The God of Comfort and Compassion

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”  2nd Corinthians 1:3-4

I think it is so neat that God would allow me to write about Him….that He lets His children be His ambassadors..to talk about His heart and His wonders.  Mother Theresa said it like this: “I am a mere writing instrument in the Hand of God.”

Today my heart was so full of thanks once again for God’s Great Healing.  Emma moved off my sciatic nerve a few days ago and the pain has slowly subsided…today I woke up with no pain.  It is amazing to me to see once again that He can take me from barely being able to walk for 3 weeks, to having no pain the next.  This is the continued faith He’s been persistently building in me.  I was beginning to hope in Emma’s birth to relieve the pain once and for all, and He showed Himself faithful to heal in His way and His timing.

During the past few weeks, I have felt incredible nearness of the Lord…His presence and comfort and provision were overwhelming.  As I gain my strength back, I instantaneously feel the struggle to depend on Him like I have the past few weeks.  Why is it that my strength always competes for dependence on Him?  I long to live a life of total dependence on Him regardless of what my situation is….

In a beautiful quiet time He gave me just about a week ago, at the pinnacle of the pain, He told me THIS, which I have been longing to share with you:

“I am the God of Comfort and Compassion.  Rest in My Affirmation and Acceptance of you.  I don’t love you for what you do, but for who you Are, who I created you to be.  My Peace is always with you.”

“Sin is the Vandalism of Shalom.  Shalom is not just the absence of hostility or a sense of personal well-being, but the idea of everything being set right, everything being the way that I intended it to be, wholeness, perfect harmony, flourishing, set right within yourself with your relationship with others–perfect peace.  You will suffer in this world for your own sin, for the sin of others against you, and because you live in a fallen world.” 

He showed me that this pain was a “thorn in the flesh” for me for now.  Paul’s words echoed in my heart (2nd Corinthians Chapter 12), “My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties, for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

As I felt the pressure to suffer perfectly– joyfully and obediently, God said to me:

“I bring comfort into your life, so that I can use you to become an agent of comfort, healing, and restoration in the lives of other people.  BUT, you must be honest about the reality of your own BROKENNESS, and not fall into the temptation of feeling like you have to have it all together.  Not only must you be honest about the reality of your own brokenness, but you must be willing to move into the lives of other broken people with it.”

Here is a beautiful story I read that day called “The Angel that Troubled the Waters:”

A physician who is troubled with an ailment comes to be healed at a pool of water and asks an angel if he may receive healing.  The angel responds, “Draw back physician. This moment is not for you.  This healing is not for you.”  The physician pleads in his brokenness, “it is no shame to boast to an angel of what I might yet do in loves’s service, were I but freed from this bondage.”  The angel replies, “without your wounds, where would your power be?  It is your very remorse that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men.  The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on Earth as can one human being, broken on the wheels of living.  In love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve.”

This was especially beautiful to me.  Here is my brokenness and what God shared with me in the midst of it:

One particular day during this ordeal, as I went to the OB for an appointment to see if the doctor could move Emma off of my nerve, I could barely make it into the office.  He gave me an ultrasound appointment, another appointment to discuss the ultrasound, a prescription for pain medication and some more physical therapy exercises.  I was in much too much pain to move anything, so the physical therapy was out of the question at that point, so I put my hope for that day in the pain medication.  I went into the pharmacy on post to fill the prescription and they told me they no longer had it.  I hobbled back to the car in so much pain and disappointment…the tears flowed…the radio was on and He poured into me once again, through His Presence and songs, the exact sentiment of my heart at that moment and how much He loved me.  I replied to God, “I don’t need you to tell me again how much you love me…I KNOW you love me!!  I am rooted and grounded in your love now.”  He responded to me, “my dear child, I DELIGHT in telling you how much I love you over and over again.”

Something clicked in my heart.  The eyes of my heart began to see and understand.  My mind wandered to phases my two children were in at that moment, things they had said or done recently…Lewis had been trying so desperately to obey and was overwhelmed at times…and we would respond with encouragement and affirmation of our love for him to help him continue trying to obey.  Hannah had been telling me often “you don’t love me”…or “daddy doesn’t love me”…and daddy would come and look at Hannah and say, “I do love you.”  We would look at her to see if it clicked to help her come out of her sadness…but she replied instead, “no, daddy, you don’t love me.”  She was testing our love…. (she thankfully came out of this rut a few days later).

