Friday, July 24, 2009


My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord; and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

from Psalm 145

Being out of town today and in quite a rush to leave for home, I'm short of time and creativity. BUT, not short of thanks! Of praises! Of glory to God, from Whom all blessings do flow!

Jeff spoke with the doctor's office over the phone late yesterday. The biopsy results were in!

There is NO cancer! The suspicious cells previously seen in another biopsy were not even there!

The joy, the relief, the thanksgiving we share in our hearts is all for God's glory! Praise Him!

We have a couple of miles yet to go, with some other tests and a heart cath. BUT, our Redeemer lives and stands faithful and will continue to go with us in grace!

Thank you, dear, dear friends for your oh so precious prayers and words of encouragement! All gave me such strength and courage! All are invaluable to me! How precious you are to God and to all!

I pray your day and weekend are filled with the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I pray you and your family are blessed abundantly. I pray the peace that passes all understanding will guard your lives and hearts today (Philippians 4:13).

Much Love To All,


Wednesday, July 15, 2009


"Pain is God's megaphone."

C. S. Lewis

Its lovely, luscious look was expected. Its frothy cream topping anticipated. So silky, so covered with toasty pecans. So bound by its beautiful, baked crust of white flour and real butter, elevated to rapturous delight by a dash of sweet and a heaping of more nuts.

Two fillings in said dish lured one to place hand on the convenient spoon, scoop, and heap onto one's plate, making scarcely sure not to cross the line of self-reproach. One filling held soft cream cheese, fresh whipped cream, and my delight, confectioner's sugar.

And the other filling. My dreamed-of confection. My irresistible beloved. My epicurean addiction shared with my dear late father, who so too loved its taste. My material nightmare!

Contained in the layer just above a divine crust was a silky, creamy dessert all its own. One that turned said dish from a delightful creation of comfort to a heavenly chocolate concoction. And the glassy, dark filling was too much for resistance.

I beheld. I desired. I succumbed. I rebelled. I resisted wise words spoken only days before.

"Its most likely chocolate," his kind voice almost dreaded the bidding. We had thoroughly discussed. He had questioned. I willingly, yet timidly complied. He thought. Examined. Thought. And gave his professional, always faithful, medical opinion.

"You may just have to give it up. It's probably the source of your migraines. Chocolate can even cause headaches days after you eat it, so you might want to stay away from it and see if they go away."

"OK." I obliged. With much respect. Much grief. And much internal conflict.

Chocolate has been my known adversary for quite some time. I have ignored its stings and arrows for its rich flavor and momentary bliss for years. I have passed opportunity for greater health for the seemingly sinful pleasure of sweet, dark, "fruit" that slowly softens in my mouth.

Insomnia, palpitations, irritability, misery have most often followed my yielding. The migraines now seem God's great megaphone shouting, "Do NOT eat! Do NOT touch!"

Yet, even after my dear doctor's emphatic words, my historical symptomatic responses, and what concerned me as providential Voice, I was still complicit with my enemy, when, on Sunday, we had a beautiful meal after church, and I was, at the end of the serving line, met by forbidden fruit.

I ate with guilt. I left with guilt. I dealt with guilt. Denied reality. Said to self, "It may not be chocolate causing your headaches, Andrea. It's only a chance. Probably just a coincidence. They'll most likely just go away."

And at 5:00 a.m. Tuesday morning my hard head was throbbing, begging my stillness and room's darkness. Most concerned, my dear husband made his way to our little cottage kitchen and brought me cola in a clear glass and medicine in his gentle hand. I thanked him for such lovingkindness that is his dear way, and slooowly lay down and oh, so carefully turned on my side, hoping to sleep and awake relieved.

On arising, I realized improvement and thanked my Jeff once again. Then, when all was quiet, alone with God, faced my stubborn denial and thanked God for his patient grace that loves me so completely and understands my frame. Who waits with His wisdom to shape my life to His desired form. Who has this day given fresh truth and new desire. A soul determination to hear God's voice, to listen, to apply His word! To e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g!

