Struck by Lightning

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Struck by Lightning

One day while it was storming, I was talking on the phone to my friend, Brandie.  Suddenly, I heard a loud, thunderous boom, seemingly right above our house.  Brandie heard me let out a yell – not of fear, but of pain.  I had been struck by lightning!

The jolt of the electricity caused me to quickly drop the phone to my side.  I could feel a tingling sensation down the left side of my face.  Shortly after, I had a ringing in my ear and a pounding headache that lasted for several hours.

Needless to say, it left quite an impression on me.  I now understand that when Grandma told me to stay off the phone during a storm, it was not just an old wive’s tale.  It was wise advice!

Too often, I think the church takes the attitude of, “Reading the Word is just an old wive’s tale.  I can do just fine without it.”  We continue doing things our own way, only to feel like we have suddenly been struck by lightning.  Because we failed to read the Word and seek God’s counsel, we find that we are jolted, much like when the lightning jolted me.  We are shaken to the core of our being.  We are left with the excruciating pain of reaping what we have sown.  How much better we would have been if only we would have taken time for God and His Word!

I have seen many farm houses that have a lightning rod to protect the house if lightning should strike.  As Christians, we have a rod to protect us.  God’s rod and His staff are there for us. (Psalm 23:4)  When we are faithful to be in His Word, He will use the rod and staff to guide us and correct us if we start to stray from His path.  He will use His Word to teach and rebuke us, to correct us, and to train us in righteousness. (II Timothy 3:16)

The result will be that when we face a crisis, it won’t jolt us like a bolt of lightning.  Instead, we will quickly look to our Shepherd, finding comfort and direction in the rod and staff.

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Space Invaders

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Space Invaders

We live in a time where many things need our attention.  We can easily neglect the really important things (people and relationships), to take care of the lesser things, which I will refer to as ‘space invaders.’

I know in my own life, one of the important things that space invaders attack is my time with my husband.  Granted, we all have times when we have a child with the stomach flu, and so the child gets top priority.  But, what about those times when everyone is healthy?  What space invaders keep you from getting that quiet time with your husband?  There are so many obvious ones — exhaustion, bathtime, bedtime rituals, television, cleaning the house, doing laundry, repairs, too many outside activities (even good ones, like church), phone calls, working outside the home, paying bills, helping the extended family, and even our own selfishness, can all become space invaders.

Space invaders love it when we are selfish.  Selfishness rares its ugly head when we find ourselves wanting to read a book, rather than giving some attention to our husband.  It can be seen through our desire to watch our favorite television show, neglecting our husband’s need to ‘vent’ after a grueling day at work.  We can show selfishness by choosing to call a friend while he is at home.  Surely we can find another time to chat!

In a time when divorce is so prevalent, we need to be on guard against space invaders.  They can come in very subtly, sometimes through romantic movies.  We can watch these shows, filled with romance and begin to resent the lack of romance in our own marriage.  This can cause emotional distance (space invaders), between us.  What about romantic novels?  Yes, even Christian fiction can bring a sense of dissatisfaction to us when we see the couple in the book in such romantic scenes.  They can cause us to get romantic notions in our heads of what we’d like to see in our marriage.  When it doesn’t happen, we allow more space invaders to enter, causing more distance between us.

When we said our wedding vows, we never promised to love him only when he is romantic with us.  Reality is that the romance parts fades rather quickly because we are consumed with working, taking care of the house, paying bills, then raising children.  We must remember that any romance movies or books are not based on reality.  They are simply a story.  I’m not saying that romance will never be a part of your marriage again, but the times of romance will usually be few and far between.  And, who said that it needs to be left up to our husband to bring the romance back to the marriage?  You have the ability to do things to spark romance from time to time, and I’ll bet that even if your husband doesn’t comment much about it, he does appreciate it.

