Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bling! Bling!


When I looked down I had to laugh! All I could see was a bright shiny pair of flip flops....no toes....no feet..... just BLING!  They sure looked different in the store but then I just tried them on and didn't really take a good look.   Boy, I should have and wished I would have.  Of course, the store clerk just raved at how fabulous they looked!  Recently while traveling the Texas hill country with some friends I thought I would wear them out for dinner.  With every step all I could see were my shoes "blinging" at me.   Our friends laughed with tears streaming down their faces at these "bling bling" flip flops.  They seemed to take center stage screaming, "butter me a biscuit, look whose arrived!" (You know, they talk like that in the Texas)  Really if  I stood in the sun too long in one place I could have started a small fire with the glare from these flip flops.  What on earth was I thinkin'!

When I sat down to do my devotions this morning I thought of those "bling bling" flip flops.  I was in John 3 towards the end of the chapter where John is giving testimony of Jesus.  He says he, John, is not the Christ but sent ahead of Him.  He compares it to a bride and bridegroom,  saying the bride belongs to the bridegroom and the friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for His voice and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice.  He says his joy is now complete. The key words in this passage are "He must become greater and I must become less."

Today Christians are deceived in thinking that if they know the right people doors will open and if they articulate their thoughts with such intelligence it will create opportunities.  But one has to ask, opportunities and doors open for whom?  Christ? For it is Christ who opens doors and creates opportunities not man's efforts.  Oh, man can certainly steal the show with "bling bling" but truly create and open that is solely in the Lord's hands.  Those doors and opportunities are created and opened by prayer and prayer alone.  Of course, we must obey and walk through. 

The majority of what I see today are name droppers and "create your own."  In other words, you hype your resume, be in the right place at the right time and therefore create your own.  You know people who know people who know people.  It somehow gives us an air of importance.  Wonder why we don't see the Holy Spirit move in ways of years past and the testimonies that we heard about in other countries?  We put in five minutes of prayer and hours upon hours of making sure we position ourselves with just the right people.    We throw around well known names and speak of our relationships with them and call them "open doors."  Sad, very sad.  You see, when the Lord opens a door it isn't with fanfare or shout-out on fb or twitter.  It is just like John said.... He increases and I decrease.  In other words, I am not even seen ...only Jesus.  That is how the Holy Spirit draws man to himself.  Even though man is being used only Jesus can be seen.  What is the promise for us?  Joy!

Sometimes, like my "bling bling" flip flops, we steal the show from Jesus because we want to wear the bling bling of the glory for ourselves.  But Jesus calls us to decrease, fade, hide in Him.  We no longer can be seen so Jesus receives all the glory.  So that as we walk they can only see Jesus.  Just like those flip flops - when I walked all you could see were the shoes....no feet, no toes.   Isn't that your hearts desire?    Lay down the idol of ambition, of grabbing the center of attention.  Confess and repent.  Then walk adorning yourself with Jesus so He will receive the glory and you will be overflowing with JOY!

*For those of us who speak publicly this sin creeps up on us.  The encouragement we receive after speaking or teaching may open door of pride.  Ask the Lord to give you something to remind you that it is Him and only Him. 

Now put away those flip flops, quit listening to store clerks who don't have your best interest in mind and look for something that suits what you were created for a little better, um.....maybe some really nice cowboy boots.... what was I thinkin!





Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thirty-nine and counting

August 11, 2012 was my wedding anniversary.  Thirty-nine years married to the same man, well, sort of to the same man.  When you have known someone for forty-three years there are lots of changes one goes through over time. The obvious is, of course, aging, which I think we are doing quite nicely.  I was thinking today about all the changes we have walked through together.  There's a time of singleness in marriage.  You know, when it is just the two of you and pretty much you do as you please. All the while cultivating similar interests and learning how to serve each other. Then comes the children of which consumes your life for the next 18 to 21 years.  That is where you hang on to each other and snatch away time whenever you can.  Still serving and crawling in each other's worlds while you raise these family individuals.  Then comes empty nesters.  Finally, taking a deep breath and being able to gaze into each others eyes without hearing your name called or keeping an eye on that one child who cannot be remote controlled.  Yes, we have walked through a lot of changes in our marriage.  I was thinking about all the physical changes as well.  The thin years, the heavy years, the in between weight years, the natural hair, the dyed hair, the thinning hair and the no hair.  And then the emotional life of it all.

