Pursuing the Presence, Purpose and Power of a closer walk with Christ

Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Billy Graham-The World’s Spiritual Patriarch


November 7, 1918 – February 21, 2018

America, for the past century, has been shepherded by the greatest spiritual leader, evangelist, and minister ever known.

The Reverend Billy Graham’s ministry will continue to reach to the far corners of the world with his sermons, books, teachings and ministry.

He accomplished much because he gave all of his life to Christ.

His words, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, encouraged and compelled men, women, and children of many nations to accept God’s forgiveness, repent of their sins, and surrender their whole life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

And yes, many more will accept Christ, even until Jesus returns.

I, for one, have benefited from his counseling and have been inspired by his sermons.

 

A quote from Billy Graham is a clear reflection of how he lived out his life and direction on how we should live as well:

                 “Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.”

 

Though his passing from this world to Heaven leaves a void in many hearts, in Heaven there is great rejoicing!

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for blessing us with your servant, Billy Graham, and with his lasting legacy of living a Christ-like life.

May the family, friends, loved ones and those who loved the Reverend Graham be comforted, strengthened and challenged to follow his example of serving God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.

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EMBRACING LOVE


 

I hear your voice draw me close

To a deeper walk with Thee

You know my heart, its desires and my dreams

But it’s Your plan and purpose I need to seek

Every hidden thing, every cell, thought and deed

Is seen by You, for You created my inmost being

A broken and contrite heart You will not turn away

Your healing balm restores my soul as I in earnest pray

I lay my life, my plans and concerns before Your Throne

May Your Sovereign Will be done that I may glorify You alone

In sweet communion and bliss I meet with you here

You shield me from hardships, toils and snares

With whispers of love You draw me nearer still

In a harmony of praise Your music the air fills

You closely watch over and guide me with tender care

A friend like no other, a husband beyond compare

And I long to tarry in this intimate union

In Your Embracing Love, a Divine Fusion

Once broken and contrite I entered this place

Now there’s healing in my heart, it transforms my soul and face

Thank You, Father, for Your perfect Embracing Love

In Your mercy and grace, You sent Your only Son

Jesus willingly left His Throne from on high

The King of Kings humbly lived, for all humanity He died

It was our guilt, our shame and sin on the cross You bore

It is our souls You saved, Your Embracing Love restores

Every insult, betrayal, condemnation, sorrow, bruise and pain

You endured for our sake, a new life in You we gain

Flogged and beaten beyond recognition

A crown of thorns You wore for our sin condition

With Your last breath You breathed on the cross at Calvary

Embracing Love won us all everlasting victory

But for the joy did You give Your all

How merciful, gracious and wonderful You are

You blessed us with the Comforter You sent

After Your Resurrection and glorious assent

Your Presence, Lord, is all we need

It is so sweet to sit at Your feet

But You bid Your saints into the world to go

Making disciples and helping each one to grow

Embracing Love, our only hope in life

Help us to serve You as a living sacrifice

 

 

TBI and Us or IN ALL THINGS


March is TBI Awareness Month.  The picture of a brain was a difficult puzzle given to us at the Cr3ative Expressions Support Group meeting to help us focus. It  stumped me,  but Rachel, my daughter who sustained a brain injury, was the first to finish hers in the group and then worked on my unfinished puzzle at home as pictured here in less than one minute. GO FIGURE!?

This post features a poem written and recited by me for the Cr3ative Expressions TBI Support Group.

TBI and Us (or IN ALL THINGS) Page 1

by Virginia Cradlebaugh

The Fourteenth of July, Two-thousand-one,

Was a perfect summer’s day.

Dad, Mom and Rachel, our quaint family,

Drove the car Medina’s way.

It certainly wasn’t our desire,

Nor was it God’s plan or will,

To end up in a ditch, rammed by a car,

By one who had almost killed.

Dear Dad was knocked out and sustained whiplash,

The wreck crushed Mom’s vertebrae.

Rachel unresponsive, had been thrown ’bout,

In earnest I bowed and prayed.

Just passing through, A father and son came,

It wasn’t a coincidence.

The son was a doctor and brought his bag,

Just right for her circumstance.

Shallow she breathed and blood flowed from her ear,

From a sleep she might not wake.

On pins and needles I hovered nearby

Continued to pray for her sake.

The father spoke to me with words of peace,

My son will guard her with care.”

I watched the Life-flight take Rachel upward

My heart heavy with despair.

Page 2

I know you see this, you know everything,

What gives?”, my query to Him.

In a clear, audible voice I discerned,

A verse that should be a hymn.

And we know that IN ALL THINGS God works for

the good of those who love him,

Who have been called according to His purpose.”

Not once, but twice I heard this.

Romans Eight: Twenty-eight I’ll not forget,

No more questions would I implore.

IN All THINGS had arranged for the best place,

that Rachel’s care could afford.

I knew that Jesus held her close to his heart

Carried in His arms as a lamb.

For three days I battled in prayer prostrate,

The outcome was in God’s hands.

The Lord gave to me a gift of faith,

Great peace in my heart remained.

IN ALL THINGS the doctors came with the news,

The pressure too much for her brain.

Page 3

A last ditch effort was made to save her,

An operation on her skull.

In deep freeze the bone was carefully placed,

Till the swelling came to null.

ICU struggled hard to bring her through,

Tweaking meds both day and night.

Two weeks later came her fifteenth birthday,

ICU joined the delight.

The next day by ambulance we left Metro,

To a Rehab on the hill,

The intensive, extensive care she needed,

IN ALL THINGS, this was God’s will.

From a vegetative state she made progress,

As a young babe would learn new things.

The trache and g-tube removed paved the way,

To swallow, eat, and dress; what blessings!

Her drawn up limbs placed in casts to straighten,

Walking remained a hurdle.

Staff pressed her on with many therapies,

At times it seemed slow as a turtle.

Page 4

For months I longed to hear Rachel’s sweet voice,

She spoke to her nurse the name Tex.

God is good, she remembers and does speak,

It was more than I could expect.

The next week she recited the Lord’s prayer,

Her faith in God had remained.

She quoted Psalms Twenty-three, I welled with tears,

And friends from church did the same.

Discharged before Christmas she returned home,

OUT-PATIENT Care was her need.

Edwin Shaw, Children’s, next Akron General.

Her favorite was PT.

From wheelchair to walker, then a gait belt,

But without a cane she’d move.

Fifteen years recovering a TBI,

It was God who helped her improve.

Midway through this long TBI journey,

Dad underwent neck surgery.

For two weeks he felt much better, UNTIL,

A blood clot sent him to Glory.

Page 5

Each year in Autumn we grieve his absence,

Support and prayer bring us through.

There’s a void in our life which only he filled,

One day we’ll all meet, it’s true.

In mysterious ways our God does work,

In wonders and miracles too.

IN ALL THINGS, challenges are for our good,

To God all glory is due.

I’m sure there are struggles we too have shared,

relating to a TBI

Care giving, therapies, doctors, and falls,

IN ALL THINGS on God rely.

Seeking His Kingdom


open-bible-with-coffee-cup

 

Bible reading is different than using a devotional written by authors whether it is published by a denomination or as an individual featuring the author’s name.

I use a devotional, but I also like to open my Bible and begin reading God’s Word; whatever I open to or what I am impressed to read.

Isn’t it wonderful to have scriptures illuminated in the early part of your day?

Today, I opened to DO NOT WORRY. It is written in red letter, which means, Jesus is talking.  I have heard many a sermon given from the passage of Luke 12:22-31. But did I learn from any of them?

I admit, I do think too much. A lot of energy is wasted thinking about the list of to do’s; which include repairs to the house, chores, shopping for necessities, ordering scripts or calling for new ones, scheduling appointments and keeping them, family, care giving duties, exercise, menus, writing and what I should be doing next.

Did you see anything in the aforementioned list that mentions seeking His Kingdom? No. The swirling cloud over my head amounts to worry. A mountain of stuff with a load of stress piled on instead of sitting at the feet of Jesus.

I’m glad the Lenten season is underway. It is a time of seeking His kingdom first, in the middle, last and even during the night when not sleeping is the case.

It is a time of repentance and each person’s area of life that needs change and growth is different.

It is a time of refreshing and renewal.

It is a time of walking more closely with Christ, keeping in step with the Spirit and accomplishing His purpose.

Staying on course in seeking Him first will lead to an enriched celebration of the Resurrection of Christ.

The answer to the habit of worrying about the distraction of responsibilities is given in the last verse of the passage listed above-“But seek His Kingdom and these things will be given to you as well.”

blessings-of-sunshine

God bless your Lenten Season! 

 

 

There is Room in My Heart for Thee


manger

How well we know the Christmas story, since wee ones our ears have heard.

About God’s Son born in a manger, no room was found according to the Word.

 

Today as we celebrate His Birthday, a familiar hymn rings out the reason for God’s Gift to all mankind.

The song written by Emily E. S. Elliott is named;

Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

The chorus reads:

 O Come to my heart, Lord, Jesus; There is room in my heart for Thee

But when you read through to the last verse and stanza written below, the chorus changes.

 

Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown when Thou camest to earth for me;

But in Bethlehem’s home there was found no room For Thy holy nativity

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus; There is room in my heart for Thee.

 

Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang, Proclaiming Thy royal decree

But in lowly birth didst thou come to earth, And in great humility.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus; There is room in my heart for Thee.

 

Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word That shouldst set thy people free;

But with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn, They bore Thee to Calvary.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus; There is room in my heart for Thee.

 

When the heaven’s shall ring and her choir shall sing At Thy coming to victory.

Let Thy voice call me home, saying, “Yet there is room; There is room at my side for thee.”

My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus, when Thou comest and callest me for me.

 

Not only is there room in my heart for the precious gift of God’s only begotten Son, but there is room at his side. 

And we will rejoice when He comes and calls us home.

 

The more people who make room in their heart, the merrier!

And, there is always enough room at His side for one more.

I hope you are rejoicing in His indescribable Gift.

If not, I hope you soon will be rejoicing.

 

Merry Christmas!

 

 

Draw Me Nearer


The title to this post contain words penned by a well know songwriter from another era. Though many of Fanny Crosby’s songs were written and published  more than a century ago, they speak relevance in my life today.

Giving care to another day after day, year after year leaves one exhausted and weary. Drawing nearer to the One who can replenish an empty vessel is a day after day, year after year necessity.

I’m glad that as I draw nearer to God, He draws nearer to me and today this intimate fellowship paralleled in a wonderfully visual way.

I often go outside to sit in a chair under the awning on my back porch facing the woods, which is literally a stones throw away. I take along a cup of hot tea, my Bible, notebook, and pen.

Today’s wintry weather in below freezing temperature didn’t feel as frigid in the outdoors while I began to draw nearer to God. This was a day when the circumstances that surrounded me couldn’t keep me from telling Him I didn’t know how long I would be able to keep this up, that giving care to someone on a daily basis began effecting my ability to function, make decisions, concentrate and accomplish the seemingly mountains (though really more like mounds) of to do’s.

In the distance I could hear the faint call of the red-tail hawk. It’s no secret to God (nothing ever is) how much I enjoy hearing its distinct cry and  revel seeing the majestic wingspan as it glides effortlessly through the sky and my woods.  As a matter of fact, a hawk’s nest was built high in the top branches of a maple tree in my woods this year.

The hawk called and called and didn’t stop calling as I poured out my heart to the Lord.

“I know, Lord, you want me to cast my cares on you, that your yoke is easy and your burden is light.”

A sense of peace came over me and the struggle I felt began to lift, as if it had been blown at that moment away in the wind.

“Thank you Lord, your Presence is here with me and you know what I’m going  through.”

Photos taken near Banning Ranch

I continued my talk and thanked God that I am blessed with having my very own park in my backyard that helps to ease my stress, then, I noticed that the hawk flew closer and perched high in the branch of a nearby tree.

I went on praying for other’s needs and as I finished, I looked up and the hawk flew even more closer to the woods edge. My eyes opened wide in amazement and a comfort washed over me as I thought about God’s greatness. He is able to make His presence, comfort and peace known in visually tangible ways!

The appearance of the hawk in perfect timing made me aware of the fact that God was near me in a difficult time today.

It was as if I was given double the comfort for what I was going through.

 

Fanny Crosby, in spite of becoming blind as an infant as a result of a doctor’s incompetence, wrote over 8,000 hymns using numerous pen names.

I am Thine, O Lord is one of the hymns she wrote that speaks volumes to me today.

 

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard your voice, And it told Thy love to me; But I long to rise in the arms of faith, and be closer drawn to Thee

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord, By the pow’r of grace divine; Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope, and my will be lost in Thine.

O the pure delight of a single hour That before Thy throne I spend, When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God, I commune as friend to friend!

There are depths of love that I cannot know Till I cross the narrow sea; There are heights of joy that I may not reach Till I rest in peace with Thee.

Chorus:

Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, To the cross where Thou hast died; Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, To Thy precious, bleeding side.

 

How good and gracious to be in the Presence of the Great I AM.

Thank you, Jesus for coming to Earth and making a way to the Father through your death on the Cross.

Christmas, AKA Jesus’ birthday, is celebrated on December 25th each year, but Jesus’ sacrifice, Resurrection and abiding love can be known every day.

 

Perseverance to Harvesting Hope


Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5: 3-5 (NIV)
   We all need encouraging.
   I think the Lord may have wanted to encourage me this morning as I opened my Bible to the book of Romans.
“You’re encouraging me to persevere? Haven’t I been persevering? Or do I need to grow beyond the recurring challenges in my life?”
   The Lord sees what is in my heart. He sees what is hidden from my eyes, and what may be hidden from the view of others as well.
   Life can be both beautiful and difficult.
   Each day is filled with wonderful blessings from God. There are also days that include hardships. Hardships as tall as brick walls that you run into and they can become discouraging road blocks. Have you had struggles in your  journey that lasted way longer than you expected? Have you been hindered or delayed from reaching your goals, calling or duty?
   In 2001, an automobile accident interrupted the lives of our family. In fact, it more than interrupted, it changed our lives forever. My husband, Jerry, was knocked unconscious and suffered whiplash. Eight years later, the effects of the untreated whiplash progressed to spinal stenosis in his neck and required surgery to correct it. The surgery went well, but tragically, a blood clot caused his death two weeks later.
   The detour of our automobile crash occurred just two weeks before my daughter Rachel’s fifteenth birthday. She suffered much more than my husband or I. Her head injury quite severe. She needed an emergency last-ditch brain surgery to save her life.  Afterwards, she remained in the hospital five months to relearn how to swallow, eat, speak, dress and eventually walk.  The near fatal accident impacted her emotionally, mentally, and physically.
   It has been a challenge balancing the responsibilities of a full-time caregiver, mother, and guardian throughout her miraculous recovery these past fifteen years. More so has been widowhood these last seven years. I have struggled to care for an older home set in beautiful park-like surroundings as I’ve juggled the special care she requires long-term.
   Sometimes I’m able to accomplish what I need and/or want during the week within the few hours she is away at a supervised work or recreational care facility.  Others times, the reality of living with the effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury break-up that much-needed respite. I should be used to the setbacks. I should be a pro by now, right?
   Recently, I hit a “chuck-hole” in my journey and discovered I needed more perseverance. Last week, I bought paint for the exterior window trim. The next day, I re-injured my foot and strained the tendons in the back of my knee as I reached out to help some one.  Really?!  I waited a year as my foot healed and gradually returned to physical activity. It had only been a month since I was able to walk on the soft cushion of the lawn and ride my bike up and down the road for 20 minutes.
    The hobbling saga aside, the windows needed attention three or four years ago. The neglected wood trim was weathered and had dry rot in places. The caulking was cracked and falling off. The scraping, repair and painting of the window trim I planned to get done, was pushed aside while I attempted to manage the bump in the road consisting of phone calls from nurses and staff regarding the “seizure-quo” activity occurring in the last few days. My daughter began to grieve the loss of her step-dad with the onset of seizures.
   Thank God the reality of our ongoing circumstances have been wonderfully sustained with the abundance of his strength and grace. For the next couple of weeks, I continued with the management of her care by: talking with the doctors via phone, consulting with staff who care for her during the day, scheduling and attending appointments with specialists, transporting her to counseling and testing, making extra pharmacy trips for new seizure meds, providing home skill requirements and recreation, and dealing with the red-tape of tedious paperwork. (“Jesus, take me away!”)
   I tend to drive myself hard in order to finish tasks, and as a result, at times I’ve become burned out, depleted of joy, discouraged and parched. This detailed explanation sheds light on the poem, “Listen to the Rain” previously posted on A Beautiful Life website.
   I need to grow spiritually, grow more into Christ likeness, instead of complaining about my circumstances. I need to consistently praise God because, He is aware of all that goes on in my life. He doesn’t give me more than I can bear, after-all, he bears my burdens. His yoke is easy and his burden light. Matthew 11:28-30 (ref.) I need to respond with the power that is available to me through close communication with him. With his power, I’m able to have a mature attitude. Not an attitude with a capital A. Not a ranting, crying out to God for help in a dysfunctional way, as I try to cope with the challenges.
   My response of humble repentance has yielded a quiet character that hopes. My heart is renewed and filled with love poured out from God through the Holy Spirit.
   From perseverance to harvesting hope.
   It’s harvest time. When we harvest hope, others can also hope to grow into the person God intended them to be. Beautiful inside and out, because God desires to make something beautiful out of our lives.
   Let us be an encouragement to one another. Have you been challenged recently with road blocks in your life? Have you repaired any windows lately? Perhaps you’ve a story to share of how God closed one door and opened a window of opportunity.
   Incidentally, I finished most of the front windows of the house without breaking them or falling. Praise the Lord!

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