Summing it up.....

I can’t believe it has been nearly a year. What a year it has been for us! Nothing we could have predicted, expected or planned for. God has a plan; He has His reasons, and the events unfolded in a way that has at times left us scratching our heads more than nodding with certainty. I was 8 months pregnant, and one cold Sunday afternoon in January Ryan came home after a meeting with our pastor and chairman of elders with a document in his hand. As we sat down together at the dining room table, he shared with me the details of that meeting. Ryan had been asked to resign his position as worship pastor effective immediately. Thankfully he was provided with a severance package through March, but little did we know what would unfold in the months to follow. We welcomed our sweet baby Chloe in March, so thankful for a healthy pregnancy and delivery in spite of the stressful circumstances we were dealing with. In the days and weeks that followed Chloe’s arrival, we would be shoved into the reality of what life is like for the unemployed and underemployed. We agonized and found ourselves extremely frustrated as we watched door after door close for Ryan, applying for any and every job opening he could find. Finally this fall after several temporary job situations, an opening presented itself with a large truck manufacturing company here in Brazil. Ryan has been working night shift with the company now for a couple of months and although it is extremely demanding physical work, we are thankful God opened the door to something in the form of reliable, steady income for him. We are still walking in some very challenging days, the hard work we have before us can be very exhausting mentally, physically, spiritually every single day. Somehow God’s peace and strength gives us the ability to put one foot in front of the other, to keep moving forward even though we are not happy with our current situation. God knows our hearts, and in spite of how difficult it is to wait, He has a purpose for us even right here where we are.
What have we learned this year? If you are expecting me to answer that with patience, sorry to disappoint you. Patience is something we all are likely to be working on for the entirety of our lives. I will admit to you in spite of how it may appear, I spend more of my prayer time asking God, “Why? When? How?” than I do telling Him, “You know, I get it, You are absolutely right on! I am happy to wait on You, Lord!” I suppose it is somehow strengthening, maturing for my faith to still communicate with the Lord even if it feels like I complain more than I praise Him. I think I’ve learned to hold on to the truth, the hope that He is good at all times, even when what He’s allowed to occur doesn’t make any sense to me. That He has purpose for me, every single moment of every single day, right where I am. That He will not fail me-ever! He will provide for me always! Let me just take a moment to boast about what the Lord has done---friends, family, sweet family of God, you have amazed us and you have blessed us so abundantly because you have listened to God’s prompting in your hearts! Do you know how God has used you to lighten our load? I have prayed daily, throughout my days, even in the depths of my struggle to understand God’s hand in all of this----blessings, abundant blessings on every single one of you for being so generous, so selfless, so giving of yourselves for our family. You didn’t have to do it, but because you did, I know God will richly and wonderfully bless you! We are so thankful for your constant prayer, encouraging words by mail, email and in person, so I hope you know what a treasure you are to us. We cannot say thank you enough, words are simply not adequate to express fully how grateful we are.
There is still work to do for the Kingdom, and we know God has something amazing, extraordinary for us and it will come about in His perfect timing. As we close out this difficult year, we realize in spite of the challenges, we are so blessed. I was reminded by a quote once again the other day, of what really matters. I will make the choice daily to thank God for loving me in spite of myself, focusing on what we do have rather than what we don’t have, and ultimately recognizing that nothing is wasted. God has purpose for each one of us, every single moment of every single day. I have to share with you what my Dad said to me in an email the other day because it is so good.

“After years of learning and experiencing the grace of God I have come to believe that the majority of life's experiences are not predetermined by God ... that these earthly days are part of the larger world, with all its complexities and the corruption of sin ... and we are certainly not excused from the rest of the world. BUT I believe very strongly that our trust in God and how we choose to live every day makes all the difference in whether we live as "victims" or whether we learn and grow into what God intends us to become. When Roman's 8:28 refers to "all things work together for good" for us I believe that God is declaring that nothing can circumvent the will of God and our part in that unfolding will. God is not some kind of fairy-god-mother who swoops in and magically changes everything. God continues to fulfill his purpose no matter what the obstacles, which is powerfully displayed in the horrendous suffering of Christ. The life and cross of Christ show us the unequalled power of God against all the tragedies of this world and even the considerable power of satan. Because we live with the limitations of the physical world and time, we cannot fully understand how God works in our lives, but we know He does. All that to say that God's love is never failing ... God's purpose will be accomplished for us and for those around us ... that we find our greatest hope in the cross and resurrection.
And God understands when we are frustrated, heartbroken, and have trouble holding on. He knew from day one we are not perfect and He does not expect us to be. That is grace!”

We are looking ahead to the New Year with hope, not in anything this world presents, but in everything that God presents! He has given us Jesus, and with that we have the greatest reason of all to live life fully, shining His love for all to see-- the hurt, the lonely, the broken, the helpless. Will you choose to shine in this dark world for them?
Blessings to you for a wonderful Christmas and an amazing New Year!

Wisdom in the Waiting

My study time the other night took me to Galatians 6, chapter about reaping what we plant. Verse 9 has stuck with me for several days now.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.’ (Galatians 6:9 NLT)

I hope in these days to keep a positive outlook on life, be mindful of the blessings God has given me, and share all that He has given me with others. I pray daily to be an example as I walk out each day in faith, hope and love. I want others to see beyond me to what God has given me, that His love and goodness shines through. Some days this is a greater task to accomplish than others. I find I may not have as much interest, motivation, confidence, desire to do just what God calls me to do every single day no matter where we are, what we are doing with our lives: love others as He loves me. It is not too much to ask and it is required of me! I must reach beyond myself and grasp the supernatural strength of the Holy Spirit to do this. Why is it some days that so much of what I am experiencing in my heart, my soul can cloud my ability to grasp that?
Nearly a year after Ryan was asked to resign our situation has not improved dramatically, it is a slow process. We are thankful for what we have today, for this new job he started nearly two months ago. The down side to it is how physically demanding the work is. An immediate result of the work he is doing has caused him to develop carpal tunnel in his hands and arms, so he is experiencing some tingling, numbness and discomfort for which there is no immediate cure. Over the counter medications and hand braces/gloves have helped some, but it continues to be very uncomfortable. As you can imagine it makes playing his guitar even more difficult. We are not sure how long God intends for him to do this, but we are not going to give up because it is the best job option he has had. We continue to wait and pray, wait and pray, wait and pray as the Lord works toward a new worship ministry position for Ryan. The headlines daily tell us that life is not getting any easier any time soon for the majority of us. We need to be thankful for the jobs we have today, because there are many who are still looking for work and do not have even the basic things that we can say that we have today.
We are taking it one day at a time. We are thankful when a bill arrives, and we can pay it. We are thankful we have food on our table, a roof over our heads and a warm bed to sleep in at night. We are not through the woods yet. Ryan is still in his first 90 days at his new job which means no holiday pay. God has already answered our prayers and provided so much! We will continue to trust and obey Him, knowing that He sees our needs and He will provide at just the right time.
Our situation is not one that could have been predicted, and it is not one that can be fixed overnight. As much as I’d like to pray, “God, end this today please!” I catch myself with this thought in mind: He has His reasons for allowing these events to unfold exactly as they have. I read this today, and it made me stop. I found myself reading it over and over again, trying to lock it in my mind for safe keeping as we continue to walk through these difficult days.

A wise man in trial will be patient and calm, prayerful and hopeful, resigned and humble, and will be more concerned to have the trial made a blessing, than to have it removed.’ (James Smith, Cheltenham, NY, 1869)

This thing, this monstrous trial we are going through seems so big, but the truth is…God is so much bigger! Somehow, some way we will continue to walk out each day in faith, live out our faith and exercise our faith as God calls us to. We have not sung our last song by any means, the music is still there but for whatever reason God has given us this time to enjoy the melodies in a different setting.
Please continue to pray for Ryan and I as we pray without ceasing, wait with great anticipation and expectation, and trust God to handle it all. His promises, His purpose, His protection for us will continue to be our strength and our comfort. We know and we believe that He is certainly not finished with us yet. The best is yet to come. We are so thankful for each and every one of you, and for how God continues to bless us so abundantly.

Thankful Heart

‘I have a thankful heart that You have given me
And it can only come from You’
(Petra)

Know that the Lord is God. It is He Who made us, and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His field.
Go into His gates giving thanks and into His holy place with praise. Give thanks to Him. Honor His name. For the Lord is good. His loving-kindness lasts forever.
And He is faithful to all people and to all their children-to-come.
(Psalm 100:3-5 NLT)

The definition of thankful: grateful and appreciative, aware and appreciative of a benefit, expressive of gratitude: a thankful smile.

Are you thankful? Do you thank God for your blessings every day? More than any other time in my life, this past year I have chosen to daily in my quiet time, in my prayer time, in my moments of overwhelming joy and agonizing despair, I have chosen to thank God for blessing me. No matter what life throws my way, I will not go through the day without thanking God for blessing me. Sometimes in my darkest moments, through my tears the only words that come to my mouth are, “Thank You, Lord!” and only because I have this hope, this peace that somehow, some way He will take care of me, and He will provide for my needs. I may not be able to see it with my eyes or touch it with my hands, but I know in my heart, His provision is certain.

I am so thankful today for Ryan, my amazing, gifted, gentle and loving husband. What an extraordinary journey our life has been together! We are celebrating 17 years of marriage next month and I have to call it an awesome achievement for us to have stuck with it thus far. How easy it would have been for either one of us to give up instead of sticking with one another through the ups and downs life has handed us thus far. It seems all too common to hear about so many marriages ending these days for one reason or another. With each day, with each difficulty we face together, we can agree that we have been strengthened, we are more certain of our love for one another and God’s plan for our lives together.

