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The Lonely Desert

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God’s Thoughts to Me

And human hands can’t serve His needs – for He has no needs. He Himself gives life and breath to everything, and He satisfies every need (Acts 17:25, NLT).

Gratefully Dying Gracefully

imageWhen thoughts are drifters on the wings of confusion, gratefulness seems like a mirage in a dry, barren desert …

… always shimmering delightfully on the horizon …

… always  inviting, yet empty, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

As I have been wandering though the swamps of illness, caught in the fowler’s snare, an evangelical humanist, desperation has nearly been the victor as ungrateful thoughts played havoc with my mind.

Silly ideas and futile thinking battled to breathe just another little breath of stale, self-pitying air, causing unending, dreadful torment.

imageGuilt and condemnation were my hated companions as I was trying to navigate my way through the dense fog hovering constantly on the surface of my muddy mind …

… there where no two thoughts walked together as friends.

I battled to hear my Lord’s loving overtures … bidding me gently to come …

… just abiding in the cool shadows of His love.

There where I could stop striving to be His co-savior, albeit a prisoner of my mind, and just rest in the coolness of His limitless affection.

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He longed to gather me with unconditional acceptance, yet I stubbornly ran to and fro …

… seeking reason and rescue for my debilitating plight …

… fearfully fighting that sweet surrender.

He once again accompanied me faithfully to the end of my reasonings and self. Again He showed me the folly of that evil lie of independence …

… the fruit of the lips of the great deceiver, the father of all lies.

The uselessness of being useful and the usefulness of being useless became vividly apparent as I was limping on my last legs.

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My turmoil was gently quieted by the whisper of His voice as He reminded me that He is not served by human hands.

Gratefully, as free as a bird, my heart rose with repentance to new heights of joy and freedom as He softly gathered me into His Loving Embrace and seated me in heavenly places in Him.

Sweet blessings xx

Mia

Linking with Lisa-Jo at FMF where Grateful is the guest of honor and the ladies at my Tea Time and Link-Up page.

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A Turbulent Heart

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God’s Thoughts to Me

My soul followeth hard after Thee; Thy right Hand upholdeth me (Psalm 63:8 KJV).

She has heard about Jesus, so she came up behind Him through the crowd and touched His robe (Mark 5:27, NLT).

Behind The Veil

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The late Brennan Manning said in his book, The Lion And The Lamb,” You will trust God only as much as you love Him. You will love Him not because you have studied Him. You will love Him only because you have touched Him – in response to His touch”.

Divine wisdom wrapped in Truth. Jesus warned the Pharisees that they were searching the Scriptures daily thinking that in them they had eternal Life.

But they were oblivious to the Living Word, blind to the Eternal Life standing right in front of them and they were doomed.

I recall a time in my own life when I was stumbling through a severe winter season. My physiology and psychology were naked and lost in sinister, dark, lifeless forest of religiosity.

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The giant branches of the ancient trees of traditions gnarled its fingers around my turbulent heart, trying to steal the last shreds which were panting for streams of the Living Quiet Waters of freedom.

They locked me up with the chains of religious high-sounding words in the cruel grip of laws and rules and regulations at a time when my body was immobilized by pain and exhaustion.

But like the Pharisees, my spirit was the prisoner of the lifeless idol of Bibliolatry. Silent pitiful cries and despondent tears enveloped me with an unbearable longing to touch the Robe of the Beloved.

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For many years I was an avid student of Theology and had the fundamentals of the faith at my fingertips. I could almost quote the Bible, chapter and verse.

I fell in love with the idea of God’s grace and love, but this love affair was only a figment of my imagination.

It was a poor substitute for that almost magical reality of a spirit becoming one in union with the sweet Spirit of God; that intimate closeness that seemed so utterly unobtainable.

It was not for lack of trying; just the opposite. I was the master striver, striving earnestly to build beautifully crafted altars, begging God to consume my hand crafted offers with the fire of His Love.

I was from the old school who prided themselves in their strong work ethic and was perplexed by the absence of Holy Fire.

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No … it was because of my lack of touching Him as a response to His touch. My heart was bound with the cords of doctrines and creeds. I was experiencing the death of the letter of the law.

