Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On An Autumn Tuesday

I'm under the gun today, putting the finishing touches on a message I will give before some precious lovely ladies on Friday night.  Although my body sits here, on a beautiful fall day in Michigan, my mind and my heart are far away, in another place and time. A place that is arid and hot. A place not many liked to travel to, and a place where someone encountered the living Christ in all of His fullness for the very first time. I still wanted to touch base with you, even though I just can't wrap my mind around much else right now.

Some of you will be attending the event on Friday. I wish that each and every one of you could! We have an awesomely awesome evening planned. But whether I will see your beautiful face in person or not, can I ask you to pray? 

Pray that Christ will be high and lifted up in our midst. Pray that He will be the Guest of Honor at our gathering, and that He will show us His Glory, fresh and new!

This is so random, but I want to give you a present. Here is the recipe for the absolute BEST dessert you will ever make or eat, during an autumn season. I promise!

Crockpot Apple Streusel  

Peel and slice: about 8 apples, to make 6 cups, sliced.

In a large bowl, toss the apples with:
1 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground allspice
1/4 t. ground nutmeg

Place in a large (4-6 qt.) greased crockpot.

In another bowl, combine:

3/4 c. milk
2 T. butter or margarine, softened
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. Bisquick or other baking mix

Spoon over apples.

In another bowl, combine:

1 c. Bisquick or other baking mix
1/3 c. brown sugar

Cut in until crumbly:

3 T. cold butter or margarine


1/2 c. sliced almonds (or another kind of nut)    *I leave this part out.

Sprinkle the streusel topping over the apples in the crockpot.

Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours or until the apples are tender.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

You're gonna thank me for this!!

Thanks for your prayers! Not one will be wasted on us!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

#217 "September Morn Remembering Noah"

As I fill the bird feeder with seed and pick cherry tomatoes off the vine, the air feels the same. It's funny how a chill in the air, but the promise of a beautiful fall day, can take you back. It feels the same. The same as that last September morn.

I pull my morning jacket close around me and remember. That day held such promise and hope. Standing on a balcony, telling my sweet girl, "Go have yourself a baby."  A bassinet and a welcome home sign were waiting. I can feel it all, today, on this September morn.

Hours later, a phone call. A weeping doctor said that the baby died. Noah was gone.

My tears are flowing freely now. I couldn't cry then. I couldn't cry for days.

I've never felt so helpless in all of my life.

Today I can feel it all. I relive it. The events. Minute by minute. Hour by hour. The weight of it threatens to blanket the sun that is rising in the east.

But the sun rises. Nevertheless. It has risen and set for the last 365 days. The days since that September morn. The days where we were sure that the sun would never shine again.

The only thing that would "never be", was that we would never, ever, be the same.

Maybe that's why things have just seemed not right this week. Just off kilter.

Geese fly overhead in V-formation. They feel it. They know the winter is coming. Their senses warn them. They are graciously allowed to fly away. They won't return until it's over.

Oh, to be one with them! To sense the coming cold and bitter winds, and take flight. To miss the frigid. To avoid the harsh. To bask in warm sunshine south, and not come back until it's over. If I could have...

Instead, He makes us stay. We stay and we cry and we bleed and we scream and we hurt and we endure and we lean and we trust, and we don't trust. We believe! Forgive our unbelief!

I am hiding. I am under the shadow of His wings. He holds me close and whispers in my ear through the words of this morning's devotional.

A verse that He gave me years ago for Noah's mom. Now He reminds me. For Noah.

"Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" (John 11: 40)

It took my breath away.

While we would love to be planning a 1st birthday party this week. While Noah's mom and dad would rather have held a breathing baby in their arms. While Gigi would've loved to add Hot Wheels to the toy box and watch army men decapitate Barbie dolls. All the while glory shines.

Glory is flesh and blood having close encounters with the Living God. Growing closer to Him by watching Noah's parents. A village in Uganda thriving because of a well bearing Noah's name. Drinking not only clean, physical water, but learning of the "Living Water" that is Christ Jesus. Holden Uganda. Hope Mommies. Tragedy that points folk to triumph that is possible only in Him. Learning what strength and provision and grace that is amazing really means. Enduring. Enduring well. Having this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God, and not from us. Seeing God in a way that could never have been possible without the horrific.

So many are still seeking the purpose and plan for their lives. Our sweet Noah fulfilled his purpose and the plan God had for his life without ever breathing earth's air. Now He resides with our Savior. A job well done, good and faithful servant. He gave his life for eternal purposes, just like his Jesus. He is more like Him than we can ever hope to be. He sees His face. He knows what it feels like to be held in the warm embrace of the everlasting arms.

Would I take that from Noah...even if I could?

I walk by faith and not by sight.

Aside from Christ, I have never, ever loved anyone that I cannot see, more than my grandson, Noah Daniel Mahalak.

September Mornings Still Can Make Me Feel That Way!

Happy First Birthday, Mister Man! You are a beautiful, beautiful boy!


Monday, September 12, 2011

#216 "The Prison Of Her Soul"

The room was small. A bed, a desk, and facilities was all. Remembering, it was cold. Thirty five years she had spent in that place. 

In the prison of her soul.

Others had just arrived. More had been there longer. In the place where heaviness and hopelessness was the mark on the day.

Trying to pass the time with pursuits she hoped would numb the pain that she felt inside. Chasing after things.

Success. Riches. Acceptance. Love in the embrace of arms that only took and never gave.

Nothing worked there. In the prison of her soul.

The list of charges was long and only seemed to grow with each new sunrise.

Trying to tow the line. To be a good girl. The accuser always brought another charge.


She always wondered what it would be like to know the man at work who belonged to another.

GUILTY! Charge: Adultery!  

She remembers signing the consent form. Ending the tiny life of one who could never fight for the right to one day breathe Earth's air.

GUILTY! Charge: Murder! 

Judgment, envy, hatred, anger, gossip, selfishness.

Screaming in her head.


Banging on the bars. A voice.

"You are free to go."

A dream? A cruel joke? 
Free? Free? I will never be free!

A man has agreed to take her place. She can go free. Could it be? Who would ever do that? A man? 

Almost laughable! Men had only let her down. She hears herself say, "I want to meet this man." They have already taken him away. It is for her to believe and walk free.

Leaving her cell, she hides in the shadows, watching. She recalls an old story she had heard. Peter, wasn't it? Watching from the shadows? She can scarcely breathe when she finds him. Beatings. For her.

Hands go to ears trying to quiet the voices. Taunting. Mocking. Him. For her. Spitting on him. Not her.

She follows in the shadows. "Dead Man Walking", they cry. She stares at his back on it's way to the death chamber. She wants so badly to see his face.

What is he carrying? A cross with something written on it. Oh! No! Every sin, evil thought and sickness she ever had was carved into the wooden beam. 

Heavy nails pierce hands and feet. Nailed to the beam he bore. Screams of pain. Pain she will never be required to know. Blood flows. "I must get closer...I must see him!"

Just then. He turns. The most beautiful eyes she has ever seen...eyes full of love.

"Is He speaking? To me?" 

"My beautiful daughter, I love you so much. You are free - believe it - you are truly free. You are not only forgiven, but your sins are totally off of your record. No one will ever be able to accuse you again. Every sin you will ever commit in your life will be covered by this blood that I am shedding for you right now!"

For a moment His words are interrupted by someone trying to give Him something to drink. But He turns back and says, "Wait. I have more to give you." MORE! What more could He give? Getting weaker with each passing moment, He says that He will send what His Father promised. Another. Holy Spirit. To be with her all the days of her life. A guide. A comforter. A counselor. Life eternal with Him. She will see Him again. She will never be alone again. She will never be abused. She will never be rejected. Forever loved.

He cries out one more time. "It is finished!"

He is dead. She is free. 

A soldier stands by. A tear falling down his cheek. She approaches him and asks, "Who was that man?" 

"Surely this man was the Son of God!"

He hands her the release papers. Shaking hands and pounding heart. The words.

Pardoned. No condemnation.
Penalty paid.
New creation.
Forever righteous.

She walks out of the darkness and into the light of freedom. She can't wait for you to hear her story. She starts searching for others who need to be set free. Prisoner turned evangelist.

Can you hear her?

Don't try to quiet her. She will not be silent.

Excuse her for being a little...RADICAL.

Radical Love touched her life, right there, in the prison of her soul.

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) 

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

#215 "More Than Enough"

A couple of Sunday's ago, we were sitting at the local Starbucks after breakfast, after church. This has become somewhat of a Sunday ritual. Chuck and I, Kelly and Dan, and Miss Ashton, leave our church service, have breakfast at the local coney island, and head over to Starbucks. Ashton loves her "coffee" which is really some strawberry-coconut, no caffeine concoction, depending on her fancy of the morning. We start 'em on Starbucks young in this family!  

As we were chatting and sipping our drinks, Ashton's eyes were caught by the picture on the front of my cell phone.

Ashton and Brooklyn

I picked up my phone to show her momma and said, "Those are my girls." In the sweetest voice you would ever hear, Ash leaned her head on my shoulder and said, "You're MY Gigi?" (that would be me) I said, "Yes, honey, I'm your Gigi, but am I Brooklyn's Gigi too?" With the biggest sigh a 3 year old could muster, she hugged me tight and said, "Yaaa." There was a hint of sadness in her voice. Maybe she feared that there was just not enough Gigi to go around.

There once was a man named Jairus, who was one of the rulers of the synagogue. His little daughter was dying and he had heard of Jesus, who was healing many people. Falling at His feet, he begged Jesus to go with him to the place where his daughter lie. Jesus agreed and they set out for the home of the ruler.

Along the way, amidst the great crowds, walked a woman who had suffered from "female problems" for twelve long years. She had also heard of this Healer. Repeating these words, over and over again to herself, "If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed," she pressed forward through the multitude until she came upon the Man and touched the hem of His garment. Immediately, her bleeding stopped. 

The Healer stopped to have an encounter with the healed. All the while, tapping his toes, Jairus waited. I can only imagine what he was thinking as his little daughter lay dying, and here was Jesus tending to another. Sure, she had an "issue", but HIS daughter was on her death bed, with only moments left to live. If this Man didn't hurry....

Then came the news. It was too late. "Your daughter is dead," Jairus heard.  There just hadn't been enough Jesus to go around.

Perhaps you're standing on the sidelines today, tapping your foot, because it seems that Jesus is doing something for everyone else but you. You asked Him, but He's stopped along the way to bless, heal, provide, and supply someone else's need. If this Jesus doesn't hurry....

The enemy will tell you just what "some men" came and told Jairus. "Why bother the teacher any more?" It's not your turn. It's too late. You missed out. He's forgotten you. He gave all He had to someone else.

"Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe."

Jesus went to the home of Jairus in spite of what they said. He knew something they didn't know. She was only sleeping, He told them. Not dead. They laughed at Him. Woe to those who laugh at the Healer! 

Immediately the girl stood up, walked around and ate a meal.

Jesus modeled for us a key ingredient to any victory. Ignore what the enemy says!  

There is enough of Jesus for you, no matter how long He stops to care for someone else. It's not too late. You haven't missed out. He hasn't given His all to another. His garment is long enough. His power is great enough. He knows something you do not. Ignore the voice of the enemy. Don't be afraid. Just believe! Even if He stops along the way. A delay is not a denial.

My heart has enough room and enough love for both of my granddaughters. There is quite enough Gigi to go around. 

Christ's heart has enough love, and His hands have enough power to heal, for you and for me.  He will tend to both of us you see, because He loves us both the same.  There's more than enough of Him to go around.   

Scripture Reference: Mark 5: 21-43

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Lessons from Ruth: Discovering Your Destiny
By Donna Schultz
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