I am so thankful for my children, first my sweet daughter Rylee. What an amazing young woman you are! I am almost in tears to think back just this past year and realize how much you have had to endure, how you have handled the experiences we have been through. You have had to endure some very difficult, stressful times in our home that we have chosen to work through rather than attempt to hide from you. At your age, there is not much that we could hide from you because you are painfully aware of what is going on because it affects the entire family. I am so thankful my prayers for you have been answered! Over and over again, I see God transforming, strengthening, maturing you into this incredible person with such a gift for music, for being such a dedicated and hard working student, for loving your family so fiercely! You are such a beautiful person, inside and out, and I am so proud of you and how God is using you for His purpose. He is going to do some wonderful things through You, I have no doubt!

For my sweet boy, Bailey. You are such a cool kid! And so incredibly clever! I am absolutely filled with joy because of you and your firecracker personality. That personality and your gift for music and drama are certain to carry you to the stage in more ways than one I believe. You have such a kindness, such a big heart for others, for your family, the love and compassion just shines through your handsome face. I am amazed at the things that you come up with, your creativity, your wise cracks, those moments when I can’t contain my laughter at what you’ve just said or done! There is never a dull moment with you! I am so proud of you for how you have endured this past year as well. Like your sister, you are old enough to have been very aware of the stresses we have been through and some of it has been so much more painful for you to experience. I have felt such deep sadness at times to watch you struggle with it all, but as you have come through it and found the peace God gives, and realized the love your family has for you, it brings me such a depth of relief and peace. You are becoming such an incredible young man, and I know God has an amazing plan for your life. Hang on buddy, the ride is sure to be an amazing one!

For my little man, AJ. There are no words to describe the joy in my heart and soul just to see your sweet smile, those dimples, those sweet pink cheeks! You are growing up way too fast, I wish I could keep you little for a lot longer! You have been my little bear, my cuddly comfort in ways you will probably not understand until many years from now. Thankfully, this past year has not affected you as much as your siblings because of your age and the inability to comprehend the depth of what has occurred. In some ways that is a comfort to me because you won’t be able to remember some of the most difficult moments we have been through. I see in you a focus, an independence that is sure to take you far one day as a young man. I love to watch you pour all of your attention in to what you are doing, whether it is a game, a homework project, making me “dinner” while I am cooking our dinner, or reading a great book together just you and me. When your eyes light up, my heart lights up! Some of my favorite moments of the day are when you rush to hug me and tell me “Bye Mom!” before I head out the door to work every morning, or when you ask me “Can I sleep in your bed tonight?”. I am so proud of you and I know you are sure to become the young man God intends for you to be.

For my sweet baby girl, Chloe. What a joy and what a blessing you are! God timed your arrival just perfectly because there have been moments this past year when one of the only things that has brought joy to my day is to come home to you! You, like your siblings, have been a wonderful baby! I have been so blessed to have four wonderful babies! You have been the icing on the cake, the one that has rounded out this family just perfectly I believe. You’re picking up on everything a bit sooner but I know that is to be expected with 3 older siblings to keep up with! You are the most vocal of the bunch, and you keep us all in stitches by some of the expressions that come over your face. You are a joy, you make us all laugh and to hear you laugh fills the house with more fun than can be contained! I am amazed by God’s creation of you, how He has formed you so perfectly and uniquely. I am in awe every day to watch as you grow, change, reveal who you are to us in your sweet personality!

My heart is full, I am so incredibly thankful for what God has given me! There is no need to dwell on what happened in the past, but to move forward knowing we have learned so much, we will continue to learn from what God has for us to do right now, and we will look forward with great expectation to what He has for us in the future. God is good, all the time, in every circumstance, and we will not be moved or shaken by the uncertainties of this life. We have our hope and our peace in Christ, and we will stand confidently upon the promises He has given us.

Lessons to be learned, Blessings we have received

Daily I pray it, ask it, wonder in the waiting…God, what is the lesson to be learned? What more do you require of us? How much more will You stretch us, change us, make us into the beings you would have us to be?
We are called in our walk with Christ to be His followers, to live wholly devoted and righteous lives that shine for His glory. We have a precious gift we’ve been given, life eternal with Him and because of His choice to sacrifice His Son for our lives, to save us, to forgive us, to show how deep the Father’s love truly is for us. What will we do with what He has given us? How far are we willing to go?
I was reminded once again in my devotional this morning, through the life of David, just how far God expects us to go in showing our devotion to Him. We know God recognized him as “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22) and yet we read David’s journey was far from perfect. He took some hits, he made some really screwy decisions and God answered by forgiving him but also requiring him to endure the consequences. None of us can claim to be perfect, only striving toward perfection in Christ. So it is easy when life knocks us down, like it has for us this past year, to get to the point we question, “God, what are we doing wrong?” “Where are You in this?” “What more do we need to do to see You move on our behalf?” I was further challenged and encouraged today by a message I read online by Marilyn Murphree entitled “Strengthening Your Faith in Troubled Times: Unwavering Faith”. The power of Christ knows no limits! Jeremiah 23:23-24 God says to us “Am I only a God near at hand and not a God far off? Can anyone hide out in a corner where I can’t see him? Am I not present everywhere, whether seen or unseen?” No matter where we are, who we are, what we are praying for and when, He hears us and He will answer! He will provide! He is capable; He will do it and all in His perfect timing!
We are on this journey for a reason, reasons that baffle ALL of us. We cannot fathom what God has for us, but we can stand firmly upon His promise to sustain us, love us, and prepare us for what lies ahead. He will not fail us---oh, how we have seen that in the ways He has blessed us over and over again this year, through our family and friends, far and near. You have met a need in one way or another, and I believe wholeheartedly that God will richly bless you for it! In my most desperate hour, days when I find myself holding it together until I have a moment to close the bathroom door and let go for just a few minutes—know this: my tears and my cries to God are not only because of my realization that I am completely and utterly helpless in understanding any of this, but also out of the joy in knowing how deeply the Father cares for us, that we are not forgotten, we are so deeply loved and we will be okay. Each and every one of you has made such a difference in our ability to go on, to put one foot in front of the other. Keep it coming. We are the body of Christ, we need one another, and we love you so dearly.

Pondering, pondering.....

This morning I got up earlier than I usually do on a Sunday mainly because I knew I had some preparations for lunch today. I love the quiet, the stillness of the early morning before everyone is awake in the house. I was eager to get my cooking done and get to my quiet time. God took me to Hebrews 11 and Psalm 111 thanks to a wonderful daily devotional Bible I have. Hebrews 11 starting in verse 17 is filled with reminders of some very important men and how they chose to trust and obey God and by faith do what God called them to do. God's provision, how amazing, how wonderful! Then in Psalm 111:1-10 I was stopped in my tracks at verse 3.

'Everything He does reveals His glory and majesty.'

Everything? Really? I had to stop and ponder this verse, let it roll over and over in my heart and mind. Everything. How can that be? How is this, this we are going through, that? How can this, any of this reveal His glory, His majesty? God has been reminding me this week, just when I have been teetering on the edge of anger, desperation, frustration, such anguish over what feels like an never ending bad day, that HE IS STILL HERE. All is not lost, we cannot and shall not give up, we must press on toward the goal (Philippians 3:12-13) that is ultimately the reason we are on this earth. He has stripped us down to our very souls and we are living daily, hungry for His direction, His Word to cover us and protect us as we wait upon Him patiently. There are reasons we are still walking in this desert, and we do not understand it nor do we have all the answers yet. The sand is between my toes now, very uncomfortable, I am tired of it, I am ready for the oasis but...God says keep walking. I am frustrated but not fallen, I am bruised, battered but not beaten, I am resolved to stand firmly and confidently in the knowledge that God has a plan and He is not finished with us! We will continue to walk through this desert and trust that God is working, God is able, God will take care of us every step of the way.

Trust in Him, Live for Him!

In these uncertain days, there is no greater hope than what we have in Christ. Our days on this earth are numbered, God knows just how many we each have and so we must make each one count as if it were our last! I was reminded in my devotional today of one particular man’s response to God. His unyielding, unhesitant trust in God to do what was necessary to fulfill His purpose. Abraham was called by God to go to the mountain to make a sacrifice. It turned out when he arrived that the lamb was to be his son, Isaac. The son that was promised to him for so long and that he and Sarah waited for, until in their very old age God provided and Isaac was born! My goodness, can you imagine? I can’t. It was hard enough for me to have a baby at 39, but to have a child at the age of 90 something? Oy! Lord, You clearly have purpose in all You do but this one leaves me baffled. Genesis 22 God tells Abraham what he must to and there is really is no indication of anxiety, hesitation or fear in his response to God. How amazing is it to read as God stops him and then soon enough provides the lamb in the brush nearby? I can’t imagine what that experience must have been like for Abraham, and for Isaac as well! Certainly this would be a moment that neither one of them would soon forget. Something of an interesting father-son trip to say the least! So, it is rather humbling to me to consider after reading and recalling these familiar scriptures, my situation pales in comparison! I think we could all agree that in comparison most of our difficult experiences would pale in comparison to this! What I took away from it was this: How far will God take me in my faith walk before He believes I am ready for what is to come? How far am I willing to go? How long am I willing to wait? God doesn’t consider time in the way we perceive it to be; it’s His to determine. It is His to orchestrate. I may think I’ve got His ways all figured out, I know the scriptures, I believe what He has told me, I know what I have been taught, what I have learned rings true in my heart and soul…..but I do not know it all! I do not know God completely and I will not know Him completely until I am standing before Him in His glory! So, this journey is not complete. I have so much to learn. We all have so much to learn. We may think we have graduated, and yes there are some of us who know more than others at this point in our walk with Christ. So, are you as determined and willing in your faith as Abraham was to go the distance if God calls you to it? No holds barred, He has said, “Go!” and make a difference in this world where so many are willing to just get by, blend in, act the part, assimilate and just be more of the mass that is considered “the norm”. Don’t let it be you. Be set apart. Be His. Set the bar high. God has a higher calling for us. Will you answer? Will you trust Him no matter what?