My lips were singing Hallelujahs, but my heart was far from my first Love, yearning for that mysterious something many saints seemed to smile so secretly about all through the ages.

At the same time, I was suffocated by an unhealthy fear of God. I was terrified of that relentless monster of self-condemnation and shame.

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This master of deceit taunted me day and night with sneering, damnable lies that my hand was already spoken for by the dark, evil one.

When I stumbled upon these words of Mr Manning, a new day dawned in my inmost heart. A passionate, burning flame pierced my soul and my eyes were opened to see beyond the veil of my mind.

I was swept off my feet, overwhelmed with a love that was at the same time beautifully disturbing and devastatingly delightful. I was in awe of the prevenient grace of our King.

imageThoughts of another woman from another time; the woman with the issue of blood stirred my mind. We were both at a very lonely and needy place; both at the crossroads of our lives; bankrupt and seeking the ancient paths of eternity.

With shame I confess that I hoped that our Pappa would to transform Himself into a genie in a bottle, where my wishes were His commands.

But this Genie surely seemed as deaf as a doorknob and as blind as a bat, very unappreciative of all my clever selfish maneuvers. Yet, He patiently and gently kept on drawing me into His Loving Embrace.

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When I finally came to the end of my tether, I had no other choice but to crawl on my spiritual knees, like the woman with the issue of blood, until my heart finally touched the hem of my Beloved’s heart.

He took the tatters of my brokenness and started to heal me from the inside out. Although my illness is still very much part of my life, He has brought me to a place of sweet acceptance.

A place where I can eagerly look forward to the day when I will leave this old coat behind to be clothed in a new glorious spiritual body.

I will not dare to trivialize the suffering of a chronic illness, but I do want to dare all to follow hard after our God, assured of His right hand upholding us.

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Crawl if necessary until you are near enough to touch our Lord Jesus again and again and again … and then still again and again.

Much love and sweet blessings xx

Mia

I am linking-up with the ladies at my Tea Time and Link-Up page.

The Faceless Ones

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God’s Thought’s to Me

“For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy, he has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.” (Ps. 22;24, NLT)

“I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.” (Mat.25:43(b), NLT)

Introduction

imageToday I am so honored to introduce my friend, Joy Lenton. She is a very special lady who suffers from ME/CFS and arthritis.

Joy is a mother and wife to her husband, Phil. She used to work as a nurse before becoming chronically ill.

Joy and her husband live in Norfolk, United Kingdom. To visit her blog, just click on her picture. Thank you, dear friend, for blessing me by being a guest at my place. Over to you.

The Girl with Light in Her Eyes

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Sadly those who are too sick to work have to contend with issues of shame. In a society where we are “framed, boxed, categorised, sifted, found wanting in society’s eyes” as I wrote about in the poem here, we experience deep frustration at being pigeon-holed and stigmatized.

It all impacts our lives adversely, affecting our relationships and connections with others.

On the rare occasions when I am alone downstairs in the house and have to answer the door during a late morning/afternoon/evening period in my night-clothes, wearing  bed-head hair, a dazed, sleepy expression and a veneer of embarrassment, …

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…I either say nothing (for such a state is normal to those who know me) or mumble something like, “Please excuse me, I’m unwell today” to those I don’t.

Then I hasten to close the door as fast as possible to avoid curious stares from neighbours or passers-by who may wonder what they are seeing.

I just want them to understand I am sick rather than lazy. Does it always take a stick or wheelchair to convince people we are ill?

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As someone who used to be thought of as attractive, took a fair amount of time and trouble over her appearance, sought out clothes to enhance and suit my figure, it is a far cry from those days to be where I am now .

I am almost permanently pyjama-clad due to the time I spend resting in bed or too exhausted to make the effort required to get up and dressed,  and I’m far too weary to let it worry me as it would have done before.

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I have a body that doesn’t walk like it should, lists and comes to a halt after a very short distance, is riddled with and swollen-jointed by arthritis, sinks wearily under M.E fatigue.

I have a face marked by the effects of over 20 years of chronic illness, exhaustion, pain, medication-taking, as well as the natural ageing process. I feel ashamed of my appearance at times. It doesn’t reflect how I feel on the inside.

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Though I’m far busier these days trying to work on the inner beauty that endures and cannot be taken away. To feel ashamed just for being ill is an additional burden we don’t need. And, yes, there are other areas of shame that have a great impact on relationships.

One of those is having experienced childhood sexual abuse. To have precious innocence taken and adult things pressed on a mind and body too young to understand them is a horrible thing indeed.

Those of us who have experienced it feel that we not only carry a huge scarlet letter ‘S’ for shame hanging around our necks, but have it imprinted on our very souls.

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Many who carry this shame stigma also carry a burden of emotional trauma, often leading to mental and physical illness, whereby the acid accumulation seems to leach into our very frame causing deep emotional/physical pain and disorder.

It can take a great deal of time, wrestling, prayer, struggle, pain, counseling, and much Holy Spirit input and help to work through the devastating legacy it leaves us with.

Full emotional healing cannot be rushed. So why share these things? Aren’t they meant to be private? Well, yes, and no.

The minutiae of how people deal with these issues is something for them to work out individually and together as a couple. But the sadness and frustration they cause is something to make known if it will help even one other person to feel less isolated and alone.

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Actually, it’s the hiding, shaming and embarrassment that keeps us from feeling understood or getting the support we need.

When your daily life experience lacks most of the defining vestiges of normality, it tends to reduce life to a drive to appear normal in the midst of personal chaos. And to a drive to see lives changed, with health and wholeness restored….one day.

In our image-obsessed society and culture, all of us who fail to manifest the perceived ‘norm’ ideal can be left feeling totally inadequate and shamed. Much depends on where we place our worth and value and where others do too.

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“We are “normal” in God’s eyes when we demonstrate endurance and long-suffering, when we keep looking to the unseen things. This is the normal Christian life” ~ Joni Eareckson Tada ‘Daily Devotionals’.

Let me reassure you, my friend, we are ‘normal’ right now, even when our lives and bodies may feel anything but, no matter how well or badly we function, no matter our level of disability. Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.

If, in naming and discussing these issues I can bring a greater degree of clarity, understanding, empathy or practical solution-finding to the mix then it will have been worthwhile.

We need to speak out. To air our concerns. To make invisible illness visible. To open up a forum for discussion so that others who suffer like-wise (and those who may follow after) will be assisted to live as fully and freely as God intended.

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For God the Father is not ashamed to call us His children who are restored, whole, beloved, precious and beautiful in His sight as He looks at us through the lens of Christ our Lord and Saviour.

Much love and sweet blessings xx

Mia

The Shepherd from Heaven

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God’s Thoughts to Me

He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry His lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young (Isaiah 40:11, NLT).

He Feeds Us

Today is the beginning of the International Fibromyalgia/ME Awareness Week. Although research is only in its infancy, we look forward to progress and perhaps a breakthrough in the near future.

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Due to unbelief, many if not most sufferers, received very bad and hostile treatment from the medical profession.

But at least we are finally beginning to be acknowledged as human beings with a real and quite disabling disease.

Isaiah 40:11 reminds us so wonderfully of how well the good Shepherd from heaven takes care of mothers and their children.

He cares for the broken ones, the weak, the sick, the unimportant, the unwanted and the rejected of this world. They only need to come to Him.

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When my son, Simon, was in Grade 11, we had to buy text books for Grade 12 when the Grade 12 pupils were selling their old books second-hand at a much lower price than new books.

I recall the week when we had to pay about R600 (around $67) for two text books as well as payment for the initiation camp for the following year’s Grade 12 learners.

It was in the middle of the month and we were stone, cold broke with only a few pennies we had to rub together in any case. Yet, I knew I had a Pappa who promised to take care of all our needs.

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The morning the payment was due, we still had not received our Lord’s provision, but I assured my children that the money would be paid before the end of the day.

When they left for school, I had a serious talk with my God, reminding Him that today is D-day and we still were empty-handed (or rather empty pocketed).

He told me to go to the ATM, and of course I stubbornly had to argue a bit, for the previous day when I checked, I was taunted by a big, round zero. Oh, those trust issues!!!!

At the word of our Lord, in the famous Peter style with the fishing nets, reluctantly, off to the ATM I went.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found that double the amount we needed was paid back to us from the Receiver of Revenue. We were overjoyed and my children’s faith grew with leaps and bounds.

