Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's Okay to cry

It's okay to cry. That is what I keep telling myself. Tears are cleansing, the Lord collects our tears and keeps them for ?????? Obviously, they are important, otherwise, why would He keep them.
I am not ashamed of my tears. But I am sometimes taken by surprise by them. Like, for instance, looking at some family pictures. They can really make me weep. It's not as if the folks are dead, but, they are dead to me, right now. Which makes me hurt so very deeply that it is worse than a death I think. I think it must be the way the prodigal son's daddy felt all those years his own son was gone? A loved one, so cherished, separated from such deep love and for what good reason? Sin does that. It separates us not only from God but from our dearest ones because they know that they have built a wall around them, separating them from the truth. It is almost as if that as long as the wall is there, nothing can reach them.

Oh well, I can't write anymore at this time. My eyes are full and overflowing.

Thank you Lord that you have given me the ability to release my sorrows, joys, hopes and fears through the miracle of tears. Let my eyes really open to see clearly through freshly washed eyes the answer to my hopes, prayers, dreams for those of mine who I pray for without ceasing. Father, touch the stoney heart and replace it with a heart of flesh.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A grateful heart

I have a grateful heart this morning for answered prayers. My sister in law had radical surgery yesterday to remove cervical cancer. The doctors are confident that they removed it all. The surgery took just under 7 hours. It was quite an extensive surgery and she is resting well.

I am also grateful to be visited by numerous hummingbirds already, along with my usual array of lovely wild birds at the feeders.

Thank you Lord for reminding me that while you created and cared for the birds of the air, you care much more for me and mine. I trust my loved ones in your capable and safe hands this day. Thank you for giving your angels charge concerning us, to keep us from falling. Touch those today who are hurting, searching, trying to find something to fill the emptiness that tries to swallow them up. Thank you for all your promises that are yea and amen in Christ.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Leap of Faith

On Tuesday, May 20, a Spokane man who works downtown as a loan officer at a local bank, became a hero in the eyes of his sister and many of his co-workers. What follows is his story, as told by his sister, Candace Mumm.

Something really amazing happened in Downtown Spokane this week and I had to share the story with you. Some of you may know that my brother, Joel Armstrong, is a loan officer at Sterling Bank. He works downtown in a second story office building, overlooking busy Riverside Avenue. Several weeks ago he watched a mother duck choose the cement awning outside his window as the uncanny place to build a nest above the sidewalk. The mallard laid ten eggs in a nest in the corner of the planter that is perched over 15 feet in the air. She dutifully kept the eggs warm for weeks, and Monday afternoon all ten of her ducklings hatched.

Joel worried all night how the momma duck was going to get those babies safely off their perch in a busy, downtown, urban environment to take to water, which typically happens in the first 48 hours of a duck hatching.

Tuesday morning, Joel came to work and watched the mother duck encourage her babies to the edge of the perch with the intent to show them how to jump off! The mother flew down below and started quacking to her babies above. In his disbelief Joel watched as the first fuzzy newborn toddled to the edge and astonishingly leapt into thin air, crashing onto the cement below. My brother couldn't watch how this might play out. He dashed out of his office and ran down the stairs to the sidewalk where the first obedient duckling was stuporing near its mother from the near fatal fall. Joel looked up.

The second duckling was getting ready to jump! He quickly dodged out of the duckling's sight under the awning while the mother duck quacked at him and the babies above. As the second one took the plunge, Joel jumped forward and caught it with his bare hands before it hit the cement. Safe and sound, he set it by the momma and the other stunned sibling, still recovering from its painful leap.

One by one the babies continued to jump to join their anxious family below. Each time Joel hid under the awning, just to reach out in the nick of time as the duckling made its freefall. The downtown sidewalk came to a standstill. Time after time, Joel was able to catch the remaining eight and set them by their approving mother. At this point Joel realized the duck family had only made part of its dangerous journey. They had at least two full blocks to walk across traffic, crosswalks, curbs, and pedestrians to get to the closest open water, the Spokane River.

The onlooking office co-workers then joined in and hurriedly brought an empty copy paper box to collect the babies. They carefully corralled them, with the mother's approval, and loaded them up into the white cardboard container. Joel held the box low enough for the mom to see her brood. He then slowly navigated through the downtown streets toward the Spokane River, as the mother waddled behind and kept her babies in sight.

They walked block by block to the water’s edge. As they reached the river, the Sterling Bank office staff then tipped the box and encouraged the younglings, quite nervous from their adventurous ride, to walk toward the water and their mother. She approached her brood and marched them to the brink, ushering them with a splash into their new watery home.

All ten darling ducklings safely made the plunge and paddled up snugly to momma duck. Joel said the mom swam in circles, looking back toward the beaming bank workers, proudly quacking as if to say, "See, we did it! Thanks for all the help!"

Thankfully, one of the co-workers had a digital camera and was able to capture most of it (except the actually mid-air catching) in a series of photographs.

Live simply, Love generously, Care deeply, Speak kindly.

Wow, I received this in an email from a special friend. It has probably been circulating for ages before reaching me. What strikes me about this heartwarming story is that each little fledgling has to take a leap of faith. Quite simply. Kind of reminds me of the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. You know, where Indiana is searching for the chalice? He gets to the edge of a chasm and realizes he is stuck. There is nothing below him but spikes of stalagmites and darkness. Looking at his map, it was saying Leap of Faith. He grabs up a bit of cave dust, sprinkles it over the great divide and sees a glimmer of a bridge. He takes a leap of faith and crosses over an invisible bridge.

This ducky story and Indiana Jones makes me see how relevant our walk of faith is. Quite simply, we are expecting the Lord to reach out and save us, sight unseen.

And He does. He catches us each and every time.

Thank you Lord for giving me the faith that is the size of a mustard seed. Thank you for not only sowing that seed, but helping it to take root and grow within me. Thank you for sending those to water it, those who help to weed and for Your love that causes me to take a leap of faith off of the cliff of life each and every day.

Prayer Changes Me

There is an old adage that says time heals all wounds. All wounds? How much time does it take?

Wounds can be deep.
Thoughtless and cruel words can wound.
Action or inaction can wound.
Wounds can be self inflicted.
Some wounds can't be seen by the naked eye.

So, how does time heal all wounds?

Through prayer.

Countless books have been written on prayer. The power of prayer, devotional prayers, prayers of faith ~ all prayer is the above and so much more as I discover each day.

I am still learning after 30 + years about prayers. I want to know how to pray. Effectively. The Word of God says in James that the fervent prayer of the righteous man availeth much.

I know that God wants us to pray. We are encouraged to pray daily, in fact, we are to pray without ceasing! Wow - how can I do that? Sounds sort of like a monologue to me! I know that each day as I pray, my faith gets stronger. I am a determined little lady. I have been called a little bull dog with a bone and even a little general, manning the control post. The fact is, that God calls us to pray for people, situations, things that don't always include my personal life. I guess in the broadest range of view, all prayer would affect me.
I want my prayers answered. How will I know my prayers are worthy enough to be answered? In and of myself is nothing of worth ~ without the blood of Christ. Everything that is important to me is of import and value to the Lord. But how does praying for those in Italy living through the aftermath of an earthquake affect me? I don't know.
I just know that God calls me to pray.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A friend brought this to me at work on Saturday; she had printed it out from an email. I had received this as a forward in the past and was touched that when she read it, she immediately thought of me. Even if you have seen this one before, it is well worth reading.

As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt
before the Lord along with
all the other souls.

Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a
quilt in many piles;
an angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares
together into a tapestry that is our life.

But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I
noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They
were filled with
giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my
life that had been
difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced
with in every day life. I saw hardships that I endured,
which were the largest holes of all.

I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares.
Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other
tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright
hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and
was disheartened. My angel was sewing the ragged pieces
of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding

Finally the time came when each life was to be
displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth.
The others rose; each in turn, holding up
their tapestries. So filled their lives had been. My
angel looked upon me, and nodded for me to rise.

My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn’t had
all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life, and
laughter. But there had also been
trials of illness, and wealth, and false accusations
that took from me my world, as I knew it. I had to start
over many times. I often struggled with
the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the
strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights
on my knees in prayer, asking for help and
guidance in my life. I had often been held up to
ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it
up to the Father in hopes that I would not
melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of
those who unfairly judged me.

