Thursday, December 13, 2012

The only way to fix a crumbly to let it Break.

Fantastically blessed...that is in fact what I am. Aren't we all? Just the act of breathing is a blessing in itself. It should be easy to follow God, to stand in the face of trials, to train our focus solely on Him. We however are weak, we can't do it alone. Just as we should come to Him freely like children, so also can we (if we allow ourselves) be distracted like a child noticing the sparkling pebble on the beach rather than the coming wave. Even a gift from God can be distracting....How? Let me tell you.

First off I must apologize to those who read and support this blog. I should never have neglected to post for such a long time. Long story short...Andy and I are expecting a child this coming spring. Fantastically blessed right? I'd like to say we planned it. We did, to an extent. We planned to stop preventing pregnancy in August. WE thought it would take a while, God had other plans. Five weeks later we were announcing the news. I felt amazing! I was certain this pregnancy was going to be easy. Since that time, we've been to the ER three times, I've been put on medication for nausea, practically stopped working due to rest restrictions, and we've seen our precious little miracle 5x via ultrasound.

If you ask my husband he would no doubt agree that I do not make a good sick person. I'm not grumpy, but I am whiny. Going from working full time to barely holding down food, well I didn't take it so well. Instead of finding joy in this season of life that I am in, I started thinking of myself as sick and I couldn't wait for it to end. I was terrified that something would go wrong with the pregnancy. I was missing church, losing my focus, and I had a terrible case of the "Poor Me's." Dangerous territory....
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
                                                                                             Romans 1:21
 I was struggling miserably. I had so much support from family and friends and for that I'm thankful, but inside I was crumbling. How could I sing, how could I blog or minister to others when some days I wasn't up to lifting my head from the pillow? I felt so far away from God. Physically broken and mentally worse. I let how I felt distract me from what and where I should be.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
                                                                                         Colossians 3:17
"Whatever you do...." Yep, that means even on the days that I'm not feeling so good and the only thing I get done is to get out of bed or maybe not even that. Every moment of life should be spent giving  thanks, doing whatever I can for the Glory of the Lord. No one likes to be ill, no one likes to feel broken for any reason, but what if we could use that brokeness to minister to someone else? What if we let God use our battles (no matter what it might be) to reveal Himself to others?

I was hiding behind walls that I put up....fear, anger, depression, worry, feeling alone....but I wasn't alone. My heart was crying out and just like always even when I didn't have the words, God knew what I needed to hear. I was watching a television show when I heard this song and everything I was holding in broke apart......

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
                                                                                      Matthew 11:28-29

Rest...I already feel better. In the past week I've been finding such wonderful rest in Him. I've been recieving so much encouragement from friends online. I've also been introduced to a new ministry for women that is nothing short of amazing. I'm so excited to be a part of it and I will share more soon. God's timing is perfect and His ways are perfect. I recieved just what I needed at just the right time and you can too...

But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul
                                                                                    Deuteronomy 4:29 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Testing, Testing.....

I feel like it's been forever since I last posted. It's been 12 days. My oh my, how much can happen in that short amount of time? Where shall I start? Today is one of those days when I'm sitting down without a clue what to blog about. I just know that I need to do it. I need to keep this up...and I need to share what God is doing for us. Tomorrow will make 6 months that Andy and I have been married. It's been amazing so far and we are so blessed. That doesn't mean we haven't shared a bump or two in the road. Our biggest struggles have been blending our family and finances.

Finances...I thought that I had it pretty much covered. I mean, I've done ok for the kids and myself in the past. It's always been a struggle but we got by, God has always provided our needs, and I shouldered a lot on my own. In the past I've been burned a lot when it comes to money, so letting go and letting Andy take the lead has been hard for me. He took on so much when we married and he has never let us down as a provider. He does worry. Right now, we are paying more out in bills than either of us has ever done. The amount may seem minuscule to some, but to us, it's a big deal. Andy's paycheck covers the major bills, but we had nothing left over. We've been praying for a breakthrough with my job situation. Something had to give.

A few weeks ago, during one of our discussions about finances (which seem to be at least 10x a day now), I brought up the topic of tithing. At the time, the idea of putting in 10% almost seemed impossible. Andy was so stressed and worried about how we were going to make our finances work. So I asked how he felt about giving 10% and explained that it's the only place in the bible where God says that we can test him. (Not that we need to test God to know that He is good!)

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
                                        Malachi 3:10
So, we decided to try it. This week something happened. I got a call to work as a long term substitute. A huge blessing in itself. Even though we aren't sure how long I'll be in this position it's a break for us and I've been promised at least a few weeks of work, possibly the rest of the school year. It's not going to be easy, it's probably going to be the most challenging position I've had yet. I'm going to need to rely on God more than ever before for physical and mental strength. We are so excited though.

The next thing that happened was we were offered a deal that will allow us to purchase a family vehicle at a price and monthly payment amount we can handle. About a month ago, Andy and I had talked about buying it, but we just couldn't find a way to get the extra money to buy it straight out or even to put a down payment on it. I'm so excited about how much we have seen God's blessing pouring out in our life. It can only get better.

I'm not saying that by tithing we're gonna get rich etc. No not at all, I do believe that the more we trust God with our finances, the more secure we will be. My prayer is that the Lord will continue to teach us about stewardship, giving, and trusting him to provide what we need. There's no need to worry, if we worry about bills and money..then we probably aren't doing it right.

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
                                                                   Matthew 6:8
 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
                                                                    Philippians 4:6  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Beauty from Ashes: Remembering 9-11

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise

instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

Isaiah 61:1-3


I remember.... the two words that are present in our hearts today on yet another anniversary of September 11. Nearly every facebook status I've seen this morning begins this way, or even without words by the sharing of thousands of memorials and photos of the event we all wish had never happened. It did happen though, and in the years since so much has transpired in our country and in our lives.

I'm not going to bore you with a personal account of where I was and how I felt. Instead I'm going to share my thoughts this morning. At our church each year we have sort of a challenge. A word is chosen that we kind of make the theme for the year. Last year, that word was Joy. (I'm still a little stuck on it as you might be able to tell.) This year the word was Memories. Not memories as in memories of child hood or family, birthdays etc. When someone says Memories, we are supposed to say "I Remember" and think of all that God has done for us and brought us through.

I Remember....

11 years ago when the towers fell I was a senior in high school. I wasn't a mother, a wife, a teachers aide, a Sunday school teacher, or any of the other hats I wear today. I had no idea where I was going or what I would be, in truth most days I still don't.

