Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I took Caroline and Ava to the movies to see "The Princess and the Frog".
Ava has been to the movies before. She loves it!!
Caroline has trouble mainly because of the volume. She is rattled and spooked so easily by loud things. I have found that this is common in the world of "special needs" children.
Anyway, if she gets spooked...it is all over. She goes into full-blown FIT mode and shrieks like there is no tomorrow. So, you can see why we have waited till now to take her.
I must tell you it was really great! Better than expected...I had to hold her the whole time and I am not sure that she watched a lot of the movie (due to poor head control) but we made it through the entire show. No one even had to get up for a potty break...thank you Jesus!
However, because I feel called to be completely honest about how I walk with God everyday, that is where is fun stopped.
Immediately I was hit from all sides with despair, discouragement, and even anger.
Here were the thoughts...
"These fairy tale movies are a bunch of bunk. They tell little children that all of your dreams come true if you just believe enough. I believe every single day as hard as I can and I don't see my dreams coming true."
"Do any fairy tale dreams come true anymore?"
"Why have I done this again? Set myself up to believe only to be let down again."
"I am crazy to act like she might be healed and soon."
"I am the worst mother in the world because I can't understand my own child."
O.k. so I tell you all of that to say that I know the enemy was and is behind this. But, honestly it was too much. I didn't have the energy to fight him. I didn't even want to. I just wanted to stay in that dark place of unbelief, doubt, and anger. At the time, it felt better to do that than to hope in God.
Today, I am still there a little bit.
I do plan to get in the Word and on my face in prayer a good bit today. I did take a proactive step by singing my heart out and dancing with my kids to Mandisa's song, "It's only the world."
Maybe you need a dose of this song too...
Been a hard one
Been a bad one
Been a tough one
Been a sad one
It's been one of those days that keeps chipping away at my heart
Nothing new here
It's what I do here
It's a stereotypical day in the life
I'm surrounded by all of the pain and the strife
But I know it's all right
(go listen to the rest if you don't know it....)
Monday, December 21, 2009
Shep and I testify often and to anyone who will listen how much we love our church.
Church means a lot of different things to many people.
To us, it is the family of believers who meet together, love on each other, build one another up, work side by side, and seek to bring God glory in all that they do.
The building, the preaching, the music and so on has very little to do with it. It is a family that we are committed to....come what may. It is hard to convince me to leave a church for petty things. God has to tell us to go.
Anyway, God is up to some pretty cool things at our church right now.
Actually we are in a bind....financially.
The recession has hit hard and we (the church) are feeling it.
Our pastor preached a tough message on Sunday but presented us with an awesome challenge.
I'm in. I love challenges.
He believes that this current situation that we find ourselves in is actually God getting our attention. God is allowing us to be squeezed so we will run to Him. Our pastor challenged us to hit our knees and come together corporately to petition our needs to God.
Not so much our financial need....but our heart need.
Money is nothing to God. He has every resource He could ever need at His disposal. However, He needs us. He wants us to be at His disposal.
In times of prosperity we forget who the blessings are from...in times of struggle we are forced to remember.
This has excited me to death!
I can't wait to see what God is up to.
We have been praying for quite some time for God to bring real revival to our church...I am talking book of Acts kind of revival.
Could this be the way He is going to do it?
Is this how He is going to get us to bend the knee and be open enough for Him to pour down His Spirit upon us?
I hope so.
Don't think it hasn't already occurred to me that Caroline could also be healed during this time. When God's Spirit is loosed freely upon a church mighty miraculous things happen.
Lives are changed....
God thank you for interrupting our church. You are large and in charge. Thank you for a church staff that stops everything to seek You and simply pray. If we knew the power that is unleashed when we pray we would most likely be so ashamed of our lack of doing it. Forgive us God for not being a praying people. Teach us to be. Display your power as only You can. I can't help but wonder what you have for us as a church. We want revival. We need renewal. Give us clean hands and pure hearts. Help us to resist the enemy that seeks to destroy us. Teach us to fight using Your Word. Nothing would thrill me more than experiencing a new testament church like the one we read about in the book of Acts. They were persecuted....they ruined their reputations for Your sake...they were ridiculed and beaten....but that is just half of the story. They increased in numbers daily. They prayed often and took care of each other. Their eyes saw things that we can only dream of....and I do.
Acts 3:6-8 Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
Friday, December 18, 2009
"Being faithful to Jesus Christ is the most difficult thing we try to do today. We will be faithful to our work, to serving others, or to anything else; just don't ask us to be faithful to Jesus Christ. Many Christians become very impatient when we talk about faithfulness to Jesus. Our Lord is dethroned more deliberately by Christian workers than by the world. We treat God as if He were a machine designed only to bless us, and we think of Jesus as just another one of the workers.
The goal of faithfulness is not that we will do work for God, but that He will be free to do His work through us. God calls us to His service and places tremendous responsibilities on us. He expects no complaining on our part and offers no explanation on His part. God wants to use us as He used His own Son."
I truly hate devotions like this. They provoke the Holy Spirit stirrings inside of me...He stirs where it hurts. Then I have to deal with it.
One of the senior adult ladies in my Bible study asked me why I hadn't been writing on my blog very much.
I told her I feel like I say the same things over and over.
The truth is I don't want to admit to you....or myself (by typing it out) how badly I would like for Caroline to be healed this Christmas.
Several years ago, I had a lady tell me that God had given her a message for me. The message was a simple word..."Christmas".
Isn't that just like God?
Well, what about Christmas?
Is that supposed to mean something to me?
So----in my mind I have always wondered if that message meant that something special might happen at Christmas.
Like I said already, that was several years ago and nothing has occurred yet. (Except I must say that I dreamed of Caroline being healed for the first time on Christmas day night 2006.)
Anyway, I hate talking about this again.
But, there it is. Always on my mind...in my heart...always.
Back to the devotion...if God wants to be FREE to use me just as he did his own son...then he must be FREE to let me get hurt.
The thought of getting my hopes up again for Caroline to be healed makes me want to puke. I know TOO WELL how that feels.
