Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Renewed Trust by a Renewed Perspective

Join me and others (at Lelia's) for chapter six "Learning to Trust Again" from Micca Campbell's book, An Untroubled Heart. Chapter six? What happened to chapter five, you ask? Well, I moved, I got busy, I was unmotivated to write, I was rebelling. The chapter was one a "sore" subject with me as I always feel left out and a loser for not being able to relate...yes, the "dreaded" parenting subject...motherhood...something biology has never produced for me (mostly by choice). So, let's gracefully move forward...

"If we don't know the truth, the enemy can easily keep you and me afraid and in bondage." Initially, I said in response to Micca's thoughts of betrayal, that I didn't feel betrayed by God. Yet to be honest, I have at different times. I don't feel betrayed at this phase but rather wonder why God's not working in my circumstance or more accurately, why I can't see any evidence of His work.

I love deeply the story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Mary and Martha, much like you and me, were focused on their needs from their perspective. I can't imagine--scratch that--I can imagine (and know) how it feels to be "abandon" by a best friend(s) at the point in time needed most. Yet, we can see in retrospect that Jesus didn't abandon them. He wasn't passive or nonchalant about Lazarus' illness. Rather, it was that Jesus wanted to raise a dead man instead of heal a sick man.

I've reflected on this story numerous times in relation to my own life the last 22 months. I can imagine the glory of Jesus raising a dead marriage instead of simply healing a broken marriage. I cling to the belief and hope that God can and will do this just as He resurrected a dead brother for two sisters.

Jesus was asking Mary and Martha to believe. One of His goals was to transform their unbelief to belief. Help me overcome my unbelief. Mark 9:24 To ask such means we are asking to no longer have unbelief. We are asking for belief. We are asking for faith. We are asking for our faith to be increased.

Pain. Fear of pain. Urg. "It's an ache that you long to bypass for the rest of your life. Yet, you live in constant worry that it's lurking just around the corner everywhere you go and in everything you do." Bypass. Lurking. Have I ever asked God "Where are You? Where were You? Don't You care about me?" Have I asked? Oh brother, have I.

The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 The first sentence, I buy. Yes, He is with me and is mighty to save. But, takes great delight in me? Rejoices over me with singing? Me specifically, Paula? I have to believe it because it's God's Word and I believe everything in it. However, do I understand it, feel it, really know it? No. Those words are very hard for me to imagine or fathom. I can grasp His love for mankind and everyone in general but for God to specifically and intently feel this depth of love and delight in me? Love, yes. Delight?

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is in this day, to save many people alive. Genesis 50:20

"When [we] can let down those walls of fears and trust others again--especially God--we'll find healing and restoration just as Joseph did. Instead, we often want to cling to the belief that denial protects us from the pain and fear that comes with rejection, but the reality is that it only allows our wounds and fears to fester and grow." Read that again. First, denial does not protect us from pain. Believing that is false and only causes more pain and trouble. Second, denial is like gasoline to the fire...the flames only grow bigger, hotter, and out of control. I don't believe that is what any of us want--wounds and fears growing but that is what we choose when we refuse to acknowledge and keep denying.

"He may allow me to go through these things. It's not to cause me undue pain or fear, but rather it's to accomplish spiritual growth." Allow. Not cause. Undue pain. Accomplish. Growth. "Sometimes what God allows shakes us to the core, but He never intends to terrify us." Shaken to the core? Yes, I have been. Terrified? At one time seemingly. "In the end we'll find it's worth every heartache." Like finding the pot at the end of the rainbow, surely we will see our pot full of worth for all the pain. To give credit where credit is due (God), yes, I must acknowledge a lot of good has come from my long journey of heartache but I still desire to see the 'ultimate' in good. Yes, if I had to choose, I'd choose what He's done in me during this trial over the fulfillment of my heart's desire. Did I really say that? Do I really meant that? If not, I genuinely want to. I'd have to because of the growth and changes in me and my relationship with Christ.

The story of Micca's neighbor, Kathy, who is diabetic and was bitten by a brown recluse spider, is incredible. The combination of the bite and her diabetes caused significant loss of sight.

