Saturday, December 29, 2018

Unzip the Lips Please - My 2019 OneWord 365




My OneWord365 for 2019 is "articulate".  I have spoken, "I write so much better than I speak" so often in my life that it has come to pass.  Well, I've decided I need to do something about it.

A parental saying to me, "Zip your lip!" 
I'm now finding my voice as a single woman.  But, I need to broaden that and find my voice PERIOD.  Due to lifelong people and circumstances, I always felt as if my mouth was zippered shut when I needed to speak up, or defend myself, etc.  When I would finally muster the courage to speak up, my words fell on deaf ears, which stifled me all the more.

At a young age, I began journaling.  My fingers penned my voice.  Blogging...Diane has something to say!

Did you ever speak your text message to someone and it types out crazy wording?  Confusing.  Not clearly expressed.  That's how I sometimes feel my spoken words sound like to others.

So, I rocked back and forth between my OneWord for 2019 being "voice" or "articulate".  I want to not just find my voice but release it in a clear and understandable fashion.  I desire it to be seasoned with salted grace.  I want my spoken words to have the same impact as my writing does.  So, I chose ARTICULATE.
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt that you may know how you outght to answer each one.  ~ Col. 4:6
A lot of hard work lies ahead of me this year to gain mastery over this.  And a lot of growth if I can stay my course to bring forth my articulate voice.   Me, like you with your 2019 OneWord, are on a journey.  Together we walk, yet separate.  Know I'll be rooting for you though. 

You can have your OneWord bring the changes you desire.  Keep your word on your computer desktop.  In your Bible.  On your iPad.  Sticky note it to the bathroom mirror.  Meditate on it.  Pray about it.  Make affirmations about your word and declare it over yourself.  What a testimony you will have come 2020!  And I will celebrate with you and you with me. 

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Friday, December 28, 2018

Short. Simple. One Word Resolutions.

What can one word do for your life?

Change it.

For. the. better!

I started making my "New Year's resolutions" just one word long back in 2012.  I had never mastered my resolutions-list each year that I would make them.  And make them I did.  I would only end that year in discouragement for all the unmet goals still on my list.  After many years, I stopped making any "resolutions".  What was the point?  I never met my goals.

Until my daughter, Alece, came up with OneWord365.  A one-word New Year's resolution I could commit to.  It was simple, easy to remember and to pray about and meditate on.
Go where it takes you. Be who it makes you.                                                         ~Tagline of OneWord365
I prayerfully keep my word before me and before God and it really does help make me and it "take me" to places within myself that I couldn't have otherwise imagined.

I look back over my list of words since 2012 and I see the first two words helped prepare me for the avalanche of hell that was coming at the end of 2013. The words from 2014 and on, helped bring healing to my very broken soul and helped Diane immerge as she crawled out from the debris that covered my life.

My OneWords have built me up spiritually and have created an internal atmosphere within me giving me courage and strength to step out of my comfort zones and become who God ORIGINALLY created Diane to be.  Not who family, society, and circumstances cocooned me into.  The butterfly is emerging.

Check out OneWord365 Community on FB
I thank God for my OneWord New Year's Resolutions!  And I thank God for my daughter's ingenuity and courage.  For I have grown as a woman, as a mother, as Minister of the Gospel, and as Abba's daughter.

You, too, can be "who it makes you" and go - beyond your wildest imaginations - where it "will take you".  Pick your OneWord prayerfully.  For 2019's journey is just beginning.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Thursday, December 27, 2018

"Them Be Fightin' Words!"

But, she said to them, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara (bitterness), for The Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.  I went out full, and The LORD has brought me home again empty.  Why do you call me Naomi since The LORD has testified against me, and The Almighty has afflicted me?"  ~ Ruth 1:20
The story of Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, is taught often in Bible studies or in church sermons.  Bear with me as I address this one verse.  Maybe you will see something new.

Naomi's husband and sons died.  Can you imagine?  As one who understands the depth of grief over a loss, I cannot imagine losing your sons as well as your husband.

Scripture does not sugar-coat emotions.  Naomi was angry with God, but she was not rebuked or chastised for what she was feeling.  It is part of her recorded testimony.

Noami was real.  She WAS angry with God.  She complained and her bitterness shined through brightly. Over my many years of ministry, I've discerned countless people who are bitter against God, yet they wouldn't dare verbalize that to another Christian.  That would be blasphemous, wouldn't it?  What would people think of me?!  They even go as far as denying it when asked.

Denial perpetuates more internal anger.

Abba, Father, desires real.  After all, He already knows what's in our hearts. So we sure aren't fooling Him.  We complain about people or our situations or our infirmities, yet down deep - DEEP inside - our complaint is against God.  How could He allow this?!  If He is so loving, why...?   Why hasn't He healed me?  Where was He when I went through...?  Life has not gone as you planned.  Allow your disappointment to be real with The LORD. 

Did you ever hear the saying, "confession is good for the soul"?  It most certainly is.  God would rather our anger against Him be brought into the Light than to walk around in denial about it.

God did NOT withhold blessings from Naomi because she went through a period of anger against Him.  He did NOT withhold provision for her life as a widowed woman.  God is not a delicate flower like we are.  He won't wither away from our heartfelt emotions.  He can withstand some honest anger, some honest questioning of His Character or purposes or abilities.  He understands the human heart full of varying emotions - He created us as such.  And in His image and likeness.  He understands.

The longer you go without verbalizing it to God, the deeper it takes root inside.  Tell GOD off, if you must.  Shake your fist, scream or cry.  Then allow Him to wrap you in His Arms of Love and sooth your disappointed soul.  He will.  He will NEVER turn you away.

