Counting Backwards

But now, O LORD, thou art our father;

we are the clay, and thou our potter;

and we all are the work of thy hand.

Isaiah 64:8

 

What is the first thing a surgeon tells you to do when he gives you anesthesia?  Count backwards to 10.  What do they do when they are getting ready to launch a rocket into space?  Countdown.  What do you do when you are looking back over your life?  Reflect and count the accomplishments and failures.  I read in a devotional yesterday that if you are focused on looking back you spoil today, if you focus on what is happening today you spoil the hope of tomorrow.  The gist of the devotional was to keep your eyes forward and on the fact the God has a purpose for your life.  You can not fulfill His purpose if you are too focused on what is past.   It is much like driving a car.  You do not focus on what is in rear view mirror, you focus on the road ahead while keeping the other cars in your peripheral.  Stay alert and ready.  And of course be mindful of the rules of the road. 

I have been spending some time on Ancestry.com lately.  It is amazing and very fascinating.  I have been able to track descendants up to 11 generations through my Grandfather on my mothers’ side.  All the way to Germany and Switzerland.  I have not spent time on each of the  individuals yet but just seeing my family tree grow is surreal to me.  It only took a couple of days because much of the information is already on the website.  All I needed to do was supply names and dates and it connects you with hints to discover new things about your family.  Right now it is just facts, names, dates and locations.  I have yet to find the stories.   I do have a few pictures.  I also have some of my own to upload when I am able to spend some time doing so. 

I have wanted to know for years where I come from.  I have gotten bits and pieces of information over the years but nothing this extensive and it makes me excited to discover something new about our family.  I have read the genealogy’s of the families in God’s Word and read their stories and how rich they are, good and bad.  You are able to see God’s hands weaving the story of humanity.  The stories of relationship with God, betrayal, forgiveness, love and redemption of mankind.  I want to see that story in my family too.   My own story is one to be told.  I want to tell it but am not sure how to begin or where.  So I am counting backwards in my family to see if there are any clues to what God has for me to say. 

I think some authors become narcissistic in telling their story.  I want my story to be unique and refreshing, told in a way that brings light to God’s purpose.  I want to connect some dots that contribute to who I am and what I have become as a child of God.  I want to show what God’s hand has done throughout my generations. 

I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I

make known thy  faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 89:1

Seeing The Beauty of Bitterness

You know God has your attention when He keeps revealing the same theme over and over to you.  Through His Word, songs, messages, devotions, others observations and through dreams.  I can not escape it, especially when I ask Him to reveal truths to me.  Just as David says in the Psalms 139

1O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.

 2Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

 3Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

 4For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

 5Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

 6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

 7Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

 8If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

 9If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

 10Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

He knows me, He knows how to speak to me, He knows how to comfort me and He knows how to inspire me.  No human on the face of the planet knows the intimate details of who I am and what makes me tick.  I have been asking God to give me perspective on a thing in my life.  I want to see the good He is weaving through it.  I want to see the glory in what He is going to do in it.  I came into to work today and was flipping my devotional calendar to today’s date and when I read the words I just got the biggest grin. 

“It is nothing short of a transformed vision of reality that is able to see Christ as more real than the storm, love more real than hatred, meekness more real than pride, long-suffering more real than annoyance, holiness more real than sin. ”

We have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16

taken from the devotional calendar of Elisabeth Elliot ‘You Are Loved’

That is exactly what I have been asking God for.  A new perspective.  A new way to handle the hurt of old re-opened wounds.  He never fails.  Love never fails.  You know why Paul said we see  through a glass darkly?  He meant we would not see a full complete picture of heaven until we go there, until our body dies and our soul is set free to enter the gates of splendor.  Here on earth we feel the downward draw of gravity, the pulling of our sickness to the earth.  For out of dust we were created and to dust will we return.

 

Enduring pain, suffering persecution or tolerating annoying interruptions in our life is not enough to allow Jesus Christ to work through us, we must accept it as a gift, embrace it as a tool and offer it up to God as a living sacrifice.  It is then that we shine like the lights that God tells us we are.  The purpose? 

