Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My South African Adventure Continues

I've been trying to get this post done for days now.  But, had I posted it days ago, the story wouldn't have been complete.  Now, it is.

As you know my daughter, Alece, was a Missionary in South Africa for years. She and her South African husband pioneered a large ministry and their mission base was on 2,500 acres of animal-grazing, National Geographic-imaged land.  I've had the awesome privilege of traveling to that country three times. And three times my heart broke as I headed back to The States.

During my pilgrimages, my heart bonded with the Basotho people.
And to the land.
And with the animals.
It seemed I had an extravagant love for this country and her African people.

However, through Niel divorcing Alece and the closing of their ministry, I've lost my ties to the deep-rooted South African part of my life.

My connection with South Africa was severed.
Over. 
Done.  
For three years, I've been grieving the loss to my family, the ministry to the African people, my job that I held in their ministry, and the different people I have come to know through Thrive Africa. 

Believe it or not, I've even grieved the loss of their ministry logo. The little boy in their logo was such a part of my life for so long.


And during this whole time we hadn't found a home church here on Long Island. No place has seemed like "home".  Just recently I realized that it was, in part, due to Niel's betrayal. It annihilated my trust in men Ministers of God. The Holy Spirit showed me that I would not allow myself to really connect with a pastor or get "involved" in their ministries/churches again because now I have a trust "issue". 

Until...

My Father brought me to a very young church recently, whose Pastor is a woman from South Africa.

A woman Pastor - not a man.

Isn't that just like Jesus to understand me and instead of forcing me to trust in a man minister, He is allowing the trust of ministers to be rebuilt through a woman?  Oh, I could just hug Him!   

I've always loved the South African accents.  Now, I will hear it on a weekly basis.  And I'm getting connected to a local Body of Christ.

The South African adventure part of my life may have been detoured.  But, it looks like God truly has had a plan and my South African adventure is going to continue!

Jesus was so kind to me on Sunday by responding to my heart.
Kind.
Gracious.
Long suffering.
Loving.

On my drive to church, I told The LORD that I had our monthly tithe and if I put it in the offering, it was going to mean I am now committed to this church. Planted.  Am I truly ready to be planted somewhere? Yes! No more excuses, Diane. (This was my internal dialogue.)

I sat out in my car for a few minutes before going in.  I reaffirmed my heart about the tithe and being planted, but really needed confirmation. So, I asked The LORD to please confirm to me that this is where He wants me planted by having someone ask me to do something today, on this Sunday morning.  So, I'm thinking someone may ask to help tear down at the end (it's a rented building) or maybe greet or something like that.

While I still had one foot in the doorway and one inside the building, the pastor's husband came to me and asked if I could help him with something.  Oh, boy, OK, LORD! Confirmation! He told me he is in training for a marathon run and would I help him nutritionally prepare. That was not at all what I expected. But, he did ask me to do something. Relationships are being build - someone wanted my help with something personal.  Oh, God, thank You!

Nothing about Sunday was what I expected.  Because Chris asked me, which is what I asked The LORD to do to confirm, The Holy Spirit was welling up inside me to testify.  I don't want to stand up in front of all these people.  I started to sweat.  This was Communion Sunday, so I knew that time was going to be limited.  So, I told The LORD if He wanted me to testify, have the Pastor ask if someone had something to share.

Well, she did.  My hand shot up in the air.  I was very emotional and couldn't get through it without crying, but it was definitely The Holy Spirit. In a nutshell, I shared my story, then my prayers out in the car, and Chris approaching me to ask me to do something.

After the service was over a few people came up to me, including the Pastor. We hugged and she thanked me for testifying.  She told me since she is South African she has a tremendous burden for her homeland and had been praying if our little church should be doing more to minister to the needs in South Africa.  She took what I shared as an answer from God.

Isn't it just like The LORD to bring His Life back to my grief-stricken soul and simultaneously, make me an answer to a pastor's prayer?

Then the Pastor started her sermon.  Guess what it was entitled? NO MORE EXCUSES!  I just laughed.  Only Jesus would go to such lengths for me.

Well, it looks like my South African adventure is going to continue.  I don't know how or what my part will be, but I always knew SA was birthed in my heart, not by my daughter's mission work, but by The Spirit of God through intercession before she ever moved over there.
 Romans 11:29 says, "For the gifts and calling of God is without repentence."     
Because of Him and Unto Him,
                  Diane

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Seasoned Lips

He who loves purity of heart and has grace on his lips, The King will be his friend.
~ Prov. 22:11

oh, speech of mine be seasoned with grace
sputtering emotions cease!
declare not your feelings, unless grace covers them

remove all impurities within my soul,
so that only truth is spoken forth within the circumference of grace.
with the same grace bestowed upon my life, may my words be likewise

pure heart, words of grace = friendship with God

Because of Him and Unto Him, 
                  Diane

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Priceless...

