Monday, July 1, 2019

Devotions Published

Awesome sauce...I had the privilege of writing a couple of the devotions in this book. The women who were a part of this project are passionate for Jesus and caring enough to reach out to others on His behalf. This would be a great way to start or end your day meditating on the Word of God. To God be the glory. This was a year-long devotional book but they decided to break it down into 90 days. More books will be coming your way later in the year. This book will be available starting Wednesday, July 3rd.

       

To order books:

https://youarewhollyloved.com/product/drawing-near-90-day-devotional/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/179757826x?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

Friday, April 12, 2019

"Red Letter" Words/Day 7 - "There's a Whole Lot of Talking Going On"


There’s a Whole Lot of Talking Going On
The “Red-Letter” Words of Jesus
Day Seven

Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote-Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”    John 1:44-45  (NKJV)

There’s a whole lot of talking going on in this first chapter of John. Let’s go back and see what happened.

First, John the Baptist points two of his disciples towards Jesus. He tells Andrew and John, “Behold the Lamb of God!” They began to follow Jesus. (John 1:35-38)

Andrew then tells his brother, Peter, “We have found the Messiah.” Peter begins to follow Jesus. (John 1:40-42)

Next, Jesus jumps on the evangelism bandwagon and tells Philip, “Follow me.” Philip forsakes everything and follows Him. Who knows? Maybe Andrew and Peter previously said something to him about Jesus since they’re from the same hometown.  (John 1:43)

Philip can’t contain himself. He finds his friend, Nathanael, and says, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote…” In other words, we have found the Messiah. (John 1:44-45)

When I was saved* at nineteen years of age, I was like those disciples. I couldn’t contain my excitement.  I’d been a rebellious teenager who was kicked out of the house when I was seventeen years old. I was drinking and dabbling with drugs. I’d recently lost my job and couldn’t afford my apartment anymore. In the middle of that mess, Jesus got a hold of my life and turned it upside down.

He so radically changed me that my friends didn’t recognize me. I couldn’t keep quiet about my Savior and Lord. As a result, several of my family members committed their lives to Jesus too.

The Lord is still doing amazing things in my life. Unfortunately, I’ve been a lot quieter about Him and my faith. There’s not a whole lot of talking going on anymore. It’s time I allow the Holy Spirit to stir up the passion once again. Someone’s life is depending on me doing a whole lot more talking.


*To understand what it means to be saved, see the “Salvation” page on this blog.

Friday, March 15, 2019

"Red-Letter" Words/Day 6 - "Yes!"


“Yes!”
The “Red-Letter” Words of Jesus
Day Six

The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.”   John 1:43 (NKJV)

I grew up in San Diego, California. When I married my husband, Mike, I knew it was only a matter of time before we’d move to the Midwest. Being from rural Iowa, he wasn’t too crazy about big city life.

Eighteen months later, in 1977, the Lord told us that we’d be moving within a few months. To lighten the load, we had a garage sale in October. We sold most of our furniture but kept the day-to-day household goods. When folks asked us where and when we were moving, our response was, “We don’t know. God hasn’t told us yet.”

He did finally give us direction. We pulled out of town the end of February on our way to Omaha, NE. We desired to follow God wherever He lead us. Of course, we were intimately acquainted with Jesus and knew we could trust Him. We considered Him our friend.

We read in today’s scripture where Jesus found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Immediately he did. What made Philip leave everything to seek after a stranger? We know he was from the same town as Andrew and Simon Peter (see verse 1:44). Did they say something to him? Was there an anointing in Jesus' words which caused Philip to forsake all?

A common practice during these Biblical times was for young men to study further under Torah scholars once their formal education was completed. They were honored if a Rabbi sought them out and said “Follow me.” Because of this custom Philip understood completely what Jesus was asking of him. It meant becoming intimately acquainted with the Teacher taking on His values, beliefs and characteristics.

Philip didn’t hesitate to follow Jesus. To be honest, my emotions were a mess the day I left my family and friends to move half way across the country but I’ve never regretted obeying Him. Is He calling you to a new thing? I pray your response is a resounding “Yes.”



Tuesday, February 19, 2019

"Red-Letter" Words/Day 5 - My Name Meant "Ugly"

My Name Meant “Ugly”
The “Red-Letter” Words of Jesus
Day Five

And he [Andrew] brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at Him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).  John 1:42 (NKJV) [Italics mine]

A stone? Jesus called Simon immovable and steadfast? Simon probably felt hesitant about receiving such a name since he knew himself all too well…hot-headed, impetuous and reactionary. These traits were a part of his character and, throughout the gospels, we see them on numerous occasions.

When I was born, I had wrinkled red skin and bright curly red hair. When people checked out the baby in the buggy they’d gasp, “Oh my!” My grandfather called me “Lollipop” because he said I looked like a red sucker. After two weeks, the “pop” was dropped and I’ve been “Lollie” ever since. For years when people asked me what my name meant, I responded with “ugly.”

As a child, I experienced major rejections resulting in extreme insecurities. Several years ago, during a prayer service, God ministered to the emotional wounds I carried. One of the things He did was to change the meaning of my name. He said I was never supposed to be called “ugly” but “Father’s compassionate princess.” Healing came when I saw myself through His eyes.

Only the meaning of my name changed. However, Jesus completely changed Simon’s to “Cephas” in Aramaic (“Peter” in Greek) “which is translated a stone.” As in a large boulder. Immovable. Strong. Steadfast.

God sees in us what we can’t see in ourselves. In my insecurities, I struggled to look beyond “ugly” to see a godly woman full of compassion. Jesus did see me that way. He also saw in Peter who he was to become. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, he became a rock; a powerful, stabilizing leader in the New Testament church.

Do you struggle seeing yourself as Jesus sees you? Is God wanting to change your name? Trust Him to fulfill who He desires you to be by allowing the Holy Spirit to do an inward work. Rest assured, He believes in you.


https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-thebible/john-1-42

Thursday, January 31, 2019

"Red-Letter" Words/Day 4 - Come and See

Come and See
The “Red-Letter” Words of Jesus
Day Four

Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (Which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).  John 1:38-39 (NKJV)

We don’t spontaneously invite folks to our house since it’s “well lived in.” In other words, it’s messy. If someone visits unexpectedly, we rush to hide dirty dishes in the oven, throw dirty clothes under the bed and spray disinfectant to hide dog and cat smells. (Please tell me you can relate.) As you will see in today’s devotion, Jesus doesn’t have such qualms. 

Previously, we read where John the Baptist declared Jesus was the Lamb of God. His words inspired Andrew and John to follow Him. Being in awe of Him, they didn’t directly approach Him but trailed at a distance. Realizing their shyness, He turned to them and asked, “What do you seek?” He totally understood their spiritual hunger.

Their response to Jesus’ questions was, “Rabbi, where are You staying?” They figured if they knew where He lived, then they would be able to meet with Him at His convenience. I’m sure they had many questions for the Messiah.

Perhaps it surprised them when He immediately invited them to join Him. “Come and see” was an open invitation to spend time with Him. And they did. It was about the tenth hour (3 or 4 p.m. in the afternoon) so there was plenty of time for a heart-to-heart conversation with Jesus. Whatever they talked about changed their lives forever because they forsook everything to follow Him.

