Showing items filed under “Denise Woodliff”
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Lately I’ve been living with a frustrating physical problem.     You see, I noticed about two weeks ago that I was struggling to see clearly.  At first I thought my sunglasses had a stubborn something on them that I just couldn’t polish off.  Then I noticed that my reading glasses weren’t doing their job.  Frustrated, I went to the store and purchased a stronger pair.   I  then realized the problem wasn’t my glasses. The vision in my left eye was cloudy, as if I was trying to see through a fogged up bathroom mirror.  Alarmed, I paid a visit to my  eye doctor.

Much to my dismay, after a thorough examination, she let me know that the cause of my “sudden” inability to see clearly was a cataract that would need a surgical solution.  Say WHAT?  I just turned 50 about six weeks ago, and had in fact renewed my driver’s license and passed the vision test at the DMV.  How could this have happened so suddenly?

As the days have gone by, exactly 14 today, my sight has diminished more and more.  Where I could see color and some details the day I visited the doctor I can now see only light and dark shapes with only a hint of color.  Cataracts are progressive, and apparently mine is an over-achiever.

It is interesting that as my physical vision deteriorates daily the Holy Spirit is revealing some spiritual truths to the eyes of my heart.  You see, while I noticed my “blindness” exactly two weeks ago,  my doctor is confident that the cataract didn’t suddenly appear that day.  It had been silently developing, little by little, and I hadn’t noticed it.  I didn’t even realize what I wasn’t seeing, until BAM, all of a sudden, I knew I was “blind”.  How could this be?  I believe the same thing can happen to our spiritual eyes, even as followers of Christ.

Pastor recently stressed the importance of being disciplined in our walk.   When I fail to have self-discipline I inevitably begin to wander away from Jesus, little by little.  My daily time in the Word and in prayer diminishes, and eventually can even disappear for days in a row.  Sin creeps in, a little at a time.    Old habits that I thought were long gone  begin to rear their ugly heads.   When complacency takes over and I move away from God, I don’t even notice at first.  Others around me often see what I cannot.  They may try and point out to me that something is amiss.  However, the process happens so slowly, the scales that form over my spiritual eyes are not noticeable to me.  I cannot see clearly.  I am blind to my own sin.   I do not see an accurate reflection of my own heart.  I cannot.

In hindsight, I can think of many times over the past year that my children have told me I was not seeing something clearly.  They would insist something was one color and I would be absolutely certain it was another.  There were other hints that my vision was not as it should be, but I did not catch on to them because I was comfortable.  Complacency and sin work in much the same way.   When I am not listening for that still small voice but rushing around in my business the Holy Spirit’s alarm bells get missed.  My cloudy  vision takes me further and further off of the path of God’s best for me and I don’t even realize it.  If I am confronted, even gently, by those that love me enough to speak truth, I am likely to deny there is an issue because I truly cannot see it. 

Recently in Sunday school we looked at Psalm 146.  Verse 8 saysThe LORD opens the eyes of the blind.   Hallelujah!  Indeed Jesus came to give sight to those who could not see.  Praise God that means He won’t leave me in the darkness.  When my vision is clouded, He will restore my sight.   It is an ongoing work, that began when He opened my eyes on the day of my salvation twenty-nine years ago. 

As I move forward with plans to have the surgery to have my vision restored, I am asking God to do surgery on the eyes of my heart.  I am praying the words of Psalm 139: 23 & 24:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

point out anything in me that offends you,

And lead me along the path of everlasting life.

How about you?  Is it time for a spiritual eye appointment?    I think the waiting room music will be from SonicFlood, “Open the Eyes of My Heart”.  

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It's the most wonderful time of the year...except when it isn't. With Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, stress and busyness abound for many of us. As we prepare to host family and friends for holiday gatherings, we are often pressed on every side with things to do and shopping lists and dreading the inevitable arguments at the dinner table between family members over politics and religion—or even some conflict dating back to 1982. Pinterest offers inspiration for the picture-perfect table setting and menu (or should I say it produces the opportunity for feeling like a holiday failure if you chose paper over fine china and your un-brined turkey is a bit on the dry side.) We can find ourselves feeling exactly the opposite of grateful and merry. We can even wonder if it's not time to toss tradition and make a break for somewhere warm and tropical!

In Luke 10:38-42, we read about a hostess who is dear to my heart. She was not just preparing a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. She had the honor of welcoming Jesus Himself, along with His disciples, into her home for a big dinner. I don't know about you, but I think that is a task that could intimidate even Martha Stewart! Our hostess (a Martha herself) wasn't a stranger to Jesus, but in fact a dear friend. As she hustled to do the many things necessary, she became frustrated that her sister Mary wasn't helping but was instead sitting with Jesus listening to what He taught. (Usually around here it's a sister who disappears when there are dishes to wash!) Martha was so comfortable with Jesus that she came to Him and said: "Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me."

But, the Lord said to her, "My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! there is only one thing that is worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her."

I can't help but think that wasn't the answer Martha was expecting Jesus to give her. It might not be the answer you and I are expecting either—at first. Nevertheless, it IS the answer. If we consider it with an open heart, we can find our way out of the holiday hosting performance trap. When we focus more on Jesus and less on "all these details," we are concerning ourselves with the right thing and no earthly stressors can take away our joy!

Of course, the turkey still needs to be cooked and the table set. I don't believe Jesus was telling Martha to forget the meal entirely. There is joy in serving our friends and families as we give them a place to gather together for the celebrations that mean so much to us. It is a matter of perspective. When we are so busy with the details that we don't have time to sit with the Lord and talk with Him, listen to Him, and simply BE with Him, we are missing the main thing. When our relationship with Him takes first place, gratitude wells up in us. We just can't help it.

His Holy Spirit in us producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control will allow us to accomplish the shopping and the cleaning and the cooking with grace. We will be more able to be flexible and not over-react to the inevitable challenges that will come up that threaten our ability to enjoy the holidays. It doesn't matter if we are hosting a feast for 40 of our friends and family or opening a can of soup with no one else but Jesus this Thanksgiving or Christmas. The traditions are nice, but they aren't "the thing". It's all about Jesus. With Him, we have all we need. Won't you join me in striving to be more like Mary this holiday season, no matter your circumstances?