In this world you will have trouble.

A little personal commentary and then some personal reflection :

I just finished watching a great movie about Abraham Lincoln’s body guard and friend and their story during his ascension to the presidency and all throughout the Civil War.  I was richly encouraged to see Abraham’s real faith during this movie.  I didn’t get the impression he was a man of great faith, however, the movie highlighted his “real” emotions, his many, many challenges and troubles both personally and in office.  He had so many critics, yet he chose to not fear conspiracy.  So many losses and casualties, yet he persevered in the “necessary war.”  Truth be told, Lincoln was God’s instrument to accomplish his purpose in freeing slaves and in reconstructing a divided and wounded country.  Lincoln’s life was attempted many times, but ironically, in many instances where he was almost killed, his life was spared.  Others died around him, but he did not. The movie concluded that Lincoln’s faithful friend and bodyguard was chosen by the Lord to protect him and that Lincoln’s life wasn’t taken until his appointed time.

I love Lincoln’s love for his wife, in sickness and in health.  I love his determination to win a worthwhile war.  I love his humility.  Lincoln had different advice from so many different people, all this advice came with tremendous pressure, yet Lincoln went with his own intuition, dare I say inspiration from the Lord. We are all broken people, even presidents and we need a powerful, perfect God to continually come to our aide.  God does not cower at the depth of neediness of His children.  He is able to fulfill our every need.  This is why He chose to reveal a new name he had to Moses.  He told Moses that He was revealing a new name to him, The Lord.  Yahweh.  It is a very reverent Name and it means The Great I Am.  Before this time, He revealed Himself as the Almighty God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Now, Yaweh,  I love how God continually reveals more and more of Himself to us throughout our ever constant changing lives.  He is a relational God completely able to relate with us and to help us.  Our circumstances are constantly in flux so that we can learn to rest on an unchanging God.

My bible study leader shared some age-old wisdom to me last Tuesday that rung true to my ears from an old neighbor-friend, a Chaplain’s wife…we were very close and I was so grateful for our friendship in the desert in CA, she wrote to me one day after I received a somewhat disturbing phone call about Hannah’s white blood count after a recent sick doctor’s visit, telling me Hannah had lymphoma.  I waited on the phone for the call back to confirm while I cleaned the house.  My little girl, Hannah was 18 months.  I knew in my gut, it had to be wrong.  But, I wondered, “why Lord, does each day bring me so much trouble and anxiety?”  Not too long after, my neighbor wrote me, typing I am certain, the words of Jesus through her writer’s hands…Dawn, “in this world you will have trouble.”  She prefaced it with saying, “I know you are not going to like this!”  I didn’t, but at the same time, it is comforting to know that although we will have many trials and tribulations in this world, that Jesus Christ is with us and He is a Conqueror!!!  He will overcome.  I prayed and received confirmation after going in for an MRI and an overnight stay in the hospital with Hannah, that it indeed was not lymphoma.

Lately, this story is coming back to my mind as my bible study leader told me these same words of Jesus last Tuesday in our personal time of sharing.  I told her they rung true in my head.  Although God has blessed us with amazing, loving neighbors that I am truly thankful for, I have a situation with my neighbors down below us that is testing every fiber of patience that I have.  And lately, I felt desperate for a change.  Have you ever felt that way?  I cannot escape this problem.  Our one neighbor complains of every single noise we make in our home.  Even with great effort to stay as quiet as mouses all the time, the neighbors complain frequently and put forth false accusations against us, even while they make plenty of noise that I choose not to report.  Along with the complaints, come a broom pounding on our floor every time we make noise.  I was told by our last neighbor in Kansas, where we lived in a duplex, that we were the quietest neighbors she had ever had.  How can things be so different here?  I suppose it is the creaky floor, but even so, I feel as if I live on pins and needles in my home.  The kids are giving their best effort to keep quiet and I am proud of them.  I try to care about the people below me who I know are not the nicest people, and I attempt to honor God in my effort, but the complaints still come.  I am thankful for an office management who is advocating for me.  I am thankful God sees, He hears, He knows.  I am praying that God deliver us from this trouble as it has been going on for months now.  I feel as if I cannot have the kids often in their home and keep them out and about most of the time.  I long for a stand alone home to live in where we can live normal lives and where my kids can be kids.  If nothing else, they are learning to be quiet in the home.  I tell them a gentle and quiet spirit is honored in God’s sight.

My question today: Do you ever feel as if you are trying to honor God, but no help is coming and you are continuing to suffer?  I believe in this situation, God wants me to continue to honor Him and to wait for His help.  I am praying this one neighbor changes or that God would move them on to another place!  I also pray for my heart to be patient and trust God.  Jesus sure did encounter a lot of opposition.  One thing I love about Him was that he knew how to fight battles and He always won whenever hearts were willing. And when hearts weren’t willing, He moved onto battles that could be won.  We cannot pursue those who don’t want to be won for Christ.  But God has a plan always and I trust in His plan.

As I pray for resolution and trust that God cares for me intimately and intricately, I feel peace already.  You see, I am naturally a fighter.  But, I am learning to be a prayer warrior and to surrender.  It goes against my DNA.  But, I am learning.  Perhaps this is a test.  I hope I can pass and see God’s deliverance 🙂

 

Advertisements

My True Love

I thought this was beautiful to mentally chew on the past few days.  What a beautiful picture of true love.  Isn’t this what we desire to the core of our beings?  Isn’t this what we WANT to give?

