Thursday, July 9, 2015

He shows His mercy through Tears

We are simple sinners walking in God’s grace. These past 3/4 years were really hard for us as a family… I dwelled in my flesh a lot…. if there is anything good you have seen in me it has been Christ’s mercy on my sinful selfish soul powerfully shining trough despite my flesh.

I am thankful for these sufferings though…. not that I am happy that things happened the way they did…but that in these sufferings God has shown Himself to me in ways that otherwise I would have never seen Him.  I am thankful that He is Jehovah Shammah (God is with us).  That He created us for a relationship with Him and that He loves me enough to show me over and over again how much I desperately need Him. Through the trails in our lives and our sinful selves He has worked throughout History to lovingly show us that it is not about us, that we aren’t in control, and that He loves us despite our sinful selves.  Here is great sermon spells that out ..that encouraged me this week...

I wish I could say that my faith was beautiful through these trials… that I was always full of peace and contentment never questioning God but instead resting in my deep trust in Him.

But it is NOT true.

I was an ugly mess at times. I was at a place where nothing seemed to be going MY WAY…. and I threw some messy temper tantrums. I was discontent wanting so many different things than i was given. Tears flowed so many times these past few years.

The last 2 years were the hardest in our marriage as well.

Year #11's theme was "Year #11 Marriage isn't Heaven" (can't even find the picture for that one)

Year #12 1 Peter 5:10...

In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.

Quite a contrast from this dazed little couple here….

We both realized how selfish and hurtful we can be when stress arises and trials come…. When we are operating in our fleshiness…. but the great gift God gives…. is grace…. and I need mountains of it to survive…

And somehow now I love Jonathan differently but in a "no matter what" kind of way.... new vows are being written and now with understanding that things won't be pretty and to count on me through those times/years. 

This story of struggle, trials, suffering, thorns in fleshes, and redemption marks every follower of Christ throughout History. It is not that if you follow Jesus you won’t suffer in this world… you will… it is even a promise from God that you will ….

In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:10

Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. 1 Peter 4:13

So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you. 1 Peter 4:19

Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12

….it not that you are “perfect” if you are a follower of Christ… if that were the requirement no one would be Christian… in fact it is just the opposite if you are a follower of Christ.. you are basically admitting you stink and all of your good efforts stink (are filthy rags ) and you desperately need God to survive every day.

…. The most amazing thing  in all of this trial filled and hard life is that the ALMIGHTY CREATOR GOD… He is with you… you …. You know…. “you”… the teeny tiny human… the one in a trillion whatever – I have no idea what number person you are born into this world – but that number is what I am talking about…

… HE does know though… what number you are…. HE knows the number of hairs on your head…His thoughts for you outnumber the grain of sand in enormous ol’ sea…..He cries when you cry even though He knows the ending (Lazarus) … He formed you in your mothers womb… crafted your inner parts… side note- the kids and I discussed briefly about DNA in Homeschool Science this week….. it is over whelming to what detail God went to into creating you….

The God of the universe beyond anything we humans can understand yet He loves us and wants to walk with us through our life trails… WOW….. if we can get this it will draw us right into awe of Him and worship of Him… which will bring us a joy that nothing in this created world can offer. 

What I am saying is that I am thankful… that despite my many failures God is still with me… He is still working on me… He hasn’t given up and wants me and loves me and through the sacrifice of Jesus He calls me beloved daughter and even lets me go to work with Him where He is working around the world.

I am also thankful for the trails of life.. though they leave me in tears they draw me closer to Him whom shapes me through them. He loves me enough to allow and even bring at times these tears in my life. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

i don't know what to do....

Today would have been Holly’s 38th birthday. I have celebrated 37 of them and I am a little at loss of what to do today. The things I would want to do I can’t do…

If I could do anything this week… i would go to her house let our kids play together and talk with my dear sister.

 Because that isn’t possible…..I thought I would write.

I have been ....grieving Holly's loss of being with her children and husband, i have been grieving the children's loss of Holly as a mother, the loss Bryant has of his life mate, the loss my parents have of a beloved daughter... and recently i have been grieving my loss...

Holly is the reason I really stopped writing this blog…. It is where I normally share what is going on in my heart but my heart was going through so much watching my life best friend go through so much and I knew I couldn’t write it all… knowing she would see it out there, knowing she was going through so much herself, not wanting her to see my grief and thoughts too and have to deal with them as well as so many of her own.

I remember when I was 7 there was this big boy in the neighborhood picking on Holly after the school bus dropped us off. I went right up to him and pushed him and said you don’t say that about my sister. He laughed picked me up and threw me on the ground … it knocked all the wind out of me. Then he ran because Holly ran up the hill to tell mom. 

We were always together, even though she was a year older we grew up in the same grade.

We shared secrets, there was not too much she held from me… even as we got older.

There was this dip in the driveway at the house we lived at when we were teens. It overlooked the lake in front of our house. Whenever something hard, big, or we just had secret to share we’d say, “meet you at the dip at [ time].” And we would go and talk… I remember being out there in the cold with a blanket, or sometimes sharing a coat together, and the cool summer evening nights we’d sit there and talk and listen to the frogs chirp.


As we got older every week or two I would stop by and the kids would play and we would walk and talk and share life.

When Holly got sick, it was harder for her to share. The kids were always right there… with her… trying to hear what they could hear. It was hard to talk deep. One time she pulled me into Bryant and her closest and talked with me for a few minutes… she said she wished we had our dip to sit in and talk.

Last year when she got sicker she couldn’t talk at all. Her hearing was leaving her.  I began to love the hospital times because I got to be alone with her for a little bit even though she slept most of the time it was nice just being close.

Holly and I were only a year a part… watching someone I have shared my whole life with die was hard to say the least….. it seemed she couldn’t be finished yet. She hadn’t seen her kids grow up yet or even finish teaching them all how to go potty, or tie their shoes, she hadn’t been there for their first boy-girl relationship, or seen them graduate even. She didn’t get to be there at their wedding, or to hold her first grandchild. She didn’t get to finish what was started….

We prayed for a miracle and I really expected God to give her more time… I kept thinking of Hezekiah’s 14 more years.

Holly’s death has changed me…. Forever…

I am not the same person. I think it has changed me for the better though.

I use to always see the future/envision it… now…. I only know the next step and sometimes not even that. There is a contentment in today now that i haven't had before. People have asked us how long will we be living in the middle east…. the way I want to answer….

“How in the world am I suppose to know a thing like that, I don’t even know if I have tomorrow…. None of us do.” 

The truth is only God knows our tomorrows.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” Prov. 19:21

Holly was young, healthy, beautiful wife, mother, daughter, friend, and sister. She was fulfilling her life purpose. She longed for more children. But she took God’s bidding with trust and grace…. Not that it wasn’t hard. In her last 2 and half years of life she had to grieve the loss of everyone she loved and in the last 7 months before her death she watched and felt her body pass away.

Now she is happy beyond description. I miss her dearly, but I know that she is experiencing what we were all created to experience.. the presence of God without the sin of our flesh. True freedom.

I know we will see her soon. Life is just a breath and is zipping by now even as you read this…. And I re- read it again to realize my grammar mistakes.

Carpe Diem – Seize the Day….  Means something different to me now.

Holly taught me how to drive safely, how to be a wife, how to be a mother, and now how to live and die with peace.

Every time my eyes swell up with tears because I miss her so much …. Peace floods me in that I will see her soon and life is but a breath.

I trust my Father God not because He gives me what I want but because His way is best and He is faithful and His plans are bigger than I can even imagine.

I am so thankful for Holly. It is hard not sharing the rest of this life with her…and I feel like I am missing half my past too (she remembered everything), but I am thankful God gave us such a precious gift to teach us all. Though her companionship is gone… she is still teaching me….

….mainly to Trust the Lord.

Monday, March 23, 2015

on a hilltop

“You are the light of the world like a city on hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket . Instead a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way let your good deeds shine out for all to see , so that EVERYONE will praise your HEAVENLY FATHER.”
Matthew 5:14-16

We are simply vessels reflecting the light of our FATHER/MAKER/LOVER/LORD to reveal truth to the world around us. People are watching us and listening to us ……constantly…their hearts are searching for truth and we may be the only light and love they see in this dark world.

Life is so short. We must live for eternity. Obedience is truly bliss.

Because of our recent travels with my parents to Mount Nebo I was reminded of  Moses’ story.

God’s good is sooo different than our good! Our good usually has something to do with promoting us, our agenda or promoting God in our own way. That is why Moses couldn’t go to the promised land he was only allowed to see it from a distance after 40 years of roaming in the desert.  God wanted Moses to speak to the rock then water would come out…. all he had to do was simply obey God. But Moses hit the rock twice… and did things in his own way for whatever reason… he thought he was doing something pleasing for God that would bring God glory. But he didn’t do what God wanted him to do so he couldn’t go to the promised land.

Today water still runs from that rock as it has for thousands of years. All around people recognize the underground river as coming from Moses’ rock. God still loved his people and gave them water because they needed it… but Moses paid the consequences for not obeying God fully. The Bible said he was an ordinary man, he stuttered and couldn’t even speak to Pharaoh even though he knew God was with him, he questioned God many times, he messed up a lot. A lot like us, really. 

Part of saying YES to God is doing what God wants God’s way. Most of the time God will ask us to do things outside of our ability. He doesn’t need us to help Him….He is more than able but He wants us involved because He knows HE is what is best for us and as we are obeying Him we realize our desperate need for the Holy Spirit and cling to God even closer.

There are many reasons why our family is making a move but the main reason is God is leading us down that path. We don’t know how long, we think it is to set up a relationship with a national leader for the work to continue here. The point is not the why so much as it is the YES. This is God’s work and His plan is so much bigger than ours… none of us know what tomorrow holds…but we can be obedient today and join Him today in what He is up to.

It doesn’t mean it is easy. Before the Bible mentions the light passage.. there are the “Blessed are” verses. God’s good is different than man’s… Man would say “Cursed are” to some of these but God sees these as good.  
“God blesses those who are poor….  who mourn…. who are humble…who work for peace… God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right….God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you, and say all sorts of evil thing against you because you follow me. Be happy about it be very glad...”

It is not easy leaving our families, our friends, not to mention…the comforts of home, indoor heat and cooling …grass…. Ice cream and chocolate chips… ;)  It is not easy being a country where we are learning the language but still can’t communicate past “how are you?”…we are dependent on translators, constantly there are people in need begging for help…. It is not easy helping them or knowing how to help them best…. It is not easy dealing with the mass of problems here, and discipling people. It is not easy managing our responsibilities with GPPD in the states as we are here. None of it is easy. But it doesn’t mean it is not what God wants or that JOY can't be found here.

We joy that God has allowed us to be a part of His work here. Already we have a different perspective. It has allowed us a small glimpse in the lives of our Gpartners who live and serve overseas full time. It has allowed us into the lives of some very courageous followers of God that have suffered much. 

I love being in a place where…. for a such a time as this…..over 1,000,000 people have sought refugee here from neighboring countries. It would be hard to go to these countries but they have come to us and the few true believers of this church and community center are the first light and love many of them have ever seen.

I do know that for whatever any of us have in life… these verses stand true…

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again - Rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. REMEMBER – the LORD is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything INSTEAD pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done! THEN you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. AND NOW…. Dear brothers and sisters…. One final thing – FIX your thoughts on what is true……” Phil 4:4-8