MORE than just Survive…Thanksgiving 2014

This Thanksgiving I am thinking of WHAT truly MARKS a Christian.  As I have completed a most precious and timely book on Psalm 23, A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23, by W. Philip Keller, given to me by my most CHERISHED mentor, Julie M., my mind feels renewed…and my heart too.  A Christian is meant to be serene, trusting God always…that “surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,” no matter what trials may come.  I must learn to TRUST my most capable master and Shepherd.  He always has good planned for us and is with us in every trial.

Julie gave this precious book to me last spring and I needed it desperately this summer and fall.  This season has been one of great pruning for me.  A time of learning…mostly learning to rely on Him.  I have had the joy and hardships of learning a new neighborhood with a somewhat unexpected move, learning new relationships, a new job, supporting and loving Brian through his rigorous studies for SAMS and his Kansas State degree, loving him through multiple tough surgeries on his wrist…and preparing our family for Brian’s departure for a year to Kabul in just 4 weeks now.

Honestly, as Brian graduates SAMS THIS THURSDAY…I can barely believe we have made it all intact.  The past two years, while we have been here in Kansas, EACH of the kids and Brian have had broken bones….so we are not quite all intact 😉 …but as our gracious HEALER continues to heal, we might just come out of this Kansas experience more whole because of it all.  By His Grace, we have made it…and He has allowed us to Thrive.

Last summer, with a move and pending surgery for my hubby, I started out my position as Spiritual Life Coordinator for PWOC, pondering all that God had planned for me in this role and excited to step into a new role in supporting others in ministry.  I sensed I wouldn’t be able to do everything I WANTED to do for His Kingdom…during this season of my life.  Desperately wanting to give more to the care group leaders…to invest more in THEM…more in PWOC…but already doing all I was able, I feel right now, as I take a moment to reflect as the most special Advent Season and Christmas break is approaching, left with the same feeling I had ending my role as prayer coordinator…wanting more to give. When Christ calls, I feel beckoned to give my All.  I have been learning to balance family and work for His Kingdom.  Some days, I feel torn and long to run to my first calling…and focus only on them….and some days I have needed to do that and take a respite…but He keeps me going, keeps me pressing forward, working in His Kingdom.  ….But, aren’t we always called to do work for His Kingdom?  Whether we have an official title or not?

My theme song for this fall has been “THRIVE, by Casting Crowns”  Oh, how I love this song!  The word “Thrive” means ‘to grow or develop well or vigorously.’ God keeps reminding me to “not just survive” during this season, but to THRIVE.  It feels like some days I truly am surviving…but each time I made that my goal, God reminded me..”I have so much more planned for you than you could ever know.”  My plan for you is to THRIVE right now.

Here are the beautiful lyrics to this beautiful song:

~THRIVE~

Here in this worn and weary land
Where many a dream has died

Like a tree planted by the water
We never will run dry

So living water flowing through
God we thirst for more of You
Fill our hearts and flood our souls
With one desire

Just to know You and
To make You known
We lift Your name on High
Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive

Into Your word we’re digging deep
To know our Father’s heart

Into the world we’re reaching out
To show them who You are

So living water flowing through
God we thirst for more of You
Fill our hearts and flood our souls
With one desire

Just to know You and
To make You known
We lift Your name on High
Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive

Joy Unspeakable, Faith Unsinkable, Love Unstoppable, Anything is possible
Joy Unspeakable, Faith Unsinkable, Love Unstoppable, Anything is possible
Joy Unspeakable, Faith Unsinkable, Love Unstoppable, Anything is possible
Joy Unspeakable, Faith Unsinkable, Love Unstoppable, Anything is possible

Just to know You and
To make You known
We lift Your name on High
Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive

Hey!

