Friday, February 25, 2005

Weekly Word for Feb. 25 to March 4, 2005

Weekly Word - February 25, 2005

“For I am the Lord your God, . . . Since you are precious in My sight, . . . Since you are honored - and I love you.”
(Isaiah 43: 3a & 4)

As I brushed her long dark hair - I realized how much I cared for this little girl - and all that I hoped for her - and then I said: “When you get married - marry someone who will tell you every day - that you are beautiful!” She looked up at me - with questions in her eyes- - - and I too wondered - - - why did I say that to her?

As I looked at her - I thought about all that I wanted her to hear through her life - to believe about herself . . .

If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, . . . Even there - Your hand shall lead me, . . . And Your right hand shall hold me.
(Psalm 139: 9 & 10)

The other day, I was visiting with a friend. I had only met her a few months earlier - when Ted and I moved. I knew right away though - - - that I liked her! She was the type of person who was always giving - to her family and friends - before herself. She was always there for her children and husband - and never said “no” when they asked her for help. So on this day - as we sat with our coffee - I found myself listening to her - as she told me about how tired she was - - - and then she said: “my husband told me - that he had believed that he was helping me to have more self worth - telling me I am beautiful all these years - - - and I don’t believe him!” She looked so sad - and so tired - and I wondered why she couldn’t see herself? Why couldn’t she see the amazing woman she really was . . .

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!”
(Isaiah 43: 1)

So many of us have been so wounded in our lives - - - that we cannot see ourselves - - - cannot see what is good - or who we are . . .

I have a very close friend - who I am just amazed by her gifts and talents! She is a wife - a mother - and day-care provider. She takes care of these little lives - teaching them all that they will need - to form the basis of the rest of their lives. My friend has overseen charity drives - and taken charge of her children’s scout groups. She has organized fund raisers - and made sure her children became involved in sports as well as church groups. And still . . . When her youngest child asked: “Mommy, what do you like the best about yourself?” - - - my friend couldn’t answer . . .

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you: . . .” (Jeremiah 1: 5)

Why do we not see ourselves? Because we remember the hurts . . .

The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”
(Jeremiah 31:3)

I was between seven and eight months pregnant - when I finally got tired of hearing that I was a “water buffalo” - and stopped eating. I wanted that little baby so much - - - but I wanted to not hurt too! So it wasn’t a surprise that I went into labor six weeks early. As the doctor checked me - he told me that I needed to go home and rest - and take good care of myself. I tried - - - but three weeks later I gave birth to my little daughter. She was so small - and had so many troubles that first year of life - - - problems that smaller babies seemed to have - - - and I blamed myself . . .

“I have loved you with an everlasting love . . .”

As the years went by - my children and I lived with a man who didn’t seem able to love or care for us very well. His words were biting - and went into us all . . . I know that I had my part in the marriage ending - - - but the words that he said - went deep into our hearts and beings. When the marriage became so troubled - I heard - “I would rather kill you - than divorce you and give you any of “my” money . . .”

Those words - - - I started to believe them! Would he have killed me? Probably not - but the words did! Looking back - I realized that the words had left their marks - and finally - - - there was “nothing” left of me! Did I try to love him - to make our family work? Yes! But God doesn’t let us live in death! And with His help - and the friends the Lord gave me - - - I left . . .

“For I know the plans that I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity - to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29:11)

I still struggle with how I see “me”! Just like my friends do! We’ve been hurt - - - and have believed the things that others have told us! But God sees us differently . . . He sees us from the moment we were created - - - and knows the good things that He put inside . . .

Every day - Ted tells me I am beautiful! I want to believe him - - - and maybe someday I will . . . I know that the Lord has brought us together - and with time - the wounds have begun to heal . . .

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are mine.
For I am the Lord your God,
Since you were precious in My sight,
You have been honored,
And I have loved you.”
(Isaiah 43: 1 - 4)

As I brushed her hair - I thought about what I said to her - and just what it was I wanted for this little girl - - - I wanted her to know she was “precious” - to have someone tell her - every day - that her life was special - - -I wanted her to know - that she was worth everything - worth loving . . .

It is the same wish I have for you - - - that you will understand just who you are - - - and why God loves you! During this very special time of year - the time of “Lent” - will you stop - and hear His voice - calling to you - - - to bring you into a fullness of Life . . .

God bless you in the coming week ahead!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

Friday, February 18, 2005

Weekly Word for February 18 to 25, 2005

Weekly Word - February 18 - 25, 2005

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father . . . (James 1: 17)

“You look good!” he said - and I looked down at my jeans, t-shirt, and the flannel shirt I wore over it all. It was Ted’s shirt - and I pulled it closer around me - as he got ready to leave. He looked at me - knowing. Knowing that today would be difficult - as it was his first day back to work - after a week of vacation - a week “together”.

He pulled me into his arms - kissing me softly. “I’ll miss you too” he said. And I wanted to stay there - in his arms - but I knew that he had to go. As I waved good-bye, I again pulled his shirt around me - feeling it’s softness - hoping it would help - and knowing that I would miss him . . .

“Put me like a seal over your heart, Like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death . . . It’s flashes are flashes of fire, . . . The very flame of the Lord . . .”
(Song of Solomon 8: 6)

As Ted drove away, I thought about the very first time he had ever held me - had ever kissed me! It seemed so long ago - and then again - maybe it was just yesterday . . .

“Many waters cannot quench love, Nor will rivers overflow it; . . .”
(Song of Solomon 8:7)

I was a minister - and a divorced minister at that! So when it seemed that God wanted me to work full time ministering - I fully believed that I would stay single the rest of my life. Then Ted came to our bible study. We had formed a friendship - a few years earlier - when he and his wife at that time - helped me and Jen - right after I left my first husband. I liked this man - he was kind and caring - and a good influence on my young teen-age daughter. So when he walked into that bible study - a few years later - - - I couldn’t help but like him - and want to help, to listen, to re-kindle our friendship . . .

The friendship grew - - - so quickly! And soon we were struggling with what to do with the feelings we both had for each other. I was that minister - - - and he was a man who - I knew - would make a wonderful husband and father. He was my best friend - and I had become his . . .

for love is from God; and every one who loves is born of God and knows God.
(1 John 4:7)

We were together on that day - helping some friends - working around the ministry. We had talked and talked - and then - - - we kissed. As we held each other - for the very first time - I didn’t want to let go - - - I wanted to stay in his arms - - - forever!

Love is patient, love is kind . . . Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things . . .
(1 Corinthians 13: 4 & 7)

What had we done? We both wondered what we should do . . . We knew we loved each other - - - but was it right? We each wanted what was best for the other - - - and we had no clue what that meant. I found myself praying, begging the Lord to show me just what it was that Ted needed. Did he need a younger wife? One who could give him children?

Ted was also praying - asking the Lord for guidance. He didn’t want to get in the way of my being a minister. And so we both found ourselves talking to our pastor. “Are you willing to be re-baptized?” we both were asked. I have to admit - I had to think about it. Was I willing to give God our relationship? Was I willing to take my whole life - and give it all over to God - - - and know that when I did - I might lose Ted . . . .

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully - just as I also have been fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13: 12)

As I stood there - I prayed that God would wash away - all my sins. I gave to Him - all that I had in my heart - - - all my hopes - everything . . .

I watched as Ted did the same . . . He gave the Lord all that he had - he gave God his life - - - and the tears started as he was brought back up from the water - baptized again . . .

And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and I have all faith, so as to remove mountains - but do not have love - I am nothing.
(1 Corinthians 13: 2)

I didn’t know what to expect - afterwards. We had just given God - all of our beings - and I wondered if I would be lost. As the pastor left, I looked at Ted, and burst into tears. And then he held me - gently rocking me - and I knew - - - our love had not died . . .

But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these - is love.
(1 Corinthians 13: 13)

There is a teaching - that most of us have heard. It is about love. That when we love - we are to hold it - with an open hand. Like holding a butterfly - we are to keep our hands open - knowing that it might fly away - but also knowing that if we squeeze our hand closed - - - it will die. Love was like that butterfly. I then learned about loving and gifts - - - that when we are given a gift - we must give it back to the Lord. I had read about this - and taught about this - - - and then I lived it . . .

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift . . . Is from above, . . .

Every perfect gift . . . I had given everything in my life - back to the Lord. And He - gave it back to me!!! The love that Ted and I shared - continued to grow! It is a gift from God. On the day we were married - The Lord was there - - - He has been with us - through everything.

I told a person today - that Ted makes me a better person. And he does! In our love - the person that each of us are - is better because we have each other. It is a love - that is forever . . . . . .

“Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm.”

“For love is as strong as death . . . It’s flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.”

“Many waters cannot quench love, Nor will rivers overflow it;”

“If a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, It would be utterly despised.”
(Song of Solomon 8: 6 & 7)

Love is worth everything - - - and yet it is nothing - without God being a part of it! Are you willing to give God your life - all that is in your heart? He knows exactly what is in it - - - and what you need - - - to bring you fully alive - full of Love and Life! Many search their entire lives - - - for Love. God is waiting - to give you just that . . .

God bless you in the coming week ahead!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Weekly Word for Feb. 11 to 18, 2005

Weekly Word - February 11 - 18, 2005

The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”
(Jeremiah 31:3)

I love the fact that we can talk about “anything” and “everything” - Ted and I - and on this night - we were! We were talking about loving - about the Lord - and about teaching others about “loving God”. As Ted talked - I watched his face - and saw the emotions of a man who knew how to love - and knew that God had given him gifts . . . Gifts of love . . .

The one who does not love - - - does not know God, - - - for God is love.
(1 John 4: 8)

Over the years - I would get what I called “special dreams” - dreams where I saw Jesus in them! In each of the dreams He would be dressed in every day clothes - so handsome - and always the “hero”! His eyes would be amazingly blue - and He seemed to be looking straight into my soul. In one of the dreams - He was dressed as a cowboy. He went over to a very small tree (in the dream I knew it was “me”) - where it was planted in a “ghost town” - with sand everywhere - and very little life. As I watched - He picked it up - “my” tree - lifting it higher and higher - and then He took it and carried it to a beautiful stream. There - He planted it - where it blossomed and grew. I knew that this was just what the Lord had done for me! He had taken my life - and changed it - filling me with good things - helping me to grow.

In another dream - I saw Him on a fast moving train - walking with me - and healing those who I loved! In my dreams - - - He was like a handsome, wonderful partner - that you would want to walk through life with. So it was such a surprise when someone asked me how I felt about “God the Father” . . .

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are.
(1 John 3:1)

“God the Father” - I have to admit - I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about “the Father” part of God! I had left home when I was 18 - a typical teenager - fighting with my parents - and believing that I could make it on my own. Determining I would never go back - I got married! Over the years - my relationship with my parents was distant - and I didn’t do anything to change that.

“God the Father?” I wasn’t so sure about that idea! Then the time came for me to get a full time job. The people I was going to work for - were from my church. I was so excited to begin this new part of my life. I told a close friend that I felt like my new boss was “like a father” to me . . .

And then he betrayed me - he made inappropriate advances - and I broke down - - - crying and so angry . . .

“God the Father”? - I had to look at that question - wondering if I would ever “want” God - to be that Father . . .

But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father, We are the clay, And Thou our potter; And all of us are the work of Thy hand.
(Isaiah 64: 8)

So many things go into making us “who we are” - - - those we love, our own choices, good things and bad - all go into the mix! That day - that betrayal - forced me to look at “who” I was - and where I was wounded. As I did - I started to ask God to heal me - to heal where scars kept me unable to trust - unable to even “see”! God was faithful though - He answered my prayers - - - and over time - I started to change - I became that tree by the river - full of life - understanding God as “my Father” . . .

The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord raises up those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous.
(Psalm 146: 8)

Quite a number of years ago - I worked with another woman - teaching and counseling others. We had become close friends - and so I found myself telling her about my dreams - about seeing the Lord. “I’m jealous” she told me. And I asked her why. “I’ve never seen Him” she said “I’ve never seen the Lord”. As she said it - I was so surprised - she had been a minister for over 30 years. And I wondered why . . .

As I got to know this lady - I learned of a woman who had been raised by a stern mother - and a father who was never home. She was a very beautiful lady - and her husband quickly told her that he had married her - because she was beautiful! He then told her that he wasn’t sure he could love her - if she became overweight - or lost her beauty! This woman found herself having difficulties with friendships - difficulties in trusting anyone.

Then one day - she came into the room all excited - she had a dream! In the dream - she saw herself walking - holding the arm of a man in a tuxedo! She knew that she was walking “with the Lord”! “So you saw Him?” I asked. Then she looked at me sadly - “no, I didn’t see His face.” I wondered about the why’s. I knew that she was faithful to do God’s work - but wondered why she couldn’t trust herself to “see” God - to know Him as her friend - as Her Father . . .

The Lord opens the eyes of the blind . . .

My friend saw through eyes that had been hurt - by those people who were supposed to love her. She loved God - and ministered that love to others. God knew “who” she was - and that she was able to believe without seeing - and He honored her with that dream . . .

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
(Psalm 118: 29)

Who is God? God is Life - God is Love - - - He is the One that sees our hearts - and heals them. He is the Father - He is the Son - He is the Holy Spirit - all three! He knows just what we need - and how we need to “see” Him!

“For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
(1 Samuel: 16: 7)

As Ted was talking - I saw a man who knew how to love. “Just as I love the kids - God loves us”! he said. “When they call - and just say hello - it makes me happy”. “That’s all God wants from us - to say hello to Him - to care - to love Him.” As Ted said this - I realized just what he was saying. Ted had never physically been a “father” - but he loves my children! He let them into his life - and into his soul. When Ted and I fell in love - there was more to that gift - more love - from God!

Looking at this man - who would do anything for “our” children - I realized how much God had really given to us - to Ted. He gave him children - He made him a “father”- - - and taught us both more about Himself - about loving and giving . . .

The one who does not love - - - does not know God, - - - for God is love.
(1 John 4: 8)

In a few days - it will be “Valentine’s Day” - a day to celebrate “Love”. Will you say “yes” to the gift of Love - that God has waiting - just for you?

Who is God? He is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - - -all three! But most of all - - - He is Love!

God bless you in this coming week ahead!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

Friday, February 04, 2005

Weekly Word for Feb. 4 to 11, 2005

Weekly Word - February 4, 2005

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16: 33)

He had been born in a small, rural town in eastern Connecticut. Born to parents who were farmers - he grew up helping his father - with the animals and chores that went with living on a farm. He was a smart child - but shy - and his teachers all liked this quiet young boy. He didn’t stand out as the most popular - or the most athletic - but he definitely seemed like a nice young man. Receiving full scholarships to college - the thin boy with glasses left the farm - heading to the next stage of his life. So when the young woman died at his college - no one suspected a thing . . .

“For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
(Mathew 16: 26)

We had just moved to Connecticut - and the papers were full of the stories of this young man. He was a “Serial Killer” - and the pictures of the young girls tore at the heart. I was the mother of two young children - and I hated what I was reading about! How could anyone do such terrible things?

The man was found guilty of murder - and sentenced to die. And most of us wanted to forget about him - and the reality that anything so atrocious could happen in our little part of the world. And then I met his parents . . .

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted . . .”
(Mathew 5: 4)

I liked them - and that was a surprise! I wondered how it all could have happened . . . How could their son have become a murderer . . . How were they able to handle such grief . . . How does a soul get so lost in darkness . . .

“He who walks in the darkness . . . does not know where he goes . . .”
(John 12: 35b)

Many years ago - when I was pregnant with my first baby - I heard a story on the news that made me so sad - - - so upset . . .

I was about 7 months pregnant when I heard about the newborn baby that was found in a box - by the railroad tracks. As I read the story - I was horrified! How could anyone leave a baby to die? The baby’s body had the umbilical chord still attached - and the authorities were looking to find the mother. Feeling my baby moving inside - I put my hands there - trying to protect him - trying to find comfort - - - grieving for the life that was lost . . .

A few days later - they found a very young teen-age girl - who had given birth to the baby. She was so young - and no one had known she was even having a baby! When that day came - in pure terror - she and her boyfriend were there when the baby was born. It didn’t breath - - - and it didn’t cry - - - and the two children didn’t know what to do. And the families - and community - and all who heard - mourned . . .

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you, that their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father who is in heaven.”
(Mathew 18: 10)

Over the years - I have thought about that young girl - and her choices. As I held my baby - and watched him grow - I would wonder about the “if only’s” in her life. A few years later - I found myself working at a Crisis Pregnancy Center - wondering why I was there - - - until the moment that young mother came rushing into the center - handing me her new born baby - saying that “we” were the ones that made it possible for her to have her baby!

“What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying?”

“Thus it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.”
(Mathew 18: 12 & 14)

Today - in our nation’s highest court - it will be decided if a man who has been in prison for almost 20 years - on death row - will be put to death in the early hours of the morning - tomorrow. It is the last “appeal” for this man’s life. The families of those young women - between the ages of 14 and 24 - lost their daughters, sisters, and wives - all those years ago.

I don’t have an answer to if it is “right” or “wrong” to put this man to death. What I do know is - the enemy won part of this battle. Lives were lost - and suffering happened for so many! It wasn’t God’s plan for any of them - - - but it did happen!

Where is the Lord? He was right there - holding those girls - and taking them home when another choose wickedness. He is here now - to walk with the families who are still living with the grief. And He is with you and I - as we pray for others - as we allow ourselves to care - to make a difference - to fight wickedness - and to help those who are hurting.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.”
(John 10: 10)

"Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world: he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
(John 8:12)

This world we live in - is not perfect! Terrible things happen - and sometimes wickedness is chosen. We - you and I - have choices set before us every day! We can choose to walk this life with God - - - or not. If we so choose - we can make a difference. We become His Life - here on earth. Will you say yes? Will you choose to care?

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” “Let your light shine before men in such a way - that they may see . . .”
(Mathew 5: 14 & 16)

God bless you in the coming week ahead!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers