I would love to tell you this book was written after a complete healing of seizures. I’d also love to give testimony that my finances are all put back together. Both would be untrue. I felt the Lord had me start writing immediately following a Grand Mal Seizure. My mind was still reeling from our move from New York to Florida. I was just getting used to living in an apartment on a much stressed out income. It was written while I was suffering side effects from medicine and seizures. If you have ever wondered what it’s like to have your electrical system short circuit you will find out in these pages.
You will find places where I have repeated myself in writing. Just imagine living with me as I do that often with my husband. At times, my mind rambles from my life as a youngster to my life as an adult.
This book is the result of a writing assignment by the Most High. It’s written with warts and all. It’s a story about a woman’s journey through life with a diagnosis of Epilepsy. It’s a story about a total change from a way of life cuddled in a small town in upstate New York with access to family and long time friends. It is written during a whirlwind move to a friend’s RV in Melbourne Florida.
Entwined in all of this is a love story between my Lord and my husband of over 30 years.
It’s all written through the eyes of the one going through the journey. It’s inspired by the one who walked through the journey with me. The One my heart loves. Jesus!
Journey entry number one
How swift we race through yesterdays our minds not comprehending
Each day is but a stepping stone to God’s everlasting ending
The family treasures, the friends so dear, we separate with sorrow
The Father calls us to a different life, to step in to tomorrow
My mind is in a whirl as I sit in front of the blank monitor of my computer. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that the Lord wants me to write down the events that this past year has brought. The only problem is where to begin. Do I start with the love story? Do I start with Epilepsy? Do I start with the disappointment of financial ruin? How about the call of the Lord? Well, He is the alpha and omega and the one my heart of hearts loves. I may think on other subjects but all roads always lead to the Heavenly Father so that is where I will begin. If you don’t have a lot of back ground into the Christian life than perhaps you will glean something from this book. If you have known Jesus all your life, I am sure you will find Him amongst the pages that you read.
I want to warn the reader that I’m writing this exactly as my mind works. At times the subject will be in the past, and then flash back to the present. I do not apologize for this. I’m not trying to let the story flow as much as I’m trying to let you visualize how my mind works. This first entry is the most difficult because I’m laying a foundation for the rest of the entries. Hold on to your seats, you are in for a roller coaster reading ride. Let me start with the love story. It was long before I left New York. It was 1975.
Jeff and I were married at the tender age of 19 and 18. He was working at a gas station making $80 a week. I was in my senior year of high school. I had been raised in the Christian and Missionary Alliance church. He had no back ground in any particular faith. The Lord and His ways were not my focus when I dated Jeff. The Lord called me to Himself soon after I was married. Unfortunately for Jeff though, I was young in the faith and loud in the mouth. Jeff was not interested in anything I had to say about Jesus. Yet, here we were two young people who loved each other. Jeff loved me enough to come to church with me. These were the dark years of our marriage. We knew we were looking for something. It was like scrambling around in the dark. We had not a clue about what it was to surrender our lives to Jesus. The Lord kept luring me toward Him though. He had a plan for Jeff and I.
Now I will skip forward a few years. We grew up in our faith together in a church pastored by Rev. Bill Davidson in Queensbury New York. I discovered Jesus in a whole new way. Without my knowing it, God was making a huge change in this loud mouthed know it Christian woman. It was not long and after much change in me that Jeff had the desire to make Jesus his own personal savior. His heart was changed dramatically to a man who wanted urgently to serve God. He wanted to serve God with his time, his talents, and his wallet. He asked God to give him a “Moses experience”. His desire was to hear God and serve Him. My heart nearly exploded with joy as we grew in the things of the Lord together.
For no apparent reason Jeff woke up for the second time in the middle of the night as I was in the throngs of a grand mal seizure. The church family prayed and became closer than ever. Jeff and I decided that I would no longer work outside the home. I was a licensed practical nurse. I had worked hard to get back to normal after the first grand mal, the second grand mal took more out of me. I would write more about this, but it’s a bit foggy in my memory. However, no matter what I forgot…I never lost the words of God.
I remember distinctly the day my husband Jeff came into our living room smiling and telling me, “You know, I think we can afford to go on a vacation.” Money had been tight since I no longer worked. It had been almost 7 years since the last grand mal seizure made it impossible to continue as an LPN. We had been a two income family living in a sweet older home, hard wood floors and gorgeous antique furniture. We’d gone on cruises and vacations and had a ball. To suddenly go to one income with the bills from a two income family was a struggle. We made many mistakes. Rather than saving money we created more bills. We had depended so much on the second income that when it was gone we were in financial ruin.
Our entire life was changed. My mind did not function and does not function as it once did. I have short term memory problems. I can’t remember names, places, people, and a lot of other things. I can’t remember what I can’t remember. Jeff struggled through all the doctor visits, paperwork, and trying to make ends meet. He took odd jobs until I kept falling and having side effects from the seizure that he felt he should be home more. Life was a disaster. We filed bankruptcy. 7 years later we were just coming out even again.
I looked at the fading sunshine streaming through the wine colored curtain panels. Outside the rhododendrons was so gorgeous framing the view through the windows. Jeff had worked hard to redo the walls from gray paneling to light beige painted sheet rock. The room had been totally changed. We’d found a door beneath the paneling and Jeff had painstakingly put up molding and laid down hardwood floors as well. Our beige colored leather furniture with green marble topped end tables gleamed in the setting sun. “Where would you like to go?” I asked.
Jeff looked happy and replied,”I thought we might go to see Bill and Joanne in Florida for our anniversary.” I was filled with mixed feelings. Jeff had always wanted to go on mission trips and had stated that one day he’d felt he would be called away. Something stirred inside of me. I wasn’t sure I wanted to test the waters down in Florida. What if Jeff got a desire to move? I was relishing in taking care of our new grand daughter. Since my daughter had married I had prayed for a second chance to be a grand mother. When it seemed she and her husband only wanted dogs I had almost given up. I prayed that God’s will be done. Finally I was rewarded with this beautiful dark haired, dark eyed porcelain doll like child. Her name is Olivia and she truly was my heart’s desire. My daughter works full time as her husband does. So, I took care of the infant from sun up to sun down. I bathed her and fed her. I watched her roll over for the first time. I played soft music to soothe her and heard her first laugh out loud. I saw her through the crawling stage. Then I saw her stand up. She took her first steps in my solar room. No grand mother could have loved her more.
We had lived in our home for eight years. Jeff had recently installed a beautiful crystal chandelier in the living room. It glowed over the antique furniture. Our home was my dream home. Not new, but elegant and homey. Like a grandma’s house. It was old fashioned mixed with a few new things. I had an uneasy feeling about going to Florida. Antique picture frames of family members graced my side board. Candles and white linen tablecloths sat on top of my dining room table. There was a shaker staircase that led to the upstairs bedroom. We enjoyed a soft king sized brass bed. Our bathroom sported a small claw foot tub and beautiful sink that my husband had made. You felt like you were walking into 1942 when you entered my home.
We had a small porch with a swing that I loved to sit on during spring, summer and fall. I’d crochet or hold Olivia and watch the neighbors stroll by. Sometimes I’d bring my coffee out as Olivia sat in her infant swing. It was a priceless memory.
Each morning you could smell the home fries and onions that I made for Jeff’s breakfast. I was always baking a casserole or dessert. I enjoyed watching the maple trees change colors in the fall out front. In the winter I enjoyed watching the birds as they ate from our bird feeder. We had a way of life that I used to dream of when watching “It’s a wonderful life”. What if Jeff said he had a word from the Lord and we had to leave?
I remember at church speaking out my thoughts to the girls of my prayer group. They agreed to pray but in the end I was told that if God was calling I couldn’t really say no. All of a sudden I remembered who I’d be leaving behind. Years ago I had lost my father. Years later, I watched as drugs and alcohol mixed with wild living caused a strain on my relationship with my son. Later, I had to say good bye to my grand daughter Kaitlin. Surely, the Lord wouldn’t separate me from my daughter and new grand child Olivia. I spoke to the Lord and told Him that if something was going on He’d have to speak not only to Jeff but to me as well. If Jeff and I were one in His eyes than I asked that He speaks to both of us. I was certain it was safe to go on vacation.
We spent our anniversary in Melbourne Florida and had a wonderful time with our friends. They let us stay in their RV in a beautiful park. The park had a pond with ducks and peacocks. We enjoyed this kind of camping out. It was quite romantic to sit out side in the evening watching the sun set. Bill and Joanne had been the elders of our church in New York. They had recently been ordained as pastors of a church they had started. It was crude at best. I remember the day I stepped in and smelled the odor of dead mice and saw dead palmetto bugs on the floor. Somehow, I knew the Lord was there though. It was as if we’d entered into the future and saw what could be. We prayed for this couple in their new endeavor to serve the Lord.
If you haven’t already seen it, I’d suggest you visit Orlando’s new addition called “The Holy Land Experience” It was recently bought by Trinity Broadcasting Network. At the time we went, it was with the original owners. The Spirit of God was all over and we felt excitement in the air. The area is made to look like the Holy Land in Jesus day. We watched as dancers came out and songs were sung. God was magnified every where. We watched a reenactment of the crucifixion. As Jeff and I settled into a theatre to watch musicians and dancers I suddenly heard the voice of God. “Chosen” I knew that we had been chosen to come to this area and we were to go now. It was an audible word as Jeff heard it as well and we looked at each other. We had both been in prayer and asking for God’s word in our lives. I know this sounds incredible and if you do not believe me, I understand. There is no way I can make you understand or believe and I won’t try.
My emotions ran from excitement to fear to the agony of leaving my home and family. What about Olivia? I was privileged to be there when she was first born. I was in the operating room as my daughter had a c section. How on earth would I have the strength to leave this child? Yet, I remembered Abraham and Isaac. How could I put anything before the Lord? I knew the Lord had to come first. As we spoke to our friends what the Lord had said I could tell they were very happy. We wandered around the area to look at apartments and were excited ourselves.
As we got home we began to make preparations to tell our pastor and set things in motion. Everything was happening fast and in the midst of it my mind kept telling me that I would willingly give up everything for Jesus. Yet, my emotions rose up as well and I had a sick feeling. It was with relief that we told our plans to our pastor. I felt that this was a turning point in our life. We didn’t want to leave our church of 10 years with any bad feelings. We determined to do things all the way in a Godly way.
Our pastor said he wasn’t surprised and wished us well. We then announced our intentions to the church. To our surprise we had a real estate woman in our midst that said she would help with the sale of our home. This would prove to be a valuable gift from the Lord.
Our family was informed and we felt lumps in our throats at the thought of leaving New York and moving over a thousand miles away. I believe the only thought that got us through this time was knowing that the Lord had called us down to Florida and God would take care of our loved ones.
Selling our home proved to be a challenge. Our home was over a hundred years old and though we had done much to make it look nice, it still was a fixer upper. Jeff was busy fixing the little things and he put down more hardwood in the floor of the entrance way to match the living room. The house looked more beautiful than it ever had looked. . I had one thought that kept coming to my brain. We had taken out a second mortgage on the house. It was not a wise decision. After I had quit working due to my health problems with epilepsy we had to file bankruptcy in order to survive. We had repeatedly tried to get in touch with the mortgage company to make payment arrangements so as not to lose the house. But they never returned our letters or calls. We mistakenly assumed they were covered with the bankruptcy. I remember asking my husband to check further and was told not to worry about it. We did have our realtor check into it and she found nothing.
Meanwhile my father in law had been diagnosed with cancer in the esophagus. He had suffered from a brain tumor years ago and was cared for totally by my mother in law. We noticed that he had a sharp decline in his mental capacity. Though we prayed for him, we both knew it was a matter of time. I remember one day standing next to his hospital bed telling him he could call on the Lord and be saved. Immediately my father in law who had been totally confused spoke out,” Lord, help me”. He layed back quite calm. A few days later 3 weeks before Christmas my father in law was gone. Before the sale of our home was complete, we buried my father in law. We felt he had called on the name of Jesus though and I feel content that he is in heaven. Still, it was a heart wrenching time.
A few days later I received a phone call from my husband stating that he’d heard from the real estate agency that our second mortgage company showed up and the news was not good. They had indeed had our calls and letters on record. However, rather than setting up any payments they had decided to add on finance charges. The plan was that as soon as we had paid off the first mortgage, they were going to step in with a bill for 170 thousand dollars. This was considerably more than our little home was worth. We never would have owned the home that was worth approx. 100 thousand dollars. I froze at the news. How could we go to Florida with no money? I could hear the sobs of my frantic husband. My husband was fifty years old and would have to find work as soon as we were in Florida. How could God let this happen? Hadn’t we asked for forgiveness for that debt? Hadn’t we been doing all that we knew to do in a Godly way?
This seemed too impossible for my mind to imagine and I said No, we will have to stay in New York. Jeff was quiet on the other end of the phone. Finally he spoke. “Sheryl, the house is gone. I’ll be home soon honey. Please don’t hate me Sheryl. I need you; I don’t know what to do.” If not for the fact that I would never hurt this man, I’d have gone hysterical. After I hung up the phone I walked around the kitchen. “Lord, I know you said to go, but like this? I’m leaving everything. I’ve put you first over my grand child even. I’m to have nothing?” My friend Joanne called and Jeff had all ready informed her. “I can’t come to Florida. We’ll have nothing. Jeff is not young, he’s fifty years old.” I don’t remember my friend getting off the phone. I turned around and looked out my kitchen window. The Lord came in like a flood to my mind. “You have nothing in New York either. This is my mercy for you.” I thought a moment how on earth this could be merciful. Then it dawned on me. If we had spent more money on the home it would have been wasted in the end. We would have been in our late 60’s or early 70’s when the first mortgage was paid and then been socked with the second mortgage company’s bill for 170 thousand dollars. I knew that it would not be an easy thing to leave New York with little or no money but felt the Lord would take care of us.
Jeff and I had begun relying on the Lord for the past few years before we left New York. Life had been a constant struggle with finances and somehow we never got a handle on it. I also knew it was not Jeff’s fault. He’d worked all the jobs he could and still been trying to take care of me. He refused to consider me returning to work. “I was there when you stopped breathing lady. You push yourself with what you do now, let me handle this” So far no one knew that I couldn’t function with math, and kept forgetting stuff and getting lost. Jeff and I make lists for the housework so I won’t forget stuff. I hated sitting back and watching him trying to do it all and not being able to help.
I remember the day of the closing on the house. Everyone, even the buyer wanted to give us money. We lost 46 thousand dollars that day to that second mortgage company. This was money we had thought would be ours to take to Florida and get started with. Instead, we looked forward to living in an RV owned by our friends in a shabby trailer park for as long as it took Jeff to find work and an apartment.
Rather than worry our grown children and family and friends we told only our pastors of the events. Our pastor in New York became very quiet. My daughter came and asked if she could have a loan to pay off her car after we sold the house. I had to politely say no. Our son was in financial trouble and after hearing of our refusal to give our daughter money, he didn’t ask us. We heard from him very little after that. In fact at the writing of this I haven’t heard from him in a year.
We gave away or sold cheaply all our belongings because we had no place to store anything once in Florida. I watched as my furniture was carted away at a fraction of the cost. I packed up all my dishes that had taken years to accumulate and gave them to my daughter. I packed up a small box of antique silverware and crystal to give my son. We threw away tons of clothes, odds and ends. We drove to Florida in a van. Everything we owned was in that van. We were totally starting over.
We tried to be upbeat, believing this was God’s will to go to Florida. Jeff and I knew we heard the Lord say “Chosen, go now”. I remember playing some of my favorite tropical music as we drove down Route 9 in New York. It had started to spit snow. We found out that the day we left to go to Florida it snowed in 3 feet in NY. I never stopped holding Jeff’s hand during the trip. While driving, sleeping in the hotel or walking. We were in such shock and wonder; I know how Abraham must have felt. There was no retirement plan to have, no stocks to fall back on…nothing. It took only a few days to get to Florida. We were greeted with hugs and understanding arms. We settled into our friends RV. It was fun at first to camp out and wander down the sandy road to a river. The smell was like rotten eggs from the seaweed.
My car had been traded in for the van. This was a huge blow for me since I really enjoyed my car. It was just the right size and a beautiful color of blue green. I hated the looks of the van right off. For some reason my husband didn’t want to pack a uhaul and attach my car though. I think of that car often.
I set up house in the RV for 3 months as Jeff went to the task of finding work. At first he tried applying in person. We found that in Florida that is not how it’s done. Down here jobs are scarce and he needed to go to a job service with a resume. He went online on the computer each day applying for jobs and then to the job service. I washed clothes by hand and hung them on a clothes rack to save money. We cooked and ate in the RV as we tried to save money. The RV park was the cheapest to be found and we were grateful for the provision. The RV was fully equipped with a shower, bedroom, dresser, closet, TV, bathroom. We even had a kitchen. It was all packed into an RV and space was limited. I tried to go outdoors and meet people right away. I soon found that folks weren’t all that friendly and most were living in their RV’s on a full time basis. This wasn’t a stop off for them, it was a complete stop.
I remembered the stories of Heidi Baker living near the trash heap on her mission field. I felt that my first stop was to live in a trashy trailer park. It was an RV park actually but the RV’s were not new and the people who lived in them were not on vacation. I felt it was a step up from the trash heap. Not much of a step though. I missed and mourned my home in NY that was no longer mine. I slept in fits as I kept thinking of my grand daughter and children in NY. All this was constantly poured out in my prayers. If I hadn’t been able to tell the Lord what my heart held I don’t think I could have lasted a month. It felt like part of me had died. I remember developing the method of turning my thoughts from grief to the Lord. Sometimes I was genuinely happy and excited to be used by the Lord. The city of Melbourne is beautiful and I love the tropical climate.
It wasn’t a matter of my surroundings it was a willful act to focus on Jesus. He is the author and finisher of my faith. I kept remembering Abraham who was called to leave his home and go to a place the Lord had directed him to. Abraham had no idea where he was going or what he’d go through. He was obedient. I set my heart to be obedient to what Jeff and I both felt the Lord said to do. This was the hardest thing my heart ever did. Some days I was nauseas at the idea of being away from family. I watched every other family as I went out to lunch. I watched our pastors go to NY for a month to see family and knew I couldn’t see mine. To preserve my faith I poured into the word of God. I forced myself to be joyful and praise God for anything and everything. The Lord knew my heart ached to go back to NY. Just to hold Olivia and laugh and see my children. Some days I would speak out loud and tell myself not to dwell on the pain, but dwell on Jesus.
The area we were in had a lot of sand and it looked shabby. When I went out doors to sun myself I was hit with the smell from the river or the raccoons that liked to hang out looking for food. I sensed that raccoons that show up during the day might be rabid. These were nocturnal animals. I spent long hours in that RV in prayer. I prayed for those left behind, as well as the future ahead. I would look out the window and wonder how long I was to stay in the RV. It was depressing to say the least. The excitement of the move wore off quickly.
It didn’t take long for our money supply to run low. Jeff was paying all the bills, even though he wasn’t working. He paid from what we had saved from the selling of our things in New York. We also had some credit cards to buy food with. I remember when Jeff announced we only had 300 dollars and he had no job.
We had met a couple in their 80’s who joined with Bill and Jo and prayed over our situation. By now, we no longer felt like missionaries. We felt more like homeless people. I found some thrift stores and since it cost little to look, Jeff and I spent a lot of free time looking at them. We found that we could buy furniture eventually quite cheap at thrift stores. Looking at the furniture stores we soon realized that we could not afford new. When Jeff finally found work it was nothing what we had expected the Lord to provide for us. Jeff started working at Lowe’s for low pay. Faith isn’t faith until it’s all you have. Somehow, I had to summon up the courage to see things in a good light. Daily I asked the Lord to strengthen me and move my tongue to be encouraging and thankful. I began praying day and night, asking for guidance. I also began to search my heart and ask the Lord to forgive whatever was in us that had allowed any of these situations. We had credit card debt that we could not afford.
Our pastor in Florida phoned the pastor in New York and explained our situation. We were astounded to receive a check for a thousand dollars. We spent the money with extreme caution.
I remember when a friend from NY had come to visit in March of the first year we were in Florida. We had driven her to an apartment complex that we were thinking of inquiring about. No fancy place, just pretty and situated on a golf course. It would be near the church and some of the people we were going to church with as well.
I began teaching teen Sunday school. Jeff began helping with the music in the church. Neither one of us can carry a tune. The church uses music played on compact disks. Jeff would help with the technical stuff. It wasn’t much service but we felt we were doing what we could do.
When Jeff got the job at Lowe’s we were thankful to God. The pay as I mentioned earlier was lower than expected. Yet, we were able to save to get into a one bedroom apartment. We went to the apartment complex we had seen in March. It was now June. It took a few days and we were told we were approved to move in. We were so happy to know we’d have a place of our own. After having a huge house to clean, I was looking forward to an apartment. Jeff wouldn’t have to fix the plumbing, or mow the lawns. I remember Jeff taking me to a couple of thrift stores to search for a bed and a few pieces of furniture.
I felt excited as I toured the thrift stores. We had already gone to new furniture stores and knew that was out of our price range. We spied a king size bed and mattress for three hundred dollars. The mattress was brand new, still in its plastic. I spied a beige and orange striped couch for fifty dollars and a chair for forty. The chair was a swivel rocker and the couch was able to open into a bed. Then I found white lamps that had a touch of blue and orange to match the furniture. A small fake palm tree rounded out our purchase. For just over 4 hundred dollars we were all set.
Moving everything in to our apartment was not easy. We lived on the third floor and the furniture was heavy. My husband and the pastor and a few friends came to help. Soon everything was in place. It was exciting for me to unpack our meager belongings and put them away. We had bought a set of dishes in matching orange and blue and some silverware as well. Next, we bought some plastic drinking cups. Inexpensive and functional was the word for us. It was fun to look outside and watch the golfers.
A few days later Jeff brought home a beautiful dinette set that was given to him from a coworker for free. It matched our furniture perfect. We had a sort of southwestern theme going on in colors with orange, blue and beige. Not exactly what we’d pictured, but it looked nice. Our end tables and coffee tables are cream colored. Totally different from the early American theme I’d had in NY with crystal chandelier, antique dining room set, china closet, curio closet, hard wood floor and leather furniture in front room. Yet, we felt we were in God’s hands. Jeff was disappointed in that he wanted to give me more. I tried to encourage him that it was fine and I was happy.
We spent the summer in the pool at our apartment complex. I remember noticing right off that the place was very quiet. It still is quiet. I go for walks around the complex and try to be friendly, but there is seldom anyone to see around here. Folks stay in their apartments. A brief hello is about all I can arouse so far. Once again, I pray about all this. One of the things I’d asked the lord for since the idea to move was that he would provide friends for us. I’d had a slew of church people to talk with in NY. I had made friends with most of them. I guess that’s how it is with everyone. Yet, if the Lord called us down here it was his responsibility to find us some friends.
The summer weather was brutally hot and we had no curtains. I remember asking the Lord to help us get curtains without costing an arm and leg. Free is good too. Jeff mentioned to his mother that we were looking for curtains that were insulated to block out the heat. He was amazed that his mother had a brand new set she didn’t want. She mailed them down. To our surprise the curtains were beige with wine colored flowers and blue flowers. We hung them up and they look nice. His mother also mailed us a couple hundred dollars to help with moving expenses. We were thrilled.
This was the first time we had no back up. We had no savings to fall back on. If the Lord didn’t provide it, we did not have it. We found a grocery store early on that had food at discount prices and we began shopping there. It was hard at first because we were trying to lose weight. We both were quite over weight from stress and bad eating habits in NY.
My husband and myself had days of worry. Jeff was always thinking of lack of money. I was thinking of my family. My daughter Desiree’ is a sweet blue eyed blonde. She gets moody at times but I always found it easy to get a smile from her. She is such a blessing. We are very close. In NY we use to go shopping together, and out to eat as well. We spent a lot of time chatting all the time. I suddenly realized that an entire way of life had changed.
My son is altogether a different story. No words could ever express how it feels to be discarded as parents. This is one situation that was so hard I could not face it for long, much less tell the reader in print. My son was born looking so much like my father that the family sucked in their breath as he entered a room. We were very young parents and made many mistakes raising our children. As a young child he was bubbly and happy. Somehow that all changed when he reached teenage years. He never shared anything with me or his father so we had no idea if something went wrong. He made choices that hurt the family and hurt him most. Suffice it to say that the Lord knows it all and knows the ending of this. Though I pray daily for my son, the biggest miracle that the Lord gave me was enough peace to sleep at night. He took this agony away; I only get upset once in a while. God is my comforter, my refuge, my strong tower, redeemer, deliverer and lover of my soul. He alone knew how broken I became from the rejection and He gives my legs the strength to stand. He is the reason I obeyed and moved to Melbourne.
Journey entry number 2
After first moving into the apartment I focused most of my time praying over our finances. Our dining room is situated in front of the windows that overlook the golf course. One day I was sitting at the table in prayer over the finances and a golf ball shot through one of the windows. One of the delights of living on a golf course is that some golfers have a bad aim and it is always a possibility that you’ll get a broken window. I was not expecting this because I was living on the third floor. It missed my head by inches and there was shattered glass everywhere. At first I was stunned, but then I began to laugh. I phoned the office and they sent someone to fix the window. I rather enjoyed not having to wait till Jeff came home to give him a honey do list. One thing entered my mind that day…the Lord would not allow me to be hit with a golf ball. I felt he was telling me that he would manage the finances as well.
One day while taking out the trash I came upon a dresser that someone had thrown out. I asked Jeff to come down and look at it. We decided to load it up and bring it to our friend Ralph and Janice’s home to sand it down in their garage. We have no garage in our apartment complex. As Jeff began working on the dresser we were thanking the Lord for this little treasure. Ralph went to Jeff and told him that one of his neighbors had a dresser at the side of the road. Jeff went over to look at it. Later, he told me he wanted me to come with him to show it to me. It was not only a dresser, but also a bed side stand that someone had thrown away. It was in no need of sanding or repair. The Lord had given us a free dresser and bedside stand in the tropical style of cane that we liked. It matched beautifully in our bedroom. Ralph and Janice also gave us a bedside stand so our bedroom set was complete. We took the other dresser back to the dumpster. We just couldn’t believe how well the Lord had been providing for us.
The next thing we prayed for was a computer table. With only 750 square feet in our apartment it would have to go at the foot of our bed. We went to a thrift store after praying and I was stunned to find one that was the perfect size. It did not have a price tag though. It was not real heavy, made of particle board and laminate. The lady said it was ten dollars. We now had a computer table. Our computer monitor was an old type, and took up most of the table top but we were still thankful.
We had a television set given to us by Bill and Jo. The Lord was showing us some things and I think we may have missed a few points at that time. A few weeks later another friend of ours named Mark gave us a used flat screen computer. It was overwhelming how God supplied our needs. As I sat on our couch one day I petitioned the Lord for something smaller. We had a couch and rocker recliner at the time. We were thankful as well. I wanted to have a recliner for Jeff to sit down and put his feet up. A few days later we visited some thrift stores looking for a recliner. I knew our finances couldn’t come up with fifty dollars, but felt the Lord might intercede. Sure enough, in the back of one of the store was a filthy beige recliner for nine dollars and ninety five cents. Other than being very dirty there was nothing wrong with it. We thought it was a mistake so we asked about it. It was not a mistake and they helped load it into the van. The Lord heard my prayer and answered. Jeff worked at cleaning the chair and we were and are amazed at the gift from God. He is the God of even the little things. Now, Jeff can sit and be comfortable in our cozy apartment that the Lord furnished us with. It has cost us very little.
Knowing the little child inside the man of my husband has been such a treasure. A long time ago I began to study my husband. I had seen many divorces in my family and had no intention of adding to the list. I began to make a habit out of finding out what made my husband happy. After 32 years I do it out of habit. But I am the blessed one as his joy brings me joy. I enjoyed watching the excitement replacing the pain as he watched me with a twinkle in his eyes. I made sure to tell him how happy I was. True, there was sadness and I was at times overwhelmed by the loss of family and friends. Yet, the Lord had made a simple request of me. He’d shown himself faithful even when I was not. I wanted to be an encouragement to Jeff and share in his happiness. There is a love story between the three of us that mere words could barely point out. God is at the heart of it. Just seeing my Jeff being happy delights my soul. In quiet hours we sit just holding each other without words. When I look up into Jeff’s eyes he still smiles as he did years ago.
I remember him asking me if I’d like to go watch the skiers at West Mountain. We were 17 years old then. Having never done so, I said yes. We sat in the car and watched for a while. The lights danced against the winter wind as little figures slid down the slopes. Jeff turned the heat on in his little Gremlin so we wouldn’t freeze. I happened to glance over at Jeff and realized he was paralyzed in fear. He was sitting very still and had shaky hands. His eyes looking left to right though his face was looking forward. All of a sudden it dawned on me, he was being a gentleman. I decided to act first and think of being a lady later. I reached up and traced his lips with my finger. His lips felt like satin. With his eyes closed his teeth began to chatter. I said, “How about if we get out and walk for a little?” Jeff replied, “It’s freezing tonight.” Oops, I thought he already guessed my plan.
I knew this wouldn’t be easy. “I’ll just be a minute; I want to stretch my legs.” He got out of the car as I got out. I stood next to him as he looked up watching the mountain and skiers coming down. That’s when I used the oldest trick in the book. I pretended to shiver and he put an arm around me. I quickly turned to him and pulled his head down. Just as I thought, lips like satin. I don’t know how I knew some of these tricks, must be instinct. One thing for sure, I am my father’s daughter. I looked up into Jeff’s eyes that night and he had the funniest smile. His teeth were chattering and he had shaky hands but smiling none the less. The lights and the moon itself glowed around us but we never saw a thing. I could only see that half grin and those eyes as blue as the sea. Until the Lord himself separates us, I will follow this man anywhere.
My husband and I had always loved the Florida lifestyle with its palm trees, lush greenery, waterways and tropical colors of birds, fish and flowers. We were delighted to have a small retaining pond out behind our apartment. From the third floor I watched all sorts of birds and ducks. We watched people play golf and sandpiper cranes strut across the lawns of the golf course. Sandpiper cranes are three feet high with a wing span of six feet. They are grey in color with red heads. They resemble flamingoes in stature. Sandpiper cranes make a trumpet sound when they call out. We enjoyed the views and the amenities of our apartment complex as well. Florida temps went to 98 degrees on average days during the summer, which found me in the pool. Each morning around 9 am I walk to the pool and cool off. Later in the afternoon I go back for another dip. My husband joins me after he returns from work. On his days off we enjoy going to the stores and going to the beach. I love to sit in a chair and watch the waves come in. All of a sudden I realized I had tons of freckles and a tan on my skin.
As much as I love it down here in Florida, I am always reminded why I came down here. The Lord called us down here. We began to get ready to help out at the church for when our pastors were out of town for a month. We had several videos to play during the morning on the four Sundays they would be away. We would not have to preach. Jeff would do the music on PowerPoint and we’d use cd’s as we always do. For the nursing home we decided to play some older hymns and the Lord gave me a word to speak. .
I remember very little what I spoke at the nursing home. I just remember the Lord’s presence very strongly. There were about 15-20 of the elderly residents of the nursing home present. When I finished speaking you could hear a pin drop. Eyes wet, and hands up asking for prayer. We had a wonderful time of prayer as well. We came away feeling that we were doing the Lord’s work and it was a good feeling. I had been near the elderly since I was 2 years old. My mother was a nurse’s aid and frequently brought me in to visit with or sing for the residents of the Hospital for the Incurables in Albany New York. As a teen my mother used to visit a local nursing home in Glens Falls and she used to bring me in then as well. By the time I was twenty three I too had become a nurse’s aid. Later when I turned 30 I became a LPN and worked in the Alzheimer’s unit as well as all the units of another nursing home. I had enjoyed my job, but visiting the elderly was much more enjoyable. The elderly have such a history to tell. So many times they have no one to talk to and it’s such a waste of wealth. In Jesus day the elderly were highly esteemed. In our society the elderly are put up with and tossed aside.
We’d make frequent visits to the pastor’s home to check on the mail and pool as well. Also, we made sure the church was in order. Wednesday nights we’d go to a member of the church’s home per usual for fellowship. It was a wonderful feeling to have a few friends in Florida. Someone we could sit back and relax with. It didn’t matter that they were in their 80’s.
During the hottest of days while in the apartment I began to listen to praise music more often. Some folks feel relaxed while soaking in a tub. I feel most relaxed by listening to prayerful music directed to Jesus. Some Christian songs are lateral. They are songs that bear testimony of what the Lord has done. The songs I love to soak in are vertical. They are songs that speak to the Lord alone. I am lifted up when I soak in the music that is directed to God alone. It’s not a song that tells others what God has done for me. Though there is nothing wrong with that. Soaking songs bare ones soul to the Most High. When He is given all the glory, all the parts of you that you hold back, something happens. My strength comes from God alone. When I soak in this kind of music I find myself released and blessed in His presence. Personally, my favorite music has guitars and drums and piano music. Yet, when I find a soaking song…my soul recognizes that the message is not lateral [to others], no this song is vertical straight up to the Throne room. This music talks only to Jesus. “My first love is Jesus; you’re the one I adore. My first love is my master; you’re the one that I’m living for…” This is the first line of a soaking song I love.
It’s hard for some to relate to the Jesus I’ve come to know. I’ll have to pause a moment and try to tell you. The trinity itself is like an egg. You have the shell, the yolk, and the egg white. It’s all the egg. Father, son and Holy Spirit are the trinity. Relating to the Father, God Almighty was easy for me because of the time with my own father. Though imperfect as he was, he held me most of the time and encouraged me to talk to him. When I was sick he came even nearer. I was a sick kid with heart problems and so on. He became gentle and caring. Yet, I knew he was powerful and I must obey. It is the same with the Father. He is all powerful, creator and you can’t go to him without reverence and awe. Yet, how can one stay away? It’s a craving of mine to be in the presence of the Almighty.
The son of God, Jesus is also the one my heart loves. Some call him brother, savior and king. For me He is the perfect husband. He gave his life that I might live and live abundantly. Staring into the eyes of Jesus and hanging on to my Lord I am safe. He is my strong tower, a very present hope in time of need. His arms are strong enough to break the wind and yet gentle enough to hold my fragile self. His word tells me of his glory and love. His life showed the depth of that love. The passion in Him has birthed the passion in me. Jeff and I want desperately to see Him smile. The best way to bless the Lord is to love one another by the way.
The Spirit of God is forever near me and when I am quiet I can listen to the soft voice that guides my life. The Holy Spirit comforts me when the world turns away. When I can no longer understand the meaning of life, the Holy Spirit captures my heart and wraps arms around me.
Though I was not seeking after the Trinity, they sought me. I do not hold much with a religion that is cold and full of rules to get to heaven. No, I needed the passion of a relationship that fuels my soul. Many times in the presence of the Almighty, my earthly body trembles. It’s not because God has suddenly caused me to shake. I get sickened by folks who fake things in church. Reality is if you seek Him with all your heart you will find Him. No, when my body shakes at certain times it is simply my body’s reaction to a touch that is greater than the earth.
So, I began to soak to a higher degree than I had previously done. Here is what I was given as I soaked. Peace, increased faith and joy that so unusual it’s hard to describe. I hope the reader can picture the Jesus that I know. No matter what I’ve gone through or go through I can assure you that Jesus is worthy. Whatever I gave up from moving down here I knew that Jesus paid a higher price for me at Calvary. During this time of soaking I am reminded how desperate I am for the Great I AM. All my problems seem small compared to the desire to get closer to my Lord. Some folks call this Spirit Filled music. All I know is that there is a time to jump and sing and there is a time to sit and let the music flood over you. It is a quiet time, where the Lord can speak as your mind is totally on Him. No fidgeting, or finding things to do, or worshipping even. Soaking quietly is a way of worship though. Folks who have never heard of sitting quietly listening to soft music sometimes find this hard to do. I find it impossible to do without. I wasn’t looking for anything from the Lord. I just needed Him and the presence of God.
I remember one night we went out to a movie with Bill and Jo. I can’t remember the movie. I don’t remember going home to bed after. I do remember waking up with people forcing me to walk down some stairs. Next thing I remember I was in the back of an ambulance wondering if I was dreaming. I was in and out of consciousness. I saw an angel that night. He had his back to me as I opened my eyes. Then he turned around and I could see right through him. Yet, I know he was protecting me and monitoring the works of the people in the ambulance. I don’t remember a lot about him except he looked like Fabio. [I can almost hear you all laughing.] He spoke to me that night. “Just relax and you’re going to be all right.” Next thing I knew I was waking up in a hospital bed. I’d had a grand mal seizure in my sleep. I heard my husbands voice off and on as I was in and out of consciousness. “I’m right here Sheryl” OK I thought, but where is here? It was all so fuzzy. My thoughts drifted to a time when I was in the hospital pregnant with my daughter. It was Jeff’s hand that I held as I lay with O2 on and struggling with pneumonia. What would happen to our baby? “It’s all right honey, I’m here. I’ll never leave you.” Jeff’s voice was there then too. Jeff’s beautiful voice was talking to someone but I couldn’t make out what he said. In the darkness I searched for that voice. God had given Jeff to me years before when I was a young teen. He was my best friend and I knew he was there somewhere. I tried to call his name but nothing came out. I remember asking the Lord, “Doesn’t he need me anymore? What am I supposed to do? Where am I going?” I kept searching for something. “ Just relax, it’s going to be all right” I heard Jeff say. I was so tired though.
Someone was bending over me but I couldn’t open my eyes. I sensed more than saw that Jeff was there. I stopped fighting and drifted to a deep sleep without dreams.
I can’t remember when I wasn’t in love with Jeffrey. He used to roller skate when we were kids. He could dance on those skates as well as people walk on their feet. Chestnut brown hair with golden highlights blew around as he skated. The eyes on this guy fascinated me. Deep blue that turned darker when he was emotional. Eyes that looked in my direction and made my eyes grow wide and unmovable. I remember reaching out to touch his hair long before we ever dated. In fact he was dating someone else but for some unknown reason I couldn’t resist hugging and touching this guy. He would grin and look down at me with a knowing smile. He used to tell me I was cow eyed and I asked what that meant. To my amazement he said cows have huge glowing beautiful eyes with long lashes. “You talk with your eyes more than your mouth, Sheryl. “, he said. In my naïve way I thought we were always going to be friends. When he moved to Florida to help his uncle I thought I would never see him again. The thought and emotions that followed totally bewildered me until I spoke to my mother about it. “I just feel empty and nothing is worth anything to me now. Every one of my friends are the same, but with out Jeff I don’t want to do anything.” I said. “Why my dear Sheryl, you found your first love” I thought if this is love I don’t want to have a second love. This felt horrible. But, Jeff came back. Funny thing though, he is not my first love. My first love is Jesus. Jeff is a gift that I treasure and love very much.
