Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Walking Through the Fire

"...I have summoned you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:1-2 I sat down to think about this post this morning and prayed that God would show me what to write. He began to burden my heart for those who have a heavy feeling of despair. Because my ministry is dedicated to showing how we can know God and build a relationship with Him, I feel it is necessary for us to know that He wants to remove our feelings of despair and hopelessness. As I read the verse above, I noticed the word "walk" and its relation to "fire" in the sentence. God tells us that when we walk through the fire, He will prevent the flames from burning us. Oh how many times can I remember feeling the heat of fiery trials in my life. But as I reflect, on my own trials, I have come to realize that we can only escape burning if we keep "walking". Walking to me, in this case, refers to my faith in God. We say that we believe God, yet when we have a problem that appears hopeless and creates an overwhelming feeling of despair, we begin to wonder if God will really do what He says He will do. No matter how we 'term' it, that is the real question, isn't it? I have no evidence that God will fail me. I have tremendous amounts of evidence that He will, in fact, sustain me. It hurts me to say this, but when I have a feeling of despair or hopelessness, I am really saying that everything God says is a lie. And as I mentioned last week, I believe that those are the very thoughts that drive the nails in His hands once again. Since I have been diagnosed with this disease, I look at God in a new way. Where before, when I asked Him to do something, I hoped that He would. Now when I ask Him, I am sure that He will. Why? Because He is all that I have to trust. When my health began to fail me, I saw that nothing or no one in this world could help me but God alone. The fire is to hot for me to stop walking. In the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the king asks, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" and then he said, "Look! I see four men WALKING around in the fire, unbound, unharmed,..." The king didn't say that there were four men standing...he said walking. So for us, we must look at our faith. We must keep walking in order for God to have the opportunity to be true to His word. Today, if you are feeling hopeless or in despair about a situation in your life that has been going on a long time or is so bad that it feels as though it will surely kill you, you do have choices. You can go to God and find out how to "keep walking" and believe Him to be faithful or you can believe that what He says in His word is a lie. Sounds harsh, but we either believe Him or we don't. There is no middle ground of faith. I choose to believe Him. For today, I must keep walking...even when I can feel the heat of the fire. Love, Corrie My prayer for today: Lord, how ashamed I am for doubting you. I have no proof that you have ever failed me nor will you fail me now. I love you and ask you to be true to your word. You promise that you will keep the flames from touching me. I ask that you remember me and if you don't let me escape the fire...I ask that you join me in it.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday Recap

We were so excited when Corrie, Shane, and Canaan finally got here Saturday. It is a tradition for them to come back to Corrie's hometown for Easter weekend and to go to church at the church she grew up in and where her dad has pastored for 30 years now (I know...isn't that amazing!?!). We always look forward to celebrating Jesus' resurrection together on Sunday morning and then gathering in the fellowship hall after church for our annual Easter Sunday meal. Corrie's aunt Nancy, uncle Lionel, cousin Taylor and his very soon to-be bride, Brittany came with Ma-maw Algie and uncle Lionel's family. It is always such a sweet time. We all don't get to see each other near enough so we look forward to these little family gatherings we have. Oh, and the food definitely doesn't disappoint, the following are a few of our faves that we look forward to every Easter: Sammy's smoked chicken, Corrie's famous potato salad, Judy's chocolate pie, and anything Aunt Nancy and uncle Lionel bring.

I thought to bring my camera so I could put some pics on here of Corrie and our family. If your like me, you love to see pictures, and I'm glad I could deliver...

This is Canaan in the sanctuary at our church. He only stopped long enough to say cheese for me and in that split second I got a decent picture...yeah, I'm good.

Here is Corrie and Shane.

Here is the fam in our "Easter best". From left to right are Corrie, Shane, Canaan, Judy, Sammy, me and Kyle.

This is the cross we set up outside our church every Easter. It is a tradition for everyone to bring flowers to put on it. I never can resist taking a picture of it...

...nor can I resist taking a picture of my favorite nephew in front of it. He's soooo cute!!!

After we finished eating and visiting with everyone at the church, we all went back to Ma-maw Judy and Pa-paw Sam's house for a good ole' fashioned Easter egg hunt. Here are a few pics of Canaan in action...