God knows our downsitting, our uprising, our distant thoughts, our hearts, our lungs, our ears, our heads, our hands, our bellies, our emotions, our hurts, our ills, our stubborn ways, our failures, our successes, our slippery dreams. Even knows our whys and hows!

He made our genetic code! Yes, your double helix was put together with meticulous thought and care by the Master Designer Himself. And dear friend, God chose to make us all with imperfections and weaknesses.

Does that seem strange to you? Such a wonderful, loving, perfect Heavenly Father creating his vessels with flaws, with shortcomings, with compromising qualities, with weak fragments, with questionable strengths, with damaging desires, with eyes that need lens, with ears that need aids, with bodies that grow tired, with minds that forget, and wills that faint?

What appears odd to me or you was perfect sense to the Apostle Paul. The mightiest warrior for Christ suffered agony. He was persecuted. Experienced hunger, pain, frailty, affliction, confusion, prison, beatings. All for Christ. And his great, faithful walk with God brought many heavenly visions. Unspeakable spiritual revelations.

Then, God permitted an unnamed "thorn" to torment him. It was a fleshly battle. Painful. The Greek word Paul uses to describe the experience means "to rap with the fist." An over and over ache. Increasing pain. And the exact what of the blow does not really matter. But the why does.

Paul sought relief. "My grace is all you need," God spoke. "My power works best in weakness." And Paul, whose life was not his own, whose life was lived in Christ alone, when hearing God's voice, knowing pain would remain, said, "I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me."

Hurt, pain, denial, limitations, heartache, illness. Whether great, small, or so-so, all teach and prove. God chooses to use our frailties for His glory when we let Him. NO DOUBT, there are times of deliverance and healing. Such miracles bring glory to God and may at any moment be part of His plan.

But, one way or another, God allows our physical or emotional pain to reveal Himself in our lives. Pain is a trumpet resounding in our ears. An awakening. An alarm. A cry. A siren of sorts. A voice, whether softly spoken in background noise, shouted above every other sound, or fixed with perfect, personal decibel.

And above all, it is for our good. Remember Romans 8:28? Using Greek meanings, we might paraphrase, "When we clearly see, we understand that all individual things, and the whole of our lives, work together, as an entire process, for our benefit, to each one of you who loves God and is, with God's intention, called by Him to show His glory."

Knowing His good is at work, we are ready to listen, to look, to yield even what seems to us a minor problem. We are set on a direct path to find God's glory for our lives. With spiritual ears set to hear, with volume turned-up, we are on the edge of our seats, our hearts waiting for His truth to speak. Our souls ready to bear God's intention, our hearts longing to glory, as Paul did, in the cross of Christ.

If by some means denying chocolate can bring Him more glory in my life, then let it be so done! I have, says my dear husband and my doctors, a habit of not taking care of self as I ought. Perhaps the Lord has, in His love, spoken with His megaphone. "Do you finally get it?" Do you really understand the importance of being a good steward of your body? Can you now clearly see how hearing my voice is for your good? Even if it means sacrificing small things? Do you still despise the small things? Do you see my love even here? Andrea, do you know I love you in all things?"

"Yes, Lord, yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. . . . And, oh, dear Father, I love you so, because you first loved me."

Scripture references are from 2 Corinthians 12.
Quoted scripture is from the NLT.
Greek information is from e-sword.

Tomorrow, Jeff is scheduled for a biopsy, but we won't know results for one week, perhaps two because we will be out-of-town next week and Jeff's doctor will be gone the week following that. We are trying to arrange a phone call with his doctor to avoid the agony of the unknown. If it is not possible, then, with the Psalmist, may the Lord help us to say, "I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God" (38:15).

