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.

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...