To turn water into wine, beauty in ashes and bitterness into the sweet smell of praise to God.  Who loved us before we loved Him. 

Close your eyes and take a deep breath.  Pray:  “Thank you Jesus for what you will do in my life today as I lay my life down, give me strength to withstand the temptation to demand my rights, give me wisdom to know where the turning point is, from left to right and most importantly help me to surrender in death to self for Christ’ glory!” Amen! 

Grace to you ~

shell

Bringing Down The Walls

OH MY GOODNESS!!!!

There are times when I keep asking God the same question over and over again.  It is usually when something is too big for me to grasp.  A problem that becomes a thorn in my flesh.  Something that begins to consume my mind and then my heart and for a minute I turn my eyes away from Jesus.  Begging with questions, why, what, how and when. 

This past Sunday I once again had the privilege of teaching the children attending our church during the regular service.  Last week our lesson was about being obedient to God. Our Bible verse was Psalm 119:11, ‘Thy word have I hidden in my heart so that I might not sin against thee.’   We continued in the same theme but with a different story.  Joshua and the walls of Jericho.  I enjoyed drawing the kids into the conversation about how tall the walls might have been. (we chose Hobby Lobby as our reference, it was the tallest building we could think of in our area) Then we chatted about how wide they were, wide enough to have a house inside, after all people lived in the wall. And then we drew an imaginary line around the area where we live so that we might envision how big the city actually was. 

The whole discussion was basically about how daunting it might have been for us to trust God in walking around the city without speaking one word all the while trying to picture how God was actually going to bring those walls down.  We discovered from His word that because of Joshua and the people’s obedience, God did it with trumpet and shout…the walls came tumbling down.  There was certainly more to the lesson but for now that was the gist of it.

These thoughts bring me back to the questions I ask God when there is something in my life I am having difficulty with.  These past few weeks I have been having an inner struggle, not so much about obedience but how to handle  my emotions, where to put my frustration and what action I am to take in regards to this “thorn.”  Do I take it to the Lord only or do I share it with someone?  My husband, a friend perhaps?   I kept thinking there must be an example in the bible that speaks to this very thing. And of course, it does.  

God has brought plenty of scripture to mind but it never seemed to be a complete answer for me.  I probably over analyze everything but I needed something more from God.  I am not sure exactly what I was hoping to get from Him, His word is pretty clear on most subjects.  However I think I needed an example, not just words telling me what I already know.  I wanted to see someone else who might have dealt with the same struggle and I wanted to see how they handled it.  I wanted to be inspired. 

And so God has done just that.  He has not knocked the walls down yet but I trust He will.  For the answer is JESUS, himself, duh!  He is the example.  God had given me the scripture last week as to the action Jesus took when He was being degraded and belittled. Jesus trusted His father in that situation, He trusted God to work His glory through His bad situation.  In a book I am currently reading  by Tony Evans, he says, ” Let your trust carry out in your actions. Let your faith show up in your feet.”

 “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross.

1 Peter 2:21-24a

 

Through this particular book, which by the way has nothing to do with my struggle, God spoke to my spirit.  ‘If you want to see the walls tumble-down then you must trust and obey.  If you want to see my Glory, then you must trust and obey.  If you want this to change in your heart and mind, then you must trust and obey.’ 

While this is not a new truth to me it is new when applied to the thorn I have carried for some time.  It once again proves that God’s word is living and always relevant.  There is just not a big enough wall that God can not crumble to the ground.  He is just too much for me sometimes, I am overwhelmed by how personal He is!!! Amen, Amen and Amen

Grace to you,

Shell

Note to self and anyone who is interested!

There are just some truths you can not escape.  The fact that the past always catches up to you and really tries hard to overtake you.  That Satan does not like it when you are happy and full of the joy of the Lord.  And last but certainly not least that even if you try to do everything right at some point someone will twist it into a wrong. 

