to be a doctor.
His dream? He wants to be a doctor.

Iron Fortified Me

Over the past few months I haven’t been quite myself.  Irritable.  Sad.  Disconnected.  Lonely.  I found it difficult to concentrate and work through the stress at work and home.  I thought I was fighting another bout of depression, and there was good reason.  I have two small children and a stressful job.  I try to please everyone and oftentimes please no one.  Feelings of inadequacy and failure can lead anyone to feel depressed.  To top that off I was excited to get back into my fitness routine, and I sprained my toe.  Really?!  Do you know that a seemingly insignificant toe can cause a great deal of pain and inhibit even the simplest of activities?

In the midst of all this some cool and exciting things were happening with my children.  My son (6) expressed an interest in karate.  I found a community education class that offered three sessions as an introduction to see if this was really something he was interested in doing.  He completed the first two and was looking forward to the third when he would be able to sign up for real classes and be fitted for his uniform.  This third class coincided with my daughter’s fourth birthday, and we planned on celebrating as a family after my son’s karate class.  However, something happened…about 1 o’clock in the afternoon before all this activity was to happen, while doing pretty much nothing, my heart started to pound and I felt very dizzy and lightheaded.

I laid down and tried to watch a movie on my iPad to relax, but after two hours my heart continued to pound and the room was still spinning.  I called my husband.  Funny that he was just downstairs in the house, but with our modern technology we use our cell phones to call and text even if the other is in the next room.  Anyway, I digress.  I told him what was happening to me, then I called the emergency room.  The triage nurse told me to call 911.  I honestly didn’t feel like my life was in danger, so my husband drove me into the emergency room where I was whisked into the critical care unit and hooked up to monitors, stuck with IV needles, and an oxygen tube was wrapped around my face.  Inundated with questions.  Wheeled off for a chest x-ray.  More questions.  All tests coming back negative (normal).  It was decided that I was not in a life threatening situation, but what was causing my heart to beat like this?  Why was I so dizzy?  The doctors decided to keep me overnight for observation and have me undergo a stress test in the morning.

All I could think about was how disappointed my children were.  No karate for my son.  No family birthday celebration for my daughter.  I failed again.  My dear hubby encouraged me to give myself a break.  And I found out later, that my son completely forgot about his karate class, and my daughter was oblivious to the missed celebration–both things I had magnified in my own mind.  They were fine.

The next morning I was hooked up to more monitors while walking briskly uphill on a treadmill.  After that was a lengthy consultation with a cardiologist who was completely baffled because my heart is perfectly healthy.  He determined that what happened was a result of increased stress and dehydration, which made perfect sense.  I was discharged.

I went home and for the next week I felt awful.  I couldn’t think straight.  The slightest thing caused my heart to beat fast and hard.  I saw my primary physician for follow up.  She reviewed the notes and test results from my ER visit and noticed that my hemoglobin was a bit low, so she ordered blood tests to check my ferritin levels (ferritin is a protein in the blood that indicates the amount of iron in the blood cells).  The bottom of the normal scale for a woman is 12; my result was 5.

Eureka!  The problems I was having weren’t about my mental/emotional state, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with my heart.  I have iron-deficiency anemia.  I am now on iron supplements and feeling much more like myself again.

For those of you old enough to remember Popeye, remember how he used to pop open a can of spinach and was infused with the strength to beat up Brutus and rescue Olive Oyl?  That’s what I feel like.  I have the strength to take on any challenge life throws at me.

The word fortified means that something is added to increase strength, support or reinforcement of another thing especially emotional. Fortified refers to something that is moral and intended to give encouragement.

I am an Iron-Fortified Me!

I dreamed I was going through a high ropes course through a dense forest making my way from treetop to treetop.  Within the trees were people cheering me on and giving me hints about the best way to maneuver through the obstacles. They encouraged me to focus on each obstacle.  I was not to look down to see how high I was.  I was to look ahead.  I knew if I saw how high I was I would be overcome with fear and frozen in place.  Once I completed each obstacle I looked ahead to see what was next.  I scrambled over narrow rope bridges, climbed swinging rope ladders, jumped from net to net, swung from vines…amazed I was able to move like this with relative ease.    

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Finally, I came to the end of the course.  I held onto a rope and climbed a vertical wall up to a platform.  What I was climbing was the wall of a mansion and the platform was a deck.  Now I was getting tired.  It was easy moving horizontally through the treetops, but this vertical climb was exhausting.  I got to the top.  My heels dangling over the edge as I was clinging onto the railing above my head.  The vertical slats were made of thick glass so I could see through to the entrance of the mansion.  I saw other people reach the deck and climb over the railing to get inside.  I was spent.  I didn’t have anymore energy.  It took all my strength to hang onto the railing knowing if I let go I would plummet to my death.  There were people on the deck smiling and encouraging me to climb.  I burst into tears and cried, “Please don’t tell me I have to climb.  I can’t.  I just can’t.”  Then someone came over and pushed on three to four of the glass slats to my left.  They folded down like a Murphy bed, and I was able to crawl through to the deck platform and into the mansion.  Within the mansion was a spa with every kind of treatment to pamper me and make me beautiful.  

As I awoke, my first thought was, “God in His great mercy provided a solution to my problem that I did not expect.”  I picked up my Bible for my morning devotion, and this verse grabbed my heart:

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much (Ephesians 2:4)

There are some situations in my life that I’ve held in my heart before Father God in prayer for well over a decade.  As more time passes, the solutions to these situations seem more and more impossible.  I really believe that God, in His rich mercy because He loves me, used this dream to encourage my heart and to say to me, “I will provide a solution that you do not expect.”

Love Bears All Things

“There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.” 
John 16:12

Imagine with me, if you will, sitting with Jesus and His disciples around the Last Supper table. However, you don’t know it’s the “last.” Jesus whispers something to Judas and he abruptly leaves, you think to offer tzedekah (traditional gift of charity) to honor Passover.  However, he has a much more sinister plan.  What you don’t know is that Jesus needed Judas out of the way so He could tell you and the others what was about to happen, so you would be ready and not lose heart.

Jesus opens His heart in ways that puzzle and trouble you.  You followed Him for three years.  You listened to Him teach.  You witnessed amazing miracles.  You believed He was Messiah…the One who would deliver Israel from the tyranny of Rome.  You put your hope in Him.  You left everything…family, home, livlihood…for Him.  Now, He’s talking about leaving.  You are troubled but intrigued by all He is saying, yet He says that there is more He would like to say, but He can’t because you can’t bear it.

Perhaps the disciples could not bear/take in more of what Jesus wanted to tell them because they were too full of their own pain and sorrow. He didn’t rebuke them for it. He understood that they were not in a place to consider God’s great plan of redemption which was about to play out. They only saw the present sorrow they faced hearing that Jesus was leaving. Hard too for Jesus knowing He had to face death alone–those He was closest to would abandon Him.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
1 Corinthians 13:7

This is what comforts and quiets my soul during difficult times…trusting that He sees the whole picture, the end from the beginning. He knows how it will all turn out, and I can trust Him to lead me through.  When I can fully trust Him, lean on and rely on Him, I don’t have to understand.  Understanding will come.

 

Are You Thirsty? Water and Wine

I am currently involved in a Bible study on the Book of John. Today’s section was about the first miracle Jesus performed, turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana. A few years ago during a time of prayer, the LORD showed me some interesting things about water and wine.

Water is a basic necessity of life. You drink water to keep hydrated. Water quenches thirst, but there is no taste. Water refreshes–it is necessary for the health and functioning of the body. Water cleanses. Water is not valued until there is a lack of it.

Wine is a luxurious treasure. You drink wine to relax, to celebrate, to unwind as you enter a place of rest. Wine has strong flavor, so strong you must sip it slowly. There is an art to tasting wine; it takes skill and practice to discern all that you’re supposed to exerience as the taste lingers in your mouth. Only the mature can partake of wine. Wine has medicinal qualities.

Passover begins with water and ends with wine. It begins by a ceremonial washing and ends with a celebratory partaking of wine.

Wine is for those whose thirst has been quenched. In a dry and thirsty place all you want is water; wine would burn. When your thirst is quenched then you can take the time to taste the wine.

You are not to drink wine alone. It is a covenental drink–it’s meant to be a shared experience. You employ all your senses when you drink wine:

  • hear the cork pop
  • see the color
  • smell the bouquet
  • taste the richness
  • feel the tanons coating your teeth

When you drink water you just swallow.

So we must stay hydrated and keep our thirst quenched so we can experience the deeper, richer flavor of the wine.

Book Review: Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

In the past I read books and saw movies about people who converted to Christianity that left me wanting. These stories seemed so shallow and cliché, “My life was garbage, then I met Jesus, and everything is happily ever after.” What bugs me about these types of stories is that the bulk of the story focused on the “garbage,” and very little of the focus was about how Jesus changed their lives because as soon as they committed their lives to Him, the story ends. The implication is that all their problems disappeared and they lived a fairy-tale happily ever after. Those of us who are Christians know that life is still hard, there are still challenges, but there is hope. With Jesus, we can face life’s challenges with perseverance and have confidence that He is with us and will see us through. The Christian life is anything but boring. It is rich and fulfilling, exciting and purposeful. It is an ongoing process of becoming transformed into Jesus’ image, and honestly, it’s not always neat and pretty nor does it feel good, but the outcome…awesome!

I also realize that people who do not share my faith would argue, “I have a good life. My life is rich and fulfilling and definitely not boring. How dare you imply that my life is garbage and has no purpose or meaning simply because I don’t believe as you do.”

This was very much like the argument Rosaria Champagne Butterfield gave. Years ago she was an English professor at Syracuse University specializing in Queer Theory. She was a leader in her field, highly respected, and very involved in community outreach and cared deeply about justice, morality and compassion. She lived a happy, meaningful and fulfilled life.

In the late 1990’s she began research for a book she was writing about the religious right. Deeply hurt and offended by Christian leaders like Pat Robertson who stated at the Republican National Convention in 1992

“Feminism,” he sneered, “encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.”

It was this statement that put her over the edge to launch her attack on Christians. I don’t blame her. I find this statement deplorable. For my thoughts on feminism, please read my blog post from September 2011 entitled Ferociously Feminine.

She knew that if she were to launch an effective attack she needed to study and learn about who her enemies (i.e. Christians) were, and it was during this process that she became what she previously loathed. For more of her story, read her book Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey Into Christian Faith.

The thing I found so remarkable about Rosaria’s story is that, as different as our journeys are, we are both learning the same lessons and arriving at the same place. She describes her conversion as a train wreck. I can identify with that. Everything my life was has crumbled to ash. I don’t recognize the person I was because of the person I became. My life of following Jesus is an experience of letting go of myself in order to embrace Him.

What is the outcome? Well, my life is still playing out, but I can truly say that while my life is not at all what I imagined, intended or hoped for, my life is so much better. I have experienced a much richer, deeper, and more meaningful life because I gave my life at the altar of the Cross.

 

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. –Philippians 3:8-9

 

I finished Rosaria’s book last night. She traveled a difficult road to arrive at her current destination. A truly transformed life. It is difficult to believe that the person she describes in the first chapter and the last chapter are one in the same and that person is herself. I respect her courage to share her struggles and triumphs in such an open and honest way. I am challenged and encouraged by her message.

The Big Picture: As Seen Through Heaven’s Eyes

A single thread in a tapestry
Through its color brightly shine
Can never see its purpose
In the pattern of the grand design

So how can you see what your life is worth
Or where your value lies?
You can never see through the eyes of man
You must look at your life

Look at your life through heaven’s eyes

The Burning Bush

The above is from the song Through Heaven’s Eyes from the soundtrack for the movie “Prince of Egypt.” I love that imagry of my life being a colored thread within a tapestry that God is weaving. What an amazing day it will be when the revelation of this tapestry is unveiled. A real time to revel with elation (see my last post).

There are many times when things don’t make sense. Times when I’m frustrated, sad, disappointed, and, should I dare say?, mad at God. Then after time passes, and life settles down a bit, the dust clears and I can see more clearly, and I come to realize that God knew what was happening and had everything under control, and my heart is filled with gratitude for all He brought me through.

