Bella -N-Rose

Bella and RoseAll was well in the Cantrell Home until the day Rose arrived.  Who would have thought that an adopted kitten from a local shelter could cause such an upheaval in the social order of things?  Bella, our aging, hybrid Siamese-Tabby feline, has been the one in charge and that is just the way things have been for well over a decade.  Until Rose…

We have actually come full-circle upon our return to Fort Hood, Texas, after an eleven year exodus.  The Army sent us back here recently, back to where our lives given over to the cat species all began.  Bella was literally brought home from the local Walmart one day years ago, along with the laundry soap, cereal, and toilet paper.  Who could resist that tiny, helpless, white ball of fluff with large blue eyes, being literally pawned off to any willing, weak, indulging parents with children in tow who just happened to be crossing the parking lot?  As one-half of the willing, weak, indulging parent team, I can attest to that being where it all began.

Bella was a handful from the start.  Although, tiny, she was quickly in charge!  She kept us up nights with her constant kitty crooning and her temperamental tendencies were immediately discovered.  She loved us and hated us.  She expected to be stroked one minute, but did not hesitate to bite if she suddenly changed her mind.  She growled, hissed, and swatted at any and every unsuspecting house guest, vet clinic attendant, and even us.  All of these qualities have continued from kitten-hood to the present.  She has a reputation amongst the extended family and beyond as being a real *$%^&&*!  She can be sweet, but honestly, only those of us closest to her have seen this.  It is those rare moments that have kept her in our home all these years.  We have often said that nobody else in this entire world would take her in, and she would be doomed to euthanasia within moments if we just dropped her off at the pound.  Hence, she is still with us!

Aging has a way of mellowing us all, and even Bella is not resistant to this.  We are aging, too, and maybe this is why we have co-existed with her so well for so long.  But Eliza Jane, our young, college cheerleader-daughter, now living back at home, was not  content just living with her aging parents and old, aging Bella.  She begged for a new kitten to keep her company.  That’s when we acquired Rose.

Like Bella, Rose is a handful!  She not only drives us crazy with biting, scratching, and drawing blood, she is in constant motion until wearing herself out.  And she continually harasses Bella.  If I had put a wager on this, I would have bet that Bella would take down Rose from the start.  Bella has shown great restraint and patience-she’s been “almost” motherly in her approach to Rose.  That is until she has reached her full tolerance level.  I have always quoted the movie, Overboard, in reference to Bella’s one-and-only status in our family.  The mother of Goldie Hawn’s character says to her high-maintenance, self-absorbed daughter, “If you have a baby, then you won’t be the baby anymore!”  Bella has surprised me with her effort to be sweet!

Still, when we see Bella being mercilessly pounced upon and attacked, we step in with a water-filled squirt bottle to help ward off Rose.  We put Rose in one of our extra bedrooms behind closed doors at night, so all of us, including Bella, can get a break.  Bella often retreats to a high shelf in our master closet during the day, too.  Needless to say, Rose is a little like the self-absorbed, high-strung kitten we got at Walmart years ago!

Our life has clearly gone to the cats!  I really do wish I could turn back the hands of time, back to when it was just Bella, a mere few weeks ago.  I had learned to deal with Bella.  I was used to Bella.  Used to a one-cat home.  We were mellowing with time together.  But now, Rose.  Rose and Bella.  Rose and Bella and us.  And Eliza is at cheer camp this week!

P.S.  I purchased a gigantic kitty tree from Petsmart yesterday.  I had to wait almost an hour in a hundred degrees Texas heat parking lot waiting for my husband to arrive to retrieve the gigantic kitty tree lodged in my car’s back seat almost permanently causing the doors not to close.  I should have measured before I purchased!

 

Army Moves and Heart Checks

moving boxesWe arrived at our new rental home just after noon on a weekday following a three day PCS (permanent change of duty station-an Army move) from Fort Drum, New York, to Fort Hood, Texas.  We were pulling a U-Haul trailer behind our 2011 Toyota RAV for over a thousand miles, a partial DITY (do-it-yourself) move, because we believed our furniture would arrive at least a week or so later via the Army-contracted movers, and we wanted some conveniences like our queen bed in the meantime.  We were exhausted, but excited because the beautiful home found on the website would soon be ours for the next twelve months.  A perfect house.  A perfect location.

