New– every single time!

After last night one would think that today would have been full of gloom.
I love how God meets us in our mess and gives us rest when we don’t ever expect to find it.
My son woke up and had a good day, as did I. It’s the beginning of a three-day weekend here and we have no major plans.
We received so many responses from friends and family who sent messages, posted, and called to say they understood and loved us (and missed us too, of course).
It reminded me of one of my favorite verses, ““Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! I say: The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good to wait quietly for deliverance from the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is still young”. (‭Lamentations‬ ‭3‬:‭22-27‬ HCSB)

This is exactly what my post on community was all about. We don’t ever have to be alone, and thanks to God, my family, and friends- we are not.

Posted in growing pains, reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Hearts and hurts

Tonight my son broke my heart–not because he was mean or did something hurtful, but because his heart was hurting.

It has been two months since our moving truck and minivan pulled out of the farm driveway for the last time. We left those we love, those who know us well, and what we were most comfortable doing. My husband and I knew and believed that God was drawing us to our new life in Nebraska. We have been blessed in untold ways since we stepped out in faith.

Our oldest son was well established at his old high school; surrounded by good friends, involved in sports, clubs, etc. and now he is struggling. He is sad, silent, and even angry. Tonight he broke down. I sat with him on the couch in silence, allowing him to just hurt and “let it out” without trying to fix it or dismiss it.

My heart knows that in time he will see the good things about this move, but right now he is still hanging on to what we left behind. I am left with the hard position of hurting with him and for him, but knowing that sending him back to live with extended family or saying, “Gosh, this was a mistake, let’s all move back,” isn’t the right decision either.

Instead, I put my arms around him and prayed that God would meet him in his hurt. I prayed for my son to turn to God and allow Him in as well.

Sometimes the hardest thing a parent can do is listen, allowing the child to feel the hurt, but not let the child be alone in the hurt. I sat awhile thinking about God and how He sits with us in our hurt. There are times God takes the hurt away, but in my experience, He most often sits with me in my hurt. It’s as if God knows that my hurt has a bigger purpose. Much like bad-tasting medicine is needed to bring relief, so too, the pain brings the growth that is needed.

After a while, my son wiped his cheeks and got ready for bed. I let him know I was praying for him and that others were too. I also told him that I’d be glad to listen or to arrange a meeting with someone else so he could talk about how he is feeling.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 is where I am camping out tonight. My heart hurts, but I know that God heals. That is my prayer for my son. It is my prayer for others who are in pain now, too.

Posted in growing pains, reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Honesty

I called my mom the other night to catch up and see how things were going “back home.” I also had a confession to make about something I was struggling with as well. The distance from family has made me jealous for the relationships I left behind. I have been fighting the struggle of believing that I would be replaced somehow. One of the more irrational things I have ever thought, for sure.

My mom, a wise woman indeed, acknowledged my confession but did not dismiss it. Instead, she told me that she had guessed that it was happening and that she would be praying for me.

The enemy uses jealousy to cause us to stumble and even fall. Jealousy is what drew Eve to eat the fruit, Joseph’s brothers to throw him in a well, and the Pharisees to turn against Jesus. Jealousy is an ugly thing.

Honesty, however, keeps jealousy from entangling us. When we speak the truth about how we feel, we prevent the emotions from binding us. Secrets are the enemy’s favorite ammunition to divide us. He uses secrets to keep us from community, to make us think that no one else would understand how we feel.

We, as believers in Christ, must recognize our need for community. For honest communication, for someone who will hear us clearly, acknowledge our issues, and hold us accountable to change– even walking with us through that change.

I am reminded of a song by Michael Card which says, “And the call is to community…” We need each other. We need to be honest about ourselves and we need to help each other. That is the community we are called to have as believers (see Acts 2).

So, what do you need to be honest about? Who do you need to talk with about your heart? Don’t put it off, join the community.

Posted in growing pains, reflections | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Love and marriage

This weekend my husband and I will celebrate our anniversary. When we got married, our wedding verse was 1 Corinthians 2:9 which says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived, what God has planned for those who love Him–“ I had no idea how this verse would come to fruition.

Through Faith in God and His plan we have weathered many storms, experienced amazing blessings, had two incredible sons, and lived in six different homes in three different states. We have lost family members, gained family members, and learned to love each other more and more.

If we hadn’t had our faith we wouldn’t be where we are now. As much as we love each other, some of the storms we’ve gone through were only possible to survive because of God’s goodness and faithfulness.

As I look at our sons, now teenagers, I think about their futures and their potential marriages. Since they were very small I have prayed for their future wives and marriages.

My heart for our sons is that they will seek God first, growing deeper in their relationship with Him before they seek out their wives. Believing that God already knows who my future daughters-in-love will be, it matters more for the boys to become the right kind of husbands, rather than to seek the “right” wives.

I think of my hubby, who was so Christ-like to me when we were engaged. My husband loved me before I loved him, he waited for me to receive his love, he focused on our future together–not my past, he sacrificed for us, instead of demanding I sacrifice for him. He really was and still is– a servant-leader in our home.

Happy Anniversary sweetheart. I love you more.

IMG_0590.JPG

Posted in reflections | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Calling us out

When God formed Adam out of the dirt, there was a plan. God called us to rule over creation and subdue it (Genesis 2). But our purpose is to be more than a zookeeper; it is to steward, to care for, to nurture, to guide and to help others grow into a relationship with God.

Knowing our calling–who we are, what drives us, what stirs our passion–will help us to know where to “plug in” and help others connect on their spiritual journey. First Corinthians 12 outlines the various gifts of the Spirit that God has given to us. If you are unsure about your gifts take a spiritual gifts class at your church, find a spiritual gifts assessment and take it. Ask God to show you where are wants you to serve.

Do you have a heart for children? Check out your church’s children’s ministry. Do you like to cook? See if your church has a hospitality ministry and get connected. Do you have a heart for young men and women to grow into the godly adults they were created to be? Talk with the pastor or person in charge of the youth ministry at your church. Don’t let your calling–the way God wired you–remain unused and untouched. It’s no better than leaving a present wrapped and on a shelf.

You have a purpose. God created you for this very time in history. The very fact that you draw breath means whatever God created you for still needs to be accomplished.

Do you believe this? Then do something about it.

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Still

I had my first lesson in Stillness and Solitude today.

The boys have gone back to school. My husband is at work. I am alone. My “to-do” list, “if-I-only-had-the-time-I-would” list, and “gee-what-should-I-do-next” lists sit idle. Sure, I’ve made beds, straightened up, done the dishes, but now, what do I do?

Being still is hard. I fidget, move things from one place to another, put them back where they were, walk around, study things, stare off into space. What is it about being still that is so hard??

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The whole psalm tells me that I am to find rest in God in times of trouble, to see that He is bigger than all of the troubles I will face, so I can rest in Him.

The past few days have made me emotionally tired. In the past week family members have passed, and then the shocking news of a Robin Williams’ passing and then Hollywood legend, Lauren Bacall passed away, too. I have friends who are struggling with the loss of others who “aren’t supposed to go yet.” So many hurting, so many lost and broken. My heart aches and the news leaves me shaking my head as to what I can do.

Then I hear “be still.” I wonder what God could possibly be thinking. How can I be still in all of this? Again, “be still.” Then I realize I will never be able to make things right, fix what is broken, heal the hurt, and balance the scales. But God can and God does.

So, I will do what I am called to do and entrust God with everything. I will learn to be still because my God has got this. Just like He has me, my husband, and our boys. Just like He has you.

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whiners need not apply

The loss of space due to this move has been deeply felt by our 14 and 15 year old sons, who were accustomed to disappearing for hours while staying on the 160 acres we called home. There were forts to make in any number of trees, rafts to float on the pond, you name it. If Tom or Huck would have come up with it, the boys probably did too.

Today we went to a farm supply store near us, just to see what they had and for me, to dream a bit about our future farm here in Nebraska. I was met with complaining faces, not the words, they know better. The boys do understand that this is temporary, but every now and then, the uglies show up.

Contrast that with this– I came home to find a missionary update letter from a dear friend whose family feels the pull to Africa. They are preparing to serve the street children of Ethiopia and show them the love of Christ. The letter put it so clearly– they were willing to give up so much because there are those who need to know they are precious to God.

And why am I whining? What do I have to complain about??? Stuff is just that– stuff. Sure, I cannot remember if something I am looking for is in Illinois or Nebraska. Half the time, I can picture where it used to be, but not where it is now. My inconvenience is just that– inconvenient. It isn’t the life altering, 8,000 mile change my friends will experience.

So, with my attitude completely in check, I will remember that patience is only grown by being stretched. To my dear friend who is doing it afraid, I am proud to pray for your family. God is going to do amazing things through you, and He already is while you are still here in the States.
Thanks for the perspective adjustment.

IMG_0771.JPG

Posted in growing pains, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Calling for Help

My heart has been heavy and hurting deeply as I read of the Christians who are being persecuted and killed for their faith in Mosul, Iraq.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been tagging Christian homes with the Arabic letter “nun” the symbol for “Nasrani.” Nasrani or Nazarene is how my brothers and sisters are being marked for death; just like the Nazis used the yellow Star of David to mark the Jews.

The ISIS has told the Christians that they must convert or be executed. Children of Christians are being beheaded in the public squares, brutal deaths for those who do not convert.

Now I live in the middle of the United States. I am an average person, of simple means, I do not have a political platform in a public arena where I can use clout to get people to move. BUT, I do have the ability to ask my brothers and sisters to move to their knees and pray. And so do you.Christianity Today World ran an article by Martin Saunders, published August 8, 2014, which lists things that can be done by the average citizen to help. http://www.christianitytoday.com/article/crisis.in.iraq.six.things.you.can.actually.do.to.help/39094.htm

On Sunday our church prayed for those who are being persecuted and I was pleased to see others who posted on Facebook about their pastors who also prayed. My suggestion is besides prayer, talk with others about this. It’s an awful topic, but one that should not be swept under the rug.
Please join with me in living out Isaiah 1:17 which says, “Learn to do what is good. Seek justice. Correct the oppressor. Defend the rights of the fatherless. Plead the widow’s cause” (HCSB).

Heavenly Father,
You hear the cries of our brothers and sisters,
You know their fears, their pain, their loss.
Do not let our hearts grow hard or our love grow cold toward them.
Whatever You prompt our hearts to do,
I pray we will respond and act.
Give our brothers and sisters Your heavenly Peace,
a peace that their attackers cannot fathom–
one that gives You glory
in the midst of their pain.
Wrap them in Your everlasting love.
Give them a supernatural strength at this time (Revelation 12:11).
I pray Your Bride will not stand idly by, but act.
On my knees,
Amen.

Posted in growing pains, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whose Roots

Today the message in church was on Psalm 139. This psalm of King David’s is precious to me, especially verses 13-16; “For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began” (HCSB). The NIV translation says “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Once more, I thought of how God says that I am His treasure; precious, prized, valued, loved, and created for a purpose. At the end of the service we sang a song that included the line “I belong to Jesus and He is mine.” I was hearing all sorts of confirmation about Whose I was and where I belonged.

My family’s roots are Swedish, German, Norwegian, and a smidgen of French. According to Scripture, because of Jesus’ redemptive work on the Cross and my acceptance of Him into my life, I am now grafted into His family tree. I am a Child of the One True King.

My roots are so much more than whether I have my dad’s eyes and mannerisms, or my mom’s smile. My spiritual roots are connected to the God who created all the earth by speaking it into being– but when it came to my creation– He formed me with His hands, like a Potter forming the clay into something of beauty and purpose.

You too, are a beautiful, precious creation; made with love and purpose for a plan so much bigger than our finite minds can ever comprehend. Don’t ever, ever, ever, ever allow the world, the enemy, or yourself, to tell you otherwise.

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Forgiving

One of the hardest lessons we, as believers, can learn is how to forgive ourselves. While it may not always be easy to forgive others, we tend to be hardest on ourselves when we fail to measure up, follow through, etc.
I struggle, strive, and fight within myself when I have let someone down. I was brought up with high expectations and it seemed a fate worse than death whenever I disappointed my parents. As an adult, I still find myself fighting with this sense of failure.

This one area in my life is a favorite place for the enemy to stomp around. I can recall times when I blew it as a child, the feeling of shame that I didn’t complete the task given to me, or how I felt when I had broken a rule. It weighed me down, my shoulders and head would hang low and I would look at my feet, literally or figuratively, in response to my failings.

Now, 24 years after I accepted Christ into my life, as my Redeemer, my Savior and Salvation, I find myself still battling this stupid, irritating, idea of shame. Why??? Scripture is clear “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV). This verse is one that many new believers memorize to remind them that they are free for their past. I think that we should also memorize the verses that follow (18,19). “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

oh Heavenly Father,
Help me to forgive myself when I fail.
Somehow saying I cannot be forgiven
is like I am dismissing your great gift of Salvation.
Jesus, remind me that I am truly free, because You
Have freed me from my sins.
Jesus, help me to forgive myself, just like you forgave me.
Thank you for your amazing, wild mercies which are new every day.
I am yours Jesus. I belong to You.
Amen.

Posted in growing pains, reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment