Thursday, January 27, 2011

While my parents were entering their last days on this earth a good friend gave me a small devotional book that spoke to my heart and lifted my spirits. I thought I would pass on these words of wisdom in the months to come. The devotional book is "From Encouraging Words For Woman" published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission."

"What can God do? Maybe we should turn that around and ask, "What can't God do?" Can you think of anything?
How about that problem you're grappling with? Because you're so close to it, does it seem bigger than God? Does it cast a shadow that seems to hide God's presence? When life's troubles loom over us, we all tend to lose our sense of perspective. As we focus on our problems, God seems to fade into the background of our lives; from our faulty point of view, His presence seems tiny and insignificant. In times like these, we need to remind ourselves of the simple but incredible description the apostle Paul gives of what God can do. Paul tells us that God "is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20)
In order to really grasp that verse in a practical way, I need to break it down into bite-sized truths. Paul is saying that God is able to do:
*What I ask
*All I ask
*More than all I ask
*Immeasurably more than all I ask.
*What I can imagine.
*All I imagine.
* More than all I imagine.
*Immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine.
Wow! That should be enough for my problems today!
But there's more. Paul tells us how God can do all this. He does it "according to His power that is at work within us." That power is resurrection power - the power that raised Jesus from the dead, the power of Jesus' "Indestructible life" (Hebrews 7:16)!
Maybe you're thinking, That sounds great, but I don't know exactly how it applies to a practical approach for the problem I'm facing.
Well, think of it this way: If God could raise Jesus from the dead, is that power enough for you at the point of your neediness? I'd say so, wouldn't you? The Creator of the universe is ready to use His power in your life.
This power of God's is not merely an abstract capability He reserves for creating planets and stars and universes. He is also at work within us who are His children. Yes, His power lives inside us, working from the inside out. Our part is:
*To cooperate with what He is doing
*not to get in His way
*to let Him achieve in our lives what He wants to
*Not to insist on doing things "our" way.
Then His power can bring about what we could never accomplish in our own strength.
So when you put yourself and your dilemma in the middle of this verse of Paul's, what part of your problem is too big for God?

"He can!"

Monday, March 22, 2010


How often have I stood on the threshold of fear and chosen instead to trust Him? ummmm....I'm sorry to say not often enough. But there was a few times when I listened and trusted in His wisdom and not my own. This is the rest of the story about Debbie, the first part is in the previous blog.

At girl's camp we were approaching the end of the week. I remember sitting in the Thursday night chapel so proud of my girls who had risen to the task of being responsible and caring with a handicapped girl on board. I had struggled all week with feeling bad about not being able to talk with them one on one and really get to know them but my attention had to be with the one who needed me most which was Debbie. My attention was brought back to the moment with a bright flash of light and a loud peal of thunder and immediately the lights went out. I scrambled to gather the girls around me and whisper words of encouragement. A security guard came with a flashlight. We were instructed to proceed to our cabins in orderly fashion as a severe storm was right over our heads and we had no power. I instructed my girls to walk to the cabin, do at little as possible in the bathroom and together head back to our cabin. I began the trek back with Debbie on my side walking as fast but as careful as was possible for her. Before I could even see the cabin I could hear them. Twelve little 6th grade girls running and screaming every time a flash of lightning and thunder came. The security guards were frantic, one of them came up to me and said, "you must get your girls under control, every time they scream we think one of them has been hit by lightning." I walk right to the bathroom as that seemed to be where the most noise was coming from. I told them they needed to finish and walk back to the cabin with me. I asked Debbie if she could do a quick clean up and ready for bed job without coming back and forth to the bathroom. Sweet Debbie, whenever she was not up to the task at hand she would always say, "I'll tough it out", and she always did. I'll tough it out became our motto everytime we were faced with something that seemed hard. So with a smile and a promise to "tough it out" again we headed to the cabin where she finished getting ready for bed. I remember breathing a brief prayer of thanks that at least it hadn't started to rain when the clouds burst forth with buckets of rain. We soon realized that our beautiful little oasis of a cabin leaked. Not only one leak or two but many. The girls began scrambling for a dry spot to sleep as the rain was pouring in. Thankfully Debbie's bed was not wet but she was beginning to moan and said to me, "miss joni, I have a headache". Oh no, I thought, not this. Debbie's headache were a precurser to her seisures. I knelt down by her bed and prayed that God would hold her in His arms and bring her sleep. I felt so helpless and would I be able to rise to the task at hand? I leaned over and whispered to her gently, "Debbie, can you tough this one out?" she smiled, "yes". I told the girls we would need to move our things in between the drips very quietly. It wasn't 2 minutes later that I looked over at Debbie and saw her sleeping peacefully. I don't know how long it took us to find places that were dry as it seemed to take forever until all the girls were in their sleeping bags. I had been using a flashlight all this time and once the girls were settled I turned it off. In the darkness I heard some of the girls crying. I breathed a prayer of help. I asked the girls if they would like me to read to them? "Yes, please miss joni would you?" I picked up my Bible and turned to Philippians and began to read. I can't describe the peace that settled over the cabin that night. The storm was raging outside and you could hear the rain coming into our cabin but there was a sweet peace that settled upon us like a warm soft blanket. As I finished with the book of Philippians, I heard a little voice in the dark that said, "miss joni, can you read some more?" I turned to the Psalms and began to read.