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One would think that I was now cured of my stubbornness. Oh no, not this one. As a Fm/CFS sufferer, I had my fair share of unbelief, rejection and neglect from doctors, church people and also family and friends.

To such an extent that I landed up in the proverbial pig pen; not because of my foolishness, but because I had no one to care for me when I couldn’t take care of myself. Nobody believed that I was really ill.

But I was never alone. I could hear my Pappa screaming in my pain and suffering. Faithfully He was working in His normal mysterious ways to perform His wonders in my life.

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The shepherds of ancient times would break the legs of the lambs that constantly wandered away.

Then he would set the leg and carry the lamb on his shoulder until the leg was healed. After that the lamb would remain by the shepherd’s side for the rest of its life.

Pappa knew of my stubborn propensities to be a master performer to earn everyone’s love and approval.

With my religious mindset, I just could not believe that I already was loved and accepted by our God.

Because of His amazing love, He did what the shepherds did with their stubborn, wandering lambs. Allowing Fm/ME in my life, He “broke” my legs.

With such tender care and love, He gently set it as well and carried me around His neck until I was healed of my stubbornness and insecurities.

I have learned how good it is when my Beloved Shepherd Himself feeds me with the milk of His love… His grace … His life and compassion.

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Fm/CFS has taught me how to always walk with our Lord and never ever to leave His side again.

Even though we suffer greatly at times, I am so grateful for the wonder and joy of walking daily with our God … for the privilege of living in His Loving Embrace.

Love and sweet blessings

Mia

We all have experienced how our Lord has provided in miraculous ways. Please, share His goodness with us!
Linking-up with
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The Sacrament of Living

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God’s Thoughts to Me

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward (Colossians 3:23-24, NIV).

Let a man sanctify the Lord God in his heart and he can thereafter do no common act … For such a man, living itself will be sacramental. As he performs his never so simple task, he will hear the voice of the seraphim saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts. The whole world is full of His glory.” (A.W.Tozer – The Pursuit of God).

The Housewife Syndrome

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The yardstick of this world is a mighty weapon leaving many, many casualties in its wake. A major disease that is a result of this monster, is the housewife syndrome.

This disease is as old as time and no cure has ever been found. No amount of psychology or common sense is totally able to heal this illness. It has ingrained its lies deep in the hearts of its victims.

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Most of us become skilled in the game of comparing very early in life and we soon measure our worth on the scales of performance. And this, at least, is one thing I used to be able to perform with excellence!

Ever since my boys were small, I used to be just a housewife, a wife and a mother. I considered myself to be quite low on the scale of importance and were plagued by feelings of guilt for burying my talents in the ground.

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Who will ever consider doing laundry, scrubbing floors, cooking meals, ironing, making beds, etc, etc, etc, to be a noble vocation! Definitely not me for I was quite snobbish.

Helping my husband to keep the pot boiling, I designed children’s clothing. I was an excellent seamstress and worked into the early morning hours sewing the most beautiful clothes. Yet, in my eyes this was still a common profession.

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Another cohort contributing mightily to this whole shebang is the world of religion. The religious elite is not innocent in this folly and most have their own set of performance rules and regulations to keep the wheels of the cart rolling!

I recall the time when the medical profession was unable to provide an explanation for my Fm/CFS. Well, my husband did not understand it either. In the beginning he was not supportive, believing this illness to be just a figment of my imagination.

This was a hard time for both of us for I was unable to fulfill my duties and he worked very hard. One day he even dragged me to the stove telling me to stop being such a hypochondriac and look after my family. I could only scream in pain and crawled back to bed.

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I needed help and support desperately and went to see my pastor and his wife. In a previous post I wrote about the catastrophic outcome of this meeting for their diagnosis was that my sorry state was actually the result of not serving the saints.

One day I realized that all my striving and comparing were just  as useless as chasing the wind and I heard a voice!! Softly and tenderly it wooed me like a fresh breeze of love to come to Him.

His cure for this foolishness was actually so incredibly simple, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31, NLT). When our Pappa God wrote this cure on the tablets of my heart, I was overjoyed.

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My eyes were opened and I could suddenly see why Brother Lawrence considered washing the dishes at the monastry, a holy experience (The Practice Of The Presence Of God).