Be REAL with God and with each other for your testimony is waiting on the other side of your disappointment.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Without Saying So - Conclusion

In the last five posts, I shared how Jesus loved on people and He has commanded us to do likewise with each other.

Jesus never once said the Words, "I love you." yet people, whose lives intersected with His, knew they were loved by Him.

It is my hope that you gleaned something from this study and will take it out into the world with you.  Out into your everyday lives: that Love will be seen in and through you; that Love will touch the human souls around you; that YOU Love as Jesus did, thus fulfilling His prayer to His Father on our behalfs; that you allow His Love to have its perfect work in your own soul.

And may we all go into the New Year of 2019 as a sweet fragrance of The Christ to the world around us.

Have a wonderful celebration of our Lord's birth and may 2019 be a year of personal growth to us all.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Friday, December 21, 2018

Without Saying So - Part 5

Human touch was the very first sensation you experienced coming into this world and touching is vital to a healthy life so the psychologists say.

Jesus showed love by touching.  Mark10:15-16 gives us a beautiful picture of Jesus. So beautiful that famous artists down over the centuries have tried to depict the scene.  As beautiful as some may be, somehow, I don't think their paintings do Jesus justice.  When the children came to Jesus, we see that "He took them up in His Arms, laid His Hands on them, and blessed them." His "laying on of Hands" must have been so lovingly special.
Jesus calmed men's fearful hearts by reaching out and touching them.  The three Disciples closest to Jesus were witness to His transfiguration. When, God, His Father, spoke they were so terrified that they fell to the ground.  "But, Jesus came and touched them and said, 'Arise and do not be afraid.'"  Human touch can soothe a variety of different emotions.  Touching means someone is there, someone cares.
In Matthew 8, we read of various healings.  Verse 14 is saddled in between verses describing healings via Jesus' spoken Words.  Verse 14, describes the human interaction Jesus had with Peter's mother-in-law who was ill.  "So, He touched her hand and the fever left her.  She arose and served them."

Jesus didn't have to touch in order for His healing virtue to be activated as the centurion pointed out in Luke 7.  Jesus was perfectly capable of healing just by speaking.  Even from a remote location.  But, He usually didn't choose to do it that way.  He made it a point to physically touch.  Why?

I do believe because when we suffer physically - especially for a long period of time - we are truly in need emotionally for someone to understand, someone to care about what we are going through.

I do not believe Jesus' ministry of touch is what we see in churches today.  A minister calls for people who need healing to come forward and be lined up. The minister then proceeds down the line and lays hands and moves onto the next.  That's NOT the picture of love.  I do believe when Jesus "laid hands on the sick", He did so in a very loving manner.  A manner which not only healed their bodies but their souls as well.

I personally witnessed one of the greatest acts of Love from a visiting Minister of The Gospel to our church. It was so dramatic, so Christ-like, that it is forever etched on the tablet of my heart.  As the youth responded to his altar call, he walked around the room discerningly.  He would come up to a teen and embrace them with a great big bear hug.  And teens responded to this physical act of love and compassion.  Literally, they melted in his arms - both male and female - as God ministered healing and wholeness to each one.  Sometimes, he didn't even speak words over them, he just hugged.  Sometimes, he wept over them.

This, I believe, is how Jesus Christ would have ministered.  This is the power of touch coupled together with Agape Love.  This is how Jesus commands us to Love one another.
According to Mosaic Law, leprosy renders a person unclean and therefore must live a life of isolation from family and friends and community.  Touching a leper was strictly forbidden.  And yet, Jesus touched them.

"When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.  And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, 'Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.'  Then, Jesus put out His Hand and touched him, saying, 'I AM willing; be cleansed.'  Immediately, his leprosy was cleansed."  (Matthew 8:1-3)  He could have just spoken.  But, He didn't.  He violated the law to do what He saw His Father do - lovingly touch.

Do you know what human touch from a non-leper must have done for that man's soul?  I cannot even begin to imagine the healing Jesus' love-touch did to his emotional well-being.

Did you ever go to church and step forward to greet someone with a hug but they say, "Oh, don't touch me, I don't want to give you my cold"?  When we don't feel well, a loving embrace can do more for us than not.  We all need to know that someone cares.  I hug anyway.

Only those who know what starving for the simple act of being touched for no particular reason is like can identify with my words here.  Part of my testimony is the lack of physical touch throughout my life - from beginning to the end of my marriage.  Now that I am in NC, my friend, Rene, gives me a great big bear hug every time he sees me.  Sometimes, I walk in their house and fall into his arms.  "Rene, I need a hug."  And hug me he does,  somehow making me feel better.  In the last three weeks, I've had three Divine Appointments.  Each one ended with a stranger - a male - hugging me.  As one who lives life solo these days, being touched is rare but Abba provides for my needs.

You will probably never know how much someone needs a hug.  Rarely, do we walk around saying so.  Love one another, as Jesus would.  Hug.  Touch an arm.  Hold a hand.  And the next time you pray over someone, try embracing them as you do.  It may do more for you than for the recipient.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Without Saying So - Part 4

According to The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, the fourth language is Quality Time.  So, did Jesus show His Love by spending quality time with His friends?

Quality time can be summed up by some of these characteristics:  undivided attention, togetherness, an uninterrupted conversation where both people are fully engaged and intently listening.

This is one of my love languages. If you want me to feel loved by you, give me quality time.  Give me your undivided attention. 

God always, ALWAYS gives us His Quality Time.  I have His undivided attention when I speak with Him. I know He is fully engaged with me; that He intently hangs on my every word as He does you. He converses with me accordingly.  Sometimes, He asks me questions.  Sometimes, He is silent.  But, I know He's listening and hearing me. That's how I know He loves me.

