Rebecca Duvall

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Daily Reminder

leaning treeEvery day, when I took my daughter to and from school, I drove down a street that cauesed many scary scenarios to run through my head. It’s a nice stretch of road with country homes on one side and a golf course on the other. The lanes are wide, with a nice open middle turning lane between the two-way traffic.

You might be wondering, how such a simple road could cause so much stress and fear to run through my mind as I drove down it each and every day. Along the side of the road with the golf course, the side I would drive down, three large trees stood leaning over the entire side of the street.

For years I drove up and down this street with no concern. Then, I heard of a tree, off the side of a freeway, not far from us, that fell on a windy day, onto the freeway, crushing a car. I was traumatized by the thought of a life being taken like this. One moment your headed somewhere, with something to do and someone to meet, and the next, your life is gone. No warning what so ever!

Shortly after hearing of this horrifying event, I became aware of the large trees and how far they were leaning over the street. I found myself driving on the far left side when on this particular stretch of road. Often, I found myself getting so upset over the possibility of being crushed by one of the trees, I would become flush and my eyes would tear up.

During the summer, I feared the ground would become dry and cracked, unable to hold up the trees. In the spring and fall, I worried the winds would force one of them over. The stormy days in the winter were the most terrifying. It’s hard to see on dark stormy days, so it could fall, with no warning to try and get out of the way.

Several months ago, at church, we were making a video which I quoted Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

After running Joshua 1:9 in my head for a few weeks, I decided I was no longer going to let this stretch of road bring me to tears. I was not going to let it terrify me any longer!

The next time I found myself on that stretch of road, I began praying. I thanked God for the beautiful drive and the car I was able to make it in. I thanked Him for the beautiful trees that lined, and leaned over the road. I told God I believed He loved my family and me and knew what was best for us. I told Him I trusted Him with my life. I then began to explain to God my fear of being crushed by the trees and asked Him to protect me from them. I told Him I would prefer not to be crushed by one of the trees, and hoped that no one else would be hurt by one of them, but if it were His will, then so be it. I asked God to remove the trees, but if that wasn’t His will, then please remove my fear of the trees and help me see them as a beautiful creation of His.

Weeks went by, when I realized, I had driven down this street, passing these trees, without giving it a single thought.

A month or two later, while driving my regular route in the morning, I noticed trucks pulled up on the curb near the trees with orange cones around them. I was curious what they were doing, but didn’t think much about it. Later that day, while driving back around in the afternoon, I could see the trucks were still there, but the large leaning trees were not. One small tree that leaned toward the street, by not over it, remained.

psalm 55-22

Now, as I drive down this street, I am reminded of God’s goodness and His faithfulness. God cares deeply for us, and the little things matters to Him as much as they matter to us.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank You for the ways You care for us. I pray we would seek You, thank You and praise You more often throughout each day, Amen.

Pastors

21 ShepherdAs I’ve mentioned before, the church my family and I attend are between Pastors. We’ve had the pleasure of listening to a different person preach each week. Some are Pastors, and some are not. The most important thing to me in a sermon is that it’s the word of God. I think everyone who’s preached has done a good job at writing their sermon based on the Bible. I’ve enjoyed having a variety of speakers, but have to say, I am looking forward to consistency in the way the message is delivered.

21 Jeremiah 3-15

I’m thankful for the ability to go to church every Sunday morning and be taught the word of God. I’m thankful for the pastor who not only teaches the word of God, but also helps those listening know how the message from long ago applies to our lives today. I’m thankful for the Pastor who paints a vivid picture in my head of the scripture being taught. I’m thankful for the Pastor who includes me in this picture and then helps me see how God is speaking to me through it. I’m thankful for those who answer the call to shepherd His people.

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. ~ Acts 20:28

Today’s sermon was about the birth of John the Baptist, Luke 1:57-80. The point of today’s sermon that I took home was when the mouth of Zechariah was opened he began to praise God. Zechariah’s mouth was closed because He didn’t believe the angel Gabriel when he told him his wife would have a son. It was to remain closed until the birth of his son took place. We were pointed to the fact that Zechariah didn’t complain or whine about what he just went through, no, he praised God. It made me think of the times I’ve failed to praise God when He’s delivered me from difficult situations. When was the last time you praised God for the miracles He provides? What was your ‘take away’ from the last sermon you heard?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for those You call to shepherd Your people. I pray we would be open to how You are using them to speak to us, Amen.

The Blessing In Pneumonia

parting red seaI can’t stop thinking about my BSF group discussions last week and how God directed the Israelites out of Egypt and to the Red Sea. I am in awe of God’s great power. He took them the long way around because he knew coming upon a war would be too much for them and they would run back (Exodus 13:17-18). He knew each of them that well. To think God knows me, and you, that well, and will go out of the way for each of us, because He wants, and knows, what’s best for us. This is so beautiful.

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.   ~ Exodus 13:17-18

Earlier this year my husband found out his body had started rejecting his new kidney. The doctors tried a new experimental drug for this situation, IVIG, to help stop his body from rejecting and ultimately destroying the kidney. IVIG is known to create antibodies that the body should be making. The doctors were hoping the extra antibodies created would help fight off the foreign antigens brought over with the new kidney and then there would be no reason for his body to reject it. This two-day procedure was attempted twice with little then no help.

The doctors then decided to try an additional medication called Rituxan. This drug attaches to certain blood cells, from the immune system, and kills them. The hope is that this drug, along with the IVIG, will help my husband’s body fight off and kill the foreign antigens causing all the ruckus in his body.

(This is completely off topic, but all of this talk about the immune system and killing the foreign antigens made me think of the movie Innerspace.  Here’s the trailer.  It gave me a good laugh. I hope it makes you laugh as well. If I could, I would go in and make peace between the antigens and antibodies fighting in my husbands body.)

 

OK….back to the topic at hand…..

While we were waiting for the Rituxan to be scheduled, my husband came down with pneumonia. This is something that happens to him at least once a year. After the doctors realized this, they decided to put off the kidney rejection meds until six weeks after finishing the medication for his pneumonia. At the time, this was very annoying. This was set to happen at the very beginning of our summer break, and now it was looking like it was going to happen right in the middle of it. We couldn’t plan anything in the beginning of the summer because my husband was sick. We couldn’t plan anything later because he would probably be sick from the new medications. We were all disappointed because we would be stuck at home all summer.

The beginning of the summer was indeed, rocky. Having my husband sick and the kids stuck at home was not a fun thing to deal with. But, after the first few weeks, once my husband started feeling better, we had a wonderful time together simply hanging out. We stayed up late watching movies, laughing and acting crazy, then enjoyed sleeping in and hanging out again. There were a few day trips and shopping excursions, but mostly just hanging out. This was the first time EVER that I didn’t want the kids to go back to school. We had an amazing time bonding as a family over the summer break.

Once the kids did go back to school, we started getting frustrated with the doctors. All we seemed to hear was “we’re working on it and we’ll schedule it soon”. The waiting was so hard. Not knowing what you can and can’t commit to or plan is extremely frustrating. We wanted to get the new kidney rejection meds scheduled and done sooner rather than later. We wanted to get on the other side of it.miracles happen

Thankfully, God knows what’s coming and how we will deal with it. He knows how much we can take and what’s the best way for us to go about it. If my husband did have the new medications at the beginning of the school year, it probably would have been too much for me to handle. Remember, the beginning of the school year was already very chaotic for me. I can’t imagine having my husband sick from meds to deal with on top of everything else. God led us the way that was best for us.

We recently got word from the doctors that my husband has been scheduled for the Rituxan treatment on November 4th. The IVIG treatment, which will be two weeks after the Rituxan, has been scheduled for November 18th and 19th as well. I truly believe this has all been scheduled in God’s timing. What I thought was a pain in my side, my husband’s pneumonia, turned out to be an amazing blessing by God. Time to bond as a family and time to adjust to a rough start to the school year. He leads us on the path that is best for us, which is not always the easiest and shortest. Praise God!

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for loving and caring for us in an individual and intimate way. I pray we praise you while in the midst of our waiting and uncertain times, knowing you are there leading us through it, Amen.

 

 

Fellowship, Worship, Teachings, Praise God!

worshiping togetherThis past weekend was the mountain top experience I mentioned in an earlier post, Up On The Mountain Top. It was absolutely amazing.  There were 3100 BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) leaders from Hawaii, California and Nevada.  It was truly a special gift to have this time of fellowship with the leaders in my BSF group.  It was also wonderfully exciting to meet and chat with leaders from other areas.  The time we had to worship together as the body of Christ was incredible! I can’t put into words what I felt when we all stood and sang Hymns.  I was brought to tears almost every time we sang together.  The Hymn ‘Ancient Words’ was my all time favorite.  It danced in my head during the trip home and throughout Monday.  Then we sang it together as a group during our BSF leaders meeting.  I had to fight back the tears it was so moving. (Yes, I’m a sap!)

As I also mentioned before, God had something to teach me during this mountain top experience.  I was excited to see what God wanted to teach me through this experience.  I was excited to use what He taught me and put it into action where I was already working.  I must admit, I did tell God not to dare call me to do something new.  I didn’t want to give up anything I was already doing and I definitely didn’t have time to add something new to my list of responsibilities.

About a week before I headed up the mountain I found a Spiritual Gifts test I took about 3 years ago.  As I read through the results and how those gifts could be used I thought ‘Wow, that’s a big responsibility and would take a lot of time and energy.  I think I’m good doing what I’m doing’.

During the morning on the last day of the retreat we had alone time to be with God. We were given Scripture to look up and pray about, meditate on.  I felt how much God desired for us to read His word when I read Isaiah 55:10-12.  As it says in the passage, we will be filled with joy and peace.  The mountains will burst into song and the trees will clap. What a beautiful picture! A smile came to my face and tears filled my eyes.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do it not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Isaiah 55:10-12

A little later I looked up 2 Timothy 3:15-17.  I felt as if God was telling me he had already given me the tools I needed to do His works.  The Holy Spirit and His Word, the Bible.  With these tools He would equip me for all He calls me to do.  At that moment I thanked God for these tools.  I told God that if He did have another call or a new call, for my life, I would answer.  God knows my fullest potential, so I will trust in His equipping me for whatever He asks of me.  Will I take on any and every job that comes my way?  Absolutely not!  I will take each thing to God.  I will pray for God’s will and guidance to help me know what He wishes me to do.  I’ve been outside of God’s will before (more times than I would like to admit), and it wasn’t pretty.

and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:15-17

When I returned home from the retreat my husband told me the Sunday Sermon was on fruits and gifts of the Spirit.  Our Pastor even gift in handrecommended a spiritual gifts test to take, which I did after listening to the sermon.  The results were pretty much the same as 3 years ago.  Huh, I wonder what that means?  I think, I hope, I’m making good use of my gifts.  If I’m not, I believe God will let me know.  I think it might be time for me to step things up a bit though.  How about you?  Do you know what your spiritual gifts are?  What are they?  How do you use your God given gifts in your daily life?  Please share, I would love to hear how God has equipped you to use your gifts.

My prayer for us today ~ Lord, thank you for the precious gift of the Holy Spirit and your Word which equips us for all You call us to do.  I pray we take time daily to read your word so we may use it to teach, rebuke, correct, train and equip others for Your good works, Amen

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