He is still good.

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Have you heard the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Most of us heard it as children in Sunday school. It’s the story of three men thrown into a fiery furnace for not bowing down to worship the gods of Nebuchadnezzar.  There’s even a popular cartoon featuring talking vegetables about the story. Have you ever really thought about it though? Not the gory details of how hot and terrible it must have been, but instead the courage and faith it took for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to stand against the king and refuse to worship his gods.  They didn’t just have faith that God would save them from the fiery furnace. They had faith in his goodness, even if He didn’t.

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.

But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

~Daniel 3:17-18

They refused to bow down, even faced with the penalty of death by fire, because they knew that God could save them. They also knew that, while He could, He might not have done so. Some people see this and question His goodness. I strongly caution against those thoughts. Our God is merciful. He is all-knowing. He is all-powerful.  He has given man free will. That is what causes turmoil in this world. Not our God.

Are you faced with something so overwhelming it seems impossible to bear today? Do you feel like your cries to the Lord are not being heard? This life is so full of hardships. Children stray. Cancer strikes. Jobs fail. Spouses leave. Loneliness engulfs. Loved ones die. Please take heart my beloved friend. God does hear your cries. He can answer your prayers exactly as you ask. But even if He doesn’t, He is still good. He is still your God. His ways are still best. Trust Him. Seek Him. Walk the path He has laid out before you. You may not see the end of your story, but He does.

If you read the account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you will notice that the men that bound them and were taking them to the furnace were slain by the fire. Can you imagine? Imagine being lead into this fiery furnace and your captors succumbing to the heat. Would you change your mind? Scream out to the king to save you? He was the flesh standing before them, after all. It was certain that he could stop them from being thrown into the furnace. But they didn’t. They had faith, even then, in our God of mercy and goodness. Have faith, dear one. God will walk with you through the fires of life, even if He doesn’t pull you out of them.

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

~Isaiah 43:2

 

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Change

Faith

I’ve been gone a while. Have you noticed? I have a few very good friends that have subtly been reminding me of my absence in the blogging world. It’s good to have friends like them. I dipped my toes in the blogging waters, and true to form for me, jerked my foot out of the cold water and ran the other way. That may be a slightly exaggerated way of putting it, but it accurately describes my short time in this arena.   As I sit here, trying to decide how best to describe my reasons for stepping back a bit, I realize the biggest reason is fear. There are many “excuses”, but they all come back to fear. Ridicule, confrontation, self-doubt, and change are highest on my list of fears. Change, though may be the motto for my year. Life in this household has changed more in the past year than in all the years we’ve been raising children. The real raw truth? I have spent most of it an emotional wreck. I recently read an article that encouraged writers to stop writing in a season such as this. Those words hit home. That is exactly what I had done, without even realizing it. I needed to muddle through this season a bit, with my waders on, before I could be an encouragement to anyone else. Believe me, if I had kept writing, you all would’ve lost faith in me (and possibly my sanity) as well. Yesterday, I went back and read some of my (very few) posts. Whew. I should’ve read those earlier. Maybe, possibly, God was preparing me for what was around the corner. Before you go thinking that my “well-behaved little angels” have turned rogue, I should clarify that they haven’t. As mentioned before, change is hard. Children grow up. This involves vast amounts of change. Motherhood isn’t just what I do, it’s who I am. When the sand in the hourglass of childhood started running out, I tried to catch it in my hands. I just wanted to hold it a little longer. Silly notion, right? Without turning this into a “poor me, baby” story, let’s just say this, it wasn’t pretty. My dear sweet farmer reminds me often Who I need to rely on…from where my strength should come.

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

                                                                                                           ~Isaiah 40:29

It has taken a bit for the Lord to shake me from the place I was in. He uses the kind words of sweet friends, places the right people in my path, gives strength to my farmer, and shows me the need of others to steer me when I need it. I can’t promise that this blog is going to be hopping with activity, or that the direction it goes will be the same as when it started. I do know there is light gleaming at the end of this season’s tunnel. I ask for your patience and prayer as I meander towards it.

I also wanted to share this song with you. The words spoke to me and have become my anthem. I hope they can be reassuring to you, as well.

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Waiting.

 

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Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Psalm 27:14

Are you in a season of waiting? Waiting for the Lord to reveal His plans for your life. Waiting on a sick husband or parent. Waiting for healing. Waiting for a loved one to return to Christ. Waiting for your marriage to get better. Waiting for money to pay the bills. Waiting for your new “normal” after losing someone close. Waiting on your baby…or just waiting for a baby. The waiting can be long, it can be painful, but it can be beautiful. Hold on to that Love that will never let go. He will never let go. No matter how long the waiting.

 

 

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Happy New Year!

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Another year has come and gone. I could write a long, sappy post about all the wonderful things that happened in 2015. I actually enjoy reading everyone’s year end recaps. I think I will keep it short and sweet today though, with a little reminder. As you look toward the new year ahead, remember one thing as you make your plans.

“It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”                                                                                                     Lamentations 3:22-23

A new year feels like a clean slate. You get a chance to start over, and do things differently. Fix problems. Start new adventures. Guess what, beloved? That feeling you have today? You get that everyday in God’s eyes. Lamentations 3:22-23 says “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” So, bottle up that feeling you have right now. Set it aside, put it on a shelf, write it down, do what you need to do to remember it. There will be days ahead that have us feeling consumed, overwhelmed, and just plain done in. Pull out this memory on those days. His compassions fail not. He does not fail those that seek Him.

I’m looking forward to what the Lord has in store for my family this year. I pray that each of you has a blessed year!

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No grit. No pearl.

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No grit. No pearl. What a wonderful way to express God’s way of turning hardships into something beautiful.  Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a stress free life? One with no bills, or hardships. The babies all fell asleep at 7 pm. (and didn’t wake up till morning…late morning…) There was always enough money to pay the bills. Your big “kids” were polite, and respectful, and always did their chores without reminding.  Divorce didn’t happen, people didn’t get sick, families didn’t fall apart. But we don’t live in that world. We live in a world with friends that hurt us, and spouses that aren’t perfect. The bills will keep coming, even if your income doesn’t.

God doesn’t cause those things to happen. He can make something beautiful from the grit in our lives, though. We can gain compassion, understanding, and strength that wouldn’t have been possible had we not walked through those hard times.

Have you ever heard of a hot house lily? They live a pampered life. Once you put them under any kind of stress, they wilt away. God doesn’t want us to be hot house lilies. He needs strong people to advance His kingdom.

If you are walking through a hard time, if that grit seems too much to bear, pick yourself up. Turn your heart to Him. Ask for guidance. Seek His word. Don’t be a hot house lily. Turn that grit into a pearl.

 

Picture ©Clarissa Rose

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Miss Fix It

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I am a fixer. I enjoy putting things together and fixing things. I also have seven younger siblings. Can you see where this is going? I grew up with a need to fix, not just things, but people. If only I could just have a little control in someone’s life, surely I could make everything better for them, right? No. No, no, no, no, no! Step away from the control button, missy.

Sometimes, we learn lessons in ways we never wanted to learn them. This particular lesson was gut wrenching and stretched me to my limits. It put me in the hospital, and caused my family pain. But when I let God take the control He desired all along, it was beautiful and reassuring.  It is a particularly long story, and if you know me, you know I’m not joking. I tend to stretch a story pretty well. I will jump to the end though. After three years of fighting the cancer that had turned her life upside down, my mom was about to lose her battle. Or win. Depending on how you look at it.  I felt this need to fix the situation. If only I did this or that, I could make her better. Sounds silly, right? I didn’t realize what it was doing to me. To my mind, and my health.  I ended up in the ER, in a hospital nearly 3 hours from anyone that cared about me. Except for my mom, who lay unaware and unconscious in the ICU.  God used that moment to show me something. Nothing changed. Mom didn’t suddenly recover because I had pushed myself to this point. This burden was not mine to carry. I could not fix her. It wasn’t my job to try. My outlook changed. I realized no matter what happened, she was going to be ok. She was going to recover and live here with us, or not, and shed this flesh body to live a pain free eternity with God. I could still love her, and take care of her, and I did. But I couldn’t fix her. She did come out of the ICU, but we lost her a few short months later.

Change is gradual. When the need to fix a situation comes over me, I hand it over to God. “Lord, if you desire for me to do something, please make it abundantly clear.”  I pray this prayer, often. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to help, nor does it mean that thoughts of helping don’t try to consume me. It means that I try not to let my body (and my mouth) get ahead of my brain.

Helping people doesn’t mean running their lives for them. In fact, by attempting to do so, we could be robbing them of a blessing. We can help others by showing them love and compassion, by holding their hand when they are hurting, and driving them to the doctor when they are sick. Obsessing over how we are going to fix their situation will not help them. Or us. Fixing and helping are not the same thing. The most important thing we can do for others is pray. Fight for them on our knees. We may not see the answers we had hoped for, but if we give it to God, we need to trust that He is in control.

 

Photo © Clarissa Rose
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