So, we ought to do likewise to show others we love them.  By treating others as Jesus would, a message of love and care will be received by those whose love language is quality time. 

This is NOT quality time.
How many times has someone said to you, "I'm listening."  And your reply is, "But, you are not hearing me."

Listening to really hear is an art.  We must train ourselves to truly hear what is being spoken as well as what is not being said.  We must train ourselves to put the other persons' words ahead of our own.  

In society today, quality time human interactions are less and less. How many times have you been in the middle of a phone conversation and the other person puts you on hold to answer another call?  That is so disrespectful and downright hurtful if you're in the middle of sharing something important. That does not show love and concern.  It does show how little they care about what you are speaking to them.

Or you are in a face-to-face conversation or out to dinner when the other persons' phone rings?  And you sit there listening to their conversation.  Ugh.

How many times are we in prayer or studying God's Word or just sitting in The LORD's Presence when the phone rings or the kids start fighting?  We drop our conversation with GOD Almighty, Himself, to speak to a mere mortal.   Disrespectful?  YES!  Hurtful?  YES, as it grieves The Holy Spirit, Who resides within.  And, ultimately, who does it hurt the most?  Us.  We lose out because the intimate moment we were having can never be gotten back.

How many times do you see a couple out to dinner and one or both are on their cell phones?  That is NOT quality time.

Jesus spent untold hours in one-on-one conversations with His Disciples and Followers. He shared life lessons with them.  Knowing their hearts, their concerns, their dispositions, weaknesses, and strengths, He taught them how to live well-rounded successful lives.  He listened intently to what they said as well as what they didn't say.  He was a master at reading body language.  Jesus' gaze into the Disciples eyes was deep and concentrated.  And by His example, they learned.

In Luke chapter 5 we have the account of Jesus and the Disciples eating dinner at the tax collector, Levi's, house.  This dreaded man invited a house-load of other tax collectors and "others" to that dinner. Amongst them were their scribes (who were taking notes) and Pharisees who were there to trip Jesus up.  And there was Jesus with His captive audience. NOW He had their undivided attention.  And they sure had His.  It was a Q&A session not only with Jesus but with the Disciples as well.  And He ends up teaching them a valuable life lesson through a parable.  THAT was quality time.  What if they all had cell phones R-I-N-G, R-I-N-G-I-N-G?  I think Jesus would have had something to teach them about that!

One of the things I miss most about no longer living on Long Island is my Monday nights.  Every Monday night an audience would hang on my every word as we sat around a table at the Victorious Overcomer's Program.  And I would hang on their every word.  I think one of the reasons Victorious Overcomers is such a successful drug and alcohol program is the one-on-one undivided attention given and received.  Every word an Overcomer shares is deemed important.  By. Everyone.  And in turn, they listen.  Intently.  How many people in this society do not feel heard?  Some of them might have turned to drugs or alcohol due to the lack of family members not "hearing" them.

Give quality time and you will receive quality time.  You reap what you sow.  Don't just say to the kids, "Put your cell phone away" or "No phones at the table".  Explain why uninterrupted time together is so vital.  And make sure you are leading by example.

Do you silence your phone before walking into the doctor's office?  How about when you shop for something important?  What about before your small group gathering or at Bible study?  How about just meeting a friend for coffee to catch up on life's happenings?  Don't let your phone interrupt you giving someone quality time.

Do as Jesus would do today. He would put His phone on silent. Let us Love as Jesus did.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Friday, December 7, 2018

Without Saying So - Part 3

We continue to look at how we - The Body of Christ - should be loving one another as Jesus commanded us to do.  And all without speaking the words "I love you".
A new Commandment I give to you that you Love one another as I have loved you.          ~ Jesus Christ, as recorded in John 13:34
This is Part 3: Acts of Service
Just as The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve...                                      ~ Matt. 10:28 
John 15:1-17 is the record of Jesus washing His Disciples feet at His last meal with them.  Peter did not understand.  Jesus explains.  Verse 15 says, " For I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you."  Meaning: serve one another. Jesus Christ is our example of what it means to serve one another and in so doing, we exemplify Love. One to another.

We are told in Galatians 5:13 to serve one another through Love.  Acts of service are the result of Love in and through us.  If you really meditate on God, you will see that He truly does serve us.  We, His servants, are served.  By Him. Consistently.  God moves mountains on our behalf.  He loves on us in the manner that we can perceive His actions as Love.  Possibly if you don't "feel" that God loves you, it's because you do not realize what your own Love language is.  What is it that makes you feel loved?  Then look at God in that light.  See how He has met your particular bent toward Love.

Let's look at Mary and Martha again.  Mary's way of perceiving Love was through words of affirmation.  Her sister, however, was through acts of service.  Martha willingly served the Guest in her home and could not understand why  Mary was not doing the same.  Hence, Martha's complaining to Jesus about her sister.

How many times do we complain about someone because they are not "loving" us in the way we desire to be loved on?  "If he loved me, he would help more around the house."  That statement shows that acts of service are the key to making that person feel loved.  It's not that he doesn't love you, it's that he's not learned to show love to you in the manner that can be received as such.  The same is true here with Martha needing Mary to serve because acts of service were Martha's Love language.
Sitting on the beach, The Risen Lord waited while Peter and the others fished.  Catching nothing, God Almighty served them, by giving them the catch of their lives.  More fish than they could handle.  After their beach BBQ, Jesus had His inner-healing conversation with Peter.  He asks Peter three times if he loves Him.  Jesus challenges Peter to prove it.  "Feed My sheep" is Jesus' replies to Peter's I love you's. He basically is saying, IF you Love me like you say you do, then serve one another.  Possibly that was a character flaw in Peter. Peter was a strong-willed, macho fisherman/businessman.  A leader to the leaders.  Up to that point in his life, Peter may not have known anything of acts of service to others.  In that inner-healing tipping point in Peter's life, he chose servanthood.

