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Posts Tagged ‘scripture’

Faith of a Regular Joe

I had a CT scan this week. It is the last of the tests to see if my cancer has been defeated. It’s been a long hard year and a real struggle. But today is also the last opportunity I have to praise God before knowing the results of the scan. You see, I’m still having unexplained pain in my lower back. It’s different from the usual everyday stuff. And as you know my beloved mom-in-law had breast cancer too and seemed to be improving. Then suddenly her back began to hurt. Sadly the cancer had moved there with a vengeance, eventually taking her life. So I can’t help but wonder.

However, today is the day I can praise the Lord and trust Him ahead of time, no matter what the test reveals. It’s not that I am sure He has taken the cancer away. Many good people with much more faith than I, have died of the nasty stuff; like my sweet mom-in-law. Instead, my faith rests in the goodness of God. He alone is wise and holy and knows the best path for me. So today I will praise Him.

During the past year some of my best encouragement has come from the Psalms. The folks who wrote those words were just regular Joes like me with all kinds of problems. When I saw these words, I wondered if the writer had been watching the last year of my life.

Psalm 107:18-21 says, “They couldn’t stand the thought of food, and they were knocking on death’s door. ‘LORD, help! They cried in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He sent out His word and healed them, snatching them from the door of death. Let them praise the LORD for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them!”

Author Philip Yancey says, “Confidence in what the Lord will do springs from the knowledge of what He has done.” When I recall the goodness of God in my past, His lovingkindness, and His many answers to prayer, it fills me with confidence that no matter what the future holds, I can trust Him.

Though my body is weak, my faith is small and my brain is tired, my heart can’t help but praise Him. For His unfailing love is higher than the heavens! His faithfulness reaches to the clouds! [from Ps. 108:4]

 

Lest you misunderstand, let me tell you what you already know. I am no saint. However, this is not my first rodeo.

Obviously.

But this one thing I’ve learned.

The Lord can be trusted.

“‘LORD help!’ they cried in their trouble and He saved them from their distress.

He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves.

What a blessing was that stillness as He brought them safely into harbor!” –Psalm 107:28-30

When I look at my trial as an opportunity to trust Him, it feels like victory rather than defeat. And like the regular Joe begging Jesus for help I pray,

“I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” –Mark 9:24

Beloved reader, may the storm you are navigating today be calmed to a whisper and the waves be stilled. And may the stillness in your soul be a blessing worthy of praise and thanksgiving.

PS:

Special thanks to my daddy Seabert Pittman who took the beautiful pictures used in my story. He has an appreciation for every sunset and sunrise God gives, and also an eye for contrasting darkness with light… just like the Lord. As our Father says, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” –Psalm 30:5

Also, I got a call from my oncologist before I put this story out. The CT scan revealed a cyst on my liver but she does not believe it is cancer. I will have an MRI on July 14th. So again we wait, and walk by faith.

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Stop the presses! I did it! NO WAIT! Don’t stop the presses. Keep rolling because ALL my books are now in print! Check them out on Amazon. Search books by Lynna Clark. I am NOT that other Lynna with the big bosomed women on the covers… obviously. So be sure to look for the Blue Meadow Farm series of five. And if you like them, please spread the word for me. I do not have a marketing guru so I’m counting on you. Thank you my friends!

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

To view the series click here. Blue Meadow Farm Series

The series starts and ends with a dogwood tree.

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The old hymn we sang had a line in it I didn’t understand. “He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, and covers me there with His hand.” Later I asked David if it referred to something in Scripture. He told me the story in Exodus where Moses had become so angry at his people that he actually threw the tablets containing God’s commandments down breaking them into pieces. Though I was familiar with that, I wasn’t aware that shortly afterward, Moses wanted God to continue with them so much that he begged God to show His presence. The Lord comforted Moses and spoke to him as one speaks to a friend. In order to convey His goodness He agreed not only to continue with the Israelites, but to show Himself to Moses.

“Look, stand near me on this rock. As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.” –Exodus33:21-23

What a picture! What power and glory was shown to this beloved friend of God!

