Under the shadow of the Almighty is a song our choir sings. The words “I will abide” came to mind as I prayed at communion today. The same Bible cover as noted in the Blog below – Faith, Feathers and Family, was in my lap.
Christmas 2020 was the last time my husband served our family communion. He used small cups brought from the Holy Land and gave one to each family member. We will cherish those cups as well as the memories of family communions.
We are now resting in the shadow of the almighty – He is our refuge and fortress and we trust in Him.
Psalm 91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge, His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
It had been a quiet morning reflecting on God’s goodness. I had just finished reading the devotional in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers for September 6.
He compared our lives to a river and how out of us will flow the rivers that will bless to the uttermost parts of the earth. Commenting about how God has nourished us to bless others, he made this statement: “God rarely allows a soul to see how great a blessing he is.”
Smiling I thought, “Oh, but He did that for my husband John – not once but several times in the past few years.”
John retired from the preaching ministry in 2005. He has Parkinson ’s disease and his voice was so low he had trouble speaking. Serving churches was a part of his multi-faceted ministry. Counseling has always been his strong suit. Working with youth energized him.
A celebration of thirty-five years of ministry was planned. Many came from former churches he served, the college where he worked and also the youth facility Teen Ranch in Marlette, MI where he mentored. Memories flooded our minds and washed over our hearts as several shared what a blessing John’s life and ministry meant to them.
Laughter came in waves and tears streamed down our faces as they shared. Precious people who God allowed to splash in the river of living water flowing from John’s life.
Many more encounters with the flow of ministry have occurred for John in the past few years. Thank you Lord for the confirmation for John to see how great a blessing he has been and he is.
Let the river continue to flow.
When picking up our book order for Shekinah Lane, I was privileged to see John still ministering. I was signing the contract for the printing of the books and needed to ask John’s opinion on the order. He had just loaded the boxes of books in the car and came back into the office.
He came in as I was signing the papers, and spoke to the young lady helping me. “Congratulations on your baby.”
She just beamed and told John her due date, the baby was a boy and everything was progressing well. He told her he would be praying for her and the baby. She delighted in his interest in her.
Not me, I was all business as usual as I discussed the printing of the book and placing it on line. Still smarting from my last encounter with a lady with a belly – when I asked her when her baby was due, she said, “He is sixteen months old.” Ouch, I won’t do that again.
So typical of John and how he showed genuine concern for people and knew how to engage them in conversation.
2020 included many reasons to be discouraged. Pandemic isolation, advanced lung disease, lengthy hospitalization, 55th anniversary plans changed, birthday and wedding plans cancelled, death of friend, and miscarriage.
However, the word “Joy” kept showing up in devotionals, scripture, and teachings. Great joy, joy unspeakable, reckless joy, the joy of the Lord is my strength, intimate joy, surprised by joy, and Secret joy.
God prepared my journey of joy in late 2019 at a Women of Joy Conference. Nervous about leaving my husband by himself, I ventured out with ladies from my church. We had a great weekend of teaching, worship and yes, JOY!
Friday, the worship songs were too contemporary for this 70+ gal. But on Saturday night Michael W. Smith led worship and all the songs were familiar and favorites. I was able to release the heavy concern for my husband and the “what ifs” of the future and worship. The reckless love of God overwhelmed me and allowed God to flood my soul.
My journal records – “Thank you Lord for showering me with that overwhelming, never ending reckless love of God, I didn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, yet you gave yourself to me. Thank you for touching my inmost being with your spirit. And thank you for taking care of John while I was gone.” (Even though when I returned, he had not been able to get TV remote to work most of weekend and too embarrassed to call anyone for help.)
Christmas brought a gift from our granddaughter and her husband for a family photo shoot. Pure joy. Next day golf with son and grandson added to my joy.
Then on January 1, 2020, changed the calendar cube and noticed the scripture on the bottom.