I remember the pain of that day, and wondering like most, what was to come. As a country we mourned for those who were lost, but if you are like me, that mourning was more about the loss of the control and security we felt than about the individual lives lost. How can you truly mourn for people that you have never met. We all felt pain, but here in WV most of us weren't personally close enough to the tragedy to really feel the loss. My feelings haven't changed much in 11 years. It's still hard to personally envision all that happened on that day. I will say that in the past year I've gained a better grasp because personally, I've seen the brotherhood of Men and Women who are willing to lift each other up, stand in the gap, and when needed die for others.

 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
                                                                                       James 15:13

In 2001, I knew a few firemen...mostly old guys who had been running calls for years. They were people I saw in the community, usually only recognized as a volunteer by the black boxes at their side ( boxes that I only recognized because my Dad is a radio guy who works on stuff like that.) Sometimes, driving by a wreck I would see a face or two I knew. That was the extent of it, I couldn't identify with the immensity of the fact that 343 firefighters gave their lives in the line of duty on Sept 11. To be honest, I didn't even know the exact number.

In 2011, ten years after the tragedy I finally started to "get it." On Sept. 11, 2011 Andy met my kids for the first time, not as my boyfriend (that came a few days later), but just as a friend saying Hi at a festival. He drove past us in a fire engine, smiling and waving at the Flatwoods Day's parade. I didn't  realize it, but God was starting something amazing for us. In the year since, I've learned more and seen more than I ever imagined I would about the fire service. I've learned the number lost (you can't be around firemen long without hearing the number 343). I've felt the anxious grip on my heart, when my husband runs out the door not knowing what he'll find when he gets to a scene. I've also seen first hand how this truly is a brotherhood. How guys who have never met and who live on opposite sides of the country can bump it each other in a gas station, online, or on vacation and instantly be able to talk for hours like best friends. No where, not even in churches, have I ever seen that kind of instant respect and encouragement for each other. I don't know how it was before 9-11 but I can help but to think that some of that respect comes from the sacrifice of 343 people who were willing to set the example that all emergency responders follow today. I'm not just saying all this because I married a fireman (granted Andy had no clue he would be called to the fire serve in 2001). Perhaps it took this experience for me to see it though, Firefighters, EMS, and Law Enforcement. It is a ministry in itself and a calling that God certainly creates some amazing people for. God has amazing plans for all of us, that is worth remembering.

I remember....

God has promised us that beauty can come from the ashes. From 2001 on there have been so many moments of mourning and despair that aren't even related to the tragedy. We've all experienced personal trials....and many of us have been brought out of them. In my life from the ashes of a painful marriage, came the Joy of two beautiful children, a Greater walk with God, and now...a great husband.. Every time I've been held captive and wounded in my life I have been set free by a Loving God who cares more for me than I can even imagine. It's good to remember the pain of the past, but only so far as to see where you've come from it God has too many blessings in store for those who seek him...why should we be discouraged?

Lastly, I want to share the first news I heard this morning. September 11, 2012. One of my closest friends called me to share the news that her much anticipated newborn daughter had arrived! At 5:31 am Lexi Jolene came into the world at 9 lb 4 oz, and 20 in long. What an amazing morning! What Joy and celebration!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

                                                                    James 1:17
Today I challenge you to remember.We will never forget the events of September 11, 2001 but also do not forget the Memories since and how far God has brought you. Remember the ones who died for others on that day they deserve our respect, but do not forget the One that died for you for  and for the world. Do not forget the children who are blessings from the Lord, do not forget the trials he has brought you through, and do not forget the good things he has in store for those who accept his great mercy and love. Do not forget His promises. .

 "And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer."       
Psalm 78:35

What has He done for you? What do you remember?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fish Guts in the Belly of the Whale? Or a Nice view Ocean Side?

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11

Most of you who know me locally, know that I've been seeking a new job. I love the current one, however if I don't get more hours or move into a full time position I'm not sure how much longer I can stay there. Money is tight and a more stable income on my part would go along way towards helping our situation. So I've been looking.  I've got a few applications in here and there and a few of them look promising but my prayer has been that God would put me where He want's me. Today I recieved another answer. The letter in the mailbox was a resounding NO! The job I wanted...well I wasn't the chosen applicant.

My first reaction was very human...and very common in the face of rejection. I was disappointed. Left to it's own devices the disappointment I felt could turn very quickly to anger and lead into bitterness and discouragement. I was hoping for the job, I wanted it, I had started thinking about what it would be like when I had it......there's a lot of ME in those statements. Had I recieved the letter without prayer in the waiting time....I would have been angry just as Jonah was angry when God didn't do what he expected.

"But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry........But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?” Jonah 4: 1,4

"Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil."  Psalm 37:8

I was reminded very quickly that my prayer wasn't for the job itself, but for God to put me where I was supposed to be. Yes, I could be mad about it, but where would that get  me? I would lose a friend and maybe even an opportunity later on. I realized it's just God's way of saying "Not that one, I have another plan for you."

Jeremiah 29:11 is honestly one of my favorite verses. On days like today it lifts me up to know that God is ready and waiting to guide my steps if I will seek Him. His plans are good. An answer of No from anyone, and the feeling of rejection regardless of the reason is upsetting, but it's not the end.

 “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever” Isaiah 32:17

I can have peace because I am confident that God will provide for our needs. He has done so over and over again. There isn't any need to put a question mark there. I trust that God can and will supply.

"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Phillipians 4:19

So...this we know. God has a plan, His plans are Good, and God will provide. Just remember that His plan isn't always the one we think it should be. We may have to give up on a dream, let go of a relationship, swallow our pride, or sometimes even change directions altogether. God's way's are higher than ours. If we aren't willing to let go of our plans and listen for His, we'll never know the JOY and PEACE that He want's us to walk in.  The Bible doesn't say it will be easy...or that we will always agree with where God is leading us. Jonah spent time smelling some nasty fish guts because of his disobedience and even afterward he never really agreed with or understood what God wanted to do through him...I think I'd rather follow God's direction and maybe get to hang out on the beach a bit. If ya know what I mean. =)


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Tripping Over Stinky Suitcases

"Once bitten, twice shy." Have you ever heard it? I'm sure you have. The gist of it is, that once we've been hurt, Trust is an incredibly hard thing to give. We throw the blame around without realizing that much of the problem was ourselves to begin with. A lot of times the "bite" is the result of not trusting in the first place. For example, ladies we are supposed to trust God for the man that we are going to marry. Sometimes though, like in my case (2 failed marriages)....we jump in head first looking for love without trusting God or his timing. As a result, kind of like Eve listening to the serpent (we all know how that turned out), we get bit. From that point on it's hard to trust anyone including God. We struggle with the illusion that we have control over our lives and we desperately try to maintain and cling to whatever control we feel we have. We don't open ourselves up to trust easily...and if we aren't careful, the cycle of jumping in and getting hurt will continue.

