Friday, April 28, 2006

Weekly Word for April 28 - May 5, 2006

This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak - and slow to anger; For the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
(James 1: 19)

Slow to anger - - - For me, this is something that I struggle with all the time. I don’t get angry easily, but when I do . . . It happens in an instant! The emotions inside of me, just seem to overtake everything in my world! I try very hard to stop it - but before I know it - - - it has erupted!

This past week, it happened again. I didn’t mean to react, but I did. I had received an email from someone I care very deeply for. It was an email that they had forwarded along to me, from someone else. When I saw the title of it, my heart started to sink. Opening it, I started to read - all the while wishing that I didn’t! It was an email complaining about the growing cost of living in our country. It complained specifically about the price of gas. And then it told everyone what to do - so that prices would go down. When I finished reading, my heart was in my throat - and I couldn’t believe that this person had sent it along to “me”! After-all, this was the business that paid for Ted and I to have food on our table - and a roof over our head. Ted is a repairman - for gas stations!

For the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

Without thinking, I found myself typing a response back to my friend. I told them all the information that I knew. I tried to give them a reason to understand my position. And then I quickly sent the email off to them. Afterwards, I walked around the apartment, yelling at no one in particular. There was so much anger inside of me. “Why Lord?” I asked. “Why did they send it to me?” I continued. “And why am I so angry?” . . . .

Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you,
(Ephesians 4: 26)

When Ted got home from work, I told him about the email. Looking back, maybe I shouldn’t have - but I did. I couldn’t hide how upset I was, and watching Ted - I knew he was also. We talked a little bit, and then we let the conversation drift to other topics. We talked about the kids, his work, and what was on the television. But through it all, there was a heaviness in the air. “Why did they send it?” I wondered out loud. Ted just shook his head. And then for a moment, I saw it. There was hurt in his eyes - but there was also something more. “What would I do”, he asked, “if I lost my job?” . . .

But as for me, I trust in Thee, O Lord,
I say, “Thou art my God.”
My times are in Thy hand; . . .
(Psalm 31: 14 & 15a)

Looking over at my husband, my anger seemed to disappear. What was under it - was fear. It was hard not to be afraid - of the unknown that lay before us . . .

My times are in Thy hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies,
and from those who persecute me.
(Psalm 31: 15)

It was a June day, the sun was shining - and he knew that it would be quite warm, later on that afternoon. As he left for work that morning, his mind went over the projects he was working on - and the plans for that day. As he drove, he knew he would be spending part of the day outside, inspecting some of his work. It would be a good day, he thought - as he said goodbye to his wife that morning.

The day flew by, as he watched the contractors demolish part of an old building. Soon, it was time to head home. As he drove, he thought about how the building had been taken down - and he couldn’t wait to tell his wife all about it. But as he drove into the driveway, he saw a strange car sitting there. As he got out of the car that evening, he had no clue that at that moment - his world would change - - - forever . . .

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.
(Psalm 31: 9)

I didn’t know all that he was thinking or feeling - that day in June. All I knew, was that my own life was about to change. We had been married 21 years. They were years that had been full of anger and hurt - as well as hope and love. The truth was - I loved him. But more and more - the anger I saw in him - made me want to leave. And so on this day, that was the plan. I was finally going to leave him.

As I kissed him and said good-bye, I had to fight to keep the tears from coming. As he drove away - I knew I was saying “good-bye” for real. I had asked a friend to keep Jenny overnight, and so when I turned back to the house - I headed for my son’s room. He was sleeping, after working all night. As I stood in the door, I wondered if I really could do this. “How can I leave him?” I wondered. I loved him so much. But my son was already growing into a man - working full time - with a life of his own. And so, with my heart breaking, I told him I needed to leave.

It wasn’t long, before my friends showed up to help me pack. My son sat in the kitchen, lost in all that was going on. Inside of me, I didn’t know what to do - as the feelings just seemed to overwhelm me. All around me, there was activity - as my friends did their best to pack what I would need. I couldn’t stand it - I felt awful - and I ran outside and collapsed in the street.

And that’s when my neighbor, who I really didn’t know very well, came and helped me to get up. “I understand” she said. And I looked in her eyes, and realized that she really did know what I felt. “How do I leave?” “How can I stay?” Sobbing, the questions just kept pouring out of me. And then I looked back at the house - the home that really hadn’t felt like mine - in a very long time. It was time to go . . .

As for me, I said in my alarm, “I am cut off from before Thine eyes”;
Nevertheless Thou didst hear the voice of my supplications -
When I cried to Thee.
(Psalm 31: 22)

Our lives changed that day. Mine, my husband’s, and our two children’s lives - were never the same again. He tried to get help, and went for counseling. I hoped that things would change. But they didn’t. And after two years, we were divorced.

But it only took a moment, a choice - to change our lives forever. That June evening, as my husband drove home from work, a sheriff waited to serve him papers - to tell him that I had left. As he drove, he didn’t know that his world would be shattered, by a choice that I had made.

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)

It has been almost 10 years, since that June day. For my husband, he felt as if his world had changed with that one moment. But for me, it had been changing for years. The anger and pain of his words - the heartache of what was happening - all of it led to that one final moment, when I left him.

Since that time, there have been many changes in my life. Some of them have been wonderful - and some have been just as difficult.

The righteous cry and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.

It was such an amazing joy - falling in love with Ted. I hadn’t expected it, and neither had he. My plans had already been made. I was going to be a minister, working with a friend of mine. We would be partners, working to bring God’s healing to those who had been hurt. And then Ted showed up at the ministry, one of those - who had been hurt. His wife had left him, and his heart was broken. He came to the ministry, seeking the Lord’s help. My partner became his counselor - and I became his friend. And then - our friendship grew.

As I look back in time, I can see how things happened. But at the time, all I could see - was Ted. We had fallen in love, and didn’t know if it was “right”. We didn‘t know what was best for each other. We sought out the counsel of our pastor, begging God to show us the way to go. We prayed for guidance - and still we were in love. And then our pastor asked us to agree to be re-baptized. We were asked to give our lives over to God - and give up anything that kept us in “sin”.

We met at a friend’s pool, on that day in August. It was a warm day, but I couldn’t stop shaking as I thought about what I was going to do. “Lord, please help me” I silently prayed. As I stepped into the pool, I knew that God’s presence was with us. In that moment, as the pastor brought me back up from under the water, I felt so alive - and I wondered what it all meant.

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)

After the baptism, Ted and I sat talking, holding tight to each other. We knew that God was “with” us, and we asked Him to guide us from that moment on. Our love grew even stronger, and soon we were planning our wedding. My heart was so full of excitement, as I sat with my friend and told her all about our plans. We had asked her to perform the ceremony - to be the one to consecrate our vows. And so it never dawned on me that she was upset - or even angry with the fact that I was getting married.

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

I don’t quite know why it all happened, but after the marriage, my relationship with my friend seemed to change. I was still working at the ministry, and Ted was working very hard - at two jobs now. He worked to repair things for the gas stations - and he was working at the ministry. Ted and I were living on the property, and we had dedicated our lives to the work we believed in. But I had changed - and so had the friendship. Ted was now a full partner in my life, and that wasn’t what my friend had planned on . . .

It took just over a year, for us to realize that we needed to leave. It didn’t matter that we had given everything to the ministry - it was time to go. Our lives were different now. Nervous and afraid - we left everything - to start a brand new life together . . .

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)

The other day, my friend sent me an email - that touched on my fears for our future. The truth is, none of us know what the future holds. Each day, each moment - can change our lives.

For Ted and I, we have been through quite a few changes in our lives. Some have been full of hurt and pain - as we faced having to say “good-bye”. Other times held wonderful surprises - of joy and love. Whatever is ahead for us, I pray that we never let go of the hand of the Lord. He can lead us through the tough times - and bring us to the Life - that is meant just for us . . .

“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)

It is my hope for you as well, that you will ask Him to walk with you on the path that is before you - holding on tight to His hand - through whatever lies ahead . . .

