Tuesday, September 23, 2014

His Perfect Way

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of The Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him. 2 Samuel 22:31

There are moments when our faith is tested. These are the moments when we're standing face-to-face with choosing to surrender and trust God or running in fear and doubt. 

I'm standing there right now. I'm looking up toward the heavens and having moments of uncertainty, "Why God? I don't understand. What are You doing? Why do You want me to go through this?" I can't say I've gotten any answer.

If I truly believe that verse then I will find assurance in His perfect way. Even when it hurts. Even when it's hard. Even when I can't make sense of it. Even when I'm unsure of the way myself. 

My response must be to take refuge in Him, whatever the outcome. Should He choose to move miraculously then I must bow before Him in awe and reverance, knowing full well that ONLY HE could have done this. 

And even if He doesn't answer the way I'm asking I cannot step back and doubt Him. That only causes me to have to trust Him even more for a plan that I cannot see. It can be the most difficult test of faith.

I'm teetering in between that space of knowing God can do this and also trying to prepare myself for a possible different outcome. Where is my faith? Does this mean I doubt Him if I don't stand firmly on the answer I want? It's in these moments of uncertainty that I wonder how He must feel about me. Does He not give me the answer I seek because my faith is so weak? I don't think so. I just think He sees the perfect way that I cannot see. 

Remember just the other day I read of You being in my circumstances, redeeming even my suffering and helping bring meaning to the struggle. So I find myself wondering, "God, is this one of those times when You want to draw me close because of the pain I feel or is this the time when You show yourself mighty because of the miracle you can do?" I cannot know the answer yet. 

The waiting can be the hardest part. It's in these moments of waiting when I come to Him, over and over, with the same prayer, the desire of my heart, the answer I seek, the way I'm asking Him to move. I know full well I may have to be prepared for Him to answer another way but I cannot stop myself from seeking Him and begging Him to work the way I pray. 

We who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary. Hebrews 6:18-19

Sunday, September 21, 2014

When Doubt Creeps In

I don't have to tell you my fears and insecurities to be vulnerable. Satan knows them and he absolutely works overtime to get to me. It's the moments that are supposed to be restful when sleep evades me because of worrisome thoughts. It's the moments when I'm weak, most likely from spreading myself too thin and not drawing on the strength of The Lord. Then I am bombarded by overwhelming fear. Panic-stricken thoughts paralyze me and leave me consumed. 

Where is my faith? Help my unbelief, Lord! I love You. I trust You. But why is this overtaking me?

If I think for one second that the devil hasn't latched on to a foothold in my mind then I have not acknowledged the true evil we wrestle against. 

When you are feeling overwhelmed by your circumstances, take time to listen to Me.

Lord, I'm more than overwhelmed. I'm consumed. Afraid. Paralyzed and helpless. I know You're there and I know You haven't left me but I can't seem to overcome my present state that has me in the grip of my fears. My mind goes to every possible scenario and circumstance that only lead to more worry and doubt. 

Listening to Me when you're feeling stressed requires discipline and trust. Your racing thoughts make it hard to hear My gentle whisper. Ask the Holy Spirit to calm your mind so that you can hear My voice. Remember that I - the Prince of Peace - am with you at all times.

I know you haven't left me. I know I must overcome the racing thoughts that flood my mind. Help me quiet my mind so that I can hear You. Help me feel You near. 

I am not only with you; I am also in your circumstances. Moreover, I am in control of everything that happens to you. 

But Lord, sometimes I don't understand why You would allow these things to happen. Why is there suffering and struggle and pain? I have to use every ouce of mental strength to stop my mind from plunging into the abyss of what ifs...and sometimes I admit I'm too weak to prevent the onslaught of worrying about everything that might go wrong.

Although I am never the author of evil, I am fully able to use bad things for good. This does not remove your suffering, but it does redeem it - infusing it with meaning. 

I know You work all things according to Your plan and purpose. I give You my fears, my doubts, my worries, even my struggles and ask You to draw me unto Yourself. I am seeking Your presence and Your word tells me when I seek You with all my heart I will find You. My hope is in You, Lord. Calm my mind and take captive every thought that is not grounded in You. 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

We who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary. Hebrews 6:18-19

*Excerpts from Jesus Today

Friday, September 19, 2014

One At A Time

There are tears of sorrow and tears of joy. Tears of frustration and tears of absolute deliverance. I think I've cried all of them just this week. I promise this isn't related to pregnancy hormones. (Okay, it may be due in part to the hormones...)

This morning I spent some quiet moments in the pitch black pouring my heart out to God. The week has been full of emotions, full of circumstances, full of challenges, full of victories. Make no mistake - they've been hard fought victories. Victories the enemy wanted to claim for himself. Victories that were won only with the strength and grace of God and a whole lot of prayer. Victories that seem so much sweeter because the journey to get there was so strenuous. 

What I've come to realize is that the idea of God not giving us more than we can handle is far from the truth. In fact, I'm certain that He does give us more than we can do on our own. I'm altogether so thankful this is how He works. 

I am so guilty of going along my own merry way and doing things myself. After all, I am a self-proclaimed control freak. I will figure out a way, solve the problem, overcome the challenge and deal with the adversity head-on. I'm not the one to back down. I'm also not the one to run. And yet over and over I realize that on my own, that is if it were up to me, I would just think it's in my own strength. It would be so easy for me to forget or overlook my need for God. It would also be way too much like me to take all the credit.

