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)

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...