Just as I had overlooked the beautiful picture in the Old Testament of God’s power, I had also read right past another truth about His power in the New Testament. Ephesians 1:19 is a surprising passage about God’s power for us who believe Him. It is described as “the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead.” Can you imagine? The incredible greatness of God’s power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is available to us through Him! No wonder the enemy of our souls continually beats us down with insecurities and reminders of our sinful selves. He knows what is available to us if we understand this amazing Truth.

The same power that raised Christ from the dead is available to anyone who claims Him as their Savior! Wowee! Shall we jump a couple pews together?

So what does this mean to me personally? Can I claim His power and be healed this very moment of the cancer that has knocked me on my ample rear end? I have an infusion appointment later today so should I just skip it? Do I toss the basket full of medications I’ve been taking for the last eleven months?

This is where we mess up in our human understanding. While it was His beautiful plan to raise Christ from the dead by His incredible power, it was also His heart wrenching purpose to allow His only Son to be put to death.

All for us.

We cannot face a holy God in our sinfulness. By trusting Him we can be clothed in the glorious righteousness of His Son Jesus. Then by claiming the same power that raised Him from the dead we can face the minor inconveniences this world tosses our way, like cancer. And if cancer happens to win this temporary victory, so what? I get to spend eternity with the One Who has the power to raise the dead!

Praise God that He covers me with His nail pierced hand!

photo credit: Seabert Pittman, my daddy

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Eyes On Him

My beloved David is a Bible scholar. Even as I use the words I know that he would protest the title. But I don’t know what else to call a man who spends his time reading and studying God’s Word just for the joy of it. The book of Hebrews has always eluded him so he got a new devotional on the book through You Version Bible app and began studying it on his Kindle. I personally have always liked the book of Hebrews and consider it one of my favorites. I teased him that he couldn’t ‘get it’ because it was probably written by a woman.

He gave me the holy stink eye.

A short while later he accidentally hit a button and the book of Hebrews went from English to the actual Hebrew language.

“No wonder those people in the Middle East are always so angry,” he sighed.

It took a bit but finally his version was restored to English. Unlike him, I am NOT a scholar but I think it’s been about seven thousand years since the Lord first royally confused us by dividing the people with language barriers at the Tower of Babel. We’ve been waving our hands and talking louder ever since. And we still can’t hear each other.

The world is getting smaller though. Through the internet my son-in-law takes Russian and was able to give his first sermon in the mother tongue just a few weeks ago during his trip there. And bless his heart, he’s been working on this for about four years. Our niece and nephew who are missionaries in Africa endure all manner of inconveniencies and hardships. But the language barrier is still probably their hardest thing to overcome.

I noticed something profound in the book of Hebrews that reminds us that no matter where we are and no matter what language we use, we can still see the Lord in His sweetest truest form.

Hebrews 1:3 reminds us that because God created the universe through His Son, it is Jesus that “radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command.”

Like much in the book of Hebrews, the Lord hands us some very heavy truth in a small amount of space. Again, I’m not a scholar but I think He’s telling us plainly:

If you want to know truth and see what real character is, look no further than the Son and you can see Me. I am the One holding all things together by the power of my Word.

It seems like every day our world not only gets smaller, it gets a little bit crazier. Our own country seems to be falling apart. But those few folks who seem to persevere through it all tend to have the character handed down to them that they need most during tragedy. Their practice has been to look to the God of the universe Who sustains everything by the mighty power of His Word. I think of the beautiful worshipers in Charleston who obviously had more to hold onto than hymnbooks and church pews. They stood strong looking unto Jesus the Author and finisher of their faith. I’m sure their hearts still ache and long for the ones taken from their arms in such a horribly violent act. But by looking to the One they were there to worship, instead of their city being wracked with violence and hatred, it was infused with peace that no one could understand.

With upcoming elections and all kinds of craziness spreading across our nation, can we look to Jesus? It may sound cliché-ish, but it sure worked in Charleston.

God has promised to hold us together when we choose to look to Him.

“…keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Champion Who initiates and perfects our faith.” –Heb.12:2b

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Currently I’m in week two of my second round of chemo. In case you’ve never walked with someone on the cancer treatment journey, this particular regimen means a day of infusion every three weeks. Right about the time the patient begins to recover from the chemo it’s time to take another. And Lord have mercy, I’ve been sick. We’ve learned a couple interesting things along the way that are helping us maintain a small measure of sanity. One of those is to have Cheerios on hand at all times. Emergency consumption may be needed to ward off nausea which hits all willy-nilly for no apparent reason. Wiser folks warned me to keep lemon drops and ginger candy and other citrusy yumminess available for such occasions. So far they have not been the ‘godsend’ that I was promised. Ginger ale has helped a little, though it like everything else tastes like metallic dishwater. Thanks to several Father’s Day gifts I can now consume the bubbly treat from a Yeti cup so at least it’s cold any hour day or night. God bless the father of our home who graciously shares his bounty.

Back to the Cheerios:  I’ve found that as long as I eat a bowlful the second I wake up in the morning they help stave off impending barfage. Throw in a half a banana and the yumminess is enhanced twofold.photo (1)

Another simple thing which helps is Townhouse Crackers. A couple of those placed strategically by the bed not only settle the tummy but also invoke happy memories of a country song of yesteryear.

“You can eat crackers in my bed any time… you can kick off all the covers in the middle of the niiiight…”

I’m sure the cute little blonde singing the song on the Lawrence Welk Show never had a clue. Maybe she did. Perhaps verse two included the trashcan and the icepack and the two fans blowing at gale force speeds. But I doubt it.

Another simple thing I’ve learned to keep handy is a handkerchief. My daddy always carries one and now I do too. I remember learning to iron on his and was proud of how nice I made them. One day he informed me with all the love a man with a house full of girls could muster.

“DO NOT KEEP STARCHING MY HANDERCHIEFS! THE SNOT WON’T EVEN STICK ANY MORE!”

He gave me a hanky the other day at my request. Though I had some at home, now I know that at least one of them was his. It brings comfort having him near even if it is for wiping my nose. In case you didn’t know, after chemo the nose hair is scorched right off and clear snot just runs free without warning. Now I carry a hanky like daddy and tuck it stealthily like mama up my sleeve or in my waistband for quick and simple extraction.

Another simple thing came from Scripture this morning. I declare I’ve read all around this verse but had never marked it. Basically it says,

“You don’t know everything.”

I’ll take that.

Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The Lord our God has secrets known to no one.”

I also love that it is followed by verses I’ve heard and clung to for years. They are just as true. While I don’t know everything, this I know.

Deuteronomy 31:6- “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you!”

So take that CANCER!

You can have my nose hair, my taste buds and my sleep and my strength. You might even steal a lot of my courage. But you cannot take the things God has planned for me. Because like me, YOU DON’T KNOW IT ALL!

But the Lord does.

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Don’t you love the sound of moving water? Waves gently lapping on the shore, a mountain stream tumbling over rocks, summer rain hitting a tin roof: there’s something about the sound of flowing water that gives the soul a gentle rest.

A while back David and I designed a fountain using a watering can and a tin tub. A small pump pushes the water up through a hose which is tucked into the watering can. The watering can sprinkles water into the tub making the soothing sound of rain. Oh how I love it. When we first came up with this idea we were in our “forever home” and assembled the fountain in the front yard. Neighbors would stop as they walked by to study how our engineering marvel worked. If we noticed them we’d step outside and point out the black hose which was hidden in plain sight. It’s funny how some things aren’t visible unless you’re looking for them.

When we thought we had sold our house and moved into this little rental, we took our fountain apart and tucked the pieces in the shed. There was no reason to reassemble it since this was only a temporary residence. When the sale of the other house fell through and the bottom dropped out of the economy, we also found ourselves unemployed and waiting on next. About a month ago God brought about an amazing turn of events. The perfect job opened up for my sweet David. But the best part is that we get to call this little temporary residence home now. Finally it felt right to set up our fountain again.

Just look at her pour!ftn

I love Matthew 11:28-30. Beside it I wrote the date May 7, 2014 and a note which says, “during a long night of worry.” So much sickness and financial strain. By then we had been jobless for seven months. But the Lord reminded me that night that He can be trusted to bear my burdens and gently teach me in the process.

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to Me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.’”

We moved here eight years ago and the whole time I’ve been thinking temporary. “Don’t get too attached” I warned myself. Now suddenly I’m free to enjoy the lovely little home the Lord provided. It was hiding in plain sight. How funny that we didn’t think we’d be here very long. Now I am allowing myself to do the dance of joy. My fountain is out and making a beautiful sound as it softly splashes a happy song.

“You’re home my dear. Listen and find rest for your wandering soul. What’s that? You have to tinkle again? Well bless your heart.”

Thank You dear Lord for my sweet little fountain, for indoor plumbing, and for my home.

There’s just no place like it!ftn 2

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Is it just me or has television evolved into a reality show nightmare? One can choose to take part in the riveting adventure of pawn shop dealers, alligator hunters or the heart pounding drama of a single woman having to choose between numerous pretty men. What is reality anyway? Is it what we see or what we perceive as truth?

How do we know what is fake? Surely none of the reality shows would be scripted by highly paid writers who have studied ratings and viewer trends. They ARE real, right?

I have to say though, folks looking for beach property within a measly budget of 1.5 million… now that’s worth watching!

Let’s do a little reality check. Look at a few phrases from Colossians 3.

“Set your sights on the realities of heaven.”

 “Your real life is hidden with Christ in God.”

If we claim to trust the Lord for eternity then surely His promises are reliable. Heaven is an actual truthful unscripted real place. As beautiful as the beaches in Costa Rica are, they surely dim in comparison to our future home.

To quote my good friend Randall: “WOWZER!”

What if the One Who loves us began preparing a drop dead gorgeous place for us to retire?

No… make that a place to enjoy FOR ETERNITY!

What if we set our thinking on that place so often that the stuff going on in our own drama filled lives seemed very insignificant?

What if we set up an eternity fund, sending our deposits ahead?

“Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance- an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you…” -1 Peter 1:3,4

Now THAT is wonderful reality!beach reality

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Remember when folks used to celebrate anniversaries with traditional gifts according to the years of wedded bliss? Silver for the twenty fifth and gold for the fiftieth are probably the most well-known. I remember when my Grandpaw and Grandmaw Pittman celebrated their fiftieth they received all manner of “gold” crap. Somehow it just didn’t fit their life. Raising twelve kids on a cotton mill income didn’t give many opportunities to use shiny vases and platters. However, celebrate we did and I remember how pretty Grandmaw looked in her white Sunday dress. She even tied a scarf about her neck which was rather uptown. I guess the gifts of gold were symbolic of something I didn’t understand at the time.

David and I just celebrated forty-one years of marriage. Even Hallmark skips number forty-one as though the significance is minimal. Lost somewhere between rubies for forty and sapphires for forty-five, I received something even better.

You see the last ohhh… about fifteen years have been rather rough. Around 1998 we remodeled the prettiest old house which in my mind was to be our forever home. Right beside our little church, it was the perfect location to finish raising our kids. With a great big dining room we would have plenty of space to gather our three daughters with future sons-in-law and grandchildren for holiday meals. The attic we finished with additional bath would make a great place for overnight stays when the kids were in town. Visions of toddlers on tricycles riding fast and furious in the big basement made my mama heart happy with hope.

But it was not to be.

Our little neighborhood began to lose families which were replaced by, as King James would say “lewd fellows of the baser sort.” Residents beside us opened a dog kennel housing upward of twenty barking poodles in a very small fenced lot. The odor was less than pleasant. Nights were less than restful. A year later our little church closed.

When a neighbor a few houses up from us was shot and robbed on his front porch the need to sell was confirmed. Moving from our “forever home” to a tiny rental would only be temporary, but it would give the anxious buyer a chance to rent to own. It would also give us a way out. Fast forward eight years and two such “buyers” later, and we are still in our temporary home. Our forever home was foreclosed on in the summer of 2013. A few months later David lost his job. We sent resumes to churches all over the country as we tried to pray in “faith without borders.” I began getting rid of anything we didn’t need in anticipation of the inevitable move. “Lord help us,” I cried often.

Out of the blue just prior to our forty-first anniversary came an opportunity we had never considered. One interview, two interviews, many prayers, more prayers, surprise, provision, peace… sweet indescribable peace, and a new ministry is ours. And get this! We don’t even have to move!

“‘I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray I will listen.’” –Jeremiah 29:10-12

This year for our anniversary I got dirt… wonderful rich black dirt so we can make new flower beds in the place where we’ve been afraid to get too attached. Like Grandmaw’s gold it’s symbolic of something precious. Dirt fits our lifestyle perfectly for it’s all about putting down roots and new beginnings in a place we can now call home.

In fact, this is without a doubt my favorite anniversary gift ever!

 

David really loves it when I take his picture. ;)

David really loves it when I take his picture. 😉

 

Commercial break:

Anyone in the Salisbury- Rockwell, NC area in need of an awesome gift for the little woman, be sure to check out F&E Landscape Supply for great deals on mulch, gravel, and anniversary dirt. John Fender will treat you right!

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The page before me was blank, like my heart. Nothing would come.

Empty.

With a loss, we go through various emotions. I think one of the hardest might be emptiness.

I remember when our little church closed and we knew it was time to give the building to others who needed it. Walking through the sanctuary, knowing our time there was finished…

Oh, such emptiness.

When my mom died and I knelt by her grave, arranging flowers in the heavy metal vase. I shivered not so much with the cold, but with deep sorrowful emptiness. Sure, she is with the Lord and certainly better off. But my soul was empty.

We rode by our beloved house one last time. We wanted to speak to the tenants before it was auctioned off, maybe have some sort of closure. The trees out front dropped golden leaves spreading a blanket on the lawn. All the vehicles were gone. Even the lawnmower they kept chained to the tree was missing. I used to love that place. Sitting on the big front porch we often prayed for our little church next door and wave as the neighbors walked by. As I knocked on the glass door I could see through the lace curtain.

Empty.Great marketing, just not God's timing

Anyone who’s ever lost a job knows the feeling. The first few days of not having to set an alarm feel like vacation. Then suddenly there’s the office to clear out, and the questions to answer, and the direction to find. Emptiness can nearly suck the life right out of one’s soul.

Unless…

Emptiness is replaced.

Not because things are suddenly better.

But because the Lord gives something to hold on to… a sweet word of hope.

“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?” –Isa.43:19

Like a new season which bursts forth dressed as a thousand burning bushes. She shines like a fire that won’t go out reminding me that, “For everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” –Eccl. 3:1

In the Lord’s kindness He speaks a word of hope. His comfort fills my empty soul with promises of a beautiful purpose ahead, and something new.

Should I linger on the porch, peering into what used to be?

Perhaps it’s time I realize…

He’s taking me through empty places…

in order to give me something beautiful and new.

Dear Sweet Lord, Please set our hearts on fire like a thousand burning bushes that won’t go out! Strengthen us to step out of the emptiness and walk by faith into a fresh new place of service. Thank You that Your mercies are new every single morning of our lives. We love and trust You evermore!

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We don’t have time or space for a vegetable garden, but I thought I’d try my hand at growing a little okra this year. Hannah gave me some seeds she had saved. This variety produces large white hibiscus-like flowers with deep red centers and is aptly named “red velvet.” Did you know that okra and hibiscus are in the same family? I soaked them in water the night before planting, then dropped a few at a time in the hard red clay I had scratched up. I sprinkled potting soil on top for good measure. That poor flower bed refuses to grow hardly anything. So I didn’t hold out a lot of hope for a bumper crop of “okrie” as we say around here. A few days later I checked their progress.

Would you look at that? They’ve sprouted!

Hannah told me to thin them out so they wouldn’t compete with each other for space and nourishment. It hurt my heart to pull some up. But it had to be done.

At times there are perfectly good things in our lives that need to be pulled up. They may look useful but they’re taking too much time and energy.

It can be something as beneficial as sports for our kids. But if it’s sucking the life out of our family we may need to yank a few of those sprouts out of the way. [The multiple athletics… not the kids.]

Or it may be as godly as church activity. If you find yourself bedraggled and hating life because your family is expected to be at something churchy every single night of the week, may I suggest that you reassess the situation?

At the risk of getting stoned, and not in a fun way, may I also suggest that if Sunday is your only day of rest and it wears you out more than any other day of the week, you may be missing the point?

Do I hear crickets chirping?

Today is a great day to weed [and thin] the garden. Start building a little margin for your family. They will bloom even more beautifully with extra space and rest.

 

Too close for comfort

Too close for comfort

 

“It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to His loved ones.” –Psalm 127:2

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