Yes, lots and lots of changes,  however, one thing has been steady and unchanging all these years.....God's ever present hand in our lives.

By all accounts I am a needy woman.  I'm pretty high maintenance at times.  So I am so thankful the Lord gave me a husband who understands the needs of this needy woman.  So many times when he would rather be relaxing watching the Colts play on TV he sits with me in our gathering room listening to my yet 100th view on something.  He has encouraged me to run when I would rather walk, climb when I would rather sit down and to strive for dreams I never thought possible for this city girl.  We have traveled  to places I had only read about.  He has held me when I cried because someone rejected me or hurt my feelings.  He has been patient with me in my anger and washed Scripture over me in my despair.  We share the same sense of humor so it is always Ricky and Lucy at our house.  I love those funny moments when we look at each other and break out in laughter.  He has had to drag me into submission and I have had to learn to pray instead of pout.

A humble man who derives no pleasure from hearing his own name.  Over ten years ago he walked away from a high powered corporate job to start a business he wasn't sure would fly past a year.  We held hands and took the first leap of faith.  It turned out well.  I have watched as this humble, servant leader could have much, much more and I have so loved hearing him say, "we could, but I believe we won't". He has ruled our family with wisdom and much love.....giving at a cost to himself. Encouraging his family to let the Lord be our defender, encourager and our first love.  However, it would be a huge mistake for anyone to mistake this servant leader for weak.  He runs a successful business and is a strong man of faith.

These last years have seen us through grief at the loss of our parents, two nieces and some wonderful friends. Some old dreams have been replaced with new ones.  We have had to take hard stands on what we believe.  Loved family members through sin and repentance and rejoiced with adding new members to our "gang" of a family. We have learned some Spanish and French wowing each other with our somewhat broken language skills. 

At times I have had to hold that steady hand so tightly out of fear of the future and at other times I have prayed for wisdom to speak wise counsel to my husband's ears.  We have watched with sadness as our friends marriages have dissolved and we have rejoiced as we have seen marriages repaired and thrive.  Knowing that our marriage is not perfect and we are humans who make mistakes and fall into sin as well, we rejoice in Jesus.

Thank you for allowing me to honor my husband today.  Sorry we don't know the ten ways to keep a marriage safe, strong, etc.  No antidotes for keeping love alive.   However, there is one thing I do know that I wasn't created to be his "cheerleader" and he wasn't created to be my provider.  We were created to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind.  When that is in place the rest easily follows.  No pressure on him and no failure for me.  (Frankly what I have seen and heard these last few years coming from "experts" is just too cute and in the "box" to be real.)  I am not always his cheerleader and he isn't always my prince charming.  We have loved, lived, argued, walked, sought the Lord, and believed passionately for 39 years.  I know most of his faults and on any given day don't hesitate to let him know.  He is not perfect and that works well because.....NEITHER AM I.  

Happy Anniversary to the Love of my imperfect life!  "Come grow old with me the best is yet to be!"

(I know this may sound a little "cheesey" but hey, I like cheese! (throw in some grits and I am a happy girl!)




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Monday, August 6, 2012

For God so loved the world........

Extra time is not something I usually have a lot of in my busy life.  However, today I had a lot of "extra time".  So I caught up on some messages, fb and email while I listened to a person talking about witnessing and sharing one's faith in today's world and how it has changed from years ago.   He quoted Billy Graham as saying he would not do crusades like Mr. Graham had done in the past because it would not be as effective today.   Essentially he was saying there is a new way of witnessing and we must stay current as to persuade unbelievers to come to Christ.  Further, he stated it was our "job" as Christians to change as many minds to say yes to Jesus as we possibly can.  I guess so we could proclaim so many saved through our efforts.  Impressive to man....maybe...but not so impressive to the Lord. 

When I looked to the Scriptures I was led to John 3:16.  A verse that has crossed Christian lips a zillion times during the course of their lifetime.  But I wonder if we ever pause and look at  what the Lord was really saying in this verse.   The first part of the verse is where we will start and where we will end.  It says, "For God so loved the world...."   God loved.  He cared.  He was concerned.  He made a plan.  He planned a way of escape.  He prepared for us.  He provided for us.  He informed us.  He LOVED.  

When we are led by the Holy Spirit we love people.  We see them trapped in their sin and circumstances.  We feel compassion for their needs.  We stop seeing them as projects or feathers in our caps.  So often what I am seeing today with my fellow Christians are name droppers who use people to further their careers and ambitions.  If they can't do anything for them they move on to the next.  So their witnessing is really in and for their own name.  I think one of the saddest statements I have heard is from a man who couldn't remember what it was like not to be saved.  How then could you have the compassion and mercy on another if you don't remember what state Jesus found you.  Or perhaps taking it a step further, where you find yourself so often still bound in sin.  How can you really love  if you can't relate to their eternal circumstance? 

When you love someone you enjoy your time with them and you give time.  You include them in your family.  There is a relationship.  So often I see Christians wanting to say a prayer with someone and be on their way.   Clean and painless,  we don't have to walk through their messes or troubles. No getting our hands dirty or sleepless nights of spiritual warfare for us!  With a pat on the back and a "I will pray for you" we are on our way.  The only problem we have is trying to find room for the next feather.  With the four spiritual laws tucked safely in our pockets we move our boxes to the next project.

Today please take the time to ask the Lord to forgive you for seeing people as projects, means to achieve your own goals or feathers in your cap.  This is faulty thinking with the only cure being repentance and then ask the Holy Spirit to give you a love for the world so you might be effective in your witnessing.  Then witnessing isn't about you, your gifts, or intellect.  It is about the Holy Spirit filling you and leading you to where you need to be to talk to those He came to save.  Don't be like the Pharasises thanking the Lord they were not like "them".  Don't be decieved sweet ones "them" is "you"!  Now take another look doesn't it look different.  Somehow easier to love and easier to reach.

I have often used this blog to encourage, love, and admonish.  Today please take this as a small gift the Lord used to remind you of His love for you so you can remind someone else of His great love.  So many need the reminder that.....that even while they continued to sin He sent His Son as a way of escape so that they could be free from sin and spend eternity with Him because ......God so loved the world......

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Devotional submissions

Authors/writers submissions are being accepted for a women's devotional book.  350-500 words.  Must have scripture at top.  Include a 2-3 line bio.  Looking for personal experiences that will encourage women in all walks of life, particularly single moms.  If your submission is chosen for this compilation you will be paid $25.00 and one book plus discounted books for speaking events.  Please email your submission to sduhamell@juno.com with your name, address, phone number and email address.  It would be helpful if you would include a short expression of why your devotion should be chosen for this book.  Submissions must be received by December 31, 2012. Happy Writing!

Monday, July 2, 2012

A SEASON OF DROUGHT


Three year droughts don't come often but when they do they get your attention.  Things around the yard are looking brown and dry except for a few green spots where the sprinkler system has been hard at work.  There are some tomatoes and blooms on the vegetable plants that are noticiable stressed. Even though I carefully handpicked plants and planted them at just the right time and place.  Using almost perfect soil, weeding regularly and watering - still a drought can change the outcome of what you expected when you planned and planted your garden. There are seasons where I go through droughts as well.  You know, where you plan, prepare and do everything right but it turns wrong.  When a drought goes too long it starts to cause noticable stress reactions.  You wonder where the Lord is and has His ear turned from your voice. 

Recently I was talking to a woman who had prepared for her retirement.  She tried to keep out of debt and live within her means.  But a few serious house repairs and medical expenses has her retirement in jeopardy.  Another prayed for her children believing the Lord would do great things but the children, now grown,  have turned from their faith and walking in the ways of the world.  A woman and her husband in ministry had what appeared to be everything and one day her husband felt he had to leave to be "fulfilled" somewhere else.  She believed it could never happen to her. These woman have prayed and prayed, waiting on the Lord to rain on them again. 

A drought will come to all of us at one time or another.  We drench ourselves in the Word so it goes deep within our hearts.  We continue to ask the Lord for rain even when the ground around us is drying and turning brown.  Keep praying.  Don't make too many decisions during a drought they will likely be based on emotion rather than truth. WAIT and remember the promise in Hosea 6:3...."Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him.  As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth."

What do you during a drought?  Press on to the know the Lord, pray, pray and pray.  Remember when Elijah was looking for rain in I Kings 18?  The others had turned to foreign gods and did everything to bring about rain.  Then stepped in Elijah.....prayed to the one true God.....stepped back....waited.  Then sent his servent to look towards the sea to for rain.   He came back and said, "there is nothing there".  Elijah told him seven times to look again.  On the seventh time he came back and reported there is a small cloud the size of a man's hand rising from the sea."  Shortly after that it rained.  Not just a sprinkle or shower but it is described as "heavy rains" pouring on their heads.  We would have called it a "gully washer"! 

Droughts have a beginning and droughts have an end.  Don't forget the rain cloud was a small cloud rising.....it was the beginning of the end of the drought.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Shaving your legs and vertigo.....very interesting

While vacationing this week I came down with a severe inner ear infection.  The room felt like it was spinning violently and I could not stand.  I made the mistake of closing my eyes, which made it all the worse.  After ruling out more serious maladies and calling my doc who ordered a prescription, I was feeling better (or somewhat better) in no time.  Now the room only spins when I look down or turn too quickly. However, the plane ride home may hold some unforeseen fun.  Praising the Lord that it is only a 2-hour flight.

I found that having an inner ear problem can bring about some very funny situations.  OK, so I am easily amused!  But you have to admit that shaving your legs while having vertigo can lead to some very funny stories....not to mention striped legs!  And there may have been a time or two in a restaurant where I had to explain my inner ear problem so not to appear as consuming too much alcohol!  Yes, vertigo can make it appear to others as something else less noble unless you know the truth that I don't drink alcohol and that I had vertigo. 

As I was reading the scriptures this morning I was amazed at how many times things looked one way but in truth of the Holy Spirit were another.  Let me show you what I mean.....

First, there was David.  Samuel came to Jesse's house looking for a new king.  All Jesse's sons passed before him, except for one.  The Lord said no to all of them. Samuel asked, "is this all you have?'  "Well, yes, there was another out in the field named David," Jesse said.  Samuel replies, "Get him in here - I'd like to see him,"  remembering what the Lord had commanded to Samuel.  1Samuel 16:7 - "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart."  As soon as Samuel saw David, the Lord said "Rise and anoint him as king."   Life was about to change for David. 

In Acts 3 there was a man over forty years old who was miraculously healed. It looked like he would bear his infirmity the rest of his life.  But along came Peter and John who called on the name of Jesus to heal this crippled man.  They declared in Jesus' Name that this man was made whole and healthy.  Then the Sanhedrin got all upset and threw them in jail.  But when  the authorities saw the courage of these men, Peter and John,  knowing they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and took note they had been with Jesus.  Seeing the man who was healed standing there, of course, what could they say?  So the authorities ordered  Peter and John to stop talking about Jesus - but their reply was how could they, after all they had seen and heard!  So they were released and set free. Life was about to change for Peter and John, not to mention the former crippled man. 

Then there was Jesus.  He was born to a local girl, Mary.  It looked like he would grow up like every other Hebrew boy in Israel.  But early on, things began to change.  The locals would soon learn there was something different about this little guy.  Then He went to the cross for who He said He was and it looked like He was dead, but then Sunday came  - and Mary came to the tomb and the stone was rolled away.  Then He appeared to Mary and then to the disciples and then to others.  So what appeared to be dead was really alive.  Life began to change that day for all of us!

And life will begin to change for you as well as we seek the truth.  So many times we make judgements and conclusions by sight alone.  We think our ways are true and just.  We think our motives are righteous.  We think our hearts are pure.  We think our way is the right path.  We think we have no worth.  We believe there is no purpose for the trial we are going through.  The list can go on and on in our sight.  But in light of the truth of the Holy Spirit ....we are wrong. 

You see, my vertigo makes me think the room is spinning.  In reality, the room is not spinning, nor am I.  But my brain believes that I am moving. I even think I have evidence that it is!  UNTIL I focus on one thing in the room which is fixed.  Then my brain gets it.  The body is not moving, therefore it calms down (medical term) and the feeling of movement ends.  All the body knows the truth now - I am not moving. 

So it is with us until we focus on the one thing that gives us the truth..... the Lord and His Word.  We won't know the truth, but we will think we do.  We will even have evidence that we do but the truth is we don't unless we stop, open our eyes and focus on Him and His Word - THEN we will know the truth.  So I am asking today will you stop, open your eyes and focus on HIM!  He is focused on you and wants to show you the truth so you can walk without staggering!

Now if you will excuse me, I have to stagger over to the restaurant for a little lunch.  (I sure hope this Antivert kicks in before I get there.  I just hate all this explaining!)  Focus, focus, focus........