Who will you feed?

As the weather starts to dip, colder weather comes in, I spend more of my prayer time on the way to work praying for people who have no home, don't know where they will get their next meal, trying to find work and just make it through one day. We pass them on the street corners, see them walking and wonder what more can we do? How often do we take the time at any time through out the year, to stop and consider what we could live without so that someone else has a place to sleep, a hot meal, or a job? What should we be doing in Jesus' name to help others? Every year I try to come up with some new way for our family to give back and since having Chloe I feel like we've not spent enough time working on that. It is easy to get busy and let things fall to the sidelines when even the simplest of acts of kindness can make a world of difference in someone's life. So, how about saving the money you'd usually spend to buy yourself coffee on the way to work today and use it to buy some canned goods for the local food pantry? How about getting your family together one night this week to make some cards, put together a few goodie bags and go to the nursing home to share your smiles and a sweet gift with the residents? How will you respond when God asks you, "Who will you feed?" We are reminded of a story that teaches this very lesson to us in Luke 9. The disciples saw that the people needed to eat and rest, and as they approached Jesus it became a powerful moment. Because they saw the need and asked the Lord to provide, He did just that and used their willingness to serve as the delivery method. Ask Him, provide the open and willing hands to do it, and God will give you the opportunity to meet some needs.

Phillipians 4:6 In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

We are still walking a difficult path, not sure where God is leading us but thankful for the journey. I hope we can use this time wisely by looking for more opportunities to be the hands and feet of Christ in a world that desperately needs Him. Thank you for continuing to pray for us, especially for Ryan today as he started a new job. He will be working the night shift, not a favorite but still--it is a job and for that we are very thankful! God is giving us a glimpse or two of some possibilities in ministry, but these are just possibilities. Who knows where He will lead us--He has our best in mind and will direct us where He intends for us to go. We will move forward with determination, leaving no stone unturned. Extraordinary moments are ahead of us, I am certain of it.

Faithful God

Just when I think I am facing the worst day ever, it seems to reach a whole new depth. That is where I have been for several days now, sinking it seems. I have been aware, almost like an out of body experience, of how dangerously close I have come to feeling downright hopeless. I found myself over the weekend, visualizing myself crawling into God's lap and curling up in a ball, hoping to simply disappear for awhile. I came very close to not wanting to deal with anything or anyone, ready to shut down, ready to give up in many ways. I have been struggling in particular with no desire whatsoever to set foot in church. It is easier to make an excuse of any kind and simply roll over and pull the covers up over my head. Stay there all weekend. Somehow it feels comforting to know for a little while I can pretend all of this is not really happening. Get lost in my thoughts, in my own little world I've created to protect myself from experiencing any more of this heart ache and disappointment. Who am I kidding?! That's not happening. Life must go on and let's face it, too much to do and when Mom's not in it well--it just isn't gonna get done. The weight of my responsibilities, my commitments--it jolts me right back to where I need to be. Well, I guess in one way or another God gives me just the nudge I need to say, "Snap out of it! I am right here, I am not done with you, and there's so much yet to come in your life that is worth fighting for!"
My state of mind over the weekend forced me, focused me on one thing: God's capable, God can do anything and miracles do happen! Why is it we don't choose to pray as often for miraculous provision? I think it is because we have made it up in our minds that God did that before in the Bible, and He just doesn't do it as much now. He shows His power in other ways. Well, I agree with that, but I believe we are exercising the weight of our belief in His power by specifically asking Him for miraculous provision. So that is what I did. I asked God, and we prayed throughout the weekend, "Lord You know our need. We need miraculous financial provision. We trust You. We believe You will do it. Thank You, Lord!"
The past 24 hours have been amazing. He is faithful. He is true. He is loving. He is powerful. Oh my goodness, the power of prayer! I asked some of our dearest friends to pray specifically and to ask others to pray specifically for this and WOW! God did it! How amazing, how awesome, how incredible is our God and the power of the prayers of His people!
I can think of no other words. He is good all the time! All the time He is good! These are the kind of moments that shape our testimony so that others may know and understand who God is and how even in our darkest hour, when we call upon Him and realize we have nothing, we can do nothing, we have no strength left in us.....He is God! He is not changed! He purposed this moment, every single moment, the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, no matter what we face. He is always teaching us, preparing us for something new that we don't realize we have to learn. Amazing.

2 Peter 2:9 So God knows how to rescue the godly from trials.

He knows, He can do it, He will do it. All is not lost. We have hope. God is so good. We are so thankful. So very thankful.
Lord, break us, mold us, fill us, use us. We are Yours.

I don't know why...but God does!

Do you think God shakes His head in wonder as He watches our lives unfold? It is something I have been thinking about today. I know it must have been unbearable for Him to watch His only Son die on the cross. Do you think His heart breaks for a situation that is not anything close to that? I do. I believe, regardless of the depth of our hurt, our disappointment, our pain and struggle on this earth, God experiences it with us. So, why, we all ask this in the midst of our struggle, Why don't you stop it God? Why don't you swoop in and save the day? Why does it have to go on, seemingly far too long? I have tried to look at it from a bigger perspective than my own, tried to see it somehow closer to how God does. I can't. I suppose that is where faith, hope comes in. When my own strength, wisdom, understanding fails, I can only lean on Christ.

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!
Who Was, and Is, and Is To Come!
With all creation I sing praise to the King of Kings!
You are my Everything and I will adore You! (Revelation Song)

This morning, we didn't do this song in worship but it has been resonating in my heart and soul for a couple of days now. As I fell into His arms this morning in worship I just let it all go and released so much of my broken heart to Him. I don't get it Lord. I don't understand You, Your ways, Your reason for any of this....but, You still desire and deserve my praise. You haven't gone anywhere even though it feels to me like You have. When I am wrapped in the truths of the Word, the comforting music of powerful worship, the prayers of so many, I know You are there.

Your ways are not our ways. We need You Lord, we may not understand You, but we need You.

God, what is it?!

For every struggle we face, we know there is a mighty lesson to be learned. Well, in these days we are learning something. Trust, Trust, Trust. God is in control, and so why is it so hard to trust Him? He knew long before any of this happened to us, that it was going to come about. I have been thinking about some people in my life, and some other people in the Bible, how they were handed something rather unexpected in life and they how they dealt with it. I've got two words for you as to how I am feeling at this point about the whole situation: It sucks! I have no desire to live one more moment of this wondering, waiting, when is it going to get better?! I shared in my Bible study group the other night that I have dealt with this thing in one way or another, but at no point have I felt hopeless, only incredibly helpless. These last few weeks it has become particularly tangible, this weight of helplessnesss as we face our day to day costs, and figure out how we are going to make rent. Ryan has all but kicked down doors to get a better job, sending out his resume, making phone calls, applying online, anything and everything he can do to find a better job. For reasons only fully understood by the good Lord Himself, our situation is not improving significantly. We are thankful for one ray of hope in that Ryan starts a new job the 24th at a local manufacturing company which will pay better and guarantee more hours. That will be a help, but it will not make a significant impact for us financially for some time. In the mean time, we are cutting every cost we can, letting go of some "luxuries" that up until now have been common things to most people. We are being as resourceful as we can, utilizing community resources in the way of assistance if we qualify, and ultimately letting go of what material possessions we have to help improve our cash flow. I have to consciously stop myself many times today and speak to my own mind and heart, "God is not punishing us, He is teaching us." It would seem at this point on the journey that God intends for us to literally give up anything and everything to keep our obedience, our trust and our willingness to completely follow Him in check. At least at this point I can't think of any other reason He would allow it to get as difficult as it has. I read in Job today as God answered him, and whoa....it kind of knocked me on my back side and reminded me just how mighty, how powerful God is. I think it is safe to say we need to stop questioning, "Why me, Lord?" and instead, the question should be, "Why not?" I have nothing more to cling to at this point except the love God has for me, for my family and that even in my deepest, darkest moments, He still has a purpose. Even now. He has a plan.

Oh God, You are my God!

Oh God, You are my God! And I will ever praise You!
Oh God, You are my God! And I will ever praise You!
I will seek You in the morning, and I will learn to walk in Your ways,
And step by step You'll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days. (Rich Mullins)

All weekend, as I marveled at the beauty of God's creation, the changing leaves on the trees, the wispy clouds in the blue sky, the warmth of autumn, seeing and appreciating parts of Indiana that I had not seen left me in awe. It is just amazing what God has done. I think it was so good for me to have a few days to reflect on our journey so far, where we have been, how we are doing today, and where we are headed tomorrow. There are few reasons to hope, but they are reason enough to far outweigh the reasons to give up. I am more certain today than I have been in awhile that God is not finished and in some ways, this is only the beginning. I believe without a doubt that we are on the verge of something quite extraordinary, ready to go where God leads, serve in a capacity that will have no comparison to anything we have done so far. There are some wonderful opportunities yet to explore and we are taking the first steps to do just that: explore. God has something far greater in mind for us than anything we could possibly think of. While it is still difficult to wait and pray, with that we choose to stand firmly, unshaken, immovable from the foundation God has given us. I am so thankful for where we stand today because we have learned once again what matters most and we will not lose sight of what is key--to love our God, to trust His will and His Word, and to follow His leading. God is good, I have no doubt good things are coming.

