Sunday, February 27, 2011

Choosing a Song

Amanda has to choose a song and analyze it. I wanted to pick it, of course (because I am a control freak) but resisted. I asked her what was her favorite and she couldn't tell me.

We started talking about songs. Right away she chose Headphones by Britt Nicole. I printed the lyrics. Then she said "that song that you love the bridge". So I printed out the lyrics to Beautiful by MercyMe. Then she had her ipod and put on another song. Then another. Then another. I was talking notes. I wrote down seven different songs. Then we talked about the meanings. I wrote down whether the artist was a male or female. Most of the songs had the same theme...inner beauty.

A song or two made me cry. She asked me what song I would choose. I told her To Know You by Casting Crowns. I said that when I listen to it, it pulls me out of the pit. I love the lyrics. They make me want to be a better person.

Then Amanda put on Have Your Way by Britt Nicole. That song definitely makes me cry. After we listened to it, she said "I think this is the one". We listened to it again. This week, she will have to dissect it and write a paper which is due next Monday.

We had so much fun. We both share a love for music. She is my inner child, the child I wanted to be. You know, the one who can sing and dance. I thank God for that gift that many would take for granted.

I am also thankful for the fact that we listened to seven praise songs. Not once did she choose a Miley Cyrus song. And to that I say "Hallelujah"!


Click here to listen to Britt Nicole - Have Your Way:


Feels like I've been here forever,
Why can't you just intervene,
Do you see the tears are falling?
And I'm falling apart at the seams,
But you never said the road would be easy,
But you said that you would never leave.
And you never promised that
this life wasn't hard,
But you promised you'd take care of me,
So I'll stop searching for the answers,
I'll stop praying for an escape,
I'll trust you God with where I am,
And believe you will have your way,
Just have your way,
Just have your way,
My friends and my family have left me
I feel so ashamed and so cold,
Remind you take broken
things and turn them into beautiful
So I'll stop searching for the answers,
I'll stop praying for an escape,
I'll trust you God with where I am,
And believe you will have your way,
Just have your way,
Just have your way,
Even if my dreams have died,
Even if I don't survive,
I'll still worship you with all my life,
My life, yeah,
Whoa, oh, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh Whoa, oh
And I'll stop searching for the answers,
I'll stop praying for an escape,
And I'll trust you God with where I am,
And believe you will have your way,
Just have your way,
Just have your way, yeah
I know you will,
don't forget,
Whoa, oh, oh
You love me,
Have your way, Yeah

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Simple Life Regarding Giving

"Each person should do as he has decided in his heart - not out of regret or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver"
2 Corinthians 9:7


Today I met a dear college friend for breakfast AND lunch. We talked for over five hours. It went by so quickly. We talked about our children. We talked about our jobs. We talked about our husbands. We talked about making home improvements. But the conversation always drew back to one of my favorite topics. GOD.

We talked about how college is just a few years away for our older children. (It's hard to believe!) We talked about college funds and will we have them.

Then we parted. We will get together again in August (well, I hope). That is when we meet at her house with all of the children. And we talk some more.

It's been a quiet evening. The boys went to watch hockey and me and my girl are just watching Animal Planet. In between attention-grabbing moments about cats, I read "Simple Life". I am on the third section of the book, which is called, "How to Simplify and Build Healthy Finances." We are well on our way with the college funds. We started saving when I was pregnant with Amanda.

When I started to pray about my verse, I would have thought that God would have placed Matthew 6:19-25 (at the bottom of this post) on my heart. But He didn't. Money is always on my mind. But I think that "resting and being still" is where God wants my heart.

Here is what I read tonight. It just affirms my need to tithe. That can be a controversial subject. Many people believe that the church is all about sucking money out of you. I disagree. But you have the right to believe what you want to believe.

"To miss out on giving is to miss out on one of the beautiful acts of obedience that God provided for us. Giving is a gift created for you. Immerse yourself in the experience. Pray for God to direct your heart in your offerings, and be a part of something beyond your human capability."

