Jesus is the Only Antidote

I am sure I’m not alone in having been knocked sideways by the news coming out of the state of New York this past week. It seems as though the Biblical time line took a jump forward, doesn’t it? There is a whole mix of emotions going through my being about the horror that has been made legal; grief, anger, dismay, confusion, and a deep revulsion, to name a few. As politicians rejoice, I’ve been crying out to the Lord for the suffering of innocents.

This morning, I meditated on Psalm 37 as I looked for a place to go with my feelings. Verses 7-8 especially ministered to my soul and I would like to share them:

“Be still before the lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn away from wrath; do not fret-it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed,  but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

My takeaway from this is: First of all, God holds the time line of the universe in His very capable hands. The Bible tells us His ways are always good and His love never fails. It also says He is a just God and laughs at the schemes of man. I need to trust in His character especially when things look so bad and I don’t understand them. When God passed before Moses on Mt Sinai, He revealed His character in the scriptures for the first time. He said to Moses: “The LORD, the LORD, compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” (Ex 36:6-7) As my Sunday school teacher likes to say “God’s got this”. Second, Jesus followers have an assignment to complete. As much as I would like to hate those who legislate the evil of infanticide, I need to follow Jesus’ example when He died to save me while I was still a sinner. I am to show His love to them. I’m not there yet, but am asking for empowering grace to do so because loving someone in the middle of sin elevates them, shows them God values them and wants them to be His children. My heart breaks for the women who have been deeply wounded by abortion. Jesus has the salve for their wounds and longs to welcome them into His compassionate arms.

Would you join Dean and me in praying for our leaders and our lost and sick world? Jesus is the only antedote for us all!!

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Dog Tags, New Year- Old? Project

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!”

This feeling inadequate, not enough, has been a well-worn, deeply rutted track my thoughts have raced on throughout my life. As God has grown me closer to maturity, I have actively worked to line up my thoughts to the Truth of this scripture. It takes quite a bit to bounce the wheels out of such a deep rut, but slowly God has been working His transformation in my mind and soul.

In the early days of making jewelry, God popped an idea into my mind of what He wanted to say through my crafting. I needed to become a much better metalsmith in order to make the idea into something solid, and I just didn’t seem to be able to make the concept take shape.  So, I set the idea into the periphery and set about making jewelry from what I had at hand: first beads and silver wire, then purchased stones and cabochons, and finally stones from my dad’s collection and the fruits of Mark’s and my collecting.

In the Father’s perfect timing, He has completed the picture of the idea He let me glimpse 15 years ago and I would like to share it.  The necklaces are called Dog Tags. Just like the ID tags a soldier wears to identify his name, rank, and serial number, these pieces  identify who we have become because of the finished work of Jesus Christ.

It’s pretty stinking exciting to know those feelings of inadequacy I struggle(d) against have been redeemed to become, to name a few, LOVED, CHOSEN, FAITH, HOPE, FREE, BLESSED, PRECIOUS! 

Each Dog Tag is set with a semi-precious stone chosen for its Biblical meaning, ie: Sapphire- Grace, Yellow Citrine-Faith, Garnet-Loved etc., and decorated with either a heart (symbol of love), butterfly (symbol of a new creation), or flower (Spring, or new life). I included a small disk with the corresponding Scripture reference.

This is just a few of the finished ones, I am making more! If you are interested in wearing a Dog Tag, you can find them on my website: http://www.anndehoog.com

Dean says, “Uh, WOW”, his eyes large. He has a paperless office. I think my studio hurts his head. :^D

Happy anniversary, little red house!

“…He has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord…” Acts 17:26-27

Today marks the year anniversary of living in the little red house at the bend in the road. 

I love an adventure.  I love going places I haven’t seen before, learning new things, change.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE our new life at the bend in the road!  I loved building a new house.  I love my new church, neighbors, and friends, and I feel so incredibly blessed!  This has been one of the most wonderful, difficult, stretching and growing seasons Dean and I have ever experienced.  And we wouldn’t trade it for anything.

We left a life of decades where we raised children, lived life with fellow believers, served, laughed, wept and grew.  We left carefully tended land and home and a loved neighborhood.  I closed a business and left very loved clients and friends, Dean changed jobs, we changed churches and our home address.  I don’t think we could explain why we did all this other than God shifted us.  We suddenly felt like we didn’t fit anymore.  The house was too big, our road became too busy, Dean’s job too stressful, our new neighbors hated us, my horses became ill and died, I lost an election for local political office….you get the idea.  The grace for living there lifted.

So, God took us on a bend along our life’s journey.  If we weren’t convinced He orchestrated this bend we would have lost heart.  Saying “goodbye for now” hurts.  Having the sale of our house sabotaged by angry people frustrated us.  Getting sick with adrenal fatigue was no fun.  Being sued by Dean’s former employer was shocking and confusing.   BUT GOD.  May I say it again? BUT GOD.  He is good when things don’t seem good.  He brought us through and continues to bring us through what He places in front of us.  The house eventually sold, the suit was judged in Dean’s favor, and I am healthy again.  We are learning to seek the Lord in a new way– which really was the whole point of all of this.  Oh the beauty of living at the bend in the road!  Oh the joy of having the King of Heaven appointing my time and boundaries!

How could I forget to mention it?  God gave us little Caroline Dale on this day last year as well!!  Blessings abound…..

“I think you need to write a blog”, he said…

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And I replied, “there are so many blogs already being written, I don’t want to reinvent the wheel.”  But when my husband, Dean, says something like this, I take note because he rarely gives me directives.  He’s also wise.  So here I am.  

A couple of weeks ago we had communion at church.  I took my turn filing up to the table holding the elements and in a bit of morning brain fog looked at the deep red of the juice filled communion cups as I plucked one and thought, “what a pretty red.”  I am easily distracted and a pretty color is like yelling “squirrel!” to a Labrador.  I picked up my little gluten free cellophane wrapped “bread” wafer and promptly dropped it on the floor.  Careful to not spill my little cup of juice, I bent over and picked the wafer off the floor and made my way to my seat.  After mulling over something I needed to confess to Dean later, I unwrapped my wafer, ate it, and then brought the cup to my mouth.  It was  empty!  My first thought was “Oh great, I spilled it after all, I wonder where I am wearing it?” And then I realized there was no little telltale ring of juice left in the bottom.  No little last drop you can never get to.  It either had never been filled and my eyes were playing tricks on me as I marveled over the red color, or something God did to get my attention.   I turned to Dean in astonishment and said “I’m losing my mind.  This wasn’t empty when I picked it up.  It’s empty now and I didn’t drink it!  What is going on?” 

During the drive home, Dean turned to me and said, “honey, I think God is saying to you through that empty communion cup that you don’t have to be enough.  You don’t have to behave in all the right ways to earn His love and favor.  You don’t need to be doing the religious things like communion to gain points with Him.  They’re important, don’t get me wrong, but your obedience is not going to make Him love you more or make you more acceptable.  You don’t need to be the perfect woman, to be all that.  He is enough.”  Dean knows me well, his words dove deep into my heart and the tears ran.  He added “You see God in so many different ways, He has been doing some big things in you and for you, and I think you need to write a blog about it.  It would encourage others.”

So here were are, and what I think I took away from all of this is:  I can take a big breath and let down.  I can KNOW the things that are concerning to me are part of the tapestry God is weaving in my life, circumstances, my loved ones’ lives, our world.  He holds the big picture and takes the things I screw up and redeems them. He takes the senseless and tragic and makes them beautiful.  He is constantly working to make me more like Jesus and I just need to slow down and rest in Him.