I knew he was nearby even though I couldn’t talk to him. I remember thinking as I was slowly coming out of the deep sleep that I hoped I didn’t look too awful and scare him away. Women worry about the strangest things at the strangest times. I also knew that the Lord was even closer to me. The Lord had a plan for my life and I didn’t feel he would let it end in this way. I felt I had more things to do for Him. I do not remember a tremendous experience during that time. Actually, I felt a sense of calm that was unimaginable.
The next day I was foggy but able to comprehend the goings on. Folks were telling me how well I was doing. I knew the Lord had been with me. I just wasn’t sure why He’d let me seize again. The dr. in NY had told me I could go off the seizure medicine. I thought I was totally healed from epilepsy and even gave testimony of this. I believe the Lord can heal anything and I am believing for complete healing. I was taken into the hall and to a few test areas, totally oblivious to what actually was going on. I remember staying in the hospital for the week end for a MRI test on Monday. After the test I was allowed to go home. My husband who was already going through problems now had another one. The little church where we were helping was now helping us. For a few days my life was a blur. I remember going to Ralph and Janice’s and Jeff waking me up. I’d fallen asleep while everyone was worshiping. I had started feeling like I was being disconnected from everyone at church. I couldn’t understand all that was going on around me. It was a frightening feeling and I remember hearing my own voice saying” God didn’t give me a spirit of fear, but of sound mind”
I asked the Lord to clear up my mind. I decided to tell the church I was having mood swings. [Though I’m sure they already knew] I was not about to try to suffer in silence. Pride stops us from being open about our problems. We sometimes think, “It’s just a small thing. It’s a private thing. No one needs to know.” Sometimes we think”Well, I’ve prayed and that should be enough.” For me, I decided long ago not to dwell on the problem. I do not want to become the problem or wear a sign that says “Epilepsy”. I don’t go around telling just anyone about my infirmities. But, at the same time I’ve found it quite helpful to open up to the body of Christ with things I’m having trouble with. Many times folks lay hands on me and prayed. The devil had tried hard to silence my mouth and insert his own agenda of fear and insecurity into me. I do not wear any signs on my head that say “INVALID” or “CONFUSED” I am a child of the KING of Kings. The Lord had me focus on exactly who I was in Christ. In fact, I focused on Christ! Jesus is so much more than that baby in a manger on Christmas. He is strong enough to hold me, protect me and I need not be afraid. Though I knew I was in a valley I knew that Satan had made a big mistake by making me upset and scared. It only drove me back to the Father’s arms. Those wonderful arms are strong enough to fight for me and to hold me. I may be in a valley right now, but when I realized how I had been tempted to spiral into a downward depression I knew that those arms reached for me. I will not waste a moment in this valley. I will be a piece of clay and let the Father mold me into whatever He wants me to be. After all, the potter has every right to reshape the clay any time he wants to.
My headaches were like wearing a metal helmet made for someone two sizes smaller than your head. Frequently I lay down with a cloth on my head. I’d play soft soaking music and drift off. I slept all the time for a few weeks. My husband went back to work in a day or two. Soon we began getting more bills. The week end at the hospital was 9 thousand dollars before insurance. Insurance from Jeff’s job was helpful but we still had a few thousand dollars more to pay. The doctor put me on a special medicine that helped seizures and headaches as well. I went through one bottle and realized it cost a lot of money and our insurance didn’t cover it. My husband had been in such a state that he never questioned the pill cost. I know there are several medicines for seizure and decided to ask the dr. to change the medicine to something our insurance covered and was affordable. I’d take ibuprofen for headaches. The doctor gave us a prescription for Dilantin which he said he’d rather I take the name brand if we could afford it. We could not, and I went to the generic brand.
The neurologist we found in Melbourne was amazing. It seemed like I had dr. visits all the time now. Copay payments were adding up fast. My husband’s fatigue was showing up. All I could do was lift my hands to the Lord and pray over it all. Only God could take care of us. Our neurologist suggested I go for a sleep apnea test because I had grand mal seizures in my sleep. I kept wondering, “When will this all end?” “Lord, you brought us down here. We want to work for you. We are struggling on so many levels Lord.” Our minds could not grasp what was happening. Yet, in my heart I felt it was for some purpose that some day would magnify Jesus.
Jeff decided it was time to reapply for social security disability. My first thoughts were negative. In NY we had applied and reapplied to no avail. I had been through many doctors that were hired by SSI. They agreed I was not able to return to work. Jeff and I were on a emotional roller coaster. We felt we had a good case. We thought the money would bail us out back then from the mess we’d been in. I didn’t want to see that look of desperation on Jeff’s face again. I didn’t want to go through months of testing and questioning and all for nothing. Yet, one thing I realized was if something happened to Jeff I probably couldn’t manage on my own. My husband had been diagnosed with high blood pressure while in NY and was on a lot of medicine. His blood pressure was still dangerously stroke level. We prayed and others prayed and still it was high. The doctor down here told Jeff to stop using salt and lose wt. We began to adjust our diet. We bought a George Foreman grill and used it for hamburgers. We started eating oatmeal every other morning. Fruit substituted pies and other things. We found cholesterol free cookies and ate popcorn without butter and salt. The doctor had also changed some of the medicine. We are amazed to see how it has helped the blood pressure. We feel this is a miracle. In spite of everything going on around us my husband has never had blood pressure this good. He began losing wt.
One thing I have learned about the Lord is that he is the God of second and third chances. If you don’t learn something the first time, you will repeat it until you learn it. We had made several mistakes in NY and had developed some bad habits. I feel the Lord wanted us to finally learn from those mistakes. Though we had definitely been forgiven for our debts, we still had to suffer some consequences. We didn’t really need that second mortgage in NY at the time we got it. I was working and Jeff was working and our debts were manageable. . When I suffered a grand mal seizure I was told I was able to work. The truth is I wasn’t. I was and am forgetful, at times. No, I’m not giving Satan credit here. I am merely stating a factual truth. I believe with all my heart that the Lord is able to heal me from epilepsy and side effects. Why He hasn’t is not the issue. I will praise Him and live for Him no matter what.
Jeff was thrown into the position of taking care of bills, appointments, and anything that needed a good memory. I have trouble with shopping malls. I get lost and forget what I came for. Jeff takes me shopping and usually I make lists so I don’t forget things. Background noise and many people give me sensory overload. I end up not being able to hear and get disoriented. Jeff tried hard for years to manage things after I quit working. I filed for disability and was denied because of my age and education. I was told I could never work in a skilled position. The doctors agreed that I was disabled. However, I could work in a Laundromat and sort laundry. I lost my 401K and savings. I learned a long time ago that becoming absorbed in the hard realities of our situation can cause me to be worse physically and a poor witness as well for Christ. It’s easy to become despondent and depressed beyond measure. I asked the Lord to grant me a sense of joy and humor to go along with the realities of my life. God is faithful and to my surprise I am able to laugh at things others might shy away from.
The Lord is able to heal the worst of afflictions. As I felt the Lord have me write this, I know that I may repeat somewhat the thoughts of epilepsy. This is not to entertain the reader; it’s certainly not fun to live through either. But, to bring Honor to my savior I must always state with honesty what living as an epileptic is like in my case. It affects people differently. Healing is a word for today, not just bible days. Yet, I am suffering from seizures and other side effects from them. I will not always have to suffer though. If I am not healed on earth, I will still praise God. I will be made perfect in heaven I am sure. Either way, He is worthy to be praised. I have had friends with diseases that learned to live as a diseased person. They were not able to function outside their diseased state. I do look forward to the day when I no longer have this thorn in the flesh. Until that day, my heart will always be glued to the creator. He is the Great I Am. He loves me so much I am lifted up just at the thought of Him. So, I think of Him all the time.
For now, I am a cheap date for Jeff. He can take me to a movie and then rent the movie for home viewing and I’m none the wiser. People should never ask me for directions however. I’ll try my best, but you may end up in a wrong place. I write notes to remind me to do housework. Jeff phones me and checks to see if I still have my notes. Sometimes, I start things and forget to finish. Laundry sometimes is stored in the dryer. Milk gets sour in the cupboard. I’ve had to restart complete meals for reasons I won’t go in to. I’d love to tell you Jeff laughs with me. Sometimes he’s rolling on the floor, other times he’s upset with the whole scenario. I can’t blame him. I’m sure it’s hard to cope at times. I can’t remember accurately the person I once was. In truth I’m not at all recognizing the person I’ve become. My mind thinks I can do things and I run with it, only to find at times a disaster around the corner. I have suffered from the side effects of the seizure medicine and also side effects from the seizure itself. The woman I am now leans into our Savior constantly for guidance and love. He reassures me and encourages me. He makes me laugh. He lets me see things in a different light. If you’ve never had a heavenly hug, I pray you receive one. I can feel Jesus arms around me even as I write this. He is the reason I breathe.
The road we traveled of obedience to the Lord has not been easy. Folks who are called into ministry sometimes see only the romance and the excitement. As we are walking through some valleys, I feel the Lord is teaching us to be totally dependent on Him. At the time of writing this I’ve no idea how he’s going to settle our debts. I only know He will settle them. I can not go to work and bail us out. I am at a point in my life to only surrender to God and tell him Thy will be done. I read in a book that it’s the prayer that never fails.
Jeff and I are not driven with a particular purpose while here in Florida. No, we are instead being led by the Holy Spirit. Think of the way a shepherd walks in front of the sheep with a staff and leads them, rather than a bunch of cowboys at the back of the pack driving the cattle forward with dogs barking as well. There is so much we don’t know about leading a ministry. We’d rather not have manmade programs that may or may not touch the hearts. No, we’re praying ferverently and remembering the last things the Lord said to us. We’re trying to be obedient and searching Him with all our hearts. We began learning new things.
While the Lord is taking care of our needs he always wants to change our hearts as well. I began to feel edgy and critical of things. Though I have always enjoyed Bill and Joanne I began to have an unsettled feeling about Joanne. Two of their friends began to come to our church. Rather than being thankful that the Lord had increased our numbers I was uncomfortable with the addition. Jack and Mary Anne are retired folks in their seventies. Before the reader sees some gray haired dinosaurs though, I need to tell you that they look much younger and act almost as young as teens at times. They are involved in a few outreaches for the homeless and poor. It was obvious they love the Lord. However, their music preference is far from ours. Jack was a frequent singer of what I felt was corny old fashioned Christian music from the Stone Age. [Totally wrong thinking by the way] What was wrong with me? I’d prayed for people to come to this church and here I was being a basket case. I felt like Joanne was looking at things through rose colored glasses. Pouring out love lavishly and praising all who came near her. I saw Jack as someone with an interruptive spirit. [This too was not from the Lord] I watched as Joanne loved on everyone around her. It hadn’t occurred to me to be mean to them. They just weren’t our type. When I think back to that garbage I shudder. As the Lord opened my eyes I saw two of the most irresistible people I’d ever met. The problem with the music was something the Lord was in fact healing in me. I still wouldn’t choose it at home to listen to, but as I listened to MaryAnn sing I no longer felt the urge to run.
. Jack had suggested we have a potluck dinner at the church. Everyone agreed it was a great idea. I wanted to get as far from this as possible. I said nothing and decided not to attend. When Bill and Jo came over sensing a problem we just sat there trying to be calm. I had begun to believe that we’d made a mistake coming to Florida. Who was I kidding? I’m just a want to be Christian with too much baggage to be of service to the great I AM. The Lord knew something had to come out of me. A rotten root had entangled in my heart. During the evening Jeff and I decided to attend the dinner and try to behave. “Conquer the Flesh” so to speak. I couldn’t eat, I wasn’t a bit hungry. Somehow though, I decided not to say anything that would hurt anyone. After all, I’m the idiot not them.
The next day I continued along the line of my thoughts about Joanne and it suddenly made sense. Joanne does things out of love. It’s not that she didn’t see the whole picture. Jesus loved people who were not doing it all right. I asked the Lord to give me a new heart. I want to be able to love like Jesus loves. Another thing the Lord seemed to be telling me, “Do not seek perfection in Bill and Joanne. They are only human and will make mistakes. Mercy triumphs over judgment though. You were chosen to come to Florida and you obeyed. You just stay focused on Me. Never mind what Jack, or Joanne or anyone else does that you don’t agree with entirely. You must follow me.” I suddenly asked the Lord a question. “What is love?”
In my living room on my knees I searched and finally sat quietly hoping that the Lord would answer. “I AM” I sat there a while and laughed. “Well, wonderful but, “I’m not” All of a sudden it dawned on me. Whatever good I am, He made. Anything that isn’t good in me is not from Him. Somewhere in all the rubble of trials and cares of this world I’d faltered and my mind had gone down a wrong turn. “Oh Lord, you know me and know I messed up. I’m so sorry. No excuses, just know that I’m sorry. Keep my eyes on you Lord.” I didn’t feel a wild loving feeling after that. The earth didn’t shake or make me a bubbly little lady. But, I knew something had happened that the Lord was doing. I knew I had been challenged and as frail as I always am I’d needed to go to the Father for help in this battle.
I remember going to lunch with my husband and telling him what was on my heart. In church that Sunday we had spoke of giving our lives for our friends. In my mind I thought “oh Yuk” I was honest and told Jeff that I didn’t feel very loving. I was praying that the Lord would change my heart and make me more usable for the kingdom. I then began to see things with more compassion and looked at people with different eyes. I asked the Lord to show me how to love like Jesus loved. The Lord prompted me to speak this out to Joanne herself. She seemed delighted and asked if I’d share in church. I didn’t see why not so I agreed. By Sunday however I had forgotten. When Joanne called on me I suddenly remembered it all and spoke only what the Lord had been doing in my own heart. I truly feel that through these days in the valley Jeff and I are being tried and tested on every level. We are being taught by Jesus himself. I was taken back to John 21:21-22 “When Peter saw him he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
Journey entry number three
Psalm 41 7-11
“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me-a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you downcast O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
We waited a month for the sleep apnea test to take place at a clinic across town in Melbourne. The night of the test my husband was not feeling well. We’d gone to the doctor who thought he’d passed a kidney stone and had a kidney infection. Jeff assured me he was fine and I knew I had to just flow with the Lord so I left everything up to him. That night Jeff drove me halfway to the sleep clinic when he doubled over the steering wheel in pain. We went to our pastor and asked him to bring me to the clinic because Jeff could not drive.
It was a wild ride in the dark and I could not tell Bill where to go. Bill had been ill as well from a head cold. After a while we found the clinic and I went in for the test. The first person who came near was a 6 foot 6 man who was to be the guy giving me the test. I was to be hooked up to all sorts of monitors and sleep in a bed as he watched. I was in a panic momentarily and God reached down and settled me quickly. It turned out the guy was a Christian and I was not the only one being tested that night. I remember turning to Bill wishing he’d stay and knowing that was ridiculous. A quick prayer of help went up to the throne room. I had always thought of Bill and Joanne as being more than Christian friends and family. But, that night I knew that I had real family with them. Bill was very sick that night and I’m sure Joanne had better things to do; they were almost ready for bed. Yet, they put aside their lives and reached out to us. I could sense Jesus very strong that night. I did not know this, but Jeff had to be taken to the hospital that night by Bill. He was diagnosed with kidney stones and very low potassium. As they were sitting in the emergency room, Bill was propositioned by someone. The atmosphere in the ER on any given night is not like a Walton show. They were introduced to hookers, homosexuals and all sorts of people. Our lives in Melbourne are never dull.
I was glad I’d taken a sleeping pill for the sleep clinic. I never would have slept thinking of Jeff all night. I prayed for the Lord to watch over him and let myself be hooked up to all sorts of wires and monitors. The next day Bill came and brought me home and told me the news. Jeff had been admitted and was diagnosed with not only kidney stones, but low potassium as well. He was in the cardiac unit. After I was in my apartment and showered I began to open my bible and asked the Lord for help to cope with this new situation. I was in a daze to say the least. Later, Bill and Joanne came and took me to see Jeff. He looked awful with tubes all around and yet he had been given meds and was in no pain. He remained in the hospital for a week. I spent one night at the hospital after Jeff had undergone a procedure to remove the kidney stones. There was no sleeping at this hospital. His room was across from the nurses desk and the chatter went on and on. Plus, he was awoken a frequent intervals for medicine. He was constantly having blood work to monitor his potassium level. In all my years of marriage to Jeff I had never seen him this ill. No one is at his best while ill and Jeff’s attitude was like a bear. I decided not to stay the night after that. As much as I adore the guy, I’d have clunked him over the head if I’d been his bedside nurse. It was with much relief I went home to my quiet apartment and my own bed. I missed Jeff but felt he was in good care and I needn’t be there. I was exhausted from all the stress. I had forgotten my seizure meds while at the hospital and felt very light headed and dizzy.
For those of us who are regular doses of meds, when we don’t have our routine meds we get a little flakey. For me, I get sick to my stomach, dizzy and my head feels like it’s in a fog. Shaky hands grabbed at the side rails as I climbed up to my third floor apartment. My pastor was not sure I should be alone but I was sure I WANTED to be alone. After I assured him I’d lock the door and call if I needed anything I was allowed to go to my apartment. Once inside the apartment the quiet was deafening. No sooner was I in the apartment when the phone rang. It was the pastor, “Did you lock the door? Take your meds? Are you ok?” Yes, yes, yes, go away! My head was saying. But I tried to be nice. “I did everything you said and now I’m headed for the shower.” Yikes! I never meant to give out all that info. “I’m tired; I hope I don’t sound rude.” After he was quiet a second I heard him mumble something like, “See you tomorrow”.
Each day I thought it would be the day for Jeff to come home. It wasn’t until a week was up that his potassium was up to a safe level. He returned home in much pain and looked like a ghost of the man I knew. As he sat in his recliner I gathered up glasses of water, pain pills and whatever else he asked for. The nights were as bad as the days. He would thrash and moan, not sleeping at all. This went on for about two weeks. He began noticing every change in his body and I could sense the fear in him. I thought for a while about what could have happened. If he had been taken from me, what could I do? I had no money; I had no desire to remain in Florida alone. I thought about it for a while and realized that I could not work. I’d have to move in with my daughter. That didn’t sound like much of an answer, but I just couldn’t figure out what to do. As I had done many times before, I took all this to the Lord. Jeff was ill, and angry, depressed and fearful. His emotions were tiring me out. I was so tired I was unable to think straight.
One morning before my husband got up I sat alone in the living room with my bible. I read where the bible said in 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” I sat and smiled as I remembered something my own father had said to my mother years ago. “Vickie is timid; Sheryl is not one bit timid”. I had wanted to have everything that my sister had and thought “I am so timid” but never knowing what the word meant. Dad had turned to me and smiled. “You don’t know what timid is do you? It means you’re afraid, and you have never shown me any fear kiddo.”
I came to the present and realized that though my heavenly Father had not given me a spirit of timidity I had casually slipped it on. I hung my head and spoke to my heavenly Father. “Lord, I will not bow to a spirit that you didn’t give me. Help me to rise up and be a woman of power, love and self-discipline again. Lord, show me how to love my husband and yet not be blinded by his humanness. I don’t want to love him so blindly that I think he can do anything. Show me who he really is so I can be the woman he really needs.” I truly believe that a wife should always know her husband’s weak spots. We can not fix them but knowing what they are can aim us to be intercessors for them.
As a young bride I looked to Jeff as the one who could do anything. After having lived with him through over thirty years of ups and downs I knew the truth. I prayed again, “Lord, mature me to realize you created my husband and his choices have made some weak spots available for the devil to aim arrows at. Yet, Lord I choose to believe that YOU are the one who can fix and repair our lives. You have proven yourself to me over and over again. I feel the need for more of you in my life so I can have the power I need to live through these days.”
My husband has always been a surprise to me. He was set against being a Christian for many years. His heart was always ready to help someone in need. In fact he has a very giving and gentle heart. When the Lord was introduced to him he analyzed the person that Jesus was. He focused intently on what being a devoted Christian meant. He would not commit to something unless he knew for sure what it was. Finally, his heart gave out and he invited the Lord in without understanding everything, just trusting. His faith in God is truly a miracle. I was shocked to watch him with the other Christian men. He did not know everything about the bible, in fact he learns more each day. Yet, he grasped on to some things by faith that others analyzed for a lifetime. To see him hurting after giving up so much to serve the Lord bothered me to the core. I prayed that he would have a new encounter with the Lord.
It was a happy day when he returned to work. Though it was close to Christmas, we were not in “The Christmas Spirit”. There was no money for presents for anyone, not even each other. I remembered how Jeff was upset at not being able to buy me anything for Mother’s Day or Easter earlier as well. Somehow, we sent out a gift card of fifty dollars to our daughter. We couldn’t send anything to our son; we had no idea where he lived.
One day while Jeff was at work I took out what little Christmas decorations I’d brought with us from NY. This did not cheer me up much. Each decoration reminded me of Christmas in NY with family. Our tiny apartment didn’t need much decoration and I hate clutter so I decorated lightly. Jeff seemed happy when he returned home to see the festive apartment. He then told me that he wasn’t going to get paid for the time he spent in the hospital.
We didn’t know if we’d have enough money to pay the rent. He’d missed 4 work days. Living paycheck to paycheck and depending on the Lord is an experience. I did not feel the urge to say much to anyone. Instead I prayed about it and asked the Lord for a miracle. We were amazed when two of my sisters sent us a check. His mother also sent a check. We figured we’d have enough to pay the rent and for gas. Not sure of groceries, but we had a sack of rice and a few other things. The church pantry was available to us and I put a few staples in our sack that Sunday. Jeff was thankful but I could sense that he still was emotionally depressed.
I began to hear things that he used to say before he was saved. The old man was creeping in. Jeff had mentioned he’d like a turkey dinner for Christmas. There was no way I could squeeze it in. I gave this up to the Lord. A few days later his mother sent another 20 dollars. We were so excited. Jeff was home for Christmas, we could pay the rent, we had gas money and now we could get a small turkey. We quickly went to the store and bought our Christmas dinner. When Christmas arrived I began to get our dinner ready after I’d made a huge breakfast. I kept checking the turkey to see if it was done according to the directions on the wrapper. I’d peeled the vegetables and got the rest of the meal arranged. The turkey took forever to cook and when I finally brought it out it was horrible and the rest of the dinner was ruined. We ended up going to the market for sliced turkey for evening sandwiches. We ate the vegetables for Christmas dinner.
I encouraged Jeff to phone his sisters and brother and mom in New York. This proved to be a good idea and cheered him up immensely. We also phoned Desiree’ and listened to her cheerful voice. I ended the day sitting on the couch holding Jeff and asking for guidance. We were tired from the entire goings on and our saving grace was the Christmas party at our friend’s home. This is why I’m so adamant that Christianity is not a solitary life. We need our brothers and sisters at all times for all sorts of reasons. We don’t and no one should expect them to fix our problems. Just the relationship of sharing and praying together is a powerful healing balm in times of distress.
As time went by my husband’s depression grew. We had the whole church praying, and folks up north praying as well. I wasn’t sure how it started. It could have been the illness, the collection of events with us or the financial problems. One thing I was made aware of though. My husband wasn’t in the word; he was defenseless from the attacks of Satan without being in the word of God. There is a reason folks call it “the daily bread”. I went to the Lord about this and prayed that my husband’s spirit would be lifted up. I felt the Lord say not to confront him at this time, only pray. Being a wife is not easy. Being a Christian wife is less of a burden if we remember to roll everything into our prayer life. The Lord said, “My yoke is easy”. On my own I never could have managed through this time. I remembered in years past living through episodes of Jeff’s depression. It usually occurred when finances were low and he felt the weight of the world on him. I realized that I was not the cause, nor could I fix the problem. But, as his wife I could intercede on his behalf. I spent the most wonderful hours listening to praise music and standing up praising my Father. I refused to allow myself to put on the garment of fear. I could hear my earthly father’s voice; I could sense my Heavenly Father’s presence telling me that the power of God is stronger than any disease, any financial burden, and any earthly crisis known to man.
I remembered how He helped me cope with tragedy before. Jesus never failed me; he gave me the peace that passes understanding and the power to walk through each trial with dignity and grace. Plus, I knew I was never with out HIM and I never will be. I stood in my apartment and praised God. I stomped my foot against the spirit of depression, fear, loss and hopelessness. “I’m a child of the living God, no weapon formed against me will prosper. I will call upon the name of the Lord, for he is worthy to be praised” Though tears ran down my face, my mind was made up to praise the Lord no matter what.
I have seen too many miracles to not believe that the Lord is Lord of all. He loves me dearly and watches over all that is going on to me and around me. I remembered some of his earlier miracles in my life. I remembered how I was set free from the agony of rejection from my son. I had been in fear of my son on the streets drunk or drugged. The Lord strengthened me then, and gave me peace. I asked the Lord for His peace again. I asked how to be the wife Jeff needs right now. I prayed about our trials as well. I remembered how the Lord healed Jeff of bone disease before he was saved. I’d gone to Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship and was slain in the spirit the whole week I was there. After I got home I felt like the Lord wanted me to lay hands on Jeff’s bones as he slept. I prayed and laid hands on him. The bone disease totally left him. I’d seen a small baby healed from cancer. I’d seen how the Lord answers prayer.
Thinking on the past episodes with Jesus rekindled my faith to believe for Jeff’s spirit to rise up as well. It was his choice though. One thing I felt Jeff needed was to be in the sunshine. He always loved sunny weather. We strolled for a two mile walk at a nearby park one day. As we walked I began to ask him if the Lord has spoken to him. I then asked if he’d spoken to the Lord. He said no to both. I then asked what he’d been reading in the bible. His answer was “nothing”.
“Oh Jeff! You really should be in the word, that’s where you get your strength. Why not take your bible in your van and start with Galatians?” He wasn’t arguing with me so I went to another subject. Some times when we wives insert a word from the Lord it is good to let it be after delivering it. After all, the fruit is up to the Lord. Later that night Jeff asked me again where should he read. “In your van I suppose, on breaks” “NO, I meant what chapter.” It clicked with me that he would read it. I remembered to tell him what the Lord had told me. “Start with Galatians”. This was a man who knew the word; he’s been all over the bible in the last 10 years. But, this was a season for him. I was not to judge him, only encourage him. If you are a married person, listen carefully to this advice because I believe it comes straight from the Throne room of the Almighty. It’s easy to love our spouses when all is well and they are in a perfect mindset. It’s when they are down in spirit and body and being a royal twit when they need our love and compassion the most.
We went to the dr. a week later and he put Jeff on some antidepressant. There are warnings about folks popping pills for all sorts of quick fixes. They speak of side effects as well. I do not work for any pharmacy. We felt that the Lord was pointing to this medicine for now.
The bills came in droves. Jeff’s head hung all the time through the Christmas season. No matter what I said, it made no difference. I put my hand on his face as we sat on the couch and shared how much I loved him. “I don’t know why” was his response. Love doesn’t always have a reason. I believe the Lord put a special love for Jeff in my heart. God gave me a love strong enough to weather out this current storm. I usually hold Jeff’s hand while walking, watching TV, or just about anytime we are together. I love to touch this man. He loves to be touched. I know this man needs to be loved. The Lord has me stationed in a position to carry all my burdens for Jeff to His feet and then turn to Jeff with all the love I get from the Father. I do not believe women should be abused and if the reader finds herself in that position she should seek help immediately. But, as Jeff’s anger rose I knew he was not angry at me as much as he had self loathing. The Lord was and is protecting me. Always in the back of my mind is the thought, “when he is at his worst, when he acts out horribly, that is when he needs love the most” At times, being a wife I feel a bit battle worn though.
After Jeff went to work each day I spent private time with the Lord. I read scripture, give thanks for all I have and then intercede for whomever the Lord places on my heart. I had asked the Lord to let me think clearly. I wanted to understand Jeff so I could pray effectively for him. I did not want to manipulate Jeff or God. I want to be obedient to the Lord. He says we are to pray fervently in righteousness. I asked the Lord to cleanse my heart and asked forgiveness for my own sins that I may or may not know of. I pray in tongues as well. I am not the world’s authority on prayer. I have studied it for quite some time and feel I have a grasp of meeting with the Lord on Jeff’s behalf. The Lord knows my heart and I need not hide anything from Him. He corrects and directs me to where He wants me to go while I pray. He is a loving and understanding Father. Words can’t begin to tell you how I love Him so.
Psalm 23 always shakes me up. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me….
As the year came to an end and New Year’s came and went I realized that the struggles I’ve endured so far after leaving NY have brought me to my knees in constant desperation and faith in the Father I know loves me. I’ve no idea how He will take care of us. I only know He says “Fear not’ and that I trust Him more now than I ever have in my life.
Journey entry number four
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
With the New Year I could feel the Lord saying, “Sing a new song”. It had been a year of sorrow and trial. We don’t know what lie ahead but for me “sing a new song” meant turning a corner in one’s life. We had been in survival mode long enough. We wanted to be back in service for the Lord. Only problem was, what should we attempt?
I was reminded of a ride on the playground I used to love. It is a round object that children sit on and it goes round and round. You spin like a top. That is pretty much how my mind felt at times. I was upset with the fact that I was experiencing partial seizures around 2 -3 times a week. I’d be in a daze like state and awoke not knowing what had happened. I then had a pounding head ache, and felt out of touch with reality for the rest of the day. We went back to the neurologist and he increased my medicine. It was disappointing since I’d thought for sure since I’d been sleeping with the continuous positive air pressure machine that things would go better. Though I no longer snored I found I was having vivid dreams. Also, the insomnia was still a nuisance.
Meanwhile my head was spinning in another direction as well. I kept feeling the Lord impress on me some things he wanted me to speak out. I’d wake up with sermon titles swimming in my head. After a week or so I began writing down things as they came to me. Even if I didn’t write it down fast, I would remember them. I thought that was odd since I don’t remember things well. Then it dawned on me that what the Lord puts in, no physical problem can remove.
During the time Jeff was at work it became apparent that I had to keep myself occupied with something other than the TV. While watching television I’d either fall sound asleep or seemingly wake up from a trancelike state. This alerted me of partial seizures. I began reading more often. Also, without realizing it I began to sit and look out our front room window to the golf course below. I found I couldn’t just sit looking out the window. Soon, I’d be going down three flights of stairs and off for a walk throughout the complex. In NY I never walked. The weather was usually too cold. I had a responsibility to watch my grand daughter as well. I hadn’t really walked since I was in high school. The fresh tropical breezes were enticing as I strolled at a moderate pace. I fell a few times though. I found as I walked that I could scarcely take the beauty of this place in. Florida has some of the most talented landscapes I’ve ever seen. I do enjoy nature in it’s untouched state. Yet, I also love manicured lawns and hedges with hibiscus peeping through. The smells of jasmine and flowers I do not even know is overwhelming to me. I don’t think we could ever capture the smells in a perfume. The bright sunshine feels wonderful on my skin.
The beauty of the place that the Lord had found for me to live in was remarkable. While still in NY I would gaze at the city golf course and look at the homes nearby. I used to think it must be amazing to live on a golf course. The green grasses and strategically placed trees look so pretty in my minds eye. Now, here I was on the third floor looking down into a beautifully landscaped setting of a golf course. Several apartment buildings and condos gracefully placed around the area. Palm trees as far as the eye could see. I love to watch the gentle breeze causing the palms to sway as if in an orchestrated ballet dance. The rustle of the palm leaves sounds like the applause at a theatre. The retaining pond below usually has ducks and tropical cranes along with turtles and blue herrings. The sky is so blue with white puffy clouds float by as I watch the seagulls gracefully swooping and dancing in the air. Sometimes, a huge flock of black birds dot the sky looking like a scene from an old movie “The Birds”. The condos and apartment homes look so pretty with their lights on in the evening. During the day it is so quiet you could hear the golfers as they talk to each other. It’s a whole different atmosphere than my life in Fort Edward. I used to look out my solar room to my back yard of flowers and trees sandwiched between the neighbor’s yards. I used to look at the shabby backs of other older homes and trash strewn around and blowing in the breeze. Now, I was living in a place most folks dream about. This was definitely a sight for someone who took the time to see it for what it was.
The golf course was not made by nature, yet nature made it as gorgeous as it is. It is rare not to see a mother duck with a trail of babies squawking in the water. Each day we awaken to the sounds of birds and sometimes the sandpiper cranes. They strut across the greens looking arrogant and yet graceful. I could watch egrets as they walked through the golf course. Eagles are plentiful down here and I love to watch them soar. The quiet of it all amazes me. Sometimes I am sad to see I am alone to watch and enjoy it all. Yet, the calm quietness is healing as well. I do not forget the many years of rushing through time schedules and not being able to enjoy a moment’s peace until I slept.
We had signed up for Disability and began the waiting process. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have a check once a month because I was suffering from seizures and things. Perhaps I won’t qualify. It’s so hard to answer questions from those people when you’ve no idea half of the answers. I do not like to appear stupid. I could hear a small voice calm me, “Sheryl, just be yourself. You don’t have to play a part or try to be a witness for me. Just be truthful.” In a faith where we always claim that Jesus heals, I once again was able to clearly state the obvious. Yes, he does heal and he loves me and yet I’m having some difficulties. He can stand up for Himself, and I was told to just be myself. I am a child of the King, in an earthly body that one day will be gone anyways.
My memory is worse than ever. I forget the simplest things, like cooking. I’ve burnt up a few meals that wouldn’t even serve as a burnt offering. One afternoon in particular is etched in my memory as a gift. I was making a stir fry dish and the phone rang. I got busy talking and totally forgot the meal, until I could smell it burning. Quickly returning to the stove I became upset. Once again I fouled up and this time I had no back up meal for Jeff. I began to shake and anger turned to tears as I realized I just couldn’t seem to remember the simplest things. “Why Lord, why can’t I just remember this little stuff” Fussing over the pan I was sobbing when all of a sudden I felt strong arms come around my shoulder. Jeff had come home and I never heard him walk in. He turned me around and reached over and turned the stove off. I was still shaking and he lifted my head to face him. “Don’t ever be afraid to let me see the tears. Remember when we were kids and I’d take you to McDonalds? I’ve got six bucks in my pocket, how about we go see what six bucks will buy us?” This guy had just finished working and was bone tired with gray circles around his eyes. Yet, he took me to the burger joint and began to act like a clown to make me laugh. I was blown away.
Jeff and I have devised a few coping ideas that seem to work. I stay near the kitchen while working. I don’t watch a lot of TV during the day because we’ve found it either puts me to sleep or causes a small seizure from the bright colors. I make lists of what I should take care of such as what’s for supper, vacuum, laundry etc. I began to walk in the morning more than afternoon as I tire in the later hours.
One evening my husband was sitting on the couch quietly and from years of experience I knew that something was playing on his mind. I’m no expert on marriage .I do know my Jeff, his body language tells me more than his lips. Then there are those huge blue eyes. When they are downcast or misty I know that something is going on. Quietly I reached for him. His shoulders were slumped and I began to massage between the shoulder blades. I began to scratch as well as massage. I was not trying to be seductive; I was trying to relax him. He turned and looked me in the eye and I saw such pain I felt a lump in my throat. “What is wrong Jeff?” He just stared for a while and slowly brought his arm around my shoulder. “I love you so much Sheryl. I want to give you presents. I want to take you out to dinner. I want to buy you pretty clothes. You are so sweet Sheryl. You deserve so much more than this.”
I was a bit taken back and tried not to go into some emotional thing. Drama wasn’t what was needed here. I leaned my head into his shoulder and asked the Lord for the right words to answer Jeff. After a moment I shifted a bit to look into his eyes. “I am not sure I can convince you that what I’m about to say is true. So first I’m going to pray that God will give you an understanding heart.” We held hands and prayed a short prayer. As I looked back at him, he seemed so tired. “Jeff, no one can give me everything. The one thing I need more than anything else, I receive from you each moment of the day. You have given me your heart. I know that behind all the teasing, the angry words spoken and the trials we go through…there is a man who loves me for myself. When I am in your arms each night I do not wish I had new clothes, or regret I can’t go out to fancy restaurants. I am at peace listening to the beat of your heart. The sound of your voice is what lulls me to sleep. There are millions of women in this world who have all that money can buy and cannot buy what I have with you. I know that it is said that you can’t live on love. Yet, for 32 years that love has given me more life than you will ever know. I do not want for anything except to see you smile at me and hold out your arms for me to crawl into.”
It was kind of a long speech and I’m surprised at remembering most of what I said. Jeff seemed to understand though because he held me for the longest time. We didn’t talk after that. Our throats had such lumps in them that no words would come out. Satan had once again tried to destroy us and instead only brought us closer with the Lord’s help. I have the view that a spouse is a precious treasure. It bothers me when a spouse will publicly say things that put their spouse in a bad light. There is a time and place for sharing and receiving direction and prayer from those who are close and trusted. Even then, I wouldn’t do this unless the setting is with other committed Christians. But, to blurt out hurtful insults in a crowded room that harm your spouse turns my stomach. There are no perfect people and sometimes people need counsel. For me though I always keep two things in my mind while dealing with my Jeff. I’ll forever keep in mind what it was like when he wasn’t there. The excitement for him that I had when I first found myself to be in love. And also, if this would possibly be my last day on earth with him I want him to remember how much I love him. When we finally went to bed that night my husband fell fast asleep. I woke up around 3 am listening to my husband whispering prayers for me. That was such an incredible time. Sometimes I wear this strange grin on my face and folks wonder what is so funny. It has little to do with what is going on at the time. Mostly, I am thinking of something about Jeff. It amazes me how spoiled I am in this world where there are so many who hunger and thirst after love and companionship. How can I complain over anything when the Lord shown me such love from the Father and also gave me a husband who loves me?
With all that is going on physically, I hate to keep thinking of me, or even Jeff. I asked the Lord to open up something that Jeff and I could do for someone else. Jeff and I prayed about it and thought we came up with something with the Lord’s help. Our church goes to a local nursing home once a month to minister and pray for the elderly. Perhaps we could do that as well. It seemed like a good thing so I presented our thought to Bill. The pastor said simply “I don’t think that’s a good idea. That’s a church function. I’ll have to think it over.”
It occurred to me that perhaps it was because of my illness that he thought it best not to go in that direction. I certainly couldn’t blame him for that. He’s one of the dearest men I know and I felt comfortable with his reply. Jeff and I would just wait until the Lord gave us another idea. One thing was certain though, we wanted to look outside of ourselves and get involved in some way with others. Trouble was, we didn’t really know how and didn’t know who. “Oh well” Jeff said, perhaps we could do some exploring here in Melbourne. We began to take Saturday trips to local stores and parks nearby. One of the neat things about living in a strange place is that each day can be an adventure. Jeff and I began to sense that the Lord was opening up joy to us.
A week or so later our pastors came to us with an idea about taking over the nursing home ministry with their guidance. They’d asked if we had thought any more about it and we simply hadn’t. We didn’t answer right away. We wanted time to go back to the Lord, and talk once again to each other. I knew I had things put into my heart to speak to the elderly but Jeff and I are a team. I wanted to be sure that the Lord had been speaking to my team mate as well. I knew that at times I get fuzzy headed with the seizure meds and it felt to me like the Holy Spirit called us to be a team at times. I questioned Jeff if he felt like we could be a team. He was driving in the car at the time and reached over and grabbed my hand. “We are a team. I think we can do this.”
For every thing there is a season the bible says. We seem to be in the growing season mostly. Our pastors from NY had informed us that they intend to make a day visit. Bill and Joanne spent some time thinking of ways to entertain them and also show them what the Lord has brought together here in Melbourne. Jeff and I were excited because we love our previous pastors very much. In fact, they are more like family than pastors. Just like family, we have our differences. Yet, we are bound by blood from the cross and the Lord has made it clear we are family. As the day came to see them we are happy. We knew we had things to tell them about the Lord’s faithfulness. We happily showed them the church, the nursing home, and our little apartment. Jean Davidson is a pastor in NY and she also does a lot of home decorating. The look on her face as she saw our humble apartment was priceless. We had changed our way of life drastically from the early American home in NY to this Floridian one bedroom apartment. It was all done by the master decorator too.
I was surprised though when it came time to be with them. Somehow our relationship had changed. It wasn’t stressed or disappointing at all. Our love for them never changed. But, I knew something was different. We were no longer those needy infant Christians who clung to them in fear. We had gone through trials that I pray no one has to endure. The Lord had given us the strength to survive. Now, we knew we were ready to step out in whatever way the Lord had for us.
Florida is a vacation spot as we all know. The month of February moved to be interesting as our friend from NY was coming down to spend the month with her sister. They stayed in Bill and Jo’s RV. We had a great time playing scrabble, catching up on each other’s lives, going to lunch and even to Orlando’s theme park “The Holy Land Experience”. This would be our second time and I made sure to tell Jeff that if he felt the Lord telling him to go to Liberia, it was a wrong number.
We had eagerly waited for February because my husband had been told there was a possible chance he’d be promoted at work. Though we felt for sure the promotion was coming, it did not happen. We had wondered if he’d be selected for the job at the new store being built and were told that wasn’t going to happen either. Our church however had some exciting times. Once again the Lord was showing me some things. Our pastor felt the call of God to do a teaching that would show Mormonism to be totally wrong. This met with some strong opposition from long time Christians. For me and my husband we were confused. Jeff wasn’t really interested in this teaching, though he though it a good idea. I wondered why Bill was going off at this angle. This sounded as exciting as watching paint dry on a wall. The enthusiasm of our pastor was tremendous. I had remembered our pastor in NY having programs that didn’t interest me and didn’t feel the need to attend them. The Mormon teaching was to be Sunday nights and Jeff and I usually hit the sack early after relaxing. For many reasons we get very tired in the evenings. When I’m tired I don’t always grasp things well.
The older couple from our church was adamantly against this. As I sat in my living room one day listening to their thoughts I was again wondering why the strong enthusiasm from the pastor and why the strong opposition from this couple. I had not prayed that much about it. This was when I really should have gone before the Lord for wisdom immediately because my spoken word to this dear couple reinforced their belief that our pastor was wrong. I told them that they should speak to the pastor, which was right. I also told them that I was confused and would pray for the pastor to have wisdom and guidance. This is the lesson that I want the reader to grasp. When involved with something such as this, go on your face before God all by yourself. Ask Him to reveal what He is doing. Do this immediately if you are confused. God is not the author of confusion and you could unwittingly get caught in the devils web, as I did. Go directly to the pastor as well and be respectful yet to the point with questions. The pastor is only a person, not to be feared or intimidated by. Ask the pastor sounds like an easy thing. It really is if you remember he is not God, only a servant himself. Yet, for Jeff and me we simply got blindsided and felt this to be a boring issue.
My words are not profound or new. They are applicable to every day life in a church though. There will always be things that you don’t understand. There came a night when the church was together and tempers flared. The only thing I kept hearing was to lie down my own ideas and ask the Lord what He has in mind. It was a rough night. Definitely not our finest hour as a church. Yet, I knew the Lord was doing something. If I had been seeking him out over this I would have already be equipped and there would not have been any confusion for me.
That night at 2 am I was awoken as if someone had shaken me by the shoulder. I tried to go back to sleep but the previous night kept rehashing in my mind. I kept hearing my pastor, my precious brother Bill’s voice. “I’m not asking you to teach this.” I got up and quietly went to the couch to pray and ask the Lord to tell me what was going on. “What is happening here?” I felt the chill of the morning on my bare feet. All of a sudden I felt like the Lord was saying to me, “Now, you ask me?” Though I prayed and waited for more answers, none came and I finally went back to bed to sleep restlessly.
The next day after Jeff went to work; I played all my soaking praise tapes and lay on the floor. Somehow, I would get the answers I needed. Slowly, about an hour into the time I received a picture of missionaries in Africa ministering to head hunters. They held poles up with shrunken heads of humans on them. “I sent people among them.” That was all the Lord said for now. Later, as I skipped breakfast and continued to pray I was remembering that I had been taught a lot of religion as a small kid that turned out not totally true. I remembered the one about not allowing Jehovah’s Witness and Mormons to come near.
Still later on I received a word in the form of a question. My Lord knows what will work on me. Like a father who lifts their child onto their lap to gently speak to them. Loud words and anger never teach me a thing. It’s the gentleness of the Father Himself that I always go to and listen to. Here is what I heard. “If your son Jesse was to suddenly get involved with Mormonism wouldn’t you want Jesse to be listening to what Bill has to say? I’m bringing darkness into the light. Wouldn’t you want to be there? Do you think I love the Mormons less than you? They have no idea who I am. Who will reach them? I’m not asking you to teach this. I’m not asking you to trust Bill even, but trust me. But, remember, Bill is your brother.” I felt released from confusion. The pieces of the puzzle were coming together. Only one thing bothered me. The Lord who knows me so well, allowed me to go to sleep for a while. I was exhausted.
I finally fell asleep . As it was Thursday I relayed most of this to the prayer group that day. Still something was nagging at me. How did I miss this? How did I get it all goofed up? I went back into prayer and asked the Lord to speak to me again. Suddenly I was asleep on the couch though. This time I had a dream I was in a garden. I was sitting on a bench talking with the Lord. The Lord was reaching forward and our foreheads touched. “Sheryl, this is not a surprise to me. I know you better than you know yourself. I’m not mad at you, I’m teaching you to come to me with all your heart even more.” The depth of His love is indescribable.
Our service to the Lord goes on. The messages for the nursing home seem to come flying at me and I write them down. The time to come alongside others is always an opportunity that I am enjoying as I am here. In spite of what we are living through, the Lord is using it all for His glory. Our service to the Lord has taken on new meaning. I wonder what next month will bring.
Journey entry number five
The area around our church is one of poverty. There is a beer joint just down the street. There is a city housing development almost next door as well. When the church first began we were still in NY. Bill, Joanne and our dear friend Sally went door to door with flyers to announce the arrival of a new church in town. The pastors were surprised that few of the adults approached the church. The children began walking to the church by themselves. These children were undisciplined and destructive as well. It was very hard for Bill to keep their attention. The church started out as a youth ministry. When we came down on vacation there was only one woman in the church with about twenty children. The woman was in her eighties and had a heart for prayer. The children were shy at first. Then the pastors noticed that they were a gang of kids that were a family into themselves. The parents ranged from drug dealers, dope addicts, prostitutes or alcoholics. One young man came to church with a knife. One time one of the girls decided that church was the place to paint her fingernails. The girls liked to dance to the praise music. They enjoyed dancing so much that the pastor’s daughter who was in dance school began to teach them once a week. This didn’t last though because the girls soon detested discipline and being told what the dance steps should be. Jeff and I were introduced to a few of the parents. I was reminded of my own back ground. The word dysfunctional was all over these families. These children were raising themselves with dysfunctional parents as role models. The children’s ministry came to a halt just before we arrived to live permanently. The unruly behavior had escalated to the point that it was obvious the children couldn’t be allowed to continue. Word went out that the kids were welcome to come to Sunday school but could not remain in regular church services without an adult with them.
The reasons were simple really. The adults who would have liked to come to church were deterred by the wildness of twenty unsupervised children. These children were capable of violence. In fact, at one point our pastor was threatened with a knife. This child later was institutionalized. The children were not willing to come to church at a set time. They’d arrive whenever they pleased. So, the idea that they had to get up earlier and come to church was out of the question for them. In the end no one came back. It was a hard decision on our pastors but I believe it was the right decision. Soon, we discovered that a Baptist church was bringing the children to their church by bus. It was a bigger church with more rules than our pastor had set forth. I was once again reminded of a family that used to pick me up for Sunday school. The names were Mr. and Mrs. Simon. It’s been over forty years and yet I remember this couple. Looking back on my own childhood helps me to reach out to the parents and children living in dysfunction.
If anyone has more than one child you can be assured that each child looks at their parents differently. Each child would have a different description of the same mother or father. My description through the eyes of a child and then an adult are different. There was a song in the 80’s that reminds me of my parents. “Your mamma don’t dance and your daddy don’t rock n roll”. Except in this case my momma did dance and when they were together my daddy did rock and roll. In her youth my mother wanted to be a professional dancer. She tap danced and boogied at every dance she could get to. Mom was about 5 feet 5 and quite slim in her youth. My father used to remark about her gorgeous legs. She was strong in body and stubborn as a mule mentally. It didn’t matter if she was right, she’d fight tooth and nail to prove she was. In fact, she fought her way through three different husbands. Though she only acknowledged having loved one, which was my father. I never saw her with her youthful appearance because she was 33 when I was born. I do remember the pictures of her at 20 with shoulder length brown wavy hair and hazel green eyes. She reminded me of Loretta Young in those pictures because her eyes were so huge and seemed to penetrate the soul. She seemed like a deer caught in the headlights of a car at night. She maintained that look as she grew older and though she gained weight from thyroid trouble she always looked wide eyed. I could see my father’s attraction for her.
Mamma had her ways when I was young. Having raised 2 girls to adulthood and now 3 left at home, she was quite busy and tired most of the time. The wringer washer was always going in the kitchen. There were always clothes on the clothes line. The house was in a constant state of disarray. There were stacks of magazines, or newspapers near every chair. We had mismatched furniture with old doilies covering a dusty top. Beds were seldom made. Broken toys littered the floor and the floor was always cold linoleum. Nothing ever matched or had a decorating theme. Whatever was available and whatever was workable. We had used broken furniture. Nothing was thrown out. I wore my sister’s school clothes. She was ten years older than I was. Mom used to iron constantly and hung the ironed clothes on the doorway frames. My parents were divorced and Mom was trying to raise her children while working a full time job. She worked 3-11 or 11-7. Our television had a picture but no sound. We listened to the radio most of the time.
Chef boy R Dee was a main dinner. We ate a lot of hot dogs and hamburgers. Boxed macaroni and cheese was a staple. Spaghetti was saved for when my father visited on week ends. High carbohydrate and high fat diet was the routine. Mom used to have pastries in the house continuously. She loved donuts and coffee. Once in a while I’d have bananas or a can of peaches. Mom was always serious and tired. Even so, I remember her as she continued to tap dance in the kitchen and sing. She was a high soprano and sung well. Mamma worked as a nurse aide while I was little. She was busy raising us without Dad during the week because she had divorced him. I saw her as a tired middle aged woman and quite fearful. She frequently saw the negative in life.
We moved to a different apartment [we called them flats in Albany] about every 1-2 years. There is nothing like walking into an empty flat and smelling mold and dead mice. My parents were divorced when I was two years old. I’ve heard thousands of stories from older siblings and my mother, and even grandmother about the escapades of my father. Sometimes it seemed as though my mother was proud of his actions. He could be reckless, and verbally and physically abusive. He suffered from nightmares, and headaches caused from injuries from the war. He’d wake up from naps at our apartment in a sweat sometimes. I learned to keep my distance at certain times with him. He and his brother would go on drinking binges and sometimes end up at our apartment. I can remember many times being bundled up and put through a window into my brother in laws arms to escape what might happen. I remember hearing the noise of broken things, the loud yelling and sometimes the police sirens as well. To say it was dysfunctional is an understatement. Each time we moved we had to clean out the dead roaches and mice. Mom always painted and wallpapered. Dad would come over and I think he always said the same thing. “How on earth did you find this place?” I shared a room with a sister. I had to share due to lack of space and because I would frequently stop breathing. My older sister was told frequently to shake me in the night to be sure I was breathing. One time she woke me up and I punched her. My sister quickly retaliated and soon my mother was there to break it up. That’s when mom said to only shake me if I wasn’t breathing. I thought they were all crazy.
My father was an extremely passionate man in the physical and in the emotional. As I look at the short stubby body I possess with blonde hair, I realize I look nothing like my parents. When Dad was sober and feeling alright he was a lot of fun. I remember wrestling on the floor, being bounced around the house and being teased. Dad was tall with dark eyes and dark wavy hair that he wore slightly longer than the fashion. He had a smile that could melt butter. He also had a sober look that told the world to keep away. Many times I’ve used that look to stop folks on a dime, it works. All you do is allow all your facial muscles to hang limp and don’t let your mouth quiver. Breathe slowly through your nose and let your eyes widen slightly. Tilt your head and stare ahead. Yet, though this keeps folks away mostly; at times it causes folks to keep asking “What’s wrong?” I hate that, so I learned at a young age to develop a different look. A total face smile that starts at your lips opens the eyes and allows whoever watching to think that you’re just fine. Behind that mask of my own making I could be thinking anything and no one knows. I can be totally bored with a conversation or upset with a smart remark and no one knows that I’d taken a direct hit. After the Lord took over, I slowly learned to take my own hedge away. It was a hedge around my father’s own heart I believe. Hence the saying, “Never judge a book by its cover”
Though he wasn’t known to smile all the time, the sober look made you think he was angry when in fact he had hidden thoughts he didn’t wish to show. I’d never try to paint an incorrect picture of my father. He had a problem with anger, drinking, and thought nothing of breaking things. He demanded that children be well behaved. He scared me sometimes, but mostly I liked to snuggle with him. He smelled of Old Spice and always gave me a huge grin and I felt loved. Unfortunately he could also be cruel. If he had a headache he would say, “Why don’t you disappear and surprise me.” There were times when he’d be extremely serious. One day while he was visiting I walked over to where he was sitting having coffee in the kitchen. Mom had her back to us as she was washing dishes.
At school I’d listened to the other kids talk about their parents and realized that most fathers lived with their kids. I snuggled up to dad’s arm and told him I would love it if he could live with us. Dad was speechless and mom turned around quickly with her mouth open. “That’s really none of your business young lady. Why not go play and let us grown ups talk”. I knew I’d done something wrong but was unaware of what I’d done. I could feel the tears coming that day. Mom was exasperated “Now don’t go turning on the tears, just go play for a while and I’ll speak to you later.” I went to the bedroom and sat there trying not to turn the tears on. I heard my father’s voice and a sound like broken glass. “Damn it Hazel!” Next thing I remember Dad had walked into the bedroom and sat next to me. I was trying my best not to cry or say thing that was wrong. Though I remember I had no idea what to do. Dad all of a sudden picked me up and put me on his lap. “You ok Pete?” Dad used to call me Pete to get me going. I’d say, “I’m not Pete” and then he’d call me Sam. He did it all the time. Only this time I just stared up into his face and whispered. “Don’t tell mom I’m crying. I’m sorry for what I said.” Dad pulled me to him and told me this, “I’m your dad, you can tell me anything” I remember soaking his white shirt that day as I tried to be very quiet. Thinking he may be mad at me I tried to stop crying. He then told me this, “You can tell Dad anything. You’re the sweetest thing this side of heaven Sheryl” I remember that I couldn’t put into words what I felt. Without looking at him I tried my best. “I just wanted you near sometimes. Did I say the wrong thing?” I finally got the courage to look up at him and that’s when I noticed his tears. . His Adam’s apple moved and then he kissed me. I just sat there and he left the room, and left the apartment. I was not aware that in just a few years Dad would be gone. It wasn’t until twenty or so years later at a church in Toronto Canada that I realized I’d seen the man behind the mask that day when I was just a child.
I suppose that is why I find it so easy to talk to my heavenly Father. That is why I can sense His arms around me. My earthly father was far from perfect. I heard all sorts of bad stories about him and saw for myself he had a dark side. Yet, he never struck me. He never raised his voice to me. No matter what he did to others, this man was gentle and held a magnetic fascination for a little girl. I would try my best to get him to smile. He knew it too. But, his charm was like a sweet dessert to a little girl. He had huge shoulders and strong arms. My father usually carried me when we went out. I was small and got lost a lot. You can see a lot of the world when you are carried in the arms of your father. Plus, I could whisper stuff in his ear. He’d have this foolish grin sometimes after I told him stuff. You are in a safe place in those strong arms. The similarities of my earthly father and Heavenly Father are always present in my life. Yet, unlike the earthly father, the heavenly Father is perfection. He knows all, and still loves. He is all powerful and yet still gives featherlike kisses. The bible does not create a fantasy of our Father, rather illuminates the Father. What a privilege to be the daughter of one so majestic.
When Dad died, I often wondered how to act around men. Dad was not your average guy and growing up with all girls made it hard to know how to act. Men seemed like foreigners to me. Many of them seemed off a different planet even. Still do. When I was around 14, I made a list of what I wanted in a husband. I knew I would get married. I asked the Lord for a husband who didn’t drink, or do drugs. I wanted someone who wasn’t too tall, so I’d not get a neck ache looking at him. Money didn’t matter back then, but I wanted a guy who liked to hug. Is it any wonder? I was used to my dad holding me. I can’t remember the entire list. But, God was faithful. He may have read the list, but knew what I truly needed and wanted.
As I watched these unruly kids, I was wondering if they had the same thought I did. They put up a tough exterior and wanted to do things their own way. Was it because they’d watched their parents and wanted something more? I watched my parents and knew I wanted more out of life. Somewhere along the pathway of my life came the answer to my longing. His name is Jesus. The cure for a dysfunctional life is Jesus. He alone brings freedom, healing, acceptance, joy, peace, hope and security. It’s all wrapped up in Jesus.
It is good for me to remember these things as I find myself in the company of strangers here in Florida. When I meet with people from all walks of life who live in dysfunctional circumstances I am reminded that this does not have to be the end all for them. Our heavenly Father can do great things. I am taking the time to look around me and be thankful. I’m looking up and questioning what to do next. With the Lord’s direction I am being nudged to reach out in Jesus name.
Journey entry number six
1 Timothy 5:17 -18 states this. “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”
Sometimes it would appear that our friend, brother and pastor are jumping without a parachute to an unknown land. Yet, it would seem he landed on target. Although we miss the couple who have left our church for however long it may be, the message that is being preached is definitely of God. As it was announced to be a teaching on Mormonism, I was surprised to find it is more like a teaching on love.
Though we are being given a glimpse of the falsehoods of the religion, we are also being cautioned how to treat these people. They should be treated with the love of Christ. For them, Christ is a totally different Christ than what the bible teaches. Our pastor has been taken back by the huge reaction from the church and those of the Mormon faith as well. It came all the way to his work place. Always I am reminded to pray for those in leadership and try to be an encouragement whenever possible. Jeff and I have begun attending the teachings on Sunday nights. As we are praying for church growth, we are learning once again how to love those who aren’t of the same faith as ourselves. Can a person actually love a person into the kingdom of God? That would mean more than being nice to them. You would have to have the knowledge that Mormons objective is simply to recruit new Mormons. Are we any different? It’s a matter of the heart again. The objective of every Christian is not to recruit more people into our church, but to aim people to Christ. Aiming people to Christ brings them freedom, truth, life.
As my husband and I lean more toward being a helper for our friends, we are definitely checking what they do with the gospel. It is obvious that the Lord is directing it all. Meanwhile we are also working at what the Lord gave us to do in regards to the monthly nursing home visits. I would love for this to evolve into more private visitations but at this point my husband seems exhausted at the end of the day. Jeff did a PowerPoint presentation to go along with what I felt the Lord wanted me to speak about. I was amazed as I began typing out all the ideas just how much the Lord gave me. Then later, I felt I was going in too many directions. After seeking the Lord I realized He’d given me about 4 teachings and I could safely narrow this first one down to the Reintroduction of Jesus. I do not know everything about public speaking, but I do know that too much info gets boring and confusing. One thing I kept hearing was that it was the Lord’s work and He was directing our small portion as much as a world evangelist’s, so long as we step aside and let Him do it. I wouldn’t dare step out and do things on my own or with some preconceived ideas. Though I now have an outline of what to share, it is with the assumption that Holy Spirit will take over.
Our Wed. nights have been turned over to Jack and Mary Ann’s home. We are doing something new with each of us taking a turn at doing a small teaching. It was nice just to sit back and relax with music while we were at Ralph and Janice’s home. The Lord would give each of us a scripture or word and we’d feel the spirit move on us. Now, our little group is turning around and doing something different. This week I am preparing to share something. I am sure that the Lord is once again doing something. My little teaching is a no brainer. When I say these things I remember hearing my little sister charging me with being arrogant and boastful. “Sheryl, you always think you’re so great! Hmph!” Seriously, it has never taken me long to hear what the Lord has to say when I am seeking Him. These days I’m so surprised by what I do not know, and the things I can not do; that I turn to the Lord for help with most everything. The enemy gets in there with doubt and tries to scare me into thinking I can not do anything for God because I forget things, or don’t know the bible well enough. I feel the presence of the Lord very near and this thought came to mind, “What if you mess up and get embarrassed for doing something for the Lord?” With a few seconds of silence I then heard the answer “I am big enough to handle it.” Not I mind you, but my Lord. Me little Him BIG.
All of a sudden I remembered that our Lord is able to do all things. If he can use a donkey, then I’m sure I will be a piece of cake for him. I am so thankful that things are quieting down with our health. The morning walks in the coolness of the morning are wonderful. Most days I fight the urge to go to sleep during the day. I’m thinking that perhaps I should in fact sleep though. I get so fatigued at night my head spins. I’m sure it’s the seizure meds and thyroid meds slowing me down as they did in NY. Sometimes, as I am with my friends I all of a sudden hear all their voices mixing together like a noise that is circling my head. Once again, I am given much care and prayer by my friends. Though I have problems that are odd, I know the Lord has put me with His choice people.
I am getting to enjoy the body of Christ much more. Though Carmen is hard for me to understand, I find it easy to tell her so. Carmen is a beautiful Hispanic woman who suffers from many things. She is originally from Venezuela. She is quite a talker. Unfortunately, she speaks in circles and rarely comes out with an answer of yes or no to questions. I mentioned last Sunday that I wanted desperately to understand what she says but she goes in many directions and I can’t always find the crux of what she is saying. She smiled and said, “Too much information?” She told me of the culture again and how her culture talks. “But Carmen,” I said “For me, if you beat around the bush without answering directly I get the impression you don’t wish for me to know the truth.” She did not get upset; only spoke of brain injuries and such. I laughed to myself. I wonder what the Lord will do here.
One of the side effects of grand mal seizures is that the person is apt to tell you exactly what is on their minds. The truth is a wonderful thing but, I don’t want to beat someone with it. I’ve asked the Lord for discernment so that I don’t go off at the mouth. He knows me better than I know myself. I think sometimes as a child I told the truth in an offensive way. No small wonder my siblings didn’t always wish to have me around. Was that why my nose was broke twice? I can’t remember so I can’t accuse anyone.
Jeff did not get the promotion at work. In fact, nothing worked out in that department so far. Jeff handled it well though and is thankful and praising God. Yet, inside everyone man there is a child. There is a hopeful expectation and even an unrealistic goal at times. A child needs a little encouragement and a gentle touch. The child inside the man longs to be more than who he is at times. This is where the wife who is chosen by God steps in with a touch, a loving whisper or a reminder that he is a precious child of God. Do you ever tell your spouse that you are proud of them? My husband gets the sweetest smile when I whisper something like this to him. Even in the midst of a crowd I can sense Jeff’s mood, because I am his wife and I pay attention. He is not my sole ministry mind you, but he is constantly watching over me and me him. When my prayers for Jeff go up to the Father I know that He is listening to the groans of the heart. Those words that have no pronunciation, yet consume us at times. There are days when Jeff’s focus is on anything but me. That’s fine; we don’t have to love only when we are loved. Let the love pour out in new and thoughtful ways and watch what happens.
My mind goes forward and backward and rests in the arms of my Jeff many times. I explain to him that my mind wanders and then gets stuck at times too. It’s like a butterfly that goes from flower to flower and then for no apparent reason stays on one particular one for a long time. Jeff seems to understand when I get confused. He seems to be able to catch on to what I am trying to say quite easily. I am so blessed to have a husband like Jeff. When I look at this man I see beyond the man that he is today. I remember looking through the trees at Crandall Park and watching Jeff play basketball with friends. He was around 17, a lanky kid with long hair and glasses. Even from a distance you could see the sweat pouring off him as his t shirt was damp with playing. He looked like such a cute little boy, and yet the man was beginning to show as well. My friends and I sat and watched for almost an hour. My friend Betty was getting excited watching a local guy who was taller than Jeff and from our own high school. “Jim will win; he’s going to be a professional some day.” Helen was getting bored. “I think Jeff will win” I remember her telling me how she and Jeff was a couple. I just sat and watched. Jeff actually did outdo Jim. He was relentless. The girls got up to go so as the guys wouldn’t see us watching them. I stood up just as Jeff looked over. Eye to eye, grin to grin. He is now 51 and still we look eye to eye, grin to grin.
As a teen, I used to get rides home from skating from Jeff and we’d talk about most anything. He was my confidant and funny friend. We talked about music, his job, my school, just about anything really. It was easy to share with Jeff. I used to tell him that I’d wished I had my sister’s long legs and grace. Jeff knew her and therefore knew what I was talking about. I was not looking for compliments, just sharing with my friend. “Well, let’s see he said in a teasing way. You’re a foot shorter and a little wider. Hmm, your eyes are nice. Good teeth. I swatted him. “You sound like someone checking out a horse” Jeff laughed and stopped the car. His radio was playing an old Elvis tune “Welcome to my world” Jeff took a second to just look at me and I made a face. “Guess you’ll have to spend more time with me so I can give a better conclusion of how you measure up.” With that he started the car and took me home. “Sure, and thanks a lot Jeff”
“Would it be so terrible to spend more time with me?” I never realized what Jeff was saying. Not long after that Jeff was in Florida. His uncle had a restaurant and Jeff took a job working for him. I was dating a guy that was nothing more than a summer substitute for the one I was meant to be with. The time came when I tired of the phony and went looking for the friend and making plans in my head. I had my girlfriend Betty drive me to the skating rink. “I heard that Jeff Sherman is back in town. I’m going to get him this time. Mark my words, he’s mine” Betty laughed. “Sound pretty sure of yourself. What if he is taken?” “So what? I have a few tricks I learned over the summer. This time I’m telling you Jeff will see a new me.” Sure enough, Jeff was sitting on the floor amongst friends putting on his skates. Squaring my shoulders I forgot I was short and ungraceful and marched over to him. “Jeff Sherman, I’ve been looking all over for you.”
Jeff looked up and smiled. We spent the afternoon together. Suddenly I became my old self and making him laugh. He became a clown and soon we were holding hands. He was watching my face all of a sudden as I was looking up at him. “I missed you too” he said with a huge grin. My friend Betty disappeared with an angry huff. Phone numbers were exchanged and two days later my phone was ringing. Gottem!
.I’m back to the present now. Moving here was a marriage of our favorite place, with God’s saving grace. I’m using some of the gifts that the Lord gave me here while at the Nsg. Home. The creative side of Jeff and I is coming out. We work as a team totally. The heart of us is being expanded to show more mercy and grace for others. Our senses seem to soak up the splendor that is Florida. Warm tropical breezes, beautiful colors, delicious smells of fresh fruit mixed with the sounds and sights of the ocean. The essence of this place acts as a peaceful backdrop to the goal of our lives. Our goal is simple. We want to glorify God in every way possible. Yet, our free time is gloriously spent enjoying our surroundings and new friends. Florida is a state of romance. Ask any travel agent. Couples come down here to soak up the sun and play. Jeff and I have been drawn to the tropical Florida for many years. Florida always seemed like a long lost friend reaching out to us and beckoning us to come back. Yet, it took more than the sun and sandy beaches to lure Jeff and me. The Lord himself gave us an invitation to come here.
The kind of love that the Lord has given for us to enjoy is overwhelming to say the least. Do I have the only husband who wakes up to the alarm clock music and starts dancing in bed just to make me laugh? He astounds me with kisses and melts me with those ocean blue eyes. Though he teases me endlessly about my constant smile, he becomes a fool just to make me laugh when I am serious. We have little or no money most of the time. In fact through our entire marriage we were seldom well to do. But, the riches that make my heart sing are found within the gentle boyish heart of this man.
Going out on your own to help start a church sounds exciting and romantic and it is. It is also a time to have patience and being alone at times. This combined with other financial and health issues can make it depressing. I used to enjoy being around a crowd of other Christians. Just listening to them chat and not having to counsel. Now though, we get restless but also we feel tired easily. It’s a contradiction to say the least. Are we getting old? Perhaps our minds haven’t caught up with us. It feels like at any moment the Lord is going to do something and we have no clue as to what it is. Jeff has said to me many times how the Lord just seems to say “Be still and know that I am God”.
The couple that pastors this church has such a heart for God that we can’t deny an extraordinary pull to come along side them. I’ve seen enough church people in my life to know the difference between the real and the fake Christians. Their hearts are to spread the gospel of Jesus to the area that they feel God has put them in. They also have a heart to shepherd the flock that the Lord has given to them. That would include me. The closeness that we share with Bill and Joanne is very unique. They are our older brother and sister. I have been blessed with several older biological sisters and a brother. The ties with Bill and Joanne are as close if not closer. Yet those ties do not deter the fact that Bill and Joanne are the pastors and are looking out for our spiritual growth. Unlike the childhood rivalry with biological siblings, we have no problems listening to our pastors. The uniqueness comes in that we do not put them up as idols. We aren’t being led blindly. We gave Bill and Joanne our heart through the Lord Jesus Christ. We aren’t afraid to get hurt. In fact, we expect we’ll have some rocky times. We are plowing through some hard soil.
Sometimes as we sit quietly at the beach I can hear the Lord’s laughter as the waves come in and out. We are fifty one, and yet 17 all at once. Yet, He is Alpha and Omega. The One my heart loves. The constant pull of His divine love keeps Jeff and me together and drawn to Him. It’s a three cord rope.
Journey entry number seven
Psalm 38 13-15 “I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear; like a mute who cannot open his mouth I have become like a man who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply, I wait for you, O Lord: you will answer, O Lord my God”
At times I sit before the Throne of God and just center my attention on trying to speak. It’s sometimes hard to find your tongue in the presence of one so mighty and awesome. In fact, if not for His own hand I’d be unable to move or think. Yet, the love in Him allows this woman to attempt at speaking. “Lord, if I am to write anything at all as you have directed; it has to be truthful. Your arms wrap around my shoulders like a cloak. I am always reminded that one day I will indeed stand before you. Don’t let me stray from the things you want from me. My soul loves to be with you and nothing and no one comes before you in my life. Let my words inspire and teach as well as heal. My heart is to be used for you. It doesn’t escape my notice that my spelling and grammar need work. Perhaps I ramble, or bore people with what I write. It matters little if I get recognized by anyone except you. I feel you’ve put a heart in me to want to do this for you. Put your words at the tip of my fingers. Let me flow with you Lord God. Teach me to speak on words of your love.” It’s through times like these that the Almighty swoops down and holds this lady. I have the luxury of sitting quietly and feeling, hearing, and finally being able to speak to Him.
The sights around me close in at times as I am at home often and too tired to go out. I’ve no car and few close friends here. My thoughts travel back to my friends in NY. Beth, Patti, Donna, Sally, Barb and Jean are the names of those close to my heart. “Lord, did I love them enough? Now that I am here, who can I love? The church is small. There is a difference when you have friends who are of one spirit and those who you welcome into the fold as new Christians. I pour out on the newcomers, but there is a few that I can lean on and be vulnerable with. It is refreshing to be able to crumple in front of non judgmental family and rest in their arms at times. This is a gift of God. What if they don’t like me?” The Lord spoke through my best friend Jo on this very issue. “The Lord is never going to ask who loved you, but will ask “Who did you love?”
At times there is a restlessness that comes from being alone. Jeff and I speak on this at times and pray together as well. We went to Bill and Jo’s one evening with just such a issue. We’d not realized just what we wanted and still are thinking on it. As much as we want to do for the Lord, it’s hard at times to have few friends. Most churches send about 20 out to start a new church. The Lord spoke to Bill and Jo to start a church from scratch. As the Lord led, Bill began the ministry with Jo. Jeff’s heart was stirred to send down money to them long before we left NY. Our prayers went out constantly. Jeff would call at least twice a month to check on them and encourage them. Coming down here was a no brainer for Jeff. But, the Lord had to speak to us both before we moved.
Finding friends for me is like finding gems on the sidewalk. It is always a surprise and quite valuable. I treasure the few who know me best and still love me. The ones who aren’t looking for something from me except to have a relaxing time. During these times with my friends we often think of ways to help others. A Christian has a wild life while in ministry. It can drain the emotions if not for those friends to share with. The Lord always sent his followers out in twos. It was for this reason I think. No ministry can last with a one man show.
One quiet evening after supper I sat with Jeff on the couch. As I held his hand in silence I looked at those hands. His fingers had been broken at birth and they are bent in different directions. Several scars adorn the backs of his hands and his palms sport many callouses. As I turned to look at my husband it was if for another first time. Tired lines etched around his eyes as he stared into my own. The sun had left it’s mark on his face and he looked every bit English/Indian. A gentleness seeped in that moved out the rebelliousness. I saw the man God had created. I know the Lord will change him even more, but I got a glimpse just the same. A gentle Christian man with a huge heart. I can’t see him leading the multitudes or taking over a pastorship. I do see many who will look to him and receive love and compassion. His eyes are ever searching for ways to bless. I am always aware that he watches over me as well. As I merge in crowds with loud noises I have often felt his hand on my shoulder telling me that he is ever near. This is the way the Lord wants us to see Him as well.
As the Lord directs me to write, I am reminded that no one comes before Him. Nothing can come before Him. He draws the heart and soul out of this woman. No one can come before him either. Luke 14 :26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes, even his own life-he cannot be my disciple.” That means He comes first in our lives. As much as I love my husband, Jesus comes first. My children are precious in my sight, as well as grand children. But in the end if the Lord’s will is turning away from them for whatever reason, than turn I must. Who can accept this unless they have a relationship with the Great I am? A bunch of rules on religion is as empty as a hollow log. Press in dear reader and find the mighty One of Israel.
Recently we’ve begun to do something new as women in the church. We go out to lunch every two weeks. It’s fun to be able to once again relax and have fellowship with other women. It’s amazing how a woman can open up with a small group. Practical stories draw folks out. Mind you, I’m not the leader of this. No, I’m a participant who is available for my Lord. Whatever the Lord has walked me through I plan to use for His glory. Plus, I’m finding the joy of getting to know some powerful Christian women. It’s wonderful to go into a crowded noisy restaurant and not worry. One lady usually shows me where the restrooms are. In American fashion I usually go with someone as I have a way getting lost. I have a debit card to pay for my meal and usually a friend helps with the use of it. For some strange reason I always seem to get it wrong. But, they laugh at this rather than giving me pitiful glances, which I hate. Soon we are seated in a chair and though the loud chatter around me sounds like a chainsaw, I am able to grasp the conversation and slip into some quality time.
”Does it seem that I move constantly from epilepsy side effects to the power of the Spirit of God? I will not hide and pretend I have no weaknesses. It was the Lord’s will that I write it all. The relationship, the love story, the physical weakness. Remember, where I am weak He is strong. No one can shut this mouth. He is faithful, He is reality, He is more than able to do what He says He will do.
The warm tropical breezes that flow through our apartment are heaven sent. Listening to the birds, and folks playing a quiet peaceful game of golf as I sit at the typewriter is not a hard way to live. This has to be a heaven sent job to just write down in detail what the Lord is doing. I am reminded of those people who wrote the bible. [not that this is anything of the sort] It must have been a riot for those prophets to write the bible. Like those dear people I’m relying on the spirit of God to put words down.
A few weeks ago at MaryAnn and Jack’s I had a powerful physical thing happen to me. At first I tried to shrug it off as indigestion. We’d been listening to praise music. All our eyes on the Great I Am. All of a sudden my stomach started to feel funny. Next, butterflies in my chest. Ok, I thought, “What is that? Is that you God?” Then I felt the Lord’s presence and my body reacted in a total body shake. Yikes! “I want to do something in Jack. The body of Christ has a part in his healing. He needs at least 6 hugs a day. As you hug him remind the church that I’m breaking something off of him as well as pouring healing onto him.”