I had really prayed over this move-for the travel, the finances, and the off-post house we would insert our belongings and lives into since the waiting list for on-post housing was way too long.  And especially, because our younger daughter was coming home from college in central Florida in a few weeks-possibly for good.  We wanted plenty of space for our daughter to have some privacy and be able to entertain friends.  This two-story beauty boasted three bedrooms with a double-sink vanity bathroom and large open loft/living area upstairs, with a huge master bedroom, two living areas, a dining area, and large eat-in kitchen and laundry room on the main floor.  A beautiful tree-filled backyard with covered porch beckoned us for summer barbeques.  And the location of this gorgeous manor was central to my husband’s new job on the Army installation and my daughter’s possible commute as a transfer student to the quaint central Texas college in the opposite direction.  Yes, this was going to be perfect.  I had prayed, and this house won over the other almost brand-new home, the Southern Living-inspired, eat-off-the-kitchen-floor home because of a misunderstanding of the lease agreement costing us and the former rental company over $600 each.  But I just knew with all that and my husband’s insistence that this sight-unseen fortress was “the one,” that this was God’s pick of a home for us.  Finally arriving in our new quiet neighborhood with its large lots and homes displaying varying levels of care, we were hoping our home would look just like the internet photo-a stately manor with well-manicured lawn.

Pulling into the drive of 619, it was a little disconcerting, though, to find the vast yard unmowed and unedged.  Still the home itself seemed to look like the picture-perfect ideal we had anticipated.  But that was before we actually walked through the front door.  Reality greeted us in the foyer that beautiful Texas spring day just after lunch.  The smell of family dogs past was the first thing we noticed.  Then the overly carpeted spacious square footage displaying stains of all color and hue, mostly in gray, urine and grime, captured our attention.  As we proceeded from room to room examining the overall space and condition, we were most unhappy realizing this was what we signed the new lease for, and we had a lot of cleaning to do.  Dirty baseboards endlessly stretching the entire parameter of this tw0-story beaut and muddy dog-prints on about every door leading in and out of the house could not be overlooked.  Dirty screens on windows and a greasy stained kitchen tiled floor too boot.  I began to cry!

I had just left a thoroughly scrubbed home we vacated on the military installation in the North Country of New York.  I did not want to scrub another one.  I expected with this amount of deposit and rent, I would have a move-in-ready perfect house!  How dare this rental company rent anything in this condition, especially, to an officer in the United States Army!  Don’t they know word gets around about such businesses, especially ones dependent on the continual influx of new Army families year round?

My husband, the annoying optimist and good sport, softly tried to assure me with, “I will make this house nice for you.  I promise.”  At that, I was furious.  “I told you we should have moved into temporary lodging so we could look at homes once we got here, but no, you just pushed to have the home secured before we even got here,” I bitterly replied.  “I do not want to stay in this home for twelve months!  And to think, you even asked about an extended lease option!” I sarcastically added.  I knew even if we could get out of this lease, our furniture was arriving the day after tomorrow (due to an eager furniture-deliverer), and there was no way everything we owned would be coming into a clean and sparkling house.  Besides, we had to unload our overly loaded and unnecessarily rented U-Haul even before that!

We decided we were stuck here at least for the time being, so we unattached our unpacked rented trailer from the RAV and headed out for some groceries to stock the fridge for a few days.  I had noticed that the refrigerator did not appear very cold upon first inspection, so we turned the knob to a colder setting before departing for the local Walmart.  Coming home the evening of our first day at 619, we tiredly filled our refrigerator with some staples consisting of soy milk, coffee creamer, butter spread, and the like.  We even managed to unload most of the U-Haul and set up our master bed complete with sheets and pillows before falling asleep from sheer exhaustion for our over three days of travel and for the added bitter disappointment on my part.  We were only interrupted during the night by the smoke detector in need of battery replacement; with no batteries in sight or knowledge where they would even be inserted, my husband disconnected the entire wiring system only knocking out power momentarily, but avoiding death by electrocution to stop the endless chirping every few minutes so we could actually get some sleep.

Reality that I was in the house probably for good hit early the next morning as I arose from a coma to receive my husband’s daily, ritual-like expression of his love for me-a morning coffee delivery to my bedside.  He mentioned that the creamer did not seem that cold when he poured it into my Kerug morning blend.  Hours later we confirmed that the stainless steel refrigerator was not working at all.  Not many hours after this, we had to throw away all the purchased food we had stocked in it.  The 619 rental company sent a man out to repair it a day or so later, but during the weekend that followed we discovered it still did not work.  We used a cooler for more creamer and the like for over a week before the owner finally purchased a new refrigerator for our home.

We received our furniture with no new detectable dents, scrapes, or broken items-thank you, God!  My husband, God love him, purchased a new lawn mower (he had just given away a fairly new one and a used snow-blower to a family back at Fort Drum) and began mowing and weeding and edging our new lawn, while also collecting broken limbs strewn all across this tree-covered property binding them into piles for garbage collection.  He worked tirelessly on the lawn during the daylight and helped me in the evenings unpack countless boxes he carefully broke down to store for an eventual move in twelve months-at our expense this time.

