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.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Consistency in my prayer time has always been a struggle. The past few days have been different.
I have actually worked my schedule around meeting and praying with Him. It is usually the other way around...I fit Him in whenever I find the time.
Well, guess what?? You are NOT going to find the time.
You can just give that up. The enemy will make sure you are too busy to be with Him. Then if you do happen to have a few minutes to actually pray...you will fall asleep because you have gotten still.
Does that not sound familiar??? Maybe it is just me.
Anyway, getting back to my point. I have found that setting aside a specific time during the day and following through has done something pretty neat.
I think about Him.
I think about praising Him.
I anticipate my time with Him.
I can't wait to get alone with Him...almost a little bit giddy.
Today my schedule was different and I had to make some adjustments. I didn't get that time that I had gotten used to. I prayed throughout the day and read a devotional but there was really nothing beyond the surface.
Do you know that I found myself missing Him?
That may not mean much to you, but I am pretty impressed with Him.
Somehow He has made me want to do the very thing I don't even like doing. Somehow He has made that time a little bit addictive.
I realize that each day holds obstacles and things are always going to pop up. He understands that there are just those days that we can't get it done. But, I do think that we let that happen WAY MORE than we should.
See...He is showing me that I thought I was praying to somehow please Him. Although He is pleased that I pray, that really isn't what He is about at all. I think He loves surprising us. Just like I am surprised that I miss Him.
He knows that once we really have "tasted and seen that He is good", then nothing else can satisfy.
He knows He is addictive. He just wants to let us figure that out on our own.
I think I am getting it. I missed Him today....and I told Him so.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Shep and I got the chance to get all "gussied up" for a wedding reception.
I loved the dressing up part.
Shep tolerated it...period.
There are no other arms I love being wrapped up in than his.
He is still my dream. He can make me laugh til my side hurts....and aggravate me to no end.
We even got to dance together on an actual dance floor. For me, the ultimate fairy tale girl, I wanted time to stand still and the rest of the world to go away.
He is the best partner I could ask for or imagine. To know him is to be crazy about him.
In case you are getting nauseated over my bragging...deal with it. There are too too many stories of marriages that are stale, cold, bitter, or end with betrayal.
Why not celebrate a good one? Not perfect....but dang good!!
Proverbs 31:10-12, 27-28
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
I am perfectly content in my role as wife and mother. I lack so many of these things that Proverbs so perfectly describes. However, I do have the "want to" and that is most of the battle, right??
Monday, August 24, 2009
Shep believes that prayer is the key.
Think about it. This isn't a throw-off on any church... especially mine. But how much time do we spend on our knees in prayer as a corporate body of believers? In the book of Acts these people prayed together daily.
Obviously we live in a time where it is difficult to gather together that frequently and spend time in prayer. But, Shep decided to challenge our class and see if people would come and pray on a Sunday evening.
He decided to start it last night. There were 11 people total. Two of us stayed outside and let the kids play while the other 9 prayed.
I came in and quietly peeked in to catch a glimpse of these praying warriors doing what we fail most to do. They were praying. Quietly....earnestly....and powerfully. It sent joy all through me to think that those 9 people were intervening on behalf of our church body. They were praying for revival. They were praying for Holy Spirit anointing to fall on our staff and our people. They were pleading for God to show up and show off. They were confessing our need and our sin before the One who isn't shaken by it. It was awesome!
As I walked back to the playground the enemy immediately haunted me with thoughts like, "what good will 9 people praying do for this church?" and "isn't it pitiful that only 9 people showed up to pray?"
For a brief moment I almost agreed with the liar. But then the Voice that spoke creation into existence spoke softly to me through a song...
Little is much when God is in it
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There's a crown and you can win it
If you go in Jesus' name.
Does the place your called to labor
Seem so small and little known?
It is great if God is in it
And He'll not forget His own.
