"Blessed is she, who has believed, that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." Luke 1:45

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Be not quiet

Psalm 83:1
O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still.

I know exactly what this means. I know how it feels to beg God to not be silent. I know what it feels like to be desperate to feel God move.

And during that time of silence and stillness, what I learned was this:

It is easy to have faith in God's plan when you feel his confirmation and control. It is possible to step onto unknown paths when God has reassured you that he has gone before you. Facing the opposition is worth it when you feel God strengthening you.

It is not so easy when God chooses to grow your faith by being quiet. I learned that it is a sneaky desperation that comes when you can't get your prayers to go past the ceiling. Day after day. Fear after fear. It is almost as if you could say "amen" and then just reach out and pluck your prayer from the air in front of you because it didn't go anywhere.

In our normal, everyday world we like to look at a struggle or situation and congratulate ourselves for having all that faith that pulled us through, but sometimes I think we mistake assurance for faith.

I now know I have.

We believe that faith is feeling God move and following, or is it hearing God's voice and obeying. But that is not the case. In those cases we have been assured of God's presence in some way.

Faith is NOT feeling God move, but trusting Him to go before you anyway.

Faith is NOT hearing God's voice, but trusting Him to be who he says he is anyway.

Faith is praying even when you feel like God is busy somewhere else, but praying with the FAITH that he is the God who hears.

In the silence it makes no sense.

"Why must you be silent?" we tend to cry.

"Don't you care that I am scared?" we half accuse.

It is easy to think, in the middle of the silence, that God has abandoned us, even when we know better.

And we do know better.

But we let fear and doubt take hold.

We feel as if God has forsaken us.

for·sake: To give up, renounce; to leave altogether; abandon

Now, we know how God feels about that. When we start to feel forsaken it is because we are still trying to live on assurances, not faith.

Psalm 9:10
Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

So, if you are struggling with the silence of God, see it as the growing of your faith. No assurances. No confirmation. Just you trusting God to be who he says he is.

Is it easy? NO! Is is quick? Not nearly quick enough Is it worth it? YES!

From cover to cover, God reveals himself in scripture. Hold on to it like you never have before, pray those prayers that seem to hover in mid-air, and know that God is growing your faith in him.

Even when he won't tell you so.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

An intimate encounter with Jesus

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live." So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.


At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" "You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?' " But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."
Mark 5:21-34


The account of Jesus' interaction with the woman with the issue of blood shows so much about His heart for people. It has always been my favorite and I love to talk about why; this accounting showed me the depth of his understanding and generosity.

The woman has struggled for years. by necessity of her condition, she lived without physical contact. She was "unclean".

She was tired.

So tired.

Simple activities that helped her to live, like getting water from the well, cleaning and preparing food, and taking care of her living space, would be so overwhelming physically that it could take her hours to complete even one of these activities.

No matter how often she might have bathed, she probably never felt truly clean and refreshed.

She probably had little to call her own. All she had was spent in pursuit of a cure. There is no account of anyone providing for her on a regular basis. She probably gave up her pride to the need to eat many years before this time, begging and scrapping for what she could find.

She didn't live in town, so she probably had either no companionship, or if she was lucky, she had the company of others like herself. Rejected, ignored, despised and disparaging.

How can you have hope in a culture such as that?

But somehow, hope came.

Hope came on the lips of someone passing by. Or of a leper healed. Or of travelers chatting on the road as they passed her. That he had powers that couldn't be explained. They say he could heal anyone. They said he was going to pass her way. close enough that even her meager amount of strength could carry her to him.

I can just see her. Stretching and straining to see down the road. Is he coming? Is he near?

Suddenly she sees the crowd, hears the voices and the noise. Can't you feel her heart beat fast? The shaking in her legs comes not from weakness, but from anticipation and that illusive and fleeting feeling that she thought she had lost: hope.

Jesus had a purpose that day. Everyone thought he was on his way to heal a young girl, but he knew he had another appointment along the way, and he knew that he wanted to meet her more than half-way. He knew he had more strength than she and was willing to use that strength to get this woman to his side. Yes, Jesus knew he would be furthering his father's kingdom and glorifying God with what was to come, but I feel absolutely positive that he couldn't wait to meet this woman, to share his strength, and to share his love. But as is usually the case, he was ready to give even more.

Do you think the woman was thinking of anything but getting to Jesus that day? I don't. I think she finally decided that she didn't care who or what she was, where she came from and what her struggles were, or what limitations society tried to place on her; she just knew she had to get to Jesus.

I can just see it. Suddenly, noticeable to only Jesus and the woman, his stepped slowed just enough, at just the right moment.

"THERE! His robe! I can reach his robe!", she thought.

"Ahhh, her faith is enough. One more step should make it easy for her to reach me", he thought.

Contact made!

It says that Jesus felt the healing go out of him. He asked the crowd who touched him. Of course he knew. He knew that the woman had received the healing she sought. He knew that his power had healed her and that she would live a life free from the physical suffering she has endured for 12 long years.

But that wasn't enough healing for him. He wanted more for her. More than she knew to want for herself. He was looking beyond the physical to the emotional. The social. The spiritual.

He asked who touched him, because he knew she would answer. He knew when she admitted that she was the one, when she stepped out in front of the crowd, that he would be able to heal her place in society as well. No longer would she be cast aside, walked past or declared "unclean". Jesus took the opportunity to vindicate her in front of a huge crowd. people would know that she was healed.

He saw beyond what she desired to what would help her to grow, to prosper. And all to glorify God.

That is the Jesus I met in this encounter. One who desires more and gives abundantly above what we we need and want. Even more than what we know to ask for.

He is generous beyond imagining, compassionate above what we could comprehend, his timing is perfect and his healing is complete.

The most important trait that we can learn to develop, like the woman with the bleeding disorder, is stubborn faith. Though she knew it would cost her, that she would suffer and that she would have to struggle to get to Jesus, it was worth it.

Her faith carried her to him.

His love and compassion healed her and lifted her beyond her own desires.

I pray that you would experience this kind of faith, love and compassion in your life, your situation, today.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Casting Crowns Double Play

The songs I picked for this week is Casting Crowns' "Somewhere in the Middle" and "The Altar and the Door". So much of these songs could have been plucked out of my head and heart over the last couple of months. They are all about giving it up and giving over to God, of losing pride, of taking that first step into the unknown, of truly laying it down at the altar and not dragging it back with you, of knowing that the real world is scary and will test and try you to the end of your rope, but most importantly, the very human and painful struggle of accepting who God is and laying it all down and following on faith.

All relationships are a journey and the relationship that means the most will, by necessity, be the hardest, with the most battles and the most struggle. Jesus will always be who he is, our struggle is to become who God made us to be.





Friday, July 24, 2009

The Joy of Marriage

One of the girls I work with told me about this.

If I had been able to snag a man that dances, I would have done this! (If I had been able to think it up...this is so original!)Although, after watching this, I think EVERYONE would want to do it. It IS supposed to be the happiest day of your life, right?

Oh, and kudos to the amazing friends/family that agreed to it!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Update on the room makeover

Ok, so I didn't get the "before" pictures of Kevin's room before Bob had gutted it and started some work on the walls. We will not be able to do a late night work session tonight because A: I was up most of the night with the toddler cutting two molars so I am exhausted and 2: we are scheduled for a power outage between the hours of 11pm and 4am. I will get some pictures tomorrow before we get any of the major work going.

We did get the bedding and bath linens today, as well as a mirror with the exact blue of the bedding for the trim. I was so excited!

I might miss him a little bit. Ya, just a little.

Day of departure...

Is it totally awful that I am not really sad that my kiddo is heading out for a week at camp? I am actually looking forward to a half-rest week (only half because we DO still have that other little punkin runnin' around).

Stay tuned for the soon-to-follow post about me missing my baby and how I can't stand him being gone. (but it won't be coming today! :)

My secret desire revealed

If I could play any instrument, it would be the cello. I absolutely love it's sound. I love the way it can sound joyful or so sorrowful it will bring tears to your eyes.

Closely following that is the piano. both are beautiful and I love the sound they have when they blend together.

I have had times in my life when I have regretted not learning to play an instrument. I love music more than anything and just know that heaven will be a place where I am a master at every form of musical praise God can imagine. I can't wait!

My secret desire is to learn to play one or the other. Cello would of course be my first choice.

Maybe someday.Until then...

I found this video over at Dustbunnies and Divas and it made my heart so very happy. I told her I was totally stealing it so I could bring it to you, but I am linking you up with her here so that you can get to meet a new bloggy friend as well!


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summer Camp!

Well, tomorrow morning at 7:15 we will load our kiddo up to leave us for his first year at camp. It is 6 hours away and I am a little nervous about him going so far away, but I am being a good mom and not freaking out (too much!)



He is all packed, his lunch is ready, I am baking cookies for them to have the first night at camp, and I am going to pray for God to just blow Kevin away this week! He will be super busy with learning new things, great music, Bible knowledge and just plain 'ol kid fun. I am so excited for him!



While the cat's away, the cat's parents will play. We will be undergoing a week-long surprise makeover of his room. He will have a skater themed room upon his return, complete with a chain-link wall and some authentic road signs and even a working stop light. He will have a "gaming " area, as well as new bedding, paint and miscellaneous. We found some Tony Hawk bedding at Wal-Mart that sparked the idea. (He LOVES Tony Hawk)



If I can get my stuff together and be somewhat organized, I will take pictures to post here later. :)

Relief

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7

Everyone needs a Total Money Makeover! I am so in love with this concept! If you have never met Dave Ramsey, you must click this link NOW! (and if you need to re-visit some concepts, or get that re-energizing kick in the pants, click that link!)

I am so excited! We have gotten rid of our last credit card!

WOO HOO! YAY!!! Oh, ya, do tha boogie, do tha boogie, do tha boogie! Wah wah wah Baby!

We started with eight three years ago, as well as a loan with high interest that we took out to pay off the cards the first time, and then we maxed them all back out and still had the loan. We also had a car loan and medical bills. We are down to 9 months on the car loan, 2 years on a low interest loan and our mortgage (which is an ARM so the interest just went down but we kept the payments the same as the previous payment to get rid of more principal). Once the car loan is gone, we will double up on the 2 year loan, then start whacking away at the rest of the mortgage.

It is soooo true that you become a slave to money. All you see is the money you don't have but need. Debt is a nightmare that Satan has convinced us is necessary reality. The stress and the desperation that come from all those phone calls and bills in the mail floods over into family and friends.

We have been slaves to lenders our entire marriage. I am not even sure what it will feel like when we finally get rid of the rest of our debt. All I can tell you is that the relief we are experiencing NOW is soooo amazing!

Has it been a fun three years? Uhhh...no. No vacations. No extras. No splurges. We cut waaay back on eating out. We turn down most invites to go out with our friends because they want to spend money that we want to put on debt. We even cut down on video rentals and "fun foods" like unnecessary snacks.

Did we do all of the steps right? No. We still haven't built our safety net in our savings account and we just in the recent past started tithing correctly again. But we are on the way to getting where we need to be, and we know it is because God is working. Not in our finances. In us.

We learned that our bad finances are a result of our pride (not asking for help, not wanting others to know we were struggling so continuing to purchase and go further into debt), ignorance (we went upside down on our car loan and have spent the last 6 1/2 years paying twice what the car is worth), irresponsibility (spending on new things when we still were in debt on the old things, buying what wasn't necessary, not planning and being committed to following a budget and payment schedule, constantly paying bills after the due date) and lack of faith.

I know that I struggled (and sometimes still do) with the fact that God will provide what I need, and he is the best one to determine what I need. I still tend to think I know best, and instead of allowing God to be God in my life, I give him a time limit to meet what I think are my needs, then I just go ahead and take care of them myself.

Can I tell you how those times turned out? Ya, not pretty.

If you are a slave to money (and if you have ANY debt, you are a slave) please please please check out Dave Ramsey.

You really DON'T need a credit card. A visa or MasterCard debit card work just like them, but you can't go into debt, because if you don't have the money then you can't use the card. It really is that simple.

Oh, and just a little lesson we have learned the hard way and want to pass along to anyone that will listen...DO NOT GET OVERDRAFT PROTECTION ON YOUR CHECKING ACCOUNT!! It seems like a good idea, but you will eventually either use it like a short term loan and get socked with fees and penalties, or you will get stuck in the cycle of going into debt on overdraft, losing half your paycheck to cover all the fees and penalties and then having to go back into the overdraft protection to pay the bills. It is a vicious cycle and you need to never get caught there. We were getting dinged for about $600 a month before we could get out of it. I swear our life goal (money wise) is to never have overdraft protection again. It is to be wise with our money instead.

For all of you that hate money, reading about it, thinking about it, hearing about it from others, I apologize. I just had to do some written praise work on this because God has been soooooo good to grow us, help us and continue to show us the way to be delivered from all our mistakes regarding our finances. Sure, a huge check in the mail would have been quicker (and more fun) but I know we would have gone right back into debt. We had to learn this lesson the super hard, super long, super sure way by working it out and growing up. Maybe if we had done the growing up part sooner, God might have helped us a little bit faster. Just goes to show that, once again, his timing, unlike ours, is perfect.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Jesus Calling

There is so much truth to be found in these lyrics. Sometimes we can't hear the voice of Jesus over the storm in our life, but that doesn't mean he isn't there, isn't comforting us. We just have to be still and look and listen.

Have a great weekend.



Click on the link to TSMS Saturday in my side column to find more great songs.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thursday 3some ~ Walk This Way


A three word phrase, divided into thirds, then expounded upon.

This week's phrase:




WALK:


How funny.


I was just rocking Abby back to sleep and thinking of all the little things that I don't want to ever forget, but know I will.


The sound of the wood on the rocker creaking as I listen to her even breathing, telling me that it's safe to put her to bed, even though I know I won't. At least for another precious minute.


The way her face lights up when I walk in after being gone, even if it is just for an hour.


The sound of "mommy!" from her sweet little voice, even after the 400th time that day, it still makes me feel so humble.


The way it sounds when her little feet are walking.


She loves shoes, but she really, really loves shoes that make noise when she walks. She will stomp her feet, jump up and down, run, walk and tap her little feet to see what noise she can make. When was the last time that I took such abandoned delight in something so simple and mundane as walking? I think, when I get ready for work in the morning, I will find the coolest sounding shoes I have and jump up and down, run, walk and tap my feet. There is glory in putting one foot in front of the other.


THIS:


I seem to struggle to focus on "this".


I look at what it was, what it could be, but find it difficult to just accept "this".


It doesn't matter what "this" is. If I can't look at "this" and be grateful for it, instead of wishing it was like it used to be, or how I dream it can be I will never find contentment and be able to glorify God for ALL that he provides me.


WAY:

(dictionary.com has 22 definitions for "way". I am choosing to go with #18: a course of life, action, or experience)

Often I wish that I had a manual, or guidebook, on how to get through things, to fix things, to be a better parent, to communicate with my spouse, to communicate with my friends, to see things in a better perspective, to be more effective in ministry, and on and on and on it goes.

You may be thinking the obvious: "You do have a manual for those things. The Bible."

I agree. To an extent. The Bible shows us what we are supposed to be, the goals we are to have and what is expected of us; but am I the only one that feels God could have elaborated on the How-To section?

Example: I know I am supposed to submit to my husband as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:24) but when I am really struggling and fighting an inner war with this, how do I?

Sometimes the only way to find the "way" is by faith. I have learned, and am learning, this the hard way.

I am also a second-guesser. "Did God really mean for me to do this, or is it my own desire that is putting it there?" (usually if I don't want to do it, I know it is from God.It may sound flippant, but it is usually true. The right thing is rarely what we want to do.) But it is that lack of concrete, I read it word-for-word confirmation that I struggle with.

Sometimes faith is the only way to get through. Faith in a strength that is stronger than I am. Faith in a wisdom that is far above mine. Faith in a prayer being heard, even though I am still waiting for an answer. Faith that there really isn't anything too small to take to God. Faith that I will find my way.

For the home of Thursday 3some, click on the graphic above.




Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sounds like...

I had never really thought about blogging about things that happened a long time ago...the pre-blog years as it were. But, you don't know about it, so why shouldn't I?

Thanks to DeeDee for giving me this great idea, as well as the most hysterical example! You have to read it here.

The following took place when Kevin was about 5 years old...

Kevin has cousins that are how-ever-many-times removed. They are twin boys named Sonny and Butch. He didn't see them very often so he never learned to tell them apart. To get around this, when he wanted to get one of the boys attention, he would say "SonnyButch", combining the names into one.

One weekend we were at their house and they were all playing together when Kevin fell and hit one of the boys with his mouth... shoving his two top front teeth up into his gums and turning the tissue around them black.

That week we got him in to see a new dentist that specializes in children. When she asked what happened he told her he fell on SonnyButch. Well, when you have the diction and pronunciation of a five year old boy, as well as using a name that you made up, it doesn't really sound like SonnyButch. It sounds more like "Son of a b***h".

Ya. It sounded pretty clear too.

The dentist's head whipped around and she looked at us...then she looked at him again and said "You fell into who?" "SonnyButch" was the reply from my cute little blond-headed child (once again, sounding exactly like Son of a b***h).

It took a few moments for it to sink in...I heard "SonnyButch" because I knew that was what he called them...but if you didn't KNOW the phonetic quirks of the child in question...well, can you blame her? I was immediately mortified and could feel my face turn red. A sure sign of innocence, right?

I than began The Parent Back Peddle.

"He actually IS saying Sonny-Butch", I told her with a forced little laugh. Then I launched into a long and rambly explaination of the story, and then focused on the "can't you see the hilarity" disclaimers. Of course, the situation was funny, but you could tell she was trying to decide if she wanted to believe me or not.

Then, (I do think this is my favorite part), she looked at Kevin and said...

"Is that really what you said?"

That is code for "Is your mommy telling me the truth, or is she really teaching you to speak in profanity with abandon? I'm not sure if I can trust her yet, but you, cute little kid...well, you'll spill it because you are too young to know to lie about something like this."

After my five year old son came to my defense and cleared my name, amazingly enough with a simple head-nod and "uh-huh", she determined the damage and we have been patients of hers ever since.

We also worked with Kevin on using the word "or".

Monday, July 13, 2009

Silent Discipline

Check out this video by The Skitguys called God's Chisel.

Oh, if only we could have this kind of experience!

Lately I have been figuring out a simple truth. When we need to be disciplined, we think it will come in a lightening flash moment. A situation in our life where it is obvious that God is refining us. But maybe, just maybe, sometimes we are disciplined by God's silence. Maybe it is in the struggle and the doubt and the fighting to believe, that God refines us by letting us go down the path we have chosen, and letting us hurt, and letting us doubt; All to the purpose of letting our faith test itself out and grow and strengthen.

Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live;
do not let my hopes be dashed.
Uphold me, and I will be delivered;
I will always have regard for your decrees. Psalm 119:116-117

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Baby Step

So, I really do miss blogging. I like putting word to paper (or screen) and letting the thoughts just flow.

Only problem is, it seems that I end up sounding like the contentious woman from Proverbs. I don't mind sharing my struggles and how God works through them, but I don't want to just be a whining harpie.

The best way to say where I have been lately is Not. Not in the mood to push God to show who He is. Not in the mood to accept where I am. Not in the mood to be patient or in a hurry either. Not ready to move forward. Not trusting what I think I've figured out. Not ready to share.

So, I am baby stepping back into the world of introspection. I have started a new Bible study. Just me, the study, my Bible, and hopefully God will break through and grow me.

I know there are those of you that have missed me and I am so thankful to know that you are there, praying for me. I depend on it!

Talk to you soon!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

You Remain

This week I have spent quite a bit of time learning from the Psalms as well as the final chapters of Job. This song seems to be a great way to sum up such a week of learning.

For those of you that have sent me messages this week, thank you. I love the support and concern and encouragement. You are truly helping me by being God in the keyboard!

This song had embedding disabled so I am giving you the link here.

Have a great week!

For more great songs go to the home of TSMS Saturday.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Where We Belong

My thoughts haven't been in a praise-worthy place the last few weeks. Satan knows I am weakest on the battlefield of my mind, and he gains small victories in my life every day with his stratagies; playing on the fact that I don't fully trust God with ALL of my life.

I have been consumed with resentment, disappointment, anger, intolerance, narrow vision, feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, ignored, disrespected and belittled.

In such a place as I have been, there is little room to glorify God. There is no room to be grateful. No room to be thankful. No room to breathe. No room to see.

Coming out of such a place is a decision. It is a choice to put away the darkness and re-embrace the light that Jesus offers. It is a battle of wills, to tell Satan his attacks are lost and I choose to glorify God in my struggles and then to ask for forgiveness for my stubbornness and self-centeredness.

The first thing I have to do is go back to the cross, get face down and beg God to fill me with His fire again. I am choosing to start with glorifying him with this song.




If you can not view this video, please go here.

For more wonderful songs, follow the link in my right-hand column.