Monday, December 29, 2014

Dangerous Liaisons

(Originally posted January 5, 2012)

"Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life." -- Proverbs 4:23
Any man or woman with a shred of romance in their soul can relate to the movie, "An Affair to Remember." Full of memorable quotes, one that stands out in my mind is, "You don't plan these things...they just happen." When it comes to matters of the heart, though, sometimes "these things" can be prevented and disaster can be averted.

Take, for instance, the classic office romance. A new employee is hired, or two co-workers collaborate on a project and over the course of time an innocent collaboration becomes an emotional attachment that has the potential of becoming a full-blown illicit affair. With little warning, seemingly innocent relationships become dangerous liaisons as emotions burn out of control like a wildfire and eventually someone -- possibly an innocent spouse or significant other -- gets burned. A marriage goes up in flames, lives are ruined, and the romance that sparked it all is extinguished, leaving wounded hearts smoldering and scarred. Think it can't happen to you? Oh, yes, it can if you don't guard your heart!

At the moment we are saved, God's Holy Spirit comes to live within us and provides that "check in our spirit" that signals danger. If you are flirting with emotions toward an individual who is not your spouse, then clearly you have left your heart unguarded and vulnerable to the deception of the enemy, who seeks to destroy your marriage and damage your reputation.    Perhaps you are not married, but the other individual is.  No matter how unhappy he or she may be in their marriage, it is just as wrong for you to desire a relationship with that married individual as it would be for you to compromise your own marriage. 

As Christians, we are not immune to these affairs of the heart, but we are equipped with the weapons to resist the enemy, if we choose to.  If you find yourself in a situation where you feel your affection for your spouse has been compromised by your feelings for a co-worker, neighbor, or other individual with whom you have frequent, close contact, ask yourself why you feel the way you do.  Is it because the other person makes you feel appreciated and valued for what you do for him or her when, at home, you merely feel taken for granted?   Sometimes it is not the love of another individual that steals our affection, but simply the expression of appreciation from someone outside our own family and the sense of importance and fulfillment that our work gives us as a result.  Whichever the case may be, we allow that individual or sense of importance to become an idol, displacing God in our hearts and making room for a host of destructive emotions and behaviors.

Guard your heart vigilantly -- no one but you can. Look to the One whose affections and approval matter above all others and seek to please Him, rather than any man or woman. Ask God, who created you for a relationship with Him, to purify your heart, renew your love for Him and your spouse, and give you a sense of purpose as you surrender your service to Him. No man, or woman, is as faithful as our God. It is God's approval and love you should be seeking, even if that requires you to leave your job or sever communications with that person who has taken center stage in your mind and in your heart. 

If your fear of losing income or possessions causes you to stay in a situation where you know you don't belong, consider the higher cost you may have to pay if you stay and ask God for a way out.   "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Life Is Not a Hallmark Movie

It all began with a box of Grace Livingston Hill romance novels given to me perhaps before I was even a teenager.  That box of novels I read voraciously, dreaming of true love and the Prince Charming who would someday sweep me off my feet and ride with me into a blazing sunset.  Now I find myself spending hours watching the Hallmark channel during the holidays, totally caught up in one predictable story line after another.

I know only too well that life is not a Hallmark movie, though I certainly wish it could be. I was fortunate to date some fairly romantic and pleasant fellows on my way to the altar. Some were very skilled at the art of romance and stopped at nothing in their attempts to make me happy and win my heart.  Others drained me dry emotionally because they carried the baggage of brokenness or addiction.  God, in his mercy, gave me wisdom to break off the relationships that were unhealthy despite my tendency to hang on in an effort to "save" the other person.  On a few occasions I was the one whose heart was the casualty in a breakup.

Although my spouse of nearly twenty eight years doesn't fit the persona of a Hallmark movie leading man, he has been faithful and steadfast in his love for me. When the Lord brought us together thirty years ago I was a mess!  I had been in and out of one bad relationship after another, compromised the morals and scriptural principles I knew to be true, and given up on love.  Shortly before we met I told the Lord that I was done. Period. My attempts at finding love had only resulted in self-destructive behavior and a great deal of hurt, not only to myself but to others as well.

Instead of walking into a local piano bar one evening I walked into a roller-skating rink--alone.  All I knew was that a local Christian radio station was sponsoring the music and that my hopes of meeting a Christian were higher in the skating rink than they were in a bar.  I didn't really think I'd meet my life-partner that night, but that is precisely what happened.  Five years after we married we renewed our vows in that very roller rink!

Since that day over thirty years ago Steve and I have had our ups and downs. There have been times when our marriage has been rosy and seasons where disillusionment and disappointment have threatened to be our undoing. Staying married has been hard work, but we have both honored our vows and remained committed and faithful to each other. Love has not been all wine and roses and candlelight. At times it has yielded spontaneous laughter and at other times, stretched our faith muscles and our patience with one another.

I'll be the first to admit that I am not always loving or easy to love. But somewhere deep inside is undying love and a great appreciation for a man who has been faithful, steadfast, and true -- a model of Christ's love, the foundation for our marriage.

Life may not be a Hallmark movie and our marriage may not be the most passionate on the planet. But I am willing to try harder to win over the heart of my husband by becoming God's ideal of a wife wholly devoted to her Lord and her man. It will take more love and respect and sacrifice than I have given in the past, but in the end will result in our happily ever after.


Copyright © 2014 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!

A New Direction

Very few people read this blog even when I post the link on social media.  I might as well be talking to a brick wall, or perhaps just to myself most of the time. It doesn't matter, though, as long as someone is reached with the truth and encouragement of God's Word.  It has been my mission to write about life by taking the experiences I have had or the emotions I have felt in certain situations and sharing the lessons God taught me through them. Response to the things I have written has varied, but I have always written with the hope that someone would benefit from my mistakes and the hard lessons I have learned from them.

Over the course of the past six years I have authored three devotional books (all published), some magazine articles, and a few dozen newspaper columns.  Book sales have been lackluster and hits to the blog have been underwhelming.  The most hits I ever had was to a blog inspired by the Chilean mine accident several years ago and a news report that told of an "errant white butterfly."  Not sure why I am even sharing this except to say that things didn't quite turn out the way I thought they would.

I'm not sure where any of this is going, quite honestly.  I only know that in many aspects of my life I feel I am supposed to move in a new direction. Not knowing what that direction is, I am prayerfully seeking God's will and waiting on his direction rather than making my own way.  I have in mind what I think he might be trying to accomplish in my life, but I've "misunderstood" him before so I'm not going to declare anything until I have confirmation.  But I don't think the new direction is going to include much writing.  On the other hand, my greatest inspiration may be just around the corner.

2014 was a year of great change, including a move away from everything that was familiar to me -- family, friends, church, and a city where I'd lived all my life.  But the changes have been positive ones.  I have moved from what I had thought would be a flourishing writing and speaking ministry to a dream job in a small Methodist church, where I am able to put my God-given skills and past ministry experience to use serving a sweet congregation.  I have been able to use my music education and choral experience to work with their choir on occasion.  The work I do there is very rewarding and I know now that this ministry is why God uprooted me and moved me from Virginia.