My heart rested knowing that it was ok that God was reassuring me of His love over and over again.  He does not delight in us testing Him or His love for us, because He has proven it once and for all through Jesus, HOWEVER, as we go through trials, and seek to obey, trusting in His love, He will pour into us, and DELIGHTS to pour into us…over and over again. 🙂  We need not refuse this continual comfort on the grounds that we should be certain of His love.  He delights in telling us often who we are to Him.

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Resiliency

He speaks of resiliency to us, during this season of sickness for me and long hours of studying and classes for Brian.  So much teaching, so much counsel to our hearts.  “Rely on my strength.  Be perseverant.  Know without a doubt that joy is coming.  Seek those natural boundaries; be self aware to know what you need and when you need it, rely on natural consequences for those dearest little children, who are both in trying phases right now.  Be full of grace, patience, and longsuffering when working diligently with those littles.”  We cannot do it without Him.

There are promises of fun things He has planned for us.  He reminds us to have THANKFUL hearts.  Sweet unexpected words of comfort from friends and each other are provided.  He spoke to me as I passed through this sinus cold and allergies (when exactly did I get these???)….through a Matt Chandler film on Philipians–“colds, sickness is a GIFT to you to remind you that THIS IS NOT YOUR HOME–it is not God’s wrath.”  I needed to hear it once again.  I sat that morning at PWOC next to another woman who looked at me as I was sneezing and coughing and said, “I was so sick throughout my pregnancy–I think my immune system was just not as strong during that time.”  Another comfort that this will soon be over!  As my sense of taste came back the other day, I was much more thankful for the gift to be able to TASTE sweet food!

And then, A fun day in between of playing in the MUD with the kids!   I had been telling Lewis that this day would come soon when the time was right as we would head out the door for different things and he wanted to get dirty…he waited patiently.  And that day came!!!  I miss those days as a child of being covered from head to toe with mud with my very best friend: my brother.  We did everything together.  Everything he did with me was so much fun.  I was thinking of him that day, wishing that I too, could get covered in mud and that he were there with me  🙂  Hannah went first in the mud to get a baseball (what a surprise!).  She got stuck and so buddy went to rescue her.  He tried, but instead pulled her down into the mud and she began crying.  I went in to save them both and buddy planted himself in the mud like Hannah just to have more fun.  We were all giggles at this point and just had a blast playing in the mud while daddy was studying.  He was really sad he missed out on our mud day 😦  I guess we’ll have to have another one really soon 🙂

He’s giving us encouragement to keep reaching for the stars, to continue the path of cultivating that Holy Discontentment, and gave us a SWEET GIFT from Lewis’ mouth the other day that I shall write about soon.

As the day ended last night…and we were all so weary, Hannah looked into buddy’s eyes and said “Buddy, you are my best friend.”  We started off for bed and I picked up a book to read to them and unexpectedly turned to the page of Reaching for the Stars.  It was a lovely ending to a challenging day…and trying 2 weeks.

 

 

God’s loving comfort

I am sitting here tonight on what normally is one of the saddest days for me of the month…the day Brian starts the next field rotation…but feeling so encouraged by the Lord….Brian was such an incredible helper to me all last week.  He took the kids so often to the pool and playground throughout the week for me to rest and at the end of the week, for me to catch up on all the work I didn’t do while I was resting and getting better.  God provided for me so much through my husband.  He healed my body while I rested and gave me peace knowing the kids were being so well taken care of by their daddy.  I had so much time to think and pray and reflect.  He gave me the assurance of our son’s salvation…wow!!!…wasn’t expecting that one at all….and during a tough few days that followed for us, he provided much comfort and help from friends, and from His Word.  We are putting our hope in His Word, His Love, His Comfort, His Mercy, and His Promise of Blessings.  We are resting and trusting in Him.

As I watched my littles play together today, they were so (unusually) filled with love for each other.  It was like my dream of them playing out before my eyes.  How I wish they would treat each other, love on each other, speak to each other, help each other, cherish each other.  It was everything I hope for them.  More of His Comfort….  It actually had been a tough week of sibling rivalry and disobedience!  I was really helpless to do all I wanted to do to help them get along better last week.  I am so thankful for God to help me SEE the fruit that is there…and is to come more often in the future hopefully 😉

The kids had fun shopping, slept so well when we got home, and were so fun to play with this evening together.  And then a sweet phone call from the hubby to top the day off as a wonderful day of comfort and love.  I couldn’t ask for more.  He really is everything wonderful.

My comforter, energizer, and encourager!!!

God has comforted me today…as I struggled yesterday.  Yesterday the Enemy attacked much of the day and I was downtrodden…and my body was hurting too…but the Lord lifted me up!  He lifted me up with victory in the moments of temptation, He lifted me up through friends who care so deeply…about me and the things that Jesus cares about….He lifted me up through my husband helping me, through memorizing a Scripture verse that has been speaking so clearly to me…and bringing me new understanding, He lifted me up with the kids being SO much better today 🙂 , He lifted me up with a refreshing run this morning, and the chance to have a sweet goodbye to a dear friend (who I will miss so much!).  I am learning to TRUST more as I see Him come through more and more.  It’s that thought in my head when things are tough…”I know the Lord is going to provide relief very soon…so I just need to keep going just a little longer…”  That thought keeps me from sinning in the moment…knowing He’s going to come through for me and rescue me from the temptation very soon.  It’s just around the bend.  And He’s stretching me…my limits…my tolerance…my patience…my understanding…but always providing relief when I need it.  And this is how we grow!  🙂  That’s what I always long to do.  Grow into a deeper relationship with Him.

Lewis told Brian yesterday, as a matter of fact, that Jesus was watching after “Wookin” today and that He was feeding him for us.  That was an interesting thought for me to take ahold of!  It’s so beautiful for me to see the caring, nurturing, loving heart Lewis has.  He’s already thinking of the unborn….or at least of the desire that he has for his new brother/sister to come into the world…even before he/she comes into mommy’s belly!  He truly is the sweetest brother and I know He would make a wonderful daddy someday if that is what God calls him to.  It it always refreshing and encouraging to see this sweet quality in my little boy.

Beautiful encouragement…

THIS is my most favorite passage in the Word right now:

Zephaniah: 3:17:

The Lord your God is with you,

he is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,

he will quiet you with his love,

he will rejoice over you with singing.”

—-

What more could I ask of Him?  How much more intimate could He be to me?  He is with me, walking with me throughout trials and tribulations, hand in hand; He saves me from anything that may try to take me away from Him, He DELIGHTS in me!!!; He quiets me with His love (those are just the most beautiful words ever); and He rejoices over me with singing!!!

THIS is the God I love, the God I fear with awesome wonder and amazement.  This is the God I am coming to know and serve.  I cannot believe that He would love me so, no matter how unfaithful I might be.  What a incredible God He is to all.

 

Green Pastures…

Psalm 23:1-2:

The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.”

This past year and a half has definitely been a winter season for me…starting with the birth of my sweet daughter (I was thinking it was when we arrived at our new duty station, but as I really thought about it the other day, it was when my sweet, but colicky baby girl was born, 3 months prior to our move).  A whole series of events happened that were very difficult…and tough things kept coming constantly, all year long.  I talked with a sweet friend today about spiritual  seasons…and I was sort of looking at them as if I could be in control of them…another words, if I only react the proper way, then this season will END or at least end sooner!!!  But, my season wasn’t ending….and I was starting to get frustrated.  Lately, it seems as though we might have stepped into a NEW season…and I honestly feel like I am recovering from a very tough period of time. 

I have been reflecting back and trying to understand everything that happened and why it was SO hard.  Was there something I could have done differently?  What went wrong?  Why was it so challenging?  I keep replaying events, wondering how they could have gone differently, BUT I am left in agreement with my very intuitive friend, who said that we can make our season a little more enjoyable by reacting the way God would want us to…but we cannot control the season itself by what we say or do…it is going to be what God has determined it to be.  I was reacting to a lot of things the best way I knew, with the knowledge and understanding I had at the time, but I couldn’t change the series of events that just kept coming.  The events perhaps determine the season…but the way we respond perhaps determines how difficult the season is…and perhaps influences the next season or the length of the season…I don’t know…only our Father in Heaven truly knows.

