Friday, July 29, 2005

Weekly Word for July 29 - August 5, 2005

Weekly Word - July 29, 2005

The humble have seen it and are glad; You who seek God, let your heart revive.
For the Lord hears the needy, And does not despise His who are prisoners.
(Psalm 69: 32 & 33)

As Ted slipped into bed, I turned and asked him how he was. “It has been the week from (you-know-where)!” he said, sighing as he leaned back against the pillows. It was late, almost midnight, and he had been working since very early that morning. Everything that possibly could go wrong - had gone wrong that week. He had just left one of the stores that he works for. A driver had somehow driven their car straight into the store. The work, cleaning up the mess, had just begun. I listened to him, as he told me about the day, and about the problems he had encountered. As he talked, I could hear the tiredness in his voice. Soon, he had drifted off to sleep.

It had been a difficult week for both of us. It had been a week of more scans and tests for my back. It was a week of pain, and struggling to still do some work. It was a week of wanting to see my husband, and knowing that his work was taking most of his time. I wanted to complain to him about it all - but looking at his tired face - I couldn’t. So as I talked with one of my friends, I heard her say “Keep your chin up, things will get better.” As she said it, I wondered why her words didn’t make me feel any better. I knew she cared, but the pain was still there. Why were things so difficult right now? Where was my faith? Where was the comfort that I longed for . . .

Reproach has broken my heart, and I am so sick. And I looked for sympathy, but there was none, And for comforters, but I found none.
(Psalm 69: 20)

I was 6 years old, in first grade, and always having trouble with my ears. The pain would make me cry, as I sat at my desk at school. The teacher would tell me it was going to be alright, as they called my mother to come pick me up. As I waited, with my head on my desk and the pain throbbing in my ears, Carol would turn around in her seat. Even though the teacher would yell at her, she would do it anyways. Then she would rub my head and with soft words - she would comfort me. She was only five at the time, and yet she had a soothing way. To this very day, I remember Carol, and the way she could comfort me - when no one else could . . .

For you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; . . .
Therefore comfort one another . . .
(1 Thessalonians 4: 9 & 18)

The doctor decided that I needed to have an operation. My ear aches were not getting better, and so they made a date for me to go into the hospital. When the day came, I cried. I didn’t want to be left there all alone! My parents didn’t listen, they just kissed me and walked away - as I sat there crying for them to come back . . .

As I sat on my bed, I watched the boy across from me coughing and blowing his nose. I didn’t want to be there, and so I decided I was leaving. Getting down from the bed, I headed out the door. But the nurse stopped me and asked me where I was going. I told her I wanted to go home. But she just walked me back to my room. As I started to cry again, she tried to comfort me - telling me that everything was going to be alright. As she put me back into my bed, she told me there was ice cream waiting for me, after I had the operation. She tucked me in, and I waited - - - afraid of everything - - - and wishing I was home . . .

May the flood of water not overflow me, And may the deep not swallow me up, . . .
Answer me, O Lord, for Thy lovingkindness is good;
(Psalm 69: 15 & 16)

I never did get that ice cream. When I woke up, my throat hurt and I couldn’t talk. There was blood on the pillow, and I didn’t feel very good. When my parents came to take me home, I tried to ask for the ice cream - but couldn’t get the words out . . .

But I am afflicted and in pain; May Thy salvation, O God, set me securely on high.
(Psalm 69: 29)

Afflicted and in pain . . . Comforting another - Through the years, I have been on both sides - needing comfort and wishing I could comfort another . . .

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
(Psalm 23: 4)

She had called me on the phone, telling me that she really didn’t feel very good. As I listened, I could hear how afraid she was - and it really worried me. My friend was never sick. We talked for a few minutes more, and then I told her I was coming over. She argued with me, but finally agreed. We had been friends for years - and she was usually the one to come help me! I had been sick for quite a while, and she was always there - with a word of encouragement, praying with me, or just sitting listening. As I drove, I started to talk out loud to the Lord. “Lord, You know that I have been sick, and really don’t know how to pray very well, can’t you send someone better than me?” as I said it - I really did know that others were better at praying and knowing how to help. But I figured I would try to do my best . . .

I was right, I didn’t pray that well - I just held her hands and started talking to the Lord. She looked so sick, and I was so worried. My hands shook as I held hers - but she didn’t say a word about it. She just seemed to trust me. My prayer was simple, asking God to help the doctors find what was wrong. As I said it, I could feel His presence all around us. I stayed with her until her husband came home to take her to the doctor. That day, was the beginning of Norma’s battle with cancer.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, For I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged; Bring me out of my distress.
(Psalm 25: 16 & 17)

When the doctors first found the cancer, they decided that she needed surgery. She was going to go to Boston, and as I sat with her going over the plans, I told her that I would try to go visit her. When I said it, I meant it. But I never did get up to Boston. I called her when I could - but was too afraid to drive all that way. I don’t know if Norma ever knew the guilt I felt - because I didn’t visit. I know she wouldn’t have wanted me to feel that way, but I did. I cared so much about her, and wanted to give to her - like she had given to me . . .