But, I can't help it.
As long as He continues to confirm it to me....then I will continue to hope.
In a nutshell.....this is why the we don't like faithfulness to God. There is always pain involved.
Lord, I admit it. My hopes are up. All I want for Christmas is a healed and whole little girl. You know this so why do I try to act like I am not thinking it. I am encouraged by your Word when you tell us that..."the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." (Romans 8:26)
I am sure I don't pray what I ought to pray...I am way too selfish. But, I offer you my meager faith and ask You to help me to continue to prove myself faithful to You even if my hopes are dashed once again. My heart yearns to be used by You in spite of how it feels. I ask You in the strong name of Jesus to raise Caroline up and perform a miracle this season. If this isn't the time then do a miracle in me. Help me not to become crippled by fear and doubt. Help me rejoice whatever may come.
I love you Immanuel...God with me.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I haven't felt great for the past few days...physically. Just a cold at first and now making itself known as a full blown infection. Yuck!
Anyway, today and yesterday haven't been great for me. I have been thinking way too much.
I don't know about you....but if I am left with my thoughts for too long...I get discouraged, depressed and before I know it....all faith is out the window with my sanity not too far behind.
My mind wants to make things logical. My mind wants everything to make sense.
God, on the other hand, works in ways that usually counter the logical mind. He almost never makes sense.
This has caused me some grief these past couple of days.
What I want for Christmas is no different than what I want every other day of the year....for God to supernaturally HEAL Caroline.
As I think too much about this it becomes ridiculous to me. The same questions come flooding in...
"How will He do this?"
"This is too impossible."
"Miracles don't happen any more do they?"
"Where will it happen?"
"Have I been wrong about all of this?"
So, I am reminding myself.....STOP THINKING!!!
Just simply believe.
Believe who GOD is.
Believe all He has done.
Believe His Word is true.
Believe He is powerful.
Believe He never fails.
Believe what He has told me. Believe what He continues to confirm to me.
Believe Him more than logical sense.
Believe He can stop time.
Believe He can change things in a moment.
God I love you. Lord, I am such a weak child. I need You more today than I did yesterday. My mind is bombarded with needing things to make sense. They just don't right now and I need to be ok with that. Help me Father. I am crawling into your lap and asking you to speak peace to me. Sing over me....sing over the thoughts that attack me. Help me to hear your song. Keep me in your will today. Keep me believing....
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I get tired of me.
If you know me...you get tired of me.
I cycle in and out of the same junk.
I am believing God hard core one day and then the next day I am coming close to lapsing into depression.
"Are you gonna heal her?"
"Am I crazy?"
"Will You provide for us?"
"How will we make it?"
These are my thoughts on a daily basis. How's that for blatant honesty?
However, these past few weeks I have noticed something new.
Revelation 21:5 says "Behold, I make all things new..."
I sense revival inside of me. Newness.
Can't really describe it. It feels good.
What am I doing differently? Has God finally gotten me to the place where I can just take Him in?
I notice this little change in every area...more patience with my kids...an urgency to witness to others and actually doing it...finding real joy in the mundane....and loving Shep and enjoying him even more than I thought possible.
Thank you God for this newness in me. I know it is from You because I couldn't manufacture it even if I wanted to. I am getting a kick out of seeing me do things that I know I normally wouldn't want to do. I am constantly amazed at Your handiwork. How You put up with me and my antics I'll never know but I sense Your love and Your power at work in me. Thank you Father for giving me something NEW.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
The preschoolers sang today on stage. I cracked up to watch my Ava (in both services) walk right up to the spot directly in front of the microphone. She isn't shy at all. She sees me sing with a microphone all the time so why should she do any different?? It was precious.
Our prayer time tonight was quaint and powerful. Simple and so moving. I believe the heart of God moves when His people pray and cry out to Him.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
"How can we say, 'It could never be God's will for me to be sick?' If it was God's will to bruise His own Son, why wouldn't He bruise you? What shines forth and reveals God in your life is not your relative consistency to an idea of what a saint should be, but your genuine, living relationship with Jesus Christ, and your unrestrained devotion to Him whether you are well or sick."
"God's purpose is not to perfect me to make me a trophy in His showcase; He is getting me to the place where He can use me."
-Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
These are just a few quotes from my very challenging devotional this morning. I usually have to read and re-read several times for the gist to sink in.
I am so grateful that God isn't interested in making me into a trophy of holiness. A trophy is pretty pointless. The recognition is nice, but face it....after a while a trophy collects dust and eventually gets put in a box for storage. (I don't know where most of my trophies are from when I was growing up.)
God is about the bruising. God is about the blessing. God is about equipping. God is about excavating. God is about taking. God is about giving. God is about sacrifice. God is about service. God is about smiling. God is about process. God is precise.
He is all of it.
To recognize His goodness only in the good is forsaking the nature of who He really is.
It gives me hope during this ongoing season of my life.
I believe He is at work producing holiness in me....even and especially at most lowest points.
Sometimes I feel so useless...especially about what I believe (Caroline). However, if people smell the sweet aroma of grace during times of pressing and stretching in my life, then I am believing a lie. Grace, even seen through desperation in others is still pleasing to God and encouraging to others. To call it useless is a lie of my enemy.
Press on Lord...press on.
Phil. 3:12 "Not that I have already attained or am already perfect...."
Friday, November 27, 2009
Do you think that is true?
-A mother with 4 kids and all are doing great except for one that is in jail. Where do you think her heart is?
-A mother with 2 grown children sees that one of her children is depressed, financially unstable, and a failing marriage. Where is her heart?
-A mother with 5 amazing kids and one is addicted to drugs and is without God. Where does her heart bleed?
I will tell you.
As a mother of three amazing, delightful, and precious children....your heart stays most with the one who needs you the most. Your heart breaks most for the one who isn't whole. Your mind floods with thoughts around the one who you wish you could help but the remedy is out of your hands.
Holidays are always hard.
This Thanksgiving was so good...and there is still good to come.
But (secretly) I was only as happy as my most needy child.