God bless you in the week ahead!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

Friday, April 21, 2006

Weekly Word for April 21 - 28, 2006

Weekly Word - April 21, 2006

And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.”
“The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Mathew 22: 37 - 39)

“I want to be selfish” I told Ted. As I said it, he didn’t say a word. He just waited, knowing that I needed to say more. We had gotten tickets to go see a concert with some friends. The tickets were for seats right up close, and I was so excited to go. But on this day, my friend had written to tell me that her son was coming home on leave from the service. I knew quite a bit about this mom’s worries for her children. She had two sons serving in the military, and a daughter-in-law who had come home, after watching her unit come under attack, and some of her friends - killed. So Ted waited silently, knowing that there was more going on inside of me. “I want to be selfish” I continued, “but would you be mad if I gave our tickets to her son?”

My friend hadn’t asked me to do it, but inside of me - I wanted to offer them to this young man and his army buddy. “Are you willing to give up your seats?” Ted asked. “I don’t know” I answered him truthfully. And so all night, I fussed with my feelings. My friend had been able to purchase two tickets for the same show, quite a bit back from the front. If I offered her my tickets - - - was I willing to take those back seats?

“This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”
(John 15: 12)

So many of us struggle with giving to others, and the sacrifice it sometimes takes. I have to admit, it gets a little mixed up inside of me. There are things I wish I had, and don’t. There are times when I get jealous for what another has. And I definitely have to fuss through giving away - something I want . . .

It was about 9 years ago, and Jenny and I were living on our own. I definitely didn’t have much, and what little I had - well - it went to pay the bills that were always coming. At the time, I had rented a house from a really nice older couple. They had just met me, but decided to rent it to me anyway. I didn’t even have any furniture, and I’m sure they wondered how I was going to make it. Truthfully, I wondered the same thing.

But somehow, with the help of friends, that little house quickly filled up with furniture. Every room, had furniture that seemed just perfect for that house. But money was still very tight. On this one particular day, I had $25 in my wallet. That was all. I didn’t have money in the bank, or even a credit card. And so that $25 was all I had for groceries that week. My plan was to go shopping - right after I finished up with a ministry meeting we were having - that Saturday morning. As the ladies started coming in, I went to say hello to them all. They were ladies from many different circumstances. A few were dressed in jeans and simple tops. While others had on pretty suits that they had just bought that season. Some of the ladies struggled financialy like I did - while others didn’t have to. I have to admit, there were times when I wished I had what some of these ladies had. But on this day, I really wasn’t thinking about it all that much. We were having a very special guest at this meeting. He was a traveling pastor, one of those men of great faith - who seemed to be able to touch the Lord, the minute he closed his eyes.

As the meeting started, I could feel the excitement in the room. I knew that some of these ladies were hoping for miracles in their lives. Each was there because of some sort of wound, that had sent them searching for help - from God. So as the meeting got started, all thoughts of grocery shopping had vanished. It turned out to be a wonderful meeting. There was singing, and praying - and teaching about God’s love. And before I knew it - the meeting was over. As the ladies left, I turned to my friend - the head of the ministry - and asked her about giving the pastor something for coming to our meeting. The look she gave me, told me that she didn’t have anything for him. We had nothing to offer this man - who had given us so much! And then I remembered the $25 in my wallet . . . .

“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; Just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.”
(John 15: 10)

That day, I gave him all that I had in my wallet. As he said good-bye, I wondered what I would do for groceries. I was worried, but I also felt something more. I felt like I had done what I was supposed to do. As the man drove away, my friend and I went back inside the building. I started to pick up the cups and plates that had been left from the meeting. As I did, I couldn’t help but dwell on my worries. “Lord, what am I going to do?” I asked Him silently. My friend had gone into the office, checking on messages and the mail. As she left, I started doing the dishes. That’s when I heard her call out to me. Wiping my hands, I turned to see what was wrong . . .

She stood in the doorway, holding a stack of money. Someone had sent us a few hundred dollars, and at that moment all I could do was cry. I don’t remember where it came from, or even who sent it! But because they did, we had groceries . . .

“This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
“You are my friends, if you do what I command you.”
(John 15: 12 - 14)

It has never been easy, struggling with what was right to do. Just like everyone else, I struggle with jealousy - and wanting things. I also struggle with the pain of not wanting to hurt another person. Through it all, I beg the Lord to help me . . .

I first met him when he was about 12 or 13 years old. We had just moved to Connecticut, and his mom became one of my very first friends in this new place. I liked her, and I liked her children. He was her oldest child, and I liked him from the moment I met him. Rich (not his real name) had these beautiful dark eyes, that sparkled when he laughed. He was tall and handsome, and I knew that the girls would love him! Over time, Rich and his family became part of ours. They went to the same school as my kids did, and we went to the same bible studies together. This young man seemed so full of life, and I hoped that my own children would grow to be just like him.
Over the next few years, I found myself taking care of her children. I would pick them up after school, taking them home - or to places they needed to go. I didn’t see as much of Rich though, as he was now in high school. But there were still times when I was asked to pick him up from school. That’s when we would talk. He was having so much trouble in school, and I didn’t know why. I listened as best I could, and hoped and prayed that he would be alright. But he wasn’t. He moved from one school to another, and still he had trouble. And then he disappeared. This beautiful young man, seemed to be heading in the wrong direction . . .

The next time I saw Rich, he was in a hospital for drug rehab. We went to see him for his birthday (he was turning 16 years old) - and to this day, I wish I hadn’t gone. There he stood, very thin, with eyes that were clouded over. I wanted to reach out to him, but his anger kept all of us away. Rich needed help, and I didn’t know what to do.

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
(Hebrews 13: 15)

It was only about a year later, when Rich was arrested. I went to see him in jail, and my stomach was in knots as I went through those doors. Sitting across from him, I asked him what he needed. But he didn’t know. He showed me his picture from being arrested, and I was sure that the face on the picture - couldn’t be the face of this young man sitting before me. The horrible look in his eyes - well - it made me feel sick to my stomach.

Over the next few months, I called every pastor and teacher that Rich had ever known. He had gone to church, to Sunday school, and to Christian camps. He had been a helper to the younger kids, and a bright youngster in their groups. So when I called them, I asked them for help. He was going to be sentenced soon, and I wanted to show the judge “who” he really was. I wanted the judge to see the good that was also there. My husband at the time told me I was crazy - and stupid for doing this. He believed that Rich deserved what he was getting - “after all, he chose to do drugs . . .” My husband wasn’t the only one who believed this - many of the pastors said “no” as well. I tried so hard, but on the day of sentencing - there were only a few letters for the judge to see . . .

O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Thy praise. For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; . . .
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.
(Psalm 51: 15 - 17)

I didn’t go to court that day with my friend. She took the letters I had been able to get, and stood before the judge with her son. When I heard he was given 8 years, my heart sank. I visited him a few times, but it never got easier to go there. I hated how I felt when I went to the different jails he was sent to. I felt so awful as the guards - as well as other inmates - looked me over. And then I stopped visiting him. I can’t say it was a decision that I made, it just happened. My friend had given up on her son, and then she gave up on our friendship . . .

I have always felt like I let Rich down all those years ago. I felt guilty, because I didn’t want to visit him in jail. I wanted to make the “right” choices - I wanted to help him - but I couldn’t . . .

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.

It isn’t always easy to make the choice to do what is “right”. I have to admit, I don’t always make the right choice. But I try to - with the Lord’s help . . .

The other day, I sent off an email to my friend, telling her that I would give my tickets to her son. After I did, I had mixed feelings. I wanted to honor her son, but I also wanted to have the good seats. But I sent the email anyways.

After I sent it off, I told another friend what I had done. She listened, and then she told me I was “crazy”. “You should take care of yourself” she said. I didn’t say much, but I knew that she just didn’t understand. There are times in our lives, when it is better to make “sacrifices” - for a friend . . .

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
(John 13: 34)

Each day is filled with choices. Choices to love and care - or not. As I look back over my life, I know that I made some good - as well as bad choices. But the choices to love and care - to sacrifice - have been worth everything! Because I gave everything to that pastor - I know that God gave me even more. I don’t know how much I helped that young man - but a few months ago I did hear about him. He is now married and has a child, and a brand new life. I do hope that my prayers helped him, a little bit. And then, a few years ago, I gave my whole being to the Lord - to become a minister. When I did, I believed that I would never have a love, or a husband, again. But instead - the Lord gave me Ted - to love and share my life with - for the rest of my life . . .