This experience has been a marker that God has given to me, that He is always enough. His presence can bring peace and calm to a chaotic situation. Nothing baffles Him or gives Him cause to panic. His Word can calm the storm. He is faithful and His Word is powerful. I am so thankful to a God who teaches, guides, gives counsel, His ways are perfect.

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you." John 14:27

That peace that He gives us comes from looking into His face and realizing He is not disturbed by what we go through.

His - Joni

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

His care

A marker of faith has come back to me recently like a newly awakened flower from the dead of winter. I have been struggling with fear. The fear of watching my parents age and feeling helpless in making the right decisions for their health, the fear of flying (we are leaving in a couple weeks), the fear of God's will and plan for the future. Fear can take up a lot of mental space and if I decide to camp there then I am helpless to face the day. But just a few weeks ago as I was musing over these troubles, God gave me the verse
"Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Ps. 139: 12 & 13
He took me on a journey when I was a girl's camp counselor for 6th grade girls at Pinelow Camp north of Spokane, WA. I was assigned to one of the more primitive cabins at the camp with 12 girls in my charge. I had just finished welcoming my 12th girl when our director approached me with a mother and her daughter Debbie asking if I could add one more to my cabin. With a bit of reservation I said, "Well of course". Then I was briefed on the needs of this precious girl. She was handicapped on her right side and needed help in walking. She needed to shower every morning and help in eating. She had never been to camp before, if she got too hot she would go into seisures which would be an immediate concern. These seisures always started with a headache. I quickly realized that my other girls would have to cooperate in order to make this week meaningful for them and for our sweet Debbie. But I have to confess to you, I was scared I wasn't up for the task at hand. After the first night of devotions, introductions, prayer, instruction and lights out I laid down on my bunk praying that God would see me through this week and that He would make a difference in each girls life. When I was done praying I reached for my alarm clock to wake me up in time to go take my shower first, then come and get Debbie to shower, wake up the girls, and then it hit me, I forgot my alarm clock. I can remember the fear that flooded my heart as I prayed to our faithful God and asked Him to please wake me up at 5:30 every morning so I could get ready for the day. Every morning that week He woke me up at 5:30 on the dot. As the week contined my confidence in knowing He would awaken me grew and His peace came over me like a warm blanket. He knew I was helpless without Him. The next day I could have found an alarm clock to borrow or asked someone to get me up but instead I felt that God was asking me to trust Him and I did, completely. I am so very thankful for this marker in my life and as I began to reflect on that week He reminded me of His precise provision. I will be sharing more about this experience and our sweet girl, Debbie, that was entrusted to me but for a time. My prayer is that you will "Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you." I Peter 5:7