We were made to Thrive

~~~~~~~

Last fall I remember God telling our family to “WALK WORTHY.”  And in the Spring, He called me, as I stepped into a different role in ministry, to be a GENTLE, BOLD SHEPHERD.  It’s amazing how He tells us to do that…and then makes it possible as we take steps to trust Him.  I think our family is walking more worthy of His calling now, by His Grace.

THIS FALL, He is asking me to step out in FAITH despite my inabilities and lack of qualifications.

I’ve been working through First Timothy, Titus, and now Hebrews the past month and today I read Chapter 11, the renowned FAITH chapter.  As I read, I literally felt God bring up all the areas of my life that I am struggling to BELIEVE Him for.  I felt so humbled, confessed, and asked Him to help me overcome my unbelief.  I WANT to believe Him for MORE.  I want to go with Him to the next step…to trust Him and let go of all my weaknesses, truly trusting His power to be perfect…His GRACE to be sufficient.  I had to tell myself that today.  It is sufficient.  It IS sufficient.  Sometimes, it doesn’t feel enough…but that is when I have to remind myself of God’s Word…it is perfect and He says His Grace is sufficient…so…IT IS!!

I feel as though God has sent me through a most wonderful leadership course over the past few months…I have learned so much through people, through church, through Sunday School, through parenting.  It is a wonderful privilege to lead…  It is a tremendous responsibility.  It is a calling.  And it is Anointed and Enabled by Him.  This gives me great comfort and confidence in Him.

~This Thanksgiving, I am deeply grateful.  Grateful for my salvation…grateful for His Grace…grateful for the INCREDIBLE things He has done for us this year.

Things I am thankful for this sweet year in 2014:

*He has SAVED one of our own…a family member who confessed Him as Lord and Savior this summer!!!

*An HOUR long phone call with my sweet mother…!  These moments are irreplaceable! I love you mom!!

*TOTAL HEALING over a cousin, Andrew, who had cancer for the past 3 years.  He is 6 now and CANCER FREE!!

*A precious bible study with many co-workers who walked from one school program into the next right with Brian!

*Guiding us through this time of school for Brian and service in ministry for me, and seeing HIS hand even in Brian’s exercises and books, papers, and briefings…God is so NEAR and in EVERYTHING!!

*My treasured mentor, Julie….Her deep love for our family, how she has taken me in, loved on my kiddos, spoken truth to my heart, helped me learn to lead women, supported and encouraged me, and worked alongside me for Christ.  I am deeply grateful for her and her humble leadership.  On Thanksgiving morning, (in her pjs…she wouldn’t let me get a picture!)…she spontaneously shared with my kiddos Hot chocolate with yummy BIG sticky, gooey marshmallows, and allowed them to ring her beautiful bell 100 times!! (at Lewis’ request) …we are overjoyed to live right next to her!….her house is literally right behind our backyard across a fence 🙂

*Precious answers to prayer through our prayer team!  God has healed people and performed miracles before our eyes.  Truly, God’s power to heal and transform never ceases to amaze me.

*Precious things He’s done in Ethiopia…in our most precious friends lives…in remote Ethiopian tribes’s lives…in the hospital in Soddo…He has healed, He has reached into the edges of the earth and humanity (these tribes are so very isolated) to touch lives with His Word, His Message, His Love…through PEOPLE.

*Deep, deep work He is doing in my heart…as a wife, a mommy, a friend, a daughter, and neighbor.

*Growing each of our family’s hearts, transforming our minds.

*Allowing us precious time…4 weeks…CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR’s with daddy before he departs!

*Sweet visitors throughout the year and a most cherished visit with Brian’s parents as he departs.

Each day, He reminds me to savor, to cherish all the moments and all that He brings forth in them. Each one is a GIFT ~

Happy Thanksgiving 2014 sweet ones!!!

Advertisements

Sweet Encouragement!

Romans 12:12: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.

As I was reading a book to Lewis the other night…I call it our “lighthouse book”…in it was this verse…it had a profound meaning to me in that moment.  If our circumstances lead us, often we’ll be tossed on the waves of uncertainty and an emotional roller coaster, but rarely will we find that PEACE that comes from God this way.  I wanted to choose differently, but my flesh was fighting my spirit.

“Please help this verse become a reality for me right now, Lord,” I prayed.  I knew it was these characteristics that were lacking in my heart, the main cause of my struggle for that day…I couldn’t change my heart…but God could.

I want to share these words with you, because they came so powerfully into my heart…and I knew they weren’t from me: “When you think wrong thoughts about God, your spirit is automatically dampered, even destroyed…you begin to despair.”  You see, our hearts were made to think RIGHT things about God, and when we do that, shalom is present.  Everything is as it should be.  When we don’t, our hearts begin to fail and turn to other things/thoughts/ways to help us cope, which always leads to sin..fracture…despair.

Sweet prayer from friends, confession on my part, and repentance…turning 180 degrees the other way…helped my heart think right thoughts about WHO HE IS, WHAT HE CAN DO, and WHO I AM TO HIM.

My body went into preliminary labor last Monday with Emma…and continued on a bit (just not as severe) for the rest of this week…but it seems this is normal for many women…just new to me 🙂  I’m so thankful for the sweet friends who have cheerfully and peacefully assured me from their experiences–past and present.  My heart is resting peacefully once again in Him.  His timing IS perfect and we are excited to discover His appointed time.  He told me at 7 months, when He spoke to me softly about her birth, to NOT waver in faith…my faith is continually tested…but HE IS FAITHFUL and He will make me faithful as well.

Part of a Miracle.

As I lay my hands on my belly, waiting for that first kick…that first flutter, my mind strays to a place of awe…awe in what God is doing right now inside my body, awe in what He is allowing me to be a part of…a true miracle.  I love being a part of that miracle.  I cannot believe that I would be entrusted with another incredible little one to love and raise in His Ways. I depend so much on God for this with my two and I know I will learn to press even more deeply into His guidance and love and grace for another.  I’ve never felt quite adequate to give life and raise it.  What makes me qualified to do that?  Nothing, but the Will and enablement of the Lord.

I was so nervous to be a mommy of our firstborn.  I’ve come to see that God is truly His parent, His ultimate shepherd…and I am only as good a parent as I seek the Lord and trust in Him.  It is quite amazing to allow God to truly parent my son by submitting to the Lord’s ways and Will in his life.  It is wonderful to see my role in the light of God’s truth and how awesome a parent God is!

I had a 4 page birth plan with my son..and he suddenly was born 7 weeks early, with a spontaneous rupture of membranes.  Brian was in Korea, I was in labor 2 1/2 days in the states (The Lord put it on my heart to ask to leave Korea in my 4-5th month and the intense training unit I was a part of there, and to seek help to be transferred to a unit in the states…God provided in a major way), and Brian even made it 7 hours before the birth!  To be honest, when I had been in labor 56 1/2 hours, I am not quite sure I really cared all that much about how he was born, as long as he was on his way into my arms 🙂  We escaped a c-section by the nick of time, and Lewis came beautifully into this world, and for a very short time in my arms, and then quickly into the NICU.  God provided every single step of the way.

I had a 2 page birth plan with Hannah (I got better), but my first few appointments with her, the doctor told me the pregnancy was no good.  We switched doctors…., and the second one I had was hand-picked for me.  She had two children, had early pregnancy bleeding and bed rest and could relate to my situation.  She never doubted that Hannah would be ok.  She also was a huge fan of c-sections, however, and I was not 😦  The Lord knew what I needed though, and there was a reason he picked a doctor for me that was a fan and pro of c-section deliveries.  Brian and I sensed God’s hand in this hospital team He gave us–with our translator (and her incredible mom who came to stay with me for a week while I was on bed rest), with our doctor, and all the wonderful assistants.  We felt His blessing upon us.  Hannah decided to stay transverse up until delivery and so she had to come out by c-section.  She came on the exact day the doctor predicted her birth.  And she came out by a doctor who had a lot of experience doing c-sections.  God provided every step of the way.

With this little one, I was determined to only ask for a handful of things for the delivery—actually, I think I asked for 3 things…after the doctor told me everything she preferred.  It was a bit comical, because, the doctor actually brought up one of the things I wanted the most—she told me I would be a great candidate for a V-BAC.  This was great news to me because I don’t see any way for me to recover from a c-section with Brian in ILE and grad school here.  I am not entirely sure he’ll be able to take any time off at this point.  A natural delivery would be an incredible gift to us.  I know God will provide, no matter how this little one chooses to enter this world.  He always does.  One thing is perfectly clear to me right now–as I look back and forward–God has a tender heart for pregnant women–in their vulnerability, in their distress…He provides and comforts in amazing ways.  He is so strong and is the giver of life.  And He guides that precious one into this world as gently as He guides us out, despite what it may seem at times.  I have felt His comfort and His loving presence each time I have given birth…and I know He will be present throughout this pregnancy and birth.

Pregnancy and delivery has always been a time that God has used to build great faith in my heart.  This time is a time where I am having to leap for that faith.  I am having to choose to have that faith.  It doesn’t feel like the Holy Spirit is embracing me this time and filling me with faith like He did last time.  This time, I have to keep choosing over and over to have that faith.  It is deliberate…  This time, faith is required of me in deeper ways than trusting God to deliver my baby healthy and on time.  That is something I know only God can do!  I had no choice but to have faith.  This time, the faith that is required is harder…and more personal.  But, God is still there, waiting to build my faith and prove Himself once again to me–to be my strong Helper, to be my strong Deliverer.

I long to know His intricate design for this little one I have yet to meet.  I long to know His calling for him/her.  I long to know the name He has chosen for this baby.  I long to know His hand of Grace and Love and how this life will play out before my eyes…what God will do in and through him/her and in our family.  I long to know how this little angel will be perfectly designed to be a part of our family.  I see the Lord preparing Lewis and Hannah’s hearts for this child.  I see him preparing Brian and my hearts.  He is growing our hearts, growing our minds, and most of all, growing our FAITH…as He is working most beautifully and intricately in my womb as He grows our family.  He is always working in so many ways.  I can’t WAIT to meet one of His masterpieces!!!  🙂

An offering unto the Lord.

This past late July, one particular day my husband went to the pool and came back telling me a story of a lady he met with the sweetest kids…that they knew the Lord and that he shared with her that I was recently pregnant…and that she informed him we would have twins someday.  I was shocked…and took note of it.  The next few days were filled with people who had twins…who crossed paths with us….I took note of it and treasured it in my heart.  Although, it was a bit too much for me to think about, since I was recently expecting.

A few days later, we returned to the pool, this time with just me and the kids.  It was a beautiful day.  We were about to start our bible study, and so I was keeping my eye open for people that God might have attend our study…waiting for His timing to share, to tell, and ask if people if they’d like to come.  We wanted the Lord to bring them into our paths and fill our home with those He hand picked for our study.

I came across a lovely woman this one day who told me of a heartbreaking story.  She said she had recently lost her husband and son and that God had told her to pack up her things and her other children and head to Fort Irwin.  She didn’t know why.  I was astounded by her faith.  I thought she would be the perfect person to come to our study.  I told her about it…she smiled and didn’t commit either way.  We talked about other things.  She told me she had met my husband and kids just the other day.  I didn’t connect the dots right then….We prayed together, I for her situation, and she for my recent pregnancy.  She placed her hand on me and informed me that I was going to have twins someday.  We parted ways and I wondered if I would ever see her again.

Later that week, we lost our sweet little one.  God pressed me in for comfort…drew me close to His heart…and comforted me and healed me over the next few months.  The next two months, when it was around that time, the subject of twins kept popping up.  I started to seek the Lord in asking Him whether He was encouraging me that we would have more…as the Scriptures I had read that tough day had really encouraged me that we would have more.  It was too much to think about twins at this point.  He was settling it in my heart.

Two months later…our joy became complete in finding out that God was bring forth new life in our family!  My heart immediately began to visit that late July summer day…and the words of that precious woman who I had not seen again….I wondered, “God, was this you?”  I didn’t want to set my heart on anything that wasn’t from the Lord.

This week, God has been speaking to me about overcoming my unbelief and having great FAITH in His promises.  I always feel as though God is taking me to a greater and greater place of faith.  Last time, it was in trusting Hannah to be full term baby, regardless of the things that kept happening.   This time, it is in believing that there are two little ones in there, and that we could possibly raise a family of 4 children under 4.  I know it will only be by God’s GRACE and the seed of FAITH that He has planted in us and keeps growing every day.  I stand amazed…

Out of His mercy (they usually don’t see you until after 12 weeks), God has granted us an ultrasound 2 weeks from now.  We are looking forward to knowing and seeing God’s miracle on that day….and having a peace of mind to know for sure!!!

This flower is a beautiful rose a friend down the street gave Lewis for the new baby.  It is an offering unto the Lord.  We give it to Him, out of our great thanks for His unending love, grace, and mercy to our family.

Lord, help me overcome my unbelief….help me trust in your miracles and your revealed will to your children…help me trust that this miracle might be possible…and that we could possibly raise these children each day with OBEDIENCE, FAITH and JOY!

Awaken Our Hearts…

Nothing can tear us from
The grip of His mighty love
We’ve only glimpsed,
His vast affection
Heard whispers of, His heart and passion
It’s pouring
out…

His love is deep, His love is wide
And it covers us
His
love is fierce, His love is strong
It is furious
His love is sweet, His
love is wild
And
it’s waking hearts to life

The Father loves and sends His son
The Son
lays down His life for all
He lavishes His love upon us
He calls us now,
His sons and daughters
He’s reaching out…

… and its waking hearts
to life
He is waking hearts to life
He is waking hearts to life

-song by Jeremy Riddle

—-

God is awakening our hearts from much discouragement lately.