Thank you for your continued prayers and words of encouragement. God's is so good, so faithful, and His grace truly sufficient. And I have no doubt that your prayers are holding us up as we wait.
I would like to pray for each one of you today. May the Lord, Jesus Christ, in the fullness of His grace, meet all your needs.
Oh, dear Lord, bless my precious friends at each turn in their lives. I ask, heavenly Father, for your guidance for them in all things. You hold each one in the palm of your hand. And, oh, how you care for them! Oh, how you love each one!

You know their names. You know their anxieties. You know their cares. You know their fears. You see their plans. You know their dreams. And your eye is always aware of their every move and each cry of their hearts.

Thank you, Father, for the inspiring lives they live for you. Bless them abundantly for their love and compassion for others. And, in all things, Lord, may they know you and see your moving in every part of their lives.

And I pray each one will feel your presence near in a special way.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Please Remember. . .

"When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things past. . . "

-William Shakespeare
A maize sun settled straight above. Surrounded by white, downy clouds, it gave warmth. Not sultry heat. Just balmy comfort. It was a salve. An ointment of peace to bathe, with its soothing smoothness, all around. It was complete, eclipsed all bars, purged each object in its path with purity for its honest lustre and perfect poise.

Silky sands had soaked in its rays. Using my fingers as a sieve, I moved the fine white grains. Remembered God's promise to His friend. "I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore" (Genesis 22:17). Amazed, I felt the strength of one tiny crumb of the sugar white. Poured through my hands the pieces whose shade likened to Easter lilies or cow's milk.

My children ran with their father. Enlivened by the cold, splashy waves of the gulf, my then young family danced. Leapt in the tides. Rejoiced in the freedom of a blessed moment of simple presence.

I can still picture my eight year old Chris and his surprise at the force of waves and their foamy diffusion over his body, in his sky blue eyes, up his nose, in his ears, and across his fair face. His brother Steven, two years his senior, barely noticed. Caught up in the power of the breakers and the majestic, unfurling waters, Steven with his olive skin and deep brown eyes, simply desired to make haste with the chance for fun and sun. My dear husband stood near, too immersed in frosty salt waves. As I noticed him notice and saw his smile, I found an impressed image, one that would never pass.

Our little visit to the sea became a snug memory keenly etched and stored in a tidy corner of our minds, there to abide among other family albums. These are brought in and browsed through on special occasions. Like tapered vanilla candles and an ivory damask cloth, dear moments so fixed in motion give beauty, light, and scent to our family table.

When alone, I have feasted from their manna. In my quiet, I remember. At times, my dear husband and I bring out these treasures and feed upon their goodness, relish in their own meaning with thirty-two perspective years. When sitting by the fire, drifting off to sleep, or driving down a reaching road, they are often our companions, giving joy, muse, thanks, sweet seasons.

Created once. Recreated. Again. Again. Again. Returned to shelf. Taken. Reread. Relived. Again and again. Always with heartened animation.

Our memories are alive with wings and settle within our nests, lighting with love upon our fleshly tables. They glow. Are bright to share, to wonder, to teach, to grieve, to change, to feel, to impart, to rest, to joy, to handle, to know again, to pass to others, to regift as though new.

Such passing, this regifting, I have now begun to experience with my own sons and grandchildren. Just the way my dear grandparents and parents did for me, I am finding it ever tempting to tell, to ask.

"Would you like to hear about Mimi when she was a little girl?"

"Whes, whes!" A little head shaking so encourages the telling.

Exquisite. Wondrous. Miraculous. Like the loaves and fishes, memories multiply. Like the widow's cruse of oil, they remain. Like Joseph's store, they bless in famine. Remembering. Sharing. Telling. Giving. Blessing. . . . And compelling.

"And don't you remember?" was Christ's compelling to his disciples. The question was not expected. His words pierced. Cut. Made them think. Gave them fear. Caused them wonder.

Why would He ask about the past at a time like this? They were tired, hungry. Flustered, floundering, with failed memories; they had foraged through the boat and realized they had only one loaf of bread.