As I saw this verse in church today, it was truly perfect for me.  He maketh me lie down in GREEN pastures…not desert, prickly ones!!!  He RESTORES my soul.  That is what I am feeling this past week…with SO many things looking different than they did just a week ago…God is changing my attitude and heart for sure…but I don’t know about the season just yet 🙂  He is restoring my soul in so many ways…it is overwhelming and beautiful to me how intimate He is.  I was feeling an absence of presence for a while, no matter how much I was seeking…and He is pouring out to me once again.  I am most thankful.  I surely missed Him.

 

God’s Comfort and Blessings to us right now

God’s comfort and blessings oftentime come through other people, and when other people aren’t available, He reaches His loving hand down and does the work Himself.  But, I think, He likes to work through other people.  He wants His children to love on each other….just like I want my children to love on each other.  God has used some people in my life recently to comfort me and restore me, when I was down, and each in different ways.  I feel SO blessed and SO encouraged. 

I am so excited today because today is day 4 of maintaining somewhat of a schedule around here!  I have really struggled with that (and I only have two kids!!!), and I am not sure why, because it used to be so easy without kids!  The minute the kids start struggling or the tears start flowing, I cave, and our plans are canceled oftentimes.  And when they aren’t, we all get sick and they get canceled anyway!  At least, this has been my life for my time here so far in the desert.  BUT, I have realized that my kids indeed need SOMEWHAT of a schedule (some of you scheduled moms are nodding your heads right now, saying of course they do!).  I love laid back days with no particular plan, except the fun ideas that pop in my head…and I think I am somewhat recovering (and rebelling!) from a very rigid schedule in my Army days…and I still prefer the laid back schedule…but it simply is not working for us anymore….!!!  So, I tried very hard to find a reasonable schedule for us to maintain this week….and there have been tears…and I have wanted to scratch the schedule…but, my memories of sickness and loneliness and cabin fever are far too near and I have held fast.  We CAN do it! 

I have noticed changes in my kids already in the first 4 days.  They both are LOVING being around other kids more…and Hannah is just starting to get to do that being just 17 months…and she has–out of nowhere–really wanted to start walking the past few days!!!  She is seeing other little ones  walk (Lewis is just too big for her to catch up to!) and she has FINALLY decided she might want to do it.  Mommy is most relieved because I have been running out of ideas and really don’t want to have to do that MRI of her head that the doctor recommended for her last week….I keep thinking, “good grief Hannah, just walk already!!!”  But, both my kids have been late developers and I should be used to this.  I really want her to be happy and she has been SO frustrated and weepy the past 3 weeks.  She wants her independence!  She is a very independent baby/toddler already (and always has been) and gets weepy all the time around me…and when she is away, she is very happy.  And although, this is a HUGE change from my firstborn son, I am getting over taking it personally, and being happy for her independent spirit.  I can relate, so I should understand!!!  I have started leaving her with other people, and she is much happier and I am much happier.  My son was always the most happiest with me, so it definitely is an adjustment, but she is CHANGING and GROWING and HAPPY having time away from mommy…even at 17 months.  I am proud of her little spirit and think that this is just the thing for her right now.  Lewis loves being social and Hannah loves her independence and mommy is getting time to do other things and get rejuvenated.  All is well this week and I hope we can keep it up!

I am so thankful for the people who have reached out to me and lifted me up and encouraged me. 

I am so thankful Lewis has had over a whole month now of awesome behavior with other kids, so mommy can have a peace of mind when leaving him places!!!  And not have to stay at home all the time working with him!

I am so thankful for my baby girl’s independent spirit that thrives on learning things on her own.  It has been a huge respite for me and continually reminds me to let her fly and be there for her when she falls.  And for the the fact that she has dropped her morning nap and we can go out and do things together once again!

I am so thankful for the opportunity to have time with each kid on their own because of the wonderful programs and activities available here.

I am so thankful for the programs available to help me release stress, push myself, and connect with other women and believers.

What a HUGE answer to prayer these past few days have been.  I am thankful for the opportunity to gain perspective today and reflect on God’s comfort and blessings to us right now.