With that said, let me tell you what's on my mind today. I love my husband, and I absolutely believe that God has placed him in my life and that, Andy is the man that God planned for me. The problem I run into, is that I still have some suitcases laying around, full of baggage from my previous marriages and past experiences. Sometimes, those suitcases make it hard for me to trust my Husband. Even though I know that Andy always tries his best to act in the best interest of this family, I find myself struggling with the fear that is packed up in those suitcases. The fear that sits by the doorway of my heart, that I sometimes trip over on my way to trusting Andy.

Today was a case in point, I felt like the suitcases weren't even going to let me through the door. They were piled up almost to the point where I couldn't see past them. Andy and my Dad were checking out the Subaru and testing it out planning to get it cleaned up and possibly legal for us to drive. I've been praying for us to be able to get a car. You can't know our family without knowing that right now transportation is a big concern for us. I should have been excited. I should have been happy at the possibility of anything to drive and granted I loved the Subaru when I drove it before. Instead...I was angry and frustrated.

Andy was so excited, if you know my husband, well you know that he can get a little loopy when he's excited about something. He was talking non-stop about the car. Meanwhile, I was getting more aggravated by the minute. Here's a little of what was going through my head. "How many times have I told him what's wrong and why the car was parked in the first place? How do these men expect a car that has sit in the yard for almost 2 yrs to be reliable? Doesn't he realize that getting it legal is a waste of money? Yes it's a nice car, but it's never going to run as good as it used to and it might blow up on us and leave us stranded. I can't believe he's even considering driving it!" No, I didn't say any of this out loud but boy was it going through my mind. Andy was happy as a lark, and I seriously just wanted to smack him.

Then later while I was doing dishes...I heard another voice in my head. "Why aren't you trusting your husband?"...... Me, "He doesn't know all of the stuff that's wrong with that car! I've had so much more experience with it, I've told him all about it but he doesn't listen. He wasn't even around here when it was parked." Then I heard it again..."Don't you trust Me?" 

Um, how do you put this. I was busted. Here's the thing I learned. Trusting Andy isn't really so much about trusting him as a person. He is human and he does and will make mistakes. However, if I don't trust my husband to lead our home and to make decisions for our family...then to put it bluntly...I'm not trusting God.

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." Ephesians 5:22

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

As I said above, I absolutely believe that God has put Andy in my life. If I believe that, then I have to believe that God is going to work through my husband to provide for and to direct our family. That's a hard pill to swallow for a girl with a stack of unpacked suitcases. What about those suitcases anyways? If they are getting in the way of my ability to trust my husband then they are certainly getting in the way of my ability to trust God.

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." Proverbs 3:5

Lean not unto thine own understanding. My own understanding, all the hurt and the pain of the past, all of the anger and the "He said this, and He did that's" from previous relationships. All of the disappointments and understanding I have of how unreliable the world is. That's what's in those suitcases and every time I stumble over them I'm reminded of what's inside.

You know the worst part about old suitcases when they've been left sitting around and not cleaned out for ages? They STINK! I know this because I just bought some vintage suitcases for decoration and storage for the new place, but when I got home I realized that I can't put anything new in them, until I clean out the old nasty smell. So basically in life it's the same. I can't fill up my suitcases with good things (Joy, Trust, Respect, Grace) unless I let go of, and let God clean out the bad stuff. I have to trade my pain and disappointments in, for His mercy so that I can fully rely on God, and as a reflection of that rely on my husband. 

So I'm gonna try this God's way. I'm going to keep my mouth shut (as hard as it may be), and when I'm handed the keys to the Subaru I'm going to get in and drive without packing up the suitcases for the ride. After all, God created the most amazing universe with such intricate attention to detail that science will never be able to understand or explain it all. Surely, He's a better mechanic than anyone else. How else would you explain a car that's been sitting for so long starting up on the first try?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

An A+ in Kindergarten Doesn't Mean a Girl Won't Need a Little Help Sometimes.

Have you ever been told that you are smart? Of course you have! We've all been praised by teachers, parents, etc at some point or another. We all know what it means to be smart, intelligent, quick witted....whatever you want to call it. Being smart is a good thing, but at the same time it can be a lot of pressure.

I've felt the pressure from kindergarten on. Being labeled as "smart" meant I was expected to have good grades, do well, excel in school, make good choices. Whenever I made a bad choice (and there have been a few) I heard the same thing from everyone "Ann, you're too smart for that!" WAIT a minute though! Whoever said that being intelligent meant you were gonna make good choices? So what's the deal? What else does a smart girl need besides "smarts?" The answer is WISDOM!

It's totally possible to be smart without wisdom. It doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with you, just that there is always room to grow. We are constantly learning from experience, and there are so many things that just aren't taught in school. That includes most of the necessary knowledge needed to be successful as an adult...finances and budgets, parenting, major life choices, and marriage just aren't covered. In the midst of everyday life all of these things seem to crash in around you. When the plate is full you have to figure out what to tackle first and how to balance it all without disaster.

Right now...Andy and I have so much on our plate that wisdom is something I really need. Honestly, I'm crying out for it for both of us. We need direction, and the good judgement that only comes from following God's plan for your life. So I've been reading a little about wisdom and how to find it.

In the bible we read about Solomon, and how when he was given the option to ask for anything from God, he asked for wisdom to be able to lead Israel the way God wanted it to be done. As a result, Solomon was granted wisdom as well as being the richest and most respected king of his time. Not a bad deal and if Solomon can ask God for wisdom, why can't I? I'm not saying I expect the same results. As far as I know God hasn't directed me to rule over a country, but I am called to be a home maker. To keep and guide my home in the ways of the Lord. Andy and I have the responsibility of caring for what we have, making decisions, and raising our children God's way. So why not ask, right?

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24

I can ask, and I believe that God will answer that prayer, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to get wisdom by sitting around hoping it soaks in like sunshine warming the ground.

For whoever finds me [Wisdom] finds life and receives favor from the LORD. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death. Proverbs 8:35-36

blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. Proverbs 3:13-14

Notice that the Proverbs say "Whoever FINDS wisdom." To find have to look for it as well as ask! To find wisdom, we must seek it in the Word of God and in Prayer.
My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:1-6
Wisdom is gift that God wants us to have. He wants us to come to Him and seek his direction for our lives.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. James 1:5

Every day I'm learning more about the Lord and more about His plan for us. It's so exciting to see that, even though right now we have so many physical needs that it's hard to see past them, God is doing something great in our lives! That's just how God works. When we seek him, we will find the most incredible changes occur in our lives. Solomon didn't ask for wealth, or fame but it came along with what God wanted for his life. I don't know everything God is planning for us, I just know that whatever that plan's beyond what I could imagine. I also know that God has promised us something special. (I'll probably share at a later date). I'm just so excited about where things are going...God is Good.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Taste of Joy in the Salt of My Tears

Do you know how it is when you get busy with life and distractions and you realized you've put something off for days? Yeah, that's pretty much what happened with me. Today my husband asked "Have you posted anything on your blog lately?" Oops! I honestly didn't know he was missing it. Anyways...It's just been a crazy, fun, busy week. So much is changing. I guess that's a sure sign fall is on it's way. School started last week, Jaden started soccer, I had a job interview, we attended a cookout with Andy's family, and there are some awesome changes going on at church.

That being said. I have been super emotional. I mean, I may as well have a tissue in my hands all the time. It's been a crazy roller coaster couple of weeks. Usually when I cry it's not in public so much...unless I'm at church. Then the dam breaks every now and again. The guys at church always tease me about being a crier. Usually, I hold it together...but sometimes, I just well up and the tears come. Like, I seriously should figure out a way to install a tissue box on my mic stand.

So, why do we cry? I mean...yeah we are under stress and that is part of it. Some of my tears lately have been a direct result of stress or being upset about something. Sometimes though, it's for no reason at all (that I know of). Other times they are tears of joy or sometimes even worship and surrender. It's hard to define.

Sunday at church, well it was amazing. We can plan all we want to, but sometimes God just throws in that little surprise that shakes us up and moves us to worship. That's kind of what happens to me when I sing and tears come. Sometimes, I just get so caught up and wrapped up in how Amazing God is and what He is doing in my life. Sometimes I can't just sing...I don't know how else to explain it. It's like my throat closes up and all I can do is let the tears flow and I have little to no control over it. I can say this. God always does something incredible in those moments. I walk away so completely full and refreshed.

In the past I've been told that I should "tone it down" and "don't cry so much" or to "get a hold of myself." If I were to be completely honest, I would tell you that I've tried. In no way do I want to stand in front of people bawling and letting my makeup and snot run everywhere! Nope, not at all. You can ask my husband and he will tell you that even at home when I cry I prefer to hide my face. There is nowhere, and no way to hide when I'm on a stage singing and the tears come.

He created me that way. I can't define it, but for some reason, God has put this propensity for tears into my life. The bible says that we are created in His image. I'm also reminded of the scripture that nearly every one learns by preschool age (because it's the shortest). The Lord understands how it feels to cry.

"Jesus Wept" John 11:35

It makes sense in a way. Tears are cleansing and they are evidence of our heart's cry for Him. I remember this chorus from an old southern gospel song.

Your tears are touching God when you cry them from your heart. Yes he knows when you're broken inside. Inside there's a feeling, only God knows the burdens that you bear and your tears are touching God when you cry.
It's like opening up every part of me and letting God work on the parts that need fixing or letting him take care of whatever burden is there. Everything that needs to go is washed away and the only thing that remains is Joy. The rest of the people in the room are like spectators in the operating room gallery. I think in those moments it's not just me God is working on, sometimes the tears are for someone else entirely and I may not even know it. But God does and the result is the same.

"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." Psalm 126:5

"Joy, must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again...I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is." C.S. Lewis  

"In Your presence is fullness of Joy!" Psalm 16:11

"For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Psalm 30:5

The tears may come, but they are only temporary. God wants us to be filled with Joy and that's exactly what we get when we let go and allow ourselves to be broken before Him and cry out in surrender. If getting all snotty and gross in front of everyone is what it takes to get me closer to God. I'll take it. I'll say this to you...if God gets a hold of you and the tears come...just go with it. Don't be afraid to surrender no matter where you are or who is around you. I promise, that when you let go and let God pick up your broken pieces you will experience JOY!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sometimes to Heal, You have to Hurt

Struggle, pain, trials, the need for healing.....we all hurt, we all face something. The past few days have been hard for me. I haven't felt well or been myself. I've been in pain, irritable, and tired. The weekend was long and busy, and I just felt like I wasn't keeping up, but I didn't know why. I thought something was wrong...I just didn't know what. Today I had a regular check-up scheduled, I mentioned how I'd been feeling and as it turns out I have an infection. Praying that the meds will work quickly so I can get back to normal. So there ya go...a small struggle with an easy solution. The rest of the visit....not so much.

The doctor wants me to have some tests run by a specialist. It's nothing major or lifethreatening and they don't suspect any big issues that are...immediate. However, the test itself doesn't sound pleasant. The end result, depending on the outcome of the test, is medication or outpatient surgery. Not exactly what I wanted to hear because pain, well it isn't so fun, and I have a condition that sometimes makes healing take longer than what may be considered "normal" for most people.

What I heard on the way home though, helped me. I was listening to The Message on xm radio. They were doing an interview with Tenth Avenue North, one of my favorite Christian groups about their new album The Struggle. The lead singer Mike Donehey was talking about a song on the new album and how the lyric on the bridge of the song was so relevant to him. It just resonated with me. The lyric comes from the book of Hosea.

"Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us; He has injured us but He will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence" Hosea 6: 1-2

He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us. Jesus is referred to as the Great Physician, but what does a physician do? A trip to the doctor is associated with healing and prevention of illness...but sometimes it hurts. We learn this from infancy on. A vaccination hurts intially, no one enjoys getting a shot, but the protection that small amount of pain provides is worth it in the long run.

What about the bigger things? What about when other more painful treatments are needed? What about surgery, chemo, or the fracture that has to be re-set? All of these treatments are accompanied by pain. To repair a heart, the doctor must first cut you open. There must be some pain, before there can be healing. He has injured us but He will bind up our wounds.

I'm reminded of what the receptionist told me earlier when I expressed my concerns about the test they want to do. She told me that everyone she's talked to has said that while it's not pleasant in the beginning the end result is worth it.

It's the same for us when God allows pain and trials in our lives. So many times we get complacent. Just as we avoid going to the doctor unless we are sick, we don't go to God for the regular checkups we need. We don't seek Him daily, but only when we are hurting or sick or we come up against trials that leave us no choice but to cry out for the Physician. Pain has a way of bringing us back to God like nothing else. Sometimes it's necessary for us to endure a trial, so we can be closer to him. He will restore us, that we may live in his presence.

So what is it that needs treatment in your life? Maybe it's pride that must be cut out, maybe old emotional wounds and factures from the past need to be re-broken so they can heal correctly, maybe you are needing a physical healing. Whatever it is, we can find rest in the fact that Jesus came to heal those hurts. We can trust through the pain we feel, that the end result, will be worth the struggle.

Finally, I want to share the song that inspired this post. It's not been officially released yet so this was the best video I could find.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Leaning on Him When the Wait Gets Longer.

We've got so much on our plate right now. As I've said before, we've been finding so many things that will cost more and take more time in the house to fix. Additionally, there are things that our family needs, that we needed a car for instance, that we have been trying to figure out. It's so easy to get caught up in all of that....lack of finances, what we need, what we dream about, what we needed yesterday and still don't have. Things we have to tackle one at a time.

Last night, Andy and I talked about an issue we've found with the floors in the trailer. Basically, the stuff that's there isn't going to work for us. It's too thin, doesn't match up to the walls, and 2 heating vents were covered when it was put down. In the long run, if we want it to last, we need to do it right.

We've also been talking about how a project like this can either strengthen or tear apart a marriage. Neither of us are willing to allow it to drive a wedge between us. So that means that all of the frustration, worry, impatience etc....needs to be let go and we need to allow God to be at the center of every decision we make. For better or worse, we need to do it right.

So, are you seeing a theme here? If you want things to last, they have to be done correctly. Doing it half way and rushing, just doesn't work because in the end, things tend to fall apart. Ever hear the phrase "Haste makes Waste?"

"The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty." Proverbs 21:5

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9

How many times do we rush and worry and make our own plans? I'm so guilty of it. When we first decided to take on this project, I had a million ideas, goals, and plans running through my head. I wanted to be done, and moving before school started (2 days from now). Patience is most definitely not my strong point. I know that I need to trust in the Lord. I also know that trusting requires me to wait on His timing. He knows what He's doing. What do we do though when our flesh is in a hurry? What happens when God's timing takes too long? How can we know that things are going to work out and that our needs will be met? First we've got to trust that he Has a plan.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Sarah struggled with patience as well. She wanted a baby so badly, and it seemed like it would never happen. I understand that urgency, and the disappointment she no doubt felt when the years passed by. Still...nothing was impossible for God.

"Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” Genesis 18:14

"And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him." Genesis 21:2

Impatience is a weakness, worry is a weakness....but they aren't insurmountable. We can allow God to perfect and refine us through those weaknesses. I think right now....I'm in that place. I'm learning patience. Andy and I are learning how to rely on God through this experience.

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

Finally, we can trust that our needs, when we are trusting in Him, will be supplied.

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

With that being said, I know that realistically this project will take more time than expected. I also know that God has a plan for us. Building a home together is going to be a step in building our marriage. Regardless of how quickly it comes together, or how long we might wait, we want to do it right. We want to trust in His timing.

"He has made everything beautiful in it's time." Ecclesiastes 3:11

We don't always know what God is doing behind the scenes, or why we have to wait. All I know is that I don't want to miss a chance to Glorify Him through the waiting. To allow our experience and our struggle to minister to someone else.

For Sarah, the wait was painful. She knew that God had promised her husband children. Still she hurt, and she tried to make it happen on her own. She had to learn trust the hard way, she had to learn through her mistakes (letting her servant have a child with her husband). She laughed with disbelief when the Lord said that he would allow her to conceive. When Issac was born, she laughed with JOY.

Her story was important and passed down because later on, her story helped others understand and trust what God was doing in their lives . In Luke we can read about Elizabeth who also conceived later on in life. Her husband doubted the promise that she would have a child, but she did not. She rejoiced in what the Lord had done for her. She was also there to mentor Mary when she needed the understanding of a Godly woman. In fact, the angel that informed Mary of God's plan to use her, also informed Mary of Elizabeth's pregnancy, to illustrate to her that "Nothing is impossible with God." (Luke 1).

That's what I want to lean on. Nothing is Impossible with God. Sometimes, you just have to wait a little bit for it. I want to share our story with you so that, maybe through our stumbling and learning process, you can learn to lean on Him too.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Do Everything...Yes, That Means Laundry!

In this house, Andy's day off means we'd better get things done while he's here to help with them. Yesterday, we used the truck to move some more things out of the trailer for my Uncle and Grandpa. We got everything out that they needed except for just a couple odds and ends. Long story short, knowing that they have what they wanted to keep, I was able to get in the house and really get to work. The four of us went over to start cleaning yesterday afternoon. The kids were so excited to help with whatever they could. I gave them rags and windex and they started on windows. We all worked on bagging up trash. So much of what is left needs to be thrown away! What I'm most excited about though, is that today is bulk trash day. We were able to take the old couch and the bed over to the road for the trash pickup today. Things already look much cleaner. In all work there is profit.

Today, the plan is to do some building here in our current home. Thursdays are Andy's longest day at work. He goes in from open to close and then after work, he has the weekly training/meetings at the fire house. We won't see him till late tonight. His one request before leaving this morning was that I work on our bedroom.

Our bedroom is the least visible in the house. By that I mean that you can't see in, from the living room or the hall. You have to actually turn the corner and go in the room. Our bed is the biggest "flat" area in the house so it's often used for folding laundry. The problem is.....this girl...doesn't like to fold. I don't mind washing and drying so much. That's simple enough. For some reason though, I just can't seem to keep up with folding the laundry and forget about ironing!

So this morning when my husband requested that I tackle our mind went to the huge mountain of clothes at the foot of our bed! It's gonna take a while to fold it. Just thinking about it...ugh. Did I mention that I hate folding laundry? I would rather do just about any other household chore. The dishes don't bring as much dread as laundry. Cleaning the bathroom is almost preferable.(Abrianna cleaned our bathroom last night by the way without being asked to. Love that kid!)

So in regards to laundry...I have a lesson to learn.

"She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life." Proverbs 31:12

Ok, I'm called to be my husbands helpmate right? I should be the one making his life easier. The man doesn't complain about the laundry at all. In fact, he washes his own clothes most of the time. It's not neccessarily a "harmful" thing for him to do, but I'm sure there is a better use for his time. So I need to step it up right? My keeping the laundry done, and put away would certainly do him and the children good.

"For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do." Hebrews 6:10

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." Colossians 3:23-24

Ok, here is a new perspective. By serving my family and getting this mountain of laundry folded (and the rest of it washed, dried, and folded) and whatever other housework needs done, I'm actually serving the Lord! I can do this laundry for His Glory! I don't even have to do it alone.

I want to share this prayer from Sharon Wheeless over at Knit Together. I love her blog by the way.

Dear Lord,
I hate laundry. I hate the noise of the washer, the endless folding, and the fact that if I don't get the clothes out of the dryer fast enough they are wrinkled. Oh, and I also hate ironing. I am bewildered when I wash, dry and fold all day and still there is more laundry to be done.
But Lord, I thank you that I have a family and that my family and I have clothes to wear. Thank you for clean water in which to wash our clothes. Thank you for the noisy machine that does most of the work for me. Thank you for the dryer that fluffs out the wrinkles when I am too lazy to yank them out fast enough. Oh, and thanks for the house we live in with its roof and its closets. Thanks for giving me just enough hard work to make me appreciate all you have given me, but not so much that I can't get it all done. Thank you for reminding me every day that all of this is to be done unto You.
Thank you, Lord for laundry.

I'm probably going to print this prayer out and frame it near the washer. No doubt I'll need some reminding now and then. But as I'm typing this, half of the mountain has already been folded. This like any other challange is do-able. I'm gonna put on some Christian music and get back to work. We might even get some work done at the other trailer today. I'm excited.

 Finally, I'll leave you with this last reminder.... (I might need to watch it when the laundry moutain gets too big).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Building a Home x 2

First of all I want to say a big thank you to everyone who is reading and supporting us. I've had so much positive feedback about the blog. Your encouragement keeps me going.

I have already indicated that I'm a bit overwhelmed by all that needs to be done to fix up the trailer. In my "perfect world" we would have it all done and be able to move in before winter sets in. That is my expectation however, and may or may not be Gods plan. So I'm going to have to roll with it, and let things get done as they can be done. In the meantime, I have a job to do.

"Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands." Proverbs 14:1

I have a house to be building. I'm not just talking about the one we are going to fix up. I'm talking about the home we are in now. Serving my family and making sure their needs are met. Making the house we have right now a home is of chief importance. I can't get caught up in the plans we have for the new house and neglect what we have. I can not allow myself to get stressed out and let it affect the comfort level in my home. My family needs a restful place to come back to as we work on the other place. Neglect is not an option.

I've seen first hand what neglect can do. Yesterday, I was so worked up with my fears and worries about what our current home needed, that I failed to see the big picture. This house has never, even on it's worst days, been as much in need of care as the one we are getting ready to work on. Even though it's years newer than the house we are in now, several things are falling apart and there is so much cleaning to be done. Every time I walk over to take stock of what needs to be done I find more that needs doing.

Yesterday I asked, "Where do we start?" I had a lot of good answers and basically it boiled down to doing one thing at a time. Today I found some motivation in this scripture.

"All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty." Proverbs 14:23

All work brings profit. Therefore, even if it's just a little at a time, we are still getting somewhere. I'm going to need to hold fast to that in the days to come. There is a lot of work to do!

Today I was drowning in all that needed to be done. The thought of keeping up my home and building another (and all that it needed) was wearing on me fast. Then, Abby and Jaden started helping pick up things here and there. They were so excited to be working on the new place. They didn't care about all the things I saw. They were excited about the skylight in the bathroom and the thought of watching shooting stars from the tub! They were bubbling over with merry hearts and it was contagious!

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." Proverbs 17:22

Finding the JOY, in the work is what I need. I'm going to keep praying for the strength to do it, and the motivation, time management, and merry heart I need. Right now the end result seems so far away, but I know that eventually, when we are settled in the new house and things are fixed and comfortable there. It will be worth it!

"Work is a blessing. God has so arranged the world that work is necessary, and He gives us hands and strength to do it. The enjoyment of leisure would be nothing if we had only leisure. It is the joy of work well done that enables us to enjoy rest, just as it is the experiences of hunger and thirst that make food and drink such pleasures." - Discipline: The Glad Surrender

Monday, August 13, 2012

Where Do We Start?

Overwhelmed. I know I've talked about it. I even know that I'm not supposed to worry about anything. We've covered it. I also know that sometimes life just seems to crash in all at once. Sometimes (all the time really) we need the strength of the Father to deal with it. Today has been one of those days. I'm not going to share a lesson, I'm going to share a request for prayer.

I've talked about how we've been waiting for the previous occupants to move out so that we can start work on the trailer. We have waited and waited, and in that time I've tried to prepare for what needs to be done. I knew there was a lot of cleaning to be done. Cleaning and I aren't exactly on good terms either. I struggle with it.

Well over the weekend the move began, them moving out I mean. Praise the Lord. It's almost time to get in there and get the dirty work done. However, today when I took a good look at what was needed, I felt it. That creeping up of doubt, fear, anxiety whatever you want to call it. There is so much to be done and it isn't going to be cheap. The wondering began, "How are we ever going to do this?"

I know that we have a fantastic support system. So many people have offered to help out in so many ways. I know that we aren't alone in this. When needed they will be here to help.

Those thoughts though, led me to another area I struggle with. My house is a mess! I struggle so much with it, and that has been used against me in the past. When my children were young, their Father used to berate me and tell me all the time that the house wasn't clean enough. He would constantly threaten to report it to CPS, and say the kids should be taken. He was right, it wasn't clean or perfect like a showplace, but those words left scars. We don't get a lot of company and whenever I know that someone is coming, I panic. I can't rest until I've done a whirlwind clean around the house. Even then, after I've straightened up, I'm nervous and fearful.

Lately we've been sorting for a yard sale, trying to de-clutter and prepare for when we can move. Sorting though leads to a mess. There are piles of stuff everywhere that are earmarked to leave the house. Also at this time, we have several boxes of my husbands belongings that were sent home after my in-laws moved. We are trying to sort that as well. In short. The house is a wreck. We barely have room to walk through it this week. The task of clearing it all out is overwhelming. Add the possibility of visitors coming to help with the other place and you've got one messed up girl.