Jesus' words pressed their hearts. Stirred instability. Charged ignorance. Challenged faith. Yet, empty stomachs stopped the ears of deep hearing. That real hearing that listens with heart and soul, not ears alone.

Jesus asked them: "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?" "Twelve," they replied. "And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?" They answered, Seven." He said to them, "Do you still not understand?"
Can you hear it? The desperation in our Savior's voice? The longing in His heart, propelling Him to compel, to plead, to extract belief from His disciples? Can you feel the sting in Jesus' heart as with passion He cries, "Do you still not understand?"

Christ had turned water into wine, healed the sick, restored sight, raised the dead, delivered from demons, revealed His deity, delivered the Truth, walked on water, taught them trust, shown them faith, spoken to a storm, given hope, fed five thousand, fed four thousand.

And still they struggled. They struggled with belief in Him. They struggled with remembering His works. The disciples were still leaning on their fleshly hearts, their practical minds that limited God's response to personal needs.

Eyes had seen. Ears had heard. Still, they did not get it. The worker of these works they had witnessed was "The Anointed One." Jesus Christ was their Messiah, the Son of the Living God, Who can and will do more than imaginable.

Christ's response to their faint hearts was "After all you have seen, after all you have heard, after spending time in My presence, after walking with Me, talking with Me, seeing Me in the flesh, face to face, knowing My name, watching My faith, noting My love, finding My peace, marking My steps, eyeing My hand extended, do you not really know Who I Am?"

And surely He asks me too today. "Andrea, do you really know Who I Am? Do you not remember My word? Are you not reminded of My works? Do you not believe My voice? Are you not confident in My care? Will you not remember Me?"

Remember. I must remember. You must remember. We must remember Who Jesus is. And Whom we serve.

My friends, we do not serve a wimpy God. We do not serve a clockmaker who created a world to let it orbit and live on its own. We do not serve a senseless God who could not care less. We do not serve one who forgets us.

No, He has written Your name on the palm of His hand! He is touched with the feelings of your infirmities! Jesus understands all we suffer, for He has been there. All our pain and sorrow are known by Him! And He remembers us and knows the plans He has for us, plans to give us hope and a future!

But, we must choose to remember. The Greek word for "remember" in Mark 8:18 means to exercise memory, to rehearse, to be mindful. A passive act? What? No! A "mindful" one with intention to rehearse, review, remember. . .until we know. Until we trust. Until our faint hearts are full of faith, ready to render all to Jesus.

Life events have lately challenged me to remember. To recall the mighty acts of our God. To relive His past moments of kindness and care for my family. To feed on His faithfulness. To once again place my feeble hand in His, Who will never lead me away from His grace and love. To Remember His hope. To remember His love. To remember His truth. To remember.

My dear husband will have a biopsy next Thursday. This problem I have not before mentioned, but it could be a serious one. Yet, we both have peace. I trust in His name.

After all results are in from the biopsy, Jeff will have a heart cath to rule out all suspicions of a blockage.

He is doing better today, for which I am indescribably thankful. And, oh, how much I appreciate your prayers! Your love and concern and uplifted voices to our heavenly Father are such a precious sacrifice. Thank you, dear friends, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Scriptures are from NIV Bible
Scripture references include Mark 8:14-21; Isaiah 49:16; Hebrews 4:15; Jeremiah 29:11
Greek Word Study is from e-sword

I want to give a special thank you to Rebecca of A Gathering Place, whom you will find at her beautiful site at Rebecca is a wonderful woman of God, and she is one of the most talented and creative people I have ever met. Rebecca has been a great inspiration to me and a dear friend.

She had a give-away a little while back, and how excited I was when I found out I had won!!! Pictured below is the lovely handmade sachet. It is beautiful and is filled with a heavenly lavender scent. It found a perfect place in my home, where it hangs on my bedroom door.
Thank you, Rebecca, for having the give-away, and for always sharing your heart with others.