Can you imagine her anger and bitterness? To lose so much of her sight over a wasteless chance of a rare bite seems so senseless. I can imagine her questions. Why me? Why God? Where's God's protection and love? Yet to her amazement, her husband was the exact opposite of her. He was supportive, full of faith and reassurance. What's so amazing about that? Well her husband had fallen away from God and had not been attending church. He was faithful to drive Kathy to church every week but not attending with her. Until, one day he did and not only that, he rededicated his life to Jesus. So does Kathy now see the point? the purpose? Does she see why she was chosen? Yes because her loss and pain was her husband's gain--a renewed spiritual life with God. Fifteen years she worshipped alone. For 15 years! Then, one "coincidental" bite led to a joyous reunion--worship of her First Love with her first love. I did Kathy's words. My suffering is nothing--n.o.t.h.i.n.g.--compared to Christ's suffering for my salvation.

Kathy felt she saw what God was up to but many times it is very hard to see His hand and His handy work. For me, it seems almost impossible many times. Yet, I can make speculations of what He might be doing and why, or rather the good it will bring. I keep coming back to the sufferings of Christ. If He suffered and we are to be like Him, then must we not also suffer? One of my daily email devotionals has been going through a series on suffering and I find it very poignant this chapter came at the climax of that devotional.

"The only way to see worth in our pain is to realize it has purpose." Even if we don't know or see that purpose, we must know it does have a purpose. Suffering does transform us and gives us a ministry of compassion to help and understand others in like situations. I must remind myself that God is faithful and He does use every situation. So, we are not suffering in vain but rather for the greater good, of either ourselves or another.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

The Hebrew word for 'know' is yada. The Yada Yada Sisterhood comes to mind. "It is the deep emotional experience and bonding between two people, when one is truly able to feel the emotions of the other." Reading this I immediately thought of the bond between two females. It seems there is no other bond much like it...very unique in it's own way. The bond can be even more powerful when one or both females do not have a husband. Though I have been blessed with a few deep relationships, I still feel as though I long for another to feel exactly how I do, to know what my heart feels in the depths of it and in the quietest of places. I long for the yada of another to know my exact pain and heartache. Yet, that is not possible fully in another human.

Jesus is familiar with suffering. Even though He was never married/divorced nor experienced what I have, He knows my heart and my mind better than anyone, even myself. So He does know exactly how it feels to be me in my exact situation; He knows how my heart felt in the depths of love; He knows how my heart and another bonded so deeply in love; He knows how my heart feels absent of that; He knows. So my greatest Yada is with Him but He has blessed me with other yadas too.

"I can't tell you how many times I struggled with trusting God again after Porter's death. I mean, He's God. He could have saved Porter. At the time, I couldn't see past my fears. Therefore, I couldn't see God, let alone trust Him."

Jesus told Martha that she would SEE the glory of God IF she believed. Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God? John 11:40
Believing= Seeing

"If you and I will choose faith over fear, we will see the glory of God turn our worries into life and blessings." Can you imagine if each worry was transformed into a blessing? How many blessings would you have? The more worries we have, the more blessings we will receive WHEN we choose faith and allow God to turn those worries into blessings. Count your worries. Choose faith. Watch and then count your blessings.

Micca shared how she saw a very familiar and well-known verse in a very new light. John 3:16. We all know it. Yet her revelation was profound. "If God can trust you and me, then we can certainly trust Him. To think that God entrusted His Son to a broken, fallen, mixed-up world shouts one thing: Your parents may not be faithful; your spouse may not be faithful; your children, your friend, your boss, or even you may not be entirely faithful--but your God is always faithful! If placing His Son in the hands of a scared teenage girl isn't trust, I don't know what is. But choosing to stand on this truth is a step toward fearless living." How profound. Yes, He is God and He knew He could trust Mary because He is God. Yet, the act of trusting a mere mortal, a young human life with His Almighty Son...that does speak volumes. It speaks trust. It speaks love.

I chuckled over the beginning of this: "He doesn't ask me to develop a case of amnesia in which all memory of how others have hurt me is erased. He simply asks me to let Him open the wound and drain it of its poison." I chuckled over the amnesia yet in reality I do believe He does ask us to forget. We've always heard forgiveness is not forgetting. Yet, what is forgiveness? It means to act as though the offense never happened. So, no we don't mentally and physically forget but yes our actions are to reflect a level of forgetting...we are to act and behave and love toward the offender as though the offense never happened to us.

