The Rescuer

 

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If you have been following my blog you know that I have been in a long trial and waiting on the Lord. He rescued us this week. He came with a  wonderful answer to prayer and surprised Steve and I with a blessing.. more than we expected. We were very worn out and feeling like we could barely take another step.. My faith was stretched so far.. I actually felt like I was going to fall apart.. and emotionally I really was doing exactly that.

Suddenly God answered many years of prayer.. He came for us. The morning that this happened I saw us on a ledge and there was a huge fall ahead if something did not change.. my husband calls it the fiscal cliff.. since we were about to lose everything if he did not get work.. 3 years and 3 months of unemployment ..10 years of temporary jobs.. 14 years of crying out for His provision. This week a great opportunity came..seemingly out of the blue. A phone call.. an interview.. and he was hired in less than a week.

The Lord  is the rescuer.. He shows up we really need it and often waits until it is totally clear that it is His hand that brings the answer.. not our efforts. We run out of ideas.. energy..hope.. and everything else. When we know that we cannot solve our own problems.. then He steps in.. we absolutely know without a doubt that it is Him.. we cannot take credit or believe that our human effort brought the answer. Our God came through just the same way He came through for Daniel in the lion’s den and for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  In each of these stories.. the men refused to bow down and worship a false god.

They said ” our God will rescue us and even if he does not we will not bow down to anything or anyone else.” That is where God takes us when a trial tests our faith. He takes us to the place where we are forced to say that we will stay true to Him no matter how things turn out..then He knows we trust Him.. We may be shaking as we tell Him that, but our hearts are in the right place.. He knows we will not fall or turn away from Him..

I found myself in that situation very recently and remembered other times when my faith was tested in that same way. He was always faithful and He always rescued me.. remembering helps us to endure.. to persevere and to hold on. He will not disappoint or forget us. We are His and He is ours.

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
  He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.

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Find me in the river..Find me on my knees..

“Find me in the river
Find me on my knees
I’ve walked against the water
Now I’m waiting if you please

We’ve longed to see the roses
But never felt the thorns
And bought our pretty crowns
But never paid the price

Find me in the river
Find me there
Find me on my knees
With my soul laid bare

Even though you’re gone
And I’m cracked and dry
Find me in the river
I’m waiting here

Find me in the river
Find me on my knees
I’ve walked against the water
Now I’m waiting if you please

We didn’t count on suffering
We didn’t count on pain
But if the blessing’s in the valley
Then in the river I will wait.”

These are the lyrics to a song by Delirious..written by Martin Smith in 1995.

I heard this song in my head over the last few days. It is the cry of my heart right now..”find me Lord.”  When  I hear this song it takes me to a deep place.. a place where there are no easy answers.. a place where deep disappointment lies.. a place of waiting, praying, and longing. Will God find me here? Will He come and restore my hope? Is He going to fill the empty places? We have these seasons as Believers.. the times when things happen that we never expected. Over the last few years I have often thought how unprepared I was for this present season.. not because I had an easy life..but because many things I hoped for are not going to happen here. Not because God is unfaithful.. but because this is a broken place filled with broken people. The reality of that is hard to take. We talk about it.. but often we don’t fully realize the extent of the fall. Things are not as they should be.. and we need more than ever to remember that He is going to set things right one day.

Growing older is a reality check..we look behind us and see many more years than we have in front of us. Some dreams have died.. loved ones are gone..opportunities for certain things are in the past. Life is short. Much shorter than I realized. As I face this season.. I am crying out to the Lord and asking him to” find me in the river..to find me on my knees.. with my soul laid bare.”  

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”     (Isaiah 43:2)

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Fear walked away..

I have to share something that happened on Sunday night. We were at the beach with some people from church and there was a baptism, a bonfire, and a chance to sing some worship songs.. what a treat! As we were singing, I saw a man with a leather jacket walking away from us and the word FEAR was written on the back of his jacket. I couldn’t help but laugh.. I realized how God allowed me to see that right at that moment. He was painting a word picture for me.. as we were worshiping the Lord.. fear had to leave. ” His perfect love casts our all fear” Wow.. what a wonderful reminder of how the enemy tries to scare us and God says ” turn to me and worship me”.. fear has no power over us when we do that.

This was followed up by a big reminder from the Lord about dignity. Now.. this is not a word that I use regularly at all. So when I heard God say ” keep your dignity” I was a little surprised. After thinking it through.. I totally understand what He was getting at. My husband and I have been in a long trial.. over 3 years..and during this time I have struggled with shame. He has been unable to get work and I am earning very little.. we have no resources and God has provided for us. Many days I felt like I needed to hide our situation so that we would not be labeled or misunderstood. I was ashamed of being older and having nothing saved up and getting deeper into debt. Yet.. the unemployment seemed to be from the Lord. Now I see that it has been. He has been working deeply in both of us.. spending 24/7 with each other brings everything to the surface and you have to learn to work together. This has been a season of preparation.

This is the history behind our new ministry that I wrote about in the last blog post. God’s reminder .. the word dignity was His affirmation of our choice to focus on ministry and trust Him to provide for us. He was telling me that our worth and value is not to be found in the things of this world.. that our identity is in Him…that no circumstance can take that from us. We can walk with dignity and self-respect because in His eyes we are His beloved children .. He is pleased with us.

So what a week it has been.. God has allowed me to see fear walk away and dignity is here to stay:) I am blessed to have His hand of encouragement on our new venture. We covet your prayers for provision and courage as we move forward.

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Our new ministry for couples..

Steve and I have a vision and a calling to work with couples that started when we met 15 years ago. The time is finally right for starting our new ministry. The name is Jeremiah 29:11 Couples Mentoring. We are based in Marin County, California.

Our goal is to help couples find ways to understand and value their relationships. Our approach is different from typical marriage counseling. We believe that with the right tools and education a couple can improve their communication and learn to value one another. We provide access to an online inventory that is the foundation for opening up the conversation.

In the years we have been married, we have seen God work to strengthen our relationship and provide us with insights into how to go through trials and tests without destroying each other. In fact.. these difficult struggles have made our relationship stronger and more resilient.

We are eager to share what we have learned and pray for the opportunity to meet with you if this is something that you need. We believe that relationship is the key in any counseling work. This new ministry will focus on our relationship with you. We know that without trust and a feeling of safety people cannot grow. We are offering you a safe and secure place to work on the issues without judgment or condemnation.

Please contact us.. using the contact form.. if you want any additional information. We will be more than happy to provide more details on the initial commitment including costs.

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“Jesus was making the sad things come untrue”

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This is a line from a story in the Jesus Storybook Bible.. a book that was read to the children every Sunday during our worship service. Yesterday at church, our pastor said that those stories from that book were the first sermon and his preaching was the second sermon. He quoted that line from the book ” He was making the sad things come untrue“.. I love that ! It makes me smile to think of everything sad becoming untrue as the kingdom of God moves ahead. What an amazing promise He has given us.

The same thing is happening here every single day.. sometimes we see it and sometimes we don’t. The truth is the truth whether we are able to see it or not. God’s invisible kingdom is real.. more real than all the sad things that happen on this earth every single day. His kingdom is more real than every single problem we face.. even the ones that seem unbearable. His kingdom is more real than our feelings, our thoughts, or our ideas. What an amazing realization that is.. if only we could hang on to that picture. There is another story.. a larger story that surrounds us and God is the author. He has written it for us and He is with us in that story.. guiding us, protecting us, comforting us, and encouraging us. We are not alone in what seems to be our small sad story.

As I am writing this I feel like I want to grab on to that big story.. to live in it fully.. to have a larger role.. to enter the Kingdom of God in a deeper way.. following Him fully.. trusting Him totally.. even when I have no answers.. even when I am hurting.. lost and sad. I want to be a part of His great work in this world as He redeems everything that was lost.  I believe He is asking us all to enter in.. to seek Him and His ways.. to believe that He is totally in control.. when all we see is an out of control world … As we live in these times.. we are in the world that He entered.. something has already happened.. but there is more.. we are between the already and the not yet.. living in that very unsettled place.. He is our rock and our safe place.. there is no other.

He told us to ” Seek Him and His kingdom and all else would be added on to us” He meant it then and He means it now..

One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?”

Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.

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Grief.. a very long and very lonely journey

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I decided to write about grief again. It used to appear more regularly on this blog, but it has been quite a while since I posted on this topic. There seems to be some misconceptions about what happens when we suffer losses.  All losses involve grief at some level, but some are more intense than others. Of course the loss of a loved one is at the top of the list. We encounter deep grief when someone close to us dies. Our hearts are filled with a heaviness that is indescribable.. loneliness at the deepest level possible. One thing that troubles me in our culture is the absence of information on grief.. the denial of grief and the way people feel like they need to hide their grief. What a tragedy this is. God allows us to feel grief and it is a very natural part of life. No one gets through this life without going through losses and the older you get, the more you will experience. In the light of that information.. we need to know all we can about this journey we call grief.

It is impossible to say when your first big loss will occur. Sometimes children have their first huge loss in childhood.. a grandparent, friend, or sibling. Their feelings are deep and troubling and we can only hope and pray there is an adult present to help them process the loss. You may not experience this level of loss until adulthood.. that is quite common. When you do.. it will hit you hard.. your capacity to understand how you feel will be very limited. Unless the person who died was very ill for a long time.. you will not be prepared. Even if that is the case.. you may still find it totally disorienting and scary. Sudden tragic death is even harder to deal with..everything in us wants to cry out No.. this did not happen.

Grief has a life of its own and cannot be controlled. It often starts out slowly.. God’s grace for us includes a period of shock.. we don’t actually realize what has happened.  Slowly the shock wears off and each time a season changes or a holiday passes..we feel the loss all over again… almost as though it just happened. People who have lost spouses will often say the second year is worse than the first.. this is because as time passes the loss is more and more real. Your loved one is not there to celebrate holidays or witness important family events.. Feelings of grief are hard to understand unless you have an awareness of the process.. you may feel angry, frustrated, depressed, sad and lonely at different times or almost all at once. People have wondered if they were losing their minds because their grief was so confusing and intense. You may be very alone with your grief.. others can express their sorrow and understand your loss from a distance, but they are not with you every night when the lights go out. Many people spend sleepless nights crying and wondering if life will ever return to normal. Eventually.. you will come to a place of acceptance, but no one can tell you how long that will take. It is different for every person.. each of us grieves differently and uniquely.

No… Life will never be the same. You have joined a club you never wanted to join. You will never get over your grief.. you will learn to live with it.. if you process it and don’t stuff your feelings. Most depressed people suffer from unresolved grief.. many addicts become addicted when they encounter a loss and are unwilling to face what has happened. Not allowing yourself to cry and to suffer will only hurt you more in the long run. In our busy culture, people feel like they need to look like they have bounced back even before the grieving process has started. There is no time to waste.. life must go on.

My purpose in writing this is to give you permission to grieve.. not only your personal losses but the loses we read about every day online or hear about in the news. the losses our friends experience that tear our hearts apart. These things affect us deeply and we don’t need to block these feelings or pretend that they don’t. We live in a fallen world and there is suffering every single day all around the world. God grieves for those who are hurting and He gives us the capacity to do that same thing..

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.  

Jesus wept.

What comes after endurance?

 

 

 

 

P1030047My last post was a month ago. I wrote on endurance because that was the word that God gave me and it was the process I was in.. learning to endure. I am still in this situation that requires endurance… and since I wrote about it, I experienced the need for it at a deeper level. That is often the way it is.. we can be aware of something that God is teaching us and before we know it.. we are forced to go deeper into the process. So what comes after endurance? I am not sure but my best guess is more endurance..perseverance..trust…faith…longing…doubting..hoping..returning to Him over and over again as things continue to be difficult.

The biggest challenge to me is my own negative thinking.. will God really come through? or will things continue to move in a bad direction.?. in reality sometimes things do get worse before they get better. In the past I have experienced that.. a period when it seems like all is lost and then suddenly God does something unexpected and changes things.. often this happens at what appears to be the last minute.. Who really understands God’s timing anyway? If you were to ask me about my circumstances.. I would say that the last minute has already happened. Apparently that is only my perception and not God’s. He sees the bigger picture that we cannot see and when we feel like we cannot continue.. He enables us to move ahead and to persevere.. in His strength, not our own. He is working deeply in our character.. making us more like Him and removing those things that prevent us from staying on the path.

All of this leads me to believe that we really don’t understand the ways of God. His plan is a mystery and so is His timing. We are to wait and pray and trust even when it seems like all is lost.. I have to admit that I used to think that my most difficult days were behind me.. that this season of my life would be easier than the things that happened when I was younger.. I know better now.. the word easy is not in the Bible and He does not promise us an easy life.. But we are promised an abundant life.. Now there is food for thought.. We are to live fully in the kingdom of God here knowing that someday we will see more clearly.

Eugene Peterson puts it this way in the Message:

“Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”……..   John 10:10

 

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