Well, we have been in the not-so-ready-to-rent-out home for over a month and a half now, and I have learned some things about my heart.  I have learned how spoiled I am.  I have learned that I possess a sense of entitlement more than I realized.  I wrongfully believe I deserve much more than God chose for me to have.  I believe He probably wanted to show me the current condition of my heart through a military move and a two-story rental home.

I have already scrubbed most of the baseboards surrounding the now professionally cleaned carpets, with still miles to go.  A sweet neighbor came and blocked the gaping holes in our fence which has kept all those stray dogs from neighboring communities from continuing to run havoc in our backyard.  I am trying to be humble and just clean that which I do not feel I should, and I am trying to appreciate my husband more because he has worked so hard to make this imperfect dwelling our home.  As a military spouse, I understand that this is temporary-only about ten months left on our lease…and counting.

It’s a heart-thing!

Robin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lord’s Prayer Challenge and the 23rd Psalm

Recently, I was in a conference with my husband’s denominational affiliation, and while there, I heard a well-known, Christian minister speak about how the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm had had a powerful impact on his life.  He said that about ten years ago, he was struggling in the midst of a very deep depression.  He began reciting the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm at least for-to-five times a day, and that He literally was healed through the process of applying God’s Word to his life.

He said that the modern church has lost something in not including many of these powerful prayers and ancient creeds, once recited in unison, as a part of worship.  There are still some churches and denominations that do this, and perhaps, they have something to teach us!

The Lord tells us that “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).  If food and water are not enough to sustain us, than no wonder many of us are literally dying on the vine.  Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual maladies can sometimes be a result of our lack of spiritual nourishment for the soul.

I remember my most difficult bout with depression.  It came shortly after the birth of our second daughter.  I was so depressed, all I wanted to do was sleep away the hours.  I looked forward to bedtime, because once asleep, I did not have to struggle with the nagging fears and sense of hopelessness that filled my waking hours.  It was then that I began to feed myself on God’s Word.  I found Scripture passages and wrote them down on little note cards-many note cards, and read them over and over again.  I had them stuck in my Bible for safe-keeping, so daily I could pull them out and recite the verses that began filling me with HOPE.  It did not happen overnight, but gradually, I began to feel more hopeful and at peace.

On two consecutive nights, I awakened in the wee hours from a deep sleep, during which I dreamt the the most amazing dreams, which I believe were messages from God Himself.  The first night, the dream ended with no conclusion as to its meaning; I awoke a little disappointed, but believed it addressed my depression.  I knew God knew what I was struggling with.  On the second night, it was like nothing I have experienced in my life before or since.  A rush of wind literally blew into my left ear and awakened me from the most dramatic dream during which I was instantly delivered from my depression at a church service.  If I had not awakened when I did, merely seconds after the climax of the dream, I probably would not have remembered it in the morning.  I knew at this point, that I would indeed come through this dark period in my life, and it was God who was going to bring me through to the other side.  I now had hope!

The point is, feasting on God’s Word as I did, instilled in my spirit the belief, God is Who He says He is.  The Word is Truth.  And it is that “truth that sets us free” (John 8:32).  What does it mean to feast?  I believe hearing God’s Word over and over until it becomes a part of us and changes us.  Faith to believe God and His promises increases in us as His Word fills us.  Roman 10:17 literally says that faith comes from hearing the Word of God.  If your faith is low, feast on His Word!

I am not going to say that I have never again struggled with depression.  Some people have biological tendencies toward depression; but I do believe feeding one’s soul can have amazing results for this struggle, as with any other human struggle, because we begin to put our hope and trust in God.  And His Word promises that He will not disappoint us.  He has never disappointed me!

So I am challenging myself now to recite out-loud, four-to-five times daily, The Lord’s Prayer, which is found in Matthew 6, and the 23rd Psalm.  Not to be spoken as a rote, mechanical exercise, but as a prayerful, hopeful plea to my God!  I will report on my experience in the coming weeks.

Join me in this challenge to incorporate these ancient verses in our daily lives, and watch how God’s Word changes us, renews us, heals us… I will report back my findings, and I would love to hear how it is working for you, too.

Challenged with The Word,

Robin

 

 

Wanna-be

Do you have aspirations to become something you have not yet become?  Do you desire to use gifts and talents, lain dormant and unused for some time, to fulfill a longing?  Is there a painted portrait of your future displayed in your mind and you cannot imagine how it could possibly transfer from your head to somehow fill the empty canvas of your life with those radiant colors seen only in your dreams?

