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Archive for March, 2013

MP900178785[1]Never in my entire Chrstian life have I prayed as often or as desperately as I have this past week. There is someone I love beyond measure possibly facing a life challenge that I would spare her at any cost.

I’m sure you’ve been there, when you wake up over and over during the night, a name is on your lips and your mind goes instantly to prayer. When it’s all you can do,  you do it with a fervor you’ve never known before.

I read a fellow blogger’s post this morning and it spoke to me so deeply I have to share it. Here’s the link: http://pausingtopraise.wordpress.com/author/sheilacampbell  

From her post, I quote these words:

I read the prayer of Moses in Deuteronomy 9: 25, “Thus I prostrated myself before the LORD; forty days and forty nights I kept prostrating myself, because the LORD had said He would destroy you. Therefore I prayed to the LORD,…” And I read the prayer of Daniel, “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.” [Daniel 9:3] Both of these men were interceding on behalf of their nation that had rebelled and turned away from God. They were earnestly pleading for God’s mercy in the lives of others.

I am reminded that in the great scheme of things my faith is shallow.  I think I have come so far in trust and belief, and I have. But I have many miles to go before I can really count this a successful journey.

My hope and my light is in the fact that while I am changing every day, God is not. His promise to hear my prayers and answer each one doesn’t contain the codicil that I must first attain a level of fervency or sacrifice. If you don’t know what a codicil is – it’s wording that amends but does not replace a previous statement. God’s original promise stands as given.

When Moses prostrated himself and when Daniel smeared his face with ashes, it got God’s attention, touched his heart, drew his compassion.

When I cry out from my comfortable bed with my head on a soft pillow or sit at my desk, mascara and blush carefully applied and tailored outfit perfectly color coordinated, I get the same response Moses and Daniel did. Thank God for that!

I want my prayer life to go deeper and I want my walk to be more committed. I want the blinding light of Christ to be all that people see when they look at me. I know I’m not close to where I want to be . I have much work to do for sure.

But in the meantime, I am so humbly grateful for a God who takes me where I am, listens to my faltering voice, collects my tears in His bottle and loves my every effort no matter how small.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

 

 

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When I got the call from Special Agent John Riley of the Drug Enforcement Agency who left a message saying he was involved in an ongoing federal investigation I wasn’t too concerned. I work for a chemical dependency treatment facility and it wouldn’t be the first time a client was under investigation. However, I got the shock of my life when I returned the call. Special Agent Riley, of the booming, intimidating and very rude manner was investigating me!

He let me know the agency had been tracking illegal prescription drugs shipped from outside the country to my address. I explained to him that he had the wrong person because I had never ordered medications online as he suggested. The conversation went something like this:

“Are you telling me you have never purchased medications over the internet?”  This asked in a very loud, disbelieving manner.

“No, sir, I have not.” This stated in a very meek, frightened manner.

“If you are not being truthful with me this will not go well for you, Cheryl.”

“I am being truthful. I don’t lie and I don’t buy medications over the internet.”

“Your name is Cheryl Thorp, correct?”

“No, sir. My name is Cheryl Dale.”

His immediate response, “Well it may be Cheryl Dale now, but I know you’ve used the name Cheryl Thorp in the past. When did you change your name?”

“Ummm – never – er – actually when I got married 45 years ago but it wasn’t Thorp back then either.”

“Your address is PO Box 2324, correct?” Much irritation in the agent’s voice.

“No. I have no idea whose address that is but it’s not mine.”

“If you are not being truthful with me this will not go well for you, Cheryl.”

I pull the phone away from my ear to keep his loud, demanding voice from damaging my eardrum. Then I get a flash thought – I have many strange friends who might play this type of joke on me.

“This is a joke, right?” I chuckle.

“I guess if you consider a warrant for your arrest a joke, Cheryl. I’m holding one in my hand right now.”

Gulp. “I swear I’ve never purchased medications over the internet.” I want to tell him also I’ve never shoplifted, smoked, skipped out without paying a bill, had premarital sex or folded over the corner of a page in my Bible either.

Finally Special Agent Riley stated, “I will do some more investigation on this, Cheryl, but I’m telling you right now that if you are not being honest with me it will not go well for you.”

Yeah, I get that, I mutter after he hangs up. I know I’m innocent but I start feeling guilty anyway. Then I get nervous. I’ve heard of innocent people being thrown in prison and forgotten for years. I can’t let that happen. Orange is absolutely my worst color!

I decide to bounce this off the Operations Director at work. I tell him the story and he falls out of his chair laughing. He starts to say something but breaks into another fit of laughter. Finally he chokes out, “You of all people?  Me maybe – but you? If this guy only knew!”

I bounce it off my boss who is reserved enough not to fall out of his chair when he laughs. He suggests I Google the number and verify the authenticity. So that’s what I do.

Total scam, people! If you get a call from Special Agent Riley tell him to take his warrant and put it where the sun doesn’t shine. Do not fall for his line. The scam comes when you admit that you may have at one time purchased medications over the internet. Or, you are intimidated to the point that you are afraid and just want them off your back even though you haven’t done anything wrong. The agent explains again about the warrant for your arrest, the prison sentence for drug crimes and the very large fine attached to the conviction. Then he suggests that if you want to pay the fine they will give you a break and not prosecute. Your first clue should be the suggestion that the federal government has a heart and is willing to give you a break.

How in the world do people live with themselves when they make their living taking advantage of others? I’ve heard so many stories of people being ripped off through some type of dishonesty. Where did the idea come from that you could lie and act intimidating to get people to do things that work to their advantage?

Actually, it may have come first in the Garden of Eden when a snake (probably looking and sounding a lot like Special Agent John Riley) lied and coerced Adam and Eve into thinking he was doing them a favor.

Scamming is not new, it’s just craftier and more technology enhanced today. Never has it been more necessary to pray for discernment. Snakes are out there doing everything they can to deceive. Don’t take a bite of their apple!

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1

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I was definitely not cut out for this climate. I have an internal thermostat that registers cold until the external thermostat registers at least 75 degrees. However, I do enjoy living in an area where we have four definite seasons so I’m willing to put up with winter temps.

What I do not appreciate is when Mother Nature decides to tease us into believing the season has turned when it really hasn’t. I know she gets a big kick out of it but I don’t.

I take it very personally. I believe she has singled me out and it is a challenge this time of year for her to coax me out of my turtleneck. She starts with a burst of sunshine after several days of cloud cover. I’m at my desk looking out the window and that sunshine just begs me to come outside and play.

But when I step outside, it is not nice warm sunshine. It is frigid, bone chilling, laughing-at-me sunshine. I can hear Mother Nature chuckle.

Her next ploy is the weatherman. I listen to the report on the morning news and it promises a beautiful 60 degree day. Since we’ve had weeks of 30˚ and 40˚ weather, 60˚ sounds positively balmy. I decide to leave my coat at home since I certainly won’t need it later in the day. Wrong! Aside from fooling me, Mother Nature’s next favorite thing is making a fool of the weatherman.

The trick that irritates me the most of hers is lulling. She is a master at it and you’d think by now I’d have figured that out.  Maybe it’s my blonde or maybe it’s my age.  Whatever it is, I’m better than a Saturday Night Live rerun for making her roll on the floor in hysterics.

Just this last month she pulled her little lulling routine on us. It was February and we all know that February in the Pacific Northwest is technically and literally still winter.   But we had clear skies and 60˚ for several days in a row. I was skeptical at first but after about the 5th day I was lulled into believing winter was over and spring had sprung.

I actually left the turtleneck off and donned a silk blouse twice during that time. I eyed my closet and almost – not quite but almost – started moving the wool skirts downstairs and the lighter ones upstairs. I even got complacent about wearing the undershirt I always put on under my turtleneck.

That changed this week when I woke up to a light snowfall and temperatures in the 30’s again. I could hear that old woman roaring as I rushed back inside for an undershirt, sweater, coat and gloves.

I’m done. I’m not letting her do that to me again. I’ve circled March 20 on my calendar as the official first day of spring and I’ve freshened up all my long sleeve sweaters, tights and wool blazers. I don’t care how much the sun shines or the temperature rises, it’s winter until at least March 20 and even then I’m going to be cautious!

Oh, and by the way, Mother Nature isn’t the only one who has mastered the trick of lulling. Satan is great at it also. He loves to stand back and watch us settle into complacency and become lax about putting on the (under)armor.

So here’s my caution for today. Don’t trust first impressions or first glimpses. Just because it looks good doesn’t mean it is good. Prove it out by going to the Word and letting God tell you how to dress for the season. Unlike the weatherman, He’s always right.

God sets clear boundaries for where we can go and where we cannot go. The Christian life requires that we do not get complacent about those boundaries or get lulled into thinking things have changed when they haven’t. All may look bright and sunny. We may think we are stronger than we really are. But we will soon discover that going out without a coat will leave us vulnerable to the elements, one of which is the bitter bite of the devil.

Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

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