Grace that is greater....

I am reminded daily, sometime multiple moments in one day, of just how deep, how far God's grace reaches to cover us. It is through the words of my Christ-sister who says she admires me for how I have stood by Ryan through this, it is in the face of my child when I tell him we can't afford to do that and he says, "It's okay, Mom" and doesn't respond with a pity party or a temper tantrum, it is in the reaction of my Christ-brother when he asks how we are doing/what we need and then offers what he can to help us pay rent, it is in the unending notes and letters and emails and phone calls of so many dear family and friends who have reached out to us at precisely the moment we needed it most. I cannot say it enough: Because of God's grace and because of you, every single one of you---we can go on. We can move forward. It may be baby steps, inch by inch, but we can do it. At the time of this blog entry, we are still living with a great deal of uncertainty but God is providing. Ryan is working, and he has a position lined up with a local company to begin in two weeks with a much better pay rate than anything he's had to date. Thank you Lord! Today he has an appointment to explore a bit more deeply what is involved in one worship opportunity in Missouri, and this coming weekend he will travel to assist leading worship with his brother in Phoenix, Arizona. While there, he has another appointment to explore a worship opportunity in Arizona. In addition to all of this we have been exploring job opportunities for both of us in Missouri. Nobody is moving anywhere yet, but like most people who are dealing with unemployment or underemployment in this economy, one of the first places we are likley to consider starting over is near family. Regardless of all of these and many more opportunities that may come our way, God knows best! His plan and purpose for our lives is far greater, even more amazing that anything we could possibly have in our minds. I am so thankful, no matter how I may rationalize or understand any of this stuff we are going through, that God understands and has it all under control. In my weakest, angriest, most frustrating moments when I just think I can't take another moment....He says to let it go. He says I can rest in Him. He knows my heart, He knows my need, He knows me....and in spite of myself, He loves me. You know it is only at the point I am my weakest, that I can truly embrace and understand an inkling of His grace. I don't deserve it, I can't possibly earn it, but He gives it to me anyway. We can only continue to walk through this because of it. His blessings on us in these days, the prayer support, the gifts of food, help with the kids school supplies, clothing, help with rent and groceries, notes of encouragement, motivating phone calls, or just being available to listen to us scream and cry.....we take it willingly with the determination to do the same for others who face the same struggles one day. We know God will receive the glory not only for what you are doing for us, but because it has inspired us to do the same for someone else one day.
Joel 2:13 Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.

Live for Today

It’s the focus we should have each day. Yes, we need to have a healthy outlook on life, make wise preparations for our future. Here is the “but”—don’t worry about tomorrow. Who does that?! You know there aren’t very many of us out there that can say we do not worry. If you don’t worry then I have one thing to say to you and please know I say this without the intention to offend—You are not normal. Here is the point and let this sink in:

Life is filled with worry—We are filled with the Holy Spirit! No worries—Give God Glory!

As I write it, read it, try to absorb it I will admit to you that it takes me some time to really get it. It is not in our nature to praise God in the midst of the worst of circumstances. Here is the path we need to take. When we reach the end of ourselves, we must let go and let God! Let God love us, cover us with His peace, His grace, His mercy, His strength, His power! It is there for us and always available to us, but somehow the weight of our circumstances, our burdens, overshadow it and make it hard to grasp. This is what leaves me feeling desperate, helpless, inadequate, depleted, and depressed. Here’s hope:

I call to You from the end of the earth
when my heart is weak.
Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I!
( Psalm 61:2, NLV)

I heard a great song today, not new to me but the words were like new to my heart. It helped me get some focus, some fresh perspective. Natalie Grant’s “Live for Today” is dancing in my head and my heart and it is helping me to lighten up!
Our circumstances have not changed, doors have closed—but God is opening some windows for us to consider. We are ready to embrace something new, not necessarily what we have had in mind but it will help us make the fresh start that we need. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we explore some new possibilities. Know that we are so thankful for you, for your prayers and encouragement, for all the ways that you have chosen to stand beside us through these challenging times.

Perception

Watch this: God's eye is on those who respect him,
the ones who are looking for his love.
He's ready to come to their rescue in bad times;
in lean times he keeps body and soul together.

We're depending on GOD;
he's everything we need.
What's more, our hearts brim with joy
since we've taken for our own his holy name.
Love us, GOD, with all you've got—
that's what we're depending on. Psalm 33:18-22 (MSG)

Perception: The quality, state, or capability, of being affected by something external; An idea; A notion.

When we are in the midst of a struggle, our perception can cause a great deal of grief, fear, doubt, anxiety, frustration. As we walk through this struggle day to day, some are better than others. The past 48 hours have been particularly heavy for me. I am certain satan is having a big party thinking he’s won some kind of control over me because I haven’t been dealing with any of this very well. How to explain it, it is hard to admit to it because I don’t want to look like a failure, like I’ve given up on God. I don’t want to expose my weakness, my vulnerable state. Truth is, I have been feeling very weak, very unstable and there are days when God isn’t enough for me. That hurts to admit, but it is where I am sometimes. So, my perception, my view of things as they are is obviously not God’s. In my heart, I know He is so much greater than anything I will face in this life but the battle that goes on between my heart and my mind is exhausting. There are days I don’t feel like hanging on, I would much rather let go and sink into my deep, dark hole and not be found. I don’t feel like making the effort, because I don’t seem to have anything left in me. How amazing, remarkable, extraordinary to know that my faith, my hope is not determined by anything I do. My faith, my hope is in God and because of His supernatural power within me. Last night in my study I found myself rolling Psalm 33 over my heart and mind and there it was—that peace. I couldn’t have found it on my own strength, but because I sought it out and because I knew I was at the end of myself.
The need to change my perception is a daily battle; sometimes it can occur more than once over the course of my day. How good to know that God is not far away, He is right beside me, waiting with open arms.

Our Great Provider

I am astounded daily at what is happening in our country; and yet, I am even more astounded by how God provides so perfectly. No matter how bad things may appear to be here on earth, He is still on His throne! He does not change and will not be changed by our circumstances. We may be knocked around, beaten up, pulverized, ground up and spit out by what life sends our way--but God is still God and He will take care of us every step of the way. I was burdened today by an article I read about the poverty in our nation. It is heartbreaking, frustrating, so unbelievable to read about these people and how one moment they had secure jobs, raising a family of their own, and now they find themselves in a completely different and what seems like impossible situation. I realized as I read on, trying to swallow this information down just how close every single one of us is to being in their situation. What do you do, how to you go on, when does it get better?

I read in my devotional today about a woman, she was on the brink of losing her two sons because she couldn't pay her debt. She sought help from Elisha, and after following his instructions, something miraculous occurred. God provided, and because she believed and obeyed, her family was taken care of. Not unlike Peter, when he chose to step out on the water and walk to Jesus. He didn't hesitate, he believed and obeyed.

What is boggling to the human mind is to grasp in its entirety just how awesome our God is! It is truly beyond our comprehension so it is no wonder we struggle to reside in joy, to reside in peace, to reside in full and complete trust in Him. By choosing daily to drink in His Word, to sit at his feet and pour our hearts out to Him, to choose to relinquish our all to Him--we are strengthened and we are at peace. We can face another day, we can know for sure--beyond what our minds can comprehend--that God knows us, loves us, and will take care of us. Here's truth for today:

Isaiah 55:9 As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

God knows us and loves us so deeply and because of that, we know that He will not let us fall. He never fails, He will overcome what seems to us to be impossible. He will make a way.

Spiritual Companionship

It seems that I have managed a couple of sizable waves this week, waves of intense uncertainty, anxiety, and very tangible brokenness. For whatever reason, God allows it to overwhelm me to the point I realize I cannot take it much longer, and then it washes over me….His peace. There’s no visible movement that can be detected with my eyes, no audible voice in my ears, just a reassuring wave that flows through my heart and soul. My devotionals have been centered around Elijah in recent days, and what lessons I am learning! It is a fresh reminder to me of how in the most desperate, fearful and lonely days of his life, God was there and provided so much for him. He specifically provided a spiritual companion to him in the person Elisha. I can immediately identify in my life right now “Elisha’s”. You know who you are! You have given me such encouragement, such strength, such motivation, such relief and comfort, in my weakest, angriest, most depressed moments. God is good, He knows my need and He knows precisely when I need it. I am reminded once again of just how precious I am to God, His chosen, His child, His called, His purposed. Daily my focus needs to be on drawing closer to my heavenly Father and glorify Him in ALL that I do. If I am seeking Him with all of my heart, then I can rest in knowing He will satisfy ALL of my needs. (Matthew 6:33)
I know God will honor our prayers, and our requests to be fully immersed in the calling He has placed upon our lives to serve in worship ministry. I am looking forward to seeing it happen, to seeing His perfect timing come about in our lives.

What are you doing here?

