Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Top 5 Christmas Moments

1. Christmas Eve at my parents house
Lots of food...lots of presents...lots of love and laughter...it smelled like home...my nephew read the Christmas story and my niece played her guitar as we sang carols
2. Christmas Eve service at church
The expectation of Christmas Eve....people we love...worshipping the Savior of the world...the lighting of the candles and singing "Silent Night"
3. Late night gift exchange with my man
Just the two of us...the house is quiet...the lights on the tree are twinkling...just as excited as the kids opening our gifts
4. Caroline's special gift
All three of our children loved their presents but Caroline especially loved her doll. It made our day because it is so difficult for her to play with toys period. To find one she loved was so worth it!
5. Dancing in the Helton's kitchen
Shep dancing with his mom....then his daughters....then me. He swept me off of my feet just like he did 12 years ago.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Victory to defeat in a day

We experienced a "first" yesterday.

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."
It helped.

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

Church, Interrupted

I love my church.

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.

Marriages saved...
Addictions broken...
Chains loosed...
Lame walk...
Deaf hear...
Dumb speak...
Dead rise...
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

Be warned...

Wanted to share a few tidbits from my devotion this morning...be warned... it may hurt a little.

"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

Don't think....believe!

O.k. so this blog is for me.

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.
Believe....don't think.....believe.

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

NEW for me

Do you ever get tired of you?

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

Early Gifts

(These are a few snapshots of our weekend...waking up to snow...family snapshot on Saturday and the John Berry concert with our friends.)

This was a great weekend packed with little gifts that I didn't even get to open. They were just given to me.

That is how sweet God is to His kids. He graces us with "little joys" to see His kids light up with joy...and I did just that!
Thursday night was the annual Christmas parade in our small town. Shep and I have NOT gone since Caroline was small. She is incredibly sensitive to loud noises so we have opted out of going. We decided that we would give it a try this year. It was the right thing. It was freezing cold. We were huddled up with friends. Christmas was in the air. She endured the fire engines and then did beautifully the rest of the parade. What a praise and an accomplishment!!

Friday night we stayed in as a family...popped popcorn and watch movies. I fixed bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches (a family favorite) and we just chilled together.

Saturday morning I woke up to huge snowflakes falling outside. It was beautiful! We stood in front of the windows and marveled at this unexpected delight. It didn't last...this is Georgia of course. But, it was beautiful to see.

Our day Saturday was packed. We rode to Alabama for a family reunion. We were busy every moment but I am so glad we went. Hugging my aunts, uncles, and cousins was a treat that I won't get again any time soon. Nostalgia almost knocks you over. These are the people that loved me, fed me, gave me presents, played with me, watched me pitch fits, spanked my bottom when I got in trouble, and spent every holiday with me. Just seeing them filled my heart with home.

Saturday night we rushed back to join some friends for the John Berry Christmas concert.
It was more like a church service than a concert. The Lord was very present in that place. My spirit was stirred and my heart praised God for this glorious season. Christmas is all about hope. Jesus is our hope. He is the only thing that gets me through the day. It was refreshing to hear an accomplished artist brag on my Savior. I highly recommend seeing his show. It ushers in the Christmas season like nothing else....

Today was church day. It is always good to be around my church family. I love the familiarity of faces and just being there feels good.

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.

As we headed to church, Shep and I listened as Ava talked on her "play" cell phone. She told Mary that she would soon have a son and call him Jesus. She told her that she would have to go to Bethlehem with Joseph. It was really cute! She is a little 4 year old sponge. Lord-help me!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

No Holy Trophy

"It is a trap to presume that God wants to make us perfect specimens of what He can do- God's purpose is to make us one with Himself."

"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...."