Have you spent years and possibly decades, awaiting that specific promise from God about how He plans to use you and the gift(s) He has given you?  Have you toiled in quiet places through prayer and preparation for this yet-to-be-realized promise, only to grow discouraged because time has eluded your grasp as it has traveled faster than you could keep pace with?  You feel woefully behind, stuck in a place where you feel like you can only sit by and watch others move on ahead, floating on the wings of time, reaching their brilliant destiny.  Don’t give up on the dream God planted inside of you.  You are still a child of destiny, and your God is able and will complete the good work He has begun in you (Philippians 1:6).  There truly is no expiration date on God’s promises.

At a particular time in my life, I was feeling a bit like a wanna-be, even worse, an old wanna-be-too old to be clinging to my childhood dreams and aspirations.  Some life choices I’ve made seemed to bring me farther and farther from the realization of my dream.  After lamenting to my mother one day, she announced, “You’re not a wanna-be; you are a gonna-be!”  And she is right.  In Ephesians 2:10, we are reminded that “…we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  He does have a job for us to do, and He has gifted us to do that job, even if it appears to be a long-time coming.  Years of waiting are preparation, and the longer the wait…the sweeter it will taste once you get there!

There is a little song the Lord gave me to literally sing to myself, helping instill in me the fact that it is never too late to experience the promise of God fulfilled, a hidden gift used for His glory, or a calling on your life realized like a completed portrait on your life’s canvas.  No matter what age you are.  No matter what mistakes you have made in the past.   God is faithful to keep His promises to you!  So sing with me-the melody for Gonna-be is found in My Music section.  Be silly, sing it, and keep dreaming!

Gonna-be

I’m not a wanna-be; I am a gonna-be!

Cause God’s not through with me; He says He’s plans for me.

So I will walk by faith and not by what I see.

I am a gonna-be; gonna see what He makes of me!

I thought it was too late and that my time had passed.

How could you use me?  I feel so talent-less.

But He said to me, “I have chosen you, and it’s up to me

What I do with you!”

So, I’m not a wanna-be; I am a gonna-be!

Cause God’s not through with me; He says he’s plans for me.

So I will walk by faith and not by what I see.

I am a gonna-be; gonna see what He makes of me!

Singing,

Robin

 

Whose Fool Are You?

“Do not deceive yourselves.  If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a ‘fool’ so that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (1 Corinthians 3:18-19).

The world seems to be a bit frustrated nowadays, if you ask me.  Everywhere I look, I see many people and groups having hissy-fits over many already settled issues with God.  Like it or not, God established this world by His wisdom, and He has the right to tell all of us, His creation, how things should work.  The more sophisticated we think we become in this new millennium, the more it seems we move backward.  Sometimes, I think we are actually becoming more archaic in our collective mindset.  Moving back to the days we thought belonged only to the Neanderthal Man and Woman.  How foolish!

But no, some would argue, we have science and technology.  We have been to the moon for crying-out-loud.  We can communicate in mere seconds with anyone anywhere in the world through our satellites.  We have invented ways to prolong life, even create new life in a dish to be placed in a womb.  We are beginning to manipulate that life to thwart some dreaded disease or just to choose its sex.  We have built buildings reaching to the heavens and made bombs with the potential to destroy much of the world with a push of a button.  We have amassed great wealth and power.  We boast of our accomplishments, and yet in our arrogance and ignorance, we mock our Creator and His design for mankind.  We scream for rights to do things that not only destroy us and our way of life, but also demand that others accept what we do and we expect God to do the same, unless we deny his very existence.  The denial of the existence of God only fuels many of us to do what ought not to be done all the more.

This frustration to do what we ought not is most clearly articulated in the following wherein God states, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate” (1st Corinthians 1:19).  The so-called brightest and best of us are literally “frustrated” because “…the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25).  It is just a fact that we are the created ones, and the created thing is never higher than its creator-in this case “our Creator.”  The ancient questions are still being asked of us, “Where is the wise man?  Where is the scholar?  Where is the philosopher of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20).  Rebellion against God, masked as wisdom, is really foolish, and those who adhere to its tenets, fools.  “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God” (Psalm 14:1).

On the other hand, to the world, we  Christians are the fools.  “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified:  a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).  Also, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us (Believers in Christ) who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

And indeed we look as fools to the world because God’s Word says we do.  “Brothers {and Sisters}, think of what you were when you were called.  Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and things that are not-to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).  I think there is still hope for me then!

