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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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, 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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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, 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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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 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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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 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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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 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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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 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