Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Broken But Not Defeated...

We've come to this place of brokenness; not broken in spirit but broken of the things that disconnect us with our heavenly Father. We've nothing left but to allow Christ to work through our weakness. We stand, in our liquid state, before the Lord God Almighty and ask Him to mold us into something that would glorify His name and His name only.

I want to talk about this brokenness. Some might not understand it as in our human minds, it is so difficult to understand why the trials of life keep beating us down. You may say that perhaps God is punishing you for something you did or you may think that Satan is attacking you. This was my line of thinking for much of my life but through our struggles as of recently, I've come to a new understanding.

First, as a Christian, my sins have been forgiven; past, present and future. Yes, there are consequences for any of our actions whether they be good or bad. God allows things to happen so that we learn from them but then he wipes it clean just because He loves you and wishes for you to prosper and no harm to come to you. His ultimate desire is for your life to model Christ. He uses the things of this world to mold you into what He created you to be. God is not there to take you out on the mistakes you make. He is a Just and Holy God but He is also full of Love which He desires to pour out on each of His children. It is important that we understand this balance.

Secondly, I believe that Satan does attack us and that we need to have our armor in place to be able to fight those attacks but I also know that God talks of the trials and tribulations that we will have simply because we live in a sinful world. We need to be determined as followers of Christ, to be faithful to the very end. God desires this from us. I know that in the midst of our circumstances which seem to keep piling on top of more distress, that at first, I was struggling with the fact that maybe God didn't love me.

Why on earth would I ever think that? His word talks about how much God loves me and wants to bless me which is contrary to what my mind is telling me. Well, Satan doesn't want for you to feel God's love and he uses little whispers of doubt in your ear and you, in your weakened state, begin to believe them. It is so hard to fight the doubts and you become so very weary of fighting to survive.

I want to encourage you to 'stand' firm and be purposeful and determined that you are going to press on. That you are going to fight the doubts and to counteract those thoughts with God's promises. I want to encourage to saturate yourself in God's word...even if you don't feel like it. There is all that you need to make it through whatever struggle you are going through in his Word. He offers hope, strength, wisdom and comfort in there.

I've seen so many believers turn their backs on the only one who can help them. Believe me, I know what it's like to feel God's silence or to be so broken that there seems to be no hope, I'm there right now but the difference is this. I have chosen to stand firm in my faith, trust and belief in my Heavenly Father. I know, that I know, that I know what God says is true. I also know that I must have moments of brokenness to be able to be used by God more effectively. He has a plan for you but you need to allow God to bring you to a place where He can get rid of all the stuff that is holding you back from Him being able to properly use you according to His plan, not our plan. You must be willing to go through that even if it be painful. Believe me, my flesh is screaming in agony but I know that in the end, it will be for God's glory and my good.

In my pain, my thoughts go to to Christ, the one who bore each of our sins not a sin but all sin. Can you imagine our Lord carrying each of our sins on his shoulders? If you think for one minute that the cross was hard to carry to it's place of residence from someone who was beaten and broken, can you imagine the agony of carrying that load of sin along with it? My heart breaks at that thought. I know how burdensome it is to live with my guilt and shame but to think Christ took all of it, yours, mine and everyones from that moment until eternity, on himself so that we might have eternal life and a relationship with God, overwhelms me.

That puts it in perspective for me and I am thankful for this life with all of it's agonies and broken moments. I pray in the end, my life with be glorifying to God and that the gift He gave to me because He loves me will not have been for nothing....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Time Of Testing

Have you ever wondered why when things seem to be at their worst, something else happens to sink you lower in the muck? I haven't a clue as to how to answer that except that I know that God gives us the strength to endure the day and everything in it. I also know when you think you just can't breathe anymore, He sends His people to hold you up. We've experienced it firsthand this week. But the key thing He wants you to do is to....remain faithful in every situation. He wants to know that you are real, that you say what you do and do what you say. Are you authentic?

So we have this leak in our roof that shouldn't be there because we just replaced it a little over two years ago. But it's there and it's made quite a mess. Our insurance company called to talk about the claim and to get more information about the damage. Upon speaking with her, she informed me that I needed to get the water dried up immediately because within three days mold sets in. I explained to her that I didn't know exactly how to do that since the pantry cupboard is not movable and the dishwasher is attached and that we just don't have the equipment to do water extraction. She informed me that I would need to figure that out and take care of it. Sigh.