To the world, I am a fool.  I would rather appear foolish and unworthy in the eyes of this fallen world, unashamedly boasting in the cross of Jesus Christ, than to appear foolish before my Creator and Redeemer.  How about you?  For Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2-5, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom but on God’s power.”  Can’t wait to see this power working more and more through my life!

Yes, I am weak, without great influence, not of noble birth, and not the sharpest tool in the toolbox, but God is using me to express His love and mercy to fallen humanity, one soul at a time.  He fills me with His power and anointing, not because of who I am, but because of Whose I am.  With Paul, I say, “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.  None of the rulers of this age understood it [still don’t today}, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’-but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:6-10).

The question is, whose fool are you?  Are you the world’s fool, denying the existence of God, and therefore, accountable to no one greater than yourself?  Or are you  a fool in the eyes of this new age in the history of mankind (God’s fool), one  acknowledging the existence of God which requires from you a surrendered response to His authority over your life?  If you and I are God’s fools (believers that He exists and beneficiaries of the cross), it is not from our own wisdom we have acquired this truth, but only by His Spirit, for “we have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us” (1 Corinthians 2:12),  but if we are the world’s fool then, “the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Whose fool are you?

Robin

(All Scripture references are taken from the New International Version of the Bible)

 

 

 

 

 

The Plastic Watch: A Christmas Story

Christmas Watch When I was eleven years old, my dad asked me what I wanted him to get me for Christmas.  I knew just what I wanted-a watch.  Not just any girl’s type of watch, but a clear, plastic one,  like the one I had my heart set on.  I was getting out of the toy phase of childhood, and jewelry and clothes were becoming more important to me.  Whatever the latest style or trend for preteen girls was, I wanted it , too.  I wanted desperately to fit in with the other girls I saw everyday at school.

Speaking of fitting in, I also wanted to fit into my dad’s life more.  You see, his life was outside my day-to-day life.  He lived in a fancy apartment with his stylish new wife and new step-daughter. My brothers and I lived at home with our mom and step-dad.  We only saw our “real” dad one night a week since the time of my parents’ divorce about four years earlier. The weekly routine was always as follows: He would pick up my three brothers and me in his  Lincoln Continental on Friday evenings after work and take us to his apartment where he would quickly shower and dress.  Then we would ride in the Lincoln to the Picadilly Restaurant for dinner followed by a movie and ice cream and then back to his apartment for hot cocoa and bedtime.  Saturday mornings, he would fix us breakfast and then take us back home before noon.  I do have  some fond memories of our over-night stays with my dad in the early years after the divorce.  He would sometimes make us an elaborate breakfast he was famous for called T.O. Hash-eggs, bacon, onions and potatoes all mixed together…yummy!  He also helped create the hot chocolate song to the tune of, “You Are My  Sunshine,” that we would sing on Friday nights while sipping hot cocoa.  But we changed the words to “I love my hot choc, my only hot choc…” After he remarried, the routine was pretty much the same, except we had his new family accompanying us most of the time.

New family.  We were the “visiting” family, or so I felt.  He tried to make us feel welcome at his apartment each weekend, and his wife tried as well, but I could never reconcile in my heart my two worlds (home and dad’s place), so I became farther and farther removed from my dad in my heart.  I loved my Daddy as any girl would and longed for his affection, but inwardly, I believed I had been replaced in his heart by his new step-daughter!  Christmas would only prove this to be true to me in a most tangible and painful way.

Kids in divorced households sometimes have an advantage at Christmas time.  The benefit or advantage can be seen  in the number of Santa visits or Christmas gift opening events they get to participate in.  In our case, we had Christmas number one at our house early Christmas morning which included Santa gifts, stockings, and an amazing breakfast and Christmas lunch.  Christmas number two came when our dad picked us up for a private Christmas at his apartment with presents and more stockings filled with goodies.  Finally, Christmas number three took place at my father’s parents’ place.  Our Nonnie and Giggi also spoiled us kids with more gifts and another full Christmas feast with all the trimmings.  My dad always brought us back home late Christmas evening with his Lincoln Continental trunk filled with Christmas gifts from him and our grandparents.  We loved Christmas!

This particular Christmas seemed to play out just as all the previous Christmases had before.  After Christmas number one, our dad arrived to take us back to his apartment for Christmas number two.  When we arrived at his place, we were greeted by his wife and step-daughter who had already opened gifts in their own private Christmas with my dad.  It was then I noticed my step-sister wearing a clear, plastic watch, like the one I had asked my dad for!