As we gathered to give thanks and partake of the much-anticipated meal....I ached for my child who couldn't taste or enjoy any of it.
As Christmas comes knocking at the door...I already feel my frustration for buying toys for my child who can't really play with them or even open them at this time.
I am not writing this for any one's pity. This is simply the truth.
The truth just isn't always pretty or fun...or easy to read.
This year I am thankful for my God who wants the truth. The truth that we hide away and think that He really doesn't want to hear. No----that isn't my God. He seeks out the truth. The ugly stuff that I don't want to admit.
The enemy tells me that I should not dare complain or voice my hurts here at Thanksgiving. He wants me to keep this in and become angry.
I won't do it.
Instead I will celebrate these holidays in truth.
I will come before Him open and honest. I won't hold back my hurts. I will shout out my praises and thanksgiving. I will love Him. I will honor Him. I will bring Him my treasured secrets and my most sacred thoughts. He is worthy.
I am having a hard time. But He is good. He hears me. He hurts with me. He has a plan.
Father strengthen me today. You know me well. You know how I can be. Keep my feet firm and my mind set on You. I have so much to be thankful for....remind me always. May my words be gracious and kind...my lips eager to praise You!
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thank you to all of my pals for praying peace and protection over me. Almighty God heard and answered those prayers.
It couldn't have gone better.
As for how I feel now??? Good, except that my stomach feels like I was punched or kicked about a million times.
Oh yeah, I am also not going to have to cook for the next 5 nights. Can you believe that? Our class at church is providing food. The Guytons are bringing food tonight and if you know them....then you know we will be eating good!!
Catch up later.....off to lay down and rest a while (wink wink)
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
The highlight of the night for me was singing "Mercy Seat".
If you know the song....just singing it was enough to be blessed. But watching people I love and even those I didn't know making their way to the altar to lay down their burdens and receive mercy was humbling and joyous.
You could physically see people unloading their burdens on the very One who is able to heal and carry them...because we were never meant to.
It was awesome!
I will say that I kept my eyes on my daddy who sat at the back of the sanctuary holding Caroline. I had already told the Lord that I thought it would be another awesome opportunity to heal her.
He chose not to....but the day is coming.
I could almost imagine it though. As we (the choir) belted out praises about the lame being able to walk...I envisioned her jumping out of my daddy's arms and and giving us a tangible example of the very thing we were singing about.
Thank you sweet Jesus for your mercy on me. There is more than enough...always. I couldn't make it through a day without you. Keep me running to Your mercy seat..
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I WILL trust Him at all times.
HE HAS delivered me from all fear.
HE HAS set my feet upon a rock.
I WILL not be moved.
I'LL SAY of the Lord.
You are my Shield, my Strength, my Fortress, Deliverer, my Shelter, Strong Tower, my very present HELP in time of need.
(these are lyrics from one of my very favorite Travis Cottrell songs...by the way he will be at our church this Saturday night!!!)
I just had to take a moment and declare praise to my great God for His many unexpected blessings in the past 2 weeks. I have laughed, gasped, cried, and laid out face-down in my floor because of some of the ways God has chosen to bless my family.
I would have never suspected His ways or the people that He uses. Again...He is weird....wonderfully weird...
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you God for going outside of my box to bless me and my family. You amaze me. I am so unworthy of even a second thought from You, yet You lavish me with your love, grace, and provision.
Even in this desert place....this barren land where You have led us....You have provided streams to refresh us. These streams in our desert have given us joy, hope, peace of mind, and confirmation that You are unchanging....always pursuing....always working....never forsaking.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Many people already think I am strange because I am believing God to completely heal my very disabled little girl.
I also get odd responses from people when I tell them of the many strange and weird ways in which God has chosen to tell us that He plans to heal Caroline.
This really gets old sometimes.
I don't want to be weird. I just want to be normal....but I think God loves weird.
Curve balls, surprise endings, sudden twists in the plots of our lives....I think it pleases Him to catch us off guard with something totally unexpected.
Thursday night was a tough night. Ava and Caroline were awake several times during the night. Shep was sleeping really soundly so I got up several times to console them and after the fourth time...I was over it!!
As I laid back in my bed (Shep snoring peacefully) I struggled to find sleep. Actually I felt quite awake. I asked the Lord if he wanted to talk to me or if there was a passage of scripture I should get up and read. I thought the book of Zechariah came to my mind but I blew it off and eventually went back to sleep.
Two hours later I woke up and realized I had dreamed about Caroline. I have only dreamed of her maybe 3 times in her life so this was pretty special. I felt prompted to get up and write down the dream so that I would not forget it.
I am not going to tell you the whole dream because it is weird. But a few details I will share.
-I got to see Caroline walking
-I saw 2 men who I believe may be guardian angels of our family
-I watched Shep eat some disgusting stuff
-I asked some questions
-I was answered in cool ways
Some of you may think I am crazy but as I wrote down my whole dream I asked God to help me understand this dream if it was of him.
(I can tell you that looking back 3 days later....I have gotten some translations that I believe are from Him.)
When I finished writing my dream I prayed for God's direction. I told Him that I have trouble trusting what I think I hear from Him. I told Him that I want Him to talk to me but I also doubt what I think I hear because I have been wrong before.
I finished praying and opened my devotional.....can you guess what the title of my devotion was?? "Do you believe this?" that was the title. It came from the verse John 11:26 where Jesus is talking to Lazarus sister. The whole devotion boiled down to what we really believe about Jesus. We say a lot. But we believe little.
It struck me that after my dream he was giving me further confirmation...literally. He asked me the question through my devotion, "Andrea, do you believe this?"
I still didn't know what to think. I remembered that I had thought God had told me to go to Zechariah earlier when I was in bed. I turned there in my bible but didn't know what to read. So I started from the beginning and just kept going.
What I realized was something I already knew. I just think God wanted to show me weird to make me feel about about believing my dream.
If you don't know what I am talking about...go to the book of Zechariah in your bible and read the first 4 chapters or so. It is FULL of dreams and visions.....WEIRD dreams and visions that God used to speak to His man. I think this was God's way of showing me that I am in good company.
Oh yeah, I will close with another great little nugget that He gave me to finish off my WEIRD morning....
Zechariah 4:6 "...not by might nor by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord God Almighty."
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
This past Sunday was a very encouraging day for 2 reasons. First, Randall (our pastor) preached out of my favorite passage. Romans chapter 4 encompasses so much of how I feel about believing for Caroline's healing. These verses touched my heart 7 years ago and still affect me greatly today.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to hi, "So shall your offspring be." Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead---since he was about a hundred years old---and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
Just hearing these words read in church brought tears to my eyes. There is such power and hope in them.
Then right after church a friend approached me. She was smiling like she had a big secret. The deal was she had dreamed of Caroline. In her dream, Caroline looked just as she does not and she was walking and talking. Praise you Lord!!
The final thing I want to tell you is a "maybe so or maybe not" scenario. This morning I woke up to Caroline screaming at about 5 til six in the morning. When I got to her room (she and Ava share) she had fallen out of her bed and was lodged between the bed and the dresser. This had happened maybe one other time because she does have a bed rail. She had evidently kicked the bed rail out and down...the girl has got some powerful legs.
Anyway, I laid in her bed with her and consoled her until she settled down. Then out of nowhere Ava said, "Mama I saw Caroline try to stand up beside her bed. She was kicking and bucking at the rail and trying to stand up. Then she fell down."
I couldn't believe it...I made her re-tell me a few more times. Then Ava even went so far as to show me what Caroline looked like when she tried to stand beside her bed. It was more like leaning on her bed with her feet touching the floor...in any event...it looked like she was trying to stand up to Ava's little eyes.
So, was she? Maybe.....maybe not.
I will just leave that with God. I will say I am encouraged though.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Our church moved our activities indoors because of the rain. Although the space was cramped...we had a wonderful time! I saw so many guests in addition to our regular attenders and that is what it is all about.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
It is not even Halloween yet and I am exhausted...so are all of my friends.
Yes, this is the busy season of my life.
I feel like it is passing so quickly that my vision is blurred by it.
These past two weeks have been unusually busy for me...kid's getting sick....school parties...costumes to wear...gifts to buy....my gall bladder acting up....dinners to fix...bumps and bruises to kiss...oh yeah....and don't forget to love the Lord your God with all your heart...and have an amazing marriage....and raise incredibly grateful and disciplined kids.
Scary, isn't it!!??!!
We act like this isn't really how our lives are. But it is.
And let me be the first to tell you that I have fallen----hook, line, and sinker----for the devil's scheme. I have put down God's Word and put off my prayer time in exchange for what I thought was some peace of mind.
Doesn't the devil tell you that?? You need some "you" time.
Actually the "you" time usually turns into "doing" even more and stressing out over all the isn't done. That is how it has been for me.
In reality, I am exchanging His peace for my pleasure. Two totally different things.
The truth of it is....being peace filled takes time. Time we don't act like we have. Time that we act like is too precious to use on useless things like peace.
The enemy is sly. He knows just how to sell it to us.
Anyway, my confession is finished. I have acknowledged the lie I believed.
I can't run through the express aisle with God expect to be filled to overflowing with all that He has to offer. I want to though. And if I could I would.
The question is will I MAKE TIME when there seems to be so little of it?
Lord, sometimes I am scared when I think of how easily I put down the things You think are important because I am busy, or because my children get sick. Those are the times I need you most. Please help me stay diligent. Help me prioritize my time with You. Help me to know that it is more important than my marriage, my children, or any duties in my life. Please forgive me for letting my life get too busy for You. I know me and I am sure this will happen again...pull me in close quickly. Don't let me be okay with going days without You.
Monday, October 26, 2009
We don't say that, of course, because saying really does sound absurd. But we do think it.
How would you feel if you saw a murderer, robber, molester, or any other unsavory character holding that blessed book?
Would some protective instinct in you rise up?
Would you want to yank it from their hands?
A part of me would. A part of me would not want anyone nasty, perverted, or evil touching the Word of God. They seem too unworthy.
So, what am I saying? That because I clean up nice, smell good, and act like I don't sin in my heart every day that I meet the "worthy" qualification to hold that book.
Now that is absurd.
God said if you hate someone in your heart...then you are a murderer.
Well, He showed me that this weekend.
I got wrapped up in the story of the missing Florida girl who was snatched away by someone while walking home from school. Whoever this was, did horrible unspeakable things to this baby girl and then dumped her in a land fill. I am sure that this story resonated with me and so many others because we have baby girls.
Anyway, I hate whoever did this. In my heart...the deep places....I hate them. Why would God hold back his wrath? How could someone do such a thing?
Then, God illuminated my thoughts and showed me something in His Word.
1 Timothy 1: 8-10
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.
We also know that law is made not for the righteous
but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful,
the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers
or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts,
for slave traders and liars and perjurers-and for whatever
else is contrary to the sound doctrine"
Well, is someone you hate mentioned on that list?
This person who did this heinous crime is on this list.
He is described perfectly....murderer....pervert....
But God says His law is for this person.
Did you know that I made that list too? Where it says "righteous"...that would be me...but not in the good way.
Self-righteous would be more appropriate.
As I finish these thoughts I pause at just how prideful I can be. There is a verse in Micah that God has had rolling around in my head. I think He is preaching a 3 point sermon to me.
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
1. Act justly
2. Love mercy
3. Walk humbly
Those seem so simple....but I guarantee you I will screw that up even today. But, I will try. I don't want to hate anyone really. I just need to hate WHO is behind all of the sin. He is evil and shrewd.
But for the grace of God go I.....
Friday, October 23, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Are you content?
I feel like on any given day I whine about so much I want or don't have.
Anyway, Shep said to me the other night that he felt the key to contentment was thankfulness.
As God often does.....He confirmed this with scripture.
I am mentoring a girl about 8 years younger than me and she had suggested that we memorize Colossians 2:6-7.
See if you get the message too....
"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thanksgiving."
Dang that is good!
Those verses could preach all by themselves.
I try to be very transparent on this blog. Live out my faith so to speak....
Man, I have got questions. Big ones.
But I believe God is handing me a key here.
Andrea, continue on in Me...
Be rooted and built up in Me..
I can strengthen you in faith by My Word...
Could you just do something for me???
Overflow with thanksgiving. Overflow because of
My pursuit of you
your amazing family
your enduring friends
the roof over your head
the transportation you have
the food you eat
Need I go on??
God, help me overflow for you today!!
Friday, October 16, 2009
It has been like a death to me. I hate it. The truth is...(my mom pointed this out to me) when everything is going good-then I trust God. When things starts to veer off the projected path and the days become dark-I don't trust God.
It is just that simple.
Shame on me. But I do admit it.
I have felt like a balloon that was once full (full of hope, faith, promise) to a balloon that is losing air everyday. Deflating .....a little at a time.
Last week, I felt a surge of new air and new life when I found out that Caroline had walked on her own in the gait trainer. ( You all don't know the extent of this but we have tried for years to get her to walk in that thing at home---with no luck) And for her to do it by herself and walk approximately 40 feet was thrilling to me.
Today, I had another surge of new air and new life. Frankly....I am still (hours later) amazed and perplexed.
Caroline has participated in some standardized testing this week. Due to her limitations, she requires a lot of one-on-one time in order to be tested accurately. Today her teacher called and told me how she had done on her reading comprehension...
Let me remind you in case you don't know...she cannot speak...she cannot eat...she cannot eat...she cannot walk....but today she defied my expectations...
She read and answered questions on her own. (mouth open and still reeling)
Her teacher told her that the test was 5 paragraphs and 20 questions. She asked Caroline if she wanted to read it herself. Caroline shook her head "yes". Melissa (her teacher) had already told Caroline that she thought this would be too hard for her but relented and let Caroline try her best.
They put the paragraphs up on a computer screen and highlighted a sentence at a time. Caroline would verbally make sounds as if trying to read each sentence. When she finished she would look at Melissa to highlight the next one. She came to one word she didn't know and looked at her teacher. Melissa asked her if she was having trouble with that word and Caroline indicated "yes". The word was everyone. After Melissa told her the word, Caroline continued reading.
After each paragraph Melissa would ask her questions and give her multiple choice for the answers. She would answer using a button that she pressed when the correct answer was given.
She could only know the answers if she had read the paragraphs. Her teachers DID NOT help her read them at all. They also did not help her with any of the answers.
So, is it safe to guess that my girl can read???? Who knew??
I don't know what to say or think or feel. I am a little bit in shock.
I sat in the car and prayed trying to find words to say to God Almighty. I just kept saying...."No way. This was a fluke. She can't really read."
What I kinda heard back was..."Do you believe I am going to do extraordinary things through this girl or not???"
If I am this stunned at learning she can read....what will I be like when she speaks, or stands, or eats, or walks or runs?
It reminds me of that song, "I can only imagine"
Surrounded by your glory
what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for ya Jesus,
or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in your presence
or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing alleluia
will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine......I can only imagine....
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Hope you enjoy the pictures of my beautiful family.
I sure am smitten with them!!
Thursday, October 8, 2009
The VERY NEXT DAY her teacher called from school because she was in her gait trainer (like a big walker) and she was walking in it by herself. It was slow going...but it was ALL HER....that is a first!!!! Usually a teacher or her therapist has to help push her....
Thank you Jesus for that encouragement. Thank you also for teachers who teach in the public school system who cry and get excited when they see your children making great strides.
Thank you also for encouragement from your Word. Hebrews 3:7-14
So, as the Holy Spirit says
Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the desert,
where your fathers tested and tried me
and forty years saw what I did.
That is why I was angry with that generation,
and I said, 'Their hearts are always going astray,
so they have not known my ways.
So I declared an oath in my anger,
They shall never enter my rest.'
See to it, brothers that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.
I am in the desert and I don't want to allow my heart to grow hard or to let my heart go astray. This passage spoke strongly to me....it was a warning, a challenge, and an encouragement all at the same time!!
Lastly, I wish you all could have been flies on the wall during our bedtime routine with the girls. It was too funny. Ava has been having bad dreams so in addition to our prayers we decided to also start doing a devotion time. As we got ready to start our devotional time tonight we told Ava (and Caroline) how any time they got scared that they could talk to Jesus out loud or sing songs to him. Ava began to ask us to sing her songs that we knew about Jesus...
-Jesus loves me
-I've got the joy,joy,joy, joy down in my heart
-Jesus love the little children
-Deep and wide
(we must have gotten a little bit giddy on this one because me and Shep both began singing and doing the hand motions. It was as if we were stepping right back into children's church or something....needless to say....it was a hit!!
Thank you Jesus for laughter and silliness. Thank you for fun memories. Thank you for my heritage growing up in church and learning songs about you. Thank you for allowing everything to go well today. Thank you for daily provision. Thank you for helping me be thankful....on my own I am a bag full of wants....but through You....I can be truly thankful!!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
He was born into religion but died for his relationship with Jesus.
He was beaten, harassed, persecuted, and homeless all for the sake of sharing Christ. Something drove him....something that I don't think I have.
He loved Jesus and others before himself, his comfort, his reputation, and even his life.
That is the difference.
I have asked that God would deepen my love for Him so that everything else pales in comparison to pleasing Him.
(Is that what this wilderness experience is all about?? Putting things into perspective...what all do I love more than him??)
The Bible says that the Lord stood near Paul and told him to "Take courage".
Do you find it interesting that Paul didn't just feel courageous?
He had to take what the Lord was offering...
Paul couldn't muster up courage or strength or bravery any more than I can in my own yucky circumstances.
Instead, he had to take it. Just as I do....
