Memorial Markers

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Now this day will be a memorial to you,
and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD;
throughout your generations you are
to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.
 

—Exodus 12:14

Two years ago today, I enjoyed a day completely free of pain. Days like this are so unusual that I make sure to remember them by setting a memorial/memory marker for each of these times.

I’ve written about memory markers before. These are referred to in the Old Testament as memorials. God encouraged His people to pile up some stones in the places of special blessing as a memorial for them to remember things He had taught them and didn’t want them to forget.

The meaning of the Hebrew word for memorial (v. 7) is “to remember.” Given man’s propensity to forget it is little wonder then that memorials have frequently played an important role in biblical history. At the foot of Mt. Sinai, Moses built an altar of stones to commemorate God’s covenant with Israel (Ex. 12:14) . Now in today’s text we see God command his people to erect a memorial.1

I have my own version of these memorial markers to commemorate certain days or events I don’t want to forget by adding them to my cell phone calendar and setting alerts.

It is so easy to get caught up in the cycle of pain, thinking that’s all there is in my life. However, God gives me special days and occasions to remind me that He is always with me and will never let me go. So I cling to these memorial markers during the ongoing days of chronic illness when it often seems I will never climb out of the pit.

What this has done in my life has been remarkable. It used to be that I would mentally cry “I don’t understand!” But now, even though I still don’t understand (because I’m not God), I find myself telling Him, “I don’t get it, but I trust that You know what You’re doing and that’s good enough for me.”

You see, God has shown me that He wants me to remember that I can always count on Him. So on each of my pain-free occasions, I have made a new memorial marker on my phone calendar so I can recall the day (or event) and the outcome when I need encouragement.

Beloved, I want to encourage you today if you’re going through a tough time. It is so easy to be thankful when things are going well but understandably much harder to have thankful thoughts when everything seems to be falling apart.

I know what I’m talking about here.

I once read a devotional that confirms what I have long suspected. We were encouraged to store up the memories of precious times when we felt God blessing us with something special, and slide those memories out during the tough times.

In other words, remember the good during the not-so-good.

Here is the crucial part of trusting God: each time I choose to trust God during a particularly puzzling and/or frustrating situation, He demonstrates His faithfulness to me. Sometimes that means He answers a particular prayer in a particular way. Other times He fills me with the overwhelming sense that I can absolutely trust Him while He works behind the scenes, even if it doesn’t feel like He is hearing me. This is where faith comes in.

During one of the toughest times in my life, God pointed me to Isaiah 26:3 and I cling to it to this day:

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“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

Beloved, how about you? Do you do anything to remember those sweet, special times where you can see the Lord at work? And if so, share how you commemorate those times in the comments below. 

1“Building Memorials to Remember God” from Sermons.Logos.com 

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Fibromyalgia Awareness Day 2015

FMS---Collage Today is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.  How do you like my shades-of-purple manicure to honor the occasion? And I just happened to be wearing that t-shirt on the same day I had my nails done. I think that was the inspiration for the purple mani. After all, a girl needs to have a little fun once in a while, even if she happens to be feeling yucky. Not surprisingly, my personal theme for 2015 Fibromyalgia Awareness Day just happens to be “Think Purple!” The chart below is a real eye opener and may help you understand the complexity and far-reaching effects of Fibromyalgia. Top 10 Fibromyalgia Facts You Need to Know Today from the Fibromyalgia Support page on Facebook:   I am ever thankful for my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ who helps me get through every single day. Praise be to His holy and precious name!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;     his love endures forever. —Psalm 106:1

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2015 Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

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Tomorrow, May 12th, is designated as Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. There are too many people who live with this disease. I have had to count myself among them since 1999, when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) plus Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS)—also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

“Fibromyalgia (pronounced fy-bro-my-AL-ja) is a complex chronic pain disorder that affects an estimated 10 million Americans. While it occurs most often in women, it strikes men and children, and all ethnic backgrounds. For those with severe symptoms, fibromyalgia (FM) can be extremely debilitating and interfere with basic daily activities.

  • The FM diagnostic criteria, established by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) in 1990, includes a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months, and pain in at least 11 of the 18 designated tender points when a specified amount of pressure is applied.
  • Since people with FM tend to look healthy and conventional tests are typically normal, a physician knowledgeable about the disorder is necessary to make a diagnosis.
  • Physicians should rule out other causes of the symptoms before making a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.”

Read more here.

One of the most distressing things that people with FMS experience is disbelief from family and friends because we mostly look normal, that is, like there’s nothing out-of-the-ordinary wrong with us. The common phrase we hear is, “But you look so good!” I have often replied, “Thank God for makeup” although I seldom wear makeup these days.

The truth is this: My hair may be nicely fixed and I have taken the time to do my eyebrows and apply some lip balm or lip color. I may even put in some earrings if I feel up to it. My hubby frequently compliments me on how good I look.

But most days when I look in the mirror what I see is a tired and wrinkled old hag. Really. Because that’s how I feel inside.

A typical day for me begins with my daily migraine (usually with nausea) and includes extreme pain in joints and ligaments. I often have pain in my chest similar to what a heart attack feels like. But it’s not a heart attack. It’s called Costochondritis and is one of my FMS symptoms. Even though I am used to these episodes, I still wonder every time if this is the day I am having a heart attack.

Stressful? You betcha!

And I haven’t even touched on the debilitating fatigue that is part of both FMS and CFIDS. No matter how much sleep I get, I always—and I mean always—feel like I haven’t slept at all.

I normally wake up between 6:00 and 7:30 a.m. but a couple of hours later I’m already thinking it’s time to get back into bed. Some days I do. Other times I keep pushing myself to get a few things done until lunch time. After lunch I either get back into bed or slide into my recliner for a snooze in front of the TV. Even though Rick is always volunteering to do things for me, I thank him and reply that I need to do as much as I am physically capable of doing, for as long as I am able to do so.

When Rick and I have planned activities such as going out for a meal, meeting up with friends, going to church or even just grocery shopping, I have to prepare myself beforehand with plenty of rest. That doesn’t guarantee that I’ll actually be able to get to any of these planned events, but at least I try. And if I do make it, there’s the payback afterwards—sometimes for days (or weeks), especially if some traveling was part of the activity.

I happen to be blessed with a family and many close friends who do their best to understand all of this. I have had to cancel or reschedule countless activities with them, yet they still stand by me. And for that I am truly blessed. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this and visit the NFMCPA site (National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association) for more information.

God bless you all!

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How to be Content, Part 2

Contentment is difficult to attain and maintain when we’re going through some very tough times. Here’s another great piece about contentment, from David Jeremiah’s Turning Points daily devotional magazine. Please visit Dr. Jeremiah’s site to find more wonderful articles.

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Popular Verses

Be anxious for nothing,
but in everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
and the peace of God…will guard your hearts and minds.

—Philippians 4:6-7

Recommended Reading: Philippians 4:4-9

What’s the most popular verse in the Bible? Last fall, the retailer Amazon released a list of the most popular passages from its most popular books, and the most commonly highlighted portion of the Bible was Philippians 4:6-7. Readers of e-Bibles underlined that passage more often than any other in Scripture.

When we look around at our anxious world and our fretful lives, we can understand why people are drawn to the promises of Philippians 4. But notice the context of the passage. The Lord tells us here to rejoice in Him (verse 4); to be gentle in our dealings with others (verse 5a); to remember how near He is to us (verse 5b); to pray earnestly about our concerns (verse 6a); to count our blessings with thankfulness (verse 6b); and to focus our minds on what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and praiseworthy (verse 8).

What a wonderful description of the life of faith! When we trust the Lord like this, we don’t have to fret about the small details of life. We can rely on God with issues both big and small.

Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear. —Corrie ten Boom

Read-Thru-the-Bible: Judges 1-3

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How to Be Content

Have you wondered how it is possible to be content in this chaotic, sin-sick world? This is a wonderful piece by Sam Storms. Please visit his Enjoying God blog to read more great articles.

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The Secret of Spiritual Contentment

By Sam Storms

What could the Apostle Paul possibly mean when he says that he has “learned” to be “content” in whatever circumstance or situation he’s in? Here is what he writes:

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:10-13).

Key verse from this article:

The issue for us all is resting and rejoicing in Jesus to such an extent that neither poverty nor prosperity has any affect on us, whether for good or ill.

Read the rest here.

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National Day of Prayer 2015

Please pray for our nation!

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Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant
is praying in your presence this day.
—1 Kings 8:28

Please pray along with me:

Heavenly Father, our nation has strayed so far from our Christian roots. We seem to have forgotten that kingship belongs to You alone. You are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and deserve all of our worship and praise.

Please forgive us for all the times we have not first looked to You for guidance in everything we say and do. Forgive our country for the willful disregard and hatred of You and all You are to us, for not trusting You enough, for not believing completely in the saving grace of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Please renew the faith of those who love You and glorify You as we watch and pray for a nation in the midst of tremendous turmoil.

Father, we love You, although we don’t always show it. And though we don’t deserve it, please don’t abandon this country. We plead with you to turn the unbelieving and untrusting hearts of a nation intent on setting standards that go completely against Your will for us, into a country that once again seeks to follow Your ways. Please protect those who love You, and keep us close to You.

Amen.

All the ends of the earth shall remember    
and turn to the Lord,    
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.   
For kingship belongs to the Lord,   
and he rules over the nations.
—Psalm 22:27-28

 

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2015 National Day of Prayer is Tomorrow

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Tomorrow is
the National Day of Prayer

Beloved, we are a nation at a crossroads right now. Please join me tomorrow in praying for our country. The need is great.

From the National Day of Prayer site: 

The 64th annual National Day of Prayer, May 7, 2015, will have profound significance for our country.  It is an unprecedented opportunity to see the Lord’s healing and renewing power made manifest as we call on citizens to humbly come before His throne.

Our theme for 2015 is Lord, Hear Our Cry, emphasizing the need for individuals, corporately and individually, to place their faith in the unfailing character of their Creator, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and men.  To further highlight our theme, we’ve chosen I Kings 8:28 as our Scripture for this year:  “Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.”

2015 National Prayer by Dr. Jack Graham

Heavenly Father,

We come to You in the Name that is above every name—Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Our hearts cry out to You.

Knowing that You are a prayer-answering, faithful God—the One we trust in times like these—we ask that You renew our spirits, revive our churches, and heal our land.

We repent of our sins and ask for Your grace and power to save us. Hear our cry, oh God, and pour out Your Spirit upon us that we may walk in obedience to Your Word.

We are desperate for Your tender mercies. We are broken and humbled before You.

Forgive us, and in the power of Your great love, lift us up to live in Your righteousness.

We pray for our beloved nation. May we repent and return to You and be a light to the nations. And we pray for our leaders and ask that You give them wisdom and faith to follow You.

Preserve and protect us, for You are our refuge and only hope.

Deliver us from all fears except to fear You, and may we courageously stand in the Truth that sets us free.

We pray with expectant faith and grateful hearts.

In Jesus’ name, our Savior.

Amen.

You can listen to the audio version here.

How to Pray for America

by Franklin Graham

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“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
–Psalms 11:3

I believe our nation is in trouble today, probably more than I’ve seen in my lifetime. We are contending with issues that are causing the very foundation of our country to crumble. Our moral and spiritual roots are eroding, the economy is misleading, family life is disintegrating, and political forces are at unprecedented odds. There seem to be very few leaders who will take a stand for God and for His Word.

It can be tempting to believe that America has reached a point of no return. While these factors cause despair, we are reminded in Scripture that with God, nothing is impossible. No problem is too great for Him. Seasons of distress and uncertainty and hardship call for faithful, fervent prayer by God’s people and remind us of our responsibility to humble ourselves before Almighty God. We cannot expect healing to come to our nation apart from obedience to God through His Holy Word.

Read the rest here.

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Ultimate Strength

 Ultimate Strength

by Patricia Knight

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“’I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

I’ll admit it; I’m a pushover for statuesque oriental lily plants. From each underground bulb, a gallant plant emerges. Growing to heights of four feet, the lily boasts a sturdy but invisibly reinforced stalk whose purpose is to support and nurture the entire plant, as well as showcase the lily flowers it produces.

Though the lily plant is tall and grandiose, it seldom requires external support for stability. Even during summer windstorms, it will skillfully withstand thrashing wind without bending or breaking the stem. The lily is built for endurance. Even a plant rimmed with pendulous flowers remains stable under pressure.

It is apparent that the balanced lily stalk must possess intrinsic features that prevent it from breaking under intense environmental conditions, specialized fibers comprising the stalk that offer reinforcement. God, the Creator, designed the majestic lily plant for beauty and dependability, giving it equilibrium by strengthening its internal composition.

What augmented inner support do we depend upon when adverse conditions assail us? With personal tragedy, every fiber of our being revolts, thrashing our hearts, twisting and churning our minds, and interrupting our intrinsic ability to remain calm and composed. We may groan and bend under the emotional or physical weight of the hardship.

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Whether we break or rebound depends upon the strength within us. Our tenacity alone is insufficient to fight our personal battles, to provide confidence and composure amidst life’s entanglements. When the winds of adversity blow through our fragile lives, does our resolve wither and snap? Reacting to trauma, we may feel as if all of our energy is sapped. Physical weakness may cause us to tremble or shake, but there is a solid Source of immeasurable reinforcement available to us. God converts our trembling to peace; our weakness to strength.

Unlike the lily plant, our Lord designed His children with a renewable Source of strength. The Creator implanted our psyche with innate fortitude, but when that limited resource of inner strength wanes, our Lord is delighted to buttress our supply with his own infinite strength. “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights” (2 Samuel 22: 23-24).

Believing in God’s absolute authority and power is much more straightforward when our days are peaceful and predictable. But, how do we respond in an emergency?

It must have been a traumatic jolt the day King Jehoshaphat of Judah was informed that a coalition of enemy armies was poised at his country’s borders threatening to attack. Vulnerable without a militia or armaments, where would the King find strength of opposition against such a formidable foe? “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord. The people of Judah came together to seek from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town of Judah to seek him (2 Chronicles 20:3-4).

The people prayed continuously as they stood firm to wait for the deliverance they knew the Lord would provide. The frightened, but trusting inhabitants, prayed, “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (2 Chronicles 20:12).

Delighted with their faith, God informed King Jehoshaphat and the people that they need not fight the battle. God further instructed them to stand firm in their faith “and see the deliverance the Lord will give you” (vs. 19).

God developed unique war strategy, creating an ambush between that caused the two foreign armies to destroy each other in the confusion of battle. Not an Israelite was harmed. God’s strength was magnified and the people learned a significant lesson about faith and trust at a time when their personal supply was impoverished.

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“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

Scripture reminds us to plunge our roots into fertile, watered ground, accessing the Lord, our sovereign Source of all strength. God has created each of us with a natural desire to seek Him and His provisions, to help with both minor and major calamities.  Then on the occasion when we are confronted with an unsolvable adversity, it will be our first response to call on God for His expertise in fighting our battle, for lavishing His gifts of peace and love, and for His intervention to deliver an extra boost of strength.

The lily plant is strong, but not impervious to destruction. Drought, insect infestations, and flooding will defoliate the plant, eliminating its source of nutrition. The plant is given one chance to perform majestically with the nutrition stored within its bulb. If the stress is too great, the plant will collapse.

Our Lord is the God of second chances, over and over again. With the renewable Source of strength God provides, we are able to grow in faith, combat stress, and to submit to the will of the Father. Whatever we lack for life and fellowship with God, He will graciously provide. Union with the living, exalted Christ is the secret to contentment and the Source of abiding strength.

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Is Your Hut Burning?

A friend shared this with me in an email recently, and then I found it again at Inspire21. This is really good and very thought provoking.

is your hut burning?

— Author Unknown

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.

Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect Him from the elements, and to store his few possessions. Then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost.

He was stunned with grief and anger. “God, how could you do this to me!” he cried.

Read the rest here.

Beloved, please pass this on. You never know whose life may be in need of this today. The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.

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A Change of Plans

 

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A couple of months ago I decided to try posting more often than I had been doing. What I discovered is that I’ve been putting so much work into these almost-daily posts that I’ve been neglecting my other writing responsibilities. Since I believe that the Lord has provided these writing opportunities for me, I need to use my limited time and energy more wisely.

Starting this week, I’ll be posting three times per week: Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. I’m very thankful for my contributing writers, which alleviates some of the time I dedicate to this blog. I come across many great blog posts from other sources and I’ll continue to share those with you too. God is doing some great things in my writing life this year and I’ll be doing my best to honor what He has given me to do for His glory.

Beloved, thank you all for sticking with me and being a part of my bloggy world! I appreciate each and every one of you!

To humans belong the plans of the heart,
    but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.

All a person’s ways seem pure to them,
    but motives are weighed by the Lord.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
    and he will establish your plans.

—Proverbs 16:1-3

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