Friday, March 30, 2012

My Ebenezer Stone

1 Sam 8:12 says, "Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, 'Thus far has the Lord helped us.'"

Well, I decided that I needed to have my own Ebenezer stone. I took a Sharpie and wrote "Thus far the LORD has helped me." I will see this every time I pull out of the driveway. This is my memorial to my new kind of normal.

And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, "In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, "What do these stones mean?" tell them, "Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground...He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so you might always fear the LORD your God." -Joshua 4:20-23a, 24


I have encouraged the older children to write the blessings of the Lord on smaller rocks and place them in a circle around this large stone. I noticed Marcus had written on one, "God is love". Oh, thank you Lord! He is getting it. We will not curse God and die, we will instead choose to believe that our God is good and He is for us.

"Life isn't like a book. Life isn't logical or sensible or orderly. Life is a mess most of the time. And the theology must be lived in the midst of that mess."
-Charles Colson

Life will throw us curve balls. What do we do with them? Has life thrown one at you lately? Here is a powerful quote by Ken Gire...

"When suffering shatters the carefully kept vase that is our lives, God stoops to pick up the pieces. But he doesn't put them back together as a restoration project patterned after our former selves. Instead, he sifts through the rubble and selects some of the shards as raw material for another project-a mosaic that tells the story of redemption."

Powerful and true.

LORD, put us back together again with your redeeming love.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Signs of Hope

The world is brown all around us. It represents the despair, hopelessness and helplessness we have felt for the past two months. It represents a winter season we will never forget.

Yet everyday, God reminds me that "His mercies are new every morning and great is His faithfulness."

As I learn to breathe Him in and breathe Him out, I feel a spiritual awakening that only comes with complete dependency upon Jesus. I am learning that He is "doing a new thing".

The Bible reminds me of these colors. It seems brighter, the words more beautiful that I could have possibly imagined. Even though the pain isn't going away, I can see a  purpose in it. I can see possibilities of how God can use our pain for His glory. It gives me HOPE.

It makes me appreciate these moments. Holding my children tighter. Making sure that I am spending quality time with them, reading, jumping on the trampoline, cooking, talking, and speaking spiritual truths into their lives. I have to be so careful that my pain doesn't find me  wanting to hide out in my room, escaping in a movie or a book. I need to stay engaged and not try to numb the pain that I can't seem to get away from.

 I am struggling with patience with the little things like squabbling and fighting. These things make me so angry when it already feels like my head is barely above the water emotionally. Kids are going to fight, husbands and wives are going to have misunderstandings, life is going to happen all around me and it will not be a respecter of my pain. Sometimes I find myself in a state of extreme self-pity telling myself that I did nothing to deserve this. It doesn't matter. My dad always said, "Whoever said life was fair was lying to you." So true. It isn't fair. It wasn't fair to Jesus, it isn't going to be fair to me. Now what am I going to do about that?

I am going to go on, and look for those "signs of hope". I am entering spring with fervent expectation of what God is going to do. I am counting on the Resurrection Power of Jesus to do amazing things and create in us clean and new hearts.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wait Well, or Wait Poorly?

This is my son, Josh raising his hands, celebrating such a beautiful scenery that his God made. It fits perfectly with this post.
 
How do we get to the morning, to the sunshine, to the joy? There is only one way. By waiting for it. we can't hurry the dawn, no matter how anxiously we pace the floor or how impatiently we watch the clock. and so the question is not do we wait or not wait, because waiting is all we can do. The question is, how will we wait? Will we wait well... or will we wait poorly?
-Ken Gire

I am a woman who wants resolution. The hardest part of my situation is waiting. I can't even form a plan of action. The fact is, it is a new normal. A new season in our life we could have never anticipated. Will we wait well or will we wait poorly?

Everyday, I make that choice. On my good days, I am "trusting the Lord with all my heart and leaning not on my own understanding"- Proverbs 3:5. I am submitted to him, and to his authority in my life. On my bad days, I am doubting, fretting, worried about what our future holds. I am focused on my circumstances and not on my HUGE God that "works all things together for those that love him and are called according to his purpose" -Romans 8:28. On my bad days I question and ask "Why would you allow this to happen to someone who has committed her life to you?" He is not silent. He says, "Because I love you and 'have plans to prosper you and not to harm you'-Jeremiah 29:11, because I want you to BELIEVE me to be a big God, a mighty God who WILL deliver you from your Egypt to the Promised Land." Oh, it isn't audible, it is whispered ever so sweetly into my spirit.

One thing I have learned, God is good all the time, even when it looks like he is allowing harm to befall our tent. He is still good. He is a LOVING Father. A MERCIFUL Savior who has suffered so much more than we have. He will redeem this situation and he WILL get the Glory.

Oh, Jesus, Jesus, there is just something about that name...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Find You On My Knees

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGumE9nkP3o This is the link to Kari singing it. It is a beautiful song that I can't get out of my head.



Find You On My Knees by Kari Jobe

Troubles chasing me again,

Breaking down my best defense,

I'm looking, God, I'm looking for You.

Weary just won't let me rest,

And fear is filling up my head.

I'm longing, God, I'm longing for You

But I will,

Chorus:

Find You in the place I'm in


Find You when I'm at my end


Find You when there's


nothing left of me to offer You


except for brokenness

You lift me up, You never leave me thirsty


When I am weak, when I am lost and searching

I find You on my knees

Verse 2
So what if sorrow shakes my faith

What if heartache still remains

I'll trust You, My God, I'll trust You

'Cause You are faithful, And I will

Chorus:

Find You in the place I'm in


Find You when I'm at my end


Find You when there's nothing left of me to offer You


except for brokenness

You lift me up, You never leave me thirsty


When I am weak, when I am lost and searching

I find You on my knees (my knees)

Bridge:

When my hope is gone

When the fear is strong

When the pain is real

When it's hard to heal

When my faith is shaken

And my heart is broken

And my joy is stolen

God, I know that You lift me up,

You never leave me searching




I continue to press in. He is the Potter, I am the Clay. I will submit myself to my Maker, the same God who created the heavens and the earth. It hurts being shaped and molded, but if I continue to stay on that wheel as long as he asks me too, I will one day be a beautiful new vessel that He can use with great effectiveness.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Believe


"It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must patiently, believingly continue in prayer, until we obtain an answer; and further, we have not only to continue in prayer unto the end, but we have also to believe that God does hear us and will answer our prayers. Most frequently we fail in not continuing in prayer until the blessing is obtained, and in not expecting the blessing." -George Muller

I want to believe that God is working all this out. I choose to believe it even when I cannot see it. I know that there is victory at the end of this long, dark valley.

"The greater the trial, the sweeter the victory"- George Muller

Let our victory be sweet, Lord, as you refine the fake right out of us.
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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fighting Discouragement-Listening to the Right Voice


I am going back and reading and reposting some of these devotions I wrote before I went through the most painful trial so far that I've experienced in my life. I am astounded at the prayers that I have prayed and how God has answered them in His way, not my own. I wrote this last year. Looking back now, these trials were tiny compared to what we are going through now. But God was preparing me and teaching me through them. Thank you, God!
*********************************************
Dear Mothers,

These past few months the enemy has tried discouraging me in my mothering. He has attacked me on so many different levels. I've been thoroughly pressed down, but I have to say, I have not been destroyed.

As trial after trial has come, I have found myself on my knees more and more. As my confidence in being a “good” parent has been shaken to the core, I have asked God to restore me from the ground up. I have been humbled to say the least.

I came across a very comforting passage in a book called, Good and Angry by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller.

“As parents, we mainly discipline in response to behavior, not in response to the heart. We all wish our children would want to choose righteousness, delight in humility, and embrace a life of grace, but they don’t. We may pray with and for our kids, have fun family devotion times, and take them to church, but still be met with a bad attitude when we ask for the least bit of cooperation…


The way you discipline and the routines you develop in family life till the soil for a deeper work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Your day-to-day parenting can build a framework of character within children so that someday the Spirit of God will breathe life into that framework and create a responsive heart on the deeper level.”

Oh, let me say that again! “Someday the Spirit of God will breathe life into that framework and create a responsive heart on the deeper level.” You cannot fathom the hope that God gave me after reading that. I cannot breath the spiritual life into my children, that is God’s job. In His own time, my children will have responsive hearts to all I have taught them. I may not see it in the day to day. I see glimpses. I see bits and pieces of unselfishness and watch and pray for them as they fight their sin nature. I see them forgive a friend that has hurt them. I see them thinking about how Jesus would respond to a situation. I see them learning obedience. If they learn to obey me, then they will hopefully learn to obey their Heavenly Father.

The enemy likes to attack us with general terms. Things like, “You are a failure as a mother” or “No matter how much you teach them the Word of God they will rebel.” But I have learned that if we need to change, the Holy Spirit does not bring a spirit of condemnation. He convicts us of specific things and He does it lovingly. If we are not careful as mothers, we end up listening to the wrong voice, which in turn gives us a spirit of defeat. If we listen to the right voice, the voice of the Holy Spirit, we listen to a gentle voice who prompts us to do right and gives us hope.

Whose voice are you listening to? When trials come and you start to despair, remember that if you are in Christ Jesus, there is always hope. Get on your knees and ask what you can change and then do it, no matter how hard it is. Embrace the sacrifice of it. It will only bring you closer to your goal. My goal is to raise godly children for the Lord and warriors for His Kingdom. Imagine the child testing you to your absolute limit as being an effective member of the Church! And you, as a mother, had a part in that. Glory to God!

Fight discouragement! The only thing the enemy should be able to do is to drive you to your knees. And that my friends, is the safest place to be.

From One Mom to Another,

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Parable of the Popcorn-Reposted


I wrote this devotion last year. Little did I know I would be tested in this way. I continue to trust Him, even when what He is doing seems to make no sense.
********************************************************
Dear Mothers,


A few days ago, I had to take my 23 month-old to the emergency room. She had shoved a popcorn kernel way up into her nostril and there was no way I was going to be able to get it out.

After watching her go through the trauma of having it removed, I felt God giving me a word picture about her ordeal.

In order to get Lily to stop fighting the, they wrapped her arms and upper body tightly in a sheet. As she was bound and helpless, she was looking into my eyes, wanting me to free her. It broke my heart to not be able to do anything but stroke her feet and pray for her. I was just hoping my presence would be enough. Through tears I repeated over and over that I loved her and that it would be O.K, but knowing that I couldn’t remove the pain of the process in which the kernel had to come out.

Later I thought about when I am in my own trials. The trial is like a sheet wrapped so tightly around me, I sometimes feel like I can’t even breathe. In my own short-sightedness, I look to my Heavenly Father with pleading eyes saying, “God make this stop! I’m scared. It hurts. Will it end soon?” Sometimes I am hurt and confused when He doesn’t take away the pain right away. I usually do not even realize it at the time that He is allowing something or someone to be “plucked” out of my life, which might be hindering my relationship with God. This foreign object could be as simple as unforgiveness and as complicated as pride.

I think we sometimes envision God sort of sitting idly in the” waiting room” of Heaven instead knowing His Holy Presence with me, stroking my brow and saying, “It will be over soon. Trust me, I will use this, my child.” He loves us so much. It must cost the perfect Father dearly to see His children suffer so.

Has God allowed a trial in your life that has left you questioning His goodness? His sovereignty? His mercy?

Sometimes we are being disciplined through our trials and other times we are being cut back and pruned so that we can bear even greater fruit. Whichever it might be, they both can be extremely painful.

I do know that when you seek Him with all of your heart, you will find Him. He hasn’t left. He is there touching you, and soothing you. The Spirit is praying for you with “groanings that words cannot express.”

“Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.”

His Presence is with Us!

From One Mom to Another,


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Praise You in This Storm

(A storm brewing behind this grave marker at a pioneer cemetery we visited)

I woke up and saw the news of the devastating storms that hit parts of the US today. My little Jacob said, "We need to pray for them." Oh yes, we do.

Looking at those photos, I could see such a parallel of the destruction in my own life. We have had a loss. Nothing will ever be the same again. We have a new normal.

"I Will Praise You in This Storm"  from Casting Crowns started playing and I was struck almost dumbfounded. Satan wants us "to curse God and die". I refuse. He has pushed me closer to the One who created me, loves me and wants His best for me and my family.

I choose to praise Him in this storm. It is a sacrifice of praise because it hurts. But feelings don't matter at this point. The promises of God do.

"Greater is He in that is in you, than he that is in the world."

Here is a link to this song.  As you listen, raise your hands with me, cry out for our family. We need you to stand with us and praise Him in the storm.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHdcyue0bSw

Living one hour at a time,

Stacie
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