I Want Real Beauty

 

We sat at our dining table in our Christmas cottage by the ocean.  Just about ready for our communion before we proceeded with our full on Christmas dinner.  The pretty glasses were filled with sparkling cider, the home made bread gifted by a friend sat in place.

 

Everything looked and felt perfect.  In an instant, that feeling changed, as there was a sudden and extremely important issue of the heart to attend to. Feelings, feelings.  Definitely not where I should ever place my dependency on.

 

Real beauty is not in the outward appearance.  Perfectly set table, dressed up for the event, everyone in their proper assigned seating.  Making it all special.  Now don’t move… and it will be glamorous!  Smiles wide now.  We can do this.  Oh what a ridged life I still yearn to break free of.  God has done a work, and He is not finished with me yet.  He is breaking the chains and making me freer.

 

God is working out my flesh.  My programmed ways of thinking that are so not Him.  In this past month He has been working over time on the area of surrender again in my life.

 

My flesh, very well could have reacted in throwing a fit, in the moment.  I confess.  It has before.  Either keeping the mumbling low within myself, or outwardly throwing my own form of fit.  I mean come on, we are ready to sit down to Christmas dinner!!  It’s supposed to be wondrous, and perfect, and joyful and beaming smiles of awe and wonder and delight.  This moment is ruined!  Only if I choose to not surrender.  Only if I choose to depend on feelings,  the outward conformity, rather than JESUS!!

 

I am thankful I surrendered. In the moment of difficulty, is where Jesus was!!!  This is where the BEAUTY happened at the special Christmas feast. I mean, if I look at it from the REAL perspective, this IS EXACTLY WHY WE ARE CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS!!!  Jesus coming to save us from our brokenness.  So I surrendered around the bread and cup.  We embraced this moment of Jesus with us.  We addressed the issue of the heart.  Took the time, to pause and believe “He works all things together for His good” and depend on our Savior.

 

Tears were shed.  Hearts were touched.  Attitudes not changed on an outward level of conformity but truly from the inside out.  How beautiful to pick up that bread and cup then and thank God for sending Jesus for these very reasons.

 

A heart that changed, that we didn’t even see the whole, significant amount of transformation the Holy Spirit had done, until the next day.  When  potential for a challenge to arise in a heart, the heart responded with beauty, with peace, with JESUS ruling and reigning.  Testimony of the gracious love of the Savior.

 

That is the beauty I want!  Not the glamour, the outward conformity.  The beauty that can come, through realizing in the moment of difficulty we need JESUS!  Basking in this truth, His love, and surrendering to His purposes right in the moment, believing He will work this together for glorious good.  Real beauty that sticks!!  Remains forever and ever!!

 

“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

 

 

Our Visit to the “Thumb of God”

WE MADE IT!!!! The last few years God has taken us to a Christmas cottage by the ocean. God’s LOVE so deep, far and wide. His thoughts of love for His children more than the sands.

And on this Christmas Day, He brought me out of a miry pit and set my feet upon a ROCK, established my steps…

from a month of much fatigue & pain, and telling our boys how we MUST be thankful in all circumstances and always DEPEND ON JESUS… I received the Christmas miracle of STRENGTH AND ENERGY!!!

An unplanned GREAT, GLORIOUS ADVENTUROUS JOURNEY – a hike LIKE NO OTHER FOR US!

 

Through muddy inclines, slipping and falling down… and getting up and determined to get to the destination we heard was so worth it…

TO SEE what the locals call THE THUMB OF GOD!!!

 

I praise HIM for lifting me up out of the miry clay again and again and lifting us upon the ROCK OF JESUS! THIS WAS THE BEST CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION WITH MY FAMILY – such a great reminder of God’s GRACIOUS LOVE as we press on, lifting each other up and keep moving to our destination – the kingdom forever. We met some strangers along the way, chatted, encouraged and rejoiced together when we made it!!!  Oh how we will rejoice the day we arrive at our eternal destination with JESUS forever!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
 He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.”  Ps. 40:1-3

 

 

I think it is pretty amazing how God works on our hearts in His faithfulness.  Not sure how many surrenders I’ve done in this walk with the Lord… but this month has been a process of that again… as I walked alone the other evening, perfect songs came chiming in… the perfect words and declaration again to the surrender God is calling me to. Surrender, purpose, refreshing of vision, and declaration of commitment to a DEEPER DEPENDENCY on CHRIST ALONE in all circumstances – it “ALL” matters – GOD IS GREATER!