Jesus invites us to “come and see” too. He isn’t interested in the surface stuff like the condition of our houses. (There were times He didn’t have a place to “lay His head.”) Instead, He’s interested in pursuing relationship…personal, intimate, heart-to-heart. Since He knows the hunger in our souls, time spent with Him will radically impact our lives.


Bibliography



Thursday, January 24, 2019

"Red-Letter" Words/Day 3 - What Do You Seek?

What Do You Seek?
The “Red-Letter” Words of Jesus
Day Three

Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned and seeing them following, said to them, "What do you seek?”  John 1:35-38 (a) (NKJV)

I love Bashful from the movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Just like his name suggests, he’s painfully shy. When Snow White speaks to him, he never says a word. His cheeks turn red and he shuffles his feet. His hat falls down covering his blushing face. And yet, in the scene where the dwarfs go to work, this timid little guy is back in line for a second kiss.

In today’s scriptures, I wonder if Andrew and John feel too shy to approach Jesus? After all, the previous day John the Baptist made some amazing proclamations about Him including, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Again here, he declares Him to be Lamb of God. Something in what John the Baptist says burns in their hearts.

Without saying a word, they follow Him. And yes, they’re probably intimidated. After all, they’re in the presence of the One whom they hope will save Israel from the tyranny of the Romans. They can’t just casually approach the Messiah. Or can they?

Jesus understands their trepidation. He also grasps their spiritual hunger and thirst. He turns to them and compassionately responds, “What do you seek?” He knows what they are seeking…Who they are seeking. He gives them an open door to freely express themselves.

Bashful gets a second kiss from Snow White because he’s willing to take a bold step. Andrew and John are the first disciples because they’re willing to step out of their comfort zone and follow Him.

Do you desire a more intimate relationship with the Lamb of God? Don’t hold back. Passionately pursue Him. When He asks, “What do you seek?” -  be prepared to answer. He truly wants to know.


Bibliography
www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/htm

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Crazy Grace

I'm a member of Faithwriters, a forum for Christian writers. I hadn't participated in the Writing Challenge for a long time and decided to give it a try. Here's how it works. They give you a word, which for that week was the word "shop." You can write anything you want (fiction, non-fiction, devotion, poetry, etc.) on that topic as long as it is spritually-based. Word count is anywhere from 150-750 words, not including the title.

I wrote a story but when it came time to submit it, my monitor decided to go bonkers and I ended up having to buy a new one. Unfortunately, by the time time I got the monitor up and running I had missed the submission date so I'm posting it here instead.

Writing in an active first person voice is not my strongest forte (in fact, it's my weakest) so I wanted to challenge myself and give it a try anyway. "Crazy Grace" is my awkward attempt at writing first person.




Crazy Grace


Two beeps on the walkie talkie alert me to a possible shoplifter in the Christian bookstore. As a security guard, it amazes me the store even needs my services but such is the case.

“Who’s the perp?” I ask into the gadget I’m holding.

“In Bibles. A long-haired type with lots of tattoos,” the store manager says into her piece.

“Got it,” I respond.

I walk casually to the Bible section. With a shopping basket on my arm I try to blend in with the customers.

Sure enough. He’s there. He’s rather obvious since not too many long-haired, tattooed ruffians hang out in this area of the bookstore. The scars on his face cause a couple customers to grab their kids and head for another aisle.

“What took ya so long?” he asks not even taking his eyes off the page of the Bible he’s reading.

“Excuse me?”

“What took ya so long? I always attract the cops no matter where I go,” he says still peering into the Bible.

“I’m not a cop, just a lowly guard. How’d you know?”

“Are you kiddin’ me,” he laughs. People notice his boisterous guffaws. “I could hear your walkie talkie squawkin’ from across the room.” Putting out his hand he continues. “I’m Pete.”

“Uh, I’m Thomas.” My face scrunches up from the firmness in his shake. Good grip. Closing the Bible, he looks directly into my eyes.

“Why tail me? Don’t I got the right to shop like the other folks?”

“Well, I, I, I, uh,” I stutter not sounding too bright. “Someone in the store asked me to take a closer look. That’s all.”

“Ain’t got too many folks like me moseying around here, huh?”

“True,” I say. No reason to deny it.

“Haven’t you heard the Good Book says not to judge a book by its cover?” Again, he laughs.

“Does it really say that?”

“More or less,” he chuckles. I can’t figure out the joke.

“I’ve got a story to tell and you’re just the feller God wants to hear it. How’s about a cup of coffee?” He nods towards the Java Nook at the back of the store.

“Uhm, sure, I can spare a few minutes.” I radio the manager letting her know I’m temporarily off the floor.

We order drinks. Sitting at a petite table with a rose-colored tablecloth and glowing artificial candles, we sip coffee. My masculinity takes a beating. Thank goodness we drink from styrofoam cups instead of dainty teacups.

“My ex would like this place. She likes stuff all gussied up.”

“What’s your story? What’s a guy like you doing in a place like this?” I spread my arms open to take in the entire store.

“God’s grace allows me to be here.”

“Say what? Are you going to preach at me?”

“Maybe. If you need it.”

“I don’t so save your breath,” I bark. Never thought I’d be preached at by a hoodlum.

I run a hand through my short-cropped hair. It’s a little warm. I loosen the button around my collar. “Okay, look. I’m not a Christian. I hang here because it’s my job. Nothing more. I don’t need religion.”

Pete slaps me on the back. “Me neither, brother. Good news. I’m not here to jabber about religion. I’m here to talk about Jesus. Sometimes I’m plain flabbergasted He wants to hang with a guy like me. But because of His grace, He does. He reached out to a loser like me and changed me forever.”

I stare at him with bulging eyes. My mouth is wide open. I stop protesting as he continues.

“I call it crazy grace cuz’ it’s crazy He offers me His grace. I don’t deserve nothin’ good from Him but He gives it to me anyway. I was bad to the bone. You name it, I probably did it at one time or ‘nother.”

I slump in the chair resting my head in my hands. Past memories, things I’m not proud about, flash through my mind. Even security guards can be bad to the bone. My recent divorce comes to mind.

“What changed you?”

“Long story short, Jesus happened.” Peter leans in closer. “I was in the slammer for a couple years, bored to tears, when someone told me quit whining and read the Bible. I did. The rest is history.”

I sip my luke-warm coffee. Crazy grace? While others shop around me, something tells me my life is about to change.


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

"Red-Letter" Words/Day 2 - The Word, Jesus


The Word, Jesus
The “Red-Letter” Words of Jesus
Day Two

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  John 1:1-3  (NKJV)

In the 1930’s, the comedy team Abbott and Costello performed a routine called “Who’s On First?” The premise of the sketch was that Abbott, being the coach of a baseball team, gave his players nicknames. For example, “Who’s” played first base, “What’s” played on second, and “I Don’t Know” played third base. Not knowing these were nicknames, Costello was confused trying to figure out the names and positions of the players.