I was taken aback and surprised that she would get a watch “just like mine.”  It was only after finding my own Christmas package the size of a jewelry box and opening it, that I realized that “that was my watch!”  For inside my box was a pink, plastic watch.  I faked a smile and thanked my dad, but inside I was devastated.  A sick feeling overtook my body and I knew I was no longer my “Daddy’s girl!”  My dad fumbled an apology for getting the packages mixed up with promises to get another watch for me.  It made no difference to my heart.

Somehow I made it through the Christmas day festivities which included many other gifts to open before once again, our dad dropped us back off at home late Christmas evening.  There, my mother comforted me and reassured me that it was just a mix-up and my dad would indeed get me a new watch.  But she understood that it was really not about the clear, plastic watch.  I needed assurance of my father’s love.

Do you need assurance of your father’s love?  Did you not receive it from your dad as a child?  Do you not have the assurance of his love today?  Your Heavenly Father seeks to give you assurance of His  love right now, right where you are!  Sometimes, we feel overlooked by God, the Father, too.  We feel like He has given some other daughter our gift, or place in His Kingdom.  Maybe  He promised you something that you have never received and you are discouraged.  Please do not be discouraged; the story of your life and mine is not yet finished…

You see, our earthly fathers do their best to love us, but their love is imperfect!  Only 0ur Heavenly Father’s love is perfect!  His timing is perfect.  His gifts are perfect.  He does not mix up the packages, and what He has for you will not be given to someone else.  Trust in His love today.  He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).

Several days after Christmas, my dad stopped by my house after work to give me a little jewelry box containing another clear, plastic watch.  I do not remember ever seeing my dad on any other day than Friday, so this moment was special and will be remembered in my heart forever.  My dad did love me and he took this special time to reassure me of his love.  This turned out to be the last Christmas gift I would ever receive from my dad because not even a year later, he passed away.  His gift of love that day was timely displayed in a clear, plastic watch.

I cannot promise you today the assurance of your earthly father’s love, but I can promise you the assurance of a perfect and everlasting love-the love of your Heavenly Father if you will receive Him!  You can count on Him and His gifts uniquely designed for you.  When you are discouraged and think He has forgotten you, He will arrive when you least expect him bearing assurances of His love for you!

Basking in my Father’s love today,

Robin

Me and My Young Friends

two women looking at  ocean“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:3-5, NIV). 

It is interesting to see how God works in our lives when we least expect it.  When I started blogging last May, I had no idea I would stop so suddenly and not return to writing again until now.  Life just got real busy real quickly!  During the summer, my daughter was readying to head back south to college for her sophomore year, and I was preparing to begin my first graduate course.  I f you have ever had a daughter preparing to leave for college, you know what I mean when I say it took the whole summer to help her get ready to go.  Not only were there plenty of shopping days (spending days) shared over July and August, there were also working-up-our-tans days spent on Lake Ontario together.  There were work-out days at the gym.  There were beauty salon days.  There were sorting old clothes days and organizing days and finally, packing the car days!  We had to leave a couple of beloved items behind because they just would not fit in her 2007 Honda Civic.  This past August, I made my fourth or fifth road trip down from New York to Florida accompanying her to her central Florida college and then flying home.

Once back in New York,  I began my second transitional year of “finding myself after the kids leave the house” quest, which included my first graduate online course.  My daughter and husband teased me relentlessly over my paranoia at taking just one class.  My technology skills were/are definitely outdated since I graduated college in 1986.  Back in the eighties, I had only a Brother typewriter to write my papers with in school, and now I am uploading computer files of my work and posting written threads on discussion boards for this new course.  I have been excited to learn new things and perhaps find my second calling after being a mostly stay-at-home-mother all these years.  In fact, I just successfully completed my first course at this writing!

Another new thing I began this fall was becoming a Titus 2 “older” woman to a small discussion group of women through the P.W.O.C. (Protestant Women of the Chapel) program on our Army post.  My role has been to encourage, support, and pray for these younger women of Group 4.  I have been amazed at the Biblical knowledge and faith of these young women I am supposed to be in essence, mentoring!  Weekly they bless me and teach me and build up my faith.  These are all younger wives and mothers and students and career-women.  Over the past several months, some have shared bits of their personal stories of struggle and pain and of faith and hope within our group.  They have related the Scriptures to our daily lives.  We have prayed for their life situations and families.  They all have soldier-warrior-husbands, many of whom are overseas in a war zone at this moment.  They are wise, strong, and young; I am humbled to be looked up to by them.

