Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Time to Remember Who Is In Charge

Hello friends,

This morning I am waiting to find out the decision a doctor will make about my youngest daughter. She is 33, but to me and my husband, she is still our baby. She has a pituitary tumor, and the decision will be either powerful drugs or surgery. Thankfully, the top hospital for treating these tumors is the one that she is at. My husband is there with her, and, as usual, I await word.

It's very difficult to face the serious illness of one's own child. I feel helpless and a little afraid. I thank God that my faith, which was so little not that long ago, has grown stronger; so that I can truly trust in Him.

So, why do we suffer? I used to ask that, a lot. And being human, I sometimes still do. My only answer is that I'm not in charge. And the strange thing about not being in charge is that I know the One who is in charge. Think about it. What would we do with all the evil people in the world? And would it be the right thing? I struggle with that nearly every day. Thankfully, I'm not in charge, and I don't have to make those decisions.

I wish I could say that life gets easier, as one's faith gets stronger, but that's not really the case. We suffer, because we live in a fallen world, where perfection is an illusion. People who have fame and fortune gladly tell us that they have the answer. They have everything, they say, and they can make us "rich." Just ask them, and, of course, buy their product, their book, or their C.D. But they don't have the answers either. They also face the night watches, often alone. What if they knew, or could accept, that they are never alone? What if they reached out to feel God's heart beating within their own chest? What if they were very quiet, and they listened, would they want to hear that they are not alone?

Jesus said, that the good man speaks from the overflow of a good heart; while the evil man speaks from the overflow of an evil heart. It gives me chills to read His one sentence synopsis of this passage of scripture. "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks."

I hope that the abundance of my heart is kindness, forgiveness, and faith. Not in myself, but in Him. What will He choose for me today? And will I place my trust fully in Him? Will I honor Him? And will I understand that as I suffer or am discouraged, that I can place my trust in the One Who was discouraged and suffered, first, for me?

Thank You, Father, for loving me anyway. Thank You for the blessings that You give to me, simply because I try and so often fail. And thank You most of all for overlooking my failures. Help me, Lord, to be strong today, and when I'm weak, thank You for being here to carry me through.

With Love,
Jaye Lewis

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Time of Wonder

Hello friends,

In a few moments, I'll be stepping onto my treadmill. Who knows how far I'll walk, or how many trips it will take me to make a mile. I'm just thankful that I can walk. My husband gave me an MP3 player, so that I could listen to my favorite worship music. Oh me! I'm finally getting the hang of it, and yesterday was a wonderful worship day.

Because of pain and neurological issues, I can no longer hold my Bible to study and mark with highlighters of every hue. Writing comments and thoughts and prayers is also a painful process. So, my husband bought me a PDA with the complete NKJV Bible translation. There it is with Christ's words in red. I'm still learning how to use it. I can't be hurried, because I grew up in a different age, where writing, calligraphy, and penmanship was an art-form learned in grade school. We wrote with an instrument called a "quill." No, not the ones with feathers. I'm not quite that old. These were writing instruments similar to calligraphy pens. We would dip the points in India Ink, which stayed in our inkwell (that little hole in the top of old school desks). I can still smell the pungency of the ink, as I uncapped the bottle; and I can still hear the sound of pen on paper, carefully written so as not to smudge the ink or tear the paper.

So, now, I'm using this computer to write to you, and I'm listening to music on my MP3 player, as well as studying my Bible on a tiny computer that fits into the palm of my hand. WOULD THE WORLD PLEASE SLOW DOWN??? It's bad enough that I'm dragged kicking and screaming to each new technological discovery, but please, don't change anything until I take a second breath. Then I'll get on my motorized treadmill, pushing play on my MP3, and I'll worship the old fashioned way, heart to heart with God.

I will thank Him for the wild turkeys that come all the way up into my yard, just to feed on the bird seed scattered beneath the feeders. I'll thank Him that I'm not careful enough to get all the seed into the feeders. I'll thank Him for my aching hands that cause the seed to spill on the ground. I'll thank Him for a tender heart that makes it so easy for tears to well up in my eyes, as I contemplate the wonders of His creation. Oh, sure, there are those who insist, let the wildlife remain wild and fend for themselves. Of course, I would if we truly lived in the wild, and there was enough wild food for the wild birds. But I know better. God knows what we have done to our planet. And why are we on this earth? To ignore little creatures who have no food? Jesus said, that God feeds the birds, but in our uncertain world, shouldn't we do His will, which is to see that His critters are fed?

On our back deck, we have a few potted plants and small trees, which attract the birds. They are nesting earlier, and they are continuing to hatch later. We've watched a plethora of babies grow into breathtakingly beautiful adults, who all cluster around our birdbaths and feeders. It feels like our hands are in the hands of God; and I believe that with each new bird that we can save, that God smiles on our efforts.

Oh how different it was when I was young, and I was first learning how to scratch my name with my lovely quill pen. Birds appeared without number. Small animals were abundant. I grew up in Florida, and I can still remember visiting flamingoes in all their pink and scarlet beauty. In the past ten years in our yard, we have concentrated on wildlife plantings, and now wildlife comes to us, even as the animals came to Noah. How do we not know that our yards are the Ark of the future, and what we do, will save an entire species? I only know that my heart skips a beat every time I see the trust in the eyes and behavior of the wildlife, who depend on me. I can only do as much as I can.