The act of offering up our money to God has two purposes:

1. To participate in God's work
2. To reveal our hearts

"God does not need our money. God does not function on dollars and cents. His purposes in this world are not dictated by a well-managed budget. He has no need for proper accounting methods. He is not even worried when a nation falls on tough economic times. His plan is already set in motion, and the final chapter will reach its last page. That piece of paper in your wallet, the one that our world values so much, has no authority in regard to His plan. He is much greater than that."

"God did not fill the Bible with lessons on giving because He has a need. God created the concept of giving so that we may be a part of His plan for our obedience to Him. He wants us to live beyond what is humanly capable, to tap into the spiritual. Giving was fashioned out of His love for us."


This is the scripture that I would have chosen for myself. It's about money AND worry. But of course God always has a different plan for me:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Simple Life

I am reading a new book. I am striving to live the Simple Life. I think that I have been less distracted by the computer in the last two weeks. We've all been sick. I've been treading water but so thankful that God allowed the sickness to slow us down.

My brother said I had not updated my facebook status for 48 hours. Funny, I guess I had nothing to share. I can't say "I have nothing to say" because that's just not who I am. I am my mother's daughter and can talk about nothing for 40 minutes!

Even the blog has been a little neglected.

Anyway, I have something to say right now! We had a team meeting with the seventh grade teachers. They are very likable. Each of them took turns talking and describing what they have seen over the last few months. Nothing they were saying was new to us. I told them that the child they were describing was the one we knew for the last twelve years. The child who made the honor role? Well, she is the one we were surprised by.

I, of course, had to go there. You know, that place we all want to go to but hesitate to. I went down the "WHY" path. Why didn't anyone call us? Why didn't anyone notify us? Did anyone find it to be odd that she just stopped doing her homework? What does it take to have someone contact us?

Did I feel better for asking the questions? No.

Did anyone answer the questions with a sufficient response? No

Why, then, is it so difficult for me to just have faith that God was, is and always will be in control?

The math teacher had a print-out of all of the assignments that Amanda has completed or not completed this year. He said she just stopped doing her homework on December 8th. I responded with, my Dad died on the 11th.

Yes, I have guilt. Yes, I choked back tears the entire time and yes I cried the whole drive back to work. But, God is who He says He is and we are a stronger and more focused family because of the lack of awareness last marking period.

Amanda has been completing ALL of the assignments whether she receives credit or not. It is my new "discipline" for her. We are correcting the behavior. Everyone wins when it is discipline. When it is punishment, everyone suffers.

So my new motto is "Live and Learn". The live part is usually painful or uncomfortable. We may suffer. But because of it, we learn. And we learn not to do it again (hopefully). And as long as God is my teacher, I will trust that His way is the best way.

Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Psalm 25:5 NLT

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Reverse Diabetes

Top 20 Foods for Beating Diabetes
(alphabetized to remember them)



Apples
Avocados
Barley
Beans
Beef
Berries
Broccoli
Carrots
Chicken (or turkey) breast
Eggs
Fish
Flaxseed
Milk and yogurt
Nuts
Seeds
Oatmeal
Olive Oil
Peanut Butter
Sweet Potatoes
Whole-Grain Bread

What's Your Word?

I started this at 4:30 and went back to bed before it was written. It is now 7 am!

************************************************************************************
Jeanniehopes asked me what my word for the year was. I of course did not know what she was talking about. I said, "last year? Is sucky a word?"

This year? I thought for a moment and thought about what God placed on my heart. I had talked to my friend, DB, and shared an email. The email was about scripture for the year. She said she had prayed and God placed her scripture on her heart. I've never done that. So I prayed and one word came to mind. REST.

I thought my scripture would be about judgment or disappointment. Maybe even money. But REST?

I googled it and this is what I came up with, Matthew 11:28:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest

Then I went back and looked at the verses before and after that. My scripture for 2011 is Matthew 11:25-30

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


Another kept "popping" up also. It's Psalm 46:10, Be still, and know that I am God;

My words are STILL AND REST.