Although my household has been a lot more quiet over these months since my younger daughter left for college, I was able to host these young chattering women in my home recently for lunch and hear them ask me to be another “mom” to them.  Since their own moms and families live away, I want them to know it would be an honor for me to be their Army-adopted-mom!  I was asked by P.W.O.C. leadership if I planned on continuing my role for next semester’s program and I responded “Yes.”  I think I am truly finding my second-calling to younger women.  God knew when he inspired the writing of Titus 2 that we “older” women would need these “younger” women in our lives just as much as they need us!

It is definitely a grace-thing!

Robin

 

Oh, That We Would Choose Life!

Coral Sea

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses.  I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make.  Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendents might live!” (Deuteronomy 30:19, New Living Translation)

One of the first thoughts I had upon awakening this morning, while still lying in my bed as the morning light began to appear through my bedside window, was “choose life.”  “Okay, Lord.  I’ll do that today,” I promised in my heart.

Apparently, I need to think more about the choices I’ve been making.  Mostly those I tend to deem small or insignificant, but each one not without some kind of consequence.  What choices did I make yesterday?  If I were to transpose them onto a graph with one side depicting the “life” or “blessing” choices and the other “death” or “curse” choices, what side would illustrate the majority of my choices?  Ouch, that would be painful to examine, but something I really ought to do.

Let’s see.  Did I wake up yesterday, rejoicing in the new day I had been given, with the breath of life filling my lungs and with a joyful song in my heart?  Well, if I remember correctly, after peering through the window, I complained that it would be another over-cast and humid day here in the North Country.  It was over-cast all winter long I complained, and I need sun; I’m a Floridian. I’m ready for the Army to send us back south!  As I began to plan out my day, I lamented that the master shower stall was still in need of cleaning.  Something I had been putting off for a few days.  I hate to clean the shower!  My gloomy attitude mirrored the gloom outdoors for most of the day.

Today is a new day.  Yesterday is past.  I “choose” to make better attitude-choices today!  I know that my attitude affects everyone around me, and my “Christian” countenance is the mirror to my heart.  So, how do I choose life and blessings for myself and those around me who feel its affect?  “You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him.  This (He) is the key to your life.  And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Deuteronomy 30:20, New Living Translation).  Not only does God tell us to choose “life,” he tells us how to do it.  And he tells us our “choices,” will affect the lives of our children!  I want life for my children.  I want blessings for them, too.  How much more should I make the choice for “life” before God each day!  As God is my witness today, I choose life and blessings.  Even if I falter at some point, I will repent and again choose the way that leads to life.  It is a moment by moment, choice after choice thing.

I did manage to get that shower stall cleaned yesterday, and today I’m grateful that grimy task has been accomplished.  What other job can I tackle today with a smile on my face and a song in my heart?

Rejoicing,

Robin

 

 

 

Hide and Seek

 

“When I felt secure, I said, ‘I will never be shaken.’  O Lord, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed” (Psalm 30:6-7).

Never in my lifetime have I felt so insecure in this world.  Too many things I used to believe I could count-on, seem to be crumbling into sand.  Economic and financial institutions collapsing or on the verge of collapsing, have caused me to question what to do with my money and savings for an uncertain future.  Years of war have taken their toll on the military community in which I live (three more of our post’s soldiers killed just this week), and on the American society at large.  Violence seems to be on the rise in so many of our cities, senseless violence.  Technology advances have made us increasingly vulnerable to those who would harm us.  Correctness-rules for speech have made us afraid to speak what we believe.  We tend to cope with these things by filling our minds and hearts with either more of the bad-news-of-the-day or mindless reality television programming.  Is it better to be aware of all the bad news going on (keep the tube on CNN), or just tune it out altogether?

Where is God when I need him?  What should I believe and how should I live in the midst of so much insecurity?  The Bible does say, that at times, God hides his face.  Sometimes in my despair, I wonder if God is playing some kind of cruel game of “Hide and Seek” with me.  I cry out with the Psalmist, “What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit?  Will the dust praise you?  Will it proclaim your faithfulness?” (Psalm 30:9). 

I believe there is an answer to the question of God’s hiding from us.  “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.  When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him.  For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath” (Deuteronomy 4:29-31).  He desires for us to seek Him, not as a cruel version of a childhood game, but that we may intimately know Him and His purpose for our lives.  We cannot treat our relationship with God as though we can just change a television channel and tune into just what we want to hear.  We must come to a place where we are “desperate” enough to do whatever it takes to hear from God and what He has to say to us.  Sometimes, it takes a hidden God and increasing tensions to propel us to “seek” Him, to shock us out of our complacency, and cause us to examine our own hearts.