So, now, as we download music into our MP3s, and we text message our friends in code, so that we don't have to actually write in syllables, and as I study my Bible on my PDA, perhaps we can also remember those little ones whom God expects us to care for. At least, that's how I see it.

Thank You, Lord, for each new life that I can touch, and help me, oh Lord, to heal and not harm. Let me not miss, but to look, for all the gifts of nature that I have forgotten before. Help me not to hide my eyes. Fill my heart, oh Lord, with wonder for each living thing. Help me to protect what is Yours. And let me never forget how to feel the wonder of your loving kindness and mercy and grace. Let my heart be a reflection of Your living waters, a spring that will never be filled.

Please, dear friends, pray for the people in California, who have had to flee from their homes, because of the fires. And for the animals that they, too will be saved. Let us also pray for the southeastern U.S., that has suffered so much drought. And let us not forget to pray for ourselves.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Time to Begin

Hello friends,

In the past, I have promised more information to help diabetics and dieters. While I've spoken of heart changes, I've not said much about health changes. So, today is the day for a heart to heart on where to begin, right where you are.

Those of us who would rather buy the magazine with the chocolate fudge cake on the cover, often find ourselves defeated by that large salad sitting on the table in front of us. While I like French Dressing as well as the tall, skinny model at the next table, let's face it. Cake is not salad, and salad is not cake. It annoys me to watch a weight-loss guru on T.V., who looks like she runs twelve miles a day, and lives on spring water. There she is, starving her way towards serious osteoporosis in her later years, but now she's telling me about food! Does she really think I don't know what food is? I'm seriously wondering if SHE knows what food is.

So, now that I've rattled the cages of the ultra-thin, good-stiff-wind-would-blow-you-over crowd, I want to share with you how to begin to be more healthy. Change one thing. Change one thing today. And make it healthy. Don't leap from peanut butter banana sandwiches to plain salad, and think you are going to be successful. Just change one thing. Switch from sugar to Splenda. Switch from sugary cola to sugar-free. I had a friend who did nothing more than a switch, and in six months she lost forty pounds.

Don't look ahead. Don't look further than where you are. Just change one thing. And walk. I'm not talking about a mile or two. I'm not talking about power walking. I'm talking about making it to the end of the block. I began, after a long illness, years ago, with that walk to the end of the block. When I arrived, my husband drove the car down to meet me, and he drove me home.

Beginning is the most important thing you can do. Every change begins with one choice, and every mile begins with one step. Today, after a year of neurological problems, I began again. Back up on the treadmill, very slowly, and because of my prior walking, I was able to walk a mile. You don't have to start there. Take it easy, and take that first step. Slow, persistent forward motion will bring you to a place that you never thought you'd reach. Remember the tortoise and the hare (the turtle and the rabbit). Even the Bible tells us, in Ecclesiastes 9:11a, "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong..."

So, be weak, and lean on the One who has said that His power is made strong in weakness. Start where you are, and let God carry you over the finish line. God be with you!

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Time to Heal My Heart

Hello friends,

Not long ago, I decided to reach out to a distant cousin, whom I had never met. He was compiling a family genealogy. Since I learned my family history at my mother's knee, I decided to help him. POW!! To be brief, it was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.

First of all, he really didn't want my help. You could say that I was all about the heart of my family history: real people, who really lived, who experienced pain and sorrow, laughter and tears, just like me. My unknown cousin made it clear that all he wanted were names and dates. Quite frankly, it felt more like a high school quiz. My ancestors are real people to me, who once lived and loved, whose hearts pulsed with anticipation, and who often quaked in fear. They are not simply a list of names and dates.

Perhaps God placed something different in me. I look for miracles in the day to day, and I often find them. After I wrote to this cousin, people began to show up from my painful past. I do not come from a family who forgives; I come from a family who strikes, like vipers. I've never understood that. My decision to forgive, was seen as weakness, and I suffered from that.

I forgive them. But I have learned that in forgiving, I need not return to let them strike again. I must move on. I can forgive them from a distance - a long distance. Every time I initiate contact, it plays havoc with my health. One of my doctor's warned me, "if you keep this up, Jaye, you will have a very short life." So once again, I take a giant leap away. I am giving them their freedom to do whatever they want to do to one another. I have placed them in the hands of God. They are not my project. Let them answer to Him.

God has blessed me with a wonderful husband and two beautiful daughters. Why seek the poison of a dysfunctional life, when God has given me healing and love? It is time to move ahead, to accept God's healing and celebrate Him. In the Bible, Jesus says:

"Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for {today} is its own trouble." Matthew 6:34.

I believe that is also for the past. Poison is poison, whether it is alcohol, drugs, or gambling. In a Twelve Step program one must agree to never go back to the people, places, or things that make you sick. It is the same with poisonous people. Do I really want to put them before my relationship with God or my family, or my own happiness? No!

So, today, I make a promise, before God, my family, and you. My focus will be on the here and now, where love rules. Today is a new day. Today is the day that I will begin again. With faith in God, and my hand tightly tucked in His, today is the day to heal my heart.

With love,

Jaye Lewis

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