Thursday, August 22, 2019

A Thousand Ways . . .

"And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear." Isaiah 65:24

I saw this promise filled . . . for me . . . yesterday:

 I've been using a CPAP machine for sleep apnea for almost 3 years. (My airway is genetically very narrow; my mom had sleep apnea, and so does my sister, even though none of us fit the "typical profile" for sleep apnea.) My CPAP machine decided it was done when I plugged it in at home after a trip in June. (It had been giving me trouble for a couple of months, but always, eventually, came on.) I knew I was leaving in three weeks for camp, and that I would have no cell service for the 4 weeks I was there, so I did my best to get a replacement before I left. For a variety of (Divinely-orchestrated, I've decided since then) reasons, it just didn't work out. I took my existing machine (which had come back on a couple of weeks after I plugged it in) to camp with me. And, it didn't come on when I plugged it in. (But, it did decide to start working the last week and a half I was there.)

I guess I must have been sputtering about it to my assistant in the camp store, because she told me about a dentist near her (in another state, way too far from where I live, for me to go to) who helps patients with sleep apnea by using a special dental device. I probably would not have known about this alternate, proven, treatment method, had my machine been functioning the way it was supposed to.

I talked to my sleep doctor after I got home from camp, and got a referral to a local dentist. (The same one, interestingly, who treated my TMJ in the early '90's, and my mother's TMJ in the mid '80's.) In talking to the technician at the dentist’s office Tuesday, she suggested that maybe the problem with my CPAP machine was in the cord, and that I might be able to get just the cord replaced. She also suggested checking to see if I could find a loaner or rental CPAP machine, so I'm not doing without completely, like I have been most of the last two months.

On the way home from my initial visit with the dentist Tuesday afternoon, I stopped by the local office of the company I get my CPAP supplies from, to see about a loaner / rental, and / or if they might be able to fix my current machine. The secretary (who is new) started the hunt for rental machines. The sleep coach asked me to drop my current machine off on the way back in to the dentist (to get impressions for the appliance made) yesterday morning, let her look at it, and pick it up on the way home.

When I arrived to drop of my current machine yesterday morning, the secretary told me they didn’t need it. She called the sleep coach from the back, who told me she’d dug around in their store room, had found a donated machine identical to mine, with very low hours . . . and she gave it to me. (Those machines are expensive!!) Not only does that save me roughly $100 a month rental costs for the next 4 months; if, for some inexpiable reason, the dental device doesn’t work, this CPAP machine is mine until it reaches the end of its useful life. (It takes a month to even get the dental device, and an additional 3 months for it to be adjusted to full efficiency, which will need to be tested by another sleep study after I’ve worn it for 90 days.)

Back to Isaiah 65:24 . . . God not only impressed someone who was not going to use it (whether the patient died, or just couldn’t get used to it, I’ll never know) to donate that machine before I even knew I needed it. He also impressed the sleep coach to hang on to donated machines for situations like this, and helped her find it in the store room. The machine I’ve been using doesn’t seem to be very common in this area at this point in time . . . but the sleep coach I talked to Tuesday night, the one who dug around and found the donated machine, has extensive training working with this particular type of machine. (It was thoroughly cleaned and sterilized when she gave it to me.)

The interesting twist is that I allowed myself to become really discouraged yesterday morning, partly, I’m sure, from exhaustion (from not sleeping very well without the CPAP machine), but also from not knowing how I was going to survive another month until my dental device comes in, and then until it is fully effective. But God had already “found” the machine for me Tuesday evening, even though I didn’t know it. It seems like the devil does his best to bring us low when he knows God already has an answer, a plan, to help us out.