 

“Lift My Life Up”

You brought me this far so why would I question You now
You have provided so why would I start to doubt
I’ve never been stranded, abandoned or left here to fight alone
So I’m giving You control

I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
You can have it forever
All my dreams, all my plans
Lord I leave it in Your hands
I lift my life, lift my life up

Have Your way in me
Have Your way in me

If peace is a river then let it sweep over me
If I’m under fire I know it’s refining me
When I hear You calling out I follow now wherever the road may go
I know You’re leading me home

 

“Magnify”

Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you

Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you

My sight is incomplete and I’ve made you look small
I’ve been staring at my problems for way too long
Re-align where my hope is set, until you’re all that’s left
But just a glimpse draws my heart to change
And one sight of you lays my sin to waste
I don’t need to see everything, just more of you

Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you

Oh God, be greater, than the worries in my life
Be stronger, than the weakness in my mind
Be louder, let your Glory come alive
Be magnified
BE MAGNIFIED!!!!!

TESTIFY! God’s Love

Like a child excited about my new discovery.  Excited to tell.  Like a child who knows she’s done wrong, and knows she is  safe to confess that.  Like a child who can count on her Father to care about every detail of her life…

This is Who I belong to!  Heavenly Father.  He gives me promise of His love and forgiveness.  Relationship day by day.  A Father to DEPEND on.  Whose care and love go beyond what I will ever comprehend in this life.  Faith He has placed inside of me, to keep me going to further faith, and hope to be with Him forever!!

 

Cannot help to think of the refining work in the area of letting go and not understanding it all these past few weeks and then God would give me this song the other night and then this view and picture two days later – I TESTIFY!!

 

Wave after wave
As deep calls to deep
Oh, I’ll reveal my mystery
As soon as you start to let go
Give me your heart give me your song
Sing it with all your might
Come to the fountain and
You can be satisfied

There is a peace, there is a love
You can get lost inside
Come to the fountain and
Let me hear you testify!!!

Mist on the mountain
Rising from the ground
There’s no denying beauty makes a sound

MY PRAYER:
that as I experience this love more fully day by day, that YOU know and experience this LOVE of CHRIST….

As the Creator of the OCEAN speaks…
“so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:17-19

 

And the Creator of every single tiny grain of SAND of the entire world speaks….
Because… This love of the Father is a love like no other. Perfect love we can approach freely because, with every sin to confess and be forgiven because of Jesus, every story to tell, longing of our hearts, sorrow, joy, and more… knowing His thoughts of LOVE are endless for you and me!!

 

“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand..”  Psalm 139:17-18

 

He also gave me this song that same night before leaving on our trip.  Another song so perfect for the work He has been doing in me these past few weeks.  I think it is pretty amazing how God works on our hearts in His faithfulness.  Not sure how many surrenders I’ve done in this walk with the Lord.  This month has been a process of that again. As I walked alone the other evening, perfect songs came chiming in.  The perfect words and declaration again to the surrender God is calling me to. Surrender, purpose, refreshing of vision, and declaration of commitment to a DEEPER DEPENDENCY on CHRIST ALONE in all circumstances – it “ALL” matters – GOD IS GREATER!

 

 

Taking me deeper in “do not need to see everything, quit focusing on the problems in  worry, quit focusing on the weakness in our lives, and focus and  DEPEND on Him – surrender, and see His glory and MORE OF HIM and come alive!”

 

My sight is incomplete and I’ve made you look small
I’ve been staring at my problems for way too long
Re-align where my hope is set, until you’re all that’s left
But just a glimpse draws my heart to change
And one sight of you lays my sin to waste
I don’t need to see everything, just more of you

Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you

Oh God, be greater, than the worries in my life
Be stronger, than the weakness in my mind
Be louder, let your Glory come alive
Be magnified!!

 

Abide in this love.  Trust in Him more fully, not leaning on our own understanding.  Seeking Him day and night for the path in which we should walk.  Rest in His promises.   Say no to even the “good things” that are not His will for us.  Even when it doesn’t make sense. Rest in His love.  We will see more of HIM!!!  We will experience more of His love.  We are focused, depending on the ONE who loves us most.  Counting on the Father to tenderly care for us, and even when we feel alone.  He is that Father who we can whisper our child like faith and wonder of special moments to, whisper our fears, whisper our pains, and believe deeper in His Word that says… “His thoughts towards us are more than the grains of sand in the entire earth!!”  He is LOVE!

 

Hedge of Protection

I was pursuing in all the wrong ways… I felt a struggle. I thought I was doing what God wanted of me… to reach out, reach out, reeeeeaaaach…. but each time I “tried” something wasn’t right. God kept showing me this is “where I want you” and it wasn’t out there where I was reaching…. and I didn’t quite get it.