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him,
And We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.
(John 14: 23)

It is my hope and prayer, that as you go through this week, you will ask Him to help you with the choices that are waiting before you. His Life - was “the Sacrifice” He made - to bring you a fuller and richer life - forever! He is just waiting, for you to say “yes” . . .

“Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.”
(John 16: 24)

God bless you in the coming week ahead!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

Friday, April 14, 2006

Easter 2006

Weekly Word for Easter 2006

“Truly, truly I say to you, that you will weep and lament, . . . You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy.”
(John 16: 20)

The other day, I went to visit an old friend. I have known her for almost 20 years. We met just around the time I met Norma. Our friendship is the type that comes and goes - there are times when we see each other quite a bit - and then there are the times when it seems like years go by. There were years when we attended the same church and the same bible studies. We were both good friends with Norma. But even so, we were never very close. We always said “hello” when we saw each other, and always asked about the other’s family when we met. But that was about all we shared. That is, until the difficult times. Then - - - we were there for each other . . .

So on this day, as I drove to see my friend - I wondered how things would go. I couldn’t help but think back over the years. To other times - when life seemed so difficult . . .

“Therefore you too now have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you.”
(John 16: 22)

It was the day before Thanksgiving, very early in the morning, when the phone started to ring. Half asleep, I picked it up. Her voice was on the other end, telling me what had happened. As she talked, her voice cracked with the emotion of all she was dealing with. Just before I hung up, I told her I would be right over. Nervously I got ready, wondering what to say when I saw her.

She had woken up that morning, knowing her husband of 40 years was already up and dressed. It was his routine, waking up early to check calls and do a little work in his office, before anyone else had gotten up. So as she started toward the kitchen, needing a cup of tea to wake up, she heard him call out from his office down in the basement. She headed to the top of the stairs, wondering what he wanted. He was standing at the bottom of the stairs, looking up at her with a strange expression on his face. In what seemed like slow motion - and then faster than an instant - he collapsed on to the floor. Somehow, she made it to his side - wondering what was wrong. She heard his groans, and raced for the phone. What happened next, is a blur in her mind. There were firemen, and ambulances - all rushing to help. Most of that, she doesn’t quite remember. But what she does remember - is holding his head on her lap, and his eyes looking into hers - and then - in a moment - he was gone.

“But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.”
(John 16: 5 & 6)

I made it to her house as quickly as I could. When I drove up, a few other cars were already there. As I went inside, she grabbed me - holding on tight as if she needed someone to keep her from drowning in the tears that kept coming. I remember sitting at her table, watching other friends come and go - and wondering why things happened the way they did. Every once in a while, she would stop and look at me - as if she hoped I could give her an answer. Finally, the pastor came to the house. When she saw him, she broke down crying again, and he listened and offered to pray. That morning, seemed to slip by so quickly. When I left, I wondered if I had helped her at all. She had lost the man who had been her friend, husband, and father of her children that day. And I wondered how her heart would heal from the loss.

Over the next few days, we celebrated Thanksgiving - and we mourned the loss of her husband. I can’t say how the two seemed to fit together, but they did. Ted and I sat together in church, as the memorial service for this man was held. He had never met him, but was able to get a glimpse of his life - from the people who were there. There was the choral group that he had been a member of for years, and their beautiful voices filled the little church - as the tears flowed. His daughters each told of a father who taught them about love and life. And the friends filled every pew and seat in the church. As we left that day, I knew that his life had meant a lot to so many people - and they were thankful to have known him.

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
“This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”
(John 15: 11 & 12)

Through the years, my friend and I would get together - now and then - to share the difficult things that life seemed to bring along the way. After her husband died, we visited a few times. I wasn’t always sure that I was able to help, but I listened. Sometimes we prayed together, and sometimes we just had a cup of tea. Then about a year ago, she called and wanted me to visit with her again. She sounded so happy, and I wondered what news she had for me.

Over a cup of tea, my friend told me about a new man in her life. Her cheeks turned a cute shade of pink, as she told me about how he had asked her to go out on a date. As she spoke, her eyes sparkled with such life, telling me all about him. And then they clouded over. “Am I doing the right thing?” she asked. “Am I making a mistake?”

“Truly, truly, I say to you, if you shall ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in My name. Until now you have asked for nothing . . . Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.”
(John 16: 23 & 24)

The change in my friend seemed so wonderful, and I couldn’t find a reason to tell her “no”. She had been married to her first husband for 40 years. She had loved him from the time she was a young girl. And just like every marriage, there had been times of heartache and difficulties. For all those years, she had loved just one man. But now - he was gone. She wondered if what she was feeling was “foolish”. And she described feeling like a young girl again - with her heart beating fast whenever he came by. Was it possible that she had fallen in love again? When I looked at her - I knew that it was true.

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

A few weeks ago, my friend called me again. When I got off the phone, my heart hurt a little bit. I really didn’t know how things were going to go, as my friend was now battling cancer. She wanted me to come visit, but I was nervous and afraid. “Lord, I already lost one friend to cancer - do I have to go through this again?”

“In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

It was a moment of selfishness, and I felt guilty right away. So as I drove to see her, I asked the Lord to be in charge . . .

There was laughter, and tears, during our visit. Her birthday was the next day, and so I had brought her a present. I had found a small painted pot, with a sunflower planted inside of it. The bright yellows and oranges seemed to make me smile just to look at it. So when I gave it to her, it surprised me that she cried. But that was how the visit went. She told me about her treatment, and I felt so bad when she said how sick she had been. I didn’t know what to say when she bent her head - showing me where her hair was falling out. But her eyes began to sparkle, when she told me about her new husband - and how much she really loved this man. He had taken her to every appointment. He was kind, and he was gentle. And I knew he was just what she needed, not just for now, but for her whole life. This man made her life complete - and full of joy!

“But now I come to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy made full in themselves.”
(John 17: 13)

When I left my friend that day, I knew that she was facing one of the most difficult battles of her entire life. She has been through heartaches and losses before - and each time she had asked the Lord to walk it with her. Now, she is facing this new battle - and again she is holding on to the hand of the Lord. But He has given her another hand to hold on to as well. It is the hand of her new husband. Together, they will get through this. I don’t know how many years she has before her. But I do know - that she is full of Life . . .

This week is called “Holy Week” in the Christian faith. It is the week leading up to the death, and resurrection of the Lord. It is a time to reflect on what Jesus’ Life, and Death, means - to each of us. It is a time to look at our own lives - and realize that God wants us to have more - more Life and Love - - - forever . . .

“I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.”
(John 10: 10)

Easter - “New Life” - - - God’s miracles are happening all around us. The winter snows have passed, and the ground is starting to thaw. The robins have returned from their winter places, and the flowers will soon begin to bloom. Wherever we look, the signs of “new life” are starting to show.

My friend has a brand new life and love. She is also facing a very difficult time in her life. But she is not alone. The Lord is with her - blessing each day - and walking with her - into forever . . .

That is my hope for you as well. That no matter what you face on this road ahead - that you will ask Him to walk it with you. He has been waiting for you - - - with outstretched arms - for you to say “yes”.

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 15: 11)

God bless you and keep you during this joyful Easter celebration - this celebration of a brand “new life”!

. . . These have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing - you may have life in His name.
(John 20: 31)

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

Friday, April 07, 2006

Weekly Word for April 7 - 14, 2006

“Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these.”
“But if God so arrays the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you, . . .!”
(Luke 12: 27 & 28)

As we talked, I felt so inferior to these two women. They were dressed in the latest style, and their hair was done up “just so”. They had poise and elegance, and I had neither. They stood there looking around at the mess - that was my home. “You should get a job, and make some money” one of women stated. “That way you could have more things - and have more power and control of your life” the other continued. As I listened, I tried to argue with them, but I felt so small and inferior. Their words made sense, but somehow seemed so wrong. “I do work!” I told them. “I am a minister - and I write stories about the Lord in my life”, I argued. And then I tried to show them what I did. I turned to their computer, and showed them one of my stories. They read a little of it, and then turned away shaking their heads. As they did, I felt so awful! My chest became tight, and the tears were right there. I wanted to stop them and make them listen. “I am a minister!” I wanted to shout at them. And then the alarm went off - and I woke up . . .

“For life is more than food, and the body than clothing . . .”
(Luke 12: 23)

So many times in our lives, we wonder if what we are doing is right. We wonder how “others” see us and judge us. And even though we try not to - - - we also make judgments. We judge others - and ourselves - by the things we see and hear.

I was about 14 years old, and I wanted to fit in with the kids in my class. I wasn’t very pretty, and I didn’t have very many clothes. The clothes I did have, well, they weren’t in style. My father had just lost his job, and my mother worked part time as a nurse. We didn’t have much money, and I knew that. But it didn’t matter, I wanted to be one of the “in” kids. I wanted to be popular - but I wasn’t.

Everyday, I would walk up to the bus stop - and stop to fix my clothes. My mother had bought me some skirts that had elastic around the waist. I hated them, as they fell somewhere below my knees. And so each day, I would roll up my skirt before I got on the bus. Before I got home, I would unroll it again - hoping that my mother wouldn’t catch me. I tried anything, to fit in with the rest of my friends. And then one day during lunch - I lied. I was sitting with a group of girls from my class. They were talking about their bedrooms, and all the pretty things they had in them. I knew that my bedroom wasn’t anything like they were describing. I had a tiny room, with a single bed in it - and a very old desk against one wall. I had an old bureau in the corner, and a very small closet. That was it. But that isn’t what I told my friends. My friend Barbara had told us that she had a “double” bed - and that sounded so cool to me. So I started telling my friends all about my own room - the one with the double bed and pretty curtains - the room that only existed in my imagination. Usually I didn’t say much, I was the girl that sat and listened in the group. But on this day, I told them all about my wonderful room! Then I looked at Barbara, and she smiled at me and said how cool my room sounded. For just that moment - I felt accepted. For an instant - - - I felt like I belonged . . .

“And do not seek what you shall eat, and what you shall drink, and do not keep worrying. . . . but your Father knows you need these things.”
“But seek for His kingdom, and these things shall be added to you.”
(Luke 12: 30 & 31)

So many times in my life, I wanted to be like others that I knew. I wanted to have the things that I thought they had. And then I got some of those “things” . . .

I was married and had two beautiful children. I had a nice house and a brand new car. This was the description I could have given - when asked about “who” I was in 1986. We had just moved to Connecticut, and I thought I finally had everything I wanted. But I didn’t. I was always sad, and my husband couldn’t understand why. I didn’t know anyone in the area, and so I didn’t have girlfriends to talk to. Something was missing - and I didn’t know where to even look for it.
Then one day a woman came by - campaigning for the upcoming election. She asked me if I would consider voting for her. I told her I couldn’t - we had just moved in. She stayed for a few minutes, just asking about where we had moved from and about my children. It was so nice to have someone to finally talk to. As she turned to leave, she stopped and turned back. “Here” she said. “This is the name of a friend of mine - her children go to the same school as yours do.” I looked at her as if she were crazy. She didn’t know who I was - and still she was giving me her friend’s name and phone number. “I can’t take that” I told her. “Yes you can, she is a good friend - and can help you.” she said. She put a piece of paper in my hand, turned, and walked away. That day - changed my life . . .

. . . but your Father knows you need these things.

It took only a few days of loneliness, for me to pick up the phone. I dialed the number on that piece of paper. The voice on the other end sounded so sweet, and so kind - and so I told her a little about my life. She listened, and soon time seemed to slip by. When I hung up, she had told me to look for her the next day, when I picked up my kids at school. That was the beginning of my friendship with Anne (not her real name). She was the one who introduced me to “the Lord”. She taught me about her faith and trust in God. She taught me about asking Him into my life. Through her - I met so many friends! Through her - my life changed forever. Through her - I started on the path to becoming a minister . . .

“But seek for His kingdom, and these things shall be added to you.”

