Breathing, In and Out

Today’s verse on the Thomas Kinkade flip calendar is 2 Corinthians 13:11  “The God of love and peace shall be with you.”  That is a GRRRRRRREAT reminder after posting on Monday, my prayers to God, about the anxiety I have been experiencing.

Capture
It is the kind of anxiety that you feel in the pit of your stomach and in your throat.  It leaves you taking deep breaths and your heart is racing a mile a minute.  I believe it is what happens right before a panic attack.  Some have described cold sweats, dry heaving and unbelievable dizziness.  Thank God I am not there. Yet.

I am really not sure how much I should reveal as to the reason for these current physiological occurences other than if the weekend could be over today I would be in much relief. You ever hear the saying “One man’s pain is another man’s pleasure?”  Well that could somewhat apply here.

I have experienced these very, very uncomfortable feelings several times in my life and ironically one of those times indirectly relates to this time.  It was a nightmare then. But if I am being honest I did not completely face the thing that brought on the ‘anxiety & dread’ the first time.  I sort of let someone else handle it. So I believe I have no choice but to face it square on this time.

There are some huge differences between the two events.  Back then I did not have the faith in God that I have today.  I20150128_121050 was naive and lost. Today I know a whole heap of stuff, thanks to hind sight and experience. And thanks to Jesus Christ, I am found.  The other difference is back then life as I knew it was being ripped out of my hands and I was losing everything, or so I thought. Today God has given back to me what was taken from me and I have gained everything. Including a love for Him that I would probably not have otherwise.

I am not talking about material things.  I am talking about love, honor and commitment. Those things that are contained in wedding vows.  Back then it was a little girls dream of happily ever after dying before my eyes.  Today it is about true love never fails.  To face the fear and insecurity in my heart from long, long ago again is so overwhelming. I am trying to understand why after all I have learned about my Heavenly Father the feelings have come back.

It’s the age-old question why would God keep bringing something or someone back into your life that is hard to deal with?

In my reading today I realized that even in Paul’s day Christians had to be continually reminded that the Spirit of God lives in you when you accept Christ. It is that Spirit which helps you to intimately know God, the Father and the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. It is that Spirit who gives comfort, strength and daily wisdom. Through the Holy Spirit and God’s amazing grace we are able to cope with those things that are beyond our capabilities. Also through grace God reveals those things in you that need to be purged. Impurities such as unbelief, sinful thoughts and selfish desires.

Those things in my heart which were from long ago have remained because I chose not to fully deal with them and put them in their proper place.  I did not put them up to the light of truth. I left them alone because they were sort of comforting to me. I chose to forgive but I did not choose to work through the fear and insecurity from loss. I chose to hang on to it because it justified my superiority over those who hurt me.  So now every once in a while I can take it out and use it to excuse my ‘anxiety.’ “Oh, Lord how weak I am.”

God has been using messages throughout the weeks and months to bring me to this new level of understanding.  David and Goliath. Jesus asleep in the ship during a huge storm.  Jonah and the whale.  Joseph, what his brothers meant for evil, God meant for good. God speaking to Moses in the burning bush. Just in listing these messages brings every past lesson I learned to my mind.

  • God is bigger than my anxiety
  • Trust Jesus no matter the circumstances around you
  • You can not outrun God
  • Every difficulty that comes into you life God will use it to glorify Himself and to conform you to the image of Jesus Christ
  • No matter how many excuses you have for God as to why you can’t He has one big one why you can, His power lives in you

Each one of the above lessons were learned by reading, studying and applying them in my life from the day I began my relationship with Jesus.  The journey to learn them was up and down, sometimes all over the place.  At times painful and other times extremely gratifying. But each one always came with a promise from God.  One He has always been faithful to keep.  One that He wrote deeply on my heart.

  • Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
  • “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
  • “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139:7-10
  • “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30
  • “He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

With all these promises in mind and in my heart, as I draw closer to the moment of inevitability I see what it could be through Christ.  I envision Him doing something spectacular, as He has done before.  I smile at the thought that many will witness the miraculous.  All will marvel at His handiwork, how He brings all the broken pieces together to form something new and usable.

Then again this might be something He does privately within my heart.  Through me.  Beyond me. The results will still be the same. Miraculous, I marveling at His handiwork and He forming something new and usable out of the broken pieces left inside me.