 

Why does the good that I am reaching out to not feel right? Why do I feel this struggle? This is why: “You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5.

 

God has hedged me in! A hedge of protection. When I am reaching even in good ways out, it isn’t where HE wants me right now. I am reaching out of the hedge of protection to places I do not belong in this particular season. My struggle? My very hand reaching out past the hedge of protection and GOD’s gracious hand “laid upon me” – holding me right where He wants me.

 

His gracious hand faithfully keeping me in this place of safety, love, and rest. What more could I ask for? This hedge all around showing me to reach out and around within the these borders, He has placed me. Right here with my husband, children, home. Stop looking outside of the hedge of protection HE has placed me in to see, peek, at everything good within the Body of Christ going on this Christmas season. Good for others-important for others. I rejoice.

 

However, things I am not to be apart of in this season. But definitely I am apart of His magnificent plan right here where I am at. It’s been surreal how He has made every effort to stop my attempts to be elsewhere,and made certain I remain where I am.

 

So I surrender, and trust – in this season. This Christmas season – again. IN a new way. Though I may not understand it all, now. Or partly, but not all at once. I do understand and SEE clearly, He is calling me to saturate myself in deeper dependency and relationship with Him, my husband, and children. HE couldn’t make it any clearer.  Calling me to stop reaching outside of His hedge of protection, and be still and serve within.  Stop pursuing and striving, and “rest in this place, where His hand is upon me”

 

 

 

 

 

Victory! – Maximus

With every word of God to carry him onward- VICTORY!

Blue!

Courageous. That he is.

With the extreme energy inside along with the wiring of heightened sensitivities to everyday living – he chose to persevere and not give up.

 

GROW. WAIT. IN GOD’s TIME. WORK HARD. PLEASE JESUS. TRUST. FIGHT. LISTEN. FOCUS. FIX EYES AND MIND. BELIEVE. FEAR NOT. I CAN.

 

So many to list of scriptures to saturate his heart, mind, and soul. Focusing on His Reward – JESUS!

 

He believes in Him as his Savior. Child of the King.

 

At home, we worked repetitively on mindset, the Word, coping skills, scenarios on dry erase board to prepare each week for class. In class covered in love being taught the skills needed to advance in Karate/self-defense. Skills overall that are growth for his entire life – most important- His walk with Jesus!

 

Through this waiting he has grown in daily life! This energy inside it is a gift! This verse in this translation so pertinent for this boy:

 

” … I strenuously contend, strive, with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”
Col. 1:29

Never Alone – Merry Christmas – Immanuel God With Us

Jesus died alone bearing the burden of all sin of all the world on His soul. Because He suffered alone, no one else need ever be alone again. “be content with such things you have: for he has said: I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5).

The Apostle Paul, suffering alone in a Roman dungeon shortly before his execution, could still say “The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed..” 2 Tim. 4:17. John the beloved, old and imprisoned on the tiny isle of Patmos, nevertheless “was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (Rev. 1:10) and then saw the Lord in all His glory!!

So it has always been with those who know the Lord, for He is there, even when all others have forsaken them and He understands. He is there, when He calls us to these “places”. It may be truly and literally all alone or away from what the masses of even  Believers are doing, and alone in our work where God has us- we are never alone.

Paul’s faith was that in this place “the message might be fully proclaimed”. God accomplished exceedingly abundantly through both these men’s examples. I marvel how the glory of God came to John to give visions and write the book of Revelations. The very BOOK that would BE A COMFORT to future Believers like me. To think God was thinking of me and all the many Believers to come in these very moments of John writing.

Light was being exercised in this seemingly dark place. He saw the Lord in all His glory as He wrote, giving us the pages of Revelations and encouragement to keep fighting the good fight for…”no more fears, pain, tears, sorrow..” everlasting life worshiping in His beauty and holiness, the King is coming!!

And I consider and God challenges me – how in the places He calls me to whether it be literally alone, emotionally alone, set in circumstances I feel alone in, set in a place with less and yet more time to be just in nothing but the presence of “God stood with me” and “was in the Spirit” – I consider how God is sovereignly orchestrating this place He has called me to so “that through me the gospel message might be proclaimed”.

Afterall God works all things together for good, and His greatest good is Salvation. We might not understand the places we are in, but as Believer’s in Christ we are filled with His Spirit, and we are also ambassadors of Christ – “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us… 2 Cor. 5:20. These two men, were not in blissful places experiencing the glory of God, but rather alone and in great difficulty experiencing the glories of God.