Still, I believe he has even greater things in store for me in the days ahead. Or maybe I am just longing for more of him every day.  Whatever lies ahead I choose to embrace the adventure of not knowing--the adventure of placing all my trust in the One who knows the rest of the story. The road will no doubt be paved with difficulties and heartache, but God will remain my faithful companion and guide on the journey.

In just a few days we will turn the pages of our calendars to a brand new year.  What will your new year look like?  Will you embrace the adventure and live to your full potential, or will you shrink back in fear of heartache, failure, and loss.

In a sense, I believe God is calling us all to go in a new direction -- to walk by faith, not by sight; to make the most of our time, not waste it; to give more and seek less for ourselves; and to live victorious and holy lives so that others may know there truly is a God in heaven and that his Son, Jesus, is our only way to get there.

Do you need to move in a different direction in the coming year? If your heart is longing for more, perhaps the answer is yes. Prayerfully seek God's plan and purpose for your life and dare to embrace the adventure of living wholly surrendered to him. No matter how rough the journey may be at times, he will stay right beside you. Through every adversity you will see a little more of him until eventually, he will become all you need and everything you want.



Copyright © 2014 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, December 27, 2014

Let the Adventure Begin!

As 2014 comes to a close many of us will sigh deeply and say, "I'm glad to have this year behind me.  I hope 2015 is a much better year!"  Many of us experienced the painful loss of loved ones or the devastating diagnosis of chronic or terminal illness. Others found themselves uprooted and relocated or suffered the hardship of financial reversal.

Hopefully as this year draws to a close you will look back and see the hand of God in your circumstances. The suffering you experienced in 2014 may not have been on your radar but it was on God's. Did you sense him near you when the times were the hardest? Were you able to say, "I trust you, God," even though you didn't understand why he would allow such hardship?

We faced our own challenges as a family:  the loss of Steve's job and the hunt for a new one, which resulted in a relocation to Virginia because God closed every other door to employment in Tennessee; our out-of-state move, completed in two phases, with a four-month period of separation and the challenge of managing two households, parenting our kids without Steve present in our home, and finding a buyer for our home in Tennessee; the loss of Steve's dad in February and the unanticipated challenge of having to sell their home and move his mom to Virginia at the same time we were preparing for our move; and finding jobs for Chris and me as Joy started ninth grade in a new school. We also faced serious financial challenges as the result of my unemployment for nearly four months and the expense of the move itself.

Through every challenge and in every circumstance I knew that God was with me. Trusting in him and embracing all these challenges as an adventure was my only hope of surviving the chaos and the loss of everything familiar and comfortable.  The only way I could muster up the faith to endure it all was by spending time daily in his presence, quietly reading his Word, praying for his guidance and wisdom, confessing with my mouth--even when it was difficult at times--that I trusted him. It took a conscious effort and a determined will to trust God, but he never failed me. Not once.

None of us knows what challenges we will face in the new year. But I can promise you that if you will spend time daily with God, getting to know him and his Word, he will show you how to navigate the challenges, give you his peace in the midst of your storms, and fill you with the grace and hope you will need to climb every mountain. The things you will face may not be on your radar, but God knows the way you will take and when he has tested you, you will come forth as gold (Job 23:10).

Don't fear the future or shrink away from the challenges. Instead, embrace the adventure knowing that God will be with you every step of the way. "Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6, ESV).


Copyright © 2014 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!

Friday, December 26, 2014

But Wait, There's More!

Another Christmas has come and gone.  Wrapping paper has been tossed in the trash or used as fuel in the fireplace.  Leftovers have been wrapped up and refrigerated for the next meal or frozen for the next family gathering.  Loved ones have been put in planes, or as in the case of my husband and daughter, our "land yacht" (aka my station wagon) and sent back home.  And many of us are left asking, "Is that all there is?"

Thankfully, Christmas is only the beginning of the story.  Jesus, whose birthday we celebrate, still lives in the hearts of those who follow him.  His birth was just the beginning of an amazing story of love, miracles, healing, and sacrifice. His death on Calvary's cross was not the end of his story.  His resurrection is living proof that there is more yet to come!

If you feel let down now that the hoidays are over, look up!  Christ, who is seated with God in heaven, is eager to enter the hearts of all humankind, walk beside us as we journey through this life, and usher us into his kingdom where we will have lasting fellowship with him.  In the meantime, we can experience the expectation of Christmas each and every day by living our lives surrendered to his will, standing on the promises of his Word, and walking in the power of his Holy Spirit.



Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Whatever

Whatever life may throw at me
Whatever troubles come
I'll lift my eyes to heaven and say
"This world is not my home."
When sickness comes, the auto dies
Or work creates some stress
I'll think of others and their pain
And know how much I'm blessed.
Though hard I try to pay off debt
And reach a life of ease
I'm oft reminded that whatever comes
God promises His peace.
Whatever life may throw at you
Or troubles come your way
Remember that God's in control
Of each and every day.
He doesn't promise freedom from
The things that cause us grief
But if we will believe His Word
He promises relief.
Upon His Word and promises
I choose to take my stand
In confidence, whatever comes,
I'll reach my Promised Land.


Copyright © 2014 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, December 11, 2014

Still Finding My Way

A few years back, sometime between the publication of my first devotional book in late 2009 and my last book in 2013, I vainly envisioned myself with a speaking ministry that would provide opportunities for me to encourage large groups of women in churches throughout the South.  As a working mom I could barely find time to take care of my family and work obligations, let alone market and build interest in my books and speaking ministry.  By taking my cue from the positive feedback of others rather than seeking God's will, I inevitably set myself up for failure.  But sometimes failure is a good thing.

God has a way of humbling us, often before we recognize His call or reach our God-ordained ministry. While I believe God has used my books and blogs to encourage others in their faith walk, I am now convinced that the idea of a writing and speaking ministry was probably never His plan for me.  The events of this year have convinced me of that more than ever.

What has been the lesson I have learned in all of this?  That God's thoughts are not my thoughts, neither are His ways my ways (Isaiah 55:8). The beauty of the journey is that no matter how many detours I take along the way He will always patiently and divinely redirect my steps so that I walk beside Him and serve in the places of ministry He chooses.

Our greatest career ambition will never surpass the fulfillment of finding ourselves in God's perfect will or carrying out His plan for our lives. No adventure is greater than walking in the path He ordains. Although our choices are sometimes costly, God never wastes the experiences of those who ultimately seek to do His will.  Of that I am most certain.

It doesn't matter to me if I ever write or sell another book. All that matters is encouraging others with His Word -- the ultimate and eternal bestseller -- and living each day to know God more and use all He has given me to make a difference in the lives of others.  Could anything be better than that?



Copyright © 2014 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, November 27, 2014

Stuffed!

Thanksgiving Day is one of the days I most look forward to each year.  The smell of turkey roasting in the oven and a slice of pecan or pumpkin pie with a steaming hot cup of coffee delight me no end.  And while I won't be gathered around the dinner table with extended family today I look forward to eating my fill of traditional favorites at a nearby restaurant and enjoying a movie with my husband and kids.

Too many times I have left the Thanksgiving table stuffed from too much food.  But this year it is the overflow of blessings and peace of God that have left me full in the best way possible.  When I think of where we were a year ago and the incredible journey that God has taken us on this year, I am even more thankful.  Despite our loss of loved ones and the stresses of moving and adjusting to life in another state, blessings have flowed into our lives in so many ways that listing them would be impossible.

As you celebrate Thanksgiving I pray you will find yourself stuffed -- not with turkey, dressing and pecan pie, but with thankfulness for the overflow of God's blessings, love, and grace in your life, despite any adversity or loss you may have suffered this year.  His love and blessings for those who seek Him will never run dry.  If you desire more of God don't be bashful -- boldly ask and He will make sure that you are more than satisfied!



Copyright © 2014 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, November 15, 2014

My Greatest Fear

At a women's ministry event I recently attended we were asked the question, "What is your greatest fear?" We know the acronyms -- False Evidence Appearing Real or Future Events Already Ruined -- but have we really considered what fear looks like in our own lives?

At the end of our meeting some of us shared the discussions that had taken place at our tables.  As I began to share it dawned on me that my greatest fear is losing control and actually trusting God with the details of my life.  And I dare say I am not alone.  Let me give you a couple of practical examples that many of us can relate to.

Money is tight. Bills are due and there is only so much in the bank to cover them.  Yet God calls us to bring him the first fruits of our income and tithe to his work in our local churches. "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it" (Malachi 3:10, NIV).  Do we trust enough in God's provision to be obedient in our giving and receive his blessing, regardless of the method he chooses to bless us? Or do we hold tightly onto every last cent only to find that what we possess is inadequate anyway? Often it isn't the monetary lack that gets me; it is the sense of regret that I didn't obey and trust God to hold up his end of the deal. When I choose instead to obey and give, regardless of whether or not I feel I can afford to, I find that it is indeed truly more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

For those of us with teenage and young adult children we struggle with the fear that they will get involved with a negative peer group and choose a lifestyle of sin that will hinder their relationship with God and result in potentially devastating consequences for their lives.  We not only pray for them but we push them to choose faith in God, sometimes instead turning them away from God and alienating them in the process.  We fear releasing them into God's loving and capable hands because perhaps deep down we feel it is our responsibility to make sure they are saved and walking with the Lord. Yes, we must certainly train them up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6), but we must  lead them with a pure heart, a listening ear, a quiet and gentle voice, in the full measure of God's grace.  God loves them even more than we do.  Surely he can be trusted to do whatever is in the best interest of our children, even if he has to use adversity and unpleasant consequences to get their attention.

For me fear all boils down to where I place my trust.  When I exercise the faith to trust God with all that concerns me -- my finances, my children, or my need for wisdom to handle sticky situations -- and stop "playing God" by trying to control every aspect of my life, I find peace and joy despite the circumstances.

My greatest fear used to be the fear of losing control.  But as I have aged and grown in my relationship with God he has shown me that he is trustworthy and true to his Word, and more than capable of handing anything that comes my way.  The secret in conquering that fear is to let go of everything I've been holding onto and instead hold onto him.




Copyright © 2014 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!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fighting the Frenzy

It comes this time every year...the frantic holiday countdown.  The calendars and clocks on our walls, phones, and computers serve as constant reminders that time passes quickly, deadlines approach much sooner than we are prepared to meet them, and Christmas is just around the corner.

Each year many of us resolve to ease ourselves into the holiday season rather than be crushed by the rush to get everything done by midnight Christmas Eve.  We look for ways to cut back, do less, and savor the season but invariably get caught up in the madness of it all.  So what is the secret to fighting the frenzy?  There is no cookie-cutter formula for accomplishing everything and maintaining sanity and grace while navigating holiday traffic, seasonal celebrations, and balancing the holiday budget. The secret in finding peace at Christmas is really the same as it is for finding peace all year long.  The secret lies in an abiding relationship with Jesus, which is cultivated daily by sitting in his presence, talking with him in prayer, and getting to know him more fully by reading his Word.

Being organized, having a shopping list, and making a budget are all helpful; however, if we fail to commit them to the Lord, pray for his provision, and wisely allocate our time and resources, we soon get sucked into the holiday vortex where things quickly spin out of control.  When we focus too much on the holiday and neglect to remember the Reason for the Season, then everything becomes a blur and we lose enjoyment of what Christmas was meant to be.

Jesus bids us come to him as little children (Matthew 19:14).  Isn't that what Christmas is all about...coming to Christ?  How many children do you see running around all stressed out because they feel they have to attend one more holiday function, buy one more gift, or one-up the neighbors' holiday decorations?  Perhaps if, like children, we search for the Wonder of Christmas instead of trying so hard to make Christmas wonderful, we may actually find peace on earth or, at least, in our little corner of it.


Copyright © 2014 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!

Monday, November 3, 2014

To Know and Be Known

Social media has completely altered the way we communicate with others. There are things I love about Facebook and the other sites I utilize, and things I find completely annoying.  I think it is reasonable to say that the popularity of social media is largely driven by the innate human desire to know and be known.

I have been accused on occasion of posting self-absorbed updates.  Ouch. Perhaps I have posted too many pictures of the bridge, the beach, or my family, and spoken too honestly about the struggles I have endured, but honestly I don't know how else to write about the things that truly matter in life except to share how they matter to me, even if they are trivial or personal in nature.

Even in the mundane things of life I believe God teaches us lessons or reveals himself in ways that are meant to be shared with others--folks like us, who need encouragement to press on in their journey to know God and be known by him.  Yet, how can we share those lessons if we aren't willing to talk about how we learned them experientially?  That alone requires a certain amount of transparency and vulnerability.  Although I undoubtedly have crossed the line on occasion by telling more than perhaps I should, I never cease to be amazed by how God can take something I am hesitant to share, which could impugn my character, and actually encourage someone who shares a similar struggle. 

Don't judge me.  I have learned the hard way not to write about other people, at least no longer in any specific way.  On occasion God will use a particular relationship to teach me a greater reliance on him, how to press into him when I am hurting, or what it means to love and be loved in the power of the Spirit and with the grace of God.  If the lesson is profound and I feel so led, I write about it in hopes that someone else can benefit from what he is teaching me.

If you are among those I have offended, bored to tears, or simply annoyed, I am sorry.  Please know that my intention was never to draw attention to you or to myself, but to point others to the One who is all about relationship, restoration, and redemption.

Lest I share too much and be judged as one who is self-absorbed, know that there is only One I love with all my heart, and it isn't me.  It is Jesus, who lives in me.  If you truly know me, you know that I love him passionately because he saw the wretch I was...and some days am...and loved me anyway, enough to lay down his life to redeem me from my sins.  How will others know the One who is strong in me if I am unwilling to show how weak I truly am?  I am not perfect and my message will be offensive to some, but at the end of the day it won't be the "some" I live to please.  It will be the One who lives in me.




Copyright © 2014 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, October 18, 2014

Anyone Can Cheer!

I was a cheerleader once...for a third-grade pee-wee football team forty-plus years ago.  So much has changed since then.  Cheerleading has become a competitive sport for which I would never have qualified as a youth.  Never pretty, fit, or athletic enough, I would have been sidelined for sure!

Everyone needs cheerleaders, and in God's kingdom we are all meant to be.  Even though we may not call it cheerleading we are commanded to "encourage one another" (Hebrews 3:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:11).  What are some ways you have been encouraged by others?  How did it make you feel?

One of the mock cheers I remember hearing as a child went like this:  "Rah Rah Ree...kick 'em in the knee.  Rah Rah Rass...kick 'em in the...other knee!"  Sadly many of us do tend to kick others when they're down rather than encourage them.  Instead of affirming the positive things others do to make a difference, we assume they have it all together and really don't need our help. How much could we maximize their positive impact if we actually joined them in the work they do by praying for them or rolling up our sleeves to work beside them?

Cheer may be a competitive sport but encouraging others is a command, and it is something we all can do without special training or expensive uniforms.  Often all it takes is a kind word, an offer to lend a hand, or the willingness to pray for and support organizations and individuals who are passionate about making a difference.

It has been my experience that those who offer encouragement often receive encouragement.  If you need a cheerleader, try being one in someone else's life.  At the end of the day, when you stand before the Lord, he'll be cheering you on with these words:  "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:21, NIV).

Copyright © 2014 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, October 11, 2014

The Struggle to Trust

"I don't trust you, Lord."  I have actually said those words to God, on many occasions in fact.  Wounding the heart of the God who created me and gave his Son to die for my sins is not something I enjoy.  Yet, I still struggle to trust him in one particular area of my life -- finances -- even though he has demonstrated his faithfulness to provide for my family and me time and time again.

God's Word has more to say about money than just about any other subject.  He promises to supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:25-34), to give to us as we give to others (Matthew 6:38), and to bless us when we are obedient in our giving (Malachi 3:8-12).  If God cannot lie, then why do I struggle to trust him in this one area of my life?

Perhaps my struggle to trust God comes as the result of focusing on the waves rather than the One who calms the seas.  When the car breaks down or the dog gets sick and I have to divert funds to those emergencies rather than to the creditors who expect their payments on time, I am quick to withhold from God what is rightfully his so I can still manage to feed my family, put gas in my car, and keep the bill collectors off my back. I manage my money under the premise that I can't afford to give to my Provider when in fact, I can't afford not to.

For the first three months we lived in our new home I was unemployed. Bills stacked up. Our aging cars broke down and required repairs. We stopped giving.  After all, God has all he needs so why should he miss what little we had to offer, right? But withholding our tithe and using that cash to fund repairs, buy groceries, and keep the lights on didn't keep us from having an empty fridge, riding on fumes, or feeling the despair of just making it to payday. And not giving deprived me of the joy of knowing that God could take my little to make much of his Son in the lives of others.

Obedience, especially in the area of finances, is not for sissies.  Without faith it is impossible to please God.  But with faith and trust in the One who holds true to the promises of his Word, there is hope and adventure and the sheer joy of walking in obedience.

I am tired of not trusting God.  I am tired of feeling like a spiritual failure everytime I write a check to pay a credit card bill for something I never needed in the first place when there are people in genuine need who can benefit from my giving.  From now on I will trust God.  I will give and tithe as Scripture requires and watch for the blessings to unfold in my life, however he chooses to send them.  I will repay my debts as God provides and teach my children God's money principles so they get it right from the start.

Not trusting God is not the answer to our financial struggles.  Obedience in giving, is. God blesses each of us to be a blessing to others.  Truly, it is more blessed to give than to receive!







Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Will We Be Different?

As I think about my father-in-law, who would have turned 89 today and is celebrating his first birthday in heaven, I find myself wondering how different life must be for him today and how his personality his changed. I remember how he was here -- funny, giving, sometimes a little unorthodox and cranky. His prayers were always filled with acknowledgements of God's holiness and sovereignty though his actions often reflected his own human nature.

Those of us who walk with the Lord can attest with all gratefulness to the fact that we are not the people we used to be. Still, we are flawed and unworthy--except by God's grace--to even speak the name of Jesus let alone stand in His presence.  It is hard to imagine that we could be any different than we are, or how we will be when we meet God face-to-face.

Scripture tells us that in heaven there will be no more pain or sorrow or suffering, that we will worship the Lamb of God, and that we will have perfect bodies. But what about our personalities? How will they change?  Will we be different?  Will we no longer be challenged by difficult people or subject to personality conflicts?  It is hard to imagine that every resolution will be peaceful or that conflict will be absent altogether, yet that is what most of us long for.  We want to get along with difficult relatives, impossible neighbors, and be more tolerant and loving of those who presently challenge us.

I have no doubt that we will will be different and better.  But how will we be different?

It is hard to imagine what my father-in-law is experiencing today or how he has changed. Would I even recognize him now? If we swapped places would he recognize me?

Before my day comes to make that final journey to be with Jesus, I hope that I will be so radically changed by Him that others will recognize Him in me.


Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ms. Stake and Me

Most people have a favorite teacher, an individual who helps shape them during their impressionable years.  My high school English teacher ranks high on my list of favorite teachers, running a close second to my top tutor, Ms. Stake.

I have learned a lot from Ms. Stake. Even though some of her lessons were the result of my own embarassing errors, much of what she has taught me has protected me from the devastating consequences of far greater transgressions than misspelled words or hasty decisions. When I have listened to her wisdom she has saved me time and money.  And on occasion, my life.

Recently I started a new job after a three-month absence from the work force.  I hit the ground running, never dreaming that I would learn so much in such a short period of time. Just when I thought I had successfully finished a project I discovered an error that set me back a couple of hours, one that could have been avoided had I not been in such a rush to complete the project.  Lesson learned?  Haste makes waste and smug self-satisfaction can be squashed by the simplest little mistake.

Although Ms. Stake is a totally fictitious teacher, there is a Teacher -- the Holy Spirit -- who is always with me guiding me and directing my footsteps. The textbook he uses is the Word of God.  When I actually listen to him and follow his lead I am blessed in so many ways.  He never leads me astray; in fact, he does all he can to help me avoid costly mistakes that could result in harm to me and those I love.

Many years ago I went through a season of rebellion when I stopped listening to the Spirit and started living in willful disobedience. I suffered a lot of brokenness and heartache. Bad things happened to me...really bad things...but God never gave up on me and never quit teaching me.  Once I decided to open my heart to him again and start walking in obedience to his Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit, he set my feet on the path to an adventure that gets more exciting with each passing day -- a personal relationship with God and the joy of intimate fellowship with him.

Maybe you have made mistakes that you feel disqualify you from a personal relationship with God.  I've been there and completely understand. So does God.  But God has made a way to restore your fellowship with him through his Son, Jesus Christ, who died to save us all from our sins and rose from the dead so that we may experience new life in him.

If you are tired of making mistakes and being defined by your own failures, look to the One who can redeem you once and for all.



Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Monday, September 22, 2014

The Burdens We Bear

On my way home from another costly trip to the vet I found myself very thankful. Not thankful for spending money I couldn't afford to spend, but thankful it wasn't more than it could have been.  Lately sick dogs and broken down cars have exceeded my budget and consumed nearly my entire paycheck, but thank God for the paycheck, right?

As I contemplated this latest challenge and asked God His purpose in allowing it, I found myself thinking that perhaps He allows inconveniences and unexpected expenses to teach us gratitude -- for the things we are able to manage because of His provision and the hardships we don't suffer even though others have more than their share.

The burdens we bear are often insignificant compared with the difficulties others face. Every time I am tempted to complain God patiently reminds me of that.  What are the burdens you face today?  Can you find a reason to thank God in spite of them We are not commanded to thank God for everything we face, but we are commanded to thank Him in all things, for that is His will for us in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).



Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ramblings of a Working Woman

As I prepare to start my fourth week in my new job I wonder where the time has gone.  The kinder gentler pace of a lazy summer has been replaced by a rhythm more resembling a beehive than the slow-pouring honey manufactured in it.  Said another way -- life is suddenly very, very busy.  In a sense, I feel as though I have reverted to my former existence, the one before the move when I was busy being a single mom (in the absence of my spouse who had already moved), tending to my kids and packing for our relocation to Virginia.  But one thing is different:  my determination to take some time every day to enjoy the beauty of our surroundings and to connect with my family, despite our busy schedules. As I write this late on a Sunday evening I am waiting for my eldest offspring to come through the door, anticipating that he will be exhausted from a long shift in the kitchen of the restaurant where he works.  I need to be in bed, but he will need me to be up waiting for him to talk about his day. A mom's job never ends.

I love my new position and am so grateful for the kindness of the people I serve.  God has once more given me better than I deserved, and I am so very thankful.  When I consider the timing of this job and the blessing of having an entire summer off to bond with my kids and get acclimated to a new home in a new place, I cannot help but be amazed.  And while I no longer have the amount of time at home that I once did, it's all good. I am relearning good time management skills and finding that at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what didn't get done.  What is important is what was accomplished for God's glory and the time I spent with the people I love.

I love what the author of Ecclesiastes wrote in chapter 3, verse 22:  "So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?"  Not knowing what the future holds is what makes the life of the surrendered Christian a daily adventure. But the joy of walking in God's will and enjoying the job He has laid in my lap for such a time as this is an absolute treasure!



Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pleasant Places

"I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord" (Psalm 27:13-14, NIV).
Usually the devotionals I write are the bittersweet fruit of suffering. The ability to pray through my struggles, filter them through the lens of God's Word, and write about them encourages me and, I hope, others.

This morning, however, I write from a different perspective. Even though I still face daily challenges which test my patience and stretch my faith muscles, I can say with all conviction that "the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance" (Psalm 16:6). Reaching the point where I can say that has not been easy or quick. I have walked through a lot of fiery trials and battled the enemy time and time again, sometimes falling and failing to emerge unscathed. But I have persevered knowing that nothing on life lasts forever and assured that my true life rests with God in heaven, where I will experience joy, peace, health, and the riches of heaven for all eternity.

My "pleasant place" is not merely the address where I now reside but rather the presence of God and the promise of his peace while I walk this earth. It is the knowledge that I can trust in the promises of his Word for provision and healing and comfort. It is knowing that when I am heartbroken or conflicted, he is greater than my heart and knows everything (1 John 3:20).

Right now you may be in a season of unbearable adversity, one seemingly without end. Hold fast to the hand of your Savior, who will never let you go. Dare to be still for just a moment, close your eyes, and picture yourself walking hand-in-hand with Jesus toward the glow of heaven's light around God's throne, as every trouble and heartache fades into the shadows. Journey on knowing that your light and momentary troubles are achieving for you an eternal glory that outweighs them all (2 Corinthians 4:17).



Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Who's Holding Your Umbrella?

Rainy Day at Gloucester Point Beach
"Rainy days and Mondays always get me down."  This line from a hit song of The Carpenters is particularly fitting as I write this. Yesterday was a rainy Monday. This morning I awoke to heavy rain and a river flowing through my front yard. But it's not all bad. Thirsty plants are rejoicing to have a long overdue drink of refreshing rain and hummingbirds are still buzzing around my feeder. Sometimes we just need rain.

Figuratively speaking, the trials of our lives often pour in torrents at times. This is my rainy season, it seems. I am flooded with bills that are awaiting that first paycheck to hit the bank after a three-month drought of unemployment. My "almost antique" wagon is sitting in my driveway waiting on brakes. And my husband is on his way to traffic court to hear the judge say, "You should have listened to your wife." (Don't I wish?  In reality he will probably make Steve pay court costs that could have been avoided, for a resolved traffic offense that should never have occurred in the first place, and send him on his way with an empty checkbook.)

It's not all bad, however. Even though my car can not be driven until the brakes are repaired when we get paid at the end of the week, Steve and I can carpool easily because of our shift times, Joy's school schedule, and the locations of our jobs. It isn't convenient but it is do-able. Eventually, as we keep plugging away at our jobs and pay down our debt, we will manage to save money for the things we want to do instead of the things we have to do.

We've all heard it said that "when it rains it pours." But I like to tag that phrase with this assurance -- God is holding the umbrella!  As surely as rainy days will muddy the road you walk at times, bad things will always happen to good people. That is the nature of the world in which we live. But rain or shine you can count on one thing -- God is good all the time!

I once told a co-worker that it occurred to me one day that the colors of autumn are more vibrant on a cloudy day. (As the leaves turn this year, keep that in mind.) Often, the blessings of God are never more real than when we walk through a season of adversity with a thankful heart. If you are having trouble finding a reason to thank God this morning, then consider his promise to you:  "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him" (James 1:12, NIV).


Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

In the Stillness of the Morning

In the stillness of the morning, in the presence of the One
Who with his words spoke into being the stars and moon and sun
And every tree whose leaves will turn as autumn chills the air,
I feast upon his words of life and talk to him in prayer.
These moments in the early morn before I start my day
Are precious ones wherein I seek to learn his will and way,
That in them I may gladly walk and seek to do his will,
So that in all I say and do his purpose is fulfilled.
Unless each day I turn aside from all of life's demands
And look to him for guidance to reach my promised land
My feet will only stumble until my way is lost
Unless I live surrendered in the power of the cross.
Christ's footsteps I will follow wherever he may lead,
With assurance he will guide me as upon his Word I feed.
Trusting ever in his promise that beside me he will stay
I will glory in each blessing that he offers me this day.



Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Happy Endings and New Beginnings

As leaves begin to turn along the Colonial Parkway and school buses shuttle kids back and forth to school, it is clear that summer has ended in our neck of the woods. But what a summer it has been! Although it saddens me that our "perfect summer" is over I can't help but praise God for the happy endings and new beginnings that have been part of our first summer in Virginia.

Among the biggest blessings have been:

Reconnecting as a family. Prior to our move we lived through a season of separation with Steve moving to Virginia nearly five months before the kids and I did. Family meals were nonexistent. With Chris and I both employed back home our conversations often amounted to nothing more than a quick phone call or text message. Now our family of four eats together often and we occasionally get together with Steve's brother, David, and his family, who live a little over an hour from us instead of a thousand miles away.

Steve and kids at Cracker Barrel on moving day, one of many meals we have shared together.

Living near the water. Through the years I have been heard to say, "I'm becoming my mother." But this summer, with many beautiful rivers, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic ocean within a short drive, I have begun to appreciate the love my father had for the water. No matter how often I visit the ocean front or Gloucester Point Beach Park I never cease to be amazed by the beauty of the sky, water, and wildlife. As I gaze across the waves I cannot help but worship the One who created it all.

Joy at Sandbridge Beach near Virginia Beach.

Steve and Joy at Gloucester Point

Rainbow and sea gulls at Gloucester Point looking toward Chesapeake Bay (top) and historic Yorktown (bottom).


Great "day-cations!" From sailing the Elizabeth River with my brother-in-law to strolling the streets of Colonial Williamsburg and the National Mall in Washington, DC, we have enjoyed great sightseeing on a shoestring budget. There is so much history and natural beauty near us that it will take years to take it all in. That's a challenge I eagerly embrace!

Fun with Chris and Joy in Colonial Williamsburg.

Washington Monument as seen from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on a picture-perfect Sunday afternoon!

    David and Chris readying the boat for our first sailing adventure.



A three-month vacation! Being without work for the entire summer has been financially challenging. But we have had time to do all the things mentioned above and  settle into our new life here. God has faithfully met our needs and brought much-needed healing to our family after a long season of stress and heartache. We are still a work in progress but we anticipate a bright future as God continues to guide us into his perfect will.

Happy Endings...New Beginnings.  After three months of intense job hunting Chris and I are now employed! I started my new job as Church Office Administrator with Bethany United Methodist Church the same day Joy started her freshman year of high school.  Chris got a job working in the kitchen of a new restaurant just before Labor Day!  I love how perfectly God timed jobs for both of us, a happy ending to the latest chapter in our story.

With the start of a new job in ministry it is unlikely that I will pursue a writing and speaking ministry of my own. Although I will continue to write as God inspires me, my emphasis will be on growing more in my relationship with him and serving his church in Virginia. How long we will remain here and what he will accomplish through us are totally up to him.

And so the adventure continues...


Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Rainbow Connection

Rainbow at Gloucester Point Beach
A lot of people are skeptical when it comes to "signs and wonders," but not me! As a lover of nature and the God who created all things I often sense his presence when I survey the beauty of his creation. That in itself is no small wonder! But what about signs? Does God still use signs to connect and communicate with his people? Yes, I believe he does.

One of the wonders God has used in my life more than once, to signal his presence and fill me with peace in a particular situation, is a rainbow. Nearly thirty years ago after my father passed away late one night, my mother and I faced the dreadful task of driving across town to deliver the sad news to my grandmother early the next morning. Knowing how devastated she would be I prayed for God to be with us and comfort Grannie in a way we could not. As we pulled onto the interstate to make the thirty-minute trip I looked out my window and saw a beautiful rainbow in the east, which was visible the entire duration of our drive. It was a sign to me of God's presence with us and his assurance that everything would be okay.

Just a few days ago I drove to the beach at Gloucester Point, a favorite spot of mine since our move to Virginia, to pray before an important job interview.  In the past few months I have visited the Point several times a week, at various times and in all kinds of weather, to look at marine life and watch the river flow. It is a peaceful and beautiful place where I often go to escape from the noise and stress of life. But on this particular day, because of its close proximity to the location of my interview, it became a place of prayer.

When I pulled into my usual spot near the bridge I looked out my driver side window and spotted a rainbow stretched across the sky above the river.  A coincidence? I think not. It was the first rainbow I had seen at the Point. Quickly I grabbed my camera to take a photo of the rainbow, joyfully accepting it as a sign of God's presence with me in the interview and his promise to meet our needs by opening the door to the job he has already chosen for me.

The connection I felt with God as I gazed upon that rainbow is a connection we each can have through a personal relationship with his son Jesus, who died to save us from our sins. If you have never received his free gift of salvation and desire to learn more, click here. It will be the best decision you ever make!








Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Monday, August 18, 2014

At a Loss for Words

What do you do when your heart is full but you can't put your feelings into words? As a writer I sometimes struggle with this problem. Since I'm not an author of novels or longer nonfiction works it doesn't become a particularly stressful issue for me unless I feel compelled to write or am facing a publication deadline. When I do suffer writer's block a simple journal entry and a good cup of coffee will usually relieve the urge to write when inspiration is elusive and the words just won't come. I know that when God has something he wants to convey through my writing he will let me know and give me the words needed at just the right time.

What do you do, though, when you really need to pray about something but you can't work through the hurt, fear, or anger you feel?  When your thoughts are so overshadowed by stress and circumstances that you can't gain a proper perspective or clearly articulate the burden you carry in your heart?  It helps to be reminded that "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" (Romans 8:26, NASB).

We serve a God who created us in his own image (Genesis 1:26) and fully understands the complexities of the human heart (1 John 3:20).  Jesus himself agonized in prayer, so that his sweat fell to the ground like drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Clearly he understands the burdens of your heart! Even though you cannot find the words to express them, simply uttering his name, Jesus, hearkens his ear to the desperate cries of your heart. There is more power in the name of Jesus than in all the words in all the dictionaries that have ever been written.

When you call on Jesus all things are possible!


Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cure for the Common Crazy

Who is it that makes you crazy? Your spouse? Your kids? That difficult coworker who shows up late or won't shut up?  If you walk this earth there is probably someone who aggravates you on occasion and brings out the worst in you. If not, then you have already discovered the cure for the common crazy:  Grace.

I never cease to be amazed at the countless ways God uses to teach me about his grace and the ways I should reflect it.  For the past few months he has used a Bible study and the relocation of my family to another state to teach me more about grace and how truly essential it is in every aspect of our daily lives.  So what is this grace?

Grace has been defined as "God's unmerited favor" or "getting what we don't deserve." The clearest demonstration of God's grace is our salvation through his Son Jesus, who willingly died on the cross for our sins. We didn't deserve the sacrifice of God's only Son as atonement for our sins, but "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16, NIV).

As Christians who have received the gift of salvation our lives should reflect the grace of God. When people bring out the worst in us instead of God's best, how can we bear witness to his grace rather than give in to our human inclination to lash out against that person who makes us crazy?


Remember whose you are. "You are not your own. You were bought at a price" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The price Christ paid by dying for your sins is immeasurable. Should we do any less in return than walk in the grace that he demonstrated to us? How else will others learn of his grace if we don't flesh it out before them?

Pray for those who wrong, mistreat, or aggravate you.  "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even then tax collectors doing that? Be perfect, therefore, even as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:43-46, 48). I will be the first to admit that loving someone who irritates or offends me is difficult. But I have learned that saying a simple prayer for them in the heat of the moment quickly turns my attention to God and draws him into my dilemma. When I do that I am less likely to respond in haste or with anger.

Find some reason to give thanks! "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). You don't have to be thankful for the conflict in which you find yourself but you can certainly thank God that he is in it with you! Perhaps that difficult person has issues you don't have -- give thanks!

Remember that the conflict won't last forever. "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). That wayward teenager will eventually grow into a responsible adult. That annoying coworker will not go home with you at the end of your shift (unless you choose to take her there by "talking shop" with your significant other). When I struggle with difficult relationships it helps me to remember that I am not the person I used to be. By seeing the positive changes God has made in me I know that there is indeed hope for that other person whose behavior is of concern to me. It also helps to remember that God is God and I am not. There are certain things only he can do!

Love and forgive others as God has loved and forgiven you. Loving and forgiving others are not options. They are commands from Jesus himself. "A new command I give you:  Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35).  "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:14-15). Love and forgiveness go hand-in-hand.  Always have, always will.  It is only when we meditate on the love and forgiveness Christ demonstrated on the cross that we are able to extend them to others.

Here's the bottom line:  Our lives depend on God's grace. So do the lives of those who at times make us crazy. How can they know God's grace if our lives aren't a living testimony?  As much as we may love our families, God loves them more. As difficult as some folks may be, God expects us to love and forgive them because that is what he has done for us. Pick your battles, pray without ceasing, choose joy!  Love will always cover a multitude of sins and at the end of the day, God will still be God and you will still be his beloved child.






Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

While They're Still Here

The recent death of beloved comedian Robin Williams finds many of us remembering not only his wit but learning of his compassion and involvement in causes such as animal rescue, working with the homeless, and supporting the fight against cancer. We have learned of his kindness and gentleness as a father and friend and been made keenly aware of his personal struggles with depression and addiction.  His tragic death has underscored the brevity and unpredictability of life.

Many of us have friends and family who are lost in their own stormy seas of mental illness, emotional dysfunction, or addiction.  There are others who are homeless, jobless, or lonely.  Where is their hope and how can we help?

It is easy -- and I for one have been guilty -- to get so caught up in our own problems that we lose sight of others and the things they may be going through.  Or we simply fail to look beyond the surface and truly understand the condition of the human soul.

Today take a closer look at the people around you.  Be more sensitive to the challenges they may be dealing with and look for ways you can help.  Learn what you can about the things you may not understand, such as mental illness, suicide, and social injustice.  Lend an ear or a helping hand and make a difference where you can.

Life is short.  Our opportunities to make a difference and to share God's love with a hopeless world are diminishing with each passing day.  Hug those close to you, encourage them, and express how much you love them...while they're still here.


Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Are We There Yet?

Are we there yet?  It is the unrelenting question of antsy children on a long journey, who tire of the restraints which keep them from running and playing freely.  It is the cry of the weary pilgrim, who yearns to reach his promised land.  And it is the believer's impatient plea as we long for the day when we will leave behind the trials and sorrows of our earthly existence and finally arrive in that peaceful heavenly abode our Savior is preparing for us.

In my journey to become all God wants me to be, I have struggled...really struggled...with relationships that challenge me. Because of them I realize just how much I need to mature in my relationship with God.  As a committed follower of Christ I know I should love the difficult people he has placed in my life, but sometimes it is difficult to model his grace and love them unconditionally, even though I recognize I am far from perfect and utterly powerless to change them.  Their annoying behaviors bring out the worst in me, stealing my joy and sending me into a tailspin of self-loathing and condemnation.

As I contemplate and pray about this dilemma there are a few things that come to mind:

1.  Jesus knew that we would have difficult relationships and taught us how to handle them. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:44-45, ESV).

2.  Jesus called us to love others as he loved us, sacrificially. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13, ESV).

3.  Without love, we have nothing and we gain nothing. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, ESV).

4.  Love possesses certain characteristics.  Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, ESV).

5.  Love is an act of obedience. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments (1 John 5:2, ESV).  Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him (John 14:21, ESV).

There is so much more God has to say on the subject of loving others. It should be as easy as making up our minds to simply obey God and get along, right?  Not a chance! But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't do our best, with God's help, to love one another, especially those requiring an extra measure of grace.

Even Paul struggled with getting it right, recognizing his fleshly limitations and frail humanity. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing (Romans 7:16-19, ESV). 

Like Paul, I struggle with sin, particularly in the area of difficult relationships. And I know that what God expects of me is something I cannot accomplish in my own power.  But Paul himself offers us all this encouragement:  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8, ESV). 

When it comes to loving the difficult people in my life I'm nowhere close to where I want to be, but with God's help I believe I will eventually get there!




Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Right at Home

"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15, NIV).

The view from my La-Z-Boy
From where I sit this morning the world is a beautiful place and my heart is at peace.  It is hard to believe that we have been in our new home for two months now. 

Life is so different here, better than I expected. Although getting used to a smaller home was an adjustment at first I appreciate having more time to enjoy life.  With less to clean and maintain I now have the luxury of sitting in the backyard watching birds and the occasional rabbit that comes through the fence. Trips to "the beach within reach" are a frequent occurrence, not so I can soak up the rays but rather observe crabs and jelly fish in their natural habitat, watch passing boats, and marvel at how different Gloucester Point appears depending on the weather and time of day. Each visit is a new adventure.

Chris
The biggest blessing of all has been reconnecting as a family and spending quality time together after five months of separation.  I have especially enjoyed getting reacquainted with Chris, who was not home much because of his work and other activities.  Please pray for Chris and me as we continue to seek employment here.

With school just around the corner, Joy will start her own new adventure and our schedule will become busier and more routine.  Until then I plan to milk every moment of summer that I can and enjoy these kiddos while there is still time.  They are growing up much too quickly!

Joy

Life here is better but certainly not perfect. We continue to struggle with many of the same problems we had before the move. There are new challenges, too. That is part of the adventure.  But we know God is in this move and that he has a solution for every problem and provision for every need. No matter how long we stay here or where God leads us in the future, with him we'll always be right at home.



Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Little Bit Goes a Long Way

No matter how much or how little sleep I get at night I find myself tired at odd times throughout the day. These occurrences of fatigue have very little to do with the quality of the sleep I get; rather, they have everything to do with the frame of mind I happen to be in.

Case in point -- I can be sleep-deprived the night before a vacation yet get on the road and travel twelve or thirteen hours to get to my destination without ever getting sleepy.  The excitement of the adventure causes an adrenaline rush that allows me to push through the exhaustion I should feel. Or I can be out with friends feeling energized by their fellowship only to come home and be hit by a sudden wave of fatigue as I walk through the front door to the reality of family life.  Not saying my family stresses me out all the time but we are human and tend to get sideways with one another from time to time.

So what is the answer?  How do we combat the fatigue of battle (we're all in a battle of some sort) without losing the strength or will to fight?  I have to admit that sometimes I am overwhelmed by everything and desire nothing more than to cave in to the comfort of my bed or retreat to a corner of the house where no one can trample on my hurting heart.  Don't you feel that way, too?

Certainly if I am physically tired I will take a nap so I can function better.  But if I realize that my fatigue is emotional or spiritual I run as fast as I can to a quiet place where I can pour out my heart to the Lord. However, running to him isn't enough.  It is only when I begin to thank him for my blessings and yes, for the trials that send me rushing into his arms, that the mantle of heaviness begins to lift from my shoulders and rest upon his.

I don't know what despair you face today but I do know that a thankful heart does wonders in my fight to defeat discouragement and re-energize me when I feel exhausted.  If all your talks with God seem to fall on deaf ears try seasoning them with a little more thanksgiving.  The aroma of praise is not only irresistible to our Lord but also a key ingredient in the recipe for a joyful life that glorifies him. Just a little bit goes a long way.

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NASB).



Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Glorious Unfolding

I'm pregnant -- with expectation, that is.  (Had some of you worried, didn't I?) Take a breath while I explain.

In January my world turned upside down, but in a good way.  Steve was downsized as a result of a bank merger and God saw fit to open an employment opportunity in Virginia, closing all other doors for employment in Tennessee.  In twelve short days from the day his offer was received, my husband moved.  Less than six weeks later my father-in-law went to be with Jesus following a short illness.  And three months later, the rest of our family, including my mother-in-law, moved to Virginia. It was a crazy, crazy time for our family.

As I sit here reflecting on all that has transpired and all that didn't go according to my plans as far as my ministry is concerned, I realize that God is working out things I cannot even begin to imagine. More than once today I have been led to 1 Corinthians 2:9 --“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” Steven Curtis Chapman's song, "The Glorious Unfolding," is playing in an unending loop in my mind.  And you know what?  I couldn't be more excited about this season in my life, as uncertain and untidy as it is!  In spite of all the unanswered questions, unending searches, and endless possibilities, this I know:  What I don't see, God does.  What I don't understand is completely clear to him.  No matter where he takes me -- the highest mountaintop or the lowest valley -- he will be there to guide me every step of the way.

Maybe you are in a season of life where you don't know which end is up.  You are discouraged, as I have been, that things didn't turn out quite the way you expected.  Maybe you are in the middle of a trial for which there seems to be no purpose but your own pain.  Don't lose heart!  "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Click here for the lyrics to "The Glorious Unfolding" and here to listen to this encouraging song.


Copyright © 2014 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!

Monday, July 21, 2014

God's Significant Other

While waiting on calls from potential employers I have anticipated job interview questions in my mind even before they are asked.  "What makes you a good candidate for this job?  What motivates you?  Why should I hire you?"

We have all had to answer questions of that type at one time or another.  Maybe not to get a job, but certainly as we have journeyed through this adventure called life. What motivates you to do the things you do or work as hard as you work?  I would have to say that I am driven by the need to make a significant contribution to my employer and a difference in the lives of the people I meet.  I want what I do and who I am to matter, significantly.

Whether or not we feel like our presence on this planet makes a difference to anyone else, we need to be reminded--or perhaps hear for the first time--that we are significant to God. Regardless of whether we are married, widowed, divorced, or single, as children of God we are his "significant other."  In case you question your significance in his eyes, consider that:

He created you in his image! (Genesis 1:27)
He has engraved you on the palms of his hands. (Isaiah 49:16)
He loves you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 32:3)
He holds your tears in a bottle. (Psalm 56:8)
He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)
He has declared himself to be your peace. (Ephesians 2:14)
He died a grueling death on the cross in your place for your sins so that you could spend eternity with him! (John 3:16)

There is indisputable evidence all through scripture that God loves you and you matter to him.  Next time you doubt that, take a look in the mirror and you will see God's significant other.




Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Dog and the Frog

My favorite thing about our move to Virginia has been watching nature in all its forms.  Recently I ran across my binoculars in one of our unpacked boxes.  Needless to say, I have carried them with me everywhere.

Binoculars were of no use one night, however, when I was bird and bat watching on the deck.  Madison, who had been outside with me for awhile (she always comes clawing at the sliding glass door when she wants to join me), was standing at the back door looking in and waiting ever so patiently for me to open the door so she could join the rest of our pack, who were inside watching some show on cable.  Their idea of watching nature is tuning into Animal Planet.  I remained outside a while longer waiting for stars to appear.

When I got ready to go inside I turned around and noticed a tiny little frog sitting in the same posture as Madison had earlier -- on haunches (I don't suppose frogs sit any other way) on the door frame with its nose pressed against the glass.  It was if he were saying, "Hey, look at me!  Here I am!  I want to come in and watch TV too!"  "Little buddy, I wish you could come inside but my species doesn't take kindly to critters running and hopping loose in the house!  Especially the dog!"

What I would give to have had my camera to take a picture of the frog at the door.  That's a pose the dog strikes often -- side-by-side the photos would have been precious!


Copyright © 2014 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!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Grace, Grace, Grace

If there is one word that keeps cropping up everywhere I look, in nearly every devotional I read and every sermon I hear, it is the word "grace."  That is probably because God knows it is the character trait most lacking in my life these days and the one I most need to exercise when it comes to the people closest to me. Isn't it often our own families who try our patience, push our buttons, and bring out the worst in us?  Yet they are the ones in most need of our grace and love.

Exercising grace isn't easy.  In fact, apart from the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, it is virtually impossible to do.  Yet the dividends of extending grace to those we feel least deserve it, benefit not only them but us.  Loving others just as they are frees us from anger and self-condemnation and opens the door for God to develop them into the adults he wants them to be.  We cannot make that happen by pushing, cajoling, coercing, or threatening them; but God can work wonders in their lives as we allow him to pour his love into them through us.

Oh, it's so hard!  It is hard to trust God to accomplish what we cannot:  to change and somehow incline their hearts toward him.  When I look at my own life, I can see that is exactly what he did for me!  During a lengthy season of rebellion my mother prayed for me but rarely interjected her opinions or convictions.  She simply loved me and left the job of changing me to the only One who could turn my life around.

My goal as a wife and mother is to simply love the members of my household and be the authentic Christian the Lord wants me to be.  It is not a matter of persuading them to change, but allowing God to change me.

Lord, thank you for your amazing grace.  Keep reminding me over and over of that word until I truly understand and live as a reflection of your grace.




Copyright © 2014 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!