Sunday, September 29, 2013

One Flew Out of the Cuckoo's Nest

Half of my nest is now empty.  My firstborn flew out of the cuckoo's nest that has been his home for nearly twenty years and is now sharing an apartment with a couple of friends.  They have come and gone the past few days, picking up some of my used furnishings and groceries to make their new home a little more comfortable.  The pains of transitioning into adulthood are weighing heavy on them right now yet they are excited about this new chapter in their lives.  I couldn't be more proud of them for taking this huge and scary step!

Please pray for all of us as we make this adjustment.  Pray that the money side of things will smooth out quickly so they can enjoy their transition into independent living.  As an adult who has been around the block a few times, I still struggle with the ins and outs of daily living.  They will too.  But I am confident that with prayer and encouragement they will find their way and be so glad they took this leap of faith.

Pray especially that they will see God in ways they never have before, and that God will use this season of their lives to draw them closer to Him.  I have learned, especially this past week, that God is never closer than when we are in His refining fire.

Lord, may you turn all our stresses into the greatest blessings we have ever known as we experience your faithfulness to meet all our needs according to your glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  Thank you for being our more-than-sufficient Provider and ever-present help in time of need.


Copyright © 2013 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

If You Trust God, Why Are You Still So Sad?

My friends and family know that I am under a great deal of stress these days because I am constantly asking for prayer.  Uncertainty about the future of my husband's job, concerns about family and friends who are going through a rough time, and today's diagnosis of extra dental work (I'm having a tooth crowned and a cavity filled in the near future) have left me distracted and discouraged.  Yet I know that God is in control of all these things, that He will keep His promises to provide for us, and that He is working all things together for our good.  Still, more than once I have asked myself the question, If you trust God, why are you still so sad?  I know I shouldn't be.  There are people whose problems are far worse than mine.  But I am human and sometimes I hurt, too.

Perhaps my sadness can be attributed to the fact that I'm just overdue for a good cry.  Or my hormones are out-of-whack.  But more than likely I am a little frustrated that being a Christian doesn't exempt us from the drama so characteristic of families with teenagers.  Unlike the Cleaver family who had it all together in the era of high-heeled, pearl-wearing housewives, we are a modern family with complicated problems just like everyone else.  We are imperfect parents whose teenagers are struggling to find their way in a world that is hostile and ugly.

My tears are not a symbol of mistrust.  But they are the badge of a battle-weary saint who wants to see a little more of heaven here on earth.  I'm so tired of the constant fight between good and evil, and of watching my kids struggle to embrace the truths I know -- that God is good, His grace is sufficient, and a personal relationship with Jesus is their only hope for true and lasting fulfillment -- while the world is sending them a completely different message. 

The Bible says that there is a time to weep and a time to laugh (Ecclesiastes 3:4) and that those who mourn are blessed, for they will be comforted (Matthew 5:4).  Despite my sadness this week, I have experienced the joy of knowing God is ever-present to help and to hold me in the middle of my storm.  His presence has been so real to me.  I know that I am not walking through this dark valley alone.  God is with me.  My praying friends are with me, too.  Thank you for praying me through.

Lord, You know all about tears because even You, Jesus, wept when You saw how heartbroken Your friends were over the loss of their loved one.  That is how compassionate You are!  Comfort those who are heavy-hearted, and bless the friends who weep and pray for those who mourn.  It is in times of sorrow and stress that we realize how much we need not only You, but the friends You have sent into our lives.  Help us to be mindful of the needs of others and to offer Your encouragement to those who need it most.



Copyright © 2013 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sometimes It IS About Me

One of the most influential books of modern times, Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life, begins with four very compelling words -- "It's not about you."  But in my experience I have learned that even though life is not supposed to be about us, sometimes we have to make it about us in order to survive.


Until I finally embraced the reality that Jesus is more than capable of carrying my burdens and taking care of the things that concern me, I made some really stupid mistakes. Some days I still do.  For instance, beginning in college I spent a lot of time socializing with friends who were engaged in behaviors or had emotional issues I thought I could somehow "save" them from, especially since I was a Christian.  Instead I was drawn into a life of sin, compromising nearly every value I held to as a believer.  Being Jesus to them didn't give me license to play God and do what only He can do -- heal, restore, and deliver.  As a result of my own foolishness, I began a downward spiral that lasted well into my twenties and resulted in the deterioration of my relationship with God and my self-esteem.

By the mercies of the God I professed to believe and worshipped every Sunday, I was spared the full consequences of my sin.  It took a shameful wake up call for me to realize how self-destructive my life had become and to call out to Him for forgiveness and deliverance.  But He was faithful, not only to forgive me but also to teach me that there is no disgrace in setting boundaries in my relationships and that sometimes it is okay to be more concerned about myself than someone else whose baggage isn't mine to carry in the first place.  True, as believers we are called to think more highly of others than ourselves and to carry one another's burdens.  But I have learned that it's okay -- necessary, even -- to let God be God and remember that I am not.  I cannot fix everything that is wrong with the people I care about.  Heck!  I can't even fix myself most days!  Only God can.

This is a lesson I have tried desperately to teach my teenagers who must now deal with the drama of their own generation.  I am concerned about the amount of emotional baggage so many of these young people bring into their friendships.  While I want my kids to "be Jesus" to those around them, I feel compelled to remind them of the dangers of treading too closely with kids who are dabbling in drugs or acting out because of emotional insecurity caused by problems at home.  My kids have enough burdens to carry; they certainly don't need to take on anyone else's problems.

Some of us are living with turmoil that could be dealt with more effectively if we would actually set boundaries within our family relationships and carry out the discipline we threaten to impose on our children rather than allow them to manipulate us with guilt and lies.  We don't want our kids, especially our older teens, to suffer the consequences of rebellion and disrespect so we often back peddle in order to maintain peace in these challenging relationships.  After all, they are fighting social demons we never fought at their age.  Yet, sparing them the consequences by swooping in to save the day isn't always the best way to teach them responsibility for their choices in life.  I must confess there have been times when I have given in to emotion and failed as a parent to stand my ground on a given issue.  Yet, such a lack of solid parental leadership sends confusing signals to our children and ultimately backfires on us parents, leaving our households in chaos and our hearts hardened against our own children. 
Our kids need to know that their wrong choices carry consequences not just for themselves but for others as well.  As parents, we also need to be mindful of that as we choose to discipline our kids for their disobedience.  Any inconsistency on our part can undermine the very foundation of godly principles we have tried to teach them.  To let chaos rule in our homes or in our relationships with others is not beneficial to those we love or to our emotional and spiritual well-being.  To be victimized by anger, often at ourselves because we failed to handle a particular situation without first praying it through, is never good. 
Our interactions with others should never be driven by impulse, manifested by harsh reactions to difficult situations and exasperating personalities.  Rather our relationships should be prayer-driven and Spirit-directed with responses that are seasoned with love, patience, and in some cases, humility and apology.  After all, even the best of us make mistakes from time to time.

The bottom line is this:  if our horizontal relationships with others -- spouses, parents, children, friends -- are going to be healthy, then our vertical relationship with the Lord must become our highest priority.  Only as we spend time with Him daily in prayer and seek to know more about His character by reading His Word, will we begin to develop a heart like His and learn to love as He loves.


Copyright © 2013 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Best-Supporting Actor

"And the award for Best-Supporting Actor in a drama role goes to...."

Is there anyone reading this who doesn't feel like their name should be at the end of that sentence?  Drama has become the buzz word of today's generation, the nightmare of every parent, and the cultural norm on social media.  Personally I don't know of anyone who isn't affected by drama, or conflict and tragedy, in some form or fashion.  Even Christians and churches cannot escape it.

Interestingly, though, drama is not a word even found in Scripture.  Having read through the Bible more than once without recalling ever seeing the word, I did an online search of a handful of popular translations and could find no evidence of its inclusion in God's Word.  Yet the Bible has much to say about conflict, trials, and tribulations and the way Christians should handle them.  Nowhere does the Bible instruct us to get caught up in drama of any kind.  We just sort of write that into our own script.

So how do we handle life's twists and turns without getting sucked into the drama?  The only way I know how is to keep "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV).  Don't you just love it that Jesus is the author of our faith and not the author of all the drama that we deal with every day?  Yet He dealt with more drama than perhaps we ever will and endured His cross "for the joy that was set before Him." 

You are the joy Jesus suffered for on the Cross.  So is that troubled teen of yours and that elderly parent who cannot face the limitations that age and illness have put on him.  Jesus may not remove the drama from your life, but He will carry you through every season of your life, giving you the grace and strength to persevere and mature in your faith.  Try seeing the drama -- the people and circumstances that make life less than pleasant -- through the eyes of Jesus.  He endured for you.  Can you do the same for them?


Copyright © 2013 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

While There Is Still Time

As I look back over the events of the past couple of weeks I am astounded by the amount of violence, murder, and senseless tragedy that has occurred in our little corner of the world, as well as the threat of war halfway across the globe.

It is obvious that Satan knows his time is short because he has unleashed all hell against humanity. A five-year-old gun toting kindergartner and the senseless murder of pre-teen girl in a small rural community are heartbreaking enough. Add to that all the grown-up violence, tragedies, the brutal murder of civilians via chemical weapons, and the threat of U.S. military action in retaliation, and it becomes apparent that the world is spinning out of control.  Relief workers and missionaries who want to help the hungry, sick, and impoverished around the world face persecution and death in the very countries they go to serve. 

 Is any place safe? Only one place that I know of -- the shelter of God's loving embrace. May we not live in fear of the turmoil around us but rather seek refuge in the shadow of His wings.  May our sensitivity be heightened in a time when we have become so desensitized to the plight of our fellow man.  Rather than seclude ourselves in the comfort of our suburban lifestyle let us have the courage to face and slay the giants that are destroying the lives of those around us -- poverty, illness, family crisis, hunger -- and serve alongside God to make this world a better place as we not only meet physical needs but also share the Good News so that others may find their salvation in Christ.

Many are the tyrants and enemies that seek to steal, kill, and destroy any good in this world.   But how great is our God who has already overcome through the precious blood of the Lamb!  We must do the work of the One who has sent us -- while there is still time.

Originally published in The Collierville Herald, September 12, 2013.

Copyright © 2013 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Living with Les Miserables

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead (James 2:14-17).

It is no secret to my friends that "Les Miserables" has topped my list of favorite movies.  Not only is the music hauntingly beautiful and stirring, but the storyline of the movie is itself inspiring and deeply moving.  In "Les Miserables" Jean Valjean, a despised criminal desperate for freedom, is transformed by the mercy of a priest and the redeeming power of God's love. Given a chance to make something of his life, he becomes an advocate for the poor and downtrodden, investing his wealth and compassion to bring healing, love, and hope to the hopeless and in particular, to Fantine and her beloved daughter, Cosette.  Because of the love demonstrated to him, Valjean in turn demonstrates that love by caring for others less fortunate than himself.

The translation of Les Miserables is literally "the miserable ones."  We live in a world filled with miserable, dejected, and desperate people who struggle to make it day to day.  Just this week I have had the opportunity to minister to a woman who has lived on the streets for the past five years.  She called in the middle of the night to ask for a ride to the emergency room of a local hospital.   Not sure of what I would find when I picked her up, I prayed during the entire drive across town.  Carrying a small canvas bag containing her only worldly possessions, she possessed a survivor instinct that I found impressive and humbling.  Despite her obvious physical needs she was mentally astute and spoke only words of encouragement to the nurse who attended her, and me.  I know, however, that she isn't always that upbeat.  She has suffered through many bitterly cold winter nights and scorching summer days, occasionally finding refuge in a cheap hotel room or broken down car when she could afford one.  She doesn't meet the criteria for most of the shelters in our area and is unwilling to leave the comfort of her familiar surroundings to seek shelter elsewhere, therefore she continues to make the street her home.

This woman is not the only homeless person I have encountered.  There is a growing number of young people who have been turned out of their homes by parents who have grown weary of dealing with rebellion, lack of motivation, and disrespect. Some of these parents have chosen this course of action as a last resort in order to maintain peace in the home, protect other children living there, and because all other efforts to get through to their adult children have somehow failed.  Sadly, though, some parents lack the grace, wisdom, and support they themselves need to offer their kids the love, patience, and coping skills necessary to live in a society which continues to change and challenge us all.  As a result, these kids often turn to peers who are as messed up as they are and very few have their needs met or find the hope they so desperately need.

Many of us are so caught up in the problems and activities of our own lives that we fail to see the "miserable ones" among us.  What if we actually gave of our time and possessions to help those who are truly in need?  Jean Valjean had a significant impact on the lives of Fantine, Cossette, and Marius.  How many lives might God transform because we choose to extend His hand of mercy and demonstrate His love and grace to "the miserable ones" rather than leave them in the gutter of despair?


Copyright © 2013 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I Can See Clearly Now

I love to look out the window, especially the one in my office.  I find it helpful to gaze into the distance sometimes when I am thinking about what I want to write.  Lately, however, the view from my office hasn't been very inspiring because of years of grime that has accumulated on my window panes.  On a beautiful late summer day I decided I'd had enough and the time had come to tackle the beast!

I wish I had a "before" picture of my window so you could see why I was embarrassed to even open my curtains in the presence of guests.  A poorly hung storm window had allowed moisture in, resulting in a hazy glaze on the glass.  A lover of natural light and the view of trees, squirrels, and birds in my yard, I suffered with the haze and kept the curtains open except when visitors were around. 

After praying for God's help (yes, I even pray about washing windows!) I single-handedly began the task of removing the old warped aluminum storm window one rusty screw at a time.  It didn't want to budge and clung onto the window frame for dear life, reminding me of how unyielding I often am particularly when I think I am right about something.  Because I couldn't pull the window down easily, I had to work from inside my office, in a space behind my desk which was too narrow for even a skinny adult to maneuver, in order to free up the bottom of the storm window by pushing against it and forcing it away from the window sill. 

Elated at my success in removing the storm window I armed myself with glass cleaner and paper towels and began the task of cleaning each side of the windows until nearly all traces of dirt and grime were gone!  Determined to try, but not certain if I could hoist the storm window back up onto the window sill and secure it to the house, I called my husband to put him on notice that I might need his help.  However, with a little perseverance and a lot of prayer I managed to accomplish the job without him.  When he came home from work and shot me a "thumbs up," I was happy to see him clearly through the window!

Sometimes the accumulation of problems or hurts through the years clouds our vision so that we cannot clearly see God's plan or realize the depth of His love for us.  We may hang on for dear life to grudges or painful memories and miss the healing that is ours for the taking.  What is it that clouds your vision today?  Even as I prayed for God to help me remove the stubborn old storm window so that my windows could be made clean, I pray that He will strip away anything in my life which hinders my vision of Him and of His plans for me.  Will you do the same?




Copyright © 2013 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!