Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Remembering 2015

It is the morning before New Year's Eve and all is quiet as I ponder the year that is soon to end.  I am thankful for the many blessings God has bestowed on us -- good jobs, a quiet town in which to live, and a church where we can serve and feel at home. But no blessing is greater to me than restored relationships and the closeness I share with my immediate family.

I know of many people who have lost dear friends and family members this year, some tragically and unexpectedly, others after long illnesses.  I pray for their comfort and try to imagine how different life is for them without their loved ones.  I think of my own family and count myself blessed to still have my mom and siblings, though I know that the day will come when I too will suffer the loss of loved ones close to me. Rather than take them for granted I need to do a better job of keeping in touch and nurturing my relationships with loved ones while they are still with me.

There are some things I need to do differently next year.  My doctor says I need to lose weight and lower my cholesterol level.  While I don't plan to take up running or join Weight Watchers, I will endeavor to achieve better health by eating better and exercising more.  I will also spend less time watching TV, though in our quiet neck of the woods there is little else to do.  Instead, I will devote more time to writing, housekeeping, and serving others, perhaps as a volunteer.

With the dawn of a new year upon us the clock is ticking, and more than ever I feel a sense of urgency to make a difference in the lives of those who need the encouragement and salvation of the Lord.  There is much work to be done in this out-of-control world before He returns.

I have said that my one word for 2016 will be "worship" -- not merely the singing of God's praises but the commitment to live each day fully surrendered to His will and to honor Him in thought, word, and deed.  To worship Him I must change my focus, redirect my energy, and develop new habits, knowing that it will take the power of His Holy Spirit to effect positive change.

Making New Year's resolutions never works because it becomes all about us.  In our own efforts we often fail.  But what if in the coming new year we strive to live out the truth we profess to believe, relying on the grace and power of God to direct our lives and accomplish through us those things that are consistent with His Word?  What if we actually treat our bodies as His holy temple and remember that the time until He returns is short?  Perhaps then we will have a fighting chance to actually live healthier and more fruitful lives and make a real difference in our world.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Position Yourself

Be still before the Lord  and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land (Psalm 37:7-9 NIV).
Have you ever found yourself frustrated by circumstances over which you have no control but which you have a great desire to see changed?  I believe it is a struggle we all face from time to time.  The frustration we feel does nothing to improve the situation.  On the contrary, our frustration often leads to feelings of guilt as we realize that we have allowed ourselves to become so consumed with anger that we lose our joy.

When we are faced with a situation we find unacceptable or a conflict we are powerless to resolve, we are often tempted to complain loudly or remove ourselves from it rather than allow God to work through it to accomplish His purposes.  As tempting as it may be to pout and walk away from circumstances that irritate us, God sometimes calls us to position ourselves and pray for those involved as He works all things together for good.  It's so hard to do, isn't it?

We need to look at the bigger picture.  The thing that frustrates us is often small compared with the many blessings we enjoy.  Are we willing to risk losing an even greater blessing because we aren't willing to endure a little irritation along the way?  What if instead we decide to pray, be patient, and position ourselves so God can accomplish His will in and through us?

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Merry Menopause

Hormones and holidays don't mix.  I am thankful for the foresight to decorate early this year to save the stress of last-minute holiday preparations because I don't handle stress well these days, thanks to not so merry menopause.  I suspected my mood swings, insomnia, and agitation were indications that I am in the throes of this female rite of passage.  Perusing a lengthy list of symptoms last night and realizing that I am suffering all but two, have confirmed that suspicion.

I have already offered my apologies to family for being a Scrooge lately.
Long walks through the woods and solitary drives through the countryside, far away from the hustle and bustle of the holidays, have proven therapeutic.  Online shopping has become my friend.

Maybe you are not dealing with hormones but you have other challenges which are stealing your holiday joy.  Don't beat yourself up for feeling less than able to gracefully navigate the holiday gatherings, shopping, and celebrations.  Find ways to make it through and give thanks for the little blessings God has bestowed on you. Pray as often as you need to.  Talk to God about what you are feeling and lean on Him.  He knows anyway, and He delights in supplying the peace you so desperately seek.  And for goodness' sake, don't beat yourself up!  God doesn't, not if you are a child of His.  Crawl up in His lap, have a good cry, or take a nap, especially if you are tired.  The rest of the world can wait.  It will get better.  My stress, your sadness -- they're only temporary.  Dwell on the good.  Endure the struggle.  Know that there is always hope because of the One who came at Christmas.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Another Sleepless Night

I've been up since about 4 a.m.  I have a love-hate relationship with sleep.  When I am utterly exhausted and finally able to take one of those drool-in-your-sleep naps I usually awake refreshed and content.  But when the sound of my husband's CPAP awakes me in the middle of the night, or he pokes me and says, "Roll over, you're snoring," I can pretty much write off any sleep for the rest of the night.  Unlike him, I am not able to roll over and go back to sleep easily.

We live in a small 3-bedroom house.  Don't get me wrong -- I love my home and am thankful for it.  But there have been many times in the past year that I have yearned for a room of my own, where I can sleep without being interrupted by the late-night television viewing of my night-owl son or ticking clocks or noisy sleep machines.  On a recent overnight stay with my brother-in-law and his wife, I reveled in the luxury of being the only guest in the guest room, which was comfortably furnished and oh so quiet.

So here I am, already tired from having been awake two hours earlier than I should have been, writing about nothing.  It is at these times that I question God.  Why is it so difficult for me to sleep?  What can I do differently to ensure a better night's rest? Is there some divine purpose in my insomnia?  Some inspirational bestseller to write in the still, quiet hours when I should be sleeping?

I'm curious.  What do other people do when they can't sleep?  Sometimes I pray. Occasionally I write.  But most of the time I just wonder why God created us with the need to sleep when it is obviously something my body doesn't do well. I think I spend more energy fighting sleep than I save actually getting any.

I suppose I shoud be thankful for insomnia and receive it as the gift of God's undivided attention when the rest of the world is sleeping.  What do you think might happen if all the insomniacs out there turned their sleepless hours into prayerful ones?  Think we could have a hand in changing God's world?

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Holiday Rebel

It happens every year.  When I turn the calendar page to the month of November I go into panic mode.  The knowledge that Thanksgiving falls this month and Christmas follows quickly on its heels, throws me into a state of anxious awareness that time and money are in short supply and that the holidays will soon be but a memory.  Life begins to resemble an overturned hourglass as the last remaining days of the year all too quickly pass.

