Friday, December 8, 2023

A Surrendered Life


"I am the Lord's servant."  Mary answered.  "May it be to me as you have said."  These were the words of Mary after the angel told her that she would become the earthly mother of the Savior, Jesus.   These were words of surrender on her part.  It was a great honor for her to be chosen for this job.  Yet it would involve sacrifice.  Would her family and friends think she had committed an act of adultery?  Would Joseph think that?  Would she be ostracized by the people of her town and culture?  Mary's surrender would also involve great sorrow, as she saw Jesus hang on the cross. 

Mary was willingly surrendering from a heart full of love for her God.  She was not serving God just so she would be blessed, or because she was hoping the Lord would meet and fulfill her secret desires and agenda.  She was also not seeking to serve the Lord out of sense of obligation.  She was serving the Lord out of a heart filled with gratitude, praise, and love for Him.  Her heart was a heart that was truly surrendered to the Lord's will, purpose, and agenda.  Wherever the Lord placed her in her life or wanted her to do, she wanted to be there wholeheartedly serving Him.

Obstacles to full surrender to the Lord in our lives include doubt concerning His sovereignty and love for us, a desire to control circumstances ourselves instead of leaving them in God's hands, not focusing on the Lord, and a lack of thankfulness.  Other obstacles include fear, lack of true intimacy with the Lord, and no experience of the Lord's joy in one's life.

Like Mary, however we can experience the love of God and willingness to surrender to Him in our lives.  Mary Tutterrow says the following in her book, The heart of the Caregiver from Overwhelmed to Overjoyed, "We will EXPERIENCE the love of God when we are willing to do whatever He asks us to do, however, He want us to do it trusting Him completely for the outcome.  That is surrender!  It's only when we are doing things His way, for His reasons, according to His timing-not according to our own plans or will-that we can do things we never thought we could do, love people we never thought we could love, overcome obstacles that seemed insurmountable, and experience His love and power working in and through us."  

This is the surrendered life that Mary and a host of other Biblical people lived.  All failed and faltered at times, but they also experienced the joy of a surrendered life throughout their lives.  We can experience that joy as well.  

Friday, November 24, 2023


We just celebrated Thanksgiving Day in the United States.  We are also entering the Christmas season.  It is a time of year when we think of God's blessings.  God's greatest blessing to us is that He sent Jesus into the world to pay for our sins and to pave the way for us to have a wonderful and intimate relationship with Him.

We also experience many other blessings from the Lord.  There are material blessings, and there are emotional and spiritual blessings.  Every day God provides good and wonderful blessings to our lives.  We just need to open our eyes to these blessings and to look for them.

In a book called The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Gutherie Nancy points out, however, that blessings do not always come in the form of things we consider good.  Sometimes blessings come in the form of hardship.  This is because trials and hardships can grant us perspective on what is important and meaningful in a way nothing else can do.  This is because they often lead us on a pathway to the Lord.  As we surrender to the Lord in times of hardship, we find God in a new and vibrant way.  In times of trial God often reveals Himself to us.  He also often gives us a peace that we can find in no other way,

In times of hardship and trial God bends down to us.  He enters into our lives and meets our needs in a personal way.  He not only does that, but He reveals Himself and gives Himself to us in unique ways in those times.  It is because of this, in those times we receive God's blessings.  We receive God's blessings in and because of the trials.  We find the blessing in the Lord Himself and not in material outward things or in our own perceived achievements.  Let's thank God for our blessings.

(You may enjoy Laura Story's song "Blessings."  You can listen to it by clicking on the following link:

Also there will be no new post next week.  Use this time to read some of my older posts.  I hope to post again on or around December 10th.)

Friday, November 17, 2023



All of us have so many things for which we can  be thankful.  The Lord provides us with our daily needs which often involves things that we just take for granted, like health, safety, daily food, sunshine, warm homes and beds, loving families and a host of other good things.  We also can thank the Lord for church, His Word, and above all that we know Jesus as our personal Savior and the spiritual riches which come from knowing Him in a personal relationship.

Yet perhaps for many of you the holidays can be a discouraging time, if you or your family are going through difficult circumstances.  It may be difficult to find things for which to be thankful in such a scenario.  Yet a thankful heart opens up blessings from heaven and foretastes of heaven that cannot be attained in any other way. A thankful heart further revives hope and allows us to communicate on a more intimate level with the Lord. A thankful heart does not deny the reality of life's challenges, and life certainly presents a host of problems and heartaches. A thankful heart does, however, recognize the Lord's presence and joy in the midst of those problems.

So perhaps the best place to start is to thank the Lord each day for His presence and peace. Also as you go through the day look for even the Lord's tiny treasures which He has placed on your path. Look with spiritual eyes for His wonders in your life.  Some years back I remember being challenged to write down each day at least three things for which I was thankful that day. That helped me immensely in persevering during a very difficult time in my life.

It is said that a thankful heart takes the sting out of trials and adversity,  Life often facilitates many challenges and trials. Yet we are commanded in the Bible to give thanks in everything. We may not always FEEL like giving thanks, but when we offer a SACRIFICE of thanks in spite of our feelings, God gives us joy in spite of our circumstances.

That does not mean we always feel happy. Happiness and joy are not the same thing, but joy in the Lord and grief can coexist. It may seem nonsensical to thank God in and for difficult circumstances. Yet in the measure that we do so we will be blessed, even though the adversities may remain.  Thank the Lord for His blessings even while going through trials. 

A few years back I read the following thoughts from some correspondence I received in the mail:  If you are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you, it is not the bump which caused you to spill coffee.  This is because if you had tea in your cup, you would spill tea instead.  Whatever is in your cup will spill out, when you are bumped and shaken.  So it is with life.  When you face circumstances that shake you in life, what is inside your heart will spill out.  What will spill out of you and I in such times?  Will it be peace, joy, gratitude, and humility that will spill out?  Or will it be bitterness and anger?   Again thank the Lord today for His blessings from a heart full of love for Him because of His grace!

In the United States we are celebrating Thanksgiving Day in a few days. It is a day when we especially try to remember to thank and praise God for the blessings of the past year.  Life is often challenging and difficult. Yet there are many blessings in our lives even in the most difficult of moments,  Thank the Lord for your blessings daily and not just on special occasions. It will lift your burdens and add joy to your life.

(If you missed last week's blog post you can read it by clicking on the link below:  

Friday, November 10, 2023

"It Was Good for Me to be Afflicted"


"It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn Your decrees.  The law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold," (Psalm 119:71-72)  Really, Lord, it is good to be afflicted?  How does that work, Lord?  Perhaps you as a reader join me at times in the sentiments I just expressed.  Trials and challenges are never pleasant.

So how can afflictions ever be good?  I think the Scripture passage begins to give us an answer to that question.  Afflictions makes God's Word more precious to us.  In times of challenge we run to God's Word for comfort and direction, and His Word becomes more precious to us than gold or anything else in this life in the process.  If one clings to the Lord in times like these, one's faith and relationship with Him aso becomes so much sweeter.  It is also a time when we begin to learn sweet surrender to the Lord's perfect timing and will.  This in turn leads to His peace.

How do I know this?  I know this because I have experienced this myself in my life in many ways.  I begin to experience this when my first husband developed a neurological disease which grandually made him more and more physically disabled until finally he became totally dependent on me and a wheel chair and lift.  I experienced it when I also developed breast cancer during that same time period and endured eight months of treatment.  I experienced it when my first husband died after four and a half years of decline, and I became a widow.  God's promises in His Word and His presence in my life were so very precious during those years of caring for my husband, and they still are in the years since.

I am also experiencing all these blessings, now as I face more pronounced ongoing back issues.  It is further something I am experiencing now as my second husband has been diagnosed with a different kind of neurological disease.  Does this mean that I always feel joyful all the time about the circumstances?  No, sometimes it is a struggle and a cause for sadness.  Becoming a  family caregiver a second time never was something I wanted to do.  

Yet thesse struggles have once again laid on my heart the need for sweet surrender to the Lord and the need to NOT try to "fix" things" in my own way and on my own terms.  It has impressed on me the need to surrender to the Lord and to trust His way and timing.  I fall so far short in this surrender to the Lord, but God is working on me.

I think afflictions and trials can also make us more thankful for all the wonderful gifts we have in our life like sunrises and sunsets, the changing of the seasons, and a host of other things.  It further opens our eyes to how God is using our difficult circumstances to help others and encourge others and for them to encourage us.  I saw that in my experiences with my first husband, and I am seeing it now in my present situation.  Finally, lessons learned in times of affliction and wilderness tend to be remembered the best and the longest.  So yes, as difficult as it can be at times, it is good to be afflicted.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Pray, Wait, Trust

Pray, wait, trust.  Such are the words that I found on a small plaque that I purchased a few mouths back.  Then I found these same words on a gratitude journal I recently purchased.  These are three simple words.  They are simple words yet often difficult to live, or we make them difficult to live by not surrendering all our worries and problems to the Lord.

Pray, just talk to the Lord when afraid.  The Lord invites us to do so.  I Peter 5:7 says,  "Cast all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you."  Yet we so often try all own resources first before turning to the Lord and before surrendering to Him.  The Lord does not want us running around fretting and trying to come up with human solutions.  God tells us instead to "not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanskgiving present your requests to God  And the peace of God which transcends all understanidng will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 4:6-7)  Barb Roose says this in her book, Surrendered, "When Fear tempts me to flee, fix, or force my way, I will choose to stop and pray."

Sometimes when we pray God does not give us exactly what we want.  He is much wiser than us.  So sometimes He may say, "No." to our prayers.  He also may say, "Wait."  If there is something of value for us to to learn by not answering our prayers immediately, God will make us wait.  This can be a difficult but valuable time of learning to depend on the Lord and grow spiritually.  "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put put my hope."  (Psalm130:5)

Pray, wait, and the third word is trust. The book of Proverbs in the Old Testament says this, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."  (Priverbs 3:5-6)  Trusting in God's leading and following His leading will bring joy and blessing in our lives.  Life may have may obtacles and trials, but leaning on the Lord for direction and strength is always the way to blessing and a life of purpose. Psalm 29:7 says, "The Lord is my stregth and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him with song."


Friday, October 27, 2023

Do Not Fear

Being a caregiver for my first husband, Wayne, waltching him decline in health over a four and a half year period, losing him to death in the end, and my own battle against breast cancer during that time were difficult trials in my past life.  Current very difficult trials are also a challenge.  Knowing I can trust that God loved and loves me and was and is in control in the midst of the confusion and grief of it all made and continues to make all the difference in the world.

God is sovereign and in control. Nothing happens to a Christian or his or her loved ones that is not filtered through His love. This is true even in the most difficult and heartbreaking events of life. This is a difficult truth to accept. When this truth is accepted, however, it a soft place to land when one is overwhelmed with life’s difficulties.

God is good. Circumstances may be bad, but God is good. God is the very definition and essence of goodness. He proved that by sending His son on the cross. He can help Christians who are struggling to keep emotional and spiritual equilibrium in the midst of the heartaches of life.   He can also slowly emotionally heal Christians, when life has handed them the unthinkable.

Joy can coexist in the midst of the deep heartaches and grief of life. This is because joy is not based on circumstances which are favorable or perfect  Sometimes life's trials involve a process that takes much time and deep crying out to the Lord and depending on Him.   At times there is a scar that never goes completely away. Yet, the Lord's faithfulness will be with us all the way, and the joy of the Lord will  always return. Do not live in fear of the future, dear Christian. Never forget that the Lord loves you, and He is good. He is in control.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Unexpected Storms

About five years ago our area was inundated with an unexpected storm.  Television reports and the blowing of the sirens alerted us to it's imminent arrival.  Yet the intensity of the winds and the torrential downpour of rain left me in awe.  I should have been in the basement, as the weather reporters advised.  Yet then I would have missed seeing the power of this storm.

As it turns out this storm uprooted some big old trees and broke off many, many big branches in our village. (I posted one picture of an uprooted tree by the village park below.)   It caused many people to lose electrical power-some for thirty-six hours or more.  I never lost power, but I lost internet and phone service for awhile.  Evidence of the storm were still evident on my village streets a few days later, although some towns and counties around us fared worse because of the storm.

Life is filled with other kinds of storms as well.  I remember the storm of caring for my first husband and watching as his body became more and more disabled over a period of about four and a half years.  The care-giving storm is a difficult storm.  I remember the storm of grief after losing my husband and becoming a widow.  I remember the storm of all the secondary losses as well, and of having to build an entirely new life.

I also remember other storms since those days and I am currently facing storms in my current life.  Sometimes the storms have been very intense and painful emotionally and physically.  Sometimes they have been minor storms which can collectively wear on an individual.  Storms of one degree of intensity or another continue to seem to come.

 Nancy Guthrie from her book, The One Year Book of HOPE., said this in one of her devotions, "Perhaps you find yourself watching the storm clouds gather in the distance, or maybe you are swirling in the center of a storm.  Or perhaps the storm has come and gone and you are picking up the pieces of your life.  God often speaks to us through the storms of our lives.---if we listen, in the midst of the most violent storm we can detect the still, small voice of God, calling us to greater faith in Him."

Often it takes a storm for us to see our need for the Lord and to cry out to Him.  It is often in the storms that our complacency is replaced with a sense of His presence. We then hear His still small voice.  We recognize that He is with us in the storm.  Having the Lord with us in the storm makes all the difference, no matter how tumultuous the storm.

When I was watching that storm of a few years ago from my living room window I felt remarkably calm in the moment.  I was relatively safe in the "ark" of my home.  Imagine how Noah in the Old Testament of the Bible felt when he was in that ark in the great flood, however.  Imagine how fearful the disciples in the New Testament felt when they were in their boat in very stormy weather.  Yet the Lord Jesus is our ark of safety in all the kinds of storms that God allows in our lives.  We may not like the storms, but He is always our place of safety.

Sometimes it is easy to tire of the storms that keep coming and to dread the next one which perhaps can not yet be seen on the horizon.  It is easy to also imagine storms that never will occur.  That only uses up emotional energy unnecessarily.  Instead of looking at the waves in current storms, reliving regrets about past storms, or imagining future storms; the Lord wants us to look to Him.  He wants us to focus on Him and embrace Him, and when storms do come he wants us to step out faith.  He wants us to trust His sustaining power and love.

The only way we can prepare for unexpected storms in our lives is by living close to the Lord and by immersing God's Word into our lives.  We need to obediently build our lives on the foundation of obedience to God's Word and on His precious promises to always be with us.  Yes, we will falter and become afraid at times, but the Lord and the promises of His Word will see us through.