Friday, August 14, 2015

He Bought Her Pearls

"The righteous will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, 
'The Lord is upright; He is my rock...'"
Psalm 92:14-15

Me, Mom (80) and Jim - June 2013

My husband arrived home late on a Friday night after having been across the globe in India on business for two weeks. Weary from lengthy travel but excited to share his stories with us about his first trip to India, Jim dropped his heaver-than-when-he-left suitcases on the living room floor. We gathered around him, wanting to be close and quite eager to listen to his tales of adventure in an interesting country with beautiful people of a different culture. 

But before telling us his stories, he zipped open his bags with a wide smile and began pulling out gifts for me and the kids. I had insisted when he left that he just bring something home for our children. His safe and healthy arrival home would truly be gift enough for me. But enthusiasm and love got the better of his heart, and he brought us each a few carefully-chosen gifts. We were delighted.

When Jim was done showering us with treasures from India, he showed me two felt-covered jewelry boxes. "I got pearl necklaces for each of our moms. I thought they would really like them."

He bought pearls. For my mom.

You see, my mom is now in her 80s, is courageously facing age-related illnesses everyday and has lived in a faith-based elder care facility since September 2013. Though she is content there and faces each new day with anchored hope and bright smiles, my sweet mom doesn't leave the facility unless she is being transported by an ambulance to a doctor's appointment or to the hospital. She doesn't get dressed up any more, rather she wears comfortable clothing that facilitates easy transfers from bed to toilet to wheelchair. My mom can't attend fancy social celebrations, and her calendar only offers her the daily geriatric activities her new home provides. She has nowhere special to go for dinner...she eats in the same dining room every evening, at the same table, looking out the same window. 

And my husband bought her pearls.

He bought her pearls.

Oh how this touches my heart so deeply.

It matters not to Jim that my mom is an aging octogenarian or that she has no place fancy to wear the pretty pearl necklace.

He values my mom. He bought her pearls.

He doesn't see age or illness. He sees the beauty of a mature woman who has abode in the Lord for decades and whose zest for life is unceasing.

He values my mom. He bought her pearls.

He doesn't care that she has nowhere fancy to go. He cared enough to know her still-sparkly blue eyes would light up even more when she received the carefully-strung fresh-water pearls.

He values my mom. He bought her pearls.

Jim's intrinsic love for my mom reflects the heart of God. The Pearl of Great Price loves precious people of every age who are seeking Him.

God knows the value of the aged.

"They still bear fruit in old age..."
Psalm 92:14

God knows the value of a life that has persevered in the faith.

"Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is attained in a righteous life."
Proverbs 16:3

God values the wisdom and understanding that reside in the hearts of the aged.

"Wisdom is with the aged,
and understanding in length of days."
Job 12:12

God knows the value of old age and cares perfectly for the aged.

"Even to your old age and gray hairs,
I am He, I am He who will sustain you.
I have made you, and I will carry you;
I will sustain you, and I will rescue you."
Isaiah 46:4

Jim bought my mom pearls. 

So she will put those pretty pearls on her beautifully-weathered neck. And she will wear them to Sunday chapel, to Monday bingo, to Tuesday hair salon appointment, to Wednesday wheelchair exercise class, to Thursday crossword puzzles, to Friday hymn histories and to Saturday sing-a-long. And she will wear them to dinner every evening in the same dining room, at the same table, looking out the same window. 

And she will remember she is valued. By Jim. By her family. By God.

"...until I proclaim Your might 
to another generation..."
Psalm 71:18

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Purpose And A Promise

"Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed,
but let him glorify God in this matter. - 1 Peter 4:16

Tammie with her husband, Bob,
and their three children - Joshua, Daniel and Olivia

Often we wonder if God does truly have a purpose in the trials, sufferings and challenges we face. Sometimes the heartache and physical suffering seem to eclipse God's goodness and His plan for our lives. We ask, Does God really have a purpose in all of this suffering? Will He truly work all things together for good?

In my sweet, down-to-earth friend Tammie Dowd's new book A Purpose And A Promise, she invites you to share in her journey as she watches her courageous mom, Joanne, battle stage four breast cancer for many years. Remarkably, as she walks with her mom through her battle, she sees God at work in the hearts and lives of the each family member. 

Tammie shares her joys and her honest struggles with her faith as she journeys through season of physical illness with her mom. Unpacking the truths of scripture, Tammie invites you to discover with her that the hardships God allows in our lives can also bring the greatest blessings. 

Through Joanne's brave battle with cancer and Tammie's candid and disarming perspective, A Purpose And A Promise will remind you that God's faithfulness is unwavering, and His care is perfect.

In celebration of Tammie's book release and in honor of her mom, Joanne, I am giving away an autographed copy of the book. Just leave a comment here or simply "like" the post on Facebook. You will be entered to win! The winner will be announced the end of this week.

Oh...and if you LIKE Tammie's Facebook page, you will be entered twice! Just click here: A PURPOSE AND A PROMISE

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Choosing Shoes of Peace

"How beautiful your sandaled feet,
O prince’s daughter!"
~ Song of Solomon 7:1

I do love how God moves in our hearts to bless one another. When He impresses things on our hearts to do to bless and encourage each other, it shows HIS tender care for us in very personal, detailed ways. He moves in ways to touch our hearts and deepen our faith. And only He can get the glory through these sweet miracles!! I know when He whispers to our hearts and we obey, He is up to something very good.

A few years back, the Lord was speaking to my heart through His Word about my shoes and my feet. Seriously, I am a foot girl. I love foot rubs, pedicures and shoes. They are my love language. I loved seeking scriptures on shoes and feet during that season of life. I quietly journaled the shoes-and-feet scriptures, which I called "pedi-scriptures"! 