Which leads me to why I am writing this. All of the devotions this week were right on target with my heart. God was not placing judgment or anger on my heart. The topics and words that appeared in the devotions were BALANCE, ABUNDANCE, CALM, PEACEFUL and UNCOMPLICATED.

That goes right along with the book I am reading. It's called Simple Life. I didn't ask for this book. DB just put it in my mailbox. But I so crave the simple life.

This week was a blessing that I was sick. I slowed down. I rested. I didn't do much devotional time or bible reading but I feel renewed and ready to start the day and week. I have a new attitude and an open heart.

I am RESTED.

Room For Cream

I received this in my email on the 17th but have been so sick this week. I haven't done anything. But now it's almost 4 am and I am WIDE AWAKE. I am enjoying this quiet time with God and catching up on my daily devotions. This one was just too good not to share with you.

Proverbs 31 Ministry - February 17


"The thief comes only to steal, and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
John 10:10 (NIV)


"Shall I leave room for cream?" the smiling barista asks me as I place my coffee order.

I smile back at her and nod, anticipating receiving my cup full of dark liquid so I can carry it over to the doctoring station and customize it with a generous splash of cream and two sweeteners.

As I wait in line to create my comfort in a cup, I ponder the barista's question. I think about the idea of leaving room for cream—not just in my cup, but in my life. I always leave room for cream in my coffee, but I can't honestly say I always leave room for cream in my life.

Cream sweetens and lightens and richens. How do I leave room in my life for the things that sweeten and lighten and richen? As I pour and stir, my thoughts drift to the last week. I've done the have-to's: laundry, carpool, dishes, exercise. But it's harder to think of those little extras that fill my cup to the brim... sweet, light, rich extras.

Sweet: Time with friends just laughing and enjoying each other. Turning on a favorite song and dancing in the kitchen. Listening to my children when they talk. Taking the extra time to hear their hearts. Putting fun things I look forward to on the calendar. Turning the pages of a novel just for the joy of experiencing a great story. Pushing pause on my life so I can rest and recharge.

Light: Time in God's Word, which the Bible says is a light for our path in life. Journaling what He's telling me and what I'm learning about life. Time to pour my worries and anxieties out to Him, then leave them at His feet. Time to press into Him so I can hear His voice above all the others in this loud, busy world. Stepping out of the rat race and worshiping Him with abandon lightens my load.

Rich: Giving of myself through my time and talent. Tithing regularly to my church. Finding people who need a meal, a donation, a word of encouragement and then making the effort to actually give it to them and not just think it's a good idea. Surrendering myself to God's will instead of holding fast to my own.

All of these are things that bring me great joy, that help me reach that place of abundance I believe Jesus wanted us to live in now. Abundance, I am finding, does not come from merely wanting it. It comes from intentionally reaching for it—a result that requires action. It requires leaving room in my life for these things—not packing my life so full of have-to's that the cup is already full.

When that happens, I can try to add the cream but it will only spill over, wasted. It starts when I leave room from the beginning or take a moment to pour out what is already too full. With a little thought and a little effort I can learn to hear Jesus ask me, "Did you leave room for cream?"

And I can smile back at Him and say, "You better believe I did!"

Dear Lord, I want to live the life of abundance You called me to—a life that is sweet and light and rich. Help me remember that I have to leave room in my life for abundance or it will always elude me. Help me to seek You first and let You show me how to leave room for cream. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Marybeth Whalen

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Baptism

Click here to view these pictures larger

Four Months Ago

Click here and you will go to the Casting Crowns website. To listen to my current favorite "life song" you will need to click on the fourth song listed, which is To Know You.

I posted this on September 18th. I still feel like it is my life song. Is it my favorite? I have so many. I don't think I could commit to just one.

*********************************************************************************

I feel awful. The family went to the Outdoor Show. I have tea and tissues and tears on the couch. I miss my daddy. What would I do different if he was here? What would I say? I think, the last four months have been...in a word, sucky.

Four months ago I got baptized in the creek by my dear Sister-in-Christ, CW. Then the two of us baptized my sweet girl, Amanda. Then my life got harder!

The day before, I posted this song. I didn't post again until September 22, Love Never Fails. I've not talked about those days here. It was just too painful to even get it out.

