Thursday, April 8, 2021

Two Hearts: Two Transplants

 

Ever known of anyone that has had to have a heart transplant?  It is quite a major surgery!! In January 2021, my husbands brother had to have a heart transplant.  How it all happened, all the details and recovery are completely miraculous.  But that will be for another conversation. 

In talking with my brother-in-law about his transplant…we were amazed at the process of what happens.  There was one thing that was quite mind blowing.  When the doctors remove the old heart, they cut it away from the body, the flesh. That includes all the nerves connected to it.  When the nerves are severed, they do not reconnect them.  The transplanted heart is denervated. It retains its own pacemaker so beats automatically.

So no longer does the brain communicate to the heart through the nerves and tell it what to do.  If someone is scared, they will just be scared in their mind…their heart will not get that cue from the brain to beat faster.  Isn’t that just a fascinating thought?  I am not a doctor…and there are so many other complicated things with this surgery…but that is the part I wanted to highlight. 

Ezekiel 36:26-27 says:

 I will plant a new heart and new spirit inside of you. I will take out your stubborn, stony heart and give you a willing, tender heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit inside of you and inspire you to live by My statutes and follow My laws.

So, this is not a physical heart transplant this scripture is speaking of…but it is spiritually.  When we give our lives, our hearts, to the Lord…He takes our old heart, and gives us a new one! We begin our spiritual journey with a new heart. 

In the actual physical heart transplant, the brain (the mind/will/emotions) no longer tell the heart what to do.  Those nerves were disconnected. 

So, it makes sense that if God removed our old “heart” and gave us a new one, then no longer does our flesh – our mind, will and emotions – have the place to tell our hearts what to do.  They have been disconnected!  Our hearts beat on its own pace.  It has its own beat and direction.  Our new hearts follow the beat the Lord sets for us. 

Therefore, it is so important to realize the difference in our mind, our will, our emotions, and our spirit, our heart.  When we are born again, we have been given a new heart.   We should no longer allow our lives to be ruled by our mind, will and emotions.  That is quite the challenge in the world we live in.  We must feed our spirit and not our flesh.

Just like the physical heart transplant, there was a separation.  It is so important to learn to recognize the difference in what our spirit is saying, from what our flesh is saying. We must feed our spirit the things of the Spirit and strengthen our spirit within us. The Holy Spirit becomes our “pacemaker” and keeps our heart beating according to what God says. 

Lord help our heart to beat for things of YOUR Heart!! Help us not listen to our flesh but listen for what YOUR heart is saying!

Psalm 51:10
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Through the Eyes of a Child

Why does Sin Matter?  I have been so disheartened lately to see the state of our world.  I never dreamed we would see some of the things we are seeing today....and so widely accepted too.  To make it worse, people do not really see their need to change or live differently.  They do not see their need for God at all.   It breaks my heart. 

Trying to explain sin and our need for God can sometimes get complicated to explain.  Recently I was trying to share with our youngest son about sin and how God’s forgiveness of our sin comes through Jesus and what Jesus did for us wipes away our sin and He remembers it no more. 

Our youngest son has some special needs…and understanding these concepts was a little difficult for him.  I prayed for  a creative way to explain it to him and I believe the Lord gave me a very good example, on his level, that he could understand.  

One thing our son is kind of obsessed with are the things that we are allergic to.  He asks us ALL THE TIME to tell him what we all are allergic to.  He does know how important it is that he stays away from shellfish or it will be really bad for him.  He also knows every single thing the rest of our family is allergic too and wants to talk about it all the time! LOL.  It’s kind of funny!! Everyone in our family has some kind of allergy but me.  Shep insisted I was allergic to something, so I made up my allergy! HAHA! Check out this cute video of Shepard having us all say what we’re allergic to.  He thinks it’s so funny! 😊

 


I bring this up….because his pre-occupation with people’s allergies was super helpful for me to help explain to him what sin is and why it is related to us getting closer to God.  The simplicity of a child’s thoughts are so wonderful.   Sometimes we complicate things so much…but trying to see things simply like this is so helpful. 

Here is what we explained to him:
1.  God loves us so much. 

2.  He wants us to commune and communicate with Him and Him to us BUT…. there is one big problem. 

3.  God is allergic to sin.  The Bible tells us that sin separates us from God.  He wants to be with us and us with Him….but we have all sinned…and have sin in our lives so it keeps us from God and Him from us.
(Have you ever had an allergy that could be life threatening?? Allergies are no joke and you have to take precautions not to be near what you’re allergic to.  For some people these allergies can be very scary)

4.  See the problem?? God loves us so much…and wants to be with us, but because there is sin in our lives (and He’s allergic to sin) He can’t be with us…but He LONGS to be!!

5.  God had to make a way so He COULD be with us because He loves us so much.

6.  In early Biblical days…Israel sacrificed the blood of an innocent lamb to cover their sins every year. It was called the day of atonement. This had to be done over and over every year BUT…God wanted to take care of this so He would always have a way to come to us. SO, God sent his son Jesus, an innocent and spotless “lamb”, who would die for us all so his innocent blood would cover our sins once and for all.  Sacrifices wouldn't be needed anymore.  So when God sees us….he doesn’t see our sin anymore…it’s covered.  That way, we can come to Him and Him to us.  Our sin has to be gone because HE is allergic to it.  Not because He is a mean or unloving God….but because SIN SEPARATES US FROM GOD.   

That is a very simplistic way of viewing this very large topic.  But sometimes we overcomplicate things more than they should be.  Seeing things through the eyes of a child can be helpful for us. 

There are so few messages these days teaching us the need for repentance.  Our world has gotten darker and darker. The love of sin has gotten greater.  There are SO MANY that don’t see the reason their sin keeps them from God.  Does God love them?? YES!!! God loves you so much!! But God is allergic to the sin in our lives. 

The only way He can be with us is if we accept what Jesus did for us so HIS sacrifice covers our sin so God can accept us and be with us!!! He’s a loving God that truly wants to be with us!

So today….keep this simplistic thought in mind!! Remember that God loves you so much, and the only remedy to his allergy to the sin in your life is accepting what Jesus did for you….asking the Lord to wash away your sin with the blood of Jesus so He can be with you and you with Him.

It’s as simple as that!! We need our world to repent and turn away from their sin.  Not because He is a mad God…but because He is a LOVING GOD!!!

This is just something to think about as our world gets darker and darker!! I’m thankful for the forgiveness of my sins…I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but in the protection and presence of our loving God. 😊  

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Seasons of Shifting


I admit it....I have been struggling with my age! I turned 49 this past month and the realization that 50 is only a year away has been so surreal to think about.  I don't think other people that age are old at all...but thinking of myself at that age is really a hard thing to accept! 

Along with my age changing rapidly...my skin has been reminding me with a vengeance daily that I'm getting older.  The young firm under eye skin that never gave me issues, all of a sudden, is GLARING at me full of wrinkles, looser skin and darker colors now.  It is wild that it seems like it happened over night! 

Struggling to accept this....I have had to back pedal and re-assess how I am taking care of my skin.  You see...what I used to do to care for my face and eyes...does not work anymore.  

When I was younger, my skin was oily and I had frequent breakouts.  It was super frustrating!  I worked hard at making sure I took care of my skin so it wouldn't be so oily and breakouts would remain low. 

Interesting though...the very things I used to care for my skin when I was younger...is what will harm my skin now that I am older.  I have had to completely change my skin care regime.  

What would happen if I didn't shift my process of caring for my skin?  What if I kept using the same strategy I did when I was younger, now that I'm older?  It would make my skin WORSE!!! Why?? Because..... 

When change occurs, WE have to change what we do in order to successfully manage what our life now looks like with that change!! 

Change happens in every area of our lives!! Many times we have to allow these changes in our lives and learn to shift what we do and how we do it! We can't hold on to what used to be! If we do...we could end up hurting our present and future of all that could be!!  

I know many older people who refuse to let go of what used to be, what they used to do, how they used to dress and act.  It's unfortunate...because it steals from them all that they could be today!! They need to learn to accept the new season they are in, and shift their perspectives and way of doing things! There is good in new seasons....even if you are older!! 

The best is yet to come indeed!! Don't keep holding on to what used to be!  Learn to shift your perspective! Learn to look to the Lord for wisdom on shifting your desires!! Don't be afraid to try different and new things! It is a new season!! What worked in last season is not going to work in this season!! 

Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 

I choose to look at this new season in my life in a positive light!! No, things are not what they used to be....but I do know that God isn't finished with me and the latter will be greater than the past!! That makes me excited!! 

Just like taking care of changing skin....it may take some time to find the right fit for what works....but keep trying, keep dreaming and don't loose hope!! God's not done with you yet!!! 



Sunday, April 26, 2020

Your Fear Takes Prisoners


This weekend I had an epiphany.  One which I really should have thought of years ago.  You see…I have been harassed by fear for many years.  It started very early in my life…but one point in my life I KNOW that fear slammed into my life to try to paralyze me.  For years it did.  When I was 20 years old…my 17-year-old brother was tragically killed in a plane crash.  My world came to a crippling halt. 

On the outside it seemed I was dealing with the loss like a champion, but inside the questions flooded my thoughts.  While I trusted God and knew He had a greater plan…what I gave traction to were the thoughts that we are not exempt from bad things happening to us.  Up until then…I was happy-go-lucky and very carefree.  That all ended that cold November day. 


I spent days afraid to drive down the road because I thought I could be in a car accident…after all…we are not exempt from bad things happening to us, Right?  

I worked at a bank as a teller and was terrified every moment of the day that someone was going to come in and rob our branch.  After all, there was a chance it could happen, Right?  

I didn’t want to stop at red lights next to people because I thought someone would possibly have road rage and take out their anger on me. 

I moved out of my house after my brother was killed because I could not deal with being in the same house where he lived.  It was too much for me.  So, I moved out on my own.  Being independent is a good thing…but I could not sleep at night without having the cordless phone (before cell phones) beside me and holding a flashlight.   

I lived with this fear for years because all these things that threatened me COULD have happened.  Every time I saw the news…it planted new seeds of what COULD happen to me.  Fear began to paralyze me. 

I could go on and on with the ways that my life was drastically effected when my brother was killed, and I realized bad things COULD happen to me and those I love. 

In 1994, I got married to the most amazing man in the world! God knew just what I needed.  My husband knew me and all my weaknesses and areas I needed growth in, and still loved me anyway. 

Bless his heart!! He could not go anywhere without letting me know his every step.  He had to find a phone to call me when he would get to work to let me know he made it safely.  I would sit worried until he would call me.  I am sure it was a pain in the rear for him to have to do…but he understood my fear and wanted to make sure, no matter how inconvenient it was, to help me not worry.  He was a prisoner of my fear

After we had children….it only got worse.  When our oldest was born…she almost died and was in Pediatric ICU for two weeks.  We could only see her by putting on scrubs, cleaning our hands by scrubbing with soap and water and walking into a closed off protected room just to see her.  We could only see her for 30 minutes at a time every few hours.  (She is a miracle but that’s a story for another day). 

It was amazing to be able to bring her home.  But all the trauma we walked through with her only compounded the fear already present in my life.  I would not let anyone hold her for fear of them getting her sick.  After all, someone COULD be carrying something, even cigarette smoke, and it would be bad for her. I didn’t want to lose her like I lost my brother.  So, I had to make sure and control what she was exposed to. 

I would not even let grandparents hold her.  I remember one Christmas her laying in the floor and everyone staring at her in a circle because I didn’t want anyone to hold her.  I was afraid. All the grandparents, aunts and uncles……They were prisoners to my fear. 

As my children got older…I refused to let them ride in cars with people. It did not matter who the people were. I didn’t care if it was family or not….I would only let them ride when my husband and I were driving.  After all…car accidents happen all the time and it COULD happen to the ones I love.  It happened to my brother.  I had to make sure and control the fact that I would not allow it to happen to my children.  I love my children and I had to protect them.  What’s bad…. I made my children prisoners to my fear. 
This is already too long….but I could go on and on.  I’m so grateful for God’s faithfulness and patience to help me work through these crippling thoughts of fear.  I spent many days focusing on scriptures like: 
Psalm 9:10 - "Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you."
Psalm 56:3 - "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you."
Psalm 91 (The WHOLE Chapter)
God has brought me a long way since November 1992.  I’m thankful for His faithfulness.  I have learned to trust Him so much!! Am I still tempted to fear? Yes I am. But I recognize this...

Just because something COULD happen did not mean it WOULD happen...

and I had to release it and TRUST!!! Fear is a paralyzing feeling and I must stop it in its tracks! 
I just want to place a word of caution to us all! We MUST guard our hearts from the fear that is trying to force it’s way into our lives! It’s running rampant these days….and we can’t give it place in our lives.  Not only does fear take prisoners….fear makes you a prisoner.
Don’t allow it! Cut off the news…fill your mind with faith!  It may seem strange to do this. C.S. Lewis said:
“When the whole world is running towards a cliff, he who is running in the opposite direction appears to have lost his mind.
It may appear to others that you have lost your mind because you refuse to live in fear, but you have others around you that you are leading whether you know it or not.  You choose if you want the fear to grow in the fabric of their life or not!  You choose what seeds you plant in the heart of your children!
Fear takes prisoners wherever it goes.  Don’t hold anyone captive….but hold every thought captive that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ!!! Faith is greater than Fear!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Walking in the Dark


Have you ever had to walk in the dark before? Even in a familiar place…it can be very disorienting.  

Our 2nd child has a life-threatening disease that we have to monitor every hour of every day.  It’s become second nature to our lives right now, but it’s still challenging at times.

In the middle of the night we sometimes have to get up to check on him and wake him to eat.  I have an amazing husband who does this many nights…but I do trade with him and do it sometimes too!! I am normally a heavy sleeper…and if anything wakes me…I consider that unusual. 

A couple of weeks ago…I woke up out of the blue.  I laid in bed and prayed…asked the Lord what He was speaking to me…and wasn’t able to go back to sleep.  Then I thought to myself…I need to check on Silas (our son).  So, I get up out of the bed and walk from one end of the house to the other to get to his bedroom. 

Walking through the house…I can not see a thing! It’s pitch black! Yet, I walk straight through without a problem.  I get to his bedroom, check on him, make sure he is ok…and then have peace enough to head back to my room and go back to sleep.

On my way back to our end of the house I started thinking how wild it is that I can make it straight through the house without bumping into anything. Even though I couldn’t see anything, I stayed on the familiar path as I walked through back to my bedroom. 

I have firm memory in my mind the solid structures in my home…and I know how to maneuver through even if I can’t see them.  I think that is the key….I  don’t veer to the right or to the left when I’m in the dark. I trust what I know is solid and foundational…and I stick with the path I know. 

I couldn’t help but think of the darkness we are living in these days.  The unknown paths we are all on.  Just like when I was walking through my dark house…we have to stay to what we KNOW is true, what we know is solid and unmovable. 

We can’t “doubt in the dark what God has told us in the light” 
(AMAZING lyrics to a song by Rita Springer!)   

We have to stick to our FIRM FOUNDATION!!! What is that…HIS WORD and what HE has promised!!

Psalm 119:105
Your word Lord is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path!

In these days when you’re feeling weary, and lost, and in the dark…Hold tight to all the things you know are stationary, firm and true! Do not veer to the left or the right! Stick to the path that you are familiar, and don’t doubt!! Morning will come and we will see clearly again!!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Why Do I Fear?


Why Do I Fear?
This is a question that I have had to ask myself over and over for many years.  Having walked through a great deal of trauma in my life…fear is a knee jerk reaction for me.  This is very frustrating as a believer because I do trust the Lord…but because so many difficult things have happened to me in my life, my level of trust shrinks back, and my temptation to try to control and take care of things myself rises. 
When worry becomes a dominate force in my life…I realize that I am walking through that situation as if it all depends on me.  What a prideful thing for me to think.  Why do I do this? 

Why do I feel if:
-  I can get all the details worked out,
-  I think through all the “what if” scenarios and work those out, and
-  I keep everything within my scope of control
Everything will be ok? 

Its really crazy! As I type the words, I think…why in the world do I even think this!!??!!
We all know the children’s song “He’s got the whole world in His hands”.  We know God is in control and will take care of us…but WHY do we doubt or worry when we are faced with situations that stress us or are out of our control? 

Psalm 9: 9 & 10 says:
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,    a stronghold in times of trouble.Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you

Did you catch that?!? Those who KNOW HIS NAME TRUSTS IN HIM…because He has NEVER forsaken those who seek Him.

I have pondered this for years.  It seems I go from one level to a deeper level on learning to trust Him.  It’s part of my growth in Him.  But this I know…there are SO many facets to the name of the Lord….He is Creator, Mighty and Strong, Almighty, Lord, Provider, Healer, Our Banner, Sanctifier, Peace giver, Our shepherd, the one who sees, and SO, SO many other things. These are not just words…these are who He IS!! 

So, if those who know His name, trusts in Him…then when I am fearful, when I worry, when I stress, and not feeling so much trust…there is a part of who HE is that I need to dig into and get to know more!

These are very different days that we are living in, and in all we know about the times to come…things will become even more different and unsettling.  If you do not want to be fearful…Get to Know Him More!! He is truly the only one who gives us peace in the middle of the chaos. 

I don’t have this perfectly down…I am a work in progress…but I know when I am tempted to fear…. I need to Know His Name more…because HE will never forsake me!!! He will never forsake you either!! I hope today…You can take some time to get to know Him more! He LOVES you!!! 😊

Thursday, January 9, 2020

MIDLIFE MAMA: Learning to Dream Again


When I was a teenager and in my 20’s as well…I was a HUGE dreamer! Looking back at journals the passion that I had for the things I had on my heart to do was so over the top.  I was an extreme optimist and pretty much always saw the glass half full and KNEW beyond a shadow of a doubt that God would help me fulfill my dreams!

I admire that young girl.  She believed in herself…she believed in what God had placed in her…and she believed that God would use her to make a difference and to “do great things!”

All of that is true…God has placed things inside me, (inside us all) and He does have a plan for us all.  He does want to use us to help make a difference in our world.  My thoughts about myself and about God’s goal for me were not wrong.  But  as I began to mature in the Lord…I began to see Him having me lay things down left and right.  I had to lay down things I loved dearly. Many of these things were things I kind of had built my identity around.  So, the Lord began to challenge me in some areas. One familiar scripture that I’m sure we all know is:

John 12:24:
Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.


This scripture is where Jesus is talking to the disciples about what is going to happen to him…his death.  While we do not experience the physical death of what Jesus walked through…we do experience death of what WE want and what WE have planned…what WE dream. This is part of taking up our cross and following Him daily.  Our wants and dreams and desires can no longer be what drives us.  It must be what HE wants that drives us. 

So in the process of maturity for me in my walk with the Lord…I began a journey of dying to all I had ever known.  Dying to all my dreams, and all the things I felt that made me special.  Dying to things that I had a great deal of passion about was very painful…but necessary.  When you want to follow Christ and you want your life to become what He wants and has planned for you, letting go of what you want is so necessary so you can take hold of what He wants.  After all…what He wants is SO much better for us!

Fast forward 30 years…and I am staring 50 years old down in the eyes.  I’m only a year and a half away from 50.  In this Midlife age…there is a lot of reflecting people do.  I’m sure it’s not just me.  I haven’t spoken with many people about this…but I’d venture to say most everyone in this age bracket begins to evaluate a lot of things. 

After spending 30 years of learning to let go of things, and learning to let things die…I find myself in a very strange place.  This dreamer….has forgotten how to dream.  I have spent year after year…many of them painful years…fighting the fact of things I had to let go.  Many things I didn’t want to let go…but my prayer was to be who God wants me to be and do what God wants me to do.  So the painful letting go was Him answering my prayer to help me become who HE wants me to be.  Letting go freed my hands and heart to be open for what HE has for me.  Letting go of MY dreams…was the seed of my life falling to the ground, being buried and dying, so something new could grow from it and so it could multiply.  
So as I sit here this morning reflecting on the past and looking ahead at this new year, 2020.  I sense that while I have battled and struggled for a long time to let go of my dreams and desires…I have none the less let them go.  It’s a bittersweet thing.  On one hand, I miss the old me…the passion I had and the things I felt I had to bring to the table of life.  But on the other hand, I’m proud of myself because to me, obedience equals success.  

O B E D I E N C E - E Q U A L S - S U C C E S S

When I obey the Lord, I’m successful.  He has had to teach me to let things die.  Yes, it has been painful! But in this new year, I sense a new hope. I sense spring is coming! What comes with spring?? NEW LIFE! It’s time to learn to dream again.

My heart goes out to all you Midlife Mama’s.  You remember who you were and all you have to give. You know you have so much more to give and so much more life and purpose in you. God sees you and all those things you have let go of and who you used to be.  God has not forgotten you, he has been developing you and preparing that seed inside you to sprout and begin to multiply and bring forth so much new life!! Can’t you sense it?  I do!!

Thirty years is a long time to find yourself lost in the middle of life.  But in this new year, I know the old has passed away and all things are becoming new! I’m not sure about you….but in this new year this Midlife Mama is learning to dream again.  I don’t know what it will look like…but I know that whatever it is…God’s plan and dream for me is SO much better that what I could ever dream or imagine myself!