I just finished my own prayer time and Bible study a few moments ago. It wasn't earth shattering to my natural eyes....I didn't experience fire from heaven or suddenly begin speaking in tongues. But I believe my natural eyes can't handle what was happening around me....the glory of God was here....hovering over me as I prayed. It does seem like prayer is such a "little"thing. Sometimes we even wonder, "what is the point?"
But there is "much" at stake. I don't know why we receive power when we pray, but we do. I believe God would have us lay many things aside.....Bible study, fellowships, even witnessing....in order to pray more.
If you are like me, you don't really know how to pray. Well, I would say the Holy Spirit is the best teacher I could ask for. I asked Him again today to teach me to pray. Why are we so embarrassed to do that??
Acts 1:14 "They all joined together constantly in prayer...."
Acts 1: 8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit come on you,.."
Friday, August 21, 2009
My mom tells me that I knew every word of the hymn, "Brethren we have met to worship" at two years old. I also have wonderful memories of singing in the car with my mom. She would make up songs. She would sing one to me all the time called "Pretty Little Girl".
For some reason, I got "too cool" to sing in high school. Looking back I don't even remember wanting to sing at school. I am sure I was very intimidated because I couldn't (and still can't) read a lick of music. (all of our chorus kids were awesome sight readers)
God had other plans. He allowed some music people to help me at church. They worked with me and helped to build my confidence. By my senior year and throughout college I would sing solos on a regular basis.
I am amazed now at God's handiwork in this process. I would have never pursued singing had God not placed the perfect people in my life at the perfect time.
Anyway...my voice is not anything special. I can carry a tune but it doesn't compare with some of my favorite singers. If I could have my way...I would want to belt it out like Celine Dion, Mandisa, Natalie Grant, or Christina Aguilara. However, that is not what God chose for me. I have a nice tone and a fair range. God did give me an eternal fan. My husband likes my voice and loves to hear me sing.
So....getting to the point of this entire blog...
He told me the other day that he wished that I would sing more around the house. He recalled wonderful memories of his mother singing hymns all the time and how it would bring a smile to his face even now.
He wants our children to have the same experience.
So...lately I have been very deliberate about singing around the house.
The "savor" moment came today. I went into Zeke's room to calm him down because he was mad to be going down for a much-needed nap. I picked him up and sat in rocker and began softly singing hymn after hymn...chorus after chorus.
His eyes were fixated. There I was just 2 inches away from my little mans sweaty tear-stained face and I knew Shep was right. There was something very special, almost sacred, about this moment. I didn't want it to end. As long as I would sing about Jesus, he wouldn't move a muscle.
After I successfully got him settled, I found Ava right outside his door. She said, "Momma, I like to hear you sing. That's why I was outside of baby Zeke's door."
Shep said it....I did it....Ava and Zeke confirmed it. Singing about Jesus can't ever be wrong. I pray that I will turn off the t.v. more, put down my cleaning supplies and clothes that need folding and savor the mundane moments of my day. I want my home to be a place of joy, laughter, blessing, and song.
I am the "heart of the home," right??
Lord set my heart right. Help me sing praise to you when I am enjoying the moment and when I am spent from heartache. You are worthy all the time. Give me the songs to sing. Set the tone in our home so that my children will fondly remember learning of Jesus through songs sung by their momma.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I settled in and began to talk to the One who knows it all. I got through with all of the surface stuff that I feel for some reason I have to say...and then I got down to the nitty gritty.
I am struggling.
I ask Him for encouragement for my soul. I tell Him that miracles seemed to have ceased and that I yearn to see a true bona fide miracle. I confess my waning faith. I have never known anyone who can be so faith-filled one minute and faith-spilled the next. Whew....I am that girl.
Why did He choose me for this?
What possibly made Him think I could go for years trusting Him for a healing that is impossible not to mention ridiculous to the rest of the world?
I think I could find some solace if I saw these miraculous things happening all around me. If I saw deaf people hearing....the blind eyes seeing....the lame walking...or the dead rising...it might be a little easier to hold on everyday.
But...I don't. And I never have. I feel like the exhausted swimmer going the wrong way up a fierce raging river. Fighting the flow, making myself work hard to keep pushing through, getting beat back by the strength of the oncoming water when all I really want to do is throw myself back and float along with the current and let it take me...wherever.
Anyway, I prayed and asked Him to give me something new....something fresh to renew my soul.
To keep believing in Caroline's healing...
When I got home later in the day and checked my e-mail my friend had sent me a link to a story she thought I might enjoy.
She had no idea what I had prayed and asked God to give me. Here is the link: http://www.incourage.me/2009/08/believe-in-the-impossible.html
Check this out and see if you think God used this to answer my prayer...it will blow your mind.
Even later that night a girl from church sent me an e-mail that said her daughter had asked to write Caroline's name on her prayer sheet so she could pray for her to walk and talk.
2 different types of encouragement sent to me the same day I prayed and asked for it. A friend just passing on a story by e-mail....and a little girl's BIG faith for my Caroline to walk and talk.
I thanked my God and received this as salve for my soul. But now...when a little time has passed...why do we think that maybe that was just coincidence? You know...people just being nice....not really a "word from God."
I don't have the answer. Faith is a HARD thing. The longer I try to live it out the more I see that it has to be chosen. Faith won't force itself on me. Faith can't be seen, held, or even felt sometimes....it has to be lived out in a person's life.
Only when faith is lived out in the weakest soul does it become visible and used as a force to hold others up.
May my weakness be made strong in You.....
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
(Isn't it funny how a 1 minute phone conversation can alter the course of everything that was going on before that phone call??)
Dinner could wait...
My mode changed. I had to get the kids taken care of because Shep wanted me to go with him...and of course, I wanted to go.
My mindset changed. As I scurried around the house getting dressed and handling bedtime things for the kids, my mind stayed in constant prayer.
I marvel at the appointed grace that is waiting to be dispensed at the appropriate times.
Today is my sweet man's birthday. He started his day by getting up at five and going the hospital so he could be by his momma's side when visiting hours started at 6:00. I'm sure there have been times in Shep's life where he had many things on his birthday list....today nothing would please him more than for her to be better.
I will update soon how she is doing. We think she will be fine....she had a high fever and the doctors could not pinpoint the problem. She is stable and will hopefully be moved to a room today.
Happy Birthday Shep. I enjoy every day I have with you. Marriage continues to be a blast. You make me laugh like no one I know. Your confidence in me makes me strive to be a better wife and mother. You're my best friend and I am honored to see what tomorrow brings....with you.
Friday, August 14, 2009
That made me think a little...
What would my "ME" box look like?
Well, if I were making it I am sure I would put items in it that would make me look more Godly than I really am.
I would decorate the outside with things that made people notice me or think highly of me.
So sad, I know.
The "Me" box shouldn't say a whole lot about me. It should say a lot about Jesus. He alone is who I live for. He is my next breath. He is my provider. He is my Savior. He is my Healer. He is my friend.
Isn't that our major problem? We want to keep it all about me.
All of those things should be wrapped up and given fully over to Him.
Andrea no longer lives, but Christ lives in her.
Change my "me" to He".
Increase in me Lord...help me to strip away all that I boast in of myself. I turn away from You sometimes before I even realize what I am doing. I give in to pride. I want all things to bend my way. Then I want to turn around and let people see how You have blessed me.
Such arrogance! The enemy makes light of my sin and sometimes I agree with him. God forgive me. I want Christ to shine through me. I realize only in weakness can His power be seen. Keep my mouth closed so I won't say things I shouldn't. Master my mind so that I will think kind, good, and praiseworthy thoughts. I am your vessel. Sorry I am such a mess sometimes. Your patience is unbelievable.
