I think when the journey has a vacation built into it the idea of schedule goes flying out the window. My one sis has wireless in her house and the other doesn’t so in order to do this blog I need to walk down to the other’s home. It really isn’t much of an issue in that Kathy and Alice both sleep a couple hours after I get up in the morning.
When I was having my devotions earlier I was pondering why I love being here. It suddenly hit me that I’ve always loved being with these two. Then it hit home, with these two I’ve never felt like the error I talk about in my book. These two sis’s have always made me feel like I was worth something to them. I know this is important for each of us to have value. However, when we are young we don’t often have the capability of thinking through these emotional items.
Tomorrow I turn 66. It seems as though I’m going to be 2/3’s of “the mark of the beast”. If any of you readers have advice for me, I’d like to hear it. I don’t want to be any closer to this beastly being than I have too! God blessings to you!
Kathy and I made it to S. California to be with my two sisters here for a week. I love being here but it is a rude awakening to the reality that as life moves on, so does the aging process. My older sis here, Alice, is little by little losing ground. She and her husband Tom had been one of life’s highlights for this boy as he was growing up. She knew how to make each of us kids feels special and she did just that. Now it is my turn to return the favor. She is fighting the onset of Alzheimer’s and we all know this is not a kind disease. I want to be for her what she has always been for me but I often find myself wanting to simply cry for her old spirit to return. I know that this state of life is temporary and that what is eternal will be what I and the rest of us will know for eternity. She is a believer and I’m very grateful for that.
My birthday is Friday and my sis Bonnie, just older than me, is taking the day just for the two of us to be together. I don’t know what we will do but I know it will be a treat for me to spend the day with her. All of us will go to dinner that night which will be another great gift.
All of this reinforces for me the importance of relationships. No matter how much we have done or acquired, if we haven’t built strong relationships along the way, we will be most lonely. I was having my devotions early this morning and realizing this all over again. How grateful I am that God gave me a family that does reach out to one another in love and support. As I had stated on Monday, this week will be sporadic with entries but I’ll do my best to stay in touch. God’s blessings to you.
I sit down at my computer this morning and wonder if I even want to reminisce a moment about yesterday? It was one odd day. It started with our quartet singing for the first service at our church. We were doing three numbers there. Afterwards, we were packing up to go to McCall, ID to sing for a weekend festival event. We were slated to sing for 45-60 minutes @ 4:00 pm. We left here @ 11:30 am. As we got to Horseshoe Bend we stopped to get a sandwich and head on up. We probably got 4 miles north when the traffic came to a complete stop. We were finally told there was an awful accident and it would be no less than a 2 hour delay. We decided to reroute through Emmett and hit Hwy 95. It would delay us, but it would work out. We called ahead and they said they would rearrange the groups singing. There’s more to the story but when we finally arrived at the place at 5:45 pm there was no one there except the sponsors of the event–5 people. So, we sang a couple songs acappella for them and I headed back bringing our lead singer with me. We both needed to get back last night. It was a pretty drive and I did listen to some mighty good music and to some powerful messages I had with me in my car. For now, I’ll call it good. In the back of my mind I do wonder if there is a message I’m not getting??
Today Kathy and I head to S. California visiting my two sisters, Bonnie and Alice and their families. I always look forward to this trip we take annually. In spite of all the traffic one contends with in Calif., I do love the state. I mostly love these two sisters. I mention both of them in my book because both of them are instrumental in my life and have always been. I get to celebrate my 66th birthday while with them too! Because they don’t have cell service where they live and only one of them has internet access at their home I may be limited on my daily entries for the blog. So, if there are some vacant days in the next 9 days this will be the reason. Just know I’m having fun with two of my favorite people! I like to think every journey has an oasis now and then. This is one in my journey.
The Celebrate Recovery group in Emmett, ID was having an event last night in a park inviting anyone to join them. The Southwest CR rep was attending and giving her testimony. I had given my testimony to this group a few weeks back and thought it would be nice to reconnect with them. Kathy and I thoroughly enjoyed going and watching God work. The one thing God kept emphasizing for me during the testimony was the journey he keeps us on until we finally see the connection between His Love and His Gifts. The testimony was one where a home was filled with activity but vacant of love from either parent. The girl of the home who is now our state rep reached out for love in many ways, all of which we recognize in our society today. She is now using her story–her journey to enlighten listeners to God’s Amazing Love just waiting to be received and His two gifts: Salvation from His Son Jesus Christ and then the infilling of His Holy Spirit.
This morning I have been reflecting a great deal about these gifts. I first received salvation when I was young and desperate in the abusive situations of my brother and my dad. I knew punishment well and I knew abuse well. Somehow as a young child I was not able to articulate any of this. I learned, or so I thought, to simply do as much good as possible and maybe, just maybe, it would be enough. My older siblings had failed at doing enough to please our dad and I watched them rebel and flee from our home. I was firm not to do this. Somehow the good would pay off. Well, it didn’t and it doesn’t. What does pay off is learning to stop doing and to begin to listen. These two gifts God offers us are not about doing, but receiving. We learn this by listening–listening to the yearnings within our own spirit and then responding to them. Christ came to complete the work we could not do on our own–we receive this. I’m just now beginning to understand and be somewhat overwhelmed with the immensity of love and direction the Holy Spirit waits to pour out as I stop doing and start listening to His voice within. Going last night was one of those occasions. Kathy and I went and were fed two times–man’s food and God’s food. Isn’t He amazing!
Yesterday morning after completing my devotions and blog entry, I finished the last 3 video assignments for the Boise State Univ. project I’d committed to doing. I don’t know if I’ve explained much about this. I accepted the project because the two creators of it are “professional friends” from work I’ve done in the last 8 years. I’d worked individually with each of them on other projects and now they were working together and I had a chance to be part of it. I accepted it without any reservations–in fact, I accepted it thinking how fun it would be to work with two such competent people again. It hadn’t crossed my mind to talk to the TEAM–God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit. Well, you can predict the ending. Yes, I could do the work and I did it. However, all through the project I knew I was spending time on something that was not motivated by this critically important TEAM. As I finished yesterday I had this weight lifted from me and this morning I feel like a new person. I’ve made a firm commitment to confirm with them before I say yes again.
I was feeling so good yesterday about finishing that project that I text Kathy while I was out picking the raspberries and told her we were going out last night. Kathy was gone for the day. She was telling me last night that she told our 10 year old granddaughter who was with her that grandpa had asked her out on a date. My granddaughter thought that was really neat. I’m not a very romantic guy so I’m thinking this is something I should do more often–the grandkids are watching!
My journal had a verse at the top of the page this morning I was writing in. It reads: “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning…. The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.” I thought when reading it that it is a wonderful set of verses. I look where they were from and they were written in Lamentations 3: 22-23, 25. Even when we are lamenting over our past sins and mistakes the truth of who God is never changes. I’m so very grateful for the solidity of this anchor in my life. I want to be a much better listener to God’s Holy Spirit in my life now that I’m awake to His Holy presence within me.
At 3:05 am I was awake and my mind was recapturing the events of the previous day. I had met with a man from our step study that was ready to do his inventory and I am his sponsor. I got home from his place and sent several emails, went to town to get supplies for the upcoming Celebrate Recovery nights, worked on a Boise State project and lastly, our quartet sang for a dear pastor friend who is no longer able to navigate much from his home. We went to his house and did a personal concert for him and his wife. So, at 3:05 I was awake but what I was really being awakened to was what is behind each of these activities–relationships.
My life journey, as I write about in my book, was all about hiding a past of abuse that would annihilate any chance I’d have for success (I believed). I learned well to “do” things well so I could be worthy of a relationship with people. I’m told I’m a relational person and I do see this in myself somewhat, but when I was awake to this before I cringed that somehow the truth of me would come out and any friend would then flee. Somehow, last night, God was showing me that even though I may do activities, when all of them are completed what is still left is the relationship behind the activity. I’ve actually had individuals in my life who have talked to me at length regarding this topic but I’ve always downplayed their research as being just the way they were wired.
What has truly awakened me to the truth of relationships and the importance therein is this rich, new relationship I’m realizing with God’s gift: The Holy Spirit. My relationship with Him is not about me doing, it is all about me being with Him and He in me. It’s so incredible to me that I’ve heard this truth all my life and only now begun to actualize it in my being. The impact is transforming. I used to fear tremendously close relationships because proximity always allows the other person to see and find out things I knew they couldn’t know about me. That fear is mostly gone now. I know God is wanting me to wake up to His original intent for us in having relationships with one another. I am truly grateful for this awakening.
Today is my first day to be fully awake to the fact I am alive and filled with God’s Holy Spirit. It seems I ought to be ending this sentence with an exclamation mark, but I need someway to express the depth of this statement. Galatians 2:20 says: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” I now realize the truth of the part “I no longer live”. That damaged human spirit I have been wanting rebuilt all these years is now replaced. This is what is so incredibly amazing to me. Thank you Jesus!
Last night was a night of tests. It started with Kathy texting from Oregon where she has been all week with her sister. I was responding to the text when my phone froze. The keyboard on the little screen disappeared and I could get the screen to do nothing. I dropped my phone in my pocket and headed to church for Celebrate Recovery. Upon arrival I had several people to talk to arranging my being gone for a couple weeks visiting relatives in California (my two sisters–Bonnie and Alice). I was going to make a list of the songs we were singing from my phone but I couldn’t access anything. I went in to the sound guy to get the songs from him I’d forwarded last weekend to find the entire sound system was down and we wouldn’t be able to do any of the arranged songs. We also wouldn’t be able to do the testimony as it was a video testimony. So, as we started, I called everyone up to the front as we do, announced the problem and prayed. I said we weren’t there to do anything but thank God, and turn this night over to the Holy Spirit’s leadership. We sang choruses and hymns most everyone knew without any accompaniment. One of the men who had been experiencing many home crises in his family’s life was present. He had redone his testimony and had it on his phone. He volunteered to share it. As the evening ended I had one lady come up to me telling me how a newcomer to us last night had come feeling very down and depressed. On her way to Deer Flat she’d been listening to a CD of older songs and then our worship was an almost repeat of them except it was live persons now singing them with her. She was so grateful! My share group was so touched by the testimony. We had a newcomer in it who had been abused sexually as a child and so had the one giving his testimony so it resonated with this newcomer. God’s timing is perfect and His leadership is also perfect. How often I forget this.
As I got home, my phone started working and it is fine this morning. I think God just wanted a moment where our only attention was on Him which is what we intend each week, but last night in a moment of desperation and I was reminded that no technology, no work of man is ever to replace the work of God. I want my work to be only in harmony with what God has planned. This morning, in less than an hour I am meeting with a gentleman who has been coming to our men’s step study. He is doing his inventory with me which is one of the toughest steps to do–come clean about every hurt, hang-up and habit dominating your life. This man’s story is much like my own. In times past I would be most uptight having to listen to my own story coming from someone else. I would be trying to steel my own emotions so I wouldn’t lose it. Today however, I go as a child of God and coming along side another one. I remember that “I no longer live–Jesus Christ now lives in me.” I know God will be present as He already is. Praise His Holy Name!
If I were to tell you I had another rich lesson on spirit would you close out this blog and never come back to it? I hope not, because either way, the lesson happened. Yesterday afternoon I met with a pastor friend and introduced Celebrate Recovery to him. I was prompted last week to contact him and the meeting we set was yesterday @ 2:30 pm. He is very interested and so in the near future we will build a plan for this to begin taking place. While there he gave me a book entitled: He Loves Me! by Wayne Jacobsen. He said he knew I’d enjoy it immensely. I thanked him and went on my way. Last night was our weekly step study. The lesson was READY. The ready title is about whether you are ready to receive the positive changes God has in store for you once you’ve begun to come out of denial and address the hurt, hang-ups and habits that have been weighing one down. The last question starts as a statement and ends with the question. It reads: “Sometimes it is difficult for us in recovery to see the positive changes that God is making in our lives. Have you been able to accept and enjoy your growth? How?” Up to this time in the lesson I had been struggling with the questions as they lead up to this last one. I was having to relive my lifelong need to coverup my past. I even said that living out in the open as a school principal, a church attender and volunteer, a singer of gospel music, a husband, a father, a neighbor were all camouflage in my mind. If I did them well no one would have to know my past. In each case, if they knew, I’d be divorced, fired, told to move and disowned. I now know this has been Satan’s deception but there are lingering moments and last night was one of them.
This morning I was journaling about all of yesterday and talking to Jesus again about spirit. It was very awakening for me. I wasn’t kidding when I had said last night about my thinking about the need to camouflage who I was by what I did. Now that this was all out in the open–I’d said it to the group of men, I saw my broken spirit seemingly for the first time. I was actually doing all this “good living–camouflage living” to protect and coverup what I thought I wasn’t. No one knew anything about it–just me. I was the only one thinking this. This morning, I finally got it. My spirit was broken from my past and that’s real. However, a broken spirit is no need to run and hide–camouflage as I’ve always thought I needed to do. So this is what Christ revealed to me in the midst of my devotional time–He said, “Earnie, this is why I give you my Holy Spirit. It is whole and complete. You don’t need to worry about this broken spirit anymore. I give you the very Spirit of My Father who created you and loves you.” The tenderness of this is still so raw I have to cry again. My word, how old am I, how long have I worked on this in my life? Yet, this morning, I am able to finally see and hear what Christ has been waiting for me to understand and accept. I received His Spirit with open arms! I don’t need to protect a broken one anymore.
I think God put the schoolhouse back in the center of my path this morning as He wasn’t done with the lesson I thought I had finished last week. OK, I’m stepping out again, but this time I am stepping out with a brand new spirit. It is mine and it is a gift. He told me I get it because He wants all His kids to have it. Wow, I’m still in the WOW of this.
Well, the journey is having trouble continuing this morning–as least from writing about it. Our power was off a couple hours during the night and it messed with the internet connections. All seems to be good now that I’ve rebooted 3 times but my time is limited in that I’m suppose to be leaving in 5 minutes for a day of work I’m committed to.
I loved what one of my devotionals had to say this morning. It was differentiating between a failure and failing. If we stumble in our journey or fail, step into sin, whatever happens, it does not make us a failure. When we become a failure is when we turn our back onto Christ and His Holy Spirit’s leadership. We do need to get ourselves regrounded in Christ but that doesn’t mean we are a failure. Yes, we failed, but our heart is still on track and we get the rest of our body in line with our heart. There is so much more I want to learn about heart living because my heart is the home of my new creation’s spirit. I know my journey will keep bringing new learning about and I look forward to each lesson. In the meantime–I’m off to work!
This journey is an amazing experience once I get my role as a team player in place. Let me explain. You know that the past week I’ve been in a schoolhouse receiving direct instruction on spirit-filled living. At the end of last week I stepped out of the schoolhouse having received some sound instruction on this and I was ready to start this way of living. Yesterday our pastor preached on a topic that wasn’t entitled this, but the theme of the message was: Faith is Obedience. This is what living a spirit-filled life looks like–living by faith out of obedience to the Holy Spirit within. All this was topped off with stumbling into watching Fireproof last night on TV. The kids were gone and I was checking to see what was on and found it on the UP station. I’ve seen this movie several times but saw the movie for the first time as a spirit-filled person.
If you know this movie you know that the key couple are at the verge of their marriage ending in divorce. He is a fireman and she works at a local hospital. His dad introduces him to a 40 day challenge to complete before he makes any final decision. He accepts it. Here was my wake up. In the first 20 days of the challenge he was completing it by DOING the assignment each day. It was getting him no place and he was about to quit. It was then his father asked if he’d been reading the scriptures attached to each day and of course he hadn’t. That was something for his dad to do, he wasn’t into that spiritual stuff. It is here however that the young man realizes the love he is seeking from his wife is parallel to the love God was seeking from him. This reality hit home and he accepted Christ into his heart. The scene now changes because all of a sudden he is completing the last 20 days BEING the assignment rather than doing it. I found myself seeing my life. I’ve worked so hard to be never realizing the “be” is the faith part of The Holy Spirit living in me. My human spirit was badly beat up as a child and I’d learned to protect myself and doing good work. I never saw myself as the boy with a spirit or a man with one.
This morning Christ shared Matthew 7:7 with me: Ask and it will be given to you: seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened unto you. For the first time I saw this scripture as an invitation to the fullest life possible. I asked Christ for the fullness of His Holy Spirit and He is giving it to me. I am seeking Him and the door is being opened so that I can now live a life of obedience in faith only–faith that I now trust with all my heart, soul and mind. The fear is now replaced with anticipation.
I write this with all humbleness of spirit.