His - Joni

Monday, December 28, 2009

Macaroni & Cheese

He was in aisle 10, reaching up on tip toes gathering the last of the mac & cheese bowls that were on sale. He had a hooded sweatshirt on with the bowls stuffed in his hood, several in his arms and some stacked on the floor. His Dr. Pepper was rolling down the middle of the aisle I had to smile at the scene before me. Picking up the Dr. Pepper I placed it close to his mac & cheese asking him if he needed some help in reaching the last bowls on the shelf. He said, "No, I got it". Then I offered him the obvious, my empty basket in my hand. He said again, "No, I'm good." I tried to make my offer sound like good sense from a child's perspective. I said, "Look I have nothing in my basket and you need one, please take mine & I can go get another." "No!" he said, "I can do this". I said, "Ok" and walked away with a chuckle.
The next morning I was praying to my heavenly Father about something and apologizing about coming to Him again with the same burden. I felt a gentle prodding to let Him have this burden and walk away and not look back. God reminded me of mac & cheese and baskets. He said "You have the load, I have the basket, now put your load in my basket and I will carry this."

Oh, I have been here before even with the same load. I am unaware at what point I grab it back again. Maybe it's because I never let go or maybe it's because I feel He's moving too slow, or maybe my need is answered and staring me in the face and I don't see it because it's not the answer I wanted. I don't know but I do know that all of a sudden I'm aware I'm carrying it again and that He's asking to carry it once more. I'm so thankful for His amazing patience and mercy. He said,

"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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28

In the New Testament lexical aids at the back of my Bible the word "rest" is translated "a letting down of cords or strings which have been strained or drawn tight"

As we start this new year let's get into the practice of constantly giving Him our load and walking away. With a promise from Him of rest how can we stuff all our concerns into our pockets and say to Him, "I can handle this". My prayer for you sister, as we stand on the edge of two years is that you will resolve to give all your concerns to Him, trust Him and just walk away.
Just a side note-He knows where your going

His, Joni

Monday, November 30, 2009

Living Water

I have fountain in my house. It is a woman from the old country who is pouring water out of her jar. She reminds me of the story in John 4:1-26 of the woman at the well. I can imagine this woman coming to the well, having no idea that she would have an encounter with the Creator of the Universe.

She had made bad choices in her life and was bent under the load of her sin. She was coming to the well at a different time than anyone else. Perhaps it was because she was just running late, or perhaps she hated to face the accusing stares from the other women. She did show up at the 6th hour which was noon. No one was there but Jesus.

With compassion and love, Jesus tells her of the Living Water, Himself, which will fill her every need. He says, "everyone who drinks this well water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13-14. When she accepted the water He had to offer, her life took on a whole new meaning and purpose.

There are times when I come to Jesus and ask for living water, believing in my heart that He can, but my mind says "will He?" Listen to the words of Oswald Chambers. "When we get into difficult circumstances, we impoverish His ministry by saying - "Of course He cannot do anything, and we struggle down to the deeps and try to get the water for ourselves. Beware of the satisfaction of sinking back and saying - 'It can't be done." You know it can be done if you look to Jesus. The well of your completeness is deep, but make the effort and look away to Him"

Know that as deep as your well is...grief, sin, dis-obedience, cares, concerns, anxiety, doubt, fear, needing to forgive someone, etc...His provision goes deeper still. He is the Almighty God. He can and He will provide if you abandon yourself to Him.

Sometimes we just need to get alone and have a good talk with Him. I heard a story of a young girl that used to wake up in the morning smooth her bedspread out and say "Jesus, come sit here with me and let's talk." I have experienced these wonderful moments of conversation with my Savior and I have come away with His peace, joy and the freedom that I have received from diving into the Living Water.

I pray that at your Christmas table you won't forget the water; let it remind you of His presence.

His - Joni