And now, I had to face the truth. My life was what it
was, and I had to accept it for what it was.

I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life
to the light. An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed
around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes.

Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light
flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of
Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with
warmth and love in His eyes. He said, ‘Every time you

gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My
hardships, and My struggles.

Each point of light in your life is when you stepped
aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me
than there was of you.’

May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing
Christ to shine through!

God determines who walks into your life….it’s up to

you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and
who you refuse to
let go.

When there is nothing left but God that is when
you find out that God is all you need.

Lord, I thank you for friends that think of me even when I am not in their presence. Thank you for the person who wrote this poem, so eloquently, sharing wisdom and love with the rest of us.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I love this cone flower picture. I took it last year and it is my desktop background. This lovely flower resides at my parent's house, very close to their front door. Last year on Mother's Day it was blooming - far too early for that business - May is known to be rather chilly here in recent years. But bloom it did and bloomed all summer as well.
One of the reasons I love this flower is because it reminds me of my Mom. Looks can be deceiving. Although they may look so very fragile, flowers are survivors. Strong ~ even in the strangest of climates; resilient after pounding storms; lovely to the eye. Volumes of poetry, sketches, rhymes and paintings have been devoted to flowers. I could probably write volumes about my Mom.

January 10, 2008 Mom was diagnosed officially with breast cancer. I never knew that there could be so many types of breast cancer - and then we were also informed she had CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia).

I don't know how God answers prayers. I just know that He does. I don't think that the Father sits on His throne and thinks, well, that's a loser prayer, try again. Nope. I firmly believe that when He says that every hair on our head is numbered, that's the truth. And that if He knows when a sparrow falls, that He cares for each one of us individually.

Prayers from all over the world - thank you my online friends - have been offered up on behalf of my Mom. Her church family has kept their faithful prayers continually as well. I have lost three friends in the past two weeks. One was younger than I, one was older and the other was the same age as myself. My mom is older by far than these three. That somehow doesn't seem right that these much younger folks should leave this world before my Mom, who has been walking after the Spirit of the Lord for 58 years. I don't know how God answers prayers. He doesn't have favorites. When it comes to life and death prayers, how are we to pray? In the past 15 months I have prayed, Lord your will be done. I believe I will have a peace about the folks when it is their time to go.

Now for every good thing there is always something rotten. You know the law of physics - for every action there is a reaction. Just as surely as the Lord wants to bless us with a long and healthy life, the enemy of our soul, the devil, wants to rob us of it. I would encourage each one during their personal prayer time to ask the Lord to give you wisdom - we are told not go to bed angry, thereby giving the devil opportunity. The battle is always in the mind of the believer. It was that way with Adam and Eve - Did God really say . . . dear ones, don't give the enemy any place in your lives ~ through doubt, unbelief and fear. When you pray, do as the word says - stand believing and forgiving those you have ought against. I think you will find that forgiveness is a big deal with me. Because dear ones, we as Christians experience God's fullest forgiveness when we meet Christ at the Cross. Forgiveness is the natural enemy of the devil. He doesn't understand it, therefore, he hates it and wants to rob each of us of the blessing we receive by casting aside hurts and embracing mercy.

Okay, don't know exactly how that got in there but I guess what I really wanted to get out is that prayer is powerful. It not only moves the Lord, it changes us.

Lord, I thank you for Who You are and What You are - Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth. I thank you for what You've done and will do. I thank You that you are a constant in my ever changing life. Father, I ask that You draw me closer to You each time that I pray. I long to be in your presence, lapping up the true milk of love, mercy, kindness and grace. Right this moment Lord, there are those who are hurting because someone they love has passed from this earth. They don't understand why. They only know that they are hurt, lonesome and vulnerable. I ask that You meet their needs exactly where they are at. We are still imperfect in these bodies, Father and that means that our minds can't fathom all the true goodness waiting for us. We also don't understand why you allow some to remain for a time and others are a mere whisk of air on this earth. I trust you Father. I place myself in your hands and say, Have your own way. Use me to bless those in Your name who need prayer, a touch of kindness, an ear to listen and a heart that will weep with them and dance in rejoicing.
You are the most High and Holy God. You are worthy of praise. I love you Lord.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