Open the wound and drain it of its poison. That is profound. Hurt, bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, resentment...they are poison in our wounds. If we let those things sit in our hearts and lives, they will consume us and kill us just like poison. I love this imagery of a wound and God draining the poison out of it. He drains the poison so the purpose can overtake and blossom.

After 1900+ words, I think I should abruptly stop, let your minds rest and soak up His goodness spewed from my feeble lips (fingers).

Trusting Him,

© Copyright 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

With What You Got

Young, spit-fire pastor Steven Furtick has an awesome desire to see many saved and recently spoke on the subject of "work with what you got". He shares in his powerful message about keeping your God-sized vision when there is no sign of it happening anytime soon. Steven is a dynamic pastor with a passion for impacting others for Christ. It’s definitely a message you won’t want to miss!! He started Elevation Church in Charolotte three years ago and it has 5000 members. He was a guest pastor at Seacost Church this message I described.

He speaks so passionately about his college years and how he ministered to other young men during that time. It is amazing how he almost gave up on his means to minister through the stomach, yes food, yet the result is amazing because he didn't. You will be blown away by the fruit of his faithfulness, what happened to those other dorm guys, and how many he impacted for Christ.

I want to pen this quote of his to forever etch it in my mind and have record of it. "Don't forget the promise and forfeit the payout because you fainted in the process." He spoke straight to my heart about how God gives us a promise, a word from Him so real, that we think it's bound to happen right now. Yet, we see nothing, nothing even remotely in that direction. No fruit. No evidence. Rather, it seems to be going in the opposite direction. However, it is in the process, the waiting, that we must cling to Him and His promise ever more.

He goes on to say "Because when what you've heard doesn't match up to what you see, you can believe God knows the end from the beginning and He's faithful in the process."

He's faithful in the process. He's faithful in the waiting. He's faithful. Period.

He shares a verse very precious to my heart. I don't recall reading prior to about five years ago while planning my wedding. It is the verse my beloved and I claimed for what God had done in joining our lives and then uniting us as one. I claim it now as I wait for God to ever so gently remind my beloved of this and His truth. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. Ephesians 3:20

How much more? Immeasurably.
To what extent? Beyond our imagination.
With what? His power.
Where? Within us.

HE is ABLE to do SO, SO much more that it cannot even be measured and it is so far beyond our beliefs and imagination. Whatever we ask of Him, it is still so much more than that...more than we ask.

Click here to go to the website and either listen, watch, or read the sermon. (I watched.) Enjoy. May his fire and encouragement be contagious.

Trusting the Lord to speak a special message to you. Believing you were directed to my site and this sermon for a reason, His reason. If you watch, listen, or read, please come back and share anything you feel God pressing on your heart. It would be awesome to hear how He designed this sermon as His personal message to you.

Believing Beyond My Imagination,

© Copyright 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I thought I had a lot underlined in chapter three but chapter four, "The Pressure's On", was powerful also. So much of what Micca Campbell shares from "An Untroubled Heart" can't be said any better. As I began reading her words, I thought of this visual. Pressure = Stress = Fear. I had not put the three factors together in a succeeding manner.

Micca described living under such intense stress can be "like living in constant terror of an intruder..." I've never lived with the actual fear of an intruder but know many have. I describe my intensely stressful years as feeling like a pressure cooker. I'm not too young to know what one is and how it works. I can still remember that awfully loud whistle when the desired pressure was reached. Many times I felt such emotional and physical pressure that I could literally blow at any time. I refuse to even allow myself to feel that way again. It was a very dangerous, emotionally fatal, and unhealthy way of not dealing with stress and pressure. I am now spiritually grounded, as never before, to prevent that.

From Psalm 23, we see that Goodness and Mercy followed David (and us) all his life. I have never thought of Goodness and Mercy as God's bodyguards for us like Micca explained. How cool is that?! His goodness is His personal virtue. It is everything He has done and is doing. (What a God-incidence that I just posted on His goodness.)

Just as a bodyguard immediately runs to the aid of its protectee, God's bodyguards, Goodness and Mercy, run to our aid also. Every good and perfect gift is from above...James 1:17

Psalm 23 shows God, in His Goodness and Mercy providing for us. He is a very active God in our lives.
He makes
He leads
He restores
He comforts
He prepares
He annoints
He provides. He is (our) provision.

"When you're barely holding on, when you can't handle one more day of stress, when you can't parent those kids another minute, when you're about to blow--relying on God's Goodness and Mercy to show up will pacify your anxieties. They may not come when you want or the way you want, but God's provisions are always certain."

Micca described how she felt she had failed as a mother yet in the midst of that she was graced with the Mother of the Year award by ParentLife magazine. "Sometimes God lifts us from discouragement of failure in the most unexpected ways." She wondered how she could be given such an honor. For me, I can suffer from low self esteem. I also inflict more guilt than is necessary onto myself. So it is encouraging to my heart to think God says this to me also. The Mother of the Year award was as if God was saying to Micca: "Hang in there, don't worry. You're doing better than you think."

"Sometimes the most merciful thing God can do is let us fall. For some reason, it's when we're down among the mess we've made that we can truly see our lives clearly." How so very true. When we are down, we are wise to look up for our help...our only true help.

Discontentment. Contentment. We've all suffered at times from this struggle. I admit I have more times than not, especially in the last two years. Struggling with being content admist my current relational desires could be an understatement many times. "When we constantly want more than God has given us, this craving reflects a heart that is discontent." Yes, I fully admit this level of discontentment. "What we're really saying to God is 'I'm not satisfied with what You have provided for me. I want more.' " Ouch! That is tough. That is convicting. That is true. He has given me/us so much, how can we ungratefully say it's not enough and we want more? Yet, I'm so guilty of that. why can't I be satisfied in Him alone? Why can't I find contentment in Him as my husband? My heart never ceases to want the greatest desire of my fleshly heart: a marriage fully sold out to Christ, a circle of three restored.

I find it so pivotal that of all people, Paul discovered the secret of contentment. Being imprisoned so much, doing without, having a thorn in his side, living in singleness, yet...yet he was content. I have always thought it is odd that Paul and I differ only by one letter in name, yet we are so different. I admire his ability to endure so much and be so content. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13 To top it off he wrote those words while in jail, innocent. "Finding contentment doesn't mean we have to like our current situation, but it may require an appreciation for it." By that means, then I guess I can say I'm content. I don't like my current marital state but I can certainly appreciate the solitude, learning lessons, and time alone growing in God.

"We develop contentment when we are thankful for what God has provided, whether we like it or not. That's because peace is not absence of pressure. It's the presence of God and our attitude toward His provision in the midst of our stress."

"Being appreciative sets us free from the desire to have and lets us rest in the riches of contentment." It doesn't feel like I have a long desire-to-have list regarding jobs, finances, places. Rather, my desires are relational and spiritual in nature. Even then, I still don't feel content. It's a struggle I pursue and desire to settle in my heart.

I stand in awe when Micca shares how her dad was compelled to get and pay for the life insurance until they could afford it. Only two weeks later, her husband died. (This provision allowed her to stay at home and not rush to get a job and daycare.) Only God! Only, only, only God could do something so amazing like that. What power revealing His vast provision.

Pressure to purify. Diamonds are pressured stones. Pearls are irritated sand. Pressure can and will purify us if we allow it to work out our character to His delight.

Acknowleding Goodness and Mercy builds our faith and outweighs our fears.

"I wonder in what ways Goodness and Mercy have shown up in your life recently just when you needed them most." Ha! Read
this post from last week in which I highlighted goodness and good. Only God's timing would bring such a poignant summation of His goodness.

Ready and willing He is, to be our provision. Are we ready and willing? Like Micca, I too, want to be a woman who obeys God the first time without argument like the widow in 1 Kings 17. The widow didn't allow her need to cause fear and over power her trust and obedience.

Desperate times should not lead to desperate actions but rather to desperate cries to God for His provision. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ JesusPhilippians 4:19

"God wants to bless us, but often we forfeit His blessings because we don't ask." Amen, sister. I have argued and stressed this for a long time. You do not have, because you do not ask God. James 4:2b If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. Matthew 21:22 (within context)

I may be walking down Lonely Lane and Brokenheart Boulevard, but Goodness and Mercy walk with me.

To see what others have to say, go to Lelia's.

Soaking in His Goodness,

© Copyright 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

How Good Is God?

Very good. Too good. Unspeakably good. Indescribably good. Out-of-this-world good.