And so it could be the anxiety is merely a warning sign to beware the obstacles ahead. Keep your eyes on the road Christ has set before you. Follow His directions, obey the commandments He has given you.  Do not turn left nor right. Keep going forward walking in His steps. Focus on the destination He has given you. Trust in all you can not see yet. Know He has gone before and already cleared the path.

So heading into the unknown of tomorrow I am starting to feel the peace, the steady beat of my heart, the ease of breathing, in and out without thinking about it.

“Ahhhh, there it is ‘love and peace with me!”

air-breathe_best-love-letters-ever-written

No Matter Where You Sit Or Stand (It’s Not The Walls -CBC)

19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:19-22

 

Life is said to be unpredictable.  That may be true on some days.  For the most part I believe there are some things you can count on to stay the same. People all over the world are doing the same thing mankind has been doing from the beginning of creation. They are living life, working to provide for their family and/or pursuing a dream, some are perhaps just trying to survive.  If you really think about it the changes we encounter in our day-to-day life can be considered ‘nothing new under the sun,’ as King Solomon suggested. The one thing I know for sure never changes is God.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  If we trust in Him wholly when life becomes unpredictable or is turned upside down by circumstances we have a firm foundation to stand on.  We can walk forward in confidence knowing that He who holds the whole world in His hands holds us up in a future that may seem uncertain.

Our family moved to a new house at the end of September and have been trying to settle in for several weeks.  It has significantly less wall space which makes it hard to choose what to hang where.  I had a hard time leaving the old house, mostly because of the memories contained there.  But as many of my family and friends will attest I have recorded them very well in photo books. 🙂 The holidays are coming up and I feel an urgency to get the new house all put together but temporarily I am stuck. No fear though, I have been here before because it is ninth time I have moved since moving to Texas in 2001.

Our church is moving to a new location also.  Another change. It will be the fourth move for CrossBridge. Sunday we held our last service in our current location and during the singing special by one of our dear ladies I became overwhelmed with the memories in that room.  The memories of what God has done through our little church.  Baby dedications, weddings and healing for many who have come through the doors.   I had the privilege of leading a young girl of 12 to the Lord in the little classroom.  My own family was restored there when I re-married my first husband in a wonderfully sweet ceremony.  We have prayed over soldiers being deployed out into the world.  We have begged God for healing and reconciliation of family members and have said goodbye to dear friends who went on to be with the Lord.  We have celebrated high school graduations, newborns and life accomplishments. We have poured into teenagers lives, some accepting Christ after a weekend of camping. All life changing events but each leaving an indelible mark in each of our lives as a church family.

Within those walls God’s Word has been preached, taught, sang and prayed out loud.  Our pastor often says of our church, “We are the cold cup of refreshing water to the weary and broken who have no where else to go.”  I love that, being known as a refreshment to souls.  Small in number but big in heart. Generous of spirit and encouragement.  People have come for a short time and moved on for whatever reason but for the time they were present they left their spiritual fingerprint on those of us who remain. Leaving the building, while bittersweet, means we are in forward motion.  We are stepping into a new place that we believe God has appointed. And we have been here before, stepping out in faith.  We had moved from our last location to the one we leave now.  We did not know then what time would bring, what God would require of us. Standing here looking back I could not have imagined the beauty He allowed us to behold through one another’s lives.

Changes are hard for some people.  Hard for me at times.  I have to look deep within and find the courage to let the change occur.  I have to be open to new possibilities and blessings.  For I have learned change is growing.  I have learned that while the building is where we gather it not the walls that make the church. It is the folks that come through the doors, that hug our necks, that pray with us for God to do the miraculous.  It is the people who are called by Jesus Christ to ‘assemble together’ and serve Him.  To show His love by loving one another. To show His grace by rolling up our sleeves and meeting others where they are.  To show His mercy by teaching them salvation comes from knowing the Savior intimately.  To show the world church is not about the walls, it’s about the people in it. So while the scenery changes, even the walls around us or the circumstances we find ourselves in uncomfortable the few things that remain certain is the knowledge that we are made in the image of God and we still have His purpose to fulfill. No matter where we sit or stand!

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;

Praise him, all creatures here below;

Praise him above, ye heav’nly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Psalm 148:1-2, 10-14 & Ephesians 1:3

Text: Thomas Ken, 1637-1711

Music: Louis Bourgeois, ca. 1510-1561. From Genfer Psalter, 16th century.

You Do Not Stop Being A Mother When Your Children Are Grown!

images (20)

20 Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.
22 Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us,
Just as we hope in You.

Psalm 33:20-22 (NKJV)

Many times I have written about being a single parent of four children. I have written about the difficulties we faced as a family and the doubts I have had as a mother. My time is growing short as my last child is finishing up his high school years. We have a couple of years left and it is increasingly getting more difficult in some respects and somewhat exciting in others. The difficulty lies in letting go and letting God deal with those things in my children’s lives that I see as potential danger zones.  As a mother I see all the possibilities, good and bad. I see their potential in God and their vulnerability to the enemy.  I want to scream at them, “Watch out, you are too close to the edge!”  But then there are moments where I joyously want to say, “Yes! Way to go!!”

It never ends, being a mother. When they are grown you are still their mother. You are just more of an observer until they invite you in to speak to their circumstances and choices. It is hard to know sometimes what to say and when to say it. I don’t think I have erred with God’s Word by reminding them the bible says or God wants you to ______! (fill in the blank)  I think they hear me as long it is said with love and concern and not said with anger or bitterness to turn them away or a ‘I told you so’ attitude.  My inner heart says, “check your attitude at the door and love them.” Boy oh boy, I fail miserably.

I have to admit, on occasion, fear still wells up inside me where my children are concerned. I remember so many prayers prayed in tears over them at night for years. So many times begging God to protect their hearts spiritually, asking Him to fill in the gaps left open by actions or words. When fear welled up this morning I had to immediately go to God. I had to fight the thought with His truth otherwise it would have brought me down. They each are responsible for their relationship with God and the world. And when I see danger or neglect creeping into their life it grips my heart. This quote caught my eye this morning and I believe it is the Lord speaking through another confirming my urgency to keep my grown children in prayer.

“No matter how good a parent you have been, your adult children can still be impacted by the dark side of today’s culture. We must keep in mind that the magnetic draw of the evil forces of this world is strong and presents a constant battle for our children. We have to continually pray that they’ll be strong enough to resist this unrelenting encroachment of the enemy into their lives.” Stormie Ormartian

The verse above speaks to the trust and hope that I have kept within my heart as I was thinking back to the days when my life was about raising children and caring for my household as a stay-at-home mom and through the single parenting years. I can attest that I have seen Him answer so many of my requests in their lives. Through many trying circumstances He gave me strength to keep hoping when I thought I could not go another day. He provided for us when it looked like we had nothing left. I learned to trust Him to do what He said He would do.  I believe He is still working to bring it all together for good in His time. I may not see exactly what He is doing in their lives but I usually did not see what He was doing in my life until He did it! And it was always amazing!

The new season I am in today is that of a grandmother.  Four little ones to love on and cherish.  To pray for and beg God for His protection over them. God reminds me daily, that while our stations may change our obligations certainly do not. Trusting and hoping in God means communicating with Him our hopes and cares. Prayer is the means by which we do that.

Do you know the only weapon we can own and have complete control over in our lives is prayer. It can do much damage to the camp of the enemy if we wield it with confidence and in agreement to His will.  The only cost is our time and the return is immeasurable. We do not know when, where or who God will raise up to change the world for Him.  It could be one of my children, one of my descendants or one of yours.  When they look back at their family tree wouldn’t it be awesome for them to find a grandparent who prayed for them by name!  A grandparent who stood in the gap or interceded on their behalf to the throne of grace for them. Oh I want to be that grandmother!

My soul waits, He is my help and my shield. I rejoice in Him. Because I trust Him.  “Lord, God let your mercy be upon me and mine as we HOPE in YOU!

Ft Benning, GA - Dec 2013

Ft Benning, GA – Dec 2013

Peter Called Out, “Lord, save me.”

Friday began with a restlessness that I could not put into words.  All day I kept wondering why I could not be at ease.  You know the butterfly type queasiness you get when you think something bad is about to happen to change your world.  I prayed out loud to the Lord the scripture that always comes to my mind in those moments.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  ~  Philippians 4:6-7

I prayed it several times yet I could not shake the feeling but I had surrendered the worry to Jesus’ care.