One thing God was reminding me through the pedi-scriptures was to always wear shoes of peace. ~ Ephesian 6:15: "For shoes, put on the readiness to preach the Good News of peace with God." He was gently calling to my attention to always have feet that proclaim peace and salvation and bring Good News.  ~ Isaiah 52:7:  "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation...!"  

During that season of Him faithfully admonishing and growing me in His Word through the pedi-scriptures, He blew my socks off one Wednesday morning.

Wednesdays have long been my Bible study days. At that time, I attended a Precepts Ministry Bible study in the mornings, and then I took a 20-minute drive to do a study at my friend Shannon's home in the afternoon. I had missed several Wednesdays in a row due to my mom being hospitalized.

After things settled down for my sweet mom, I was excited to get back to my studies and to enjoy fellowship with friends I had not seen in several Wednesdays. As I walked into my Precepts study, my friend, Robin, greeted me warmly, holding something in her hand. 

Sharon, I wanted to get you something to encourage you. I have missed you at Bible study and have been praying for you, but I wanted to give you something tangible. I asked the Lord what I should get for you and He kept impressing the same thing on my heart: "Get her shoes." He kept whispering to my heart, "Buy Sharon shoes." When I pulled up in front of DSW, He confirmed it in my heart again. "Buy your girlfriend shoes." I wasn't sure of your size or what kind of shoes you would really like or need right now, so, here you go...I got you a gift card to DSW. You can pick your own shoes.  

I pick my own shoes. I choose if I will put on and wear shoes of peace.

Tears bubbled over and splashed down my face. I was the recipient of His grace and goodness.  

God wants me to have shoes. Shoes of peace. Shoes that have in them feet proclaiming peace and salvation, bringing Good News and good tidings. Those are the kind of shoes God wants me to have. Those are the kind of shoes I want to wear. 

He confirmed through the kindness, generosity and obedience of Robin the message He had been speaking to my heart about shoes and feet. With obedience comes the blessing of seeing God at work. Robin heard God's still, small voice. She obeyed and was part of God's work in another person's heart. How sweetly humbling for me to receive such a beautiful gift. How encouraging for Robin to know she had indeed heard and obeyed.

Thank you, Robin, for being His vessel to tangibly remind me to wear His shoes of peace...or, in that case, wear cute sandals of peace! I chose stylish Rocket Dog summer sandals, which are still a constant reminder of His goodness through you. And I promise to wear them with a heart that is pursuing peace. 

"Seek peace and pursue it."  Psalm 34:14

"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."Luke 6:38   

Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Whole-Hearted Half Birthday Celebration

"He who regards one day as special,
does so to the Lord."
(Romans 14:6)

Happy 14-1/2 Birthday, Joshua!

Half Birthdays....wholehearted sprinkles of celebration for our children's hearts. Simple. Meaningful. Fun. Half birthday cakes are served. We've even been known to serve half pizzas. Whatever makes it a little silly and very memorable.

Today we celebrate Joshua's Half Birthday -- 14 and a half. We will enjoy a half of a blueberry cheesecake -- one of his favorites. I love celebrating the loves of those with whom God has blessed our family. Treasures. 

So thankful for this fine young man. So humbled to be Joshua's mom. Thank You, Jesus.

"The Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Resolve to Honor His Name

"'Resolve to honor My name,' 
says the LORD Almighty." 
Malachi 2:2 
A new year. A turning of the calendar pages. A time for reflection. A time for resolve. A time for looking ahead for growth and change.  

Lasting and fruitful change.  

Transformation. Resolve. 

That can only come through the perfect Word of God.  "Every word of God is flawless..."  Proverbs 30:5

"You cannot develop a righteous life apart from God’s Word. Righteousness must be cultivated. As you fill your mind with the words of God, and as you obey His instructions, He will guide you in the ways of righteousness." - Blackaby

If we resolve to do anything this year, let's resolve to honor His name and be transformed by His Word.  "...'resolve to honor My name,' says the LORD Almighty."  Malachi 2:2   

A surrendered heart pursuing peace and holiness. Seems like such a lofty, unattainable pursuit. Yet we are instructed to do it.  "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14

Resolved to honor His name. Resolved to be transformed.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
Romans 12:12

Resolutions tend to be self-centered.  Resolutions are about me, my strength and my commitment.  

Transformation is Christ-centered.  Transformation comes from the renewing of our minds by the washing of the water of God's Word.  We surrender and yield to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and allow His transformation to take place in our lives through the Truth of God's Word.  And WOW...He transforms us into His image!  "You have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."  Col. 3:10 

"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."  2 Cor. 3:18

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."

The condition of my heart before the Lord moment-by-moment is most important to me. God creates a pure heart in us. God renews a steadfast spirit in us. My responsibility is to keep my heart before Him in humility. A teachable heart. A humble heart. "...humility precedes honor." Proverbs 15:33 

"Every time we open the Word of God, it should be for the purpose of being broken." - Nancy Leigh DeMoss “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite."  Isaiah 57:15

As we daily surrender our hearts to His truth, He creates a pure heart in us and transforms our hearts to be more like His.  Wow!  That sure is humbling and awesome. 

If we resolve to do anything this year, let's resolve to honor His name and be transformed by His Word.  "...'resolve to honor My name,' says the LORD Almighty."  Malachi 2:2   This resolve is too lofty for to attain on our own.  Only by HIS grace and Word can it be so.  Let's look only to Him and His Truth for renewal and transformation.

Happy Renew Year!!!

"I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your word."
Psalm 119:16