My devotional today was more on Elijah and dealing with the people's unbelief, their turning to false gods and so today we find him running away and freaking out because of Queen Jezebel's threats. I think I would run too if I were in his shoes. So I am reading along and this question God spoke to him, just struck me and I found myself hearing God say it to me.
"What are you doing here?" What am I doing here? What is the point of what we are doing if we feel unfulfilled, useless, just plain worn out from waiting for what's next? Now understand a lot of this is feelings of utter desperation given our current circumstances. Like a great majority of the country we are still struggling to find a job for Ryan that pays at least what we need to make rent each month, our living expenses. A family of six living on what we are making is well, barely making it. We literally are not looking much further than beyond our week because we don't know how we will pay this bill or that bill and somehow, God provides it. Ryan continues to search and apply online, through word of mouth, taking up every offer extended his way for a possible job opening. As we have watched more doors close in the past nine months, it is becoming very clear to us that God has been sending us a very clear message:

Trust in Me! I will take care of You!

This morning as I drove in to work I had this conversation with God. I said once again, I recognize Lord, that You are in control, but a very large part of my mind does not get it. I don't know what we are doing here! So, that is my answer to today's question: I don't know! All I do know for certain is that He has a plan for me and for Ryan and for our four amazing and absolutely wonderful children. I am weak, I am frustrated, and I am just plain tired of this waiting but Lord, I know You have given me Jesus, I know You will provide Your strength and Your peace just as I need it every day!

Proverbs 16:3 MSG Put God in charge of your work,
then what you've planned will take place.

Required of me

I am not proud of it, in fact, it is something I am ashamed to admit. There are moments I am utterly at the end of myself and drowning in thoughts of panic, anxiety, overwhelming doubt because of what life has handed me today. Yesterday on my way home from work I found myself asking God, "What more do You require of us?" I could go on and on, the flood of emotions, questions, all of it. The human mind can send you spiraling into a very deep, dark hole if we allow it. But, somehow as I was trying to push myself above the waves of these thoughts, I started to hear the song by Christy Nockels in my head after hearing it twice yesterday, the words circling over and over, "Waiting here for You with my hands lifted high in praise!" Once again, I found I was at the end of myself and I didn't know what else to do, I literally said to God, "I don't know what else to do except give You praise! Even in this very moment, I know You are still so good!" How is that possible? As I drove on I sensed it as I let the feeling of helplessness overwhelm me and the realization that I could not go on one more moment....His peace began to wash over me. Waiting here for You.....my life is Yours....Waiting here for You....You are still on your throne....Waiting here for You....God, You are so good! No matter what life gives me, I know You will give me the strength and peace to ride the waves! As I find myself gasping for breath in this realization, my heart rate slows, His peace comes in like fresh air to fill my lungs, and I have this clarity. Thank You Lord, for Your protection, Your provision, Your purpose for my life! Hallelujah! I am waiting here for You and I will lift my hands in praise even on the worst of days! You are so good! You are so good!
Psalm 62:11 ...Strength comes straight from God!

I am weak, He is strong!

Coming off of a holiday weekend that should have been a much needed rest for us, has instead ended with very little rest. My heart is broken, it is not at ease, it is tired, it is weary, just so weary. I have been absorbing, lapping up scripture and any resource I can find these past few weeks as we've waited with great anticipation to know if this door would remain open for a position for Ryan. Yesterday that door closed, and we find ourselves crumpled in the floor in front of that closed door, disappointed, heartbroken, frustrated. It was hard not to get our hopes up, when what appears to be a great opportunity comes along. After a much needed phone conversation with my mom this morning, I began to dig deeply into the Word. Mom pointed me to Psalm 147, and how appropriate! In particular verse 10:
The strength of a horse does not impress him; how puny in his sight is the strength of a man.
My study Bible led me to another scripture in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:
"My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ's good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I cannot deal with this, I cannot live, I cannot breathe, I cannot go on one more moment in any power of my own but because of Christ! I know I am weak, I know I am frail, I know there is so much in this life that will beat me up and pull me down but because of Christ...oh, because of Christ! I can! He has given us the strength to go on, He has given us the protection, the provision, the purpose that we all so desperately need! What can I claim in my own doing, my own strengh? NOTHING! It is He who is working in me, gently within me and not forcing or pushing me to it, but working gently in me and through me to bring about far more than I could ever imagine or hope for! (Ephesians 3:20-21)

I don't know what You are up to Lord, but I do know this: You are not finished with us yet and I will be wrapped, I will be strengthened, I will be comforted by Your unfailing love! Thank You, Lord!

Well, it's an answer...

It's not the answer we'd hoped and prayed for, but it is an answer. I know You've got our best in mind, Lord, but we are just so stinkin' tired. We will not lose our hope and our resolve to trust You, as hard as it is to stand here, and see the door closed. We love You and we believe something good is coming for us soon. I don't have much to say today, but found something that fits.

His Billows

"All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me" (Ps. 42:7).

They are HIS billows, whether they go o'er us,
Hiding His face in smothering spray and foam;
Or smooth and sparkling, spread a path before us,
And to our haven bear us safely home.

They are HIS billows, whether for our succor
He walks across them, stilling all our fear;
Or to our cry there comes no aid nor answer,
And in the lonely silence none is near.

They are HIS billows, whether we are toiling
Through tempest-driven waves that never cease,
While deep to deep with clamor loud is calling;
Or at His word they hush themselves in peace.

They are HIS billows, whether He divides them,
Making us walk dryshod where seas had flowed;
Or lets tumultuous breakers surge about us,
Rushing unchecked across our only road.

They are HIS billows, and He brings us through them;
So He has promised, so His love will do.
Keeping and leading, guiding and upholding,
To His sure harbor, He will bring us through.
--Annie Johnson Flint

***

Stand up in the place where the dear Lord has put you, and there do your best. God gives us trial tests. He puts life before us as an antagonist face to face. Out of the buffeting of a serious conflict we are expected to grow strong. The tree that grows where tempests toss its boughs and bend its trunk often almost to breaking, is often more firmly rooted than the tree which grows in the sequestered valley where no storm ever brings stress or strain. The same is true of life. The grandest character is grown in hardship. --Selected
(Streams in the Desert Daily Devotional by L.B. Cowman)

Praying with confidence

1 John 5:13-15 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God. Now you can know you have life that lasts forever. We are sure that if we ask anything that He wants us to have, He will hear us. If we are sure He hears us when we ask, we can be sure He will give us what we ask for.

Mark 11:24 Because of this, I say to you, whatever you ask for when you pray, have faith that you will receive it. Then you will get it.

So many days recently I have spent searching the scriptures, asking my closest confidants, how do I pray? I struggle with my prayers more now than any other time in my life I think. Am I praying right? Am I praying with great expectation? Am I asking too much of God? Am I trying to do His job by being too specific in asking Him for what I want, for my heart's desire? It can be exhausting. This question. Lord, how do I ask this of You? I am afraid to ask my greatest desire of You because, well, I am afraid You won't give it to me. I am afraid of disappointment. I am afraid of things not going the way I'd like for them to. Don't get me wrong--I know God knows best and I want that, I pray that every day. But, sometimes when I don't know how to pray, I simply stop myself and have to say, "Lord, Your will be done!" Why do I feel like somehow I am not giving it my all when I do that? It is like I almost feel bad for not having a "better" prayer to pray. I am very much aware each day of how precious my time with the Father is. It is our time, my daily conversation that sets the tone of my day. I want to bring Him my best and even at my worst be able to admit to Him in my prayers that I know I can bring Him more, and hopefully by the end of the conversation He has had my best. To each day, I think we can all strive to bring God more of our very best! He deserves it!

Now is the time to worship....

It doesn't matter what you are facing today, just stop and give Him glory! I am amazed how quickly God works in me to re-set my focus each day when in the midst of my worst moments, I take the time to stop, cry out to Him and say,"You are so good, Lord!" Somehow, it puts everything in perspective because immediately my heart is flooded with how blessed we truly are. I don't feel much like doing it lately, but it helps me get focused on what matters most. Nothing we have, nor anything we accomplish in this life will matter except that I am a child of God, He loves me and I get to spend an eternity with Him one day! It is amazing to consider even at my worst moments, when I have shouted and cried out to God in my anger, in my frustration, and yet....He gets me. He understands me. He hurts with me. He knows me. He loves me!!

Ryan and I are going through something fierce, something really crappy, something so difficult that in the midst of it right now it would seem like it couldn't possibly get any worse than it is. Then I read this:

Lamentations 3:28
The Message (MSG)
28-30When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The "worst" is never the worst.

Well, a few weeks ago we started to see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. As we have progressed day to day, tonight we find ourselves experiencing a bit more of that light. There is some hope, we are seeing God at work. We continue to hope and pray for God to move in our lives, and we believe that He is. We are so excited to see what His plan will hold for us in the weeks ahead.

My Shepherd

I am a pitiful sheep. I suppose most sheep are, they aren't very bright animals and they need a lot of care and watching over. We as Christians, walking through this life with so much bombarding us from all directions are no different. How on earth do we make in through a single day without our Shepherd to care for us? Before I go to bed tonight, I find myself reading a familiar psalm that I memorized as a child.

God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I'm not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd's crook
makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I'm back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life. (Psalm 23, The Message)

Daily my faith will be tested, and I am certain to face trials well beyond what I am facing today. With that in mind, I can close my eyes tonight with a bit more perspective on what God has for me. I know I can trust Him with my life, and I know He will always care for me no matter what life throws my way.

What is it, Lord?

The waiting. It is intense, it is exciting, it is frustrating, it is humbling, it is exactly as He intends for it to be right now, at this very moment in my life. If you've glanced at my blog over the past seven months then you know a little bit about what Ryan and I are going through. God is doing something, we don't know what it is, but we are starting to see glimpses of hope, light at the end of the tunnel. He is working, yes He is! Through my best and my worst moments, I have been clinging to that mantra and it remains embedded in my thought process along with some key scriptures that have pushed us forward on this wilderness road. Something in my devotional stuck yesterday, and so of course, I just have to share it. We are considering God's will, what is it, what does He have for us, what will He do next? What door will He open, and will it unfold into what we see as the next ministry for us? So this thought yesterday, has been etched nearly permanent in my mind.

God's will: It is not a destination, it is a journey.

Don't know how it was worded exactly in my devotional, but that's my take on it. So at almost 40 years old, I have found myself pondering these past months more than any other time in my life, "What is God's will?" I can look back and see points in my life when I was at this place, and there was never a final answer, a point when I could go, "Okay, now my life is set. Now I know exactly what to do, and I don't see how it could get any clearer. Thanks God." How many of us can say we've honestly reached that point? Here's the reality--we aren't ever going to be there. I believe we will reach milestones in our Christian walk, breakthroughs in our faith, achievements in terms of our growth and accomplishments, but we should be living with a restless content. Why? Because the moment we become comfortable with what God has given us, we lose sight of the fact that it never really belonged to us and we need to give back to Him and wholeheartedly say,"No matter how good it gets Lord, my life is Yours! Do Your will and do with me what You will!" Don't get me wrong. I believe we are to be thankful, and live confidently in the life God has given us; the difference is, our focus is on the eternal, things that matter beyond this life. I can't take my money, my possessions, my job, my church, any of it with me when I die. What I can take with me, and what I can say when I stand before my Lord is, "Lord, I did it all for You, I gave my all for You, I am so humbled and grateful for what You did for me that I couldn't keep it to myself! I don't deserve what You have given me, but I am so thankful You chose me!"
If you are in doubt today about where You stand with God, know this:
He loves you and He has forgiven you for whatever you think is keeping you from deserving His grace and mercy. Whatever you did that you think is so big and bad, my God is BIGGER! He has a purpose for you, He has great things for your life and He will work all things for your good! Here's truth:
We know God is working all things together for the good. Romans 8:28 (my paraphrase)

We haven't lost hope and we will not give up. God has an amazing plan and we can't wait to see it unfold. Thank you for continuing to pray for us, to support us, to encourage and love us, and to walk with us. Our hearts are full; we are so incredibly thankful.

I will tell the story

What is your story? What will be your story when you come through what God has put in front of you? Will you choose to persevere? Will you keep putting one foot in front of the other? What will you do when God sets you apart and gives you something, something you think is just too big to handle? Perseverance. I am thinking on that word today, because it is what we need to do in these times of uncertainty. Persevere. Time and time again I find myself saying it in conversations, with Ryan, with family, with friends, those who have chosen to ride this wave with us and see just what God is up to....and hope is beginning to crest just over the horizon. It may just be a glimmer right now, but it is evident in recent days that God is beginning to reveal what is next to us. I was just reading in Genesis 32 about Jacob, his dream in which he wrestled with an angel. He would not give in, he would not let go, he said in v. 26, "I will not let go until you bless me." To that, the angel gave him a new name and told him it was because v. 28 "...you've wrestled with God, and you've come through." These days there have been moments when I have felt like I have been wrestling with God, in my prayers, in my anguish, in my frustration, in my heart break, in my joys and in my sorrows. It has been one wave of emotion after another, and I know not a moment of it was spent alone but with Him. I know He didn't just hear my cries, He has cried with me. Life is not fair, but God is faithful. I am so thankful for how far we have come, and I am so thankful for the moments that lay ahead. I can't wait to see what God is going to do in the days ahead, and I can't wait to share it with you and add to the story that has already been written.

Unknowns, Uncertainties, Un-Fun

The waiting continues, it seems to become this sad, pitiful song of, "Nope, nothing new here. Still waiting." It is like being stuck in an elevator and the music doesn't end, the same sappy music plays on and on and on, never seems to end and it seems like we are not really going anywhere. I don't like the unknown, the uncertainties, the "Un-Fun". Yeah, I know it isn't a word but I am making it up anyway. I was reminded today in my quiet time of the purpose of prayer and how we should approach God in our conversations with Him. How do the words that come out of my mouth reflect the true intent of my prayers? Do they reflect trust and obedience, or are they "a demonstration of a lack of trust, a revealing of misunderstanding His sovereign nature and limitless ability"? Here is scripture I was given today to help jolt our focus back into place:
Ephesians 3:20 "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us."

Immeasurable, limitless, how many ways can we truly describe God? Do we believe it? Is that reflected in how we talk to Him? I know He wants to hear it all, my doubt, my fear, my anxiety, my frustration, my hopes, my dreams, everything that is flooding my heart and mind right now. But what I try to keep in mind, every time I talk to Him is this realization that as much as I am feeling and experiencing right now, He is able to overcome it all, and He will take care of me. He has a plan and purpose, even if I cannot see it or understand it right now, He knows exactly what He is doing and His timing is perfect!

It is painful and so incredibly frustrating for me to watch Ryan go through what he is going through right now. I want to take this all away, I want to wave a magic wand and instantly make something amazing happen right now for him. But I can't. None of us can. But God will do what He intends to do....when the time is right. When my heart and mind reach the edge of comprehension, God comes in and provides a peace that passes all of my own understanding. I can't explain it, but God is still here with us in every moment and He will not fail us or forget us. I have to believe it, I want to believe it, my faith and my resolve to know God more pushes me to hang on just a little bit longer.

The waiting is hard, but your prayers, your encouragement, your support, your willingless to stand beside us and help us get through this makes all the difference. Thank you, thank you, thank you to our friends, our family, and quite possibly people we have never even met. God is good, He is still on His throne, and yes, we believe He is working.

I may be weary, but I will worship You!

It has been a week, mercy, what a week. As we are walking through this "wilderness" we are overwhelmed daily by the pressure, the stress, the almost tangible weight of our situation. The day to day living expenses are difficult to meet when very little income is coming in. I am mentally and physically exhausted, and my spiritual state is, well, on the brink. I can think of many people in the Bible who were in much more difficult situations than we are, and yet I can identify with their words. At one point this week there was a day when I managed to contain my emotions for the duration of my work day and as soon as I was in the car and on my way home, I found myself broken. It was a wonder I didn't have to pull over, I was so upset. I didn't even turn on the radio, but instead as I drove home I began crying out to God. This isn't the first time, I find myself in this place quite often these past months. I suppose the difference in this moment was the depth of desperation, helplessness, weariness, I just don't know how else to describe it, it was so tangible and such a sick, sick feeling. I poured it out as I drove, I just said, "God what...why...how...please, please do something!" I managed a hand full of words and then it came to me. All I knew to do was praise Him, even in that state, all I could think was I can still praise You, Lord. How crazy is that?! Today I found this scripture and need to share it:

God—you're my God! I can't get enough of you!
I've worked up such hunger and thirst for God,
traveling across dry and weary deserts.

So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open,
drinking in your strength and glory.
In your generous love I am really living at last!
My lips brim praises like fountains.
I bless you every time I take a breath;
My arms wave like banners of praise to you. Psalm 63:1-3

My eyes were open (which is very important when you are driving!), my heart was broken, my thirst, my hunger for Him was so overwhelming that at the end of myself all I could think to do was praise Him. What an amazing God! How does He do that? How do we find the ability to do that in what seems to be our most desperate hour? Isn't He good? Isn't He amazing? Isn't that what He wants from us? Truly authentic and raw, nothing held back unending praise of Who He is and What He can do!

While this has been a most difficult week, it has ended with a glimmer of hope. God is giving us signs of hope and that He is at work. We are looking forward to the next couple weeks to see what He is going to reveal as we walk, follow His leading. Please continue to pray for us and know what a blessing you are to us throughout this season.

Weary, just so darn weary

I am having a day. Oh, I suppose a week. I am just not dealing with some stuff well and haven't been for days now. The job situation has not changed and today we found out the grocery Ryan's started at doesn't pay well, let's just say, enough. Neither does the other temp job he's had that he hasn't been getting hours for for weeks now, if he's lucky one shift out of four. Oh me. I am just weary, Lord, do You hear me? Do You get how stickin' tired we are of this?! Is it too much to ask for a ray of light? A sign? A hint of some kind that You do have something better? Why does this have to be so hard?! Can I get an amen, anybody?! Life is just plain difficult and God is good, but I am really frustrated and tired of waiting. How do we get through this? How will we ever get through this? I want it to end, I want it to change today, I want it to be better for Ryan, for me, for our children, I am so ready to move on so why, why, why can't it begin sooner rather than later? I have no tears, I have no emotion really, I am literally in this place of extreme mental clarity, questions bubbling over and the mind whirring with extreme contemplation as to how to get through this with a shred of sanity left in me. I know God is my Supply, my Refuge, my Strength, my Peace, my Hope, but God, God, God, what is going on???? We are seeking, we are crying out to You now more than ever and there are days when it feels as if we can't take one step without it feeling like that step doesn't move us in the direction of progress.

