Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The girls that I babysit and I are on a sewing kick this week while my kids are all at camp. I found this contest to enter from Keeper of the Home for a $100 gift certificate to purchase material or patterns from Marie Madeline Studio. Visit their site so you can enter too!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Reading through some old journals this morning, I came across the lyrics of a song that used to minister to me. I thought the words kind of spoke to the way I have been feeling this week.

Learning To Trust In You

That's why I am learning to trust in you
In Everything I do
Learning to trust in you
Cause I know in my heart that you're true
But sometimes its so hard to do

Father, little children must grow up
and to grow we've got to learn to trust
and to trust we've got to cling to you
And when you tell me you will hold me close
Its the very thing I want the most
but its the very hardest thing to do
I've got this pain inside me
It speaks to me loud and clear
When there's so much to gain theres always so much to lose
Whatever I lost, I'll find in you.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Exciting Things are Happening!!!

The past few weeks have been packed full. The exciting thing is that they have been filled up with time doing something I love so much. God has given me the desire of my heart and has granted a part of one of my dreams to me. Recently, the Lord has brought Shawn and I together with friends, Jeremy and Natalee, to create a photography business called Only You Photography.

Jeremy already had the name, the studio, and the beginnings of a successful business. I had the desire and the passion but needed a business partner. We have all been in awe as we have watched the Lord bring all the details together. Jeremy and I have the same passion and vision. We both have a heart to glorify God in our business. We long to be able to use photography and a portion of our profits to minister to others in the various ways God has placed on our hearts.

Tonight, after many nights of working until 2am, we finally got to announce our company and the web page. I am so excited to see it official!!! If you are on facebook, we would love for you to join our Only You Photography fan page. Please visit us at Only You Photography for more examples of our work. If you live in the Colorado Springs area we would love the opportunity to serve you.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Its been a rough week. Jon is raging again almost daily. No matter how strong I am, no matter how much I prepare for these episodes they still manage to wear me down. After a few days, I feel very fragile. It leaves me often questioning and wondering why.Honestly, it leaves me longing for a different life.

It wouldn't be so bad if it was just Jon and I. But there are many other lives involved. Many other hearts that are also worn down and wounded. As the sadness descends and settles into my very bones, the heavy weight of how this life affects everyone else threatens to suffocate me. I know that God is in control, I know that he is working even this out for good. But sometimes knowing it is barely enough to carry me through to the next moment. Sometimes the daily part of dealing with him and his illness makes it nearly impossible to deal with anything making meals, cleaning, attending to the many needs of my other children.

The hope that still remains is this...this cycle will not last forever. The wounds oozing in my heart will eventually heal. The day is coming when the Lover of my Soul will come and carry me away forever from this painful world. In that moment he will wipe away my tears. He will make this all worth it. That is the one thing I am holding onto...soon and very soon He is coming.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: Job 12:9

Diamond in the Rough

"The hand of the Lord hath wrought this" (Job 12:9).

Several years ago there was found in an African mine the most magnificent diamond in the world's history. It was presented to the King of England to blaze in his crown of state. The King sent it to Amsterdam to be cut. It was put into the hands of an expert lapidary. And what do you suppose he did with it?

He took the gem of priceless value, and cut a notch in it. Then he struck it a hard blow with his instrument, and lo! the superb jewel lay in his hand cleft in twain. What recklessness I what wastefulness! what criminal carelessness!

Not so. For days and weeks that blow had been studied and planned. Drawings and models had been made of the gem. Its quality, its defects, its lines of cleavage had all been studied with minutest care. The man to whom it was committed was one of the most skillful lapidaries in the world.

Do you say that blow was a mistake? Nay. It was the climax of the lapidary's skill. When he struck that blow, he did the one thing which would bring that gem to its most perfect shapeliness, radiance, and jewelled splendor. That blow which seemed to ruin the superb precious stone was, in fact, its perfect redemption. For, from those two halves were wrought the two magnificent gems which the skilled eye of the lapidary saw hidden in the rough, uncut stone as it came from the mine.

So, sometimes, God lets a stinging blow fall upon your life. The blood spurts. The nerves wince. The soul cries out in agony. The blow seems to you an apalling mistake. But it is not, for you are the most priceless jewel in the world to God. And He is the most skilled lapidary in the universe.

Some day you are to blaze in the diadem of the King. As you lie in His hand now He knows just how to deal with you. Not a blow will be permitted to fall upon your shrinking soul but that the love of God permits it, and works out from its depths, blessing and spiritual enrichment unseen, and unthought of by you. --J. H. McC.

In one of George MacDonald's books occurs this fragment of conversation: "I wonder why God made me," said Mrs. Faber bitterly. "I'm sure I don't know what was the use of making me!"

"Perhaps not much yet," said Dorothy, "but then He hasn't done with you yet. He is making you now, and you are quarrelling with the process."

If men would but believe that they are in process of creation, and consent to be made--let the Maker handle them as the potter the clay, yielding themselves in resplendent motion and submissive, hopeful action with the turning of His wheel--they would ere long find themselves able to welcome every pressure of that hand on them, even when it was felt in pain; and sometimes not only to believe but to recognize the Divine end in view, the bringing of a son unto glory.

"Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit

Thursday, April 08, 2010

I guess I should go back and read through my own quickly my heart and head seem to forget the truths the Lord has spoken over my life. In a matter of moments,life seems to crumble and the all the things I dread most come to past. At the end of the day, I am left sitting here wondering where I lost my focus. Wondering how to climb back out. Wondering how I am going to plant my feet firmly on the rock and not run as fast as I can to the nearest escape.

Someday's I hate feeling vulnerable. I hate the fear that accompanies intimacy and authenticity. But it's inevitable. Especially when you want to obey the Lord. Especially when you want to be used by him. So the walls must come down. And you must get close to people. And that takes incredible risk.

Fear is the greatest weapon that seems to come against me during these times that require honesty and openness in relationships. I am so afraid of stupid things. But those stupid things hurt! Things like rejection, disapproval, failure. If you get close enough you might not like what you see. So I keep hiding. Or attempting to hide. Unfortunately, everything I try to hide behind the Lord keeps removing. That is one way to lead me to find refuge in his arms alone!

The problem is when, as a Loving Father, he pushes out of security and tells us to look fear in its eyes and say's to our hearts. " Do not fear." If I didn't know him so well, I would probably question his love. He knows my deepest fear and knows the things it holds me back from in areas of serving him. So the Lord puts me right there in front of that intimidating wall and commands me to climb over it. To push through. To see the truth and stand my ground. To rest in his perfect love and not allow fear to steal the victory.

Sometimes it feels almost cruel. My heart cries out, " Seriously, Lord. Do we really have to deal with that fear, that issue that is buried so deep I didn't even know it existed?" I beg him to deal with some of those less serious, more superficial wounds and fears. But he knows best. He always does. So he reaches deep within and performs his work while I cry, struggle, and plead. He persists even when I question his way and his method. His perfect love invades and casts out fear.

I am glad that even in those moments when I am screaming for relief, when I am begging for a different way, or when I am desperately searching for an escape; the Lord continues his work. He holds me still. He keeps me here in this place where he can work. He doesn't give up. He keeps working away, creating a beautiful masterpiece.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: Exodus 16:20

Do Not Yield to Discouragement

"They looked...and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud" (Exod. 16:10).

Get into the habit of looking for the silver lining of the cloud and when you have found it, continue to look at it, rather than at the leaden gray in the middle.

Do not yield to discouragement no matter how sorely pressed or beset you may be. A discouraged soul is helpless. He can neither resist the wiles of the enemy himself, while in this state, nor can he prevail in prayer for others.

Flee from every symptom of this deadly foe as you would flee from a viper. And be not slow in turning your back on it, unless you want to bite the dust in bitter defeat.

Search out God's promises and say aloud of each one: "This promise is mine." If you still experience a feeling of doubt and discouragement, pour out your heart to God and ask Him to rebuke the adversary who is so mercilessly nagging you.

The very instant you whole-heartedly turn away from every symptom of distrust and discouragement, the blessed Holy Spirit will quicken your faith and inbreathe Divine strength into your soul.

At first you may not be conscious of this, still as you resolutely and uncompromisingly "snub" every tendency toward doubt and depression that assails you, you will soon be made aware that the powers of darkness are falling back.

Oh, if our eyes could only behold the solid phalanx of strength, of power, that is ever behind every turning away from the hosts of darkness, God-ward, what scant heed would be given to the effort of the wily foe to distress, depress, discourage us!

All the marvelous attributes of the Godhead are on the side of the weakest believer, who in the name of Christ, and in simple, childlike trust, yields himself to God and turns to Him for help and guidance. --Selected

On a day in the autumn, I saw a prairie eagle mortally wounded by a rifle shot. His eye still gleamed like a circle of light. Then he slowly turned his head, and gave one more searching and longing look at the sky. He had often swept those starry spaces with his wonderful wings. The beautiful sky was the home of his heart. It was the eagle's domain. A thousand times he had exploited there his splendid strength. In those far away heights be had played with the lightnings, and raced with the winds, and now, so far away from home, the eagle lay dying, done to the death, because for once be forgot and flew too low. The soul is that eagle. This is not its home. It must not lose the skyward look. We must keep faith, we must keep hope, we must keep courage, we must keep Christ. We would better creep away from the battlefield at once if we are not going to be brave. There is no time for the soul to stampede. Keep the skyward look, my soul; keep the skyward look!

"Keep looking up--
The waves that roar around thy feet,
Jehovah-Jireh will defeat
When looking up.

"Keep looking up--
Though darkness seems to wrap thy soul;
The Light of Light shall fill
thy soul
When looking up.

"Keep looking up--
When worn, distracted with the fight;
Your Captain gives you conquering might
When you look up."

We can never see the sun rise by looking into the west. --Japanese Proverb

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Little Glimmers of Hope

Hope seems to be the focus this week for my heart and mind. I am so excited to share what the Lord has shown me. Each little reminder feels like healing salve to my heart. Each time I watch the Lord work I feel strengthened and full of courage. And every time he speaks his truth over my heart, circumstances come that seem set to disprove that very truth. Yet, the Lord uses those circumstances to firmly root those precious truths deep within my heart and mind, removing all the doubt.

Events over the past few days have caused me to question whether we were making the right choices regarding the future of our children's education. Fears and feelings of inadequacies were filling my every thought. The conflict in my heart was fierce. Like a tug of war between wondering if I can really do this and the determination to prove to everyone that I can do this, the battle raged. When it all came down to the end though, the true question was what the Lord, and only the Lord, had led us to do.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that this is what the Lord has for us right now in this time. For how long I don't know. I just know that this is what we have peace about. So many things have confirmed this decision and tonight those things are reminders to me of the Lord's leading. I am so excited and eager with expectation over what the Lord will do in the hearts of my children and in our hearts as parents.

Tonight, I had a picture of what the outcome will be as I keep my goal as a "homeschool mom" focused on the goal the Lord has given me. My goal is simply to capture each moment as an opportunity to point my kids to the Lord. That is my whole purpose in this new journey. I have been praying for the Lord to give me a joy in my calling as their mom and for a supernatural love for my children and my husband. I am a warrior-mother and the battle is for the souls of my children. I know that I don't have to be a homeschooler to do this...but for this time in our life I need more time with my kids.

The picture I was given was in a simple exchange between me and my precious Joshua. I was working on research for Brittney's report and was writing notes. Josh simply said, " Don't tell me Mom. I know that you are doing your bible study, aren't you? I told him not this time but that I had earlier. True to his nature, his mind was spinning and his questions started flowing out. He said, " Do you remember when you were little, you said you read your bible every day so you could know all about Jesus? And you wrote love notes in your notebook to Jesus? Mom I want to have bible study every morning so I can know Jesus like you do." He then continued for the next couple of hours asking all the details of how to have a quiet time. He wanted to know do you get up early in the morning? What do you write? Can you read one of your stories to me so I know how to do it? Will you help me have a bible study? Will you wake me up when you wake up so I don't forget? So many precious questions of a heart beginning to stir towards a personal relationship with the Lord.

And those questions gave me hope. Hope that the Lord is at work. Hope that he will do his work in each of us, in my heart, in the heart of my husband, and the hearts of my children. He showed me then and there that He will make this journey of homeschooling successful...because if the only thing they walk away with is the knowledge and desire of how to truly walk with the Lord they will have the best education they could ever have. I have been drowning in all the parenting failures that seem to scream out louder than any success. Yet, here the Lord proves that he is more interested in the heart and that a heart that wants Him is the true definition of success. And he proved that, despite my failures, he is able to accomplish his will.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A friend asked me recently what incredible things God was doing in my life. I wrote this in response and wanted to share it here in hopes that it might encourage some of you.

On my way home yesterday, I was thinking about how incredible it is when the Lord reveals to you your gifts and then he uses them to touch someone else. Even more incredible is how he uses the pain and trials in your life for good. I realized though that we have to choose to be where he wants us and not fight against it. A change of how we think and perceive the things happening in our lives is required to see those things as being part of his will.

Once my heart finally surrendered to the Lord completely it was like a flood of his presence has filled every part of me. Everything I read, everything I hear seems to point me back to the truth. Pastor Al’s sermon combined with a book I am reading reminded me that these things that are bringing so much pain into my life are not meant for evil. They are meant for good…good because they drive me to an intimate relationship with the Lord. Good because it has given me the opportunity to reach out to others who are suffering and point them to the Lord in it. Good because they are producing something of such greater value than a life void of pain. Seeing all of this in light of how God is going to use it and is using it has increased my trust in Him and his ability to work it all out according to HIS purpose. I am learning that being at rest in his will comes from trusting his purpose and not having to work it out according to what I think he should do with it.

I guess I kind of feel like he has softened me into pliable clay. I have never felt so intimate with the Lord as I do right now. That is exciting to me because for years I have looked back to my teenage years and considered that to have been my strongest time spiritually. Not so good to be walking with the Lord for so long and to have lost that freshness in our relationship. It saddened me but not enough to stop fighting against Him and for my own way. I finally feel as though I can hear him again as he speaks truth in my heart. I can trust him with my heart. I can obey without fear. I can hear his correction and respond with surrender and not a “failure response” of giving up and running to sin rather than away from it. As a result, my heart finally feels again. It has been stone for a very long time.

The Lord truly is becoming everything to me. In the past year, he has stripped away everything I was replacing him with. He is taking away the walls that I have been hiding behind. He gave me these certain friends who have challenged me in so many ways to find and cling to truth. He took my need to be pleasing to people and used that same need to face some things I really need to deal with and not run. In the process, its becoming more important to me what God thinks than what people think. I am not totally to that point of being free from my desire for approval but I think the Lord is loosening the fear that need had imprisoned my heart in. He took my greatest fear, brought it into my life, and then walked step by step through it, teaching my heart to seek approval in him and desire to hear his words alone, and then gave me what I needed in his way. So much healing took place in such a short amount of time and in a few powerful words. He is the very thing I thought I needed others to be.

I never thought the Lord would ever choose to use me again. I have failed horribly. I have willingly chosen to sin in horrible ways- like a rebellious child determined to crush her Father’s heart. I have dared God to leave me and walk away. I have tried, like I have done in many relationships, to convince him he shouldn’t waste his time. And true to who he is, he has waited for me to surrender and has patiently and passionately pursued my heart. Now he has allowed my heart to feel the freedom and healing power of his forgiveness. One day in the past couple of weeks, my mind was flooded with images of so many of the times I chose to sin. Each time the thought would come to mind, the Lord was there reminding me that it was paid for. It was incredible to me how many of the songs I heard that day had to do with the past and forgiveness.

So I am amazed and humbled that the Lord has given me the opportunity to be used again. It is bringing me so much joy. So much so that I never want to settle for less than God’s best again. I have been praying and asking him to allow me to have a women’s group again to lead, to serve, and to love. I am amazed now that he has brought these women together and it is more than I ever thought possible. I love it when the Lord allows me the opportunity to pour his love and truth into another person and getting to watch them grow. I have gotten to experience what happens when the Lord reveals things to us that have affected us and can be used as an excuse to justify our behavior. As I am learning to let go of those things and not let them be an excuse for me, I get to share with others how to do that too. Each time he gives me the opportunity to share with someone else, help someone else or serve someone I am overcome by joy. It makes everything else worth it to see God using it to bring someone else closer to him.

What are the incredible things he is doing? He is giving me a soft heart. He has replaced my mourning with gladness. He has brought me to the edge, allowed me to see the possibilities of things I could lose and asked me whether I will still choose Him. He has given me a steadfast faith that says “No matter what happens, I will follow you.” He has spoken his words of love, worth, and truth into my heart and has given me faith to believe him and cling those words. If you had known me these past ten years and seen the icy wall around my heart, the desire to be free yet feeling like I am always drowning never able to reach the surface, heard the lies that have waged war against my mind and heart, and felt the intensity of the fear that has imprisoned me you would agree that the things the Lord is doing is incredible. In finally surrendering to His love and allowing him to be everything I need, I feel like I can face the future, with whatever it might hold, with courage, security, and peace.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: Revelation 15:3

Songs of Praise Rise From Affliction

"Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints" (Rev. 15:3).

The following incident is related by Mrs. Charles Spurgeon, who was a great sufferer for more than a quarter of a century:

"At the close of a dark and gloomy day, I lay resting on my couch as the deeper night drew on; and though all was bright within my cozy room, some of the external darkness seemed to have entered into my soul and obscured its spiritual vision. Vainly I tried to see the Hand which I knew held mine, and guided my fog-enveloped feet along a steep and slippery path of suffering. In sorrow of heart I asked,

"'Why does my Lord thus deal with His child? Why does He so often send sharp and bitter pain to visit me? Why does He permit lingering weakness to hinder the sweet service I long to render to His poor servants?'

"These fretful questions were quickly answered, and through a strange language; no interpreter was needed save the conscious whisper of my heart.

"For a while silence reigned in the little room, broken only by the crackling of the oak log burning in the fireplace. Suddenly I heard a sweet, soft sound, a little, clear, musical note, like the tender trill of a robin beneath my window.

"'What can it be? surely no bird can be singing out there at this time of the year and night.'

"Again came the faint, plaintive notes, so sweet, so melodious, yet mysterious enough to provoke our wonder. My friend exclaimed,

"'It comes from the log on the fire!' The fire was letting loose the imprisoned music from the old oak's inmost heart!

"Perchance he had garnered up this song in the days when all was well with him, when birds twittered merrily on his branches, and the soft sunlight flecked his tender leaves with gold. But he had grown old since then, and hardened; ring after ring of knotty growth had sealed up the long-forgotten melody, until the fierce tongues of the flames came to consume his callousness, and the vehement heart of the fire wrung from him at once a song and a sacrifice. 'Ah,' thought I, 'when the fire of affliction draws songs of praise from us, then indeed we are purified, and our God is glorified!'

"Perhaps some of us are like this old oak log, cold, hard, insensible; we should give forth no melodious sounds, were it not for the fire which kindles around us, and releases notes of trust in Him, and cheerful compliance with His will.

"'As I mused the fire burned,' and my soul found sweet comfort in the parable so strangely set forth before me.

"Singing in the fire! Yes, God helping us, if that is the only way to get harmony out of these hard apathetic hearts, let the furnace be heated seven times hotter than before."

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Pictures by Amy Carmichael

The thoughts of the son ran thus: My hopes painted beautiful pictures, but they are fading one by one.
Then his father spoke to him: Thy hopes painted pictures? Destroy all those pictures. To watch them slowly fading is weakening to the soul. Dare then to destroy them. Thous canst if thou wilt. Thou must if thou wouldst be My warrior-son. I will thee other pictures instead of those thy hopes painted. Look up, O thou son of My love.
Then the son looked up and he saw a Cross raised high against the sunlight, then a darkness that might be felt. And he heard, as it were, an echo of a voice, "Father, glorify thy name"; and a Voice that answered I have both glorified it and will glorify it again. And he knew that strength and beauty were in the sanctuary and would presently pour forth. Calvary was not the end of that day's story. And his heart stayed itself upon this assurance: He shall choose our inheritance for us- no fading picture that, but the excellency of Jacob whom He loved.
From Amy Carmichael, "His Thoughts Said...His Father Said..."

His thoughts said, "Father there are some things I cannot forget."
His Father said," The humbling memory will help thee to walk softly with Me and tenderly with others. But even so there is relief from all distress. O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? When I spoke unto Israel in the visions of the night, I did not use the that glorious name; I used the old name which had so a sorrowful a meaning. I said, Jacob, Jacob, and he answered , "Here I am."
Jacob, Jacob, the deceiver, the supplanter, that name is a reminder of thy fall, but also and far more of My mercy. It is to thee I am speaking, to thee, not to another, worthier one, but to thee, My child- Jacob, Jacob.

Monday, March 08, 2010

How majestic are your whispers, O Lord. The words of the song rolled off my tongue and I couldn’t help but smile. I knew a little something about the whispers of the Almighty God. Standing in the midst of other worshipers as we declared the truth of the Lord, made the words of this song feel like I was on the inside of an inside joke. An intimate exchange between me and the Lover of my Soul could be described in the majesty of the whisper of God. The sovereignty of God, ordering these particular worship songs to be sung on this very day, was nothing less than a continuation of this exchange.

The details of the encounter from the night before flooded my mind and melted my heart. Healing words had washed over my broken spirit. Words from man joined the words of God. Both working hand in hand to restore the assurance I so desperately needed. Only the Lord could have known the words I needed spoken over the ache in my heart. He alone knew the cry of my heart. He had seen the struggle. He knew how much I was doubting my worth and place in this world. He knew how unloved I felt. He knew the battle that was daily raging in my mind as I fought against insecurity and accusations.

So he whispered.

He whispered his truth.

I love you.

You can do this.

Be brave.

I have given you strength.

I am so proud of you.

You are my treasured possession.

I have chosen you.

Look in my eyes and see how I see you.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Writing from my heart comes naturally for me. I am a die hard journal writer. I am even more a hopeless romantic who delights in finding the treasure in each moment. Each experience becomes something of value to be cherished. Each intimate time with the Lord leaves behind some altar of remembrance to be looked back on and learned from. Put my love for writing together with my love for sharing with the Lord is doing and you have a never ending flow of words! I just can't help it. Keeping such incredible moments to myself feel like I am robbing others from great treasure.

Sometimes my mouth seems to run over and it gets me in trouble. One too many times I have said things or shared things that were just a little too much. I just don't know what not to say sometimes. The problem is this: when the Lord changes your life, you want to shout it from the mountain tops. When he sets you free from something that has held you in bondage, you want to tell your fellow prisoners so they to can be free. When He speaks into the deepest parts of your heart and brings healing with his intimate love, you want to speak those same words to those around you who are hurting. When he is at work in your life and is allowing you to join him in that work, you want to call out to the people watching inviting them to join you too. When Jesus becomes everything to you, you just can't help but tell someone.

Being vulnerable is difficult. It means allowing the Lord to strip away all you hide behind and allow your heart and your life to be raw and exposed to those around you. Its painful, at times, when you know that there are so many watching you struggle and you don't really know what they are thinking. Vulnerability costs you the security of the mask you hide behind. Yet, for those who are willing to be vulnerable and real, comes such great rewards. True intimacy with the Lover of your soul. True friendships with people who love the real you. True freedom. And the joy of being used by God as he uses your struggles to reach someone else.

How else can I reach back and strengthen my brothers and sisters if I am not willing to share with you genuinely? Honestly, aren't we stirred greatly in the depths of our souls when we here someone's story of redemption? Aren't we spurred on towards godliness when we see someone struggle and fail and yet get back up and keep pressing on towards the goal? I know I am. That's why I have to tell my story. There is too much at stake to keep the works of my God to myself.

Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: 2 Corinthians 7:5

Our Dependency on Christ

"We are troubled on every side" (2 Cor. 7:5).

Why should God have to lead us thus, and allow the pressure to be so hard and constant? Well, in the first place, it shows His all-sufficient strength and grace much better than if we were exempt from pressure and trial. "The treasure is in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."

It makes us more conscious of our dependence upon Him. God is constantly trying to teach us our dependence, and to hold us absolutely in His hand and hanging upon His care.

This was the place where Jesus Himself stood and where He wants us to stand, not with self-constituted strength, but with a hand ever leaning upon His, and a trust that dare not take one step alone. It teaches us trust.

There is no way of learning faith except by trial. It is God's school of faith, and it is far better for us to learn to trust God than to enjoy life.

The lesson of faith once learned, is an everlasting acquisition and an eternal fortune made; and without trust even riches will leave us poor. --Days of Heaven upon Earth

"Why must I weep when others sing?
'To test the deeps of suffering.'
Why must I work while others rest?
'To spend my strength at God's request.'
Why must I lose while others gain?
'To understand defeat's sharp pain.'
Why must this lot of life be mine
When that which fairer seems is thine?
'Because God knows what plans for me
Shall blossom in eternity.'"

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Matt Brouwer- "I Wanna See You"
Jesus, I am reaching
Im longing for You now
To meet me in my weakness
And heal me with Your power
I wanna see You
Open up my eyes
I wanna see You tonight
Jesus, I am ready
To leave the past behind
But Im still hesitating
Oh, to let go in my mind
Im fighting with confusion
And Im drowning in my sin
I thought I knew the answers
But Im left unsatisfied within
2001 New Spring Publishing, Inc. / Wheat Sheaf Music (ASCAP)
(admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing)

Tonight at church we sang a song about the joy of our salvation being restored. Fighting back the tears, I knew my heart was crying out to the Lord to restore the joy to my soul. Something has happened in the past few days that has taken my joy away. I willingly let it be taken. I admit it. I know better. I know the "right" answers and the "right" things to do. I even know the truth. I just have had a death grip on my grief and I didn't want to let go.

You can only wallow in this self pity for so long before it starts to eat away at you. It starts in the mind and convinces you of all kinds of horrible, terrible things that are just not true. In a single moment, the whole world becomes your enemy, including God. The prison of solitary confinement brought on by believing those lies begins to make you literally insane.

Thank God though that he doesn't let us stay there too long. Just long enough to not want to be there any longer. I truly do want joy to permeate from within, a joy not based on circumstances, a joy that isn't changed with the ever changing state of my mood, but a joy based on this truth alone: " I have been set free by Jesus my Savior and he promises to restore all that has been lost. " I don't have to stay here, in the depths of depression, abandoning all that God has done in my life up to this point. I can get up and move forward in His Will.

All day the Lord has been confirming his love and forgiveness for me. He has showered me with songs filled with words declaring his mercy and his love. I have actually chuckled, through the tears, as I have seen him again doing what he does best- Pursuing my heart, Whispering his words of intense love for me, reminding me again of his hope, his plan. He proves to me over and over that He will not go away. No matter how hard I try to make him quit on me, to give up and leave me for the junk pile, Jesus keeps picking me up and gently restores me. I have even brought up the deepest areas of my life that are so dark, thinking maybe that will be enough to make him go away. Yet, he doesn't run. Instead, he takes that dark sinful area and shines his light on it, transforming me so he can make me beautiful. What an incredible, intimate lover of my soul the Lord is.

I realize too that joy doesn't equal the absence of grief. I am still trying to learn how to cling to joy and hope and not to the grief. It seems the common thread in all the loss of the past week has been the deeper realization of how desperately I need Jesus. It is easy to say "Your all I need, your all I want..." and not really think about what we are saying. Its easy to declare those words when we have Jesus and everything else. But when all else is stripped away, everyone else has let you down or walked away, and you are left with only Jesus, is he enough? That question has been the ponder of my heart this week.

I wish I could say that I was satisfied with Jesus and only Jesus. I am praying that will be a statement I can say...Jesus you are all I need. You are all I want. You are more than enough for me. How I long to have that stability that comes from that truth taking up residence in my heart. I long for the day that I see having Jesus as the "best" thing and not just the result of not having something else. I think this will be evident in my life, when my heart is so full of Jesus and so satisfied just to have him that I no longer find myself vacationing in the pit of despair. Perhaps then my words will be true when I declare that if he was all I had, he is enough.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Been thinking a lot about friends lately...
and how much a part of my life they are. So many of you have walked through different parts of my life journey with me. Some of you from the time I was just a little girl. Some of you have been there my whole life. Others of you are treasures that have grown more valuable over the test of time, distance, and experience. Some of you have shared your heart with me and given me the gift of your priceless friendship. Some of you are new friends who have brought so much meaning and purpose into my life recently. For all of you, and the part you have played in my life I am thankful.

Some songs that I have been listening to lately have reminded me of some specific friendships and memories with some special people. And since I am sitting here in this quiet hospital room with nothing else to do you all get the pleasure of listening to them too!!!

These first two songs remind me of my group of friends from my trip to Guatemala. We often sang these songs...especially at the end of our time. And I am so thankful that some of these friends are still my friends today, especially my best friend Gretchen!! I can't believe so many years have passed.

This song is for all of you who have walked through the tough times with me.

This one is for my Tennessee girls...brings back so many memories of the good "old" days.

And for those of you who have spoken truth over my life, showering me with prayer and love.

This one is for my sister Reagan...remember this????

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I feel like I have been in an intense battle all day. Thank you all for your prayers throughout the day. It is amazing the difference having prayer warriors makes. We started the morning with an MRI that showed no tumor growth or changes in the brain. Ruled out any other physical reasons for why we have had such sudden behavior changes.

The Lord brought such comfort this morning through my oncology team. I love them so much. To see the concern, the compassion, and the frustration that they have towards this situation encourages me to know we are not alone. Each of them love Jonathan so much and are doing the best that they can. Even the social worker was brought to tears. We just can't stand to see what happens to our precious Jonathan. Trust me when I say that it is horrible.

Dr. Foreman was able to capture the situation well and give words to what I feel. What we are dealing with is hypothalamic rage. It stems from the hypothalamus being severely damaged. He literally doesn't have a way to use the coping skill needed to calm down and not overreact. Dr. Foreman said that you want another part of the brain to be broken...but not the hypothalamus. All the behavior control is centered there. He said there is nothing harder to deal with and more heartbreaking than a hypothalamic rage because you literally can not reason with the child. There is no talking down. There is no changing the mind. It just has to run its course. This was hard to hear, even though I have been saying it forever, because its just one more thing that we can't do anything about. My mommy heart wants to, needs to be able to fix it. I need to be able to take the pain away. I need to protect my other kids from the horrifying experience. And I can't. It is not fair.

Shortly after oncology came, the psychiatrist came in. There is something that just is not setting right with me regarding this doctor. We have had several encounters in the past where he is contradicting himself, forgetting what he said previously, and where he tells me to do something but then acts like I did something without his permission. And he always messes with Jon's meds. That is a very thin line to be walking on. He is very conservative... I think he has some situations go wrong and it has caused him to not be aggressive in treating with medication. I understand the fears and concerns. But I on the other side of this situation am living with the consequences of his fear and lack of intervention. I can tell you that the lack of help is as debilitating and dangerous as any side effect the medicine will have. So while I appreciate his effort, I don't really care for his method. But he is all I have.

He wanted to try a medicine named phenobarbital, an old seizure med that causes sedation. At first it appeared that this med could be used as a rescue medicine. I was ok with a sedating rescue drug. Later when the inpatient oncology docs were telling me the plan, the plan had changed. This was not a prn rescue med. It was an every day medicine. I was not ok with that. I don't need more every day medicines. Especially not everyday meds that are going to make him even more tired and irritated than he already is. What I need is an emergency plan. To top it of, the docs informed that they were going to take him off the Prozac. So not ok with me. It honestly seems that every time we are in the hospital the psychiatrist takes advantage of the opportunity to take him off a medicine. When they told me that, all of sudden I was done agreeing with them and I told them so.

I told them my feelings about the way the psychiatrist is handling the situation. I told them that the only way I would even be willing to use the phenobarb was if they gave him the first dose here and kept him for observation. They were getting ready to discharge us with the instruction to try this med for 10 days and then follow up. So my refusal to leave without observation bought us more time. And I told them we were not changing the prozac. Prozac combined with zyprexa makes a medicine called symbyax. This medicine is the one med that brought Jon stability after two years of psychosis. No way are we touching this medicine.

The more I thought about, prayed about, and researched the medicine the more I didn't have any peace about. So I finally was able to explain to the nurse in a way that finally made sense exactly why we were here. Of course I have been saying the same thing all day and no one seemed to be getting it. We were going to have a conference of all the doctors but most of them had already left. So instead the attending came in and listened (finally) and came up with a reasonable plan. We are not doing the phenobarbital. And in the morning we will be discussing an emergency plan that is reasonable and effective and agreed on by all involved.

I am not sure if the psychiatrist is going to agree. I am not sure he is even going to want to be involved after tomorrow. But I am praying he will be open to listening and willing to take a risk. All I know is that I am leaving only when I have one thing....a plan that includes emergency medicine that works fast...not something that might work in an hour or two. But immediate.

Its ridiculous though that this has to be so hard. Because he has had seizures in the past, they have given me emergency anti-seizure meds that work within minutes. Because he is adrenal insufficient, I have injectable cortef for an emergency. Why can't they give me some tools that will treat the raging crisis within minutes. It doesn't make sense.

So tomorrow may be a fight. Might not be. We need your prayers. I am so thankful for your continued prayers and love.

Until tomorrow....
You know the situation is not good when you feel as though death would be better than what life is. Sorry, friends, just being honest. The sentence this disease has placed upon my sweet Jonathan is so incredibly cruel. There is no end in sight. No treatment. Nothing to make it better. And to always fall through the cracks because you are an "out of the box" kind of kid in a world that doesn't make accommodations for "out of the box thinking".

It would be less cruel to have no treatment options and yet, have the hope that you will be free from the pain and sickness and be with Jesus. This hypothalamic rage (the term for what is happening because his hypothalamus is broken.) is more devastating and ravaging of quality of life than so many other things. And we can't fix it. You just can't have a hypothalamus transplant. Believe me if you could, I would be the first in line to give him mine!

I am trying to prepare right now to be the advocate for my child. Somehow I need to respectfully ask the doctors to look outside the box. Good thing I have been taking the Love and Respect class...hopefully by now I have figured out, at least in a small way, how to speak in the "male" language. I need the psychiatrist on my side. There is no other psychiatrist to turn to. And yet, I sense he is afraid to be aggressive and do what is needed to help Jonathan. Please pray for the Lord to give me gentle words that will make sense to him. Pray that he can let go of the things holding him back from acting in Jon's best interest.

Please pray for me to know when to fight and when not to. When to accept what they say and when to challenge them. Pray for me to be bold and to be able to act upon that gut feeling the Lord gives.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Its been a while since I have written. My silence in part has been due to just waiting. Seems a little odd to be telling the world about a great miracle and following that by sharing the reality of life in the shadow of that miracle. The miracle of a shrinking tumor...truly a miracle. But honestly not quite the miracle it was perceived to be. For some, it was the reigniting of the hope that perhaps this boy who we all love so deeply might be spared from the ravishing of this disease. Even for me, that hope lives on. I believe My God is able to completely heal this precious boy. I know without a doubt that he can. I also know that he may choose not to. And in that I feel spurred on to a deeper hope. One that is accompanied by a peace that passes understanding. A hope in eternity. A hope that holds me steadfast to my Savior by the declaration that says, " Though He may slay me, yet, will I trust him." (Job 13:15)

The real miracle to me the day the doctor handed me the scans and said "I have no explanation" was not that the tumor was shrinking but that the God of the universe would be so merciful to us and would grant us such tender love. He didn't ask me to withhold treatment. He didn't make me have to live in that moment knowing that I might be withholding something that would prolong his life. The Lord simply had asked me to give him back HIS child. He told me to trust Him. And to leave the outcome in his hands. And he surprised me.

The reality, though, is that Jonathan's condition is not really based on what the tumor does or doesn't do. The reality is that his brain has been severely damaged. It doesn't function right. Living with the reality of a broken brain is actually quite tough. For everyone.

Things are changing. The past couple of weeks have taken their toll. Raging has become a daily if not many times a day event. Jon just can't cope with life. Medication is not working anymore. Everything feels turned upside down. And everything and everyone is stretched to a breaking point.

Maybe he is just sick and its throwing him off. Maybe he just needs some good antibiotics and he will calm back down. But maybe this is becoming a new normal. Maybe this is a sign that something else is wrong. I don't know.

What I do know is that whatever it is, it has caused us to once again look into the unknown and prepare for what could be coming. For me, it is the knowledge that I can not control what is happening. Knowing that once I make that phone call for help, I am no longer in control. Knowing that in the near future I may be faced with letting go of Jon so he can get help kills me. Its not normal. Its not ok. But it is how it is. And I know that God is in control.

Monday, February 22, 2010

1 Samuel 30:6 tells us how David was greatly distressed but he strengthened himself in the Lord. These past couple of weeks have carried circumstances that have brought me to a point of being greatly distressed. For a short while I had forgotten how to strengthen myself in the Lord. So I found myself wallowing in the pain and lost my focus on the Lord. I am quickly learning there is no way to survive crisis upon crisis without being built up and strengthened in the Lord. So tonight the Lord is showing me so many things. Speaking to my heart, singing his gracious love over me, and wrapping me in his arms that are more than able to carry me through whatever threatening to destroy me.

Here is another little nugget that ministered to me tonight from Max Lucado's book...

" For some of you, the journey has been long. Very long and stormy. Some of you have shouldered burdens that few of us could ever carry. And you are tired. Its hard for you to see the city in the midst of the storms.The desire to pull over to the side of the road and get out entices you. You want to go on, but some days the road seems so long. God never said that the journey would be easy, but he did say that the arrival would be worthwhile. Remember this: God may not do what you want, but he will do what is right...and best. He's the Father of forward motion. Trust him. He will get you home. And the trials of the trip will be lost in the joys of the feast. Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I am reading a short little book with a collection of paragraphs from Max Lucado's books. It is like a flood water of encouragement for my thirsty soul. I wanted to share this one particular thought that really ministered to my heart.

"God views your life the way you view a movie after you have read the book. When something bad happens, you feel the air sucked out of the theater. Everyone else gasps at the crisis on the screen. Not you. Why? You've read the book. You know how the good guy gets out of the tight spot. God views your life with the same confidence. He's not only read your story... he wrote it. His perspective is different and his purpose is clear. " Max Lucado Come Thirsty

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hurry Up and Wait

That phrase seems to be the story of my life these past couple of weeks. My personality is one that just doesn't find waiting very easy to do. There has been so much on my heart and its driving me crazy not to be able to do anything about the situations. I have learned a lot about prayer- I know intellectually that it is more powerful than the actual doing. Just have a hard time seeing it as action and being content to wait.

As new life, new vision, and new hope has been rebirthed into my heart and soul- I am ready to go. I am ready to obey. I am ready to move forward. The thing is that the Lord has given me this vision and its so close I can almost touch it. But he has asked me to be patient and to wait.

Seriously, that is the hardest thing to do. As I seek Him each morning and share my heart with Him I feel this conflict of waiting and doing. It is like a silence between here and now and the future. I don't really now what he is doing or going to do. And that drives me crazy! And brings me to tears...I go to Him with begging words- Its not fast enough, I want to go now, how much longer until we get there???

So as I was pouring my heart to Him over this frustration, the Lord led me to today's reading in My Utmost for His Highest. I have to laugh at how real and personal our God is! He never ceases to amaze me! So here is the reading:

Vision and Darkness:

Whenever God gives a vision to a saint, He puts him, as it were, in the shadow of His hand, and the saint's duty is to be still and listen. There is a darkness which comes from excess of light, and then is the time to listen. When God gives a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will make you in accordance with the vision he has given if you will wait his time. Never try and help God fulfill His word.
Read this paragraph this morning in my quiet time and wanted to share it:
" No matter how difficult our struggles or how deep our wounds, they carry with them great lessons. They teach us much about ourselves, life, and God. They enrich us in ways that nothing else can. They give us patience to endure, the maturity to grow, the compassion to reach out to others in need, the courage to survive, the character to transform something terribly hurtful into something positive, and the faith to know that we are not alone. " from The Wounded Woman by Dr. Steve Stephens and Pam Vredevelt

"Pain nourishes courage. You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you." Mary Tyler Moore

I hope to write more soon...there has been a lot on my mind lately. Lots that has been left unsaid especially pertaining to Jonathan. Just trying to process what the Lord is telling me.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

An update from Haiti
Please continue to pray for these dear friends as they minister to the hurting people of Haiti. If you feel led to give, please consider giving to their ministry.

From Debbie Lucien:

January 17th Haiti Earthquake Update
Today is a day we are beginning to see more and more miracles and survivor stories. We are seeing more people who have been able to leave Port au Prince and make it here to the provinces. One young man is named Dieufort (literally “God is strong”). He grew up in our community and was the first in his family to finish high school through our ministry child sponsorship program. His sponsor had also wanted to help him finish college so he was in Port au Prince enrolling last week in a computer science program. Last night he told me his uncle’s house where he was staying had been destroyed and he had bit hit on the head. Over the past 4 days he made his way back here. As we sat by the candlelight in my house last night eating a meal of boiled plantain together, he shared with us all the horrors he had seen and experienced. Yet this morning, I saw him limping up the hill, returning to his work as a Sunday school teacher to help encourage the children.
Imagine the weeping and praises as we gathered in church this morning to worship God. One family, that of Pastor Eli Onne, one of the worship leaders, gathered together to sing a song for the church. In tears, they shared how 6 of the young adult children were in Port au Prince to attend school and work and were all living together. Their house was one of the few in their neighborhood not destroyed. Pastor Eli had gone two days after the earthquake to find if they were dead or alive. Today he stood with them all in church thanking God that he wasn’t having six funerals instead.
Following this, my brother-in-law, Jephthe Lucien, asked all those who had come from Port au Prince in the last few days to come forward so we could rejoice that they were alive and also to pray for those still in great need. All of us are beginning to plan for how to care for the increasing number of refugees appearing to see how we help. Immediate needs will be food, clothing, and housing. In the coming days we’ll tell you where to ship gathered supplies.
Caleb has been in Cap Haitien (Haiti’s second largest city) in the north coordinating relief supplies coming in. He’s had 4-5 flights each day of supplies headed different directions as he’s coordinating with Dr. Claude Surena, Haiti’s designated coordinator of relief. (Yeah for those Rotary contacts!)
Besides staying busy with that, Caleb has been distributing practical help on the ground as he finds it. As he delivered medical supplies to Hopital Justien in Cap Haitien he noticed the physicians and staff appeared exhausted and asked when was the last time they’d eaten? The medical director replied they hadn’t had the opportunity to stop. Thus Caleb headed to LaKay Restaurant where they prepare good food relatively quickly and purchased 50 meals for all the staff. When he came back with the food, the staff could hardly believe it and were very appreciative. He left funds with the restaurant which will continue to deliver for the next two days. The owner said he’ll pick up after that for a day or two and then see who else can help. It’s a small thing perhaps, but important none the less.
The mayors of Cap Haitien had sent school buses to pick up as many as possible to relocate survivors to the city here in the north. Caleb found out about it and spent $1,500 so the travelers could find a meal as they disembarked. Again, perhaps a small thing, but a practical need for those who haven’t eaten in several days.
We want you to know the resources you are sending us are being distributed quickly and as wisely as possible. Opportunities for medical volunteers and later for construction will open up but we need to plan wisely. Dr. Surena is already coordinating with those hospitals still standing around the country as to which locations need what help. We want to make sure we send people to where they can be utilized. We will keep you posted.
One last image to make you smile. This is the photo of two children (Shashu & Kiki) who arrived in Pignon yesterday. They told me that they were playing on their porch when the whole house started shaking. “Everything in the house fell to the ground!”
They spent the next three days and nights on the street. Their parents sent them to our community for safety. Their mother is a lab technician who is staying behind to help for now. These are just some of the stories and images around us. Thanks for continuing to pray!
We are humbled and grateful to see gifts coming in to help. It is getting exciting to see how we can move forward more and more and plan how to serve those around us!
Debbie Lucien for all

Friday, January 15, 2010

Years ago, my sister and I went on a mission trip to Haiti. The missionaries we lived and ministered with are still there today. The town that they live in was not affected by the earthquake. But they have immediately begun reaching out to the Haitian people in the affected areas. I am excited about the opportunity to help them in this effort because I know that they will be offering the hurting people more than the urgent help, they will be offering them the Living Water. I just wanted to pass along this link to their ministry website and the following letter from Debbie Lucien, my missionary friend in Haiti, just in case any of you might feel led to send funds to help them out.

Letter from Debbie (her husband Caleb went immediately to Port-Au- Prince to assist in evacuation and rescue efforts) :

We are okay.
I just heard from Caleb. He arrived in Port au Prince and said the conditions are indescribeable.
Just to give you ideas, estimates on loss of life right now are approaching 250,000-half a million.
He says bodies of 20-30 people are piled up and noone is even stopping to pick them up because there is no where to take them.
It is horrible.
Last night he slept in his car and is trying to bring back some people here today. We have a group of Americans here right now and are trying to decide how to get them out. There are no commercial flights in and out of Haiti, the only way in is through the DR for anyone other than military aid workers.
8 hours ago · Comment · Like · See Wall-to-Wall

What we are doing: 1. Caleb is arriving back here today with some evacuees. 2. We are preparing to house as many as we can (now I know why God gave me such a BIG new house-smile) 3. We can house us to several thousand here, we are preparing by getting drinking water ready,e tc. We need funding to buy sleeping pads and food for them. There is a water filtration system in town which will provide water. The local hospital here is already receiving injured from the capital. Those who can walk or travel are coming here. We are planning at present to put evacuees at the camp, at the school, wherever we can find place. 4. Please continue to pray for wisdom and strength for Caleb 4.5- Jephthe left this morning to help with evacuations and meet Caleb. 5. We are fine! 6. Some cell phone service started working again today, although it is intermittent. Pray for calm as people begin to hear who has died. It is very disheartening. 7. Pray we can continue to be a light. The Christians here know we have survived to be here for such a time as this. WE love you guys. Please pass the message along and continue to pray for all of us. Debbie

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Incredible MRI Results!!!
If you follow me on facebook you have already heard the news. But for those of you who aren't on there...Jon's latest MRI results show significant shrinkage. I hope to write soon and in more detail regarding all that has transpired over the past few days. Needless to say we are all quite shocked and thanking God for all that he does.

As you can tell the picture on top shows a smaller tumor. The tumor is the white circle in the middle.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

From Come Away My Beloved Devotional:
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

Resign all into My hands - your loved ones as well as your own self. Be obedient to the still small voice. Your own imagination may speak more loudly, but wait upon Me always. You will always see the wisdom of this in due time.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Random Thoughts for Today

This is just a collection of thoughts that I had this morning that I don't want to loose...and wanted to share in case it encourages someone else as well.

1. From the book, " The Wounded Woman" by Dr. Steve Stephens and Pam Vredevelt in the chapter titled Good Grief it says,
" God is the One who knows all the details and is best equipped to lead you along this foreign path into brighter new beginnings. Self- Reliance will mislead you. God won't. He makes this promise:
" 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. There are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. " Isaiah 42:16
Your pain is not a problem. It is a solution. The grief you have experienced- or still endure- is a driving force. The emotional energy generated by that grief is what will press you to examine yourself, your worldview, and your beliefs in God, and eventually enable you to change, adapt, grow, and move through the valley of the shadows and out the other side, back into the sunlight.
Grief isn't the road to healing. Grief is the road of healing. And it is familiar territory for Jesus.
He is fully aware of your heartache and knows the way through your suffering. The operative word is through. You won't feel desperate forever. You have God's guarantee on this: I will restore you to health and heal your wounds declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 30:17)
Desperation is productive if it drives us to God. It presents us with opportunities to watch God display His grace and power. It gives us a chance to just stand back a little and witness God doing what man can not do. It allows us to experience God becoming whatever we need Him to be as He escorts us along the path of healing. We come to know Him as our God of Comfort. Our Strength. Our Shield. Our Security. Our Safe Place. Our Peace."

2. From Come Away My Beloved by Frances Roberts:
"Tarry not for an opportunity to have more time to be alone with me. Take it though you leave tasks at hand. Nothing will suffer. Things are of less importance than you think.
I love you, and if you can always, as it were, feel my pulse beat, you will receive insight that will give you sustaining strength. I bore your sins and I wish to carry your burdens. Lay your head upon my breast and lose yourself in me."

This devotional meant so much to me this morning. Truly, it has been in my Savior's arms with my head upon his chest that he has given me strength and images that have imparted peace to my aching heart. Even now, he tenderly loves me and ministers to me in that quiet time alone with did I ever make it through the day without this special time without him?

3. From " Streams in the Desert"- My favorite devotional of all time!
Remind God of his exclusive responsibility- There is no one like you to help! (2 Chronicles 14:11. Abraham believed God (Romans 4:3) and said to his eyes, "stand back!", To laws of
nature, " Hold your peace!" and to an unbelieving heart, " Silence, you lying tempter!" He
simply believed God.

4. The Lord is with me like a mighty warrior. Jeremiah 20:11

And lastly, songs that really ministered to me this morning.

Revelation by Third Day

Love Heals Your Heart by Third Day

He Is by Mark Schultz

One Heartbeat at a Time by Steven Curtis Chapman

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Courageously Standing on the Edge

The new year has found me standing precariously on the edge of the unknown. There is no way back. Wild emotions rage around me. Fear, pain, tears, and anger join the brewing storm as it threatens to engulf me. No matter what direction I look there are dark, ominous clouds. Even going forward promises to meet with strong wind, pounding rain and countless heartache.

Forward is the only option. Backwards just can't be done. I have tried. I have grown weary trying to retrace my steps. My heart has twisted in agony as I entertained the thoughts of what if I had gone a different path, what if I had not chosen this journey at all. I can't change what has happened. I can't change what will happen. I can only press on through the storm to find the one who waits for me at the end.

Truth is that he is not only waiting for me at the end. He is walking beside me, cheering me on. He is leading me through the treacherous path because he has walked this way before and has prepared the place where my feet will pass. And on those days when fear overwhelms, exhaustion sets in, and the tears are blinding He lifts me up into his strong arms and cradling me to his chest carries me on to the other side.

That is where I have spent the past three days. Clinging to the one who holds me close to his heart. In the arms of the only one who can shelter my bruised heart from the raging storm. Only here in his arms, resting my head on his shoulder like a trusting infant can I hear the truth he so gently whispers to my heart. Of course there have been numerous times in the past couple of days when I climbed out of the safety of those arms and felt the sting of the storm as it left me disillusioned and angry at my Lord. Lashing out at him in anger, screaming the painful lies that have held me in bondage- kept me from those loving arms.

What a gentle lover the Lord is. Able to see beyond the bitter words, he speaks into my broken, crushed heart and calls me to come. He holds me while I fight against him, holds me when I finally break, holds me while the tears fall. He holds me. In the end that is all that really matters. No matter the intensity of the storm, no matter the pain, no matter how many tears fall- none of it can stop the Savior from holding me.

I really don't know what this new year holds. New Years Eve brought a little glimpse of what might be in store. Jonathan's brain is just not working the way it should be. We will find out in a couple of days if the tumor has begun to grow or not. Regardless of the outcome, the reality is that his brain is just not going to get better. For the first time on New Year's Eve, a doctor gave me permission to choose what makes Jonathan happy and comfortable and not necessarily what will "fix" him. After a week of taking temps, documenting every weird symptom, I was encouraged to instead watch my he happy, is he coloring and able to do what he likes?
Then stay home and let him be happy and comfortable. So after much prayer and thought, my focus is changing from fighting to keep Jon alive to fighting to give him a life fully lived.

This of course has brought on so many thoughts...

First, my desire is to make this year a new adventure. To live each day fully and intentionally. Jon may have years left with us...but living like today could be the last will not be something I will regret should he surprise us all. There are so many things to experience together as a family. So much to be learned and explored. I don't want to get caught up in the stupid things that distract us from what is most important.

That thought led me into another important thing that the Lord reminded me of on Friday as I scoured my old journals to be reminded of the ways the Lord has worked in my life. I was reminded that as we follow the Lord he may ask us to do things that don't make sense to others and that others may totally oppose what we are doing. We have to know fully what the Lord has spoken to us and not let go of that no matter what.

I found this in my journal from September 4, 1993 and it is an excerpt from a book written by perhaps my most favorite person of all time: Amy Carmichael (from the book or writing entitled " One Step at a Time" )
You and I maybe called again and again to walk right into our own "rivers". Whatever they may be- to wet our feet in them. We may be called to do what nobody understands except those to whom the word of guidance is given- and with it his promise too. But understand this: The word must come first and also his promise. You and I must be sure of what we are called to do with an inward conviction that absolutely nothing can shake. In my own case, again and again, I have had to wet my feet in the water... only God and those who have walked in that path know how hard that kind of faith life can be. But He does know. And when the people around us don't hear the words and and the voice that we have heard, and only say, " It thunders..." then he comes near and we know him as we never knew him before....If only the next step is clear, then the one thing to do it take it! Don't pledge your Lord or yourself to any steps beyond what you know. You don't see them yet.

There are somethings on my heart that don't make sense to others...even those closest to me. But I will choose to cling to what I know the Lord has spoken to my heart. A dear friend reminded me of this the other night. He spoke of putting up my shield of faith when those thoughts of doubt, guilt, condemnation come. I find it quite funny that the very next day after he said that I found an outline to a bible study I taught about the shield of faith.

Here is a glimpse into this study...

Roman Shields were 2 feet by 4 feet and a soldier could hide completely behind it. It was made of wood and then covered with cloth and leather. It was then dipped in water to extinguish fiery darts. ( Metaphorically, the word of God is the water that our hearts and minds are bathed in to distinguish the darts)

The shield protects us from fiery darts. Darts are often thrown when things are great and we are not relying on the Lord. Some of these darts are:
Fear- allowing it to linger causes it to spread and destroy out faith
Doubt- about God, questioning our faith, about other people and ourselves
Words- attacking our will, our mind, our heart, and our conscience
When properly used and in place- the shield will protect us from all darts.

This is my favorite part of the shield- they were designed to lock together with those shield's of other soldiers. Together the shields would create a barrier wall and great strength. Sometimes we are wounded in battle and forget to take shelter under the shield of faith. How great that the Lord has given us other people to stand beside us, lock their shields with us, and stay with us until we are able to stand again.

So I am choosing to hide behind my shield of faith, allowing it to distinguish the darts flying fiercely toward me right now.

I know this is a random collection of thoughts and if you are still reading I am quite impressed!!! I just didn't want to loose any of the memorial stones the Lord is giving me right now as this journey begins.