You who seek God, let your heart revive. For the Lord hears the needy, . . .

Norma lived three more years after that first surgery. They were years that seemed full of health. The cancer had been taken care of, and she went on with living life. During that time, she was the one helping me to get stronger. She was there - helping me to leave my first husband - holding my hand as I cried and shook - telling me that I was going to be alright. The very first piece of mail I got, when I moved into the house I rented, was from her. It was a card that made me laugh, but also had these words that she wrote: everything is going to be alright - trust in the Lord.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And do not lean on your own understanding, . . .

(Proverbs 3: 5)

I wish that I could say that I had been a “comfort” to Norma, when the cancer came back. I tried to be, but even when she was so sick - her soft voice was comforting me. On July 18, 1998 - Norma left this earth. As I sat with her that morning, asking even her husband to leave so that I could talk with her, I asked her how to go on - without her. “What am I going to do without you?” I asked her. Looking into her eyes, I felt her there. It was as if she was saying again: don’t worry, everything is going to be alright - trust in the Lord . . .

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord - In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; . . .
(Psalm 27: 13 & 14)

Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; . . . My friend was trying to make me feel better. She wanted me to have faith and to trust the Lord. She knew that things had been difficult for both Ted and I, and she wanted to help. But at that moment, I couldn’t see through my own troubles and pain. But I finally did hear her, and as I did - I remembered too what Norma had given to me. Norma had left me a gift - the gift of her faith in the middle of pain and sickness - her quiet strength that believed everything would be alright - if I would only trust in the Lord.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, . . .

Things have not always gone the way I wanted them to go. There have been times of pain and loss in my life. There have also been times of great joy and wonder. I don’t know what lays ahead for Ted and me. What I do know - is that the Lord is walking it with us. He is there to hold our hands, helping us to trust, even when we are afraid . . .

My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart exults,
And with my song I shall thank Him.
(Psalm 28: 7)

Who will you go to, in times of fear or trouble? It is my hope and prayer that you will trust in Him. He is waiting - with outstretched arms - - - just for you . . .

God bless you in the coming week ahead!

In His Perfect Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

Friday, July 22, 2005

Weekly Word for July 22 - 29, 2005

Weekly Word - July 22, 2005

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!”
“For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;”
“Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and - I love you, . . .”
(Isaiah 43: 1, 3, & 4a)

You are precious, honored, and loved . . . Words that I always wanted to hear growing up. Words that I have trouble believing, even to this day . . .

We were driving home from visiting with Jenny. It is about a 4 ½ hour drive to get to her house, and with my spinal injury - a very difficult trip. So as we drove, to take my mind off the pain, Ted and I talked. We talked about ourselves, our hopes and dreams, and even our worries and fears. As we talked, I knew that Ted was worried. He was worried about the surgery that I might have to face. He was worried about the pain that I seemed to have constantly. So when he told me he wanted me to rest as much as possible, to take it easy and not do too much, I told him I would try. But then I told him that I wasn’t sure that I could do that - “I’ve always worked.” “I’ve always wanted to be worth something . . .” When I said it, he looked at me so strangely. “You don’t understand!” I told him - and he didn’t. I knew that he loved me, and he would do anything for me. But the feelings were still there - I wanted to know if I would be loved - even if all I did, was love him back . . .

“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; Neither feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; But you will forget the shame of your youth, . . .”
(Isaiah 54: 4)

It was Easter! And I had on my new pretty dress, with matching purse and shoes. I couldn’t wait for church, and for everyone to see me! My mother had put little curlers in my hair the night before - and now my straight red hair - was curly! My two younger brothers had on suits and ties, and the three of us had stood outside to have our pictures taken. Now we were headed off to church.

When we got to church, all our relatives were there. Our Nana and Grandpa, our aunts and uncles, cousins - everyone was there! We were all having our pictures taken, looking our best for this Easter Sunday! Then my three aunts came over to say hello. They looked at me all dressed up and said: “You really do take after your Grandpa!” “You have his behind!” As they said it, my heart started to hurt - and I didn’t like how I felt or looked - anymore.

“Fear not , for you will not be put to shame; . . . For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the Lord of hosts: And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth.”
“For the Lord, has called you, . . .”
(Isaiah 54: 4, 5, & 6a)

His name was Arthur, but everyone called him “Red”- as his hair was the color of a fire engine, when he was younger. But when I knew him, his hair was white as snow - in the few places that he still had hair! When he was younger, he had played basketball - and the pictures and trophies showed that he was pretty good at it. He still loved to bowl, and there were pictures of him with his bowling team as well. But the man that I knew - well, he was the Grandpa that rocked me and my brother to sleep in the hammock. He would gently stroke our arms, all while he quietly hummed or told us a story. He was always quiet, listening to us and carrying us around the house. When Grandpa was around, I wasn’t left to walking - as everyone carried my two brothers. He would pick me up!

Grandpa also loved God. He was an usher and a deacon at our church, and we always saw him there - passing out the collection plate, looking handsome in his suit and tie. But his faith was also something very personal. He would write poems and prayers, all about his faith and trust in God. These he only shared with a very few. I was one of the few. He made me a book of his prayers. The day he gave it to me, we sat going through each of the prayers. They were typewritten on small pieces of construction paper, that he had bound together with brass colored fasteners. I loved that little book and my Grandpa!

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But my lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken.”
(Isaiah 54: 10)

But on that Easter morning, as I headed into church, all I could hear were those words: “You really do take after your Grandpa!” Those words rolled around in my head, throughout the whole service. I didn’t hear what the pastor had to say. I didn’t even remember all the good things that I knew about my Grandpa! All I could see as he walked up to the alter, carrying the collection plate, was how his suit coat stuck out from behind. I didn’t want to be like him - - - like my Grandpa . . .

The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word; . . .
He awakens my ear to listen . . . And I was not disobedient, Nor did I turn back.
For the Lord God helps me,
(Isaiah 50: 4)

A number of years later, we went to visit my grandparents. I was 14 years old, and not very social at the time. My grandparents had promised that we would all go together to visit a local tourist area, the very next day. But on this day, my grandpa was helping out at the local church. They had moved down to the Cape three years earlier, right after he had retired. Now he was involved with a little church in their town. They were having a rummage sale, and he was helping them to set it up. My brothers and I wanted to do something fun, but were told “no” as we whined and begged to go to the beach. As lunch time came, my grandpa came home for lunch. He was tired and had banged his head while helping at church. I watched as he sat in his wooden rocker, holding a cloth over his head, trying to stop the bleeding. My mother was checking it and putting on a bandage. I just stood there, watching him. That’s the last picture I have of him in my head. He ate lunch, and despite our wishing he would stay home, he headed back to the church to help out. It was there, that he collapsed. Dieing of a massive heart attack. My grandpa, who everyone called “Red” - with his big behind and even larger heart - had died.

Blessed are the gentle, - for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteous, - for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, - for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, - for they shall see God.
(Mathew 5: 5 - 8)

So many times throughout our lives, we struggle with “who” we are and what we want to be like. Was I like my grandpa?

Blessed are those who mourn, - for they shall be comforted

Throughout my childhood and into my teen years, I struggled to find out “who” I was, and why I wasn’t good enough, or pretty enough, or whatever it took to be loved. My parents were only doing the best they knew how, but for whatever reason - I couldn’t clean the house enough to make my mother happy - or take care of “the boys” well enough to make them think I was good. I was always trying . . . But never felt worth anything . . .

Since you are Precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, . . .

Those were the words that I wanted to hear! I wanted him to love me. But he didn’t know how. We were so young when we got married - and we didn’t know how to be a husband and a wife. He wanted me to take care of the cooking and cleaning, just like his mother did. And he wanted me to work hard and make lots of money - just like his sisters did. And I tried very hard - to do both.

We had only been married for a short time, when one night I decided to make hamburgers for supper. I really didn’t know how to cook too many things, but hamburgers were something I had learned to cook from my mother. I would make big, juicy hamburgers for my brothers - and they loved them. So on this night, I made them. And proudly I waited for him to say something. He hated them! His mother had made them flat and without any red in them! As he threw it against the wall - he screamed at me - telling me how stupid I really was. As I sobbed and cleaned up the mess that was dripping down the wall - I made him another hamburger - determined to “be” the wife he wanted me to be!

By the time we had two little ones, I knew that pleasing him was almost impossible. I wanted to stay home and take care of the children, but he wanted me to work and make money. I tried. I found part time work, nights and week-ends. And still he wasn’t happy. I don’t get to stay home and do nothing! he would say. It didn’t matter that I told him what I was doing each day, taking care of the children and the house. So finally, I decided that I would write down exactly what I did - during one whole day. I wrote down when I changed diapers, and when I did the laundry. I wrote down when I vacuumed or dusted, and when I made lunch and cleaned up afterwards. Everything was written down. And nervously I waited for him to come home . . .

I have chosen you, and not rejected you. Do not fear, for I am with you;

It didn’t matter what I had written down, he still didn’t “see” me - or listen to what I said. In his eyes, I was fat and didn’t work at all. After many years of trying to make him love me - years of trying to make me into “who” he could love - I finally gave up. I realized I couldn’t make anyone - love me . . .

“Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and - I love you, . . .”

You are precious, honored, and loved . . . Those were the words I always longed for - and really didn’t know how to believe . . .

As Ted and I continued to drive home from Jen’s, we continued to talk. I knew that Ted really did love me. But I also knew the hurts that I still felt. I told him about those hurts and always trying to work hard - and find a way to prove I was worth something. He looked over at me as I finished talking, and took my hand. As he did I asked him “Would it be alright if all I ever did was be your wife, and make you a home that you were happy to come home to?” He squeezed my hand, “That is what you do!”

When I look back at all that has gone into making me “who” I am - there are some good things - and some bad things. I really am a lot like my grandfather. I do look a little bit like him - with the same red hair and freckles. But I also know that some of my faith and trust in the Lord came from him. He also wrote - and I love writing! But I also have doubts and fears - and trouble with believing I am alright just the way I am. Those came from years of hurts. It takes time to undo those hurts - - - but the Lord has been doing it. Little by little - I am learning to believe that “who” I am is precious, honored, and worth loving. Each time I hear “I love you, just as you are” from Ted’s mouth - wounds are erased - and love goes in.

The Lord knew what Ted and I both needed, for the rest of our lives. He gave us - each other! He knows about the pain and injury to my spine, as well as the trials that are before us. Together - we will get through them. Ted and I, with the Lord - will walk this path that is ahead . . .

The Lord knows what you need as well. In His eyes - you are worth everything! That is why He gave everything - Himself - just for you . . .

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!”
“For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;”
“Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and - I love you, . . .”

God bless you in the coming week ahead!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

Friday, July 15, 2005

Weekly Word for July 15 - 22, 2005

Weekly Word - July 15, 2005

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
(Romans 8: 35)

A few weeks ago, while shopping in one of the local stores, I met up with a girl who I met when I moved to the area. I liked her from the moment we met, and knew only a little bit about her. She had a son about the same age as my son, she worked in one of the local stores, and was easy to talk with whenever we would meet. So on this day, we talked about her son and her birthday that was coming up. We laughed as she told me that he had finally given her a card “before” her birthday. And then I asked her a question - and I don’t know why I did. “Do you have a husband?” “Or a boyfriend?” I knew that I wanted to know if they would be giving her a present - but the look she gave me - well, it made me stop and wonder . . .

As she looked at me, I wondered why she seemed so nervous and unable to answer me. “Do you have a girlfriend?” I asked. She looked at me a little cautiously - and then said: “Well, you being religious - - - I wasn’t sure if I could tell you.” I laughed. “Well you don’t know me very well then.” I told her. But neither of us did - we didn’t really know each other at all. She had judged me - - - just like she had felt judged . . .

God is the one who justifies; - - - who is the one who condemns?
(Romans 8: 33b & 34a)

Who is the one who condemns? I have to admit, there have been many times in my life when I have felt “judged” by others. There have also been times when I made judgments that I shouldn’t have! Most of us have felt rejected or unwanted by others in our lives. These are the times when we wonder about who we are - and how to “be” . . . .

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
Bless and curse not . . .
(Romans 12: 9 & 14)

There were three of us, all the same age, living on the same street - when I was growing up. Two of us were redheads - and the other had dark curly hair. We were alike in many ways, and also very different from each other. Carolyn, Junie, and I played together almost every day. We would play dolls and house, dress-up and every other game that little girls liked to play. As much as we played together though - we also fought! There seemed to always be a battle over “who” would be my “best friend”! Carolyn would decide that she was - - - and so Junie would stay home. I would go between the two houses - trying to get each of them to play together. It wouldn’t take long, and soon the three of us were playing again. Until one or the other decided to fight again.

As we grew, the friendship started to change. There was more jealousy and competition in the relationship. We were leaving elementary school and heading into 6th grade, which meant we would be divided into classes by our grades and how smart we were. Each of us boasted about being smarter than the other two - while wondering if we really were! On that first day of class, as we read through the papers posted outside the school, I saw their names on the sheet for the 2nd classroom. Then I found my name. It was on the sheet for the 1st classroom. I was in the top class! And I was alone . . .

Do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. (Romans 12: 16)

From that moment on, things were different. Carolyn and Junie were now “best friends”. They shared everything - homework, classroom jokes, and boys they liked - and I was left out. Throughout that whole year, I tried to keep us together. But it was almost too late - for the three of us.

When that year ended, we went back to spending time together. We were now going into Junior High School, and we felt like we were really getting so much older. We liked boys, and were starting to become young women. It was the 60’s - and girls were dressing in mini-skirts and all sorts of “cool” clothes. We all wanted to dress like the older girls - we wanted to be in style and part of the “in” group. As we got ready to head into 7th grade, I knew that I didn’t fit in. My mother had said “no” to the clothes I wanted to buy. Secretly, I wished that I could be like Junie and Carolyn - as we headed for school that first day. But again, they were together - in the same class and looking so “cool” - and I was alone . . .

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God,
(Romans 12: 18 & 19)

We were never friends again. As we got older and headed into high school, they became my “enemy”! Walking behind me, they would call me names - making fun of what I wore or how I looked. I worked hard not to let them see my tears, as they made sure that I felt their jabs. But as soon as I was home, the tears would come - and I would wonder why I was so different - and so hated . . .

“Pray then this way: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, . . .
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors . . .”
(Mathew 6: 9, 10, & 12)

As we also have forgiven our debtors . . . In some churches the word “debtor” is replaced with “trespasser”. It is someone who we need to forgive - someone who has taken something from us - someone who has hurt us.

For years, I hated Carolyn and Junie! They had made me feel so awful - like I was worthless. I felt rejected and like there was something wrong with me. That feeling stayed with me through high school. It is a feeling I struggle with - to this day . . .

It was quite a few years after high school, when I met up with Carolyn again. She had moved into a new house only blocks from where I was living. I would walk by her house as I went to visit my friend, who lived right around the corner from her. Pushing Mike in the carriage, I would sometimes see her outside working in the yard. Then one day, her husband stopped me - waving hello and asking how I was. I told him “fine” and started to head on my way. But he stopped me again, wanting me to see his new little daughter - the baby girl that Carolyn had just given birth to.

“For if you forgive men for their transgressions; your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Mathew 6: 14)

I didn’t want to go into that house - but I went anyways. She was there, looking so tired and disheveled. She showed me her new little girl, asking questions about my son - and wondered about being a new mom. She hadn’t slept in days, and she didn’t know what to do, as the baby cried all the time. We talked a little more, and then I left. As I did, I wondered about this girl who had hurt me so badly - years ago . . .

“Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”
(Mathew 7: 1 & 2)

Throughout my life, I have tried hard to figure out just “who” I am - and where I fit in. Just like everyone else does - sometimes I fit - and sometimes I don’t. What my new friend knew about me was that I am a Christian minister. And I am. My faith and trust in the Lord is a huge part of my life. But she didn’t know about my personal life - about the hurts and troubles I have been through - or about the people that I love and the friendships that I have made. Those are also part of “who” I am now.

I knew that my new friend had a son and worked in the area. But I didn’t know anything else about her. As we talked I learned about her hurts - and about the love that she shared with another. When we finished our conversation, I still liked her - I liked “who” I was getting to know. But I also understood her hesitation, I knew that other Christians weren’t so accepting of people like my new friend. She had been hurt by her church, by those who were supposed to love her, and so she had turned away . . .

Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
(Romans 14: 4)

Quite a number of years ago, a minister - who was also a close friend - told us about a dream or vision that she had seen. She would fall asleep each night watching Christian television. On this particular morning, as she was waking up, she looked over at the television screen. On it she saw a young woman preaching to a large group of people. As she continued to watch, she realized that the woman wasn’t young at all. She was quite a bit older - and had been a preacher for many years. When my friend fully woke up, she wondered why she had seen her so young. Then, a few days later, it happened again. On this morning, as she was waking up, she saw a young boy on the television screen. As she continued to wake up - she again realized that he was a much older man preaching. And again she wondered about what she had seen. It happened one more time - and this time she woke up to see a young woman’s face on the screen. As she became more awake, she realized that it was a man on the television screen. This time, in wonderment, she asked the Lord about what she had seen.

Three times, the Lord had allowed her to see different preachers - as He saw them. Each was different than “who” they were on the television. It made her realize that God sees each of us very differently, than we see ourselves.

“Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature . . . 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)

I have been rejected at times throughout my life - and I will be at times - again. We don’t all “fit” with everyone. There are friends and loved ones - who I care about deeply. And yet I don’t always agree with everything that they choose. That has to be alright, as they don’t always agree with me. I love them anyways - and they love me.

But there will always be those who “judge” - - - believing that everyone should “be” just like them. I have tried to “fit in” - - - and have failed so many times throughout my life! So now, I am trying to “be” only me. I have loved and I have been hurt - I have hurt others and made mistakes - and all of that has gone into who I am now. But the one thing that I know to be true - is that The Lord loves me anyways! He knows “who” I am - and still He wanted me.

It is the same for you! He loves all that makes you - - - the person that you are today! He knows your heart - and sees where you have been hurt. He knows how to bring Life and Love into your very soul. Will you risk asking Him? When others were “judging” - - - He was waiting - - - just for you . . .

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; You are mine!” “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.”
“For I am the Lord your God, . . .”
“Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you . . .”
(Isaiah 43: 1b - 4)

God bless you in this coming week ahead!

In His Amazing Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

Friday, July 08, 2005

Weekly Word for July 8 - 15, 2005

Weekly Word - July 8, 2005

Behold, I tell you a mystery; . . . We shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, . . .
(1 Corinthians 15: 51 & 52)

There he was, sleeping so peacefully on my lap. He was perfect! His little fist was tightly clamped around my finger, as I sat looking at him in amazement. It had been such an emotional few days - all leading to this moment - when this perfect little life had come into our world . . .

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven -
A time to give birth, . . . And a time to die; . . .
A time to love, . . . And a time to hate; . . .
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 2, & 8)

A time to give birth and a time to die . . . A time to love and to hate - - - It had been such a rollercoaster week! I had felt it all - the fear and terror, the love and also the hatred. I really didn’t know what to do with all the feelings.

And there is a time for every event under heaven . . .

Ted had to work nights, and that was a “first” for us. He had always been home for supper and in the evenings. The nights when he was called out on emergencies - I always went with. But now, he was going out alone - and for most of the night. I wanted to be supportive, but I missed him already! I didn’t like how this felt - this intense feeling of missing him. I tried to reason with myself - knowing that he would be home sometime after midnight. But it didn’t matter - I wanted to see him! So I headed out - down to the store where he was working.