I have also allowed myself to get really frustrated with this whole process, because of all the times I called the doctor’s office after my CPAP stopped working in June, left messages . . . and never had my calls returned. (I finally stopped by the office on my way home from another errand.) If things had gone according to my plan, and the doctor’s office had been prompt in returning my first call, there was plenty of time for me to get a new machine before camp. But then I would have been tied to that machine for 5 years, because Medicare would not have paid for the dental device a month later. (I’m sure the dental device has a name, but I don’t know what it is.) Medicare will pay for a CPAP machine or a dental device, but not both, any more often than once every 5 years.

(Needing to rely on a CPAP machine for adequate sleep requires me to be near an electric outlet every single night. It also requires distilled water. And, it's just one more piece of luggage that has to be hauled around and kept track of whenever I travel. This is a major nuisance when traveling by bus or plane.)

As many times as I have seen God work things out for my best good, in spite of my human plans to the contrary, there was no reason for me to feel the way I did yesterday morning. Satan is the author of discouragement, not God. God has a thousand ways to provide for our needs, if we will only keep our eyes on Him, instead of on the circumstances around us, no matter how “impossible” they seem to us. Even when our faith falters, and our trust seems to evaporate (like mine did yesterday), God still loves us, and He still works in our behalf.

But, God was not through with me. I stopped at Taco Bell on my way home, because I had more errands to run between the dentist’s office and home, followed immediately by driving out to prayer meeting. I ordered my bean burritos, drove towards the window to pay for them . . . and discovered that my wallet was not in my purse. That meant I had no way to pay for the burritos I’d just ordered, and, since I ordered them without cheese or red sauce, Taco Bell probably wouldn’t be able to sell them to anyone else. I wasn’t sure what to do. The clerk wondered if I wanted to go home and come back, but that was too far away. While we were discussing it, a young man who works there came to the window, and asked if I wanted mild or hot sauce. I told him I didn’t even have money to pay for what I’d ordered. He said, “That’s OK. This one is on me.” He paid for my lunch.

My next dilemma was figuring out where my wallet was. I’d had it at the grocery store Tuesday night, and the only other place I’d been was the dentist's office. (I ran into the CPAP place for just a minute, and didn’t even take my purse in with me, as I was parked right in front of the office, and there was no one around in the parking lot.) I called the dentist’s office. They couldn’t find it, and my husband was out walking the dog (without his phone), so I couldn’t reach him for almost an hour. This time, I wasn’t really panicking, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to purchase the other items I needed in the time I had left, and I knew that, if it was truly missing, I needed to be calling our credit card company.

When I finally got through to him, my wallet was on the table by my computer. Apparently I’d taken it out of my purse after I got home Tuesday evening, and failed to put it back in before I left yesterday morning.

The credit union we bank at was still open when I got to it, so I was able to withdraw enough cash to pay for the things I needed.

God didn’t have to do any of those things for me. He does them because He loves us, and He wants us to know we can trust Him no matter how “murky” the water around us seems to be. Reader, whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever your dilemma, He longs to do this for you, too. He might not work quite this dramatically, but He does always have the perfect solution, and He will work things out in His own best way, according to His own best timetable if we put our troubles in His capable hands, and leave them there.

"Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." Psalms 55:22

Friday, March 3, 2017

"Sanctified in Me"??

During an online class in Scripture Memorization, we were asked to talk about choosing verses:*

Ezekiel 36:23 ("And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.")  has been the "foundation" of my Scripture memorization over the years. I first "discovered" it when I looked up the more familiar Ezekiel 36:26 ("A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.") for another purpose, and noticed that verse 23 was underlined in my Bible. I have no idea how it got underlined -- I don't ever remember seeing it before in my life.

To me, verse 23 is THE "secret key" to sharing the truth of God's love to the whole world. If Christ is not sanctified in me (to the point it is obvious to everyone I interact with in any way), all the "preaching in the world" is going to fall flatter than flat in the eyes of whoever I'm "witnessing" to.

It's also interesting to note that this verse does not say that "the heathen shall know that I am the Lord" "when Kathy (or any one else) has been on 'x' number of mission trips or preached 'y' number of sermons or had 'z' number of baptisms." No, it says, ". . . and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes." In other words, only when the world can see that Christ has made a difference in my life will they be open to hearing what He can do for them.

Ezra 7:10 ("For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.") takes this from the "theoretical" to the "practical." Notice the steps Ezra went through, and the order he went through them in:

  1. Heart preparation
  2. Diligent searching to know God's law
  3. Obedience to God's law
  4. Teaching God's law, statutes, and judgments.

This brings to mind a song, Sermon in Shoes,  I learned as a child:
       Do you know, Oh Christian, you’re a sermon in shoes?
       Do you know, Oh Christian, you’re a sermon in shoes?
       Jesus calls upon you, to spread the gospel news,
       So walk it, and talk it. 
       Live it, and give it.
       Teach it, and preach it. 
       Know it, and show it.
       A Sermon in Shoes.
              (Ruth Harms CalkinCopyright 1952 Nuggets of Truth)

By implication, if God is not "sanctified in me" (if I know of any aspect of my life that is out of harmony with His will as revealed in His Word, and I refuse to surrender that part of my life, and bring it into harmony with God's word by His grace and through His strength), then, instead of drawing others to Him, I am among those who are profaning His name among the heathen, which is a sobering, even scary, thought . . . especially in the light of all the (negative) things God has to say about those who are "stumbling blocks"!!

*The above is based on what I wrote, but has been expanded on a bit for the purpose of this blog post.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Uninvited Guests

They were tiny little things. I didn't even realize they'd come calling until I took the blackstrap molasses out of the cupboard for breakfast one morning. Even then, I was oblivious to their presence . . . until I set the molasses on the table . . . and saw them scurrying away. (A wandering scout had apparently discovered the sticky sweetness just inside the cap at some earlier point in time, and hustled off to share his find with his buddies, who hastened to the new treat. Oh that we would be as faithful in sharing the delights of God's love!). 
They were soon brushed off, and breakfast proceeded without incident. I did make sure to put the molasses somewhere else, though, to give the little rascals time to figure out that their meal was no longer available, and move on (preferably out of my house!) to "greener pastures."
When I went in to start lunch, I checked the cupboard to make sure they'd evacuated so I could put the molasses away. Whoops! Not only had they not evacuated . . . they'd recruited reinforcements . . . and invaded the peanut butter jar. (Another lesson for us?)
Unfortunately (for me), that lid was not on very tight. They'd managed to get inside . . . and even down into the peanut butter. NOT good! I carefully removed all of them (I hope!) with a spoon . . . and the peanut butter joined the molasses on the counter on the opposite side of the kitchen!
At this point, it was time for further action. I have a special bottle, filled with special food, for just such occasions. I put a few drops on a piece of tinfoil and set it on the shelf where the peanut butter had been. 
I watched for a few minutes, but didn't see any immediate takers, so went back to what I was doing. The next time I looked, there was very little free space around my offerings. My "friends" were crowding around for a drink of this delicious new food.

It looked good. It tasted good. And "everyone" was enjoying it. So many couldn't possibly be "wrong," could they? . . . or could they?
Unfortunately for them, they failed to check the ingredients of my bottle of special food: 

If they had, they might have been less anxious to enjoy it, and carry it back to their nest to share with the rest of their family. They were oblivious to the fact that that delicious new food spelled death for all who indulged it. (How often, when we fall for Satan's temptations, we hasten off to invite others to join us in rebelling against God, often to both of our eternal ruin.)
As I watched the ants over the next few hours, adding more poison as they cleaned up what was there, I couldn't help but think of yet another spiritual parallel:
Like the ants sincere belief that this new food was beneficial, "Eve (at the forbidden tree) really believed the words of Satan, but her belief did not save her from the penalty of sin. She disbelieved the words of God, and this was what led to her fall. In the judgment men will not be condemned because they conscientiously believed a lie, but because they did not believe the truth, because they neglected the opportunity of learning what is truth.Notwithstanding the sophistry of Satan to the contraryit is always disastrous to disobey God. We must set our hearts to know what is truth. All the lessons which God has caused to be placed on record in His word are for our warning and instruction. They are given to save us from deception. Their neglect will result in ruin to ourselves. Whatever contradicts God’s wordwe may be sure proceeds from Satan." – Patriarchs and Prophets, page 55, paragraph 2. (Emphasis mine.)
The only way for us to escape Satan's deceptive snares is to be diligent students of God's word, and to measure every thought, word, and deed by that standard. It doesn't matter what others think, say, or do. They are not our example. 
Just as I watched the ants falling for my innocent-looking "temptation," so Satan is watching, and gloating, when he can entice us to swallow his lies, because we forgot to "read the ingredients" through careful, prayerful, diligent, study of God's word. 
It is my prayer that we will learn from the ants' mistake, and make that Word the guide of our lives from this day forward. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

God Hath Not Promised . . . .

Below is one of my mother's favorite poems. I hadn't thought of it in a long time until a few weeks ago, as I was washing dishes one morning. 

Remembering it, and following along with the lyrics while I listened to the melody was a blessing to me, so I thought I'd pass it along for you to enjoy, too. 

God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river, turbid and deep.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

The words have been put to music -- you can listen to it here:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Meet AnnaMarie's Family

Unfortunately, they don't have a public blog (at least, not one they've listed on their RR profile page), but that profile page does give us a little information. I hope they will, at some point in the future, add a blog link.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"Meet" Ivey's Family -- and AnnaMarie has a family too!

Ivey's family is now listed on Reece's Rainbow -- you can "meet" them here.

And -- AnnaMarie's matching grant was more than met, and she has a family, too! (More details on that when they become available.)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Ivey Has a Family . . . and AnnaMarie Needs a Family

Ivey has a family coming for her! 

I don't know who her family is yet, but Ivey is on the "My Family Found Me" page over at Reece's Rainbow. At this point, you'll have to scroll down a bit to find her, as other children have been added to the top of the page since she was added.

In a nutshell, after a certain amount of paperwork has been completed (you can read about that here and here), a child can be "claimed," and he or she appears on the "My Family Found Me" page, though there is no information there about the adopting family.

After a bit more paperwork is completed, a brief biography of the adopting family appears on Reece's Rainbow's New Commitment Page. Sometimes the adopting family posts a link to their blog on their biographical post, sometimes not. When (and if) Ivey's family post a blog link, I'll share it.

And now -- Meet AnnaMarie . . . 

AnnaMarie has less than 3 months
 (until sometime in December)
 to have a family commit to adopt her. 

This does not mean the process must be completed by her 16th birthday, only that certain paper work must be filed with the US government before her birthday. Things do need to move as fast as possible, because there is a window of time after her birthday during which the process must be completed, or she becomes unavailable.

I don't have time right now to post a lot about her; I just wanted to get her picture and situation out here for people to see. However, Chelsea has written three posts about her: AnnaMarie,  College vs. Trade School, and Matching Grant.

She does have a $5,000 matching grant available to help cover the cost of her adoption; when it is met, approximately half of the cost of her adoption will be met. Travel (multiple international plane tickets, purchased on very short notice), in-country living (food, housing, facilitator fees, etc) is expensive, but who can put a "price tag" the value of a child! (By way of comparison, consider that Christ gave up everything for us.) As I understand it, the adopting family does not receive any of this money until they have been accepted by AnnaMarie's home country, and have an appointment with the appropriate government officials. The length of time between receiving the appointment and the actual appointment date is usually pretty short, which does not allow the time necessary to "shop" for really good ticket prices!

If you aren't in a position to adopt her, could you at least spread her story on whatever social media sites are available to you? Her time clock is ticking down fast . . . can someone please rescue this girl?

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:31-40