I can’t tell you where Anne is today. We parted ways, somewhere along the way. But during our friendship, I wanted to be just like her. She wore clothes that seemed to be what other Christian ladies wore - they were long and flowing - full of color and so pretty. I wanted to dress like her, talk like her, and be like her. I figured that if I was like her - my life would get better. I wanted to have faith and trust - and so I listened to her every word. I wondered if everything she said was true - and I hoped that it was . . .

It was a year later, in 1987, when I went to my first ministry meeting. Anne had volunteered me - without asking me. She came to me later, and told me that she believed I should help out at this counseling ministry. I told her I wasn’t sure, but I went anyways. That was the day I met Norma.

Norma always looked so professional, always wore a jacket over her blouse and skirt. She came into the room, and seemed to know just what to say and do. She had been a Christian for quite a few years, and had even led in worship services. She had gone to college - studying to work in counseling. She seemed so perfect for the job, and so opposite from my friend Anne.

Over the next few years, I kept up my friendship with Anne - and grew to like Norma. They were so different from each other. They went to different churches, and had different friends. Anne wasn’t so sure she liked Norma, but I knew that I did. Anne was working to start her own business, and she asked me to help her out. She wanted me to quit working at the counseling center - so that I could work for her. At the time, I really didn’t know what to do. I loved working at the center, but I also cared about my friend. So I tried to do both. Until one day - when my friend told me I was not “who” I should be . . .

“And with their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes, lest they should see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return,
And I should heal them.”
(Mathew 13: 15)

That day is ingrained in my memory forever - all the feelings and emotions that I never let her see. She wanted me to work full time, helping her with the business. As I stood there, I felt like I was talking to a stranger. Where was the sweet, soft girl who had taught me so much? She seemed so hard and businesslike. Standing there, I didn’t know what to say - as she came at me with her words. My mind was racing, but no words would come out. I’m not even sure I said anything, when I turned and walked out of the house that day. It was the last day - of my friendship with Anne.

Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the scriptures,
‘The Stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone; This came about from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes’

(Mathew 21: 42)

When I left that day, I called up Norma. She listened - but never said one word against Anne. She just asked me what “I” wanted to do. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure. I loved the center, but I also had a husband who was growing tired of me working - and not making any money. I was confused, and wanted her to tell me what to do. I wanted her to tell me - how to be . . .

“To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, . . . For whoever has, to him shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance . . .”
(Mathew 13: 11 & 12)

How to be . . . Me. Through the years, I have tried to figure out just what it is I am supposed to do - with my life. Norma never did tell me what to do, all those years ago. She quietly listened, and then she waited. She would pray with me, talk with me, and wait to see what God would do.

So much has changed since that day. With the Lord’s help, and friends like Norma - I became healthier and stronger. With their help, I was able to leave my first husband. I was a single mom - with nothing - and still I grew. Through it all, Norma was always there. She listened, and prayed with me. She never told me what to do, and she never tried to make me be “like her”. She had a belief that - with God’s help - each of us could become the unique person we were created to be. And her faith never changed - even when she was facing cancer . . .

Norma died almost 8 years ago. And when she did, I knew I wanted to be just like her. She didn’t have riches, or a lot of money. She had an old car, and a small little house. And yet - she had the one thing I had always been searching for. She believed in God - and trusted Him to make her life complete . . .

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.”
(Mathew 13: 44)

How to be . . . Me. I have learned quite a bit about myself through the years. But there are still times when I wonder what it is - I am supposed to be doing. And then, I remember Norma. She taught me to trust God, and have faith in “who” He has created me to be. Because of Norma, I trusted God - to make my life complete. And He did! He gave me Ted - and made me a minister . . .

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”
(Mathew 13: 45)

This coming week, is the beginning of Holy Week. It is a week of searching and reaching out to God. It is a time of hoping and believing in what He has promised. It is a time to let go - and trust Him - for the rest of your Life . . .

Will you believe in Him - trusting that He can help you to become the person you were created to be? Will you let Him show you - How to be - - - You . . .

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 15: 11)

God bless you and keep you during this holiest of weeks.

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers