A hand to hold (in lonely times).
A spine (during times of weakness).
Empathy (as a shoulder to lean on).
A voice (for truth).
A smile (to cheer).
Non-judgment (to erase perfection).
Faith (in doubt).
Hope (when all is lost).
Peace (amidst storms).
Direction (when air is still).
Unconditional love (because of sin).
Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
I was not raised to be a cat lover. My aversion was a learned response from my family’s reaction to cats.
When I started dating my husband, the topic of his cats came up early in conversation. Jaguar was a male, dark brown (black looking) Manx, and Pixel was a female dilute torti. Upon meeting the cats, I quickly found out that Jaguar had to give everyone he met a quick bite to state his dominance in the relationship. After the initial bite, he was a cuddle-bug. Pixel, on the other hand, was very dainty and the sweetest little girl. She curled up with Jaguar, as one cat ball, and they would nap together all the time. So cute!!
When Pixel began vomiting and drinking more water than usual, we made an appointment with the veterinarian. Blood work results concluded that our little girl was suffering from renal failure. We learned how to administer subcutaneous fluids to keep her from dehydrating and she was given a special diet along with additional medications.
The diagnosis of feline renal failure is an invitation to a funeral. Pixel may have lived about two years longer than most “renal failure cat families” because we were on a strict subcutaneous fluid routine and we kept regular veterinarian appointments.
October 8, 2003…Quality of life was the deciding factor for the one-way trip to the veterinarian’s office where the last kisses were administered and the first tears flowed. I could not stop crying. The pain was raw and insufferable.
Did I mention that I could not stop crying? About one week passed since Pixel passed. I was on the second level of my home where Pixel and I spent a lot of one-on-one time together. I was on my knees on the floor, in the middle of the room, sobbing uncontrollably, mourning the loss of our sweet little girl. Remembering how she suffered during her final days kept me in this crouched position, dehydrated from the river of tears pouring out of me. Here, at my lowest point, I began to cry out to God seeking His peace from the pain I was experiencing. After this heart-felt prayer, it happened. I began to feel warm. First my head, then my shoulders and arms. Next thing I knew, my torso, legs and toes…all warm. I instantly stopped crying and I was at peace.
God showed up, as I had asked, and He hovered over me as a warm blanket of peace. What an awesome feeling.
I was not raised to be a cat lover. My love for cats was a learned response from Pixel and Jaguar’s reaction to me.
Today is the anniversary of your passing, Pixel. Rest in peace, our precious little girl.
Psalm 29:11 (NIV)
The LORD gives strength to his people;
the LORD blesses his people with peace.
This morning, the sun was shining brightly on the steeple of the church in my neighborhood. It was as if God was waving and yelling out, “Good Morning!” to all of His creation. I felt a peace pass through me.
2 Samuel 23:4 (NIV)
he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth.
Living amongst four cats makes life interesting. I often watch when one cat stalks an unsuspecting cat while they are in the midst of rolling around the floor playing with a toy or dutifully cleaning themselves. The stalker walks ever so slowly, being sure not to be noticed. Each step is orchestrated pace-by-pace with moments of statuesque poise until the opportune moment arises and they are able to pounce and attack their prey.
I attempt to distract the stalker because I care about the unsuspecting cat enough to protect them. When the attack happens before I can intervene, I rush to comfort the cat that was preyed upon; assuring them that they are okay and that they need not fear the other cat. Although this type of activity is in their nature, I prefer a peaceful dwelling.
My cats are not demons, but this activity gives me a visual of how demonic forces prey upon humans.
We go about our lives, enjoying times with family, friends and even alone time. At each moment, the devil sits waiting in the shadows for his opportunity to prey upon our weaknesses. Have you felt envious of your friend’s success? Have you become filled with despair because you lost your job? Have you started to record a list of wrongs so you can have ammunition to throw at your spouse during the next fight? Do you invite anger to ride along with you as you drive from point A to point B? Do you numb emotional pain by over-indulging in alcohol? Has gossip slipped through your lips? These circumstances are not all-inclusive, but they are examples of weaknesses that the devil preys upon.
Jesus restored a demon-possessed man in Mark 5:1-20. He called out the legion of demons from the man and sent them into a herd of about 2,000 swine grazing nearby. The swine went crazy and rushed into a nearby lake and drowned.
Angels may run interference numerous times for us every day, but it only takes one small crack in a weakness and the devil slips in and starts to wreak havoc in our lives. When we cannot control our envy, despair, recorded lists of wrongs, road-rage, addictions, gossiping, or anything else that is a personal weakness, remember that we do not have to lie down and give up. Call out to Jesus. He will rush in and comfort, he will assure us that we will be okay because he prefers to live in a peaceful dwelling.
Let me take this time to pray upon you, in the words of Paul to the Ephesians 3:14-19
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
In Jesus’s name. Amen.
Stepping outside this morning, I noticed it was a beautiful fall day; the air crisp and the sun warm.
As I was driving after church to run an errand, I continued my contemplation of the blessing of such a beautiful day. A perfect, cloudless blue sky encapsulated the city; however, clouds could be seen in the distance to the west and the north. Seeing the clouds in the distance reminded me of life; sometimes peaceful and beautiful yet the storms will be in our future.
As I crested a hill on the highway, I came upon a police car and a fire truck, both with their lights on. People were standing around discussing with the police officer the details they remembered of the accident that recently happened. Storm clouds moved in on their beautiful fall day in which the air remained crisp and the sun warm.
On my way home, I saw more flashing lights in the distance. An ambulance and a fire truck parked in front of a house on this beautiful fall day. A stretcher was being wheeled into the front yard and paramedics were entering the front door to offer their trained services and to help calm the storm within.
Praise be to God for the beautiful fall day; the air crisp and the sun warm. Praise be to God for the stormy times in our lives as well. God is in the center of each situation. Can you see Him?
Psalm 68:4 (NIV)
Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds—his name is the LORD—and rejoice before him.
I attended a life-changing retreat June 25-27, 2010 with about 14 other women.
Although I have wanted to go on a spiritual retreat and I talked about it for over a year, I was hesitant to go. I am always hesitant to try something new, alone, that is out of my comfort zone. I should learn to trust that when I am out of my comfort zone, I learn valuable lessons in life.
On the top of the retreat schedule I received at the opening session, it was written: “We must learn to walk away from the carnival of the world ~ to become still and remember what it is that holds us; what, in us, is held.” – Ingrid Goff-Maidoff
Before reading this, my goal for the weekend was to hear God’s direction for my life. God does not have a still small voice when you seek him with an open mind, open heart and willingness to listen.
Through meditative prayer, I connected with God. I felt peace. We dedicated a labyrinth in the room and then walked it as a group, taking turns when we were ready to enter. I waited close to the end because I was out of my comfort zone. I decided to leave my baggage of problems and issues at the entrance and step over them and see what happens. It felt so good to release the baggage I held onto. I walked the labyrinth and prayed for God’s forgiveness for a lot of things, I sought his peace for other things and I just wanted to walk with God. At the center I prayed. Before I started the journey back out, I asked Jesus to carry me as I was spent from the walk in. It was here that Jesus picked me up and carried me to the mountain top experience I have so enjoyed.
I met some amazing women at the retreat. With age gaps spanning decades, we connected having so many similar life experiences. One woman listened to my hopes and dreams for my life and gave voice to urging me to seek what it is I love and want to do. It was through this woman that God spoke to me. This woman/God said, “If you knew you had one year to live, would you be doing what you are doing right now?” This is the million dollar question in my life that has given me back the hope I thought I lost and the ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel once again.
Saturday evening, alone in my room, I wanted to listen to my JPod (IPod with all Christian music and sermons from In Touch Ministry with Dr. Charles Stanley). I was upset after about 6 songs when my JPod announced “Battery Low!” I realize what God did and the sense of humor he has. I tried for a couple of days before going on the retreat to charge the JPod, but it would not properly charge. Obviously God wanted me to spend one-on-one time with him. I am so thankful that my JPod was not charged as spending one-on-one time with God was really my intention for being away at the retreat.
It is hard to put into words what the mountain top experience is like because it is such a beautiful experience. I felt so peaceful. I saw beauty in the flowers in the garden, the rainstorm, the nature walk, the songs of the birds, the pond, and in the talents the other women shared. I was able to bring this peaceful feeling to my home, my job, my family and relationships.
Matthew 17:3-5 (NIV)
3Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
4Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
5While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
In my mountain top experience, I heard the same message, ”This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
I was on a 6-day mountain top experience. Yes, I knew I had to come down, but I learned so much while there. The first time in my life instructions are not vague. I know with whom I need to ask questions. I have been charged with God’s strength and wisdom to go out and accomplish what he has in store for me. In faith, I leap off my pile of baggage and into a life that has been carved out for me.
I look forward to sharing the next phase my life story.