I realized that if humble duties like eating or drinking, things we share with our lowly animal friends, could be done to honor and glorify our Lord, there is nothing, except sin, that is not important to our Pappa.

Like all the blessings our Pappa bestows on us, the secret for this cure is hidden and available only in Him. As we learn to set our eyes on heaven and to store our treasures there where moths and rust cannot destroy, we soon find our hearts desiring nothing else, but the will of our Pappa.

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I often wondered why Pappa hasn’t healed my Fm/CFS until He told me that it is for my own good. This is just a thorn in my flesh to prevent me from surrendering again to this cursed life of earning approval through performance.

Much love XX

Mia

I would like to hear if I was the only sufferer of this performance disease. Please, let me know!

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The Ordinary Complexity of Life

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God’s Thoughts to Me

For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see (Psalm 36:9, NLT).

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning (Lamentations 3:22-23, NLT).

The Simplicity of Jesus

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Every ordinary sun-filled morning my cat’s wet little nose wakes me up, reminding me of his ordinary request for me to consider his breakfast an extra-ordinary important necessity above any ordinary needs I may have.

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The ordinary, familiar blanket of despair overwhelmes me, as I am enveloped by the ordinary pain, foggy mind and exhaustion; my ordinary Fm/CFS companions of every ordinary waking moment.

An ordinary day when getting up-and-about is like mounting an ordinary high mountain, where my ordinary climbing gear consists of painkillers and the ordinary paraphernalia accompanying a chronic illness.

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But another ordinary, is my extra-ordinary Beloved who takes my hand and accompanies me through every ordinary second of my ordinary day.

Where every ordinary day transforms itself into the extra-ordinary eternity of beauty and joy, where I drink deep and hard from the Fountain of Life, living within the eternal life of an extra-ordinary, wholy other, holy God.

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An ordinary day transforms itself into the extra-ordinary as I feast on the love and peace of my Pappa, where His grace and mercy embraces me anew every ordinary morning.

An eternity where my ordinary complexity is transformed into the extra-ordinary simplicity of my Lord Jesus, where my ordinary self is cherished in His Extra-Ordinary Loving Embrace.

Much love xx

Mia

I am linking-up with

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Tenacious Thankfulness

God’s Thoughts to Me

A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear? (Proverbs 18:14, NIV)

The Gracefulness of Grateful Suffering

“What a contradiction of terms! Mia, you surely do not have all your ducks in a row!”, my fleshly self exclaimed through a lot of pouting and complaining.

But a still, small voice beckons me with persistent, patient wooing,”Come to me, my darling, for I will wipe away your tears and transform them into sparkling diamonds of delight!”.

I recall a time when I was lost in Fibroland, wandering through the thick foggy swamps of despair and excruciating pain. In complete dependance my heart reached out to our Pappa who gently hushed me to sleep. My feeble heart was murmering a quiet prayer as I drifted of to dreamland.

A little time later I awoke, cuddled in Hubbyface’s arms. But….. Hubbyface was snoring to his heart’s delight in the Land of ZZZZ’s on his side of the bed. Our Lord softly whispered, telling me that He was nestling me in His Loving Embrace, holding me quietly just as my heart desired.

“Pappa, I want to bring you a thankful, humble gift of heartfelt praises for refining me through the fire of suffering. You have taught me to run to you instead of running away! You have taught me to hide under your wings, allowing you to envelope me in the sweetness of your love.”

Thank you sooo… much.

Your daughter

Mia. XXXXX

I am visiting all the dear ladies again at the Five Minute Friday get-together.
We all write for five minutes (sometimes a bit more, sometimes a little less).
We don’t overthink, don’t overedit or correct spelling mistakes and so on. Hopefully we all laugh at our mistakes. Please join us at Lisa-Jo’s for a wonderful fun time.

Frost and Sunflowers

God’s Thoughts to Me

He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down His hail like pebbles. Who can withstand His icy blast? He sends His word and melts them; He stirs up His breezes, and the waters flow. (Psalm 147:16-18, NIV)

Thawing in His Love

Oh, the beauty and joy of frolicking in the snow with complete abandon, creating snow angels and building big, chubby, potbellied snowmen with carrot noses, is truly a delightful gift from the storehouse of heaven.

