Aug 232016
 

Less of Me

I look in the mirror and think to myself, “I wish there were less of me!” My chosen lifestyle and eating habits have created MORE of me. So many regrets!

In my journal on August 17, 1985, I chose to record this verse from the Gospel of John.
“He must increase but I must decrease.” John 3:30

John wasn’t talking about his body; he was writing about “self” and his deep desire for Jesus Christ to be ever increasing in him. This meant he must make room for more of Christ by removing his own desires and ways.

I love this statement by John! I can hear his heart in his words, the longing to be filled with God and His Spirit! He understood that it was necessary for self to decrease so that Christ could increase in him.

In order for Christ to increase in me, Janie must decrease! No matter how much I may long to have more of God in my life, it will not happen until I let go of me! And that, my friend, is where the line is drawn. Am I willing to relinquish my own ways so that His ways become my ways? Am I ready to lay down this life I live so as to make room in me for all of Him that I can possibly possess?

I am a very self-centered person, and I know I am not alone in this! I constantly struggle against the “it’s all about me” mentality. I battle to keep my mind on my Heavenly Father in our quiet time together! I fight to keep my attention on those around me as we talk rather than on what I want to say next.

I long to belong totally to God ~ totally surrendered ~ completely filled with Him until when people look at me, they don’t see me, they see God. If that could happen, then when there is a part of me they do see, it would be obvious that without Him I am nothing!

Singer, Larnelle Harris, wrote and sang the song “Greater Still.” He nailed it with the lyrics.

A vessel filled with only me
Is no good to You
For our heart can be
No more than what’s inside
The only thing I really need
Only You can do
So purge my heart
‘Til only You abide

I must become less so much less
That You become greater still
Lord empty me of anything
That keeps me from what’s real
For only thru my weakness
Can Your power be fulfilled
Lord I want to become so much less
That You become greater still

My Prayer:

More of You and less of me. That’s what I want in me. Oh, Abba, I long to be totally Yours and completely filled with You and Your Spirit. Please show me anything that would reside in me that is not of You, and give me the strength to deny it in exchange for more of You.  ~ Amen

Song of the Day:

“Greater Still” by Larnelle Harris

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Aug 232016
 

Getting to Know You

My favorite part of high school was definitely choir! I loved the music we sang. Our choir teacher chose a wide variety of styles and selections for us to learn and perform including songs from musicals. One such song was “Getting To Know You” from the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I.

Phrases from the lyrics run through my mind even now. Phrases such as…

Getting to know you;
Getting to know all about you

Or…

Haven’t you noticed suddenly I’m bright and breezy;
Because of all the beautiful and new
Things I’m learning about you day by day

This song calls to mind the joy found in getting to know someone better day by day!

There was a disciple of Jesus best known as “the Disciple whom Jesus loved” who wrote these words:

“No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared Him.”                                                                           John 1:18

This man walked with Christ, talked with Him, sat with Him, learned from Him. John had the opportunity to get to know Jesus Christ in ways I never have. In getting to know Jesus, John also got to know God.

On August 15, 1985, I wrote in my journal:

If I know Jesus, I know God. If I study the words of Jesus, I am studying God’s words. If I study the life of Jesus, I am studying the character and nature of God. Jesus is the One who revealed to us what God is like. All the references to forgiveness, that’s God ~ God is forgiveness. All the references to righteousness (right standing – right living), that’s God ~ God is righteousness. All the references to love, that’s God ~ God is love. All the references to holiness, that’s God ~ God is holy.

John says that the only way to see God is by what Jesus shows us about Him through His nature, life on earth, and spoken words. If I want to learn more about God ~ what He is like, what His nature is like, it would be wise for me to study Jesus, His life, and His words as recorded in the Scriptures.

This is a lifelong learning process! I love reading devotional books that show me the things others have learned about God, but there’s no one written Bible study or the writings of any one earthly person that could completely open my eyes to all there is to know of Him except Jesus Christ Himself.