I'm not sure where to start with the mess. The only thing I know is that I'm gonna need to rely on God a lot. I'm going to need strength both physically and mentally. I'm going to find strength in these promises, and I hope that you my friends will lift us up in prayer. We're gonna need all we can get.

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Phillipians 4:13

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7

I Wish I May...Find More Of Him Today

Have you ever watched a pot of potatoes just as it begins to boil? The boil starts slow and then suddenly it's bubbling over everywhere! That's kind of what happens with the ideas for this blog. I won't even be thinking about what to write and then suddenly it hits me and I can't wait until it's here, written down, and posted. Tonight, I had to wait. The topic was swirling around in my brain, but as it always does parenting took precedence. It's ok though, because the Lord used that time to clarify what He laid on my heart. What my children needed, (like all children) was my time. They also needed a lesson on shooting stars.

I've been reading about parenting this week and one of the main themes that is sticking out in my mind is the importance of spending time with the kids, creating memories, and searching for "teachable" moments within that time. I'll defer to this scripture in support of my hopes for the time I spend with them.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

It's not just the Sunday morning teaching that is important though. We have to look for moments, and also create time when we can point out to our children just how great God is.

With that being said, I want to talk about our experience the last two nights. Jaden and Abby have both been talking about wanting to see a shooting star. Shooting stars, or if you prefer the technical term, meteors are spectacular to see. As a child, I was fascinated with astronomy and loved watching the starts at night and looking through my telescope. I was excited knowing that the Perseid Meteor Shower was approaching. I couldn't wait to surprise my children with a trip outside after dark with piles of pillows and blankets so that we could find a comfy spot on the trampoline to watch the night sky. So, last night, and tonight, that is exactly what we did and with all that quiet time outside, we had a chance to talk.

The reason my kids were so excited about finally seeing a shooting star?  Yep, they wanted to make a wish. Wishing is something we are all "taught" by society. From our first birthday candles, to the genie in Aladdin's cave, to the coin dropped in a fountain our children are bombarded by ways to "make a wish." On TV, often times these wishes come true, which leads kids to believe that if they make a wish, then whatever they have wished for will come true as well. Unfortunately, things don't really work that way.

For example, today I overheard the sweetest little girl talking about how she wished her mommy could come home with her. I have heard similar statements from my own children with regards to their biological dad. We as adults realize the complexity of these situations, and although we know that nothing is impossible with God, we know that some wishes just aren't going to come true, or at least not like we expect them to.

So what is a wish? Here it is from the Merriam-Webster dictionary for Student (aka the simple version)

Main Entry: wish
Pronunciation: wish
Function: verb
1 : to have a desire : long for : WANT <wish you were here> <wish for a puppy>
2 : to form or express a desire concerning <wished them a happy New Year>
3 : to request by expressing a desire <I wish you to go now

The word that sticks out to me here is DESIRE. To wish is to desire something, to crave it, to yearn, to hunger, to long for it. That sounds a bit more familiar doesn't it? More attainable perhaps? The bible has a lot to say about desire and more importantly desiring God.

"Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Psalm 37:4

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." Matthew 5:6

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" Matthew 6:33

That's what I wanted to point out to my children. The problem isn't the wish itself. To make a wish is in it's own way an act of faith. Teaching our children to have faith, well that's a good thing. The problem is what we are wishing on! A penny in a fountain isn't good enough, and a shooting star no matter how beautiful isn't going to do it either. Our faith and our desires must be placed in the hands of the One who created the stars. Anything less than this leads to disappointment.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." Hebrews 11:6

So, when Jaden asked me. "Mommy, can a shooting star make your wish come true?" I had a chance, to not only enjoy the beauty of the meteors falling around us. I had a chance to teach my children about God. To teach them that we can't place our trust in the physical things. That when we desire something, or have need of something the ONLY real option we have is prayer.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"  Matthew 7:7-11

We've spent two nights talking about how, although the shooting stars are beautiful and created by God, they can't grant wishes. I'm sure by now both of my children will tell you that instead of wishing on something, it's better to talk to Jesus about it. Sometimes it takes a physical illustration to demonstrate faith and to understand the Lord. What I want you to take away from this is. Our desires (I don't mean temptations)aren't all bad. it's good to have goals, hopes, dreams for the future.

 But.....Are you wishing on a job that just isn't going to fulfill your needs? Are you expecting something from your spouse that he or she just can't fulfill? Are you tossing pennies in a well with no bottom by sinking dollar after dollar into a slot machine or lottery tickets, just hoping for that big break? If these are the things your are wishing on....STOP!

God is the only One that can fill the voids in our lives. He is the star we should be wishing on. Our chief desire should always be to seek and find more of God. That's a wish that can and will always come true if we make it. All you have to do is ask, seek, and knock. It will be given to you! (No shooting stars required.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sometimes...You Need to Hear a Story

I just love how on the days when we are feeling a little discouraged, God knows exactly what we need. Today was no exception. We are still dealing with a long work week for Andy, and some stress on the job front. I looked into some other options for my own employment and the news was encouraging. Not a for sure thing, but encouraging because there are some possibilities for increasing my hours.

Today I also had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful couple. I love talking to people who have more experience in life than I do. There is something so encouraging about talking with folks who have been through similar trials and who enjoy similar things. My last post talked about looking past the labels and finding friendship. Today I found a friend in the sweetest little lady. I won't reveal her age because, ladies of course don't appreciate the spreading of that information, but I will say that she and her husband have enjoyed 65 years of marriage and they are going strong.

I stopped by their home today lured by the signs stating "garage sale." I'm a sucker for sales and although I knew who the home belonged to I'd never really had a chance to speak with the couple. As I browsed the selection of items, I talked with her about my goal of creating a kitchen inspired by those of the 40s and 50s.

One of the things I love about antiques is that unlike new things, they all have a story. People love to share these stories if you take the time to listen. As soon as I mentioned my love of antiques and my recent purchase of cabinets from the 40s, my new friend just lit up. She started telling me about the cabinet she had that was her mothers before her and about her collection of antiques. She had seemed so quiet when I first stopped, but now she was bubbling over. I was invited inside her home so that I could see her treasures. What a privilege it was!

She and her husband have such a beautiful home, and her collection of glassware and antique furniture is extensive but uncluttered. I loved her stories. Many of the items in her home were passed down from her mother, they were obviously loved and well cared for. What touched me the most though, was the little things, bits and pieces of her collections that she pointed out specifically because her husband had bought them for her. They were proudly displayed in their home like a patchwork quilt pieced from the years they've been blessed to be together.

From the Singer sewing machine that he purchased for her in 1955 that still works like new, to the room he had added on just for her to enjoy, everything she pointed out that he had done for her just spoke to me. It wasn't that I loved the porcelain figures or the glass bowls. It was the love that was shown through them, her in being so proud of the little things he had picked up for her, and his willingness to choose carefully the items she would most enjoy. It was clear that after 65 years they were still best friends and still enjoying life together.

She and I talked a bit about marriage too. She repeated the old adage about never going to bed angry and I loved how she talked about how important it was to let go of the days' frustrations to start fresh each morning in marriage, and how important prayer was. (Definitely, summing up what the Lord's been telling me this week). She also shared how her husband struggled with his role as provider and finding the right job when they were first married. She shared how he worried and how she too wished she could do more to help him with that burden.

We laughed and we cried together and when I left, I was happier. I felt prepared to deal with whatever my husband would need from me when I got home. This evening is was, the ok to cancel plans that would involve spending money because it was needed elsewhere. I was ok with it though because I remembered another thing my sweet friend had said. "I don't keep antiques just because they are old, and I only keep the things I love." I think that statement applies to just about everything, not just clutter, or collections, or finances. It's about what's important and what we treasure. In the case of my friends they clearly treasured their marriage and placed God at the center of it, and they have been blessed. I'm reminded of this verse.

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:21

What do you treasure? Are you hanging on to the past or to the clutter in your life because it's old? Are you laying up treasures on earth focusing on money, or material things? Or, are you focusing on the things of God and the blessings of love and family? I needed the reminder today that even though material things might have value to society they don't hold a candle to the true value of being able to trust in God. I can find joy knowing He's got it covered, we're going to be ok regardless of the troubles we are facing.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds," James 1:2

Who knows! Maybe someday, if it's his will, I can share 65 years of memories with a newlywed needing encouragement. =)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Putting Love Into Action: The Call to Pray

Oops! I missed a day, things got crazy here yesterday. Well you know how it goes sometimes. It was grocery day and there was a good bit of child wrangling (parenting) to be done. I want to point out that I did not miss my devotion time though so, Yay me! =)

I love how the Lord works sometimes in our lives, and especially how everyday the things that He puts on my heart correspond with what others are learning and feeling. Spiritually speaking, yesterday was eventful for me. In addition to daily time in the Word, I've been trying to put prayer at the top of my to do list. When you grow up in church it's easy to know that we are instructed to pray continually.....

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." Ephesians 6:18

....but how do we put that into action? First of all, staying in the Word daily has helped me to keep God at the forefront in my mind. It's much easier to continually pray when I'm focused on it, and hopefully in time, it will be a habit as well. I'm not saying I didn't pray before, but I find that it's easier now.

The wonderful thing about prayer is that it doesn't have to be complicated. I don't have to be educated in all the Thees and Thous to pray....I just have to acknowledge Him. (remember Proverbs 3:6) He knows the needs and the cries of my heart before I ever voice them. I can trust that any and all conversation with my Heavenly Father is heard, and why wouldn't I want to talk to him?  Conversation builds a relationship, and I'm definitely seeking to build my relationship with God. I'm also feeling the call to prayer.

One of my main focuses in prayer has been to learn how to pray for my husband. Reading A Woman After God's Own Heart has prompted me to be more vigilant in this. Another great book that has been extremely helpful is The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. A dear friend loaned it to me and I've got to say it's been so helpful in guiding my prayer for Andy especially on days when trials are present. (I love this book so much, that I'm probably going to need to replace my friends copy, this one is looking a bit raggedy and I'd hate to return it that way.)

Yesterday, was one of those days for Andy and I. Normally, he calls me on his break just to chat for a minute, say I love you, and we hang up. I don't hear from him most of the day. Yesterday though, he called me 4-5 times. It's been a rough week for him, physically he's been in pain. It's also been a stressful week for all the guys at work because they've been getting ready for a visit from a district supervisor. Like most jobs, when the "Big Boss" is expected, co-workers tend to get a little pushy and a little cranky with each other. That was kind of the case this week and Andy was working overtime yesterday on what was supposed to be his day off.

I knew when the first call came early, that something wasn't going right. He was so worn down and discouraged and physically hurting. My husband is a strong man, he's endured more than some people could ever imagine. When I hear pain in his voice no matter the cause, I feel the urge to protect him (I'm not saying he needs me to). Andy calls it my "Mama Bear Instinct." I count it as a blessing and a testament to our relationship that he feels that no matter what he can call me for encouragement or to vent. Yesterday though, I felt helpless. I wanted so badly to help him, to protect him from hurt, and to make it better. I couldn't though. Sometimes, it's hard to be Mama Bear. I can't keep the world away from my family and I can't protect them from every situation. The only resource I had to use.....was prayer.

I can't even begin to describe how I cried out to God yesterday. All of my Mama Bear concern, anger, and pain came pouring out. I curled up on the couch with the copy of The Power of a Praying Wife. I prayed for my husband and every aspect of his life. I prayed for his co-workers as well. I didn't stop praying and crying until I felt peace. Even then, the rest of the day I continued to pray. I let him know that I was praying too. My final call from him yesterday, he was happier. He was still tired, his back was still hurting, but he sounded like his burden was a little lighter. He was also allowed to clock out a half hour earlier than normal to go home.

We aren't quite through this week yet, and Andy is still physically so worn out he could probably sleep for a week, but he left for work this morning with a smile. I'm still praying for him (I ask that you will as well). The peace is there this morning though, that's the power of prayer.

Last night I was talking to a friend about all of the ways that I know Andy loves me and the kids. I don't mean how many times he says the words (which is a lot). I mean how I see his love in his actions. I've never known love so present in action. I feel it in our home. I see it in the slump of his shoulders when he's worked tirelessly all day to provide for us. I see it in the way he holds my children when they need a hug. I see it in the way he tries so hard to help my parents. I see when I wake up to find that the laundry is done. I see it when he faithfully attends church every week even though sometimes Sunday is his only day off. I see it when he's home, every evening on time and not out hanging out or getting into trouble. I see so many ways that my husband puts his love in action, how can I not want to do the same for him?

The most important way I can do that is prayer. There is no greater way I can love my husband than by lifting him up to the One who made him!  I have to pray and do it daily, continually. I can't be there every minute of the day with him, but God is, and will be. I have to trust the plans that he has for Andy and for us. I'm going to do the same for my children. So I'm starting now....will you pray with me?