And how many lives did Peter touch with The Gospel of Jesus Christ through his "random acts of kindness" which really are random acts of serving?

Let us Love in the language of Jesus Christ.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Without Saying So - Part 2

According to Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, humans perceive love in 5 various forms.  These are: Words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch.  Out of these five, we each have a primary love language that speaks more deeply to our souls than others.

So, I'm doing a study on Jesus Christ exhibiting these 5 love languages to those He ministered to.  This is Part 2: Gifts.

Did Jesus Christ give gifts?

Eternal salvation is the grandest gifts He could possibly give forth.  When a human soul has a revelation of what it cost God to give us this Eternal gift, they are never, ever the same again. "For by Grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.."  (Eph. 2:8)
"For this purpose The Son of God was manifested: that He might destroy the works of the devil."  (1 John 3:8)

Before Jesus sent out His twelve Disciples, He gave them the gift of power and authority over all the works of the devil.  (Luke 10:19)  He bestowed the gift of HIS power and authority over the devil to Believers.  I don't know about you, but I think that is one incredible gift.
During His last hours on earth, while nailed to a tree enduring unimaginable torture and torment, Jesus gives a gift to His mother.  Knowing how society looked upon widows who had no one to take care of them, He gives John charge over His mother (John 19:25-27). Jesus gifted her with provision for the rest of her life via His best friend, who was probably like another son to Mary. Even though she had other natrual-born sons, at this point Jesus' brothers did not believe He was the Messiah.  More than likely, they resented their mother's preferential treatment of this "special" brother.  Had jealousy turned to bitterness possibly?  Jesus obviously knew their hearts.

He didn't say, "Momma, I love you."  He showed her by seeing to it she was provided for.  Maybe this was Mary's preferred love language and He was "speaking her language" so to speak.
Jesus had dinner at a dreadful tax collector's home as well as His beloved friend's home (Mary, Martha, and Lazarus).  How did it make Zaccheus feel that this Holy Man of God came to his home and ate dinner with him?  Loved. And that changed the trajectory of the rest of his life.  Jesus knew what Zaccheus needed to feel truly loved and accepted - the gift of dining at his home.

I was "in hiding" in Southold, NY.  During the 16 months I lived out there on the East End of Long Island all alone, I had only one visitor.  She came and had dinner with me twice.  It meant the world to me, bringing me to tears actually, that she would travel the long distance on the one-lane road to visit me.  It surely spoke of her love for me.
Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding; gave Bartimaeus the gift of sight; He restored health; made a fish cough up the tax money; restored sanity, etc., etc.  Jesus Christ IS the gift that keeps on giving.

Do we perceive Jesus' gifts to mankind as Love?  We sure should. Have you ever said to a loved one when they are going through a difficult time, "I wish I could change this for you." It is out of empathy and compassion that we want to step in and help or change their situation.  It is out of empathy and compassion that Jesus Christ has stepped into our lives and has actually done things in our situations to work for good in our lives.  He doesn't just pat us on the back and say, "Things will get better.  I'll pray for you."  No. He steps in and does for us.  He bestows gifts to us and most of the time, undeservingly, since most of the time, our "situations" are of our own making.

Yes, Jesus is the Gift that keeps on giving.  He IS Love - Love. Made. Manifest. And Embodied.  The perpetual gift of Love.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Monday, December 3, 2018

Without Saying So - Part 1

To. Love. As. Jesus. Loves.  That should be our aim in life.  If we can accomplish that, I do believe our society would change or at least those in our sphere of influence would.

"Love one another as I have loved you", Jesus Christ commanded.  So, I think we need to study how He shows Love because there is not one Scripture in the NKJV where it is recorded that Jesus actually said the words "I love you" to someone.  Yet, they knew.  We know.  Everywhere He went He expressed Love without saying so.

Jesus used His Words to compliment, affirm, build up, to dignify and show respect to those He came in contact with.  And who does not want/need that in their life?  Sincerely affirming someone is a lost art in this day. 

Luke 7:9  -  Jesus turns to the crowd and declares for all to hear, what He thought of the centurion who came looking for help.  "When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”   Knowing that faith is what pleases Him, can you imagine what hearing those life-affirming words would mean to someone?  What would it mean to you?
Matthew 11:11 -  "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist..."  He showed respect and honored the one who came before Him.  And yet, not to make any in the crowd feel less-than, Jesus continued,  "but he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he."  Wow!  He made every man, woman, and child feel special. Recognized.  Acknowledged. Worthy.  Love is not a respecter of persons.
Jesus used the visit He had with Mary and Martha to build up and edify Mary.  Since Martha was the doer of the sisters, she was probably more an out-in-front kind of woman.  An extrovert.  Mary, on the other hand, may have been an introvert.  The sister who may have felt overshadowed by her strong type-A personality sister.  Mary had a worshipers heart and most of what she did was inward toward Jesus.  It's not something others would necessarily know or see.  So, Jesus takes this opportune time to build her up, acknowledging her valuable, precious-to-Him soul.  Luke 10:42 records Jesus' Words of affirmation, "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”  I've always heard from the pulpit that Jesus was basically putting Martha in her place.  But, I see it as He was building Mary up.  Encouraging her.  Letting her know that He "saw" her, knows her, and loves this about her.  How many of us feel no one ever "sees" us or truly knows our heart?  Can you imagine hearing Jesus' affirming Words to us about something that no one may have ever acknowledged before?
Can you imagine having your worst sin become public knowledge?  The humiliation, viral views on FaceBook, the "haters" with all their derogatory remarks and the judgment-passers all being loudly verbal for all the world to see...oh my goodness!  Well, there was a woman caught in the act of adultery, the crowd of men screaming, "Stone her!"  And Jesus lovingly said, "I do not condemn you."  The frenzied crowd already had done that.  Had Jesus not said those affirming Words to her - had Jesus just dispersed the crowd the way He did and told her to sin no more without the "I do not condemn you," it would not have had the same effect on the woman.  She now knew Love. For Love condemns not. 