The Lord is speaking to me often through songs lately.  My heart will be in a certain place and for three days in a row, God has brought forth a song every day to match my sentiments exactly.  He really does know my heart and my thoughts so very well!

Lately, my heart has been confused and learning to be longsuffering and patient.  God is teaching us FAITH.  In perfect time, Lewis’ verse to memorize this week is about faith.  It is “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  (Hebrews 11:1 I think 🙂 )  And the second part is: Faith: I will believe and act on God’s promises.  I told him that I would randomly shout out “Faith!” And he would have to shout back, with confidence, the other part.  He did really well and was really excited.  I love it when the things I am teaching fall on attentive and responsive ears 🙂  It was a perfect verse for me to teach him because I was really needing to be reminded of it as well.

Doubt is a temptation when the things we think we have been called to just don’t look like they are happening.  It really tempts me to question my understanding of His voice to me.  You see, I waiver between never wanting to be too sure of myself…and having confidence in God’s promises or Word to me.  It’s a tough one.  This is the case in so many areas of my life right now.  God is calling…and my heart is willing…but I just don’t know if the steps I am taking are the right steps or if I am hearing His voice correctly.

The last few days have been a bit dark in the sense of feeling His spirit depart…and being left to have that faith.  I have come to the point in my spiritual life where I can sense when God’s spirit is with me and when it isn’t.  I woke up today and it wasn’t.  I prayed and confessed and read in my quiet time…nothing.  I continued to pray throughout the day and His song was upon my lips.  I was delighted to get my sleepy kiddies out of bed and smell their sweet, sweet smell.  They were full of sweetness and giggles this morning and it was God’s loving gift to me on a dark day.  On days when I am confessing my sin to the best of my knowledge…and still no sense of the Spirit being present…that is when I know the Lord is testing my faith.  I often think of Mother Theresa when I am having these days.  She, surprisingly lived in much darkness, as the Lord had called her away from a life of unity with Him, to a life of faith in darkness…to serve a people who lived in the dark.  I cannot imagine that.  She lived a life of faith in that darkness.  What a testimony.  That is true faith.

I want to have that faith right now….in the midst of a season of much longing and waiting.  God is continually telling me to persevere…and that He will fulfill the dreams He has put on my heart.  When I look around, virtually none of the things that He’s promised me are coming true.  He continually is encouraging me…but often I doubt.  It is so hard.  This is the time to have that faith….my dreams are being purified.  My faith tested.  And on the other side of the refiner’s fire…I hope to be that much more faithful…and that much stronger in my faith and trust in Him.  May my expectation and confidence be in Him.  He is the source of all my joy, dreams, and hope.  And I know HE will fulfill them in the most beautiful way in the most perfect time.  To Him be all the Glory, Amen and Amen.

A faith unswerving

One of my favorite people, Mother Theresa, according to a book written about her- “Come Be My Light,” lived in darkness to lead those in darkness into light.  I have always been drawn to Mother Theresa–her work, her calling, her heart for Jesus.  God is showing me more and more to be faithful despite my feelings.  I am learning to not rest on my feelings that particular day or week…and simply know His commandments and obey them.  I know what is right.  Just because I may not “feel” particularly Godly one day…or “feel” His presence…doesn’t mean I should obey any less than on a day when His Spirit is enabling me.  I am learning to obey in that darkness that feels like an absence of His presence.  I know He will not forsake me and will never leave me.  I want to show Him my love for him no matter the feelings I have inside.  My heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9), but His Word is EVERLASTING.

Living by Faith

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” -Hebrews 10:23

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  For in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay.  But my righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” -Hebrews 10: 35-38

I want to hold unswervingly to the hope He has given me…and I don’t need to worry about being faithful and my many moments of unfaithfulness…HE WHO PROMISED IS FAITHFUL.  He is faithful and HE will make me faithful moment-by-moment.  All I need is a willing heart…a heart devoted to Him and wanting to be faithful.  I see Him making me more faithful and it is AWESOME.  So, I know He will continue to make me more and more faithful and I need not worry..it is all in His hands.

Perseverance is required….I must not shrink back.  I am making the commitment today, in the face of many uncertainties, fears, and challenges, to HAVE FAITH and PERSEVERE.  I will not shrink back.  I know He will show me in a major way if I am in error (as long as my heart is wanting to be in the right place…otherwise He might leave me to the consequencs of my own sin).  I am waiting and will continue to hold to His Spirit’s leading.  May He make me faithful because He is Faithful to His Word.