This past year has been a whirlwind of God’s grace and blessings.  Along with that there have been some very sobering moments.  I have to stop and ask God, literally, “What do I do with this?”  I already know from God’s Word how to respond to the most difficult circumstances but I do not often know what do with it.  For instance, when someone says something hurtful it often becomes a ping-pong ball inside your mind. Back and forth it goes…or maybe it is closer to a VCR, rewind, play, rewind, play.  I learned a really long time ago when I began my walk with God that in order to overcome the negative, destructive thoughts, you had to replace them with God’s Word. 

The battle becomes easier if God’s Word is already in your mind and heart.  You don’t have to take the time to look it up in scripture because you have hidden it in your heart. Which is why King David said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 119:11  I believe that when we do not turn to His Word for counsel we most often will react in sin to a situation.  And that is exactly what I have prayed to God to guard me from.  I am not Jesus but I want to be like Him.  Just as he stood in front of His accusers and said not a word. “And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.”  Matthew 27:12

I am not setting myself up as a saint but God knows my heart and what my intentions are and always have been.  I am nothing without my Father however I am the daughter of a King, a child of the living Holy God who has chosen me from before the foundation of the earth.  He is my judge, my defender, my high tower, my refuge.  I know who He says I am and I believe Him!!!

There is nothing on this earth that can change those facts regardless of what anyone says about me, to me or behind my back.  The truth is that God will be their judge as well and that is more than sobering to me.  I shudder at that very truth and pray for God to intervene in their lives, to show them His love before it is too late.  I pray because He tells me to pray for my enemies.  The hardest thing for us to do, perhaps.  But in praying we set loose on earth what is in heaven….His glory!!!!!

grace to you

Shell

It’s been a while…

Where do I begin….so much in my life has changed since the move from MSN Live spaces.  So much so, blogging was set aside for some time.  I have missed it at times and today I have wondered what part of my life was filled that I did not have need to write my thoughts down and share.  Maybe having the love of my life come back to me might have had some bearing on this.  Sharing with him the details of all the years we were apart consumed my time when I was not at work.  Sharing with him his new relationship with God, watching our relationship grow with one another is utter amazement. 

We have reunited in marriage and are beginning to embark on a new season in our lives.  Mine as  a married woman again and his getting to know his new family in a new place.  I know from experience that this time can be tentative and curious.  I think in some instances lonely and doubtful.  I say that because when going into a new adventure you leave behind familiar surroundings and routines.  Sometimes it also brings a distance to relationships you had before. You know you are not leaving them behind just beginning new ones. 

Going in, we both believed God was directing and leading us to this new life.  So keeping our eyes on Him to help us navigate the new terrain is the challenge.  Holding on to each other, focusing on His will for our lives and not looking back, not dwelling on the bumps ahead.  I love my new life.  I love how God brought it all about.  I love the potential and anticipation there is in it all. 

He is the one I wanted to grow old with and we giggle at the milestones we have covered in the age arena and sigh at the ones that give reminder to that fact that we are mere mortals.  I look at him daily and still can not believe it is all real.  My insecurities come to the surface and grasp at the things I know to be true.  Like God is in control and He is in me, giving me strength and peace.  He is gracious to us and has blessed us with sooo very much!  He has worked out the jobs, the transportation, the housing, the provisions….every single detail so what do I have to question?

We, women, do analyze everything.  We try to find answers for everything.  It is like a puzzle we have to put together or it drives us crazy.  I think it is kind of funny at times.  He seems to be laid back until we start discussing these things then I find out he is sort of doing the same thing only not so much about everything….just a few things.  The things that cause him to worry…his kids, his job and his walk with God.  I love the fact that we can talk about it…even when it is hard.  He has given me comfort and calm in some things and in others added to my need to know answers.  That must be the ebb and flow of the marriage relationship.

I am for the most part taking one step at a time, one day at a time in this new adventure.  Do not want to get ahead of myself or God for that matter….absolutely not ahead of my husband…I want to remain at his side walking into the future hand in hand.

“The righteous and the wise and their words are in the hand of God.”  Ecclesiastes 9:1

Our Wedding