My Prayer:

My Heavenly Father, I want to learn more about You, what You are like, Your character, and Your nature. Guide me in looking at the life of Jesus Christ, Your Son, in order “to see You more clearly, love You more dearly, follow You more nearly”. ~ Amen

Song of the Day:

Day by Day by Godspell

 

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Aug 212016
 

I-V Drips for the Wounded and Fallen

In my previous blog, I wrote about receiving “I-V drips” from verses in the booklet my husband Rich placed in my Christmas stocking in 1984. Romans 8 provided the greatest sustenance for my malnourished spirit. I’d like to share these with you. If you are in need of spiritual nourishment, I prescribe these I-V drips.

At my lowest, I was so depleted in every way that I found it necessary to meditate and absorb one of these for whatever length of time was needed in order to know I had received all I could from it. I wrote each verse on several 3×5 cards and placed them everywhere I knew I would see them ~ the refrigerator, the bathroom mirror, the dashboard of the car, my desk at work, my nightstand. Each time I saw it, I would read it aloud. I knew I needed to hear it as well as see it. In the beginning, I would use one verse for a week or more, pulling every drop of it into my being. As my spiritual health began to return, I found myself “hungry” more frequently, and the drips changed into delicious meals!

May you find health of soul and spirit as you take in these amazing truths from God’s Word!

I-V Drips For The Wounded and Fallen ~ from Romans 8 

  1. In Christ I am not guilty – ACQUITTED! ~ Romans 8:1 
  1. I have been released from the death sentence – FREED! ~ Romans 8:2 
  1. I have life and soul peace both now and forever – AT PEACE! ~ Romans 8:10 & 6b 
  1. I am restored to life through the Spirit – RESTORED! ~ Romans 8:11 
  1. I am God’s child – ADOPTED! ~ Romans 8:15-16 
  1. I am a co-heir with Christ – AN HEIR! ~ Romans 8:17 
  1. I have a down-payment on my inheritance – DIVIDENDS! ~ Romans 8:23a 
  1. I am aided and carried by the Spirit when I’m weak – ASSISTED! ~ Romans 8:26a 
  1. I have an attorney in the Holy Spirit – REPRESENTED! ~ Romans 8:26b, 27b 
  1. I am part of a plan – COVERED! ~ Romans 8:28 
  1. I was foreknown, pre-destined, called, justified & glorified – CHOSEN! ~ Romans 8:29, 30 
  1. I have God on my side – DEFENDED! ~ Romans 8:31 
  1. I am chosen – SELECTED! ~ Romans 8:33 
  1. I am connected to God – BELONG! ~ Romans 8:35 
  1. I am more than a conqueror – WINNER! ~ Romans 8:37
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Aug 202016
 

Music Notes BackgroundPrelude

Prelude seems like an appropriate title for a beginning. It is, after all, according to the online dictionary, “an action or event serving as an introduction to something more important.” However, it is also in keeping with the theme of music that seems to form a framework for the picture of my life. This post is a prelude for what is to come in future blogs.

I was recently challenged by a very close friend that I wasn’t doing one of the things God had told me to do ~ write. She’s right! I gave it a great deal of thought over the next day or two and realized that every time I’ve thought to write, I’ve been hit with “I don’t know what to write about” and “I don’t know where to begin.” I prayed and asked God, “What do I write?” “Where do I begin?” In my heart I already knew the answer, but He gently reminded me, “Your journals.”

Now, I’ve been writing since I was 12 years old. Of course, back then, I wrote about each day of my life in my diary! Somehow, I don’t think people would want to read those simple few sentences written at the end of a day telling about what that day held.

I began to journal seriously in January of 1985. For Christmas the month before, my husband, Rich, had placed in my Christmas stocking a small promise book. Each page contained a Scripture from the Bible followed by blank lines. On those lines, you were to write a prayer about what that verse meant to you. Rich had no idea that the little booklet he gave me would become the beginning of something God would use to save my life!

At that point, I was at the bottom of a downhill slide in my life that was bringing me into a deep depression that threatened to cause me to decide to take my life. The verses were the beginning of what I call I-V drips into my life ~ life-saving spiritual nutrition that slowly began to rebuild all I needed in order to fully “live” again!

I used the promise book until it was full; then bought a pink and white fabric covered blank book in which to journal. Thus began a shelf filled with blank books that are no longer blank!

As my friend and I talked again a few days later, I told her that while I have a great platform for sharing my thoughts and stories through my website blog and even though I know what resource I am to use for writing, it seems a daunting task to read all those journals, categorize them, and choose what I should write about. She quickly shooed away that idea saying it would only keep me from writing as God told me to. She suggested that I simply begin to read the journals from the beginning and little by little impart my stories and thoughts on my blog. She’s a wise woman!

I opened the first fabric blank book journal to read what I had written long ago. The date caught my eye! The first entry was on August 15, 1985. Today, it’s August 20, 2016 ~ just over 31 years later. I think it’s time to begin to share some of what I’ve discovered and experienced over the span of those 31 years!

My desire is that others may glean encouragement from this blog that will inspire them in their own life journey, and that above all, God would receive honor and glory!

I would love to read your responses and experiences. I welcome you to send along your comments. I’m sure I can learn and grow from what you share. Thanks for reading.

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Oct 122015
 

practice-Gods-presence-1024x768

“God loves to be longed for, He loves to be sought,
For He sought us Himself with such longing and love:
He died for desire of us, marvellous thought!
And He yearns for us now to be with Him above.”
excerpt from Desire of God—Frederick William Faber

We love to be longed for and love to be sought because we were made in His image. We search endlessly to have this need fulfilled here on earth, but what this world offers is temporary at best and destructive at worst. God sacrificed Himself because of His desire for us! His fulfilling of this need in us is eternal! \o/ Run to Him, into His arms of love and find your every need met!

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Nov 022014
 

Janie in Prayer

I’m a talker! In fact, I do my best thought processing through talking. That makes it hard to process things when there’s no one to talk to.

I’ve heard many times that prayer is nothing more than talking to God, and I know that is true. So, since I’m a talker, and prayer is talking to God, prayer should be easy, right? Wrong!!! Prayer time is hard for me. Oh, I talk to God at moments during my daily Quiet Time, especially through my journals, and I talk to Him often all through each day, but pray? The word “prayer” is so much more formal than the word “talk.” And this is just one place where I get hung up! I don’t want to be “formal” in my conversations with God. When I’m formal with Him, I seek for pretty words and grammatically correct and perfectly structured sentences, instead of natural sharing of my heart with Him and His heart with me.

Another thing that cripples my “prayer time” is the vast number of needs to pray for! Family members, friends, friends of friends, church people, my neighbors, the people I work with, my city, state, and country, to say nothing of the needs of the entire world and the ones that get posted on Facebook! I get bogged down in who to pray for and what to pray for. There are so many needs! If I prayed for each need in depth every day, I would be in my Quiet Time chair 24/7/365! Faced with this dilemma, I struggle with wanting to avoid the “prayer” part of my time with God, and that’s not good! It should come as no surprise to me that the enemy would love to use this feeling of being overwhelmed by the number of needs to keep my prayer life stymied! He knows the power of prayer!

This morning in my Quiet Time, I read the following excerpt from “Streams in the Desert” by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman:

“But prayer”

“But prayer was made unto God without ceasing.” (Acts 12:5).

…Do we know the power of our supernatural weapon? Do we dare to use it with the authority of a faith that commands as well as asks? God baptize us with holy audacity and Divine confidence! He is not wanting great men, but He is wanting men who will dare to prove the greatness of their God. But God! But prayer!
–A. B. Simpson

Beware in your prayer, above everything, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things, above all that we ask or think.

Each time you intercede, be quiet first and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, of how He delights to hear Christ, of your place in Christ; and expect great things.
–Andrew Murray

Our prayers are God’s opportunities.

Prayer really is a supernatural weapon. David’s “slingshot and stone” became a supernatural weapon that brought the giant tumbling to his death. One quick shot! Maybe I should view prayer that way. My sister uses the term “breath prayers” to describe what she sometimes does when she is asked to pray about a need. Those breath prayers become supernatural weapons. So, maybe my talking to God all through my day is simply one way to fight ~ one way to pray. At other times, I may feel encouraged by God’s Spirit to pray more in-depth when I become aware of a need ~ to battle for a period of time. That, too, is a way to pray. There is no wrong way to do it! The only wrong way is not to pray or to limit my praying. God, help me to simply be in communication with You at all times ~ to talk to You without any barrier to stop me. Ah…open conversation!

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Feb 082014
 

025The Lord is my shepherd.” Psalm 23:1 “Not was, not may be, nor will be. ‘The Lord IS my shepherd,’ IS on Sunday, IS on Monday, and IS through every day of the week; IS in January, IS in December, and every month of the year; IS at home, and IS in China; IS in peace, and IS in war; in abundance, and in poverty.”  ~ J. Hudson Taylor (Missionary to China)

This quote was in my reading this morning in Rose Downing’s original copy of “Streams in the Desert” by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman. Grandma Downing, my husband Rich’s grandmother, was also a missionary to China ~ twice! She went first in 1907 as a 20-year old single woman. She returned again as a wife to Edward Downing, and while there became the mother of Dyer Downing, my husband’s father.

In 2009, I wrote a note in the margin of today’s reading ~ “In Harbin China 2009.” I find it humbling to have served where Hudson Taylor, Grandma Downing, and many others also served so many years before me. Five years ago today, I was in Harbin with two wonderful Chinese young men, Jusper and Rock ~ students who traveled there with me.  We were enjoying very cold weather, amazing ice carvings and snow sculptures, and visiting the Siberian Tiger Park. I love my memories of that trip! (At the end of this post, you can see just a few pictures of that adventure.)

I read the devotional this morning and saw my own note along with with one that Grandma Downing had written in the opposite margin many years ago.  How wonderful to be reminded that no matter where we may be in life (young, old, rich, poor, happy, sad) or on this earth (China, America, Russia, South Africa), if we are His, He still remains our loving Shepherd, providing all that we need! Our needs are so varied. We are complex creations of God. We need not only food, water, and shelter, but we also need love, joy, peace, rest, companionship, comfort, strength, and wisdom ~ the list is endless!

What did He provide for me in China? A deeper relationship with Him, a greater trust in Him, a broader view of the world, relationships that continue to this day, just to name a few. And what did He provide for me in Harbin? Memories, adventures, a greater joy at His creativity as expressed through His creation, and a slow smile that still comes to my face five years later!  It’s a provision that keeps on coming to me!

Read and remember what He has provided, is providing, and will provide for you!

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;

For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
 
Playing an ice piano on the street in Harbin!

Playing an ice piano on the street in Harbin!

 

Putting on a show!

Putting on a show!

An entire building of snow!

An entire building of snow!

With Jusperson!

With Jusperson!

Rock!

Rock!

Baby, it's cold outside!

Baby, it’s cold outside!

Posing at the Siberian Tiger Park

Posing at the Siberian Tiger Park

Gorgeous animal!

Gorgeous animal!

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Jan 052014
 

Penny Front Penny BackIt caught my attention as I crossed the street the first day of my new job. It was embedded in a patched piece of pavement in the middle of the crosswalk. There it lay, shiny and immovable. I smiled when I saw it, and found myself quoting  a promise from the Bible that has become my mainstay. “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” ¹

It was January 7, 2013, but my mind flew back to Beijing, China, to March 26, 2006.

As a widow on a fixed income, life is often a financial struggle for me. That month of March had been a particularly difficult one.  I was receiving gifts each month to help with my finances while teaching English as a Second Language in Beijing.  God always supplied what I needed and most often through those gifts. There were frequent tears of gratitude when He would once again come through. However, the amount from gifts that month was the lowest I had encountered, and I simply didn’t know how things could work out ~ there seemed to be no visible solution.

Not long before that, I had read a very touching story about pennies, and how God had spoken an important life lesson to someone regarding trusting God at all times for all things. (See below for the article.) On March 25, I pulled up the story from where I had saved it on my computer and printed it out. I taped it to my wall to help myself remember to trust God.

Now, remember, I’m in Beijing, China where U.S. coins are not just lying around. Yet the day after printing and posting the story on my wall, as I was walking down my street in Beijing, I looked down at my feet. I did that quite often because you never knew what might be on the sidewalk that you would want to avoid! There at my feet lay a U.S. penny! I stopped short and stared down at it, scarcely believing my eyes! How could this be? Nevertheless, there it was! Yes, even though the sidewalk was dirty, I reached down and picked up that penny! I put it in my pocket, took it back to my apartment, and placed it where I would see it several times a day. It served as a constant reminder that God is trustworthy and would always provide what is needed.

Although I have been the recipient of His miraculous provision many times, there was no “miracle” of provision that month or the next. However, I made it through! Those are the times when He teaches me to keep my eyes on Him, lean on Him more completely, and wait patiently for Him. He uses even the toughest of times to bring about His good for me!

And now nearly seven years later, here I was crossing a street in downtown Tacoma, preparing to start a new job. Once again, I could scarcely believe my eyes. In the middle of the street? So embedded in a patch on the pavement that it couldn’t be removed? Once again Philippians 4:19 filled my thoughts ~ “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Each day as I cross the street, I am reminded once again of God’s faithful provision for not only my financial needs but also for the myriad of other needs that are part of living!

I recently shared this with a friend. She immediately picked up on one of the homophones for “cent.” She reminded me that we as Christians are to be the “scent” ~ the pleasant aroma ~ of Christ to everyone we meet. That took me to another homophone ~ “sent”! God has “sent” us to the world we live in to be ambassadors for Him. As we yield to Him daily, He can work through us in unique ways to “supply” the needs of others from His unlimited riches in Christ Jesus. It won’t be us doing the supplying; we will simply be a conduit through which He can move to show Himself and His love to the people of this world.

Each time you see a penny, let  this “cent” serve as a reminder that you are to be His “scent” to those around you. May you allow yourself to be “sent” many times and in many ways to fulfill His desire for the world to know Him and His great love!

If you have never met the Provider or have never given your life to Him, I encourage you to start on the most amazing journey of your life! Oh, not in order to see His faithful provision, but in order to know the One who knows your name and loves you with a love that will not let go! If you want to know how you can do this, please write. I will be glad to introduce you to Him!

 

PENNIES

This one will make you think…

Several years ago, a friend of mine, and her husband, was invited to spend the weekend at the husband’s employer’s home. My friend, Arlene, was nervous about the weekend. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the water-way, and cars costing more than her house. The first day and evening went well, and Arlene was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live. The husband’s employer was quite generous as a host, and took them to the finest restaurants. Arlene knew she would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so was enjoying herself immensely.

As the three of them were about to enter an exclusive restaurant that evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of Arlene and her husband. He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment. Arlene wondered if she was supposed to pass him. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, and a few cigarette butts. Still silent, the man reached and picked up the penny. He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up?

Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged at her. Finally, she could stand it no longer. She causally mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been of some
value.

A smile crept across the man’s face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see. She had seen many pennies before! What was the point of this?

“Look at it.” He said. “Read what it says.”

She read the words “United States of America.”

“No, not that; read further.”

“One cent?”

“No, keep reading.”

“In God we Trust?”

“Yes!”

“And?”

“And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin, I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him! Who am I to pass it by? When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I do trust in Him.  For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God’s way of starting a conversation with me.  Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!”

When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up, and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, “In God We Trust,” and had to laugh. Yes, God, I get the message.

It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful… And God is patient…

If you know the origin of this story, please leave a comment so I can give proper credit.

¹Philippians 4:19 KJV Public Domain
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Jul 182013
 

While living in Beijing, China and teaching English, I would come home each summer and share through pictures and songs some of my life there. One song I sang, “Grace Alone” by Jeff Nelson & Scott Wesley Brown, was particularly close to my heart. I prepared a PowerPoint presentation of pictures I had taken of China and some of my students and friends there.

In April, I was privileged to sing a song at my American church, Sunset Bible Church in University Place, Washington. I chose the song “Grace Alone” and was accompanied by the worship band. They recorded the song, and I sent the link to my daughter Angela along with my original PowerPoint pictures. She put them together and uploaded the final video on YouTube. If you would like to watch it, you may click on the link below or go to YouTube and type in Janie Downing to find the song.

Nothing we can ever do in this life to benefit those around us can be done outside of God’s grace. He is faithful to help us to fulfill what He asks us to do. If He says go, then go. If He says wait, then wait. If He asks you to step out and take a risk, then step out! After all, Your Travel Companion will be with you at every step!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMJaTgmxbpA

 

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Jan 012013
 

Welcome, Charlie!!! I’d like to introduce my newest grandson. Charlie was born on December 20, 2012 ~ just in time for Christmas!  He joins big sister, Gabby and big brother, Noah, and of course his Mommy & Daddy, Amy & Aaron! I now have 3 grandsons and 1 granddaughter! I am blessed!

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