A Day to Remember, A Day to Forget


I can’t believe it’s May 19th again. That could very well be what my sister is thinking as she adds another candle to her birthday cake. Time flies when you’re having fun, right? What about when you aren’t? The truth is it really doesn’t matter whether you’re having fun or not, there are still 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, etc. It only seems that it is going faster when you’re having fun.

May 19th has become notorious for me in recent years for a reason apart from my sister’s birthday. This year marks 3 years since my infamous elbow surgery gone bad. It seemed like such a simple procedure at the time, but the results were (and still are) quite complicated. As the days and weeks followed, I slowly came to realize that my life had taken an unexpected turn, at least from my perspective. This new route has been far from fun. Time doesn’t seem to be moving all that fast on this road I’ve been traveling. As I write this I am reminded of the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land. If I remember correctly it took them 40 years to make a journey that should have taken 9 days. That’s quite a disparity! Apparently they weren’t ready to enter the Promised Land quite yet so God took them on a detour. While on that detour He molded and shaped their character to prepare them for their future. Apparently it was a very lengthy process! While wandering in the desert, they moaned, grumbled and complained, grew impatient and were even fearful at times. I’m not so different from the Israelites. Are you?

For as long as I am on this road that I am currently traveling, I vow to remember that there is purpose in it and wanted to remind you that there is purpose in the detours of your life as well. Let us rejoice in that knowledge.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope …” Romans 5:3-4 (ESV)

I don’t know how long it might take us to reach our “promised land” but I believe with every part of my being that He will sustain us on His chosen path. Not only sustain us, but also make us look more like Jesus in the process. Our hope is in Him, now and forever. Amen.




“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

(John 16:33 NIV)

Have you experienced any trouble lately? You bombed the test in school today. The snowblower broke with 10″ of snow in your driveway. Someone hurt your feelings. The lab test came back positive. The check bounced.  The list is endless, isn’t it? We were warned by Jesus that there would be trouble. He didn’t say IF we have trouble, but that we WILL have trouble.

When I think of the word trouble I can’t help but think of the board game by the same name that we played with the kids growing up. You had to roll a 6 or a 1 to get a pawn in play and then had to race your pawns around the board and get them all safely home before your opponent(s) did. The trouble came when an opponent landed on your space and knocked you back to start. I wish that was my worst trouble, don’t you?

Trouble comes our way in a varying degree every day. My latest trouble came in the form of a setback in my quest to get well these past few weeks. I will admit that this has shaken my faith. Nothing tests your faith quite like a large helping of trouble! I am fortunate to have found a lovely Christian doctor that not only won’t give up her search for a solution, but also encourages me along the way. When she sensed my discouragement last week she explained that this was only a bump in the road. (It looked more like a mountain to me) Her advice was to keep my head up, where it belongs. That brought the story of Peter walking on water to mind.

“Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”              

(Matthew 14:29-31 NLT)

That’s what happened to me last week. I looked down and started to sink! I shall heed my pastor’s advice from his most recent sermon series and fix my eyes on Jesus. That requires keeping my head up, just as my doctor advised.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

                                                                              (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV)

Jesus overcame far worse trouble than any of us will ever experience and He did it so that we, too, can live in victory. As my Aunt Judy says at the end of all her written correspondence… “Keep lookin’ up!”

New Year, New Focus

Happy New Year

Upon recommendation from my pastor I have been reading the Bible online through various plans offered at YouVersion, the Bible App, for the past several years.  I get an email from YouVersion every so often encouraging me to keep up the good work or sometimes to let me know that I’ve missed a few days. The other day I received a different message. In this message, it was suggested that I choose a verse to focus on in the new year. I have been thinking about it ever since.  It is kind of overwhelming to try to pick just one from God’s instruction manual for living.

As I have been thinking about this, God brought something to mind from the first Christian fiction that I ever read, the Mitford series by Jan Karon.  In this series of books, the main character, Father Tim, often resorted to the prayer that never fails when he was at a loss for words and would simply say, “Your will be done.”  This has stuck with me over the years for a few reasons.  It is so simply stated and it really is the prayer that never fails.

While I was trying to come up with a focus verse I looked for verses that pertained to healing because that is the desire of my heart and is never far from my mind. That, and my doctor says we’re going to fix it in ’14!  I know this—we are certainly going to give it our best shot. Ultimately, though, I have decided to choose part of the Lord’s Prayer for my focus verse of the year..your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10 NIV) Why that one? Because it is the prayer that never fails!

The prayer I offer for healing, on behalf of all those who are suffering, is that it would happen in His perfect time and in His perfect way.  There is no guarantee we’re going to fix it in ’14, maybe not even in this lifetime, but there WILL be healing.  I shall leave the details to Him. Why? Because I am His child and He loves me. I believe He knows and wants what is best for me.  His promise in Romans 8:28 to use it ALL for my good, even the unwanted, undesirable circumstances of life, brings me comfort in the midst of the pain.  He makes that promise to each of His children.

I pray as I walk through this new year He would help me overcome my pride and selfish desires and simply want what He wants.  The beginning  of the Lord’s Prayer as written in The Message states, Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below. Amen?

Do you have a verse to focus on in 2014? If so, I’d love to have you share it here at theultim8gift.com. Let’s hold each other accountable and stay FOCUSED!





Decisions, Decisions

Knowing the baby wasn’t his, Joseph had made the decision to break his engagement with his pregnant fiancé, Mary.  As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:20 NLT)

The angel caused Joseph to rethink his decision to walk away from Mary. This decision would alter his life in a big way. Each of us is faced with numerous decisions each day, some bigger than others.  Maybe not quite as big as the one Joseph had to make, but big nonetheless.

What decisions are you faced with today? Maybe they are relatively minor choices like what to have for dinner or what to wear.  Or maybe they are decisions that are life-altering, like the one Joseph had to make.  What treatment should I pursue? Is he/she “the one” for me? Is this job a good fit? Can we afford this house? I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t possibly count the little decisions that I make each day because they don’t require much, if any, thought.  They almost seem too easy to even consider them a decision. The bigger ones certainly grab my attention though.

My daughter is a high school senior and happens to be facing some particularly large ones as she looks to her future.  College?  If so, where?  Major? If not college, then what?  The unknown can be scary territory for all of us, but the good news is that God doesn’t just leave us there to go it alone.

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. (Matthew 1:24 NLT) As a result, Joseph was privileged to serve as the earthly father of Jesus, the Messiah and Savior of the world.  I bet that looked good on his resumé!

Just as in the days of Joseph, our tomorrows are impacted by the decisions we make today.  We must choose wisely!  Joseph had an angel assist him. Believers today have the Holy Spirit, a resident 24/7 guidance counselor. Jesus said, “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:26-27 NLT)

May you receive and savor the gift of peace that Jesus came to give…

Merry Christmas