A house ain't clean til you sweep under the bed

At least that is what I have always been told by both of my grannies. I grew up with no wall to wall carpet, plain old lineoleum and pine board floors, thank you very much.
As cold as that was in the winter, it was nice in the summer time. I grew up barefooted. I used to hate shoes. When I got old enough to hold a dustmop and broom, my granny would tell me to walk across the floor twice, sit down and then look at the bottom of my feet. If they were dirty, so was the floor. Kinda makes sense, right? So, my first lesson in housekeeping was how to clean dirty floors. I soon learned that the floors weren't clean if I didn't sweep and mop under the bed. And oh yeah, don't overlook the baseboards. I began to learn at an early age what that adage about a woman's work is never done meant.
When I left home and started keeping house for myself as a single woman, I let all that cleaning go. I was too busy having a good time. And college kids are s'posed to have quasi dirty places. Whenever my folks or granny would come for a visit I had enough time for a power cleaning session.

Once I married and started a family of my own, I began to be a better housekeeper, but never thought too much about cleaning under the bed unless I needed something that had been hidden under there.

My first marriage was training ground for many things. That is a nice way of saying a battleground. I am still a Southern Bred woman and we don't disparage others even when they deserve it, bless their heart. My former mother in law never took to me. Never. She would come over my house ~ when I was not home ~ to visit with her son, my husband. She would re- arrange furniture, the cabinets, and do a white glove treatment. I didn't fold laundry correctly, the underwear drawers were a mess ~ heckfire shoot, I lived in fear of her. Nothing I did was ever good enough. Ever.

Now why am I writing this personal stuff for the world to read? Remember a few sentences back when I wrote that my first marriage was a training ground? It was during those first few years that I made a serious commitment to God. I was committed, totally sold out to Him in a way that was threatening to my ex and his mother. I remember telling my former mother in law one day, in a sweet tone that when my children grew up they wouldn't remember how clean their house was but how much love they received. I also tried to explain to her that I wanted my spiritual house cleaned up first. You know, the heart? Which is true. My house WAS clean enough. But my heart was learning how to accept love from God and forgive those who hurt and murder with words. I wanted to enjoy my children and yes, I taught them how to clean but it was never high on my agenda to make them sweep under the bed. Just as long as they could find their clean underwear, I was a happy camper.

In the past year I have neglected my home. I have spent countless hours at my parent's home, cleaning theirs. I have spent countless days sitting in the hospital or doctor's offices. Whenever I was able to get home, I would throw stuff down and think, I will get to that later. My precious and supportive husband has been patient and overlooked this because he agrees that living a clean and loving life is more important than a clean house. Thank goodness he doesn't do a white glove test on the top of the refrigerator or even look behind the frig. Ewwwww! Hope he doesn't read this over my shoulder and decide to sneak a peek!

Today while I was at work, I began to make a list of things that really need my attention here at home. My computer desk is littered with cards, bills, print outs, etc. I don't dare walk across my floors once barefooted much less twice to look at the bottom of my feet. Instead, I wear heavy socks and skate on the floor as a quick way of dusting it. LOL. Just joking, but hey, not a bad idea~

What am I getting at? I am not just rambling. Truly I am not. Here is what I am getting at:
I lived in fear of not meeting my mother in law's standard. My granny, if she were still living, would ask me if I cleaned under the bed. God's word says that He has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind. I shouldn't worry about God finding my house dirty, but what have I done with my spiritual house. Have I eaten fruit of bitterness that is littered in my heart? Have I taken offense to something that was not intended to be hurtful?
Have I neglected to pray, read the Word or help someone in need?

I am still concerned mostly with my spiritual heart. I want to make sure it is clean. I ask the Lord each day to examine me. I live with the knowledge that when God helps me examine my heart, I am not afraid of what cobwebs linger there. He shows me how to clean it up through prayer. And He does it with perfect love. And perfect love casts out fear.

Heavenly Father, I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully created. I long for the day where I will know You as I have been known. I thank you for the love you so freely give me each day through your grace and mercy. I thank you that you shine your loving light through every dark place within me, to dry up all the cobwebs of my daily life. Help me to continue accept that you are perfecting that which concerns me. I give you permission to look behind the doors of my home and hand me a clean broom to sweep it fresh.