You've heard the MasterCard commercials, I'm sure.  They go something like this:  "Two shirts and a dress - $14.  Trip to the salon - $78.  Groceries - $66.  Knowing someone has your back - priceless."


Aside from my relationship with Jesus, this would be my "priceless"...

At the end of an evening meal, Mom (my mother-in-law) would habitually ask, "You want black coffee?"  Joe always said yes; I always said no. I do not drink espresso, but Joe grew up on it.  Dinner wasn't complete until the espresso - or "black coffee" as Mom called it - was brewed in her little pot that had once belonged to her mother.

That little pot survived the 3-week boat trek from Italy to America in about 1926. I think to Mom that little pot was priceless - a treasure from her homeland, passed down from her mother.  She would "cook" the black coffee in that little pot on a gas stove.  Sometimes, if Mom got distracted, the little pot would spew a black mess all over the place. The truth be told, I was a little afraid of that odd-looking coffee pot because it would erupt like a volcano if one didn't tend to it and time it exactly right. Sometimes, she would have to dump it out, clean out the pot, clean up the stove, and start all over. And she did it with a smile on her face. Making good black coffee was just as important as a good pot of sauce.  Mom would serve it in little demitasse cups.  She would finally sit at the table with her broad smile and upon her first sip, she would always enthusiastically exclaim, "Aah..."

When I was a newlywed, I took ceramics classes. I made a few different things for Mom over the years.  But, one of my first designs was a set of demitasse cups and saucers that I gave her for Christmas. She proudly kept them in her china cabinet next to her "good" dishes.  She wouldn't use them for everyday black-coffee drinking.  She only brought them out on holidays or when relatives came to visit.  To her they were priceless just because I made them.


The one thing my first-born son wanted of Grandma's belongings after she passed on was her black coffee pot.  He also took her demitasse cups - the everyday ones and the "good ones". They are proudly on displayed on a shelf in his kitchen. I think to him they are a priceless gift of his heritage.

Homemade black coffee - $5.
Mom's coffee pot - $100.
To have it served from Mom's hand just one more time - priceless.

What would be priceless to you?

Because of Him and Unto Him,
                  Diane

Friday, January 20, 2012

Women Are To Be...

...Vessels of Honor

The Lord spoke these Words to me early one morning, years ago, as I sat in His Presence: "Women are to be Vessels of Honor".  That Word penetrated deep within my heart and I meditated on that phrase for quite some time that day. Before bed, I took out my journal and began writing.  The gift of exhortation and teaching kicked in. Although I penned it, it definitely was given by The Spirit of God.  After the anointing lifted, my human mind needed confirmation. The Holy Spirit brought me to many Scriptures confirming His Word including a Scripture I had never read before.  II Timothy 2:20-22:
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
It has since then been brought forth at women's meetings and retreats.  It has been published in pamphlets and ministry newsletters. And I have prayed over many women to be sanctified and set apart as a Vessel of Honor unto our God.  For a couple of weeks now, The Holy Spirit has been nudging me to write it on my blog. Oh...do I really need to publish it on the Internet, LORD?!  I'm hesitant to do so, just because of my own inadequacies.  But, I do believe it is Him directing me.

When Joe and I were ordained, our church had a celebration afterward.  When the cakes was brought out, I knew God's Seal of Approval was on us. This is a photo of one of the two cakes.  This cake is one of the highlights of my life.


I pulled the original typed-on-an-electric-typewriter, Women Are To Be Vessels of Honor, out of my file cabinet today and as I'm re-reading it, there is conviction. I know it's a Word in due season for my life and I am trusting Him that it will be so in your life as you read it. I pray you will be looking forward to reading God's exhortation to us women.


Because of Him and Unto Him, 
                 Diane

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Oh, If We Dare to Believe...

Intercession
is the gateway to Heaven
where the impossible and miraculous
become as natural as breath.
~ The Holy Spirit

Photo by Andy Ramdin
Let's chew on that for a few minutes....

Please share what He saying to you.


Because of Him and Unto Him
                       Diane

Monday, January 16, 2012

Where Is The Next AA Meeting?





We all have a beginning.






And...




As Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we all have a happy ending.







But... 
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. ~ Psalm 139:16
But, how many of us truly live a life consecrated unto God, allowing every step of our lives to be led by His Spirit?  How much of our stories have truly been penned by God's Hand?  We have become the authors of our own life stories, yet God planned to be our Ghostwriter.  Maybe we need an AA (Author's Anonymous) meeting...


The LORD God Almighty is the Author and Finisher of our faith.  May He also be the Author and Finisher of our stories.

Because of Him And Unto Him,
                  Diane

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Freedom Criers

As the grave clothes come off our souls, like William Wallace, we can cry, "Freedom!"
Hallelujah!!! 


Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!" And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”                                                                       ~ John 11:43


Because of Him and Unto Him,
                       Diane

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Period Says It All

God is Love. Period.
~Ashley Judd

So simple, yet so profound - God IS Love.  

The whole of The Gospel is wrapped up in those three little words.

The whole of life is also.

We all seek love; needing it as much as our lungs needs air. We need to BE loved and we need to be able to GIVE love.

God IS Love.  He cannot do, or be, anything outside of Himself. Every prayer He answers and even those yet to be answered, He does from the motive of pure, unadulterated love toward us. 

Shakespeare said, "To thine own self be true".  Do we expect any less from God?  He must be true to Himself - to Love even, what we consider, the vilest of human beings.

Can we even comprehend it?


God is Love. Period.

Love that is absolutely complete - wanting nothing, except to give.

Love that is so strong as to defy any interference from natural, human, or demonic forces.

Love that is genuine - above and beyond our romantic notions of love.

Love that is so inhuman that it is a conquering force - literally.

Love that is so encompassing that it encircles our lives with a force field of protection.

Love that is so life transforming to those who welcome it, that a human soul can be reborn anew, akin to a caterpiller becoming a butterfly.

Love that is so deep that no pit that hell can hold man in can hide from It's Light.

Love so wide that it spreads beyond east and west, north and south. If we were to go into the next galaxy, Love would still search us out.

Love so releasing that every human soul - with all their deep emotinal scars, dysfunctions, anger, bondage's, and depravity - can be set free, leaving the soul in peace that surpasses all understanding.

Love so non-threatening, that it forces Itself on no one.

Love we try to emulate in our human finiteness, but is absolutely impossible without Love's Grace.

If God is Love, then God is Gracious. Period.

Need to be loved today?  Need a little grace so you can love others? Love and Grace are yours, freely given; just open your arms, open your heart, and ask.  Period.

Because of Him and Unto Him,
                  Diane

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

To What Depth Will God Go?

Deep calls unto deep
~ Psalm 42:7

You aroused me from my slumber
I hear Your call deep within
Deep in my secret place.

Created in a secret place in darkness 
My secret place within
Responds.

What did You speak forth over my life
as You formed, shaped, and molded me?
What did Deep call unto my deep?

Before I knew time
Before I knew light, breath, or crying
You breathed Your Breath of Life.


Created in Your imagine
Gifts and callings made sure
Divine Appointments set in motion.

You spoke my name
You whispered my character
You shaped my individuality.

Deep called unto deep
As You brought me safely through the dark tunnel into life
I breathed, I cried, I felt Your Light.

For each and every dark tunnel of life since then
Your Breath consumes me
Causing me to deeply call back unto Deep.

Continue, I pray, to call me unto Your Depth
Whisper my name
I, from my depth, will answer.

Until breath leaves my lungs and I my eyes are forever closed
Until darkness is permeated for eternity by The All Consuming Light 
Deep will continue to call unto deep.


Because of Him and Unto Him,
                 Diane

~~~~
This post was shared on Tell Me A Story on 3/27/12 


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Thank You!

This has been a most difficult seven-year period of my life. It's been a much-needed wintery season of rest and yet, the most challenging time of test after test.

There has been much pruning and walking through the Refiner's Fire; much loss, much grieving. AND much change.  Some changes I would have given my life not to have occurred in our lives.  Some changes I've welcomed. But, through it all, the dross covering my soul is now burning off. And I'm beginning to see glimpses of gold shining through, and buds of fruit emerging from my clipped branches.  I think I've finally entered the springtime of my soul.

For 21 years I was a vibrant minister of The Gospel, servant to my pastors, servant to my brothers and sisters in Christ. I cleaned toilets and counseled; answered phones and taught from God's Word. And always an intercessor.

It has taken seven years to recuperate physically, emotionally, and spiritually from the losses that have come one on top of the other. But, I've had 28 years of my Beloved's Love and Grace to sustained me through these trials. However, through this much needed sabbatical, I've lost my communion with fellow Believers. I just wasn't ready to reach out and touch.

One of the things the enemy of my soul has told me during this season is that I'm voiceless now. I started to believe it.  However, yesterday, I had an epiphany.  I haven't lost my voice, because I AM A VOICE.  And the one thing that has quickened my healing process is this avenue to reconnect to The Body of Christ, ever so gently - through blogging. It has been a stepping stone to once again step into the water's edge of vulnerability.  I've been sitting on a pier just dangling my toes into the cool waters of intangible friendships - a post here, a comment there. Just dangling. But, all the while my heart has been reopening like a springtime flower to friendships and the Body of Christ.

Church attendance over the last seven years has been spotty mainly because I wasn't ready to reconnect with God's people, nor ready to serve an other's ministry again.  Just recently I found a young church, whose Pastor is an excellent teacher of the Word, which I hunger for. I think I'm ready to stand up and jump off the pier into the, sometimes murky, waters of servanthood.

Thank you to my readers for giving place to my voice.  Thank you to the unmet friends I've made through this blog. Thank you for "listening" as I began to whisper. Thank you for not stomping on my already, trampled-upon heart.  You have been a part of my healing and for that I give thanks. 


I am a voice and the "laryngitis" is healing...

Because of Him and Unto Him,
                  Diane

Friday, January 6, 2012

Do Inquiring Minds Really Want to Know?

Many bloggers participate in what is called Five Minute Fridays.  They put their fingers on the keyboard and type, non-stop, for five minutes. Everyone types whatever comes to them from the same word. Well, I tried to do it today because I wanted to see if it was even possible for me to do it, and tried is all I accomplished. I opened Word, looked at the time, and started to type.  I used the same word that other bloggers used: ROAR.

My erasers were so well-used that there
would only be a small piece left.
Onto the next eraser!
I only got two sentences written before I hit "delete" to fix a spelling error.  I then freaked out because I thought I was not supposed to do that.  And this is the honor system after all....Ohjust type, Diane...

I am an editing freak.  I type, I edit, I type some more and re-edit. Sometimes, I even edit after my post has been posted!

When I was a child in grade school, we used pencil.  I would write, then erase; write, then erase. I do not remember what grade I was in when we were no longer allowed to use pencils. We had to use a pen.  OH, NO!  I would write, cross out; write and cross out.  But, I made the straightest cross outs - my lines were so neat!  Then when electric typewriters came out, I always had a bottle of White Out handy! Today I have the "DELETE" key!  WAHOO - so easy!

I attend a writer's workshop once a month. Once a month, I must sit and write for 20 minutes.  It is almost torture for me because I make mistakes or misspell a word or write a sentence, but realize it should go in the paragraph above.  I have such a difficult time, not editing. Then we read what we wrote and I get so intimidated because there are some amazing writers in these workshops - writer's who write so eloquently without editing. The problem is I'm so concentrating on not editing, that I know I'm not writing to my potential. And I know the point of the workshops are to hone our writing skills, not become proficient proofreaders...Sigh...If only my teacher, Anne Kelly-Edmunds, really knew how difficult it is not to edit!  She never seems to have that struggle. And then I think, "That's why they are good writers. Good writing flows naturally."  (After all, I saw the movie Misery.  And the author [James Caan] types away on his manual typewriter - no proofreading or erasing, no mistake fixing, or rewording sentences. He flawlessly finishes his ready-for-the-publisher book.)  Sigh...
   
I almost don't know how to write without editing.  I don't know that I want to write without editing!  And I even check and recheck for accuracy - there is no fiction in my non-fiction writing!

And I always find typos in books.  Always.

Well...I'm sure this post is not an encouraging word to anyone and for that I'm sorry.  But, my inquiring mind really wants to know...


Does this quirk make me a perfectionist or do I have a natural talent as an proofreader?
Is it creativity or is it that I truly just want to glorify Jesus in my writing?

I think it might be all of the above. And that's OK.  You just won't see Five Minute Fridays on my blog.

P.S.  Pam, I clicked and dragged the eraser onto my post!  I'm so happy I learned something new!  Thank you so much!  (I even edited that!  I moved the photo to different sides of the post to see which looked better.  Then ten minutes later added the parenthesis to this P.S.)

I,yi,yi...

I actually had fun writing this post, laughing at my quirkiness. But, it definitely took me longer than five minutes!  Good night my friends!

Because of Him and Unto Him
                  Diane

All is Well

One of my favorite narratives from the Old Testament is about the Shunammite woman whose son suddenly dies.  Although nameless, the testament of this woman's faith lives on for eternity. I look forward to the day I shall stand beside her in Heaven.  The story of her and her son is recorded in chapter four of II Kings.  Even though her son had died, she only spoke, "It is well" as she journeyed to find God's Prophet. She didn't even tell her husband their son had died.  She refused to speak the circumstance.  The Shunammite woman received a miracle when Elijah laid over the body of her son and prayed, and life was restored back to him.  What faith! What self-control and command she had over her own tongue!
Fast forward generations upon generations to the life of Horatio Spafford in the late 1800's. He was a successful lawyer, husband and father of five, living in luxury in Chicago.  The death of his only son at age four in 1871 followed by the Great Chicago fire, left Horatio financially and emotionally bankrupt.

Horatio threw himself into the reconstruction of Chicago. Finally, he and his wife, Anna, planned a much-needed family vacation to England. Due to construction problems, Horatio decided to stay behind and join the family as soon as he could.  Anna and their four daughters set sail for England.  Tragedy struck again.  After colliding with another ship on the Atlantic Ocean, their vessel sank to the ocean floor. Horatio received a telegram from Anna with only two words "Saved alone..."  A parent's worst nightmare happened - she, alone, survived as her four daughters perished.

The original "It Is Well With My Soul" penned
over the watery-grave of Horatio's daughters
Distraught, Horatio took the next ship to England to be with his grieving wife.  As his ship neared the watery grave, the captain pulled Horatio aside and told him this was where his daughter's perished.  He dropped to his knees and cried, "It is well!"  He went back to his berth where he penned It Is Well With My Soul, the now-famous, gut-wrenching hymn.

Only those who have lived through personal tragedy can attest to how difficult it is to say, "All is well..." in the midst of your on-going adversity.  Both these historical figures gained mastery over their tongues and had tremendous self-control.  I can only assume that they spent much time in the Presence of The LORD and in His life-transforming Word.

The Shunammite Woman truly understood the Proverb, "Death and life is in the power of the tongue" (Prov. 18:21), and Horatio Spafford knew to praise God in all things. I could picture Psalm 138 arising within his heart.


Thank You, LORD, for those who have gone before us.  Their lives are a living testament of what it means to be doers of Your Word; and ever an encouragement to soak in The Holy Scriptures, for our lives can change in an instant.  May it be Your Word that flows from my lips, not my circumstances, during a crisis.

Because of Him and Unto Him,
                  Diane

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Psalm 4:00

In my younger years, I would arise at 4:00 AM to sit in the Presence of The LORD. I would journal and converse with My Heavenly Father; read His Word and write my thoughts.

The following Psalm came from one of my early morning rendezvous'.  Thus, it is entitled Psalm 4:00. It is not a literary work of art, but rather oil from my heart poured out to wash over my Lord's feet.  It was a moment of extravagant love.



Psalm 4:00


Before the dawn awakens,
Before light is,
Before my body moves, 
My spirit does arise.

Reaching out to You in 
The still, dark night,
I worship Your Holy Name.

"Good morning" to The God
Who made morningtime
For my soul to rest and worship.

Glory, majesty, and honor
Belong to You ~
You, Who are set high above all that is,
All who are!

Oh, God of the Dawn ~
You receive me like a new, young mother
Awaits the movement of her newborn...
Expectantly,
Awe-filled at this life created,
Ever thankful for this one to love.

You ARE expectancy!
You ARE awe!
You ARE thankfulness!
You ARE Love!
And You are MY Father ~
You are MY GOD!

Oh, God of the Dawn ~
Alone, together, before the dawn awakens,
Before light is,
My spirit and soul arise to meet You.

We dance.
We sing.
We embrace.
Heart-to-heart connection made ~
The Love of my Life.

There is none as blessed as I!


As I wrote the verse about God receiving me like a young mother, I could feel God's heart of love toward me and His heart of gratitude because I was receiving His Love - me, Whom He created.  It was a moment I treasure; a moment of extravagant love flowing from Creator to creation; from a daughter to her Father.

The longing for such moments never fades...maybe that is why I chose extravagant love for my One Word this year...maybe it wasn't my choosing! Maybe it's my Father wooing me back to that depth of intimacy...May my heart once again worship with such reckless abandonment.

Because of Him and Unto Him,
                  Diane

Monday, January 2, 2012

It Is Hug-a-snowman Day!


Don't you just want to hug him?  

Because of Him and Unto Him,
                  Diane