Happy 1 Month Birthday

Wow. Hard to hold back grateful tears!!! Today marks 1 month since Isaiah has been given the most wonderful gift. I am so amazed at his progress and much to his embarassment, I get mushy over each milestone. He thought it was too much when I cried watching him eat his first (approved) baked french fry in 5 years.

Want to thank everyone who has stood with us and by us. Every who helped in prayer and financially. Those who cover me at work and those who dutifully make sure my church doesn’t miss me too much. Those who brought a plate and those who pushed a vaccum. For every card and every phone call.

You will never begin to know how much this means to me. How much it means to us.IMG_20180209_041557_548.jpg

You Are Normal!

 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities;

–          Hebrews 4:15 KJV

We often joke in my household that I would never make a good politician because I tell everything about and on myself so there would never be any dirt to dig up…unless you looked under the carpet.  I believe the wearing of my heart on my sleeve comes from having a testimony of a loving God that has been too good to me to keep it to myself.  I pretty much live an open book. Or so I thought.

My ministry is the often sharing of being joyful in troubled times, trusting God no matter what and believing how He would restore all.  Nice, tidy, wonderful sounding inspiration…missing one major detail.   Maybe it was pride. Maybe it was fear.  Maybe I could not stand to have to utter words aloud that would cause me to think and deal with it or myself.

But recently I was faced with three persons that “outed” me.   One was struggling to hold on in faith when modern medicine said “no way.”  Another because of past mistakes was wondering how God could ever love her.   Finally, the third who had lost the roof over her head due to medical and legal difficulties.  Each supposing lack in their faith because they were scared, they were hurt, and they were ashamed of the way they felt.

Normally, I would have an easy answer for their queries of “I don’t understand how you do it?” But God challenged me to pull the last bit from under the rug.   It didn’t sound like such a testimony to me, but from each of the “three” I received either a “why didn’t you tell me” or “gee, you hid that well.”  Finally I was convicted by “I really needed to hear that….I am normal”.

My secret you ask?   It was simply the answer “ME TOO”.

Most of you already know that it has been close to 5 years now since my son simultaneously went deaf and into final stage renal failure.  I have not been slack to share most of the experience… highs and lows.  What I failed to share… and even now I hesitate to say it…..the day I got mad with God.

You see, after years of countless surgeries, repeated illness and thrice weekly dialysis treatments, a suitable donor match had been found.  We immediately went into preparation mode to get the house ready for infection control, not spending a spare dime since I would be out of work for weeks, and tip toeing around family and friends because we wanted to keep the surprise quiet until after the procedure. We cancelled all travel, all vacations and even my participation in what could have been a career changing convention concert.

And then “it” happened!  I was in devotions one morning and I clearly heard God say to me “Forget the Back-up Plan…”   I didn’t have a clue what that meant at the time, but I knew it meant to trust Him.   In my mind’s eyes I immediately applied that thought to my finances, my job and so on and so on.  Everything except what would come next.

Just a few days before we were supposed to check into the hospital, I get a cold emotionless call from a third party nurse.   She gave no explanation. She would not answer any of my questions.   She offered no empathy or sympathy. She simply said a very technical version of “No Go. “

I don’t remember any reports of earthquakes that day.  But I felt it.   I didn’t know how I was going to tell my son, who was so excited about finally being free from the pain and isolation of dialysis.   I was furious. Was God playing with me like a cat with a string?   Imagine if you will, me going off by myself because I didn’t want any people to know though I knew in my spiritual mind God had a plan…..my heart and my head was all jacked up.  I wanted to know what I had done wrong.  I wanted to know what I needed to do better

As if God had not seen me, I reminded Him of all the nights I stood by my son’s bedroom door praying and listening for his breath making sure it was still there.   I reminded Him, how we believed through all the extreme body pain when the high dose narcotics wouldn’t do.   I reminded Him, how we stayed faithful even when were too tired to function.   I even bargain that even if my prayers were no good, then surely somebody amongst all the folks that prayed for our family there had to be one….even just one… whose faith was greater.

My screams were met with simply “Forget the Back-up Plan.”

It became clear that God was telling me to trust Him even when I could not trace Him. We found out later than the donor had a sudden condition that disqualified him.  If we had received that kidney, it would have failed us quickly.    We would have been in a bigger mess than what we started with.  Just like His Word says in Jeremiah 29, He has a plan that has a good and certain end.  For our Good and not to harm us.

As I told my three friends, it didn’t happen overnight.  Months have passed now and I still jump a little when the phone rings at night.   I will be honest and let you know that this piece took days to write because tears started to flow amidst a whole lot of “God I am sorry. “

I reveal all these things to simply let you know that whatever you are going through, You ARE normal.  Being faithful and believing is not always easy, but so very worth it.    Yes, Philippians 4:4 tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord Always, “  and then goes on to say “Again I say rejoice. “  I surmise that if we have to be told and then reminded to rejoice then apparently it “aint” always easy.

Believe it or not, He knows you hurt.  He is not a God so far out that He is not touched with our personal pains (Hebrews 4:15).  He is okay with you being honest about it.  He will not strike you down for asking questions.

Just remember that it is faith that moves mountains… not tears.   Cry but keep pushing!!!!

When The One Sees You

“This is what He wanted to do and it gave Him great pleasure.”

(Ephesians 1:5b NLT)

Every day people are in search of someone to love.  Someone to care for and be cared for by.  They have an image in their heads of size, hair color, personality, affection and security.  Most often, though, that plan is reduced to a simple statement of “I will know it when I see it.”

It is this search for not just a companion, but someone to take great care for, that sends many right past the specialty shops in the mall.  Right past the big box gatherings.  Right past the matches of pure perfection and straight to the misfit mutt at the local pound.

Yes, I am talking about a puppy.  Or am I?

Amongst the human race, especially in these turbulent times, are many of us who feel very much like that “misfit mutt.”   Discarded, dumped off, found in the streets.   Caged in less than perfect circumstances and looked over because you might not be as gifted or trained as another.  You might be that one with the good heart, but prone to stain filled mistakes. You might be the one full of painful worms of abuse, hoping someone will notice and help.  Mangy, angry or docile.  Overused and unable to produce.   Though you have learned to beg and do stupid human tricks, your “best in show” blue ribbon escapes you.

Until the One “who knows you ….when He sees you” comes!

In Ephesians Chapter 1, Big Brother Paul encourages us that God already had an image of you in His mind. No matter what you may have done to make yourself unrecognizable, God decided in advance to adopt (you) into His own family by bringing (you) to himself…This is what He wanted to do and it gave Him great pleasure.” (V5NLT)

That alone should make your tail wag!  Your “pound rescue” includes so much! God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, adopts you as His own and gives us every good spiritual blessing as He unites us with Christ.   Some of your “tags” in Christ are outlined in Paul’s letter:

V4:  Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes

V6 “….glorious grace He has poured out on us”

V7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.

V 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

V11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,[c] for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

V13 “……Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own

V 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him

Take a quick moment if you will.   Reread the parts I have underlined on your adoption certificate.  Now take a praise break knowing that the Creator of the Universe, The Savior of the World, the King of Glory, promises all of this just to bring you “Home” with Him.

It gives Him great pleasure to be with you.

All He is asking in exchange is that you receive His love for you.  No matter how imperfect or less than worthy you feel right now ……come on out the cage!

No matter how far back in the pound you feel, Christ took your place at the Cross.  You don’t need to worry about life “putting you to “sleep.”

Don’t worry, He will never keep you tied up or on a leash, He wants you to experience the freedom of a daily walk with Him.   He will provide.  He will care for you.  He will be your security.

Best of all, you can stop chasing your tail now.  God has a plan for you!  He chose you….. in advance!

 

MARY, DID SHE KNOW?

“ But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” – Luke 2:19

 In the past few weeks, I have heard so many complaints of not having money for “this” or not having funds for “that” when it comes to Christmas.   Some to the point of “robbing Peter to pay Paul” for things they just can’t afford that will only bring them a momentary joy. Many are allowing themselves to drown in debt to prove that they are loved and that they do love.  So much Christmas spirit lost to being “Christmas broke!”

Others still moan that the recent elections and darkness in the world around us just ruined the season for them. Politics, prejudice and pain instead of tidings of comfort and joy.

Listening to all of groaning (and a time or two participating myself), I now think of Mary on her first Christmas. If anyone had a reason to complain, it would be her. Though the Bible does not say so, so don’t shoot me, I imagine that Mary’s First Noel is a bit different than the meek and mild story we relate on Christmas Eve.

On what should have been her honeymoon season, she was married to a good man who, nevertheless, was most likely caring for her out of obedience to God and probably not such much out of love for his betrothed wife or her unborn child.  She had been forced to exit home and leave family behind because an egotistical dictator wanted to count everybody.  She had spent days upon days riding a donkey, which would not have been great on any regular day, but a nightmare at nine months pregnant.   And adding injury to insult, due to a lack of accommodations, would soon find herself in labor next to the very beast of burden she had just used for transportation.

Yet, I don’t remember a gripe story in Luke 2:1-20.

But it does mention in verse 19 “she kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

No doubt she was amazed from the time the Angel told her that she was chosen to be the blessed mother. No doubt she was amazed when Elizabeth’s unborn child leaped in excitement at the coming of his cousin.   No doubt she was amazed that Joseph chose to stick by her when he could have had her stoned.  For now she was surrounded by a heavenly host pronouncing “Glory to God in the Highest” and a short time later a royal delegation would come to bestow great gifts.

But surely in her pondering, she must have thought of where they would go the next night.   I wonder what her thoughts were when they ran to Egypt to escape Herod as he slaughtered innocent babies in a search to destroy the one she was cradling.  Time and time again as he would be sought after, persecuted and ultimately crucified, what were her thoughts…… what might have been her complaints?   Did Mary always know and consider the tests and trials of mothering the Savior of the World? How did she feel loving the one child she had that was destined to die.

I would like to think that she always knew that God would provide for her needs and for the ways of escape. I would like to think that she always trusted in God’s plan. Even  in his last breaths Jesus made sure somebody was available to take care of his mother.  (John 19:26-27). But I am sure, even as she sang sweet lullabies  to the Son of God dressed as the Son of Man, she had her days.  She was 100 percent  human entrusted with the care of the 100 percent King of Glory.

Provision on the run could not have been easy.   Watching Him give His all for a dark and devious world, could not have been easy.   Certainly watching Him die for people who would someday complain about Christmas would be no holiday!!!!

So I admonish you (as I do myself) that if the season we call Christmas is “getting to you,” then I can almost guarantee you that your focus and pondering is in the wrong place.     It isn’t in a line at a black Friday sale.   It isn’t at a tree lighting ceremony.   It isn’t at the annual pageant at your church this Sunday.

The true joy of Christmas is not even at the manger.  It comes thirty-three years later at an empty tomb where the ultimate gift is given.  He gave you salvation and peace and even a promise to be there during the lonely points when we miss those who have gone on before us. No gift you can or cannot give could ever top that.    Stop trying and stop stressing.

But gift HIM your best gift.  A surrendered heart that is willing to ponder Him.

See, your Christmas just got merrier!!!!

A Christmas Story

Twas the night before Christmas

And I had just closed my country store.

Turned the locks, shaded the windows

When there was a frantic knock on the door.

The sales were quite over. Merchandise was quite done.

I had had quite enough of Christmas.

Nothing left to sell ya, not a toy. Not a one.

 

I was quite tempted,

To shout “No Room At The Inn”

But remembered my Sunday School Teacher

She’d  say “ Naughty, Naughty Sin”

It was a Papa, a Mama, and a few little ones

How could I pass?

Seeing chubby cheek chilled faces

Pressed against that last pane of glass.

 

The snow and wind came in behind them,

A huge chill filled the air

Yet there was a warm glow all about them

Oh so happy I was there.

“Patch of Ice You Say, Car in a ditch, Everything Tossed”

“Big Boom” the children said excitedly

Mama chimed  “cold and lost”
On the phone  was Papa

“ We can’t wait, no place to stay.”

“Sorry Buddy”  the tow driver retorted

“Don’t you know it’s a Holiday”

Everything then in me

Wanted to hide under my bed and weep.

For surely in house full of strangers

This old shop keeper would get no sleep.

 

So I rekindled  the fire,

Boiled milk  for  a cup of cocoa or two

Exclaimed not much food left in here

But all I have is open to you.

The Kids  Got All Excited,

and  Raced to the Tree

At the prospect of candy canes still hanging

And suddenly free.

Mama was ingenious,

what she did with that spam.

Totally convinced me and the Papa

Of the miracle of canned ham.

 

As I pulled blankets, and soft pallets

And strew them about the floor

I realized though I had made a killing this Christmas,

It was they that truly had more.

They played games,  they told stories

They laughed about with glee.

They had a joy  about them

That had long ago escaped me.

 

My head and heart couldn’t take it

I yelled for them to stop

How could they be so crazy happy

When their holiday was such a flop?

No real food, amiss from  presents,

and sleeping on the floor.

Stuck in ditch and with a grumpy stranger

In an empty Christmas store.

 

When just then ,

a little hand tugged

at the hem of my dress

Said “ Hey Lady ,

in Jesus there are no strangers

and this  aint such a mess.

See we headed to grandpa’s  fancy house

Up on a really big hill

Though we were scared when the car went boom

Daddy said , “let’s find God’s good will.”

We came through the cold and snow

When God led us to your door.

And now you have shared all that you had

So I just know God will bless you more.

 

As I looked into those little eyes

It was very plain to see.

It was not me helping them that was God’s good will

But it was them helping me.

It’s not about the trimmings, not the money

Or any kind of gift

The true celebration of Christmas

Is seeking His will for who you are with.

 

As I settled in a rocker that night

Humming my little messenger to sleep.

I wonder if this was how Mary felt

And I knew why she did weep.

Though His gift was wrapped so quietly

In a manager filled with hay

He was destined to be presented triumphantly

On a Hill far away.

 

So if your Christmas spirit has  escaped you

Look around for who you are with.

Seek the will of Him who sent you.

That’s your greatest gift.

Already bought and paid for

Precious blood, highly priced.

He Reached out for a stranger

And Gifted this day in paradise.

 

Michelle Gillison-Robinson, Christmas 2016

TAKING HIS PEACE BACK WITH ME

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27New International Version (NIV)

 It has become a practice of my husband and mines that every morning, before I get out of the car to go into my high stress advertising sales job, we pray.  We pray for safety. We pray for health. We pray for prosperity.  We pray for creativity.  We pray for peace. We have said the same prayers so often the words are almost identical in terms and then we give thanks. 

However, this morning, a certain part of the prayer struck a chord with me, “If there be no peace in this building, let the peace she imparts be returned to her upon exit.”

Whoa! Wait a minute!  I realized that perhaps the reason I often feel stressed going in and exhausted coming out, is because I have been so prepared to “do battle each day” that I have neglected to impart any peace.  Especially not the kind of peace that is founded on the Word.  

One of the definitions of peace in Webster’s describes it as “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.” Is this notably the peace that Jesus is gifting us in John 14:27?  Certainly, highlighted by commanding us to “let not your hearts be troubled….. do not be afraid.”

Being the thorough Savior and Redeemer that He is, He promised that it was a perfected peace. Not one as the world gives, that is based on circumstance, and surely not the one being manufactured by me just to get to my desk in the morning.

So imagine with me if you will, how much better my day is going to be tomorrow! Armed this time with the “Peace of Christ” rather than the sadly lacking “peace of Chelle,” I will be imparting His peace……adorned with the trust that He has everything going according to the plans He has for my life…. Including my work life. And then if it does not carry in this place, I will be able to take Him and His Peace back with me rather than stress and a headache.

My intention from this point forward is to be intentionally practicing peace! Join me?!

Does It Still Hurt?

   Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”                      John 20-27 NIV

 Our topic for the day was “God is Not Picking On You…..Trials Vs. Temptations.” It started as a lesson on discerning the difference between trials and temptations and how to rejoice in the trials that God gives you.   However, very quickly, it turned into a discussion of past hurts, disappointments, and especially abuses in childhood.

As I watched several people compare stories and physical scars, instinctively I glanced at a recent one on my arm.  A footprint shaped burn I received thinking I could cook a meal for my family the day after my youngest grandchild took his flight for heaven.

Forgetting I was the one teaching the class,   my eyes began to well up on me, but the Holy Spirit nudged me to look again and then asked, “Does it Still Hurt?”

I was like “Of course Lord, it still hurts”.

“No, Chelle. You really mean that 6 month old scar still hurts?”

“No, Lord, of course the scar doesn’t hurt.”

“Okay then, give me all of it.”

Uggh, I felt it in my spirit and I asked the class and I asked you, the same question the Holy Spirit asked me.    “Does it still hurt?”

In John Chapter 20:25, Thomas makes a bold statement, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.  This was even after Jesus had appeared to several of his fellow disciples during the 8 days since the crucifixion proclaiming that everything Jesus has said would happen had come.

Jesus had forewarned that He would take the sins and sickness of His people to the cross.  That He would take on the pains of abuse, disappointment and despair.  That He would whip these things to naught and deliver them and death to the gates hell, while snatching the keys from satan so that nothing the devil had could really win over us.  And as evidence of His work, he broke the grave wide open and showed that freedom from all manner of trial and temptation could walk the earth.

However, how many of us now need to take on the title of “doubting” that history has given Brother Thomas? How many of us have received the written, heard, and Rhema Word of God and been flooded with the freeing testimonies of how others have seen the Lord move in their lives, yet still keep looking down at our scars declaring  disbelief until we receive a full manifestation with our own eyes.

Jesus is still reaching out to you saying, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”…

He wants you to know, that though yes there is a scar on your body and your heart that evokes a memory that will move you…….and yes, He understands because He was touched with every trial and temptation you face….., it is paramount that you understand that He bears scars on His hands, feet, and side that are witness that He took it all for you.   He doesn’t want you to carry the burden any longer. He does not want you to smell like smoke though you have been singed by  the fires of life.

When Jesus, invited Thomas to “Thrust his fingers into His side”, Jesus was still bearing the evidence of His wounds (aka your wounds), yet they could not have possibly hurt to the touch if he would allow Thomas to do so.

In essence, Jesus was reaffirming that it was possible to be bruised, beaten, broken and horribly scarred, yet be so healed in the promises of God that the discolorations and disfiguration become “smoothed out proof” that God’s Living Word is still living.

Jesus wants you to receive that gift from Him.   He took it.  He bears the scars.  He gives you the freedom from what life delivered.   Though you bear evidence of it, He does too.   And since His wounds healed, so did yours.  That moment when we trust in Him enough to give the pain to Him, even when we can still see and feel the scar, He will take that anomaly on your heart and make it a tattoo of your testimony instead.  He will make you a walking, talking, scar bearing evidence that He is very much alive!!!!

NO NEED FOR FALLING

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into His glorious presence without a single fault. – Jude: 1:24.

It is that time of year again!

As I reflect, I note times so painful in 2015 that I literally lost my senses of smell, touch, and taste and the ability to produce tears. I suppose it was in an effort to protect myself from all I was experiencing. First, as I presided over my dad’s funeral. Again while anointing with oil of myrrh the lifeless body of my youngest grandchild. Once more, as my 37 year old sister suffered a debilitating stroke.

In these moments, I was internally, silently screaming at God, “Why do you trust me with so much pain?” I felt Him whispering back to me, “Just know to trust Me more”.

And then, there were times so joyful that I thought I would burst. My son received a hearing restorative device after 3 years of silence. I found siblings I didn’t know I had. Met new friends and reconnected with old; financial windfalls, and the acquisition of a debt free building for our ministry.

In these moments, I would be humbled by the blessings of God and ask,” Why do you trust me with so much goodness?” And He would whisper to me, “Just Know to Trust Me More.

Reminds me very much of that old “trust exercise” where you allow yourself to just fall back and hope that the one behind you was willing to and strong enough to catch you. Without a doubt, the One Who Is Mighty to Save is fully able and entirely willing to catch you and not only that, He is able to keep you from falling in the first place.

In every moment, those in which I thought my soul could not go on and in those where I thought it could fly, God has always been there to keep me from falling. He has always known how much I could take and how much I could receive. How much I could bear and how often He would have to carry my weight. In all of this, He was wooing me to “Trust Him More”.

It is easy to just trust? No,not always. Pain can tempt us to shrivel away and blessings can tempt us to be full of ourselves. But when we turn our focus to the “One who is able to keep us from falling away” levels of faith increases and the process more sure. Every day, I must choose to see Him as my Source, my Backbone, and my Back-Up I find myself repeating over and over, “ To Him who is able to keep me from falling… into sin, from falling into despair, from falling into pride, from falling into debt, from falling into sickness..” And so on and so on

That trust is empowering when we remember that it also carries a promise of “great joy into His glorious presence without a single fault”. Imagine being invited into the Presence of the Almighty…. Into His Love, His Care, His Healing and His Provision….knowing full well that you are unworthy and incapable …only to have Him say “ Come on in, I see no fault in you”. Selah on that one, will you! Now receive the joy from the knowing!

So as I prepare my set for praise and worship at midnight tonight, the song that immediately comes to mind hails from Hillsong’s Darlene Zschech. The lyrics of the chorus sum up 2015 and gives me peace about 2016:

“Though Mountains Fall, I’ll Stand
By the Power of Your Hand
And In Your Heart of Hearts I’ll Dwell
And This My Soul Knows Very Well”

Yes to Him who is able to keep me from falling!!!!! This my soul knows very well!