This is God’s AGAPE LOVE vs even the best of human love:

Below is a my favorite excerpt from a book I just finished by Max Lucado called “A Love Worth Giving.”

“Our love depends on the receiver of the love.  Let a thousand people pass before us, and we will not feel the same about each. Our love will be regulated by their appearance, by their personalities. Even when we find a few people we like, our feelings will fluctuate. How they treat us will affect how we love them. The receiver regulates our love.

Not so with the love of God.  We have no thermostatic impact on his love for us. The love of God is born from within Him, not from what he finds in us. His love is uncaused and spontaneous. As Charles Wesley said, “He hath loved us. He hath loved us. Because He would love.”

Does he love us because of our goodness? Because of our kindness? Because of our great faith? No, he loves us because of His goodness, kindness and great faith. John says it like this: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us.” (1 John 4:10 NIV)

Doesn’t this thought comfort you? God’s love does not hinge on yours.  The abundance of your love does not increase his.  The lack of your love does not diminish his.  Your goodness does not enhance his love, nor does your weakness dilute it. What Moses said to Israel is what God says to us:

The Lord did not choose you and lavish his love on your because you were larger or greater than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! It was simply because the Lord loves you. (Deut. 7:7-8 NLT)

God loves you simply because He has chosen to do so. He loves you when you don’t feel lovely. He loves you when no one else loves you. Others may abandon you, ignore you, divorce you, but God will love you. Always. No matter what.

This is His sentiment: “I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies. I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved.” (Rom 9:25 MSG).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do you know THIS kind of love?  If you do, have you had a taste of it and are left longing for much more?

I think this is where I find myself.  Having drunk from the cistern many times of God’s unfathomable love…in all the ways He desires to lavish His love on me…I am always yearning for more.  It is just a kind of love we cannot find in human hearts.  We cannot even expect to find it in human hearts, nor make them feel bad if they cannot give it.  It is impossible for us to love perfectly here on earth, but I truly want to learn from my Creator how to love as best I can.  I want to love like Him.  And I want to submit to love those people He is bringing in my life right now…my “oikos.”

Do you know what the most beautiful part of this message is to me?  We can drink from the cistern of God’s love as often as we need or want to.  His Word is full of His love, there are so many Godly books written about His love…and God brings beautiful people in our lives to show us here and there about His love.

In the book it asks you at the end, have you received enough love in your life to know how to give it?  Perhaps we don’t receive the kind of love from this person or that person that we desire to have or even need to have from them….BUT I know in my life this has always been true: I’ve always felt God’s tangible hand of deep love on my life.  It is the one aspect of Himself that he pours continually into me.  It’s almost as if He knows this is what I need from Him more than anything else.  Provision.  Well, I have to trust Him.  Protection, I pray often for.  Healing, yes when I can tangibly see my heart or body needs healing, I pray.  Strength, and courage…I pray daily for…But…LOVE….HOPE…..I cannot live without.  I have to constantly walk through each moment of my days absolutely CERTAIN I am loved and there is HOPE in every area of my life because JESUS is alive!!!

 

 

 

Rest

Our sermon series right now is on heaven. How beautiful, how pertinent. How wonderful it is to view all that we go through in this short life in the light of eternity.  It really puts everything in perspective. I thank God for the moments here on earth when I get to experience heaven. The genuine love of my children, love from friends, a bible study where the leader is FULL of the Holy Spirit. The beauty in my children’s eyes…in their hearts to love and serve one another.

I try to explain to them that the things of this world that surround them can never truly satisfy them. They hunger, they thirst. All I can do as a mom, besides give them great nutritional meals, help them physically, mentally, and spiritually, is continue to point them to Christ. To His example. To their creator. They are yearning to understand…themselves, the world around them, and God’s purpose for their life. To say a mom’s job is impossible is an understatement. We simply cannot do this without God. As Scripture states, “apart from me, you can do nothing.” I’ve experienced this to be true. It’s something to be incredibly grateful for:

1) Our immovable spot in heaven, the free gift of our salvation.

2) God with us, Immanuel

3) The Gospel message which sets us both free and gives us joy to keep moving forward, knowing we can trust an unshakable God and swim free from sin in God’s ocean of mercy and forgiveness and grace.

In this knowledge we can truly REST.

Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.

STRONG WOMEN

I saw a poster at a place recently that said, “in case of an emergency, keep calm, and go get a feminist.”

Several thoughts came to mind, I thought of the feminist movement that I think mostly originated because women were being treated unfairly, perhaps not cherished, weren’t valued, men at the time perhaps didn’t think they could accomplish as much.  There were so many bad, wrong thoughts about women.  Some women began this movement because they wanted improvement…a change.  Others wanted to take it really far, in my opinion, way too far.

I thought next about what I think God’s intention for women is and how many wrong thinking patterns exist in many a man’s mind still…and sadly, women too.  I reflected on different Scripture that speaks to God’s role for women.  I feel qualified to speak on the matter because not only was I a wife for nearly 11 years, but I am still a mom of 3 and I went to West Point and I love reading the Bible.  I was trained as a young girl by a dad that believed I was capable of doing anything.  I can honestly tell you there is no greater feeling in a little girl’s heart than to know, she can do anything her heart is set on and her daddy believes it!  As I believed his words, and had my mom’s absolute assurance and support, I was able to accomplish much.  My body and my brain cooperated with my heart.  And I truly believed without a doubt, I was capable to go to West Point.  4 years later after arduous work, I graduated in 2004.  Surrounded by extremely capable women, I realized that truly, women were capable of doing just about anything that their male counterparts were!

After graduation, and after getting married and starting my family, I felt a tug on my heart.  I still had the same drive and desire to accomplish and walk worthy of my 4 years at a very reputable institution, but now my mission had drastically changed.

But, I was not disappointed!  I realized that it would take even more strength to raise my kids. Especially with a husband who was fully committed to the Army and often gone as many are during this heavy cycle of deployments/tdy trips, command assignments and field assignments.

Yesterday, I knew without a doubt in my heart, God FULLY INTENDS FOR HIS WOMEN TO BE STRONG.  He made us capable of childbirth, long nights awake with crying babies, strong arms to accomplish our work (that is Scriptural too! Proverbs 31), and strong minds to wield off the Enemy’s attacks over our children’s hearts and our own.  God never intended us to be weak.

Today, I  face the reality that every time a woman is strong, it has an affect on those around them.  I want to be strong to be obedient to Christ, and I do hope my strength might inspire others to their calling also, but sometimes there are other outcomes/responses.  I must remind myself, that no matter what the response, God always intends for me to be strong.  Sometimes, boldly strong, other times quietly strong.  But always strong in mind, heart, and body.

Next week I am starting more serious training for my marathon.  The last few months have been 30min-1 hour of training, but now I have to train more to prepare my body for Nov 4.  I know embarking on this race without proper training will be foolish and painful.  My last one I trained up pretty well to run, but I came in late at night the night before and couldn’t find my way in the dark in the early morning to get to the race start line.  This one, I’m preparing for even more rigorously.  And I’ll be able to come in to the race location a day earlier.  I think the fact that I couldn’t run the race last spring makes me want to run this one so much more!

This is a life dream for me, a goal I’ve set for myself. I know I will need God’s grace and strength and protection all the more.  I’ve always seen this life as a marathon.  And the finish line like heaven.  I’ve always liked running. I will try and run my race with perseverance, running the race that is marked out for me.  I’m thankful to have a job with the YMCA for this year, to serve an organization that has stayed true to its Christian values over decades, and to spend time training in between my classes and dropping off/picking up my kids from school.  I’m thankful for a family friendly job and for the joy I have in my heart to work there and connect with the other awesome personnel that I’ll be working with who have similar passions/priorities.

I was reading about God’s COMMANDS in bible study this past Tuesday and in my personal devotions, this particular command: “BE STRONG and COURAGEOUS.”

I thought this was so pertinent in training for my marathon, raising my kids, and signing up to be a upward soccer coach for the fall at my church.  I’ve never run a marathon. Never coached a team!  I love the command to be strong and courageous, it feels to me as if I have no other option and that God has many blessings and rewards on the other side 🙂  I want to BE STRONG and BRAVE.

I pray my children might see the reward that comes with obedience to God’s commands now and throughout their lives.

 

Trip to Disney 2017!!

cropped-my-3-munchkins-disney.jpg

 

Precious memories I have from Disney…I love these photos and I love these kids.  I feel so grateful to have had this trip with them.  It was wonderful to see their tanks so full every day.  Each morning we talked about all the surprises God would have for them that day.  Each day we reflected on them.  I am always so grateful for pictures to capture the moments that God so sweetly gives us.  I want the kids to remember the good to carry them through the hard.  I love that Jesus started our trip out with his name written in the sky.  You are good, good, ohhh, yes you are good God.  Thankful to be filled up and experience this amazing trip with Lewis, Hannah, and Emma…and thankful to have a break when I got back.  Although I missed the kids greatly, I needed the break and time to get several important things accomplished!  One week was perfect. And so good to have them back.

Love

1st day at Disney, Magic Kingdom, Jesus loves you written in the sky

I loved this.  Our first day of Disney.  Although I lost my voice, I could look up to the sky and see His name spelled out for me to focus on, to know His great love for me.  As we danced to the Disney parade that just came around as we just arrived at Magic Kingdom, the rest of the words, “Jesus loves you.” were spelled out by an airplane.  I pointed the kids eyes up to the sky.  I truly felt the Lord provide this trip for us as a culmination of a long, hard year…we needed Disney this year in 2017.  And through clapping and 3 amazing kids who stayed close to me the whole week (mostly) and paid such close attention to mommy’s claps…I quickly realized that what the enemy intended for harm (sickness), God allowed to show me that all I needed to get these sweet kiddos to listen was my hands.  And we had a week full of blessings and surprises.  Thank-you Jesus for yourself.  And thank-you for Disney.

Resolve and Father’s Day.

beautiful sunset Savannah Rapids Pavilion early June 2017
God is trustworthy…in building a beautiful world, in bringing ultimate redemption of humankind…in a humble way, a babe born in a manger and ultimately a resounding way, Christ coming for us in the clouds. His love is redemptive.