She also asked me what the contractor said about the roof. I am not a roofing expert and I don't understand all the terminology that he was informing me of. But I made the mistake of saying that I thought the flashing (whatever that is) was installed incorrectly. I did say that she needed to get the report from the contractor to get is formal diagnosis. However, all she picked up on was that the roofing company made a mistake and the insurance company wasn't going to pay for that. I needed to go after the roofing company. All the sudden, I had a moment of panic. This is exactly the route, the insurance company started taking last time and here we are again. It's frustrating when companies right away want to start pointing fingers and refusing to pay for things that you thought were going to be covered while you are standing in the middle of a complete mess. I cannot even express how frustrating that is.

We quickly called the contractors who we happen to be familiar with since we dealt with them before when we had our flood and he was happy to announce that they did indeed do water extraction. So he was sending someone out on Monday to do an assessment.

Yesterday, the contractor came out and looked things over briefly. However, it is there policy to collect the deductible before they proceed. My husband informed them we just didn't have it to give him. So the contractor informed him that he couldn't help him until we were able to pay that and then he left.

At this point, I felt discouragement and frustration threatening to overtake me. Sometimes we just don't understand the trials of life. They don't make sense. I wonder why when God clearly knows my financial state, does He allow mess after mess to pile on top of each other till I feel as though I can't breathe. But then, ever so softly I am reminded of what we prayed Saturday night, that this house belongs to God and we gave it to Him to take care of. So if I am placing this mess at His feet, I need to quit worrying and stressing over it. God promises remain true and I need to continue believing and trusting. God has the ultimate say in everything....even with the insurance company. So I continue to seek God and pray for wisdom as we make decisions and move forward.

Many times throughout our lives, we are tested. We are tested by fire. That fire is life's trials and tribulations. We all have them. What do we do in these trials? We have two choices. You either cling to God with everything you have even if it only be a fingertip or you give up the fight and refuse to allow God to work in His time, in His perfect way by shutting Him out of your heart. I am determined to hold on and let Him mold me into what He created me to be, however painful it may be. The glorious treasure of knowing God more intimately that is there waiting at the end of the suffering is what keeps me going day after day.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

As My World Spins

As life is spinning from one day to the next around here, I've been praying a hedge of thorns around our home and around us. I feel like if one more thing should give, I'm going to lose the grip I have and will be swept up in the tropical storm of life. But amazingly, God knows just how weak we are and fuels us with the strength we need for today.

Last night, as we were getting things ready for bed like tucking the kids in, hugs, kisses, drinks, cleaning up the dishes and such, Brad noticed a huge puddle in our kitchen. I quickly assumed it was the dishwasher and was a bit dismayed that perhaps something could have come loose. My husband is amazingly smart and can figure things out in most areas but home repair is one of those areas where it's just best to call 1-800-help.

We continued on with the evening once the puddle was cleaned up. Around 11:15 p.m. I noticed that water was still coming from underneath the dishwasher/cupboard. As I was on the floor, wiping up the water and trying to figure out where the water was coming from, I hear this from my husband...ah, dear, it's not coming from the dishwasher, look at the ceiling. As I looked upward instead of downward, I noticed the ceiling bowing with the weight of water along with water seeping through running behind the cupboard and so on. The word, nice, ran through my mind. What else is there to say?

As I quickly ran through all that has been going on lately, all I could do was laugh. I know this may sound ridiculous but seriously, when it pours! And sometimes things are so out of control, if you don't laugh, you will lose it. I choose laughter. I kept thinking about the fiasco we went through just a couple years ago with the flooding of our home from a frozen pipe and prayed right then and there. Our home belongs to God and so does everything we have and I just had to place everything at the feet of Christ and let Him work it all out.

So at 1 a.m., we had two contractors on our roof trying to find out what the problem was and fix it so the rain would not continue to damage the kitchen ceiling. They found a hole in the roof where the flashing was not in place properly and fixed it right up. Now, we wait for the internal things to be repaired.

In the midst of all of this, God sent several of his children to minister to us when they had no idea what was going on making me again, speechless.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm Speechless...

I just have to share this with you. God is such an amazing God. A couple things have happened recently that have just blown me away.

As I was making dinner the other day, I started fussing about not having vegetables in quite awhile. So I prayed that God would provide. The very next day, we were blessed with a couple bags of canned goods. One of the bags was 99 percent vegetables. Now God knows how much canned mixed vegetables are not my favorite but inside the bag were like 10 or so cans of them, also included was another favorite of beans. Bob pointed this out and boy, did we laugh. To me, God was reminding me how important laughter is in any circumstances. It blows the clouds away for a time. It reminded me of my potato story. So as I open can after can of mixed vegetables or green beans, I lift up my sincere thanks and appreciation for them because God cares that much about every aspect of our lives. However, maybe I'll be more specific next time when I ask for something.