Yesterday, I talked with a co-worker, who is more than just a co-worker. I relived those days as I cried. The pain is still so real. I look back and know that God was the reason I even functioned. But I didn't just function. I had faith that God was working out His plan for my life. I knew that Truth.

My world was shattering around me, but His joy was present in my heart, in the midst of the storm.

So my world crashed and then God restored my marriage. Beth Moore comes to mind again. She said "IF...THEN God!"

"Here I cry and Lord we pray. Our faces down. Our hands are raised".

I am listening to Casting Crowns and I've never heard this song. It's called "If We've Ever Needed You"

"If we ever needed you, Lord's it now. We are desperate for Your hand, reaching out".


Another dear friend lent me her ears, shoulder and arms yesterday before I left work as I cried. I told her that the last four months have been the worst ones of my life. Wouldn't change a thing.

We think that we have a plan and it's so wonderful and beautiful. Then God's plan happens for our life and ours just looks so dirty and disgusting. Not my words, but I love them.

Looking Back:
Baptism
Marital Problems
Dad's Illness (followed by)
Dad's Death
Amanda's Disobedience and failure in school
Daniel sickness all week
My sickness all week as well (and still sick!)

Wow, can I really focus on all of the horrible things that happened in the last four months. Pity party alert.

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day


Thank you, Casting Crowns for reminding me of this! I feel better all ready.

Looking Back:
Baptism
Marriage Counseling
Being with my Dad as he leaves this earth
Spending a lot of time with my brother and sister
Second Honeymoon
Opportunity after opportunity with Amanda
Daniel spent lots of quality time with Mom Mom
God allowed me to slow down and renew my spirit

How kind the LORD is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours! Psalm 116:5 NLT

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I hate guilt!

This morning I woke with the remembering of a dream about Dad. He had already died. It was his funeral (I think). I was talking to an aunt that I had only met one other time. She was helping me with scheduling my classes. I was not registered and stared in two days. Dad took care of all of that.

Strange.

Then my little man comes down with a raging fever, for the third day in a row. He cried for me to call the doctor. Pitiful. I medicated him. Text my boss. Then I call my father-in-law. He is able to spend a few hours with my baby.

I decided to make Lipton soup, Ramen noodle soup and jell-o (give me a break, it's almost 7 am.) I write up a brief list of instructions and place the emergency numbers sheet on the counter. As I glance over the numbers I get to "Mom Mom and Pop Pop". Oh. I cry. (And I cry again as I type this). Corrections need to be made because some of the numbers need to be updated. Then I'll have to just put "Mom Mom". (Why do the little things hurt so much?)

Moving right along...work was good. It is such a distraction from my life. I love it. I just love it. But am I being selfish and putting it first before my sick child? Someone said to me, "I always felt like it was just a job and my kids came first." (Thanks for the guilt. I needed more. I did.)

I left at noon and took Daniel to the pediatricians. He saw the swab and thought it was a shot. When I said it wasn't, he said "oh good". Then she swabbed his throat. He freaked. When the nurse left the room he said "why would anyone do that? That's how you make someone throw-up". He is so funny. Daniel just has the same virus that is going around...cough and fever.

I called my father-in-law to see if he could spend the next two days with Daniel and he was quite hesitant. He said he had to check his calendar. He wanted to know if he had to stay all day. When I got off the phone, I called Mom and she said "Just bring him over".

Praise the Lord for Mommies.

So as I drive home from "home" I silently cry.

I am filled with so many emotions. The feeling of "You can't win to lose" or "You're darned if you do and you're darned if you don't". Know what I mean? If you call out because your kid is sick, you are in trouble with the bosses and you let your co-workers down. If you bring your kid to work sick, then you are infecting the other children as well as the staff. Not to mention the guilt of not putting your child first. (Sigh)

I should be snuggling with my boy but instead he is snuggling with Mom Mom. She doesn't need to be sick but she does need the snuggling. And he is so good at it. So I trust that I made the right decision even though my heart hurts and my eyes leak.

