Well my life has been busy with some unprecedented caregiving, health issues, and very little sleep. I have two precious sisters who are nagging me, (just kidding) I mean, loving me into some form of submission. But I digress… here’s the story:
About a month ago I signed up for a senior exercise program and because I am (ahem) of – or should I say – beyond – a certain age, I was required to have a doctor sign a permission slip. I was a bit ticked and felt like an elementary kid going to get my permission slip. Well.
My Bp was 240/158. Yes, you read that correctly. The doctor knows my busy busy dizzy life, and looked me in the eye and said carefully, This. Is. A. Medical. Emergency. He got my attention. Note that I did not feel ill. I thought I perhaps had an allergy as my ears felt full and my scalp felt a little tight.
I went home and got to my husband as he finished mowing the lawn and he drove me to the emergency room. On the way there I thought I have to realize this could be my homegoing! I was not afraid. I was peaceful. I called the kids and asked them to pray, and I began chanting, Peace. I knew my doctor had meant every word he said and if I got nervous about it I’d make the numbers climb higher. So I kept saying Peace. Peace. Peace and deep breathing.
By the time we got there the numbers had started to go down – well, down to 220/120 and thereabouts. Soon I was getting my Bp taken over and over and had an IV put in for meds to get it down. I kept saying Peace, whatever they did to me, and someone asked, “What are you muttering?”
Long story short I was in ICU for 3 days and had a raft of tests. All of the tests came back “unremarkable.” Awwe. And here I always thought I was special. Ha ha. The nice part of this adventure (besides no damage to any body parts) was that the doctor in the emergency room asked if I had stress in my life and I laughed. He asked what I did to relax and I told him I speak and write. Of course the staff asked what I spoke about (Finding purpose despite an abusive past) and what I wrote about (God’s loving attention to our needs and activating our faith to Be the Miracle for others).
None of the tests were able to reveal what (other than stress and sneaking chocolate and potato chips) had likely caused the Bp to be so high. I had a new mission – to find something to lower it and to keep it as ‘normal’ as possible.
That was accomplished and then I decided I would like to have some coaching to guide lifestyle changes. I found one lady online who had a 5-day no-sugar challenge. We got to know one another, and she was helpful by teaching me that no-sugar meant excluding all foods that raise the insulin level, and recommending I get my thyroid tested.
I’ve done that and should get the results this week or next. The combination of these events had me feeling I was at the starting point of a new phase of life but surrounded by detours. Then a member of my AWSA (Advanced Speakers and Writers Association) put me in touch with a degreed person willing to coach two people as he pursued a higher degree in Health Coaching and I was selected!
So, here I go, about to get enlightened, encouraged (I’ve already gotten that at my entrance interview), and, hopefully, learning to better control life’s stress while developing deeper into all that God created me to be.
I’ve only begun, but it was a wonderful start for me to hear my new coach say I should feel free to be OUTRAGEOUS!
The next 6-8 weeks – depends on how attentive a student I am – should be interesting and fun.
Well time to go do my homework!
My favorite season is done for this year – summer’s sauna days to soak up vitamin D are past. Like the leaves on our tree out front some of the year’s changes are gliding away and making room for new growth in the coming new year. Some of the year’s damage is also being repaired, shored up, and given a fresh start.
Does fall mean a fresh start for you or is it winding down to snuggle in winter’s cuddly clothes, relaxation and hibernation?
Summer has been a fruitful season for me in reception to my writings and speaking, as well as in outreach, family time, work in the home, and safety in travel. God has done much good in our lives.
Acts 14:17 and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”
In addition to our seasons of nature, we also have seasons of life – physical and spiritual. What season are you in? What has your favorite season so far this year brought you? Have you experienced the witness of God in your work, your family life and your outreach? Perhaps it has been a rough season for you and you are still planting for the upcoming changes in nature, in your life and in your spirit.
Are you ready for a new season or still preparing?
My prayer for you: To be like the tree – firmly rooted – taking a stand – staying close to the source of refreshment, letting the master till and prune your heart to bear fruit; reaching out to others while sustaining strength for the next season, and using whatever your talent and skills are to the glory of God, building wealth in soul and spirit.
Psalm 1:3 And he will be
like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season,
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Daily devotionals are posted – each writer assigned to a day of the week usually at 5:30 a.m.
Following the morning devotion (from 10:00 on) each author will have an hour to share their ministry through writing, speaking and crafting. Prizes will be chosen from commenters, and we hope to get to know you as well through your responses.
Hope you will join us at our Facebook Page – Fill My Cup, Lord for some fun and fruitful times.
Mark your calendar!
Ripples of Faith
An interview with Chaplain Steve Kellough of Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois (previously published on CBN.com)
The name Todd Beamer became known across America on September 11, 2001. Todd was one of those on United Airlines Flight 93 who apparently foiled efforts of the hijackers and grounded the flight in rural Pennsylvania. (His widow Lisa was introduced at the Capitol when President Bush addressed Congress shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks).
Todd was a Wheaton College alumnus -as was Jason Oswald, working just above where American Airline Flight 11 struck the south tower of the World Trade Center. Jason had just moved to New York and begun his job 3 months prior. On American Airline’s Flight 11 was the grandmother of Jacob Anderson, a current student at Wheaton, and Rev. Jeffrey Malednik, a Wheaton grad-school alumnus and pastor at Christ Church of Oakbrook, Illinois.
Thus in that single moment in time, hundreds of college students and faculty and thousands of lives in and around Wheaton, Illinois were immediately, deeply, and personally affected.
The great majority of Wheaton’s 18-22 year-old students were unfamiliar with death -in any form – and understandably sensitive to such a world catastrophe – especially one that so personally touched them. These classmates, friends, and family members had names. Jeff left a widow, 4 children, and his church family; Jason, his fiancé and both of their families. Todd’s widow Lisa had 3 children, was expecting and has since delivered their 4th child; Jacob’s grandmother, who had been visiting family in Boston, left a void with many AIDS patients, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program where she ministered, her 5 children including Jacob, and many more grandchildren. Like ripples in a pond from a single pebble, the ring of friends, relatives, fellow-students, and other lives that were touched is ever widening.
The ripples, however, began long before September 11th as Jeff, Jason, Todd and Jacob’s grandmother each made peace with God at various points in their lives. Particularly because of those personal relationships, Wheaton’s Chaplain Kellough shared with me; staff and counselors found comfort that the student’s responses to their grief were underscored with hope.
Though plunged into an abyss of crossroads the students were, he felt, “Looking for ways to use their spiritual resources”. Compelled as all of America to watch the tragedy unfold, students were grieving at the personal loss – not only for Wheaton and themselves but for the world, and “they immediately began thinking more seriously about their faith, using the time of mourning seeking help and seeking God for peace.” Immediately they left their classrooms, rushing to join the faculty who stood like sentinels, lining the perimeter of the chapel, so students could approach them for prayer.
This was truly an “American Moment”, for there were no distinctions at Wheaton that day, – student and staff, class and rank were one in spirit, for all were grieving. Time would show this was no temporary detour – it was a complete and life-changing U-turn for hundreds of students. Staff and the campus community alike witnessed the beginning sparks in the chapel that day. Following an open invitation to come to the microphones and share comfort, scores upon scores of students lined up immediately to share scripture they had memorized or to read scriptures of comfort and hope. Hours later, that first memorial service was closed in unison as throughout the chapel tens of students who had not made it to the microphones turned to those next to them, and communicated through the scriptures the comfort of God to all who had gathered together. The spirit of unity and the cacophony and fervor of hundreds of voices corporately sharing scripture was, Chaplain Kellough shared, not unlike what he imagined might be experienced in heaven.
But the students’ “heavenly changes” had just begun. Emotionally drained staff members were amazed at the number of services the students initiated as they saw the need for prayer and worship. The campus where Jason Oswald (described by many as a very Godly man) and his best friend were alumnus hosted a Saturday memorial service officiated by Holy Trinity Church of Hyde Park, the church Jason attended. The following Monday, a chapel service was a tribute to the memory and honor of those 4 lost by Wheaton’s family and the world. Sue Malednik, 3 of her 4 children, and Jeff’s mother joined the memorial service where Sue touchingly commented how proud Jeff was of being a graduate of the grad school and of wearing his Wheaton college ring – even that fateful day. Lisa Beamer was looked up to as a courageous and unique person who was given supernatural grace and strength to be able to set aside her own grieving as she was asked on Larry King, Oprah, and other programs to speak of her faith, Todd’s faith and his character in light of the unusual tragedy and circumstances.
Watching Lisa’s faith in action inspired the students to continue their spiritual turnabout. But the students did not stop at inspiration alone. United, their focus galvanized as they held several other special services with as many as 600 students attending individual services. It became obvious to family, friends, staff and community that the students were finding the need for a devotional life more important than before. Suddenly, the chaplain noted, small groups were a more important priority and the scriptures were more compelling. “Another thing that struck me,” Chaplain Kellough shared, “was how their actions demonstrated their interest in debunking consumerism and materialism by affirming their spiritual resources. Like a light at a crossroad, the students showed the way to many, first centering on their spiritual relationship to God, then as well to what they could do – quickly responding to first Timothy 2, verses 1 and two “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” by praying for their leaders, and praying more fervently than ever for peace in the world.”
Then the dramatic U-turn of the students of Wheaton College took on a more personal aspect, for Chaplain Kellough described how the students experienced personal revival. Devouring scripture and given constantly to prayer, they opened themselves to self-evaluation and they rediscovered how Jesus called them to be peacemakers. Unafraid of scrutiny, and putting their new enlightenment into action, student after student called or went home, repairing, affirming and developing closer personal relationships with parents and siblings, as well as friends.
Through these students and the staff, Wheaton College’s mission and ministry goal to integrate faith and learning was maximized and lived out during the days following September 11. Although some urban schools closed campuses for security purposes, Wheaton deliberately did not, allowing students and faculty to process all that happened in the light of faith, allowing for prayer and discussion using the particular discipline of each course, finding the Christian response to war and tragedy. Consequently, students’ reaction was that they will forever look at the world in a different way, for such an attack on humanity was a revelation to them of the fallenness of the world. The evil efforts of those who wanted to use the tragedy for their own financial benefit, developing scams within 24 hours that pretended to be collecting money for relief, shocked them and was a grim reminder of the depth of evil in our world today. But, at the same time, they were touched at the contrasts in multitude of reports of the love of God shown through people with acts of genuine caring and love.
“These events, though difficult, gave us a realistic view of our world,” said the obviously sensitized Wheaton students — intent on a new mission. Desiring to do relief work or help those who were struggling in New York, Pennsylvania, Washington and other parts of the world, students responded immediately by changing previous decisions concerning their spring and summer plans. Individually and collectively they began prioritizing and re-evaluating priorities of life – both short and long term. Unashamed, telling how they now felt called by God to work for Christ in some work of compassion and relief for victims of hardship, hundreds of students vocalized and demonstrated that the material things they had been going after “are now unimportant – the goal of a big salary and a nice house were no longer the priority.”
A sense of urgency for evangelism pervaded the campus, for the need was seen so much more dramatically as people filled the churches, seeking for resources of faith. It was comforting, Chaplain Kellough assured me, to watch those good things happening in light of all the bad they’d just experienced.
Despite the exhausting and demanding time as their link to God as the pastor of Wheaton College, or perhaps because of it, Kellough acknowledged a spiritual deepening himself, citing an intensified personal prayer life, and experiences of an “unusual very-present strength and source of help in the Lord within the unusually increased workload.”
As Kellough recalled crying out to God for words to comfort the entire campus, he also recalled how it all began – immediately after the planes hit the trade center and the pentagon: “Even that first question on everyone’s mind of “Why can such a thing as this happen?” – was bypassed, he marveled, as students asked instead – “Who? “Who do we go to in times like these?”
Their conclusion – a firm and unshakable resolve – “There is only one place to go to and that is God” was inspiring. Inspiring because it is true, but also inspiring because those young students were open and honest enough to turn from their present course and redirect every area of their personal lives to pleasing and serving God.
Their resolve and their God is still active today as these never-the-same students head toward their former career goals with new and deeper perspectives and goals. Oh yes, they will still be lawyers, teachers, pastors, accountants and everything in between – but their vocations are no longer just “jobs” for they have researched well how they can serve in each area as ministers to those in need, while using their talents to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are the first to tell you that the students of Wheaton College are moving forward on their new course. Through their lives, their decisions and their actions they say, “…although there is much evil in this world there is still a loving God, and we need to look to Him for help, for understanding, for comfort and direction.”
Their world has already experienced some of the life changes they have made as a result of their resolves and commitments. Our world too, is beginning to bear their fruit – graduates of those who have tossed out into the waters of life their pebbles of faith. Year by year as each of these hundreds of students graduate and carry their faith into the world the ripples will broaden again and again.
How can I be so certain of this? The scriptures have promised it.
2 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 will heal their land.
Let’s pray today for all the families left behind, for all the survivors experiencing PTSD, and for America.
Click here for
Todd Beamer’s Father -and others share their stories.
Titus clearly outlined what godly living should look like
The basis is that God’s grace changes the church so the church can be a living example of that grace. We (not various buildings) are God’s church.
My applications from Titus are:
Titus 2:1 – Tell/speak/show/demonstrate to believers to live the kind of life that is fitting [clearly seen as] sound instruction and builds trust and respect for our faith.
Example: displaying through words and actions such profound love and respect that others recognize it as other-worldly and long for it in their own lives
Men: temperate, dignified, sensible, sound (steadfast) in faith, love and perseverance
Women: sensible, pure/reverent behavior focused on family first, respectful of husband, kind, not dishonoring God’s Word in anything
Building up and loving one another through all circumstances by depending on God’s Word as a firm foundation for our decisions and actions. Live an example that will show younger couples and children what godly love looks like.
Respect Employers and Legal Authorities
Do not steal material goods or time from employer. Respect the office even if you cannot respect the person. Look for good things to do and be prepared to be the one who leads doing peaceful and good actions without maligning others. Remember that all have personal pain and gently show consideration for the lives God intended them to have in Christ.
Avoid Controversies and Aimless Disputes
Focus on (memorize and study) God’s truth so you can speak calmly and confidently to encourage others not to submit their emotions to those with ungodly goals.
Dormant faith cannot bear fruit. We must learn to prepare to meet others’ needs and to sow/plant/anticipate God to work through us what is good and profitable for all.
In summary our actions should be an affirmation of our words.
Our words should be a confirmation of our actions.
Both our actions and our words should clearly proclaim our faith.
Faith that is activated through telling and showing is a natural and expected response to the rescue we have experienced through Christ.
Take a look through Titus 2 and 3, putting your name in place of the words you, us and we – and let me know what you find! What does Activating Faith look like in your life?
In these tough times many of us have reduced income for various reasons. As followers of Christ it is our responsibility to properly manage whatever we have been given. Some people think once you know the Lord you are immune to human failings and the lure and deceit of the world to spend, spend, spend. Sorry, but we are STILL human, and God said all things are becoming new. There is hardly anything worse financially, than not knowing what is in the checkbook and fearing to answer the telephone because it might be a creditor.
Many people have found help in evaluating their motives and spending habits with the following questions.
What will help you stand firm against making money mistakes?
Recognize Money Mistakes that “even Christians” make
Disobedience (not taking the responsibility to obey)
We have been greatly influenced by Mary Hunt’s common sense approach to finances, and have been able to help others using her plan and materials.
Specific tools for getting out of financial difficulty can be found in Mary Hunt’s books and website Living Debt Free.
I think we all have them. I certainly have my share –
Things I wish I’d said and done….
Things I wish I hadn’t.
I want to gift you with a comment a writer friend gave me through one of her characters.
In the story, the character’s wife had been unfaithful and unrepentant about it. He was so hurt and angry he stepped away and did not offer her redemption. She was killed in an auto accident shortly after and he regretted what to him felt like a vital missed opportunity.
After years of agonizing about his self-identified “un-Christian” attitude and lack of action, he finally confessed it to a friend.
The friend’s response:
And do you think God was limited by that?
Was God limited in fulfilling that person’s need by the character’s action…by my action…or lack of it?
Whoa. I’d forgotten, just as the character had, that my story was not just my story – it was God’s story. God knows my weaknesses and appreciates my confession and repentance, and then He
forgets my wimping out of opportunities that were given to be a bigger part of a number of stories.
God promised He would never leave us or forsake us. He did not promise those I love that He would do that only through me or only through me and…but exactly what His Word says – God/Jesus said “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
One resource says there are 5467 promises, divine, in the Bible. Another resource says there are 3000 promises to which God answers yes. However many there are, none…
Depend on me.
That is not to say God will not use me (or you) in others lives, he will, and I am grateful to get confirmation from time to time that He has given me that privilege.
But it is such a comfort to be reminded that where I have failed, God has prevailed.
He does not need to use people, but He often does. And though I may experience loss for those poor choices, procrastination, fear, or lack of follow through and so on, I can be confident that God’s promises have been, are being, and will be completely fulfilled.
I look forward to the day when I see and hear the rest of many stories, and to thank whomever God used in my place to correct and fulfill what I should have done (or not done).
2Cor. 1:20 Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident.
2Cor. 7:1 With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God.
Heb. 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful
How has God been faithful to you?
Anger – a punishment we give ourselves, usually for someone else’s mistake.
Anger – whoever makes you angry, or keeps you angry, has control of you – your emotions and your attitude.
Anger – God expects it. He understands we will get angry, but gives us a choice and directions of what to let it do and not do.
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
What good can anger possibly do?
Anger can help us identify triggers
Anger can motivate us to do something about whatever makes us angry
Anger can help cope with stress by discharging the tension that built up to that point
Anger can make us face consequences (especially if we are angry at ourselves)
Anger can lead us to call out to God when we realize who or what is controlling us
Anger can be a bargaining tool if it makes the antagonist realize they are being hurtful.
Anger can increase cooperation if the anger is justified and controlled and appropriate
Anger can lead to self-improvement if we improve or change our response to its triggers
Aristotle said: “Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”
The Bible says:
James 1: 19-20
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
We all have many stories of the hurt anger has caused but do you have a story of some good that controlled anger has brought about?
I don’t often get to spend time with my friend/daughter-in-law (DIL) Kris, so when she saw a bucket list item in the middle of a 100 mile rummage sale, I was happy to offer to be the designated driver and she the designated navigator.
When I informed my husband, however, he had another idea – a dare, really. He originally thought I said we were going to 100 rummage sales, and I suppose that was possible though even the thought was exhausting. We are, like most people our age, at the stage of downsizing, not hunting for gems at rummage sales. Consequently he challenged me to take 100 items and leave one at each rummage sale, so instead of bringing home 100 things, I’d be getting rid of them!
I accepted the challenge and prepared a box of items (though no where near 100 items). I also prayed that God would guide what I would leave where, and if it was his will that I could encourage or connect with at least one person through this special trip.
I’ve become, as daughters, friends and family have indicated, more and more controlling as the years go by – not that I like to control them, but that I like to be in control. I brought along a paper printout of each city stop on the route, with distances etc. Kris put it away in the car and pulled out her GPS! I had to learn trust real quickly.
We had a great time discussing many things and especially books on the way up. At one point I was sharing the synopsis of a current read and thinking dear DIL might like to read it when I was done. She let me go on for quite a bit (apparently patiently used to my detailed descriptions) and then she said, “That sounds like Sarah’s Key,” which it was. It was fun each night to tell her where I was and to answer her queries about how I felt about different characters and happenings.
The first day was driving, finding the bucket-list-museum to be nice though a bit underwhelming pole barn. We then began the dare, visiting the sales that were still open at dusk in a near-by town. Kris caught me explaining the dare to one lady and challenged me to slip the goodies onto their tables instead, so I began alternating. The next day was almost total rummaging. I’d drive and we’d see a sign with balloons or ribbons and she’d say yes or no and we’d pull in.
At first we were tempted by signs that said huge, then quickly found the seller’s view did not match ours. Even the sign saying biggest, best sale at the high school deluded us. We envisioned the gym filled with tables upon tables of goodies. There were a few tables outside the school and books on blankets in the grass. We were soon laughing when we saw the word HUGE on a sign.
We did browse and contribute to the Feral Friends sale. (they capture, neuter and release Feral cats to reduce population. It was located by one of the numerous historical markers on the edge of a little park and a depot in process of restoration.
Flea markets were pretty big with raw honey, jam, moringa tea, and lots of unidentifiable things but had a few of what we were looking for (golden books, baby clothes for a new great-grandchild and steam punk items) but the barn sales were very dirty. I grew up near a farm and still did not expect things for sale to be coated with dust and grease and to be priced well over what we knew the value to be. Almost every place we left, we next wanted to go wash our hands.
There was an interesting bohemian couple that found Kris’ broad knowledge interesting, so while they continued to chat and try to convince her to buy more of their books, I slipped over to another sale near the car. I’d seen the woman manning the tables go into the house, so it was a perfect opportunity to slip a couple of surprises on her table. As
we were leaving, the woman came out of the house, and began straightening items on the tables. She was bent over the stack of books on one corner (which now had two additional volumes) as we drove off J.
We did find a place to wash our hands and have a meal with “the best sweet potato fries ever” according to my navigator.
Getting tired of the sameness Kris suggested we try a few more and head north. There came a big green sign with that word on it. HUGE. And so, laughing we headed toward the woods, We drove past probably 7 or 8 green signs taunting us or comforting us, however you wanted to take it, that we were on the right road, we would soon get there, to keep on going, and we were almost there till finally at the top of a hill about 6 miles into the woods we saw a house halfway into the little valley. The 100 mile rummage sale had begun on Thursday so it’s likely the slim pickings should have been expected. I had a few things left in the car and felt I should leave a couple of Christian books at this one. I did not bring them with me to sneak them in. We walked through their goods and chatted with the friendly gals. I told them I was going to purchase a blue candle but I had something for them in the car. Kris was done shopping and entertaining the ladies with stories of our adventure, so she went to the car when I did and stayed there while I returned with the books.
As I re-approached their table, I explained the husband-dare, and like others they laughed and thought it was a great idea they might try someday. I handed both books to the gal sitting at the checkout table and she moved the top book to look at the second and gasped then held that book to her chest and exclaimed possessively, “This one’s mine!”. I asked her what that was about and she said she was amazed. A friend’s grandmother had highly recommended that she read that specific book, she said, and she had been wondering how a gal out in the middle of nowhere was going to find that book. Her friend came over and commented on the situation and the gal kept looking at the book and at me and shaking her head. Kris and I had exchanged info about where we live and so she knew it was a God-led coincidence for us to show up and hand her the book she was seeking at her friend’s grandma’s urging. It was obvious from the conversation the grandmother was a believer and wanted to share her faith with the younger woman.
I did not leave my name or info as I sometimes do, but did have in each book a postcard about where we are in the world compared to the sun. They were reading it aloud when I left. I did rather float out to the car in happiness. I love when God answers prayers like that.
A friend visiting today said that a wise person told him that the longer a person walks closely to Christ, the more unexplainable “coincidences” they will experience. He found it true.
I find it true as well.
What was your most recent unexplainable coincidence?