Monday, December 12, 2016

Make the Most of It

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." -- John 14: 15

Lately I have been struggling with anger and resentment over things that are beyond my control. A summons to jury duty, while an answer to prayer on one hand, has complicated life during my two busiest work weeks of the year.  Thank God for an understanding boss who is handling this better than I am!  I am also frustrated over having been committed to something I didn't sign up for, all because someone acted impulsively and didn't stick to the original agreement we had. I have spent more time stewing over these things, chiding myself for feeling resentful in the first place, and praying for the grace to get through the rest of the holidays without being a Grinch.

When life throws us a curve ball and our patience is tested, what are we to do? Why should we have to do something we hadn't planned to? Why not just cancel and be done with the conflict? Could it be that God is at work with a higher purpose? Perhaps he has planned an encounter that is meant to bless someone, perhaps even me. Even though I could certainly insist on having my own way, what if I simply make the most of it?

God provides us an invaluable resource for dealing with the conflicts in life -- his Word. It's as if he says to us, "Let's see if you can recall what I have taught you and apply it to this situation." Of course we can, if we choose to. Here are a few reminders from his Word to help us -- to help me -- when frustration rears its ugly head:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." -- Isaiah 55:8-9, ESV

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." -- Romans 8:28, ESV

"Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!  Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil." -- Psalms 37:8, ESV

"Know this, my beloved brothers:  let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." -- James 1:19-20, ESV

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." -- James 1:2-4, ESV

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful." -- Colossians 3:12-15

"The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.  Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:  whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies -- in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen." -- 1 Peter 4:7-11, ESV

God doesn't bless us when we act like spoiled brats -- something I seemed to have done a lot lately.  But he does bless us when we obey his Word. Why not simply obey and make the most of it?

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Other Side of Loss

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him"  (James 1:12, NIV).

Lately I have been contemplating loss.  The news has been full of stories of great tragedy and human suffering.  People have been gunned down by angry men, killed by raging floods and wildfires, and been victims of accidents that might or might not have been avoided. Children have been orphaned. Spouses have been widowed. Health has been decimated by cancer, addiction, and chronic illness.

As I pray for those who are suffering, I think about the losses I have experienced in my fifty-plus years on this earth -- the deaths of my dad and stepdad, my grandparents, and other beloved family members; the loss of jobs (both mine and my husband's); and the disintegration of my own moral compass during a lengthy season of rebellion.  I have not suffered poor health, but I have experienced a painful financial reversal and had my heart broken more times than I can count.

One thing I have never lost, though, is my faith in God.  On the contrary, my greatest joys have been experienced on the other side of loss.
  • When I nearly lost my mind with worry over my wayward teenager, God gave me sanity and peace through the promises of His Word.
  • When my husband lost two full-time jobs in 18 months and we found ourselves living on food stamps and the charity of others, God gave us adventure, new jobs, and a truly wonderful life in another state.
  • When I chose to give up a job I dearly loved in order to better serve my family, mourning that loss for more than two years, God began healing my marriage and my relationship with my son.
  • When I suffered the bewildering heartbreak of a broken relationship with a dear friend, God filled the hole in my heart with His love and unbridled joy.
  • Through every loss I have suffered God has taught me valuable lessons and afforded me opportunities to encourage others who are struggling to make sense of their own troubles.
It has been my experience that God doesn't allow us to suffer loss without giving us more of himself. God will turn our tragedies into triumphs, our weeping into laughter, and our mourning into dancing if we will trust Him in our trials.

Whatever you are facing today, know that God is with you.  Know that His heart breaks every time He sees you cry and that He longs to comfort you with His grace, peace, and love.  The loss you have suffered is not all there is.  God is standing on the other side of loss, longing to receive you into His loving embrace and to restore your joy and peace.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Out of the Mouth of Babes

My son has had an uncanny way of keeping me grounded.  When he was a young child, I remember him saying to me during a moment of my own frustration, "Mom, stop, breathe, and think!"  "Stop, breath, and think" was a phrase he'd heard on one of his favorite kids shows, "Blue's Clues."  I have remembered that word of admonition many times through the years.

Now nearly two decades later my first-born has shared the following encouragement on Facebook in the wake of the recent presidential election:  "To everyone, those in favor or opposition of the new president. Have faith. Love. Live your life. Things will be bright again." My son, whose ideas about life have often clashed with my own ideals, couldn't have said more simply, or profoundly, what we all need to remember -- that life is short, love is invaluable, and at the end of the day our faith will help preserve our joy.

Thank you, Chris, for once more teaching your mother that there is indeed a better way.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We the People

We the People of the United States witnessed a historic presidential election in 2016. An election with results that no one could have predicted, and few expected.

We the People, regardless of how each of us voted individually, elected Donald Trump to be the 45th President of the United States.

We the People, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or economic status, must now unite to make America great again.

Donald Trump alone is not going to make this nation great again.  It is going to take We the People -- one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all -- working together to bring healing and restore our nation to its former glory.

Abraham Lincoln, taking his inspiration from Mark 3:25, said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."  America has no hope of recovering from this brutal election and moving forward into a brighter future if We the People don't lay aside our differences and work together to "Make America Great Again."

If you believe in God and in the power of prayer, it is time to pray in earnest for healing and unity in our great land.

It is time for all Americans -- no matter what we believe -- to be the United States of America.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

God Is Not a Has Been

As I was working on a presentation earlier this week and reflecting on my journey with the Lord, I thought about the books I had written a few years ago and how long ago it seemed that I had passed through that season of life.  With speaking activity and book sales low the thought occurred to me that I could well call myself a "has been."  Been there, done that.

Then another thought occurred to me.  God is NOT a "has been."  In fact, He remains -- yesterday, today, and forever -- the Great "I AM."  Our lives may be ever-changing but He is constant, faithful, and true.  The world is in chaos but He has everything under control.  We didn't see THAT coming, but nothing takes Him by surprise.

We spend our lifetimes aspiring to be and do something special and significant.  All we really need is to find our significance in Him and live each day in the loving shelter of His embrace.  Yes, we need to be our best for our families, our employers, and our friends, but we also need to surrender control and leave the results to Him.

I am now in a different season of life, giving my time and attention to other interests and letting go of my past achievements.  After all, what is past is past.  There is a great joy in waking up each day, surrending my plans to His, and simply asking God to use me to make a difference.  Perhaps for the first time in my life I am not living to impress anyone but Him.  His approval is all I will ever need.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Blessing of Infirmity

I have been sick for nearly a week, sicker perhaps than I have been in a couple of years.  The sinus infection and bronchitis that have seized my body have been relentless.  Although I tried my best to treat my symptoms with the right over-the-counter meds, the illness won out, resulting in two and a half missed days of work and a trip to the urgent care.

Being sick is never fun for us, especially if we are active and busy with jobs, families, and special interests.  But sometimes infirmity can be a blessing, if we view being sidelined as an opportunity to reconnect with God.

In my illness this week I have prayed for others who are sick, caught up on some reading, and enjoyed the beautiful fall weather from the comfort of my recliner. With windows open (perhaps not a wise move considering seasonal allergies) I have drunk in deep draughts of fresh air, watching as my cat perched on the windowsill in wonder at the birds that frequented my feeder each day.

Still, it is not second nature for me to sit idle -- at least, not this idle -- and I look forward to the healing that has already begun to take place in me.

There are many who don't consider their infirmities to be a blessing because of the chronic nature of their illness. But God has said that his grace is sufficient for us and his power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  What if we would believe that he is working all things together -- even our illnesses -- for our good, and using us, in our weakness, to uphold one another in prayer?
And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick.  The Lord will raise him up.  If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous man has great power to prevail (James 5:15-16, Berean Study Bible).

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Finding Joy When We Feel Stuck

Have you ever been in a season of life when you just feel stuck?  The rent goes up but your paycheck doesn't. The progress you've made paying down debt or saving for a rainy day is suddenly reversed because of repairs to the clunker you drive in order to avoid a car note. You may have a job you love but you wonder if that is all there is or if there is something more you should be doing with your life. Everything in you wants to hop in the car and drive until your problems are far behind you and you can breathe. Trouble is, you eventually have to go back home and face them all over again.

So how do we find joy when we feel stuck? How do we find the strength to stay in our circumstances when all we want to do is run away from them?

Sometimes we do whatever feels good at the moment -- drink or medicate ourselves to numb the pain, engage in a little retail therapy, or book a vacation we may desperately need but cannot afford. I've done all those things and can tell you that they do not work. The buzz eventually wears off and leaves you with a hangover. The bill comes for that new outfit or that dream vacation, resulting in regret and futility as you pay for that quick fix over many months, or even years.

So, what's the good news? How DO we cope with the "stuck" seasons of life and maintain our joy in the midst of them?

First of all, you acknowledge your hurt and have a good cry. Life is hard and sometimes you need to boo hoo a little to relieve the pressure. That's ok. God totally understands, but he doesn't want you to linger in self-pity. Pour out your heart to him and let him dry your tears. He craves honesty from you. You don't have to be brave. He wants you to come to him. Being a rock is not your job. It is his. Let him be your refuge and strong tower.

Second, start counting your blessings. Thank him that your troubles are not as bad as someone else's. You don't have to think hard to know there are others in far worse shape than you are. Thank him for your salvation and his sufficiency (2 Corinthians 12:9). He's got this! That, in itself, is the biggest blessing of all.

Thank him for his provision for your daily needs and stop stressing over the future. He promises that he will supply all your needs according to his riches (Philippians 4:19) and that he will take care of you one day at a time (Matthew 6:25-34).

Still feel like you can't breathe after all this? Then walk outside and look around you at all the beauty he has created. Thank him for eyes to see and ears to hear all that surrounds you. Take a walk and thank him for legs that can move you as you exercise to relieve the tension you feel.

Problems are a part of life. God never said it would be easy. Rather, he said we are to "count it all joy" (James 1:2-18).

This life is not all there is. You may feel stuck today but you will not be forever. And you are never stuck alone. The God who loves you is right beside you.

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace" (Helen Howarth Lemmel).

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Hello, Old Friend

It's been awhile since I've blogged on this site. So much has happened the past few months that I have hardly had time to process it all and to derive any profound spiritual truth that you don't already know. The seasons of life that have been the hardest for me have yielded the devotionals I have posted on this blog the past several years. Right now I am happy to report that I am in a season of life that is peaceful for the most part. I have my challenges, certainly, but things are pretty much on an even keel.

Do I still need God?  Yes, absolutely every day. I can't imagine waking up and starting each day without knowing that he will be with me every step of the way.  In this present season of joy I am storing up treasures in heaven against that day when adversity will strike again and I will desperately cry out to him for mercy. I still spend time in his Word daily and talk with him as I walk each morning. It is the best part of my day!

Some have asked when I plan to publish my next devotional book but I'm not sure there will be another one. Every time I write a devotional it seems a repeat of something I have said before. Sure, God can still use the devotional thoughts I share, even when I repeat myself, but my next book -- if there even is a next book -- will be something different altogether. If you are seeking a devotional on a special topic, click the search window on this blog and you may find something of benefit.

God is moving me in a different direction these days. My heart, now more than ever, is inclined to serve him, but as an advocate for animals and more compassionate and environmentally-conscious living. A lot of Christians wonder how veganism can be compatible with my Christian faith, especially since the Bible is full of passages concerning the provision of animals for food and clothing. I'll not address that here, but I invite you to visit my vegan blog for more on my vegan journey and the work Joy and I are doing to improve the quality of life for animals and to promote a plant-strong lifestyle that will benefit our health and help our environment.

I will continue posting here as God leads and inspires, so I hope you will check back from time to time to set what is new.  Until then, know that each and every day God loves you and I am praying for you.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Coincidence or Providence?

"The God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd. . . even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight.” (Hebrews 13:20-21, NASB)
Have you ever had a passion to do something but you weren't quite sure how to go about it? Perhaps you sought advice from a friend or did research on the internet to find information and opportunities to get involved. Or maybe you prayed for God to show you an open door and guide your steps as you embarked on a new journey.

Recently I found myself in the freezer section of Kroger talking to a stranger about my life as a new vegan, all because I decided to wear a particular t-shirt that day. The t-shirt started a conversation, which led to the opportunity to meet a group of fellow vegans and animal advocates and participate in a peaceful protest which I would not have known about otherwise. A happy coincidence?  Not at all, but rather God's answer to my prayers for his guidance and an open door.

In response to that peaceful protest and its impact on me I wrote a letter to a pig named Ziggy. As silly as that seemed at the time, my decision to tell of my experience in that way was no mere coincidence. The letter generated a lot of interest and gave us -- Ziggy and me -- the opportunity to share some very important information that can do a world of good for animals and humans alike. The letter was God-inspired and opened the way for more opportunities to do what God has laid on my heart -- working to promote plant-based nutrition and end animal abuse and slaughter.

These "coincidences" are answers to my prayers, and opportunities that I believe have been divinely appointed.  As I continue to study God's Word and talk with him each day, giving him permission to have his way in my life, I never cease to be amazed at the wonderful ways he orchestrates events and opportunities to do what he has called and equipped me to do.  To God be the glory!

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Remind Me, Lord

Remind me, Lord, of how it is you came to love me so.
When heartaches come, remind me, Lord, that they will also go.
I need not fear when you are near; remind me, Lord, that I
Can do all things through your great strength -- your strength alone, not mine.
When things are hard, remind me, Lord, you never promised me
A life of ease. Instead Your Word says,in effect, "There will be days like these."
My joy seems often to take wing and fly to lands afar,
Then I'm reminded quietly that joy is where You are.
Remind me how I see myself is often different than
The way you see me, as Your child, through eyes of God, not man.
When I am prone to criticize myself for feeling blue
Please lift my chin and whisper that these lies are not from you.
Remind me, Lord, that there is so much more to life than me.
Help me to change my point of view 'til You are all I see.
Remind me of the blessings, Lord, that at my feet are laid --
Oh may I bring into Your courts my sacrifice of praise!
Remind me, Lord, of how it is you came to love me so.
Repair my broken places, Lord, and fill me with your joy!

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

This Side of Heaven

There are things we may never know this side of heaven, such as the impact of our words, thoughts and deeds on others.  We may never know the lives we touched simply by following our purpose. We may never see the success of someone else who watched us fail.  We may never know.

We may write books for the masses and sell only a few.  We may stand for a cause and wonder if our choice to stand will even matter.

We may pray for those who are lost, broken, or discouraged and wonder if they will ever find their way or see the light at the end of the tunnel. Will the hungry ever be filled and the poor ever be made rich?  We may never know.

Is not knowing a reason to quit? A prayer unanswered, a reason to stop praying?

What is the passion that drives you?  Is it enough to continue living for that cause, knowing that you may never see results this side of heaven? Sometimes I wonder. Sometimes I grow weary and am tempted to quit reaching out because the effort seems futile.

At the end of the day the only thing that matters is being true to ourselves and to the calling God has placed on our lives, because when we reach heaven's gate we will know. We will see the lives that were changed and we will know that our passion mattered to the One who instilled it in us. We will know because He will say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord."

Press on, beloved soldier. Your battle is not in vain. Your scars are not invisible. Your failures are not your defeat. He who has called you is faithful. He sees your heart. He will reward you for your effort.

Live each day for God alone and you will know that what you did for Him mattered -- this side of heaven.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Privilege of Suffering

Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV)

Most of us understand what suffering is.  We live in a fallen world where the evil hearts of men cause undue suffering for innocent people.  We lose loved ones.  Our resources dry up long before our needs are satisfied.  Our health declines.  We suffer.

But have we considered that sometimes it is a privilege to suffer?  Sometimes God allows suffering in order to refine us, to draw us closer to him, and to serve as a testimony of his grace to those who desperately need it.

When I look back on the most painful seasons of my life it is there that I see God's hand most clearly.  The broken relationships I have suffered have caused me to truly understand just how faithful he is.  The financial hardships I have suffered along the way have been opportunities for him to provide in miraculous ways.  Change -- as difficult as it often is -- has become an adventure and the chance to discover God's will and ways are higher than mine.

If your present season is one of hardship or suffering, I pray God will reveal himself to you in a profound way.  I pray that you will have faith to praise him even though your circumstances are difficult.  I pray that he will make a way for you, calm the rough seas of adversity, and use your experience to help someone else through theirs (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Stewardship: It's Not JUST About Money!

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.  Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.  Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Timothy 4:14-16, NIV).

Many of us grew up in church, where we were taught to be good stewards and to tithe our financial resources.  But stewardship is not just about money.

According to Merriam-Webster, stewardship is defined as "the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care."  That would include not only such tangible things as our homes and automobiles, but also our time, talents, and our own health.  The desire to become better stewards in every aspect of our lives is one of many reasons my daughter Joy and I decided to become vegans and launch a website to encourage and educate others who might consider adopting a healthier and more humane way of living.

As Christians, we give financially because we care for others and desire to make a tangible difference in the lives of those in need.  As vegans who love our family and friends, the earth, and the animals who occupy it with us, Joy and I are committed to sharing the knowledge we are learning on this journey so that others can reap the health benefits and understand that there are things we can all do to be better stewards of the earth God has created for us to enjoy.

God calls us each to make a difference by the way we live, and I believe he gives us each passions, gifts, and abilities so that we can. What is your passion, and what are you doing with it?  If you don't know your purpose or calling, ask God to show you.  The clock is ticking for all of us, but if we live each day with passion, purpose, and grace we can have a significant impact on those who may not know Christ.

May God bless you as you become a better steward of ALL that he has given you!

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 6, 2016

For the Sake of One

Several months ago Steve and I were asked to teach a College and Career Sunday school class in our church. We were cautioned by some not to expect great things or anticipate stellar attendance, yet were pleasantly surprised when our small class nearly reached capacity a few weeks ago. Then no one showed up for two weeks in a row despite efforts to reach out to and engage these young adults.  We were faced with a decision:  Do we continue to invest time preparing lessons for this class, knowing that we may not have students to teach, or do we abandon the class, at least for the summer, and hope that there will be a need somewhere down the road?

Sometimes we are called to serve in a particular ministry or area of need, yet to us it seems we are not making any real difference.  My most recent royalty check is evidence of that--trust me, I won't quit my day job! But are we willing to lay aside egos and outcomes for the sake of even one?

In Zechariah 4:10, the prophet writes, "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin." In other words, when God calls you to do something, obey and leave the outcome to Him. Trust that He is using you in ways you may not see to accomplish more than you can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

Yesterday as I sat in an empty classroom praying for direction I was reminded of my Lord's great sacrifice for me, and I relished knowing that if I had been the only sinner in need of a Savior, Christ would still have died on the cross to forgive my sins. If He could do that for the sake of one, then so can we.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sometimes You Just Need a Ferry!

Feeling battered by emotions after a disheartening conversation I decided to take advantage of a full tank of gas and the beautiful weather to take a long overdue drive. Every now and then it helps to remove myself from a stressful situation to get alone with God and pray.

Usually a short drive to the river will suffice to lift my spirits. But since pesky gnats made it impossible for me to be still long enough to pray my situation through, I hopped on the Colonial Parkway and drove west to Jamestown, where I took a short cruise across the river aboard the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry -- something I'd been wanting to do for awhile -- just as the sun was beginning to set. To be gliding across the water at with the wind in the hair and my face toward the sun did wonders for my mood.

Rather than hop back on the ferry for the return trip I kept driving, through farmland and towns I'd heard of but not yet seen. With the radio off and a fragrant breeze coming through the windows I drove and prayed, taking comfort in the fact that Jesus totally understood my heartache because he'd also been wounded by those he loved.

I have known people -- and I am sometimes one of them -- who have stayed engaged in conflict, fighting a battle they can not win by their own efforts, hoping and praying that God will hurry up and change the other person. But I have also learned the wisdom of removing myself from the futility of such relationships and going to a quiet place where I can surrender those relationships -- and myself -- to the only One who can change hearts, realizing that it is sometimes my heart that needs to be changed.

If you find yourself in a battle of wills with someone else, give yourself permission to step away, get alone with God, and pray it through. "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you" (James 4:8). Take joy in your salvation and comfort in the knowledge that God sees your tears and understands your heartache.  Even more than you do, he loves that one whose words have wounded you, that one for whom you have prayed so many years. Remind yourself of all you know of God and find strength in his Word.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23, ESV)

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Accountability Partners

The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.(Deuteronomy 29:29 NLT)
Have you ever embarked on a journey to conquer a bad habit or make an attempt to better yourself in some way? Perhaps you made a New Year's resolution to exercise three times a week or stick to a budget. Did you find it easier to accomplish your goal by yourself or did you perhaps ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable in order to ensure your success?

My husband and I are accountable to one another when it comes to managing the resources God has entrusted to us. My daughter and I are accountable for keeping each other "feeling veggie good" as we strive to adhere to and educate others about our new experience with the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle. Who is your accountability partner in life?

Scripture tells us that "two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!..And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him---a threefold cord is not quickly broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12, ESV).

Even if you don't have a friend you can count on to help you with a particular challenge or keep you plodding in the right direction, know that God will keep you accountable for living according to the truth he has revealed to you. Not in a scary "looking over your shoulder" sort of way, but as a loving Father who has given you His Word as a guidebook because He desires the very best for you, His child.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hidden Behind the Cross

Have you ever wanted to do something important?  To make a significant impact so badly that you poured all your energy into it only to make less of a mark than you had hoped?  Perhaps you had a dream that you thought God placed in your heart, but it didn't come to fruition the way you thought it would.

It's easy to get so caught up in the vision of what our future could hold that we lose sight of God's purpose for us in the here and now. It is a problem I struggle with daily.

Every now and then we need to lay aside our expectations and pray for God to have his way in us -- to forgive us for being more passionate about what we do than we are about Him.  We need to let go of everything that occupies our thoughts, and set our minds on him.

Father, forgive me for making everything about me and for the compulsion to share with others every little thing you are teaching me.  Sometimes my lessons are just for me.  Help me to live as though I don't exist.  Make me so invisible that when others look at me they see only You.  Hide me behind the Cross.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Return to Eden

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil...The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”  (Genesis 2, 8-9, 15-17, NIV)
Recently my daughter Joy invited me to join her on a journey that is causing us to rethink the choices we make. As an animal lover with the desire to maximize her health and help the environment, she introduced me to the vegetarian lifestyle. Together we are learning about whole foods and plant-based diets, writing a blog, and sharing our journey with others in the hope that we will make a positive impact on those we know, as well as those we don't know yet. While we desire to improve our health and the well-being of animals who often are slaughtered for our meat or used to test many of the products we use, our primary motivation for becoming vegetarians is our love for God and the desire to be better stewards of all the blessings He has imparted to us.

God has given us a beautiful world to inhabit, endowing most of us with the ability to work and the means to acquire what we need to live each day (Deuteronomy 8:18).  He is the supreme Creator and the God who provides. He has given us much, requiring that we be faithful with all He entrusts to us (Luke 16:10-11).  Yet we become careless, selfish, and wasteful.

What if we gave serious thought to all the blessings we enjoy, realizing that they are His gifts to us for the purpose of blessing others?  What if we stopped viewing our possessions as ours and began treating them as if they are His, which in truth they are?  Could you envision a world where we are compassionate to animals rather than abusive, and where we harvest earth's bounty without genetically modifying it into something God never intended it to be?

Our lust for more only results in a diminished quality of life. We are over-scheduled, overworked, and overweight because of convenience foods we eat on the run. With a little thought, planning, and education we can take control of what we put into our bodies, improving our health and slowing down destructive environmental change.

We need to simplify our lives, get back to the basics of nutrition, and become more compassionate to all God's creatures.  Isn't it time that we return to Eden?

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

No Pain, No Gain

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it  (Hebrews 12:11, ESV).
My daughter has recently taken upon herself the role of my personal trainer and she's good at it. I have the sore muscles to prove it! Because we love each other and want to be healthier, stronger women, we are holding each other accountable for our commitment to eat healthier and exercise as often as our schedules allow. Are we having fun? Not always, but we know that in the end our discipline will have its desired result.

So it is with God's discipline. It is more often painful than pleasant "but it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Think of those times in your life that have been hard -- when that relationship disintegrated or the money ran out and you were left holding an empty bag. At the time you might have wondered, "Where is God now?" But if you turned to him in prayer, earnestly seeking his will for your life, you know he never left your side. Though you couldn't see it then, in hindsight you know that through your difficulty his plan was to draw you nearer to him.

I have struggled with many things over the years -- relational disharmony in my family, a broken heart, and a financial reversal as a result of a job loss -- but I wouldn't trade any of those things, even if I could. They were filtered through the loving hands of God, who knew that I needed a little "discipline" in order to learn how truly great and loving he is.

If you are struggling right now, I pray you "do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights" (Proverbs 3:11-12, ESV). Sometimes it takes a little pain in life for us to gain the peaceful fruit of righteousness and a closer walk with the God who loves us so much that he gave his only son to redeem us for himself.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Best Gifts

The best gifts in life are those unexpected blessings that arrive when you least expect them, gifts given to us not on special occasions like birthdays but rather simply because somebody loves us. If you think hard enough you can probably recall some of those gifts. My treasures include a journal with a handwritten note by a sweet friend and an anonymous monetary gift received after my husband lost his job.

But not all gifts are meant to be kept to ourselves. Sometimes we must share the gifts we receive with others. When God paints a beautiful sunset we should say, "Hey, come look at this sunset! The colors in the sky are so beautiful." God loves it when we delight in his creativity. We should also share our God-given talents and abilities by serving others. Perhaps yours is the gift of hospitality. During a recent vacation we were blessed when dear friends called to suggest we cancel hotel reservations and stay with them. The joy of visiting with them was a gift in itself!

Giving gifts doesn't have to be expensive. It costs nothing to smile at a stranger, compliment a clerk at the grocery store, or encourage a friend who is going through a tough time. Praying for someone else may cost you a little bit of time but it makes a huge difference in their life.

God gave the ultimate gift -- his only Son --  that those who believe in him might not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). If for no other reason than sheer gratitude to him for his great love for you, is there someone you could bless in a special way today?

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Our "Vegucated" Life

For weeks my daughter has been toying with the idea of adopting a vegan lifestyle, consuming only plant-based and whole foods and NO animal products.  I am not entirely sure what prompted her to consider doing something so radical, especially knowing how much our entire family loves good food. However, her interest in good health and wise dietary choices were not something I could ignore and with the increased choices of organic and vegan foods it is certainly feasible.

Before going on our recent vacation I sat down with her to watch a documentary, Food, Inc., an eye-opening film which "examines the costs of putting value and convenience over nutrition and environmental impact."[i]  After watching the film I made the decision to eat more whole and organic foods, and fewer processed ones, particularly since I have always struggled with being overweight and have experienced a recent rise in my bad cholesterol. Simple enough, right?

Shortly after watching Food, Inc., we took a family vacation and traveled back home to Tennessee to visit family and friends.  One of our goals was to eat some of our favorite foods which we have not been able to find since our move to another part of the country. We relished every bite of Memphis barbecue, southern-fried cornmeal-breaded catfish, and Chinese food we consumed.  That I only gained five pounds in that week of indulgences was nothing short of a miracle!

Upon our return home, Joy resumed the task of educating herself, asking me to sit down with her to watch another documentary, Vegucated, the story of “three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Lured by tales of weight lost and health regained, they begin to uncover the hidden sides of animal agriculture that make them wonder whether solutions offered in films like Food, Inc. go far enough.”[ii]  Joy and I were moved to tears and so disturbed by what we saw that we both decided to immediately eliminate meat from our diets, not only because of our health but perhaps even more importantly because of animal cruelty and the negative impact of animal agriculture on our environment.

Joy and I have decided that for now we will be lacto-ovo vegetarians (consuming no meat but allowing ourselves eggs and dairy products in small amounts).  We may eventually go vegan all the way.  After a week of consuming no meat and trying diligently to eat whole, unprocessed foods, I feel more energetic and healthy. I have lost 4 of the 5 pounds I gained during our vacation, despite eating my fill.  Because there are more good choices out there than ever before, I have not once felt deprived.  I still get to enjoy my husband’s delicious homemade veggie pizza, and what’s not to love about that?

Why am I telling you all this? It’s certainly not to condemn your choice to eat meat or, on the other hand, to persuade you to adopt a strictly vegan lifestyle.  But as an animal lover who has become more aware of the environment since moving to the beautiful state of Virginia, I feel compelled to do my small part to prevent animal cruelty and to help effect positive change in our environment. 


Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

You Can't Always Choose, or Can You?

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him" (James 1:12).

Wouldn't you agree that life is simply not fair?  Between difficult circumstances and heartbreaking disappointments, sometimes life just happens.  We cannot always choose the hand we are dealt, but we can choose how to play the hand.

We can't control the senseless tragedies that occur, the loss of innocent lives, or the ill health that hits us, often without warning.  We can't control terrorism, rampant immorality, or the epidemics of substance abuse, human sex trafficking, and crime.  We certainly can't predict the weather or the natural disasters that wipe out entire populations.

Most of us wake up in the morning grateful to have been given one more day to live. Yet we are not guaranteed that we will live to see its end.  We go about our business making choices -- what to wear, what to pack in our kids' lunches, or what movie to see when the weekend finally arrives -- but are we making choices that have lasting value?  At the end of the day can we look back and say that we chose wisely or that our choices made a positive difference in someone else's life?

It has been said that we can't always choose what happens in life, but we can choose how we respond to the unexpected, unfair circumstances that we suffer from time to time.  We can choose to believe in God when we see no evidence of Him in our culture.  We can walk in faith when our eyes see only grim reality. We can count on God being in control when the world is spinning wildly out of control. It all boils down to choice.

Our choices affect those around us, even those we do not know.  Next time you are stuck in traffic -- not by choice -- will you choose to be thankful for the delay or angry because of it?  When that test result yields bad news, will you choose to praise God and live with the kind of faith that will encourage others fighting the same battle?  Only you can choose to take the high road -- no one is going to do it for you.

Scripture tells us that we will have bad days (John 16:33), that people will mistreat us (Matthew 5:11), and that we should "be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  That can be a very difficult thing to do, can't it? But the Bible also tells us "I can do all this through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).

When life leaves us weak-kneed and trembling, we can rest in the assurance Christ gives us:  "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

The Halloween Angel

The sun on that Indian summer day burned hot on the back of my neck as I gazed at the most beautiful roses I had seen in my garden all year. What is it about the last rose of October that blooms with such beauty? As I relished the simple pleasure of lingering in my garden gazing at the lovely flowers before me, that sweet moment of solitude was rudely interrupted by the ringing of my telephone. No doubt, it was another bill collector. Since our move to a larger home in the suburbs we had fallen behind on a couple of our credit card payments and the burden of keeping our creditors happy was becoming oppressive, like the heat of that late October day. Halloween would be here in a couple of weeks, but I had no money with which to buy or make costumes for my children, now seven and two years old. I could never begin to explain the reason why we had no money, nor could I bear to disappoint them. I began to pray for God’s provision as I thought back to a simpler time, just a few months prior to that Halloween.

After seven years of being happily married and gainfully employed, God blessed my husband and me with our first child. Although we both enjoyed working and the income we derived from our jobs in banking, I never gave a second thought to staying home and raising our son and any other children who came along. Being a stay-at-home mom was my heart’s desire. My mom had not worked outside our home when I was a child. Although I was one of six children living in a household that was sometimes chaotic, I grew up happy, largely because my mom was always there for us. Having been raised that way, I couldn’t imagine leaving my children in someone else’s care and returning to work at the end of my maternity leave. Determined to do whatever it took to be a stay-at-home mom, I worked as a beauty consultant and did a little freelance work to help make ends meet, but my income amounted to little more than fun money. Still, we had everything we needed and were content in our little home.

About the time our second child came along, our large metropolitan church began the process of relocating to the suburbs. I remember uttering a prayer under my breath one day that it would be nice if God would find us a place to live a little closer to the church. Certainly our growing family could use an extra bathroom and additional space for visiting houseguests. Not long after, I ran into a friend who mentioned that a home on her street was for sale. Perhaps, I thought, this was an answer to that prayer. Pretty soon, my husband and I began spending our Sunday afternoons looking at homes we knew we probably couldn’t afford. When we visited one particular home during a realtor’s open house, I left it feeling certain that we had found our next home. It had to be, because I had the same feeling – a sense of God’s presence as we walked through the house – I’d had when we bought our first home. God had given us fourteen wonderful years in our starter home, surrounded by caring neighbors who had helped us welcome our two children into this world. Surely that sense of God’s presence was an indication that this home in the suburbs was meant for us.

Knowing that our house note would double, we prayed long and hard before signing the papers to make it ours. We felt we had God’s blessing because our home sold quickly and we were easily approved for the mortgage on our new home. Living closer to our church in a suburban community, with excellent public schools and a family-friendly environment in which to raise our two children, was all the incentive we needed to make the move. Little did we know how radically that one decision would change our lives.

We moved to our lovely home in the spring while the azaleas were in full bloom. A lifelong lover of flowers, I was thrilled to have a big yard with plenty of blooming shrubs and daffodils. The cheer of having a lovely garden, however, soon gave way to the grim reality that we had unknowingly bought a home with a bad foundation, which had been undisclosed to us at the time of the purchase. Not long after we took occupancy, we began noticing flaws we had not seen during our three visits to the home prior to our closing. Door jams were crooked, the den floor sagged, and sheetrock cracks were present in nearly every corner of the drywall. How had we missed all these things? After hiring the services of an independent structural engineer and residential appraiser, we realized that our dream home was not worth nearly as much as the mortgage we now owed. Our suburban paradise had become nothing more than a money pit, threatening not only our financial security but straining our marriage as well.

As our financial condition continued to erode, it became obvious that I would have to put my toddler in daycare and return to work in order to make ends meet. With the older of my children nearly eight years old, I had been out of the work force for as many years and was not eager to return to the world of office politics, stress, and endless hours on the clock. The thought of leaving my precious little girl in the care of total strangers was nearly unbearable.

I found myself praying a lot for God’s provision and guidance during that difficult first year in our new home. Despite the challenges we faced to make ends meet, find a solution to the foundation problems, and somehow keep the faith that seemed so fragile, we never found ourselves without the basic necessities of food, shelter, and clothing.

Looking at my bill calendar as I sat down to pay bills that late October afternoon, I realized that once again my husband’s paycheck would fall short of covering all our bills. As I did every payday, I would set aside enough money for groceries, pay what bills I could, and trust God to provide some of our other necessities. With Halloween just around the corner, dare I possibly believe that God would provide money for something as trivial as candy and costumes so my children could go trick-or-treating? As I stared at the expense spreadsheet on my computer, I prayed. “Lord, you know what a difficult time we are having just paying our bills this month. I know that you have promised to supply all our needs, and I thank you for your provision. Unless you provide them, my kids won’t have Halloween costumes this year. Lord, could you please...?”

The doorbell rang before I ever finished my prayer. Curious, since I was not expecting anyone at that hour of the day, I peeked through the window to make sure the visitor was not a stranger. Standing on the porch with her back to the window was Elizabeth, the mother of a boy in my son’s scout troop. Not knowing her well, I was surprised to see her at all until I opened the door. When I unlocked the door, I nearly gasped when Elizabeth turned around holding two adorable Halloween costumes for my children! How could she have possibly known the desire of a mother’s weary heart and the tremendous joy she brought that day?

Many years have passed since the Halloween angel paid her visit in answer to my heartfelt prayer for something as insignificant as Halloween costumes. These days when I feel discouraged about money and wonder how we’ll make it through another day, I remember God’s faithful provision that October long ago and rejoice that no request is trivial in the eyes of my loving Father.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Choice Is Up to You

Last night I went to bed laboring in prayer over a concern of my heart for many years, a little impatient to see its resolution yet determined to persevere until God has His way in the situation. This morning it is clear that if I prayed without ceasing there wouldn't be enough time to cover all the bases. We live in a world where so much is wrong, even in the Church.  My heart yearns for the day when Christ will return to gather His own to Himself, yet I know that until that time comes I must continue to do the work He has called me to do. So must we all. It is not enough to pray for revival in our country. We must also pray for revival in our churches and in our own hearts. We must take up the mantel of holiness and walk in obedience to His Word, loving others but leaving judgment of sin to Him. We must examine ourselves to see if any wickedness remains in us, removing the plank from our own eyes so that we can see to help others. We must put on the full armor of God, knowing that the battle has just begun and praying for the courage to stand when those around us fall. We must take the high road of faithfulness to the God we profess to believe, even if it means suffering persecution or ridicule at the hands of our neighbors, our families, and our friends. We must come out of our holy huddles and live among those who need Him most, actively putting feet to our faith and giving our time and resources where needed. We must spend time with God daily, seeking His direction through prayer and His Word for it is only by knowing Him that we will ever find peace and be made complete.

I know what some might say to all this because I live with those arguments everyday. But having walked that dark road of despair, living in a pit of sinful self-indulgence and compromising every value I was taught in my "religious" upbringing, I never found peace or fulfillment.  It was only after receiving Jesus' free gift of salvation and entering into a personal relationship with Him that I began to experience the peace and joy I now have.  I know God is real.  I know that His ways are higher than my own.  I never want to go back to my former way of living because I know what a mess I'd be.

I could lose everything that I hold dear -- loved ones, my job, my health -- but I can never lose the One who has become everything to me.  Even on the hard days -- and I have plenty of those -- I know that I can trust Him.  It took me a long time to be able to, but I know now that He is faithful, even when I am not.  I want everyone I know to love and embrace Him as I do, yet I know that many won't.  That is their choice, and God won't force Himself on anyone.  But I will never cease to pray for the salvation of those I love, of those who matter not only to me but to God. That is MY choice.

God has given each of us free will to decide whether or not to follow Him. The choice is up to you. What will you do?

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

To Stay or To Leave?

A few months ago I wrote a blog titled "Position Yourself," at a time when I was struggling with a difficult decision.  I'd like to say that the situation which prompted that reflection has resolved itself, but I still struggle some days.  Lately I have wondered if it might not be best to simply turn my back and "let my walking do the talking?" As tempting as it is to cut my losses and take the easy way out, that's not what I sense the Lord telling me to do.  Experience has taught me that it is best to wait on God's departure schedule rather that hop on the first flight to a happier place.

Whether you are struggling with a bad marriage, challenging work environment, or a difficult relationship, I encourage you to really seek God's heart on the matter. While leaving might get someone else's attention and give you some relief, will it ultimately accomplish God's will?  Or might you shortchange yourself or the one(s) left behind by not allowing "perseverance to finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:4)?  Have you considered that as difficult as the situation might be, God has put you there to have a positive impact or to be his instrument of change?

You could let your walking do the talking and free yourself from unpleasant circumstances. But what if, instead, you "stay and pray," allowing God to have the last word? Could you even dare to imagine what might happen if you "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44, ESV)?  The pain you feel now may be the fertile soil in which God is germinating seeds of hope for someone else.

If you earnestly seek God's will and walk through your valley with his Word as your guide, he will bring about change -- maybe not in your circumstances, but certainly in you.  And when the time does come for you to leave, you will know -- for his peace will replace the uncertainty of your decision.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

All Work and No Play

All work and no play, it is safe to say,
Will make one so tired at the end of the day.
Needing some one to help me but finding no one
Makes drudgery of work, instead of great fun.
"Work smarter, not harder," I say to myself,
But hard as I try I still need much help --
A person who knows how to do what I do
Would keep me from feeling alone and so blue.
Perhaps if I learned that to do less is more
Then prepping for time off won't be such a chore.
Someone who is able to do what I can
Would sure come in handy as some days off I plan.
Lord, help me to find someone good I can train
So taking vacation won't be such a pain!

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

All Shook Up

Lately life has been full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and turmoil.  As Elvis would say, "I'm in love...and all shook up."

The love of my life is Jesus, and generally speaking, my days are filled with great joy.  I have peace knowing I am in his hands.  Still, there are things in my life that are hard, things I wish were different -- things I wish God would move a little more quickly to change.  

Maybe you feel the same way.  Perhaps you are at odds with someone who has offended you or you are dealing with an unpleasant situation you are powerless to change.  What is the remedy for the turmoil that keeps us all shook up?

For me, it helps to recall the promises of God's Word.  They are many, and they are for us!  Here are a few I draw on to quiet myself when I feel anxious or upset:

"The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV).

"You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you'" (2 Chronicles 20:17, NIV).

"Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong;  for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lordand he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:1-4, NIV).

"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still" (Exodus 14:14, NIV).

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you" (Isaiah 26:3).

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Broken Stuff

Last weekend my purse strap broke while I was out shopping.  How convenient that I could shop for a replacement at the department store!  I had not planned to buy a new purse but the one I had simply wore out.  My budget was not happy.

This afternoon, at the end of a very long and tiring week, when I was already feeling a little spent, the interior handle on my driver's side car door broke off.  As much as I love my old station wagon I tire of having to repair it.  With a tax bill due and a vacation to pay for, this was the last thing my budget needed.  Thankfully it is pay day and I have money set aside in savings to handle this latest emergency.  More than that, I have a faithful God who has promised to work all things -- even broken things -- together for my good (Romans 8:28) and to supply my needs according to His glorious riches (Philippians 4:19).

I don't know why I can't seem to go two weeks without something breaking.  It's really quite frustrating.  But at least these events are not life-altering.  I can give thanks that I still have my health (though my sanity is in question at the moment) and a trustworthy mechanic who will fix my old station wagon so that I can take that vacation that I've scheduled.

Even though I'm not necessarily thankful for the broken stuff in my life, I can be thankful in spite of it. After all, "everything in the heavens and earth are yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. Riches and honor are from you alone, and you are the Ruler of all mankind. Your hand controls power and might, and it is at your discretion that men are made great and given strength" (1 Chronicles 29:11-12, TLB).

Lord, give us the strength to handle our challenges and to take joy in the knowledge that you are in control of all things great and small.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Amazing Race

The Daytona 500 is one of the highlights of the year for race enthusiasts.  Although not a huge NASCAR fan I found myself riveted to this year's race, cheering on a local favorite and celebrating with glee when he took first place in the closest race in Daytona's history.

As believers we are in a truly amazing race, one full of adrenaline rushes, pit stops, and even an occasional spinout.  Our journey of faith is one that is never dull, so long as we walk hand-in-hand with our Savior and live in obedience to His Word.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV).

One day, after we have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith the Lord himself will award us the crown of righteousness, which is laid up for us and for all who have loved His appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).  No trophy or winner's circle can surpass the joy of entering into our Lord's presence on that day and hearing Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 19, 2016

This Bud's for You

Bet you thought this blog would be about beer, right?  Not a chance, but at least it got your attention.  I have another "bud" in mind.

For many months I have prayed that God would take me deeper in my walk with Him, knowing that as a result of those prayers I might experience some pain along the way.  Generally I grow more when I am challenged somehow.

As I come to the end of another work week and contemplate the reasons why I suddenly seem so busy, it dawns on me that God is answering my prayers.  He is taking me to a deeper place of intimacy with Him and in the process of doing so, pruning me for more fruitfulness.

In John 15:2, we read that God prunes the vines (His followers) that bear fruit in order that they may bear more fruit.  Pruning involves sheers.  Sheers inflict pain, or at least a little discomfort, right?  While I may have stepped out of my comfort zone, biting off more than I can chew perhaps, buds are beginning to appear on the vine and the prospect of bearing more fruit -- of making a difference in the lives of others -- suddenly makes it all worthwhile.

If you are experiencing the sensation of being a little overwhelmed right now, consider whether God might be pruning you for more fruitfulness.  Pray your way through the pruning.  "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 29, 2016

How Long Will It Be...?

With each passing day I am reminded of the blessings that are mine because I am a child of God.  But all those blessings don't make me impervious to pain, sorrow, stress, or suffering.  In fact, we are all told that life will be full of tribulation, even for believers.  So why should we be surprised when our season of suffering comes?

We could all retire early if we had a dollar for every time we have asked "how long will it be?..." We wouldn't need to win the lottery, would we?

How long will it be before...

...I no longer feel the pain of rejection?
...I get over my divorce?
...I feel good again?
...My car stops breaking down?
...My teenager stops rebelling?
...I am recognized for the good job I do?
...I see the fulfillment of my lifelong dream?
...I no longer feel the sting and financial fallout of a job loss?
...I find that person meant just for me?
...I stop crying over the loved one who died?
...I see my loved ones again in heaven?

What is your question for God?  What is the burden you have carried for too long?  The trouble that you face today won't last forever.  That's a promise you can depend on because it is a promise from God himself.
"Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name.  For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:4-5)

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

For Hurting Friends

A restlessness has filled my soul
In ways I can't explain,
Perhaps because I cannot help
Dear friends who suffer pain.
The only thing I know to do
Is lift them up in prayer.
Dear Lord, please flood them with Your peace
And let them know You're there.
I cannot wipe the tears they cry,
Although I wish I could,
But I can pray from far away
That they will see the good
That You have promised to those You love,
Ones called by your great plan,
And they will know Your comfort sweet
As on the Rock they stand.
Your mighty wings, their refuge
From storms and raging seas --
Let them not be overwhelmed.
Lord, flood them with Your peace!
Thank You that You hear our cries
And wipe away our tears.
Please keep my dear friends in Your care
And banish all their fears.
Oh, heal the hurt and brokenness,
Their heavy burdens bear --
And somehow help them understand
How very much You care!
Dispel the gloomy clouds of night
And cast out all despair --
Restore to them the hope and joy
Of knowing You are there.
Although I cannot be with them
To comfort or embrace,
Please keep them til the day we all
Behold You face to face.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

There's a Reason It's Called a Temple

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.      (Romans 12:1, ESV)
In December I scheduled some long postponed medical appointments, including a routine physical. The results of that exam called for further testing, which resulted in negative findings, thankfully. Except for a cavity, a suspicious mole (which was caught early enough), and an elevated cholesterol reading, everything turned out fine.  For a middle-aged menopausal woman I am in relatively good health.

As expected, my healthcare provider highly recommended I limit my sugar and caffeine intake and lose twenty pounds, things I should have been doing all along. Somehow, though, those suggestions by a medical professional and my own ill-fitting wardrobe have convinced me that it is time to become diligent in my efforts to increase exercise and make healthier dietary choices. So far, so good. I've lost five pounds, have more energy, and am sleeping better than I have in years.

But there is another, more important reason to take care of this earthly shell. Scripture calls my body -- and yours -- the temple of the Holy Spirit.  "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19-21, ESV).

As believers who have surrendered our lives to God, we need to keep in mind that our dietary choices and even our recreational choices should be made with His glory in mind.  Is it easy?  No.  But with God's help all things are possible.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 8, 2016

And So It Goes

January is already passing too quickly and will be gone before we realize it ever came.  And so it goes...

My son's car is scheduled for repairs next week and mine is beginning to make noise...again. I should get reward points for all the business our family gives the repair shop.  I'm just thankful to finally have a good mechanic and three cars with no car notes.  Expensive repairs on old,old cars...that's how it goes.

Did I mention the dryer is on its last leg, too?  At least the washer works, and there's a little money in the savings account to repair or replace the dryer.  One thing fixed...another breaks...that's how money goes.

But at the end of the day it's all good.  I know the One who makes all things new and promises to provide everything I need.  Because I have experienced His blessings and provision in the past, I am confident and filled with His peace that everything will work together as it should. How it will, I may not know.

One of these days I will experience true heartache or an illness that can't be cured with a cheap antibiotic.  My journey of joy will become a sojourn of sorrow, but I won't walk the path alone, for with me He'll go.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy to be Here

Although 2015 was a good year for me personally, it could have ended differently than it did.  A medical finding during a year-end physical resulted in more comprehensive tests that could have had an undesirable outcome.  Thankfully everything turned out well.

There have been years when the New Year couldn't come soon enough, when times were so tough that the only hope seemed to be new beginnings and resolutions for positive change. But through the years I have learned that no matter how hard life may be, I can rejoice in my current season because God is in it with me.  No matter what my circumstances, I can usually find a reason to be happy to be here.

As you step into 2016, I pray that you will take God's hand and invite him into your New Year.  If you will commit your way to Him and walk according to the principles and promises of His Word, He will give you the grace and courage you need to face whatever challenges may come your way and see each day as a grand adventure!

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.