This is us in Maui 7 years ago.. a wonderful memory!
If you have been following my blog you know that I write about the struggles of this life.. disappointment.. grief and loss.. disillusionment etc. I feel like there is a need for that type of transparency and sharing. However.. there is more than just acknowledging the trials and the pain we face. In the midst of these trials, God promises to show up.. to reveal Himself to rescue us and to renew us. This was a week when God showed up in my life in a very surprising way.
As you know, my husband is suffering from a type of dementia and we have been grappling with what that means for the last year.. since he was diagnosed. A couple of months ago I decided to take our wedding movie to Costco to have it put on a DVD. We have never seen this movie since it was shot with a super 8 camera with no way to view it.. time to do something about this. I wanted to make sure that we watched it together now..in case Steve is unable to take it in later.. but at the same time I felt like I was going to lose it when I saw how things used to be. We have been married for 17 years and both of us are very different from the way we were on that day.
It seemed as though the Lord and Steve wanted to see it.. so I just hoped that I could recover after it was over. God surprised me.. not only did I recover, but I was totally encouraged as I watched and also amazed. The important moments were all there.. views of the guests.. many of them are with the Lord now.. including my Dad and Steve’s sister. It was wonderful to see them again and to remember them.. Then there were the vows.. showing the close up of my face and I saw the joy that God gave me as I married this wonderful man and promised to be faithful to him no matter what happened.. in sickness and in health. Wow.. so thankful that I made those vows and that God is giving me the strength to keep them. The pastor gave a sermon on 1 Corinthians 13.. the love chapter. It was a prophetic word for us.. emphasizing that love was to be at the center of our relationship.. It was as though the Lord knew we needed to file that away and keep it for this season. So awesome to realize that He knew what we would face and that we would walk it out together. I was strengthened by the words of the pastor as he told us that he could see God’s handiwork in our relationship.. it was confirmation to me that nothing that is happening is a surprise to God.. He knew what we would walk through and that we would cling to Him and each other.
Yes! It was a surprise in a dark time and it came in a surprising way.. I cried and longed to relive those early years of our marriage.. but these years matter too and I want to live fully as they unfold.
I just had to share this with you.. I hope it brings life and hope to your heart!
Today is Valentine’s Day. That means lots of things to people. Traditionally it is a day to celebrate romantic love between a man and a woman. There is nothing wrong with that.. in fact anything that brings people closer to each other and helps us rejoice in the blessings of a relationship that only God could create..can only be good.
There are times however, when it is difficult to celebrate on this day. I’ve had trouble with this holiday for years. I got married on Valentine’s Day 31 years ago and spent 17 years in a very difficult relationship that ended in 1999 with the death of my husband. After it was over, I really did not like this time of year much. There were too many memories that came to the surface because of the way my heart was broken over and over during those years.
Fast forward to 2013..Valentine’s day is here again. This year I am gong to celebrate with my husband of 10 years..the man that God brought into my life so I could start over and the man who has listened and prayed and comforted me over and over again. This is what God did. He took a very broken person and brought someone into her life so she could heal..someone who would never give up..someone who would always give and ask for nothing in return. I am blessed beyond measure..
God’s love for me is the reason that this has happened and He has that same love for every one of you. His heart is for you and His eyes are upon you. He knows your broken places and He will bring people to help you heal. You are not alone today.
From the heart of God to yours.. Happy Valentine’s Day!
The love that God has for us is “true love.” We often refer to it as unconditional love. But do we really know how to receive it? Growing up in a family where there were unspoken conditions and God’s love was never mentioned.. I have struggled to embrace this love that He offers. Without realizing how deep it has gone, I have always performed for Him.
In some way.. I am re-creating the same dynamics that existed in my childhood. My parents were very successful, both held doctorates and earned quite a bit of money. They were intelligent intellectuals.. thinkers. I was not and knew I could never be what they were. So.. I was the “perfect” daughter.. the one that excelled in school and tried never to bring them any pain.
Once I began to follow God and nurture a relationship with Him, the same pattern emerged. I worked in ministry, tried to be a perfect mom and wife, keep the house just right and basically performed for Him. The ministry experiences were messy and so was our home. I married an addict and was far from the perfect Mom.
God’s love was such a mystery to me.. I think deep down I felt that I had to keep performing or He would soon give up on me. I raised the bar higher and higher until I almost collapsed..
God has me in a healing season..helping me to receive the “true love” that only He can deliver. I can’t perform the way I once did.. I am beginning to realize that this is a blessing for me. I know now that I may never “do” some of the things I dreamed I would do. God is OK with that.. in fact He is behind that whole idea. I can almost hear Him saying ” I love you with an everlasting love.. I created you and my love for you is not based on anything you ever say or do”
“God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!”
is better than no light. Imagine yourself in a dark tunnel..you are walking in the direction that you believe is the end..where you will emerge into the sunlight. All you need to keep going in the right direction is a little light. A tiny shaft of light..barely big enough to see.. will be your guide..it will help you make it to the outside world. How much worse would it be if there was no light at all..just darkness.
God never leaves us in total darkness. After all He is light..His light is what gives us life and hope. We may feel like we have no light but if we look a little closer there is always something to show us the way. It may be just enough light for that next step..just enough light to keep us from falling. .He knows us..He will never forsake us. He renews our hope in small ways as we wait for Him. He gives us glimpses of the future so we will not despair. He renews our strength and meets us in the middle of our trials.
I am so thankful for that light..that sparkle of life that emerges on a day when the world closes in. It comes in many ways..in the eyes of a child..the voice of a friend..the touch of a loved one..the song of a bird..the beauty of the sunset..He is breaking through to us..reminding us of His providence..His sovereignty..His holiness..His goodness..His love for us.
“Jehovah Jireh My provider His grace is sufficient For me, for me, for me Jehovah Jireh My provider His grace is sufficient for me
My God shall supply all my needs According to his riches in glory He will give His angels Charge over me Jehovah Jireh cares For me, for me, for me Jehovah Jireh cares for me.” ♪♫♪
A good word for those of us who are weary..who isn’t? The life we live here never stops demanding our attention. There is no real escape. Even when we are experiencing a quiet moment or a peaceful day..something is waiting around the next corner. It may be a new challenge or a some unexpected news..disappointment or loss. It is enough to make me sigh just thinking about it. Where is the rest Lord?
Right here He says. “Take a few minutes to come to me with all of it and I will give you peace and rest for your soul.” Teach us how Lord..teach us to be still.. to stop striving. Our hearts are troubled and our spirits are weighed down with the cares of the world. You are our resting place. If we slow down and get quiet we can hear Your still small voice telling us that You love us and everything is under control. Our challenge is to stop.. to wait..to listen and to believe.
Let’s drink from that living water today..rest by that peaceful stream..fall into the arms of our God..lay down those burdens..relax..breathe..remember His goodness.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me by peaceful streams.”
One of my favorite scriptures refers to us being the sweet fragrance of Christ to those around us. We are a wonderful aroma that reminds people of Him. I remember studying that scripture and teaching on it in seminary. I chose it for my Bible teaching class..that gave me a whole semester to soak in it. Paul is writing to the church at Corinth..reminding them of who they are..encouraging them in the Lord.
His love for them was great and he was aware of their struggles..at the same time he was honest and direct. He did not shy away from the truth. God calls us to be the same way. He gives us wisdom to know when to speak and when to be quiet. He guides us through everyday situations supernaturally..leading us by His spirit. Our part is to listen..to wait..to speak..to remain silent..to pray..to ask..to accept..to believe. His desire is to spread the knowledge of Him everywhere and He is using us..His people.
We are not always aware of being this sweet aroma..in fact it may be hard to believe that we are. He does not let us see all the ways our lives touch the lives of those around us.. for our own protection..it keeps us humble and obedient to Him. It is important to remember that our lives matter..that He is using us..that we are making a difference even when our feelings tell us something different.
Just like the believers in the early church..we go through trials..we struggle and we make mistakes. Like them..we are His sweet fragrance in the midst of all of it!
“But thanks be to God! He made us His captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now He uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ- like fragrance rising up to God.”
The book that we read to learn about our God is a love letter..yes that is the Bible. Often we read it as though it were an instruction manual..a set of dos and don’ts. That was never God’s intention. The stories in the Bible are there to reveal God’s character to us..to help us understand history and to give us glimpses into our future. Some of the stories are difficult to understand..we don’t have the mind of God. Many of them are incredibly encouraging if we take them into our hearts.
The Old Testament and the New go together..hand in hand. One pointing to another..history unfolding. There are stories filled with many emotional moments..great loss, devastation, and sorrow. There are moments of triumph and unbelievable opportunity. The psalms are filled with emotional transparency..the psalmist crying out to God and remembering His faithfulness at the same time. It is a rich book filled with examples of God’s unending love for His people. He wants us to know Him.. His character..His heart.. His emotions ( yes! God has them) He is drawing near to us through these writings.
Some of it is mysterious and some of it difficult to comprehend..but someday He will unveil it for us. In the meantime.. in this life..allow this to sink in. He loves you deeply and He wants you to receive from Him. His heart is for you and you are not forgotten. He is the source of your next breath and your next step. He understands you like no one else..He is for you.
From the prophet Isaiah ” I would not forget you! See I have written your name on the palms of my hands.”
The kingdom of God is not of this world. It is more real than the world we see around us every day. In His kingdom God is on His throne. He reigns. He is sovereign over everything and He has amazing things to show us and do for us. In the kingdom of God our lives have meaning and value because God created us. In His kingdom we are treasured and our hearts are protected. We belong to Him and He knows every thought and desire that we carry with us. Our tears are collected and He knows every hair on our head.
This is the way our God is. He is not impersonal or remote. He is not behind a wall. He is not inaccessible. He is with us. Immanuel. When we choose to follow Him He asks us to believe that His way is better than our way. He wants us to choose the path that leads us away from the things of this world..to walk away from our own selfish insecurities and trust Him. He promises to fill our lives with good things..not the things we see around us..but the things that really matter. His love, grace, protection, wisdom, provision, meaning, joy, faithfulness, fruitfulness, and protection. He will be our all in all. We will be like Him..not of this world.
We make a new decision every day..we will either run after the things that our culture is selling us or we will run to Him. What do you have for me today God? Help me to walk in your ways as I savour every moment of this day that you have given me. The choice is yours. He is waiting.
” Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again–My Saviour and my God.”
About a decade ago I came to a huge turning point in my life. I was facing a crisis of faith. One day I heard myself saying to someone “no matter what happens I am choosing God.” This person did not understand and believed that it was impossible for me to make that decision ahead of time. I knew that I needed to make it and I was convinced that God wanted me to choose Him before I had any answers about my future. That decision turned out to be incredibly important.
I entered a period of great change and emotional turmoil. My life, as I knew it, was turned upside down. Everything I had hoped for was shattered. I ran to God. He remembered my choice and met me in unexpected ways. He took me from a broken life into a restored life. He healed my broken heart and began filling my life with one blessing after another. What would have happened if I had not made that choice? Where would I be now?
Reflecting on all this has helped me realize once again.. I must choose God. Every day in every circumstance..at all times..no matter what. We live in uncertain times..the world is not stable. We can’t count on our own understanding and ability. Things are shaking all around us. The world is unrecognizable in many ways..technology has changed everything so quickly. We can’t keep up no matter how hard we try. Where do we go with our fears and anxiety?
To the very same place I went 11 years ago..to the heart of God. It has not changed. He is still able to take us through every crisis..to restore our hope..to renew our strength..to carry us when we cannot walk another step. We still need to choose Him. He chose us.
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”
The life of faith. What does that look like? Very different from the life that is glorified in the media. Very very different from the lives that celebrities model for us. It is not the American dream either. The life of faith centers around the Lord and His priorities. He cares deeply for others..unlike the model of narcissism that our culture has elevated to amazing heights.
I never imagined living in a world like we have today..a world where values have been turned upside down. A world where so many watch life on TV instead of experiencing it. A world where the lives of the rich and famous dominate the front page of the media.. people being enticed to live vicariously instead of living fully. What a challenge this is for all of us. Life with God is still available..even with all these distractions and temptations. He is pursuing us..desiring time with us..wanting to give us a meaningful existence.
We will always find opportunities to reach out to those who hurt..especially in these times. He is still willing to use us as instruments of encouragement and hope..maybe more now than ever. Our God is moving and ministering to the brokenhearted. He is healing and restoring. He is not different.. He is the same. Is He calling out to you? Does He want to use you in your present circumstances to love the unlovable? To bring hope to the hopeless? To listen and pray? Yes.. He is after you..you are valuable to Him..He needs you and He will equip you for everything He has planned for you.
” I will give you a new heart and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender responsive heart.”