“Yes, I still get frustrated. I want to know how my current difficulty fits into God’s big picture. It would make things so much easier to endure the challenge at hand, wouldn’t it? But God’s ways are not our ways, and until it’s my turn to sit in Jesus’ lap and feel that unimaginable peace and security, I’m trying to live my life with that in mind.” {Todd Burpo, HEAVEN CHANGES EVERYTHING}

Another perspective is that I rarely have an inkling of the impact my life makes on others. What I do and the choices I make don’t only affect me but other people are impacted as well. This became clear when I got married and became a mother. My life is also a thread in the tapestry of the lives I encounter and have relationship with. My life is not my own. A sobering thought.

I think about the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They were grieved over Jesus’ death and bewildered about what they were supposed to do now. Then they were joined on the road by a stranger asking them what they were talking about. They couldn’t believe the ignorance of this stranger.

“You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”

Then the stranger proceeded to remind them about all the writings of Moses and the prophets that explained all the Messiah would have to do and suffer. Then they had a meal together. As soon as the stranger broke the bread the veil was lifted and they recognized Jesus. I find it interesting that their claim of experiencing their hearts burn wasn’t when Jesus broke the bread, but when He took them through the writings of Moses and the prophets…as they began to see the pattern of the tapestry of God’s ultimate plan of redemption their hearts were aflame.

Prayer

Father God, giver and author of life. Let this lesson be a reminder to me of the bigger picture–the beautiful tapestry your are weaving. I surrender myself to Your plan. Weave me into the tapestry as you see fit. May my life draw attention to Your beauty, and may my life beautify others. Open my eyes. Lift the veil so I may see my life through Heaven’s eyes.

Revelation–Joy Revealed!

I went to church this past Sunday morning a bit down emotionally. I just finished a challenging week at work, averaged 3-4 hours of sleep per night, and I was fighting a cold. So, I picked a seat in the back corner not wanting to expose myself and my germs to anyone, and I began to pray before the service started.

Our church services are different from the norm. The atmosphere is casual. The worship is contemporary. There is no hierarchy of leadership and lay folks. We’re just a bunch of friends who come together on Sunday mornings to love God and one another. Yes, we do have a pastor and a leadership team, and a basic structure of how things are done, but it’s a flexible structure that gives room for the Holy Spirit to express His heart in the way He wants.

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you with all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16

We have an “open mic policy,” so that anyone who has something to say, pray or share throughout the service is free to do so during worship and even during the sermon. The congregation is encouraged to speak up and add to whatever is being shared.

Anyway, back to the service. Nate opened the service in prayer and a gentle admonition wondering why everyone was so quiet as we should be in joyous celebration. Kristi got up and shared how the LORD ministered to her as she saw her dad, Ken, dance his way into the service. Ken’s face radiant with the joy and glory of the LORD lit up the room. We entered into worship, and afterward prayed for one another to be filled fresh with the Holy Spirit. Kristi’s husband, Luke, was invited to speak. He spoke about transformation. The gist of his message was that God isn’t working to change us into something we’re not, but He is bringing us into our true identity–who we really are. And it is as God reveals the truth to us that we can embrace our identity. In the here and now we only see a part, but there will be a time when the veil will be removed and we will fully know even as we are fully known. Oh what joy that day will bring!

“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the LORD. And the LORD–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

It is through revelation that we are transformed into His image. I wrote the word revelation in my journal as Luke was speaking, and I saw something I never saw before. I saw two words:

REVEL and ELATION

The word revel means to take intense pleasure or satisfaction.
The word elation means a feeling or state of great joy or pride; exultant gladness, high spirits

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For me this was the decorative bow that tied everything that happened in the service together. I understand that God has specific times and seasons for everything. This service was a week prior to the Jewish celebration of Purim. Purim is the commemoration of the story of Esther, and one interesting fact about the Biblical book of Esther is that God is never mentioned; however, it is recognized that God was at work behind the scenes directing all that happened for the Jews to triumph over their enemies. Purim is one of the most joy-filled celebrations on the Jewish calendar. People dress in costumes (as a tradition of God working behind masks) and give treats to one another. Games are played. Food is eaten, and it is one holiday that Jewish people are actually commanded to get drunk.

I am so grateful for how the service played out, and what God wanted to say was so evident and beautifully unveiled (revealed) through many of us–Nate’s admonition for us to be joyful, Kristi’s testimony of her dad dancing into the service (by the way, a year ago, Ken was very ill and in desperate need of a heart transplant. He received his new heart over the summer, and I’m so blessed in seeing his health restored and that all of us are getting to see and know the real Ken!), Luke’s message, and the revelation that God is inviting us to revel–to take intense pleasure and to be in a state of elation–exultant gladness as our eyes are opened to see Him and we are transformed into His image.