I love this word!  Resolve and discipline is something my dad and my Father in Heaven have often told me are so important in life.  My dad was so very disciplined and had so much resolve.  I remember seeing his eyes squint and his furrow tighten before he would go on a long run or a long hike…sometimes one that would last for a day or two.  He also had such sacrificial love for our family.  He was quite unselfish and I remember looking into the deep, dark brown eyes of his, knowing he would never let me down.  He was true to his promises and he was always thinking about me.  I was a priority in his life.  I knew it deep into my soul.  I was fortunate to have a dad who was relentlessly interested in my life.  I was blessed to have a dad who was faithful to my mom openly and quietly.   I was blessed to have a dad who lived and breathed his family.  I was blessed to have a dad who spent an inordinate amount of time with his children.  My dad and I have so, so many memories together.  Some beautiful.  Some hard.  Some very hard.  But, thank God he cared enough to spend his life with me and to propel me out of the house at 18.  I’m thankful for those years.  As my dad said to me recently as he watched me parent my children…”it’s a marathon Dawn.”  It truly is!!  I thought, what better way to prepare for this marathon than to run one to strengthen my body and mind.Tonight, as I went for a long walk alongside Savannah Rapids Pavilion I had time to think and ponder my days right now.  I thought about the beautiful aspects of the Lord, my true husband right now.  My heart grew fond and I was able to let go of bitterness.  I hear God speaking to me.  I try to obey.  I wait and pray for the right one.  I am glad there is Scripture in the Bible that says to “lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge the Lord and He will make your paths straight.”  Thank God we are not left up to our own ideas of what is right and what is wrong.  If I did what I felt or what I wanted right now in the flesh, I think I might end up in a pit.  But, for the grace of God holds me back from such foolish decisions.

Back to the subject of love though…I don’t think you can just stop loving someone who you have been with for so long.  However, I feel my heart forcibly moving on too.  I am resolved to let go and stop mourning the loss and to move on to great things God has in store for my future.

For me, my kids will always remain a huge priority for me, but I find myself really drawing closer to the One who is greater than anything on this earth.  And out of His love in return comes more love into my heart to love on my kids even more than I could on my own, and to find forgiveness and a release of bitterness toward the parts of my past that just hurt.

I look to Christ, He was taken advantage of, mistreated, betrayed..but, He willingly gave his life, he willingly forgave.  I ask God for the strength to do this as He calls me to, particularly when I know I am being taken advantage of.  I love the picture of willing, sacrificial love.  I think it touches God’s heart to see it.  I pray I have the strength to keep giving when I don’t receive anything in return.  It is hard.

Back to the subject of a husband…As I walked tonight, I thought…oddly enough in a sort of healing way, in heaven, we’ll have no husband.  There will only be the Lord and we’ll be together as saints reigning with God.  So, if that is the picture of heaven, a place of perfect bliss, it is then possible to cling only to the Lord here on earth.  I do want to say, I really believe that God has a man for me someday in His appointed time, and I sensed Him speaking very specifically to me about this mid-October 2016, two weeks after my husband suddenly left…but I feel called to wait for this man.

I want to share you some of my prayers of recent for the sake of honesty and transparency, a liberty I allow myself on my blog, but not so much in person anymore.  I’ll get to that in a second, but first a more light hearted note:

I have received such a myriad of advice from many well-meaning friends…some make me just chuckle.  God has brought the sweetest people in my life continually flowing.  I almost think that someday I will thank God for this period of my life, hard as it may be right now.  I see the depth of God’s love for me and I see Him pursuing me relentlessly.  I suppose if God is “love” than He truly knows how to love!!!  One of my friends of recent told me to ask God specifically for what I want in a man.  I could tell she wanted me to get really specific!  I said, “you mean like a Scottish accent, blue eyes, and so on?”  She gave her affirmation.  I told her with a loving chuckle, “really, don’t you think God knows the perfect man for me?”  I could tell Him what I want, but do I really know what I need? I think God knows what I want and what I need even more than I do, without me telling Him.  So, here is my prayer: I have asked God for one thing: a heart of PURE GOLD.  I want a man who loves the Lord with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength.  I want a man who is a good father.  I am so glad I will get to see that right off the bat this time!  One good thing about dating with children in the home is that when the gentlemen is around the kids, he will be tested right off the bat in his skills with children.  So many women get married and they want to marry men who will make good fathers some day, but they simply do not know whether they will be or not.  This is one plus amongst many other “hard” aspects of dating with young children around.

Resolve.  I am resolving to let go of bitterness, with every step of my day, with every step of my walks, with every step I take to train for my marathon in the fall, with every second I spend pouring into these littles.  Today, I wondered as I spend so much precious time with them.  As I teach and repeat Scripture and hope and pray they turn out wonderfully despite all this….Is my work noticed by you God?  Will there be fruit from it?  God gave me a verse as I started to doubt….and grow numb after quite a few hours with them.

Deuteronomy 16:15:

“For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.”

Yahoo!  I am resolved to choose to believe this.  My Emma grabbed this Scripture vitamin and handed it to me right before a huge meltdown.  Oh thank-you Lord, your word truly is living water that quenches my thirst.

I keep reminding myself that my work is so small, yet God’s work is so big.  I plant the seeds, the seeds are God’s Word and they will not return to Him void.  That’s a pretty wonderful promise.

Back to the other underlying struggles of my days right now:

I am resolved to leave into God’s hands the avenging.  How long O Lord will you wait to avenge what you know was so, so wrong?  The delay makes those who have wronged me actually feel like they did nothing wrong.  “See, the Lord does not act,” they think, they say.”  “See, the Lord is actually blessing me.”  All I can do is wait.  Trust.  Be Still. Rest.  Enjoy Life. And wait.  Perhaps I will have redemption only in God’s good plan waiting to be fulfilled in my life.  Perhaps God is just too good to punish us for what we deserve.  But, isn’t that what we all need?  Grace?  Mercy? Perhaps then, only those who are truly punished are those who abuse God’s grace or mock God.

God gave me the story of Pharaoh.  He reminded me today that He made Pharaoh’s heart hard.  I knew that from the words written clearly in the story the Bible, but I still think when I see hard hearts around me, that it’s the enemy’s work.  That struck me deep today.  “Wait, Dawn, this is the Lord’s work.”  But, why?  Moses was a man of great obedience and faith (after a bit of prodding).  He was brave to go before Pharaoh and proclaim God’s Word.  And yet, nothing.  Plague after plague came upon Egypt.  Disobedience on the part of Pharaoh…such tremendous pride and cruelty.  But.  The Lord told me today.  It was to DISPLAY MY POWER to those nations all around.  God had a plan for it.  I realized, on a little scale, when God delivers me, if I have been faithful, everyone around me will see God’s ultimate power displayed in my life.  I pray this may be true for me tonight.

True waiting as a Christian is waiting with a trusting, happy heart.  Many Christian has gone astray waiting a while, but then not being able to wait any longer, they give in and develop their own plan to make their dreams come true.  “Oh, Lord, give me strength to wait patiently with great anticipation of what you will do for me and my children.”  Amen.

I’m waiting for an amazing Father this Father’s Day 2017 for my children and also for one who will be just right for me.  I’m waiting to see my children see a man love his wife in their own home, the way I always dreamed love should be.  I am waiting for God’s plan for me to unfold in my life.  And while I wait, I must let God refine and prepare me…and be satisfied with His love only.  I think I can do this.  With resolve and a whole huge dose of help from God.  Good thing He’s strong enough!!

 

Thank-you. And some journaling to not forget.

Dearest Friends,

I want to write a note to say thank-you.  Thank-you to all who have reached out to me in prayer and letters and e-mails.  There are so many of you who have loved on me through this messy divorce.

I needed to know something tonight.  I needed an answer to a question I’ve had for awhile.  And I have my answer.  I actually have more answers than I was looking for! I think I have closure.  All I can do is ask the Lord to give me forgiveness.  Layers and layers of forgiveness.  I think I know the way forward now, and it is not without deep prayer and careful consideration.

I am asking God to do something really big over the next day and will seek him in prayer and fasting for an answer according to His Will.  BUT, for the Lord to do something.  I feel as though my life, no matter how hard I try or how much I do, it feels like I am running up against a huge mountainside of lies, manipulation, and thanklessness, even more deception.  I know God sees how certain people are sinning against me and have for years.  Their plot will be revealed as is made clear in Scripture.  Scripture can be denied by human lips, but its truths are still true and God is unstoppable. What is done in darkness will be brought to the light.

So I want to say thank-you.  I don’t like to post anything other than beauty, joy, hope, love…Jesus…on my blog.  But, during the past year my life has been so hard, I want to post the real.  This year my faith is where rubber meets the road.  Do I really believe?  Do I really believe God will come to my rescue?  Do I really believe God will punish sinners?  Even when I don’t see it actually happening? Do I really believe God has a redemptive plan for all that I have suffered?  I keep hearing the answer YES from God.  My heart is hurting, my mind clouded at times, but I hear “yes, yes, and yes” from God.  The Lord echoes Job to me, the Lord echoes Joseph.  The Lord whispers, “redemption is near.”  Can I say that never has it been SO HARD TO WAIT.  At times, it is easy to obey when God says wait.  This time, it feels agonizing.  I just want to be proved true.  Proven faithful.  Proven to be a dedicated wife who was tormented really.  But what does it matter?  I don’t want to expose my former husband, for what will that do to him?  He would rather hide any day than be known for his sin.  And if he was?  He would be shamed for it.  Is that what I want?

You know, I talk to my kids about this at home too.  I talk to them about revenge and why it is important to trust God to Avenge.  The temptation in the flesh is real.  I see that in my children at times.  My one child struggles with it much more than the other two.  I ask this child, “did it feel good to get revenge?”  The answer I usually get is “no.”  We memorize “do not return evil for evil” and then try to come up with ways to bless our offender.

You know, it is easy to say that to my kids when their troubles seem so light and unimportant.  So your toy was taken, why don’t you find another toy to play with?  This is the thought that goes in my mind when they struggle.  What does it matter?  Is this worth fighting over?  Any parent I think hears this reasoning in their head.  I tell the kids that there are wars all over the world because people cannot forgive.  They cannot let go.  They have to get revenge.  But, as Lewis said just a week ago with me, “revenge only brings more evil into the world.”  It does.

But, what happens when you are REALLY offended?  When something someone does crushes you intentionally and you are left shocked, hurt, abandoned, and with the pieces to pick up and mend and turn the entire bleak future into a hopeful one again?