Psalm 126:3 The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Opening my prayer journal to favorite verses noticed that most contained the word joy. Most favorite –
3 John 1:1-4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
Then these two entries:
12/21/19 – Father God being in your presence is my joy. There is nothing like knowing you and the peace you give. My desire is for our sons and grandchildren to know that joy and peace.
1/7/20 – It is a joy to Jesus when we are intimate with him – never lonely, never need sympathy – never leave impressions of ourselves but only that Jesus is having his way with us. Hallelujah! That is joy.
Photos from 2020 show much joy experienced even though most of our plans failed.
So, my friends, (as my husband would say when he preached) you can experience the joy of the Lord even in the presence of challenging times. He is our joy.
Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great JOY into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time!
Colossians 3: 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Last year I began reading my Bible!
You might ask, “What, you have been a Christian for over 50 years, and you just began reading your Bible??? It’s about time.
With digital apps so convenient, I have been reading the Bible through an online app – Bible Gateway. It is so convenient, and my phone is not as heavy as my Bible.
I began using my phone app for church and going to Bible Study. At first, I read my hard cover Bible at home, then it was too easy to just read from the phone.
I was challenged recently by seeing an interview of Ruth Graham Lotz about her new book on prayer. She explained that she was committed to spending more quality time with God prior to prayer – by following a pattern of praising God, confessing her sins, thanking Him for things and then asking for needs. It reminded me of an acronym – ACTS – for adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. I have used this pattern for years.
My quiet time includes two devotional books, online devotionals, and current Bible study book. Sometimes, I don’t spend as much time in prayer.
This caused me to revive a habit of reading from my huge, heavy Bible – five Psalms and the Proverb for the day (whatever day you are reading) prior to other devotional reading. I got out my hard cover Bible and determined to do the reading there instead of my phone. It felt so good to hold God’s word in my hands again.
This pattern of reading the Psalms helps with the adoration. The Psalms are filled with praise for creation, the goodness of God and so much more. Also, the Psalms encourage personal and corporate confession of our sins.
The Proverb for the day can be both reflective of all four – adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. Mostly it seems to deal with behavior and seeking wisdom contrasting the fool and the wise.
I love verses like Proverbs 16:31 “Gray hair is a crown of splendor it is attained by a righteous life.” Wonder why? Well, I qualify on at least one count.
But others are disturbing – Proverbs 21:9 “Better to live on the corner of a roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” Ouch!!! I resemble that at times too!
So, Proverbs can also encourage confession of sin and supply a path for supplication – asking for needs.
You might want to try this method of reading and preparing for prayer.
Let this be the year you soak in God’s word and seek Him.
Below are some suggestions for devotional books and Bible apps.
Our Daily Bread – Our Daily Bread Ministries
My Utmost for His Highest – Oswald Chambers
Strength & Grace Devotions – for caregivers from Guideposts
First 5 App – Proverbs 31 Ministries
Online devotional – Susie Larson (just found thanks to gals in Bible Study group.
You may have some to share – please comment below and let us know your favorite devotional writers.
Exhausted from unpacking, the glow of the security light seemed to say, “it’s gonna be alright. You are home!” It was July 2005 and we were partially moved in.
Each night for sixteen years I would think,” thank you Lord for my house.” Then getting into bed I’d tell my husband, “Did I ever tell you I just love this house? Thank you for building it for us.”
One day, I thought I heard God say, “What if I asked you to give up your house?”
My response was “Can’t imagine that, but you know best and I pray you will make me willing.” Never thinking He would!
Our family enjoyed sharing life on Shekinah Lane – John’s folks on the corner and our son and family down the road. All John’s family would come for holidays and we thought we would live there forever.
But God had other plans.
In October of 2020, our son was blessed to find property off N. Mauney Road. We prepared his house to sell. It sold in a month – he moved out and stored his belongings in our barn and he and grandson began task of clearing and built a road into the property.