Not to mention that my head and throat hurt too, and I have chills. I've been fighting something for 3 days now, sleeping with The Q each night.

Oh, premenstrual, grieving and sick. Thanks God. I needed it all right now! So I leave you with The Word because it always calms my spirit and it is approaching my bed time soon, which would be 7:15 pm.

Psalm 71:20-21
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Food Conversation

Me: Did you take my Greek yogurt?

Him: I guess.

Me: Do you know what Greek yogurt is? What it tastes like?

Him: No.

Me: It's like kind of sour. Not sweet at all. Maybe like sour cream.

Him: Eww. Wow, you missed that in like 2.5 seconds since I put it in my lunch box.

Me: Don't you know I have food issues? We've been together for 15 years! I think about food all the time. When I am eating I think about the next meal. I can probably tell you the calorie intake in any given food. I eat the same foods all the time. I...

He cuts me off.

Him: Ok, you're a freak. I get it.

(BTW...I laughed my head off, because it is so true!)

Friday, February 11, 2011

What's God's Plan For You?

God knows me. He knows everything about me. This was in my inbox yesterday but I didn't read it until right now. His timing is never late. When I am discouraged, He lifts me up.

In the last few days of jagged chaos in our lives, I rest assured that His plan is shining through the dark clouds. He isn't surprised by anything that is going on. He is getting all of the glory.


Today's Truth


"Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be" (Psalm 139:16)

Written by Mary Sotherland
"What does fit is God's plan. In Psalm 23:3, David writes, "He leads me in paths of righteousness." In this verse "righteousness" simply means "right things." The Shepherd has a plan for His sheep. Unfortunately, so does everyone else. The difference is that God's plan is filled with the "right things" He shaped and created us to do while the agendas of others tend to service their own purposes instead of God's. God empowers His plan, but when we step into our own agenda or a plan created by anyone else, we are stepping into and relying upon our frail, limited strength. Soon, we will be empty and stress will flood in, filling the emptiness with anxiety and tension. Don't waste another day just doing the "next" thing. Take a long, hard look at your work, your job, and your agenda to make sure you are in the right place - doing what you were created to do in this world."



Let's Pray

Father, I want to follow Your plan for my life. Help me to walk in daily obedience so that Your unique and perfect plan for my life will naturally unfold before me. And when I am discouraged or stressed because of the work I am doing, give me Your peace and the assurance that I am in the right spot doing the right things You created me to do.
In Jesus' name, AMEN.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Heartbreak




Why are tough decisions so tough?


Ms. S,

After much prayer and consideration, Amanda's father and I have decided that it is not in Amanda’s best interest to continue with the musical, effective immediately. We are greatly disappointed by this fact but seeing that her grades have suffered tremendously, we must make this difficult decision. We are truly sorry and are hopeful that it is still early enough to find an adequate replacement for her.

Regretfully yours,
Theresa



I received an email from the social studies teacher stating that Amanda has missed three homework assignments since January 25th.

The first marking period was like no other. I asked if the Home access center was available and they said no (at the team meeting). But there was no need. Well, I accessed it last night. Yes, it was not available for the first marking period. But it was however available last marking period. I did not know that.

Amanda missed approximately ten homework assignments in math and social studies. Science had several zeros as well. If she had done all of her homework, her math grade would have averaged out to be a seventy-two. I was livid!

I sent her upstairs and asked her to have a written explanation for me when I came up. Then I prayed. I went to my email and thought "there has to be something here that God wants me to know". This is what I found: Proverbs 31 Ministries...Just the Right Words:

"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver."
Proverbs 25:11 (NIV)


The message was about encouraging words and we just don't know who we are lifting up with a kind word or note each day.

Then there was this prayer. Perfect!

Dear Lord, I need Your encouragement each day. Lead me to promises in Your Word that will strengthen me when I'm weary and build me up when I feel torn down. Help me see and believe what You see in me, and then share it with others. I pray You will give me just the right words at just the right time. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I have cried. Amanda has cried. My love is just angry. Then I prayed. Why is it that I used the word "then". Why isn't it "I prayed". Because I didn't. I got angry and frustrated and cried, THEN I prayed.