I kept thinking that “This is weird, what if I’m wrong?” My shaking got worse with each moment I didn’t speak. So, after Jack shut off the music I asked if he’d remain standing. I knew if I had to bend down and hug him in a chair I’d fall. He started to sit, so I asked if he’d remain standing for the second time. I couldn’t look at his face in case the reaction stopped me from speaking so I concentrated on looking at Carmen and Jo. First, I gave him a hug and he mumbled something I didn’t quite get. “Lord help me,” I spoke what the Lord gave me and the group all got up and hugged Jack. Now, He didn’t make any wise cracks so I felt a little better. My shaking went on for a long time though. Let the reader hear me, I don’t believe the Lord gave me the shakes. It was my body’s reaction to the touch of Him. I know that when the time comes when every knee shall bow…I’ll be the one face down shaking. Sometimes on Sundays you can see the church slip out of their chairs in church to go and give Jack a pleasant hug. Sometimes he has a funny grin, but I think he likes it.
I love the time spent with our dear friends and pastors. Bill is an adorable guy with such a heart. He reminds me of a clumsy monkey at times as he is always on the verge of doing something that involves calamity. Joanne is his perfect counterpart. She’s always up to whatever the Lord leads and yet is gently giving Jeff and I the courage to move out into new places for the Lord. We went to a lady’s house together one day. She has a tender heart and is a giver as well. She is Hispanic and is an interesting person. She is a baby Christian and sometimes slips back into some old thinking. Other times she talks so much that I can’t figure out what she is saying. I’ve written about this earlier so I won’t go into it all again. When I walked into her tiny apartment the first thing that greeted me was her double bed in the front room.
Having not seen her in a while we were a bit taken back. It looked like a bomb went off in that apartment. It looked like total confusion. The more our friend spoke, the more confused she sounded as well. I knew something was not right here. Praying in tongues I sat down quietly.
Our pastor had brought a computer for her and my husband and he worked in the other room to hook it up. I sat and prayed silently as Jo gently tried to make sense out of it all. There is a time for counsel and a time to listen as well. This went on for what seemed like two hours. As the men came back to us the pastor began to try to say a few things. This was met with much talking and nothing that I could readily make sense of. We thought we’d all done all we could do. As we got up to leave and part with a prayer for this dear woman, the babbleing got louder. All of a sudden I heard myself shout “Any spirit that is not of God Shut UP” Silence. The prayers began and we left. This woman was back in church the next Sunday and didn’t seem confused at all.
There is much demonic things going on in Florida. It sometimes surprises me to see it in the homes of those who claim that Jesus is the answer. The plain truth is that our eyes need to be opened. Sin is crouching at the door wanting to eat us alive. Where is your attention focused? Do you have collections of things lining your walls that you’d be ashamed for Jesus to see? As we went to visit some of our friends that day we saw things that gave us pause. Jesus is either Lord of all or He’s not Lord at all.
The following Wed. night I was ready for a wild night. Unfortunately I ended up with one of those all day headaches. Jeff had me in bed by 7:30 and the place was dark and quiet. I guess I didn’t look so good on the couch as he walked in from work. A wonderful thing happened even though I stayed home that night. A few hours later I woke up to the sounds of my husband praying over me. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
The time drew near for me to be seen by the SSI doctors. I purposely refused to think about it until I walked into the exam room. The Lord was with me. I was happy that the physical didn’t take much time. I found I lost more wt, which is a gift. My blood pressure was much lower than last year as well. I am still 61 inches tall. I actually do remember being the same ht as when I was in high school. [Now to get to that same 115 pounds] haha
The next day’s test was not so pleasant. My memory skills, math skills, and a few other things I do not know were tested for a couple of hours. I sat in a small room with flouresant lights over head. I refer to it as the “ Interrogation room” This is where I am reminded of where I fall short. Ever wonder what they ask? I can’t begin to remember it all. Yet, I want the reader to glimpse the test. The doctor is pleasant yet without any emotion. You get the feeling he’s weighing your every response and taking notes. When he asks questions he stares a moment and asks another one. You feel as though he does not believe what you said the first time. Though the questions are similar.
“Why do you think you should get SSI?” “What can’t you do?” “What do you do all day?” “What do you cook? How long does it take?” “Do you have suicide thoughts? If you do it’s all right.” “How tall are you?” “What do you weigh?” “How do you cope with your situation” “What was your childhood like?” “Did you like your family?” “Does it bother you that you can not to contribute to society ?”
Then there are the memory games. A bunch of words that I’m supposed to remember in various ways. Then there are the puzzles, and various other toys I’m supposed to do that somehow relate to a problem. My mind is fried by the end of the questions. One question is always the same. “Thank you, I will send in my report. I do not make the decision.’ This is followed by a long stare to see how I react. I’ve applied for SSI a few times. The questions change, the doctors change, the end question is always the same. Do I sound frustrated? Good, because I am.
The Lord has shown me that I am so much more than these simple tests can convey. If something happens to Jeff and I am by myself at this point I will need help. Yet, each day I don’t dwell on what I can’t do. There’s too many things I can do, but I can’t get paid for it. My contribution to this world is still yet to be seen. I do not know who I’ve touched, or will touch. God did not leave me crippled. I suppose that’s where the anger of it all comes in. Knowing I can’t go back to working but not I’m willing to lie down like a worthless Christian. The reality of my life is wrapped around Jesus. It does not occur in a profession or a job.
That night Jeff and I went to Wed. fellowship. I sat quietly as someone else gave a little study. I was letting the weariness of the day slip off in the presence of my friends. No one asked what I had gone through. They already knew and had been praying. I reached out and hugged them all. Jeff had started his management training that same day. He was still excited about all he’d done and began talking. There was much laughter in the room as Jack told us of an Italian word. When it was time to settle in for the word to be spoken Jeff got up and knelt on the floor on my right side. He whispered “I missed you today” He just stayed there a while and moved back to his chair. When we got home that night he waited to see if I needed to talk. I could see the love in his eyes. It was time for my mind to shut off though and I went to bed. Jeff put on some music with ocean waves and saxophone. I fell asleep in Jeff’s arms listening to the music, feeling his breath on my face.
At this moment I am putting together a message for the nursing home. It will be speaking about our use for the kingdom at any age. Leaving a legacy. I can’t write much more on this because it’s not yet put together.
Today as I was typing I heard the gentle sounds of a young man two floors down. He was speaking on a cell phone to someone about God. As I looked out the window I realized he was witnessing with all his heart. My prayers went with him. I know that there is a beautiful Christian woman downstairs and thought this might be her son or grand son. I usually play Christian music and suddenly turned it up slightly. His head jerked up and he met my knowing smile. A huge grin followed by a silent “Thank you” Thumbs up and I went back inside.
A woman named Shirley is a little older than I. She lives downstairs. She works odd hours so I don’t get to see her much. We just meet in the hall and give a high five Jesus once in a while. She found me one day soon after the last seizure and showed much love. That is how I learned she is a Christian who knows Jesus. I can’t remember what church she is going to, though she told me. One thing I know about her. She knows Jesus as her Savior.
Though we don’t pray together, we pray for this apartment complex. I’ve seen many apartment complexes here in Melbourne. They range from the elite beauty to the tragic dumps. The Lord put me in a scenic place that is peaceful. It’s not perfect. Yet, I know this is the place the Lord had in mind for Jeff and me. Journey entry number 8
I Timothy 2:9
I also want women to dress modestly with decency and propriety…
Summer in Melbourne is hot. It is 98 degrees averaging with humidity usually above 50 percent. Hazy Hot and Humid can be heard on the weather channel most of the time. My wardrobe in NY was a disaster for Florida. I was not in the habit of wearing shorts. I’d given up halter tops after I turned 22 and had two children. I had gone for the jeans and Capri’s with t shirts. My bathing suit was the same one I’d had for years. A pink floral with a skirt to hide the thighs. My husband gave my clothes a critical gaze and most of my clothes were tossed away. I kept the bathing suit as I am in the pool most of the time.
My husband was surprised that I didn’t own any shorts. “my legs are gross” I told him. “Do you think I should wear them? What would people say?” He stood there one day after my shower and asked me to turn around. “Is it the thick thighs? Cause there aren’t but a few tiny blue veins, and a lot of muscle. They look pretty much the same as ever.” He was looking at my legs like I was a science project. He was so innocent and clearly not having a clue why I didn’t want to show these legs. I stifled a smile and said, “Stop it, your as bad as my dad. He used to tell me I was “solid built”. He smiled and said we were going shopping. All of a sudden I found myself looking at shorts. Jeff had me try them on and bend every which way to be sure they were ok. Honestly, I felt like everyone was watching this guy as he walked around me as I showed the clothes for his inspection. We chose two pairs, one white and one jeans material. “These will go with more of your t shirts.” These are for around the house, not church. He didn’t stop there though. We headed for the thrift stores and we found some light wt t shirts. We had looked at some of the department stores and didn’t much care for the styles. Jeff likes t shirts as long as they don’t look like HIS t shirts. I can’t stand anything around my neck, so we searched for scoop necklines or v neck. Jeff laughed as some scoop necklines are fine. I had to try them on though because what looked decent on the hanger was not my style while worn. We found an assortment of colors, hot pink, black, red striped, lime green, etc. I always loved bright colors. I have a few tan shirts but only wear them when I’m doing the wash. Next, we sorted through my clothes. We have a one bedroom apartment with no room for storage. It felt weird throwing away so many clothes. But, as I tried them on I realized they no longer fit anyhow. I have to be careful what I wear to church because I never know if I’ll be on the floor or bending over etc. As women come into church for the first time I want to be sure to model a Christian woman in front of them. That is not to say I have to dress like my grandmother though.
I wear Capri pants to church frequently. Not that I dislike dresses, I just am more comfortable in Capri pants because I bend over and sometimes lose my balance. Next, we went looking for sandals. Even in the winter it is safe to wear sandals here. I did save a few pairs of shoes for when I visit up north though. I don’t wear heels as they make me uncomfortable and I’m as graceful as an elephant on skates. Jeff and I laugh as I usually manage to trip over something. This has nothing to do with seizures. When the Lord passed out coordination he missed me entirely. For years I watched as my older sisters modeled a graceful sway as they walked. Not me, I put one foot in front of the other in hopes that nothing will topple over as I make my way through life. I know some women like the independence of shopping alone and choosing their own clothes. Jeff and I just use it as together time. We usually end up going for lunch, like some women do. Only difference is I get to share a lot of laughs with my friend Jeff. How did I get such a comical and sensitive guy to share my days with? I totally love this guy. In fact, I seldom think of other men as men. I think of them as people. I’m not sure if I can explain to the reader about this thought. When I think of the opposite sex, I think of Jeff. All others are just people, brothers, friends, or something. Are there any other men in the world? I have no idea, and don’t care to know. I can’t see anything while sitting across the table staring into Jeff’s eyes, or when holding his hand as I go shopping. Watching his smile and his twinkling eyes are my favorite pastime.
Did I mention my husband is my friend? He is my confidant and sparring partner as well. We bounce ideas off each other. We don’t always agree and when we find we aren’t going to agree we usually respect the other point of view. If sin is involved though, then it’s time for one of us to gently point it out and leave it alone. It’s like waltzing. You hold one another and sway with each other as you stroll through life. When one turns the wrong way you stumble but if you’re submitted to the Lord, you don’t fall.
The sun down here is not to be taken lightly. The new suntan lotions are amazing though, if you remember to use them. One day Jeff and I went to the beach and used the suntan lotion. We thought we’d put it all over. We’d missed a few spots on my upper thighs and Jeff’s stomach. We looked like lobsters in those places for a few days. I’ve no thought to get a tan. It’s just amazing watching the waves of the ocean. Breathing in the salty air as you look at a blue sky over a blue green ocean that stretches as far as the eye can see. I can hardly tell where the sky and the ocean meet as my eyes enjoy the sights of tiny ocean liners out on the horizon. It’s really not a great place to go swimming though. There is too much current. But, you can wade into the water and feel the power of the ocean as it swirls around your legs. The great surge of the waves moves the sand under your feet. You can also watch some of the best surfers in the world practice their craft. The beach sand produces few large shells here. They get pounded to the shore with the force of the waves. The shells are little pieces of glistening particles. The sand glistens from the shells as they lay adorned with few sprigs of seaweed. The air is salty and clean. The seagulls do a ballet in the sky as the sandpipers skip to the wind at the edge of the ocean. I always feel at home as I sit on the banks of the beach and watch the glorious scene from the Almighty’s hand. The sun is a natural mood elevator as well. God is so good.
I’ve come so far from those dingy apartments in Albany, NY. The windows were always cracked somewhere and always dirty. You could smell the neighbor’s burnt toast. The old broken sidewalks, and crab grass always made me wish for something more. Even as a child I hated the looks of back to back homes that looked like they were about to fall down. The six foot gray wooden fences that separated the back yards seemed like a jail to keep me locked in a backyard with rusty swings and crab grass. Homes like that aren’t seen in Melbourne. Pigeons were the only birds that dared live among the alleys in downtown Albany. Gone forever are the smells and the sounds of the bar rooms on the corner with drunks staggering down the sidewalk at all hours. Even my childhood in Glens Falls, NY could not compare to the sparkling sandy white beaches that are my playground. I grew tired of old Victorian homes and antique furniture stores. How I love the smell of fresh clean salty air and the occasional waft of flowers. The colors in this place that the Lord told me to come are something to delight the eye. White magnolias peep out of luscious green trees. Red hibiscus flowers line most of the hedges as you walk through the shops in old Melbourne. I see every color of the rainbow in purple, blue, lime green, yellow, orange, pink and peach colored flowers. Palm trees sway in the breeze as the shoppers choose from all sorts of fresh fruit. The warmth of the sun glows on our skin as we drift down the beaches.
I suppose I began to love the grassy areas when my father would take us camping once a year. I would marvel at the perfectly manicured camping areas with paved roads surrounding us. Shade trees dotted the campsites and I was free to run all over the green grasses. The fresh air was such a delight for a city child. Later, as I lived in Glens Falls I used to enjoy the look of houses that were separated by lawns. You would never consider me a country girl like some of my family. I’m more a suburban woman. In fact, Melbourne is mostly suburbia with high quality landscaping and gorgeous neighborhoods of one story homes. The apartment complexes dot the area in a setting nestled with small ponds and small wildlife. When my husband and I used to go on vacation, this is the type of place we enjoyed the most. Isn’t God amazing as we give us over to His will, to put us in a place we love? His yoke is easy.
I have been told often that I am always happy and bubbly. From a small child who looked for Jesus I was taught by the master to notice the blessings of God in every situation. This is not always easy for those of us who been to war, or suffer disease, or emotional trauma. Those of us as Christians who have never walked in the shoes of despair are meant to be a gentle treasure to those who have. Perhaps we can be a flashlight pointing the way toward the Savior on a dark and hurtful road of some people’s lives. I must confess though that I’m not “always” happy and bubbly. It’s during those down times that I too reach out to others and reach up to the one my heart loves.
Since we first came down here last year we’ve been shopping for our groceries at a little Save A Lot. The prices help with our budget. We live on the third floor remember? When we go shopping we bring a plastic container and a small round cooler with us. The store doesn’t give out bags. Most of the dry groceries go in the plastic container and the cold stuff goes in the cooler. We then trudge up the stairs. Since our diet has changed our amount of food is a lot less to carry.
There are some things that we can carry to its destination. Other things in our life are totally out of our control. It has been well over a year since hearing from our first born son. I am not sure of what my husband feels. For me though I am thankful that the Lord has enabled me to rest secure in Him. Our son simply does not feel the urge to have relationship with us. The time for reasoning why has long since past. Remembering our son is bittersweet. He was always a very handsome person. He reminded me of one of the original Beach Boys, with the sandy blonde hair and a tan that he somehow managed to keep all year even though he was in NY. His eyes are a combination of the blue of his dad’s and open wide like my own as if to visually absorb all that is around him. I am reminded of the story of the prodigal son. When the prodigal came home the father saw him from a distance and welcomed him home. We wait, we watch and are always ready to welcome.
The gifts that the Lord put into this son of mine boggle the mind. He is an intelligent and likeable person. He never had a loss for friends, especially girls. He possessed a voice that could make the birds embarrassed to sing again. There was something about him that made everyone stop and take notice as he walked into a room. That was the son I last knew. Drugs, alcohol and lust seemed to shut out the man he was supposed to become. Perhaps the seizure has taken some memory away, I don’t know. All I know is that I have a son out there somewhere that I no longer know. But, God is faithful. He knows how much I can endure and forever reminds me that He will never reject me. I sometimes can see my son in the distant image of others as I wander through life. I’ve heard some say “All you can do is pray” Prayer isn’t the smallest last thing you can do when you run out of active things to do. Prayer is the ALL encompassing power from on High that you put into words to the one who is more than able.
I remember hearing myself say that each day behind every good thing; I am always thinking of my son. That is no longer true for me. I will not allow the devil to steal my joy through feelings of rejection from my son. That would solve nothing and wouldn’t help my son or me. When I think of my son in daily prayers I am uplifted and lifting him to Jesus. I’m not walking with a millstone around my neck any longer. God set me free to be joyful no matter what goes on around me, to me or to my loved ones. I can still be joyful. When my heart is troubled I am remembering more often to look up. It takes practice and I’m not saying I don’t still cry out at times. I am saying that I will not allow the devil steal my joy through feelings of rejection from my son. You have a choice when pain comes banging on your door. You have a choice how to respond to the pain. You can be bitter and hide into yourself for protection or you can reach out and open yourself up to Christians and also reach up to the Healer of your heart. For me it was a simple thought of “What works?” I can’t fix my son by destroying myself. So, I took a chance and became vulnerable and opened up to a few closest Godly friends. They walked me through prayers, pain, tears, and to the place of peace and joy.
It is a blessing to be part of the move of God here in Florida. Though we walk through some odd situations here, I can sense an ever present excitement. It’s like knowing something amazing is about to happen. Working for the Almighty is an exciting experience. If you like to live life on the edge and are willing to walk in the Master’s footsteps without using your own ideas that is. It is an easy yoke if we are walking in the spirit. You always have the knowledge that God is bigger than any situation. Though we groan at times and search for His way, if wait on Him the answers are always there to guide us.
As times of ministry are heating up, we are experiencing words of knowledge, and a few healings around us. Like the few drops before the deluge I hope. One of the interesting things I’ve witnessed though is that there are still a few mindsets that need understanding. Does our physical gender come into play as we minister? Some churches separate the men and women during prayer times. I do not think that the Lord would want a man and a woman to meet privately alone to pray. The bible says “do not give the appearance of evil”. I would never agree to counsel a man without my husband or another person present. Yet, if a man gets a word of healing, or exhortation in a safe place among the body of Christ I believe he should speak it out no matter if the subject is man or woman. After all, the Lord gave it to HIM, and the woman can’t exactly go home and grow testicles so she can receive the word, can she? I know I sound a bit crude, but there are places in the bible that are also a bit to the point as well. Also, why should prayer meetings be set aside for the women to carry on? It’s the same Holy Spirit that calls us to intercede.
At the time I am writing this, there is word of a revival going on in Lakeland Florida. We plan to attend this Friday. There are people associated with this that we met while in a huge revival outbreak in Toronto Canada. Healings are taking place in Lakeland. Before we say it is not of God or not, the word says to test the spirits. Salvation is being preached. There is concrete proof of actual healings complete with x-rays. We’ve no idea what we’ll find. People from all over the world are coming to Lakeland. It was only supposed to be a few days; it’s been a few weeks. They’ve had to move the conference to a few places due to crowd capacity. We are excited to see what this is all about.
Journey entry number 9
Revelation 4:8 “Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND IS AND IS TO COME.””
Due to the early time of Jeff’s work day, we seldom sleep past 5 thirty am. This gives the gift of watching a sunrise come up in the east most mornings. I can watch the clouds illuminated by the dawn, and then push away to announce the sun lighting on our world. The complete black sky turns to purple and orange finally giving way to yellow and green. As if an alarm clock speaks, the creatures of the night end their croaking, giving way to the hundreds of tropical birds singing in high praise. I’m sure those who watch sunsets don’t think they are missing much. I have a tendency to try and watch both. To see the dew on the grassy golf course below become a glistening blanket under the morning sun is a gift for the eyes to feast on. It’s as if the Lord is having his laundry dried. Mind you, I enjoy the relaxing mornings when I don’t have to hurry with shower and get dressed. Just gazing out the window with a warm drink and drinking in the tropical view is a gift. To see the artwork of the creator with an open eye and a mind fixed on Him. The sunsets on this part of the world are just as beautiful in a different sort of way. To watch the brightness of a golden day transform into silvery shadows cascading along the trail of a huge orange sun as it retreats beneath the western sky. The sounds of the night creatures begin to sing their song of praise until the coming dawn. Watching television is such a let down after being mesmerized by the King’s glorious artwork.
Our world is ever changing here in Melbourne. My husband has decided to try to relocate in our apartment complex to a ground floor apartment. I took a couple of falls, and my legs are a bit shaky on the stairs at times. Still, we are planning on remaining on the side of the complex with the golf course view rather than a parking lot view. I’m not complaining as it will be easier, but the idea of moving is not something I look forward to.
There is news going all over the world regarding a revival that has broken out in Lakeland, Florida. Todd Bentley from Canada came down to a church that held 700 people. The revival took off so fast that soon they were renting larger places to hold the crowds. Last Friday our church went to this revival. My biggest prayer was that we go open minded but also with discernment. I’ve seen televangelists with all sorts of charm. I even went to see some of their crusades and at times was disappointed. All of us prayed that revival would hit. We expected a move of the spirit. Yet, we also are aware that not all spirits are from God.
At the time we went to the revival, it was held in Joker Stadium Lakeland. This is the home of the Detroit Tigers. All over I could see large pictures of tigers. As we came into the parking lot, the first thing that I saw was the crowds swarming like ants. Then I heard the gentle strings of guitars all over. Young people were in groups worshiping. The doors to the stadium had not opened yet. However, the sounds of several shofars filled my ears. The drums began as well. I am not immune to emotionalism, so I again asked the Lord for discernment. Peace filled my body. Usually, loud noise gives me headaches, plus large crowds cause sensory overload and I get extremely dizzy. I felt fine. I could sense the Lord’s quick response to my prayers. Just like a father who senses his child might be frightened by a loud noise, the Holy Father reached down and drew me nearer to Him. It was a quick response and I was struck by how sensitive the Lord was being to this woman.
I knew I did not have to go into the stadium as a spectator or critic. I was a part of something bigger than I’d seen in my life. I’d been to the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship and the sights alone were not unusual for these eyes. There were those who were passed out on the ground from a touch of God, there were shaking people as well. This in itself is not proof for me that the Glory of God was there. A lot can be faked. Yet, I knew I was wearing a cloak of the Almighty around my shoulders. There was no fear, only a calm and yet distinct feeling that I was at home in the presence of the Lord.
I can not tell you much about Todd Bentley. He was not the main attraction. I could not testify to an amazing sermon. The glory of God superseded any programs that man attempted. The music was loud, but not ear crashing. They played rock music that I’d never heard. That too didn’t impress or offend me. They were clearly worshipping God and magnifying the great I Am. One thing I’ve learned from experience is not to look at the wrapper that the Lord’s glory comes in. Years ago when Jesus was turned away by the Jews, it was because he didn’t come in a way they expected. They’re hearts had an image in mind and they missed the greatest impartation of their lives as Jesus was in their midst. At one point I remember standing next to a older woman and shouting “We are the generation who will stand up and fight on the side of the Lamb” this was a phrase in one of the sons.
Several times there was a hush over the stadium. How do you quiet over 13,000 people? The Glory! The presence of the Almighty can leave you speechless. Several chants broke out as well. “Go church go”, “Jesus, Jesus Jesus” I saw faces of people that looked familiar and felt the Lord tell me that I was among people of fame who were just like me in that they were only their to worship Him. The worship went on for hours. People were getting saved, healings began. Little children were giving their hearts to the Lord after their Mom was healed.
There were many healings and supernatural things happening all around me, and all over the place. Crutches, walkers, wheel chairs being tossed. Ears healed as well as limbs. As wild as that is, it was not the high point of the night. The highest point was being in the presence of the Lord. A cloak seemed to be over us.
There were two things that I saw that I enjoyed. There are eagles’ nests atop some of the light poles at the stadium. Three eagles took flight around 7 pm. They flew around the stadium with fish in their mouths. They looked amazing and the people cheered. Next, the smell of anointing oil came over where I was. My friend and I thought someone had perfume at first. We stretched forward and back and could not smell it. We looked up to see if there was a vent or something that could be spraying it. We found nothing. Right where we were there was the smell of frankincense and myrrh. How do I know the smell? I purchased anointing oil while in Toronto, while attending a Glory conference.
To worship God in high praise with so many people who also were giving it all they had in worship was astounding. Some may say, you can have the presence of God without going to something like this. That is true. But, if the Lord decides to give a concentration of his Glory at a certain place due to the desperation and longing of so many people, why would you not want to be a part? My husband drove for six hours to go to Canada once and received more than he gave. We only had to go across the state this time. This was not the end all of anything. It was a refresher, a jump start to what the Lord was already doing in our lives.
Since this happened, my husband has had a break through at work. They were always trying to get him to work Sundays. He’d made arrangements and still was put on the schedule. He received a Holy boldness and spoke to the new manager of the store. He told how he’d been forced to sign a waver to work Sundays in order to be interviewed for the job. This is illegal. It is being checked out. He was granted Sunday’s off for church. Jeff told of the religious freedom laws without threatening the manager. The new manager likes Jeff and gave him favor without blinking an eye.
On that same day Jeff was told that a man who was into the occult hasn’t been seen in a week. This man was making life very difficult for Jeff at work. He’s been a no call no show. In fact, his home is empty. It would appear that he packed up his family and left town. These two things seem small, but it has been an irritation to Jeff since he took the job. This is an answer to prayer.
As I think about the music that I’ve heard from Toronto, Lakeland, and other conferences and church services I’ve been to, I often think of my dear mother. She was a severe critic of the music. “I don’t see why they have to repeat themselves so much with their songs. They sing the same line over and over.” She said. Yet, I am reminded of the book of Revelations where it speaks of the living creatures always in the throne room singing “Holy, Holy, Holy”. I don’t think the Lord minds this repetition. The real issue I believe is that the music is not from our own generation and it is different. Because this is different, there is a tendency to fear. Yet, Jesus was as different as different could be. Another criticism I’ve heard several times is that the drums and the music are causing an emotionalism that causes people to react. I believe this is true. Were we not created with emotions? Didn’t King David dance and carry on with the sounds of instruments? That’s why my husband plays soft music at the end of our service while we have prayer time. He plays it to relax the people. So, what is the problem with getting folks excited about Jesus? Some, I’ve heard tell they don’t like the idea of going to a rock concert disguised as revival. When you think as all music being born of the Creator and having been misused by the devil I’d say this is a great way to turn things back to the Lord. To praise and worship without restriction of time. To give yourself totally to the worship of the one who is worthy, is when your arms go up and your knees shake. You may find yourself dancing and swaying as your physical body surrenders itself without even your consent to the Jesus your heart longs for.
My husband and I do not dance well. Yet, we frequently find ourselves in each others arms with such an excitement that we sway, and reach out and move our feet. We were created to be reactive to love. If I say the Lord comes first and yet my worship is little more than my voice singing, where is all the excitement? For this woman, there is a passion after God that goes beyond my voice, my writing, my testimony, and my prayers. Every part of me stands and demonstrates the passion for the one my heart loves. Have you ever danced with the Father? I remember as a small child dancing in my Dad’s arms. He gently swayed and laughed. His head would go back and I’d see those white teeth as he grinned. The sparkle in his eyes showed me pure love. How I love to dance with my heavenly Father as well. The very essence of who He is draws every ounce of love from me back to Him. I once had a vision while on the floor during prayer. The Father had me in His arms. I was wearing a gown of white that He gave to me. He was in a white tux and absolutely gorgeous. My arms reached up as high as I could go. Without hesitation strong arms reached down and picked me up in a holy dance. My feet never touched the floor as I danced with the Father. Some things, you never forget. This was the day I realized that I was more than a child of God. I was also a bride of Christ. By the way, He’s a great dancer!
As some may look at the revival in Lakeland, they may not be able to get past the speaker. Todd Bentley isn’t your average looking person. Yet, for me I saw a young man who was so excited to be a part of what the Lord was doing that he simply couldn’t contain himself. He is not perfect. I’m sure he messed up even at the revival a couple of times. Yet, I knew the Father said to trust Him and I’m sure He handled any mishaps. I do not worship any man or woman of God. No one can take the place of the real thing. It was the spirit of God that held me the night I went to the revival. One of the amazing things about our Lord is that you can see his amazing power working all over and yet feel as if you’re with Him all by yourself. He makes you feel like a treasured jewel. I would never be satisfied with being just a ‘friend’ of Jesus. The bride of Christ gets close enough to hear His heartbeat.
Once again let the reader hear, people worship their interpretation of the Father. How do you see Him? He is to be reverently feared, He is awesome. He has total power and authority over everything. Yet, in that reverence for the Almighty, do not be afraid to come closer to Him. Respect the fact that He is not to be taken lightly. He’s got the power to crush and dissolve us. Yet, I’ve found the heart of my Lord is filled with grace, mercy, and over whelming love. That is why I spend so much time as I write to convey how the Father revealed Himself to me. When I think of who I am in that secret place that no one has seen except the Father, I am drawn like a magnet to the one who constantly is calling me to come closer to Him. With Him there is total acceptance of the woman I am. He changes and rearranges things in me as I surrender more each day. It matters little where you are in your life today. If you are beginning to believe there is more to your life than what you have, reach out to the Father. My prayer is that He opens the eyes of your heart and gives you a holy boldness to reach out to Him. I promise you’ll never be the same.
Entry number 10
1 Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I talked like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”
2 Peter 3:8-9 “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.”
As my friends contend with teen age children who are going through rebellion, I can often encourage them. Does that seem odd since I too have to endure at this moment? It has nothing to do with what I’m going through really. The reason I can encourage those who suffer as parents with rebellious children is because I was a rebel myself once. I can see the Lord’s hand has been on me for years. His eye was always on me. I was under His protection though I did not seek him. I know what the Lord can do to change a rebel’s heart.
Here in Melbourne the Lord has been revealing to me how each step of my life was a stepping stone to get to where I am today. It seems odd that I have memory problems and don’t remember certain times of my life. I’ve had difficulty remembering people as well. Yet, when the time arises that the Lord wishes me to write something; the memories come flooding back. I feel as though He’s recycling what I was before to be used again to magnify His glory.
When I was a child I thought as a child. There were quite a few guys around my age that I entertained at a young teen age. Usually, I was watched carefully by my mother, or some older sister. Yet, I still managed to get into trouble. There was a time when I was working at a candy stand near the beach. I had this boyfriend in Bolton Landing. No matter what others said about him, all I could see was a deep tan, puppy dog brown eyes and wavy hair. In all actuality he had one other quality that I never noticed until it was too late. There was little brain matter between his ears. Well, at that time my own brain wasn’t so bountiful either. I decided I wanted to run away and live with this guy. So, one night after work I got on a bus and took off for the North Country. I remember getting there after dark. The bus dropped me off in the middle of Lake George, near a Price Chopper supermarket. A group of bikers were kicking back with a few drinks. How I never got in trouble I’ll never know. There was no thought to others feelings or worry about me. My mind was having no thought for tomorrow. Soon, my ride came and I was at my boyfriend’s parent’s home. I was hauled back home and found out that they had actually dragged the river in search of me. The police were notified as well. What a dope I was. There was no thought to the pain and worry I’d caused others. To me, it was an adventure with no thoughts to any danger. The young boy turned out to be just a passing fancy. It ended when I found out he was making eyes at my younger sister and I ended the relationship in spades. I remember telling this guy, “You are no longer welcome in this house. I never want to see you again. Don’t call, don’t write and don’t ever try to speak to me again. I don’t take my sister’s left over’s.” As I think back at the scene I can laugh at my own stupidity. What drama! What foolishness! Praise God I’m no longer that sixteen year old child.
When ever I listen to parents talk about wayward teens, I can say in all honesty that the story is not over for them. As I look back on my childhood with Jeffrey I can see where the Lord had given so many opportunities to share Jesus with him. In my childish mind though, I wanted Jeff to see me and I didn’t care if he saw Jesus at all. The world revolved around me in my mind’s eye. I began to look more woman than child and wanted everyone’s attention. The hormones kicked in and my sisters and Mom were busy with their own life. The noose was loose. I would be lying if I said I did not have a wonderful time during this phase of my life. Yet, God was faithful and protected me from myself. I figured Jeff wasn’t coming back from Florida. The mindless parties and flirting slowed to almost a halt after Jeff was back in town.
As Jeff was home after a trip to Florida I didn’t want anyone else’s attention for long periods of time. Yet, there was a couple times when I slipped through his fingers. My mother and her friend were delighted that I’d accepted a picnic invitation from her friend’s son. I was off to Lake George with a group of people from church. Jeff didn’t know these people of course because he wasn’t from church. It was a long afternoon as I really found that without Jeff there wasn’t a lot of excitement. However, I had some fun and got home in the afternoon.
Song of Solomon 6:3 “I am my beloved’s and he is mine”
To my surprise Jeff arrived not long after I’d gotten home. I could tell something was up because he asked if I’d come out to speak to him. We walked to the back of my mother’s house facing the ravine. “What are you trying to do to me? I called and your mother tells me you are off on a date with someone else? “
I tried my best to calm him down. He was shaking and those blue eyes were black as coal. “We aren’t engaged. You don’t own me. Anyways, it was only a church group.” I omitted a few details.
“Don’t lie to me; I know who you were with. You’re lucky I didn’t find you.” I stood there a moment trying to come up with something. “You don’t own me. In fact if you want to start dating someone else I wouldn’t shout at you.” I said it quietly, hoping he’d answer in like manner. His answer was anything but quiet.
“That’s it.” All of a sudden he grabbed my arm and swung me around to face him. Two blazing blue black eyes stared into my face. With both arms he flung me to his chest so tight I couldn’t breathe. I found a nervous smile appearing on my face. All of a sudden he stepped back and smiled. I knew my eyes were as big as saucers but try as I might I couldn’t get my face to look non chalant. “I don’t own you huh? Make up your mind. I’m not playing games.” I looked up at him and I suddenly saw something new. He’d stood up to 5 foot 10 inches and was looking down at me. [I’m 5 foot 1] The shoulders were squared and for the first time I realized he looked like he wore shoulder pads. I do not like body builders, or guys who act all macho. For me, it’s a definite joke. Jeff is neither and never was. He was just that angry that his whole body language was predatory. He had a look on his face that I couldn’t figure out. His nationality is Blackfoot Indian and English. He looked all Indian. It was a bit frightening to say the least. I kept thinking, “What do I do with this guy? Who is this guy?” The stance remained for a second and he turned quickly and jumped into his car. All I could see as he drove away was dust. His little gremlin’s screeching wheels peeled out with so much noise the neighbors came out. I ducked inside.
My mother was no fool. “Everything ok Sheryl?” I just smiled, “He’s history!” I said, knowing that wasn’t true. Mom suddenly started to laugh as I managed to go to my room. I sat there on the bed wondering what on earth is happening. Jeff and I had many fire induced fights where I’d hang up on him and soon he’d be over. This time was different.
I didn’t hear from him in two days. I had no idea where he hid out or where he was. I tried calling and checking out his usual hang outs. I did find out that he’d taken his friend’s father’s jeep and searched all over Lake George that day looking for me while I was at the picnic. He was upset, and scared something would happen to me. He flipped the jeep over as well. In view of what I’d seen and heard I suddenly wasn’t sure I wanted to find him. Yet, I knew I would never stay away. I liked the challenge in those eyes. I knew I’d never settle for anyone else. I’d seen the enormous strength it took for Jeff not to vent his frustration on me after that day behind mom’s house. [To this day he’s never even considered hurting this woman. Lord knows I’ve driven him enough though] Two days later I got a phone call from a much calmer Jeff. “Well, what do you want to do?”
I knew what I wanted and who I wanted. We were married in October of my senior year in high school.
As I think back to those days it is bittersweet. I was not an innocent flower; I knew what the word of God said about being unequally yoked. I’d asked the Lord to be my Savior and then walked away. Though I’d had a foundation of Christ layed in front of me, I did not show Christ to Jeff. Instead, I only showed him myself. I at that time of life was not walking with God. Yet, the Lord was not turning His back on me. I truly believe to this day that if I’d asked the Lord for Jeff, the Lord would have done a miracle that would have had me marrying a God fearing Jeff. Yet, I did not ask God for him, I went about getting Jeff on my own. We had some powerful times as a young couple. We also had some ugly times.
One day as I was watching a televangelist on the television, I had the revelation of what I’d done. Suddenly, it dawned on me that the Lord does not play games. Like Jeff had said a few years earlier, “Make up your mind, I’m not playing games”, I felt like the Lord was challenging me that day. “Choose this day whom you will serve.” Eternity stared me in the face. So far, there was no thought of the Lord in our marriage. Jeff and our children were headed for hell. Though some do not believe that hell exists, that does not make it any the less a real place. The power of God was in my living room that day as I fell down and asked the Lord to forgive me for what I’d done. This was the beginning of my new relationship with the Almighty.
Childish and selfish ways slid away. I began going to church and eventually Jeff followed me. It was not easy and I went through years of struggle. I remember once praying for Jeff before he surrendered. I was like a dog on a bone. “I know I blew it by not showing him a Christian when we were young. But, the bible says a wife can lead her husband by her actions. I believe you want him more than I. I’ll give him to you. Just show me how to live YOU in front of HIM. Don’t forget, Jeff is so much a part of me, Lord; I’ll do whatever it takes. Whatever happens though Lord, I belong to YOU.” I really meant it that day on the kitchen floor and I still do. The Lord was faithful and the word of God became alive in my husband’s heart. I look to the sky many times and thank God for giving me a love like this. He gave so much love that I finally had to look up and see Him. He loved me so much that he heard the cries of this woman. I’ve been given a second chance with a Godly husband that words could not describe the intense love. The former things passed away, this woman is no longer a prodigal. I am a thankful woman who clings to the arms of the Almighty.