Parable of The Gift Giver

THE PARABLE TOLD

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A father came home with arms full of presents for his children. The children greedily grabbed the gifts and tore into them, not even noticing the beautiful wrapping paper, ribbons and bows nor the obvious effort their father took in making these presents beautiful for them. They didn’t care about that. They wanted what was inside. They were very pleased with their gifts, each exclaiming that their’s was better than the others. This happened regularly. Whenever father came home, he always had wonderful presents for his children. However, over time it was apparent that the children cared more for the presents than they did for their father, and while father enjoyed giving these gifts to his children and seeing their happy faces, something made him sad.

He noticed that each time he brought them something new, the previous gifts were despised and tossed aside, even though there was nothing wrong with them; the children grew to expect that each new gift father gives them will be bigger and brighter and somehow better than what they got before. No matter how generous father’s presents were, the children were never truly satisfied.

One day he decided to do something different. When he arrived home he greeted his children with open arms. Unfortunately, all the children saw were his empty hands. He called each one by name and offered his embrace, but the only response was sneers and snorts of disdain and disappointment. The eldest asked indignantly, “Where are our presents?”

Father responded, “Well, because I truly wanted to show you my love, I decided not to come today with presents, but to offer you my presence.”

THE PARABLE EXPLAINED

What is more valuable? The gift, or the person who gives the gift? Gift giving is one of the familiar love languages, albeit one that is probably often misunderstood as materialistic. It’s not. One who is fluent in the language of gift giving strives to communicate love through giving a present to declare, “I remembered you today, and I wanted to honor you by giving you something that would bless you and give you pleasure. I saw this and thought of you, and I hope that this gift will remind you that you are loved and deeply cared for.” And giving gifts is one way that God demonstrates His love for His children.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in Him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed.” John 3:16

“Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father who made the heavenly lights; with him there is neither variation nor darkness caused by turning.” James 1:17

God never regrets the gifts He gave, even when they are misused, misunderstood and despised. He doesn’t regret what He gave even when His children are unthankful and greedily seek after more of His presents than they do of His presence.

On the contrary, I think of Moses who had the opportunity to take the children of Israel into the Promised Land; however, God told him that because of their sin He would not go with them. Moses refused to go. He would not receive God’s gift without His presence. I also think of the ten lepers Jesus healed. It was as they were on their way that they discovered that the leprosy was gone. Only one returned to Jesus to thank Him.

I am very grateful for the gifts He gave me. I am thankful for the gift of speaking in tongues, prophesy, words of knowledge, healing, miracles, and everything God pours out from Heaven. However, I want to be careful that I don’t place more value on these gifts than they are worth and unwittingly fall into the sin of idolatry. I want to be sure that I am seeking to know God first and foremost. All He gives are a wonderful byproduct as He is the greatest Gift Giver. The purpose for His gifts is to demonstrate His love, to show that we are valuable to Him, and to ultimately develop relationship with us. Throughout the Bible I read about the cry of His heart, “that My people would know me.”

“For now we see obscurely in a mirror, but then it will be face to face. Now I know partly; then I will know fully, just as God has fully known me.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

PRAYER

Father of lights, Who brings all things to light, leaving nothing obscure or hidden, but Who delights in revealing truth. Thank You first of all for giving Your beloved Son to die for me so that I may live the life You intended. Thank You for Your generous provision that sustains me. Thank You for the ways You reveal Yourself to me and interact with me. Thank You that You are near and alive and always speaking to me, always revealing Your heart in wonderful ways. Thank You for the gifts You gave in the past. I do not toss them aside for the new, for I treasure the past ways You showed Your love to me through the gifts of the Spirit. Each gift is precious and useful and builds on one another. The gifts You gave before are but the building blocks for the gifts You give now. I sincerely thank You for the gift of grace that has brought me farther than I ever thought I could go and proved to me that I am stronger than I know. Thank You for Your mercy that gently guides me along the path of life, encouraging me to keep moving forward. Thank You for strength and healing so I can climb mountains and leap over walls. Thank You, above all, for Your presence.