Two campers, several loads of gravel and many manhours later, the road to Strick Hollow was in. They had trouble completing the road for people driving in thinking a new subdivision was being built.
Isaiah 40:5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together.
Our lot was cleared next to build a smaller, one-level house. Plans needed to be decided, when to sell our house and how. I listed on Zillow in February. Then in April decided to list with agent – which was the best decision. Dana Nelson of Coldwell Banker not only staged our house for showing but prayed with us for right buyer.
Have you ever had your house prepared for showing and try to live in it???
I stashed our stuff – in closets, in wardrobes and of course cleaned the house constantly.
All the while praying for the right family to purchase our Shekinah Lane property. I just wanted someone to love this place like I do.
Our mountain view was crowded out by trees putting on their spring leaves. Tulips bloomed and roses showed their stuff. The yard looked amazing as it greened up with spring rains. The snowball bush I purchased last year was in full bloom as prospective buyers began to come.
God answered our prayers, the family who purchased our property love it and are so excited to be living on Shekinah Lane.
Isaiah 40: 6“All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
The last few months have been a whirlwind. Preparing for moving sale – packing, moving and settling in our neighbor’s cabin. What a blessing – neighbor’s cabin just down road from our house on Shekinah lane. Wonderful friends and neighbors helped with all the moving.
Just as planned, Kevin Green and his crew finished the house (well mostly, except for air conditioning which was backordered) by end of July. We began moving things first week of August and have been unpacking since. Everything will not fit in smaller house! Still filling shelves at Habitat and our church’s Elijay’s Closet.
No, I never expected to move from Shekinah Lane. But God has this season of our lives in His hands; and, our son and grandson are sharing the glory of seeing God move in our lives.
Shekinah Lane needs to be updated to 29 moves in 56 years and I discovered additional things that made it all the way to add:
corning mixing bowls.
So we are now living on Strick Hollow Road!
Isaiah 40:12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?
Webster defines numb – to make (someone) unable to think, feel, or react normally.
Nothing – that is how I felt. Numb. I just wanted to cry! Maybe it would make me feel better. Don’t know about you, but I don’t cry easily. Only time I cry is when I pray or listen to worship songs.
Even after a church service or serving at church, on the drive home – felt empty – not sure what is wrong? At first attributed it to being tired but it got worse as days passed.
Each day, reading devotionals and routine of Proverb of day and five Psalms did not seem to help.
Then I realized I was grieving – not a loss of someone – but of something.
We had just moved out of our house, stored furniture, and moved into neighbor’s cabin. Thank you, Lord for this cabin.
Thank you for the friends and neighbors who helped us.
Yes, there were angels in human suits all over the place.
From ladies helping pack, neighbor’s moving boxes, friends helping with moving sale and then neighborhood cookout. One friend even took my plants to her house to care for them until we move in new house.
At a restaurant, my husband was having difficulty walking – a man came over and helped set up his oxygen.
In Home Depot the clerk noticed my husband did not have his oxygen turned on – she just happened to be a respiratory therapist.
Next morning at breakfast, another angel came over as we were trying to get to table. My husband was very weak and staggering. The man came over and helped me get him to a seat – then ordered orange juice for him to drink.
So why the numb feeling?
I sat down to look at new Bible study book – Experiencing God. First lesson talked about Abraham’s call and how he, at 75 years old (I turned 75 in June) God didn’t give him specific directions of where to go, or what he was to do when he got there.
Unlike Abraham I did know where I was going – a new smaller house. Closer to town and church. I did know what I would be doing – taking care of my husband.
Why was I grieving? The loss of my house, gardens, flowers, neighbors? Could be the pools of water around the new house due to weeks of rain. Could be the appliances and windows have not come in which delays everything to complete the house by end of month.
The Bible study book shared very familiar verses:
– John 15:5 I am the vine you are the branches, if a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing.
Matt 6:33-34 “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
God spoke to my spirit – you can do nothing – without me! From the lesson – Agree with God that you will follow Him one day at a time!
Here are the words in case you can’t pull up in YouTube:
Life is easy, when you’re up on the mountain And you’ve got peace of mind, like you’ve never known But when things change and you’re down in the valley Don’t lose faith, for you’re never alone
[Chorus] And the God on the mountain is still God in the valley When things go wrong, He’ll make them right And the God of the good times is still God in the bad times The God of the day is still God in the night
[Verse 2] We talk of faith when we’re up on the mountain But talk comes so easy when life’s at its best But in the valley of trials and temptations That’s when faith is really put to the test
[Chorus] And the God on the mountain is still God in the valley When things go wrong, He’ll make them right And the God of the good times is still God in the bad times The God of the day is still God in the night The God of the day, is still God in the night
Then the tears began to flow.
This is what Experiencing God is all about. He ministers to your spirit in just the way you need when you need it.
My little valley is nothing in comparison to many I know who are experiencing death of a loved one, serious illness, or rejection by a loved one. But God met me just where I was to bring me out of my valley.
He will do it for you as well! Allow His word and worship music to encourage you.
The next day we visited the new house site – no change – no windows or appliances, still pools of water all around. I thought, “Oh, no and immediately it came to me
The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Hope I can lose 10 lbs. before the wedding.
Hope the diagnosis is good.
Hope I don’t get Covid-19 (too late already had it).
Hope this virus will go away!!
Hope Jesus will return soon!
Hope I don’t have to move!
Lord, make me willing!
My February arise mantra of Oswald Chamber’s “My Utmost for His Highest” is kicking in again. See story in blog –Arise My Love
I’ve been comfortable here on Shekinah Lane thank you very much. Leaving Shekinah Lane? Perish the thought!
God, do you really want me to give up all this – my house, gardens, mountain view from my office, porch, living room and sun porch? Wonderful neighbors?
Just like the “Arise My Love” blog from last year about leaving our home in NC in to move to a boy’s ranch in Arkansas, my love is asking me again to follow him.
We need to downsize and move to a smaller place – we can’t maintain the grounds, gardens, flower beds not to mention I cannot clean all these windows!!
What about our book Shekinah Lane? Although our many moves brought us to Shekinah Lane, we knew this was not our final destination – we are not actually citizens of this world – we have a home in heaven someday. If we are to leave this comfortable place, God will provide.
I hope we sell our house.
I hope we don’t sell our house. (I’d really like to stay!)
I hope someone will love this place and the house as much as I do.
Lord may my hope be in you and my trust be in you and your perfect plan for us because I know you are faithful.
Hebrews 13:1 The Message – Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it!
I’m sure there have been a few angels at our table over the years.
Hopefully, my children and grandchildren will remember times around our dinner table. God blessed us with ten years sharing meals with four generations after John’s parents moved near us.
Shared Blessings is a collection of recipes and memories dedicated to family and friends who shared their lives and cooking skills with me. My family appreciates you and I do too!
Every time I make carrot salad, I think of a friend in Michigan who loved my version of carrot salad with pineapple, chunks of celery and my secret ingredient – whipped cream.
Pinto beans and corn bread – my mother – who made cornbread in iron skillet, heated oil in skillet and then poured into cornmeal batter. Made it so crispy.
Zucchini muffins – lady at Blairsville Nazarene Church who gave me her recipe for Zucchini bread – but she made it as muffins. So crunchy on top but moist inside.
Chicken casserole – Hollis Raab in Shelby, NC – what a treat to stay in her house on trips from Greensboro to Shelby on weekends (my husband’s first church) – lovely flower garden and beautiful home – she put down sheet under our one year old’s high chair to catch crumbs. Her recipe for chicken casserole conjures up these memories.
Most of the recipes in this book (as noted on recipe) came from friends and family. Some no doubt came from magazines, cookbooks or maybe newspapers. I’ve tried to give credit to those I remember, but if you recognize your recipe – please don’t be upset with me. Just know – someone, somewhere, sometime is enjoying your culinary delight.
May you be blessed as you share meals with those you love!
Matthew 6:31.33 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Ventured out today to inspect the blueberry crop. A few days ago, they were full of blooms.
Several nights of cold temps in 30’s and some frost – but always sun came up and warmed up early. So surely, they made it????
Sad to report just few blossoms survived. If these make it through tonight’s 30’s, we will have a few blueberries to pick in June.
This verse and song came to my mind:
Habakkuk 3:17-19 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
Yes, the joy of the Lord is my strength. God keeps reminding me – JOY.
Bible study this am via Zoom with our BSB (Bible Study Buddies) gals, studying Philippians – theme JOY. Many shared about how they have found joy in life during our current situation of sheltering in place. Here are some –
Making a thankful list
So, I’m thankful:
that my tulips are mostly standing and more to come hopefully.
Sunshine and trees budding
Few blueberry blossoms survived
Got to visit with BSB gals today
Warm house in this cold weather
Internet to keep in touch with family and friends
Neighbors being considerate in shopping for us
That’s good for now – how about you make your thankful list and don’t forget to stay in touch with those who don’t have anyone in their shelter place. One of our BSB’s shared today about a lady from church calling her to check on her and other friend delivering groceries. What a blessing!
Along with Habakkuk scripture the song also comes to mind! You knew I’d have a song! So here is 70’s scripture song that comes to my mind.
Then found this where Don Moen reads the scripture but different song – but so good.
Song of Songs 2:10 New International Version (NIV)
10 My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.
My beloved did not use those exact words but he made his desire known. He thought God wanted us to move to a remove part of Arkansas to work on a boy’s ranch. He wanted me to leave my comfortable life – three bedroom brick house with fenced in yard for our boys, a large church congregation that loved us and so much more. They refinished the floors in the parsonage and painted my kitchen cabinets green. Did I mention we had a three bedroom brick house?
God blessed me with a very similar house that I gave up over three years earlier when we began this journey of following the Shekinah Glory of God. We did not have a cloud by day or a fire by night, but God had led us out of our comfort zone to follow Him in ministry.
I did not want to go. Being the spiritual person I assumed myself, I agreed to pray about it. My Utmost for His Highest was and is my favorite devotional. Beginning February 10 through February 18, it seemed that Oswald Chambers had my number.
Is your imagination of God starved? Talked about idols (my house and those beautiful floors?)
Feb. 11 – is your hope in God faint and dying? Bringing every thought into captivity to begin with –
then about Feb. 16th the arise mantra kicked in.
Feb. 16 Arise from the dead – talked about when the Spirit of God comes in and says, in effect, “buck up,” we find that the initiative is inspired. Life comes after we do the bucking up.
Feb. 17th – Arise and eat – example of Elijah being depressed – arise and obey do the natural thing.
Then Feb. 18th – Rise, let us be going. Trust God absolutely and pray on the ground of his redemption.
Ok, God, I don’t understand it, I don’t like it, I don’t even think it is best for us, but you are asking me to trust you. So, I started packing.
Rise, let us be going – Matt. 26:46
Jesus speaking to his disciples who went to sleep while he was in agony in Gethsemane. They were in despair and could not lift themselves out.
Are in you despair? Maybe you didn’t have to move to Arkansas and leave your beautiful house.
Maybe your circumstances are much worse.
That relationship that has fallen apart?
The diagnosis that came out of the blue?
Your husband’s job – your promotion?
Disappointment in a child, a spouse, a parent?
We despair when we keep our eyes on the situation and take them off our faithful Father God. He will never leave us or forsake us. He will never take his eyes off of us.
Psalm 121:5-8 5The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; 6the sun will not harm you by day; nor the moon by night. 7The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; 8the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
Yes, God did have his eyes on us and many more moves and adventures filled our lives with joy. We continue to celebrate the joy of the Lord in our lives.