Yet, another good heavenly gift I reluctantly accept and endure, is the beautiful flowers of feathery frost. Somehow I seem unable to see and appreciate their other-worldly, ethereal beauty!

While snow and frost are both formed from atmospheric vapor, snow crystals form on suspended dust particles high in the air, and frost, near the ground on just any flat surface like windowpanes and blades of grass. Their microscopic anatomy brings glory to our Heavenly Father’s attention to individuality and detail, for every single crystal, snow and frost, has a different shape and form; sort of their fingerprints from a Pappa of diversity.

Just like our Pappa truly has no favorites (James 2:1) and honors our individuality by giving each one of His children their own set of fingerprints, He also honors His creation. It’s diversity and beauty speak of a God who never overlooks a leper, a prostitute, a drunkard or glutton, or even a naked man possesed by a legion of demons, His children enveloped by the coldest winter frost of life.

Frost can be a killer by destroying whole crops during a severe winter season. I always contributed this to the extreme cold. Not so! The edges of frost crystals are needle-sharp. It destroys and damages any surface it settles on by cutting, slicing and stabbing like a knife. Truly, any surface, including my heart!

Ice crystals following the veining of a dead leaf

Before I walked with our Pappa God, I used to deal with the frosty winters of life in a very wordly, fleshly kind of way. Whenever the frost crystals of dissappointment, heart ache and sorrow, the pain of unfulfilled dreams and the whole enchilada settled on the surface of my fleshly, ground-dwelling soul, I would groan and moan, sulk and mope, indignantly blaming everything and everybody for my uncomfortable indisposition. So completely human! Truth be told, I even had the audacity to blame our Pappa at times!!

I am ashamed to admit that I even praised Him profusely, thanking Him for my discomfort and suffering. Yet, my heart, full of hypocrisy, seethed inside, frostbitten by anger and resentment, bemoaning the unfairness of life. Secretly, I kept both my eyes on heaven, fully expecting our Pappa to reward my valiant efforts of praising Him amidst my hard circumstances by making all the bad stuff dissapear. Of course, that never happened! Our Pappa in His wisdom, blessed me with even harder trials and tribulations, for He cannot be manipulated! So, the blame-game kept marching on, keeping me imprisoned and chained to that monstrous jailer, self-pity.

I am grateful to our Pappa for bringing me to the end of myself by allowing Fm/ME to stop me right in my tracks.

I vividly recall one morning in the early morning hours. I was suffering from insomnia (a Fm/ME symptomn) and this was the fifth day without sleeping a wink! Totally exhausted and with a body wracked with pain, I was at the end of my tether and endurace. I raised my voice one more time and, with an honest, sincere heart, I praised my Pappa, telling Him that I trust Him, regardless; no strings attached.

Our heavenly Father immediately reached down and gathered me into His Loving Embrace. For a few hours my heart was soaring high in the sky where the snowflakes dwell. The Spirit of our Lord Jesus was the wind beneath my wings.

Our Pappa taught me a valuable lesson. When my heart is imprisoned by the feathery fingers of frost, I must look at sunflowers and learn. A sunflower’s eyes always follow the sun. It basks in its warmth and care, praising our Pappa with it’s incredible beauty.

I have learned to never take the eyes of my heart off Jesus, the Son of all comfort, warmth and love. I have learned to look full in His wonderous face, assured that the warmth of His love will melt all those frozen tears in my heart and transform them into a bubbling stream of joy and delight, to the glory and praise of our Pappa.

Dear Ones, I am fully aware that at times it seems as if the frost-filled winters of life never seem to end. They seem to transform our weary hearts into flowers of cold, feathery frost. But at times like these we need to keep our spiritual eyes fixed on the Son, basking in the warmth of His never-ending love. This also has come to pass, not to stay!

Much love, blessings and peace to you!

Mia

I’m linking up with Amber Haines again with gratitude and joy. Other “abstractions-on-the-frost” can be found at http://therunamuck.com/2012/11/12/an-abstraction-on-the-frost/

A Sweating, Striving Sweater

God’s Thoughts to Me

But as I looked at everything I had worked to accomplish, it was all so meaningless – like chasing the wind. (Ecclesiastes 2:11, NLT)

“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless! What do people get for all their hard work under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3, NLT)

The Futility of Striving

Solomon was a great man of divine wisdom. His words in Ecclesiastes show the depth of his wisdom when he acknowleded that all his striving and sweating caused him a severe case of burnout. A burnout caused by his relentless efforts in building his search for fulfillment, meaning and happiness on the wrong foundations: the shaky foundations of the world’s riches, values and ways.

Another foundation, much more subtle and dangerous, I have found myself building on, trying to find meaning in life, was religion. The etymology of the word “religion” shows that it is derived from the Latin word “religare”, a word aligned to the root word “religio”, meaning “to tie back” or “to bind up”.

During Paul’s visit to Athens, he noticed their numerous idols. Not to offend any god, they even had an idol to “an unknown god”. He told them,”Men of Athens, I notice that you are very RELIGIOUS in every way…” (Acts 17:22) The Greek word he used was “deisidaimon”, “deisi” meaning “to fear or respect” and “daimon”, demon!! Paul was actually likening religion to the worshipping of and paying respect to demons! To be totally honest, that frightened me to such a degree that I knew I was standing at the crossroads of my life and I knew I had to choose.

I realized I was swallowing all the lies the father of religion was feeding me, like Eve did in the Garden of Eden. Our Pappa gently showed me that my mind was veiled, darkened and wandering far from the abundant life our Lord Jesus longed to give me, free of charge! Before my Pappa gave sight to my blind spiritual eyes, I was striving and sweating, trying to cover my spiritual cold and nakedness with the fig leaves of religion.

I was knitting a sweater with a wide variety of religious knitting yarn: church attendance, giving to the poor, serving, Bible reading, praying and some more. My sweater closely resembled Joseph’s colorful coat. Instead of providing spiritual warmth and life, this sweater only birthed another sweater, me!! I was perspiring profusely trying to earn everything in life, especially love, worth and acceptance.

My late father once remarked that I always seemed to be chasing after love and he was spot-on with his words. I was completely baffled and left in the dark, for I had no idea why I acted this way. Was it because my earthly father’s love was the only love I had ever experienced without any strings attached or because my biological mother passed away when I was only 3 years old?

I suppose I will never know the answer, but I do know that from a young age the sweet Holy Spirit has been drawing me into the source of all love, compassion, grace, kindness and mercy, the abundant Life of our Lord Jesus.

What joy the day when our Lord Jesus started to free me from all the chains that were keeping me captive. He also revealed to me the true meaning of His words,”I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10), because to me it meant something along these lines, “For I came that you might have religion and have it more abundantly, to practise it more faithfully and committedly, defending it with all your might and behaving more morally!”.

What joy when our Lord took me by the hand and showed me a better way, a long walk to freedom, freedom from all this striving, sweating; freedom from the dark, futile road of self-effort and fear. Our Pappa promises us that there is no fear in love for His perfect love casts out all fear. ( 1 John 4:18).

I want to pay tribute to all those dear saints from the past who in the face of extreme opposition and persecution  refused to accept another gospel which was not a gospel at all (Galatians 1:6-7). Saints like Paul and many others who preferred to be beaten with rods, to be shipwrecked, fed to lions, to go hungry, cold and without sleep, rather than to bow the knee before the idol of religion.

Thank you, Amber, and all you dear Ones for allowing me to share the freedom, love, joy and abundant life of our Lord Jesus with you for a short while along my journey of life.

Hugs and blessings

Mia

I’m linking up with Amber Haines again with gratitude and joy. Other  “abstracts on the sweater” can be found here http://therunamuck.com/2012/11/05/an-abstraction-on-the-sweater/.

The Candor of a Child

God’s Thoughts to Me

When Jesus saw what was happening, He was angry with His disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:13-15, NLT)

A Lesson from Lea, with Love

The real-life Lea

Last week I was blessed abundantly when I had the privilege of visiting my 1-year-and-5-month-old little niece in Port Elizabeth. I could let my hair down and just be little, small and childlike, getting dirty as we built sandcastles and playing in the mud. I was the builder and she, the demolisher

When I arrived, little Lea was overjoyed as she ran up to me on her chubby little legs. Shrieking with boundless delight, she jumped onto my lap and stole my heart all over again with those beautiful, blue, innocent eyes, sparkling with stars of anticipation, expecting a great time of fun and play.