If you are as desperate as me today, “Submit yourselves, then to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Grieve, mourn, and wail.  Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:7-10).  There are steps mentioned here for seeking and finding God.  Submit to Him.  Surrender.  Give up your hold on your life.  Resist the devil or evil.  Have nothing to do with it. Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash yourself and purify your heart through repentance with genuine grief and remorse over your sins.  Take your own sin seriously and do not belittle evil wherever it is found.  And be humbled because you and I cannot save ourselves or lift ourselves up.  He says He will lift us up. 

And “lift us” He will!  “You turned my wailing (or mourning) into dancing: you removed my sack cloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.  O Lord, my God, I will give you thanks forever” (Psalm 30:11-12).  My friend, “…weeping may remain for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). 

Seeking or Dancing today?

Robin

 

 

 

 

 

Brides-To-Be

Brides-To-Be

My husband and I are celebrating our twenty-sixth wedding anniversary this Thursday, June 6th.   I will never forget the day we met, the day of the big breakup and subsequent makeup, and the day we married.  We tell and retell the stories often.  We have love and we have history.  Even though I have been married quite awhile, I was reminded this morning that I am still a “Bride-to-be!”   Now wait a minute, you noticed I just said I was soon to celebrate my wedding anniversary, then how can I possibly say that I’m a bride?  So glad you asked!  And no, I am not divorcing my husband to marry another man.

I am the “Bride of Christ,” betrothed, in a binding agreement, to be His forever!   He already paid the dowry or bride’s price for me with His shed blood on the cross.  He arose from the grave and went on to Heaven to prepare a place for me. Right now, I am in preparation for my “wedding day,” which will occur when Jesus Christ returns to take His church (all Christian believers) home.  This period of “waiting” is important because all of us, male and female, are actually learning to become His “bride.”  In many ways, it is easier for us women to understand becoming a bride.  We begin thinking about our wedding day at a very early age.

As little girls, we dream of our “knight-in-shining-armor” on bended knee asking for our hand in marriage.  We pretend we are a bride and it is our wedding day.  Playing dress-up in our mother’s high-heels and wearing an over-sized gown with a make-shift veil upon our heads, we twirl around in front of a mirror wondering if we will look beautiful on our real wedding day.  We imagine our bridegroom standing at the altar waiting for us as we walk down the aisle to meet him.  We pretend we’re dancing in his arms during the first song played at our reception.  We then give our make-believe farewells to family and friends as we ride away with our groom toward happily-ever-after.

As teens, we scrutinize the last names of the boys we like to see if they are a nice fit to end our first names.  No rhyming allowed!  We scour bridal magazines cutting out pictures of wedding gowns and cakes and honeymoon destinations to file away for the unforeseen future.  And we share with our girlfriends our wedding dreams.   

Thank God for reality-television shows geared for women because how else would men know about us and what we go through as brides-to-be.  Being in a household of women, my husband doesn’t usually get much say in what he watches on the big flat screen in our living room, thus “girl programming” is on the big tube most evenings. He really is a good sport about it.  From cheer-leading events to wedding shows, he now has become an expert on many girl issues.  It helps a lot that many of these shows are competition-based since he is an avid sports fan.  Through televised cheer-leading competitions, and the fact both of our daughters cheered or still cheer, he can rate cheer routines and tell what team will score the most points.  He knows good cheer jumps and stunts when he sees them.  There is also now a wedding show called “Four Weddings,” and it is a competition between four brides to determine who scores the most points for the best over-all wedding. 

Our favorite show, “Say Yes to the Dress,” has been a part of our television viewing habit for a few years.  We never tire of it.  My poor husband can tell you what wedding dresses look best for what body types. He sympathizes with the poor brides who don’t have family support on their choice of a style.  He seems to enjoy the drama in the lives of these young television brides-to-be, until he has finally had his fill and retreats to his man cave where his television channel is stuck on sports!  I would like to think my girls and me help him to become the “bride of Christ” in some way!

Yes, we are all indeed becoming the Bride of Christ.  We are purifying ourselves from the things of this world, sin, and our own fleshly nature, and becoming more like Him.  He is calling us to “live holy and godly lives as we look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Peter 3:11b-12).  We do not know the day or hour of our Bridegroom’s (Jesus’) return, but he is coming! (Matthew 24:42-44; 25:13).  “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).  Many will say “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?  Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4).  “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).

We are the church, the Bride of Christ, if we have in fact, accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  We are betrothed to him and awaiting His return.  On that day we will see Him face to face and know him as we are known.  Our marriage to him will be consummated for all eternity.  “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!   For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.  Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)  Then the angel said to me ‘Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’… ‘These are the true words of God” (Revelation 19:7-9). 

He is our faithful Bridegroom.  He says, “I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.  I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge me” (Hosea 2:19-20).

Still a blushing bride,

Robin