Another very subtle tactic of space invaders is to get us to focus on another Christian man, observing how seemingly spiritual he is.  The next thing we know, we are criticizing our own husband, even if the criticism goes no further than our thoughts.  Often, thoughts become words, and words become actions.  This is a very dangerous place, Sister!  Satan delights in destroying marriages, and to destroy a Christian marriage is his ultimate pleasure.  Don’t let these kinds of space invaders get a foothold in your marriage!

One thing I have discovered is that the closer I walk with the Lord, and the more I fall in love with Jesus, the more I love my husband.  I am able to see more clearly that serving him, pampering him, romancing him, and cherishing him is the same as doing it for my Master, honoring Him by my actions toward my husband.  And one more thing — NO ONE ELSE is called to do this to my husband!  It is for ME ALONE!  No one else gets this pleasure, this intimacy, this thrill!

Sister, go fall head over heels in love with Jesus.  See what sparks come alive in your own marriage, keeping those space invaders at bay.
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Song of Solomon Chapter 3

Unless otherwise noted, scripture references are from the Message Bible.

Song of Songs

Chapter 3
“Restless in bed and sleepless through the night, I longed for my lover.  I wanted him desperately.  His absence was painful.  So I got up, went out and roved the city, hunting through the streets and down alleys…I looked high and low, and didn’t find him.”

When she finds him, she says, “I threw my arms around him and held him tight, wouldn’t let him go until I had him home again, safe at home again by the fire.”

We all have times when our relationship with the Lord wanes and grows cool for a period of time, whether it be a few hours or for many weeks.  In my own life, I have had those times when I was miserable from that distance between my Lord and I, and it caused me to toss and turn throughout the night.  I had a deep ‘want’ inside of me, and in my roaming throughout the city, looking to fulfill that want, I would turn to reading romance novels, shopping, spending too much time on the computer, eating carelessly, and more.  My quest to find my Lover would eventually lead me to my knees.  I would ‘latch onto’ Him once I found Him, determined to never go through that experience again.

Today’s verse mentions how she wouldn’t let go of him until she had him home again.  This would signify putting Christ in the proper priority in our heart.  In the Amp. Bible, Col. 3:16 talks about letting Christ have His home in our hearts.  When she talks about having him safe by the fire, the fire represents the Holy Spirit’s fire, being re-lit in our lives.

Are you currently roaming the city, looking for your Lover?  Why don’t you try getting on your knees and see if finding Him becomes a whole lot easier than searching throughout the city.
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Shifting Sand

Shifting Sand

When my daughter was a toddler, we frequently sang a song about the wise man and the foolish man.  I had no idea how the truths of that song would affect me I in years to come.

Part of keeping our house on the rock is to make sure that we refrain from choosing the better over the best.  Sometimes I see the need to give up some very good activities so that I am able to grab hold of the best.

In my quest to try and keep my house built on the rock, I frequently assess the activities in my life.  I usually try to do this about every three months.  Occasionally, I may need to do it on a weekly basis during excessively busy times of the year, such as the Christmas season.  There are also some days when our schedule is extremely hectic.  On those mornings, I will often surmise each activity, trying to place the most important ones at the top of my priority list.

For instance, I was looking forward to attending a dinner with our women’s group at church.  It started at 6:30.  That same evening, my daughter had PE class from 5:00-6:00 P.M.  Time did not allow me to do both, so I had to make a choice.  While the women’s dinner would have been fun and uplifting, my daughter is higher on my priority list, so my choice was to give up attending the dinner (the better choice) so that Rachel could still attend PE (the best choice).  By making this choice, I kept my house built firmly on the rock.  It also made a deep impression on my daughter when she realized that I saw her activity as more important than my own.

My normal routine is to attend church on Wednesday evenings.  However, one Wednesday, I could tell that my husband was incredibly stressed.  Since my husband is higher on my list of priorities than my church attendance, I chose to drop off Rachel at church.  I came home to be with my husband while we had the opportunity to be alone for a while.  Dean was very pleased to see that I viewed ministering to him as more important than church attendance. Giving him a chance to vent his frustrations of the day was very therapeutic.  Again, I set aside the better choice (church attendance), in place of the best choice (ministering to my husband).