I am angry that I didn't notice. I am angry that Amanda didn't complete her work and mostly I am angry that the teachers didn't contact us, or the guidance counselor to say "Hey, what the heck is going on?!"

We all failed. We failed each other. My heart breaks. I cry.

Then the words come to my mind...none of this is a surprise to God. One thing is always certain, God is Sovereign.

God is in control of all things and rules over all things. He has power and authority over nature, earthly kings, history, angels, and demons. Even Satan himself has to ask God’s permission before he can act (Psalm 103:19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. ).

I don't know what is going on with Amanda. She finally has said that it does have to do with Pop Pop dying. I want to believe her with my whole heart. She had a relationship with him that no one else had. She was with my parents for the first three and a half years of her life. They had her at eleven weeks, five days a week for nine hours. Who am I to say that she isn't grieving his death?

Anyway, that's where I am. Heartbroken and disappointed. A place that I know way too well.

Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Lord. "Be still and know that I am God".

When your plate is overflowing, something has to give. Amanda has concert chorus, county chorus, musical, reading Olympics, yearbook, Breakaway (youth group) and Irish Dance. Did I forget anything? Oh yes...homework!

Because the musical is every day after school from 3 to 5 pm for the next month, it will have to go. There is no other solution at this point.

Please pray for Amanda that she will have understanding and that she can "reorient" her life and center it on God.

Please pray for my husband that he will be able to put his feeling aside and see this as an opportunity to continue building a strong father/daughter relationship.

Please pray for me that I will have the wisdom to accept what God has for me. That I will reach (click here) for God and know that nothing is a mistake.

Thank you, friends.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Valentines Give-Away

This is coming from 3 Sisters Soaking up the Son:


A Valentine Giveaway!

A handmade bracelet and a matching pair of earrings, made with glass beads.

(visit their blog to see the jewelry)

These are their rules:


1. Leave a comment saying you would like to enter, and your name goes in once.

Did that!

2. Blog about this giveaway then leave us another comment and your name goes in twice.

Doing that with this post!

3. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, February 8th.

Hoping that it will be ME!



Dear friends, let us love on another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. (NIV)
1 John 4:7


Elizabeth, Amanda, and Rebekah


Click Here to see the jewelry and read more from the three young women who love the LORD.

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
"You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?"

The Lord replied,
"The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints,
is when I carried you."


Mary Stevenson

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Today's Truth

Depression is something that I think everyone battles, but not everyone admits. Am I depressed now? No, not all the time. I have moments, however.

My love and I went grocery shopping last night. Daniel was at AWANA and Amanda was at a tubing/ski trip with the junior high. I was in the mustard aisle. When I picked up the "spicy brown" immediately I thought, Dad loved this. And I got really sad thinking about him, because I miss him.

I thought, "that's what it comes down to, grasping for food memories of my childhood". Weird, right?

Am I depressed this morning when I see Amanda's report card? I don't know if depressed is an accurate word to describe the emotions that are in my heart. I think I battle disappointment 90% more than I do depression. Anyway, I emailed the guidance councelor and the teachers. We need another team meeting!

Social Studies - B to a D
Pre-Algebra - B to an F
Science - B to a D

(Sigh, as I cry) OK...depressed might be accurate.

Anyway, God so graciously left this in my in-box. I will read the email and then have some "knee-mail" time. But I had to share it with you first.


From the Girlfriends in God

"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry" (Psalm 40:1,NIV).


Friend To Friend

Patience is not my greatest virtue. I do not like to wait - for anyone or anything - which is precisely why you should never get in line behind me at the grocery store. It doesn't matter if there are two people or ten people in front of me, my line will invariably be the slowest line. I do not like to wait on God either ... but was forced to do so when I found myself sitting at the bottom of a pit called clinical depression. I was empty and more tired than I had ever been in my life. I kept asking, "How did I get here?"

Depression is not an overnight phenomenon. I can honestly say that I don't know a single person who has climbed out of bed in the morning and said, "Hmmm ... I think I will jump into the pit of depression today." Deliverance from that pit is usually not an overnight process either. It takes time and patience.
1. Wait. The psalmist simply says, "I waited." Waiting is not passive. Waiting is meant to be a time of preparation, a time of rest and healing,

•To wait means to accept the pit. Isaiah 45:3 (NIV) "I will give you hidden treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name."

Any time "LORD" is capitalized in Scripture, it means "Abba Father." This verse indicates that our Father has gone before us and in every dark moment or painful circumstance has buried a treasure or stored a secret. The only way we can find the treasure or learn the secret is to pass through that darkness. Some things cannot be learned in the light. To wait means to accept the pit, knowing it is for our good.

•To wait means to admit there is a problem. Isaiah 40:29 (NLT) "He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak."

Emotional health begins at the point of emotional integrity with a willingness to say "I need help!" When clinical depression overwhelmed my life, my husband was the pastor of a large church in South Florida. We could choose to be transparent and real or we could sweep my struggle under the rug. We concluded that in order to be right, we had to be real. Dan and I shared my battle with the staff, the deacons and then with the entire church. Yes, we took a risk but learned an important lesson in doing so. A shared load is a lighter load. We were created to need each other.

•To wait means to be still. Psalm 40:1 "I waited ..." To wait means to hope in and look for someone or something who will rescue us.

So much about God can never be known on the run. I was so wrapped up in serving God that I had failed to be wrapped up in Him. During those two years in the pit, I not only gave up every role of leadership, there were many times when I could not even attend church because of panic attacks. God taught me an important truth. He is more concerned with who I am than what I do. No one can take my place in His heart.

2. Be patient. It took twenty-two years for the McDonald's hamburger chain to make its first billion dollars. It took IBM forty-six years and Xerox sixty-three years to make their first billion. Harvey Mackay, in his book Swim with the Sharks, tells of an interview with the 88-year-old President of Japan's largest and most successful electrical enterprise. The interview went as follows:

Question: Mr. President, does your company have long-range goals?
Answer: "Yes."

Question: "How long are your long-range goals?"
Answer: "Two hundred and fifty years."

Question: "What do you need to carry them out?"
Answer: "Patience."

David said, "I waited patiently for the Lord." The word "patiently" means "without tiring and with perseverance." It took me many years to hit rock bottom. It took me two years to climb out of that pit and I am still climbing. Yes, I still battle depression from time to time. Depression keeps me broken and on my face before God - and that is a good thing.

Depression may not be the problem you are facing, but at some point in life, we will all face some kind of pit. It may be a pit that we have dug with our own hands of wrong choices or it could be a pit that has been uniquely designed for us by the enemy. But a pit is a pit - a place of paralyzing fear and numbing doubt that is constantly fed by our human frailty and desperate attempts to escape the darkness.

The good news is that God is drawn to broken people. Psalm 40:1 says "He turned to me." Notice it does not say that David turned to God. Honestly, I doubt David had the strength to turn to God ... so God turned to him. God heard the cry of David and he will hear yours. I don't know if you are in a pit and need help or if someone you love is in that pit and needs your help, but one thing I do know is that the purpose of the pit is to purify and then restore. Right now, surrender the broken pieces of your life to God. He can and will bring you out of the dark.

Let's Pray

Father, I am so tired. I can't hear Your voice or sense Your presence in my life. My faith is weak and I need Your strength to go on. Right now, I am laying the broken pieces of my life at Your feet and counting on You to come through for me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Read Psalm 40:1-3. "I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God."

Circle all of the "action" words in these verses. What does God ask you to do? What does God say that He will do? Do you believe Him? Are you willing to let Him be God in your life?


Written by Mary Southerland

Friday, February 4, 2011

Staying in the Shade

"There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place."
Deuteronomy 1:31 (NIV)


Written by Marybeth Whalen from the Proverbs 31 Ministries blog.

Last summer I ran almost every day, often in the hottest part of the day. As I ran I would anticipate the moments when I would run under the shade trees, receiving cool relief for a few moments from the unrelenting summer sun.
One day as I was running under the shade trees, I said to the Lord (I talked to God a lot as I ran), "Why can't I just stay in the shade all the time?" To me this made perfect sense. I could run under the tree cover every day, always comfortable, always taken care of. Wouldn't a loving Father want that for me, I reasoned?
His answer—as it often does—hit me right between the eyes. Well, that makes sense now, but how are you going to feel about that shade when it turns cold? I had to smile at His point. Staying in the shade makes sense sometimes, but other times it's the last thing we need.
In Jonah 4, Jonah wanted to stay in the shade as he climbed up the mountain to pout about the salvation God had offered the Ninevites. God caused a branch to sprout up and provide him shelter so Jonah could rest under that branch. But then God caused a worm to eat away Jonah's shelter, exposing him to the heat once again.
Jonah became angry and grumbled about his lack of shade. He—like me—wanted to be comfortable. He wasn't thinking about what was best for him or what awaited him in the future. But God was. Jonah's immediate comfort wasn't God's first priority; eternity was.
Perhaps you're in a place of extreme heat bearing down on you. You feel the heat of bad decisions and broken relationships bearing down on you and you wonder why God doesn't provide some shade.
Or maybe you're feeling some cold temps invading places that used to be warm for you. A marriage has grown cold. Your finances feel frozen. Why doesn't God provide some warmth, you might be asking? Maybe because He knows that soon you won't need that shade or that in the future that warm place is going to keep you from becoming the person He wants you to be.
I ran recently in the cold, avoiding the shady spots because the temperature was much cooler there. I thought back to the summer and my conversation with God. He knew this time was coming but I didn't see it then. He knew that the shade wouldn't always be the best place for me.
God loves us enough to take us to different places—sometimes carrying us if necessary as our key verse says—always preparing us for what lies ahead. He will make sure we reach the place He has for us and that we are the people He wants us to be when we get there.

Dear Lord, help me to trust wherever You have me. I might think I know what's best for me, but I am not seeing what lies ahead the way You do. I want to submit to Your plans for me every day, in sunshine and shade.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Becoming the Woman of His Dreams

From Sharon Jaynes

There are so many good books out there to read. I never read fiction. I did read The Shack a few years ago.

Here is a little of what you will find in Sharon's book:

Twenty-five Things Never Say to Your Spouse

I told you so.
You’re just like your father.
You never help me around the house.
You never listen to me.
You’re always in a bad mood.
You’re always_______.
You never ________.
You just don’t think.
It’s all your fault.
You should have listened to me.
What’s wrong with you?
I wish you were more like _______.
All you ever do is complain.
I can never please you.
What did you expect?
You got what you deserve.
You’re lazy.
If you’d have more ambition, you’d get somewhere in life.
You’re irresponsible.
You’re impossible.
What were you thinking?
I don’t know why I put up with you.
I don’t know how much more of this I can take.
God help you, I sure can’t.
I can talk to you until I’m blue in the face and it doesn’t do any good.
You don’t own me.
*Don’t yell at each other unless the house is on fire.

Twenty-five Things Your Husband Longs to Hear

I’m so proud of you.
If I had to do it all over again, I’d marry you.
I missed you today.
I’ve been thinking about you all day.
I’m so lucky to have married a man like you.
What can I do for you today?
How can I pray for you today?
You are so strong.
Thank you for working so hard for our family.
Other men could learn a lot about______ from you.
The best part of my day is when you come home.
You are one of God’s most precious gifts to me.
Great job!
Thank you.
I’m sorry.
You are wonderful.
That was really great.
You’re so smart.
You look so handsome in that shirt.
You make my day bright.
Thank you for being my husband.
I don’t feel complete without you.
I appreciate all you’ve done for me this week.
I’m so glad I married you.
You are my best friend.

Why not try this? What can it hurt?

Dear Heavenly Father,
I pray for my marriage today. I pray that you will make me into the woman that You intended all along. Help me to see my husband through your eyes today -as a chosen, dearly loved, child of God.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen.
(From the Girlfriends in God Newsletter)