Do you think the Lord will speak to your prodigals like he did me? I do. My family was praying for me when I was a teen. They did not see the fruit of those prayers for many years. Even now, the Lord is still answering. I too have a son I pray for. Yet, it is not with agonizing tears that I pray. It is with the knowledge that He is able. He changed the woman in me. He changed my husband. He resides in the heart of my daughter. We can pray and rest assured that He is more than willing to act. We can sit back and be excited to see what He will do. He does not play games with our hearts. Just as that young man spoke to me “Make up your mind, I’m not playing games.” and then walked away. The Lord is a gentleman who doesn’t bull doze us into submission. He waits for us to make a decision. I always pray that the Lord will soften the hearts of those who are gone in the wrong direction. Softening can be many things. It can mean that the Lord allows things to occur in that person’s life that would cause him to look up. It can mean a healing to a old hurt that has caused a scar where he won’t believe in Jesus. It is true we have to be willing to accept Christ and obey Him. Yet, we as prayer partners have the assurance that the Lord is always willing and able to accomplish what His word says.
I believe He is doing a work right now on your behalf if you are praying. He is no respecter of persons. His eyes are always on them. I have to always remember that He loves the prodigals more than I do. He loved this prodigal and gave her the desires of her heart. When our minds are on Him, where do you think those desires come from?
Many times as I write, I have to stop and give praise to my Lord. He has done great things. As I write this it is two days after Mother’s Day. This is a time to remember our Mother and give her honor. My mother knew Jesus and shared him with anyone who’d listen. Her prayers for her family go on to this very day.
I did not hear from my children this year on Mother’s day.
My daughter talks to me a couple times a week and though I was surprised, I was not devastated by her not calling me on Mother’s day. Yet, knowing my son is out there some where and has no desire to contact me is quite painful. The church activities for Mother’s day were sweet and well thought out. I sat listening to the other Moms give their stories of how much they were enjoying the day. Daughters and sons who I’d never seen had come to church with their Mother.
It’s been over a year since I’ve heard my son’s voice. I sat there thinking of him all day. I thanked God silently that I was allowed to be a mother of two wonderful children. I prayed silently for their lives. I remembered the sight of my son in his first tuxedo. His gorgeous white teeth grinning as he’d stood tall and slender in front of the camera. I remembered when he’d gone to church briefly and been in the plays at the church. I remembered the sound of his singing. Then I remembered the drugs, the alcohol, the many girls, the lies, the hollow look in his eye as I saw him last. Eyes that were the color of the ocean with yellow flecks in them were dull and surrounded by tired lines around them. Where did that wavy haired child go? Yet, I was in the midst of much joyful celebration in church and forced myself to praise the Lord. The Father knows this woman is only flesh, and his mercy endures forever. I spoke silently to Him most of the day.
I can’t remember the drive home that day. I do recall my husband’s arms gently holding me as I fell apart at home. No one has more compassion for a parent of a prodigal than I. The pain can be insurmountable. Yet, I do not live in sorrow each day. Sure, there are times of collapse. But for the most part God’s mercy and arms hold me together. This always reminds me that without a relationship with Almighty God I would be in total collapse. It is His strength that I lean on, and not my own understanding. I no longer try to understand the reasons for my son’s rejection. When I am in my deepest darkness, I still see the light of my Lord.
Oh Lord my God and warrior
My heart will still confess
I may fall down in tears today
But it is your name I bless
Devil do not gloat as I am down
You have no victory won
Still my redeemer wears the crown
He’s where my strength comes from
These eyes have seen, these ears have heard
Of my redeemer’s love
I will not waste a moment here
I’ll praise my God above
He is a mighty conqueror
He captures every tear
The time of victory will appear
I will not live in fear
God gave His son to die for me
My son to Him I give
At times my heart spills agony
Yet still, for Him I’ll live
1 Corinthians 6:16-17 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
When the Almighty says he will be a Father to me, I lean into that promise with all I have. The trip to the doctor’s to check on my application for SSI disability came and went. Visiting the psychiatrist was difficult. I sat in an office with a fluorescent light overhead. The doctor was pleasant and without any emotion. He asked so many questions that I could not answer I couldn’t even begin to explain. There were puzzles and games as well. It would appear that I can no longer spell backwards and doing math in my head is not going to happen. He then asked how I felt about my life, my health, and asked what it is I do all day. I explained that I take walks, do housework, read and study my bible. He mentioned I can no longer do those things I used to do independently and those things I used to do for others. I was asked how it feels to not be able to contribute to society. By the time I left that office my head was spinning and I was furious. Two hours later I sat at my computer and put together this sermon for the Nursing Home.
As I look out at you I realize that I’m not all that familiar with you. Sure, I know a few names but would you consider telling us what you were doing before you were 65 yrs old? I want to start off today by saying thank you for your contributions to society, thus far.
Last year our pastor introduced my husband and me and told you a little about us. Some of you may remember that we are from New York State. We came to Florida to help our pastors with the vision that God gave them to start a church. We had a few ups and downs as all new ministries do. For me personally, I’ve had to cope with epileptic seizures. There are a few things that I need help with. My short term memory is not perfect. The medicine makes me tired and sometimes my balance is a little off. I do not drive at the moment. I get lost easily in stores. Do you ever need help?
Many of you know what it’s like to apply for social security disability. Because I worked for many years as a nurse, I too applied. After much testing and thousands of questions the doctor turned to me and asked, “How does it feel to not be able to contribute to society?” It dawned on me that the world has a different view on contributions than the Lord Almighty has.
I know without a doubt that I am giving what the Lord wants me to give to this world. He may change that tomorrow and stretch me to give something else. That’s totally up to him. But, the issues I’ve described do not stop me from still contributing to the Kingdom today.
Some of you sit in wheelchairs, others walk with canes. Some are able to speak, others sit and listen. I’ve seen some of you dance and others walk with assist. There are many Christians here. The spirit of God that dwells in you is the same spirit of God that I possess. It is not hampered by our physical restraints. I Corinthians 6:19 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” If we have asked Jesus into our lives, our bodies belong to Him. Our God is so much bigger than flesh and bone, or brain matter. Be encouraged dear ones, you are still able to contribute to the society we live in. In fact, because you have lived and suffered more than a young person; the Lord has given some of you a compassion and insight that few would possess as a thirty year old.
Do not feel sorry for me. The Lord is on the move in this lady. What little inconveniences I suffer at times is nothing compared to the joy of the Master inside me. His healing will come, just as it will for you. Our bodies will waste away with time. The bible tells us in Ecclieastes 3:20 “All go to the same place; all come from dust and to dust all return” But we don’t have to fear this if we know Jesus. The son of God came to earth as a man and took the keys of death. How many of us can recite the King James Version of John 3:16?
I have great news. We all can contribute to society and to the kingdom today. We also can all leave a legacy of hope, truth, and love. A person who believes and follows after God need not be young. You can do it from a wheel chair. You can do it from a bed. You can do it blind. You can do it without speech. If you can speak, praise Him and talk about Him. If you can’t speak clap your hands or stomp your feet. You can pray silently too. Pray without ceasing on every occasion. As much as the Lord gives you, use it for the glory of God. Pray for our society, pray for the younger generation, pray for our country. On this day, in this room you can make one of the most powerful contributions to our society that you’ve ever made. Talk about Him to family, friends, neighbors. Even if you don’t see results, your sowing seeds. Perhaps someone may react negatively, Don’t be afraid. Matthew 10:28 says “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Like I said earlier, I’m thankful to each and every one of you for all the contributions you have made in your life. You are worth much to this society and much more to Christ. Whether you know it or not, I’m sure your prayers have touched my life in some way. Don’t let the devil steal from you by thinking that you don’t have something to give. When we reach heaven, we will be surprised at whom and how much was given to contribute to the kingdom of God.
The actual service might have missed some of my notes. But, the Lord spoke through me with what He had in mind. I do not give glory to any illness. But, I’ll use whatever the devil throws at me to magnify the Great I Am. One thing for sure, He is worthy to be praised.
I’ve taken a few falls lately so my doctor and husband went to the apartment complex and I’m being moved to a ground floor apartment on the other end of the complex. I hate the idea of packing and moving. However, the new place has a better view of the golf course. I’m just rolling with the punches right now. Jeff does not like the side effects of all the chemicals in me. I’ve assured him that it is only temporary.
The neurologist is having me try some new medicine with the hope of keeping partial seizures away. I do believe the Lord has begun a new work in me though. For the next few weeks I’ll be on two seizure meds and at times I’m a bit foggy. It seems like when I was young and drank too many peppermint schnapps with beer chasers. [Ok, remember I was not following God back then] I am aware of what is going on around me but everything is hazy.
I can not remain on the computer longer than 15 minutes before I have to turn the computer off. So, the Lord walks me through each sentence I write to make sure I’m writing only what He wants me to write. The mind goes back and forth to different areas of the life I lead. The skeleton of the story I am writing is about this lady, her love story, and her Lord. The lady struggles with real issues. Her love story is ever unfolding and totally true. It’s passionate and rare. Our Lord takes center stage over all of this life.
One night my husband and were sitting relaxing when the subject of love came up. I personally think that part of the problem with non Christians accepting Christ is that they do not understand what love is.
The dictionary defines it as thus: a (1): strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties
The Almighty God loves us so much and told us so many times in the bible. He longs for that strong affection arising out of kinship or a personal tie. It is way beyond the love us humans have based on sexual desire. Satan has turned our minds regarding love to one of only the physical. Though our precious Lord gave us the gift of sexual desire to be used in the sacred marriage, it is only a copy of the intimacy that we can have with our Lord and Savior. Satan has distorted the meaning of relationship so much that the world sees love as a means to gaining entry to personal goals.
For those who believe on the name of Jesus Christ as the son of God and follow His commandments though, we are promised a love unlike any other.
Psalms 32:10 Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.
As I’ve mentioned earlier though, we worship the image of the Lord we have in our minds. I’m challenging the reader to spread his or her tent pegs and see a Heavenly Father who loves and approves and accepts us as we turn to Him. He’ll love us even when we aren’t turned to Him. He hates the sin but loves the sinner. Yet for those out there who are struggling with the concept of a Father image I am writing as the spirit of God leads.
Remember what David told his son in 1 Chronicles 28:9? “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.” Wow, what wonderful insight and advice from a dad who was a King. The Lord called him “A man after my own heart”.
Ungodly fathers have distorted many hearts with the concept of “Father”. Some see our Heavenly Father as a cruel God wielding a sword and ready to pounce at the slightest infraction. Don’t listen to what the devil tells you about your Heavenly Father. He’s not there with a red hot poker screaming that you aren’t what you need to be. He isn’t in the business to squash our spirit and hurt us. So many ask why the Lord allowed them to be tortured, molested, beaten, or abused in their lives. What God would allow this? I can only say this, you do not know the whole picture and what the Lord held back so that you could be where you are today. It was never His plan that any harmful thing come near you. In truth our Father is patient and gentle, wanting so much for us to get closer to Him. Not willing that we perish, but wanting a relationship with us. Do you think He wants His children to only speak to Him when in need? Don’t we want our children to reach out to us out of a need to just want to be with us? The creator of the universe with all the power our minds can imagine wants us to come near to Him. He wants to talk to us about our day, He wants to dry our tears and walk with us with an arm around us. So many have a cloudy image of this Father. Yet, He is LOVE. He likes you, he accepts you as you are, he even wants to have fun with you. Imagine, the Great I Am wanting to be with you and enjoy the treasure that is you.
I remember as a child when I’d wrestle on the floor with my sisters and Dad. The furniture pushed away and we were sprawled over the floor. I remember rolling down grassy hills with my father. We’d be all grassed stained and he was in hysterics as I had grass all over my hair. On Christmas he’d come to our apartment loaded down with gifts. He was more excited to give them than we were to open them. Mom cautioned us not to jump all over the place. But, within seconds of Dad’s arrival my sisters and I were jumping, dancing and singing with our Dad. I used to look forward to those times and they are a forever treasure in my mind. Though the imperfect man who drank made life scary for a child, I loved the good times.
Yet, our Heavenly Father only drinks on perfect love. Our heavenly Father is joyful, filled with gifts that He’s wanting so much to give us. How I love to open my arms and run to the Father who loves me. When and if we see the entire picture of our lives when we are in heaven, we’ll be surprised at what the Lord did on our behalf. With your minds eye, try to picture this Father laden down with gifts for you. The gifts are given with one motive, because He loves you. Picture the smiling face and twinkling eyes. Picture the anticipation in His heart of your joy at receiving the gifts and also Him. He knows what and who your heart needs. Now picture him setting them down and stepping back as he sees that you are backing away from Him out of fear, resentment, and a distorted view of Him. Many Christians enjoy the gifts of the Father and still hesitate to go nearer to the Father.
I do not trust my own eyes or ears to indicate if my Father is near. His word tells me “I will never leave you or forsake you”. I’ve seen too many miracles, I’ve felt His presence in the physical too many times, and I believe what He says. I’ve asked Him to be near and talk to me. He accepts my frailty and understands my heart. I know that even though others may reject me, my Father loves me. I don’t have to worry if I am imperfect to be with the perfection of the Father. All my imperfections are covered by Jesus. The Father isn’t disappointed with me. I am FREE to approach the Father and give Him all of ME. To others, I may seem just a middle aged woman with physical restraints. Perhaps I don’t have the intellect of some. Frequently I embarrass myself speaking the wrong things, or doing the wrong things. It’s not hopeless though. The Lord encourages me though as I try. Do you ever feel that you’re missing the mark somehow? Are you wanting to be perfect and holding back because your afraid He won’t accept you?
2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”
In an enormous act of the Father’s love for us, He sent Jesus to die on a cross to take the place of our sins. We’ve heard it so much we sometimes forget the sacrifice of it. God in the flesh came down to undo the end result of the sin of man. Our Father knows the motives behind our heart and says “Come to me”. He knows we make mistakes and think wrong thoughts and he says “Come to me”. When all we seem to do is wrong though we try to work for him, He accepts the righteous motives of our heart and says “Come to me, I approve of you.” We are His kids and He loves us. I’ve written many times about the love I have for Jeff. But, Jeff could never give the kind of love the Father gives. It’s like tipping over a bottle of oil and having it cover the entirety of your whole body. You’re totally covered in the love of our Father.
May we never forget the picture of the heart of the Father. It is a picture of love. Come closer to the throne of God and receive all that He has for you. He’s not mad at you, He is forgiving, faithful, gentle, and waiting for His children to come close. If you’ve received Jesus as your Savior you have a seal of approval. He totally accepts you and wants to tell you. He’s on your side. You’ll never have to be alone in shame and guilt and pain. I believe this very moment He’s waiting to see your reaction to these words.
A dear friend sings a sweet song whenever possible. “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” He’s watching, waiting and ready to give you the desires of your heart. In every human there is a desire to be wanted, accepted, and cherished. If you feel something is missing, reach out in faith to Father Heart of God. He heals, protects and desires you.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
This morning started much like any other. I awoke at 6 and began making Jeff’s breakfast. Soon, he went out the door and I began to gather the dirty dishes. All of a sudden the lights went out. Turned out that a power line went down and over 2000 people were without power until 10 am. I was not really flustered as this happens several times. The weather is unpredictable as well as car accident are. I had faith that someone would turn the lights back on. As I finished what I could without electricity I was struck by how much faith I’d had with the power company. Do I have that much faith in other areas of my life? Hmmm. When we meet with unexpected trials do I launch into sudden panic or do I trust the Lord? I’d love to pronounce my great faith but I can not lie to you. Sometimes the panic button goes off. Yet, I can honestly say that the button isn’t used as much as a year ago.
Last night we entertained a former pastor. We just call him Wes. As we are just getting to know him we were excited to have him over for supper. Right off we realized that he has a gentle spirit but is also a man with a powerful vision. He already has a ministry with feeding the poor. His next vision is to find a building to house the homeless men in our community. He not only wants to house them though. He wants to set up counseling for them. Some need to be taught how to talk to interview and keep a job. Being homeless for so long, some have a vocabulary that would make some folks blush. Some need help with proper clothes. His whole vision is not to keep them, but to give them a hand up into the community with the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus.
As the night progressed and we ate our meal we were swapping stories and the subject of some of our seizure side effects came up. Wes is hard of hearing and wears hearing aid. This man with a powerful ministry and vision for more is just about the humblest person I’ve ever met. A person who just met him would have no idea of the power in this guy. It’s the power of God to be sure. He seems like a tall gangly shy person at times. Yet, he’s 68 and enjoys reaching out to people. He is definitely coming for supper more often. Jeff and I felt he is one of the jewels the Lord had in mind when we moved here. I’m not saying that we will be working side by side. Having a friend like him is a jewel for the soul. He has a lot of faith to go to some of the places he goes in to.
The weather here in Florida has once again turned to summer. Summer in Florida comes with 90 degree weather and sudden thunderstorms and hurricane season. The television is once again advertising the need for storm shutters and weather radios. The water in our apartment pool is getting warmer and I’m finding myself in the water doing leg stretches and floating under the sun. It is a time to watch the other brave residents come out and swim as well. Folks down here are not apt to start up a conversation. You may get a smile or a nod, but usually that is all. I see the stress on many faces from working two jobs and shuffling children back and forth. I’ve asked the Lord to provide a way for me to communicate with those of His choosing. In the process of waiting on the Lord for this, I’ve become a people watcher of a sort. It’s impolite to stare at folks but I am very aware of who is around me at the pool. At any moment I want to be ready to minister. Yet, for the most part I enjoy listening to my MP3 which sports an assortment of Christian music as well as soft rock.
Our Memorial Day came and went without our pastors. They went out of town suddenly due to a family emergency. We were blessed to have one of our own preach a sermon. Wes is a former pastor and spoke well. Jeff and I stepped in wherever needed and the church didn’t fall apart without the pastor. We knew the Lord was among us and that is fine.
We’d been excited to hear word of Jeff’s application for promotion and also the verdict regarding my application for SSI disability. Both came in the same week. Both verdicts were a negative. Yet, somehow we weren’t thrown for a loop. Could it be we have gotten used to rejection? Or is it just that we know somehow the Lord will meet our needs? In the natural mind I’ve no way of knowing how our lives will unfold. With the economy and our small income it would seem a total loss. But, our minds are looking to the promises of God.
We packed up a picnic lunch and went to the beach to enjoy a relaxing Memorial Day. The waves from the Atlantic Ocean pounded the beach in droves. It was loud and the salty air tickled our face. We were refreshed and went home very content.
We had good news in the form of a phone call from our daughter. She had looked around and found her brother. The conversation left her feeling that her brother is missing out on much of life by his aloof attitude towards God and family. As I held the phone to my ear and visualized the two of my kids when they were small I could well imagine the loss in my daughter’s heart. She had wanted a relationship with Jesse. As much as I love my son though, I reminded her that we are not fighting flesh and blood here. There are spirits and principalities at work in Jesse’s life. But the weapons of our warfare are not carnal the bibles says. They are strong enough to tear down strongholds of whatever it is that is causing the chaos in my son’s life. I was honest with my daughter on several points. The things my son has done in the past nearly tore this mother’s heart out. The addictions to women, alcohol and drugs have created a son I do not know. At this stage in his life it is far more powerful to pray and use the weapons of warfare that I’ve learned from the bible than try to reach him and fix things for him. It is good to know he is alive and working and sleeps in an apartment out of the gutters.
My daughter grew quite silent as I opened up my heart to her. I reminded her that at this moment Jesse can’t see beyond his own needs. As a family though, we can lean into the Father and gain strength when we see the way my son’s choices have alienated us. However, it’s ok to be happy while waiting for this prayer to be answered. For too many years our lives revolved around my son’s problems. In the end we became like a broken straw that wasn’t functioning. I reminded my daughter that the Father gave His son so that we may live, that is why I can safely give Him my son.
My son in law is a wonder. I truly love this man. Though he seldom speaks words of love and is not affectionate, I’ve seen a scared and selfish arrogant man rise up and become a husband and father to the best of his knowledge. My David loves his wife and daughter and suffered much depression after realizing some of his mistakes earlier in the marriage. I counseled my daughter to forgive and shower Jesus love on him. Without a doubt I know that mercy triumphs over judgment. When I pray for my children, I pray for three of them. Their names are Jesse, Desiree’, and her husband David.
David gets upset when watching Desiree’ agonize over a broken relationship with Jesse. He is very protective and won’t allow Jesse to come live with them. He won’t allow drugs or alcohol in the house. At first my daughter was bothered by this but I spoke out quite strongly that David was right. My son has a choice and he has been told more about the Lord than ten sons. When he surrenders to allow Jesus to be Lord over all his life, we will be rejoicing with tears and laughter and without hesitation. See, I know that my Lord knows my son and is ever watching and calling him home. Home to the heart of the Father. I am dealing with spirits and principalities. My Father God will have the last word and I will praise His name. In all my power from God I will fight for him. But, I will fight on the Lord’s battle plan and not the devil’s.
My little grand child is almost three now and speaking quite well. She sang “Jesus loves the little children” to me the other day. What a treat! The greatest joy any mother can have is when her children are walking with the Lord. At the name of Jesus this family will all bow. They may not be bowing at the moment but they will bow. There are promises in the bible that my heart clings to in regards to my family.
Isaiah 60:4-5 “Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar and your daughters are carried on the arm. Then you will look and be radiant your heart will throb and swell with joy;”
Isaiah 54:11-13 “O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. All your sons will be taught by the Lord and great will be your children’s peace.”
I Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land”
The foundation of the Lord has been set. Jeff and I spoke to both our children. Both were in a church where the presence and word of God were. My city is my family and my land is my family. Jeff spoke it well one day when he said “Joshua’s words are my words. As for me and my house we will serve the Lord” Perhaps I’ll never see my son free. My prayers will still be working though long after I’m gone.
Imagine the day when we gather in heaven and are filled with the wonder of total peace. No wars, no prodigals, no more reason to pray or even witness to anyone. The war will be over and we have won. No health plans, no gas prices, anything but spotless unchangeable love from the one our hearts love. Think of all the restraints this human body gives to the spirit inside us. Imagine roaming at will in complete joy. No board meetings, no stress of any kind. Being in a place that our hearts long to be even on this day. We can only dream of what it will be like. In our present state of mind we can only guess. The King will be worshipped and adored forever.
The other day we went to a local outdoor restaurant that had a waterfront view. How pleasant to sit and talk to friends and listen to steel drum music in a tropical scene. All around us was the splendor of the Lord. Sailboats floated by and once in a while a dolphin came into view as it leaped in the water. The food was excellent and mango ice tea is something you’ve got to try. We watched the palm trees swaying in a warm wind alongside green foliage untouched by human hands. It was a gorgeous day with sunshine and smells of barbecue food wafting through the nostrils. Yet as wonderful as this is, I am looking forward to the day when we are all together at home. Home is not a building or even a place. Home is Jesus.
Psalm 133 “How good and pleasant it is when brothers [and sisters] live together in unity. It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
Whenever I read that Psalm I am always aware that living together in unity is something that we work at. Our flesh wants its own way at times and our mouths are hard to tame. The sinful flesh is full of jealousy and impatient to others needs. Yet, Psalm 133 talks about dwelling together in unity. After learning of the way that a priest was anointed in bible days, I can well imagine the oil poured over the head and running down Aaron’s beard. It wasn’t a little shaking of oil, they poured in to saturate the one who is anointed. The clothes became filled with oil as well as the head. It was a dousing. The scripture says “it is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing” To have us living together in unity is to disregard our flesh and look up to the Lord’s way. It means we are to always be walking in the spirit. It means we are to continually be looking toward the Father and seeing things through his eyes.
Frequently, I have seen as a sister of five sisters where our hearts have strongly disagreed and it led to silence and weakness as a family. Yet, when our prides were stripped away and we came together through Jesus Christ the power in this family in unbeatable. We can weather any storm as a family unit. It is the same with the body of Christ.
Without Christ though, unity can turn ugly. Genesis 11 talks about how the people came together while having one language and common speech. They worked together for a common goal. Yet, their goal was ungodly. They wanted to build a tower to make a name for them. The lord spoke in verse 6 “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” The Lord has inspired this to be written in Genesis. It gives a clue to the power we can have as we dwell in unity for the cause of righteousness. When we have the goal of the Most High in our hearts and work in unity we can be assured that God will bestow his blessing even life forevermore.
Recently, I was put to the test with this. As our pastors were out of town, we got together as a small church for Wednesday fellowship without them. It wasn’t held in our home and Jeff and I gave the hosts some lee way. They had decided not to start with praise and worship songs and instead have fellowship without it. I must admit I had a check in my spirit but thought perhaps I myself was being a bit legalistic. In hindsight I think I’d have brought music to play. Worship and praise has a way of uniting hearts in one accord. I’ve sat under much teaching in regards to praise and music and I can sum it up as this, through every battle in the bible the musicians went forth first. There is constant music and praise in the throne room. When King Saul was having difficulty David was sent to play music for him. Praise music is the theme in the Psalms as well. Satan can’t enter in while high praise from the heart is going on.
The host had something he wanted to share. He’d watched something on TV that had touched him deeply. The story is of a WWII veteran who joined the war as a conscientious objector. He didn’t carry a weapon. He was verbally and physically abused during training as his instructor threw a rifle at him several times expecting him to catch it, yet he did not. He was a medic as I recall the story being told. He was also a Seventh Day Adventist and carried his bible with him. He prayed constantly over the troops. There was a part of the story where he was being trained to make knots that ended up in having a loop at one end. Whenever he made the knot though, he ended up with two loops at the end. A huge battle was to begin and the troops were divided into two groups. This man asked if he could pray over the troop that he was in and was given permission to do so. He asked if he could pray over the other troop and they refused. During the battle his entire troop survived and the other all died.
There came a place in the story where folks had to be rescued using the rope with the two loops. For some reason the second loop was the reason he was able to help save many men. After the story was told we were asked if we thought this man was saved no matter if he was a Seventh day Adventist or not. After all, this man was a hero and received the Medal of Honor for his heroic deeds. I answered that we aren’t saved by doing good deeds but by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. Having no idea of what he truly believed in his heart I was not able to say whether he was saved or not. What little I know of the religion that he professed did not mean that he followed it. I did not know this man personally. I’ve never seen a bible from that church and don’t know what it contains. Who was he praying to? I’ve known folks that followed after Jehovah Witness and were giving and loving people. All these variables couldn’t give me a conclusion. Based on all the good things he did and even his prayers didn’t lead me to a positive conclusion. The other thing I noted that all during this story, I didn’t see where Jesus got the glory.
Though some in the room gave their views in a positive, I remained unsure. Having been told what was going to be brought up that night, I had done small amount of homework on Seventh Day Adventists. I didn’t do enough though, and the host had done none. I had told the group what I had found out. There were a lot of false prophets that had predicted the time of the Lord’s coming many times. I brought a few sheets of paper with me that spoke of this faith, and where it had started from.
Thus began an older man making some bold statements. This man has spent much time going over doctrine and theology with our pastor. Let the reader know that I think it is imperative that you know what your church believes and why they believe it. Check your bible to see if it is true. The gentlemen said “All churches think they know everything. They say they go by the bible. Yet, no one knows everything. There is false doctrine in every church.”
I sat there a moment before I spoke. There were new Christians in the room and this statement was dangerous to them. Some folks go to many different churches saying they can feel God everywhere. So, I spoke up with a decisive “I do believe that no church knows everything. The bible says, “we know in part” Yet to say because we don’t have all the knowledge doesn’t mean we preach false doctrine. That means that no matter where we go to church to learn of the Lord we are doomed to get under liars. I have left churches when I found they were preaching falsehoods. There are some points that some churches debate over, but even that is not the same as preaching false doctrine. What you said is a broad general statement over every church in the world that I don’t agree with.” “Not knowing it all is not the same as preaching falsehoods”
This led to many questions being thrown at me regarding what the bible says and what different things mean. Only this time I realized that no one else was going to speak up and I just went for it with all the knowledge I’d learned over the past ten years. The main thing is this; salvation is a free gift to be received. Jesus hung on the cross like a piece of meat. He came to earth and did everything the Father told him to do. He was without sin, yet became the very way for us to go to heaven. All we have to do is ask Him into our hearts to be our savior. Then, we give testimony as we are baptized. We go down into the water as the old man, and come up the new man. Nothing we can do will cause us to be saved other than believing in Jesus and asking Him into our heart. I was questioned about why Jesus did what he did. My answer was simple, “Jesus did everything the Father told him to do. He didn’t come here to be saved; he didn’t need to be saved.”
There are many issues regarding baptism that this man wanted to discuss but this was not the place for it. Though the questions were thrown at me, I remember forcefully answering them as I prayed silently for those around me. All of a sudden I realized I was standing. The sunburn on my face from a day at the ocean made my appearance fierce because my face was red and the eyes were huge. The shoulders go back as I am in speaking mode.
Yet, this man was a brother and I refused to call him names or attack him with sarcasm. When I realized he was not going to stop the questions I thought it best to go home. “Listen, “I said, “Perhaps I am responding a little different from usual. I’m usually calmer. I know I’m on a bunch of new meds so perhaps that has a part in this. However, I simply do not agree with you one hundred percent.” Jeff got up and brought me home.
All of a sudden it occurred to me that Jeff was grinning like a Cheshire cat. “Are you laughing at me?” His answer was no. After we’d gotten home I was still fuming. “To think that every church worldwide must have false doctrine due to the fact we know in part is outrageous” .
Jeff then turned to me and started laughing. “You didn’t respond when we lost all our money on the house like that. You never said much with all the trouble with our son. You’ve had a seizure, fallen down stairs, even moved away from your grand kid and never responded like that. But, let anyone come at you saying every church and that includes OUR church preaches false doctrine and you’re a lion.”
“I know the body of Christ worldwide is not perfect. However, if Christ is the center of the people’s hearts and they trust Him with all their hearts then the Spirit of God moves that body of Christ. It is vitally important that we are led by the Spirit of God into the body of Christ that He wants us to be in. Otherwise we are just a group of people having meetings. I truly believe that Christ is on the move in billions of His people worldwide, therefore we are the body of Christ. The building is not the church. We are the body of Christ. He is the foundation. A building which houses 5 thousand people and calls themselves a church and aren’t letting the Spirit of God is just a building with a lot of people.
The body of Christ isn’t about WHO is going to that church, but rather WHO is leading that church. Christ would never allow false doctrine into a church HE is leading. I can believe with all my heart that Christ is Leading many body of Christ in the world. The gentlemen was not slandering people in my eyes, he was slandering Christ ability to lead his body of Christ. It is true that we have to allow the Spirit to lead. However, the Spirit calls us. [Psalm 32:8] says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” If we are walking in the spirit we will not be led by the flesh.
Many times I apologize for sticking my foot in my mouth. Not this time. Unity is not going to occur if we believe in peace at all cost. Christians at times have to correct without condemnation. To attain peace [nothing missing nothing broken] at times the body of Christ has to speak. I will never try to beat my ideas into someone else’s brain. But, I will allow the Lord to use me as a vessel to speak at times. The fruit of this is up to Jesus himself.
Meanwhile, my brother and I get along well. He’s always smiling at me and I pray over him all the time. There’s a lot of love in our little body of Christ. I wonder sometimes why he comes to our church, when he disagrees with a lot of things. I think it’s because he feels loved and as I tell him, “you are loved and part of a family. We have our ins and outs but still we are family.”
Of all the scripture in the bible, I can put myself into the Apostle Paul’s words. The sins in my life were corrosion to the soul. Perhaps not horrible by the worlds eye. But, God sees sin as anything that comes between the person and himself. Plus, no one knows the secret thoughts that rambled in the mind of this woman. The Lord knew me and showed mercy as he opened my eyes and let me see the truth.
I Timothy 1:12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man. [Or in my case woman]. I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen
So often I find myself face to face with some harsh realities of life. I’m sure this has happened to the reader as well. Sin sets itself up in camouflage so often that the Lord has to put us on our knees a few times in order for us to recognize the fact. As I write this book I am constantly aware that my own opinions may sift through what the Holy Spirit has led me to write. For just that reason fasting and prayer is being used at this time to do as the Lord directs and not an aimless opinion from one who can still be ignorant at times. Yet, I am hopeful in the fact that the Lord himself is teaching this woman.
I’ve spent entire weeks writing only to come back and delete what I’d written. If it’s not something that magnifies the Lord or if it’s shining too much on me rather than Him…it is to be done over. This book is about Him. I’ve been told to write about life with a thorn in the flesh, as well as the trials and victories of the miracle of my marriage. I was told to write about stepping out of the boat into the Lord’s ministry. Yet, the glory is to be given to the one my heart loves.
Proverbs 18:2 keeps me in line quite a bit. I just found it, though the bible is over 2000 yrs old. . “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions”. So, I’m a bit slow on the uptake. The relevancy of it is clear though. So often I am bombarded with people who wish to tell me why they do not follow Christ. I find that for most of the reasons, it is based on wanting to believe their own opinions on religion rather than seeking understanding of what the scriptures teach. The bible clearly states that in the end times people will want to have their ears tickled. This is idolatry. It is making one’s own God according the the specifications of one’s own opinion. I challenge people to open the bible and get a concordance to look up what it is you believe. Is it in there? If you can find your thoughts written in the bible, then you believe truth. If you can’t, you are worshipping your own made up God. How is that working for you?
I’ve been asked the question. “How do you know that the bible is real” I love that question. It is easy to answer if you remember history. You can prove the scriptures by the history books. You can also be amazed to find that several hundred years passed between the old and new testaments. Yet, the Old Testament predicts the new. I am not a great bible teacher and yet I am amazed that the Lord has always given me simple answers. Science has gotten on the band wagon and it too is proving scripture. Yet, my favorite answer is actually a question. “Do you want it to be true?” Most people do want to believe that someone out there loves us so much. This sometimes leads me into praying for them to have their eyes opened. I challenge folks to open the scriptures and ask the Lord to speak to them. The word is alive and does a great job of speaking for itself.
When ever the sun is high and I have the time, I am at the pool. The Lord has given me permission and ability to sprinkle the residents of this apartment complex with His seeds. I do not preach the word to these neighbors of mine. Often, it is my life lived in front of them. More than anything I want to live what I am controlled by. I am controlled by the Holy Spirit living in me. That should produce love, joy , peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. If you show these things to those around you, you are showing them the fruit of the spirit of God. This always leads to a chance for speaking. Let the reader know that I do not go around speaking in tongues, or prophesying to the lost, I do not quote scripture in the King James version to those I’ve met casually at the pool either. The Lord shows me what to do and say as I am tuned into HIM. He provides the platform for me to speak.
Yet, these fruits of the spirit that I speak of are constantly being practiced behind the walls of my home with my precious Jeffrey. Long ago I asked the Lord to teach me to be a Godly wife so that Jeff would be so thirsty after the one who changed me, that he too would come to Jesus. I have failed many times and had to go and ask forgiveness. Even as I speak, I am far from where I know the Lord wants me to be. Yet, I fight to be the same woman with only an audience of Jeff, as I am when I am in church, out in public or at the pool. My Lord has shown me many things and given me too many gifts for me not to think of Him first. One day I will be in heaven in front of that very same Lord I write about. How I long for that day. But, until that day is decided on him, I will seek understanding and continually put my opinions to one side.
A few years ago I watched at the bedside of a dear friend as she passed away. She left a much grieving husband. For years we’d prayed together for her husband and mine. Both husbands made the decision for salvation the same day. Yet, after my friend passed on, her husband drew away from the Lord. We never know how long we are on this world. I have decided to give Christ everything I have, and live it in front of Jeff each day. I would be devastated if his faith was only for the time I am in his life. My friend once told me that she was not strong enough to stand up for her convictions when her husband wanted to do things that were not of God. Dear reader, no one can come before the Lord. My husband and I only have words when one of us is going the wrong way.
Though I am a submissive wife to the best of my ability, there have been times when I have stood up to my husband on matters pertaining to a walk of Christ. I will never embarrass him in public, but in our quiet home, at the right time and in the right spirit I will confront him. I do not try to teach him however. He will ask me a good question most times I am confronting an issue. “What does the bible say?” I’ve had the pleasure of going over scripture with him several times. He too has spoken into me many times. We don’t want to be too foolish to not seek understanding. One thing I tell Jeff, because it is the truth. I’d never confront any issue to prove I am more spiritual or more anything. I confront it because I want Jeff to climb higher, to be free, and to be shielded with knowledge.
I could never confront anyone effectively based on my own opinion. No one should do that. However, if we are walking in the spirit we won’t be led by the flesh. Those who are seeking are finding. Those very people should know that what they find is meant to be shared. God has called his evangelists, pastors, teachers, apostles, and prophets. These people won’t have much use in heaven.
I Corinthians 12:29 “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Ephesians 4:11-12 “It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up..” Typically when speaking of the five fold ministry [apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher], we are referring to the positions Jesus has set up in the church for a specific purpose of equipping the saints [believers]. However, an equipped saint will operate effectively in the same giftings as those in the five fold ministry. That does not mean that the same equipped saint holds the office of said gift in a particular church.
When I am speaking to someone with a hurt and bringing them to Christ, or when I am confronting issues with love and caring I am pastoring. When I am speaking boldly about the one my heart loves, I am evangelizing. Remember, bold is not necessarily loud. When I am explaining the scriptures I am teaching. When I am helping with church planting, I am an apostle. When I can speak into someone’s life with the gift of vision or insight for the future I am using the prophetic gifting. The church is made up of several parts, but at times we find ourselves wearing many hats.
It is wonderful to see a church functioning as one body with many parts. Yet, I’ve seen pastors get annoyed when they see others in their church speaking in to someone. It’s an insecure pastor who can’t see that the Holy Spirit can use others beside themselves. I’ve also seen eager church members trying to get leadership roles. For some reason those leadership roles look attractive with power, authority and attention.
With this in mind we can throw off everything that holds us and run the race that Christ has set before us. As I said before I can jump into I Timothy 1:12 quite easily. “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service…” I truly hold no particular title or office of authority in my little church. I do not govern. Yet, the title that the Lord himself gave me is firm. He said “I chose you, go now.” With that came the knowledge that I was to be used for whatever purpose of His choosing. I can be content to do whatever large or small thing on any given day.
This is so wonderful and free. On some days I’m relaxing by the pool enjoying the warmth of the sun and still be in His will. I could be on a outreach walk in a poor neighborhood, speaking in front of the elderly, opening my home for prayer, and the list goes on. It’s exciting for me to open the word of God each day and find out something new. I want something to cause me to grow a little more, to lean into Christ a little more, to be bolder for Him a little more. Course it’s nothing to do with this little five foot one inch lady. It’s all about Him.
Journey entry number 15
Philippians 4:19 “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
I can remember long ago when a dear pastor and spiritual brother said “the only thing that remains constant in your life is change”. This has proven to be a simple yet profound statement for Jeff and me. Recently we underwent even another change. The three flights of stairs to our apartment proved to be too much on us. My husband grew very serious one day after I’d taken a spill in the kitchen. “I think we need to see about getting a ground floor apartment.” He was growing weary of carrying things up those stairs and worrying about my balance as well. I’ve taken a few falls. It was nothing serious, a scraped knee or two and mostly landing hard on the buttocks.
Our move proved to be quite interesting. I didn’t like packing up and moving, but I was more concerned that Jeff have the help he needed to move. I’d given him a few ideas of who to ask and wondered if he had anyone lined up. He kept telling me not to worry, so I stopped asking him about it. When the day approached I learned he only had a promise of help from one dear older man. As I gazed at Jeff I realized that he hadn’t communicated to anyone the need for help. He was nervous and sick to his stomach and obviously upset. Yet, who was there to be upset with?
This could have been a chance for Satan to use for a horrible argument with Jeff and me. Sensing Jeff’s dilemma and the fact that I physically couldn’t help, I prayed for wisdom. I also prayed for more able bodied help. “I’m sure the Lord himself will send someone to help us Jeff” Jeff just looked down at me and said, “I can do it myself.” “Oh great,” I thought, “this is going well.” Not! Our pastors had gone out of town and it dawned on me that Jeff was counting on him in particular. All of a sudden it dawned on me that the Lord was doing a work here. Jeff became quiet but I was quietly excited to see what the Lord was going to do.
Sure enough, Jeff came home from work and announced that he’d found help in the form of one of his coworkers. “He’s a big guy and the two of us will do fine.” The day of the move started out cloudy. I had everything packed during the day. Jeff had to be on the grand jury that day and we were set to move after five pm. When Jeff returned he phoned his coworker and soon a tall burly man with Loony Toon cartoon tattoos on his legs walked in the door. Jeff phoned our other friend as well. He’d forgotten we were to move but promised to be on his way.
The two guys loaded the truck and went to our new apartment. The rains began with loud claps of thunder and lightening. They were soaked to the skin. “Well, it can’t get any worse than this.” my husband said. Almost immediately the winds picked up and hail poured down. The guys burst out laughing. Soon our older friend came to help and we were all carrying things down to the truck. I spied a young man standing in the rain smoking a cigarette. Jeff and I had begun a light friendship with Steve. He knew we were Christians and we almost always stopped to chat with him. “Steve”, I said “wouldn’t you rather be helping us move than standing in the rain smoking?”
He answered “You are moving today?” I answered “yes, we found out you were moving out so it was no sense staying here anymore” I joked. Actually, he had told us he’d be moving soon. I went back upstairs.
After we loaded everything up, I stayed at the new apartment and began unloading. Soon Jeff came in with his coworker, our friend from church and Steve. “Guess we have another helper!” Sure enough Steve had asked if we needed help and Jeff answered yes. God always provides for us somehow. Soon we had pizza delivered and we sat around laughing though soaking wet as we stopped for a meal. The guys dove into the pizza and I had a chance to introduce our friend Wes more. “Do you remember us telling you why we changed from a van to a truck Steve?” Steve answered yes. “Well, Wes has the sandwich ministry we spoke to you about.” I had a chance to explain to Jeff’s coworker as well.
This brought me to another subject. The coworker’s tattoos are really interesting. This huge guy is lay back, and friendly enough that I told him I liked his tattoos. I then mentioned the revival in Lakeland with Todd Bentley. Of course the tattoos came up. Turns out “Buddy” the coworker had seen him on TV. Seeds were planted that night and I have no idea what the fruit will be. I do know that Jeff learned not to depend on the pastor [his close friend as well] for everything and he was encouraged as he watched the Lord provide help for the move. Our part was to open our mouth and ask. James 4:2-3 “…You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” My Father knows the heart of us and when we asked, he gave.
As I am always watchful of my husband and prayerful as well, I had noticed that once again he was quiet and sullen at times. We’d gone to the doctors and found Jeff had low potassium again. His medicine was changed and prayers went up. We’d gone to the neurologist and we explained that I could not take the new medicine. It was making me feel very drunk. The doctor told us of many newer medicines that could help memory loss but might cause seizures. I had been praying as well as Jeff about what we should do. I spoke up and told the doctor that I simply couldn’t afford the newer meds. Also, I’ve grown tired of the side effects of mixing the meds as well. For now, I simply want to stay on the older medicine Dilantin. The doctor also spoke of another MRI and more blood work. All this medical stuff is a lot on Jeff’s plate.
Our economy right now is such that it affects almost every walk of life. Jeff’s been made aware of lay offs at his work. Though he is trained for management, he may be working as a cashier. Prices for gas make it difficult to go out a lot. There simply are no extras. We’d been on a tight budget since we left NY in hopes of putting savings aside. No savings have developed so far. I could almost see a swirl of things going on in my husband’s head.
After we were settled into our new apartment it was time to sit down with Jeff again. “What’s wrong?” I asked, already having a notion. His answer was a shrug and downward glance.
“I don’t know” he answered. I truly believe he didn’t know. He then spoke of the job situation a bit. We touched on the medical issues facing us as well.
“I truly understand that you have a lot on your mind. Your doing the best you can Jeff. Our country is in a mess right now. Listen, I know that you get depressed and I understand why. Just don’t let that depression sink in so deep that it controls you. Rather than being upset because you aren’t hearings from the Lord right now, why not just talk to Him?”
Jeff and I spoke quietly for a while and then just relaxed. “One thing I want to warn you of though Jeff. Satan wants to let your depression rule you. It can blind you from the Lord if you let it. This is a place where Satan always hits you. I’ll be praying, and we can pray together against this.” Jeff reached over and took my hand. As we‘d been sitting on the couch he moved and stretched out with his head on my lap.
“Talk to me Sheryl, just tell me how great He is” I reminded him of way the people of Israel were led out of bondage and into the wilderness. I reminded him that sometimes we walk through the valley, but never alone. Soon, I looked down and as I’d been gently rubbing Jeff’s temples, he’d fallen asleep.
Even the most devout Christians go through some dry spots. At the time of this writing my husband has reached a place where he needs refreshing. Being a Christian wife is a high calling. It’s not to be taken lightly, though it’s not to be misguided into ungodly thinking either. I mean that I can not help Jeff by taking on whatever he’s suffering from. My part is to be a Godly influence, a partner, prayer warrior. Sometimes I watch Jeff and he reminds me of a knight going out to battle. When he comes home he needs to take the heavy metal off and be understood. A wife can be safe haven for weary bones at times. She can be most effective when she is a God fearing wife.
I am amazed as I ask the Lord how to be a good wife. The Lord has shown me so many positive things to say to Jeff. It feeds his spirit. Meanwhile, while Jeff is down I still need my own spirit fed. God is faithful and speaks to this woman in wondrous ways as I look to him. I hear Him through friends at church; I read His words to me. I always talk about my favorite scripture. One of my favorite books of the bible is Song of Solomon. Talk about romance, Harlequin is pale next to this book. I am uplifted in praise and worship as well. I too am human and have many weak spots.
A few days ago I went out to get the mail. It sounds simple until you realize that we have no mailboxes near our apartment. There is a pretty gazebo in front of the apartment complex that houses our mailbox. It’s about 4 blocks away. I opened the box and retrieved the mail. All of a sudden I panicked as I could not remember where my new apartment was. I stood there contemplating going into the office for help [they know I have forgetfulness] but as I fought down the panic and prayed for help I remembered where I was going.
Sometimes, you have to fight back when you feel yourself going into fear, depression and in my case sudden panic. It calls for letting go of pride [asking for help]. It would have been easy for me to go berserk at the sudden total loss of memory that day. I wasn’t at home in a safe place. No one was around. The Lord has taught me well that it’s ok to ask for help. Also, that doesn’t mean I won’t go out again. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.
He said he would take care of us and supply all our needs. Lately, as I send my husband off to work I remind him to talk to God today. This morning he asked, “what about?” I guess he thought something happened he hadn’t known about.
My answer was “EVERYTHING”
Journey entry number 16
Proverbs 30:7-9 “Two things I ask of You; don’t deny them to me before I die: Keep falsehood and deceitful words far from me. Give me neither poverty nor wealth; feed me with the food I need. Otherwise, I might have too much and deny You, saying, “Who is the Lord?” Or I might have nothing and steal, profaning the name of my God.”
It is always amazing to me to have a best friend, confidante, and lover all in one. Though, I do not always agree with Jeff, we do always seem to find time to connect somehow. Communication was never his greatest strength and I must admit that I do have to ask for help at times. But, I know who to go to. The best communicator is the Lord himself. He’s written 52 books communicating his love for us. He’s come down in the flesh to be a living example to us. Plus, he has created communication itself.
I can speak without reservation that I am a truly loved woman. As I’ve written much in the past regarding the Lord, my own earthly father and even friends and family it is no wonder that I’ve no problem with feelings of being unloved. It simply wouldn’t occur to me. What I do with that love is my own decision. I chose long ago to be a vessel so I can pour it out. My favorite person to pour into is my own Jeff.
I had watched him walk through the door one day after work with the usual tired slump of his shoulders. He had sat on the edge of the bed starting to remove his shoes. One shoe was lying on the floor and I quickly moved into the v of his legs to wrap my arms around him. Being that I am so short, when Jeff sits I can look him eye to eye. Such was the case on this occasion. Obviously, I cannot fix him up or I’d have nothing to write about this month. Yet, I can influence his thinking. He was telling me that though I always tell him encouraging things, he himself knows he’s made a mess of our lives. I get so angry when his weak areas get wrecked by doubt and self loathing. “Listen; don’t talk about my husband that way.” I said. Jeff looked at me and was quiet.
How little young people know of long term love. Love that has been tested and challenged by the saw blade of time is so much deeper than fresh young love. Only God himself can make a love like this. Though we have experienced the fresh bud of springtime love, the winter has come and gone many times and still the love I share with this man only grows. When I look at Jeffrey in the physical I see huge shoulders that I’ve clung to for over thirty years. He has eyes that are the color of the ocean, matching a perfect nose and sensuous lips. Jeff has full lips that do not tell lies. As I stare at his physical body I am still drooling over his shoulders, narrow hips and great legs. The once scrawny hairless chest has given way to an older man’s chest with soft hair that my fingers travel through each night. I enjoyed the young man, but never as much as the man I have right now. Imagine, I’ve the only husband in the family who’s won a leg contest. It was years a go on a vacation cruise ship. We still laugh, and his legs are strong and hairless and bronzed by the sun. There is a lot I could write, but won’t. At least I won’t write it at this time.
He’s a man of integrity. He’s the same guy no matter who’s looking. He can be hilarious, ornery, shy and bold. His heart is tender, and sometimes his eyes water over little things. I would never say he’s the most brilliant of men, but God has gifted him in that he is able to do many things with his hands. He’s worked as a carpenter, plumber, cook, baker, entrepreneur, book keeper, and manager. He’s tried very hard to be a good father, son and husband and friend. He enjoys being waited on, yet has no qualms about housework and caring for me. He makes me want to do things for him, not have to. I believe God put him in my life at a young age. He says the same about me. So, I don’t let folks speak ill of my husband, not even him.
I held onto his shoulders and reminded him what he meant to me in between kissing his neck and both sides of his face. He gave a slight grin and sighed. “You’re afraid aren’t you?” I asked.
“No”, he said. I lowered my eyes and then glared into his. “OK, yes. You deserve so much more than this Sheryl.”
What on earth was he thinking? I figured he was thinking financial, physical, geographical, spiritual, or something else ending with a.l. “Well, so do you. But listen, the only thing that could possibly ever happen to us is change. No matter how much money we have, or savings, or even excellent health. You keep seeing a black hole that just isn’t there. If all falls apart tomorrow, all we have to deal with is change. The Lord promised he’d take care of everything. It’s up to him to figure it out. We can ask for wisdom, and be obedient. We can try our best, but we don’t have to live in fear. Just be ready for change. But, life is exciting, not scary.”
The small grin on Jeff’s face grew into a wide smile with twinkly eyes. “OK so can I take off my other shoe now?”, he said and I moved away. Jeff was getting comfortable for the evening. It had been a long day at work. His mind had been racing. I could tell he had taken my words as a sort of medicine for his mind though.
Last Saturday we’d gone out to breakfast and I’d had a staring episode that left me a bit dazed the rest of the day. I knew I was sitting across from Jeff but I couldn’t answer him. It’s so annoying at times. The worst is watching Jeff’s face later though. I never know how long I’m staring, or how I come back to the real world. I look perfectly normal to the casual observer, [thankfully] but Jeff needed to grab my arm and help me walk to the truck afterwards. My dizzy spells make it feel as though the ceiling and the floor are switching places. I know that Jeff watches in horror as these things occur in front of him. With all my heart I wish he wouldn’t be burdened by this. When I walk I have to concentrate at times. Otherwise, I do some side stepping. I can’t jump up from a chair and go do something like I always did. I end up on the floor. Yet, God has not left me and I can see his hands all the time. One funny thing I’ve noticed though. When Jeff holds me for one of his powerful kisses, he has to hang on to me afterwards or I fall. Now, I’m not complaining here. I used to wish for those kisses when I was 17. After my healing comes, I hope those powerhouse kisses remain.
I’ve heard the teaching regarding speaking life and positive things to yourself. I live with a right now God who is easy to love. It has never been a problem for me to communicate to him or others or even myself about positive things when I know Jesus. Even when I’m dizzy I can feel gentle hands around me. It is just that being like this is foreign to me. It’s not a natural thing to live with. I will never settle and get used to this being the normal for me.
Once again my focus moves to the word of God. What does He say about me? Like a child in the dessert sometimes I go in search of what my Father has said to do. Naturally, I find rest, comfort and hope. Yet, I also find expectation and excitement when I find that it’s ok to be happy in whatever state I’m in. That is the message I’ve been trying to convey to my precious Jeff. He gets it, but loses it when his mind gets filled with the pressures of job, finance, and watching his wife at times. God is good and will be with us forever.
There are times when Jeff and I go walking hand in hand on a warm evening. I can smell the fresh mowed grass and hear the birds chirping like a love song as we walk by. Turtles play hide and seek in the pond. The sky is a pale pink with dark shades of purple and blue. The warm tropical breezes land on our faces like kisses from the Father. For some reason I’m always finding things to giggle about. I once told Jeff that a fifty one year old woman probably shouldn’t be giggling like a kid. “That’s just fine with me, I wouldn’t know you any other way.” He replied. Truthfully, I’ve no idea what a middle aged woman acts like, I’ve never been this old before. Jeff looks down at me frequently and I can see the wonder of love in those eyes. He once told me that he’s struck dumb at times by how our love has totally evolved and grown over the years. Cinderella never had it so good.
Our faith in God has been challenged, that’s true. Yet, my wonderful pastor and older brother said it well when he remarked “Faith that is challenged is faith that grows”.
Journey entry number 17
It’s been a year and a half since moving to Florida per the Lord’s command. What has come of our moving here? I ask myself this question at least once per month. No longer do I lay awake nights thinking of my grand daughter. I have successfully let the visions of my home in New York pass as well. The memories of my home bring a smile, as do the many years of different homes I’ve lived in with my husband. This humble apartment is the first home where Jeff didn’t have to redo something. I was growing to hate the sound of drills and sanders.
I ask the Lord if I am doing what he wanted me to do. Letting go of Jeff’s service for a moment, I stand before Him on my own account. So far, I have seen a youth ministry come and go. I’ve offered words of encouragement to our body of Christ whenever I could. I’ve stood before wheelchairs and spoken what I felt the Lord would have me speak. I’ve seen a few people come into our church, and then I’ve seen others leave. I’ve sat with women as they travel through rocky relationships in family and at home.
My home is open for those who wish to pray on Thursdays. Many times I hear heart wrenching prayers and felt the presence of the one my heart loves. Whatever I do is a mere pittance of things compared to the over abundance of love, freedom, joy, excitement, and peace I’ve felt from the Lord while in the midst of the storms I’ve been through.
If I had stayed in NY would it have changed much down here? Lord only knows. However, I would have been living in disobedience to the call of Christ to come down and help with this little church. I don’t have the decisions on my shoulders. I am simply one who was chosen to be a part of the structure. One who holds up whatever the Lord puts on my heart. If I had stayed in NY and continued to be a daycare grandmother, it would have been fun. Yet, I could not have continued as the seizure was only months away from our departure. I’ve been disappointed to watch my children taking a blind eye to Christ at times. Yet, if I had stayed I doubt I personally could have been their Savior. No, I did all that I knew to do and the rest is up to them. Though tears flow at times, I know that the Father knows what to do. He also has held this woman close to Him and destroyed any constant pain in this. It’s with a watchful eye that my father keeps me in his very own arms.
My faith and obedience to that faith have been challenged. I fell short many times these past months. But, the Great I am is my strong tower and his arms swooped down in spite of it all. No one and nothing come before Him because I have caught a glimpse of His reality. The awesome power of the most high is not something I take lightly. I do not call him “the man upstairs’, He is Father, ultimate authority and He reigns in my every hour. Behind all that I do or think, this Lord reigns. I’ve found my own weaknesses these past few months, and several places that I took a tumble. I’m sure to find many more in the years ahead.
Yet, as I looked into the faces of those I’ve come in contact with these past few months; one thought makes it worthwhile. I desperately want them to see the mighty One in a more intimate way. I’ve watched several people say that they know God. In fact they know about God, to know God is to make him Lord over every area of your life. Lord over your finance, attitude, even what you eat. Lord over what you choose for entertainment. You won’t do this if you don’t have a relationship with Him first. With whatever means the Lord opens to me, my hearts desire is for them to know this right now God. To know that Jesus is real and to know the fullness of the Holy Spirit. That is one desire I had before I left NY that has not left me through all the trials we’ve been through. The reason I live today is that God isn’t finished using me to magnify his name.
The romance about having a ministry is pathetic compared to the reality of watching the Lord move on His own accord in whatever way He wishes to use you. I remember listening to stories of missionaries who went far away and lived in squalor as they brought the gospel of Jesus to a land who knew Him not. I couldn’t imagine the compulsion. It’s not something you work up, or even attain to. It happens when we look outside ourselves and open our deepest parts to Christ. In each of us there is a special quality that can be used. It needs a key to unlock it. That key unlocked only by Christ in response to a willing heart. As the Lord turns the key, he implants a servant’s attitude. To some, He gives much to do and ways to do it. To others, like me, He’s given a different treasure but just as precious in His sight.
Whatever I am doing here is totally up to Him. My brag book is empty except for Jesus who fills each page.
Recently, my husband came home from working on grand jury duty. The world is in such a horrible state that we Christians had better get a handle on who we are in Christ. One particular case was overwhelming. A young man had been imprisoned for having sex with an underage girl. It had been fine with the parents until they broke up. Then, they filed charges. Meanwhile, while in prison this man’s mother had written letters telling lies about his father. This incited the man to come out of prison and shoot his father seven times. Then he slit both wrists and cut his throat. The pictures were gory. Most of the grand jury is made up of Christians, Jeff learned.
As bad as that murder was, this man still can be saved. Yet, faith comes by hearing. Someone needs to tell him and he in turn can have the option of believing. God has put a special mantle on those who do prison ministry. Jeff and I both prayed after he returned from his day at court. How do people get to the point where they act out like this? I do not pretend to have all the answers. Yet, this one thing I know…a world absent from the knowledge of God is nothing but death.
One day He’s coming back to claim His own. His love is everlasting. He is no respecter of persons. He loves the murderer as much as the committed church goers. Whatever I’ve gone through this year is thrust aside as I sit in the presence of the Lord today. “Can you use me Lord? I’m still here.”
Journey entry number 18
Our church has few committed people coming at the moment. Yet, they are truly committed and we’re meeting and fellowshipping and constantly searching after God. God is revealing new things to this woman. I’m seeing places that I’ve never bothered to plow the ground with in myself.
Last night we got together for praise and fellowship. We were given a printed handout regarding a well known woman who had prophesized that a literal famine was coming to the America. As I read the paper it spoke of the fact that this woman had a very hard time delivering this message. The paper spoke of a word that many don’t understand or believe. She had to do [battle] in order for her to continue. I do not boast when I say that I am called to be an intercessor in prayer. Every one should have a prayer life to bring them closer to the Lord and also to pray as the Lord leads. For me, that means a time of quietness, going without eating, soaking in the presence of God.
It is a time of waiting on the Lord to direct my prayer. I don’t come with a list during this time. I worship and praise the Lord and sit quietly. There are times of heaviness in the heart over something the Lord has put in my mind. I give the Lord total reign as I focus on the prayers He directs. At times I may look a little emotional or out right weird. To be honest, I don’t care. If Jesus can sweat great drops of blood, I don’t mind sweating like a pig. Sometimes I shake. It’s my body’s reaction to the intensity of battle or warfare prayers. It’s what happened before I marched into a hospital room and declared life to a two year old infant who was riddled with cancer. God healed this dear child.
Do you have to be emotional or physically odd looking during this type of prayer? I only speak for myself. Yet, I’m also aware that there are folks who pretend. Heaven help them one day. Yet, if we walk in the spirit we won’t try to feed the flesh with trying to get attention this way.
So, as I read this account with the prophecy I was not surprised. This didn’t mean the woman was authentic or a loony tune to my mind. I was more interested in the words she spoke about America. It spoke of a literal famine coming. Physical, not spiritual. She said that God is moving in judgement against our nation. Now, to be honest I’ve heard these things before. But, rather than having a been that done that attitude, I read and listened.
With any prophecy, the only way to tell it’s true is if it happens. But, along with the word of famine came seven things that the church is supposed to be doing.
1. Break up the fallow ground, return to the lord and repent. Get on your face before God and ask him to break your heart with the things that break His heart.
This sounded right to me. This is a word for the church. As I said earlier, I’m finding places in myself that have never been plowed. [Fallow ground is unplowed].
2. Mourn. It’s time to weep because our nation’s sin is incredible.
Once again that sounded right.
3. Pray passionately for America
4. Love God’s word. I agree. To love God’s word though the church has to be IN God’s word
5. Love others as Jesus loved them. I’ve always said that we should ask the Lord to let us see folks through HIS eyes.
6. Introduce people to Jesus Christ. It’s time to get serious!
7. Rest, if you have done the other six than you can rest in being in the will of God. This woman said that it’s vitally important for us to get enough physical rest as well.
Now, I had no problem with any of this. I left out the scriptures that were attached. They told of how God had dealt with Israel. God had told Israel what to do as a nation. Israel is God’s chosen people. However, this brought our pastor to life.
Though Israel is God’s people, here in the U. S. [and everywhere else] the church is God’s people. God wasn’t asking the nation of America to do the above seven things. He was speaking to the church.
I sat back and listened as a loud conversation took place. Our pastor’s neck was getting red so I figured he was passionate about this. My friend Jo explained what the paper was saying but by then our pastor was on a roll. The odd thing was the host and hostess and pastors started being very vocal. I couldn’t sense how Jesus would have handled this. Both sides were right, and both sides were wrong. They weren’t arguing, yet the battle to be able to get the right point across fell on the pastor.
Our pastor said last Sunday that the body of Christ keeps him in line. Or something like that. I got the sense that because he was so adamant and sure of his point of view [which is not wrong] that he was in a zone. Don’t we as Christians sometimes do this? We like to win over an issue especially when we know we’re right and our ears don’t hear the other person? It was very interesting and illuminating. Especially since the main theme of the paper was this. “No man is greater than his prayer life.” I couldn’t see where anyone in the room could have thought that was for everyone in America. But, look at me, the simple one.
The paper was a call for the church to pray for America. As I looked at the paper I could see where it would possibly frighten some. But, as a Christian who trys to do the seven things that were brought out I just was reassured that Christ would remind us as a church to pray for our country. The healing of this nation will not fall on the government. How can a evil government create anything healing? No, the church is the one who needs to break up unplowed ground in them and repent. The church is the ones to weep and pray over this nation. The church is the one with the great commission to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the end we will hear about wars, earthquakes, famines in diverse places. We’ll hear prophecy and dream dreams. But, as a church we are not to live in fear. We are to do what the word says. We pray, obey God, serve God, worship and continue on until He returns. I do not believe scare tactics will work anymore. Sept. 11 proved that. The nation came together and prayed for a short while. Then, back to the way it was.
The only hope for this nation is the born again church that spends it’s time on it’s knees. My heart is that the church learns how to pray. Praying with out a motive or looking for a return. Pray to gain access to the throne room for a powerful relationship with one who is greater than us. There are times to come with a list. There are times to come empty and waiting for God to direct our prayers. There is a time to warfare; there is a time to praise and worship. There is a time to listen.
My sister was thrilled to learn as a Christian that we have power. As a Christian prayer warrior I do not pray to make things happen. The only power I have is the power of Christ in me. The greatest power this church will ever have is the committed consistency of the prayers of the saints.
We can’t depend on a Sunday soaking. We can’t depend on televangelists to bring us all our needs. We can’t get caught up in ministry that takes the place of prayer. We can’t fake being spiritual. No special music will be more powerful that Christ. We need relationship that is consistent. While we remain in the presence of God we being healed. Our minds are strengthened to the point that depression, and confusion go away. As we talk to Jesus over any and every thing we find that we can discern a little better. Humility creeps in while we take a chance and open up to the Great I am.
I confess my prayer life still is not what I want it to be. The Lord has such a thirst for more relationship in us; it’s like an itch you can’t scratch. I am forever amazed to be bathed in such love and understanding. I don’t have to explain my heart to Him. Just reach out to him.
Prayer is being only a breath away from Jesus.
Journey entry number 19
If only we could physically reach beyond ourselves to be the person we dream ourselves to be. I do not mean that to be proud or rise above others. It’s a frustration to be restrained in the service of the one my heart loves. I’m constantly aware that I do not remember simple things .I still forget to take my medicine, forget to eat and suddenly become aware of side effects from both. I am not driving as of yet because I have no car. The truck we possess is much to long for me to maneuver it well. The Lord knows all these things. He knows what I would do if the restraints were off as well.
It is a simple thing to float into a depressed frustrated mode. Yet, I will praise His name. In reality, my husband’s job pays too little to save for another vehicle at this time. After all this time I am seeing that his job is filled with deceivers. He has not been promoted. Yet, he works in all departments of the retail store. He’s been mentioned by the higher ups several times. I am not impressed with this. Lip service doesn’t pay the bills. We are a rat in a maze at the moment. Yet, I will praise His name.
Last week I was amazed to find someone had ripped off the drinking fountain at our pool. Also, there were chicken bones in the drain of the pool. I am faced with folks who dabble in the occult and try to put spells on me as I walk the area. Like that’s going to stop me from prayer walking? Until my dieing breath I will praise His name. I may stagger on occasion but I will walk and pray. Below is a sample of how I pray. You’ll notice it’s not fancy. It has praise mixed with petitions. I’m sure the Pope would never ask me to assist him in blessing the masses. Yet, this is what my Father hears and answers in His own way.
“Oh Lord, why won’t you take the restraints off of my life? I know that many have much worse suffering than I’ll ever see. Yet, I search your face more intently. It’s no small thing for me to plant praise worship near my ears so that I can remember why I am, who I am and what I am. Though I still walk carefully and concentrate on balance, I give you praise. I have a scrape on my back at the moment that stings. Who knows where each bump and bruise comes from these days? Yet, I stand and I will praise your name.
When I was a younger woman it was no problem to walk the halls of my job for eight or more hours. Bending up and down was a natural thing. These days as I bend down, I’m reminded to stand slowly as the world spins while I raise myself up. Yet, I rise with your help. I will praise your name.
I truly am growing weary of shopping for groceries and trying to remember what is needed and what we actually buy with 35 dollars a week. Thank goodness for lists. Yet, we never starve. You know though Lord; I’d love to have some extras. I listen to friends tell of the great bargains they get while shopping. I hear of the entertainment and plans being made. Jeff and I had plans. I can’t remember ever planning on these restraints. I’m reminded that we have everything we need. Now, to the wants.
Father, you planted in me a heart to serve. Jeff finds his own joy in serving you. Yet, for now we are pinched financially and physically. I am asking for breakthrough. Enough of this already. What parts of us have you left to plow? With the ever increasing urge to stretch my arms in praise, comes the reminder that I’m to carefully plant my feet on the ground. Falling over can be quite painful at times. Lord, Jeff and I want to be set free. Yet, I can praise the God who has disciplined as well as reshaped my faith. I know to never take advantage of anyone’s generosity. I am thankful for each day spent.
You know I’ve learned to not insist on my own way. I’ve learned what a hero my husband is to me. Through all my tears and frustration he just reaches out. Give me the strength to reach out in that same love. Lord, the thing that bothers me is that I know there is so much more to us than we are today. I am glad to hear what a bubbly person I present myself to be. Yet, they don’t know I run home to you for strength. I will speak of the God who holds this woman. I do not have an “I can do it” attitude anymore. I can not do it. You Lord take me and shelter me. It is you Lord that gives me strength. I give you praise.
Lord, as I look at the faces of the people around me I just swallow hard and pray silently to you as I move and reach in your name. I do not have an evangelistic voice or know what the perfect thing to say is. Lord, I’m empty of anything that is of use save for whatever you supply. If it is your will for me to serve in shackles, than I will give you praise.
Personally, I think I can do more without these restraints. However, your ways are higher than mine. You supply my every need. I will tell you my wants as well. To walk graceful. To speak adequately. Oh Lord, you know that I can put my thoughts on paper but my speech is less than what I like. Am I like Paul who spoke better on paper? I want to remember things, to remember your word and speak it clearly. To go to the shut ins, the sick, the lost, and the unreachable in your name. Today, I sit in front of a computer and write out my petitions to the one my heart loves. The heart that you made. You Lord, know what I will do in the future though. What can I do for you? You know you have my adoration and full attention Lord. Who can I witness to? Let me attem! Ha ha. You know my heart Lord! I praise you!
Lord, I do not want to be anxious for anything but through all prayer and supplication make my requests known to only you and this computer. Worldwide Lord, let your voice be heard. Let it speak through my lips and fingers. Let your glory flow through every part of me. Let me stand Lord in your presence. You’ll have to hold me up, but if you do…I will praise your name.
I bow to your authority and whatever your word says to do. Whatever you think is fit for me at this moment I will abide in. I will remember who you are. It’s kind of funny to watch the TV and see a tropical storm edging its way to the Gulf of Mexico. Projections see it grazing the other side of the state. Our plane trip might be cancelled. Whenever Jeff and I do any traveling it seems a major storm comes. When we left NY, they had the worst blizzard in years, dumping over three foot of snow. Florida was riddled with tornados as well. I just look at it all. It’s like you said in Psalm 91 “A thousand will may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes …”
You are the one who saved me and made me whole. I will praise your name. You Lord are my shelter, my refuge and my fortress. I may forget many things from day to day. Yet Lord I’ll never forget that you are the one my heart loves.
I give you praise. Lord, I will never be satisfied with my restraints. I move toward the day when I will drive to the places where you lead me. I wait in expectation like a runner waiting for the gun to start the race. Though I know you’ve opened up things for me to do. I know it’s just a taste of the whole picture. However, don’t let this woman get whiney. I will be content in whatever circumstance you allow me to be in. I do dream of the day when I will not be restrained though.
You created me to be a fighter. I know that if not for you I would have withered and slunk back years ago. There’s just enough fire in me to stand and raise my hands to praise you no matter what happens. Some would say I do it just to spite the devil. Though that’s a lot of fun, I do it also because I know that you Lord are worthy to be praised. I’m aware of the spirit that resides in me. That spirit of God that awakens and pushes me forward. You Lord are worthy to be praised.
As I read the Psalms I am encouraged to know that David didn’t enjoy his trials either. He did the same as me. He cried out to the one his heart loved. Though at times my mind goes back and forth, it always settles on you Lord. I bow to your authority and sense your presence. I will not make any promises, for you know the frailty of this woman’s heart. Yet, you also know the truth that this heart belongs to you. Some day I will see things more clearly. That day I am with you without the restraints of this earthly body I will finally be home.
Until then, I don’t want to get all upset over my limitations. No, I live to be with you and serve you. “
Dearest reader, at times I have some of the most wonderful visions. I can see myself around 4 being tossed up and caught in the Father’s arms. See, He likes to just have fun with us sometimes. This doesn’t quite go along with what I’ve typed today. But, after that last sentence I knew I was to write this vision that came. My Father smiles at me and listens. He also expects us to open our hearts up to him as you’ve just read. Nothing held back. I care little if I look pathetic or small to your eyes. Truth be told, my Father waits with more enthusiasm for us to speak to him than most people realize.
Don’t wait until your put together and look good to speak your heart to Christ. Go today, go now. Here is what you’ll receive. You’ll get his complete attention. You’ll get understanding, love, peace, and your relationship will only get stronger. You can go to coffee and unload your heart to a friend and never get what I receive as I open up and give the Lord my heart.
Be daring, be thankful, be honest with what’s in you heart. Ask Him to help. Give him your time, your praise, and your honesty. What do you have to lose? I love to lose myself as I am in the presence of God. You won’t be able to have all of Christ until you’ve emptied yourself of you.
Journey entry number 20
At the time of writing this I am listening to the wind and rain. Tropical storm Fay. It’s been forecast and broadcast and talked about for near a week. I remember one day while on top of a Ferris wheel I let go of the rail in front of me and looked over at my pale faced father and said “look Dad, no hands!” How could I know he didn’t particularly care for Ferris wheels but since no one else would go on the ride, it was up to him to be brave?
So, I love excitement! So many sides to this personality that just don’t seem to match up. Yet my Father knows me. As a church we prayed with faith in the one who has the power. We asked him to protect us and make this hurricane go away. Well, He did. It’s not a hurricane. Yes, there are reports of tornados around and winds creeping up in strength. Yet, I believe my Father wants me to go to NY tomorrow on vacation. I have an appointment with someone.
We had a call from our son a few weeks ago. Jeff spoke to him and made the call light. He is good like that with anyone who is nervous.
Our time at the nursing home went well. I hadn’t originally intended it to be a salvation message. Yet, as I spoke the Holy Spirit took over and the message went out. I’d love to write about salvations, but no. However, there was a wonderful spirit there.
My husband underwent a stress test and we found out that his heart is fine. His electrolytes and hormones are out of whack though. So, after we return from a week’s vacation in NY we go back to the doctor.
I was inspired as I listened to an audio of a preacher who was speaking on faith healing. I am not quoting word for word. I’ll just tell you the gist of what he was saying. He gave the impression that God can’t use people who have infirmities. This was so bizarre that I laughed out loud. There is not a person who walks the earth that does not have at least one physical problem.
Our pastor sometimes says the most incredible things. Do you know he said there is no power in faith? Now before you jump up at this writing, let me explain. A lot of folks get puffed up in believing their faith can move mountains. Always remember it is the object of that faith that does the moving. We aren’t to look to any man to lead us into revival. No, it is the one who is represented by that man.
My faith and my eyes are on the one my heart loves. Jesus. The power in me depends on the faith and trust I have in the One my heart loves. My faith isn’t in my prayers. It
Is in the object of who my prayers are directed to. My faith isn’t based on my own strength or talents, but in the Christ that dwells within me.
A few months ago I wrote about the Lakeland revival. The news of Todd Bentley having marriage problems that caused him to step back and work on his life was sad. Yet, if you will recall I wrote that the revival was not about Todd Bentley. Unfortunately, for many the evangelist was a drawing card. Can God use people who are having marital difficulties? Well, I was there! I know the difference between folks getting themselves into frenzy and sensing the presence of God.
For some it was all about the healing. There were a whole lot of documented healings. One only has to go online for proof. I’ll not provide it here. I do know that there were those from the ministry that had started to go into the city and the gospel was taken beyond the stadium.
I can not impress enough the dangers of leaning on the man of God, rather than on God himself. Test the spirit, pray for the speakers, take their words and see if it corresponds with the word. Don’t just read a verse; see what the whole chapter was about. Was the verse used for a reason other than the bible intended?
Pastors, speakers, evangelists are only human. Pride can creep in. Deception can creep in. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone though. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. My friend who is a pastor is quite charismatic. Folks just seem to want to be around him. I will not apologize for loving this man. I am one of hundreds. Although, sometimes I’d like to pick him up and shake him. I’ve seen flaws. Oh no! Do not make idols of the servants God sends to us. Even Angels had to stop folks from falling down to worship them. It’s just our nature I guess to want to worship the latest flavor.
I still believe that God had a purpose for this revival and that there will be millions who will be touched because of the presence of God.
As I am getting ready to go on vacation I am reminded that I might have to speak about this and my own church ministry in NY. I have been praying about this and look forward to sharing and not defending. There are some friends who well meaning, have the idea that Jeff and I have undergone much problems because we weren’t supposed to leave NY. In fact, their prayers are that we return. Anyone who has heard the call of God has to realize that they will undergo some testing. Also, I am glad that the Lord has showed Jeff and I that some of our problems were the result of choices that we ourselves made. He was merciful in thousands of ways. He was calling us to Florida for a purpose. That purpose is still being revealed.
Journey entry number 21
The time had finally come to go back to NY for a week. The government stimulus check covered our airfare. We had no idea where we would be staying at first. In fact, at first we had planned to stay for two weeks. It looked as though we’d be either at our daughter’s home or Jeff’s mother’s home. Actually, we would have preferred a small hotel room with just the basics. The freedom to come and go and shower and go to bed early each night was very appealing to us.
We have gotten into a pattern now that we are in our early fifties. We are up at five and down at 8:30 pm. Our former pastor sent word out amongst the church that we needed a place to stay. We were delighted when dear friends Bob and Barb offered us their spare bedroom.
The ride to the airport was hair raising. Tropical storm Fay had bore down and our friend drove us right through it, in fact past our exit to the airport. Somehow we made it on the plane though and we were ushered out with our friends Bob and Barb. We were amazed what two hours could do to change the weather. It was a sunny day in New York as we got off the plane. Our friend’s warm hugs were like a fresh flower on a spring day. We were too excited to see them to put it into words.
We were ushered into their sweet home and soon found our way to a couple of soft beds. We slept with the window open and breathed in the Adirondack mountain air. In the middle of the night my husband awoke me from a nightmare. It was a weird feeling to wake up in a strange home and I needed help in finding the bathroom in the middle of the night. Jeff takes all this in stride and showed me the way as if I were a five year old. He understands and compensates for my weaknesses. The thought of crashing into something or someone at 2 am in a strange house was embarrassing. Remember reader, I’m not that steady on my feet in daylight. Jeff is a precious husband. Soon I was back in bed and out like a light.
The next day our daughter arrived with our little grand daughter Olivia. I was delighted to hear her call out “Hi Grandma Sheryl!” Though she wouldn’t come to me at first, we got reacquainted easily. To our surprise and delight our daughter loaned us her car for the week. Olivia was taller and her hair longer. Yet, she was still the beautiful with her olive complexion and chocolate brown eyes. No grandmother could have been happier to see such a child.
Driving through the old neighborhood was like walking back in time. We found some buildings gone and new ones in their place, but for the most part it all looked pretty much the same. All New England style homes with pointed roofs and porches. We realized quickly that we were only visitors. It didn’t feel like home at all. We hadn’t realized how much Florida had become our home. Upstate New York is surrounded by the Adirondack Mountains. Most of the homes are old, with new developments cropping up here and there. We saw several old business areas that had been there since we were kids as well.
We went to our favorite pizza joint and hotdog place. We found our old breakfast restaurants as well. I was amazed that I had a new appetite for water and small breakfasts. The smell of the huge breakfast platters didn’t lure me in at all. God has worked a miracle in my eating habits. I actually lost a pound on vacation. Unheard of.
Driving through the familiar places we thought a lot of places looked run down. Yet, they always looked that way. It is just that Florida is a place of a different structured homes and pristeen cut grasses are the usual eye candy. However, we do have our poorer areas. Still, most homes are less than 40 years old. In our old town, they were young at that age.
We spent a week of trying to spend time with friends and relatives. I was surprised to be able to see our son and his latest female friend. I enjoyed our grand daughter immensely and was able to spend time with my daughter in a casual lay back way. We had prayed about this trip. We felt that we were there to relax and determined not to take on any heavy emotional baggage.
Our old church had some new things and new people. We sat in the back rather than in our old seats up front. We were visitors and had no compunction to be in any spotlight. Though I saw many faces I did not recognize, I had some trouble matching names to faces I did know as well. This was expected from the effects of the seizure. My short and long term memory are bizarre at times. Once again, I just didn’t try to capture it all. When the week was over, we were ready to come home. No bad memories, a lovely visit, but ready to be home.
As Jeff and I spent time with the Lord while on vacation I mentioned that I felt as though the Lord just wanted me to relax when we returned home as well. It felt like there would be some decisions made and I was to just relax about it. We prayed and felt it an odd thing, but then again the bible does say to be anxious for nothing. I felt more than willing to see what the next week was going to illuminate.
Sure enough, we learned that our season ministering to the nursing home was almost at an end. A larger church more equipped to bless these folks had been inspired to have early Sunday services and even able to transport some of the elderly to their own church. They were having bible studies as well. I felt good that the Lord had answered my prayers for these dear people. Also, a feeling of peace came over Jeff and I. We do not want to be striving and getting ahead of the Lord. Nor do we want to be taking any offense either. We let it go. It is a wondrous thing to let things go.
A highlight of our week was a birthday party for Olivia who turned 3. It was fun to watch her with presents and cake. I also enjoyed mingling with my daughter’s in laws and listening to their views. I found myself laughing throughout the afternoon without any pressure to speak into anyone. I did find it odd though when I realized that these dear people are quick to speak negative about themselves and do not believe anyone who tells them anything positive about themselves. It’s a defense mode I guess to guard against hurt. As most folks who know me can attest to, I see positive things before I see negative. I’ve asked for the eyes of my savior as he looks at folks. I saw a few people who have suffered much hurt. I also spoke to some very precious people.
Dear one, if you are a Christian and want to mingle with non Christians and witness for Christ; do it the way the master did. Sit among them, ask for the eyes of Christ and laugh with them. I realize that the spirit of God that is in me, makes others a bit uneasy. Yet, Christ didn’t come in to this world to condemn the world, but to save it. Your joy, your listening ear, your patience, your laughter and yes at times the Lord will give you a word in due season. The greatest thing to give away is love. I saw things in these people that I truly loved.
I realize that these dear people are no different than I was before the Lord changed me. In fact, it’s been only recently I have been set free to accept a compliment. Do you know that when someone says something positive, all you have to say is thank you? You don’t have to explain where you got your pretty skirt, or how your having a bad hair day. Just say thank you. No pressure, so simple. Ha! I’ve been using this one a lot lately.
It’s a strange feeling to let go of something or even someone who you poured so much of yourself into. Everything we have, and everyone we know while on this earth is not a permanent thing. We would do well to remember how we are as grass on this world. Here today and gone tomorrow. That is why I dislike collecting things. The things we must forever collect are things of the heart. Things bought with money only satisfy for a while and then are cast away for more things. We need to remember the treasure of being with a friend, or laughter, or even noticing the things that are in front of our eyes. I remember an old Jim Croce song, “Time in a bottle”. Well, we can’t collect the time so it’s best we don’t waste a moment.
I may not leave this world with expensive things left behind for family. I have several times though explained to my own children that they have a rich inheritance. It is based on every word that is written in the bible. I watched my children closely as I was in NY. Several things are not just right. Yet, this one thing I felt the Lord telling me about them. “see them as adults, see that they are trying, don’t critique, only love” I wondered how much influence I’d had on either child. Yet, without ever knowing I still was able to walk away free.
For years I remember pouring time, wisdom, knowledge, money and all I had in me to these two grown children of mine. Now, I can stand back and watch as they move without Jeff and I around to hold them up. There were some things Jeff and I despised in our own parents that we learned not to hand down to ours. One of those things was a guilt card. “After all I’ve done for You”, yuk! Whatever we did, we did freely. Whatever we gave is free for them to do with as they please. Other wise, it wasn’t a gift but a tool for us to use to manipulate.
Another thing was a spirit of fear. “You better not try that new job, planes can kill you, be careful you don’t hurt yourself, you never know what could happen” YUK! I may not be physically able to do a lot of things right now. But, nothing gives me greater pleasure than pushing the limits of my own abilities and being brave enough to step out and try new things. I can not live in fear and don’t wish to pass any traits like that down to my children.
When the Lord says it’s time to let go of something we’d better be willing and ready. We can trust that knows what he’s doing. This always reminds me of the story of Abraham. Hebrews 11:8 “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went.”
We don’t just pack up when we feel like it though. We don’t make a detour when it’s our idea. As Christians we need to be walking in the Spirit and listening when the time is right to let go, make a detour, change a plan.
Yet, we don’t try to hang on to something just because we worked at it for so long. We don’t own anything in this world except the love of Jesus. Even then, it’s only when we surrender ourselves and open our hearts to receive Him.
To some, we might sound a bit flighty. Here today and gone tomorrow sounds a bit heavy on the heart sometimes. In fact, staying here though the Lord calls us out is suffocation. The Lord makes all things new. He is worthy to be trusted and we can rest assured he’ll take care of us. Plus, adventure is fun! Living an abundant life can mean many things to a Christ centered heart. There are trials, and tribulations and tears with it. There is also excitement and victory and joy. I once thought I couldn’t have a relationship with my children unless I phoned them, saw them, and became a permanent fixture in their homes at times. But, I would never trade the relationship that God is building between a grown son, a grown daughter and family and Jeff and me. He makes everything new. Everything means everything. Homes, places, people, hearts, finance, health, you name and He can make it all new.
Journey entry number 22
Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
This morning as I spent time in prayer and reading this verse I wanted to get a clearer version of what the Lord meant. In Webster’s online dictionary I looked up the noun version of those three words. Heart, soul, and mind. Here is what I found.
Noah Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language
. (n.) A hollow, muscular organ, which, by contracting rhythmically, keeps up the circulation of the blood. (n.) The seat of the affections or sensibilities, collectively or separately, as love, hate, joy, grief, courage, and the like; rarely, the seat of the understanding or will; -- usually in a good sense, when no epithet is expressed; the better or lovelier part of our nature; the spring of all our actions and purposes; the seat of moral life and character; the moral affections and character itself; the individual disposition and character; as, a good, tender, loving, bad, hard, or selfish heart.
. (n.) The nearest the middle or center; the part most hidden and within; the inmost or most essential part of any body or system; the source of life and motion in any organization; the chief or vital portion; the center of activity, or of energetic or efficient action; as, the heart of a country, of a tree, etc.
. (n.) The spiritual, rational, and immortal part in man; that part of man which enables him to think, and which renders him a subject of moral government; -- sometimes, in distinction from the higher nature, or spirit, of man, the so-called animal soul, that is, the seat of life, the sensitive affections and fantasy, exclusive of the voluntary and rational powers; -- sometimes, in distinction from the mind, the moral and emotional part of man's nature, the seat of feeling, in distinction from intellect; -- sometimes, the intellect only; the understanding; the seat of knowledge, as distinguished from feeling. In a more general sense, an animating, separable, surviving entity, the vehicle of individual personal existence.
(n.) The seat of real life or vitality; the source of action; the animating or essential part.
(n.) The intellectual or rational faculty in man; the understanding; the intellect; the power that conceives, judges, or reasons; also, the entire spiritual nature; the soul; -- often in distinction from the body.
2 (n.) The state, at any given time, of the faculties of thinking, willing, choosing, and the like; psychical activity or state; as: (a) Opinion; judgment; belief
So often I’ve read this verse in the bible and skimmed over it thinking I totally understood it. Yet, in an effort to speak more clearly to the Lord I wanted to find out how much of myself I was actually giving to Him. I am sure that the center of my being, the heart is totally wicked on my own. Yet, with His own hand he softens and lures me to himself. The more I yield, the more my heart is changed. The more my heart is changed the more I yield and press even closer to Him.
You will remember I write about three things in this “book” the Lord had me type. The story of the woman and her Lord, her lover, and her life.
As I think about the seat of my real life, the source of action; and essential part, the soul; I am reminded that my soul is His. Essentially, all of me is His. Yet, this soul part is the part that seeks Him as it encompasses my mind, will and emotions.
I was a little concerned about the mind in the physical sense. Of course I know that the Lord understands and accepts me as I am. In fact I lean on Him for most of my understanding. He hasn’t given me a spirit of fear but of sound mind. As I think of my memory and intellectual processes I bent a close ear to what He was teaching me today. The definition said nothing about having the world’s best memory. It spoke nothing of having achieved perfection at all. In fact, that would not be the noun but the verb aspect of the word. The Lord didn’t say that in this verse. He used the noun.
I haven’t lost my faculties of thinking, willing, choosing and the like. Though the motions are slower and physical movement more thought out. The actual mind is willing and urgently seeking the Lord at a much higher level. He is faithful and reaches down to this lady much more than I reach up though.
The second commandment in Matthew 22:39 says “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I often wondered at that one. Who in their right mind would admit to loving themselves so much? Yet, can we be amazed at the work of the Lord in us? I am excited and pleased that the Lord changed this woman’s heart and mind and captured my soul. It’s dawned on me these past few years to take care of the chassis of this person, yet more than that to feed the mind, heart and spirit. If I can separate pride from this and realize that I am what the Lord made, I can remember to love others with this same wonder. Feeding oneself is more than listening to music, and going to church. Deepening the relationship with Christ means spending time with Him. Feasting on the word, living the word, and talking to and listening to the great I am.
Many love to be the one who gives out. It’s nice to be the one on the giving end. Yet, we can not give what we don’t have. It is my belief that a person marked for the service of God should spend more time with the Lord than they do in service for Him. The ministry can not be greater than the object of ministry.
I am blessed to be a Christian wife, mother and friend. Recently I had the privilege of spending a relaxing time with my best friend Jeffrey. Our hearts were open and spilling out to each other. He’s had a lot on his plate as I’ve written earlier. The Lord has been dealing with his heart and I am convinced that God is moving in a new way. He spoke of depression and weariness. I asked a question of him. “I wonder if I am missing something Jeff. I always seem to see things positive. Am I missing something? Am I too much like a Pollyanna rather than seeing a reality that eludes me?”
Jeff was quite serious as I was being serious. “I guess its cause you spend more time with the Lord than I’ve been.”
My husband has been more closely attentive to the Lord lately. This morning he began to seek a bible to carry in his truck for his lunchtime devotions. He’s had others, but wanted something special. He’s been reading his normal study but wanted more. He’s grasping a new meaning of “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” A person can learn a lot from watching Jeff. No matter what is going on, he is the same person at home as he is anywhere else. He is real person with real trials. He makes real mistakes and yet, he is real in his search for more of Christ. He is a man of integrity.
How wonderful for me that the Lord has put a man like this in such a strategic position of my life. Jeff is good at wearing the hats of husband, provider, friend, lover, confidante and prayer partner. He is changing so much these days that I barely recognize the man he was when we moved down to Florida.
Journey entry number 23
Sometimes life would be so much easier written down on paper rather than having to live it out. But, it is not to be. There are times in my life when it is simply hard to speak in person of what is in my heart. This woman is no towers of strength save for what the Lord allows. I’m finding that I get very tired during any debate or argument and simply am unable to communicate effectively.
I’ve always stuttered so speaking slowly has been a habit cultivated since childhood. This gives an opponent the advantage of believing in their own ideas rather than hearing any truth I might have. When in a confrontation I find myself praying silently because at times I’ll blurt out things not meant for human consumption.
This past wed night was just such a case. Over the past year my husband has spoken of coworkers who were put in different sections of the store and hours changed just before they were fired. This is happening to him right now. There has been new management with something to prove and trying different things to make the store work more efficiently and give their signature to it as well. My husband seldom knows from day to day what he is working in hours or days. This makes it hard to plan on anything and keeps our life in chaos.
I’d love to believe this is only for a short time. However, I have a nagging feeling that we need to press in with prayer along with keeping our peace. It’s the same nagging feeling I had in NY when I felt we needed to press in regarding our second mortgage and was told “It’s going to be fine”. Losing 46 thousand dollars was not fine. How do we distinguish “feelings” from “spiritual checks”? For me, experience from these “feelings” brings me into prayer.
We are clinging to what the Lord told us back in NY when he said “I’ve chosen you, go now”. There have been words spoken over us that the Lord means to prosper us in finance as well as spiritual aspects. As everyone has read so far, this has not been the case financially.
It can lead us to get our eyes off the prize reason we are here at times. In fact as I am writing this I am waiting for a ride to church because Jeff is working this Sunday.
Last Wed. I sat down and immediately asked for prayer regarding Jeff’s job. What I was met with was shocking to my senses. I was reminded that the economy is in crisis and I should be thankful that Jeff has a job at all. There are homeless who would love to step into Jeff’s job. Did I think I was better than them?
In everyone’s life there is something that can trigger a response. For years as a child I would ask the Lord for all sorts of things and many times I would be all excited when in fact I was answered with a yes. I was under the age of 10 and knew no reason why I shouldn’t trust God with everything. I believe it’s called childlike faith. Yet, I was often discouraged with sisters telling me “You think your so great! Miss blonde beauty queen who just snaps her fingers.”
I can honestly say I was a brat as a kid just like anyone else. Yet, when it came to God it wasn’t about me or who I thought I was. It was about Him and I was told I could ask for anything. Jesus can never fail. He was my shelter back then. Remember, there was a lot of stress going on that a little girl needed a shelter for.
I was suddenly jerked back into 1966 when I listened to words spoken Wed night. I did not feel as if I was in a safe place to ask for prayer or anything else. Childhood judgment was passed to me once again. I remember telling of my thankfulness and adding that I was not afraid of the economy because God passes through any economic crisis. He already promised me things. More things than I would ever dare write on this computer. Yet, if you look into your bible you can find all his promises for yourself. It was not a matter of me, but the things He said he wanted to do with Jeff and myself. It was more than a job, Jeff had a job in NY that paid more and we had much more free time in NY.
Yet, there were no words coming out of my mouth because I was shocked. My mindset behind my request for prayer was for the chaotic scheduling to end so that our lives could be better spent for the things of God.
A moment later, it seemed we listened to the host declare that it was inconvenient for a wed meeting to take place at six thirty and she preferred it to be seven. I knew that the six thirty time was for Jeff and My benefit. I am having difficulty in the evening hours due to side effects from meds and the fact that I’m up during the night and always up at 5 am. Everyone knows this but it seems useless to rehash it over and over. I spoke out loud what I was thinking, rather than just thinking. This was met with a stern rebuke which I quickly apologized for. Who knows, perhaps I can take medicine to keep me awake, alert and able to understand what is going on around me. In either case, I knew immediately how wrong I was to have blurted that out.
Once again I could hear my sister’s word’s “what a prima donna! You stay home from school just because you say you’re sick.” I prayed for help to stretch again and also to not hear my sister’s voice.
I was glad to have wed night over. I’m not crazy about mind travel. After we got home I stayed up during the night just asking the Lord what to do. “What is truth Lord? Am I really a whiney prima donna who seeks to manipulate the church and you despite what is going on around me”
I am no longer a child but a fifty one year old daughter of the Most High. There is nothing that God can’t do and nothing that I am not free to ask for. The heart behind the request is what is indeed important. One thing I ask of him today though and I think he will answer. That I may live in the house of the Lord forever. I’d also like to be able to communicate effectively in person as well as on paper.
The apostle Paul wrote with much more fervor than when he spoke, I remember reading that. So whatever the will of God is for me, so be it.
One thing the Lord gave to me was a husband who listens. He took me to a pretty restaurant and after the food was ordered he just kept plying me with questions until I told him how I felt. There was no judgment or agreeing or disagreeing. He reached over and took my hand. “I love you” was all he said. I breathed. I knew it was going to be all right.
At times my mind is fuzzy and I realize that I don’t make a lot of sense. If I forget to take the seizure medicine it’s like being on a three day drinking binge. Unfortunately, I forget at times. Sometimes I wonder how Jeff puts up with all this junk. Many people can say “I love you”. Yet, Jeff says it with his voice, his eyes, his hands and his life.
Sometimes the Lord speaks to me through poetry. Sound whacky? Remember David? No, now don’t go getting any notions that I’m thinking I am so great. I am not David. Though my name and his means the same thing. “Beloved”
Some remember words and lyrics of songs I used to sing
My mind escapes the memory, yet I hear angel’s wings.
How can it be that I have seen what others dream about?
To hear God’s voice and see the angels others talk about?
You’d think I’d be a shining Christian shouting loud and clear
At times I am but a blank sheet of paper. The words have disappeared.
Autumn leaves float to the ground in colors of brown and rust
Crushed to powder beneath our feet and blown away like dust
To bring new life, the old must die I’ve heard it all before
I’m tired now, I have no thoughts, but I’ve not closed the door
The Master’s hand has not let go I sense His eyes on me.
“Come and rest in my embrace, and use my eyes to see.”
Journey entry number 24
I caught myself the other day as I was walking down the sidewalk. I was telling myself to remember to walk correctly. How often I remember my father telling me to put my shoulders back. I must have slouched back then.
Epilepsy does not cause clumsy unbalanced walking. Yet, for some reason I suffer from a persistent case of being unbalanced. It’s more a nuisance than a fear of falling. Often I remind myself that there is no reason for me to not go for walks. “Remember where your feet are going and watch out for curbs and places where the ground is a bit humped or uneven. Pay attention Sheryl. Try not to draw attention to yourself. Put your shoulders back. Head up, chest out. Smile for heaven’s sake; don’t have any inappropriate look on your face as you walk past folks. Your swerving to the left, compensate. There are bushes to your right. Pick your feet up.” Sounds ridiculous but I’m often reminding myself “there’s no reason for you to walk funny. You are perfectly fine. Enjoy the fresh air and sunshine and just relax. Watch where you are going.”
I’m sure you will recall the old saying “she can’t walk and chew gum at the same time” Chewing gum doesn’t hinder my gait at all. In fact, I tend to walk to a pace set by my gum chewing at times. I have to concentrate and watch my surroundings is all.
More than anything I hate to discuss nuisances in my body. He has told me to explain the little things as I write so the reader has an understanding of what is happening. Yet, in my quiet time with Jesus I complain and ask for freedom. Still, His grace is sufficient. His strength is made strong as I keep my eyes on Him. One pleasure I’ve found is being in the pool. I float well. Our pool is not deep and it makes exercising a pleasure. When no one is around I’ll lie back on the water and just look at the bright blue sky and puffy white clouds. I am free and listening to the wind through the palm trees. I watch eagles soaring and listen to the tropical birds singing in the trees. Peaceful times like these are a gift.
In my apartment I sometimes get up quickly and trip over things. I’ve learned to relax and stop drop and roll. I bent over at the waist once and ended up on the floor. Thankfully no one was around to see my ungraceful trip to the buttocks. I sat there and laughed at my own stupidity. The tea kettle whistled last week and I was at the computer. I suddenly got up and ran to the kitchen [literally] my legs buckled and I saw the carpet up close and personal. “Ok, so I don’t run” I thought to myself.
Jeff sometimes checks me over as I step out of the shower, looking for bruises. “Where did that come from?” He laughs with me as I tell him the classic answer “I don’t remember”.
At the moment I’ve discovered that in a group conversation I sometimes wander off mentally and don’t keep up with the conversation. Have you ever done that? I’m sure you have. To better focus I find myself turning my head or blinking my eyes. Sitting still and staring ahead sends me off to places uncharted. For this very reason I seldom watch TV. I go to sleep or go into a partial seizure where I’m staring and not hearing or registering the goings on.
It would appear that I’m a weak sop, not so. This life will be a fight to the finish. If I can’t function one way, I’ll try a different way.
In the past writing I’ve explained the concept of faith and healing and sin coming into play regarding the trials I face in the body. After exploring all angles I’ve come to the conclusion that Jesus is worthy to be praised. He is able to take all this junk away from me. I’ve asked Him and been prayed over for these issues. I trust He will do the perfect things for me.
Meanwhile, I’ve discovered a new wealth in my life. It’s not really new; I’ve lived with Jeff all my life practically. Yet, Jeff has been laying hands on me and praying with me with a new fervency. The likes of which I’ve never known. I don’t believe it is specifically for my healing. With all the talk about marriage troubles in the church being brought to light, we pray for our marriage and for those around us. Jeff is seeking God with new zest. Like a dog on a bone, he’s petitioning God for the “MORE”. God set up the family with the husband as the head. Jeff explained to me that he feels unworthy to lead at times. He explained that he doesn’t want me to feel restrained to be all that God intended this woman to be. Yet, he’s surrounding me in prayer. Like a cloak that protects from the cold, Jeff is taking a stand.
Women’s libbers got it all backward. They want to be free from the bondage of being a wife and step out on their own. In a Godly marriage a wife is free and protected by a husband’s love. Knowing that the Lord has secured me in a Godly way allows me to be free. .I too have a role to play in this marriage. Emotional support, helper, woman of influence toward God, prayer partner. I can also be a source of contentment and joy. Also, the Lord has shown me ways to be comical, to lighten the burdens of the world. Yes, I’m old fashioned I guess. I enjoy a clean house and planning meals, and so on. Yet, that’s not my top priority or even my best asset.
We’ve been married almost 33 years. My best asset [in my own eyes] has been the ability to love Jeff the way the Lord wants me to. From there I can get close enough to help him go higher.
Recently our pastors let us go with them to see Tommey Tenney. He spoke of Esther and how she was anointed before going in to see the king. At a time when Jews were hated, this woman had favor as she prepared herself to see the King. Without sounding like a self absorbed woman I can honestly say that I feel favored many times. It has nothing to do with money, or places, or things. As I come empty and thankful to the throne of grace, I can sense the love and favor of my mighty King.
I am not embittered by some physical nuisances nor do I feel the urge to use them to my advantage. I don’t get used to this way of life either. I will never settle for this. Yet, throwing it all off and looking to one who is the Great I am, I know that I’ll always find favor. He who knows the heart knows mine. He knows the childlike faith that I can’t rationalize myself.
Will you join me as I come into the courtyard of the Father with praise and thanksgiving? He smells the fragrance of our praise and worship just as the king must have smelled Esther long before she approached him.
Any veil that separates me from the Lord is one of my own making. He desires to listen to me. Can I be so bold as to tell you that I can sense that He is not surprised at my advances toward Him? He sees the humanness, the imperfection, the joy and sadness, and knows that He is still the one my heart loves.
The heart longs for what it does not know about Him at times. He understands that and I can sense it. The frustrations that plague me in this life are not hidden from Him, yet I am urged to come forward. The knowledge that I’m not His greatest soldier doesn’t seem to matter. His eyes glitter in love. He guides my every footstep and makes sure I’m not destroyed in the battle. He knows I want to be more for Him. Yet, in His favor he chooses to be more for me.
Journey entry number 25
The blue sky and rippling waves were no where to be seen as Jeff and I sat on the beach. The coastline had been a mess since the tropical storms had breezed by. Dark brown seaweed scattered over the beach like a floor that needed to be swept. Beach erosion replaced the usual sight of sand that stretched for miles. Dark clouds floated by as we watched the chocolate brown waves hurl themselves onto the shore with white salty foam. Still there were those who tested the waters for surfing. Yet, few looked very enthusiastic about it.
Jeff sat quietly praying as I watched the turmoil match the mood of our hearts. For the fourth time my husband had applied for a management job within the store he works at. For the fourth time he was told that he interviews well but someone else got the promotion. I was reminded of all the truths I’ve learned from the word about God’s promises and also His timing. Perhaps this wasn’t the job He had in mind. We should be thankful Jeff is working at all with the economy the way it is.
God hasn’t left us. We are going to be fine. Nothing happens without the Lord’s knowledge. Praise Him no matter what. He is worthy to be praised. All truths, I’ve heard them, spoke them and written them. I’ve obeyed, prayed and always tried to lift Jeff’s spirits no matter what. Yet, this day it was Jeff who responded well. He didn’t give me all the pat answers and common uplifting words. The truth is that Jeff’s pay gave us hardly enough to buy groceries after his pay went to the household bills. In fact he mostly held my hand and prayed. We spoke honestly, without hysterics or anger. We’d told the Lord of a need.
There are physical, financial, relational needs that many have. We aren’t alone and we know this. We have learned to live without for many years. I heard Jeff pray for strength to walk through yet another disappointment. He had been told by the store manager to apply for this latest position and told that he would get the job. He was the man they wanted. The pay raise wouldn’t have been astronomical I guess. But, an extra twenty dollars or so a week can help when you live paycheck to paycheck.
We have listened to so many well meaning Christians give us the sermon of hope, that we have it memorized. It is a profound truth never the less. Jeff and I sat and asked ourselves what does help during these times? Are we excited that God is changing us as we go through one disappointment after another? I’m sure Joseph was thrilled to be stuck in a well, sold to Egyptians, and then put in jail. Life changing moments.
I remembered bible stories of those who had suffered worse. Abraham had left his home to go where the Lord led him. He went through all sorts of disasters only to have Isaac when his wife was 90. A miracle indeed, but not one I’d want. He too had waited for God to fulfill promises to him.
Then I remembered Moses and his tribe of misfits who wanted to go back to Egypt after suffering no water and food. Then they grew tired of manna. I don’t blame them. I used to have to choke down chicken one year when Jeff worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken and all we had were the left over’s of the day to eat. No thoughts of going back north have come to our minds. We have no where to go to anyways. The thought of living with family is repulsive. I don’t know how those people in bible days did that in tribes. However, Jeff laughed and said we might have to eat cereal more often.
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, the bible says. I did not feel so merry that day. Sensing that my strength gets low at times, Jeff realized that this was his time to shine. As a couple we watch each other. We don’t always know how to help each other. Like I said though, Jeffrey prayed for strength to walk through yet another disappointment. There are no false faces on us. Jeff spoke in church that life really sucks right now. I watched him walk to the front of the church and sit in a chair as the pastor prayed over him. This wasn’t an angry, arrogant Christian. He wasn’t pathetic or self absorbed. I saw a humble man who willingly faced the church with a need. He wasn’t afraid to show the pain. Yet I could tell the demons roared at his place of surrender to God. I was hearing “though He slays me, I will yet praise him”. I have never seen a stronger man than one who is bowed low in prayer.
On the flip side of this a beautiful woman who also was obviously having a need sat with a stoic stance and glared. The pastor asked her if she wanted prayer and the answer was so comical that I stifled a giggle. “This isn’t the place”. Imagine the audacity of our pastor to walk back up front and pray anyway. Imagine the breaking of the power of Satan as I heard weeping soon after.
So many times we go to church and come away with a spiritual high and then it wears off on Monday. That is emotional stuff. I’m not saying that we can’t be emotional, but if all we get is a surface high than we could stay home. When I go to church I want more than an emotional uplift. I want something that will help us with what we’re living through and also something we can use to help others. I want God in the fine print as well as the fluorescent sign in front of the church. Sunday was electric as the pastor stood tall praying and his wife was on her knees interceding for the church.
As Jeff and I paused at the question of “what does help” we realized that disappointment has come to us many times. The response to it has changed over the years. There used to be fits of anger followed by fights within ourselves. Then, we pretended to shrug things off while actually just harboring the hurt that turned into a stench. This can be more dangerous than the fits because the hurt comes out in sarcasm, spiteful actions, or worse. After we found the Lord as a couple we found that talking to other Christians helped. Most helpful of all though is praying together with each other. As a couple, we have a dynamic that single folks do not. If I were single I know I’d find a prayer partner.
In prayer we seek guidance, strength, wisdom and give praise. We have learned to be real with each other as well. Rather than getting irritated over small things, we talk about the real hurt. This latest promotion pass over was as Jeff said “sucked”. We had a choice though how to respond to it.
I would love to tell you how wonderful my attitude is. I haven’t lied on any page of writing since last year though and won’t start now. I felt as though the people on Jeff’s job were playing games with my husband. They lied to him. They dangle carrots in front of him and he jumps through hoops to find nothing. He wasn’t even going to apply for this job, but they came to him.
I can sense God lifting me though. One thing I’ve asked the Lord though. I do not want to be so used to discouragement that I don’t hope any more. I have no desire to be an authority on how to manage discouragement God’s way. Yet, perhaps that should be the title of all my writing.
I am reminded again of the story of Joseph. He was such a naïve kid he used to run and tell his brothers of his dreams. Yet, as he was older he suffered much in prison. As a kid I too used to run to my sisters and tell all sorts of stuff that the Lord had done for me. As I’ve written before though, this did not go well for me. “You think you are so great! Who do you think you are!” If only I’d kept quiet. I did not have discernment then. Joseph didn’t either.
Joseph also had discouragement over and over. Yet, he responded well after he suffered. I’ve no idea what will happen next around here. Our economy is awful now. In Joseph’s day there was a famine. In fact, if you go through the bible you’ll find many famines. Christ never told us we’d be free from trouble by being a Christian. I’ve searched and just can’t find that promise. Jeff made the right choice though in praying for help. He also took a stand with me. There were no outbursts of anger. He reached out and held me. We shared our anger verbally in a calm way. He prayed and I followed. He shared the hurt and so did I. I spoke and he listened. Then he reached out and held me again. We spent most of the day praying silently and aloud.
“It’s going to be ok Sheryl.” That was the last thing he said before I fell asleep.
I wonder though at the times what Jesus will say when we meet face to face. I know the bible says that he’ll say either “Well done” or “I never knew you.” Perhaps he’ll say to me, “you responded well…after a while”
The alarm clock went off at the usual time. I awoke and made Jeff breakfast along with a bag lunch. We’ve developed a routine as most married couples do. He gets up and showers, I get up and make his breakfast. He eats while watching the news. He’s off to work as usual. We have no hope in his job though. Our hope is not in our friends either. Our hope isn’t even in our marriage. No, Jeff’s reminded me that our hope for any future lies in God himself. Retirements are on the line these days. The stock market is fluid. Jobs are not what they once were. People are dishonest.
For years I’ve prayed that God would reveal himself to Jeff in a powerful way that would never shake his belief in God. My testimony is this. Through watching the response of my husband through this disappointment I know that Jesus has heard my prayers for him. Jesus made the change in Jeff permanent. It’s not a surface faith for him. When push comes to shove, Jeff chose to respond in a Godly way. No one but Jesus could have sustained us this week end. No one but Jesus!
Journey entry 26
“Happiness isn’t something that you can deliberately set out to achieve for yourself. In fact, the more you focus on your own happiness, or lack of it, the more it will continue to elude you. The best way to get happiness is to give it.” I found this written inside a book I read by Mrs. Norman Vincent Peale.
I stood in front of the window and watched as the workmen carried tools into the apartment next door. It appeared the reason we hadn’t seen our neighbor was that he had vacated the premises. I remembered only a month or so ago when that soaking wet man knocked on my door. It had been an answer to prayer because for some reason unknown to me at the time I’d felt an urgency to talk to him about Jesus. Though I’d never equate myself with the term “evangelist” I knew for certain it was something the Lord had wanted me to do. The man was telling me that his name is Ken and that he’d locked his keys in the car and wanted to know if I had a chair he could sit on until the maintenance man came and unlocked his apartment. He was soaking wet and breathing heavily as I ushered him in with a smile to heaven. His response was the opening I’d needed. “Thank God for Christian charity.” So, I had sat on my recliner as he sat dripping on my couch and spoke about the Father heart of god. His reaction was a smile and eyes that sparkled. Though he said very little in response, I could tell he was listening intently. As he got up to leave when the maintenance man came to unlock his door he remarked, “You have beautiful eyes”.
My husband walked next door to speak to the workers and found out that our neighbor had died. It struck me that this indeed was a meeting that the Lord had put together. Did I say the right thing? Who knows what our neighbor gleaned that day. However, it spoke to me that we have a wealth to share if we’ll just do it.
I sit quietly and watch as my pastors and friends from church often speak to the waiters in any restaurant we go to together. In fact, they go at it with such intensity I seldom can get a word in edge wise. I’ve never been one to try to out talk anyone so I sit and watch the waiter’s expression and listen for a sign of connection to the pastor’s words. It can be as subtle as a glance around the room [to escape] or a fidget in their stance like standing on one foot then another. Always I pray for the Holy Spirit to open eyes and give understanding to the one spoken to. I also pray for discernment for the speaker to know when to let go. So often I’ve seen well intentioned Christians witness to the point of appearing to attack.
As I was sitting there I made eye contact with the waiter. I smiled and sipped my drink. Jeff spoke something in my ear that was amusing and I turned my head to Jeff with a quiet laugh. All of a sudden the waiter looked at the two of us with a huge grin. It was a quiet conversation within a conversation. He was witnessing a Christian couple out in a restaurant. This waiter spoke of how he’d been all over the world. His attention to our table was amazing during a rush hour Sunday afternoon.
When the world looks at us, they should see something different than the average Joe. I’m not saying we put on a show or a fake smile. But, with a life spent in prayer and immersion in the presence of God we should look different. I’ve seen the look of recognition many times. It’s not an indecent look. There is a sparkle that tells me that they see something they almost recognize. It’s the Lord in us of course.
Today is Friday and Jeff has the week end off. We always look forward to his week ends off. Jeff’s days off are a time when we can enjoy each other in person without the interference of a work schedule. Looking back over our life together I am reminded that we always looked forward to our days off. We seldom spent tons of money on gifts or travel or even high priced dinners. We enjoyed strolling Kmart holding hands and laughing at the funny things we said. We have a gift for amusing ourselves that was cultivated over years of marriage and friendship.
It takes time spent with each other to cultivate the most precious of gifts in a marriage. Jeff doesn’t speak wondrous words to me. He never has written a poem or sung a love song to me. This one thing I have heard from his lips though and I know it is true. “I just want to make you happy Sheryl. That’s what makes me happy.” As I look at who I am, I know I am no one special in myself. This is a gift from Jesus to me. He’s given me someone who I can enjoy and someone who enjoys me.
For me, I love to make Jeff laugh. It is a big deal when I see him giggle or do a belly laugh. Ever seen a belly laugh? That’s when the person is doubled over and holding his stomach from laughing so hard. It’s been found to be scientifically good for a person to do this. But, just seeing Jeff laugh with lots of teeth showing is a huge bonus for me. Romance doesn’t have to be huge things conjured up.
There are many material things that I would love to have. I would be a liar if I said we never looked at sports cars, fancy restaurants, and expensive clothes. We look at travel brochures and imagine a fantastic life. Yet, the reality is that these are temporal things. We have enjoyed all those things over the years. Our memories of cruises are wonderful. When those things are over though, what are you left with? We were left with each other.
It has been spoken out that Jeff and I have a conversation that sounds a lot like George Burns and his wife Gracie at times. Jeff has always been the straight man and for some reason enjoys the innocent wit of a Gracie Allen. I have to tell you though; usually I fall in to wonderful grasp of the obvious. Other times my mind clicks into gear with a witty answer that I know will set his eyes flashing.
We have studied each other over the years. He knows what I’m thinking most of the time. “I always see those eyes. You give ‘the look’, he says. He tells me that I really don’t know him at all though. This is said with an impish grin. Knowing full well I know him better than he knows himself.
Our marriage is so much more than helper and sex partner. God has shown us how to enjoy a friendship. Through the Lord’s word we learned forgiveness, slow to anger, slow to take offense and most of all he has shown us how to laugh at ourselves. This in turn paves the way for a peaceful atmosphere where communication can flow without fear of being hurt.
This week end we’ll probably be doing some shopping. Have you ever shopped with your spouse? What a riot this can be. As we find ourselves joking around and finding bargains and saying thanks to the Lord. Sometimes, I find myself looking up at him giggling over something he’s said. Usually bystanders gawk as he leans down and kisses my cheek. We’re always surprised when younger couples reach for each other after watching us. It’s like a secret permission slip that it’s ok . Of course, we learned this by watching our Christian friends years ago. You don’t have to be disgusting to enjoy a hug or kiss in public.
I’ve always told my daughter that intimacy doesn’t start in the bedroom. It starts over a smile at breakfast. It keeps going with a thankful heart and prayer for your mate. Thoughtfulness paves the way throughout the day. Kindness gives it a sparkle. Grace and forgiveness add fuel. Communication erupts into passion. Touch secures the heart. T rue intimacy of the mind will and emotion brings a final gift of making two people one.
Tonight I’m told we are going out for supper. There are so many neat places around Melbourne that are a tropical paradise. The food isn’t important. The place is of little consequence. Knowing that someone wants to spend time with you is the priceless gift.
Thus is the priceless gift of our Savior. He too wants to spend time with us. More than anything else I want my marriage to be a replica of a relationship with Christ. Jeff and I aren’t experts. We’re practicing actually at times. Sometimes, we have to overcome the flesh and do the righteous thing rather than the fleshly thing. Through the stress we have in our lives it would be easy to take the easy route. It would be easy to spit out frustrations and blame each other and all around us. Yet, Jesus has taught a better way. We choose to be obedient to His ways.
Because of our obedience God has drawn us closer to each other through each trial we have gone through and are going through. We press in with prayer. We praise the one who has not abandoned us.
We look at the lost with different eyes. Our hearts break when watching Christians suffer in their marriage. The news today has shown several well known couples in ministry who have suffered infidelity. The church has been thrown mud with the media spotlighting high profile ministers in sin. What has happened to Jeff and I is no small thing. We could have put our marriage license on the trash heap with many other marriages that broke with the stress.
Yet God, in His divine mercy has held us together and crushed us even closer together. We are overwhelmed with what the Lord has shown us.
The foundations of our faith are being tested on every level of health, finance and even relationships. What a perfect time to explode into dark despair. Yet, Jeff and I refuse to surrender. We’ll take things one day at a time. We’ll pray and listen for the Lord’s voice. We’ll wait together and watch.
Wouldn’t it be great if I could write a book about amazing triumph? Well, I am writing as the Lord has shown me. The biggest battle we will ever face is the test of our faith. It’s not a job, or marriage, or even our health.
The story of Job talks about a series of horrible things that I’ve yet to experience. The Lord knows the heart of this woman and I doubt he’ll allow me to go through what Job went through. Yet, through it all Job had victory. I don’t believe the victory was in the restoration of things and more family though. Job clearly stated “the Lord gives, the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord”
We wait on God. We press in with prayer to the Lord. Since I stopped working years ago the prayers have gone up. We’ve never gone to bed hungry. I’ve never been homeless. Most of my clothes match. We haven’t seen the “More” but have seen much of the “Less”. Yet, in our hearts we know that God is still God.
Not knowing what tomorrow will bring, we still know that God is still on the throne. Jeff and I do not live isolated in a Christian fairy land. We watch the news and know what the stock market is doing world wide. We didn’t have any safety net before this happened. If we don’t hold together and trust God and maintain relationship with God then we will be truly lost.
Our only hope is Jesus. That statement was true 2000 years ago and it is today. Before our economy went bad it was true. Before I had seizures it was true. When Jeff and I had money to burn it was true. That is the word that I will give to whom ever God puts in front of us to witness to.
“When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel and after ward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven besides you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalms 73:21-26
Journey entry number 27
Tomorrow I go to the voting booth and vote for the candidate of my choice for President and other government positions. I must confess at my age it still boggles my mind at how little I know about politics. At times I have to go back to the drawing board and relearn what certain terminology is to better acquaint myself. Remember the Lord says “My people perish for lack of knowledge”. ‘I certainly cannot depend on the news media.
I compare myself to a child using finger paints and crayons as I seek to type out what the Lord has given me to understand. Florida is a very important state in the electoral votes. I’m sure God has placed my husband and me here for such a time as this.
In all things in my life the Lord’s word is the standard by which I set my life’s decisions by. I have heard so many people stand up and tell how proud they are to be an American. Truly, I am thankful to be living in this country. I have done a bit of traveling and listened as well to others tell of their life in other countries. My friend told me that while she lived in England she could not just turn a faucet and have hot water. Someone had to turn the tank on downstairs.
While in Mexico I could see the standard of living was far from what I enjoy here in the U.S. The very poor live in homes made from whatever scraps they can find. It could be chicken wire, an old spring mattress. The dogs are skinnier than the cats because cats can find scrap food easier. It was an oddity for me to see dead dogs around, as most of the cats were wild and fat. At the same time, you may see a huge hacienda with gorgeous lights living across the road. The missionaries who live near the border travel to the US to buy food. I was staying at a high class missionary compound with hot and cold running shower stalls. One stall had hot water while the one next to it had only cold.
I will always remember sitting in the dining room of a cruise ship as we passed by Venezuela. We looked out the windows and watched the army with machine guns and assault weapons during a military coo. They were within shooting distance of us. This was no joke. We have crime here in the United States, but I’ve never seen our own military pointing at us with guns.
The stories of friends playing in bombed out buildings in England still come to mind. They played there because there was no where else to play during the 1940’s.
I watched the eyes of a former POW from the Vietnam War as he sat next to me at a picnic. He was polite, but the eyes were vacant. The eyes of someone who’d seen death in its worst state and brought back memories not to be shared. So many of us in the United States have been sheltered from the realities of life in other countries and what war really does. When the dust settled after the US won great battles, the men and women wore battle scars of emotion that far outweighed the physical scars. There is a price to being patriotic.
I can remember waking up in the middle of the night when my father had slept on the couch. He was having a nightmare of some sort. I’d gotten up to use the bathroom and saw him awake, sort of. A slight whisper caught my little girl’s ears. “Get down, get down…” It had to have been over twenty years since he was in WWII.
I’ve heard similar horror stories from those in the army of other countries. Former German, English, Hungarian soldiers have told me watered down stories fit for a ladies ear. The look on their faces told me more than words. They loved their families and their country.
Two words kept popping into my head as I sat down to write today. Patriotism and Nationalism. Webster’s online dictionary defines them better than I.
Patriotism is a noun. It is love or devotion to one’s country. This involves boundary lines around land. We can show love and devotion in many ways. The greatest way is to pray over a nation.
I am thinking of the Prophet Jeremiah weeping over Judah. He knew the disasters of the future and kept warning the people to repent. He preached without ceasing even while in stocks. He wanted to give up but Jeremiah 20:9 says “but His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back and I could not”
This was not unlike Jesus weeping over Jerusalem in Luke 13:34. He had devotion and love for this people. I remembered reading His own words. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends”. I’d say that sounds patriotic.
Then I can remember Jonah when the Lord told him to go to Nineveh. Jonah knew the Lord’s mercy and something inside him wanted Nineveh to suffer I guess. He decided to vacation in the belly of a whale instead. After a vomitous exit he thought going to Nineveh would be a better idea.
Moses showed patriotism when he spoke to the Lord on behalf of the Israelites. He loved them and was devoted to them. I don’t think he was proud of them at times. They were a whiny bunch and went after so many false idols. Yet, in our nation, [even in church] we get comfortable with our life and when things go bad we go after false idols for help. Gold cards, [rather than golden calf] booze, pills, etc.
I believe the church is being patriotic when it warns of disastrous consequences of sin in a nation too. When the church comes to the place of putting aside fear of what others will say and preach the gospel in it’s entirety we may actually see a nation turn towards God. That means the church has to be loving enough to speak and devoted enough to the country to pray.
I can caught up in all the flags and songs for this country. I can be very childlike in my thinking too. God calls us to be thankful for what we have. But the real patriotism he calls us to is to show love and devotion to our brothers and sisters.
The word nationalism kept springing to my mind as well. This means loyalty and devotion to a nation especially a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others. It places primary emphasis in promoting its cultures and interests as opposed to other nations. The bible says love is not puffed up. Both the definition of patriotism and nationalism came from Webster’s online dictionary.
Nationalism can be confused with patriotism I think. Nationalism makes me think of pride. Pride means the state of being proud. An inordinate self esteem. A delight or elation arising from some act, possession or relationship. When we look to ourselves and delight in our possessions or what we have done it is a dangerous thing. Apart from God we are nothing.
God could have had me born in any country. In His plan I was conceived in this country. Through no acts of my own I enjoy the fruit of what others have done. The beauty of this nation was a gift from God. The creative minds that engineered our inventions were a gift from God. The fact that we have the strongest army, navy, and air forces in the world is a gift from God. If I boast of any great thing it would have to be God. Each day is a new opportunity to thank Him and be thankful to those who did His will. I love to honor those who put the uniform on and risked their life for this country. They laid down their life me and that is not taken for granted.
I am patriotic because the meaning of the word is love or devotion to one’s country. This is what the word of God is about. “Love your neighbor” plus there were examples in the word of God to show us those before who loved their country. The Greek root word from patriot is “Pater” meaning father. A father loves and defends his children right? A person who exalts its own interests or promotes its own thoughts above all others does not sound like a Godly person to me. We as Christians don’t promote ourselves. We promote Jesus.
In fact, we don’t even have to speak of the symptoms of sin. We promote the Gospel plain and simple. Christ came to set the captives free. As I have heard it so many times and believe it as well, we can not change this nation through governmental laws. It has to be a heart change and only God changes the heart.
As Christians we need to get out and vote. We need to do our part in promoting the standard of Christ. Who ever gets elected will need our prayers. We don’t fight against flesh and blood but against spirits and principalities. Our weapons are not carnal. We can take down strongholds.
When I think of how many countries suffer physical and spiritual battles, I am thankful that God put me in the United States. Could I be patriotic if I lived in Sudan? What about Hungary or Russia or Iraq? Could I love the place and people where I was born? The word of God is the same for them as it is for us. God is no respecter of persons. I wonder if I could be thankful living in a dung house in a third world country. Could I be patriotic [love or devotion to one’s country and support it’s authority and interests] if I lived in a socialist country or communist? Mind you, I’m seeing myself as a Christian in this other country. Truly I don’t think God expects us to support the evil in a nation. That includes this nation. I wouldn’t support witch craft in Kenya any more than the US. I wouldn’t support terrorism abroad any more than in the US. I wouldn’t support false religion abroad or here either. That’s where the devotion of patriotism shows itself in prayer.
It is not hard to be patriotic in a country that is as rich in beauty and resources as ours. But, I can not lift the government of United States up as an idol either. What ever we have or will have is a gift from God. Our servicemen could never have won the wars without the hand of God.
Let your will be done Lord. Let God arise and the enemy be scattered.
Journey entry 28
Everyone has had times when they have been the dumping bag for some of the worst insults. . Rather than continuing life as a dumping bag I learned not to receive the offending insult. It can be spoken, but not received.
“Sheryl, you have an amazing grasp for the obvious” was one insult that grated on my nerves. The reason was simple, it wasn’t true. There are many ways to look at things. Studying a situation from different angles can give many perspectives. What appears obvious to some may not be truth for others.
To be able to see, you need to listen. To understand, you need to step back. To be heard you need to whisper. To enter peace you need to grasp humility. To remain victorious you submit to the Master of all sight, sound, understanding, speech, peace, and humility.
The election campaigns had ridden in with loud chants and promises. Our city with its warm sunshine and ocean breezes played host to the McCain and Obama parties. We listened to the rumble of motorcycles ushering in both democratic and republican parties as they whizzed past in droves on their way to political speeches. Traffic was slowed to a crawl as we were treated to the sights of campaign posters and yells from both sides.
The day finally came to vote. Jeff and I drove to our designated places to vote and discovered hardly anyone there. We had hit a slump in the crowds. Folks had waited for hours to vote. The Lutheran church where we were to go was neat and clean with friendly people pointing us in the right direction and explaining our need to produce valid picture identification. My husband ran into a bit of trouble as his name wasn’t registered at this sight. He’s gotten his driver’s license before we moved. It was soon cleared up though. I was used to the metal voting booths with the curtain across and levers to pull. I was instead given a manila folder with a sheet of paper with dots to fill in. A very sweet lady gave me instructions and I walked to what looked like a bunch of tables with telephone booths on top. She kept smiling making me feel comfortable to be there. I thought to myself she must be great with hospitality.
All the tables had a special pencil which we filled in the dots designating our choices and promptly took our ballots to the voting box to be scanned. They were making sure all the questions were answered.
Jeff and I went home with a feeling of peace. We knew we’d obeyed what the Lord had us do. Yet, we weren’t convinced of our votes causing a victory. It was a historic day. Rather than staying up to watch the election unfold on television we opted to go to bed.
We awoke to discover our candidate did not win. It was disappointing in view of all the fasting and prayers. Yet, in the end I know that God is still in charge. We were obedient to Him. We had one on a different level though. Amendment 2 which was a statewide bill establishing that marriage is between a man and a woman had passed.
The news of the first black man to be president is indeed huge change. I welcome the fact that color is no longer an issue. Our prayers will be sent up daily for this new government. If ever we needed the Lord, it is now.
The news media spoke with fervor about the election. When I grew tired of watching the circus I shut off the television. That was about 1 minute. That’s the neat thing about television. If we don’t like what the media is saying, we can shut it off.
My heart went out to those who I knew would be very hurt by the election results. I sent out a few emails of encouragement. The Lord was hovering over me as I digested the news of the day. I have written before about spending time with the Lord. As I shuffled through the day getting my apartment in order, I could sense no real sense of defeat. Rather, I felt the loss for what I had wanted to happen. Yet, in His mercy I was made very aware that His ways are higher than mine. Could I walk in the knowledge of the Lord’s victory?
I remembered some of the prayers I’d prayed. “Whatever it takes Lord, bring this nation to the place we need to be. We need to be awakened Lord. Wake us up.” I remembered praying for mercy over this nation. I prayed that we remember to pray for our enemies. This seemed to be a burning theme in my heart for the last few months. For some reason I didn’t pray that they be incinerated, but delivered from evil. In every person who still breathes there is a soul. I kept remembering Saul of Tarsus. “Bring a Saul to Paul experience Lord”
I was exhausted at times from praying for this past few years over this nation. I just felt like a soldier after the battle. I was glad it was finally over. Yet, I opened up to the Lord as well. “What to do now Lord?” I opened my windows and let the sun into the apartment. I walked outdoors a while and sat outside just silently waiting.
It is indeed a privilege to be a citizen of this country. Yet, I do not set the government up as my idol. My trust is in the Lord. He seemed to be pulling something out of me these past two days. I know it is any type of fear that might want to encamp within me regarding this new president. The battle plan was laid before my eyes. Obedience, prayer, and remembering his greatest command. Love the Lord with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. Love others as yourself.
For me, spending time with the Lord is powerful. I don’t have to shout at him or wail at him. He listens to my whispers. When I want to see what is going on I can listen to Him. As I step back I can see clearer the plans God has are higher than mine. Remembering that who I am in Christ and He the One my heart loves. Peace that passes understanding envelops my soul.
One battle is over and many new ones are coming. As I look out my window over the golf course I can hear the wind whistle through the palm trees. A clink every so often tells me folks are playing golf. A comfortable breeze sings backup to the streams of light that dance out of the heavy gray clouds overhead.
“This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the son of God.” I John 5:3-5
Journey entry number 29
There was a warm breeze flowing as I walked the mile to the corner and back to my apartment. The bright sunshine proved to be a highlighter against an already colorful walkway. Walking is a practical way to clear the head and strengthen the muscles. It brings such joy to see the colorful flowers of pink, blue, yellow, orange and red as they peek out from the hedges along the way. I especially like to walk after the children are bussed to school as it is so quiet you can hear the branches sway from the tropical breeze.
My daughter phoned me yesterday and reminded me of how beautiful fall is in New York at this time of year. I was reminded of the walks I took with little Olivia in the stroller. She was only a few months old when I bundled her up and walked around Fort Edward. The trees were mostly maple and the aroma of dried leaves mixing with the smell of baked goods from the nearby homes was something out of a story book. I am glad my daughter is enjoying the fall weather.
It seems the Lord added so much more than color when he broke out in creation. The sounds of wild life and the scent of nature make a blend that is as fragile as a flower if one doesn’t take the time to notice. Everyone has a favorite spot. Some love the woods, some the mountains, others are fond of the country. For me it has always been a tropical paradise that gave my spirit life. The smell of the salty ocean and sound of the thundering waves amidst a backdrop of light blue. I am invigorated as the warmth of the sun blankets my skin. I see the colors of the rainbow in tropical flowers and birds. Some days I just like to sit outside and listen to the birds chirping. I had grown to distinguish the difference between the cardinals and chickadees in New York. Here I can distinguish the difference in the screech of the eagle and the sounds of dozens of seagulls. The sand piper cranes sound like a brassy horn as they strut across the meadows. The morning doves are forever hanging around with several families of cardinals as well.
November in Florida brings a dryer climate with temperatures dropping in the average low sixties at night and high seventies by day. We’ve had some cooler and higher temps as well. Evening walks along the retention pond are a delight as Jeff and I spot huge turtles and blue herrings. The sun sets with a pink glow and rises from the midst of a foggy gulf course. The hurricane season is almost over. The snow birds from up north are migrating down for the winter.
I am not dreading the holidays like I did last year. We aren’t over our heads in doctor’s bills and don’t really need anything to make our days more Holy. We will miss our family but not with a heart wrenching pining away. In fact, we are looking forward to spending our Thanksgiving as a family with the church.
There are many ideas floating around for Jeff and me to enjoy the Christmas season. For years I decorated my old house to the max and served up a huge dinner. I’d like to eat out this year and only do a little decorating. Jeff and I will have a great day though what ever we do. We are looking at life through different eyes. Each day is a day to be thankful.
The focus isn’t on our health so much. In fact we have made some decisions regarding my treatment. The neurologist spoke of trying many new test drugs that might improve my memory. We tried a few and the side effects were living in a stupor for a few weeks. We decided against them and also Alzheimer’s drugs as well. Once you get on some of those meds, you’re never able to come off them.
We are aware that I struggle with the strangest things. I sometimes can’t remember my phone number or street number. Recently I was speaking to someone and she asked the name of my church. I drew a blank. I still stumble in restaurants and find that my mind wanders when others are speaking.
We went to a flea market and Jeff and I wandered around for about an hour. I suddenly became unfocused and disoriented. I was trying desperately to pay attention and that had worn me out. When we got home I went to sleep almost immediately for two hours from the exhaustion.
The side effect from Jeff’s meds causes him to feel tired as well. What a pair we are. While we both try to step out in boldness and not live in a mind set of illness, at times we have to be wise enough to pace ourselves.
. Our anniversary came a few weeks ago. We took a trip to Longwood and Casselberry. It's about 80 miles from here and it's where we lived thirty years ago. Our first home in Casselberry is no longer there. The entire block including houses and a 7 11 store was removed for a wider road and a huge apartment complex. We almost didn't recognize the area.
The home we lived in while I was pregnant for Desiree is still there. It took a while to find it because the area has grown and changed so much. Ours was the first new home in an orange grove. It now has several homes on the street and most of the orange trees are gone. The home has been painted but other than that it looks run down. The street is also very run down. We were amazed to see a little house across the street. An older woman had lived there and had befriended me. We thought her home was an original slave home due to the small size and dirt floor. I’d never seen a dirt floor in a house before. The area was a huge orange grove and the woman had mentioned her family used to work the orange plantation. The house held one bedroom and a front room with a bathroom the size of a postage stamp. This woman brought me and my one year old son to her Baptist church. Jeff wasn’t interested in the Lord at that time. I was amazed to find the last name of the woman on the mailbox near that little house. She must be gone now; she’d been elderly thirty years ago.
As we strolled memory lane we were reminded of how much has occurred in thirty years of our life. It's actually our 33rd year. So many mistakes we made as a couple. Yet, we never cheated on each other. We never argued over money, there was never any. The biggest problems of our marriage back then were relational. Seemed we were always in a pickle with either his mom, or my sister, or his sister. We just didn't know how to relate well. We were so young with so much responsibility.
We were always in a hurry too. It seems like we were always working towards something elusive. A home of our own, a career, better material things, vacations. As kids we used to watch shows like the Love boat, and the undersea world of Jacques Cousteau and dream of going there. I guess that's why we strove to experience cruises and ocean life.
I can't believe we were 21 and living in a three bedroom home with a pool outback. We had a 64 Chevy Impala. It was a huge white boat. We took on so much responsibility with the home, a baby, one on the way. Plus, we knew hardly anyone. I didn't even drive back then. Looking back, I guess we grew up together. We laughed and spoke how the Lord was looking out for us without our realizing it.
We didn't go out to an expensive dinner that day. We headed for Wendy's. No cards, flowers or presents. We did that route already for so many years. We spent the day talking about our years together. One thing we have developed over the later half of our marriage is the way to talk to each other. Then we went to the river and watched the sea turtles and schools of fish as they were swimming close to the dock. It's amazing to watch bald eagles in flight as they snatch up a snack from the waters and soar away. We saw a whole school of catfish jumping out of the water and manatees swimming harmlessly. You can't buy stuff like that. The sun was sparkling off the waves. In the distance we could watch boats at the dock. We saw yachts, sailboats, fishing boats etc. At one point we were dazzled as we watched the sun play off the side of a school of medium sized fish. The fish looked like little pieces of gold floating in the water. Our life is never dull.
Jeff and I have memories of two gorgeous babies. We enjoyed them to the maximum. Jeff coached little league, peewee wrestling and I drove both children to school activities whenever possible. Our fun time was time spent with them. We took them camping at Blue Mountain Lake. I remember when they caught their first fish.
We went to every local amusement park we could with our children. We did picnics and birthday parties and holidays in style. Yet, we also did one very important thing. In the early 1990’s we searched after God in a big way. At a time when we were brought to our knees from our children’s bad choices we found our way to the Great I am.
We learned all over again what the Father was about. We learned how to love each other without children. We learned how to love each other in spite of children. We learned that being a Christian didn’t mean we were free from pain. In fact, our faith grew stronger as we went together to the Lord through the painful times.
Mostly, we learned how to love each other. There are so many places in the bible where the word speaks of “the body”. The body of Christ and Christ own body. Ephesians 5:25 speaks to husbands to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word and to present her to himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle. in this same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. Jeff and I were thrilled to read this. We had always heard of “wives submit your selves to your husbands”. I have no problem with that, Jeff can be the head and take all the responsibility that entails. However, when we read Ephesians 5:25 -26 and learned about the rest we became excited.
“Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of the word.” We as married Christians can be happy together. Our foundation is Christ himself. The word washes us in that rather than base the way we behave on our opinions, we base the way we live on what the word of God teaches. Forgiveness comes natural when we are submitted to God. We don’t suddenly find ourselves taking offense over the slightest of things. Love covers a multitude of sins. We see the best in each other. We strive to help each other be their best. It’s forgetting self and immersing yourself in each other and finding yourself is better than you’ve ever been.
Romance means a very intense love, physical and intimate. A spirit of adventure. Does it belong in a Christian marriage? Of course it does. Who wants to be saddled with a spouse with no sense of adventure? To be loved intensely with physical [touching] side effects and a spirit of intimacy is a need for every human being. The Christian marriage should be a mirrored image of the romance between the Lord and his bride. Oh, we’ll never come close. However, it might inspire a person to know that this Christian couple show love beyond the confines of a Church building. I love my friends Bill and Joanne very much. Yet, before they breathed a word about Christ to me; I saw them playing footsies and gazing into each other’s eyes. On the way out of the church they were standing in the shadows kissing [a little kiss]. Yes! I thought….this is my kind of church. That was 1995 and Jeff and I are still learning new ways to show love.
We walk together and wait for the sea turtles to show their heads in the pond. We hold hands and giggle as the blue herring fluff their wings out to look intimidating. We hug each other as we see the flowers, the tall majestic palm trees and thank God for the beauty he puts before us. We’re so glad we don’t know everything.
Now, we can have an adventure almost every day. Thank you Jesus.
Journey entry number 30
Often as I have been writing [or typing] I have mentioned how wonderful it is to be in the presence of God. During the day when I am fluttering around my apartment or walking outdoors I find that my mind is always talking in little bits to the Lord about most anything. It’s easy to thank him for all the beauty that surrounds me. This morning as I went for my walk I noticed something new. There were about ten large white birds with a hint of black on their wings. They looked like white penguins. I began to laugh as I stood there mesmerized by these huge birds with long skinny beaks. They stood on the edge of one of the retention ponds gazing down as if to gauge the water’s temperature of something. They each stood more than three feet tall. They waddled like a penguin as they hovered over the waters edge. Truly, I have no idea what they were and since none of them took off in flight while I stood there I couldn’t tell for sure their wing span either. Yet, they appeared like a bunch of old men gathered outside a country store for a chat.
Watching birds and wildlife in their natural state is like watching unspoiled beauty at its best. Recently our friend Sally, Jeff and I took a walk in a nearby park. I had commented a few times that I was disappointed not to see the peacocks. Usually, there are two of them strutting around. Of all the birds I’ve ever seen I like the peacocks and parrots the best. They are so colorful. Peacocks are so majestic as they fan their tail feathers too. We walked all around the park and no peacocks were to be found. As we returned to the parking area we noticed the ducks waddling around the pond. Then we saw the peacock standing right in front of our truck. The peacock looked as if it were waiting for me to find him. Now, I know they are ALWAYS there. But, I can see the Father’s sense of humor too. I walked over to the peacock and tried to gently get it to fan it’s tail feathers. I moved slowly toward it and it moved slowly too. I saw a small pole in front of the car and I leaned back and forth bobbing around the pole. To my delight the peacock bobbed his head in like manner. It’s the dance of the peacock I guess. Anyway, I was glad the Father put that peacock to be the best part of our walk. The shimmering colors of blue, teal, green and a hint of gold could only be made with the artistic hand of my Master.
As I was talking to my heavenly Father recently I mentioned that I would like a new couch. I wouldn’t mind if it was used. The orange plaid couch had wool that somehow scratched my skin around the ankles. As I was conversing with the Lord I mentioned that we don’t have the money of course. It would have to be around 12 dollars. I was looking around at my living room. I spoke that I’d like it to have the colors that were in the room. I have blue, beige, red, and green. Sounds like an odd assortment. As I kept talking to the Lord I asked for a love seat actually. Something light weight and preferably striped. So, let’s see I’d given the Lord my request complete with weight, colors, price and pattern. I laughed and forgot all about the conversation over a couple of days.
When Jeff had a day off he decided we go looking around the thrift store for another set of golf clubs. We have decided after we found a complete set in a bag, on wheels for five dollars that perhaps we can find another set for me. Neither of us plays golf so if we play together we won’t get embarrassed. But, it would be a chance to have fun in the sun with each other. I suddenly remembered my request of the Lord. “Oh, I forgot to tell you that I asked for a love seat too. Not asking you Jeff, but I was telling the Lord about what I wanted.” Jeff laughed. “Right, like that’s going to happen” he said when I explained the whole story.
Yet, after going to a few thrift stores [which is what we usually do] I spotted the very loveseat that I’d had in my mind. I called Jeff over. The colors were emerald green, navy blue, beige stripes. There was a thin stripe of burnt orange among the stripes. It was light weight and the cost….fifteen dollars. We were laughing all afternoon as we brought it home and even showed our friends. As we told them the story they too were happy for us. Jeff cleaned it all up and I stitched a few areas, but it was a wonderful find. Funny thing was I had told the lady at the store of my prayer. She called over her coworker. The coworker told me that she had a price tag of 75 dollars on the love seat and had lowered it the night before. I now own the couch of many colors.
Please don’t misunderstand me when I tell you I talk to the Lord all the time. I’m not always out to get stuff. I was really discussing something that I thought I’d like. Do you ever tell a friend of something you like? You’re not looking for them to get it for you though. I was just sharing with the Lord that day.
Yet, I can recognize God’s handiwork when I see it. I’ve asked for an opening to witness and be used many times. It is so wonderful to be able to share the treasure I have. It’s especially wonderful when Jeff and I are one and sharing it together. Just such an occurrence happened a few weeks ago. We stumbled into a little family diner. We realized it was practically empty and soon struck up a conversation with a very nervous owner.
Within moments we learned that he was not a Christian but did not object to our telling him we were Christians. It somehow always comes up. He had been a policeman and just decided he wanted to put all his savings into this little diner and try to make a go of it. He had 4 sons. Two sons worked with him. One is 18 and cooks well, and the 15 year old waits tables. The youngest walked with a walker due to club feet. Jeff and I shared of our experience in having a restaurant. A connection was started.
We began to pray for this man and the business. We felt an urgency to try to go there at least once a week. While there one day we explained to the owner that we were praying for his success. He said thank you. Another time we went to breakfast and Jeff forgot his wallet. We told the man how embarrassed we were and I agreed to stay there so Jeff could go get his wallet. The owner said no. “I trust you’ll be back” We hurried off and returned with a red face and lots of joking ensued. A connection kept on going.
One other time as we were eating we noticed his waitress looking very down. Her husband was out of work. Though the owner had money problems himself, he offered the husband a job carrying a sign out by the road advertising the diner. When the waitress came over to take our order Jeff and I spoke up. “Jeff and I are Christians, and we want you to know we are praying for your husband to find work. The economy is awful right now, but we’ll also keep a look out.”
The waitress looked stunned. “Thank you so much. Do you know my husband and I read the bible each day and he keeps telling me God will come through. I get so nervous though. We seem to keep fighting over everything these days. He’s a good man though. He’s out looking for work everyday. He was a brick layer and the housing market caused him to lose his job”. The floodgates were open. We found her coming to our table in between her taking care of customers.
Jeff explained that he was a subcontractor in NY and now worked at Lowes. He had a chance to chit chat with the husband a bit before he went outside with the sign. This woman looked for us the next time we went to that diner. She spoke of the emotional problems as well as some marital problems that have arose. “All I wanted was to get Chinese food and he told me that he was the man of the house and I’m supposed to submit to his command.” She said she knew it was in the bible. “Actually, “ I spoke slowly …”The bible does say for wives to submit to their husbands, but it also says for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church even died for it. You see, your husband isn’t thinking clearly these days due to stress. He may have the right idea not to spend money on take out food. Yet, if presented to you in a loving way You probably would have heard it better than coming from a commando type order.
Jeff spoke up and explained the husband’s point of view. “He’s grasping at some way to be in control since he can’t control his job status. Pick your battles, some are not worth it at this time. I’ll tell you what Sheryl did. I’d come home like a bear and she’d respond like I was a king. Loving words put out more fire than you can imagine.”
I explained to the owner that Jeff and I sort of adopted his business. That means we are praying for it, trying to encourage him, also telling our friends about it. We’ve actually brought most of the church over. The guys had their men’s breakfast over there. We feel during this time of economic melt down that we Christians need to be willing to take time and move on Christ’s behalf. We don’t wish to use this business as a platform for preaching. In fact, we explained that we have a wonderful preacher and if they wish to hear preaching they can visit our church. Our agenda isn’t to bring them to our church though. Our agenda is to obey God’s command and speak the gospel with the words and opportunities the Lord gives. What becomes of this is not our affair.
The country is in a state of shock as businesses keep going belly up. People are scared. Jeff and I have walked through some horrific times and feel that Jesus has given us something to pour out in His name. Hope, encouragement and a willingness to show God’s love. I truly believe this is the time for the body of Christ to rise up and shine. When we zero in with actions, words, encouragement and prayers for the businesses of this nation during this economic crisis we are walking out in front of the world, what we are talking about within the doors of our church. Jeff and I pray for this nation. Yet, we cannot reach the whole nation. We are within arms reach of this little diner.
My husband is stepping away from the fear of what will become of us. He is more interested in the new things the Lord has led him in to. He is overjoyed at helping Wes with his ministry named “Friends of Jesus”. He has finally been able to use his degree in accounting to serve the Lord. He’s still working at Lowe’s and not available to help pass out sandwiches. Yet, he can help by being Wes’s book keeper. He’s even put me to work looking up things on the internet.
Jeff installed my Christian card software onto our computer. We have decided to resurrect my old card ministry. It’s a fun way to use creativity. It’s also a way to reach out to those who the ministry has touched but aren’t in a body of Christ. Cards can be used for all occasions as a way to share God’s love.
We are waiting for the next move. No, not moving away or out of our home. I mean we are waiting for the next move of God. We haven’t survived all this time without knowing that God is always up to something. Yet, we feel in a sense we are almost at the end of the beginning of our journey.
We left New York and all our friends and family to obey what we felt the Lord had said. “Chosen ones, go now” Now, those words sound mighty vague for someone just reading them with their eyes. Yet, our hearts had been stirred all ready. We had all ready asked the Lord about what to do next. The command was given and we obeyed.
Yet, in our minds we had thought things would be so much different. It was like an obstacle course from day one. His ways are higher than ours. We learned to embrace change. What choice did we have? Well, we could have turned and run to NY in failure. We could have left the path entirely. The Lord knew that we would never forget the word He gave us. We hung on to those words when we lost the grasp on many other things.
So, here we are. Now we are waiting to see what comes next. The Lord has been faithful and provided for us. He gave us the practical things and also gave us things to do. Waiting isn’t so bad. In the mean time we are doing what he last said to do. That is enough to fill our days.
Journey entry number 31
“I’ve a great idea for a new tradition.” My husband said to me on the night before Thanksgiving. His eyes were bright and a huge smile was on his face. I listened to what he was about to say with anticipation. “Let’s get up early and grab a coffee and breakfast sandwich at McDonald’s and go watch the sunrise on the beach.” I said an excited yes.
I sat down on our loveseat and wondered if the beach would even be open that early. Then I wondered if we’d be in any danger since the homeless folks usually hang out there. That took all of ten seconds and then I was back to being excited again. I’m sure this was an inspired thought. So, the next morning we got up very early and washed our faces and I combed my unruly mass of curls. No wasting time for make up.
After putting on warm clothes we set out. It was about 52 degrees and soon to be in the seventies. Coffee and sandwich in hand we found the beach had a few folks all ready there. The dark sky all ready had a few streaks of red peeking through. We prayed and thanked God for such a sight. After eating our sandwiches we took our hot coffee and strolled along the beach. Sandpipers were scurrying past us on their way to whatever destination sandpipers have. Soon a few seagulls came closer to see if we had any food. I guess our coffee didn’t appeal to them so we were left alone.
The sky steadily grew lighter with reds surrendering to pink and blue. We watched the steady glaze of calm surf reaching out to us. The sound of the slap, slap and echo of an ocean’s applause reached our ears as we walked along the ocean. We could not help but stop and worship. We could taste the salt of the ocean mingled with our coffee. All of a sudden I had a picture of Jesus on the seashore cooking breakfast for his friends as they came to shore.
We spoke to a jogger who commented that there is so much to thank God for that it’s almost overwhelming. We shared in praise with her for a second before she walked away. As we steadily watched the sunrise come to a full conclusion I found myself dancing and laughing as Jeff took a mini video. All of a sudden the burst of sunlight hit as the sun emerged seemingly to come up out of the ocean. Later, as we watched the video we were astounded to make out a white cross beam showing from the center of the sunrise on our video.
Heaven’s splendor reached out and kissed our faces that morning. The present of the Mighty God came into focus. It was a gift of warmth and bright new sunshine.
As I am typing this I realize this will be the end of my writing assignment from God. That is not to say I’ll never write again. It’s just that my spirit feels it’s time to conclude this season of my life in writing.
Holding fast to Jesus Christ we walked through pain and sorrow.
Our sights are not on yesterday but gazing towards tomorrow
We treasure every memory like teardrops lined in gold
We offer up our lives again for our hearts have not grown cold
Looking over the pages I’ve written I can see the changes made by the one my heart loves. It’s been quite a journey for me so far. The rest is yet to come. It was Christ himself that gave me the strength to put Him first after I surrendered all I knew to surrender. Jesus knew there were still more issues for me to face. As I got up and left my family and friends in New York I now can see how Jesus held my hand and gave me strength to obey, after I chose to obey. So many times we lose our way after deciding to follow Jesus. We forget our human form is fickle. My heart cried out in agony many times these past several months “Jesus, don’t let me fall away from you. Hold me. I want so much to obey but I am so weak. Give me your strength to obey.”
Many times after the first month I was here I’d lay quietly crying in the darkness of night. I missed my family and friends. The constant reminder that Jesus said “Chosen” helped to keep me focused as to why I am here. I remember being on my face before him and praying “Make me useable for you. When I need more changing Lord then I surrender and ask that you change me for your glory. For you alone are the one my heart loves.”
There comes a time when we have to grow up as Christians and make the change from knowing who Jesus is, to surrendering more than your time, your wallet, and your ministry. For me, I had to surrender my ideas in exchange for His. I found I could own nothing if I were to obtain the fullness of His plans for me. It was more than letting go of hard wood floors and crystal chandeliers in my NY home. It was more than surrendering all my furniture and packing just enough that could fit inside a minivan. It was more than friends and family. It was a way of life I’d come to know. It was surrendering all safety nets and trusting in Him.
I am blessed to have a lot of knowledge of the word of God. I’ve sat under some very anointed teachers. I have the ability to speak into those who have ears to hear. Yet, all that is useless if I am unable to surrender what I know and grow in the ability to love.
When all is passed away our gifts and talents will be gone. The only thing that matters is how many did we love in Jesus name. Keeping this in mind I realize that I did not surrender anything compared to what Jesus surrendered.
Yet, in His mercy He has given me a new set of standards and also given me a brand new heart. As much as I loved him when I was in NY, it is nothing to how much I love him now. The more I surrender myself, my ideas, my works, and agendas; the more He fills me with Himself.
The health issues I live with have not all gone away. Yet, they are not my identity. I used to try to forget some of my limitations and try to prove I am able to do more. The Lord has shown me that it’s ok to be limited until he decides to take the limits off. Do not misunderstand me here, healing is a promise that I cling to. Yet, despite any thorn in the flesh I am free in Jesus. Jeff and I have made a few adjustments in our life. Yet, we are not hindered in any way from serving God with all of our strength. We wait and listen to what His ideas are though. We aren’t driven with a purpose to serve God. We wait patiently and find we are being led by Jesus.
Now, it is a time for new beginnings. With the Lord’s lead Jeff is taking an active role in a ministry called Friends of Jesus. This has been his hearts desire since meeting our beloved friend and Minister Rev. Wesley Finch. I’ve never seen him so free from worry and excited as he is doing the book keeping and spending time with this man. Like an older brother that Jesus has stashed away for just such a time as this. We both look into his eyes and are filled with joy.
I felt led to resurrect an old ministry as well. I’m getting active in a card ministry. Sending out cards to church members for all occasions and also reaching out to those who the church has touched in some way. I can do this from home at my own pace. Also, I have an idea for an Inspirational Love story to write as well. This leaves me wide open for whatever else Jesus has in mind.
I love to write and for the first time in my life I have finished a project. The Lord has kept me focused through this entire book. His main objectives came to my mind several times so I wouldn’t go down a rabbit trail. He wanted me to write about my journey. It was a journey from NY to Fl. It was a journey through financial stress. It was a journey to a completely new marriage. It was a journey living through epilepsy. Yet, it was also a journey to surrender