I left work early to go to an ultrasound appointment with my son and daughter-in-law.  We were going to get a 3D/4D video and pictures of the baby.  I was excited to see the baby moving but was not fully prepared for the overwhelming feelings I had at seeing this sweet miracle of life.  We got to see the whole baby, from top to bottom.  Hands, fingers, feet, toes, ribs, arms, legs, bottom, gender, back, head, face and the tongue. Yes, babies, stuck its tongue out. 🙂 I say babies, because we are not revealing the gender until the baby shower, only I know what it is….tune in later for the news! Babies kept grabbing onto the umbilical cord to hug it or put it in its mouth.  At 26 weeks it is just the most precious proof of a sovereign creator.

tongue

tongue

prayers

prayers

There was a moment when the technician snapped a picture of babies with its hand up toward its face.  It looked to be praying.  It was at that moment the name of my grandchild popped into my head.  I believe it was the Holy Spirit giving me the name.  On my way home from the appointment I kept saying it out loud.  I loved it, O what a beautiful name! Of course I would have to live with whatever name the kids gave babies but in Grammy’s mind I already had a name. 🙂  Later in the evening our family watched the video we had purchased of the ultrasound on our television. When my son and I were alone I asked him what names they were thinking of for a boy and a girl.  He told me the list of names and guess what??? YES, the name the Lord had spoken to me was on their list.  I got goosebumps and said almost in tears, “Are you kidding me???”I told him what name came to me when I saw the picture and he was amazed!  (He found out the gender at the appointment because he could not wait any longer but promised not to tell)  We both had huge smiles on our face! And this Grammy had praise in her heart for a God so personal and intimate that He gives confirmation of His presence in a name.

Saturday came.  I had planned a Scrap-booking Crop for Saturday at our church.  Had 6 ladies come and it was a great day for fellowship and getting work done on some of my albums.  And it just happen to be National Scrapbook Day, Yeah!  I enjoyed being with friends and working through my creative outlet but I still had a nagging feeling something was wrong somewhere.  I called my kids to check on them.  Texted my husband a couple of times and just kept praying the prayer, trusting Him with all that may be ahead.

Sunday arrived. The morning service went well and the message was right on target as usual.  But it was a strange day for mishaps.  A few things misplaced and forgotten but thankfully the day ended well.  Early in the day I sorted through a box filled with notes, cards and letters given to me over the years.  As I opened them and read them the person writing them immediately came to mind.  Their face and their life flowed through my memory.  Their voice was in my head. I could hear them speaking to me, crying with me, laughing with me, praying with me or for me.   It is amazing to me that God gave us a memory that at any given moment a sight, a sound, a smell, a word or picture can take us to a moment in time as if no time had passed.

Later we attended the Sunday evening bible study.  There was a great discussion on pursuing after Jesus and also how we can miss out on what God has for us by losing confidence in our faith and giving up.  As Peter did in stepping out onto the water when he saw Jesus.  He pursued Jesus by asking first if it was really Him. Then he stepped out of the boat onto the water in faith.  When he took his eyes off the Lord and onto the raging waves he became afraid and began to sink.  It was then Peter cried out, “Save me, Lord.”  And of course Jesus did.

The observation was made that many interpret Peter to have lost his faith in Jesus by becoming afraid but he suggested that Peter had lost  confidence in his own faith, that it was not strong enough to keep him walking forward on the water.   That spoke to me about how we often think we are unworthy to serve God.  How we, continuously, are so consumed with our own failures that we give up and stop serving or pursuing Jesus.  We stop short of the blessings God has for us in our lives.

We know the story of how Peter denied the Lord when Jesus was arrested.  Jesus, himself foretold this to Peter and he did not want to believe he would ever deny his Lord.  But he had done the very thing the Lord said he would do.  Do you know, according to Scripture that Simon Peter is the first person Jesus appeared to after his resurrection?  Perhaps to reassure him that He was still loved and still chosen.  Can you imagine that meeting? Oh what love must have been in the Saviors eyes when Peter realized who it was appearing to him.  On the day of Pentecost the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and Peter was so overwhelmed  that he began to preach and 3,000 were saved that day.  And so began the church.  What if he had given up on his faith when Jesus had died on the cross?  What if he decided he could never serve Christ again because of his failure? Thankfully he did not give up and received Christ forgiveness and love.  He humbled himself under the Lord’s teaching and was built up in his faith.  He became one of the boldest preachers of the Gospel ever known this side of the Heaven.  Doesn’t that encourage you? It certainly encourages me!

When we fail the Lord, do we recognize Him when he comes after us? He pursues us each and every day through His Word, through others and through his creation.  He waits for us to fellowship with Him.  Do we run to him when we realize our mistakes? How much do we want Him in our lives?  How much are we willing to deny ourselves and run after Him?  Those were questions several asked in our group last night which are still on my mind today.

Well, here it is Monday morning.  The weekend has come and gone.  The feeling I had Friday is not nagging me any longer and as I awoke this morning I was glad that it had disappeared.  Though I am not sure it is related, I had some terrible news this morning when I logged onto Facebook.  A friend whom I have known for many years passed away on Saturday.  I did not know at first how she passed away.  I assumed it was her heart.  She struggled for many years, as my sister did, with a drug addiction.  It nearly destroyed her life.  But by God’s grace she overcame it and was married several years ago to a wonderful man.  She was attending school and making many positive changes in her life.  I had not seen her face to face in several years but we often chatted on Facebook. I was so very proud of her and so thrilled that she was living what seemed a vibrant and happy life.  When a short time passed after reading the news it was then I found out through a mutual friend that she took her life.  I am in shock.  I could not even imagine what was going through her mind at that moment.  And my heart breaks for her family.  Her dear family left to pick up the pieces.  Left to ask the age-old question, why? It is the second time in a year that I have heard the news of friend taking their life. in such a manner. While I have experienced despair and devastation I can not imagine what held them in such grip to make them want to end it all.   I am reminded again of Peter sinking into the water, looking at the raging waves instead of Jesus, the master and creator of the sea. Peter called out, “Lord, save me”

I find a familiar thread running through the past few days.

  • God is the creator of all things and He is sovereign over all. Psalm 135:6
  • God does not change because of our circumstances, it is our perspective that changes when we fail to keep our eyes on Him. Psalm 102:12, 25-28
  • God knows what lays ahead of us and will equip us to handle it if we consistently walk in obedience to His Word.  Jeremiah 29:11

Life is full of unexpected experiences,  a miracle of life one minute and the tragic loss of life in the next. There are moments when life clicks and everything falls into place and there are moments when it is all out of sync and everything falls apart.  I can not imagine living my life without God,  without the one who has numbered my days and knows the very number of hairs on my head.  He is so intimate and personal that  He  knows where to fill every ache in my soul with peace.

Lest you think walking with Christ is easy, it is not.  It is a life of endless discovery of the good and bad in our hearts, forsaking the bad and choosing the good.  It is a life of trying to do what is right every single time according to God’s Word.  It is a life often filled with our cries to God for mercy & grace, which He freely gives.  It is a life of continually dying to self for His glory.  It is a life of far greater reward than any earthly riches can buy.  And only if you choose to pursue Jesus will you discover this wonderful truth for yourself.  Because when you call out, “Lord, save me.”  He does!

Grace to you all,

Shell

Dedicated to my friends Marian S. & Michelle R. ~ may God use their circumstances in life and in death to reach someone for Jesus Christ.

Image

“Faith, don’t fail me now!”

50th Birthday

50th Birthday

Have I mentioned that I turned 50 several months ago.  November actually.  It really isn’t a huge event when compared to the events of the world.  It was in my life.  I am sure each one of us who mark this passing of time either celebrates it or mourns it.  I made a good effort to celebrate it.  It brought with it much reflection as to what my life has culminated into.  I have written before about being defined by various things in my life.   When I was 19 I wrote that I wanted to find a purpose for my life.  I wanted to be loved and I wanted to love.  I could not see what lay ahead nor could I see that those very things I wanted drove me to make decisions that would turn my world upside down again and again.

What do I know now that I did not know then?

  • Purpose is not something that I have to seek.  It was given to me by God.  He created me for a purpose.  To follow and glorify Him.

Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.  Isaiah 43:7

  • Whether any person loves me or not I am loved by God.  Who created me, redeemed me and justifies me.  

But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. Isaiah 43:1

The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee. Jeremiah 31:3

  • To love others I must first love God.  He then fills me with His Holy Spirit which in turn spills out onto others.