Another opportunity for making a choice between building on shifting sand or the rock came when a friend discovered that her son had a cyst on the brain.  I had been unable to reach her, so I left a message for her to call me the next day, even if it was during our homeschool hours.  She knows that I am adamant about not being disturbed during those precious schooling hours.  Hearing my message let her know that I saw her need as one of top priority.

I went through a spell where I had not been able to write any devotions.  I simply did not have the time.  While I enjoy writing, and even feel the Lord has gifted me to write, I cannot let it take the place of my own personal time with the Lord.  I must also be careful to not let writing take priority over my family and managing things at home.

During that period of time, it would have been very easy for me to become frustrated over not having any new material to send to those on my mailing list.  Instead, I focused on building on the rock.  I knew that if I kept my priorities in order, daily choosing the best in place of the better, God would honor those decisions.

Eventually, I sat down one evening to write.  It was like a dam that burst forth.  Not only was I was able to write six devotions in a very short amount of time, but I could not seem to write fast enough to get my thoughts on paper.

As I have had to set aside a few of the things that I really wanted to do, in order to choose God’s best for me, I have had no regrets.  God is so faithful in pouring out His peace and granting clarity of mind to me.  The sense of balance I feel in making choices that honored Him has made it easier for me to say “no” to that shifting sand so that I can say “yes” to a firm, strong, and stable rock.

Are you choosing to build on the rock?
© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Saving the Best for Last

Saving the Best For Last

You spent the day washing a multitude of laundry, cleaning the house, running several errands, along with a multitude of other tasks.  Now that it’s evening, you find your strength and your patience waning.  You find you are spent — emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  If you’ve taken the time to pay the bills, you may also find you are financially spent as well!

It seems that by the time we can get the evening meal on the table, we are weary and quite crabby.  Trying to make mealtimes special are at the bottom of our priority list.  We’re just trying to ‘hang in there’ and get supper finished, the dishes washed and put away, so that MAYBE (and that’s a big ‘maybe’) we can sit down and rest for a while.  Then, we suddenly remember — it’s bath night.  So much for getting some rest and relaxation.

While reading about the wedding at Cana in Galilee, I noticed it was the third day of the celebration when the host ran out of wine.  When the master of the banquet tasted the wine Jesus had fixed, he commented on how the best wine had been saved until last.

How many times do we find ourselves trying to cram three days of work into about seven or eight hours?  It’s no wonder that we end up ill-tempered and exhausted by the time our husband gets home in the evening.

It’s wonderful when we work so hard to get things done, always making sure that our family has clean clothing, and the house looks cozy for our husband when he enters the door after a long day’s work.  However, thinking back to your dating days, what did he enjoy then?  Pondering upon  when Dean and I were dating, it was that first-love experience of hanging on to every word he spoke, looking into his beautiful, blue eyes while we talked, and making sure he had my undivided attention.  I can remember the thrill of simply holding his hand while we walked through the park.

Back to our story, when Mary hears them talking about having run out of wine, she looks to Jesus, then tells the others to do whatever Jesus said.  It’s the same for us, in saving the best of our energy for the last moments of the day when our husband is home.  We need to learn to listen closely to the Lord, and discern what He wants us to do each day.  In my own life, on those days when I feel exhausted from the time my feet hit the floor in the morning, I know it’s best to only do what really needs done that day.  If I had planned to get groceries after we were done homeschooling for the day, I check my list to see if it’s possible to put it off until the following day so I can take a nap instead.  Then when my husband walks in the door, I won’t be on the verge of tears, or in the middle of a tirade — acting out of my emotions which are frazzled from exhaustion.  Rather, I can greet him, feeling refreshed and honestly being happy to see him, and looking forward to spending the evening together.

Can we start a ritual where we send the children to their room for some quiet time so we can be alone with our husband for a while?  Those moments of intimate talking may spark a fire (and energy) for other intimacy later.  I have personally found that tub crayons are a wonderful tool in getting Rachel to occupy herself for quite a while.  While she is in the bathroom playing, I can carry on a decent conversation with my husband.  Occasionally, we do hear, “Daddy, come look at what I drew on the tub!”

Even with our children, it’s important to save some of the best ‘wine’ for the end of the day.  And ladies, notice that I didn’t spell it W-H-I-N-E!  We can use the evenings to do devotions with the children.  This can work even if our husband doesn’t want to be involved.  You can gather the children in another room, giving your husband a little time to himself.  You may even opt to do story time with them so your husband has a break for himself.

When we are weary and worn, it’s too easy to want to ‘veg’ on the couch with the remote in hand.  It takes effort and discernment to work our schedules in such a way to leave us with the energy to ‘spend’ ourselves a little more in those evening hours.  That’s why we must do what Jesus tells us to do.  If we follow Him, we’ll find that we too, have saved the best ‘wine’ for last.
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Power Outage

Power Outage

Early one morning, our power went out.  I had no idea it was out until I opened my eyes and saw the lights flashing on my alarm clock.

Samson had a ‘power outage,’ and he was also unaware that he had lost his power. (Judges 16)  Just like Samson, we can also suffer from a power outage that can be very subtle in sneaking up on us.

Samson thought that he could ‘toy’ with Delilah and the Philistines, yet maintain his power.  He didn’t realize that day by day, as he played with them, he was becoming self-sufficient and even arrogant.  Next, he became less dependent upon God.

We do the same thing.  We play with worldly passions, and when we don’t see an immediate consequence, we continue in that path.  We think we can handle things on our own, so we quit committing our daily work to the Lord.  Finally, we face a power outage, and we never saw it coming.

The power outage may start like this:

A major event takes place, so instead of reading the Word in the morning, we turn on the TV instead.  We only intend to watch it for a few minutes.  Suddenly, we hear the rest of the family arising and we realize that we’ve been engrossed in watching the TV for forty minutes.  Now it’s too late to read the Word.

We manage to go through our day just fine, so we don’t feel too bad about missing out on our quiet time with the Lord.  It makes it easier the next morning for us to sleep in when we’ve had a rough night.  After all, we did just fine yesterday without our quiet time, so what’s one more day?

Since we still have some spiritual oil in our reserve tank, we manage to gracefully get through another day, even if we didn’t read the Word.

The following morning, we decide to quickly check our email before doing our devotions.  Before we know it, we’ve been online for over thirty minutes.  We realize that we still need to jump in the shower before the rest of the family awakens.  Devotions will have to wait again.  Now we feel a little pressured to get our shower finished before the others start yelling, “Mom!  I need the bathroom!”  The pressure builds during the day, making us feel like a pressure cooker that is ready to blow its lid.

The next morning we still remember the stresses of the previous day, so we opt to get a jump-start on our day.  We get our shower done early.  Next, we focus on finishing some chores.

By this time, we are having a severe ‘power outage.’  It manifests itself later when one child is facing a crisis with a friend at school.  With our power gone, we have no mercy to offer this child.  Our youngest child falls and gets hurt, and we lack in compassion.  As if this isn’t enough, another child is struggling with a new math concept and our patience is waning very thin.  For the friend who is in desperate need of a listening ear, we fail to notice that God wanted to use us to minister to her need.  Instead, we ask her if we can return her call later since we are busy.

The only way to defeat the Delilahs and the Philistines in our own life is to guard our time with the Lord.  We must remain connected to the Power Source so that we don’t experience a power outage.

What Delilahs and Philistines are leading you toward a power outage?

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Pop Goes the Bubble

Pop Goes the Bubble!

I remember when Rachel was only 2.  She was in the bathtub, and passed gas.  She looked down into the tub, and excitedly exclaimed, “Oh!  Bubbles!”
Needless to say, I cracked up.  Even now, she is still fascinated with bubbles.  She can be in the tub playing, and I will hear her yell, “Mommy, come here!  You have got to see this bubble!”  Invariably, the bubble which brought her so much joy would be gone before I could make it in there.

There are many things which this world offers us which can seem so appealing and so pretty, but just like the bubble, in an instant, the “beauty” of it all is gone.  Let’s take a look at some scenarios.

The job that offers such prestige – prestige, which could fade at any given moment.  The job market doesn’t seem to be too stable these days.  Pop!   There went the “bubble.”  (That same job could require you to be away from your dear family and miss out on precious time that could never be recaptured.)  The O.T. is so clear about how we are to diligently teach our children about spiritual things.  How can we do that when we are gone so much of the time?  When we are finally able to be with them, who would have the energy or the patience to be instructing them in righteousness?

Please don’t misunderstand, I am not knocking women who MUST work outside the home, but oftentimes, working outside the home is because we MUST have this new house, this bigger house, this fancy car, the fancy clothes for us and for our children…….It becomes a matter of working, not to provide for the family, but to get THINGS to satisfy us.  Oops, did the “bubble” just pop again?

The lure of the mall.  We get bored so we go shopping.  We get frustrated, so we go shopping.  We get happy, so we go shopping….. You get the picture.  The mall is a lure to many women.  While we are there, we tend to buy impusively.  Later, when we get home, and have to explain the charges on the credit card, or why we don’t any longer have the money to buy the groceries, the temporary “high” which we get from shopping so quickly fades.

The lure of activities for our children.  I see so many families, who get their children involved in so many activities.  So many, in fact, that they hardly ever get to spend much time together.  They miss out on the precious family meal times, or the chance to just spend an evening playing games.  Too often, it ends up being a time where everyone is rushed, Mom is yelling, the kids are arguing……and the list goes on.  Once again, the “bubble” pops, and the glitter of this activity fades away.

There are even some things which are good, noble causes.  BUT, if God has not given us the OK to be involved in these activities, the “bubble” will pop again.  For instance, maybe you want to be involved in Women’s ministries at your church.  But being involved there can put another demand on your plate, which is already full, just trying to take care of the family, the house, the laundry, the grocery shopping.  You may be maxed out with just the everyday tasks that HAVE to be done.  Being involved in women’s ministries may make you feel like you are being a better Christian, or that you are doing your good deed by being there, but it could also be the thing that leaves you frazzled because maybe this just isn’t the “season” for you to be heavily involved in anything besides your own family.

Let me explain a little further on these things.  The Bible says that there is a season for everything.  I can give you a personal example regarding the women’s ministry.  (I used that illustration because it fit my situation.)  Our women’s group would meet on Tuesday mornings.  I wanted to be there and be part of the group, but I homeschool, so which is my priority?  Yes, I could rearrange the homeschool day so that I could teach later, but for me, my better hours of the day are in the morning.  If I didn’t get school done in the morning, chances were very high that it wouldn’t get done at all.  The teaching and training of my child on Biblical principles and academics was higher on the priority list than attending the women’s Bible study.  (A side note on this – now the women’s group is meeting on Wed. nights.  Since we are there every Wed. anyway, this has turned out to be a real blessing to me.)

I Cor. 3:11-13 says “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.”  (NIV)

II Tim. 2:20-21 says, “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also utensils of wood and earthenware, and some for honorable and noble use and some for menial and ignoble use.  So whoever cleanses himself from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences will then himself be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work.”  (Amp. Bible)

Father, may you help us to see clearly the purpose you have for us at this time.  Yes, it may change down the road, but help us now to see it, to embrace it, and to welcome it.  Help us to be content in the ministry where you have placed us, and to find joy in the journey.  Help us to focus our energies on the things which would bring honor to Your Name, and to pull ourselves away from those contaminating, luring things which this old world would love to offer us.  Help us to find that life abundantly – the life which is in You, alone.  Amen.
© 2003, Stacy R Miller

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