I can recall moments, usually circumstances, that encapsulate the utter dependency I have on the need for my Savior, the sheer helplessness I've felt on my own. In these moments I've turned to God. I've fully surrendered and put my whole trust and faith in Him because I had absolutely nothing else to turn to. 

With such a spotty memory, I bounce right back into the "smooth sailing" of life and before long I'm back to my old faulty way of thinking that somehow I am the cause for my present state of calm and peace. Somehow I seem to mistakenly believe I can claim the victory for myself. 

Oh me. When will I learn? 

Let me say something here. I don't think God intentionally causes problems for us just because He wants us to struggle. God wants to show Himself mighty. He wants to remind us of our need for Him. The trials we face give Him the opportunity to reign and work and reveal Himself to us. God also wants to grow our faith. Our own inability to meet our need causes us to rely on Him and develop our faith and dependency on Him. 

Even when things haven't gone well, even when I haven't been able to understand or fix everything, I've never lost sight of God at work. I don't need to explain all the different ways just this week He's reminded me of who He is and how He is at work. When I let Him work, that is. Tears of thankfulness. Tears of surrender. Tears of celebration, one victory at a time. Even if that victory is simply me understanding my need for Him. 

Today I'm also crying tears of joy for the simple things that sometimes take so much effort and cause so much difficulty. Tears of rejoicing for the small victories that serve as the reminders that God is always at work.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

We're Expecting

I've started the first line a half dozen times and can't seem to know where to begin. Michael and I are expecting a baby early May 2015. Yes, you can do the math and figure that I'm only a few weeks pregnant (does that make me any less pregnant?!) and yes, we chose to announce before the traditional first trimester. It doesn't really matter why but I can tell you that there is a life inside of me and that is something we want to celebrate! 

I can't come up with words to describe the goodness of God. The abundance of blessing bestowed on us is almost too much to handle at times. I know I don't deserve it. I have not earned it. But I will boast only in The Lord and His wonderous love and blessings. Even when I've been wandering, lost and faithless. Even when I've doubted and prayed what I thought were endless unheard prayers. My God was there, ever listening, ever waiting, ready with His perfect plan in His perfect timing. 

Those two little knit booties in the picture represent life. Those two shoes represent the feet being formed for the baby being fashioned inside me. Truthfully, I never knew if I would carry a baby. Frankly, I had buried that dream many years ago. I prayed to become a mother and that is what The Lord granted me. And yet He decided not to stop there. I am so mindful of the fact that both of my children have been brought by nothing less than the Sovereign and miraculous hand of God. ONLY GOD! 

Just as Elijah was being fashioned in my heart, just as God perfectly placed him in my arms as the answer to my prayer to become a mother, so He is now forming a baby, our baby to be part of our family. ONLY GOD!!

"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, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

I could search the world over and never come up with enough ways to express what I owe Him. It's not because I prayed hard enough. It's not because my faith was strong enough. It's not because I was good enough. It's certainly not because I deserve it. It's only because, by, through and with God. ONLY GOD. 

Rejoice with us as we praise The Lord for this miracle!
Give thanks with us as we honor Him at work in our lives and for the life inside me.
Pray with us for our baby and our growing family. 

Only God!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Welcome September

It happens. Every year. Without fail. It's 90 degrees with high humidity yet throughout the course of this day that feels like summer's last hoorah, I'm pining for all things fall. Welcome September. I'm so glad you're here. 

We've spent our Labor Day laboring - deep cleaning, that is. It feels like we're preparing for spring but instead we're fully embracing what's soon-to-be autumn. The windows have all been cleaned and the screens put on. My husband cannot know the full extend of the happiness he has brought me by doing this. There's a warm breeze (maybe more like hot?!) but I'm absolutely thrilled that the cooler temperatures coming will allow the windows to be opened and let the breezes blow through. The house is clean and it just feels "good." It feels like we're ready for the new season.

I guess I'm all-too-predictable since at least half a dozen people have let me know the Pumpkin Spice Oreo flavor that's out. Others have shared pumpkin spice recipes, PSL's on sale early and other "pumpkin-related" updates. I might need to change my profile to "Loves all things Pumpkin, Oreos, Coffee and Birthdays." Oh yes, September, I welcome you. I embrace you and all that's to come. 

It's already hit me. I had the desire to bake but I'm ashamed to admit I have no can of pumpkin on hand. I pulled out the dehydrator instead and prepared some apples, blueberries and bananas along with freshly pureed fruit roll ups. I started searching for stew and soup recipes. I was so tempted - THIS CLOSE - to making a pot of chili tonight. After all, it is September. Nevermind the temperature.

The truth is I love the start of a new month. I love flipping the calendar (yes, I still have a paper one on my desk) and seeing the very beginning. It's fresh and new. It's only a matter of time before it will be filled up with appointments, reminders and circled dates but for this day it's a clean slate. I love the change of seasons. Every season. I love welcoming with anticipation what I know Autumn brings, knowing full well that following behind it will be winter and holidays in full force. Oh yes, it's all coming. The new month, the onset of the season to come is unstoppable. 

Lest I get ahead of myself, don't worry, I'm not ready to turn the calendar into the new year. Not yet at least. (Although...then the 59 day countdown will begin for my birthday but that's another story!) No, today I'm just pausing to enjoy the new month and the ceremonial close of summer as fall begins to make its entrance. Welcome September. I really am glad you're here.