Ambassadors of Christ – God revealed through them His glory, truth, and ever important message of hope and salvation. I am encouraged that as I too am an ambassador of Christ – He too is working out an exceedingly glorious plan to proclaim a message that in my own eyes I may not see how any message would be proclaimed through this very circumstance… yet I reflect again.. John… was on a deserted island with nothing but JESUS!!!!

Who would have imagined such TREASURE would come from such a place? Glory to GOD!

May our lives, in our circumstances, give hope and encouragement to even perhaps future generations. Jesus has already been there ahead of us, “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:15-16).

 

Let us remember: “Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Romans 8:34

He is with us.  Merry Christmas!  “IMMANUEL” – GOD WITH US!

Our Christmas Bird – God’s Gift of Compassion

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,  or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you… In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”  (Job 12:27-19)

A little bird in need of rescue. Dirty. Scared. All alone. Broken. In the middle of a street of chaos. I reached out my hand to protect, as I stopped the traffic coming towards her. I was determined to help and save this life. She struggled to get away from my helping hand, not understanding.

I took off my sweatshirt, scooped the struggling, broken winged bird out of the dirty water it had made it’s way to. Wrapped my arms gently around her, and prayed as I carried her home. And she was still. Sure she was scared, but she had surrendered to this place in my arms. She was still.

Once home, we gave her a comfy, cozy, abiding place. A place of rest. A little box, boundaries to keep her still and safe. She looked so incredibly peaceful here. That will forever be a picture to hold onto in our hearts, minds, souls.

We gave her the name Compassion. (aka: Orangey)We had compassion on her. Just as the parable Jesus told of the Good Samaritan, others walked by the injured man, and did not help, that is what happened in our story. A lady came out of her home, looked, and told me “I just cannot do anything. That would be too hard for me”. Compassion welled within me, there was nothing else for me to consider but to help this injured life.

We attempted to get her to the Audubon Society in hopes she would be rehabilitated. Due to landslides this week the place was closed. I received an email late in the evening, of another facility, a 24-hour animal hospital, that would take her. We had planned to get her there in the morning, if she would make it until then.

Sadly, we awoke in the morning, and she had passed away. We were heart broken. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Then the Lord, gave me a wonderful picture. A real life picture for us. He would use this bird as the scripture says … “look to the birds, they will teach you…” and “apply my heart to what I observed, and learn from what I saw” Proverbs 24:32

We wanted to save her. We wanted our experience to be like the video we watched of another mother and son who rescued a bird with a broken wing, prayed – God healed it, and it flew off as they rejoiced. That wasn’t our story. We have another story.

A real life picture of our struggles and God’s great gift of Compassion for us.

Like this bird, broken, confused, not sure which way to go, covered in the dirt, thus is the human race because of sin. We try to go our own way, when God’s loving hand is reaching out to offer help. As we were determined to help this bird, offer compassion, care, protection, safety and rest, it is the same with God for us.

It is the Christmas season. God sent this bird into our lives for a purpose. To teach us. To show us His great gift of Compassion.

For God so loved the world, He sent His only Son on Christmas to come into this broken world to save… and those who are scooped up out by His loving hand, receiving His gracious gift of Compassion that reached down from heaven, through Jesus coming to be broken on a cross in our place, removing our sin, for those who come to Him, He gives rest. “come to me all who are weary… I will give you rest…” Matthew 11:28

Even when we come to Jesus, we still face struggling on this journey through life. We had placed “Compassion” in a place of rest. She was still in pain, but we were with her through it. Peace resonated in her. Even caught her napping with her little head tucked under her good wing. Though trials we still endure, we are now safe in His care, within His boundaries of comfort, protection, love. The boundaries of His Words that keep us right where He says to be in our daily living with Him. As we did speak words quietly to her. So God’s Word is a gift to do the same for us. As we abide in His rest. Assurance of Salvation, and His care even through the still yet painful times of this life, we can be at rest. As I prayed for her as I carried her in my arms towards home, we are assured Jesus carries us daily and is praying for us every single minute until we are home with Him forever.

How many times do I resist this gift of rest? I confess, I still struggle with rest. As I grow in my years of walking with Him, He shows me the ways in which I struggle against His very compassionate hand on my life. Even this week, realizing I was resisting His hand, struggling against the peaceful place of rest He was offering me. Once surrendered, in His gracious arms of love (as the bird in my arms) I am at peace again.

God will care for us until our very last breath (just as He did – and we did for this very special bird.) Yes, we want to just pray, be healed, and fly off into bliss. Just as we wanted for this bird. Sometimes that happens now. Sometimes we wait. God had another plan for this bird. He would care for this life right here in this place, still in difficulty, but also given rest. There are difficulties, pain that doesn’t just go away, get healed, but He is always with us, compassionately loving us until our very last breath. We know whether now or in eternity, we will be fully healed and complete.

Our Father in Heaven reminds us also, He is preparing that forever comfy, safe, warm, place for us in eternity. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev. 21:4

We are thankful for this bird-for Compassion. She was created to sing His praises. The Varied Thrush. My youngest son knew immediately what kind she was.  After all we have been studying birds for the past 1 1/2 years as a family.  A simple gift of a feeder in our backyard ignited a fire inside myself, husband, and both our boys to learn more about God through His glorious creation of birds.  The beautiful discovery made about the Varied Thrush? She is recognized among the many song birds with an extra special and beautiful “song” God gave her. She was created to praise Him. “praise the Lord…wild animals…flying birds..” Psalm 148:7-10.

All creation created to worship the King. Let us sing! Praising our God and Father who has compassionately loved us through Jesus Christ the Lord!

We wanted to give “Compassion” a proper good-bye. To honor the gift God has given us. Our Christmas gift of Jesus. Our Christmas gift of this beautiful bird to touch our lives and remind us of our Compassionate Heavenly Father through all times.

I was so pleased that in spite of the  tears and  sadness, little brother maturely went out to dig a place to lay her body to rest, as big brother looked on in support.  When  finished, my youngest gathered us together and led us in a prayer. Thanking God for this gift of life. Even though our time with her short, it would be rich in how the Lord, through her, touched our lives forever.

We pray you receive God’s great gift of compassion. Jesus Christ coming to save. We pray you know how much the Father loves you! Merry Christmas! “not one sparrow falls to the ground is forgotten in God’s sight… So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31

 

“The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made….the Lord is faithful to ALL His promises and loving toward all he has made.” (Psalm 145:9,13, 17) – “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort..” 2 Cor. 1:3

 

LIVING AND LEARNING IS A BEAUTIFUL GIFT FROM GOD.

 

Through this experience we dug into the WORD, applied it to our lives.  Boys documented much of what I wrote today, in their personal bible study journals.  Not only did we learn more about the Varied Thrush, we grew closer to one another and Jesus!

 

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

Hands of Love

Migraines are a painful experience.  And when one has suffered through them for many years, and again one comes, it leaves so many feelings inside.  Of course, pain.  Then there is intensity of pain depending on how the medication is going to work this time.  Then there is the “wondering” how intense will this get?  Will it be like the time when I was also vomitting for 12 hours, every 20 minutes with stabbing pain?  Will it last a day, two, or 5?  Will I end up in the emergency room getting a shot?  Will I be able to make plans later this week?  And so on…

 

It leaves a lot of unknowns, while enduring pain.  And it has deepened my dependence on Jesus.  As I have sought for answers, help, many times over.  And while I sooo praise Him in the past year to have way less of them.  And hope and pray that pattern will continue… I still get them.

 

I can be living life, fully in tuned and alive, in an instant everything changes.  I am in pain, fatigued, and in a fog.  Often praying my way through, an quoting scripture to counter attack the fear that tries to come in causing symptoms to be worse with anxiety.  Over the years, I have learned to be stiller, rest more, and “remember”, “remember”, “remember”, I will get through this, it will be okay.  It always ends up being okay.  I move on and I live.  When it has lifted, it’s like I have literally been pulled out of the darkness of a trench.  I am fully here and alive.

 

But what God does through these times.  Is beautiful .  What God showed me & the gifts he gave, this week through PAIN.

As much as I do not like pain. This week has been one of that for me. As strange as it may sound – I have seen such good in it. I sat quoting verse after verse including “fear not…I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” the other day. I thought about God’s hand.

 

I thought about my loving family’s hand.  My Maximus bending down in an instant to pray.  Encouraging me with loving words.  My husband doing extra after he has worked all day.

 

And I thought about this tiny little hand that held onto his life support tubes. My hand on him day after day in pain and trials of life for years. Praying, sowing God’s Word-through the obstacles of stroke. This “little” hand today, so big now, reached out to me in my pain. Serving me breakfast in bed that he cooked. Came to me later to take my dish away (the work of God. brain injury leaves one to operate off routine, memorization-to go outside that is glory to God). When I asked him to pray, he gladly did. He didn’t have to reach out to do it. Touch isn’t his usual extension of love, yet not only did he pray, but he reached out his hand, placed it on my shoulder as he prayed pleas of healing for mom. What has all this “suffering” produced? Character and HOPE that does not disappoint.

 

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Rom. 5:3-5

 

And what a beautiful WORD my beloved friend and Sister in Jesus gave me the other day to remind me of why I REJOICE with unspeakable joy:
“Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed but they sing as they return with the harvest.” ~ Psalm 126:5-6 NLT

 

What hope we are given. Hope I am given to keep going in the days and tears that will follow on behalf of my children… as I sow in prayer and Word – looking forward to harvest time again and again.

The Psalm 27 Season – Exuberant Declaration of Faith in Times of Trial

 

I love the Psalms.  Through a scary, lonely, and very long season Psalm 27 sure was a gift.  The depths of my emotional pain and very similar in descriptive life experience, the Lord was definitely empathizing with me, identifying with me in fears, situations, desperate pains.  I received God’s comfort  in the midst of the turmoil, fear, loneliness, slander, defamation,  loss, and more.

 

 

 

I was encouraged in the midst of what was happening all around and within him, the Psalmist wrote this Exuberant Declaration of Faith.  It became mine.

 

Desperately desiring the Lord teach me and ” lead me in the smooth path”.

 

In this time.  The Psalmist sought more of the presence of Christ alone.  Even though the nearest and dearest might abandon him, his Lord would always be concerned about and care for him.

 

From sorrow to praise.  Persecution to praise.  Warfare to praise.  As the Psalmist went, so did I. What a beautiful example God has given- as well as empathize, encourage, strengthen and give hope to each of us.

 

Verse 6 is one I held onto tightly.  “my head shall be lifted up…I will sing praises to the Lord…” as well as verse 13.  “I would have lost heart…unless I had believed…”  Encouraging me that the Psalmist did not lose heart, and neither should I.  I must continue to believe the “the Lord will take care of me”.  (verse 10).

 

I pray that as this Psalm has blessed me so richly and carried me in some of my scariest and most lonely of days, that it will be an encouragement to you.

 

I praise the Lord for He has indeed “set me on a high rock” (verse 5) and “now my head has
been lifted up..”  I sing.  I sing.  I sing.  He has heard my cries.  I sought His face… He has been my help.

 

An Exuberant Declaration of Faith –A Psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.

One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
10 When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the Lord will take care of me.

11 Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
12 Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

School Takes on a Winter Wonderland – No Shopping Carts Required (Yes… random – but perfect)

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.”  Psalm 143:8

023
By our neighbor’s mailbox

Oh the glory of the unexpected snowfall at the start of our morning.  Oh the wonder for my youngest to be peering at the snow and to also spot a hawk in the barren tree in our backyard.  I had started this day, with the verse above.  Also, knowing my energy was low wondering what this day would be about, as  I knew it wouldn’t be a regular day of studies.  The snow… the hawk… the wonder…  sweet sips of my warm cup of coconut milk with turmeric and prayers of a friend, my energy came.

We headed out for a walk in the winter wonder land . As my Maximus sang “it’s the most wonderful time of the year”.

016
Isaac was in awe and wonder over flowers with a touch of snow. (this is a miracle. The flowers with snow and my son excited about such things!)

We just went.  Without a plan, except to embrace the beauty and goodness of this gift of life God has given us.

Maximus decided to roll the snow as we went.  The ball became bigger and bigger.  Each boy holding and Isaac suggesting it wasn’t that heavy at all, while Maximus insisted it was very heavy.  Bring in math time.  They each estimated the weight.  Maximus:  60 lbs.  Isaac:  1 lb.  How would we find out results?  They would decide to carry it all the way home and get it on the scale.

029034

A good mile they carried this load.  Back and forth they went taking turns.  Gloves now sopping wet, freezing hands.  Maximus muscles hurting.  Isaac’s hands hurting from cold.

At one point, I paused trying to come up with some plan as to how we could ease their “suffering”… when my Isaac my Pediatric Stroke Survivor said the most awesome words.  “figure out another way? (as he manned up and took back that snowball with determination) there is no other way.  The only way to do this, is to keep moving forward.  And move forward as fast as you can and get this job done.  I mean, it’s not like we have a shopping cart nearby by to make this easier”.

036

Enters hysterical laughter on my part.  For those of you that know Isaac, he is quiet, reserved, and doesn’t always show emotion.  When he does, it is the most amazing thing to see and hear.  Not to mention, his shopping cart thought just hit me really funny.   You might have to be me and know my son, but the determination and words together just brought me to joyful laughter. That laughter that makes your stomach hurt.  And then made him laugh hard too.  He was going to get this done.  Not stopping to find an easier way, let’s just do it.  Endure and get there. (no shopping cart required – LOL!!).