35 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.  1 John 5:2

 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  38 This is the first and great commandment.  39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.   Matthew 22

Somewhere around age 32 I discovered that my thinking was wrong.  I had not met God on His terms. I knew of God and cried out to Him but did not KNOW Him.  When I came to that realization a light bulb came on. I could see the sin in my heart and I surrendered to Him.  Did all my thoughts, decisions and direction completely change?  No, not immediately. Over time He changed me from the inside out.  The most immediate and  important change was realizing that I could not continue to live life my way.  At this point I set about learning all I could about following God.  It took some 7 or 8 years after receiving Christ as my Savior to know what it meant to truly walk in liberty in Christ.  I was delivered from some generational strongholds in my life that took me to a whole new level in my relationship with God.  Shortly after that period of my life I went through what is known as the refiner’s fire.

The fire, I believe, was to test me on what I had learned. Would I apply it and walk in truth?  Would I choose to continue to follow God, whom I could not physically see over the circumstances that surrounded me?  Would I trust His path and stay focused on Him or would I look down and sink into the raging waves around me, as Peter did when he stepped out of the boat onto the water after seeing Jesus, himself, walking on the water?  Was my faith forged in steel or plastic?  Even while in the fire I had lessons to learn.  I learned what it meant to cling to God’s hand.  To trust Christ no matter what.   In past entries I have discussed some of these trials and the other lessons learned. (see archives 2006-2009)  I can not say I came out of the fire completely untouched by the flames.  I did come out of the fire with less of me and more of Him within my heart and mind.

Here and now, I am going through a different kind of trial.  A personal one. One that is not so much about the goings on around me but the struggle within me.  I believe the enemy is trying to reassert his way back into my thought life.  He has, from the beginning of my walk with Jesus, tried to take back the ground that God has gained over time.  Yes, I have on occasion given up tiny bits of  ground at times by not being on guard to my own weaknesses.  Where am I the most vulnerable to the enemy of my soul?  My children.  Always have been and perhaps always will be. Because they have been my life.  For 25 years I have been a mother, at least 16 years to four children.  And Satan knows where they are concerned I take everything personal.  Everything they do and say.  Every milestone. Every hurt or failure.  Every disappointment.  Every victory.

I have not yet learned to separate their adult lives from my own personal identification as their mama.  I see everything that happens as a reflection on me.  More bad than the good, I am afraid to admit.  I am seeking God about this but I am unsure what He is trying to show me.  I have tried to lead them by example and give them direction, always steering them toward Jesus.  And there have been moments when even I have failed in that.  My oldest son said to me, just last night something to the effect of,  “Mama, if you of all people, who have walked with God all these years, can not find peace in all of our (my children)  lives then what hope is there for me to find it?”  What does that say about my faith at this point in my life?  My husband has said I have been making everything that happens to them about me.  Again I ask what does that say about my faith?  Am I still trying to carry their burdens because that is what I did for years as a single mother.  Am I taking responsibility for their actions because I felt guilty for the life they had to live?  It was hard to be mom and dad.  It was hard watching them struggle with our broken home.  It was hard being accountable for 4 little lives + mine.  It was hard being alone and struggling with my own hurts and brokenness.  I look back and it amazes me that we survived.  God remained faithful even when I was not and it is to Him I owe much.

So this season I am currently in has perplexed me some.  I am questioning a lot of things over the years. Not God, mind you but my own beliefs.  I am having to go back and sort through some events and reviewing the timeline of my life to get at the root of  those issues that are stealing bits and pieces of my faith.  It is a well-known fact the enemy is an expert at finding old things to bring out of the dark to use against us.  I know that this is his way of warfare.  I know what he wants.  And I am desperate to stand my ground and not let him have one more inch.

Though how do you fight an enemy that goes around you and heads straight for your children?  Knowing where your children are vulnerable and not being able to protect them because now they are adults and it has become their fight.  Prayer is the only thing I know.  I know my Lord hears the prayer of a mother, a mother who seeks Him daily.   I have to pray ‘your will be done in their lives, Lord.’   Praying, knowing that God will hear and His answer may not be pretty or easy.  It still may bring more pain.  And that, my friends is where I am.  Praying for my grown children. Having to step back and keep hands off.  One of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.

Maybe I am looking at the water again. I surely hope not. I most assuredly hope that I have learned that my God is able.  He is able to do more than my mind could ever imagine and then some.  I have seen it over and over in my life.  So now I must trust Him to do the same in my children’s lives. I must be patient and hopeful. Always keeping my eyes on Him only!

Just maybe God is allowing this season of uncertainty to refine me further.  Perhaps He knows the things in this mother’s heart that still need to come out.   He knows that in order to heal completely there must be a cleaning out of old things infecting my thoughts. He has taught me without this there will never be peace and surrender.  And I know too there must be a pouring out, an emptiness that needs to occur before a filling can be completed.   A filling of joy and freedom.

And with that comes peace to a mother’s heart!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Oh Lord Jesus Fall Fresh On Me

November 5, 2012

It is the day before the 2012 election that will be taking place in the United States of America and I am not sure where to begin.   So many thoughts swirling about in my mind.  I have spent many hours reading articles, listening to speeches, watching news stories unfold as they happened around the world. Much of that information has left me disappointed, frustrated and at times angry with the direction our country is moving.  I heard someone say today that after tomorrow the America we remember as a child will never be that America again.  And I do believe that to be true no matter the outcome.

Growing up I heard sayings like “It’s as American as apple pie.” and “America is baseball, hot dogs and Chevrolet!” As a kid I believed America was about The Pledge of Allegiance, Stars & Stripes,  Star Bangled Banner & fireworks, Pilgrims and Indians, White Christmases & Jesus in the manger.  It was hot summer days eating bologna sandwiches, swimming in the neighbor’s pool and warm evenings chasing lightning bugs in the front yard.  Politics? Don’t think I ever really knew much about that except occasional overheard conversations.  I do remember watching Nixon give his resignation speech on  television but don’t remember what my thought was about it.   The symbol of politics for me was the image of Uncle Sam with a tall hat and extra long stilt-like legs.  I remember seeing elephants and donkeys but not understanding what they meant.

As a teenager, it became something a little different.  I remember my parents taking me to a Jimmy Carter campaign rally.  I did not much like it nor do I remember why.  I became a little more aware of the role of our president and what his job was but really did not pay too much attention to it all.  It was over my head.   The most I recall is the media making the public aware of the antics of the president’s brother, Billy, who drank a lot.  President Carter had a Georgia accent which was kind of distracting when he spoke.

Then came Ronald Reagan.  I knew he was an actor but did not know much about him then.  I liked him and thought he was genuine.  I liked that he did not back down and he had a sense of humor.  I paid more attention to him though I still was not into all that.  From my high school years to early adulthood I was pretty much focused on me, myself and I.  There were a few years in there where I did not watch much television other than the current sitcoms or read many newspapers.  I was not informed nor did I care at the time.  I had opinions perhaps some were passed down from the previous generation but for the most part they often were formulated by the current music and film culture.  I am sad to admit that.

It really was not until I joined the Air Force that I began to take notice of the events taking place in our nation and the world.  I began to understand the bigger picture in regards to the United States and where it stood on the world stage.  My first assignment took me to Europe.  And it was there I got to see my country from another perspective.  There was a growing patriotism rising up within me.  I saw history up close and personal.  For the first time in my life, at the young age of 23, I not only appreciated the fact that I was American but I experienced what being American meant.

Over the years since then I have become passionate about our country and its history.  Probably too passionate as some would say.  Age and experience have given me a better perspective on world around me.  Christianity and motherhood have a part in that as well.

November 6, 2012

Today is election day! Finally it is here.  I have had a quiet soul this morning coming to work.  So different from several weeks ago.  I was anxious about all the back and forth, up and down the crazy, horrible division that has come with it.  Our pastor said something that changed that for me.  “No matter who is elected President, God still wins!”  How profound that is.  It sort of yanked me back to earth so to speak.  Since that time I have searched my heart and realized whatever way it goes it is all in His plan.  America is changing and will continue to change.   Changes coming from all directions and mostly not for the good.  But what will not change is a Holy God who has it all in His hand.  By His providence we, the United States of America, began from a small group of folks looking for freedom of worship.   Freedom to study His Word and live it out in their lives.

America was great, because God was great to America.  He is no longer great to many and is no longer known by many.   God blessed us because we, as a nation, stood on the principles of His Word.  Change has taken us far from our roots, it began many, many years ago.  Sometime after WWII we took God out of our schools and out of our government.  Men twisted the words of our founding fathers and hid them away from the generations.  Truth is gone in many textbooks and replaced with lies.  Holiness is gone from our churches and replaced with feelings.  What was good is now bad and what was bad is now good.

I have often wondered how things have gotten so mixed up and ludicrous.  I sometimes wish I could shout truth from a mountain top or tall building.  I want to scream, “STOP!!”  I shake my head and am right back where I started with a question.  “What can I do?”  I recently listened to an audio book called Holiness by Henry Blackaby and my heart fell under conviction.  So heavy and yet so needed.  My heart has wanted to see God move, wanted to see revival.  And I wanted my family to experience God as well.  I wanted them to witness His power!

To witness His power and be in His presence  is one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced.  There are no words to describe it.   It only happens when we pursue holiness.   I have done that before.  I have experienced it.  I have no excuse for not being there now.  Life happened and I let it.  But I yearn for it again.  I so want the Lord Jesus to fall fresh on me, on my family and those that are in my life.  Being in the presence of God moves your heart  to share the love of God with those around you.  It just spills out.  You can not stop it and you can not control it.  It is truly God’s Holy Spirit controlling you.    People see God through you for that is the only way they will see.

It begins in my repented heart.  When holiness is pursued my heart will change and there will be fruit.  It will then effect change to those around me,  my family.   The change in my family will affect change in my church.   The change in my church will affect change in my community.  I want to see that!

When I arrived at work this morning my devotional calendar for November 6 said

‘God’s purpose for us is holiness, His own holiness, which we are to share.’

 

And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.  

1 John 3:3

When you ask God for wisdom, He gives it in sometimes not so subtle ways.  He waits but not forever.  He waits so that no man will perish.  Regardless of the outcome of the election God will still be on the throne, the world will continue to turn and we will still be left wanting.  The only true way to change our country is to make a change in our hearts.  A change of direction, turning away from sin and toward the one who forgives our sin.

Change comes from one person. Just one person standing up for what is right.   For that matter, kneeling down for what is lost.

Grace to you,

Shell

Slay My Flesh, Awaken My Heart

Being on my blog again seems so foreign to me.  It has been over eight months since I have written a single,  solitary word let alone a blog entry.  So much is crowding my thoughts and my heart.  Since the beginning of this year there has been a small voice in the back of my head speaking to me about that very thing.  It is getting louder now and can not be ignored any longer.  I knew that I had let so many things come between my walk with my Lord and my walk in the world.  I do not mean that I have gone out and fallen into a sin, merely that I have grown somewhat lukewarm in some areas of my life.  I was reminded the other day, after watching a video on  You Tube,  Crazy Love ~ by Francis Chan  In God’s Word, the Lord says to the church of Laodicea:

14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans[a] write,

‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,[b] I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.  (KJV)

The word ‘lukewarm’ hit me so between the eyes.  I have, at times in my walk with Jesus, felt the longing in my heart for  His presence.  That longing led me to seek Him in desperate prayers and sacrifice for Him.  I always found Him just as He said I would and He always filled me when I emptied myself to receive Him.   To have experienced that filling leaves you so much more aware of a distance that can creep in when you finally have reached a place of peace and rest in Jesus.  It is so subtle and happens over a period of time.   We allow the distance into our relationship with Him because of noise around us, our flesh and the enemy, who is a master at subtly.  I could make excuses as to why the distance happens but when I say them out loud to myself they sound so lame.    Even now at this place I am today there is no good reason as to why I am here again.

I have had some amazing, wonderful things happen within my family that only God could have orchestrated so I should be on a mountaintop screaming to the world, ‘Praise God from whom all blessings flow!’ but it seems I have turned inward to some extent.  I have, dare I say it out loud, backslid within my heart.  Why does that happen when we receive the desires of our hearts?   Why is it when dreams come true there is a moment of euphoria and then an emotion comes along that kind feels like a let down.  I have heard that many people who work towards a goal or achievement often experience this ‘let down,’  after reaching the very thing they have had their eyes on for months or years.  What is that?

I believe Solomon tells us exactly what it is and starts by saying….

“Vanity[a] of vanities,” says the Preacher;
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

And then sums it up…

“All things are full of labor;
Man cannot express it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor the ear filled with hearing.

That which has been is what will be,

That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.”

He has gotten my attention and I am turned my heart toward Him once again.   I know that His word is true when it says, “His mercy endureth forever”  and I do not want to take that for granted.  I want to be the wise woman who fears the Lord and honors Him daily in her  life.  That is my heart’s desire.  ~ Grace to you, Shell