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.