Today, I was sharing this story with a friend. Later that day, she showed up with beautiful fresh vegetables which included everything that I love. You know, when you haven't had something in a long time, it makes it taste so much better than you remembered. It also included the love that it was brought with which made it all the more special. God is so good and so are great friends.

The other thing that happened was that earlier this evening, I noticed we were on our very last roll of toilet paper. This is never good, in my book. I also noticed that milk was running low. In this family, this is a common thing. I am on the first name basis with the 7-eleven guy where we frequently run in for milk. I heard a tap on my door just a few minutes ago. What do you suppose was there? A gallon of milk and a package of toilet paper.

All I can say is: I'm speechless at God's care and concern for my every need. Blessed be His name!

From the heart

As I was taking a shower yesterday, I felt God laying the need to encourage others on my heart. God seems to lay many things on me while I'm in the shower. It's hard to fathom that your bathroom could be considered 'holy ground'. I think that I hear God more there than at any other time, perhaps, because it's relatively quiet there outside of the children banging on the door trying to ask me questions that I simply cannot hear and find myself yelling at the top of my lungs in answer to their attempted questions. Even in all of that, I am able to hear that quiet whisper fluttering across my heart.

I am noticing that is how God is. He comes to us quietly and simply but the words we hear are bold, strong and compassionate. I've been praying that I would have eyes to see and ears to hear and I believe that God is answering that prayer. If I wouldn't have had this very thing, I would have missed so much of what He has been trying to teach me and show me.

I have seen God's hand at work in my own life lately that it brings me to tears. There have been a few days when all I've wanted to do was to curl up in a ball and then I will have a friend call with the compassion of Christ that gives me the strength and courage to go the next step. That is God's love for us. He loves us so much. I know you can say, yeah, yeah, God loves me but it goes so much deeper than that.

For a long time, my fear of God dominated God's love. I just didn't understand it and was waiting for God to knock me down the minute I made a mistake but that is not how God is. That was my 'religion' doing that not God. You can't tell someone about God's love if you haven't an understanding of it. It's like saying you are a believer but never putting that into action. People look at believers and if they see your faith in action, can see the hand of God.

It's so important for us brothers and sisters in Christ to help those along the way that are in need. One of the saddest events that breaks my heart is to hear of a believer that has given up the fight. I was reading the book of Job one day and I felt God asking me a question. That question was this. "If everything was striped from me, my car, my home, my finances, whatever was important to me....would I still love Him?" Of course my initial response was..yes! But then I had to stop and consider that. It is agonizing to lose the things that we think important and our thoughts are suddenly flooded with the idea that God doesn't love us anymore. How wrong that is! God wants us to place him first and to know that no matter what situation we are in, that we will still honor and praise Him and remain faithful to Him.

I've really been challenged lately to be looking for ways I can show my 'love walk.' I haven't much but God has given me the gift of encouragement and I am trying to be faithful with that. God can turn it into something amazing if only we are obedient to what He has called us to do. I pray that my life will point to Christ and His faithfulness, that through my testimony, God will be glorified and that I will continue to gain an understanding of His compassion through which I pray to be a vessel for that love to reach the lost.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

New Expectations

We finished our first 'official' week of the new school year. I survived (I think) or maybe this isn't really happening....perhaps I'm on the warm sandy beach in Hawaii enjoying the ocean breeze while sipping my venti caramel frappucino...who knows....guess I will find out when I wake up...if I decide to wake up. It's a hard decision, a quiet Hawaiian beach or crazy chaotic homeschooling days....hmmmm....I just can't decide.

In the past, I have had all these expectations of how things will go. Year after year after year, I set myself up for pure exasperation. Well...not this year, I declared to myself! This year is the year for change. Things are going to be different! And it was...

My new expectations:

1. There will be complete chaos.

2. Kara will be upset because she needs me and my attention is on the schoolwork and that will just never do in her two year old mind.

3. Aaron will cry uncontrollably because he did not get his letter's perfect.

4. Grace will still not like her math and amazingly escape doing it.

5. I will get 'sighed' at a million times a day.

6. It will happen that when writing the 'letter m', it will occur to Ryan that it looks like a butt cheek and he will then laugh and laugh and laugh until the uncontrollable hysteria will make his Mom then sigh and tell him to take a break so she can gather her thoughts....

7. We won't be able to find a single pencil in the house even though we've had hundreds of them in the past. I know this because Kara amazingly finds them at her convenience to draw pictures on every wall of the house.

8. We won't start on time. There are so many needs...oh, so many needs (drinks, snacks, boo boo's and so on)

9. Children will lay their heads down on the table and cry that they can't do it and then I will have to go into my whole yes you are and will do it speech.

10. In spite of it all, I will stay the course and continue pressing forward. Homeschooling will prevail. I am the MOM....hear me roar....