I KNOW! It’s been a while! Four years actually! I’m still on Planet Earth! Are you?
What derailed me? I’ll blame a move in 2016 followed by hubby David’s move to Heaven in 2018.
This photo is David and Judy holding fifty balloons commemorating our golden wedding anniversary (that he missed by two months). The truth is I wailed on June 8, 2018. The day of his memorial service. The same day as our long-awaited golden. “Lord, fifty years ago my groom was waiting for me at the altar. And he’s gone!” God’s instant response parked hope alongside my grief: “Judy, your groom is waiting for you at the throne of the King of Kings!”
During David’s illness the Lord told Author Judy to take good notes for an upcoming book: How Our Family Survived the Valley of the Shadow of Death: The Shepherd Showed Up! I’ve taken copious notes and have written twelve out of the twenty-five chapters. Also, in the works: His Majesty in Brokenness has been recorded by Antoinette Gaines, a professional narrator, and we’re currently awaiting the green light to make it available to Audible’s listening audience.
And yes, the Good Shepherd continues to show up in my new life as a widow. Needless to say my learning curve has been steep, regarding finances, property maintenance, grief recovery. Living again! For This I Have Jesus! has become my hourly theme song. I’ve, also, been singing the song as the Corona-virus pandemic has snarfed out life as we knew it. I expect you’ll agree – 2020 has been a bear of a year! And yet let us not forget: FOR THIS WE HAVE JESUS!!!
Hold fast to the Shepherd of Psalm 23. He’s got a strong grip on each one of us. And He won’t let go!
Here I sit, afraid to open my eyes and behold my treasures in bins on shelves in three different storage units. Imagine all the calories David burned creating this organizational wonder, then lugging every box and bin to its temporary home.
This next photo donned the cover of our 2015 Christmas card.
Here we sit savoring our park-like front yard in Grants Pass, Oregon.
Could it be we will bid Sheep’s Rest farewell in 2016?
Will we move to the house next door to daughter Elizabeth and her hubby and our four grands in Central Point, Oregon?
God knows, but David and Judy gaze out onto the vast unknown asking
“Lord, what do You have planned?”
Will our beloved house sell?
And will we begin a new real estate chapter
next door to four grands and their twenty eight chickens?
We know not what the future holds –
Busily we work toward the relocation goal –
staging our home, then putting it on the market.
And as we work and as we wonder, we are assured of a good outcome because
We know Who holds the future.
God’s got it all figured out. He has scheduled each day of our lives.
Plus He’s the supplier of the energy needed to reach the goal ahead of us.
And the topper: He already has the new house in escrow with the contingency
that we sell our present home.
As we work, as we wonder, as we await His outcome, we’re clinging to Jeremiah 29:11.
May this promise steady any quaking knees – yours as well as ours, as we venture into
God’s gift of another year.
“I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord,
“plans to prosper you, not to harm you – with a future
and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
Are you racing like I am?
(If not, tell me your secret, please.)
I invite you to stop everything! Apply the brakes for a moment.
A favorite poem of Elisabeth Elliot’s stopped me in my tracks last week. It’s like I could hear her speaking to me from the hallowed grandstands of GLORY. (In case you didn’t know, Elisabeth passed through her own Gates of Splendor on June 15, 2015.)
Decades ago she handed me a copy of the poem Do the Next Thing. It helped me understand how she remained so calm with her life’s busy demands as a writer and a speaker (along with being a mother, a grandmother to eight, a wife, a radio teacher). As the poem calmed dear Elisabeth, I pray it brings shalom to our frenzied pre-Christmas lives – yours and mine!
‘What to do NEXT?’ we all ask, as a dozen urgent and kind deeds vie for center stage. Elisabeth’s answer is Do the Next Thing.
Do The Next Thing
From an old English parsonage,
Down by the sea,
There came in the twilight,
A message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend,
Hath, as it seems to me,
Teaching from Heaven.
And on through the hours
The quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration-
DO THE NEXT THING
Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment,
Let down from Heaven,
Guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows,
Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus,
DO THE NEXT THING
Do it immediately;
Do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence,
Tracing His Hand,
Who placed it before thee with
Stayed on Omnipotence,
Safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all resultings,
DO THE NEXT THING
Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
(Working or suffering)
Be thy demeanor,
In His dear presence,
The rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance
Be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness,
Praise and sing,
Then, as He beckons thee,
DO THE NEXT THING
It all began with this prayer journal entry two months ago:
“Lord, would You please add some new venues to my speaking calendar for 2015?”
The Good Lord answered my prayer through my longtime friend, Jannai, who at the onset told me her gifting was to promote speakers. She began by promoting me to her pastor at Yosemite Lakes Community Church in Coarsegold, California. He said, “Let’s have Judy do two Sunday morning services sometime this summer.” That’s how my July 12th speech in Central California landed on the calendar.
A week later, I had this note from Jannai: “Judy, I’m going to promote your visit in the area and see if we can arrange more speaking engagements.”
Full speed ahead, Jannai began contacting friends and organizations within an hour drive from her home in Ahwahnee. Here’s the result of this promoter extraordinaire’s hard work.
Needless to say each venue required writing a speech to fit its unique audience. Here’s the plan:
To God be the GLORY is my prayer! And I welcome your prayers as I take on five blessed speaking opportunities packed into the upcoming weekend. Obviously God and Jannai are confident this seventy year old is not a candidate for Couch-Potato-hood YET!
My eyes follow the busy chatter of hungry finches and sparrows breakfasting at their suspended bird feeder outside our condo in Mountain View, CA.
I love bird watching. I savor their sweet bliss… until I discover a feathery black bundle plopped on the ground in the bird seed below. A legless blackbird – unable to stand, a crawler amidst the agility of the others around him.
“Poor crippled bird,” my sad heart whispers. Suddenly his plight is mine, as I remember my childhood years. Legless Judy – a crawler, low to the ground, envious of the agility of others.
His very presence interrupts my sad remembrance as I hear him shout, “We’re survivors!” Slow-to-believe am I until suddenly his strong wings lift him amidst his feathered friends from the ground to the sky.
He can fly!
We, too can fly, dear ones.
Let’s use our God-given wings today and rise above whatever is causing us to grovel.
Recently the Squier’s and our friends the Evans drove to Lake Tahoe to volunteer at a Joni and Friends Marriage Getaway. Enroute a deer leaped over the guardrail catching our left headlight, bumper. In shock we watched the dead deer’s body spin circles across the wet highway.
Yes, a trip to the auto body shop would be necessary, but thankfully our car was drive able. Not only drive able, but thank You, Lord, the air bags did not deploy and the damage was to the bumper, not the windshield.
We praised God for His protection, at the same time we grieved the dead Bambi. We concluded had we intercepted a second earlier our drive to Tahoe would have come to a screaming halt.
We God’s grace in life’s good and yes, in life’s bad experiences. And His grace goes as far as to bring a smile to our unsettled memories.
Back at home safe in Oregon, we awoke the first morning to a special gift from our Heavenly Father – an alive deer – a spittin’ image of the dead one on the roadside – grazing peacefully on our lush front lawn.
“Behold, I make all things new,” promises the Lord God in the book of Revelation.
And there’s more: He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
2015 fleeteth … I can’t believe we’re in the merry month of May! Mom was right: “Time moves faster the older you get.” My birthday came and went with 70 balloons now a sweet memory and two gold shoe birthday cakes long gone!
It’s time to celebrate the safe arrival of Grandbaby #5 – Quinn Elizabeth Belikoff born on April 22. She’s a beauty from head to toe and of course this Granny Goose loves her feet more than anything.
Imagine my surprise when during the first week of her life our son-in-law Beau called and said, “Goose, Quinn Elizabeth has your legs.”
“She has my legs, what do you mean?” While my mind tripped over his words, my stumps grabbed for a pair of dancing shoes.
Looking at Quinn’s legs, my soul smiles at God’s kept promise from Joel 2:25 – I, the Lord, will restore the years the locust has eaten…
It’s been seven decades since I arrived without thighs or knees and with five toes missing in action; now seventy years later the Belikoff family declares that their daughter Quinn bears my legs. For me their declaration means God did what He promised. He squelched the locusts of exclusion, hurtful stares, missing out, the decade of not having children because my birth defect might be genetic, the years of performing the legs-job- motherhood-tasks – without legs. All the above and more He not only squelched, but redeemed – using my disability for His good purpose and for my good as well. The bottom line: He made the pain and shame of my missing pieces worth it and more. Two generations later Elohim, Creator God, has brought my incomplete legs to completion. Yes, my soul smiles at what is humanly intangible, but made tangible by God.
As you celebrate with me I want to celebrate with you. Let’s begin with the question: What have the locusts eaten in your life? Your dreams? Your plans or hopes for yourself or someone you love? Your health? Your youth? Your retirement funds? Life as you’ve known it?
In this very pit of heart ache is where God wants to meet you. He is there. You are not alone. Are you ready to release your tight grip, and receive His promise: ‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ – Jeremiah 29:11 NASB
His plans include a life hidden in Him, daily feasting on His words in the Bible and fellowshipping with others who long to know Him and to be known by Him.
Little by little you will see His footprints and surprises in the last place you would expect. So grab your I-never-thought-I’d-wear-you-dancing-shoes and let Jesus whirl you around on the dance floor of your life. Lean in close to hear Him whisper, “I’m wild about you.”
As you lean into Him, receive His hug with the words of one of my favorite songs:
Lyrics: The Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)
Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live
Now your burden’s lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain
So sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live
And like a new born baby
Don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk sometimes we fall
So fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live
Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain
Then cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live
Ohh, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can’t contain your joy inside
Then dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live
And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on glory’s side
And fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live
Decade birthdays are not for the faint of heart. Just the thought of my 60th birthday a decade ago paralyzed me. I told my three daughters to expect to find me comatosed that birthday morning. Daughter Elizabeth arranged a limo (not a hearse) to transport me (not to the cemetery), but to a surprise gathering of many friends at Lisa’s Tea Treasures near our home in the San Francisco Bay Area.
One of the friends at the party, Mary Schaller, gave me a customized birthday gift of 60 footprints, inscribed with “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things.” (Romans 10:15) Her gift jolted me out of my self-centeredness to the realization that God had grown me spiritual feet which she said “would run others right into His presence.” And didn’t El Elyon, the Most High God choose 36 inch short Judy to carry His Good News to the disabled in Romania, and ultimately to Thailand and Brazil and throughout the USA? Proof that footless folks can have beautiful feet.
Now I’m carrying Mary’s foot idea into my seventh decade. Upon request, hubby David made me 70 copies of our grandson Finn’s footprint. One for each of the seventy people who have left their footprints on my heart. Each foot represents a family member or friend, who has helped me, heard me, held me, held me accountable and heralded me on. To each and every one I am eternally grateful that you allowed God to use you to mold me into who I am today.
What about You?
Now I must ask: How about making a list of your own containing those who have left footprints on your heart? Not one of us makes it through this life solo, do we? Adam had his Eve, Moses had his Aaron and Hur, Ruth had her Naomi, Jonah had his whale, Job had his 3 friends (with friends like that who needs enemies?) and Jesus had his disciples.
Instantly certain prize people will come to mind. I listed them chronologically. But what about those we’d nominate for the booby prize. Booby-prizers did not make it to my poster, though God uses each experience and each person to mold us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. No thing and no one is wasted in God’s economy.
Just so you know Footprint Number 1 for me is Elohim – the Creator God Who met me in utero and over the past seventy years has proven my birth defect was no fetal fluke, but holy design. And Footprint Number 70 is Yeshua – the Hebrew name for the English name JESUS. Yeshua has companioned with me in the pit of those early wilderness years. He’s walked with me, carried me when necessary – my Forever Escort from the womb to the tomb.
“How do you pronounce the name Yeshua?” I asked a Jewish Christian friend recently.
“YeShoea,” she answered with the emphasis on the middle syllable.
“YeSHOEa. Shoe? Shoe!” I was overjoyed to discover the correct pronunciation of Yeshua tied in so perfectly with my story. I met Him, thanks to my orthopedic shoe. And His redeeming love (Go’el the Redeemer) turned the shame and pain of my birth defect gold. My gold shoe is proof of that.
As we see the Lord’s footprints throughout our story, He becomes the love of our life. I love Him and I also love feet and shoes. I love shoes of every kind and my shoe collection keeps growing. High up on the top shelf of my closet (since I can’t wear them) are a pair of pearl- bedecked high heels from a friend in Texas, pink cowgirl boots from a little girl in Michigan, a bronze penny-loafer from a shoe-lover in Nebraska and a pair of rooster slippers, that I couldn’t resist at Goodwill. My life is filled with an ever-growing number of shoes as people see God in my gold shoe story.
My most recent shoe was a gift from 90 year young Alice who attended my Living in the Names of God Retreat. She accompanied this prize Rogue River rock with a piece of paper containing these wise words:
This year I’ve added The Master’s shoe to my collection. But please excuse me. I have to go now and blow out my 70 candles before they burn the house down. And the cake? A carrot cake with cream cheese frosting in the shape of my gold shoe.
Have you seen Him yet today?
I love seeing God in everyday places.
Just last week I saw Elohim (Creator God) as I enjoyed His magnificent Pacific
Ocean outside our beach house vacation spot; Upon returning home,
I thanked Jehovah Jireh (The Lord will Provide) for His umbrella of grace that
protected a cardboard box of my books left out in the rain by the mail carrier;
And daily I rely on of El Shaddai Who replaces my Never Enough (energy, patience, creativity) with His More than Enough.
For the past 25 years I have lived my life in the names of God.
Living in the names of God. What does that mean?
I’ve written two books about it,
however, my five-year-old granddaughter Brianna answered the question
in three short sentences recently.
“Mom, where is God?” popped out of her mouth one morning
as our daughter Elizabeth was driving her to school.”
“In Heaven,” her mom answered.
“No, mom, He’s sitting in the front seat next to you.”
“Good Morning, God, how are You?” her mom replied.
“Mom, He says He loves you,” was Brianna’s inspired response.
As Christmas 2014 draws near and the New Year 2015 rounds the corner,
I want to help others experience His presence.
Therefore, I am making available my Living in the Names of God books
as a gift option for family members and friends on your Christmas list.
The books contain God stories and Bible study lessons designed:
To help the reader fathom the reality that
God is in the front seat next to them,
He loves them and is even their Personal Cheerleader.
Case in point:
I learned of Sherry’s story just yesterday through a mutual friend, Darlene, who told me of Sherry’s recent ordeal with severely swollen and pain-ridden hands. Weeks of testing resulted in a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.
Come to find out Sherry is a lover of teddy bears, frequently giving them to hospice patients that she visits. So no one was surprised when she bought herself a teddy bear to accompany her to her many medical appointments. She named her companion bear RA for rheumatoid arthritis.
When friend Darlene heard the RA teddy bear story, she was excited to tell Sherry about my JEHOVAH RAAH chapter in my Living in the Names of God book. “Jehovah RAAH, RAAH, RAAH is the Shepherd God who cheers on His little lambs, when we hurt or are afraid,” Darlene explained to Sherry.
Immediately Sherry switched the teddy bear’s name from RA to RAAH, as she recognized the presence of her Shepherd Cheerleader in her arthritis journey. Cognizant of His presence, Sherry was able to replace the RA (rheumatoid arthritis) with RAAH, the cheers of her ever-present God, Who wrapped her in His Promise: Fear not, Little Lamb, I’m here with you and everything’s going to be alright.
Sherry’s spirit is calmed as she connects the dots, Shhh…It’s Him.
And that’s my prayer for you, for your family, for your friends – that you all will catch yourself saying “Shhhh….It’s Him” as you recognize His comforting and empowering presence in the days ahead.
Christmas Special Gift Set
I am offering my two books – Living in the Names of God
and its companion Living in the Names of God Bible Study for $20 per set.
That includes FREE gift wrapping. I look forward to personalizing them
with the name of the recipient and with your name as the gift giver.
You may place your order and make your payment as follows:
An Evening with Joni Eareckson Tada, Kara Ferris, and Shirley!!!!
Definitely in the Top Ten of my life experiences!!
I LOVED heart to heart conversation with a humble servant of the King –
and two hours of sharing war stories and WOW stories…
It felt afterwards like I’d just been to the prom…
JUDY SQUIER has authored His Majesty in Brokenness, Living in the Names of God and the Living in the Names Bible Study. Husband David and she have three adult daughters, three sons-in-law and seven grandchildren. Never did Mr. and Mrs. Squier dream that their long-awaited golden wedding anniversary would coincide with David’s memorial service. Judy resides in southern Oregon, alone, yet not alone. Thanks to the Good Shepherd!