"Where's another egg Pa-paw?"

Canaan getting ready to eat one of his Easter eggs... I know I'm good. Open wide Canaan!!!

I saved the best for last...Canaan with his beloved Ma-Maw Judy.

I'll have you know that after I took this picture he promptly told me and Mommy to go back inside. You see, Canaan and his Ma-Maw have a very special relationship together. They have to have their own time together apart from the rest of us, just him and his Ma-maw Judy only...and we were cutting in on that "me and ma-maw only" time. It's just so precious.

And it got me to thinking. This is actually the perfect picture of what Christ really wants with each one of us...and what we really need and want, if we only knew, with Him. I know He is always with us if we are His, but He really wants some special time set aside specifically to spend with His very own Beloved, just like Canaan needs with His Ma-maw. Yes, I am His Beloved. You are His Beloved. I love that He has the capacity to love me as if I were His only child and can give me the kind of attention like I'm the only person in the world. He does the same with each of us, its just another thing that makes Him God. Yes He wants His "Me and Katie only" time with me everyday, and I'm learning that I REALLY need my "Me and Jesus only" time everyday as well.

I love how Canaan unapologetically told me and his mommy to go inside because we were cutting in on his only time with just him and ma-maw. That one got me, and hit me hard. It sent all kinds of questions racing through my head. Questions like 'Am I as quick to tell someone who tries to cut in on my "me and Jesus only" time to hold on like Canaan did?' 'Do I really cherish that time with Him, my Beloved?' 'Is He my Beloved?' 'Do I know that I am His Beloved?' 'Do I really know Him?' 'Do I even have a clue?' I can tell you that it is no coincidence that I noticed that about Canaan and how it relates to my relationship with my Lord. This is the very thing He has been working with me on -me realizing how much He loves me. Which is hard to grasp. The harder I chase after Him and the more I spend time with Him, the more often I ask myself that last question. 'Do I really get who it is that wants me?' I don't think so, and probably won't fully until that Perfect Day.

Well, I know this wasn't your typical Easter message...but wait, He just informed me that it is. If He had not died for our sins and arose on that first Easter Sunday, we wouldn't have the chance to have our very own relationship with Him. Oh, Praise you Jesus for reminding me! Today, we celebrated Him as the Lamb slain for His Beloved, but soon we will celebrate Him as the Lion of Judah. Oh I can't wait for that party!

OK, I am realizing now that this is really long, but I was compelled to post this because it fits right in with Corrie's ministry. Thanks for finishing reading it...that is if you made it this far! I'm sorry that you had to endure through all my ramblings, I'm sure Corrie will get something good back on here soon. Are her devotionals great or what!?!

"...And I pray that you...may have grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ..." (Eph. 3:17-18)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Full Extent of His Love

"...Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love." John 13:1 I have tried to write this blog 3 times today. But only now do I feel that this is what God would have me to write. Sunday is Easter and, for me, this is one of the most exciting days of the year! I love celebrating the birth of Christ at Christmas, but it seems that with every passing year, Easter takes on a deeper meaning to me. I was brought up to know that we celebrated Easter because it was the day Jesus arose from the grave. The Easter Bunny was just a perk! For all I knew, the Easter Bunny was so happy about Jesus overcoming death that he went around leaving candy for everybody!!! Anyway, when I think back to what might have been going on in the mind of Christ during all the preparation for His crucifixion, it overwhelms me. Was He thinking about how much death would hurt? Was He thinking about how it would hurt the ones He loved to watch him die? Was He thinking about being mocked or spat upon? The one thing that makes me well up with tears is that sometime that day as He hung there on that cross, I went through His mind. Jesus was so in love with Corrie Taylor Clay that He completed the task. That type of love is a love I can barely even begin to comprehend. My sister-in-law (Katie) and I were talking this past weekend about the fact that perhaps one of the most difficult things for us as Christians is for us to understand and accept how much God loves US. That is hard for me. Becoming a Christan secures our eternity and opens the door to a relationship with God. But knowing Him is a whole new world. The passage in John tells us that Jesus realizes that His time of death is getting closer. And then I read something I had never noticed before....He would show them the 'extent of His love'. He then washed their feet. He symbolically showed them this act of humbleness and service because He would soon give the ultimate sacrifice by laying down His life for them, you, and me. There are so many verses in the Bible that define and describe God's love. I have just begun to understand that He loves me. The part I don't understand is why my faith wavers at times in a man who proved that He loves me more than anyone can or ever could. How He must feel the spikes in His hands all over again when I doubt Him. All I know is that I have begun a quest to know this love and to share it with everyone. Ephesians 3: 18 tells us how powerful it is to know how deep, how wide, how long, and how high is the love of Christ. I wonder if you know how much He loves you? How can you know? You can know by beginning a relationship with Him. Let Him begin to show you the extent of His love... Love, Corrie My prayer for today: Lord, how thankful I am for the day you gave your life for me. You died a horrible and painful death for me. You have asked me for so very little yet you gave the ultimate sacrifice for those who hurt you. I want to know you and the full extent of this phenomenal love.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Hem or His Hand?

"...they placed the sick in the market places. They begged Him to let them touch even the hem of His garment, and all who touch Him were healed." Mark 6:56 Tonight, as I began to pray for God to lead me to write a fresh word from Him to you, He burdened my heart. I know that there are people tonight that need to be restored. Not with just health issues, financial problems, bad jobs, or even troubled marriages. But a feeling that God is distant. Perhaps it has become a matter of faith, or a lack of. How often this has appeared in my life. As I read this verse from my prayer journal dated August 29, 2007, I remembered all the things that were going on in my life at that time. I had many things on my mind. I had prayed about them. I had asked for God's to take away those problems that were weighing me down. I read this verse and I thought about my disease and how I longed to be there that day at that market place. How remarkable it would be to touch the very hem of Jesus' garment. To feel the power of God's only son run through my body and make me whole and complete. But tonight, God revealed something to me that I had never thought of: Isaiah 41:13 says, "I am the Lord your God. I am holding your hand, so don't be afraid. I am here to help you." Why would I want the hem of His garment when I could hold His hand? The Lord reminded me that from the very day I asked Him to come into my life and save me, I could hold His hand at any time I wanted to. The day He saved me, the power of His son DID run through my whole body! And He would come to my aide and help me with those problems. I believe we think today that if we can't handle our problems, than we are looked upon as weak. I think we have weak faith because we don't understand how to strengthen our faith. I am learning that every trial that I face is a pivotal moment. That moment when I am presented with a trial, I have a choice to increase or decrease my faith. I noticed that even with the sick people in the market place who wanted to see Jesus...He was in front of them but they had to reach out to Him to touch Him. God never moves. He is always there. But it is up to us to reach out to hold His hand. I know that for right now, I am holding on to His hand as tight as I can. I no longer fear Him leaving me...I fear me leaving Him. I hope that if you are facing a time in your life where you feel overwhelmed and confused about anything and everything, please cling to what you DO know instead of what you DON'T know. Rather than feeling weak in your faith, have it restored by God by reaching out to Him. If you've met Him, remember you have access to His hand...not just His hem. Love, Corrie My prayer for today: Lord, how comforting it is to know you literally hold my hand. Even when I cannot see, you are there. Thank you for never leaving me even though I have left you a hundred times. I love you and I will cling to you. Now and forever.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Deeper Understanding

The angel of the Lord said to Daniel: "Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard and I have come in response to them." Daniel 10:12's official. This past Thursday was my last day of work as a substance abuse therapist. It was a bitter-sweet day for me. For the past 10 years, I have worked in the mental health field. I have been a therapist for over 6 years. I am so thankful for the opportunities that God gave me. I asked Him years ago to give me an understanding of who He really was. And when I think about what I learned from the people I met, I well up with tears. When I first began my career, I had no knowledge about drugs or the people who were addicted to them. No knowledge and no compassion. They simply did not fit my 'criteria' for needing help. After all, they should just "stop using drugs" right? Little did I know how God would humble me and place me right in the middle of the lives of addicts. My feelings of the first day of my job as a substance abuse therapist were vastly different than the feelings of my last day. As I left my work on my first day working with addiction all those years ago, I cried. I cried because I told God I didn't want to do this. I felt inadequate and wanted to do something else. But as I watched my clients leave the parking lot on my last day of work this past Thursday, I cried because of the love God allowed me to feel for these people. For you see, He answered the question I had asked so many years ago of who He really was. And when I looked into the faces of my clients, I was looking into His face as well. I think we forget those who are struggling and broken. I think we forget that they need God and are just as eager, if not more, to meet Him. And to meet Him is to meet Him through those that know Him. This is what my ministry is all about. I walked away from a career of 10 years simply because God told me too. This is no reflection of greatness on my part by no means. This is what I'm supposed to do anyway...if I believe the King I say that I love. But even though I am not sure exactly what is going to take place in my life now, I do take comfort in the verse above. I trust the fact that since the very first day that I set my mind to following His will and knowing who God really is, my words were heard by Him. Please pray for me as I plant my feet firmly in His will for my life. I hope you will allow Him to be as real to you as He has been to me... Love, Corrie My prayer for today: Lord, help me to remember my purpose on this earth. Help me to love those who don't know you. Help me to walk in your ways and humble myself to give everything back to you. Help me to give my first fruits and not my leftovers. For you gave your entire life for me....

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Is He Enough?

"...I say to myself, The Lord is my portion; Therefore, I will wait for Him." Lamentations 3:24 I really enjoyed sharing with you what God had laid on my heart about this scripture on the last blog. I wanted to share the last part with you separately because it has a very deep and special meaning to me. As you know, I was diagnosed with Takayasu's Arteritis in October 2006. After this diagnosis, my life was changed drastically and immediately. I went from having no answers of why I was so sick, to an overwhelming amount of knowledge about this "rare disease" in virtually one day. I can remember coming home from the hospital and was alone in my bedroom. My mind began to process all the information I had heard over the last several days..."blocked arteries,"..."arteriogram"..."life span"..."blood thinner"..."stints"..."rare"..."pulseless disease." As my mind was spinning, I remember crying out to God and telling Him that I was afraid of what was going to happen. I said, "God, am I going to die? What is going to happen to my husband and my baby?" I told God that I was seeking His will but I didn't understand what He was doing. I sat down and began to read my Bible, hoping to hear from Him. That night, every verse I read pertained to portion and waiting. I never realized there were so many verses about portion! And then I heard Him ask me in a still small voice, "Am I enough for you?" Of course I immediately said "YES Lord!" But then I remembered what I had asked Him earlier and how much fear I had of death. It was at that moment I realized that I wasn't content with only Him. I, myself, was even ahead of God. I began to cry because I saw myself the way He must have seen me. I knew that dying would mean being with Him immediately but yet my fear of death and the inability to see what He was doing with my life consumed me.God was trying so desperately to answer my questions. He was saying that He was my portion. Since that night, I have realized that He can only be my portion if He totally and completely fills me. That means I must get rid of whatever or whomever holds priority before Him. This includes myself. I share this with you to allow God to be everything to you. I am sad that it took looking so closely to death to move me to shift my priorities. This impacted my ministry a great deal. Allowing God to fill me up also fills in all the gaps that other people and things cannot. This is an every day effort. But when I make the effort, He always makes it worth my while. Putting Him first even helps me to be a better mother and wife. The last part of that verse deals with waiting on Him. How difficult that is for me! But I have found that when I say that I will allow God to fill me completely, it then becomes an act of faith to wait on Him to bring about the best plan for my life. I challenge you to allow God to fully take over your life. Even as Christians, we allow fear, worry, depression, etc. to consume us to the point that God has no room to "be our portion". A friend of mine always gave an example of a cup. If you have a cup of water and you ask someone to pour you some orange juice. What is the first thing that person will have to do with the cup of water? They have to pour it out to make room for the orange juice. It certainly wouldn't be good mixed! But that is what we do as Christians sometimes. We ask God to be our portion (and still hang on to all the worries, fears). There is no room in our 'cup' to have Him without the outpouring of ourselves. May you allow Him to be your portion... Love, Corrie My prayer for today: Lord, help me to lay my burdens down at your feet and not pick them back up. I want you to be my portion. Fill my cup with all that you are . Help me to wait for you by keeping my eyes on you. For I know that your plans for me are the absolute best for my life!