1 Corinthians 1:31 "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I am sitting at the computer (maybe been here 3 minutes or so) and Ava walks in with a tissue and is blowing her nose.
She says, "Mama, I am trying to blow a slipper out of my nose."
Me..."What? What do you mean?"
Ava..."Well, I put a little pink (polly pocket) slipper up my nose to see if it would go up there."
Me..."Ava, are you serious? Did you really put a slipper up your nose?"
(she is four and very mature for her age...surely she didn't)
Ava...."Yes mama. I am trying to blow it out. Can you see it?"
O.k. at this point I start freaking out a little. Zeke is waking up and crying. So I get him his milk and lay him down on his back to drink his sip pee. I tell Ava to get me a flashlight and lay beside her brother.
Dr. Mom shines the flashlight up Ava's nose. I strain and strain to see....and lo and behold...a tiny pink slipper is in her left nostril. I tell her not to move an inch and I run to get the tweezers.
I had to go up a little further than I thought and I watched as Ava's eyes got HUGE with fear...but I did extract the slipper.
Then....I breathed and screamed as loud as you possibly can inside your head.
I threatened her to never ever do anything like that again.
Why???? Why do our kids think that a project like that is worthwhile?
Oh, the craziness of parenthood. I must tell you...I am pretty proud of my accomplishment. And to top it off...I didn't even call Shep to freak out. I am just going to let him be amazed when he gets home!!
Thank you Lord for our wonderful children who keep us alert, laughing, wondering, and praying. Thank you for being the parent for them I could never be.
Monday, August 10, 2009
I always hated it when my mom or dad said this to me. It seemed so...stupid. So what? What did I care?
Now...I am wearing the momma glasses and I see this in a whole new way. Sometimes I just want my children to TRUST that what I am asking them to do or not do is enough. I have their best interests at heart.
So, because I understand this now and use it frequently on my own children, why is it so hard to contemplate that my heavenly Father may do the same to me?
Doesn't He want me to simply trust Him?
Last week I felt prompted to go to a "healing/miracle" service at a local church. I had been praying and then I heard this service advertised on a local Christian station. I felt like I was supposed to write down the info. and talk to Shep about going.
Shep was all for it. I wasn't.
I didn't want to go....again.
I didn't want to watch nothing happen....again.
I didn't want to experience a heart-sick ride back home....again.
I didn't want to get my hopes up and possibly imagine Caroline walking and talking....again.
But, Shep felt like we were supposed to go. He felt like God wanted us to be obedient.
I must tell you that I did NOT expect her healing. I just couldn't. It is too hard to be expectant in that way and fall flat. It hurts so bad.
Well, Friday night came and we loaded up and went.
It was a sweet service. The people were precious and God's love was so evident through them. The praise and worship was wonderful and the preaching was powerful.
Then the time came....."if you have a need of a healing or a miracle come down to be prayed over."
It was go time.
Shep picked up Caroline and down the aisle we went.
(You would think it would get easier and more comfortable b/c we have done this many times, but it doesn't.)
The pastor prayed fervently over us and many others.
There was no change. We just sat there.
Why did we come?
We witnessed some things that are very foreign to our denomination. I will not judge. I will not draw my own conclusions. But, I don't understand....and I really want to.
As I ponder this today, I still don't know why we were supposed to go. The only thing I can come up with is "because He said so."
When we walk with the Lord
in the light of His word,
what a glory He shed on our way!
While we do His good will
He abides with us still,
and with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there's no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Caroline was ecstatic to be back with her teachers, friends, and others who spoil her on a daily basis.
I must confess that this day brought with it a sadness to me.
I just KNEW that when we left for summer break....she would come back completely healed and whole.
Shows what I know, huh???
However, I haven't given up, backed down, or thrown in the towel. I want to. But I haven't. There is too much at stake....for God....for me....for you.
At the conference this past weekend, we learned that we should fellowship with God.
Meaning that in our every day lives we should talk constantly to Him, laugh with Him, sit and listen to Him, ask our every question to Him, and try not to rush it. That is hard in this "get-it-now" society we live in.
I don't know about you....but this is hard for me.
Even when I am trying to lay it all out in front of Him, I find myself holding back a few things. Why? Who knows....maybe I think He will be disappointed or that He is tired of hearing it.
So now I am fighting each day to learn how to fellowship with God. If I don't fight for it....I won't do it. I have to be willful about it. If not, it will be too hard and I will quit.
Now the hard part----
Yesterday I was talking to Him as I was driving down the road. I was very specific in my prayers and exposed some vulnerability and fears to Him. When I finished praying, something on my radio station spoke to my heart.
----I think (and at the time strongly felt) that it was God talking to me. My spirit quickened and I felt like I just knew.....
I don't like what He told me to do.
He is asking me to trust Him again.
He is asking me to look stupid again.
He is asking me to relinquish my already broken heart to him again.
This "again" road is covered with my tears. Do we have to go here again? I want to protect myself at all costs. Help me know that Your Presence with me is a fact and not a feeling I need to experience. Show me what You have for me in this part of the journey. I give you my rotten pride. Grant me Your peace. Help me find true contentment in whatever may be. I don't get you Lord, but I totally dig you. I know you are in the business of making things new. You turn darkness into light, sadness into joy, and death to life. I want to witness and testify to these things. Again...I will follow you. Again...I will blindly trust you. Again...
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
This morning I tried to put the gallon of milk into the microwave instead of the refrigerator.
But...it was soooooooooooo worth it!!
We gathered with thousands of other women and lifted high the name of Jesus.
I absolutely love corporate worship! I love watching other people worship my Lord. I love to see how He has done so much in their lives. I love to watch those who I know are hurting offer Him a sacrifice of praise. It is so sweet to me.
We also got to sit under some serious Bible teaching. God spoke to me several times through these women....
-"Rest is the activity of faith."
-The only way we can really "rest" during life's most difficult moments is to marry the Word of God with our own faith. That will bring us rest.
-We have a "God box" about everything that we believe about God. What He can and won't do...how he acts....how he speaks. We get this God box from our life experiences, our church, our families and friends, other's testimonies, and even our denominations. The problem is we put a lid on our box. God NEVER intended to be boxed in. We limit Him severely when we put the lid on. He wants our boxes to overflow with His surprises for us.
-We have become too familiar with the fundamentals of our faith.
"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever! Amen."
-When I pray and ask Jesus for things....do I just ask for the limit? In other words, do I just ask Him for what I can think of or do I say....."just blow me away?"
-God's presence is a FACT and not a FEELING.
-Fellowship with Him stirs the feeling of His divine Presence.
(So often I just want to rush it.....instead He wants fellowship. He wants me to hang out with him....laugh with Him...ask His opinion on things....run to Him when I am crushed by someone or something. Fellowship, just like friendship, cannot be rushed!!)
The picture at the front of this blog was an answer to my previous blog. I had asked God to speak encouragement to the "secret things" in my heart.
One of my biggest secret things is Caroline's healing. I have purposely tried not to dwell on it. I believe that He has asked me to move on. However, moving on doesn't mean forgetting about it.
The arena where the conference was held constantly flashed digital messages. Anyone could text the conference staff prayer requests and they would flash them on these screens. Unbeknown st to me one of my friends had text ed on my behalf. The words simply said, "heal Caroline."
I knew God had used that to speak to me. He wanted me to know that He hasn't forgotten.
Seeing those words posted in big letters in front of all those thousands of ladies was too special for words.
Brandi, thank you for being obedient. I was so blessed.
To my other girls who went along for the ride....I will never forget it. I pray God spoke to you as He did me. You are each so special. Many days you are the very ones who hold me up. I love you.
Next time, let's try not to make so many pit stops. That last Dairy Queen soft serve about did me in!!