This is where rubber meets the road.  Do I truly believe God will come through for me?  Isn’t that the question sweet friends?  Do we trust God enough to do something?  Just do something Lord!!  Can we wait for God to do something?

When my husband walked out on me all of a sudden one day and told me God told him to, it was unbelievable.  My husband was angry that I wouldn’t support him in ways I felt were unGodly.  So he left.  And found a woman who swept him off his feet.  And now is making it look like he did everything in an honorable fashion.  And somehow he wanted to include God in this?

I prayed and went to bible study, and read, and read and prayed and listened carefully at church.  God showed me many times over that He is not the God that my husband speaks of.  Many people make their own Gods so they can do whatever they want to do.  It seems to me the real issue here is submission.  Do we, do I want to submit to a God who is infinitely more Holy than I?

Tonight I want to say “yes” when it hurts.  It hurts and it is hard to wait and I cry out often, “Abba, Father, help me.”  Help me because my heart has never hurt so much.  I have stood for you.  I have spoken truth in love.  I have followed you every step of the way to my utmost ability and this is the outcome.  He told me that unrepentant sinners will reject the people He sends to them.

I think my struggle right now is this.  I remember so well.  I remember what Brian was like when we met.  We met at a bible study and he was so smart and so handsome and professed faith in Christ, he quoted so much Scripture.  We made Godly friends.  I look back to that and get confused.  The Lord tells me that so much sin lay dormant in his heart.  I didn’t see it because it wasn’t there.  Just like cottage cheese, you cannot see the bacteria for the first few days and then it comes to the surface.  It smells bad, just like sin.

I keep running into people who have found love, beautiful love, the second time around. I cling to these moments God is giving me.  How hard it would be to get married again.  Would I be able to trust?  Would I be able to raise my family in a united household for Christ?  Would I be able to teach my kids the gospel without my husband rolling his eyes and walking out of the room?  So many days I didn’t know if I was even married to a believer.  He wavered more than I’ve seen anyone waiver.  I truly don’t think he knows what he believes.

What now?  Forgiveness.  Back to the need for forgiveness.  Why is it so hard?  Well, for one, because some of us are being hurt over and over again.  Other times, it is because the sin is so grievous.  Yes, I remember forgiving when I was a child was much easier.  But as an adult, you have a longer memory, a more connected memory.  It is harder.

Truly, I can reason myself out of forgiveness.  It does feel like you are willingly deciding to take the hit.  And lose.  BUT, this isn’t what the Word of God teaches.  The Word teaches that the Almighty God does avenge.  It teaches that Almighty God brings Redemption.  The greater the offense, the greater the redemption I do believe.

So I must wait.  This is so hard for me.  I feel as though it would be easier to move on if I had something to hold on to.  But, I don’t.  I am refusing to date, despite the options.  I am refusing to do anything right now, but commit myself to my kids, commit myself to earning money to provide for my kids, and to let God heal the many layers of hurt that reside in my heart.  11 years of it really.  Starting with the night before my wedding day.

So, it is time….time to let go.  I think I’ve spent enough time analyzing.  Enough time thinking.  Enough time feeling sad.  Can God erase the sadness?  Do we just let go of thinking about it?  It makes it hard when you continue to run into each other.  That’s the hard part for me.  More hurt on top of hurt.

I have a prayer tonight.  A prayer that I know God will still answer in His own time.  God cannot be swayed in any way other than the positive by our prayers.  I know He cares and listens and He will do something to help me.  Mine is a prayer asking Abba to open and soften my heart up even more to forgive now that I know everything.  And I pray for RELEASE from this relationship.

Father, thank-you that you hear our every prayer and know our every need.  I pray your will be done.

Amen.

 

 

Disney 2017

  • STRENGTH….

This is the one word with which I would describe last week.  Christ truly gave me incredible strength to drive solo down to Disney, spend 5 full days at all the parks, and drive back.  I had little to no voice the whole week too.  Several friends asked me before I left if I had a chaperone, but as I prayed, God revealed not a single soul.  I assumed He would strengthen me to do it alone.  But then I got sick as we had all 4 seasons of weather in one week before we left Augusta.  My voice departed the day we left for Disney.  Sometimes, we face opposition from the Lord when He wants us to go a different direction…but sometimes, we face opposition from the enemy.  As I prayed, it became clear to me that the enemy wanted to make it impossible for us to have fun!  I explained to the kids when we got to the park that mommy would clap one time softly if I needed their attention and three times loudly if they were in trouble.  They thought this was very funny and actually paid really close attention.  The parks were so full of people and it was so very hot….in the 90s…each day.  I honestly wondered how I would make it, but every step of the way God provided.  I realized that the kids hone in when I use a quiet voice even more than a loud one and this was wonderful for me to witness.  I really couldn’t have had a more wonderful week, everything was just so serene, fun, peaceful, enjoyable, and exciting.  I loved blessing the socks of these kiddos after one of the hardest years of our lives.  They have persevered, been hard workers, and have triumphed throughout it all.  I am amazed and thankful they are my kids.

When we arrived, at the very first start of our journey into the park, we were surprised with a Disney parade full of energy, and many Disney characters and the beautiful words left by an airplane in the sky saying “Jesus Loves You.”  My eyes welled up with tears of joy as I looked up and saw those words and knew they were meant just for us at just the right time as we entered Disney.  He wanted to bless us.  He wanted to encourage us.  He wanted us to know, “this is for you.” So much of my Christian walk has been one of hard work, servanthood, and even suffering.  There are very few moments I feel as if I can let it all go and have so much fun.  I was able to do that last week.  We had ice cream every day (boy, was it hot!), and we had delicious food.  I tried to relax, despite the fact that I was intent on these littles not getting lost in the masses, and keeping them hydrated and protected from the sun…and prayed my heart out in every line that they would make it…and they did.

We brought our princess dresses and Hannah and Emma dressed up nearly every day in their dresses as Elsa, Ariel, Minnie, and Princess Sophia.  Luke Skywalker was a little too hot for Lewis to wear!  Elsa dress was completely worn out by the time we left and stayed at Disney!

As we walked the parks of Disney, something special happened everywhere we went.  Fun drums to drum on, dancing acts where the kids were invited to dance with the dancers or dance to the music and even give requests, amazing shows, exciting rides, even Disney personnel giving us free ice cream, special fast passes to rides that are unable for fast passes on the machines, Disney personnel who gave the girls beautiful gem rings, and Lewis trading cards.  I think Emma saved the best ride for last with Winnie the Pooh.  It had the best things to play with during the line!  And she dearly loves Pooh.  Emma even went on her first roller coaster, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which had a 2 hour waiting line when we first came, so I wasn’t sure if we would get to ride it before we left Disney!  Emma, as she got buckled properly in the seat on the roller coaster, promptly threw her hands up in the air and started squealing even before it took off.  I think I shall call her Moana.  She is so brave. Hannah went on her first fast roller coaster ride just with Lewis and decided she likes the slower ones!  Lewis proved himself brave everywhere he went, but also appropriately cautious at Typhoon Lagoon, staying where his feet could touch when the huge wave came crashing toward him.

The kids were so much stronger than I imagined.  Lewis, being too old for the stroller, walked on average 12 hours each day, and Hannah walked most of that time too.  Emma walked at least half the time and stayed awake nearly all day every day with short naps in the stroller in the afternoon.  I was amazed at how little they complained, how positive they were, and how strong their little legs are.  I love their excitement for adventure and how each one of them tried every ride they were allowed to go on.  I feel so proud of my brave kiddos and their determined spirits to keep going despite the heat and long lines.  Disney made everything so magical and so fun and I was truly in awe of all the work they put into every detail.  We are so thankful for gifted team members, artists, architects, designers…visionaries….what great minds!

Even our resort was so special.  I wanted to spend most of our time at the parks, but on the first night there for a short while and our last morning there, we went to the water park at our resort. Little did I know that the resort I randomly picked had the best water park of all the resorts.  Our last night of Disney, even, Magic Kingdom stayed open past 11 until 1 am for all resort guest only.  We were able to visit some of the rides we couldn’t get to at Magic Kingdom the first day and really rode until we dropped.  The lines were ridiculously short and although I felt a tad bit bad about keeping the kids up so late, seeing the delight on Emma’s face and the determination to make the most out of her last night, each one asked to keep going until the park closed.  As 1am hit, the park even played a goodbye song to us as we walked out.  It was a dream come true truly, every bit of it.  We took our Disney pictures in front of the Disney castle at 1:30am!!  The last morning there, I knew it would be hard to leave…I told the kids I hoped that we would come again soon.  They mustered up enough energy to get up the next morning after being woken from deep, deep sleeps….to two hours of more fun at our water park before leaving for home.  They were angels going to and coming home from Disney and I thank God for that.  I think knowing they were going to see family the next week as well at the beach kept them encouraged that the fun was not all over.

I truly felt like we lived last week like it was the last we would ever live and those were the words I heard in a Christian message on the radio on our way there.  Often I feel as if I need to be the instrument of self-control in my kids’ lives at home and we practice self-denial as often as is appropriate, so it felt so odd to say yes to so many things last week…but it felt good and it really filled us up and made us feel so loved.

Thank-you Jesus for an amazing, unforgettable week at Disney 2017.  And thank-you for loving us so well.

Hatred.

This is a feeling, a mindset that people cling to after feeling wronged.  I’ve thought often about it lately as I contemplate the world around me and even events in my own life.  So many times I have learned from God’s Word, Worship music, and sermons, that forgiveness sets the hurt one free.  It’s not saying what the other person did was ok, or right, but rather extending God’s grace to them.  It is an undeserved grace that often sets the hurt one free and sometimes, if the person receives it, sets the sinner free too.

I have believed for so many years that God is so good.  Lately, it seems, that every movie I pick has some sort of relation to the Holocaust.  Tonight, I tried to not watch one about it, but stumbled accidentally upon one anyway.  It had a happy ending, thank God….BUT, I feel as though the Holocaust is becoming a bit of a stumbling block for me to continue to believe in God’s goodness.  I cannot seem to explain it or understand it.

As always though, my personal relationship with Christ trumps my need to understand and analyze everything that happens now or in the past.  I know that I know.  But, what for the unbeliever? And how can I strengthen my faith in spite of the atrocities that have happened around the world and still happen.

Oftentimes, I just wish that Christ would come in the clouds now.  Come quickly, Lord!  Are we asking enough for this as believers?  Are we satisfied with what the world has to offer?  I can truly say that I am not.  I thank God that I am safe, comfortable, and have my eternal salvation, but I am not satisfied with the world that we live in.  A world of turmoil, brokenness, hurt, starvation.  I take comfort in knowing it all breaks God’s heart too.  Yesterday, I walked into church to sign my kids up for a summer camp and saw a gathering of young people for a funeral.  I was told that a high school student just died in a car crash.  Truly, I tell you, I am trying to take this week as a break from all things that hurt.  To enjoy the solace of my apartment and to take time with God.  BUT, hurt and brokenness are everywhere.  THIS is what I long for a eternal break from….

I know that every day God gives me here on earth means I am here for a reason!!  If He could take me anytime, and isn’t, then it is for a very good reason.  I have 3 wonderful reasons of course to live passionately and whole-heartedly, and I am thankful for the focus, purpose, and delight they give me to wake up to each new day.  BUT, even if they weren’t with me, I would know without a doubt, that I still have a mission to spread God’s Good News and love those around me.  That is much easier said than done.  The Word of God tells me HOW to do this specifically and deliberately each day.

I thank God I live in a country that gives me freedom to worship, freedom to believe, freedom to speak.  I thank God that our country is relatively safe.  I thank God that He hears my prayers.

Tonight, I pray for unbelievers, those on the fence.  I pray they step over in faith.  Just two nights ago I had a very interesting conversation with a fellow, around 29, who was very intelligent, but an atheist.  We talked about Jesus as we watched the sunset over Savannah Rapids Pavilion.  He didn’t leave totally convinced, but I know that God planted a seed, even through this imperfect evangelist.  He did leave thinking about it.  He said He had no faith.  I have heard those words before.  Several times in my life.  I think I see that since God has given me a gift of faith from Himself, He wants me to use it to help those who simply struggle to have faith.  I think that even for those who believe, greater faith is something for which we always long too.

Hatred.  It feels like a hard word, like a rock.  When you see the look of hatred on people’s faces, their eyes turn cold.  I have literally felt God’s voice in my heart tell me that my heart is too beautiful to harbor hatred.  How can we get rid of it if we do not trust God to handle our situation?  I submit to you, that we cannot.  It takes an act of God, God’s power, God’s grace to remove hatred, bitterness from our hearts….and to replace it with grace, mercy, and trust in Him.

Something I am asking God for is to give me a heart that longs to give mercy.  A gracious, merciful heart is what I pray for also tonight.

Lord, give me a merciful heart that flows from your heart and responds immediately with mercy and compassion when wronged.  Help me respond well in the moment and release the need to handle the situation with anything else than love and mercy.  Amen.

Mercy comes easier to me with my kids, but what about someone who should know better?  What about someone who has hurt many times?  That is where, I think, it takes an act of God to empower us to be full of His mercy.

When we know that God truly knows best, even when we don’t understand, we can let go and trust Him.  Without any doubt, without any reservation.  I think back to all the stories I have read in the Bible, all the situations God has walked me through, all that I know about the Lord.  I have a heart that thirsts for answers, I have a need to understand.  But, I have so little control in life.  I can decide what I believe, what I eat, how much I exercise, what activities I engage in, and how I respond or interact with other people.  With my kids, I decide what I teach them and how I model Christlike behavior.  This is about all I control.  I think this is enough control though!  The truth is, only God is strong, powerful, and wise enough to manage any more than my little piece of the pie 🙂 I humbly acknowledge that even in the little I do have influence over, I still need God’s guidance every step of the way…because life can simply be confusing and unpredictable.

I think harboring hatred is an offspring of control.  Perhaps one might think he/she can control the situation/person by hating it/the person.  But, it doesn’t change the situation, mostly it makes it worse.  We can disapprove and trust God.  Trust me, GOD IS OFFENDED BY SIN!!!!  Thank God HE DOES NOT OVERLOOK SIN!!!

I told my kids this recently…I cannot remember what we were talking about, but I think in general the topic was revenge.  Returning evil for evil.  One child was doing that in a minor way with another child and I asked my child what revenge accomplishes.  The child said honestly…from personal experience, “nothing.”  And then said, “actually, it just makes more evil.”  I then talked to them about our purpose as Christians is to be the salt and light of the world, and what that means as children is to bless and not curse, to return good for evil.  The only way to overcome evil is with good.  They were really listening and I think I’ll keep quizzing them on this concept.  It is the first step to remember God’s Word, to hide it in our heart, and then the next step I think is to fully believe it and apply it to our days and lives.  I explained to my kids, the reason they can overcome evil with good is because, for one, it brings more goodness into the world, two, it keeps them innocent and pure, and three, because God truly does take care of the situation (“it is mine to avenge” and “God is offended by sin” and there are few things more satisfying to me personally than seeing God’s Will so clearly delivered in a situation that is clear cut.  One offender and that’s it.  I tell the children, when you are innocent, God can act swiftly to the other!  I do believe they are seeing that and trusting and fearing God more.  And so am I.

So we can let go of any bitter root, any hurtful memories, any hatred…we CAN LAY IT AT THE CROSS, because my friends, GOD IS ABLE to take care of it in His perfect way.  And He will.  I think truly, our hearts should long for mercy.  Out of humility and love, we long for mercy.

Thank-you Father for your mercies are NEW every morning.