I reiterate: "Love one another as I have loved you",, Jesus Christ commanded.  So, I think we need to study how He shows Love because there is not one Scripture in the NKJV where it is recorded that Jesus actually said the words "I love you" to someone.  Yet, they knew.  We know.  So over the next few posts, we will discover how Jesus expressed Love without ever using the words, "I love you" beginning with this post on Jesus AFFIRMING those He cared about. 

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Whose Weakness Do You Staff?

Years ago my pastor asked me to be his secretary/admin person in the church.  “Why me, Pastor?”  “Because I need to staff my weakness.”  Huh?!   I had never heard that before and it was most profound to me. He saw potential in me that was greater than shorthand, typing, and answering phones.  He saw my giftings and natural abilities and knew that was exactly what was lacking in him but was very much needed in the ministry. He was humble enough to realize it and "staff" the area he was weak in.

Little did I know at that moment exactly how that would play out. Over time, it showed itself.  God melded our hearts and minds together.  I knew what he would think on a matter, knew exactly what he would want; and he knew that I would handle a situation according to his desire without being told how to handle it. No words necessary. It became teamwork at its finest - synergy in action.  I had never experienced anything like that before. 

Years later, when the long-awaited vision I had for CareVan manifested, I knew I needed to staff my weakness.  (I learned that lesson well.)  And mine was shopping.  I’m not one who cuts coupons or drives all over town to a sale.  And nowadays, I do everything online.  One of my very first CareVan clients - after about six months of being on the receiving end of the ministry - told me she wanted to volunteer in any capacity.  Low and behold, Keima loved to shop.  Bargain hunt.  Cut coupons.  And even networked with other shoppers to get stuff really cheap.  And she did not mind driving all over town to do it.  My weakness got staffed. And because of our synergy, the CareVan ministry thrived.  Truly, we were a perfect team.  And we seemed to have the same heart/mind connection that I did with the pastor.  Oh, the lives that were touched and helped because she willingly took over that vital aspect of the ministry.  Her strengths filled the gap of my weakness.  And our money stretched much further to help more families than we did before.  

I do believe that is what marriage should be - a synergistic partnership.  The husband and wife each “staffing” each other’s weaknesses to make one complete union.  Rarely do we look at it like that.  Do we really value the spouse's giftings and natural bent toward things?  For 40 years of marriage, I paid the bills.  Month after month, year after year.  I hated it and even dreaded it to the point of making myself sick over having to do it AGAIN this month.  I would beg my husband, crying, to take it over or at least to do it with me. He would not lift a finger to help even though he was a numbers man which was in part why his businesses were so profitable.  He refused to "staff" my weakness.  His businesses may have been profitable but our household was not.  How different our lives might have been financially if he would have taken over the one area of our life that he was so skilled in and surely I was not.  

If everyone could do everything, we would have no need for one another.  We are supposed to staff our weaknesses in the workplace, in friendships, ministry, and in marriage. “Opposites attract.”  Why is that?  Because the strengths in one draws to the weaknesses in the another.  If only we would see it that way and adjust ourselves to learn to flow together as one, possibly, life would be a lot less stressful. Opposite attraction doesn't need to be viewed as a negative.  For surely, it is positive if the opposite giftings and character traits are utilized properly. 

After all, we are complete opposites to God.  Yet He draws us to His strengths and He "staffs" our weaknesses.  And look at all we accomplish for His Kingdom!  Oh, Hallelujah!

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Sunday, November 25, 2018

only found HERE

          Give another what he cannot find anywhere else and he will keep on returning.                                                                                        ~ Mike Murdock

To me, this is a picture of a Disciple-maker.  Jesus fulfilled needs and searching hearts. He gave what couldn’t be found anywhere else and in so doing, He made disciples.  Whether it was healing, grace, forgiveness, deliverance, strength, or courage; what it really was, was Love - powerful, life-altering Love.  

Jesus' countenance was a calling card to approachableness and His laughter and an at-rest manner drew others into His circle.

He gave to others just by sitting around a dinner table with the those who were unloveable. How special that must have made them feel.  He gave them His undivided attention and thus they felt their lives mattered. They mattered.  They mattered.  Who does not want to feel as if they matter?

He shared important life lessons without a word spoken. The Disciples watched as Jesus went off alone to seek The Father; they saw Him moved to action by His compassion; they watched Him go the extra mile - meeting needs even when He was physically exhausted.  They observed Him putting His Dad first then others ahead of Himself, making Himself third on the list of importance.

Jesus was Love personified. That is the one thing people cannot find anywhere else. We, as His Disciples, should be the same: Love Personified.

As the saying goes, people are seeking love in all the wrong places.  If they experientially receive Love through us, they will keep on returning and become disciples. Why?  Because we would be shining examples of Jesus' Agape Love.  And that is the greatest need of all mankind. 

And that is the one thing they cannot find anywhere else.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Sunday, November 18, 2018

From Talking About to Talking To

We all know Psalm 23.  Did you ever wonder why David starts out his song singing about The LORD (vs. 1-3) then switches gears and sings to The LORD (vs. 3-6)?

David declares Who God is to him.  In his declaring, David's spirit is being edified and his soul is rising in faith.  He starts out an observer in his song but ends his acclamations as that of an intimate friend.