What a precious moment it was when she wrapped her little arms around my neck with complete trust and surrender, not doubting my love for her even for a moment. Our Heavenly Father showed me the holiness of the moment as the Holy Spirit gave life to the words of the French author, Jacques Ellul. In his wonderful book, Anarchy and Christianity, he remarked with unusual wisdom,” No matter what God’s power may be, the first aspect of God is never that of the Absolute Master, the Almighty. It is that of the God who puts Himself on our human level and limits Himself.”

I had the privilege of loving Lea the same way our Lord Jesus loved us when He did not consider His equality with God as something to hold on to, but He emptied Himself by becoming like one of us (Phillipians 2:7). I could love Lea by putting myself on her childlike level, without considering my adulthood and limiting myself. I listened to all her incomprehensible baby babble, pretending to understand every single word as she was wholeheartedly giving me an account of her little life. Needless to say, for a few hours we played to our heart’s delight.

The holiness of that moment wrapped its warm, loving arms around me like the first rays of the sun at daybreak after a cold, dark night. My heart sensed with anticipation that our Pappa was revealing an awesome side of His character to me.

During the third decade of the first century, the Jewish families from Palestine valued their children, especially boys, for their posterity. However, they were very low on on the social ladder of a religious society who highly valued education, wisdom and intelligence. They had no rights or status and were regarded as inferior, the least among family members, a nuisance only to be seen, but definitely not heard! It came as a shock to me that we need to become like these unimportant, inferior little ones to enter our Pappa’s Kingdom of love (Matthew 18:3). I needed to desire and value my Pappa’s love much more than my so-called rights or importance, the idols the world loves to pay homage to!

Our orphaned, broken world is trying to survive without a Father, but has robbed so many of our Pappa’s children of their innocent childlikeness, me included. Since as far as my mind was able to reach back in time to fetch memories from my past, I had been on a futile quest trying to impress my Pappa and all those I considered to be His representatives here on earth. Well, I know now it is just as impossible as trying to catch the wind or chasing my own shadow.

I was suffering from a severe case of, what I call, the Micah syndrome. Micah had the same mindset as me when he lamented so beautifully, “What can we bring to God? What kind of offering should we give Him? …. Should we sacrifice our first-born children?” (Micah 6:6-7, NLT).

This syndrome was rampant amongst the ancient Canaanite tribes. Seeking the favor of their gods, they tied their first-born sons to altars as sacrifices and offered their virgin daughters to fiery volcanoes. What an incentive to let go of chastity! I wondered if Abraham thought it was business-as-usual when Our Pappa asked him to offer up Isaac?

I was ignorant of the beautiful freedom our Lord Jesus gave me by being the only mediator between my Pappa and me. As I allowed the Holy Spirit of love to draw me closer and closer into our Father’s love and the resurrected life of our Lord Jesus, I was again able to recapture the holiness of childlike faith. I could once again hear our Lord’s invitation to just come to Him to experience His rest. (Mark 10:14). Just like little Lea, I ran up to my Pappa and hurried into His Loving Embrace. I told Him of all my brokeness, weaknesses, frustrations, hopes, fears and dreams without feeling that I was a nuisance. I started to experience the truth of our Lord’s words, “You have taught children and infants” (Psalm 8:2) and shared in His delight, “Oh Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike.” (Matthew 11:25).

One of my favorite authors, A W Tozer, once remarked with divine wisdom, “An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others”. So true!

Dear Ones, your Pappa does not look at the limitations this illness forces on you, He looks at your childlike heart reaching out to Him through all your pain and exhaustion. He looks at your childlike faith that implicitly trusts His promise of love to be close to the suffering, listening to your cries for help. (Psalm 22:24).

The world might abandon their weak, but not our Pappa, for He has a special place in His heart for all the spiritually, emotionally and physically broken ones! May our Pappa bless you and keep you this week as you share your life with Him, knowing that you bring joy to His heart by just being the broken, beautiful you He loves. Allow Him to carry you as He wraps you close to His heart in His Loving Embrace.

Hugs and blessings until next time. Mia