Okay so, does anyone relate? This is my state of being at this very moment. I want so much more for us than what life has handed us today. I want so badly to have the power to snap my fingers and suddenly we are in it, we are doing it, we are there. I have a greater appreciation for those of you who are going through some of the same stuff we are. It has to be said that at no other point in my life have I ever felt this helpless, not hopeless, but extremely helpless. The crazy thing is, I have this feeling in the deepest part of me that it is exactly where God intends for me to be. When it comes down to it, God knows exactly what I can and cannot handle regardless of how I feel about it. My measurement of progress is nothing compared to and cannot be compared to God's. So is this progress? I am going to have to get back to you on that. God has something to say to me, and I need to spend some time mulling this over with Him some more. He has just reminded me in my contemplative state of a great, great verse in Hebrews. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen". Does that verse blow your mind, because I gotta be honest I will for all of my days continue to be baffled by it! There is so much I have read and studied in my Christian walk, God has spoken so much in to my heart and mind and I think I've absorbed and understood a good portion, but this, this I continue to struggle with. Oh sure, I have brief moments of clarity but I spend so much of my time going, "God, teach me, help me get this because I just can't wrap my mind around it, I just don't get it! I really want to, but I don't." Is that the point? To always be teachable? I think that is a huge part of it. I believe God wants us to not only be willing to serve, but in that, always be teachable. That's hard, because a lot of us sure do enjoy thinking we know it all. Especially Christians. Ouch. That hurt, didn't it? As I lay down to sleep tonight, and Lord I am praying sleep will come, I am praying to be open, to be teachable, to be in a heart and soul state of willingness to take in all that God has for me. Even if that means more days like today when I am going out of my mind trying to figure out what the heck is going on. I will not give up, I will not give in to this weariness, because ultimately I know, and we all need to grasp this thing: God gets us, even though we don't get Him. He knows us, and we think we know Him but we need to see the necessity to know Him more every single day because the reality is we probably don't know Him as well as we think we do. He loves us, even though life tells us He doesn't and He is ignoring us while we are struggling. He is God, there is none like Him. He will not fail us. He will provide for us. He is. Thank you Lord. Man, what a journey.

What does that mean?

What does that mean, Lord? How am I supposed to process that? Why do I have to do this now? Really?! Where do I go from here?

Some of many, many questions Ryan and I wrestle with day in and day out. Why Lord, are we at this point in time and for what purpose? This is the most striking question we are asking today. I shared in my last entry how we are back home in Brazil and feeling more unsettled than ever before. If we are truly living life as God intends, then we are to be unsettled. We are not to settle for life being okay, to be comfortable in what the world provides. I heard it today from a friend of ours at church, "Our employer is not the provider, God is the Provider of ALL things!" No matter how much is in our bank account at this moment, He is still on His throne and He is capable of providing and will provide everything we need. How easy it is for any one of us in times of great struggle to doubt that. I am reminded of this scripture:

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

We cannot accomplish one good thing in this life without Christ. Sure, in terms of what the world measures as good we can do a lot, but when it really matters, when it has a lasting and eternal impact it can't happen without God's good guidance and wisdom. I can look back on my life so far and see where there were specific points when He left His mark on my life and used me to leave a lasting and eternal mark for Him on others. I want the path I walk from this moment on to continue to be so, to leave an impact on this world that says I made a difference for Christ, I held my ground and stood the foundation He provided through every obstacle, every triumph, every day of this life. So as Ryan and I are asking the question today, "Lord, what does that mean?" Who knows what it means, except that to be still, to know Him, to rest in the knowledge that He is in control, He has a plan and He will provide is enough.

Unsettled

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 8:10-11

Unsettled. It is a great word to describe where we are today. We came home last night from a great visit with our families over the holiday weekend and as we approached home, Ryan would share with me later how the disappointment grew in him. The job situation for him has not improved, with the exception that he started at the local grocery store today which will provide more stability in terms of hours adn a paycheck. It won't be much, but it will be more consistent than what he's had in the last month or so. It is frustrating, and yet we are trying to focus on how God continue to provide. It may not be in ways we expected or wanted, but He does continue to provide and for that our hearts are full.

We know this is not our home, it is temporary and that our focus should be on the eternal things. That is what drives us especially now. That is what makes it all the more unsettling for us to return to our earthly home in Brazil, Indiana. We know God is not finished with us yet, He has a work to do in our lives for the sake of His kingdom. We are so ready, and yet for whatever reason, God is giving us a season to rest and wait. I was reminded by a very dear friend this weekend how important it is to rest in Him right now, to truly be still and know our God. It is hard when we aren't able to serve in the capacity with which we are so accustomed, what we are gifted for. It is hard to rest, isn't it? I believe God does that to save us from ourselves though. Burn out is a terrible thing, and I would not want us to get to that point in ministry. So, our approach in this season needs to be highly expectant but restful. As we rest in Him, I trust, I believe and I will embrace the truth that God has a great purpose for us.

Chomping at the bit? Yep, that is where we are!

If you know the phrase, "chompin' at the bit" then you know what we are experiencing the majority of the time. I looked it up and it describes the behavior of a horse, anxious to get going. Yep, that is a great way to describe where we are right now. We know God is using us even in our "holding pattern" but it is difficult when we have no real outlet for the gifts He has given us. For the sake of just a good update, here we are.

As of today, Ryan has had very little work the past few weeks at his job. He is lucky to get a full week's paycheck when he goes in and day to day never knows if they'll have work or send him home. When he gets home, the paycheck ends up being minimal and as a result you can imagine how quickly what little we have goes. This is where God comes in, and WOW, has He! Over the course of these past few weeks alone He has done something miraculous but isn't anything He does miraculous?! Words cannot describe how humbled and thankful we are are to watch as His provision arrives at the very moment we need it most. If you are reading this, and you know who you are, thank you from the deepest part of our hearts! The prayers, the cards, the time you take out to really ask us, "How are you doing?", the chats over a cup of coffee, the hugs, the tears, the text messages.....I cannot say enough about what a blanket of strength and peace you have provided for us. God is good, and He has used each and every one of you.

Ryan has since interviewed for a job at our local grocery store and did a drug screening. We expect they'll contact him in the next week to offer him a position. This is likely to be the best job offer he's had, probably not great pay but a more dependable job and less gas money for us overall. Lord, how good You are!

Ryan has had a second email from a church in Missouri that is considering him among about 60 other applicants for their worship pastor position. They notified him they are observing a 30 day holding pattern while they do a trial run with some local applicants. It may not be the answer we'd like, but it is an answer. Lord, how good You are!

As he sees other ministry job openings, he is applying for them. We continue to walk day to day in this, knowing that we may be frustrated because it is not moving along in the timeframe we'd hoped and expected, but in God's timeframe it is all according to His perfect plan for our lives. Lord, how good You are!

Please continue to pray for us, this being the most powerful and effective thing you can do for us and for that---we are so incredibly thankful!

Finish what you started in me, God.
Your love is eternal—don't quit on me now.
Psalm 138:8

Lord, How Good You Are

Psalm 34:8 Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

How often, in the middle of our greatest struggles, do we find ourselves saying, "Oh Lord, how good You are?"
If we are honest, most of us would answer not at all. It is hard, it is not our natural response and even the strongest Christian can be beat down pretty quick by an unexpected blow from life. The past few weeks as Ryan has had very little work and thus very small paychecks, I have been meditating upon this. I think it has been mostly an unconscious meditation because it has surfaced vividly in my conscious mind today. I have been mulling it over all morning and I heard this great song come on the radio by Drew Cline, "How Good You Are" and it just washed over me like a cool breeze on a very hot day. How can we possibly grasp His goodness in the midst of our weakness? I believe and I keep coming back to this idea of daily arming ourselves with a mindset of great expectation. He has promised us in His Word and we can stand firmly on the foundation He has provided that He will not fail us, He will take care of us, He will sustain us, He will empower us, He will deliver us, He will not fail us! Do you believe it? Are you embracing it? Are you living it? Are you sharing it? He has called us, and if we are being who He calls us to be in this terrible world then we are following Him with reckless abandon! Can you say that about your life? I hope so. I can say that I have a lot of work to do but I hope I am moving in the right direction. I hope when I face the trials of this life--and there are certain to be many more beyond this one--that I will be able to stop, throw my hands to the heavens and shout to God, "Oh, God, how good You are!!!"

Courage

Courage. I believe it has taken a considerable amount of courage for Ryan and I to choose to walk this path as we have these past months. Courage. God has given it to us, we couldn't possibly have it within ourselves. Courage. I was reminded this morning by my Dad of someone else who had courage even in the worst of circumstances: Joseph. He had so much happen to him, and he had so many reasons to curl up in a ball, curse God and just lay down and die but he didn't. He trusted God, and when the day came that he stood before his brothers after all they'd done to him and all he'd been through and he was able to say, "Do not be afraid. What you intended for evil, God intended for good." I know He has good for us, I know He has purpose and I know He will sustain us through every single moment of our lives. There are moments when I feel as if I could cave in, I could give up so easily because it appears that we are in this holding pattern but I had to say out loud this morning as I drove in to work that I realize even in this holding pattern He is using us for His good.

Worth

I am a child of God, and therefore He sees worth in me. He loves me, He will care for me and provide for me--so there's no need to worry! Okay. Sure. That's not something I struggle with at all! (Can you hear the sarcasm?) These past months since Ryan was asked to resign, it has been a rollercoaster of many emotions for us both. What has gotten us through it? God. What has brought us peace and strength in the darkest moments, when we are on the floor, crying out for answers? God. What will we do as these days continue to pass and we wonder, we wait on what God has for us to do? Trust in God. Obey god. Give Him all the glory because even in this, this valley that seems so deep and as if there is no light at the edge for us to walk toward, He has purpose, He has a plan to prosper us and not to harm us. I found myself meditating on Jeremiah 29:11 again today as I do many days. It gets me focused and centered, re-sets my way of thinking before my day gets started. I continue to marvel at the ways God has blessed us through these days. There is no way in words to fully express how incredibly thankful we are for family and friends who have rallied beside us, blessed us and supported us when we needed it most. It is humbling, and it is inspiring. I know God will use this time and our testimony will be strengthened by what we learn in these days. I believe He will bless us and use us to impact others as a result of what we experience in these days. Nothing we experience is wasted, God has a use for it all. Even in the moments when we ask God to give us what we ask for, what we may not realize is what He has purposed for us is what we are doing this very day. Each and every day, regardless of how we perceive our current circumstances God is using us. We just may not realize it until we hear it in someone's kind words, or in a card, or through a phone call, just what an influence we have been on the lives of those around us each and every day. I am overwhelmed and amazed at what God is doing. I am certain the best is yet to come. Thank You, Lord.