If I am talking to you about my friend - telling you what a wonderful woman she is - it's one thing.  It makes me happy to tell you about her.  But, when I sit with that friend and I talk directly to her, a deepening bond is formed.  A loving bond.  Intimacy.  She can see and feel my gratitude and love.

Through Psalm 103 we are exhorted by David to remember all God's Benefits just as he was exhorting himself to forget not.  When we center our thoughts on who God and His perfect, all-loving, all-giving nature, and all that He has done for us in the past, we cannot help but derail the negative thoughts that bombard our minds about our present circumstances.

This is what David was doing. He went from telling us about God to telling God directly, deepening his bond with His LORD.  And in so doing, David's soul was revived.  

You see he sang and penned this song, during one of the darkest seasons of his life.  His son, Absalom, betrayed him.  Absalom's rebellion caused a civil war and I imagine David was heartbroken that he was warring against his own son.  

And The Great Shepherd led David through (to the other side) the valley of the shadow of death, just as He does for us. 

So sing to Him, not just about Him.

Because of Him and Unto Him, 

Friday, November 16, 2018

New York Family, Here Is the Reason...

For wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.  ~ Ruth 1:16
Over my 36 years of discipleship, I've repeated Ruth's words in various forms to The LORD, Himself, many a time.  Did I mean it?  DID I MEAN IT?

Where You go, I will go; where You lodge, I will lodge.  

I have a Missionary's heart, thinking was, at the time I declared these words to The LORD, that I would go on a two-week mission trip somewhere at sometime. I didn't think He'd ask me to leave my home and my people, my work in His Kingdom and be displaced into a new land and to a new people group permanently.  (Be careful of your words, Diane!  You spoke them.)  Ten months ago, I packed up my whole life and moved here to Charlotte, NC.  I was obedient to His Desires.  Yet, I don't look at it so much as obedience, more as devotional love.  I've claimed all these years to love The LORD God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  So...He put me to the test.  ("Put your money where your mouth is, Diane.")

Your people shall be my people.

I've realized I'm a southern girl at heart.  This girl, who jealously guards her introvertedness, loves people.  I certainly do not have an extroverted personality by any means.  I'm most uncomfortable in new situations and in meeting new people. Working in the background is my comfort zone.  Extremely so.  From the looks of it, you would never think I was a people-person.  Yet, I am.  Being down south now, I'm in love with the people God has brought me to.  The friendliest and warmth of strangers all around me actually blows my mind.  (Last week, a young African American man asked me if I could jump his car. It turned out his friend showed up and did it. But, this young man was so grateful that I was willing that after being in his presence for only just a few moments, he threw his arms around me and gave me a great big hug.  I walked away thinking if that happened in New York, he may have been shot.)  As a New Yorker my whole life and as one who rarely traveled off Long Island, when I first got here, these southern people seemed as foreign to me as if I had been rocketed off to a land far far away.  But, they are God's people, who have now become mine. And I am falling in love with them.

You are my God.

My adult life has been devoted to serving God.  My vocation - my life's calling - is to make my life an act of worship by forever seeking to be more like Jesus.

We sing songs of love, worship, and devotion to God.  Yet, when push comes to shove, are we willing to step out of our comfort zone?  Will we abandon all we know to go where He goes?  Never did I dream I had it down inside me to do so.  Yet, here I am.  I guess my love for The LORD is greater than fear or uncomfortableness.  Greater than fear.  Greater than my own needs and wants.  Greater than fear.  MY LOVE FOR THE LORD IS GREATER THAN FEAR.

YOUR LOVE IS GREATER THAN FEAR.  What has He been asking You to do (or go) in response to His Love?  American church mentality is that I take God with me wherever I go.  Yes, that is Truth.  But, do you go wherever God wants to go?

Do not despise small beginnings.
Being back on Long Island for a few days now, I realize what an amazing journey Him and I are traveling together.  I guess I AM A MISSIONARY.  I've been transplanted and my love for people has been so broadened - my "tent pegs" have been so stretched.  He planted the CareVan vision in my soul many years before it manifested.  And when it did, it was on such a small scale.  And now He has brought me to a land where my new church, Judah, has a vision for their version of CareVan.  They are calling it Hope Dealer and it is soon going to be implemented.  CareVan extraordinaire!  Bigger, larger, with volunteers and funds, and vans (VANS!  PLURAL.  REAL VANS!) reaching out to Charlotte. From small-time CareVan to LARGE Hope Dealer.  Phew!  I had a little vision, but Abba has a grander one. And so, I have gone where He has led me with a little bit of experience under my belt.  Oh, what a ride is before me!

For my New York brotherhood, you've wondered why did I leave; was it really God Who moved me here?  For what reason?  Inquiring minds want/need to know. As did I.  I do believe Hope Dealer is only the beginning of what I can be involved in during this last season of life as a transplanted Missionary.

May God Almighty - alone - be glorified.  May the heart and soul of CareVan live on and on and on through Hope Dealer, influencing Charlotte with the monumental Love of God.  May He bless Hope Dealer with volunteers who have the heart and soul of Kitty and Keima who worked alongside of me to serve the communities on Long Island.

My New York family, you are forever etched on the tablet of my heart.  And from the bottom of my heart, thank you for letting go of me (as I know it cost you to do so) so that I may fulfill God's plan for my life.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Silence of Moses

We know the story.  Moses, God's obedient servant turned deliverer of millions of people.  The stuttering man who had the honor of spending 40 days and nights up on the mountain top with The Almighty, Himself. The receiver of God's Commandments.

Did you ever stop to think about Moses' climb up that mountain?  No modern-day mountaineering gear or proper climbing clothes or spiked shoes.  No thermal underwear.  No oxygen tanks.  No pre-packaged foods.

He climbed and climbed that mountain.  That's how hungry he was for a face-to-Face encounter with God.

Moses, 40 day's later, descends.  And once again has to face the murmuring, complaining, rebellious Israelites.  I'm sure Moses would have rather stayed on the mountaintop with God.  But, he was obedient.  From mountaintop high to the valley of troubles.  UGH.  Moses comes down to face a nightmare with these people he just delivered from the pits of hellish slavery.  Had Moses not had that one-on-One with God, would he have been able to handle the frenzied, demonically-driven mob that he was in charge of bringing order to?  I doubt it.  But, God prepared him during their Holy meet and greet. 

All that about Moses impresses me.  But, what really gets me is his silence.  Moses didn't sit with his closest buds and share all the intimate details of his time in the Presence of our God. He did not share how difficult it was to climb Mt. Horeb (Mt. Sinai).  He didn't share how much weight he lost from not eating properly or how exhausted or cold he had been.  He did not recount the times he almost fell off the mountain as he climbed and how terrifying it was.  He did not share what his encounter with God Almighty did for himself, personally.  Moses was silent when it came to himself.  "Himself" wasn't the object of his life any longer.  Moses left "me, myself, and I" up on that mountain.  Actually, "me, myself, and I" was probably "burned" off him like the dross from metal just being in God's Presence.

The more mountaintop experiences we have with our LORD, the more we can say, "He must increase, I must decrease."  (John 3:30)  For surely Moses came back down to reality a decreased man.

Are we hungry enough?  Are we willing to climb for a face-to-Face encounter no matter what the cost?  Are we even willing to decrease?  Food for deep thought.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Is Nothing Sacred Anymore?

I knew I had to write this morning.  But, no thoughts or heart issues were prompting me. Until...

I stumbled across the fact that Google Street View now allows you to see "street" view under the oceans.  I was blown away as my eyes gazed upon the depths of the sea and I asked myself, "Is nothing sacred anymore?"  We now have photos of the eternal heavenlies and the depths of this planet.  What's left?  Where will technology take us next?

After thinking "Is nothing sacred anymore?" for the third time, I googled that saying.  OK, NOW I have a blog post.

The very first thing on the list was a song by Meatloaf, entitled Is Nothing Sacred Anymore.  I clicked.  His haunting voice sang out about broken love.  And I realized that in our world today even Love is not sacred anymore.  It truly is not.
If a love so deep and true
couldn't stand the test of time
then Mount Everest could slide
and Jerusalem could fall
Is nothing sacred anymore?
or is forever just another word?
Is a promise something people used to keep
when love was worth fighting for?

Here is Celine Dion's version of the song:

The sacred, holy Agape Love of our LORD is not even enough for people.  They turn away from God's Love as quickly as they refuse a bologna sandwich.  If a society where people throw away their God's pure, perfect, life-altering, all-fulfilling Love, how can we NOT expect divorces, breakups, de-friending, and heart's growing cold?

Our country should be called the "Land of the Throw-aways". For sadly and surely we are.  Individually and corporately as a nation, we have thrown away God, we have thrown away relationships and spouses who we once vowed before God to be committed to.  We steal one another's spouses with the blink of an uncaring eye because the sanctity of marriage is not sacred anymore.

As a society, we teach one another that love is not worth fighting for.  We end relationships that were once strong and true. With a click of the mouse, we erase them from our lives.

Truly, NOTHING is sacred anymore in our society.  However, for those of us who are the anomalies that we are, may we remain true.  Love and "committedness" and "loyalty" go hand-in-hand.  In my heart, something IS sacred still and worth fighting for.  True Agape Love.  Received and given back to God and others.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Song Sung Yellow

Remember the song by Neil Diamond, Song Sung Blue?  Songs tell a story. Happy.  Sad.  In love.  Out of love. 

I've never heard the songs of Moses, but I sure have read them.  We are told in the Book of Revelation that those who overcome will sing the songs of Moses in Heaven.  A recounting of God's glorious, miraculous deeds will be sung in Eternity.  For eternity.  Wow!

We are mandated to sing a new song to The LORD and to sing and make melody in our hearts to The LORD (Ps. 96:1; Eph. 5:19).

I can picture John Newton singing out from his grateful, grateful heart "Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me..."  He must have sung it over and over from his spirit - eventually reaching for his pen.

We may not be songwriters or musicians, but we sure can just sing regardless of the tone of our voice.  Sing out what is in your heart.  Sing out your gratitude.  Sing out your words of worship.  Sing out your love and appreciation to the God of Your Salvation.  Sing!!!  Let thanks-giving burst through your skin to The God Who Has Done So Much For You. 

And your spirit will be lifted above and beyond your circumstances giving you a whole new perspective.

🎶Because of Him and Unto Him 🎶

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Mark of Cain

And The LORD said to him, "Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold."  And The LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him."  ~ Genesis 4:15
Cain murdered his own brother Abel.  God pronounced judgment on him.  However, Cain did not like the consequences of his action.  And basically, he cries out to God to have mercy, although he didn't use those words.  He was afraid if he were banished from his homeland, he would be killed.  So, God sets a mark upon Caine and declares that anyone who kills Cain would suffer sevenfold. 

Although Cain murdered his own brother, God was merciful in that he gave Cain protection and that all who would see the mark would know that God's Hand of protection was over Cain.

How would men know not to kill Cain?  I do wonder what that mark was.  Was it writing?  Was it a picture of some sort?  Was it "tattooed" upon him?  Burned into his skin?  What was the mark?  Was it the blood of an animal or Abel's own blood?  Blood that did not wash off?  Was God's Name branded into his skin?  Oh, this inquiring mind wants to know...

The point being, the mark of Cain was a type and shadow of the Blood of Christ that covers us.  As Disciples of The LORD Jesus Christ, we are marked by His Blood.  Surely, those in the spirit world know who we are.  We are God's own. We belong to Him now and in the Kingdom to come. 

Photo Courtesy of Justin Ulmer
And as equally important, God has marked Himself.  With. Our. Names.  We are engraved on the Palm of God Almighty's Hand.  Never to be forgotten. By. Him.

Yet, I will not forget you.  See! I have inscribed you on the palm of My Hand.  (Isa. 49:15b-16a)

Oh, to be "marked" by someone.  Isn't that what a wedding band symbolizes?  That we belong to someone.  And that someone won't like it if you hurt me.

Well, God doesn't like it when someone hurts us.  We are marked by Him purposefully and profoundly.  A mark that cannot be mimicked, copied, or imitated in any way.  We are marked by the precious, life-giving, life-protecting Blood of Jesus Christ.  Oh, Hallelujah!

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Monday, October 29, 2018

Independent Yet Dependent

Here I sit in front of a Hallmark Christmas movie yet, not paying any attention. I'm contemplating. Reflecting. Not on romance or Christmas, but my life.

And I realize I have a smile on my face.  My life is so blessed.  I've been given a life-do-over.  The dreaded stigma of a BIG D on my forehead is like a faded memory because I chose to look at myself as I am a "retired wife" rather than a divorcee.

I've been given a new opportunity to do life so much more whole and mentally/emotionally healthy than I have ever been. I look at life, and the people in my life, differently because my heart is so free.

I am now independent - free to come and go, cook or not cook, stay up late or not.  And to travel!  Wow...that's a biggy!  Although this independence was absolutely paralyzing in the beginning, I now see it as a true gift from Abba.

I certainly did not ask for a life do-over or a life solo.  But my Heavenly Father's plan for me was for good and this independence is now viewed as His good plan for my life. I'm independently on my own, yet still dependent.  Dependent upon God.  Where He and I will go from here is a total mystery to me.  But, not to Him.  So, I take His Hand and trust Him to walk me through the rest of my time on this planet.  Independently, yet still very much dependent.  Hallelujah!

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A Crack in the Ice

Photo Courtesy of Ezra Comeau Jeffrey
Hhmmm...I look at this photo and so many questions roll around in my head.

How did this large "crack" in the ice happen?  Could it have been a hole for a whale to get some air through?  Was it someone's fishing hole that expanded?  Did someone fall through into the expansion of ocean beneath it?  Hmmmm....


In the last couple of weeks, God has cracked upon a spot in my soul allowing His Light to penetrate the darkness, the warmth of His Love to penetrate the ice.  YET, the ice immediately closes back up.

I do think the ice that has formed around my soul is humungously thick - a deep layer of protection formed around a very young little girl.  I feel like The LORD has been chipping away at it over my lifetime.  Oh, but the ice is resisting.  It seems to keep closing back up in preservation.  However, The LORD in His infinite patience is lovingly waiting for me to give Him permission to once-and-for-all crack it open and let the poisoned ocean flow out.

By faith, Diane...By faith, I have done so many things in obedience to my God over these 36 years.  Book worthy.  But yet, for this I hesitate...

It's my ice, LORD. I know what it is. It's familiar to me, a part of me.  It's built up - layer upon layer - over all these years.  What could possibly be underneath?   What is that ice protecting?  In the photo, the water is a beautiful blue.  I think my water is ugly black.  A depth so deep that light has never penetrated it.  It's scary, LORD.  What ugly creatures exist down at that dark depth???

LORD, my God, pour out Your Grace to me.   Give me the courage to grant You permission.


I hear Your voice saying, "Deep calls unto deep."  Oh, LORD, keep calling the depth to open up.  Don't stop 'cause I feel like I'm trapped under the thick layers of ice, clawing to get through it to the fresh air and blue sky.  

Give me the courage to grant You permission...

UPDATE I gave permission and He showed me through a song.  God is the need-meeter.  Whatever our need, we only need to ask.  He is gracious and loving to answer us.   AND SET US FREE!  Oh, Hallelujah!!!!

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Celebration Time, Come On!

I remember exactly where I was when I first heard this quote.  The words caught my breath and caused me to pause as they penetrated the depth of my soul.  They still do.

Over a lifetime of being treated as if you are just tolerated by the people who are supposed to love and accept you the most, I wonder if you will ever truly allow yourself to feel celebrated.  Without deep inner healing that only God can do, I don't think it's possible.  For "tolerated" needs to be plucked from deep within your soul and replaced with self-acceptance Love.

I do know one thing though: Staying where you are just tolerated is a choice.  A choice many, many women choose because that is what is familiar, that is all they are worthy of.  So believes their soul.

I hate the word "tolerance".  Our society cries out from a multitude of people groups, "TOLERANCE!"  The word "tolerate" means: put up with something or somebody unpleasant.

Love is NOT tolerance.  We are not called to just put up with someone we feel is unpleasant or we disagree with, suffering through being in their presence.  We are called to understanding and the acceptance that every human being is uniquely different and that they are all adored by God, Himself.

I think God spends our lifetime trying to get us to the point of feeling celebrated and knowing deep within our core that we are worthy of being celebrated.  Oh, may you experience how intimately He celebrates you!

If you need to "go", then go.  Pursue the celebration of your soul.  Pursue it as if your life depended on it - for in most cases, it does.  A healthy love-of-self depends on it.  And self-love causes us to celebrate ourselves!  And when we can finally celebrate ourselves, we will no longer tolerate just being tolerated.

Because of Him and Unto Him,