Not this year.  This holiday rebel intends to celebrate Christmas with a little more simplicity, making the most of every opportunity to savor and share the love of Christ with others.  In an effort to accomplish this I have assigned the task of writing our annual Christmas letter to individual members of my family.  What they have to say will no doubt be more interesting than my annual report on the state of our family!  Determined not to over commit my time or overspend the budget I have set, I am making my list and checking it twice, exploring my options along the way in order to stretch my gift-giving dollars and maximize family time.

I admire people who thrive during the holidays, maintaining cheerful enthusiasm despite all the baking, shopping, gift wrapping, parties, and family gatherings that fill up the calendar this time of year.  But the simple pleasures -- sending Christmas cards to friends and family, driving through holiday light displays while listening to endless Christmas music on the car radio, stepping outside on a silent, starry night, and watching a few Hallmark channel Christmas movies in front of the fire with a steamy mug of hot cocoa in hand -- are the things that make the season bright, at least for me.

As a whole our society has lost sight of Christmas' true meaning.  Mobs of people didn't crowd the streets of Bethlehem or flock to the market ahead of time seeking gifts for others.  Instead, a handful of lowly, empty-handed shepherds rushed to a dark and smelly stable in search of the Gift that had been promised through the ages, Jesus -- the Light of the world and the very Glory of God himself.

Despite my best efforts to observe Christmas as a "holy day" rather than just another holiday, I no doubt will find myself caught up in the frenzy somewhere along the way. But with one eye on the manger and the other on the Star that will guide me there, I will bask in peace knowing that I already possess the greatest Gift of all and endeavor with all my heart to share Him with others.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Prayer for Renewal

Grace. Love. Patience.  Lord, how I need these in full measure today!  When I consider my angst and the battles which I constantly fight wth myself, I realize that it is because these godly qualities are in short supply in my life.

Lord, forgive me and fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit.  Replenish Your divine supply of fuel and fan into flame the gift of God -- of love for you and your Word -- that my testimony of your grace may not be diluted by human weakness and moral failure.

Today, let me love with the love of Christ, see with His eyes, and serve with His hands that others might see Him in me and know there is a God in heaven.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Because She Considered Him Faithful

And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise (Hebrews 8:11, NIV).
Do you trust God?  Do any of us truly believe that God will answer our prayers?

Admit it.  We all have times when we doubt that God is really capable of answering our prayers. Perhaps His answer is not what we expected or takes longer to come than we think it should.  After all, why would God allow our loved one to continue wandering lost in sin, or not provide a job after months of unemployment?  Why does a good, loving God allow bad things to happen to good people and good things to happen to those who live without any thought of Him? These are questions which we cannot answer because of our limited human understanding -- questions which try our faith and cause us to doubt God rather than trust Him.

I'll be the first to admit that I have trust issues.  I think we all do at times.  It takes a lot of faith to say, "I trust You, God," and actually give Him the opportunity to be God instead of living like we are.

Failure to trust God is always costly.  My credit card bills are evidence of that.  When we don't trust God we won't have peace.  Our joy will be compromised and we will walk in a perpetual state of defeat and hopelessness.

Our circumstances may seem impossible to us, but nothing is impossible with God (Matthew 19:26).  Sarah "considered him faithful who had made the promise" and God honored her faith by giving her a son in her old age.  What might happen if we considered Him faithful?

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Easier Done Than Said

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:23-25, NIV)
There are things we deal with in life that require us to take certain actions which may be unpleasant or require more effort than we are willing to expend. For example, if we are dealing with a health issue that could be helped by losing weight, we might tell ourselves that getting fit is easier said than done. Perhaps if we lived by Nike's "just do it" motto we would find that getting fit is actually easier done than said.

Is anyone besides me guilty of talking about what needs to be done instead of just doing it?  Perhaps we are dealing with a problem relationship that we know could be improved if we simply picked up the phone or stopped by for a visit.  We talk about reaching out but never take the first step because a difficult relationship requires too much effort and often the result is unpredictable.

Obedience to God is not that way, however.  We may spend years in rebellion and self-directed living, thinking that obedience to God is easier said than done and that we will never be able to live up to his holy standards.  But when we fully surrender our lives to him and live according to his Word we will ultimately realize that obedience is easier done than said.  The result of obedience to God will always be peace with God and with ourselves.

It is time to stop talking about what we should do and "just do it!"


Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Cone of Uncertainty

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go," whether to the right or to the left (Isaiah 30:21, NIV).
As a relative newcomer to the east coast I have spent much of the past couple of weeks watching weather reports and tracking Hurricane Joaquin.  The meteorologists who tracked the storm referred to the "cone of uncertainty" associated with the hurricane's landfall -- a term I had not heard before. Because of various factors during the storm's development it was impossible to precisely forecast what track the storm would take.

For many of us, life is a cone of uncertainty.  There are variables we cannot control and circumstances we don't anticipate which can set our life on a totally different course than we had in mind.  Life, just like the weather, can be full of anticipation and unforeseen outcomes!

Exercising faith in God sometimes requires us to take a bold step toward uncertain outcomes, trusting that God will redirect us if we have moved prematurely or in the wrong direction. When seeking and following God's will, often we find there is a fine line between waiting on God and fear of failure. Are you ready to face your fear, step out in faith, and see where God will take you?

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

You Are Not a Runner Up!

A few weeks ago my family and I watched the last few minutes of the Miss America pageant, tuning in just in time to catch the selection of the finalists, their interviews, and the crowning of the new Miss America.  Those final moments brought back memories of two pageants I had participated in many years before. Not only was I not a runner up in either pageant, I didn't even place.  I was never "pageant material," and I knew it.  Still it was fun to be in those competitions, make new friends, and learn some valuable life lessons.

The morning after the Miss America pageant I realized that I am not a runner up in the eyes of God.  Neither are you!  Uniquely created by our loving heavenly Father, you are the apple of his eye and you are engraved on the palm of his hands (Isaiah 49:16).  He knows the number of hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30) and holds your tears in his bottle (Psalm 56:8).  He is intimately acquainted with all your ways and numbered every one of your days before they came to be (Psalm 139:16).  You are a co-heir with the Prince of Peace, Christ himself (Romans 8:17).  You are royal not by birth, but by his atoning blood, shed on the cross for you.

Never feel you don't measure up or that you can't compete.  Be confident in the God who not only created you but also sacrificed his only son so that you might one day reign with him.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Thing About September

They say that the older you get the faster time flies.  The thing about September is that it is never long enough.  As the days get shorter the world somehow seems to turn a little faster, and I am never ready for the change.

This September has passed especially quickly.  In fact, I apparently missed an entire week because I failed to change the date when preparing our worship bulletin for the first Sunday of the month.  I repeated the last Sunday in August and confused a handful of folks who noticed!  You would think that since I manage the church calendar and juggle my own I would manage to keep dates straight.  Not so!

