Friday, August 26, 2005

Weekly Word for August 26 - September 2, 2005

Weekly Word - August 26, 2005

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
(2 Corinthians 12: 9)

I was at my wits end, not sure that I could deal with anything - anymore! My physical condition was getting worse. And even though I was praying, and asking others to pray as well, my spine and neck injury just wasn’t healing. I had done everything the doctors had asked me to do, and still my right arm wouldn’t work properly. I needed surgery, and I didn’t want to do it!

I didn’t feel like it was fair that I was still in pain. And even though I didn’t want to feel like this - - - I felt sorry for myself. And then, to add even more stress to my life, I was worried about my parents. My mother’s condition seemed to be getting worse, and my father was still very weak. It seemed like they might need some help in the near future. But first, someone had to talk to them. And I didn’t want to be that person! Didn’t I have enough problems? Why couldn’t someone else deal with it all?

Concerning this . . . I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, . . .”
(2 Corinthians 12: 8 & 9a)

As I thought about all that was going on, I realized how many times I have been afraid - - - and didn’t want to do something . . .

I was 14 years old, and just starting to date a little bit. My parents had agreed to let me go out on a few dates, with the son of one of their closest friends. I had known him since I was very little. But it was still dating, and that’s what made me happy. He was 16 and could drive, and that really impressed my friends. So even though I didn’t like him romantically, I liked dating!

At 14, I still belonged to church groups and girls clubs. I was just getting to that age where I wondered what was cool, and what was not. And church groups seemed to fall in the “not” category. So when he called and asked me to go out that Saturday night, I said “yes”. Excitedly, I went to tell my parents about the date. That’s when I was told I couldn’t go. I had a church meeting, and I wasn’t allowed to miss those.

I pleaded - I yelled - I tried to reason with them - - - and then I lost it! To this day I remember it. The emotions became too much for me, and I started to shake and cry. I did not want to go to that meeting - and the anger and hurt seemed more than my body could take. All reasoning was gone. I just shook, screaming and crying, as my mother pushed me into my room. Somehow, I ended up in my dress - and in the car being driven to the meeting. It didn’t matter - - - that I didn’t want to do it . . .

For I determined to know nothing among you - except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness - and in fear - and in much trembling.
(1 Corinthians 2: 2 & 3)

Through the years, there were so many times when I was afraid, and really didn’t want to do the thing - that I knew I should do. I never quite “lost it” like I did when I was young, but there have been times when I shook, or cried, and really begged the Lord to find someone else . . .

And I was with you in weakness - and in fear - and in much trembling . . .

She had told me that I should go with her to the meeting. It was a meeting for Christian counselors, and it was being held in another part of the state. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go, but said yes anyways. As we got in the car, my stomach felt awful, and I knew that meant I was nervous. As we drove, I asked her what I should expect. She laughed and said that it would only be a small group, going over the types of work we do. So I sat and fidgeted, wondering what I had gotten myself into.

When we reached the meeting place, I realized there were more men than women. I wasn’t that comfortable with strange men, so I stayed pretty close to my friend. The chairs were set up in a circle, around the large room. I sat beside my friend, trying to remain invisible, as the meeting started. It was a very good meeting, talking about praying and helping each other with problems in counseling. I listened, and liked what I was hearing. And then it happened. They decided to break up into small groups, so that we could discuss the teaching. As they numbered us, I realized that my friend was heading out the door. Staying seated where I was, a group of men soon surrounded me. I was the only girl. I really didn’t like it . . .

We talked, or maybe I should say - they talked about the lesson and how it applied in their work. I sat listening, trying again to be invisible. But I wasn’t! They then decided it was time to pray. We had broken up into small groups of 5 or 6 people. So this small group of men sat around me, bowing their heads to pray. As they did, I too closed my eyes. I prayed and then I saw a picture. When I saw it, I started to shake and quietly ask the Lord if I really had to say anything. “Please Lord, I don’t know these men, I don’t want to talk!” But the picture remained, and I opened my eyes . . .

And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.
And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, . . .
(1 Corinthians 2: 3 & 4)

As I looked at the men sitting around me, they seemed to be waiting to hear what I had to say. I looked straight at the man who I had seen in my prayer. And then I took his hand in mine, and told him the picture I had seen. His tears started to fall, as I told him that the Lord was right there - to help him with his grief - over the loss of his baby . . .

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice, And be gracious to me and answer me.
(Psalm 27: 7)

Crying, I woke up from my dream. Shaking, I picked up the phone to call my friend. As I told her the dream, she told me I had to tell it to our other friend. “I don’t want to!” I said. “ I want her to get well, I don’t want her to die!”

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalm 27: 1)

As I drove to the restaurant to meet my friend, the fear inside of me made me shake. Maybe I was wrong, maybe the dream didn’t mean anything. Norma had been battling cancer for almost 3 years. And after her surgery, we had been sure that she was going to be fine. But just recently she had gotten sick again, and the doctor was afraid the cancer had come back. So as I drove, I prayed. I begged and pleaded with Him - telling Him how I didn’t want to do this. “Please Lord . . . I can’t . . .”

When I pulled into the parking lot, I realized that she was already there. Going into the restaurant, I sat down across from her. She had already ordered her coffee, and soon I had one in front of me. It was something that we both shared - we loved coffee! As the waitress took our order, I looked around the room. In front of me was a picture of a farm yard - with children and ducks playing in the yard.

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee.
In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.
(Psalm 56: 3 & 4)

I tried so hard not to shake, as I listened to her talk about her doctor’s visit. She had gone for more tests, and the cancer was back. They had done all the treatments, but the cancer was still there. Now they wanted to send her to another state, to try a brand new type of treatment. Finally, she looked at me with tears in her eyes, and asked me what I thought she should do . . .

When I am afraid . . . I will put my trust in Thee . . .

Oh Lord, what do I say? I asked silently. And then haltingly, I told her my dream. It was a dream about her. In the dream, I had watched as she was taken away. And then I watched as she was brought back, very sick. In the dream, the doctors apologized for how sick she was, and said that they couldn’t do anything more. They had brought her back to die. And then I told her what I heard in my dream. It was a voice, that said that she would live all the days that she had been given - and it was up to her how she wanted to live them . . .

In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.

I hated telling Norma that dream. And I hated it even more - the day that she died. But the time that we had, in between, was amazing. She had decided not to go away, but stayed home - to live - for the rest of her days.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding.
(Proverbs 3:5)

Now, I was having to deal with surgery, as well as how to help my parents. I really didn’t know what I should do. And then this past week-end Ted and I went to a picnic. I wanted to have some fun, and forget about all my troubles. There were lots of things to do - canoeing and paddle boats, miniature golf and volleyball, as well as all sorts of food. We had planned on playing miniature golf after we ate. So when one of Ted’s bosses came over to visit, just as we were finishing eating, I wasn’t too happy about it. From the corner of my eye, I could see our friends heading off to play. And I wanted to go! But instead, we stayed and talked.

We talked for almost two hours. We talked about our families and work. We talked about our children and other things that seemed important. And then he started talking about his own parents. He told us all that he and his sister did for his mother as she got older. He told us about her illness, and it sounded so familiar. As he talked, he answered so many of my questions. He didn’t tell us that it would be easy, but he did give us some direction. And then, just as he finished talking and got ready to leave, he looked at me. “You make sure that you pass on everything that you learn as you are helping your parents - - - to those who are going to need to hear it!” he said. And then he walked away . . .

And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
(1 Corinthians 2: 3 - 5)

The times when God has been the most powerful in my life, haven’t been when I have planned it. It has been in times of fear and doubt. It has been times when I really didn’t want to do something. He was there for that man who’s baby had just died. He was there for Norma, showing her how to live the rest of her life. And He was there when we were at that picnic, showing us what to do next . . .

“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)

Where will you find God? In your fears and your doubts - when you really don’t know what to do next - He will be there. All you need to do - - - is ask . . .

But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him . . . .
(Mathew 14: 30 & 31)

God bless you in the coming week ahead!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

Friday, August 19, 2005

Weekly Word for August 19 - 26, 2005

Weekly Word - August 19, 2005

But the Lord said to Samuel, “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)

“How can you look at something so ugly - and see that something so good can come out of it?” Mike asked. We were standing in front of the bureau that Ted and I had just brought for our little granddaughter Emma. It was a bureau that Ted had owned for many years. And even then, it was old when he bought it. It had been such an ugly bureau, green with tarnished brass knobs and siding. When we first offered to refinish it, we weren’t really sure how it would come out. Now, standing before this beautiful mahogany bureau, with pink roses on the knobs, I loved how it looked! It had been so much work - sanding every inch - - - taking every part of the bureau apart - - - rebuilding it and putting a new finish on it - - - making it into this beautiful piece of furniture before us. When Mike asked the question, I shrugged, shaking my head. As we stood there, memories came flooding back - - - How could we see - - - something so good . . .

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now know in part, but then I shall know fully . . .
(1 Corinthians 13: 12)

He was just 21 years old, when he first saw it. His girlfriend had just broken up with him, and broken hearted - he had decided to go back home. He had followed her to Connecticut, leaving college and his family to be with her. So when she left him, he was sure he couldn’t go on living here. That is when his friends convinced him to stay. They offered him a place to live, and convinced him to stay working in his job. He wasn’t sure, but said yes anyways. For the next few months, he went to work, lived in their house, and grieved . . .

Then one day, they told him it was time to get out on his own. They helped him find an apartment - but he didn’t have any furniture. That‘s when a friend offered him a bedroom set for $50. It had a bed, long dresser and mirror, and that bureau. It was old, and green, and he took it. For the first time in Ted’s life, he had his own place, where he could do what he wanted. He wasn’t sure what lay ahead - - - but that bureau was now part of his life . . .

Love . . . bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things . . .
(1 Corinthians 13: 7)

She had come back into his life, and he knew he would do anything to keep her from leaving again. He loved her. So over the next few years they dated, and then became engaged. As the date for the wedding drew closer, she asked him to look for another apartment. He said he would, but knew he didn’t want to. As they went from apartment to apartment, he would find something wrong with each. Soon, she realized that he wasn’t going to move. So as the date grew closer, she decided to decorate what was going to be her new home. She wallpapered and she painted, trying to make the apartment she hated - into their new home.

It was their home for quite a few years, moving only once to the apartment down below them. And then they bought a house. As they stood in the middle of it, it was ugly! It was dusty and dirty, and full of old furniture from the woman who had lived there before. Standing there though, they saw something different - - - it was going to be a place for those who needed help. It was going to be a “sanctuary” - a place to welcome others . . .

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it; and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
(Mathew 13: 16 & 17)

We were at our Ladies’ bible study, when she told us about their new house. She told how the Lord had told them it was to be a “safe house” for those who needed a place to go. So when things got worse in my marriage - and I didn’t know what to do or where to go - I remembered what she had said. My husband had always told me he would rather kill me, than divorce me and have to pay money. That threat had stayed with me. And so I approached her. “I need a place to stay, a place where he wouldn’t even think to look” I told her. I was begging, hoping that she would understand. But she didn’t. She told me “no” - and not knowing what else to do - I begged even harder. I had a friend and pastor with me, and so she finally gave in and said “yes”.
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord raises up those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous;
Praise the Lord!
(Psalm 146: 8 & 10)

I can’t say I remember too much about the room, or what was in it, that very first day. It was the day I left my husband. As I picked up Jen, and we drove away, the tears filled my eyes. I didn’t want to leave him, but I also didn’t want to live like this. So as we drove, I told her all about the people we were going to be living with. I had directions, and soon we were pulling into the driveway. Inside, we found the two bedrooms that were to be ours for the next few months. As we brought our things inside, my thoughts and feelings ran together. I wasn’t sure I could take another breath, and still somehow, I did. We unpacked some of our things, and I tried to keep my attention on my daughter. That evening, we ate supper with our hosts, trying to keep the conversation light and easy. Soon though, it was time for bed. As I kissed my daughter, I held her tight and told her everything would be alright.

As I went into my new room, one of the couple’s cats came with me. He was a large, black and white cat. And he seemed to know that I needed some company. I had placed some blankets on top of the bureau standing next to my bed. It was here that he waited, watching me and purring the whole time. Sitting on the bed, my emotions let go. I poured out my heart to him, telling him my grief and sorrow. He had jumped down from that bureau, and was curled next to me on the bed. Exhaustion overcame me, and curled against him, I fell asleep.

The righteous cry - and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34: 17 & 18)

For the next few months, Jen and I made that house, and those two rooms, our home. LT (as the cat was called) became my constant companion. He would sit on top of that ugly bureau, purring and waiting for me. In the mornings, as I put on my makeup, he was always there to help. He loved rubbing his face against the brushes, and didn’t seem to mind that he was a boy wearing my makeup! That room became my sanctuary - and I loved every part of it. The big bed - that I shared with LT. The small makeup table and chair - where I sat doing my makeup or writing in my journal. And that big ugly bureau, where LT always waited for me, and where all my things were stored. When it came time to leave, I cried. I had never felt so safe, and wished that I could stay. But it was time to go, and face my future . . .

“Then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday. And the Lord will continually guide you, . . . And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”
(Isaiah 58: 10b & 11)

It was a few years later, when I saw that ugly bureau again. I was living in my new apartment, the one that Ted had built. He had just gone through his own divorce, and his heart was just beginning to heal. I was working full time in ministry, and the friendship between us was growing stronger. He had just fixed the washing machine, and had decided to bring over his old bureau. It would fit just perfectly in the laundry area, helping to hold all the extra towels and sheets that were everywhere. As we slid it into place, we looked at each other and laughed. That old bureau had been just about everywhere. And now it was helping out at the ministry.

It stayed there for a few more years, until the time came for Ted and I to head out on our own. We had been married for a couple of years when, this time it was Ted and I standing in the middle of a very old building. We were deciding to walk away from everything - all that we had invested in the ministry of another. Now, as we looked around at the old light hanging crookedly from the dining room ceiling, the hole in the ceiling of the kitchen, the single light bulbs in each bedroom, the old windows and painted walls - all of it seemed pretty bad. But as we stood there, we also saw a brand new start, a new home for just the two or us. When we moved in, we took only what belonged to us - and that ugly, old bureau came along too.

That bureau stayed in the basement of that old house for about a year. During that time, everything in the basement became covered in mold. As we stood looking at the mess, we knew that most had to be thrown away. But somehow, we were able to save that ugly, old bureau . . .

“For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord - - - looks at the heart.”

“How can you look at something so ugly - and see that something so good can come out of it?” There had been some really tough, awful times in both of our lives. Looking back, we really hadn’t known how it all would turn out. Now, as we stood looking at the bureau, we remembered back through the years. It had been there when Ted had first stepped out on his own, after heartbreak and loss. It had been there again, when I too was starting out on my own. It had gone with us when we left everything, for our love and our own life. Now, as we stood here with our little granddaughter, it was the start of a brand new life - just for her!

“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)

“How can you look at something so ugly - and see that something so good can come out of it?” Most of us feel have felt, just this way! But we have a God who knows the truth! He knows who you are, and how to bring good things into your life. He has been waiting for you - waiting for you to ask Him to be part of your life. When you do - it will be the start of a brand new life - just for you . . .

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “to give you a future and a hope.”

God bless in the coming week ahead!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

Friday, August 12, 2005

Weekly Word for August 12 - 19, 2005

Weekly Word - August 12, 2005

“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments . . . That you may live . . .”
(Deuteronomy 30: 15 & 16)

“I am afraid of death” “I am trying to follow the commandments - but I am afraid . . .” were the words from a girl I had just met. I had met her on another web board, and I knew she was trying to be the “best” person she could be. But her fears were still there. She didn’t want to be angry or hate, but she did. She had been so hurt growing up, and the anger that followed was understandable. She wanted to be good - - - because she feared punishment and death. As I read her words, I wondered what to say. Death was such a scary word - and one we all had to face . . .

“I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statues and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you . . .”
(Deuteronomy 30: 16)

I had met Jean (not her real name) before either of us ever had children. She and her husband had gone to school with my first husband. They didn’t live far away, and Jean and I would get together for coffee about once a week. Over the next few years, we both had a son - and then a daughter. Each of our children were only months apart from each other, so when we got together, our children would play while we visited and talked over coffee. During those visits, we talked about our own lives, our husbands and children, as well as our own childhood. Both of us had been hurt by our parents. She had grown up with a mother who was very hard on her. Jean felt like she never did anything right, in her mother’s eyes. Her mother had done a lot of yelling and hitting, while her father kept his distance - never saying a word. Over coffee, we talked about the kind of mothers we wanted to be. We wanted to be different from our own mothers - we wanted to be loving and giving - hoping that our children would have better lives - - - and fewer hurts . . .

As the years went by, we got to know each other pretty well. We knew the hurts and pain that each carried from childhood. We shared each other’s secrets, knowing that the other understood. Then one day, Jean called to tell me that her mother had finally gone to the doctor. Even though Jean, as well as her brothers and sisters, would ask her mother to go to the doctor - - - her mother always refused. She told them she didn’t believe in doctors. So by the time they found out she had cancer, it was too late to operate. The cancer was beyond treatment. As she told me all this, I felt so bad for her and her mother. And then she surprised me! “My mother seems so happy!” “She is loving getting so much attention!” she told me. When she said it, I wondered about this woman, and her choices in her life . . .

“But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish.”
(Deuteronomy 31: 17 & 18)

Over the next few months, I would check in on Jean and how things were going with her mother. By then, we both could be honest about how we felt - about ourselves as well as others. I told her I just couldn’t understand her mother, and the choices she had made. Jean just shook her head, knowing how hard she had tried to push her mother to go to the doctor and take care of herself. Her mother just wouldn’t listen.

As her mother got sicker, and the cancer spread, Jean and her sister took turns caring for her. Her brothers would also stop in to visit, trying to help their sisters deal with this new burden. Their mother never changed though, she still continued to yell at them, as they couldn’t please her.

The day finally came , when Jean called to tell me her mother had died. She told me about those final days, and how hard it had been, right up to the very last moment. All the children were there. Their father sat quietly in the background. There had been a nurse present, around the clock, as it got closer to the end. As they waited for the end to come, each of the children had their own feelings toward this mother who was leaving them. They sat by her bed, talking and waiting. Then the moment came, when they knew it was almost time, and each started to say “good-bye”. Each one of them told her they loved her. As they did, she yelled at them one more time. Fighting for each breath, she told them “No, I won’t go”. At that moment, the irony of who their mother was - hit them. She had fought everyone - and everything - in her life. And now, she fought again - - - but this time, she lost . . .

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, . . .”
(Deuteronomy 30: 19)

It has been many years since that day when Jean told me about her mother. At the time, I didn’t understand why her mother could be so full of anger. Since then, I have had to look at my own life - and the hurts that caused anger in me. I have had to understand my own life, looking at what is life - and what causes us to choose death . . .

“by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him: for this is your life and the length of your days, . . .”
(Deuteronomy 30: 20)

I have told about the picture that I have of me, from years ago. It is a picture of a girl with dyed blonde hair, who is way too thin. Her eyes are hard and angry, and looking at the picture, you know that she keeps everyone very far away. The picture is from a time in my life, when all the hurts and betrayals, were more than I could bear. I didn’t think I could live, anymore.

The girl in the picture was finally looking at her marriage, and the husband who didn’t seem able to love her. She had been betrayed by a good friend, and she wondered if she would ever trust again. She was also looking at her childhood, and the pain and abuse that she knew was there. As she withdrew from all those around her, she stopped loving, she stopped caring, she even stopped eating. She did know she loved her children, but in her pain and anger, she wondered if they would be better off without her. The girl in that picture, thought about dieing . . .

“by loving the Lord your God, - - - by obeying His voice, - - - and by holding fast to Him: - - - for this is your life and the length of your days, . . .”
(Deuteronomy 30: 20)

I thought about dieing, and that’s when I realized - - - I wanted to live! I wanted to really live, but didn’t even know what that meant. And that’s when I begged God - - - asking Him to help me to finally live my life . . .

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

It has been many years, since that picture was taken. Through those years, the Lord has healed my heart of so many hurts and wounds. In healing my hurts, He has helped me to let go of those who hurt me. It didn’t happen right away, and looking back, I realized that in taking the time - He let me be real about my anger. God let me be angry, and then asked - “now, will you give it to Me?” As He did this, and when I said yes, He was then able to replace the anger, with compassion and love.

I have told about my friend Norma, who helped me through that very difficult time in my life. She listened, she let me be angry, and then she prayed with me. I don’t know how I would have gotten through that time in my life, without her. And then Norma taught me one final lesson. She taught me about life and death. Norma battled cancer for three years. During that time, we talked about everything. We talked about our sons, and our hopes for their lives. We talked about our marriages, and our hopes and dreams. We talked about silly wants like clothes and pretty things all around us. Norma loved to collect things. And so, over the years, we would give each other small gifts that meant something special for the other person. She gave me small collectible “teddy bears” that had sayings on the bottom of them. I gave her small houses, that she loved to think about living in. And then one day, I saw a figure of a girl sitting on a luggage trunk. We had been talking about traveling, and seeing different places. When I picked it up, it had a bible passage on the bottom. I can’t remember the exact passage now, but I do remember what it was talking about. It said that “wherever you go, I will be with you” and so I bought it for her. I didn’t think about what it could really mean, but later on - we both did . . .

For I am already being poured out . . . and the time of my departure has come . . . in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness . . . and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
(2 Timothy 4:6)

A few weeks before Norma died, we talked about dieing. We talked about where Norma would be going. She told me she was a little afraid, and I have to admit - I was too. I didn’t want to say “good-bye” to her - but time was running out. We both knew that it was almost time, for her to leave. That’s when we remembered the little girl on the luggage case. We both tried to smile, wishing things were different, but knew she was taking a trip - and the time of her departure was coming soon . . .

“And behold, I am with you, and will keep you wherever you go, . . . For I will not leave you . . .” (Genesis 28: 15)

Norma left us on July 18, 1998. The Lord took her “home” to live forever with Him. He never left her. From the moment she asked Him to be in her life - He was there. When her and I were laughing over clothes we wanted to buy, or were worrying over our children - He was there. When she was sick and battling cancer - He was there. And on that day in July - He was there . . .

“Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, . . . Do not fear, for I am with you;”
(Isaiah 43: 4 & 5)

“I am afraid of death” “I am trying to follow the commandments - but I am afraid . . .” she wrote. My new young friend was afraid - and I wanted to tell her not to be. I wanted her to understand what “life” really was. It isn’t choosing to follow all the rules - it is choosing God. It is choosing to love God, and let Him into our lives. When we do, we will stop being the “walking dead”! When we ask Him to “be with us” each day - that is when we finally become full of life- - - until that day we walk with Him - to the other side . . .

I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, . . .”
(Deuteronomy 30: 19)

It is my prayer, that you will hold fast to Him - for all of your life . . .

God bless you in the coming week ahead!

In His Abiding Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

Friday, August 05, 2005

Weekly Word for August 5 - 12, 2005

Weekly Word - August 5, 2005

Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
(Psalm 100: 3)

I had just left a friend’s house, where I had been helping out. But now it was time to leave, and I was heading home. As I got there, my children were waiting. They both told me how they had been waiting a long time for me to get home, and they were all packed and ready to leave. Mike was somewhere around 12 or 13, and he moved so quickly, almost running to the next place he wanted to be. He seemed happy and excited about his plans, as he showed me all that he had packed. Jen was still my little girl, around 8 or so, always talking so fast that nobody else seemed to understand her. But she was my joy, and listening to her laugh made my heart sing. I loved both of them so much!

As the two of them continued to tell me their plans, I asked if I could make them some lunch. “Sure” they both said in unison. Laughing, I started to prepare some food. I loved being “mom” to these two children, who were just starting to grow into little people. There in my kitchen, with the two of them talking and laughing, I wanted so much for them. For their whole lives! Just as I was getting the food for the kids - - - the alarm went off - - - and I woke up . . .

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 65: 8)

As I woke up, I wondered about the dream - and what it all meant. This week-end was Jen’s birthday party. She was turning 24, and was going to be staying with us for a few days. I couldn’t wait for her to be there, as I missed having her close by. She lived over 400 miles away, and for me, that seemed too far away!

It was such a busy day, as I cooked and got ready for her and her boyfriend to arrive. They were driving down, and I was busy getting the house ready. Ted was off helping a friend move, and so I was alone with my thoughts. Both of my children were now in their 20’s and had lives of their own. Mike was 28, married and the father of three. Jen was turning 24, and had graduated college. She now worked with little children, trying to help them to have better lives. As I thought about these two young adults, I wondered if I had done all that I could - to help them to grow healthy and strong. Had I given them enough love? Had I been a good mother - a good parent . . .

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs, And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.
(Isaiah 40: 11)

I wanted a baby so badly - but I was so sick! I hadn’t told him that I was “late”, or that I might be pregnant. I knew that he didn’t want a baby right away, and so I didn’t say a word to him as he left that morning. As I laid in bed, in between running to the bathroom, I wondered what to do. We had only been married a short time, but already his anger scared me. I wanted someone to tell me everything would be alright. I needed to hear a comforting voice. And so I called my mother . . .

When her voice came on the phone, I started to cry. I told her how sick I was, and that I might be pregnant. Sobbing, I told her I couldn’t keep any food down, and asked her what to do. “I’m sorry you are sick, but you will be alright” she said with a laugh. And then she told me about the weather, and the week of vacation they were going on. As I hung up the phone, so many emotions ran through me. Why had I called her? I should have known better! I was hurt and angry, and wishing that things were different. It was then - that I determined not to be like her! I wanted to be a good mother - - - which I had no idea how to be . . .

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; . . . Does not act unbecomingly, it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, . . .
(1 Corinthians 13: 4 & 5)

It turned out that I wasn’t pregnant after all. But after that, I knew that in my heart, I wanted a baby more than anything else in the world. I wanted a child to love, someone to take care of - and who might love me back. At 19, I really didn’t understand about loving and being a parent . . . .

Love . . . Does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things . . .
(1 Corinthians 13: 6 & 7)

He was only 5 years old, but he knew he loved his mother! He was the oldest, and so he would try to help out with his younger brothers and sister. He would help washing dishes, or doing small chores around the house. He loved to make her smile. But on this day, no one was smiling. There had been fighting, and he somehow found himself in the middle of his parent’s anger. As he stood in the middle of the kitchen, wondering how to get out of the room, they turned to him. They wanted him to choose, and he didn’t know how. He loved her - but he also loved his father. Unable to answer, he started to cry. Through his tears, he watched her go through the door. Never to come back . . .

Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things

He was 17, when he finally searched for her. So many things had changed. His father had re-married and started a new family. He was living with his grandparents. And now, he wanted to find the missing pieces of his life. He had so many questions running around in his head. Why had she left him? What had he done wrong? Did she still love him? All questions, that only she could answer. He had grown over the years, but the hurt was still there. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for - but he knew what he hoped for. He hoped to find the mother, who he loved when he was 5 . . .

When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
(1 Corinthians 13: 11)

He spent the whole summer getting to know her, and the new family she had made. He lived with them and worked with them, hoping that somehow the years they had lost - could be found. He had hoped in something - but wasn’t sure what it was. And when fall came, and it was time to leave for college - the young man left his mother, still wondering about so many things . . . .

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3: 5 & 6)

Over the years, I have come to understand, that quite a few of us are born to “flawed” parents. They are people who make mistakes, and sometimes have quite a few hurts of their own. We then wonder about becoming parents ourselves. Can we be good parents? How do we learn about loving and caring? How do we learn to forgive . . .

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

It had been a wonderful party. Everyone had come! Mike and Becca with the three little ones - Jen’s father as well as her grandfather - the neighbors - all had come to celebrate Jen’s birthday. But now, it was time for Jen and her boyfriend to go home. As I was getting their breakfast ready, we talked about the party and just simple things that came up. “What time was I born?” Jen asked. I thought back to the moment this young woman had come into my life. I knew the exact time each of my babies were born. “9:03am, on a Sunday morning” I told her. And then I told her what time her brother was born. Those moments were imbedded in my mind and heart - forever. As soon as I held them, I knew that I loved them. I had loved them even before that. As they grew inside my belly, and I felt them moving inside, I couldn’t believe the miracle that was happening in my life!
Each of my babies felt like such miracles. I really wasn’t sure how to be a mother, never mind how to be a good mother. But somehow, I knew how to love them. I made mistakes over the years, but I always loved them.

So as I said good-bye to Jen, I hugged her close and kissed her. She lived too far away from me, and I knew I would cry as soon as the truck started to leave. As I held her close, she told me she loved me. And then I let go. I don’t know if she saw the tears, as I waved goodbye - and prayed that the Lord would keep her safe. As they drove away, I remembered the dream again. In it, I wanted to give my children “food” as they were getting ready to leave. As parents, that is all we can hope to do. We try to give our children what they need, to grow strong and healthy. And then, we need to let go . . .

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, . . . It does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, . . . Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails;
(1 Corinthians 13: 4 - 8)

How do we become good parents? I have to admit, I am not sure. What I do know, is that I love my children with all of my being - I pray for them every day - and I do my best. I ask the Lord to forgive me for the mistakes I have made - and also to help me to forgive my parents - for their mistakes as well.

As for the young man who was left wondering why his mother left him, all those years ago - - - he grew into a man who wondered if he would ever have children. Through the years, he waited and prayed. And then the Lord brought me into his life. Ted is now a wonderful step-dad and grandpa. My children became “our children”. Each of us has learned how to love - by being loved.

None of us can be the “perfect” parent. But if we put our trust in God, He does know how to love us - perfectly. Will you trust in Him - the one who loves us no matter what - and in loving us, teaches us how to love . . .

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)

God bless you in the coming week ahead!

In His Everlasting Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers