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Entries in Heart (6)


Howl it out!

We used to have a white Boxer named Boomer.  Oh, the funny stories I could tell you about that dog.  In fact, if I ever need a good belly laugh I watch a video of Boomer being Boomer.  Before Boomer, I'd never had or heard a dog who howled.  When Boomer howled, the whole neighborhood heard him.  He'd get his boxer snout all wrinkled up and throw that head of his back and out would come this howl.  He only howled when he wanted his condition changed.  Like when it was raining and he wanted in the house (rather than go into his dog house).  Boomer's howl was pitiful and attention getting.  I found this visual on YouTube.

With that visual in mind, think about how we sound when we cry out to the Lord.  In our despair, we howl.  Oh, we don't often have the luxury of throwing back out heads and letting go so the whole neighborhood hears us.  But, what about those times in the shower, the closet, the car...  Or the times when the howl is deep in our hearts and we open our mouths but no sound will come?  In Psalm 18, David shares this:
"In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.
A beautiful example...in our distress, we can call upon the Lord!  We can howl out for help.  And you know what?  He hears our voice, He hears our howl for help - it comes into His ears.  Oh glory be.  I needed to be reminded of that truth today, didn't you?  And, it does not stop there.  David goes on to paint the most beautiful picture of God responding to our howl out.  He says God rides on the clouds, He rides on the cherub to our rescue.
"Then the earth shook and quaked; And the foundations of the mountains were trembling And were shaken, because He was angry. Smoke went up out of His nostrils, And fire from His mouth devoured; Coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down With thick darkness under His feet. He rode upon a cherub and flew; And He sped upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him, Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds, Hailstones and coals of fire.The Lord also thundered in the heavens, And the Most High uttered His voice, Hailstones and coals of fire. He sent out His arrows, and scattered them, And lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them. Then the channels of water appeared, And the foundations of the world were laid bare At Your rebuke, O Lord, At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils. He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters." (Psalm 18:7-16)
Wow!  Listen to Psalm 18 and let the words dance about you, grab your heart and cause your spirit to soar so that the next time you are in distress....howl out before the Lord and then wait for He hears and He will act on behalf of the righteous! Look up - He rides on His clouds.


Longing for my children...

Have you ever longed for children? I have. I never, ever imagined NOT having children. I don't wish that kind of longing, waiting, hoping, trying on anyone. When Tom and I got our minds around the fact that we wouldn't be able to have our own babies, we turned to adoption. The problem was that abortion had been legalized and so putting your baby up for adoption no longer the first option for so many. In those days, the waiting list for a baby was 6 years AND if one of you turned 40 during that 6 year period, you could not get on a list. Since Tom and I couldn't get on "the list" we fixed our minds on private adoption. That meant telling everyone you knew to tell everyone they knew that Tom and Sally Hall wanted to adopt a baby!

One April day, our pastor got a call from another pastor and it seemed there was a young Christian couple, from Christian families who had made a mistake and were looking for a Christian home for their baby. OH, what a glorious day that was! Our dream of having children was going to come true and we would not have to suffer one more day of that longing, emptiness and shame....yes shame. The months that followed were filled with anticipation. Me, I give myself totally over to everything. Tom, bless his heart, tried to hold me back for my own good! He kept encouraging me not to decorate the baby's room and buy furniture because "anything could happen." Well, of course nothing was going to happen. This was a dream come true and life just couldn't be that cruel. Somewhere during the social services home study that had to be done, contacting of attorneys and all the other preparations necessary for adoption, we began to think of the baby as a girl. In fact - against Tom's better judgment - we named her....Hannah Jo. Well, from that moment on, I began to visualize Hannah' Jo's life and our life with Hannah Jo. About a month before she was to arrive, of course I broke down and bought her some clothes. I mean if she came early we'd have to have clothing for her and for the plane ride bringing her home! And, she would need a bed. Shortly after the few cute outfits were purchased and the bed ordered, we found out that the young couple didn't think they wanted to put their baby up for adoption anymore. But, there is always hope and until there is no hope.... The day that Hannah Jo was born all hope ended.

We looked into other options but it was all so painful. So, we put this dream in the hand of our God believing that if He wanted us to have a baby He could bring us a baby. The years that followed were difficult. It's not easy when your dreams are shattered. It is painful to have a mothers heart that longs for the children she will never have. Mother's Day was always especially painful and it is extremely awkward when all the mothers are asked to stand. Sometimes it would hurt so bad it would literally take my breath away.

Precept Ministries International plays a huge role in my healing. Because of this ministry, I learned how to study the Word of God for myself. And, in learning how to study the Word of God for myself, I developed a deep and intimate relationship with the God of the Word. I can know and understand God's heart. Isn't that amazing? And, I know God's heart for ME. So as feelings come, sadness creeps in, the lies of the enemy bombard - I can take up the truths of God's Word and use them to encourage and remind myself, and do battle with the enemy. It is a miracle of God that Mother's Day no longer bothers me and that most of the time Hannah Jo's birthday comes and goes and I don't even remember it!

A few years back several of the teens in my church were graduating and I attended. It was awesome to watch these teens. But, as I sat there my spirit became downcast within me and I began asking the Lord why - what was wrong with me. The Lord brought to my mind that Hannah Jo was somewhere graduating too. I sat there a little stunned. By the time I got home, I was really sad. The next morning, I got up and was talking to the Lord about it all. The one thing I just couldn't figure out was where all the emotion was coming from as I thought God had healed me. I remember saying to the Lord "I thought we were past this!" That day the Lord revealed SO much to me. I learned that you can be healed and yet still mourn the loss of something. You see, I guess I thought that if you were healed of something it meant you never got sad about it. SO not true! As I stood in my kitchen that morning this is how my conversation with the Lord went....

Okay Lord, so we couldn't' have our own children but - adoption! Surely there was one baby on the face of the earth that we could have adopted. We just wanted to adopt.

I heard the Lord speak into my heart
"I know Sally, I have children I want to adopt too."
No longer did the pain take my breath away but the realization that God had just shared His heart with me took my breath away. As much as a human could, I understood the longing of God's heart. Yes! He does have children He wants to adopt into His family and His longing to do so is INTENSE. So intense, He sacrificed His Son - His one and only Son in order to adopt children. Truthfully - that's hard to get my mind around.

The day that God shared His heart with me became the day I realized on a much deeper level the importance and privilege I had of being a spiritual mother. To help God adopt children into His family and be used by God to grow up His children spiritually. WOW! This intense longing I have in my heart for the people God puts within my reach is from Him. He has given me a mother's heart for them and I am so grateful! I long and ache for them, I'm willing to fight for them - I'll do whatever it takes for them to possess what they have in Christ and to know experientially their Creator as Father.

While I truly believe I have experienced the longings of a mothers heart toward her children, I've not known what it was like to receive the love of a child. Until recently - this past January actually. During the past few years, I've had the joy of working for God together with 3 very precious women. I've loved them as spiritual daughters. I can't really tell you that I've done all that much spiritual mothering because I think I learned far more from them than they learned from me. But, God did give me opportunity to come along side of them, cheer them on and I believe the ability to see in them what He sees in them. On a special night in January, they loved on me. And, I felt something I have never felt. It was different than receiving the love of a husband, a parent, a sister or family member. The love they showered upon me reached some place in my heart that had never been reached. Is this what it feels like to receive the love of a child? God is amazing!

Do you know what it does to the heart of God when we love on Him? Do you know that we touch places in the heart of the Almighty that only you and I can touch. No one else can take that place in God's heart that is reserved for me and for you. All the children in all the world cannot fill that place. It doesn't mean that God loves me more or you less. It just means that each and every one of us has this special place in the very heart of God. God longs for you and God longs for me. I believe God expresses His heart so beautifully in Isaiah 30:18 when He's talking to His children. They are not just words but God's very heart! He says he longs and waits for us. Pause and think about that! Oh, I want to bless the very heart of God today by showering Him with my love. I want to touch the places in God's heart that only I can touch. Amazing....truly amazing.

Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. Isaiah 30:18


Sweeter than chocolate?

I've met a new friend on Facebook. Her name is Pam Gillespie and she's written and been leading an inductive Bible study on Psalm 119 entitled "Sweeter Than Chocolate" (coming soon). I remember the first time God pricked my heart with the words from Psalm 119:103... "How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" We were in Israel and for the first time in my life I could appreciate how much they love their honey in that part of the world. So, what would be sweet like honey to me? You got it! CHOCOLATE. Could I say - Lord, how sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than chocolate to my mouth?

Sometimes I can eat so much of a good thing that I no longer savor the taste. Or, it is so readily available to me that I no longer treasure it's value. This has been true of me in my life concerning the Word of God. There have been times when I have "eaten" but have not tasted its sweetness or savored it as I would a piece of fine and expensive chocolate. God revealed this to me about myself as I read Psalm 119:103 that day. God, via His Word, got my attention and I had to ask myself if this statement was true of me. Isn't that awesome? God forgive me for all the times I've rushed to God's Word and left without ever hearing, feeling, tasting or savoring. The truth is, I can still do it. I mean, If I'm not intentional and don't actually ask God to teach me, speak to my heart, and change me, I can go at my Bible study just like any other task. I really don't like that about myself. But God recently showed me how far He has brought me. I stand in awe.

As many wonderful things as we have going on in our lives, there is still all the day to day of living! Added to that are all the changes in our lives right now. Some days I just know the only way I am making it through is because God is faithful and is holding me up. Honestly, I've had a couple of days when I was so tired (emotionally and physically) that I didn't "feel" anything. This has been a totally new experience for me and I wondered if I wasn't just shutting down emotionally. This notion really bother me and actually horrified me, but I was too tired to try and even think about it let alone deal with or work through it. Fiddly dee...I'll think about that tomorrow... Tomorrow came and I woke up feeling the same way. Kind of numb. Wouldn't you know it was a Sunday morning and I was going to have to go to church and "act" like I cared. I got to church and at Sunday School and we started reading Scripture and I actually started to feel less numb. I was being moved and felt. The songs we sang that morning had me in tears and the Scripture our pastor taught stirred me so much that I left totally energized. God got to me. God's Word got to me. Isn't it awesome? I could feel. I wasn't numb. And it wasn't people or things that revived me - it was God via His Word. Did you hear me? It was God via His Word. Amazing!

Hebrews 6:4 and 1 Peter 2:3 talk about having "tasted" the word of God and the kindness of God. The Greek word for tasted means to experience or partake (in the absolute sense). My prayer is that we, as His Beloved, go to His precious Word to taste and leave having tasted. Now, that's SWEET!

...for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. Psalm 138:2(b)


One beautiful night...

I was totally surprised by the events of last Saturday night. I am still overwhelmed (in a good way) and trying to process all that happened. You see, my "chicks" as I lovingly call them decided to host a celebration. The thing I cannot get my mind around is that they celebrated me. People actually showed up to love on me, thank me and appreciate me for my work of service during these past 9 years with Truth for Women. As I listened to several of my dear friends and co laborers speak, I cried, laughed, shook my head in disbelief and cried some more. At the end, they asked me if I wanted to say something and as I stood there I just babbled. All night long, I relieved the moment. And, I thought of a lot of things I wish I would have said. Here they are:

1. Thank you! Geez, I can't remember if I stood up and said thank you. If I didn't I am horrified because my heart was and is overflowing with thankfulness. I am so deeply touched that Jessie, Kim, Sharon & Susan would go to all the work and care of planning such a wonderful surprise and that so many people would come out on a Saturday night in the middle of winter to attend. I deeply regret not getting to hug and talk to each and every one that attended, but I will NEVER forget the sight of seeing everyone sitting there. Thank you for loving me.
2. I am so proud of Jessie and Kim. They are God's women for this hour. They are the future and I am so grateful to God for the time He gave me with them - together serving HIM! It is true that God put within me an understanding that I would not be the woman to take TFW all the way so to speak. And, it is true that I have prayed and waited for that woman or those women God would raise up. I have NO doubts that God has called Jessie and Kim and that these precious women have answered the call. For the past 9 years, getting up every day to pursue the vision of TFW has been my reason for getting up every day! I pursued this God given vision with passion, pit-bull determination and as though it needed to happen YESTERDAY. God put this within me. God has put it also within Jessie and Kim.
3. God has also raised up Sharon and her heart certainly beats with mine concerning The Women's Center Lehigh Valley. I'll never, ever forget sitting down in 1999 and putting on paper the vision of TWC. Thinking about not being around to "make" it happen is hard for me. But, knowing that Sharon not only gets it but she sees it? All I can say is praise the Lord and thank you Jesus! These precious women are called by God and they have committed to God. Commitment these days is a rare and beautiful thing. For when I say these women are committed what I mean is they will do whatever it takes to see the vision, mission and purpose of Truth for Women, My Sister's Closet and The Women's Center Lehigh Valley realized.
4. I still don't know why people would come to celebrate me. Don't get me wrong - I'm not sure I've ever felt so loved or appreciate in my entire life and who doesn't want or need that? But fighting for the women in my community has been the joy of my life. Working to help women embrace God's Word as truth is what God brought me to this moment in my life to do. Fighting for the spiritual health of this community has been the only reasonable thing to do. I think of what Bill Hybels says in his book "Holy Discontent." He calls them "Popeye" moments. Times when God puts such a burden on your heart and brings you to the point where you cry out and move out saying "I can't stands it, I can't stands it, I can't stands it no more." When God does this to you and propels you into action - watch out! So watch out for Jessie, Kim, Sharon and Susan!
5. I wish I had praised my husband more. I did say that were it not for him TFW wouldn't exist, but what I didn't share is why. Oh yes, He was very encouraging and supportive. You see, he's the spiritually gifted leader in our family. And, he's had years of business experience. Over the course of 9 years, he sat with me untold hours teaching me how to lead, giving me insights, honest observations, and unbias feedback. I have learned so much from this precious man. He NEVER complained about the number of hours I spent in front of the computer, away at meetings or opening our home to gatherings of people. In fact, he supported it and I'd say at least during the first 5 years, financially made it all happen. Tom's financial investment in TFW was a personal investment in me and every woman in this community. Thank you to all who have financially supported the ministries of TFW. It is a HUGE encouragement to those of us who daily work to realize the vision but it is also a huge investment in the spiritual health of this community!
6. I will NEVER forget that evening. Your faces are forever in my mind! I love you each and all. I thank God for allowing me to know you and serve together with you. At the end of the evening, Emma was walking me to my car and she asked me what perfume I had on because it smelled so nice. You know what? All night long as I hugged and was hugged by each one of you, I breathed in your essence and your sweet aroma was left behind. By the end of the evening what was left was a mixture of all of you and it was a wonderful fragrance. Precious ones, this will PREACH!
7. So to all who were there on Saturday night and all those who couldn't come but shared they wish they could be there - thank YOU. You see, what it really speaks to my heart is that you too see the vision, you understand the mission and you support the work of this ministry. WOW.

Whatever I did, whatever you think I accomplished - all glory and honor goes to God. He is the one who saved me, changed me, decided to allow me to be a part of anything He wanted to do, then gave me what I'd need to do it! God used me because I was willing and because I committed myself to Him and what He was put on my heart to do for Him. I've spend the last 9 years on my face before Him waiting for "how to." In fact, most days were started with this statement: "God if you can use a donkey, you can use me."

...but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8


Taking diligent heed

One of my favorite Precept Upon Precept (PUP) Bible studies was on the book of Joshua. Go figure! Who knew it contained such practical and applicable tips for living? Oh, the Word of God has treasures to be mined! But think about it. Here God's people were going into the land that God had promised them. A land of milk and honey - yes! But also a land with giants, gods and hostile to God. I love the sub-title given to this PUP study. It was something like "possessing your possessions" or "learning to possess your possessions." Here on this earth, if I am ever going to possess what is mine in Christ Jesus, then practical and applicable tips are certainly needed! One of the "tips" that pricked my heart then and now is Joshua 23:11. It says: "... take diligent heed to yourselves to love the Lord your God." Okay. So, what does diligent heed look like?

We used to live in a house that was built in the late 1800's. One of the previous owners had planted gardens and I became passionate about gardening. But, beautiful gardens don't just happen. No, they take a lot of work! Each week I would spend hours and hours weeding, watering, feeding and tending those gardens. Each season certain things would have to be done to prepare the gardens for the next season. It was only a few months each year when the snow was on the ground that I didn't need to HEED those gardens. If I didn't "take heed" on a regular basis those gardens could get out of hand very quickly. During the growing season? Forget about it. I would have to "take diligent heed. " God has once again reminded me that I need to take that same diligent heed of myself - of my heart. If I don't the things of this world will come in a crowd out and choke my love of the Lord. Doesn't it seem strange that I would have to weed, water, feed and tend after my heart like that in order to love the Lord my God? With as glorious as He is and after all He has done for me, you would think it be natural to love God with all of my heart. No so. In fact, God says that when I stop giving heed to the Lord that's exactly when I start playing the harlot (Hosea 4:10).

Yes, I finally finished my PUP study of Hosea. God has used the truths from Hosea to remind me of just how easily I can forget Him. God says this in Hosea 13:6: "As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and being satisfied, their heart became proud; Therefore they forgot Me." You know why I gave up gardening? I lost my passion for it. I no longer wanted to spend the hours necessary to take diligent heed of gardens. Compared to other things that came into my life, gardening lost its value. Actually, I gave up gardening to spend more time with and serving God. But, I have to wonder. Could I give up God that easily? Unless I take diligent heed I know I could - I know I have.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. “Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Deuteronomy 6:5-12