I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing." Psalm 16:2

My only thoughts: God is so good and I am so undeserving of just how good He is. For two days I've been wanting to praise Him through my written word. The words didn't come straight to me. How can I formulate how good He has been to me without jotting a list. I don't want to minimize Him to a list. I don't want to praise Him just for what He has provided. For He deserves praise for Who He is and not just what He gives. Will a list do that? Will my praise over His immense involvement in my house dealings do that?

Praise the LORD. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! Psalm 147:1

Oh how I want to shout His praises. Oh how I want to "do" something for Him in return. Oh how I want Him to know I know. He has used my house dealings in SO many ways to not only show He's providing but to show me He's there. He's telling me that He's working in my life, with my housing, and He's working in the desire of my heart: to have a restored circle of three solely for His glory and to testify to His power to raise the dead, whether a body or a relationship. Even though I see no evidence of the latter, I tarry on and believe He IS working in His other child's heart too.

I cannot express how with every cloud, He has provided sunshine. With every dark spot, He provided light. With every disappointment, He's provided assurance. With every fear, He's provided peace.

How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me? Psalm 116:12

He is it. He is all. He is good when I am not.

Many of you know the occurrences in my house dealings: selling one, buying another. He has shown Himself in so many ways and I want to share all those ways but without details I wonder if I could adequately exemplify His extraordinary provision. I don't want to bore readers with details yet I don't know how to shout His praises in awe without the details. I want my awe to be contagious. I want others to be wowed with a $10 gesture and savings here and there.

Most recently, as a result of my current home inspection I agreed to fix the heat pump. I complied and fixed it at a tune of $327, a very unexpected expense, about two weeks ago. This Tuesday, I turned up the heat as normal when I got home. However, with it set on 67ish, the thermostat was not going above 58. My gut knew what this meant but my mind tried to scheme. I seriously, in my head, tried to pretend I didn't know. Imagine this scenario of convincing myself (and God) in my mind that I didn't know anything was wrong. Come on. It's hilarious thinking about it now. I, Paula, was trying to convince God in my thoughts (remember nothing verbal at this time) that I didn't see the thermostat and I didn't feel the chill in the air. But I can't afford another expense. I can't. Shortly into the battle in my mind, I heard this, "Do unto others." Three simple words. Ugg. Conviction. C-o-n-v-i-c-t-i-o-n. That's right. I would not want someone to leave me with a malfunctioning heat pump. So, the bartering began. Lord, I know this is what I need to do. It is what is right. I have to call my repair man, don't I? (It's has God gently said, yes child.) Okay. So, he said he fixed it and he didn't. I will ask him to come back and when he tries to present me with a huge bill, I will tell him I didn't expect a fee as it was to have already been repaired. Lord, I am doing what is right. I am doing unto others how I want to be done. I am being honest. I'm being straight forth and making this call. Lord, I ask for Your favor. Lord, I ask that my honesty would reap Your reward and a very cheap bill. Please have favor on me and make this work out, cheaply.

Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice. Psalm 112:5

I called my repair man. He went to the house that day, Wednesday, at 12:30. I was on pins and needles for an hour until he called back at 1:30. He told me it did it again. The same thing: a hole in the piping. He explained his fix. He said "I don't feel good about this. So, to be fair to both of us, I'll just charge you the cost of the freon. I won't charge you for the trips or the labor." I asked "just so I can prepare, how much is the freon?" He said, "$58.68 and that's dealer cost. So, if it's okay, I'll just send you an invoice." Yes, that's okay. No, that's not an expected expense but yes, that's wonderful. I had never been so happy to hear such a price. In my mind, I was thinking hundreds. I was thinking thousands maybe. It's one thing to spend that kind of money on one's own home but to spend it on a home being sold in which the benefits wouldn't be reaped, that's a whole 'nother thing.

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. Psalm 116:7

Oblige me and let me also say in the last few weeks I've had some huge ups and downs. The biggest being the disappointment of not closing on my homes this Good Friday. I've come to accept that and now am excited that we are still only three days from closing. I had unkind and negative thoughts running through my mind regarding many people involved in my dealings. I was emotional to say the least. When it involves my heart, I get emotional and I need time to accept change (usually a few hours and it eases).