Sometimes I feel as confused as Costello when I read John 1:1-3. I understand the verses which declare Jesus was the Word and, as the Word, spoke the world into existence. However, I struggle with the verse stating Jesus was God but He was also with God (not to mention the Holy Spirit is God too). My reaction to this is “huh?” Doesn’t the Bible declare there is only one God?

I turned to Hard Sayings of the Bible* for some clarification: “The fact is that the Scripture asserts that God is one, Jesus is God, and that Jesus and the Father are separate conscious centers. The Father can send the Son and the two of them can dialogue together. At its core this teaching is a mystery, so all human explanation(s)…are more or less crude human attempts to come to terms with a divine reality that is beyond us…He is a God great enough to rule the universe, caring enough to live a fully human life and intimate enough to live in each believer.”

All of this to say, if Bible scholars struggle to bring understanding, I won’t attempt to do so either. I’m going to take these verses at face value. Jesus was the Word who spoke the world into existence, and still is the Word. Our purpose is to study the words spoken by the Word, Jesus…the “red-letter words” found in our Bibles.


*Hard Sayings of the Bible/John 1:1/pages 491-492
https://biblehub.com/commentaries/wes/john/1.htm
https://biblehub.com/commentaries/darby/john/1.htm
https://biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/1.htm


Friday, January 4, 2019

"Red-Letter" Words/Day 1 - A Man is Only as Good as His Word


A Man is Only as Good as His Word
The “Red-Letter” Words of Jesus
Day One

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV)

I invite you to join me in studying Jesus’ words. More precisely, His “red-letter words” recorded in the Bible from the book of John (using the New King James Version). Words that not only impacted people during His time on earth, but words that are alive and active today.

The disease of alcoholism plagued my father a good portion of his life. Thankfully, a couple years before he died, he committed his life to Christ. Even though his life was marred by alcohol, he had one strong character trait which defined him. He meant what he said. Numerous times I heard him say, “A man is only as good as his word.” I don’t ever recall a time, with the exception of his promise to quit drinking, where he didn’t honor his word. If he said it, then it was so.

Perhaps my father is a poor comparison to the Son of God, although the fact is he did place great value in what he said. As we look at Jesus’ words, we can be assured He meant what He said and He said what He meant. He never wavered. He never second-guessed Himself. He impacted society and changed lives by the truth in what He spoke. Even now, His living and powerful words define His character and transform lives.

However, before we look at His red-letter words, let’s take a closer look at the Word, Jesus.

Dear Father, thank You that Your Son’s words are true, alive and powerful. They carry as much authority now as when they were first spoken. Thank you for the Word who is Jesus. In His name, Amen.



Saturday, December 1, 2018

Pretend Fried Chicken

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another
John 13:35 (NIV)

I was driving down the interstate when my granddaughter, PJ, screamed from the back seat. I shook my head and looked in the rear view mirror. "Now what are you fighting about?" I demanded.

PJ and another granddaughter, Kira, were at it again. Since the two girls were only three months apart, they turned everything into a competition even at the age of three.

Evidently they were eating pretend fried chicken and Kira stole a piece of chicken off her cousin's plate; hence the screams. PJ was inconsolable and no amount of reasoning could calm her. It didn't matter that is wasn't real food. I have to admit I shed a few tears myself...laughing hysterically.

Do you know what's not funny? When God's children behave like my granddaughters. The truth is some of the things we squabble about are as petty as pretend fried chicken. God calls His church to love each other unconditionally. He calls us to unity. He calls us to extend grace and mercy. Denominations should not be in competition with each other. We have the same heavenly Father who freely offers His love to each one of us. As we reach out and encourage one another, our world will be impacted for Jesus.

At fourteen years of age, my granddaughters are now the best of friends. Church, let's allow God to mature us into the loving and unified family He desires for us to be.

Prayer:  Lord, grow us into Your loving, merciful family which can then impact the world for You. Amen.

Bible Reading:  Psalm 133

Thought:  I will seek to intentionally love all of God's family.


Friday, November 30, 2018

My Grandma's Quilts

This is the day that the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24 (KJV)

"Not another quilt," I moaned. I held it up looking at the colorful blocks of little Dutch boys and girls. "Why can't grandma understand kids don't think quilts are cool?"

And yet, every year that's what my grandmother gave her family for Christmas. That particular year I had hinted for a bike but I wasn't surprised when the annual package made its way from Illinois to southern California. Unfortunately, I didn't appreciate the value of what she gave me. Not only did a lot of time, effort and love go into each one of those well-crafted quilts, they had monetary value too. Each quilt sold for eighty dollars. Fifty-seven years ago that was a lot of money. As a child, I simply took those beautiful quilts for granted.

God's blessings are gifts I hope I don't take for granted. I can joyfully unwrap the gift of each day,  appreciating the value of what I've been given. I can recognize the value of His love...a love so great that He gave His one and only Son that I might have eternal life (John 3:16). I can understand the value of His mercies that are new every morning even when I don't deserve them (Lamentations 3:22, 23). I can see the priceless value of Him as my Savior, my Lord, my Provider and my Healer. Great is His faithfulness.


Prayer:  Dear Lord, may I always appreciate Your blessings in my life.

Bible Reading:  Ephesians 3:14-21

Thought:  May I find the goodness of the Lord in this day which He has given me.


I AM Who I AM

I'm not done with the I AM series (I think) but I'm going to take a break from it for a while and focus on some other writing I've been wanting to delve into. In fact, I'll probably incorporate some of the I AM devotions in a study I'm going to begin soon. It will be on the "red-letter" words of Jesus from the book of John.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Zombies!

I Am Who I Am #11
I AM the Resurrection and the Life
John 11

Focusing on zombies probably doesn't seem like a topic most Christians would want to read about, and yet, that's where we're headed right now. (I've only watched one zombie movie in my entire life and that was World War Z. Not too bad, actually.)

Picture the setting...a marsh deep in the swamps of Louisiana. Spanish moss is hanging thick off the trees, steam eerily rises from the water, and an acidic musty smell permeates the swamp making it difficult to take a deep breath. A full moon casts creepy shadows...and, and, and then - oh no - those shadows begin to move. It's a horde of the walking dead wandering aimlessly and soullessly through the swamp. Their pitiful moans can be heard for miles.

Metaphorically, that is a picture of us before we gave our hearts to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We were spiritual zombies, dead in our sins and hopelessly lost. We had a lot to moan about, for sure.

Right before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead He said to Martha, "I AM the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though He may die, he shall live." (John 11:25) We indeed were spiritually dead but now, because we've given Him our lives, we have been resurrected by the power of God.

Lord, when You raised Lazarus from the dead You declared, "Loose him, and let him go." That perfectly describes the transformation You made in my life which miraculously took place when You raised me from spiritual death.  Spiritual death could not hold its power over me. Thank You for the resurrected life I now live. I am now alive in You. In Jesus' name, Amen.


Personal Application
The best way I can describe spiritual death is that it's a separation we have from God. We are separated from God because we are all sinful beings (Romans 3:23). Let's be brutally honest here, we've all done things that are wrong. It's part of our selfish nature.

The separation started with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when they disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit. I don't want to be too hard on them because that could easily have been me. (For the full story see Genesis, chapter 3.)

God created human beings for relationship. That's why He came to the Garden every evening to meet with Adam and Eve. He loved them and loved hanging with them.

Up to that point, death hadn't entered the picture. Not only did Adam and Eve and the rest of humanity have to face a physical death, their sins separated them from God causing a spiritual death as well. That was their punishment.

However, that's not what God intended. God still desired fellowship with His greatest creation...human beings who were created in His image.

Long story short (it would take the entire Old and New Testament to tell the story), we still deserve death - physical and spiritual - because we are sinners. When Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross what He did was take the ultimate punishment for our sinful nature (Romans 6:23; Romans 5:8) . Why? Because He loved us. It's that simple.

You know, we really are eternal beings. Our bodies may die but our spirits and souls live forever. We have a choice where we spend eternity. It will either be with God or eternally separated from Him. He desires for it to be eternity with Him.

What must I do, you ask? Pray. Admit you are a sinful being. Ask the Heavenly Father to forgive you for your sins. It's okay to be specific about some of them, if you want. Give your life to Jesus. Live for Him. The resurrection from spiritual death to life is immediate. (Rev. 3:20; 1 John 1:9, 10).

The above is just a quick overview. If I can help you further with any of this, please leave me a message. I suggest you to seek out a pastor or a friend who is a Christian who can encourage you further in this new, resurrected life.   

Friday, July 20, 2018

Jesus Can Handle "My Stuff"

I AM WHO I AM #10
I...AM He
John 4:1-42

It was no accident the Samaritan woman came to the well at a different hour than the other women. She was rejected by others because of her lifestyle. We know she previously had five husbands and wasn't married to her most recent conquest. The Bible doesn't give us the details as to how it all came to be but it does give a clear picture that she was a disgraced woman.

Amazingly, Jesus didn't see her as damaged goods nor was He repulsed by all "her stuff," True, He addressed the sin in her life but He didn't write the woman off as hopeless either. He cared enough to break tradition. According to the law and cultural traditions, He should have shunned her because of her race, her reputation, and the man/woman restrictions. He broke through all of that to reach out to her because He saw something in her no one else did.

The Samaritan woman had a thirst deep within her soul which her lascivious lifestyle could not quench. That's what Jesus saw because He said to her, "...but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:14 NKJ)." Jesus even boldly revealed to her He was the Messiah. "I who speak to you AM He (John 4:26)."

Lord, as you very well know, my life was soiled like the Samaritan woman's life. I was the lowest of the low. And yet, for whatever reason, You looked beyond "my stuff" and saw my wounded soul hungering for something "my stuff" could never satisfy. Thank You for offering me the "fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." I'm forever grateful. Remind me of where I've come from. Show me others who are thirsting and hungering for more than "their stuff" can offer them. May I point them to the Fountain that will never run dry. In Jesus' name, Amen.  


Personal Application
This is a tough question, especially if I'm honest with my answer, but when I look at other people, do I see "their stuff" and condemn them or do I see thirsty souls in need of Jesus, the Living Water?

  

When Danger Lurks - Hasta La Vista, Baby

I AM WHO I AM #9
I AM the Good Shepherd
John 10:11-21

On a daily basis Jesus laid down His life for others. He was constantly giving up His comforts to minister to people. He knew what it meant to die daily in order to fulfill His Father's purposes and plans. Jesus declared, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep (vs 11)."

He contrasted a good shepherd to a hireling. It was customary for several shepherds to hire someone to watch their sheep in the sheep fold while they went home for a good night's sleep. The problem was the man hired didn't have any investment in the flocks. Many times when danger came the hireling was more interested in self-preservation than in sheep-preservation. It was easy to say, "Hasta la vista, baby." (Or whatever the equivalent Hebrew or Greek would be.)

Jesus was trying to warn the people that not all of those in authority had their best interest at heart. They weren't committed to laying down their lives for the people. Not only was Jesus willing to sacrifice His daily comforts to minister to the needs of the people, a time came when He gave His life for his sheep.

Personal Application
I hate to think what would happen to a person, if they ever tried to attack one of my grandchildren. It wouldn't be a pretty sight once my son or daughter got a hold of the perpetrator. They would fight for their children with their lives. Jesus did that for us by dying on the cross. The perpetrator Satan desires nothing more than to spiritually destroy humanity, especially those who belong to the sheepfold of Jesus Christ. However, we are spiritually safe when we abide in Him.

Thank You, Jesus, for the spiritual safety we find in You. Nothing can separate us from Your love. Nothing can spiritually harm us when we abide in You. Thank You, Good Shepherd, for Your protection. Thank You for the abundant life You have given to us, your sheep. May we know intimately the safety of Your arms. In Jesus' name, Amen.
  



Friday, March 2, 2018

Which Door Do You Choose?

I AM WHO I AM #8
I AM the Door
John 10:1-10


After spending a sleepless night at the Mount of Olives in prayer, Jesus had a busy day. You can read the past few devotionals for details of the events which unfolded from John 8:1 up to this point in John 10. And amazingly, His day still wasn't over.

After all the craziness which took place, the crowd was still there. He began talking to them about sheep and the sheepfold. When Jesus talked about the fact that there was only one door into the sheepfold, folks understood what He was talking about because it was a part of their culture. They knew that if a man tried to get into the sheepfold any other way than by that one door, he was probably a thief and had evil intentions. They knew that the sheep were trained to respond to their shepherd's voice and would only go with him when he called them. Then Jesus told them, "I AM the door of the sheep." (See John 10:7-9)

Jesus wanted the people to know there was only one way to the Father and it was through Him. The scribes and Pharisees were other voices crying for the people's attention, but their intentions were for destructive, selfish gain. However, through The Door (Jesus) they could have life and that life more abundantly (John 10:10). They had to learn to recognize the Good Shepherd's voice from those who intended them harm.

Lord, help us to understand that You are the only door to eternal life. It is only attainable through You. You desire to protect us from the lies of those who would want us to stray away from the truth of Your Word. Yes, the path is narrow but the broader way will lead to destruction. May we listen for and recognize Your voice. When we respond to Your voice we will be safe. 


Personal Application
Today there are voices vying for our attention. These voices shout at us through the t.v., newspaper, radio, internet. They're fairly angry voices and quite intent on leading us astray. They would like to convince us Jesus isn't the only way to eternal life; that there are many other doors we can choose to walk through. "After all," they say, "You could be enlightened to the truth if you would open your minds." Good news - we can recognize Jesus' voice amid all the rhetoric. Becoming intimately acquainted with Jesus will help us to recognize His voice thus leading us through The Door to eternal life. Stop. Listen carefully. Obey. Let's respond to the voice we know desires that we live more abundantly.


Saturday, February 3, 2018

This Little Light of Mine

I AM WHO I AM #7
You are the Light of the World
John 8 & 9; Matthew 5:14-16

Over the past couple of devotionals, we've focused on Jesus being the Light of the world. For today, let's look again at John 8 & 9. We see that Jesus had a busy, crazy day in the temple where a lot happened. He protected an adulteress from her accusers, He then spent time defending Himself before the Pharisees, and finally, He spoke to those Jews who followed Him and His teachings. Jesus told them, "I am going away. Where I go you cannot come." (See John 8:21). Jesus predicted His return to His Father, declaring He would soon no longer be physically present on earth.

While exhorting the believers the crowd became enraged when He began to declare His deity. The crowd turned on Him and wanted to stone Him. (I told you it was a busy, crazy day.) While escaping, Jesus noticed a blind man and stopped to minister to him. Right before Jesus healed the blind man He stated, "As long as I am in the world, I AM the Light of the world." (See John 9:5.) Again, He gave indication that there was a time coming when He would no longer be with them.

Jesus is still the Light. However, He made provision for the time He would no longer physically be present. In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus said, "You are the light of the world...Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Do you realize before Jesus returned to His Father, there was a transference of authority onto believers?

Jesus, You shone Your Light in the hearts of men and exposed their wickedness but You also illuminated Your love, mercy and compassion to those in the bondages of sin and the ravages of disease. Your healing touch toward the blind man (while You were fleeing for Your life, no less) radically changed his life. As the light of the world we can manifest Your Love to a darkened world and help others to see You. The impact on their lives could be radical as well. May Your compassion flow through us to those who are lost. May we be a beacon of light showing them the way to You.


Personal Application

Sing along with me:
This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
'Nuf said.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Illumination

I AM WHO I AM #6
I AM the Light of the World
John 8:1-12

Jesus made the statement, "I AM the light of the world" twice in one day. For the next couple of devotionals we'll take a look at the events which led Jesus to make those statements.

After spending the night in prayer, Jesus went to the temple early one Sabbath morning where He began to teach the crowds who sought Him out. The scribes and Pharisees were there in full force trying to trap Him with His words so they would be able to discredit His reputation. On that morning, while He taught, they brought in a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. They addressed the fact that, according to the Law, she should be stoned. After writing something in the sand of which we can only speculate what it was, Jesus spoke to those accusing her, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." One by one her accusers left until none remained.

Jesus told the woman He didn't condemn her but He also told her, "Go and sin no more." At this point, He spoke to the crowd saying, "I AM the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

Two things happened that morning. First, He shone His truth into the hearts of this woman's accusers and exposed their own darkness. Second, He illuminated His love for the woman, freeing her from the bondage of sin and shame.

Jesus, one thing is for sure...when You shine Your light into our lives, it impacts us greatly. Your light will either expose our sin or illuminate Your love. Sometimes it does both. When You expose our sin it's because You love us and know that "if we confess our sins, You are faithful and just to forgive us our sins" (1John 1:9) thus drawing us into closer relationship to You.


Personal Application
I've had both happen to me. When Jesus uses His light to expose my sin my first inclination is usually to run and hide. (Yeah, just like Adam and Eve.) And yet, if I allow Him to illuminate His love, I see that conviction is a good thing. Years ago, a youth pastor at the church we were attending used to say, "Conviction is my friend." It is if I allow it to lead to repentance. Jesus wants an intimate relationship with me and He wants to free me from those things which cause a barrier between us. Instead of running away from Him, He desires that I run to Him.  "Search me O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."  (Psalm 139: 23 24 NKJ)


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Jesus, Our "Pillar of Fire"

I AM WHO I AM #5
Jesus is the Word and Light
John 1:1-9; 1John 1:5-7 (NKJ)

Jesus stated He was the Light of the world twice on the same day. For several devotionals we'll take a look at the events surrounding those two I AM statements. We'll hang there for a while because it's "good stuff." First though, let's take a look at the writings of John and what he has to say about Jesus being the Light.

He starts the book of John by stating Jesus was the Word (1:1) and Jesus was the Light (1:4-9). He also addresses Jesus as the Light in 1John 1:5-7. One of the main concepts which John emphasized in his writings is comparing light to darkness; comparing the Light who is Jesus to the darkness who is Satan.

In the Greek (as used in John 1:4; John 8:13; John 9:5), the world light comes from the word phos meaning "to shine, or make manifest, especially by rays." According to Strong's Concordance phos can be interpreted light or fire.

Just as the pillar of fire was a guiding light for the Israelites in the darkest of nights, Jesus lights the way for us, His followers. As the Light of the world, He illuminates the spirit realm and helps us to see His Kingdom more clearly. As the Light of the world, He exposes the lies of the deceiver (see John 9:42-47). As the Light of the world, He shines from within us emanating His love toward others. As the Light of the world, He lights the difficult, narrow path we are called to follow (Matthew 7:13, 14).

Father, thank You for sending Your Light into a darkened, sinful world. Darkness can be scary and eerie and the shadows can seem more ominous than they really are. Thank You that in Jesus, as the Light, there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). Thank You that Jesus, as the Light, dissipates the darkness, thus quieting our fears. Thank You that Jesus, as the Light, exposes the lies of the evil one and illuminates the truth of His Word. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Personal Application
For some reason I don't get spooked during the day when I hear something go "bump." However, let something go "bump" in the middle of the night and I'm waking my husband to check out the noise. What is it about darkness that turns me into a nervous ninny? For one thing, I can't see the "enemy" even if the enemy is nothing more than a discarded old coat rack lurking in the shadows of my basement. Just like the darkness of night can be creepy, the darkness of this evil world can be overwhelming as well. Sometimes it makes me want to pull the covers over my head and refuse to come out. Thankfully, Jesus' Light quiets my fears as I walk down the paths He wants me to walk, even the dark ones. He exposes the lies of the evil one and illuminates His truth. Hallelujah! Jesus is the Light of the world. I pray you will find comfort and peace as His Light shines brightly in your little part of the world.


Friday, January 26, 2018

Defining My Blog

One of my friends asked me to define this blog because she is confused as to what I am trying to accomplish here. Hmmm. Define this blog. It's fairly simple really - I like to write children's books/stories, short stories and devotionals. I don't publish everything I write but some of it does find its way to this blog. I understand that this may be too broad of a platform for some folks but I'm cool with it. I blog because I like to write. In the process, hopefully my blogging brings glory to the Lord and encourages folks in their faith walk. I do write stories from my teaching experiences (past and current) on another blog so it's more focused from a teacher's viewpoint. You can find it at lolliehofer.wordpress.com. That's it. Enough said. Hey, friend, did this help?

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Jesus, The I AM

I AM WHO I AM #4
John 8:58


We have been looking at God's declaration of being I AM WHO I AM to Moses at the burning bush. Moses was a hesitant leader but, under God's powerful authority, he was able to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage bringing them to the door of the Promised Land.

The Eternal One with no beginning and no end also kept His covenant to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He was more than able to handle any and all situations that came Israel's way showing Himself to truly be the I AM WHO I AM. He fulfilled His promises to Abraham by turning his descendants into a great nation.

Fast forward approximately 1500 years. God wasn't done declaring that He truly was I AM WHO I AM. On numerous occasions Jesus made the same claim. His powerful statement in John 8:58 eventually cost Him His life. The NKJ reads, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."

The footnote in my Bible states that the above "scripture should read, 'before Abraham was born' indicating that Abraham's life had a specific beginning. This stands in sharp contrast to Jesus' self-claim, 'I AM.' In other words, He was without beginning - the Self-Existent One, the Ever-present One. The claim of Jesus to be eternal was a claim to be Divine. Thus, in the eyes of the Jews He was guilty of blasphemy, a sin punishable by stoning."

Lord Jesus, I'm not for sure we completely understand the magnitude of who You were declaring Yourself to be during Your three years of ministry here on earth. The religious leaders understood all too well. And they hated you for it. When confronted with the Truth, they chose to reject that Truth. Today, when we are confronted with the Truth, who do we say You are? It's an important question we must answer if we hope to be a part of Your kingdom.

Personal Application:
Who do I say You are, Jesus? I say that You are indeed I AM WHO I AM. You have always been. You always will be. You spoke the world into existence. You are the Ever-present One. You are my Savior and my Lord. You are my Provider. You are my Comfort. You are my Peace. You are Just, Holy and Righteous. Thank You for showing me who You truly are...not only does it build my faith but it draws me into a more intimate relationship with You.








God's Got This

I AM WHO I AM #3
The Self-Existent One
Exodus 3:14-15; Ephesians 3:20-21


When God first revealed Himself to Moses, He chose to be known by the name I AM WHO I AM. After doing some minor research using a couple study Bibles, I discovered that I AM WHO I AM gives reference to God as the Self-Existent One, the Eternal One, the One Who Always Has Been and the One Who Always Will Be, the Ever-Present One, the Living One.

What should that mean to you and me? The way I look at it, we're in good hands. As the Eternal One with no beginning and no end, He has been more than able to handle everything which has come His way. He has always been in control and He will continue to do so.

Even though Lucifer attempted to overthrow God's kingdom, his efforts were thwarted. He may have thought he won a battle or two but let's face it, he lost the war.  In the midst of an attempt to destroy mankind (through sin), God was victorious through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. In the midst of world turmoil which even now we face, it's all within the capable hands of the One Who Always Has Been and Who Always Will Be. Nothing is impossible with our Self-Existent God. As the Ever-Present One, He knows about our personal circumstances. He cares about them because of His great Love for us. Absolutely nothing is to big or too small to escape His attention or go beyond His abilities.

Lord, we thank You for being our I AM WHO I AM. We know you are "able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think."* Our absolute faith, trust and confidence are in You. Instead of fretting about the downward spiral of our world in recent years, we will sleep well tonight knowing You are in complete control of Your kingdom. Thank You that You also venture into our small part of the world and know everything about us. Thank You for Your care, concern and love. We choose to put our lives into Your capable hands. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Practical Application
"God's got this!" That's a pep talk I give myself whenever I find myself in the middle of a trial where there seems to be no end or no way out. If I could open my spiritual eyes I would see that when I'm carrying a heavy burden, God is carrying me. Amazingly, even though He has the cares of the whole world in His hands, He knows the details about what I am facing and He's more than capable of seeing me through. The I AM WHO I AM - the Self-Existent One, the Eternal One, the One Who Always Has Been and the One Who Always Will Be, the Ever-Present One, the Living One - knows my name personally. That's humbling. What are you walking through right now? Just remember, no matter how intense the trial "God's got this!" You are safe and secure in Him.

*Ephesians 3:20

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

More Intimately Acquainted

I AM WHO I AM #2
Becoming More Intimately Acquainted
Exodus 2:23-3:15


Previously we looked at Moses and his encounter with I AM WHO I AM. We're going to take a couple devotionals to look at the character and attributes of I AM WHO I AM. Why even go there? Let's face it, doing it just for knowledge's sake isn't a good enough reason because knowledge itself can puff up (I Cor. 8:1). Knowledge isn't our goal here...becoming more intimately acquainted with God is.

In the last devotional, the comment was made that Moses had to choose to trust God. Trusting God is a choice. As we look at the character and attributes of I AM WHO I AM, we will stand in awe of who He truly is, which will help us become more intimately acquainted with Him. The more intimately acquainted we become with I AM WHO I AM the easier it will be to choose to trust Him. Got it? Sounds like we went in circles but I hope you get the point.

In the beginning of his relationship with God, Moses struggled and had doubts. He even questioned whether or not God had chosen the right man for the job. By the end of his life, he didn't just know about God, he personally knew I AM WHO I AM. We can too.

Let's agree with the prayer Paul prayed on behalf of the church at Ephesus. I pray "that the God our our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe according to the working of His mighty power." (Ephesians 1:17-19)

Lord, we want to know You more. We want to know Your character and Your attributes. As we draw closer to you, it will be easier for us to trust You as You guide us in all that You've called us to do. Trusting You is a choice. But the more intimately acquainted we become with You, the easier it will be to trust in You. In Jesus name, Amen.


Personal Application

When Mike and I first started dating we would spend hours talking together. Why? Because we liked each other, liked hanging together and wanted to know everything there was to know about each other. Even then, once we were married it didn't take us long to realize we had just scratched the surface of truly knowing each other. In the early days of our marriage I struggled with trusting Mike. I never met my dad face-to-face and my stepdad left our family a couple different times. I figured it was just a matter of time and Mike would split too. After forty-one years of being together, I have no doubt my husband is in this marriage for keeps. I know his heart and know he loves me unconditionally.

In the same way, the more I become intimately acquainted with I AM WHO I AM and know His character the more I trust Him. The eyes of my understanding have been enlightened because I am in right relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I love Him and like hanging with Him...I truly want to know Him and trust Him deeper. It's a choice I make on a daily basis.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

God, You Want Me to Do What?

I AM WHO I AM
Who Is the I AM Who I Am?
Exodus 2:23-3:15

After moving his family to Egypt during a severe famine and being reunited with his son Joseph, Jacob's large family grew even more so. In fact, over a period of 430 years, Jacob's family grew into a nation. They became a nation within a nation. However, once the life-saving deeds of Joseph were forgotten, the Israelites became slaves to the Egyptians and were severely abused. God heard their groans and remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob (vs. 2:24).

This brings us to Moses and the burning bush. Understandably, Moses struggled with his ordination ceremony on that holy ground where he was commissioned to save a nation. Moses could only see the reasons why he couldn't lead the Israelites. He couldn't see how his life experiences were beneficial to God's cause (vs. 3:11).

God's proclamation of I AM WHO I AM was a powerful declaration of His character and His attributes. Moses had to come to the realization it wasn't important who he was or what he lacked. He needed to choose to trust the I AM WHO I AM, the One who was more than capable and would be with him throughout the journey (vs. 3:12-14).

God is still the I AM WHO I AM. We call Him Jesus (see John 8:58). Are you struggling with those things He has called you to do? Do your insecurities hold you back? Good news. You too can choose to trust Him. Our Lord isn't in the business of setting you up so you can fail. If He calls you, He will equip you and will capably walk with you every step of the way.

Jesus, You truly are the I AM WHO I AM. It has nothing to do with our inabilities but it has everything to do with Your capabilities. It has everything to do with who You are. Draw us closer to You so that we can intimately know You as the I AM WHO I AM. The more we learn of Your character and attributes, the easier it will be to trust you. In Your powerful name, Amen.


Personal Application:
There were a few times in my life when God called me to do something specific where my response to Him was, "Say what?" Yeah, sort of like Moses' response of "Who, me?" When I was a single twenty-three year old young lady, He called me to teach a Sunday School class of twelve high-energy 14 year old boys. "Say what? Who, me?" After Mike and I had been married for almost two years, He called us to move away from my family and friends in beautiful San Diego, CA to landlocked Omaha, NE. "Say what? Who, me?" Right now He's called our church, Omaha Christian Center, to minister to some fairly crazy and wild children. About 90% of the children don't have a church background. On more than one Wednesday night I (along with the rest of the team) have cried out, "Say what? Who, me?" It has been one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life.

And yet, in every circumstance, God equipped me to do what I never thought I could do. Like Moses, He has never failed me. Not once. Whenever I focus on His capabilities instead of my inabilities, I find myself doing the impossible. (Right now, in this moment, I so needed to remind myself of that. My insecurities have been raising their ugly heads.) I'm thankful the I AM WHO I AM wants to be an integral part of my life and what He has called me to do. I can't do it without Him, and frankly, don't want to do it without Him.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Mike's Miraculous Journey

This is really Mike's story. A story he has lived for the past seven weeks. A story he probably can tell much better than I can but it's a story I can only tell from the only perspective I know best...mine.

-------------------------------------

At 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 5th, we received a phone call which no parent wants to receive, even if their child is a forty year old grown man. Our daughter Christy is the one who answered the phone. It was a friend of our son's, Jon Elliott, telling her that Mike had been in a motorcycle accident and was at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He had no further information which he could tell her.

We couldn't get to the hospital fast enough and, yet, it was a long ride since it seemed like time had slowed to almost a crawl. We tried not to speculate but not knowing whether Mike was dead or alive was probably the most difficult part of the night for us. I prayed most of the way to the hospital. When Mike was a baby we had dedicated him to the Lord. Forty years later the only thing I could do was to put him into God's capable hands once again. No matter what news we received when we got to the hospital, it would be what God willed for his life.

Thirty minutes after receiving the phone call Mike (hubby), Christy and I walked into the ER. As soon as we were told Mike was in surgery my legs turned to jello. I told the admissions clerk, "Okay. Surgery is good. We can deal with surgery. At least you didn't tell us to go the morgue." Relief and a lot of hope flooded me as we headed to the second floor surgical waiting room in Clarkson Tower.

We still had no idea as to the severity of his injuries. Again, we tried not to speculate as to how bad it might be. I know I was expecting them to tell us he had surgery for a broken leg or arm, maybe even both...after all, it was a motorcycle accident. But we just didn't know. Around 4:30 a.m. the surgeon came out to talk with us. She told us everything went well during surgery for some internal injuries and he was recovering nicely. I suppose our first indication that things were fairly serious was when she told us that he would be moved shortly to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit.

At that point she began to list his injuries. It's easier for me to do exactly what the surgeon did...start from the head and work down. His injuries included:

-A brain injury and small brain bleed
-A broken left eye socket, broken bones in his nasal cavity, broken cheek bones
-A broken neck at the #1 vertebrae - it was "hanging on by a thread"
-Broken back in several places, plus small chips broken in some of his middle vertebrae
-Several broken ribs
-Punctured right lung and bruising to both lungs
-Deeply bruised heart which put him into AFib meaning he now had a rapid irregular heartbeat
-Internal injuries where they removed his appendix and cleaned up and "repaired other organs" although I'm still not sure what that meant
-Broken pelvic bone which would require surgery
-Burns on his feet, legs and arm along with some road rash

We were dumbfounded. Overwhelmed by what we heard, we quickly realized Mike's life would be radically changed for quite some time. Our lives too for that matter. I later told our family we were going to have to find a "new normal" for awhile. My grandson Micah reassured me, "Grandma, our family's lives have never been normal." Point well taken, Micah.

We also realized it was a miracle he was alive and still with us. Immediately we gave God the praise and honor He deserved in sparing Mike's life. It didn't take long for me to see that everything wrong with Mike's body was either fixable, mendable or removable. That's what I began to share with family and friends in reassuring them that he would eventually recover from the accident. We knew he wasn't going to die.

Around 5:30 a.m. my husband and daughter went home to get some sleep. Once Mike was settled in his bed they allowed me into his SICU room. There were tubes and IVs and machines everywhere. He was also on a ventilator. As I stared at my son a few tears trickled down my face but it would be a couple more weeks before I would be able to break down and have a good cry. While watching his chest move up and down with the help of the ventilator, I made a vow that I wouldn't cry while in the room with Mike. No tears; only rejoicing in God's goodness. 

Even though Mike was in bad shape it wasn't a morbid scene. As I sat in a chair next to his bed an incredible peace settled over us. It was as if someone took a vial of Peace and began pouring it over my head. I could feel it saturate my entire being in a warm fluid sensation. God still had plans for my son and he was in God's capable hands. I began to quote out loud, "For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day."  Ephesians 3:14-21 came to mind. I wrote out the passage and left it by Mike's bed stand. God's peace indeed sustained and strengthened us during the difficult days ahead.

I want to step away from Mike's story and share about his daughter, Kira. She was in Mitchell, SD with her mother and stepfather when the accident occurred. They waited until Sunday to tell her when they were ready to head back to Omaha. Papu (her other grandfather who is a doctor) did a wonderful job of sharing with Kira about what happened to her daddy and what to expect. By Sunday night when they got back into Omaha, Mike was off the ventilator already so they decided KiKi could see her daddy. Even though it was emotional for her to see her father's broken body, she handled it amazingly well for a twelve-year-old. This was a tough time for Kira but she was strong and continues to remain strong. She visited her daddy as much as possible.

Her biggest concern was his angry combativeness due to the brain injury and the meds he was taking. We had to have family and friends with him 24 hours a day to keep in him in bed and keep tubes in his body. At one point, he even managed to pull out his chest tube which totally amazed the medical staff. Was he going to be like that for the rest of his life? We simply didn't know. Understandably she wanted her wild, crazy and loving Daddy back. It was a huge relief to her when about two weeks later she walked into his hospital room and realized her dad was indeed back. His personality and everything she loved about him was still in tact.

I am very proud of my granddaughter. Even during the most stressful and fearful moments, she was there with her dad. What she experienced and saw was tough to face but she never backed down or stayed away from visiting in the hospital because it was too difficult for her. Now that's he's home and with a ways to go in his recovery, she continues to be the best medicine he could ever receive. I sure am proud of my sunshine, Kira.

Back to Mike's story...during the first couple days in the hospital as the numerous specialist came in, each one shared with me why Mike was a miracle. As we began to hear details of the accident we were stunned he was even alive.

A friend of his, Jerry, was with him and their bikes collided causing both riders to go down. Jerry was in the hospital with a broken back, broken ribs, shattered shoulder, broken ankle and horrible road rash. Mike doesn't remember the accident. Even seven weeks later he can't remember anything and can only go by what he's been told. Jerry says he remembers every second of it. With the exception of sharing a couple miraculous incidents, I'm not going to get into the details of how the accident happened. I will share that alcohol wasn't a factor. The toxicology report came back and showed Mike had what was equal to one beer in his system. We knew our son well enough to know that wasn't an issue even before the results were made known.

I do want to share with you the incredible miracles God gave to my son, Michael Hofer, on August 4th at approximately 11:30 p.m. It is obvious that God is not done with this man yet and God has a rich plan for his future.

Miracle #1  Location, Location, Location
I can't share this without tearing up some. After the two motorcycles collided, Mike slid under an SUV while still on his bike, slid about 60-70 feet (according to the skid marks on the road) while the motorcycle caught on fire. There were two police officers at a gas station less than a block from where the accident happened. They heard the collision, jumped into their cars and were there in a matter of seconds. They had fire extinguishers and quickly had the fire out. Mike was wearing a leather jacket and heavy pants which protected him. He has some burns on his feet, legs, hands and arms and some road rash but it would have been a different story if the police officers hadn't been at that gas station with those all important fire extinguishers.

Miracle #2  Trained Personnel
Those police officers were trained to handle this situation. They assumed Mike had serious injuries (he was unconscious for awhile) and they carefully removed him from the bike. By taking the right precautions they saved his life or kept him from being paralyzed from the neck down since his #1 vertebrae was broken One specialist said when a person breaks that vertebrae they usually just simply stop breathing. Mike didn't.

If the police officers had not been there, the outcome could have been totally different. If Jerry or a Good Samaritan would have tried to pull him off that burning bike...well, yeah, the outcome could have been radically different. The police officers knew exactly what to do to save Mike's life.

Miracle #3  No Helmet
I know, right? In Iowa there are no helmet laws for motorcyclists. Neither Mike nor Jerry were wearing helmets which, at least for Mike, was unusual. He's usually quite cautious when it comes to his Italian bike. Even though he didn't have a helmet, he came away with some minor brain damage and a small brain bleed and a few broken facial bones. At his last CT scan a couple weeks ago, it showed that the brain bleed had almost diminished. With the exception of not remembering the accident, his short-term memory loss has improved radically over the past few weeks.

The neuro doctor actually told me it was probably a good thing he wasn't wearing a helmet. They felt Mike broke his neck on first impact and with a broken neck, a helmet would have been a huge risk trying to safely remove it from his head. I am not stating a case against helmets because I'm a strong advocate for them, but in this case, not having a helmet was a blessing.

Miracle #4  Kidney
Mike did have internal injuries. They removed his appendix, repaired his spleen and cleaned up some tears, etc. His right kidney was deeply bruised and the surgeon said she almost removed it. At the last minute, she put her stethoscope up to it and heard the smallest of gurgles. She decided to wait and see what would happen. They sent him to the SICU with an open gut. Sunday afternoon he went back into surgery only for the surgeon to find a pink, functioning kidney.

Miracle #5  Bruised Heart
The impact of the accident sent him into AFib (rapid irregular heartbeat). Although his heart rate was an issue for the first two and half weeks, it began healing quickly. Originally, they were going to do further tests on his heart but it had recovered enough that they didn't see it as a long-term condition he would have to deal with. They did say that he would probably have to be on low blood-pressure medicine for the rest of his life. At about week five, he was able to stop using the low blood-pressure meds altogether. We did find out the hard way he didn't need the meds anymore. At four o'clock in the morning he passed out in the bathroom. After hours of testing, they determined it was the low blood-pressure meds that caused him to pass out.

Miracle #6  Broken Pelvic Bone
The Ortho surgeon said that if he had to break his pelvic bone he did it right. The break ran the entire length of the bone but stopped above the hip socket. The surgeon was amazed that the ball in the hip socket didn't dislocate which would have created its own serious problems. He said it was highly unusual for that to happen. Since he broke his pelvic bone "right" it went back nicely together with plates and screws. At the follow-up visit, the surgeon was shocked as to how well he was doing. He still can't put weight on that leg for a while but he is mending quickly. He will know on October 5th if he'll be able to start putting weight on that leg. There will be no long-term issues with the pelvic bone with the exception of setting off alarms at the airport when walking through scanners.

Miracle #7 Broken Neck
For me, besides having the police officers at the right place at the right time, this is probably the biggest miracle God gave to Mike. Simply put, he should be dead. He should have stopped breathing as soon as his neck broke yet he slid under an SUV and down the road for another 60-70 feet or so and still kept breathing. He could have been paralyzed. The doctors are still amazed that considering the seriousness of the break - "his neck is holding on by a thread" - he is alive and mending rapidly. He will have a CT scan on October 10th and they'll let him know then how much longer he will have to wear the neck brace.

I am sure there are other miracles that only God and heaven know about. To God be the glory! Throughout this entire ordeal I have declared, "God is good. Always." Even if the outcome had been different then the one Mike received, hopefully I would still have declared, "God is good. Always."

Not everything was smooth sailing in the hospital. First, as I already stated, due to a combination of brain injury and meds, his anger and combativeness was a challenge for a couple of weeks. Second, once they found out that Mike didn't have health insurance, the goal of the case worker seemed to be to get him out of there as quickly as possible. I had to file a complaint for early dismissal. It worked and he stayed another eight days in the hospital. Third, Mike demanded that his feeding tube be removed but the trauma team flat out refused to remove it even when he declared his patient rights in having it taken out. He gave me power of attorney over his health care and I had to fight for his rights. After me raising quite a fuss it was out within a couple of hours. Fourth, we also found out that even though he needed to go into a nursing care facility for further recovery, that wasn't going to happen since he didn't have health insurance. Nor did he qualify for any disability programs that the state had to offer.

We had to meet with financial aid and fill out forms in hopes that they would help him with some of the medical costs. We still haven't heard the results of that yet but I'm believing they will cover at least 80% of the cost. I know God has this under control along with all his other financial needs. God has faithfully met his at-home medical costs as well as his day-to-day expenses and bills. God used many, many people who blessed Mike by donating to help cover most of these expenses. There is no way we can adequately thank all the family and friends and his work who donated money. Thank you to those who faithfully prayed for him as well. Your prayers were answered miraculously time and time again.

One of the toughest lessons I've learned through this is not to question God's sovereignty. While Mike was in the hospital there was a young man in his early twenties who was also in a motorcycle accident. It was heartbreaking watching family and friends say their good-byes to him over a 2-3 day period of time. He had a fractured skull even though he was wearing a helmet and would not survive. At first, I felt guilty because as they were losing their beloved son, grandson, brother we were learning that our son, father, brother, uncle would survive. But God...only God knows why those two outcomes were different.

I would like to think that our worship and praise of God would have been just as passionate if Mike had not survived the accident. I really don't know what I would have done because it would have been the greatest trial my family would have ever faced. But God...obviously he isn't quite done with Mike yet.

Before signing off, I would like to share with you the scriptures kept by Mike's bedside during his 20 days hospital stay.

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen Mike Hofer with power through His Spirit in Mike's inner being, so that Christ may dwell in his heart through faith. And I pray that Mike, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, TO GRASP HOW WIDE AND LONG AND HIGH AND DEEP IS THE LOVE OF CHRIST, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that Mike may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all Mike asks or imagines, according to His power that is at work within Mike, to Him be glory in the church (and Mike's body) in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."     Ephesians 3:14-21 (emphasis mine)

God is Good. Always.























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