My daughter didn't begin her school year until after Labor Day and has just concluded her third week. She has completed 1/12th of her school year already, even though it seems she just started yesterday.

Tomorrow is the last Sunday of the month.  October is lurking just around the corner like a black cat waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting victim.  (Nothing against black cats -- I just associate them with Halloween.)  I haven't seen Christmas candy on store shelves yet, but you can bet there are boxes and boxes in the stock room at Wal-Mart.

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?  Better will be here before you know it!  If you are buying for me, I've been a very good girl!

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Best Choice

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her (Luke 10:41-42, NIV).
Most of us would agree that life is a journey and that the choices we make along the way have a far greater impact than we could ever imagine.  When I consider some of the choices I have made along the way it is a wonder that I'm even here.

Thirty years ago I was a single, upwardly-mobile career woman looking for love in all the wrong places and making choices that nearly cost me my life.  Despite having been raised in church and receiving Christ as a teenager I was clueless about faith and what it meant to be a Christian.  I thought it was enough to be saved and assured of an eternal home in heaven, and that it was up to me, not God, to handle all the details of my life on this earth.  Boy, was I wrong!

One evening I came to the realization that all the efforts I had made to be happy, successful, and good had left me unsatisfied and empty.  I found myself faced with a choice -- to either continue living in self-destruct mode or surrender my life to the Lord who had saved me many years before.  Like Mary, I chose Jesus that day, and it was a choice I have never regretted.

I know that I may face the loss of many things in this life -- loved ones, health, or even my freedom -- but I will never lose Jesus or the joy of having a personal relationship with Him.
Jesus, thank You for saving me from myself and proving to me over and over that You are more than enough for me.  Choosing to walk with You in full surrender is the best decision I ever made!
Thought for the Day:  Surrendering to Jesus is the best choice we can ever make, a choice with no regrets!

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Living Joyfully in Dreadful Days

The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1 NIV)

As I was having dinner with friends one night the conversation turned to politics and the moral and spiritual decline of our country.  A friend sat at the table with such sorrow in her expression, commanding the conversation and the attention of those at the table with her.  Her concerns about the persecution of the modern church, social depravity, and political corruption had taken their toll, replacing her joy with sadness and depression.

Listening to her lament the existing state of affairs in America I wondered, have we Christians become so caught up in our lives that we have become complacent, uninformed, and passive regarding the things happening in our world?  Perhaps.  I'll be the first to admit that I don't follow current events and legislatiion as closely as I should.

The stark reality is that we live in a world that has lost its moral compass and is spiraling toward a destructive end. We have an enemy who is the father of lies and fear, who will stop at nothing to distract Christians and strip away every shred of joy we possess.  We become so captivated and alarmed by news of terrorism, failing financial markets, and end-time prophecies that we lose sight of the God who is still in control of our lives and has promised us an eternal happily-ever-after.

As Christians we need to be involved in the fight for all that we know to be right, but we also need to be aware that Satan can and will use every weapon in his arsenal to defeat us and steal our joy so that no one will ever see the light of Christ in us and have the hope of salvation.  I don't want to lose my joy -- ever.  I will not live in fear because God's perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).  Instead, I am determined to live out the remainder of my days, proclaiming his Word of truth, encouraging others on the journey and sharing the hope of salvation.  We each need to reflect God's love and shine his light in our dark world so that others may see, believe, and receive the love and salvation of his Son.

After all, "The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? 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 27:1, 13-14 NIV).

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Truth About Hunger and Thirst

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." (Matthew 5:6, NIV)

When does food taste better to you?  When you have already eaten your fill or when it has been hours since your last meal and you feel famished?  The obvious answer is that food tastes better and we are more thankful for it when we are truly hungry. The same is true of thirst.  Cold water quenches our thirst best on a hot day when we are parched and our mouths are dry.

So it is with our relationship with God.  When life is hard and we are in the midst of the fiery trials that cause us discomfort we are somehow thirsty and hungry for more of him.  We more earnestly desire and long for the comfort of his presence when we are walking through the valley than when we are sitting on the breezy mountaintop high above it.

The challenge, for us, is to acknowledge God's presence and remember him in our seasons of plenty rather than simply cry out to him in our seasons of want (Ecclesiastes 7:14).  Hunger and thirst need to be the constant state of our hearts, no matter what season of life we are in.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 7, 2015

A Zestful Life

"For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." ( 2 Corinthians 2:15, NIV)
Those who know their way around a kitchen or have enjoyed a slice of lemon meringue pie know that zest is a key ingredient used for flavoring certain foods.  But unlike salt or sugar that can be easily dispensed from a shaker, zest is prepared by cutting and scraping the peel of a citrus fruit such as a lemon or orange. As painful as the cutting and scraping might be for the fruit, without zest certain recipes would lack the flavor that makes them unique and enjoyable.

For most of us it is often the ups and downs of life -- the pruning by our heavenly Father described in the gospel of John --  that draw us closer to God and produce in us the joyful zest to live with purpose and passion all our days. May our lives be a fragrant aroma to those around us as we whet their appetite to taste and see that the Lord is good.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Holding Pattern

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12, NIV)
Those who travel by air know that there is always a chance their flight will be delayed by weather, even if the forecast for the arrival or departure flight indicates fair weather.  Occasionally the traveler might even find himself in a holding pattern, circling the skies while the pilot awaits approval for a final approach and landing. On a plane crowded with people in a hurry to get to their destinations, patience wears thin.

Many of us live life in a holding pattern.  It seems we spend more time waiting in lines than moving through them. Vacation never comes soon enough or lasts as long as we would like.  We don't make progress toward our financial goals because of unexpected repairs or other expenses.  We long for just one day when everything goes the way we wish it would.

Every day God gives us opportunities to be patient, to model his grace and peace to those around us. God is patient and loving, and he expects no less of his children.  Yet so often we behave badly, demanding things be done our way and in our timeframe. When we learn to "go with the flow" and look for God's purpose in our holding patterns rather than be frustrated by them, we will be more in tune with his will and more effective in reaching others who may not know him.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Wading In

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  
(Hebrews 13:7-8, NIV)

God gave us moms for a make sure we don't do stupid things in life.  On more than one occasion I have sought my own mom's advice and been cautioned by her to "wade in slowly."  By that, she means that as I face new opportunities and challenging situations I need to be cautious about interjecting my idea of how things should go and not be surprised if I meet some resistance along the way.

Even though change is a part of life, not everyone welcomes change. Experiencing or bringing about positive change is like wading into a pool of refreshing cool water on a hot summer day.  Even though the water may be uncomfortably chilly at first, if we wade in slowly our bodies will eventually adjust to the water and we will be able to enjoy the swim.

It takes courage to embrace change, no matter how large or small the change may be. And it takes the heart of a lion to stand by our convictions in hopes that others will see the benefits of doing things a new and different way.  Even though change may be difficult, we can face it with confidence knowing that the Lord, who is "the same yesterday, today, and forever," will be with us.

What are you waiting for?  Don't be afraid to take the plunge and make a change. Take it from one who knows...come on in -- the water's fine!

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Prayer for Troubled Times

Let there be no fear in life, only faith.
Let there be no dread in life, only grace.
May our hatred be eclipsed by love
And our downcast eyes be fixed above
As we gaze upon Your glorious face,
'Til in heaven with You we take our place.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

My Treasure

How do people make it through when they don't know you, Lord?
How can they have any hope if they don't know your Word?
Each word that has been written, every promise, every truth,
Is given to sustain us, Lord, and strengthen us in you.
You've promised to provide for us, to keep us in your care,
To give us grace when there is need, our burdens help us bear.
Your wisdom you impart to us to do the things we should.
When things don't seem to go our way you turn them into good.
Lord, help us take the higher road and follow where you lead.
For those of us whose faith is weak, Lord, help us to believe.
Oh thank you, Lord, for faithfulness and grace beyond all measure.
Your holy Word, inspired and true, will always be my treasure.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Thousand Words

This snapshot of my family, taken just before my daughter's Sweet 16th birthday dinner, may be the most precious photo I will ever possess.  As I look into the faces of these treasures God has given me I realize that a thousand words are insufficient to describe the relationships we share, the challenges we have faced, and the thankfulness I feel for each one of them.  God has given me better than I deserved, and in the years of living with these three through good times and bad, has revealed himself to me in ways I could never have imagined.

We have been challenged in our marriage, at times on the brink of failure.  We have been battered by years of parenting teenagers who have had to navigate the obstacle course of a generation characterized by a sense of entitlement and rebellion against the values we have tried to instill in them.  We have been yanked from the familiarity of the placed we called home and dropped in a land halfway across the country to start all over.  We have cried buckets of tears and nearly laughed ourselves to death.  What an incredible, amazing journey it has been!

This picture represents so much more to me than family, the way God intended it to be -- happy, loving, and unified.  It represents the fulfillment of God's promises to comfort, guide, encourage, heal, and provide for us when our challenges were overwhelming -- always remaining true to his Word and loving in all his ways.  It reminds me of friends who encouraged us along the way, especially as we walked the parental tightrope between despair over bad choices and determination to hold tight to our convictions as Christians.  They were right -- things did get better!

If your life's snapshot is not a happy one, take heart -- God is still in the process of positioning you for your Kodak moment.  Trust that he knows what he is doing, he is true to the promises of his Word, and that at the right moment all the broken pieces will be put together in a glorious picture of his love and faithfulness to you.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Let Freedom Ring

On this Independence Day many Americans are pondering freedom and the things that have made our country the envy of nations around the world.  Others are lamenting the changes that continue to erode our freedom, which was bought by the blood of generations of willing men and women who have laid down their lives to secure it.  America has changed into something we barely recognize, a land that has lost its way and is in danger of losing God's blessing.  What in the world has happened to us, and who is to blame for what we have become?

We are quick to blame corrupt politicians, Supreme Court rulings, corporate greed, and moral decline for America's problems. We have lost hope that we will ever be able to change all "they" have done to destroy the America we once knew.  But we fail to see that at the root of it all is sin-- sin living in each of us.  America will never change if we, as individuals, don't recognize our own sin and cry out to the only One who can save us from it.

Jesus called himself "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (John 14:6). He said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). The problem is, we have stopped following his teachings and have instead embraced the lies of the ones who are determined to destroy the America our founding fathers established.

The apostle Paul wrote, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1). If America is ever to see true greatness again then we,  as individuals, need to recognize and repent of our own sins.  True freedom will only come as our hearts are changed and we begin holding to the teachings on which this country was founded.

Like many of my countrymen I will celebrate America's 4th of July by proudly flying my flag, joining family and friends for a festive meal, and watching fireworks while listening to patriotic music.  I will give thanks for those who continue to fight so hard for our freedom and pray for those bent on destroying it.  But most importantly I will rejoice in having discovered true freedom through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ -- freedom that was bought by his precious blood, a freedom that no Supreme Court ruling or religious extremist can take from me.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

If It's To Be

Many of us have heard the saying, "If it's to be, it's up to me."  (Nothing like a little pressure, right?)  We sometimes take action to make things happen because others depend on us to get a job done or because we see no other way that they can be accomplished.  Yet many times we are guilty of sitting by waiting for things to happen, rather than stepping forward in faith so that they actually can.

As Christians we are taught to "wait upon the Lord," "pray and wait," or follow God's leading in every decision we make.  But what if we cannot clearly discern God's answers to our prayers for guidance?  What if we don't get a green light? Does that mean that we simply do nothing?

For those who desire to consistently live within God's perfect will it can be scary to make a decision if we cannot readily discern his direction. We know that God wants the best for his children and has promised to give us what we need if we will follow him. But what if we can't quite figure out where to follow him?  Jesus said,  "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33, KJV).  Faith often require us to take that first step out of our comfort zones and venture into the divine unknown of God's purpose and plan. Yet, we become so paralyzed by fear of making a mistake that we forget that God not only forgives us but is also totally capable of redirecting us when necessary in order to accomplish his purposes.

What decision are you facing today? Assuming you have prayed it through and sought God's direction in scripture but have not clearly heard his answer, are you willing to take a baby step of faith and see where it might lead? Dare to adventure into the unknown, trusting that God will either open doors before you or redirect you so that at the end of the journey you have accomplished his divinely orchestrated purpose for your life.  If your heart is right and you truly desire to do God's will, even though you might not clearly understand it, rest assured that "The LORD is the One who will go before you.  He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not be afraid or discouraged" (Deuteronomy 31:8, HSCB).

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Until Our Journey's Done

The days are passing quickly
And time is not a friend
It seems we've just begun to live
Then swiftly comes the end
Too much to do, day in, day out
Too little time to do it
Oh, help us, Lord, to persevere
And pray that we'll get through it
Help us to do what matters most
To share your love with others
To shoulder burdens not our own
To help our weary brothers
To live beyond ourselves is best
While on this sod we tarry
To lay aside our own concerns
And others' loads to carry
Oh fill our days with purpose clear
Until our journey's done
That we may enter joyfully
The presence of Your Son

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Different Perspective

Bodie Island Lighthouse
As a relative newcomer to Virginia I have spent the past several months exploring my new surroundings.  Easter weekend, my daughter and I had the opportunity to visit the Outer Banks of North Carolina, a popular destination not far from our home.

Cape Hatteras Light Station
Before our trip I used the Internet to research hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions.  One thing I was eager to do on our short trip was visit and climb a couple of lighthouses. Although I have never really understood the fascination with lighthouses, as I recently gazed upon a cherished Thomas Kinkade painting, which I received as a retirement gift, I was reminded of the lighthouses we visited and the lesson God taught me about perspective.

We visited three lighthouses -- Bodie Island, Cape Hatteras, and Currituck -- each unique and beautiful on the outside.  Despite their differences, each of these lighthouses possess certain characteristics in common:  they are active lighthouses with great historical significance, provide a signal at night to aid with nautical navigation, and they have steps...lots of steps...winding through the center of the structure from the bottom all the way to the top. 

Looking up to the top of Currituck lighthouse
Currituck Lighthouse
My daughter and I decided to climb the Currituck lighthouse and it was an experience I'll not soon forget! As we stood on the bottom landing of the steps looking toward the top of the lighthouse I knew the climb would be difficult and tiring, and it was.  At times I felt dizzy as I looked down at my feet to keep from stumbling.  Each step of that climb was laborious, especially as we ascended and got closer to the top.  At times I felt as though I would grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:3) and not be able to finish the climb, but the Lord renewed my strength (Isaiah 40:31) as I stopped to catch my breath at the landings along the way.  At each landing there was a window overlooking the surrounding area, with each view more breathtaking than the one before it, motivating me to climb higher and higher until I reached the top of the lighthouse, 214 steps and 158 feet above our starting point at the bottom of the stairs.  Our perseverance was rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and Currituck Sound, visible from the top of the lighthouse, where we could see for miles in every direction!

Looking back on that visit to the lighthouse I am reminded that as Christians we are often challenged to live above our circumstances and try to see our problems from a different perspective -- God's perspective. Yet sometimes the steps we must take to rise above our problems is as difficult as the climb to the top of that lighthouse!  However, as we persevere, walking by faith and knowing that God is with us every step of the way, we can rise above our circumstances and behold His glory as never before.
View from top of Currituck Lighthouse

Another view from the top of Currituck

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Mother's Prayer

Today I held a little boy
As on my lap he slept.
He probably won't remember it,
But I won't soon forget.
As peacefully he dreamed his dreams
My memories turned to you --
To days gone by some twenty years
When that small child was you.
You've grown up now, no longer small,
With big dreams of your own,
But how I miss those happy days
Of you and me at home!
My prayers for him, as well as you,
Are much the same today,
That God will fill you with his love
And help you find your way.
When I am old and you've begun
A family of your own,
Just know how proud I am of you,
How glad that you're my son!

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Turn Away

Do your circumstances or choices ever cause you to feel distanced from God and convinced that the blessed assurance of His peace wasn't meant for you? Sometimes in order to find peace we have to choose to turn away from  the people, possessions, and problems which steal our joy and hinder our affection for God. For me this is a daily struggle.

What is the stronghold in your life that has displeased God or displaced your relationship with Him?  Is it a particular habit that you enjoy in excess, or a seemingly harmless friendship with someone who is not your mate?  Even if you are wise enough to step out of the relationship you may be plagued by lasting memories which can threaten your marriage and hinder your fellowship with God.

So how can we turn away from those things that become strongholds in our lives?  We must choose to turn away from the stronghold and turn back to the Lord. As difficult as it may sound, it really is that simple.  Turning away involves repentance -- true repentance, not merely being sorry for making bad choices and unwise decisions.

Jesus said, "If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell" (Matthew 5:29, NIV).  Practically speaking, turning away may mean leaving a job, moving away, avoiding social media, or taking another way home.  The choice to turn away isn't easy; that is why we must turn to the Lord for His forgiveness, wisdom, and strength. It is only in His power that we can cast away the strongholds that take hold of us and in His forgiveness that we will find peace.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Writer's Block

The cursor mocks me as it blinks;
With steady pace it winks and winks,
And words escape me, gone away –
I hope they will return some day.
No words to write have I today,
No words of wisdom I can say
As daylight fades to evening pale—
For in my world, well, all is well.
When problems come so do the words
Like scattered flocks of winging birds
That settle in the trees at night
To rest from their long-distance flight.
I do not mind this life of ease
Although my publisher’s not pleased
Because I’ve nothing to submit –
No words of wisdom or of wit.
So with this poem that has a rhyme
I’ll take my leave and spend my time
In study of God’s Word so true
So I can be inspired anew.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Making It My Own

There are few things I find more therapeutic than planting and nurturing things that grow.  When we relocated to Virginia we left behind gorgeous azaleas and flower beds I had tended and nurtured for thirteen years.

My perennial bed from our home in Tennessee

The azalea bed we left behind

Sunflowers -- one of my favorite flowers

Nearly a year ago we moved into a home with one small flower bed croweded with shrubbery and weeds.  The lot on which our small house was built is picturesque, with a willow tree and bridge out front and lush forests behind.  However, it lacked one thing -- the color and fragrance of flowers.

Our new home in Virginia with scrubby yard and neglected flowerbed

We have been in our home nearly eleven months and the flower bed out front has taunted me daily since we moved in.  Too busy last summer getting settled in and looking for a job, I left the flower bed alone.  Besides, I was hesitant to alter the landscaping (if you could call it that) of a rental home. After all, it isn't technically our home.

After nearly a year of pulling into the driveway and walking beside that sad little flowerbed I knew I couldn't let another day go by without taking action.  On a gorgeous spring Saturday I headed off to Lowe's to pick up flowers and mulch then returned home to begin re-landscaping the front of my house.

Flowerbed before the work began

Flowerbed after removal of two unsightly shrubs, trimming of two remaining shrubs, and addition of pink Knock-Out rose and several bedding plants -- much improved!

Side view of the front porch -- in a few short weeks the tiny new plantings will grow into beautiful flowers and add color to my little corner of the world!

The exciting thing about tackling this project is not that I accomplished it but that I get to spend the next several months watching tiny little bedding plants grow and bloom.  How I look forward to that!

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Though Tears May Fall

In each of us there is a dam
That holds back tears and grief.
Though sometimes bitter, fearful, sad
We cannot find relief.
We sometimes feel our hearts will burst
And stress will overtake us --
It's in those times we must remember
That God will not forsake us.
Though floods may come and tears may fall
And heartaches overwhelm us
If we will heavenward lift our eyes
The Prince of Peace will calm us.
At times we need to shed a tear,
Our fears and stress release,
And crawl up in the lap of God
Where we can find our peace.
Though tears may fall as raging floods
Our God will not condemn us,
But rather he will draw us near
If in Him we will trust.
His bottle holds our many tears,
His peace our heart consoles --
Though sad and anxious we may be
His love will make us whole.
At times we must let down the gates
And freely shed our tears
As we invite the God of peace
To cast away our fears.
With thankful hearts we can embrace
His promise to remain
And know that He will faithful be
The Healer of our pain.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Easter Frog

I believe that God created animals not only for our pleasure but also to teach us his truths.  For instance, my daughter once captured a frog on the Saturday before Easter.  It wasn’t a large frog, but God used it to visually illustrate the Easter story for our family.

When it came time to settle into bed Saturday night, Joy decided that the frog should sleep in her room.  To make sure the frog would have no way of escaping, we fitted a mayonnaise jar with a wax-paper lid, secured by a strong rubber band, punched with tiny holes for ventilation.  When Joy awoke in the morning, she came running to me in a panic.  “Mom, the frog got out!”  Sure enough, when I got to her room I discovered that the frog had indeed escaped his enclosure and was nowhere to be found.  Despite its small size, the frog had managed to hop high enough to bust a big hole in our wax-paper lid.

The scene was quite hilarious, actually.  Outfitted in latex gloves, I was shouting directions at my husband, who was running around in his underwear and moving furniture so we could get to the frog, which had jumped off and hidden behind the dresser.  Knowing we had only a short amount of time to get dressed and off to church, we scrambled to recapture the fugitive frog.  We finally managed to restore order to our chaotic Easter morning, but not without a glimpse of what that first Easter morning might have been like.

Can you imagine the surprise and panic of the women who went to the tomb that morning?  The tomb had been secured by a large stone so no one could steal Christ’s body during the night and fake his resurrection.  When the women arrived, they discovered that the stone had been rolled away, and Jesus was nowhere to be found.  Bewildered, not only by the absence of his body but also by the words spoken to them by the angel who proclaimed his resurrection, they ran to tell the disciples, “Christ is risen!”

We rejoiced when we recaptured our amphibious escapee, but I imagine the  disciples were ecstatic when they realized that Jesus was alive and had risen—just as he said.  What a Savior!

Taken from Good to the Last Drop:  Refreshing Inspiration for Homeschool Moms and Other Busy Women by Dee Dee Wike

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Silver Lining

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV).
Nothing makes me grouchier than being awakened from a good sleep before the alarm goes off. Like a hibernating bear whose long winter nap is cut short by the sound of gunfire or an early spring I come out of the cave growling on the inside and sometimes grumbling on the outside.

This morning I was awakened by the thud of plastic shampoo bottles and cabinet doors as my teenager noisily got ready for her school day.  After a futile attempt to get back to sleep I wandered from the bedroom to my La-Z-Boy only to find my son asleep in MY chair with the television still on. Upon evicting him from my chair I sat down too irritated to catch a few extra winks so I began to pray in an effort to calm myself and find a silver lining in the midst of my exasperation.

As I thought about the noise that awoke me from peaceful slumber too early on a Monday morning I thanked God that I have a daughter who is disciplined enough to get herself up without having to be begged, threatened, or yelled at repeatedly.  I thought about the blessing of having a son willing to step out of his comfort zone and relocate with us to a new place a thousand miles from home because he knows it is his best shot for a better life.

Sometimes the irritating habits of others will set us off or circumstances beyond our control will create stress and unhappiness. If in those moments we will focus our attention on God rather than on our circumstances and begin thanking him in all things -- even if we find it hard to thank him for all things -- then we will find our silver lining and perhaps a blessing or two along the way.

Jesus, You are the silver lining
In a world that is dreary and gray -- 
When my problems and failures haunt me
And I struggle to find my way.
Though often my heart is troubled
And my eyes are too bleary to see --
You are the love that I love for,
For no other love matters to me.
Oft I grow weary and tired of the struggles
That carry my heart far away.
But when darkness of night finally leaves me
You bring hope and new strength for each day.
Thank You, Lord, for Your promise to keep me
Safely sheltered in Your strong embrace.
Help me to always see silver linings
In every situation I face.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Place in Your Heart -- an Easter poem

The Place in Your Heart

I heard God say, when I was still,
“There’s a place in your heart I alone can fill.”
And with His voice, so tender and calm,
He said, “Only you can fill the hole in My palm.”
He holds us in His hands, it’s true.
That’s why He died for me and you.
A wretched, wounded death died He
Upon that barren, lonely tree.
With outstretched arms He showed His love
So we could dwell with Him above
In Heaven where there is no fear,
No pain or sorrow, sickness, tears—
But only joy divine for endless days
As we bestow our endless praise
On Him, who holds us in His palm,
Who in this wretched world brings calm
And peace and joy. Our only part
Is to let Him fill the hole in our heart.

Copyright © 2003 by  Dee Dee Wike.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sometimes You Just Have to Call In Sick

It isn't often that I call in sick but this morning I decided it was the thing to do. Now armed with the meds I need, with hot tea beside me on the table next to my La-Z-Boy, I can relax, gaze out the window, and relish the peace and quiet of being home alone for a few hours. Between the sneezes, that is.

I'm not a fan of illness and with computers making it possible to work from home I am not sure I ever truly take a day off, but I must admit it is nice to just sit here and rest. There are things I could be doing right now, like my mother-in-law's tax return or the housework I have neglected for so long, but I choose instead just to rest quietly and listen for the still, small voice of God.

Perhaps the Lord has called you to come aside for a season, either as the result of illness or some life change. Rather than fight whatever He has allowed into your life, embrace it as an opportunity to seek His heart and connect with God on a more intimate level than ever before. Whether the season is short because of a brief illness or long because of something perhaps more serious, invite the Lord into your solitude and your circumstances. With Him by your side, you need never suffer alone.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

You Are Invited!

I find myself thinking a lot about church these days.  Through the years I have attended many different churches and experienced a variety of worship and preaching styles. The differences are a testament to our uniqueness as individuals in search of the one true God.

I grew up in an Episcopal church where we observed Lent, focusing on Christ's sacrifical death on the cross for our sins and culminating with a celebration of his resurrection on Easter Sunday. However, except for our youth retreats I cannot remember the plan of salvation ever being explained or an invitation to salvation ever being offered. I grew up with a knowledge of right and wrong but was well into my teens before I understood that in order to be a Christian and spend eternity in heaven I needed to invite Jesus into my heart as Savior.  Being baptized and confirmed, attending church every Sunday, and singing in the choir were not enough.

After I got married I began attending a non-denominational church where an altar call was occasionally given to offer an invitation to salvation. At first it seemed a little "over the top" to me but as years went on I began to see those invitations to receive Christ as the natural conclusion to the anointed preaching of God's Word. By then I was already saved but I witnessed time and time again the lives changed because others finally understood that Christianity is not about ritual or religion but about that sacred relationship between Jesus and sinful man accomplished at the moment of salvation.

I wonder how many of us attend church our whole life long and never really understand the doctrine of salvation? How many of us stroll in and out of church week in and week out, worshiping, serving, and hearing God's Word proclaimed but never quite understanding that salvation requires inviting Jesus into our hearts and committing to a relationship with Him?

While an altar call or lack of one doesn't make a church good or bad I believe we all, as individuals and leaders in our churches, need to be more intentional in our evangelism. Let us not assume that those beside us in the pew will spend eternity with us in heaven.  Instead let us pray for opportunities to share our salvation story and invite others to begin theirs.

If you have attended church for a long time but have never really been sure of your salvation, please know that this very day YOU ARE INVITED to receive Christ's salvation for your sins.  It is His free gift to you and your ticket to paradise if only you will receive Him as your Savior.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Things I Miss Most

Hanging out in a coffee bar on a Monday night with no deadlines to meet and a whole hour to myself is such a treat.  For the past few weeks I have spent this weekly "me" time working on presentations or monitoring projects. Tonight, though, I just get to think...not about bills that have to be paid or chores I should be doing at home, but life in Virginia and the things I miss most back home.  It seems strange to say "back home" because I have become rather "at home" in Virginia.  Still there are a few things I truly do miss.

  • I miss my family, especially my mom, whom I could easily visit in Arkansas whenever the mood struck. With Mom now retired, in her golden years, and more than a thousand miles from here, the sense of urgency to visit is greater than ever but it is only feasible to make the journey once or twice a year.  A visit that once was easily accomplished with a three-hour drive on a weekend now requires twenty-two hours of drive time and an entire week's vacation.
  • I miss my church and the choir where I served and worshipped for more than 27 years.  They too are family, near and dear to my heart but so very far away.
  • I miss the neighbors who lived near us for the thirteen years we were in our last home. They were the kind of neighbors who more than waved. They were involved with us, gave us advice, lent us tools, and offered eggs, butter, or milk when a recipe called for what we did not have. We have yet to make that connection here.
  • I miss my flowers and our big corner lot shaded by oak trees and adorned with azaleas too numerous too count.  Don't get me wrong -- I love the little house we live in and the picturesque stream that flows through the front yard when it rains.  I absolutely adore the lush foliage and serenity of the woods outside my back door.  But I miss all the color of the perennials I had planted and enjoyed as they sprouted and bloomed throughout the spring and summer months. Now that we have been in our home awhile I look forward to planting a new crop of flowers this spring and watching them color the landscape around our little bungalow. 
But for all the things I miss, there are many more I do not miss:  the noise of the city, the frantic pace of the suburban life we left behind, the crime, and the amount of time it takes to get away from those things.  The things we gained -- jobs we love, more time with our kids, time to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us, the close proximity of the river and ocean beaches, and the luxury of sitting on the deck listening to the frogs and watching the birds come home to nest -- have given me a deep appreciation for the many ways God has revealed himself and displayed his glory.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

I Dare You

A couple of weeks ago I decided to give up this blogging thing, but sometimes a girl just has to write. It doesn't seem to matter to many what I write or even that I do write -- clearly the number of hits to my blog attests to that painful reality -- but I am compelled to spill my thoughts here every now and then.

I have watched a lot of movies (mostly Hallmark ones, I'll have to admit) where bloggers wrote about such trivial matters as recipes they had tried or strategies for landing the perfect guy.  All shallow stuff, really.  I have dared to write about things that would make a difference -- perhaps for all eternity -- only to be criticized or ridiculed for my absolute belief that God's Word is true and relevant for everything that happens in our lives.

Maybe you don't believe in Christianity, religious rhetoric, or the power of prayer.  Here's the beauty in that -- God gives you the free will to choose.  He hopes, of course, that you will choose to believe because it is by faith that we are saved.  He desires to spend eternity with you.  Salvation through his son Jesus is the only way that can happen.

I have lived five and a half decades on this planet.  Many of those years I lived life on my own terms, falling into bad habits and bad relationships as a result, even though I had been brought up to "know better."  And like so many young people who are raised in the church I did what I had to do -- test the waters for myself to see if God was real or if obedience to his Word really mattered.  You know what I learned?  He is real and obedience to his Word is the secret to finding peace in a really screwed-up world.  Without his guidebook -- that divine GPS called the Bible -- I'd be utterly and hopelessly lost. I know that for a fact because for about seven years I wandered far from God and the truths of his Word and found myself in a living hell.  I never want to go back there again!

I don't know who you are or what you are going through.  I don't know the many ways you have tried to find fulfillment, direction, or peace.  But I can tell you that I have tried a lot of things in life and only one thing has brought me the love and contentment and peace I have searched for -- a personal relationship with Jesus, the Son of God who sacrificed himself on a cross to forgive me and you of our sins.  Jesus, who loves you so much that he knows every freckle on your face, the number of hairs on your head, and every burden you bear.  You can have a personal relationship with him too.  He is standing at the door, knocking and waiting for you to let him in. I dare you to put your faith in him.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

So Long for Now

There comes a time when it becomes necessary to read the writing on the wall and adjust one's life to what is relevant and important.  In terms of my blog, this is that time.  Until such time as I am led by God to begin writing devotionals again this will be my last blog entry, at least for awhile.  There is hardly any traffic to this site and I find myself repeating the same themes I have written through the years.  I am ready for God to begin a new thing so I can write about something from a fresh perspective.

To those who have been along for the ride, I thank you.  The posts on this blog will remain available for awhile and perhaps be compiled later into a fourth volume of devotionals.  Maybe.

I pray that God will go with you, continue to inspire and bless you with His Presence, and use you to make a difference in the lives of others as you have made a difference in mine.

So long for now,

Dee Dee

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The JOurneY

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13, NIV).
While preparing a message on joy for a women's event, I have spent some time considering the journey my life has been.  Full of ups and downs, elation and discouragement, the journey has been a real rollercoaster ride at times.  Yet even when the days have been difficult there has been JOY in the JOurneY.

I have known many people in my life who have experienced difficulties far worse than my own yet have exhibited great joy even in the midst of them.  What is it that gives them the ability and desire to face their challenges and rise up above them?

Joy is not something we can manufacture with positive thoughts or mojo. It is rather the by-product of a deep abiding faith in God and the conviction that his Word is truth and He is faithful to keep His promises to us. It is the hope that comes by the power of the Holy Spirit who resides in us from the moment we receive Jesus Christ as Savior and surrender to Him as Lord.

If you are a Christian yet somehow still feel defeated by your circumstances, ask the Lord to show you if there is an area of your life that you have failed to fully surrender to Him.  As one who lived for many years saved by Jesus but not necessarily surrendered to the Lordship of Christ I can say without hesitation that complete surrender has made all the difference in my joy factor. Only when our surrender to God is complete and we walk in obedience to His Word can our joy be made complete (John 15:10-11).

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 30, 2015

I'm Glad I'm Not Famous

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves" (Philippians 2:1-3, ESV).
Growing up as an awkward teen with many idols I always thought it would be nice to be famous.  I remember once sitting in second row seats at a Sandi Patty concert realizing sadly that I would never sing like her.  My dreams were dashed until the Lord whispered to me that because of her fame she would face challenges I would never know.  In that moment I felt it okay just to be me.  Many years have come and gone since the dream of having a voice like Sandi's vanished. I have learned that not all of us were born to sing solo and that a truly good choir is made of voices that blend well together.

In the past few years I have written three devotional books and become a published author. It's no big deal really. That God would allow me to pen anything remotely inspiring is a blessing to me, but as I look at my life now I am glad I'm not famous. Sure, I would love a big fat royalty check but at what cost? Time away from my family to do book tours and speaking engagements or the missed opportunities to minister to people who face some of the personal challenges God has used to grow and inspire me?

I would rather be approachable any day!  No amount of money can replace the thrill and joy of knowing that God uses ordinary people like us to accomplish extraordinary things in the lives of others. The ministry each of us shares one-on-one with co-workers, family, and friends can be far more rewarding than reaching masses of people we will never know personally.  Jesus himself was approachable despite his divinity and oneness with God.

I'm glad I'm not famous!  I love my life just the way it is -- the work I do, the ministry God has given me in this season of life, and the joy of knowing that in his choir, my joyful noise is pleasing to his ears.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Gorgeous Inside

On my way to work the other day I passed a home for sale. Prominently attached to the For Sale sign was one similar to the placard pictured above. I smiled because it occurred to me that many of us spend so much time working on "curb appeal" that we often neglect the very things that make a house a home.

As Christians we sometimes neglect the work it takes to make us "gorgeous inside." We may look good physically or appear mentally and emotionally sound but inwardly we are a wreck! When provoked (or maybe just because "everyone else does it") we spew profanity or rage at total strangers who dare to cut us off in traffic. Where is the beauty in that?

In a world where so much emphasis is placed on outer beauty we often overlook the importance of developing the "unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" (1 Peter 3:4, NIV).  It is his love and character shining through us that ultimately draws others to him. 

When we want to sell a home we spend time making both the outside and the inside attractive to potential buyers, don't we? Then why don't we as Christians focus on what's truly important--developing love and Christlike character through the daily disciplines of prayer and time in God's Word? Only when our spiritual house is in order can we hope to sell others on their need for Christ.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

I Wouldn't Change a Thing

When I was a little girl my mom entered me in the Little Miss Parkway Village beauty pageant.  I'm not really sure why she did but I remember knowing, even as a young child, that there was not a chance I would win, let alone place.  In a homemade dress with short, unruly curls I was no match for the adorable little girls with big hair and fancy dresses.  I remember well how excited I was that our host was Trent Wood, the host of Memphis' TV program, "Looney Zoo."  My contestant number was emblazoned on a giant cardboard lollypop.  There was no prize for me that night, but I did go home with a consolation goodie bag.

After years of struggling with my weight and low self-esteem, particularly in my teen years, my sorority elected me to represent them in our college pageant.  By then I had lost some of the weight I had gained in high school.  With a month's membership to a local fitness salon, an hour of lap swimming daily in the athletic center pool, and a strict diet, I managed to drop four sizes and pour myself into a size 8 swimsuit with matching pumps.  My talent was singing and I even arranged the music for my song, which was disastrous.  But it was a great experience!  Even though I neither won nor placed, I learned a lot about poise, makeup application, and choreography.  It was great fun!

As I sit on my couch tonight watching these beautiful young women from around the world I am so thankful I am not one of them!  I can't imagine the pressure they must feel to achieve the kind of physical beauty that has brought them to this year's pageant. When I think about what has it cost them in money and personal sacrifice to achieve such poise and perfection suddenly I realize I wouldn't change a thing about myself and the life I am blessed to enjoy!

I may be fifty pounds overweight (at least), have gray hair, and sing like a bullfrog on a hot summer night, but I am beautiful to the God who created me. My joyful noise is music in his ears and he rejoices over me with singing. My hands bear the scars of one who has served and worked hard and my fingernails will never be long. But I have learned to see myself the way he does and to love the skin I'm in.

Beauty pageants will always have their place and there are those who will use their platforms to do much good in this world.  I will tune in year after year and root for my favorite contestant.  But I will never feel the need to compete with others or to be anyone but myself because I have already won the heart of my God, and he is the only audience that matters!

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Crockpot Christianity

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus"  (Philippians 3:12-14, NIV).
We often look at people like Billy Graham, Charles Stanley, and our local pastors as "giants of the faith" who have some sort of special connection with God.  To us they are the "go to" example of the kind of faith it takes to live victoriously in a trouble-filled world -- the people who have arrived and have it all together spiritually. We long to have that kind of solid faith but don't believe it is possible for us to reach that level of spiritual maturity. Truth is, they are all flesh-and-blood humans with struggles just like ours. Their faith came through perseverance in the difficulties of life just as ours must.

For us who struggle to maintain solid faith in the midst of life's uncertainties, let us be reminded that faith isn't something we can pop in the microwave or play on demand like a movie on Netflix.  Solid faith is simmered slow and steady in the crockpot of Christianity, flavored by the truth of God's Word and the fellowship of Christ in prayer. The main ingredient is our salvation by faith in Jesus.  But like any good recipe all the ingredients are required if we desire the kind of faith that produces a pleasing aroma and creates a desire for others to see and taste that God is good.  Solid faith doesn't come without a little heat, though.  Such faith is born as we endure the fiery trials of this life and remain in them long enough to let faith have its perfect work.

In Day by Day with Billy Graham, Reverend Graham writes:
The Bible also teaches that faith does not end with trust in Christ for your salvation. Faith grows. It may be weak at first, but it will become stronger as you begin to read the Bible, pray, go to church, and experience God’s faithfulness in your Christian life. You will learn more and more how to rely on Christ for every need, in meeting every circumstance, and every trial.
If you feel like you have a long way to go before you "arrive" as a Christian, you are probably right.  But don't let that keep you from pressing on in your walk with Jesus. Marinate in his love and grace, season your days with his Word and prayer, and ask God for the strength to endure the heat required to produce in you the fragrant aroma of faith that is pleasing to God and draws others to him.

Copyright © 2015 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.