God’s Watermarks

Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” – John 7:38

photo credit: sandyhd via photopin cc

photo credit: sandyhd via photopin cc

I lived for many years in a desert.  A desert is a truly beautiful landscape.  I relate to the desert because desert landscapes and animals can sustain themselves in the harshest of conditions.  One of the most fascinating things about it is that even in long periods of time with little or no rain, it is easy to find the pathways where life-giving water has flowed or pooled...  channels cut deep into the rock, black marks showing the borders of streams and waterfalls, and odd shapes chiseled by flowing water.  Most importantly, you can find trees and flowers, plants and other signs of life along the path where water has flowed before.  Their roots dig deep below the rock and sand to find the remaining water that sustains them during the periods of drought.

I pray that my life is like that.  Even in times of hardship, I want people to be able to look at me and see God’s watermarks.  I want Christ to be recognizable in me, no matter what circumstances surround me.  Even if my life looks like a barren wasteland from the outside looking in, I hope that I can show the world that God refreshes me often with his living water.  I want them to see proof of my faith that the rains will come again, and when they do, they will flow and pool right here.

 

Dear God, even if my day is barren and dry today, please help me to show others that your living water flows through me.  Let your watermarks show without any words from my mouth.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen…

 


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Shelly

Am I Diminished?

He must increase, but I must decrease. – John 3:30

photo credit: Refractious via photopin cc

photo credit: Refractious via photopin cc

Anyone suffering with a disability or a chronic illness can tell you that one of the hardest struggles in the journey is feeling diminished.  I am no different.  I feel diminished as a wife and mother, as I am no longer able to care for my home and family.  I feel diminished because I am no longer able to work outside the home.  I feel diminished because whether I am trapped at home because of frequent illness and pain, or trapped in a wheelchair, I am often invisible.  I feel diminished because so many people who do talk to me will never see me as a vibrant person with something to contribute.  I have had to relinquish or restructure many of the dreams, plans, and goals that I held for myself, my family, and my future.  Although sometimes I am still frustrated by these circumstances, studying this verse has helped me so much. 

The first thing that struck me about this verse is that it comes directly from the lips of John the Baptist, regarding Jesus.  Doesn’t that put me in great company?  John immediately recognized that the role he had been playing was now changed.  He inherently understood that Jesus was the one who was the star of the show.

The next pearl in this verse is that John’s pride did not play a role!  Hasn’t my pride had not just a “bit part”, but the starring role with all the best lines?  Shame on me!  John understood his new role; me, not so much.  But am I willing to learn? 

So, we’ve established that I’m no John the Baptist.  And Jesus no longer walks the earth as a man.  Does that make this verse any less applicable to my life and my situation?  I don’t think so.  When I begin to view my diminished state as something to be embraced, rather than disdained, I am able to start learning my new role.  I’m learning my lines, trying to hit my marks, developing a new rapport with my fellow cast members.  And all the while, I’m doing my best to look to the Director for guidance.  He is the only one who can teach me how to showcase Christ in this present condition.  I am NOT diminished to God.  I merely have to remember who really has the starring role.

 

Heavenly Father, please help me to feature Christ in my life instead of my own pride.  Thank you for never seeing me as diminished, despite my circumstances.  Thank you for always being able to use me.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.....

 


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Shelly

Humble Yourself

In the same way, you younger men must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:5

photo credit: me'nthedogs via photopin cc

photo credit: me'nthedogs via photopin cc

Our scripture today refers to submission and humility.  Often when we hear the word humility, we tend to associate it with weakness.  A mere mention of it can set off spasms of scoffing, eye-rolling and sighing.  Try to hold those till the end. 

My mom is the strongest woman I know.  Her strength comes from some pretty surprising places.  My mother’s strength is based in her submission.  This is a quality that seems to have skipped a generation, so I do my best to study her and I hope one day to emulate what I learn.  While she is no shrinking violet, and no one pushes her around, my mom approaches life with a quiet acceptance.  She interacts with others in such a way as to draw them in, wrap them in her peaceful presence, and allow them simply to rest there.  She has given me a new outlook on submission and humility.

I have learned from my mom that instead of stealing strength and confidence, submission grows them.  When she submits to a will that is more perfect than her own, a will that wants only her best interests, she is in fact making her future more secure.  She is showing strength of character to be able to temper her desires under a more holy desire.  She is in fact following the scripture more perfectly when she shows the humility to shout with her actions what I usually only proclaim with my lips, that pride has no place in a Christian walk. 

 

Dear Lord, help us today as we practice walking in submission and humility.  But even more, help us to grasp hold of these traits as something to be desired, rather than something to be avoided.  We know this won’t be easy, so please motivate us with positive reinforcement for our efforts as we strive to form new habits.  Bless my mom for the blessing and example she is to me.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen…

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8WmAoM8kPs>


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Shelly

Just Breathe

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. – Psalm 150:6

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photo credit: Road Fun via photopin cc

So I have noticed something in the last few days…. I have a marble popper game that I like to play to keep my hands and eyes sharp.  As I advance in the levels, the levels become harder, and I find that when I pay attention, I am holding my breath.  I thought about how this can be true in our lives, as well.  Sometimes we forget to breathe, and we end up all tense and feeling poorly when all we had to do was breathe through the hard times.  I challenge you today to be conscious in your breathing, to trust that God holds your breath in His care.  Sometimes we can feel as though we are insignificant in His sight, but He is always near, waiting for the praise in our next breath.

Dear Lord, please help us to feel your presence today as we breathe through both the trials and the joys you send our way. In Jesus' Name, Amen....


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Shelly

Footprints in the Sand

I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. – Isaiah 46:4

 

photo credit: rogiro via photopin cc

photo credit: rogiro via photopin cc

One of my favorite poems, and probably one of yours, has always been Footprints.  If you’ve never had the opportunity to read it, I encourage you to do so here.  It is simply beautiful.  Inspiring. 

A funny thing struck me just the other day as I was re-reading this great poem, looking for some inspiration.  That happens pretty often actually.  I’m just reading along, minding my own business, when the most hilarious picture pops into my mind.  I was quickly reminded that God has a sense of humor.  So here it is. 

I was reading the first part of the poem, about walking along with God, our footprints side-by-side there in the sand.  Honest to goodness, mine weren’t footprints in my mind’s imagery, they were drag marks.  Drag. Marks.  Do you ever feel that way?  I have no doubt that in my most difficult moments, my Lord is carrying me.  That part I have no trouble imagining just the way it is described in the poem.  But walking along side-by-side, well, is that really me? 

Now, I know I am loved by God.  And I know He doesn’t actually drag us where we do not wish to go.  But I also believe that the Spirit used that imagery in my mind to make the point that there are days when I do seem to dig my heels in and insist on having my way (and probably to lighten my load a little that day).  I have to admit, it did make me chuckle.  I do keep trudging along, but don’t I grumble, mutter under my breath a little, and question a lot?  Perhaps with as hard as my heels are dug in and as much as I’m shuffling my feet in procrastination, my footprints would indeed look like drag marks. 

 

Oh Lord, you are so patient with me!  Thank you for your unfailing mercies, for your sense of humor, and for walking beside me.  Please help me to lift my feet a little higher each day, as I learn to trust more deeply and bear less of my own burdens.  I want to be a good companion to you, Lord, because I will never leave your side.  In Jesus' Name, Amen....

 


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Shelly

Stillness

For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end. Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven. - Psalm 107:25-30

photo credit: Eric B. Walker via photopin cc

photo credit: Eric B. Walker via photopin cc

 

This was the verse that started it all for me.  Before my disability and before my quest for medical answers, I was an active wife and mother, busy as I could be.  I became fascinated with the idea of “stillness” before God and began to study what that meant, what God was calling me to do when he said, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).  I could hear the Spirit whispering to me that this was the crux of the matter, and I devoted myself to finding a deeper understanding of this stillness.  Little did I know what a journey would begin with that study. 

I still do not have a firm grasp on the concept, since my inner being is constantly reaching for that “busy-ness” from before, but I do get a great deal of comfort from the above passage.  The passage refers to sailors in a storm on the sea.  However, the fact that so often we are like those waves is not lost on me…. So often I feel tossed about BY the waves of life, but if I take the time to breathe and reconnect with God, I find that I AM a wave, tossing to and fro and diving down, crashing deep and cresting high, with no direction or aim.  Because I am that wave, my tossing can upset all around me until life itself becomes a storm and is quite scary.  This verse tells me that even the mindless waves who have no control over their tossing, can rely on God to give them direction and calm them.  Why wouldn’t I, His child, cry out to Him?  And not only does he direct them, HE is the one who imparts the stillness…. It’s not some mysterious place that I can find if I meditate enough or gain enough faith… It’s given by God himself, and is only for me to RECEIVE with gratitude.  Look at the last verse.  “Then they are glad because they are quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven.”  I believe that must be true for the waves as well as the sailors!  Let’s cry out to God together today for stillness, then receive it with gladness.  Only then can he guide us!

Holy God, You are the giver of all good and perfect gifts.  We plead with you today to grant us stillness.  Help us to be willing vessels for this blessing.  Help us to see that the need for busy-ness comes from the world.  Let our focus be completely on you today, Lord, and let us be Still.  In Jesus' Name, Amen....


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Shelly

Jesus Can Relate

Matthew  4:1-11

photo credit: jamelah via photopin cc

photo credit: jamelah via photopin cc

The story of the temptations of Jesus can offer much comfort on those days when you feel alone or you feel that no one can relate to what you are going through.  Rest assured that Jesus can!  If we study the temptations, we can see that the 3 things Satan tempted our Lord with encompass the main things that we as fragile, doubting Christians can face on a

daily basis.  These three temptations encompass : daily needs like food, shelter and clothing; safety, something that those of us who are disabled in some way may fear for much more than others; and material riches or power.

Here’s the good news!  Jesus shows us how to combat these temptations and who is behind them.  He also tells us in other verses that God is in charge of such things in our daily lives, we have only to open the door.  Pay close attention to verse 11 in our scripture for today.  As soon as Satan was rebuked, angels came to minister to Him.  The Holy Spirit lends us comfort and peace on days when we feel alone.  God never has to turn to face us, since He is always there; we only have to turn to Him in trust.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your scriptures which show us that Jesus was tempted in the same ways that we find difficult today.  It's so good to not feel alone and misunderstood!  Thank you for never turning away from us!  Please help us to keep our eyes fixed on you.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.....


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Shelly

He Knows Your Name

"But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  To him the doorkeeper opens and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." – John 10: 2-3

photo credit: castgen via photopin cc

photo credit: castgen via photopin cc

This scripture was always one of my favorites, but I had an experience that really brought it home for me.  I was an adult when I had my first surgery.  I had worried and fretted and prayed so much over this, and many of my prayers were for the doctor performing the procedure.  The staff took me to the surgery prep and recovery room, got an IV started, and tried to ease my fears.  As I lay there for a little over an hour, I heard doctors entering the room to check on their patients.  Each time they came in, they would ask the nurse which bed their patient was in, asking for them in a code…. “I’m here to see the appendectomy for 10:00.” Or “I’m here to look in on bed 5.”

It hadn’t occurred to me how detached and cold this all was until my surgeon walked in, approached the nurse station and said, “I’m here for Shelly Hendricks.”  Wow, at that moment I realized what it could mean for someone to call you by name.  In this crazy world we can know that Jesus knows our name, and it is written in the book of life.  During the scary times in our life we can rest assured that our shepherd, in charge of our care and well-being, sees us as we are, each individual one of us. Try to hear His voice through your day today… do you hear Him calling you by name?

Dear Lord, as we enter into our day, help us to follow the sound of your voice.  Call us by name and help us to see the treasure in that relationship with our Shepherd.  We love you.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.....


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Shelly

Hum the Tune

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” – Romans 8:26

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photo credit: jasoneppink via photopin cc

I don’t know about your house, but our house has always been filled with music.  So has our car, our computer, our church building, our yard… you get the picture.  Because of this I often have songs stuck in my head, and even though I’m a stickler for the words, sometimes I just can’t remember them.  Trust me when I tell you that that has never once stopped me from singing at the top of my lungs!! 

Sometimes I make up my own words, but most of the time when I don’t know the words, I simply hum the tune.  If I don’t know the whole tune, I will hum the one part that I do know, over and over and over again until I am driving even myself crazy!  Sometimes I embellish the part I do know with little flourishes and trills as I hum.

As I was reading this scripture today, it struck me that this is what I need to do on those days when simply am at a loss in my prayer life.  Do you ever have those days? 

Some days I simply don’t know what to pray… maybe it’s because I’m overwhelmed with sorrow or stress, or maybe it’s because I’m overcome with gratitude, or maybe it’s simply that I know I need to pray for a friend but have no idea how, exactly what their needs are, or how to bring them before the Lord. 

Just as not knowing the words to my favorite songs never stops me from humming the tune, not knowing the words to pray should never stop me from getting on my knees before my Father!  

I know the melody, it is engraved on my heart.  This verse reminds me that the Holy Spirit supplies the words and makes intercession for us.  Now I’m getting chills as I’m typing this, just trying to take in how wondrous that is… the Holy Spirit is a part of my song of prayer to God each time I approach that throne. Today I will remember to hum faithfully when I don’t know the words!!

 

Dear Lord, as we go through our day today, please help us to remember that no matter our circumstances, the Holy Spirit is much more qualified than we will ever be to bring our pleas and gratitude before you.  Help us to hum with flourishes and trills ad nauseam.  We want your melody to be the only one in our hearts and minds.  Thank you, Father for this day and your mercy.  In Jesus' Name, Amen....

Here's a little ditty that always gets stuck in my head.  Happy Humming  Smile


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May God Bless You,

Shelly