So we made it to the home stretch and made it all the way home…

038

with a giant snowball…

 That we brought into the house, placed in the freezer until we warmed up,

039 041

Then, pulled back out and weighed…

043

discovered it was 12 pounds.

Enjoyed hot cocoa with peppermint candies.

And read this wonderful verse to reflect on about SNOW, BIRDS (the hawk in our backyard), everything is to the praise and glory of God.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you creatures of the ocean depths,
 fire and hail, snow and clouds,
    wind and weather that obey him,
 mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars,
 wild animals and all livestock,
    small scurrying animals and birds,
 kings of the earth and all people,
    rulers and judges of the earth,
 young men and young women,
    old men and children.

Psalm 148:7-13

They now play scrabble for spelling.  As BROTHER comes on the radio.  Maximus declares.  Brother Isaac.  “I need to turn this up.  This is OUR SONG!”

CHRISTMAS THOUGHTS on REJECTION and THIS BEAUTIFUL SAVIOR

 

rejectedI have struggled to find victory by the rejection of others in my life. Whether it be real, imagined, or just plain old the enemy. Sometimes people like me. Sometimes people don’t like me at all…Sometimes they like me for a season, then they don’t anymore. And sometimes this comes from others who I would have never expected it to come from. I am called to love.

 

I am called to NOT depend on the words of men. But the WORDS OF MY HEAVENLY FATHER. We are called to build each other up in the body of Christ.. yes! Encourage one another. Reconcile. Pursue peace… but our dependency must be on CHRIST ALONE in FAITH AND TRUST IN HIM. The Lord has actually made me realize recently I have been victorious. Just because I hurt, and wrestle momentarily, doesn’t mean I don’t have victory. Quite the contrary, because that wrestle is the VERY Spirit of God Himself in me, ridding my flesh, making me die to myself and resurrecting me to a new and better life-victory. I choose forgiveness every single time.

 

And I thank my God for forgiveness. I thank my God for showing me my ugly flesh when it is wrestling, and His GRACIOUS Spirit that conquers all. Over and over again. Be imitators of Christ and walk in love… I used to think that if I tried so hard to love and someone then looked on me badly that I had failed.

 

You know what the Lord reminded me of… He was rejected, despised, and HE loved perfectly. Even the SACRED Christmas Child is Born Savior … quickly rejection came – with King Herod hoping to destroy. And He still is today by many. Jesus Christ the Savior. He was loved by some and hated by others. The perfect One.

 

I thank my Savior, for coming, going to the cross for my rejection, shame, hurt pain… enduring more than I ever will in this life- for me. I thank Him for the reminder of who I am… Jesus now in me (more than I can even grasp), I am ACCEPTED by Him.. forever and ever. He understands, He empathizes, He knows…

 

and HE says “walk worthy of the calling…” Worthy. I have struggled with this worthy word. Even others in the bible saying “I am not worthy to…etc..” I asked him recently…. “Lord, I know I still yet sin, and so far from perfect… how can I feel worthy, when others see my shortcomings?” When the eyes of men may reject, and call me unworthy that is only the lie of the enemy.

 

He has TOLD ME TO WALK WORTHY! So I must obey even that. Humbly, receiving this gift. I am WORTHY right where I am at…all because of the precious, gracious BLOOD OF THE LAMB – WORTHY IS THE LAMB Who was SLAIN…making me a child of the King covered in His love. Walk worthy of the calling with all lowliness of mind. ”

 

“Walk worthy of your calling..be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Eph. 4:1-2. May He give me gracious ability to be gentle, patient and bear with others in love. I must die to myself… and I know as I seek Him, He will be faithful to complete His work in me.

 

God’s love that looks upon me, though I still am not perfected… He sees Jesus’ perfection in me. How can this be? That is true love. Remembering I am ACCEPTED by the ONE that truly matters, enables me to go further in loving others. This is the SAVIOR… suffered for every sin I have ever committed, as well as those committed upon me… he suffered, taking it all upon the cross – the King of Heaven!! – I am free to walk in His Love. “being confident of this very thing… He Who has begun a good work, will be faithful to complete it” Phil. 1:6 VICTORY!!!

 

 “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”  Eph. 1:6

The Gift of Music

 

amazing_grace

 

What a sweet time to be recently using music as our base for schooling.  The other day the Lord put upon my heart to use music, as I was seeking Him for the plans for the day.  I was cooking breakfast and listening to the radio when a song called Giants Fall came on.  The words just jumped out so vividly and loudly.  You know sometimes when you go along and hum and sing, and then other times when the WORDS are like shouting at you so specifically and intentionally… yes… it was that kind of moment.  I knew this was the direction for our day.

 

I printed the lyrics.  Planned out some scriptures.  And away we went.  The boys circled words and phrases and wrote out definitions and meanings for our vocabulary and comprehension focus.  Also applied scripture to those phrases to show this was indeed truth we were reflecting on and singing about.  This particular song and study really hit home for specific challenges we had been facing recently.  So very blessed.

Don’t you be afraid
Of giants in your way
With God you know that anything’s possible
So step into the fight
He’s right there by your side
The stones inside your hand might be too small
But watch the giants fall

We could really live like this
Can’t you imagine it
So bold, so brave
With childlike faith
Miracles could happen
Mountains would start moving
So whatever you may face

Ask and believe
You’re gonna see
The hand of God in every little thing….

Then this  morning I awoke thinking about more song lyrics to print and use as a study base.  Amazing Grace came to my mind.

 

This  wonderful story I was able to read to the boys:

A little boy back in 1725 born in England.  His mother’s passion to teach him the scriptures as well as academics.  Her deepest heart’s desire for her son to have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ – for him to understand the cruel world out there and the great need of a Savior.  She only had 7 years to train him.  As she became ill and passed away. The simple seed was indeed planted.  And though he would grow up, and “forget” and leave behind all that he had been taught, go his own way… God would keep pursuing him over and over.  This little boy who grew to be a rebellious, severely hardened and cruel man himself, one day would be awaken again by God.  In a moment on a ship ready to go under, He cried out to the Lord for mercy.  Surprising himself of what he just said.  The Lord did indeed save him and through this experience John Newton repented, and received the gracious gift of life from the Savior.

 

Through trial and a desperate need for still much purging of himself, he eventually became a preacher and wrote Amazing Grace to share with his congregation one Sunday.  After his death it would be made into a formal song.

 

012013014

 

Here is the link to the full children’s story version:  http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/church-history-for-kids/john-newton-gods-amazing-grace-11635046.html

 

Here in the sweetness of our humble home, I was able to pull out this song, cover rich history, introduce new words, and powerful biblical truth.  Using the life of a little boy that started out much like our boys’ lives.  Being taught the scriptures as the most important element in their lives.  A mother with a heart’s desire for God’s best for her son.  How special for them to connect in knowing the same passion I have as the mother in that story, for them to see the pull of the world, that can draw one away.  The unrelenting love and faithfulness of God to pursue.  The power of the Word planted in this life.  The power of the Word they know is being planted in their life.  And the need to press on towards Jesus, and not turn and go our own way.

 

Brought in scriptures and  biblical comparisons to Jonah and the big fish. As well as the story of Paul and his spiritual blindness, then physical blindness then both being transformed – his physical and spiritual  “EYES CAN SEE”.

 

I do consider the verse in James that says: “life is a vapor”.   Some major events in my life when I was very young as well as the birth of our firstborn and his life almost cut short after coming into the world limp and on a ventilator, God has used to imprint on me the vital role and great importance of seizing the day, moment by moment to teach my babies about Jesus.

 

Tonight, when “dad” was home from work, the boys told the story of John Newton.  Maximus starting it out, and Isaac coming in to fill in the pieces he remembered, and then back again.  I was so blessed how much they both retained.  Not so long ago, Isaac in particular would have struggled to recall, get the words out, and cover something this in depth.

 

I am in awe everyday, through it all of His Amazing Grace.  I regularly tell the Lord, that being a mother to these boys is beyond my capability in my own strength, but I know they were given to me, so I know He will be faithful to equip me, and make me able.  I seriously rejoice day after day how God makes me able.  His grace sufficient for me.  Truly.  Truly.  Truly.

 

I told my husband tonight.  “this is so much fun.  The joy is just inexpressible for me.  I am so thankful how God gives me what I need in this journey.  He just keeps doing it”.

Which leads me again to reflecting on this powerful verse of truth and promise… I WILL….

 

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”  Is. 42:16  AMEN. AMEN. AMEN. AMEN.  Glory Hallelujah AMEN!!!!!!!

 

The gift of music.  This week that’s the path God has taken us.  Through music, the words, the purpose, the meaning, the spiritual application, the history, the vocabulary,  we have learned so very much.  “growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior.”  2 Peter 3:18

 

Some of the last words as John Newton’s health and memory was fading away left stamped in history are the most powerful of words to leave as a legacy and reminder to us all:

 

“Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”  John Newton

 

And how SWEET the sound… to study and sing together!!