“And behold, I am with you, and will keep you - wherever you go . . .”
(Genesis 28: 15)

It was late, not quite 10pm, when I drove down to the store. The streets were dark, and there weren’t too many cars on the roads. As I drove into the parking lot, he was outside of his truck - standing waiting, just for me. He was so excited to show me the new counters, and all that they had been working on that night. As he told me all about the work - I couldn’t hear him. I didn’t care about the work - or the other people who were there. I only cared about him - and when he would be coming home. When he walked me back to the car, I wanted to say so many things. But I didn’t. I just let him hug me and kiss me - as he told me goodbye. As I kissed him, I told him I loved him, and asked him to be careful - as he drove home later that night. “I love you too” he told me - and sadly, I headed back home.

The drive took less that 15 minutes to get back to our apartment. And I slowly got my purse, and stepped out of the car. Just then, I heard it! It was coming straight at me! I can’t even tell you what it sounded like - except that I knew it was coming - speeding toward me - and I knew he wouldn‘t stop. I didn’t have time to think, I only reacted - as I pressed my body against the car and pulled the door in close behind me. I felt the jeep racing past me - as if I could touch it - if I just held out my hand. I could feel the rushing air - as the jeep just barely missed hitting me. And then it kept on going - speeding toward the stop sign - and the car that was coming down the hill. “There must be someone chasing him” I thought, as I looked back down the road, where he had come from. For a moment I saw two headlights, and then they were gone. Then I turned back to watch, as the jeep never stopped, and barely missed hitting the car. He never stopped - but kept on going - straight into the curb! He hit the curb with a loud “bang” sound, that I doubt I will ever forget! And then he was airborn, flying over the embankment, and I watched as smoke filled the sky.

All the neighbors came running from their houses, racing toward the jeep and the person who surely must have died. As they ran to give help, I turned and ran the other way. My body was taking me away from him - away from the one who had nearly taken my life . . .

“When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God,”
“Do not fear, for I am with you;”
(Isaiah 43: 2 - 5)

My neighbor found me, walking down the street in front of her house, my body shaking with fear. “He never stopped - I could have died” were the words I couldn’t stop saying. I was so glad she was there, listening to me and comforting me, but I really wanted Ted to be there. If only he wasn’t working - if only I hadn’t gone to see him - if only . . . all my emotions came tumbling out . . .

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you . . .”
(Isaiah 43: 1)

I wanted to hate him - the man who nearly took my life! Sue offered to help me talk to the police, and I was grateful for that. But as the shock wore off, the anger started to surface. “I can’t believe he never stopped, what kind of person drives like that?” “I hope they arrest him and take him away!” I told her. She listened, and then she looked at me. “Have you never done anything stupid?” “Have you never done anything that you wished you had never done?” as she said those words, my anger fell away . . .

Later that night, as I lay in bed waiting for Ted, I thought about all that had happened. I couldn’t help but wonder about the “what ifs”. I was so glad I was alive! It was late when Ted finally came home, and came into the bed. I snuggled into his arms, and he held me tight - as he whispered “Thank you Lord for keeping her alive” . . .
“The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.”
(John 10: 10)

It was the next morning when Becca called to say that she thought she might be in labor. It was three weeks early, but it seemed like she was going to have the baby that day. As we talked, I told her how much I loved her and Mike, and asked her to call, if they needed me. The girls were at their aunt’s house, and so I wasn’t needed to babysit.

When I told Ted that we might have a new grandbaby soon, he just smiled and nodded at me. I was so excited, and the events of the night before seemed so far away . . .

And there is a time for every event under heaven - - -
A time to give birth, - And a time to die; . . .

Later that day, they called to ask if I wanted to be in the room when she gave birth. I couldn’t think of another place I would rather have been! I wanted to “be there” when that little one took his first breath! And so I headed up to the hospital.

Nothing went quite the way everyone thought it would. Her labor wasn’t doing all that the doctors had hoped, and the baby was taking longer to come into this world. As her labor went on, and hours went by, her body got more and more tired. We all wondered why this time was so different. Why was it taking so long?

Night had come, and still the baby hadn’t been born. We all were taking small naps, in between helping Becca with her contractions. I knew that the whole family was waiting for this new little one to be born, but still things weren’t happening. I wanted to call Ted, but couldn’t. My cell phone had lost it’s charge, and the call was long distance. Again, we waited separately - through the night . . .

He has made everything appropriate in its time.
(Ecclesiastes 3: 11)

As the morning light came into the room, her labor started to increase. Soon, the baby would be here. We had waited all night long, for this little one to arrive. As I watched, my son took care of his wife. He held her hand, and talked to her through the contractions. Her mother had left for work, wishing that she didn’t have to go. I was in the background now, quietly watching, as the child who I had given birth to years earlier - was now helping his own child to come into this world. When the baby finally came, I watched as he took the scissors from the doctor - and cut the chord that was still attached. All the hard work and pain faded, as Becca held the baby close. Tears streaming down her face, she whispered softly to him, as she cradled him in her arms. As I took the picture, I knew that this moment was the beginning of something so wonderful - it was a moment to last a lifetime . . .

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, . . . We shall be changed.
(1 Corinthians 15: 52)

As I held my new little grandson, his big sisters pushed and fought to try to touch him. This beautiful little boy, was now a part of our family. As I thought about the last few days, and all that had happened, I realized how life can change in an instant. A few days earlier, I could have died. But I didn’t! This moment, might not have happened! But here I was, holding a brand new part of my life. These are the moments, that I thank God for.

For from Him - and through Him - and to Him - are all things. To him be the glory forever . . . (Romans 11: 36)

The other day, I got an email from a friend. It was a poem called If I Knew. The poem talks about what each of us would do with our time, if we knew it was to be the last time we had here on earth. As I held my new little grandson, I knew that the days that had led up to his birth, had been full of every emotion that can be found in us all. I had been afraid, angry, sad, and lonely. I had felt terror and all alone. And then I had felt love - so much love for this new little life. As I looked back, I realized that the Lord had been right there with me, through it all.

What would I do with my time, if I knew that this was to be the last time I had on earth? I would love! I would live Life, and choose to forgive. As I look back at just the past few days, those are the things I hope I have done. I hope I have forgiven that man who chose to do something so stupid, that it almost took another’s life. I hope I have loved my family enough - Ted, my children, and grandchildren. And most of all, I hope I have loved the Lord enough - thanking Him - for this Life . . .

What would you do . . . If you knew?

“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)

God bless you in the coming week ahead!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

Friday, July 01, 2005

Weekly Word for July 1 - 8, 2005

Weekly Word - July 1, 2005

“While the earth remains, - Seedtime and harvest,
And cold and heat, - And summer and winter,
And day and night - shall not cease.”
(Genesis 8: 22)

As we were praying, I could feel the warmth of Ted’s hands in mine. I was so glad to have this time of closeness - with not only Ted - but with the Lord. I listened to his words, as he prayed for the day and what lay ahead. He prayed for those we loved, and for friends we cared about - and then I heard: And Lord, cover the good seeds that have been planted, and You water them - until it is time for them to grow.” When he prayed those words, I could feel my heart - and the wishes for the person who we had been praying for. So many times over the years, I had watched the good seeds go in - - - and wondered what had happened after that . . .

And there is a time for every event under heaven - A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1 & 2)

A number of years ago, a young couple came to the ministry for counseling. The wife had called and made the appointment, making it clear that she was determined to get a divorce. Her husband had committed the ultimate betrayal - and she didn’t believe that she could forgive him. So as I sat waiting to meet them, I wondered what they would be like and if we were all wasting our time.

When Rachel and Dan (not their real names) walked into the room, I immediately liked them both. She was sweet and pretty, and my heart went out to her. He was tall and lanky, with his head and shoulders hanging down - looking full of despair and sorrow. As I looked at the two, I knew that they had given up on their marriage - - - but I felt like it somehow wasn’t over! I listened as they told of a marriage full of hurts - full of drinking and drugs - and the two little children who were waiting at home. And then I heard it - the words that seemed straight from God - “are you willing?” “Will you try for a brand new life?”

That day was the beginning of watching them grow. They had said “yes” - and the Lord came into their lives. They came to bible studies and went to church, and their young family started to learn about Life. Each came for counseling, and together they grew strong. They became friends who I liked - and the future for them seemed so full - and so bright . . .

There is an appointed time for everything . . . A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted - - - A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together . . .
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 2, & 7)

To this day, I remember moments in time that we shared. They are moments of joy, as well as heartache. There was the day that Rachel came to visit me, and shared my joy when I found out that Jen had been accepted at the college she wanted to go to. We jumped up and down, screeching and laughing - and it became a moment frozen in time.

The day that my first grandbaby died - Rachel was also there - crying with me and praying with me - as she shared in my grief and heartache. These were moments that I will remember forever . . .

But again, things changed - and soon Rachel and Dan were divorced. I can’t even tell you why - but the old hurts and wounds seemed to resurface. Rachel didn’t trust Dan - and she started to accuse him of things he hadn‘t done. Dan couldn’t stand her screaming all the time - and he turned away from her. Their two little ones, were again in the middle of the war between their parents.

“and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat - into my barn.’”
(Mathew 13: 30)

Every now and then, we hear about Rachel and Dan. Did the good seeds that were planted get lost? I don’t think so. But the hurts and wounds were still inside - and so they grew as well. When it is time, the Lord will be there to help the good seeds to grow - and to take the hurts - burning them up - healing them, forever. I miss them! But I am glad that I got the chance to be part of their lives for a time - to be used to plant some “good seeds” . . .

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth, . . .
So shall My word be - which goes forth . . .”
(Isaiah 55: 10 & 11)

He was just 17 years old, and he had just started dating Jen, who was barely 16! Like most moms I knew, it was difficult to trust my daughter with any boy - and so I was worried when I first met him. I wish I could say that I instantly liked him - but because he was dating my daughter - I didn’t even give him a chance! I was a single mom at the time, and so I was alone in wondering what to do and how to keep my daughter safe. I worried constantly, and hoped for the best.

Over the next few years though, I got to know a little more about “who” he was. Jen was always bringing him over - for supper or to study - they were around constantly. They would just “hang out” at the house, watching television or just talking. When I finally gave him a chance - I really liked who he was. He was bright, artistic, and seemed always to be asking questions. Over supper, we would talk - about school and jobs, friends and family, as well as about faith and God. I seemed to always be telling him about my beliefs - and about God in my life. And I would wonder what he thought about Jen’s mother who didn’t seem able to keep quiet.

I liked him, but that doesn’t mean I still didn’t worry about these two kids who were always together. I worried as he got ready to head off to college - wondering about their relationship - and what would happen. Over the next few years, they continued to date - seeing each other when school allowed. During those times, he would again be at the house - and again we talked about so many things. He was changing and growing - and I wondered about the young man he was becoming . . .

When the two finally did break up - I wondered if I would ever see him again. I realized that I had grown to care about him - this boy who had matured into such a talented young man - right before my eyes . . .

“So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me empty,” (Isaiah 55: 11)

A few months ago - I got a letter from him. In it - he told me all about his life - his job and all that he had been doing. As I read it - I smiled. And then he told me something else - that made me cry. He told me that he was glad for the times we had spent talking - and for the things I had told him about - my faith and beliefs - and how he still remembers them - to this day . . .

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds;
But when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants, and becomes a tree . . .”
(Mathew 13: 31 & 32)

Each of us has both good and bad - sown into us. But it takes the Lord to know how to help us to grow - into trees of Life . . .

I met him when he was in the last few years of his life. I was working through the local hospital - helping the sick and elderly to stay in their homes for as long as possible. When they gave me Paul (not his real name), they told me that he was quite gruff and had scared off a few of the girls who had been sent to help him. So on this day, I was ready to meet this “grouchy old man”!

As I knocked on the door, I heard someone yell “Who is it?”. I yelled back my name and told him that I was there to help him. He let me in, telling me “I’m a mean son-of-a (bad word!) and you might want to leave now!” I looked at him and laughed and said “nope!” and started cleaning his little apartment. That was the beginning of how I spent Tuesdays for the next year and a half. He would tell me that he was “mean” and then make me some lunch. I would listen as he told me stories of his life, while I washed his floors and cleaned his kitchen. He would ask me about my life - and I would tell him little bits and pieces - all while I kept on working. He would tell me about the fights he had with his doctor, and how he yelled at her - and then he would ask me if I thought he should call and apologize. I really liked Paul, and knew that he liked me as well. He had spent most of his life gambling, drinking, and wandering around the country. But he also had loved and been hurt. He had a daughter who he didn’t see very often - and the hurt could be found just under his gruff exterior.

Over time, we talked about Paul’s medical condition - and the fact that he wasn’t expected to live very long. He was on oxygen, and had a bad heart - and he barely could walk from his bed to the kitchen. He knew that his body had been made sicker by the choices he had made - and he blamed no one but himself for his condition. He had worked all sorts of jobs - driving trucks, working construction, owning a restaurant and being a cook. We talked about it all. And then we talked about the Lord and my faith - and the fact that I liked him and believed that God did too . . .

“Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road and the birds came and ate them up.
And others fell upon the rocky places, where they did not have much soil . . .
And others fell among the thorns . . .
(but) Others fell on the good soil, and yielded a crop . . .”
(Mathew 13: 3 - 8)

Many things had gone into Paul’s life - good and bad - rocks and thorns - as well as love and hate. On the day that I told Paul that I was going to be leaving, he tried to hide his tears. He made me a special meal, that last Tuesday that I worked for him. I told him that I would visit when I could - and I did - twice. But he would send me notes and forwards on his computer - and I would write back as well. There were jokes, as well as prayers - and forwards about the Lord. The man who had greeted me so gruffly, had shown me his heart. And for that, I felt privileged to have known him. The letters have since stopped - and my letters are returned “undeliverable”. So I don’t know if Paul has left this earth. But if he has - I have faith that I will see him again - on the other side . . .

Seed time and harvest . . . Day and night - shall not cease . . .

Seedtime and harvest - So much has been planted in each of us - both good and bad. For the friend that Ted and I were praying for - I don’t know if we will have the privilege of seeing the “harvest” - of seeing what God will do in their life. We don’t know how long each of us will be on this earth - or in another’s life. But the time we do have - can be such a gift . . .

Are you willing - to try for a brand new life? That was the question to the couple - and is the question I ask you. The Lord knows the seeds of life that are waiting to be planted in you. He also knows where the hurts are - the “tares” that need to be taken away forever . . . Are you willing . . .

God bless you in the coming week ahead!

In His Perfect Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers