Archive | September, 2013

Mrs. B’s Morning . . . How Cool Is That?!?

11 Sep

Just a quick blurb this morning to share a couple things and hopefully, there is someone out there that needed to hear them as much as I did.  I am in the midst of recovering from a collapsed lung.  I am also in the midst of preparing to share the Word in front of a group of Sisters from my home church next weekend.  I cannot tell you how God has used my fear over this weekend to strengthen my faith nor can I adequately paint a picture of the way the enemy has tried to twist it in my mind.

We have encountered obstacle after obstacle where this retreat is concerned.  You name it and the Biddinger Crew has looked it square in the eye.  Enough so that I have wondered if I had reached outside my bounds, if I was trying to labor in a field that God hadn’t called me to or stepped outside my appointed area of influence. My mind has tried to run amok with this thing time and time again.  But over and over, God has been there putting the Sword of the Spirit firmly in my hand and giving me Scripture to engage in the combat.  Time and time again, He sent my Nehemiah Man to the wall for me and sent Sweet Friends to refresh my heart.

This morning, as I was contemplating all of this, the thought came into my mind that I had been given the perfect way to gracefully bow down to my fear.  I could simply say I didn’t think my recovery would be far enough along.  And I began to turn this over in my mind and mull the idea that perhaps this was exactly what God had intended.  And all of this before my feet even hit the floor this morning.  The enemy appears to be an early riser but . . . . The God of More, the One who takes my anxious thoughts and gives me peace, He never sleeps or slumbers.  His eye is always upon His own.

Ever patient with me and bringing to life the Truth that His mercies are new every morning, He set about again to chat with this thick-headed child.  I just can’t help but marvel at the fact that He doesn’t constantly deep sigh at me, cross His arms, and tap His Holy foot in my direction.  But He doesn’t.  He continues to work with me.  It’s no wonder I giggle and relate so well when Paul tells the Philippians, “Oh I don’t mind repeating myself.  Perhaps this time you’ll catch it.” (Marilyn Paraphrase)

So, with no deep sigh and no Holy foot tapping, God began to speak to me by combining the Truth of His Word with the obedience of His saints.

First, I got a series of beautiful texts from my Sweet Girl before 7:30 this morning.

Text One:

“Mrs. B!  You won’t need to find a standing stone to remind you of God’s strength and healing in this situation!  It’s literally written on your chest!  How cool is that!?!”

She had no idea that the theme verse for the retreat is Proverbs 3:3 and the very thing I had been studying the evening before was His Testimony written on the tablet of my heart.  But I had not considered the stitched up gash left behind by the chest tube.  You are right Sweet Girl – How cool is that!?!

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;

bind them around your neck,

write them on the tablet of your heart.

Proverbs 3:3 (NIV, 1984)

Next text:

“I hope you get to spend time delighting in the Lord this morning Momma, because oh! He is delightful!
Listen to this:

Lam 3:27-33 “It is good for a man to beat the yoke while he is young…Though [the Lord] brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.  For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.”
How God wishes we could learn the easy way, but He would rather bring us into His best for us as soon as possible than let us be comfy but unsatisfied! Praise the Lord for His mighty works this morning Mrs B!”

She did not know that the introductory teaching session will involve the “yoke of __________” we hang around our necks in place of God’s love and faithfulness. She did not know that I was grasping for understanding of this affliction — trying to discern the purpose of God.

She did not know – but He did.

Moving on to my morning devotionals. I receive the verse of the day which was Psalm 121:1-2 today, Girlfriends in God, and one other.

Opened the first one and read the opening lines:

In Christ, you are enormously gifted. You have an unseen enemy who is after that gift. 2 Tim.1:14 “Protect that good thing entrusted to you.” – Beth Moore

Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you–

guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

2 Timothy 1:14 (NIV, 1984)

Ok Lord, I’m listening.  Those thoughts are my own fears and I will not succumb.  I’m announcing to the heavenlies that I’m standing firm in JESUS.  Dressed head-to-toe in Him, fully armored up and believing that the prayers of the saints are at my back, I will be brave.  I will cast every anxiety on you because you care for me.  And I will not shrink back. Nothing, absolutely, nothing is beyond Christ Jesus and I refuse to sell Him short.

Faith isn’t about my feelings but, I confess to you that I love the sense of His Good Pleasure falling on me.   No deep sigh to be heard.  No crossed arms vibe in the room.  No floor tremor from a tapping foot.

He took my anxiety, my prayer and my petition, and He gave me His peace.  He took my less-than, who-wants-this junk and He gave me Himself.  He is always the God of More.  I cannot say it enough.

So God had reassured me through the obedience of the saints and His Truth.  But He wasn’t quite finished yet.  He had one more thing to say on the subject.  I opened my last devotional and read Romans 12:11 (NLT). . . (don’t you love HIs humor)

Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.

Marilyn paraphrase again, “Child, you’ve been hanging around in your uncertainty long enough.  Go to work. ”

I have to believe that while the name at the beginning of that sentence may change, the message is meant for every Sister reading this post.  Beloved, don’t you let the voice of the enemy shout you down–You declare that Love speaks louder. Don’t you let those doubts make you feel small–You proclaim that Truth is bigger. And don’t you let that serpent tell you that you are less-than because Girlfriend, YOU SERVE THE GOD OF MORE!

(Written with much love for my Sweet Child and thankfulness for her inability to keep the goodness of her God to herself.  I love you Punkin!)

He Healed Me

9 Sep

greenleaf

Oh my Father, my Ever-Watching,

Constantly-Attentive Father,

How do I praise You enough?

 How can my finite mind give blessing to the Infinite?

You have made me like a tree planted

by streams of water whose leaf will not wither.

YOU HAVE REFRESHED MY SOUL.

greenleafhealed1

I handed you my every fear,

one by one, name by name.

You gave me peace.

My trembling voice called to You.

 You answered me with steady assurance,

“I AM HERE.”

With tear-stained cheeks,

I confessed my anxious thoughts.

You leaned in close

and whispered to my heart,

“Child, give your anxiety to me.”

YOU HAVE CARED FOR ME.

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My wounded spirit did not hide from You,

In the Name of Grace, You stooped from the Heavenlies,

 and breathed new life to my soul.

You strengthened me.

You calmed my spirit.

You spurred me forward

and made me strong.

My heart is secure in the shadow of Your wing.

YOU HEALED ME.

greenleafhealed

The Warrior on My Wall

5 Sep

The Warrior on My Wall is still guarding me fiercely and I am still praising God for Him. I wanted to repost this March 8th entry written from Blodgett hospital because Brett’s tenaciousness has not waned nor has his wound healed. So during my hospital stay and now my recouping at home, God has again assigned this Warrior to a new spot on the battlefield. He has been given a new sight line and the scope of his work has been increased. Yep, my Nehemiah Man, when he isn’t busy penning love letters on purple post-it notes, is still fighting the good fight. And oh, how I love him.

glimpsedglory

I arrived at the hospital thmeandmylovefortyeightis morning a little after 8 a.m. and was greeted with, “Good morning Gorgeous” before my man had even seen my face.  It was the same voice I heard say to me yesterday when I entered his room, “I love that I recognize that purposeful stride coming down the hall.”  Isn’t he amazing?  With all that he is going through (I typed “walking through” first but then thought better of it–LOL) he still notices me.

If anyone were to have a justification for being self-absorbed it might be Brett.  He has been through much since his accident in 1993 but few things have been as trying as the last few months.  In late August he developed a large growth under his skin and it has spiraled downward from that point.  It moved from a hard mass to a large open surface wound and steadily…

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The God of More . . . Much More

3 Sep

The post today is going to be a little strange and full disclosure, more than a little lengthy.  It’s going to mix parts of the present with the recent past and even merge parts from years ago when we met Joni and Ken Tada at family retreat.  My clumsy attempts to summarize the events of the last few days by recounting the present and pointing to the past will be intermingled with the voice of one of the most godly, courageous women I have ever encountered.   All of this back and forth confirms for me and I hope for you too that no event ever happens in isolation.  The activity of God cannot be confined by time and not a moment of your life escapes His attention.

To give a little context, I am sitting on our couch bandaged tightly across my entire abdomen so the air in my right lung will not escape through the hole left by the chest tubes that recently took up residence there. For some unknown reason, this part of my body decided to take a vacation and interrupt the one we had planned to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.  It’s been a rough weekend to say the least.  Complication after complication has reared its challenging head but God has met every one with the supernatural resolve to fight for me and show Himself mighty.  I found it to be “so God” that He revealed Himself to me with the following thought right before I visited the doctor and this situation began to unfold:

“Trials rip away the façade of self-sufficiency and make way for God’s miracles.  I praise Him for His constant attention and affection toward me.” — posted on FB in the a.m. Aug 30

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The staff at the hospital was kind enough to let me call Britt and tell her what was going on before they doped me up for the procedure.  Her little heart was breaking (she’s 20 but it’s still a “little heart” to this Momma) and I so badly wanted to make it better for her.  But I couldn’t.  It was time to find out if I would believe God for her comfort.  I totally trusted Him for me, no matter the outcome, but I didn’t know if I had the tenacity to trust Him for her and for Brett.  The next few days presented that question over and over again.  Each time,  I said aloud, “I trust you Lord” and I repeated the verse from Psalm 28 I had started memorizing two days before . . .

“The LORD is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in him with all my heart.  He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.”  Psalm 28:7 NLT (written on an index card the a.m. of Aug 29)

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Each time He was true to His Word. I love how He is always preparing us to face the next trial.  Always revealing Himself to be the One we can turn to and reminding us that everything has a purpose.

I was nervous about the medication I was getting because I knew that I would soon lose the ability to monitor what was spewing from my mouth. I never know what might come flowing out if I leave this tongue unattended and I didn’t want to be bossy or say something unfiltered.  The  E.R. Crew listened patiently as the drugs started having their relaxing effect and I explained that  “I needed them to ignore anything I might say under the influence because if I ever got to talk Jesus with them in the future, I didn’t want this to be what they remembered.”  Luckily, the jibberish I spoke wasn’t anything that threatened my sanctification!  I did quote a contorted version of Proverbs 21:9 to the three men hard at work preparing to help me begin breathing again:  Better to live on the corner of a roof than to have a nagging wife.  Hmmm . . . . . is this really the last bit of wisdom my brain wants to impart.

So I had gotten to talk to my Girl and, as the surgeons prepared to sedate me further and insert the tube that was supposed to reinflate my lung, I remember looking over at Brett and seeing such a mix of love and concern on his face.  I wrote later in my journal, “If her voice was the last thing I heard and his face the last thing I saw on planet earth, what a sweet send off it would have been. Lord, thank you for being Love to me through them.”  My God really is the Giver of all good gifts.  I don’t think I had any doubts left about that, but if I did watching my parents, my husband, and my sweet night shift friend do faithful vigil at my bedside certainly dispelled them.   He is today and has always been the unchanging God James describes.

My condition was very serious and the measures to correct it would not fall under my personal definition of the word pleasant.  The tube they originally inserted between my ribs was very large and they had to pry my bones apart to secure it.  As a result, it was painful all the time.  I was relieved when the surgeon said it could be removed and I looked forward to having that pain gone.  But when they took it out the diameter of the tube left a gaping hole and my lung began to spurt air and collapsed again.  There was no time to administer any kind of pain medicine so I received stitches and had a large needle for aspiration inserted without any numbing medication.  Youch!  To keep my mind from the events transpiring around in me I recited Psalm 15 which God had planted firmly in my memory the previous week over and over again.  I said the final line with particular gusto as the assisting nurses held my hands tightly . . .

“He who does these things will not be shaken.”  Psalm 15:5b (put in my memory folder Aug 20)

The following day one of the nurses asked me “What was that Psalm you were saying yesterday?” and I got to speak a good Word about the LOVE of my Jesus and He who IS FAITHFUL.  He always has a good work set aside for us to do and HE always gives us the equipping and strength to carry it out.  He never ceases to be active in our midst.

And while all of this is going on my Sweet Girl in Florida is declaring that “she believes God to restore the health of her Momma” for all the heavenlies to hear and is praying big, ambitious prayers on my behalf.  The circumstances may have looked bad from the outside, but Sister, does it get any better than that?  Well, the answer is yes because we are loved by the God of More. . . . Much More.  And blessedly, He allows us glimpses of the “More of Him.”

So this is the point when I must begin moving forward and backward in time. The things that transpired in between the moment above and my being released continued to show the glory of God.  I was blessed by my Sisters in the Faith rolling in one after another with blessing after blessing.  Funny that I had just written about our need for the Body and resting in the garage. God knows that simply knowing something very rarely results in it becoming a part of who I am and I praise Him that He will go to any length to make certain that I have fully embraced the Truth He has uncovered.

Here’s the flash back:  This link is to the full blog post the excerpt below, written by Joni Eareckson Tada, was taken from.  I had read it on August 29th and prayed to be that kind of an encouragement to my man.

Ken opened wide the front door so I could wheel out to the van.  For a long moment I sat squarely in the door frame, staring and taking it all in:  the shade tree dappling our brick path, blossoms bobbing on the crepe myrtle, and patches of sunlight on dewy grass.  It was the freshest of mornings.  Oh God, I breathed, If only I could feel as fresh.

After more than four decades of quadriplegia, I’m tired.  Please don’t think I’m a veteran or a professional when it comes to living in a wheelchair.  I’m not an expert.  MY BONES ARE WEARY AND THIN FROM BATTLING EVERYTHING FROM PRESSURE SORES AND PNEUMONIA  (I added the capitalization for emphasis there because it so screamed my man’s name to me)—to stage III cancer.  My question these days is never “Why God?”  It’s most often “How?”

How do I keep on going? How do I care about others when I’m consumed with my own physical challenges? How can I be kind and civil when pain wracks me? How can I find the strength to face this day?That morning, Ken had the answer.

“Why aren’t you out by the van?” he asked when he came from the kitchen with my lunch bag. Staring at the splendorous morning beyond the door, I answered him with a deep sigh. “Wait here,” he said, “I know exactly what you need.”

Soon he was back with a yellow post-it note. With a thick Sharpie, he had simply penned on it the letter ‘C.’

I gave him an odd look.  “It stands for Courage,” he said, “The courage of Christ. I can see it in your eyes, Joni, and you can do this. I know you can!” With that, he pressed the post-it on my shirt, right above my heart.

There is more and I urge you to follow the link and read the observations Joni shares, but this is the point in the blog where I stopped and prayed through tear filled eyes, asking God  to please give me the heart vision to notice when Brett is having a “deep sigh day” and the wisdom to know how to lift him up. I told Brett about Joni’s words and how they had made me think of his daily struggles and I hope I encouraged his heart with words of admiration for all he perseveres through.

The flash forward piece of the puzzle brings us to yesterday when I was released and allowed to come home with severe limitations. Brett had watched all that had happened from an unfamiliar vantage point.  See, he is very used to being the one in the bed but the other side of the rail is territory he’s not visited too often. It was hard on him.  It took courage to push through and do all that he needed to do.  But my Nehemiah Man, the guard posted on my wall, persevered yet again. Oh, he loved me ferociously through it all.  And while I’m familiar with the feeling of being helpless but never hopeless on the “other side of the rail” I wondered what it looked like through his eyes.

I didn’t need to wonder for long because as I settled into the recliner I will be calling home for the next few weeks my man wheeled toward me with his glasses on his head and tears at the corner of his eyes. Unbeknownst to me, he had read the blog I had chatted with him about–the one that made me think of him and the courage of Christ that he displays every day–and on his knee was a purple post-it note with the letter “C” written in black Sharpie marker.  (Since Brett has no finger function this was a very intentional labor of love on his part.)

With me sobbing and tears in his own eyes, he pressed his finger down on the post-it note until it stuck to his hand and held it out to me.  I pressed it on my chest and I felt the total love of the redeemed man sitting in front of me.

couragec

Oh yes, Beloved, my God is a God of More.  More than I can possibly conceive or imagine.  My God is faithful and trustworthy.  Not a single moment of my life escapes His attention or His affection.  He is the Giver of all good gifts and will never let His children settle for less than the More He has set aside for them.

The same is true for you.   Do not believe for a moment He has abandoned you in the trial Sweet One.   Your God would not take you there or allow the challenge if He did not have More for you on the other side.  You hang on with faith.  You pray big, ambitious prayers and you wait expectantly for your God to bless you. Listen to Him when He tells you not be afraid and consider Joshua 1:9 to be your personal post-it note straight from the heart of the Holy One. Press it on your chest Girlfriend, count on Him to do what He says He will do, and be confident that the God of More is with you.

“Be strong and courageous.

Do not be afraid;

do not be discouraged,

for the Lord your God

will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

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