Then last night, I was informed of the bill amount for work that needed to be done in the new house. I was quoted $350-400. A few items were removed from his work list and a few added. I was prepared for and expecting $400. My realtor told me the bill came at $518. He proceeded to say: "This is what I'd like to do if it's okay with you. I will pay $300 if you'll pay $218. If that's okay with you. Is that okay?" With mouth dropped to the floor and wondering is that okay with me, I utter "Yes. Thank you very much. I appreciate that so much." Other kind words were exchanged. I then proceeded to tell him that the shower repairs reported on the new home's inspection were going to be $200 more than I anticipated so this will really help.

He has done numerous other things, in the amount of $10, in the amount of $900, in the amount $300. After my conversation with him last night, still stunned, I just said "It's God." It's God who orchestrated this. It's God who's done this. It's God whose favor is upon me. He not only showered upon me His favor with the heat pump repair but His favor continued a day later with $310 cut in costs.

The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all He has made. Psalm 145:9

The entire night I kept repeating "I'm not worthy. I'm so not worthy. Lord you know the thoughts and feelings I've had toward some business people. I'm not worthy. But You, Lord, have done this anyway. Why, Lord? Why me? I'm not worthy of You. But oh how my heart rejoices and praises You. Thank You, Lord. Thank You."

I see every good and gracious gift from God Above.

Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 106:1

Thank you for being patient with me and allowing my heart to ramble in praise to our Lord. I pray that something can be received by every eye that reads this.

So, does anyone want to know who the w-i-n-n-e-r-s of my gifts are? Everyone. We are all winners if we have Christ in our lives and hearts. On with the sentimental stuff; we want to know who's getting the goods. Drum roll please....

Tina, The Shack
Sharon, God Loves You
Pam, Beth Journal
Carol, Leather Journal

This was very hard because as a name was drawn, I tried to pick the most desired gift for each recipient. I warned you I'm weird like that. I hope you each enjoy the gift and surprises included. Please email me your address.

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

Praising His Goodness,

© Copyright 2009
May your Good Friday and Easter be a reflection and celebration of what Christ Jesus did for us. Thank You, Jesus, for suffering and dying a painful death for ME. ♥

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fashioned for Faith

I sit here awestruck...stumbling for words. I usually write my "revelations" and thoughts as I read the chapter. However, as I sat reading chapter three of An Untroubled Heart, I found myself saying that is good, that is good...how could I say it better? I've underlined so much. Do I just retype her words as I can't say it any better or any differently? Sunday closed with no post written, a little distraught that the words didn't come as normal.

So here I sit, about to re-examine the chapter, what I underlined and what I think. Comfort zone gone. Fingers scared. What will come?

Just the words "under God's sheltering wings" automatically makes me think of the protection of a mother bird. I don't know where I've read it or how it was depicted but the basic gist is that during a forest fire the mother bird will expand her wings over her babies. She never moves from her position. The mother has ceased living because of the consuming smoke and fire. When discovered, we find the baby birds are fully protected from the fire and harm...fully alive.

Isn't this exactly what our God does? He spreads His wings over us, sheltering us from the destructive flames of life. We do not escape the fires or the effects of the smoke and smoldering flames. However, we are not consumed or destroyed by the fires of life because our Heavenly Father protects us.

To parallel that, don't you just hate how umbrellas flip up in the midst of a torrential rain storm? I bought a Tote umbrella with double "flaps" on vacation in Virginia as we were hit by Hurricane Edward. The gap between the two layers is supposed to catch the wind and prevent it from turning upward. It is a golf-size umbrella big enough for two. This was bound to protect me, right? For many months and many storms it has. Oh, but I remember the long walk in which it flipped on me as I walked into work. Yes, into work. That is, I had to work eight hours with whatever condition my hair was about to become under God's wet pellets from the clouds. (Come on ladies, that's just a crime to work under such conditions.) Oh, but this was "guaranteed" to not flip on me. It was said to be the best. It's still my favorite umbrella...no wet purses or wet shoulders with it. It still rarely flips. It is a Tote after all.

However, we can count on God to never flip on us. He will never turn up and fly away from us. He will never allow us to get drowned by the heavy rains of defeat. The storms will come, but God will protect us firmly! As Micca so poignantly said "Sometimes the storms of life can go on and on." Amen sister. It seems like our lives can sometimes be nothing but storms crying out to God for a drought or a desert-feeling life, any relief from the storms. I believe the Christian life is characterized by storms of life. We are either in one, about to enter one, or leaving one. Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13

So that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. 1 Thessalonians 3:3

For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 2 Corinthians 1:5

"Under the wing of God we find strength to endure, peace under pressure, and a faith that anchors us until the wind and rain cease." Anchors us. Love that.

If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times, I love when others quote my scriptures. Smiling here as they aren't actually mine alone but you know what I mean. :-) Micca quoted a scripture I stored in my heart years ago. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
"He knew we would be concerned about necessities of life. Even the most mature Christians today are apt to labor under the burden of personal concerns, family woes, and cares for the present, the future..." He knew we'd be concerned so He gives us love letters. He gives us affirmation that He does care about the littlest of things. Why do we worry so? Why are do we weary like we do? Cast all your cares on Him. Not just the biggies. Not just the job losses. Not just the financial woes. But the lost keys. The bad traffic. The many errands. The stubbed toes. The lack of devotional time. Everything. That is ev-er-y-thing.

Micca hit it on the head with this. "When it appears to me that God is not paying attention to my needs, worry returns, and I feel the need to do something about it." Okay, raise your hand if this is you. Okay, the rest of you are lying except the one raising her hand. :-) Seriously, do we not do that? We give it to Him and then He doesn't work as we think or when we think or how we think, so we grab it back. That's mine. I'll just do it myself!

Micca was talking about the time when she'd have colon attacks while grieving her husband, Porter. "I assumed that casting my situation on God and asking Him to carry the burden meant that my stomach troubles would go away. When I gave it over to God, I expected to shed the burden of going to counseling once a week and having that extra bill to pay. But none of that ceased. I kept having colon attacks, which meant I still needed counseling for my grief. And while I hoped that the counselor would at least ease my debt, she instead raised her prices. What was the point of giving my burden to God in the first place if He wasn't going to make it all go away? I wondered. The point is that when you and I cast our cares on God, we are recognizing that it's His responsibility to care for us--not ours."

This is where I could begin to quote pages after pages. She talks about how God uses a much larger canvas for our lives and we view our lives in little spectrums. We see the huge problem facing us right now, today, and not the benefit or advantage down the road from having endured that problem and overcome it. What we find as wasteful, pointless, painful beyond benefit, God uses for our good, for His glory. He uses all the bad for something good. We only need to trust and wait to see the fruit. Just as the fruit trees begin to blossom, we must wait for those blossoms to fall, and for the fruit to begin to form and grow until it's ready to pick. We then can lavish our lips onto those juicy and delectable pieces of God's yumminess. Time. His timing brings such a gorgeous harvest like none other can.

"He will allow nothing to happen to us that isn't filtered through His screen of protection. In other words, what won't destroy us, God uses to better us." Oh, how sometimes it is so hard for me to get my mind around that concept. If my life circumstances have been filtered through Him, then WHY has He allowed such things? When He was filtering these things why didn't He stop certain things? Why didn't He prevent things from going full course and being totally detached and buried beyond seemable resurrection? Yet, if I move my mind just a little bit, if I re-adjust my perspective and focus, I can see things that have happened in the last 21 months that most likely would've never happened had He not allowed the worst heart ache to ever touch me...death of a long awaited marriage with a Christian partner, with the love of my life. I've achieved so much in the last 21 months. I've grown leaps and bounds spiritually. He has done such wonderful things in my heart yet there's so much more growth I want to see in me. If He's done as much as He has, I can't imagine how much better is yet to come. Even with all the beauty in the ashes of my life, I still long for Him to filter my future...to make my desires happen, to prevent things from being buried any further.

Let's get back to the book. I guess that's why I never freehand my reflections on these studies...I'd have too many pages of rabbit trails since my hands can type faster than writing and the feelings flow when my hands touch these keys.

"God will not let our hardships destroy us." Are you sure? Sometimes it feels like it. Even as I see such growth in my life and heart, in moments of deep pain, I still say how much more God? When will the pain of my heart end? Will my heart ever heal or is that part of me destroyed by the hole left there? I feel destroyed at times by my failures and by the regrets of action I wish I had not taken. "You and I cast our worries on God, because it's His responsibility to give us what we need." We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Micca references Scarlet O'Hara in Gone with the Wind as saying she'll worry about it tomorrow. "We'd do well to do the same. It is not our responsibility to control our circumstances; it's God's."

That Micca sure had me humming as I read the section about God having the whole world in His hands. Sadly, I don't know any other lines except that one. I love the depth of her description. "The Lord God is so gigantic that He knows every creature that lives in that great body of water. He sees every ship that sails its waves, and He even knows where the body of every person lost at sea lies. With a God this big, what could ever escape His attention? What need could we have that He cannot handle?...Certainly, we can place our trust in a God so big that even the ocean waves obey their boundaries."

Wow...what a mighty God we serve. Stop and ponder that description of our huge God but not too huge to pay attention to us and care for every intimate detail of our lives.

Micca pointed out some very common words of people: Just believe. Just have faith. I, like her, have always wanted to ask, "Believe what? Have faith in what?" Faith is just faith. We can have faith in the winds or in a door knob. I know a very productive and beneficial group talks about its participants having faith. The group is not concerned in what to have the faith as long as there is faith. In actually, "there is no power in faith alone. Faith is only as good as its object." Faith alone is useless, pointless, and meaningless. Faith in Jesus is where there is power. "If you and I put our faith in faith, then the enemy will come along and tell us that our faith isn't good enough, strong enough, or real enough. This is satan's most devilish work." Don't put your faith in your faith. Put your faith in Jesus alone!

"If you and I believe prayer works, we will pray. If we believe God is working on our behalf, we will rest instead of worry; we'll have faith instead of fear." For some reason it seems the first part is easier and we are more likely to do it immediately. We know prayer works and we do pray. For the most part, we believe God is working on our behalf, so why do we worry instead of rest?

"When you and I worry, we are denying the wisdom, love, and provision of God...Worrying instead of handing our anxieties over to God says that we believe He is powerless to deliver us." Ouch. My toes are a hurtin'. Convicting, isn't it?

If you have any time remaining after reading this freehand novel, please go to Lelia's to see what others have to say.

(Don't forget to see my previous post on my give-away. I hope the controversial book, The Shack, has not scared anyone from entering. If you absolutely do not want that book, just let me know. I hope more people will comment and enter to win. Remember, four comments for four chances. Click here or just keep on scrollin' down one.)

Focusing on Faith and not Fear,

© Copyright 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

Now the Give-Away

A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great. Proverbs 18:16

I shared with you last week in this post how God birthed this blog...His blog...as it's all for Him. Okay, maybe not, because when I write, I truly commune with Him and that is for me. I'm selfish, huh, I like communing with the Almighty. I like feeling His presence, love, and peace. Who doesn't?

So, this is what I have for you.

♥Leather Journal with Jeremiah 29:11 on the front
♥Beth Moore, Get Out of That Pit Journal
♥The Shack By William P. Young
♥P.S. God Loves You Too! By Connie Witter

With each of these, you will also receive a surprise item or two. This is what I'm asking of you. For fulfilling each of these you get one entry. You need to leave individual comments on this post for each item.

1. Leave me a comment telling me which item you'd prefer or like best. To complicate things even further, how about you tell me the order of your preference. (I would like to try to give the item of highest preference to each winner.--Okay I'm anal that way. I like to give gifts but prefer they be a gift choice of the recipients. That's a good quality right?)

2. Leave me a comment telling me that you are in my followers' list.

3. Leave me a comment telling me that you have written about my blogaversary contest on your own blog.

4. If you are ambitious, leave me a comment asking me a question you’d like to have me answer in an upcoming blog post.

So, you can comment four (4) times, each comment will be an entry, and each comment has to be one of the above topics!

Remember all comments must be left on this post and there must be one comment for each request.

Many curry favor with a ruler, and everyone is the friend of a man who gives gifts. Proverbs 19:6 I expect to make many friends through this give away. Okay?! Just teasing. I've already been blessed with many friends here.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 Amen, brother James. It is!

My life is in a little bit of chaos with packing, moving, painting, decorating, unpacking my households...from old to new, from past to current, from ending to beginning. I plan to draw a winner at the mid to end of next week. I'm closing on my "new" house on Good Friday. Easter weekend will be filled with color, paint, old sweats, worship tunes, me, the Father, and much praise for His goodness. So forgive me if there's a delay in the announcement and shipment.

Giving Unto You (Because He's Given Unto Me),

© Copyright 2008