Lord Jesus, you spoke these words to Paul in the book of Acts but I am receiving them for myself. I take your courage. I am shaking in my boots when left to myself. I need the full measure of your courage, your strength, and your bravery to face my giants and endure the harshness of this wilderness. Help me not to just be obedient in my heart but to also tell my face. I walk around and pout and look downcast so often because of how I feel. I believe that is silly....sometimes I don't think I can help it. But, you gave me self-control and joy and long-suffering and many other fruits that should be evident in good or bad times. I am embarrassed to say that more than not I WEAR my fears on my face. Forgive me Lord. I know you want me to be real....and the pain and fear are all very real....but you also want me to take you up on what you offer. I take courage!!
Please encourage me again about my girl....fan the flames of my faith...A
Friday, October 2, 2009
I am certain I will love and appreciate all of the lessons that I am learning here...but I hate it here.
It is no surprise that I have watched the movie "Facing the Giants" two times this week. I tend to do that. I need to see something encouraging or I need to hear something uplifting.
Although that movie was not the best made and it did not achieve accolades for the actors....the message was and still is HUGE to me.
God can do the impossible.
I cried when I saw it the first time and I have cried every subsequent time since.
The part in the movie that I have identified with most this week revolves around the main character, Grant Taylor. Everything in his life is falling apart and he feels himself giving in to that despair.
His team can't win, his car won't work, his stove is broken, the dryer only works half of the time, there is a dead mouse hidden somewhere stinking up his house, he can't provide his wife with children and there are people (even a friend) trying to get him fired.
He confides to God that it feels like "giants of fear and failure are standing above him just waiting to crush him".
BINGO....ding ding ding...
That is exactly how I feel. Giants are looming....I am grasping for hope...my feet are slipping...it looks dark...
I know that God can put a sling shot of hope and victory in my hands and skill me to kill these giants just as David killed Goliath.
I am calling on Him.
I am clinging to Him.
I am looking for His salvation.
I just don't see it. I just see the giants.
God of all creation, you know your servant. I am so tired. I am drained almost dry. Please send deliverance. Please send provision. Please increase my faith and give me the "want-to" to fight. I don't want to right now. I want to give up. I want to quit. Your resurrection power can change me. I surrender to you again. I say I trust you but I am so embarrassed to realize I must not trust you much at all. Will you show up? Will you come to our rescue? You are God and you can do as you please. If we have been wrong about Caroline for all of this time....that is OK. Help my heart to rest in the truth...whatever that is. Nourish me with Your Word. I ask forgiveness for doubt, self-pity, anger, bitterness, and apathy. You deserve better than that from me. I am forgiven because you took my place. Help me rejoice in that. I love you...
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The completely clear bright blue sky.
The touch of cool in the air without a hint of hot Georgia haze or humidity.
The sounds of high school marching bands.
Fall festivals complete with candied apples and cotton candy.
Going for rides just to glimpse the masterpiece on display of God's trees.
The expectation of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
It is just refreshing....
God has been good this week. Not in the earth shattering kind of way. He spoke so much last week about me being in the wilderness. This week has been me just resting in that. He has let me see Him answering some of my prayer requests that have involved me building relationships and telling those people about His love and redemption plan.
He and He alone has opened some of those doors and I love it. Don't get me wrong... I am scared and a bit intimidated but He is showing me that I don't have to give a perfect salvation speech in order to share Him. I just need to talk about what He is doing in my life right now....that should be enough to show Him off...
Speaking of right now, we are still in lockdown mode financially. Things have never been this hard for this long. I don't know how we will make it----but if I believe that God can heal my child----then He can pay my bills.
I don't know what is coming next, but I do feel like Shep and I are doing some things right. Prayer, helping people, and telling others how good He is to us are all things that honor Him. He loves to be honored in our lives. He loves to be shown off by His children who love Him even when it is really hard. I believe He will honor His children. I still believe something BIG is coming.
Until then and even after....may we be worthy to live for you....tell others about you....and give our burdens and desires to you!
Monday, September 28, 2009
Zeke goes without saying...he is easy on the eyes just like his daddy. So glad their mine to kiss on!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Do you want to see your head spin???
Check out the verse just before this one....
"And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased'." Matt. 3:17
Did you catch that??? God was pleased with Jesus....so pleased in fact, that the Spirit thought He was ready for the desert.
*****desert-any area in which few forms of life can exist because of lack of water, permanent frost, or absence of soil; unsettled area; any place lacking in something (dictionary.com)
*****wilderness-difficulty of finding one's way because of barrenness (dictionary.com)
I have always heard these words thrown around in church. From what I have found...they pretty much paint the same picture.
In the past 2 days, God has made it abundantly clear that I am in the wilderness. He has sent three different people on separate occasions to speak this to me. This season that just won't end.....this hollowness....this emptiness....this hunger....this thirst....this desperation....it is what is intended.
He himself has confirmed it to me in John chapter 12...."and he (Jesus) hid himself from them..."
The good news is that deliverance is coming. There is an end somewhere. However, right now...I am in the thick of it.
I am encouraged to think of the power that emerged from Jesus' ministry after his wilderness experience. That helps me to press on and pray through the day.
You know that feeling this way, experiencing these unsettling feelings is so unnerving. But thinking that as a believer I should never feel this way is even worse.
Jesus had to do it....Paul had to do it....Job had to do it....Abraham had to do it....Joseph had to do it....
We act like that these great men of the faith must not have felt the same emotions as we do. I don't buy it...making light of the pain and struggle they dealt with only cheapens their hardship.
Yes, they felt it. Every single step....
Listen to Paul.....2 Corin. 1:8 "We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death."
Listen to Jeremiah...Lamentations 3:2-3 "He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light; indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long."
There are so many more...but I am trying to get to my point.
I desperately want out! I want to be rescued right now. That isn't the plan. So, I must rest in knowing that this season will end and I will exit as a closer follower of Jesus than when I entered.
This blog is my wailing wall. I feel that God asked me to be willing to live out the good, the bad, and ugly in front of you. I don't know who "you" are but hopefully you are encouraged by this. This is real, raw, and incredibly challenging. Not only do I have to be real with you before my God but I have to type it out to myself.
I am asking that God would give me His power, presence, and comfort in exchange for the answers that I want. I pray that this season ends soon because selfishly I am exhausted from it. If you are in your "wilderness" and you think you can't hold on much longer....know you are not alone.
I believe every single believer that yields to God will have a wilderness....not every every believer will yield though. I used to judge them for that but I understand now that no one wants to experience this place.
God, please use this time in my life to encourage others. Please let this blog stand as not just my wailing wall but as a walking testimony of one of your kids trying to get it right. Let others see You in my life even when I can't. I choose to accept that this is my season. Thank you for showing me that I am exactly where you would have me to be. Despite my confusion, I trust Your wisdom. Please God end this soon. My soul is weary and I long for brighter days.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Today, though....the sky is my favorite shade of blue.
No haze at all just crisp, clear, stunning blue September sky. (I get dreamy in September anyway because Shep and I starting dating in September and it carries all of those new, exciting, heart-fluttering memories with it)
I wonder if the past few days shaded in black and grey make this blue sky all the more appealing to me?
Sure it does.
We never really appreciate something until we have experienced the absence of it.
My devotion this morning had a sentence that just made me mad...is that spiritual at all? I am guessing that God laughs at His children when they cop an attitude right in the middle of their quiet time with Him. He knows us so well, huh??
' "You call me Teacher and Lord..."-but is He? Teacher, Master, and Lord have little place in our vocabulary. We prefer the words Savior, Sanctifier, and Healer.'
-Oswald Chambers from My Utmost for His Highest
Ouch!! I know that I prefer those other words because they reflect what He can do for me. Teacher, Master, and Lord are hard for us to choke down because they usually coincide with obedience. Obedience is what I can do for Him.
Father, help me to be obedient. Give me a soft heart toward Your commands. Make me like clay in Your hands. I don't like this part and You know it. It is hard for me to relinquish control to You. I am trying to and You know my heart. Give me gratitude instead of my typical attitude. Change me as only You can! I love you!
Friday, September 18, 2009
Yesterday we were in the car and I was eavesdropping on Ava as she talked to her sister. Now Caroline cannot talk back to her. (she babbles, laughs, and looks at you...those are the ways that she communicates and she does it quite well)
Anyway, Ava wasn't deterred in her conversation with Caroline even though she was the only one really talking. She was asking Caroline different questions about her day and then giving her the rundown of all that she had done at her pre-school. I watched her in the rear view mirror as she held Caroline's hand and just interacted with her as if she had no idea or concern that Caroline is so handicapped.
Then she said, "Caroline, do you want to play princess with me....after you get healed?"
That was it! That was the moment! I went from high to dry right there.
My heart broke for many different reasons. I miss what I don't even know. Is that even possible...
-her voice saying words
-pictures of her standing up
-watching her dance in a recital
-seeing her enjoy birthday cake or ice cream
-watching her play princess with Ava
So, basically I just kind of died inside for the rest of the night. Sad...but true. I felt empty and hollow....brusied by a wound that just won't go away.
Well-that was then and this is now....new day...new mercies...
I cried out to God this morning and He led me to Psalm 77....I read it and knew it was Him.
The Message version says it this way:
Ps. 77: 1-15
"I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might, I yell at the top of my lungs. He listens.
I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord;
my life was an open wound that wouldn't heal.
When friends said, "Everything will turn out alright,"
I didn't believe a word they said.
I remember God-and shake my head.
I bow my head-then wring my hands.
I'm awake all night-not a wink of sleep;
I can't even say what is bothering me.
I go over the days one by one,
I ponder the years gone by.
I strum my lute all through the night,
wondering how to get my life together.
Will the Lord walk off and leave us for good?
Will he never smile again?
Is his love worn threadbare?
Has his salvation promise burned out?
Has God forgotten his manners?
Has he angrily stalked off and left us?
"Just my luck," I said. "The High God goes out of business just the moment I need him."
Once again I'll go over what God has done,
lay out on the table the ancient wonders;
I'll ponder all the things you've accomplished,
and give a long, loving look at your acts.
O God! Your way is holy!
No god is great like God!
You're the God who makes things happen;
you showed everyone what you can do-
You pulled your people out of the worst kind of trouble,
rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph"
There is more but I am out of time.......He is good!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I have noticed that as I really try to push myself and force my flesh to sincerely pray all through out the day and then sincerely try to listen when God speaks throughout the day...I am starting to see some proof of these answered prayers.
A few of the things that I have been praying for lately are:
-joy.....when I want to feel sadness
-contentment....when I want to feel dissatisfied
-gratitude....when I want to feel selfish
-faith....when I want to give up
-strength....when I want to crawl in a hole and cry
well--here is the kicker: God is truly giving me these things.
As I have been praying for these traits to rule in my life...I have felt disappointed and even let-down after I have finished praying because I didn't experience a great wind or fire from heaven that has immediately changed my disposition.
What I have noticed though is that these traits are just there. I am not having to work at it or fake it....I just find myself smiling and singing for no good reason. In fact, I can give you many reasons I have to not smile or sing but God is letting me see how His goodness can trump any bad circumstance.
Anyway....I just wanted to testify about His work in me the past couple of weeks.
Also, just a random question/thought?!?
Is anyone else noticing a huge hunger for revival among believers? It seems that all around me I am learning of people who are desperate for what only God can give. I have said before that I want to experience what the first church in the book of Acts got to encounter...maybe we are closer to that than we think. Could this be the calm before the awesome storm of God's power unleashed??
Monday, September 14, 2009
Kicked off the week. Got the girls to school. Came home and played with the most handsome little man ever. Put him down for a mid-morning nap and then fell face-down for some "real" time with my Jesus.
I had watched a really neat skit that had two men performers. One of them was playing the role of God and the other was playing the role of man. www.skitguys.com/store/detail/188/
The conversation between the two was interesting, challenging, exposing, funny, and uncomfortable. As I watched it...I saw myself and ran through my head what my conversation may sound like with God.
I knew immediately I needed to go pray.
I had to just get down to the hurting point. Why is prayer like this so hard??? I want to bare my heart. I want to lay it all out and expose it before Him. Yet...when the time comes for me to do it.....I hold back.
Anyway, I tried not to do that. I tried not to paint on the smile. I lifted up my praises and thanksgiving with a huge helping of heartache to go along with it. I wanted desperately to feel better. But nothing.
This is where I have to know obedience counts for something. Just the satisfaction of knowing I was obedient was going to have to suffice in the place of feeling better.
To briefly sum up my afternoon....I spent a total of 2 and a half hours on the phone with insurance people, hospital people, and phone people. I hope something was accomplished. I feel drained and poised for attack. My poor children. When your nerves are this shot out you want to warn them to stay away....for their own good. Ha Ha!!
I will brag on Jesus and tell you that although inwardly I was exasperated and aggravated to no end, my voice remained bright and cheery on the phone. I knew that the people I was talking to were not at fault at all but still I wanted someone to suffer.
See these are the real-life application things that we typically want to leave Jesus out of and handle on our own. We don't want to have to exert self-control, gentleness, kindness, goodness, mercy, and so on.
Only He can do that! I don't know why He wanted me to spend most of my afternoon dealing with unpleasant things....but that is beside the point. He showed me that Christ in me can do the impossible...
I am off to get dinner ready and prepare for the last leg of the day. I am trying to turn this annoyed attitude into an anointed attitude. Wouldn't that be a great example for my kids to see??? Let's see how I do.....
Friday, September 11, 2009
On Saturday, my man and our couple friends left me and my 3 best childhood friends came and we stayed out the rest of Labor Day weekend enjoying each other's company without children or hubbies.
It was so much fun and soooooooo needed. I must admit though that without my children around my hands felt rather empty.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Shep and I had a marvelous time away followed by some time that I got to spend with my longtime best girl friends. My soul was in heaven.
I didn't have to think. I could just lay and soak in the sun. (I missed my children like crazy...their smiles, their smells, and everything else about them.)
I am sure I will post a blog later full of pictures to share from my trip.
For now I am starting the real test.
I could rest while I was away. I could rest when I didn't have to look at reality. I could rest when I knew the junk waiting on me was far away.
But what about now?
Can I still rest in the midst of this?
The answer is YES of course! I am just trying to learn the posture of rest.
The stress of burdens that we don't currently know exactly how to deal with can seem overwhelming and too big.
My head hurts from thinking....
My eyes hurt from losing sleep and worrying....
My heart hurts because I want to help and support my man in all the ways that he needs...
My pride hurts because I don't want to give up or let go of things that I love or enjoy...
So. Just like everything else in my life...this will be a moment-by-moment thing. I will choose each moment to trust that God has it under complete control. I will consider these trials as joy and know that God must work these circumstances out to work for and not against us. I will learn to sing when I want to scream....laugh when I want to lose my temper....pray when I want to pout.....praise when I want to roll in pity...give when I want to gain...and help when I want to be helped.
This is being at rest...I think. I will keep you updated to let you know if I am passing or failing these days.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Not so much sleep....but rest.
Mind rest. Body rest. Emotional rest. Spiritual rest.
Shep and I are headed for just that.
I won't be blogging for a few days...but hopefully I will be working hard at resting.
Man, it has been hard this afternoon. Nothing like more bombshells dropped from the clear blue to shake all that you think you have. I really don't have anything to say right now. I pray and cling to the fact that my God loves me and wants what it best for me. At this very moment...nothing could FEEL further from the truth.
So, I am just going to focus on resting...hearing....learning....and overcoming.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
We actually get tickled because in the midst of this, we are doing great! But dealing with the hard stuff hitting us and not knowing how we are going to manage is very difficult.
I must credit my man though. No matter how tough it gets, he will smile and say, "We are pushing through. We are going to make it!"
I know deep down he is right. But my anxious heart and furrowed brow haven't understood it yet. Oh how I worry over stuff!
Anyway yesterday there we were in the huddle. You know the deal...teams get in the huddle and regroup and restrategize. That's what Shep and I had to do. We had just had it. Life is stinking at the present moment and we had to decide to let it take us in or make us better. We made our choice. Mind you...it is not the choice my flesh wanted to make. I want to walk around and pout.....but Christ in me can stand strong and confident.
All of this came on the heels of attending a "Women of Faith" conference yesterday. I was amazed that God found little ol me there in the midst of all those thousands of women. He had something to say to me. He used Marilyn Meberg. She is an excellent speaker, counselor, and educator. She brought up in her lesson that everyone has this box that we act like we don't have....it called the "Where were you God???" box.
We have these times in our lives where God hasn't exactly shown himself. (of course my mind didn't go straight to June 12th or our financial burden for the last two years)
She said that these times of hurt where we have lost our faith in God then lead us down a road of anxious thoughts that then multiply and turn into questions that haunt us. We don't say anything though....we just keep all of that stuff in that box.
Here are a few of the questions that result from our "Where were you, God??" box:
-Do you even exist?
-Why do you answer prayer for others and not me?
-What sin are you holding against me and using it for punishment?
-Am I not good enough?
-Do I not have enough faith....even though I have mustered all I know to have?
-Do you care that my heart aches over something you could have fixed?
Uh...do any of these sound familiar to you? If so, many you need to deal with your box. Or they may sound familiar because this line of thinking has been haunting me since June 12th. Go back and read some of my blogs and you will see these exact questions peppered through the last weeks and months of my life.
God, in His grace and mercy, brought out the very stuff that I hate to bring up to Him. He knows dealing with it is the only way for resolution. He also knew I would be hit with a bit of a bombshell as soon as I got home and I would need to be armed with encouragement from His Word. If not....I would be tempted to once again place this bombshell in my "Where were you, God?" box.
As I end this blog.....just know I am working on it. As Christians we don't really talk about how hard things are that God places in front of us. We paint on the smile and act like we are fine. Well, if you know me...I am NOT that good of an actress. I have to deal with stuff. I have to fuss and mull over it. Hopefully, as I continue to grow and mature in Christ, my methods will slowly conform to simply trusting. For now....I am in process. Pressing through. Striving. Learning.