What is mine....is His

What does it mean: ownership? The dictionary defines it as "the legal right of possession". So what is possession? It is defined as "to have in one's control". Bottom line, what do we own, possess, have in our control? Answer? Nothing of worth, eternal worth, that is. Isn't that the point? As we live and breath on this earth, my goal as a Christian is to focus on the things that matter most, that contribute to eternity with Jesus. It doesn't matter how much money I make, what kind of house I own, what kind of car I drive, what kind of electronic devices I use, the clothes I wear, the people I know, the things I accomplish in terms of worldly success.....none of it matters what bit or increases my eternal worth if I am not making a difference for Christ. To love others more than myself, to make a lasting impression on the lives of others for the Kingdom and that they would come to know Christ should be my greatest desire and focus! I have always been of an optimistic nature, looking first for the best in others and expecting good things from life. But I also recognize that to get there, to see the good and find purpose, to know and live in what God has intended for me means I must make an effort, take initiative, do the work. God does not guarantee us an easy life, or that everything we want will just land in our laps on a silver platter. When our hearts and minds are right before God, when we have set goals for ourselves to achieve what we know we are gifted to do, and when we do the work that God calls us to do to get there...oh, my goodness! Then, that is when it happens. It means complete surrender, and complete trust in the Father. It means it isn't going to be easy most of the time, and though the waiting is difficult and we may have to do some things that aren't as thrilling or fulfilling as what we dream to do, I believe God honors our efforts as our hearts and our minds remain focused on Him every single moment of every day. I was inspired by my devotional today and so I literally printed a portion of it and tacked it to the wall of my cubicle. I have looked at it more than once over the course of the day, and it is such a truth, a humbling statement that I want to carry with me every day. Here it is. Catch it. Soak it up. Let it roll around in your heart and mind and hopefully you will be inspired to appreciate less of what this world has to offer and more of what God wants for you.

'God owns ALL and provides ALL. He owns our possessions, our relationships, and our ministries. He owns our abilities as well as our lack, our successes as well as our failures. As we come through our next battle (and we will!) - in fact, even in the midst of the battle - let's return the ownership and give Him all the glory. We must never attempt to control or hold tight to what the Lord has provided.'

Strength for today, Hope for tomorrow

Great is Thy faithfulness O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not,
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness,
Great is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided-
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
(Thomas Obediah Chisholm, 1866-1960)

This song is my meditation today. Today we are so weary. Today we are feeling helpless, not hopeless, but as if we have very little to cling to. It is a day in which I know the prayers of many is the only thing holding us up. Ryan has had 3 shifts in a row now without work. Imagine going in to a job-a job for which we are very thankful despite it being very little pay and nowwhere what we need to get by-and they tell you they don't need you, they don't have work for you. Needless to say the stress level is heightened even more so than usual. We find ourselves today in desperate need of provision, provision that we know the Lord is aware of, that He sees and He knows exactly what we need. I try to imagine how Ryan must feel in the place he is. Every job he can apply for he has done just that, and yet this job was the only one to open up. He has done everything humanly possible to put himself out there with ministry jobs and secular jobs and this is the only door that has opened. There is a void for him now that he has no place to serve, as things with our home church still feel awkward in light of how his job ended there. So for today, we choose to embrace the strength that only God can give in knowing He has a place for us to serve and is moving us toward that. We have strength today in knowing we have a roof over our heads, food in our refrigerator and a warm bed to sleep in at night. We are far from destitute, and we recognize there are so many people who have far greater needs than ours today. We will embrace the strength that comes from God and His faithfulness to us so many times before, and we have hope in tomorrow knowing He will meet our every need. We are here, Lord, we are broken, we are humbled, we are ready to embrace whatever you have for us to do. What a mighty God we serve, and what an amazing work He is doing in our hearts. What is to come, we do not know for sure, but we know it is coming. Thank you Lord, for your faithfulness to us each and every day.

More of Him, Less of me

He must become greater, I must become less. John 3:30

I just finished Louie Giglio's book and I am still soaking up the knowledge of the nature of God, that He is I AM and I, well, I am not. As we grow in our knowledge of Christ, walk the path He has laid before us and find successes along the way, it is easy to become a bit arrogant in our Christianity. It is a shame that humility typically only comes when life smacks us across the face with something truly unexpected and devastating. We say to God,"Okay, I've been doing what You called me to do, following your lead, answered Your call and here I am in the middle of this waste land that somehow, some way you have a purpose?" Yep, that's right. At some point in the midst of struggle, when we let go of what we are feeling, when we have purged our systems of all the hurt, anger, grief, disappointment, heartbreak....purpose comes in to focus. I know, and even in the darkest moments of our struggle I could see a glimmer, that there is purpose even for this. Regardless of where we are and what we are doing at this very moment, God is working. Regardless of my view of where we stand today, God is working. No matter what comes of all these applications Ryan has put in, or who responds or how they respond, I know God is working! He is always working in us, through us, for us to bring about His glorious purpose! It is at the point now that I find myself having more moments of relief than grief. Relief is a much better feeling than grief. I recognize it is the Holy Spirit's way of bringing about healing and restoration in me. I can say at this point in my life this cycle has occurred more than once and for some reason it feels new each time, as if I have never experienced it before.
I have had a feeling this past week or so, a feeling of being on the very edge, waiting for the great reveal. I know God has something amazing, something that will blow my whole idea of expectation out of the water because even as amazing as it may be to me it is over the top to Him! I can just imagine and I am excited to think of it, how God will react when that moment comes and He gives us the open door...."Here it is! This is your opportunity to sieze precisely what I have intended for you!"
God is working. I know He is. I will choose in this moment to continue this focus of more of Him, less of me. It isn't about anything I know or am capable of doing on my own; it is all about my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the calling He has placed upon my life. To be Him, to serve others, to love others deeply and to give of myself until there is nothing left to give. There is no better place to be than right in the palm of His hand.

Less of me, more of Him

Yesterday was not such a great day. Well, let me clarify--this month has been a doozy in terms of my physical health. Keeping up with a new baby, and the stress of our situation on top of life in general for our family is taking its toll and I guess my body could only take so much. Early May, about the time I took Chloe for her checkup, I developed a nasty sinus infection. Antibiotic and a couple weeks later, I was some better but then I developed allergy/pink eye. This week I am once again facing illness as I woke Monday morning with drainage and sore throat, fluid in my ears and all over body aches. So, now I am finishing my eye drops this week and taking another antibiotic to knock out this stuff I've got. The joys of being sick-yuck! So May's not been so good to me. I am hoping by this weekend with Ry's birthday coming that I'll be much better. While I've been trying to rest up in my state of illness, I've been reading more of Louie Giglio's book "I am not but I know I AM", and last night was perfect. I must back track to a moment yesterday that started this interesting day. The mail came and Ryan got a letter from the prison stating he was not eligible for the position he interviewed for. So, okay we said. Okay God, this is an answer but perhaps not the answer we'd expected. He's got something else in mind for Ryan, that is a certainty. Later that night, Ryan was checking email when he found that he'd received an email from a church he'd applied to. He was informed that he made the second round of candidates for their worship position. This is one of two churches who have made contact with him in the last couple weeks for additional information. Last night as I was sitting in bed reading Giglio's book I couldn't help but feel this is it, this is the moment when the path begins to take a new direction. His purpose is beginning to unfold. These events are answers, answers that tell us God is truly at work and the path is taking shape for us. I have been knocked about for months now with waves of emotion, waves of extreme emotion and then extreme peace. I know God is in control, that has never been a question when it comes down to it. I readily admit that I don't like the waiting, the wondering, the how is this exactly going to work out for us part of the experience. I was once again jolted into focus when I read this last night:

'Waiting on God ascribes to God the glory of being all to us.'

I had to re-examine how I have behaved in this 'waiting'. I can say that there have been many moments in which God has not received glory, I have not allowed Him to be my all. So, how do I sustain, simmer in this 'waiting', this restful state? By starting with the idea that I am so incredibly small, and it is all about being less of me so that He can be more. I need to step out of the way, humbly acknowledge the power, the purpose that God holds and let Him do a good work in my life. How easy it is to think in that moment of peace and prosperity, I am doing so good, I have got this under control and I can run with it. We presume too much, and we become way too confident in our own shoes. I believe God wants us to be confident in our Christ walk, but that confidence should be in Him, the power of the Holy Spirit in us--it has nothing whatsoever to do with me.
So what is He up to? It is the question at the forefront of our minds right now. We don't know, we don't have those specific answers but we do know that He is working, yes He is.
Thank you Lord, for Your purpose, Your plan for my life and for Ryan's. We will continue to have hope, to trust in You.

my Ebenezer...

“…Thus far the Lord has helped us.”-1 Samuel 7:12 There are moments in my life when I look back and can see how God in His perfect yet my...